Visit Our Store

w

0

Kawai ES120 Review – An Impressive Introductory Stage Piano

26/03/2024

The Kawai ES120 Digital Piano is part of Kawai’s ES range of portable keys, offering a sleek look and an even smoother sound. It comes after the ES110, giving us a new and improved version with the same great features fine-tuned to make the playing experience better.

It’s perfect for beginner players wanting a realistic piano feel and detailed sound – but what else does the piano have to offer? We tell all in our Kawai ES120 review.  

Specifications 

KeyboardResponsive Hammer Compact (RHC) action 88 weighted keys
PolyphonyMax. 192 notes
Sounds25
Metronome1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 3/8, 6/8 beat + 100 drum rhythms
Internal Recorder3 songs - approx. 15,000-note memory capacity
Internal/Demo Songs16
Phones SettingsSpatial Headphone Sound (SHS), Phones Type
Bluetooth MIDIBluetooth (Ver. 5.0 GATT-compatible)/Bluetooth Low Energy MIDI Specification-compliant AUDIO: Bluetooth (Ver. 5.1 A2DP-compatible)
Other FunctionsRegistration Memories, Dual, Split, Reverb, Damper Resonance, Brilliance, Voicing, Touch Curve, Fall-back Noise, Damper Noise, Effects, Smart Mode, Transpose, Tuning, Temperament, Temperament Key, Low Volume Balance, Speaker EQ, Speaker On/Off, Auto Power Off, Factory Reset, Startup Settings, MIDI Settings
PedalF-1SP switch pedal (included)
CompatibilityF-10H damper pedal, GFP-3 triple pedal unit, F-351 triple pedal board accessories
JacksHeadphones x 2 (1/4", 1/8"), LINE OUT (1/4" L/MONO, R), USB to Host, DAMPER, PEDAL
Output Power10 W + 10 W
Speakers12 cm x 2
Power Consumption9 W (PS-129 AC adaptor)
Dimensions1305 (W) x 280 (D) x 150 (H) mm 51 3/8" (W) x 11" (D) x 6" (H)
Weight12.5 kg/27 3/5 lbs

In a hurry? Here’s our verdict 

Overall, the ES120 is a great digital piano. It’s smart, efficient to use, and incredibly realistic. Even though it’s primarily aimed at beginner and intermediate pianists, the ES120 is more than capable of supporting you as you advance from novice to intermediate. To sum up, here’s what we think is great and what be improved:

ProsCons
Bluetooth audio offers easy connectivityMore expensive than the ES110
Clear, easy-to-navigate user interfaceNot ideal for professional players due to beginner-type learning features
Responsive Hammer Compact key action offers a realistic key feel and weighting
Impressive speaker size and sound quality
Much more portable than an upright digital and has a key range that you could expect from an acoustic

Kawai ES120 review 

Aesthetic and design

Kawai ES120 user interfaceOne of the striking features of the ES120 is how compact it is for a digital piano, measuring just 280mm in depth, 1305mm in length, and 12.5kg in weight. Its sleek design is slightly smaller than its predecessor, the ES110.

With a robust construction, this digital piano features a hard plastic casing, which helps to prevent any risk of bumps and scrapes, making it perfect for gigging players who are looking for a high-quality stage piano to gig with.  

The interface is also simple to use, with a polished bar design on a newly designed front panel and redesigned rectangle buttons that ensure quick and easy selection. From a practical point of view, this is perfect for on-the-fly sound alterations, and aesthetically, it adds to that uncluttered finish.

Another useful tool is the volume slider which allows for smooth and quick use. Better still, the piano is available in a black or white finish. 


Key action

When choosing a piano, the action of the keys is a crucial element. The Kawai ES120 has a Responsive Hammer Compact (RHC) key action, a technology that mirrors the delicate touch and dynamic response of a grand piano. With grade-weighted hammers, the action ensures a heavier touch in the lower notes and a lighter touch in the higher ones, closely mimicking the natural weight distribution of acoustic piano keys.

The keys work using springless technology, delivering consistent upward and downward motions. So, what is the difference compared to the ES110?  Well, the ES120 takes a step further by incorporating slightly improved cushioning material between the hammer and keys.

This subtle yet impactful adjustment significantly reduces the noise when releasing the keys, making the ES120 an even better choice for those quiet practice sessions that require concentration. It also means that when you’re wearing headphones, your family or friends won’t hear the constant thud of the keys. 

Whether you’re playing the soft moments of a ballad or striking the keys with force in a powerful crescendo, the ES120’s key action is designed to faithfully translate your emotions into sound, providing tactile feedback.

Such attention to detail in the key action ensures a nuanced connection between your fingers and the music. It might not be the Responsive Hammer Action III of Kawai’s high-end stage pianos, but for pianists looking for a great-quality introductory instrument with some advanced features, it’s perfect. Plus, the way it mimics an acoustic piano and responds to your dynamics is great for building technique. 


