Kawai ES8 Review – The impressive ES8 digital home piano is versatile, compact, portable, elegant, and powerful. It is great for truly every musical occasion, anytime, and anywhere. Wherever the venue, whatever the occasion – whether you are practicing for a recital, playing on stages, or studying in the classroom, this instrument is portable piano perfection.
In this video, Tony from Bonners Music will explore the features of the Kawai ES8 digital piano. He will tell you everything you need to know to make your purchasing decision.
Hello I’m Tony from Bonners Music and this is my buyer’s guide for the Kawai ES8 portable piano.
I hope that this video will give you all the information you need to make sure you’re making the right decision when you’re purchasing a new instrument. When choosing a digital piano, I would always recommend that you actually get your hands on and try various models from different manufacturers.
You can do this. You know really well-stocked piano stores we have one in Reigate in Surrey which is just two miles off of Junction eight of the m25 motorway and we also have one on the south coast in Eastbourne in East Sussex
Kawai ES8 Review
So the Kawai ES8 is a portable instrument and what that means is it’s completely self-contained and it’s designed for those people who want to carry a piano around with them to various venues.
So it weighs 22 and a half kilograms and it’s available just there’s a keyboard unit on its own or as I have it here for when you’re using it at home. You can buy a nice wooden stand and a matching triple pedal unit as well to complement it and make it look nice in your home.
3 Core Piano Sounds
So the Kawai ES8 gives you three main piano sounds and there are variations on each of these sounds. But there are three core piano sounds. Now there is the sound of the Shigeru Kawai (SK) concert grand. There’s the Kawai EX concert grand. And there is the kawaii SK5 studio grand which is a slightly smaller grand piano than the other two sounds.
So let’s just take a listen to the tone of the three different piano sounds, starting with the Shigeru Kawai concert grand.
And now let’s have a listen to the Shigeru Kawai EX concert grand piano.
And finally, let’s just take a quick listen to the tone of the Shigeru Kawai SK5.
So as you could hear three very very high-quality piano sounds. They’re all suited to different styles of music and different styles of piano playing. But what makes a good digital piano, in my opinion, is not just the sound but it’s actually the feel of the keyboard as well.
Responsive Hammer III Keyboard Action
Now the ES8’s key uses responsive hammer action and it’s a plastic keyboard action, but it feels very nice to play. It’s got a very definite feel about it you’ve got a lot of control over your expressiveness, and it’s just all around a very nice playing experience. So the combination of a really good keyboard mixed with very high-quality piano sounds does make the ES8 a very appealing instrument.
The Kawai ES8 is equipped with a huge variety of different voices, lots of really good keyboard orientated sounds. And a feature that I feel is really overlooked with the ES8 is the power of the additional effects that can be applied to the different voices.
So here I’m just playing one of the Fender Rhodes type piano sounds. And now I’m going to apply different effects to the sound such as tremolo or chorus or Auto panning or phasing to give you some of those real classic seventies and eighties keyboard sounds.
In addition to the effects that can be applied to the sounds, there is also an amp simulator. And what an amp simulator does is reproduce the sound of the keyboard being plugged into the sound of a classic amplifier from the 70s or 80s.
So you can use the amp simulator to give the sound a bit of warmth or perhaps add a little bit of distortion to the sound. So let’s just take a listen to the electric piano sounds with the amp simulator applied as well.
Another sound that had become very popular in modern music is the sound of the classic 60s Hammond drawbar organ. Now the ES8 has a really good Hammond organ sound built into it, but it’s further enhanced with the rotary speaker simulator.
And that’s the sound of this speaker that people used to plug their Hammond organs into this big wooden box which had a speaker in it or two speakers in it, they used to spin round and gave you that kind of tremolo effect.
But that’s what created that classic sound. And the speed of the speaker speeding up and slowing down can be controlled using a foot switch. And when you have the triple pedal unit attached like I have here, it automatically assigns a soft pedal to the rotary slow and fast setting. Just take a listen to this sound.
The ES8 also has two very convincing classical organ sounds which make it ideal for small choir practices or just for fun practicing your favorite hymns at home.
So there are many other voices found in the ES8 including orchestral string, choir voices, synthesizer voices. There are some bass sounds and all of these sounds can either be layered on top of each other, so you can actually select two sounds together and layer them on top of each other across the whole keyboard so that every note is Blackey playing two sounds or you can split the keyboard in two and have one sound at the top of the keyboard or one of the bottom keyboard.
So I’m going to demonstrate these features now so, first of all, using the layer feature so I’m going to select a piano voice and a string voice put the two together and they’re layered across the whole keyboard and the and the strings kind of give an orchestral a compliment or backing to my piano playing.
