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AZ PIANO REVIEWS – The #1 Most Trusted Digital Piano Review & News Blog in the world! LOWER PRICES than Amazon and internet music stores! Free ship, no tax on most items. Don’t order anywhere until you check with Tim & Erik Praskins 1st! Email us at or call 602-571-1864
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UPDATED REVIEWOctober 1, 2016 – Kawai ES7 compact furniture style (or portable) digital piano is now discontinued. The replacement model is the ES8 and you can learn more about it from my review at the following link: Kawai ES8 Review. Although the new ES8 is a great instrument, the ES7 was a very good portable pianos because of its piano action, sound, and pedaling at that time.

My Previous ES7 review: In the world of digital pianos there are some models that really stand out in their price range for what they offer and the Kawai ES7 is one of those pianos because it is so unique in it being a furniture cabinet piano and also portable if necessary. Kawai is a well known & respected piano manufacturer from Japan and their acoustic & digital pianos are played around the world by pros, piano teachers, schools, churches, and families. The Kawai company is a direct competitor of the popular Yamaha for both acoustic & digital pianos, but Kawai is relatively small company and produces only pianos as compared to the large multi-product companies that produce a huge amount of pianos as well as unrelated products such as boats, motorcycles, keyboards, calculators, watches, etc., so Kawai is not as much a household word as some of the other brands, including Roland. By the way, for those of you who do not know, Kawai is pronounced “Ka-WHY.”

Kawai ES7 digital piano
ES7 with stand & pedals

The internet price of the Kawai ES7 piano with optional furniture stand & 3-pedal unit is $2507US (I recommend both stand & pedals should be purchased) which puts it in a higher price range than some other portable home pianos, but in many cases you get what you pay for and this is true of this model in my opinion. The piano alone (with includes a single full size piano sustain/damper pedal) is $1999US internet price and can be placed on a sturdy metal stand for about $100 more if you don’t want the Kawai furniture stand and 3-pedal unit. When people think of portable compact digital pianos they typically want to spend less than $2000 and there are many models available in that price range and also a few over $3000US so they can get even higher in price. Although the Roland & Yamaha compact home style pianos over $2000 have generally been more popular than Kawai over the years (I like some Roland & Yamaha models very much), I believe this ES7 has put Kawai ahead of the pack in terms of an all-in-one solution for an attractive higher end contemporary compact digital piano with excellent acoustic piano sound and realistic graded hammer weighted key action and superb pedaling, along with many other desirable features. As for Yamaha,  right now they don’t have a compact higher end portable style model with built-in speakers at this point with the features of the Kawai in the $2000-$3000US price range so it really boils down to either this new Kawai or the Roland model.

Kawai ES7 digital piano

I have played all of them and the Kawai ES7 along with its optional furniture stand and 3-pedal assembly is a standout model for me because it has all the important features that I like for a price which makes sense for what is offered. First of all, it looks attractive either by itself or when all assembled with optional furniture stand & pedals and is sturdy and well built with front support legs which none of the other compact pianos have. The semi-gloss black (or white) color of the piano is really nice and has a two-tone finish for the stand with satin ebony for the back part of the stand and semi-gloss ebony for the front & pedal unit so it’s quite stylish. The large matching designer music rack that comes with the Kawai furniture stand is very substantial as compared with what you would normally get from other brands so

Kawai ES7 control panel
ES7 control panel

there is plenty of room to put your sheet on it (which is super nice). Otherwise the ES7 by itself comes standard with a black wire music rack as seen in the picture down below. The optional 3-pedal system works very well and looks like an elegant mini-grand pedal assembly, and the piano seems to be solid. Unlike conventional cabinet digital pianos, the ES7 piano top can come off the furniture stand and played separately in a more portable fashion on another stand with a single pedal (included). This is useful if you want to take the piano with you and play it somewhere (a friend or relatives house, a second home, church, school, etc). The internal speaker system is surprisingly powerful with 30 watts of stereo audio power going through 2 good size speakers. Many full size cabinet digital pianos under $2000US have 40 watts of power going through similar size speakers, so for a portable piano the ES7 is comparatively loud and full sounding for its size and gives a satisfying listening experience.

