New Products: Kawai ES920 and Kawai ES520 Digital Pianos

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 ES520 and ES920 shown from above
Kawai ES520B (top) and Kawai ES920W (bottom)

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.
image showing Kawai ES520 in a bedroom / sitting-room.
Kawai ES520W (White) digital piano with HM-5 designer stand and F-302 Grand Feel pedal bar

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!

Let-Off Simulation

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.

Kawai’s Responsive Hammer Action III (touch/hover to zoom)

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.

image of Kawai ES920B with stool in lounge setting
Kawai ES920B (Black) digital piano with HM-5 designer stand and F-302 Grand Feel pedal bar

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.

close-up of the USB port with Kawai branded usb drive
Kawai ES920B’s USB port

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.

Key features

KAWAI ES920:KAWAI ES520:
– Responsive Hammer III keyboard action with grade-weighted keys, counterweights, triple-sensor system, let-off simulation– Responsive Hammer Compact II keyboard action with grade-weighted keys and triple-sensor system
– Harmonic Imaging XL sound technology with 88-key stereo sampling– Progressive Harmonic Imaging sound technology with 88-key stereo sampling
– Shigeru Kawai SK-EX, Shigeru Kawai SK-5 and Kawai EX emulations– Shigeru Kawai SK-EX and Kawai EX emulations
– 38 authentic sounds, including acoustic pianos, electric pianos, organs, strings, bass etc.– 34 authentic sounds, including acoustic pianos, electric pianos, organs, strings, bass etc.
– Motherboard and amplification developed in partnership with Onkyo, 40W speaker system – Motherboard and amplification developed in partnership with Onkyo, 40W speaker system 
– Bluetooth MIDI and Audio functionality with aptX support for wireless communication and audio playback– Bluetooth MIDI and Audio functionality with aptX support for wireless communication and audio playback
– Standard MIDI, USB to Host/Device, Audio In/Out connectivity– Standard MIDI, USB to Host/Device, Audio In/Out connectivity
– WAV/MP3 audio file record and playback via USB memory
– Support for latest PianoRemote control app for iOS/Android* – Support for latest PianoRemote control app for iOS/Android*
– Integrated Rhythm Section function with 100 backing accompaniment styles– Integrated Rhythm Section with 100 patterns
– Intuitive control panel layout with 4-band EQ faders and 128 x 64 pixel OLED display– Intuitive control panel layout with 128 x 64 pixel OLED display 
– Rounded case design and lightweight chassis weighing 17 kg– Rounded case design and lightweight chassis weighing 14.5 kg
– Modern HM-5 designer stand and F-302 triple pedal bar, support for GFP-3 triple pedal unit – Modern HM-5 designer stand and F-302 triple pedal bar, support for GFP-3 triple pedal unit 
* to be added with future software update.

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.


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