Another popular combination of layered voices is the harpsichord with the orchestral strings, and this kind of gives you a Baroque type feel, so great for playing some classical tunes such as Mozart.
And in this next example, I’m going to take a coup stick piano sound, place it on a right-hand side of the keyboard, and I’m gonna choose an acoustic bass voice, and this voice actually has a ride cymbal on every note as well I’m going to put that in the left hand I have the split keyboard mode, and I’m just going to play a little jazzy piece of music now those of you who are watching from the UK may well recognize this from a popular advert for cigars from the 1980s and early 90s.
Another performance feature that I’d like to draw your attention to on the Kawai ES8, is the rhythm function. Now the ES8 has got a built-in metronome which does Tic Toc as a normal metronome would do, but it also has a drum section built-in as well so it allows you to play along with some preset rhythms.
And there’s quite a good selection of rhythms in here. And the rhythm section works in three modes. So you can have just drums or you could have drums and bass now when you have the bass playing as well, what it does is it tracks the bassline based on your lowest note or the chord that you’re playing. So it will give you an automatic baseline to play along with whichever sound you’re playing and the drums.
And then the third mode, it brings in an accompaniment section as well so maybe some other instruments such as guitar or strings or maybe a brass section.
So what I’ve done here is I’ve just recorded the same piece of music just using four or five basic chords. First of all with the drums on their own then I switch it into drums and bass mode you’ll hear the bass line come in as well, and then finally you’ll hear it when the guitar and a few other instruments come in as well.
So this is a good fun addition to the Kawai ES8 and it makes practicing more interesting, but also I think it can be quite creative as well so have a listen to this
A Built-in Recording Feature
The Kawai ES8 has a built-in recording feature and it’s a two-track recorder or two-part recorder. And what that means is that you can either record your left hand and your right hand individually. Or perhaps you want to record one sound and then layer another sound over the top independently, so you can do that as well so it’s two completely unique recording tracks.
And then your song can be exported onto a USB stick which you just plug in the end of the keyboard and then you can share that file with your friends and family or upload it to the internet or whatever you want to do with it.
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There’s another handy feature on the Kawai ES8 which is called registration, and what that does is allow you to set the keyboard up how you want so perhaps you’re gonna layer two voices together, and you’re going to add some additional effects to the voices and all of that information you can store as what is known as a registration.
And there are a number of locations for you to store your own sound. So it’s a bit like setting the keyboard up to how you want it to be and then storing that set up. It means that you can recall that instantly, so especially if you’re going to be playing in front of people, you can have all your favorite sounds already stored, just press one button and it will recall them instantly.
The Rear Panel of the Kawai ES8
So now let’s just take a look at the rear panel of the ES8, and this is where I’m just gonna explain some of the inputs and outputs that are available to you.
Here we are looking at the rear panel of the Kawai ES8 on the left-hand side here we have a line input that’s for a mini-jack type input. So perhaps you would plug in an mp3 player or your mobile phone, and that routes the audio from an external device through the internal speakers of the ES8.
As we move along the next two sockets we have are your line output sockets, these are standard quarter-inch jack plugs, and you just plug those in and that’s to go to external amplification. I’m just going to remove those again, and so that you can see on the right here.
There’s a little switch, speaker switch, and this turns on and off the speakers inside the Kawai ES8, so certainly if you’ve got something plugged into the line outputs you may not want the speakers to still be active, so you can switch them on and off independently.
Next to this, you have the two sockets. The first one is where you’ll plug the sustain pedal, and the ES8 is supplied with Kawai is really substantial F-10H sustain pedal you can plug in a second pedal for soft or other assignable functions which you can assign within the operating system of the air sight.
We have traditional five pinned in MIDI in and out and there is an all there’s also a USB computer connection which will carry MIDI data, direct to your computer without needing to use a MIDI interface. Here we have the mains input socket.
Finally, we have a quarter inch Jack headphone socket on the bottom left-hand side of the front panel.
Kawai ES8 Review – Final Thought
So that brings me to the end of my Kawai ES8 review and buyer’s guide. I do hope you’ll agree that this is a really good all-rounder instrument. It’s got a good piano sound really nice keyboard feel, and I like the additional features such as the registration feature, and the ability to apply lots of different effects to the sound that means you can be very creative and you can make the ES8 sound a little bit more individual to you.
You can try the ES8 in one of our stores located in Reigate or Eastbourne or if you’d like to talk about digital pianos and just give us a call, you’ll find our contact information in the description to this movie.
I’ve also made another video where I compare the Kawai ES8 to other products which are of a similar price range or aimed at a similar market. So if you’re looking at any ES8, I would suggest that you perhaps also look at the Yamaha p-515 or the Roland fp90 and you’ll find a comparison video that I’ve made which pitch all of these three products against each other in one of the links which you’ll find underneath this movie.
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