Kawai ES7 semi-gloss black
ES7 semi-gloss black 

Although the ES7 has some pretty cool up-to-date technology with fun & educational features and a useful LCD user display screen so you can see and know what’s actually going on in the piano, this instrument seems to be primarily built to please the piano student and seasoned player. It’s really all about the piano sound, dynamic response, key action, and pedaling, and in my opinion Kawai has done an outstanding job in this area. It is true there are some fine portable compact pianos for substantially less money from Yamaha, Roland, and Casio among others and they sound good in their price range. But in my opinion those pianos do not come close to the ES7 in their ability to recreate the acoustic piano playing experience like the ES7 can. It’s the range of expression and musical colors from a dynamic acoustic piano style key action that really makes owning this piano a pleasure. The ES7 has the industry maximum 256 notes of polyphony along with the advanced 3-key sensor dynamic key response that allows for very difficult and/or fast repetitive pieces to be played by advanced players. Many of the lower priced digital pianos including full size cabinet models just cannot compete at this point in my opinion when it comes to a realistic piano playing experience as compared with the ES7. The key action has enough progressive & graded weight and response to make you feel as if you are playing a fine piano and the piano sound reproduction with 88-key sampling is excellent on all keys.

Kawai ES7 front panel buttons

The ES7 has 32 realistic instrument sounds which can be accessed from easy to use and easy to see front panel buttons which feel solid and respond well and are a good size. The 32 instrument tones are more than some other digital pianos have and less than others. However, it’s been my experience that most people don’t use much more than 10 to 20 instrument sounds on average and primarily are interested in excellent acoustic piano sounds (of which there are eight on the ES7) along with some great vintage electric pianos, harpsichords, strings, choirs, organs, and some synth sounds, so the ES7 does deliver on that point. The ES7 also has 200 realistic drum rhythm patterns including jazz, rock, blues, Latin, ballad, swing, gospel, country, waltz, etc which are great to have for rhythm & timing training. I recommend having and using drum rhythm patterns if possible as opposed to just a metronome because it allows students and players to get a better feel for the song, even when playing some classical music. Unless you already have a good sense of rhythm & timing, your music will not get up to where it could and should be without some help.

Kawai ES7 incl standard music rack
ES7 incl standard music rack

Along with the variety of high quality drum rhythm patterns, Kawai has also included an equal number of interactive chord style accompaniments which play along with the drum patterns and can make you sound as if you are playing along with a live band! In fact you can even play bad and sound good…so non-players can have some fun too! The way it works is that you would play a left-hand chord (full 3 or 4 finger chord or with one finger on root note) and the piano would play a 4-part left hand accompaniment arrangement in a musical style that you select while you also played a right-hand melody. Although this is a very cool feature, it is also found on some other digital pianos in lower and higher price ranges as well as inexpensive keyboards. However, the ES7 interactive styles sound more musically correct and make you feel like you are a “one man band.” This feature does give the ES7 an advantage that many other digital pianos do not have and using these chord accompaniment features are especially fun and useful for adults who just want to enjoy playing music as soon as possible or want to have a full musical playing experience in the styles of a band playing a variety of Latin, jazz, blues, rock, waltz, Gospel, country,  pop and many other musical styles. In addition to the left-hand interactive chord features, the piano will also allow you to have more fun because it has a “ad-lib” function which plays small “musical phrases” in a variety of patterns while you hold down a melody note(s), just like a pro would do. In this case your right hand can do a little but sound like it’s doing a lot and making beautiful music. It’s actually pretty cool and even though I can personally play well, I enjoy using these fun features that enhance my enjoyment and make me sound better than I already am:)

