Japanese piano manufacturer Kawai has released two new digital pianos. This expands Kawai’s ES Series of portable instruments to 3 models. The ES920 is the top-of-the-range replacement for the Kawai ES8. And the ES520 is a new mid-range product offering many of the features of the ES920 but at a more attractive price point.
Kawai offers a remarkable eight separate digital piano ranges. These are detailed in a previous article (here). The ES Series instruments are compact, lightweight digital pianos, all featuring top-mounted speakers.
- Kawai ES920: Premium specification, portable, digital, piano with an advanced weighted keyboard action and top-of-the-range piano sounds
- Kawai ES520: High specification, lightweight, portable with an authentic piano action and realistic sounds
- Kawai ES110: Entry-level portable at a budget price, with many of the more expensive instruments’ features.
All the pianos in the ES Series have an 88-note keyboard and, Kawai claim, are suitable for home, stage, concert hall, and classroom use. So that’s virtually everywhere!
The new ES920 uses Kawai’s Responsive Hammer Action III keyboard. This is designed to recreate the exact feel of an acoustic piano. The mechanism is complex, and the action is graded so the treble hammers feel lighter than those in the bass. This action doesn’t use springs, and consequently provides a much smoother response.
A special feature of the Kawai ES920’s action is the key let-off simulation. This is a subtle “notch” sensation experienced when playing a grand piano very lightly.
Let-off happens just before the hammer hits the string, when the jack disengages from the hammer. An excellent explanatory video can be found here. Let-off can be relevant when playing very quiet passages.
The ES520 uses Kawai’s Responsive Hammer Compact II keyboard action — a simpler weighted mechanism that also feels similar to its acoustic counterpart.
Soundwise both instruments use Kawai’s Harmonic Imaging sound engines to emulate the touch and tone of a concert grand piano, and in particular that of the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX.
When it comes to amplification and signal processing, Kawai continues working with hi-end audio developers Onkyo to deliver a top-quality sound system for these new instruments.
Both models have a new exterior design with sleek flat panel surfaces and smooth rounded edges. The ES920 weighs 17kg which is 6kg less than the ES8, and the ES520 just 14.5kg, making both instruments highly portable.
Kawai ES920 and Kawai ES520
Pricing: Not yet confirmed
Availability: From the end of September 2020 (dependant on location)
Website: Kawai Musical Instrument s Mfg. Co. Ltd.