Not everyone can fit a traditional grand or upright piano in their home. While there is nothing that can quite compare to the pure, authentic sound of a traditional piano, there are some digital models that will leave you breathless while still being small enough to fit into any sized home. Not only will these higher-end digital pianos sound eerily similar to the traditional instruments that inspire them, but the touch of the keys will resemble a real piano, too. The Kawai ES8 is one of these standout models, boasting both authentic sound quality and a heavy, authentic touch.
Digital pianos are perfect for those who travel and play their music on the road. Often, a digital piano will come with a portable stand, and you can carry the piano itself in a protective case on your travels. So, whether you are a traveling music nomad or just want the experience of having an outstanding piano to play in a small, limited space, there are numerous digital models that provide such quality and flexibility.
If you are shopping for a quality digital piano, you may know that the Kawai brand has been in the game for a long time. This company produces professional-quality instruments, and its engineers have managed to produce some of the most realistic digital representations on the market. Choosing Kawai will not often disappoint the buyer, but we asked: How, specifically, does the ES8 digital piano measure up to some competitors on the market?
What Is the Kawai ES8 Digital Piano?
The Kawai ES8 digital piano is a professional-grade, high-quality instrument rated best in its class in various reviews for its combination of quality and price. It is designed to sound and feel like a real piano, so when pressing the keys, you’ll notice a very heavy feel, and they respond or “bounce back” just as those on a real, traditional piano do.
A stand ideal for piano is usually purchased separately. When buying a new Kawai ES8, all you get is the keyboard and the necessary electrical connector. If you are buying the stand separately, be sure to invest in a high-quality stand with foot pedals that will match the quality and weight of the keyboard.
With a Kawai ES8, not only do you get a traditional piano feel, but you also get access to a wide range of sound effects pre-programmed into the software. Some of these effects include six different reverb effects, two choral mixes, two tremolos, four different combination effects, an auto pan, classic auto pan, and three delays.
The Kawai ES8 has the full keyboard size, meaning there are 88 fully weighted keys. This is a nice aspect of any digital pianos, as many are built for portability with an octave or two missing from the keyboard. This model also comes with an internal recorder that has a 90,000-note memory capacity. You can also choose to play the keyboard as a group (or with electronic companions) in dual mode, split mode, or a four-hands mode. This model has powerful, rounded-out internal speakers, meaning you can count on getting full sound no matter what effect you choose to use.
The Kawai ES8 is hefty, weighing in at almost 51 pounds. Expect to work your muscles under the load if you are using this Kawai piano as part of your nomadic music travels!
As with any high-end, high-technology product, you’ll need to spend a fair bit of money for this piano. We found the Kawai ES8 available on Amazon for a price of around $2,000.
Compared to a new, traditional piano, this is not a bad price. A traditional grand piano can easily sell for $20,000 or more. From this perspective, getting a digital piano that sounds and feels like a traditional, grand or upright for one-tenth of that price is reasonable. However, there are other digital models out there to consider when evaluating which is the right value combination for your needs.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare to the Kawai ES8 digital piano.
Kawai ES8 Digital Piano
- Harmonic Imaging XL Sound Technology with 88-Note Piano Sampling
- 34 Exceptional Instrument Sounds w/256-note Max. Polyphony
- Easy to use 10-Song / 2-Track built-in Recorder ideal for self-evaluation or capturing a moment of inspiration
You can purchase a new Kawai ES8 piano from Amazon for roughly $$.
Ease of Use
Overall, we found that the Kawai is pretty easy to use. There is an inevitable adjustment period that comes with any new, complex digital product when it comes to getting used to the controls. Once you experiment with the different effects and features this model has to offer, it becomes a pleasure to play.
Sound & Connectivity
This model has two 8×12-centimeter speakers that have a collective output power of 15 watts. Customers absolutely love the sound that comes from this model. Amazon customers, for example, routinely give the Kawai ES8 a full 5-star review, with many special mentions of how full and rounded the sound this model delivers is under various conditions.
While the design quality is top-notch when considering this piano’s weighted keys, hammer response, and high-quality internal speakers, this all combines to make it a rather heavy, potentially unwieldy product. Some users do note how difficult it is to haul around because the keyboard alone weighs in at around 50 pounds.
All Kawai digital piano purchases are covered by a limited 5-year warranty.
Kurzweil ARTIS 88-Key Stage Digital Piano
- An introductory pro keyboard, perfect for students/schools, light gigs, home recording and music lovers of all ages
- 88-note fully-weighted hammer-action keyboard
- Features sounds from the Kurzweil Sound Library (Piano, EP, Strings, Pads, Woodwinds, and Basses); 16 programs in 4...
Another high-end piano model that attracted our attention is the Kurzweil ARTIS 88-key digital piano, which comes equipped with 16 GB of varying sounds. Among these simulated sounds you can evoke are traditional German and vintage Japanese concert grand piano sounds. This model also has a harpsichord sound effect, orchestral percussion, chimes, bells, and many other interesting sounds built right in.