Kawai ES7 digital piano

With regard to piano learning and education, the ES7 can also play many General MIDI song accompaniments (although the piano itself is not fully General MIDI) over separate MIDI channels which means that you can get learning playalong songs for popular piano lesson books and play those songs through the ES7 from a USB flashdrive. The way this works is that you can play the piano part from your book live along with the a full song playing with you through the piano and you can adjust the speed of the playback for slow tempo while you learn to play the song. This is very helpful to students and I use this method in my piano studio because listening to the full song at a slower tempo can motivate the student and allow for a better understanding of the lesson. The ES7 also has the ability to play and record MP3 & wav audio song files and save it onto a USB flashdrive so that you can take songs from CD’s or iTunes, etc and play them directly through the piano for accompaniment songs for to play along with. When you record a song in either MP3 or wav audio format, you get to capture what you are actually hearing on the piano from your playing and then save it into a USB flashdrive for storage, so that you can later download the songs into your computer or iPod/iPad. There are many students and players who love to hear their creations played back, especially through iPod, iPad (or Android), etc and attached to social media like you tube, etc. So the ES7 can pretty much do it all when it comes to playback and recording songs and lessons including doing 2-track MIDI recording. This allows the player to record left and right hand piano parts separately and then listen to one hand playback while you play along with the other hand live and record it separately. Then you can play back both hands together to hear how you did and even play along with a different sound live on top of that and save it all on a USB flashdrive. Recording yourself and playing back is extremely useful for practice regardless what playing skill level you may be.

Kawai ES7 digital piano

Another handy educational feature is being able to plug the ES7 directly into an iPad (with optional iPad camera connector kit) for plug & play connectivity and being able to have a big variety of iPad (and Android) apps to download for further visual and interactive piano/music education. If you don’t know about this kind of thing or are not familiar with all the amazing piano related learning apps on iPad, they are really amazing. Your piano experience and learning time will be greatly enhanced by this activity and it’s a wonderful thing for both kids and adults. To make an iPad/tablet/laptop computer interactive experience even more enjoyable, the ES7 offers a 1/8″ mini jack audio input so that you can run the sound from the iPad/computer through the ES7 piano internal stereo system for much better iPad audio reproduction coming through the piano itself. This is a feature only a few digital pianos have and it’s quite useful including when wearing headphones for private practice. I use iPad piano & music apps all the time and they are great and make learning fun.

Kawai ES7 digital piano

The ES7 has many of the popular features found on other digital pianos including the ability to split & layer instrument sounds as well as two people being able to play side by side in a duet (four hands play) with the 88 keys divided electronically into two identical 44 key pianos playing the exact same notes on both sides for dual practice and teacher-student lessons. You can transpose the key you’re in separately on the live piano and also on recorded song playback which is very cool. The included instrument sounds including strings, organs, electric piano, etc on the ES7 are really amazing and are far better in my opinion than comparable pianos in this price range (or less) incl those from Roland, Yamaha, and Casio. You can also store 28 of your favorite sound set-up “registrations” allowing you to quickly recall a large number of settings you previously created easily when you want them. This is a very useful feature especially when you are playing “live” for an event, for church, school, etc, when you need to change sounds and features quickly and don’t have time to set things up manually.

Kawai ES7 digital piano

But the main reason a person will want an ES7 is for the very convincing acoustic piano type key action with let-off/escapement mechanism found in grand pianos, the excellent response of key dynamics & volume control, the musical color and tonality, and the fine ivory feel key action which is unique to Kawai. The key action is a proprietary design which Kawai calls “responsive hammer II graded hammer action” and it definitely feels different than the other major brands in this price range (which is a good thing). It’s has a medium amount of touch weight (not too heavy and not too light) so that you can have a very smooth movement response under your fingers without your hand and fingers becoming fatigued.
Kawai ES7 digital piano
The ES7 key action is also noticeably quiet when the keys move up & down which is not the case for many other brands and models (this has been a big issue with buyers), and the fit & construction of this action is quite solid and has little lateral key movement as compared to many other brands. When it comes to the fundamentals of ES7 piano in key action and sound, this piano really rises to the top in its price range. The things you can do to edit the acoustic piano tones is also impressive and enables you to customize the piano sound in many useful ways and to personalize the piano to your playing ability and musical desires and save those changes into user memories for instant recall. For intermediate & advanced players, these features allow you to play a variety of music including difficult & advanced classical pieces, jazz, and pop along with blues, country, Latin and many other styles.

