Hello Everyone, welcome to another portable piano review. Here we are taking a close look at the Kawai ES120 digital piano, the latest addition to the Kawai ES portable series. It is also the successor of the very popular ES110.
The ES series delivers the same outstanding tone and quality sound that you found in many acclaimed Kawai digital pianos and offers portability for any venue or occasion.
In terms of appearance, the ES120 retains a similar sleek and lightweight design as of ES110. The ES120, is 27.5 lbs (12.5 kg), keeping the portability advantage and suitability for gigs and stage performances.
Besides the slight dimension difference, what updates or enhanced features does the Kawai ES120 bring to the digital piano world?
Since we have done a review on Kawai ES110, here, we are focusing on comparing the ES120 with the ES100.
Table of Contents
- 1 Kawai ES120 Specifications
- 2 Kawai ES120 vs. ES110
- 3 Kawai ES120 Review Summary
- 4 Kawai ES120 Pros & Cons
- 5 Our Verdict On Kawai ES120
Kawai ES120 Specifications
Kawai ES120 vs. ES110
When we put these two models side-by-side, the differences are apparent.
While both Kawai ES120 and ES110 have the Responsive Hammer Compact action, the improvements in ES120 action are significant.
Without debate, the ES120 has a better keyboard than the ES110. The piano manufacturer, Kawai, mentioned the improved cushioning on the individual keys of ES120. This improvement makes the keyboard much quieter, and the difference is not subtle.
Double Sensor and Key Surface
Kawai ES120 and ES110 have a dual sensor and escapement; therefore, nothing changes.
The key surface on both models is the same. The black and white keys have a nice matte finish.
Overall, the ES120 action gives a much more excellent experience. The key bed feels tighter and more solid. There is less flex, and less give in the keyboard. It offers the players better control of the playing, even applying with full force.
From the Specification, both ES110 and ES120 have a Harmonic Imaging sound engine with a polyphony of 192 maximum notes.
However, the number of tones has increased from 19 in ES110 to 25 in ES120. One of the additions is Kawai’s signature SK-EX concert grand piano sound, the default grand piano sound of ES120.
When you are using the headphones, it sounds similar in either model. On the other hand, the sound difference is quite apparent when you play through the speakers, especially with the reverb on.
The speaker amplifiers are more powerful in ES120, with two speakers and 10 watts each, vs. 7 watts each in ES110.
Additionally, the reverb engine is updated on the ES120. Therefore, the sound from ES120 is much more rounded and balanced and provides more dynamics. ES120 offers a much richer and fuller sound for many other tunes, including upright pianos, string ensembles, etc.
Technically, the user interfaces on both models are similar, using buttons on the left side of the instrument to choose voices and functions. However, the stylish new buttons on ES120 look more pleasing and seem easier to navigate.
Both user interfaces do not have LCDs for controls. You can use Kawai’s PianoRemote app to manage the parameters, which is visual and much more accessible.
Nowadays, streaming audio to your digital piano is ever more popular. Many people expect Bluetooth Audio as a “standard” feature on a digital piano.
Kawai ES110 only has Bluetooth MIDI. The ES120 takes wireless connection a step further and additionally equips Bluetooth Audio that allows you to stream music from your smart device to your piano wirelessly.
On the other hand, Kawai removed the 5-pin DIN jack on the ES120 while it is available in ES110. For ES120, you must use the USB Type-B (USB-to-Host) for the MIDI connection.
The Kawai ES120 comes with a disappointing plastic foot switch, while ES110 features a more robust damper pedal, the F-10H, with half-pedal support.
Getting the F-10H damper pedal or the GFP-3 triple pedal is optimal for serious piano players if your budget allows it.
Kawai ES120 Review Summary
The Kawai ES120 is an excellent digital piano suitable for beginners and advanced players, offering outstanding performance in various aspects.
It boasts an attractive appearance and authentic sound reproduction and provides convenient connectivity options.
A notable aspect of this particular model is its lightweight construction, making it perfect for transporting to gigs. It is designed specifically for musicians who are frequently on the move. Additionally, the instrument’s control panel features minimal buttons, contributing to its sleek and streamlined appearance.
The ES120 model comes in two black and white colors.
Above, we called out the differences from ES110. Below, we are sharing some of the same features as ES110. For more details on unchanging features, check out our review of ES110.
Like Kawai ES110, the ES120 offers a range of valuable options that enhance your playing experience. These settings are carefully designed to evoke the nostalgic ambiance of playing an acoustic piano, adding depth and richness to your musical journey.
Here are a few examples of the settings:
- Damper Resonance
- 6 Types of Reverberation
- EQ Setting
Kawai ES120 offers dual and split modes and a built-in songbook to aid your practice.
- The dual-mode (layering) lets you layer two instruments at once when you press the keys. You can also adjust the mix volume to make the sound of one instrument more prominent.
- In split mode, you can simultaneously play two voices using your right and left hands; each hand plays a voice. Since the keyboard is split into two equal sections, you can play the grand piano mode on the right hand and the Wood Bass on the left, for instance.
Kawai ES120 Stand
The Kawai ES120 is equipped with a removable music rest, providing great convenience for transportation purposes. It can be effortlessly inserted into the designated slot located at the back of the instrument.
Additionally, you have the choice to acquire a matching wooden furniture stand for the Kawai ES120, or alternatively, a foldable X-style stand can be used for convenient portability.
The console-style stand for the Kawai ES120 offers an optional triple pedal unit (F-351), which adds to the aesthetic of an upright piano and more closely resembles the acoustic piano playing experience. This unit consists of three piano pedals: the sustain, soft, and sostenuto.
Kawai ES120 Pros & Cons
|No LCD control panel
|Kawai’s SK-EX and EX concert grand piano sounds
|Plastic foot switch as damper pedal
|Excellent improved Responsive Hammer Compact action keyboard
|Weight under 30 lbs – very portable
|Bluetooth wireless MIDI and Audio
|Budget-friendly price point
Our Verdict On Kawai ES120
4.5 out of 5.0
- The cushioned action is much quieter and more solid, offering a better playing experience.
- The SK-EX default grand piano sound, enhanced reverb function, and the more powerful speakers improve the sound in ES120.
Along with other minor improvements, such as Bluetooth Audio and a modernized user interface, the ES120 is hands down an upgraded instrument over the ES110.
For the under-a-thousand-dollar price tag, the ES120 is an attractive option for beginners and seasoned pianists because you will bring home the sound of the Shigeru Kawai Concert Grand Piano, which costs a quarter million dollars.
The lightweight design also makes this instrument an ideal stage piano.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me using the comment feature below.
Related Digital Piano Reviews: