Kawai ES110 review

Kawai ES110

7.7

Design

6.0/10

Key Action

8.0/10

Sound

8.0/10

Features

7.0/10

Accessories

8.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Portable
  • Excellent key action
  • Bluetooth
  • 192 polyphony
  • Internal recording
  • Sustain pedal supporting half-pedalling

Cons

  • Need to buy stand and bench
  • Gap between the keys
  • Weak speakers
  • Would be nice to have triple sensor

When people ask me which digital piano they should buy to begin learning the instrument, I often recommend either the Yamaha P45 or the Kawai ES110. For beginners, you really don’t want to invest too much in the beginning because there is a good chance that this passion of yours cools down and the expensive piano you bought becomes a furniture for the living room. The Kawai ES110 is highly focused on piano play experience. By cutting out bells and whistles, you get a really impressive playing experience with a competitive price.

DESIGN

Being a portable stage digital piano, the Kawai ES110 is compact and lightweight. Other than that, it’s quite basic.

Most of your money goes to the key action and sound, which I think is a good thing.

  • The Look

The frame is plastic with a matte finish. Doesn’t really feel expensive to the touch. As for colors, you can choose between black and white.

  • Music Rest

The Kawai ES110 music rest is detachable and big enough.

The Kawai ES110 comes with a detachable type music rest.

It’s sizable and long enough to display several pages at once.

There are subtle curves on the edge of the music rest, which gives it a stylish accent.

What I also like about the music rest is that the bottom is sloped to prevent pages from flipping.

  • Control

The control panel of Kawai ES110 is simple and clear.

Like most other portable digital pianos, the control panel of the Kawai ES110 is very bare bone and many functions require a combination of buttons and keys. You will want to read through the user Manuel thoroughly.

  • Keys

Plastic keys of the Kawai ES110 with matte finish

The 88 keys of the Kawai ES110 are plastic with matte finish on the surface.

The matte finish is supposed to help with grip during long playing session and I’m sure it does help.

However, for my experience, it doesn’t make a significant difference.

If you usually play long sessions and your fingers are prone to sweat a bit, you might want to look at keys with simulated ivory/ebony.

One thing I’ve also noticed is that there seems to have quite a gap between the keys.

I would say the Kawai ES110 key spacing could use a bit improvement. Although some would argue that even concert grand could have some slight uneven spacing between their keys and it’s nothing to worry about.

You can check this Reddit discussion and decide for your own.

  • Size & Weight

At the time of writing this review, the ES110 is the most portable digital piano from Kawai. It is 131 cm (52 inches) long, 29 cm (11 inches) deep and 15 cm (6 inches) high with a weight of 12 kg (26 lbs).

KEY ACTION

Kawai is famous for its realistic key actions on its digital pianos. Although the best of their key actions are exclusive to the high end product line, the one you will find in the ES110 is pretty impressive.

RHC is what makes the Kawai ES110 worth its price.

The 88 keys on the Kawai ES110 are weighted and graded.

Kawai uses actual hammers instead of springs, which creates a more realistic feeling to the keys.

The positions of the key pivot point and the hammer pivot point give the keys a light and responsive action.

What further improves the responsiveness and control of the key movement is the placement of the dual sensor. The sensors are beneath the middle of the keys rather than near the key pivot point. This sensor placement makes it easier to play faster and you get a more immediate response from the key movements.

Overall, the key action of the Kawai ES110 is excellent for its price. Many, including myself, prefer the Responsive Hammer Compact compare to what other brands can offer at the same price range.

SOUND

Kawai is a world-famous manufacture for acoustic grand concert pianos.

On this digital piano, you have access to the sound of Kawai’s top of the line EX concert grand.

Each note is individually recorded with harmonic imaging technology to capture the subtle tone difference when the key is being pressed with different force.

The sound is then enhanced by adding reverb and resonances to create the most authentic, dynamic and rich in detail reproduction of their concert grand.

In addition to the piano sounds, you will find a full list of other instruments in the features section below.

You can fine tune the sound to your liking using an app that connects to the ES110 via Bluetooth.

There are two 7 watt speakers in the ES110. To fully utilize the amazing sound recorded in the ES110, you would want to connect a pair of external speakers or monitors.

FEATURES

There are some pleasant features built in the ES110, including the ability to connect to a smart device wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Below you will find a list of its main features.