Kawai ES7 digital pianoThe ES7 has many other features I have not talked about that can be useful including professional sound effects with some high end realistic sounding stereo reverb features, different temperaments, preset chord sequences, a variety of EQ settings for customizing sounds including “bass boost” to add more bass response, a piano voicing mode that allows you to create a softer, more mellow hammer response, or a harder, brighter hammer response, and the list goes on. But I recommend the ES7 simply because it looks great, sounds great, plays great, and has enough very cool features to make just about anyone happy.  The built-in speakers in the piano are upward facing on the

Kawai ES7 stereo monitors

top of the piano instead of downward speakers under the piano (that you find many other digital pianos) and that speaker positioning helps you hear the piano better and decreases the volume needed. If you want to, you can also add more bass depth and volume by connecting a pair of small but high quality powered stereo monitors to the ES7 and that can be done for $300-$400 if you feel the need to turn the piano into one that sounds like a huge grand. Once you connect a good set of external speakers, then the ES7 will rival the sound quality and volume of the much higher priced traditional furniture cabinet digital pianos in the $4000-$6000US price range.

Kawai ES7 semi-gloss white
ES7 semi-gloss white

No matter how you slice & dice it, the compact but powerful ES7 is definitely a winner for its size, price range, and features and would be a fine addition to any home or for use on stage or in other playing situations, especially if you’re looking to invest in a piano you can keep for a long time.  Although there are better digital pianos out there, they are a lot more money and still may not give you the flexibility, sound, key action, and looks of the Kawai ES7. To see an informative video of the ES7, go to the following link which will take you to the Kawai web site and a video they produced: Kawai ES7 Video. By the way, the ES7 is also available in a semi-gloss white color including furniture stand & pedals (above left pic) and it looks attractive, although black has always been the more popular of the two finishes by far.

If you want more info on digital pianos and help with getting lower than internet pricing & Amazon pricing, please email me at or call me direct at 602-571-1864

*Here is an ES7 demo video below produced by the Kawai Piano company which goes through many of the features and functions and lets you hear what the piano sounds like.

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0 Responses

  1. They are two entirely different instruments with different operating systems, different key action, and different digital technology and features. I would be able to explain details if you email me directly

  2. hello tim,

    how does the es7 compare with the ca65? is it worth paying more for the ca65 when touch and sound is the main concern?


  3. Dear Tim, I too am curious about how it compares to the CE220. I checked both of them out at a local piano store yesterday and thought the ES7 had better key action, but the differences were subtle. CE220 was slightly less expensive and also had a nice furniture-style enclosure. What's your take on these two instruments?

  4. Hi Tim,

    Great review. I was just about to buy a Roland FP-7F until I read your positive review. I did not know it even existed. Would you (or anyone)know how the Kawai ES7 compares to the FP-7F?

    – Sammy

  5. Tim, can you please comment on the organ sounds or the ES7? Any Hammond or Rhodes samples in the ES7? If so, do they deliver?

  6. If you do decide to connect powered monitor speakers keep in mind that this will bypass any internal EQ settings you may have made for the built in speakers. This is a shame as even the Casio PXx50's do not do this. If you're happy with the built in sounds this won't be a problem of course but I felt this should be pointed out as for some people it may be a deal breaker. Other than that, it is a fantastic DP!

  7. Hi. Please could you tell me the depth of the es7 with the music stand and furniture stand? I have a v small space to fit the piano in and am worried that the extra few cm for the angled music stand might make a difference. Otherwise the es7 looks ace and I'm really hoping it'll fit!

  8. Although in some ways those two pianos are similar to each other including the internet selling price of $1999, these models play and sound completely different from each other as far as an acoustic piano playing and listening experience go. Each piano has its own strengths and weaknesses but as far as a pure piano playing experience go along with some of the other instrument sounds, although sound and feel is subjective and personal, I personally like the Kawai ES7 better than the Roland FP80 for the musical experience and feelings I get out of it. You can certainly have fun and joy with either one but it would seem to me that Kawai outperforms the Roland in this price range. The automatic chord style, general midi, and vocal mic features on the Roland are very cool but most people buy the pianos for the best piano key action and sound reproduction they can get and the Kawai ES7 gets my recommendation for that. It also has a more attractive cabinet including the optional furniture stand and 3-pedal unit.