This Kurzweil instrument also comes with a digital suite the company calls ToneReal Organs, which delivers sounds comparable to real-life pipe and concert organs, with corresponding drawbars for changing registration. This is a particularly unique feature among the digital pianos we evaluated. This model also comes with substantial recording capacity, fantastic internal speakers,149 preset songs, pedal inputs, and hammer-action keys that make it feel very much like a real piano.
This is the most expensive model on our list. While we found this Kurzweil digital piano currently unavailable from Amazon or other popular resources, it was advertised for roughly $$$ by a few sellers.
Ease of Use
For those of you who might be new to the music or piano world, this model might take a fair bit longer getting used to than some others. It has a wider array of features, more programmable features, and a whole subset of unique organ controls to learn.
Sound & Connectivity
Like the Kawai model we featured, the Kurzweil also received nearly unanimous 5-star reviews from those who purchased it on Amazon. Many users absolutely love how the piano sounds across all of its effects and simulations. It also has phenomenal connectivity with an AUX input, MIDI connectivity, line output and input, USB port, headphone jacks, and pedal inputs.
You get what you pay for with this model. While $4,000 definitely justifies potential sticker shock, that money goes toward a high-quality piano with an overwhelming range of sound customization options and flexibility.
The warranty you receive depends on which specific Kawai model you choose. Coverage for different series in the Kawai line ranges from 90 days to three years.
Korg KRONOS2 88-Key Piano
If you are looking for a keyboard that not only plays like a piano but acts as your recording studio, then the Korg KRONOS2 is definitely worthy of your consideration. It has a whole host of sound options and a powerful synthesizer that has the capacity to make unique, powerful sounds. There are weighted keys with excellent hammer retention to simulate a real keyboard.
This Korg keyboard incorporates almost 1800 pre-programmed sounds along with an array of piano and organ sound variations. Essentially, it can perform as an all-encompassing workstation providing you with the ability to write, perform, orchestrate, and record your own music at any level of complexity.
This is another decidedly high-end model on our list with its price tag on Amazon at around $$$.
Ease of Use
We strongly recommend that you only get this keyboard if you have extensive experience dealing with recording equipment. While it is well laid out for those with previous knowledge on synthesizing sounds and utilizing recording equipment, it can be overwhelming for any newcomer or casual performer.
Sound & Connectivity
The sound quality Korg delivers is phenomenal, with many customers “over the moon” on the clarity of the speakers and realism of the sounds. The Korg comes with 9 distinct, built-in sound engines. This model does not receive universal 5-star reviews, however, in part due to how hard it is to import third- party sounds.
Connectivity is also excellent for the Korg KRONOS2, as it should be for a workstation-capable keyboard. An AUX jack, headphone and speaker connections, mic port, and all other essential connections are easy to access on this instrument.
Some users and reviewers regret spending so much on a product that did not meet all their standards and proved difficult to use. Most were happy with the purchase, but a few expressed desire for a sturdier, cleaner design.
Korg provides a standard 1-year warranty covering parts and labor.
Alesis Recital Pro Digital Piano
- Start playing professional keys today - the ultimate beginners digital piano loaded with 12 expertly crafted voices and...
- Universal responsive feel - 88 Premium full-sized hammer action keys with adjustable touch response to suit your...
- Connectivity covered - built-in 20W speakers deliver room filling sound, ¼” (6.35mm) sustain pedal input (pedal not...
If you are looking for a more affordable digital piano than those covered so far, then look no further than an Alesis instrument. The Alesis digital piano we evaluated comes in at a substantially lower price than many alternatives, but it has 12 premium voices, hammer-action keys for a realistic feel, 20W built-in speakers, a headphone output, and various educational features.
This model is a full-sized keyboard with all 88 keys. Touch response is adjustable so that you can make the piano easier or harder to play based on the weight and pressure of your touch. This model is designed with the beginning musician in mind.
This is the most affordable keyboard among those we evaluated, and we found it available on Amazon for about $.
Ease of Use
Because this Alesis model is designed for beginning piano players, it is incredibly easy to learn and use. All of its features are designed to introduce a curious individual to the art of playing piano.
Sound & Connectivity
While the sound quality is impressive, this keyboard pales in comparison to the other, higher-end digital instruments on this list. It was not built to impress, but more to serve as an easy introduction to the piano world.
This model was designed with practicality in mind. It is lightweight, and it performs all basic, fundamental functions. It isn’t nearly as durable as other models, however.
We found no warranty visibly posted on the manufacturer’s website.
After carefully evaluating several popular digital piano options, we determined that the best piano for those who want to learn piano and are on a budget is the Alesis 88-key model we featured. It offers you the touch and feel of a real piano, but it won’t carve too big of a hole out of your budget. If you are after something more professional in overall quality and performance, however, then our top choice is the Kawai ES8. It is the most affordable instrument considering all it has to offer, including universally applauded sound quality, a simple user interface, and excellent recording capabilities.