Introduction

The Kawai ES110 is the latest addition to Kawai’s lineup of high-performance digital pianos. Using Kawai’s exclusive “Harmonic Imaging Technology” with an individual 88-key piano sampling, the Kawai ES110 outperforms every other piano in its class. The Kawai ES110 is also the first Kawai digital piano ever to feature a lightweight, high strength outer casing which gives maximum durability while keeping the weight to under 35 lbs and is also the only model from Kawai to ever sell for under $1000. This is a real breakthrough in digital technology and will allow for a whole new generation of young players to have access to an authentic touch and feel at an exceptional price point. Some of the other unique features on this model include a full weighted 88 key action, built-in speakers, 2 headphone jacks, and a music desk. This piano is also available with an optional designer stand and a 3-pedal system with a real working sostenuto pedal.

Kawai ES110 Digital Piano Review Video Transcription

The ES110 is a keyboard that’s been out for a few years on the market, so it is not the new kid on the block by any means. That being said. in a testament to the engineering and the high-quality of what Kawai generally puts out there, this is an instrument that still tops many wishlists, still has a ton of relevance in the marketplace, and is still standing up to even the newest competitors in its price range. Along with the Roland FP-30, the ES-110 is undoubtedly one of the heavyweights of the $1,000 or so CAD price point.

Piano Sound:

Kawai ES110 Portable Digital Piano
Kawai ES110 Portable Digital Piano

From a power standpoint, the power supply ES110 boats 14 watts of power consumption which is a little bit of an upgrade from where the ES100 was, the very popular model that preceded this. 14 watts, when it’s configured properly and delivered through a solid stereo speaker system as is the case here, is enough to fill a small room. It’s more than enough to be able to practice at a hobbyist level on your own without the need for an amplifier, and it provides enough presence that you can still get some bass response and warmth without having to use headphones.

As mentioned above, the sound is very impressive, and it’s one of the things that drew me to this instrument initially. For something that only weighs 26 lbs to offer sound this good is remarkable. Lots of gigging musicians use the ES110 as a primary and secondary instrument on stage because of how light it is, and the quality of the tone that you get out of it.

The sound engine driving the speaker is referred to as Kawai’s Harmonic Imaging Sound Technology. This sound engine is essentially a real piano sample with some extra synthesis sprinkled on top. The synthesized effects are added on top of an actual sample of a concert grand piano in a concert hall in which has settings that include Reverb, Damper Resonance, Voicing, Fall-back Noise, Damper Noise, Brilliance, Speaker EQ, and Effect On/Off. While this is now considered a previous generation sample set, its still very capable.

The sound engine boasts 192 note polyphony which is more than enough for solo piano playing. The stereo field is full, and there are all sorts of details for the ears to grab on to. There are acoustic piano sounds as well to choose from with variations on the tonal color when switching from various grand piano sounds and upright piano samples as well. The E. Piano sounds are quite nice as well. The Roads sound and Wurlitzer sound are both very convincing. I actually love the roads sound on the ES110 as it’s very rich with nice tremolo for it.

The various other tones are quite nice as well such as pads, harpsichord and vibraphone. Overall, there’s a nice selection of critical staple sounds that you would expect out of any portable digital piano, but executed at a high level. I would say for a lot of those patches, you’re dealing with a professional-grade sample that will be good enough to perform on or I should say record on.

Piano Action:

Kawai ES110 Action
Kawai ES110 Action

Now we’ll shift our conversation to the keyboard action. If you are anything like me and have a need for a really convincing expressive piano action that’s easy to lug around, the ES110 has some nice surprises in store. The action found in the ES110 is the Responsive Hammer Compact Action. This is the same action that appears in Kawai’s KDP110 home digital piano. You can also think of it as a slightly lighter weight, slightly simplified version of the Responsive Hammer III action, which is widely regarded in the industry as the top plastic digital action currently on the market.

One thing that I really like about Kawai’s plastic actions in general is that they all have micro textures on the key-tops. The texture provides a very nice grip that keeps the key-tops from getting slippery or sticky, and makes the action feel closer to an acoustic key action.

One thing to note with the RHC action here is that it doesn’t have escapement. For people who are really hardcore classical players, you might want take a look at an action that does feature escapement. Of course, all three of the major brands, Yamaha, Kawai, Roland do feature actions on certain models with escapement, though it depends on the price point.

Features:

The first feature we’ll highlight is one that’s already come up in this article, but it deserves repeating just how light and easy it is to move this piano around. At a mere 26 lbs, the ES110 fits comfortably under one arm, and won’t break your back if you have to carry long distances. This is a really big deal for anyone who’s using this for professional use, or for someone who anticipates have to move their instrument around fairly often.

Another thing worth mentioning, despite becoming fairly standard across the board, is the included music rest. This means one less piece of gear to worry about as you won’t require music stand to along with the ES-110.

In terms of connectivity, a standout feature, especially given the price point, is the inclusion of discrete stereo quarter-inch audio outputs. I this price range, discrete audio outputs are a bit of a rarity. You get better fidelity without having to use the headphone jacks if you’d like to connect the ES110 to an amplifier or a PA system.

The ES110 has the older five-pin MIDI outputs and does not have the USB. This a little unusual, and I were to say that there’s one thing about the ES110 that’s showing its age a little bit, the fact that it doesn’t have the USB port. However, it does have Bluetooth wireless MIDI, which was not as common when the ES110 was released in 2017.  If you’re using a modern tablet or even a computer, you can connect the ES110 wirelessly to those smart devices, which of course allows you to use Kawai’s software like the Sound Museum or Virtual Technician, as well as other software such as programs like GarageBand, and Logic. There’s a whole host of DAW and music education software out there that is all compatible with wireless Bluetooth MIDI and with its dedicated line-out jacks, plus MIDI ports, you’ll have everything you need to take the stage.

In terms of accessories, the ES110 is available with an optional matching stand. An upgrade over the common X type stand, the Kawai HML1 stand is a furniture style keyboard stand and is compatible with the Kawai f-350 triple pedal system. With those accessories added the ES110b kind of turns into a more of a home based digital piano rather than just a portable instrument. The standard f-10h damper pedal/sustain pedal supports half-pedaling so you may not need to add the triple pedal, but it’s an option none the less.

Last but not least, we should mention that the ES110 has all of your expected standard digital features as well. You can layer two sounds on top of one another,  split the keyboard into multiple sections and it also has a basic onboard song recorder. There’s of course a built-in metronome as well as transpose function, not to me mention Built-in Alfred piano lesson function and Burgmuller etudes.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. Here’s the ES110, out for a few years, but the verdict is still absolutely relevant because, for its price range, I would consider this to have class-leading piano tone. It definitely has some of the nicest speakers for its price range, and kind of the technology range. And probably one of the nicest things of all, this thing is super light and very, very easy to pick up and put wherever you want to be enjoying your piano.

So, once again, thank you so much for joining us for another video. This, of course, has been our review of the Kawai ES110. If you wanna hear this instrument just play it on its own, be sure to check out our ES110 playing-only video. I’m not doing any talking, just doing some playing experience on the most popular sounds. And as we said at the beginning, if this is the first time to the channel, we’d really appreciate it if you just click that subscribe button. It helps us to keep making new content, and it keeps you up-to-date on all things piano. We will see you back next time for another video. My name is Stu Harrison. You’ve been with Merriam Pianos.