  9. Hello Doc Robby,

    That's not true on my ES7. I use powered monitors with the ES7 and the internal EQ works fine. Just tested it again to make sure before I wrote this. Did you try it for yourself? However, maybe it was that way before I did the firmware update. Not sure though. But works just fine. … and yes, it is a fantastic DP!!


  10. Hi everyone. Tim, great blog! Incredibly helpful. Thx a lot for your time and unbiased reviews. Now, as far as "portable" Kawai DPs is concerned, the question is: ES-7 or MP-10? Both got glowing praise from you, but for an "acoustic" classical pianist like me, I guess that wooden keys and RM3 action of MP-10 are a winner, not to mention the Ultra Progressive Harmonic Imaging (as compared to the smaller sound database of the ES-7).
    But a friend of mine recently bought the ES-7 and couldn't be happier with his purchase. It certainly looks superb, stylish and "light", so…would it be worth the hassle getting a MP-10 with a separate stand, monitors, pedals…and at a higher price? It seems strange that Kawai has not put all the MP-10 technical breakthroughs into the more compact and modern ES-7, what do you think?
    As a final request, it'd be great to have your review on the Roland V-Piano. Although in a different price range and with a different concept of sound creation, it all comes down to touch, key action, responsiveness, dynamic range, sound and "communion" with the instrument, doesn't it?
    Best regards!!

  11. Any of the pianos you mention would be good choices including the Kawai MP6. The Roland V piano has its PHAIII action which is used on all of its higher priced pianos so that is not new. The sound is the newer technology and because it is in a much higher price range and has nothing to do with the ES7, I will not comment further here

  12. ¡Muchísimas gracias, Tim! (I've seen some of your comments are in Spanish! :)) I guess the keyboard response is just a matter of personal taste, and no one has a definitive answer. I'll manage to test Kawai's keyboards vs Roland's PHA-III (unfortunately this is not easy, though). The keyboard is my main concern when it comes to digital pianos (provided the sound is "decent" enough), and this is why I wanted to know your personal opinion.
    Saludos desde España (and please keep on writing your wonderful reviews!).

  13. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your excellent review. I tried the ES7 at my local piano store and was concerned it had a lighter action (the RH2) than the other Kuwai digital pianos (RH1 and Grand Feel), and much lighter than Kuwai's acoustic pianos. I was surprised you thought it was on the heavy side.

    For a beginner who wants to play an acoustic one day, would you recommend learning on a heavier action to build finger strength or a lighter one as a stepping stone towards heavier actions?

    In all other respects I share your enthusiasm for the ES7. It's a stunner.

    Best wishes.

  14. Hello,
    Your reviews are terrific and very helpful – Thanks. After reading the reviews and comments, I have a question. Recognizing that there are signicant differences between the ES7 and the CE220, Which one comes closest to emulating that of a regular piano for a beginner student taking conventional piano lessons?

  15. Hi, you mention in your review that you use a number of iPad apps that are compatible with the ES7 via the iPad camera connector kit. Could you please let me know what apps you are referring to as they are not easy to find on the app store? Many thanks.

  16. Any and all iPad apps are compatible with digital pianos. Some have MIDI communication and some are free standing where you must use the iPad app virtual piano keys. There are sheet music apps, song learning/playing apps such as NoteStar, sight reading apps, lesson apps, music theory apps, music fundamental apps, rhythm & timing training apps, music introduction for kids apps, etc. Just do a search in iPad store under those headings

  17. This would be like comparing a Toyota Corolla (CL36) to a Lexus (ES7). They cannot be compared and the differences are too great to list. The ES7 is also twice the price US. Actually not a fair question to put these two models in the same sentence. The CL36 would be much closer to the older Kawai CN23

  18. thanks for this great article!
    Now that Yamaha has the P255 out (which is about 500$ less than the ES7), how do the two compare? Is the Kawai worth the extra 500$?

  19. The music store had the Roland FP50 and FP80 set up in the showroom, and I played both for a couple of hours, loving the sounds and finally deciding that the FP80's better action was indeed worth the extra cash. But, before deciding to buy, and thanks to having read your review beforehand, I had the staff set up a Kawai ES7 for me to try while I went out for lunch. After lunch I played the ES7 for 30 seconds – SOLD! I would gladly have paid more than for the FP80, but it was even cheaper than the FP50 (not by much, but still…). Thanks for this review Tim, and to anyone reading this: TRUST THIS MAN'S OPINION!