  • Sound:
    • Concert Grand pianos × 2
    • Studio Grand pianos × 2
    • Mellow Grand pianos × 2
    • Modern piano
    • Rock piano
    • Electric pianos × 3
    • Pipe organs × 2
    • Harpsichords
    • Strings × 2
    • Vibraphone
    • Bass × 2
  • Polyphony: 192
  • Key sensitivity:
    • Off: turns off key sensitivity
    • Light
    • Normal (default)
    • Heavy
  • Reverb settings:
    • Recital Room
    • Small Hall
    • Concert Hall
  • Damper resonance:
    • Off
    • Small
    • Medium
    • Large
  • Brilliance: to adjust the brightness of the piano sounds
  • Modes:
    • Dual mode: two instrument sound simultaneously
    • Split mode: split the keyboard to two different instruments
  • Internal recording: up to 3 songs
  • Connectivity:
    • Line out: R+L/mono
    • MIDI ports: In+Out
    • 2 Headphone jacks: on the front side
    • Bluetooth

ACCESSORIES

The Kawai ES110 comes in with a music rest, power adapter and a sustain pedal.Great sustain pedal that comes with the Kawai ES110.

For home use, you will need to purchase a stand and bench.

One good news here is that the sustain pedal included is high quality and supports half pedaling.

A good pair of headphones is a must if you don’t want to annoy your neighbors with your practicing.

To perform on stage or for your family and friends, a good sound system or monitors are recommended.

I can see many applications of this excellent digital piano.

Whether you want to use it for gigs or only use it for practice at home, the Kawai ES110 will not disappoint you.

It is also suited for both beginners and intermediate players since its key action allows for fast and expressive performance and the sustain pedal support progressive half-pedaling.

In addition, the Bluetooth connectivity makes it perfect for someone who wants to learn piano online.

If your budget is 800 dollars, you can’t go wrong by choosing the Kawai ES110 and you won’t feel the need to upgrade for years to come.

 

CONCLUSION

For its price, the Kawai ES110 offers amazing value.

It is considered by many the best digital piano under 800 dollars. After reviewing it, I tend to agree on that assessment.

Whether you want to take it on the road or just use it at home, the Kawai ES110 is a great choice.

OTHER OPTIONS

Kawai ES110 vs. Yamaha P45

The Kawai ES110 is almost twice as expensive than the Yamaha P45. If you don’t have the budget, it’s almost impossible to convince you towards the ES110. But if you do have the budget, the ES110 is in every way superior than the P45.

The key action on the ES110 is a lot more realistic and expressive than the GHS action on the P45. It is in fact the best key action around this price range.

Sound engine on the ES110 is also significantly better compare to the engine used on the P45. Not only is the recording more authentic, there are also reverb and resonances to mimic the sound wave bouncing around inside and outside the piano. You can easily tell the difference between the two models.

The Kawai ES110 has a maximum polyphony of 192 notes, which is a lot more than the 64 notes on the P45. It also has an internal recording function and Bluetooth, while the P45 has neither. In addition to that, the sustain pedal that comes with the ES110 is an authentic pedal with half pedaling support. But the pedal with P45 is a simply binary foot switch.

Overall, the Kawai ES110 is more than worth the extra dollars compare to the Yamaha P45. If you have the budget, go for the ES110 and you will be very happy with it.

For more details about the Yamaha P45, read my full review here. 

Kawai ES110 vs. Yamaha P125

Click here for my full review on the Yamaha P125 and where I compare the two models.

Kawai ES110 vs. Roland FP-30

These two cost around the same price and are competing head to head on the market right now. They are both really good digital pianos and you can’t go wrong with either.

The key action on the Kawai ES110 is in my opinion better than the one on the Roland FP-30. It feels more authentic and somehow more consistent. The RHC on the ES110 does not have the ‘escapement‘ effect that you will find on the FP-30. Depends on your take on the escapement, it can be an advantage or disadvantage. Personally, I don’t really like the escapement feel on the FP-30 so I would prefer the key action on the ES110.

Sound wise, the two models are equally impressive. The FP-30 does have a slightly more powerful speaker system. A more significant difference is the characteristic of the sounds. It is largely dependent on personal taste. I feel the sound of the ES110 is more suited for classical music while the FP-30 sounds more versatile. Hard to say which one is better.

They both have Bluetooth but the ES110 has a bigger polyphony number of 192 compare to FP-30’s 128.

The ES110 also comes with a much better pedal than the FP-30.

If you ask me, I would recommend the Kawai ES110 for it’s more authentic key action, larger polyphony and better pedal. But you really can’t go wrong with the Roland FP-30.

For more details about the Roland FP-30, click here to read my full review.


Let me know what you think. If you have any experience with the Kawai ES110 or if you have any question about it, please leave a comment below.

WHO IT’S FOR

Posted in Digital Piano Reviews and tagged , , .

