Kawai ES8

88-key Digital Piano with 34 Instrument Sounds, RHIII Graded-hammer Keybed, 256-note Polyphony, Onboard Rhythm Section, Built-in Speakers, and Sustain Pedal - Gloss Black
Kawai ES8 image 1

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Kawai ES8 image 1
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Kawai ES8
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Solid Piano for the Classroom, Living Room, or Stage

Hauling three celebrated grand pianos, a wall of organs, and an intelligent rhythm section to the gig has never been easier! The 45-pound Kawai ES8 digital piano has sampled all 88 keys of a world-class Shigeru Kawai EX concert grand (among others) at multiple velocities for a realistic playing experience - right down to the hammer noise and damper resonance. The Kawai ES8's sophisticated graded keybed responds accurately to dynamics and quickly to repeat notes for trills and flourishes. Fill your home with gorgeous piano and organ sounds with the 30-watt onboard stereo speakers, or take advantage of dual headphone and stereo 1/4" outs for silent practice and recording sessions.

Kawai ES8 Digital Piano at a Glance:
  • Three Kawai grands with 30 other instruments
  • Responsive Hammer III keybed plays like an acoustic piano
  • Draws on 90 years of Kawai piano expertise
Three Kawai grands with 30 other instruments

Let's be honest: nothing on the market sounds and responds exactly like a great acoustic piano. But what can be said about the Kawai ES8 is it has taken exhaustive measures to provide the best approximation for an instrument of its class. The Kawai ES8 gives you three meticulously sampled pianos to use at home and onstage: The Shigeru Kawai EX and Kawai EX concert grands, and a 6' Shigeru Kawai SK5 concert grand. And since not every gig calls for a clean piano sound, Kawai saw fit to load up the ES8 with a host of other instruments, like gritty rock organs with switchable amp and rotary speaker simulators, effect pianos, strings, choirs, bass and guitar, and more. You can also layer patches for big filmic strings-and-piano productions or split patches anywhere on the keyboard to mimic a fretless bass/vibes jazz combo.

Responsive Hammer III keybed plays like an acoustic piano

Great-sounding samples aren't enough to sell a digital piano. What makes the Kawai ES8 stand out is its Responsive Hammer III (RHIII) action. Kawai's expertise in the acoustic piano realm is clear in the way it has engineered every key on the ES8. Grade-weighted hammers give the bass side a heavier feel than the treble side like on a "real" piano. Counterweights assist players with a lighter or more dynamic touch. Triple-Sensor Key Detection responds naturally to repeat strokes. And Let-Off simulation re-creates the subtle "notch" you feel on acoustic pianos when playing softly. Top these with Kawai's moisture-absorbing Ivory Touch key surfaces, and you've got a digital piano that plays every bit as good as it sounds.

Draws on 90 years of Kawai piano expertise

Kawai is held in high regard among serious keyboardists here at Sweetwater, and for good reason. The company has been hard at work crafting fine pianos since 1927, and they pour their considerable knowledge and experience into every digital piano they make. Coming from a company that knows great acoustic pianos, it's little wonder the Kawai ES8 feels and sounds so much like the real thing.

Kawai ES8 Digital Piano Features:
  • A solid instrument for the home, teaching studio, or stage
  • RHIII keys with graded hammers, 3 sensors, counterweights, and Let-Off simulation provide a realistic playing experience
  • Graded action - feels heavier on the bass side and lighter on the treble end
  • Dynamic response - handles the softest pps to the gnarliest fffs
  • Ivory Touch matte key surfaces absorb moisture for nonslip performances
  • Realistic samples of 3 Kawai grand pianos: Shigeru Kawai EX, Kawai EX, and Shigeru Kawai SK-5
  • Harmonic Imaging XL sampling is the same used on Kawai's flagship CA97
  • Virtual Technician creates a convincing acoustic performance with adjustable hammer noise and string/damper resonance
  • 34 instruments to cover most gig needs: organs, vibes, strings, choirs, bass, guitar, etc.
  • Voice layering and keyboard splits for innovative tones
  • Amp simulator gives organs and rock pianos real tube grit
  • Onboard reverb, modulation, and EQ for further tone shaping
  • Rhythm Section follows your lead to provide backing tracks in 100 different styles
  • 30-watt onboard speakers can fill a living room
  • Back-panel USB to Host ports connects to a computer or iPad
  • Front USB port plays MP3s and WAVs to/from a USB stick - great for learning arrangements
  • Onboard multitrack recorder lets you work on hands separately or accompany yourself
  • Stereo line input plays music from a phone or MP3 player
  • Stereo 1/4" outs provide a rich stereo field
  • MIDI in/out for no-fuss notation and recording
  • Dual headphone outs are helpful for lessons with students
  • Free iPad app lets you adjust ES8 settings remotely
  • Includes a single sustain pedal with a half-damper function and music rack
  • Stand not included, sold separately
Get a solid stage piano with an acoustic touch in the Kawai ES8 digital piano!