Sound quality

Kawai ES120 - sound quality At its core, the Harmonic Imaging piano engine of the ES120 brings to life the tones of the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX grand piano (previously reserved for higher-end models) and the Kawai K-60 upright, achieved through comprehensive 88-key stereo sampling, accurately reproduced through high-fidelity waveforms.

This ensures every note you play rings out with the authentic resonance, depth, and clarity of these esteemed acoustic instruments.

There’s an array of other sounds on offer, too, including organ, strings, and bass. 

The ES120 enriches your musical expression with an array of sound enhancements. With various presets and the doubling of reverbs to six modelled spaces, including a lounge, live hall, and cathedral, you can really experiment and sculpt your sound.

Whether you’re crafting intimate pieces in a small hall setting or powerful compositions that fill a concert hall, the ES120 adapts to your creative needs.

The innovative Low Volume Balance feature intelligently adjusts the piano’s character when you want to practise quietly, ensuring your music always sounds its best, regardless of the volume level.  

And when you want to rehearse in private, the Spatial Headphone Sound (SHS) technology offers an immersive auditory experience. It gives depth and realism to sounds, making extended sessions through headphones as satisfying as playing out loud.

To round it off, there’s a 20W amplifier and speaker system that delivers rich, well-rounded sound.


Features 

One of the most useful features of the ES120 is its seamless Bluetooth connectivity, offering both MIDI and audio capabilities. This allows you to connect with Kawai’s dedicated PianoRemote and PiaBookPlayer apps, as well as a broad selection of third-party apps. With such wireless convenience, you can stream music directly through the piano’s speakers to either just listen to or play along to.  

Beyond connectivity, the ES120 has a built-in recorder and metronome, alongside 100 drum rhythms. Dual and split modes further aid learning and creativity, allowing you to decide how two voices are divided over the keyboard and letting you split the keyboard in two so you can practise with your teacher.

There are lots of other features included in the piano, including Spatial Headphone Sound (as previously mentioned), speaker EQ, transposing, and more.


Connectivity 

Kawai ES120 - Connectivity With USB-MIDI and 1/4’’ stereo line-out terminals, the Kawai ES120 effortlessly integrates into a home studio setup or connects with external amplification for stage performances.

This ensures you can easily record, produce, or amplify performances without compromising sound quality.  

As discussed, Bluetooth audio connectivity is also a defining feature as it allows you to wirelessly stream music through the piano’s speakers.

Bluetooth MIDI then lets you turn the piano into a production tool. 

The shift from the traditional two MIDI DIN ports to a single USB type B connector makes the instrument much more efficient and simple to use than the ES110 as it eliminates the need for additional interfaces. 

Despite this being an introductory stage piano, its extensive connectivity options make it suitable for pianists of any level.

Who is the Kawai ES120 suited to?

The Kawai ES120 strikes the perfect balance between affordability and a wealth of upgraded features. Its design caters to a wide audience, making it an ideal choice for both beginners and intermediate players who want a portable yet sophisticated instrument. Plus, it’s reasonably priced given its array of enhancements over its predecessor.

This digital piano is particularly well-suited to those who appreciate the tactile response and sound quality of a traditional piano but require the versatility and convenience of a modern digital instrument.

The inclusion of advanced connectivity options, such as Bluetooth audio and USB-MIDI, alongside a selection of authentic piano sounds and improved keyboard action, makes the ES120 a versatile tool for home practice, stage performances, and music education settings.

Its lightweight design further appeals to gigging musicians and teachers who need a reliable instrument that is easy to transport.

Kawai ES120 - Aesthetic and design

FAQs  

Is the Kawai ES120 worth it?  

The Kawai ES120 is worth it for its price point, offering a balance of high-quality construction, features, and performance. Its realistic piano sound and touch appeal to both beginners and experienced players looking for a portable option.  


Is the Kawai ES120 weighted?  

The Kawai ES120 features weighted hammer action keys designed to mimic the touch and feel of an acoustic piano. This enhances the playing experience by providing a more authentic feel, crucial for dynamic expression and technique development.  


Where is the Kawai ES120 made?  

The Kawai ES120 is manufactured in Indonesia. Its manufacturing meets Kawai’s commitment to producing high-quality digital pianos in facilities that meet their strict standards for craftsmanship and environmental responsibility.

Final thoughts 

If there’s anything our Kawai ES120 review has shown, it’s that with a Responsive Hammer Compact key action and 88-key stereo sampling, it goes beyond what you’d expect from an introductory piano. As well as its excellent sound and realistic feel, it offers a range of features that are ideal for beginner and intermediate players, including Dual and Split modes and connectivity to learning apps. 

The ES120 Digital Piano is on the more expensive side for the ability levels it’s aimed at, but this is easily reflected in its features, sampled sounds, and realistic playability.  

 

Digital Marketing Apprentice

Laura is a Content Writer with 15 years of drumming experience. Laura's musical tastes range from Led Zeppelin to Phoebe Bridgers.

RELATED ARTICLES

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This