  20. Thanks for posting your experience. That's why I do what I do…to present as many digital piano options to people as possible in an honest and objective way while trying to stay as neutral as possible at the same time. There is no one perfect digital piano, but there are certainly a lot of good choices out there:)

  21. I finally played the ES7 last week, it is an excellent instrument and I am very close to buying it. There is one minor thing though about this instrument compared to others in this class. Fill-in patterns can only be programmed by specifying how many bars of the Rhythm Section should be played before a fill-in passage is automatically added. Other instruments have fill-ins inserted by pressing a button (or pressing a foot switch) which gives more freedom.

  22. Hi Tim, I still haven't made up my mind choosing between Kawai ES7 and used Roland FP7-F (to avoid the leading bass issue the FP80 has). Unfortunately I don't live close to the stores having these instruments for demo. So can I please ask for your advice? See below.

    Auto accompaniment is very important to me. I am assuming FP7-F and FP80 are very similar in terms of auto accompaniment. In your review you wrote that the FP80 has the interactive ensemble chord arrangements so that you can play left and/or right hand chords and get the entire accompaniment just like a band. In your ES7 review you wrote that the you need to play the full-chord or one finger.

    I don't want to be tied to playing chords with my left-hand, I want to play like I normally do and have the accompaniment following me automatically recognizing from the notes I play which chords should be played. Also I want the piano to recognize complex chords, i.e. Fm9.

    Now my questions:
    1. Which of these 2 pianos would do the above?
    2. Which of these 2 pianos has the best sounding styles? Is there a big difference?

    Kind regards,

  23. Both pianos have nice accompaniments that are tied to playing chords with either right hand, left hand, or both hands. The accompaniments will follow you but only if you do not play broken chords that will not trigger the chord changes correctly. It does take awhile getting used to playing with auto-accompaniment styles and they do have certain limitations…but overall are fun to play once you get used to how they operate. As far as best sounding styles, the FP80 and ES7 are completely different in the style tones and patterns. They do not sound alike at all. I like some of the ES7 musical patterns and sounds better than the FP80 but also the some of the FP80 styles better than the ES7. You would need to hear and use both of them to determine what you liked better based on the kind of music you play and how you play it.

  24. Hi Tim, thank you for the excellent write-up.
    I have been the proud owner of the legendary Yamaha PF100 stage piano for more than 20 years. I purchased the new Yamaha P-255B last week, believing that the newly developed pure CF sound engine will take my breath away which did not happen. In fact, I am so disappointed at the piano sound produced by this device that I decided to put it on the second-hand market. Unfortunately, I could not try the piano as it is not yet displayed on the floor (down here in South Africa).
    I will definitely visit a Kawai dealer store and who knows, I might soon become the proud owner of a Kawai ES7.

  25. Hi,
    how does it compare to the CN24 and CN34? The keyboard shall be the same.
    The price here in Germany is (without the stand and pedals) between the CN25 and CN35.


  26. I have played many digital pianos in different price ranges. First tried Yamaha P155, P255 and some more. They just did not get me. Also the control was not easy. I also was not able to let sounds go on while I selected another sound. Big disadvantage! Than I tried Roland digital piano's. The sound is very far away for me. It is not a sound that gets me either. Korg also.
    But than I tried the Kawai ES7 and I realy felt the sound in my stomach instantaneously. Great! This is the sound I was looking for. And than I tried some things like combining sounds and the control is so easy! I have used it a lot at live gigs. Even solo piano concerts where there is no acoustic piano. I use this ES7 and people are blown away by the great sound. Also when I let other professional pianists play on it… they almost love it directly! The Technician that's inside is great !
    I love my ES7 and bring it everywhere. Just plug it in and play!

    I also build a mobile battery with 12V to 220V convertor so I can play even in the park in the summer 🙂

    If you think of buying a great digital piano for stage and home and for a good price too, than this is the one to settle for! Believe me!
    You will not be disappointed!

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