30 Comments

  1. Hi Wei,
    I almost buy a new es110, but someone offered me casio ap 460. He offered me the same price as es110. Should i buy that casio? Is that really use triple sensor on it? I cant do a trial since both are sell online. I dont like the sound produced by casio but getting a wood stand and a bench, and also triple sensor is kind of worth to buy. Please tell me what u know about ap 460. Thanks, wei.

    • Hi Swan,

      Is the AP 460 a used one? And you can’t have it tested?

      If both are new, then the AP460 would be my recommendation if it’s the same price as the ES110. If it’s used, you need to make sure there’s some sort of protection for you. Like a good return/refund policy etc.

  2. Hi Wei,
    I am deciding between ES110 and the FP30. I have only tried the FP30 and to be honest I found the action too heavy compared to the Yamahas in the store. I am only a beginner so my question is: Will a lighter touch keyboard help me for fast passages? Is it “easier” to play a lighter touch piano like the ES110? Thanks!

    • Hi Pablo,

      I would assume the Yamaha action you tried are the GHS key action on the P45/P125. I personally started my piano journey with the Yamaha P45 and it’s perfectly fine for any beginners. But I did upgrade pretty soon since the GHS key action is not very expressive. This is what you need to pay attention to when it comes to lighter actions. They might be slightly ‘faster’ but it’s much harder to put emotions to your play. You can’t precisely control the touch due to the overall lightness.

      However, the action on the Kawai ES110 is not that light. I find expressiveness on the ES110 pretty satisfactory. The reason that you find the FP30 ‘heavier’ might be the simulated ‘let off’ feature on the key action. Personally, I find the action on the Kawai ES110 a better balance and I enjoy play on it slightly more than the Roland FP30.

  3. Hi Wei,

    I’m trying to make a decision between the Kawai es110 and the Roland fp30.
    I had the chance to try the fp30, but not the es110. Three things concern me:
    1. I read other reviews which state that the es110 has issues with irregular spacing and some sort of springy/noisy keys.
    2. Speakers on the Kawai are less powerful, but I’ll be playing it at my appartment. Although the fp30 speakers of are louder, the are positioned facing down, which can be an issue if I end up placing the keyboard on top of a desk or table.
    3. Fp30 has only three options to make the keys lighter/heavier (es110 seems
    to have 6). I’m used to an acoustic piano. When I chose the heavier option on fp30, I had the impression that I had to make too much effort to get the sound out – so I ended up with lower sound coming from speakers.

    Can you help me out on these matters?

    Thanks a lot!
    Best, Carol

    • Hi Carol,

      It’s a very tough comparison with these two popular digital pianos. They are so close that it usually just come down to personal preference. But I’ll do my best to address the questions you have.

      1. There has been some report on the keys of the Kawai ES110. Some even report quality issues. This could be a major concern especially if you want this instrument to last for years. On the other hand, Roland has a very strong reputation and I almost never find any quality related complains.

      2. I myself wouldn’t concern too much about speakers, especially on a portable digital piano. Usually they are not very good and you are much better off to play with headphone or using an external speaker/monitor system. That given said, it would have a negative effect if you put the piano on a table when the speakers are facing downwards. While we are on the subject, are you sure you want to limit your choice to portable pianos? Console style ones usually offer much better playing experience.

      3. From my experience and what I heard from others, you and your fingers get used to the new key action quite quickly. So I don’t think the extra sensitivity settings on the Kawai ES110 is that significant in the long run.

      In addition to the points above, the Kawai ES110 does have a much better pedal and a larger polyphony number. If I plan to upgrade in a few years, I would choose the ES110. However, if I want this piano to last more than 5 years, Roland is probably a safer bet.

      • Wei,

        Thank you very much for your reply! It is very helpful and will definetely help me to make a better decision.

        Happy hollidays!

  4. Hi , in my country kawai es 110 and casio px-s1000 is at same price.
    Focus In key action, which one I SHOULD chose.I mean both have 2 sensor but casio have some software solution so casio px s1000 have something like 3 sensor, but is that big impact vs kawai es110
    Thank you

    • Hi Huy,

      That’s a tough question to answer. I’d say they both have very good key action. Honestly, I can’t determine which one is better. If you can find a physical store, go and try them yourself. Otherwise, if your online shop has good return policy, I would consider purchase both and return the one you don’t like.

      I wish I can be more helpful but I enjoy the actions on both models.

  5. Hi Alex,

    Thank you for this great review.
    I do not have any idea about piano’s but wanted to play one. Currently, I am torn between buying the Yamaha PSR E363 or this KAWAI ES110.
    I want the Yahama 363 for this sounds pleasing to me for my $250 budget. However, as I discover different options, the sound of digital piano’s excites me more. Kawai ES110 cost around $550 at my country.
    I would like to ask if it’s worth adding more than times two of my budget for the Kawai ES110? With regards to it’s durability, does it seem to last than the Yamaha models of it’s range?
    I would appreciate any response.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Kris,

      My name is Wei but thank you for your comment.
      The Yamaha PSR E363 is not a digital piano. It’s a keyboard with only 61 keys. They are quite different products in fact. Here’s a detailed comparison between keyboard and digital piano.
      The Kawai provides much better sound quality and the realism of key action is something you can’t get on the Yamaha PSR E363. But is it right for you? That really depends on your idea of usage. Are you looking to learn how to play the piano? What type of music are you into?
      Keyboards are usually much cheaper than digital pianos but these days, you can also find good digital pianos like the Kawai ES110 for quite low price. Other cheap options include the Yamaha P-45 (Full Review), the Roland FP-10 (Full Review) and the Casio PX-160 (Full Review).

  6. Hey Wei, I love your writing style – it feels honest and is really useful!

    How do you feel the Kawai ES110 stacks up against the Korg B1?

    • Hi Alex,

      Welcome and thank you for your comment. Nothing boosts my confidence when I know my content has helped someone!

      As for the two models you mention, they are not really at the same price range. The Kawai is more expensive but with a much better key action and sound engine. Also the ES110 has much more features and functionality compare to the Korg B1. If you read my Korg B1 review, you will realize that it’s quite a bare-bone digital piano strictly aiming at beginners with tight budget.

      If you can afford it, definitely choose the Kawai ES110. You will enjoy the playing experience, the sound and its many convenient features.

  7. Hello Wei, great review!!! I had a piano when I was young, and I have enjoyed playing it. I would love to purchase a new one soon, and the Kawai ES-110 would be a perfect gift for myself. I have never heard of a piano that has Bluetooth, that was a fun fact.

    • Hi Ahmad, I’m glad I surprised you a bit. Technology has come a long way. On those high end digital pianos, they have touch screen now. Keep you wonder what’s coming next!

  8. The piano looks great and it has the features that I would want. If you were to spend the money on a used real piano versus this piano, would that be a good use of money? I’m worried the used piano won’t sound as good as this one. I love the price. Thanks for the review

    • Hi JB,

      Personally I would advice against a used acoustic piano. To start, an acoustic piano produces sound using physical components, that are subject to age and deterioration. This makes a used one sound significantly less impressive comparing to a new one. More importantly, there are a lot hidden cost in a used acoustic piano. You will need to pay extra for tuning at least and maybe even repair. And don’t forget, you are going to need some help to move it from the second hand shop or pay extra for delivery. If you live in an apartment, you might have to remove your windows so as to move the piano inside.

      At this price range, all things considered, I would strongly recommend to buy a new digital piano instead of a used acoustic piano!

      Just my 2 cents.

  9. Hi!
    That digital Piano looks great. Only drawback is that you need to purchase in addition a stand and bench. But on the other hand, given the excellent quality it can be worth it.
    Thanks for the review!
    – Mia

    • Hi Mia, it is a very good digital piano. But it’s designed as a stage piano so that people can take it around to gigs. To use at home, you do need a stand and a bench. What I did was I bought some wood and built a stand and bench that fit the style of my place. It’s not hard and it’s quite a fun project. If you need any help on that, just let me know. Thanks for dropping by!

  10. It is an honest and concrete review. Going through your reviews I found myself being educated as I know a little about piano:). good thing I read your article.

    Kind Regards,
    Gillian

    • Thank you Gillian! I’m glad you learned something with my post. If you ever want to give piano a try, send me an email or come here and leave a comment. I will be more than happy to help you.

  11. Hello Wei, thanks for the very thorough review. Reviews such as yours always make purchasing decisions much easier, so I thank you. This looks like terrific value for money.
    Thank you

  12. A great in-depth review! Always love to see Pros and Cons, Ratings of different aspects, and it’s particularly helpful that you included samples of the different versions of the piano. Perhaps the title “…Under 800” could specify the currency? I assume you mean a dollar amount… but it’s a little ambiguous.
    Keep up the great work!

  13. That’s a great and thorough review, thank you. You covered all aspects of the piano which gives the reader enough information to make an informed decision. The article was easy to read and very well laid out. Keep up the good work 🙂

    • Hi Helen, welcome to my website and thank you very much for leaving a comment here. I am glad that you find my review informative.

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