Tech Specs

Number of Keys 88
Type of Keys Weighted keys with RH III Graded Hammer action
Presets 34
Polyphony 256
Effects Reverb, Delay, Modulation, EQ, and Amp Simulator
Sequencer 10 song, 2-track recorder
Audio Inputs 1 x 1/8" TRS (line in)
Audio Outputs 2 x 1/4" (line out), 2 x 1/4" (headphones)
Pedal Inputs 2 x 1/4" (damper, damper/soft)
USB 1 x USB Type A, 1 x USB Type B
Built-in Speakers Yes
Amplifier 30W (with speaker on/off switch)
Number of Speakers 2
Bench/Stand Included No
Height 6"
Width 54"
Depth 14.5"
Weight 49 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number ES8B

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
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As good as anything I've played....better than 98% of the acoustic grands I've played.
Music background: I nose a lot and am a monster player(class./jazz)

Smiles all around!

I'm not a piano player. I bought this for our church after reading reviews, reading the manual and discussing with my sales rep at Sweetwater and consulting with the pianists at our church. Our church had several requirements including simple user interface/controls, built in practice speakers, volume control for practice speakers to be independent of main audio output to mix board, portable, rugged, sounds like a real piano and plays like a real piano. I feel this piano meets those requirements very well, not perfectly though. I'll comment where this instrument misses the requirement or exceeds. portable - The keyboard is a little bit heavy. This may be good as far as ruggedness goes but it makes it a challenging for a little ole church lady to put in her car to take to a tea or something. The piano gets packed up up after each Sunday service and stored. We pack and store this in a Gator hard case that was purchased at the same time. The case we selected is the GTSA88Slim - That case fits the piano very well but does not have room for the pedal(s) or for the music stand. I bought a Gator GK-2110 to hold the two different pedal setups (single and dual), the music stand, direct box, cables, etc. Simple user controls - This will only ever be used as a piano. We will never use rhythm, recording/playback, harpsichords or synthesizers, etc. We don't need all the things this can do. Its the least complicated one we found in our price range that also met other requirements so it was a bit of a compromise. One that only did piano or only did piano plus a handful of other voices would have been sufficient for our needs. The settings can be locked down so little curious fingers don't make unexpected changes. It also defaults to ideal settings and those defaults can be changed. Independent controls - Perfect for us - Maybe most do this. The keyboard this replaced (a Casio), had one volume knob that controlled the practice speakers AND the audio output. This caused headaches for the sound guy. The person playing wanted more sound from the 'monitors' and turns the knob up forcing the sound guy to back down the level on the board and vis a versa. The Kawai's volume slide for the practice speakers has no effect on the main audio output. Adjustment to the main output gain should never be needed but can be done down deep in the menus. This works exactly how we need and expect. Plays and sounds like a piano - The pianists were grinning ear to ear while playing this. That says it all. It sounds beautiful and plays beautifully. Maybe my review should have started with this. This piano replaced a casio that was probably bought at Toys-R-Us. That thing sounded horrible IMO. Maybe casio has nicer sounding units but the one we had was bad. The Kawai sounds beautiful. The sound guy (me) got compliments about it from people who didn't know we replaced the piano. Just that music sounded better today, etc. Bottom line - The Kawai ES8 is a near perfect match to our needs/requirements and brings smiles to all who play it.
Music background: Critical Listener and volunteer board operator
See also: Electric Pianos, Kawai, Kawai Digital Pianos