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10 Best Keyboards Under $500 – Take a Listen

Thursday January 14, 2021. 02:00 PM , from Sweetwater inSync
10 Best Keyboards Under $500 – Take a Listen
If you’re searching for a digital keyboard and have $500 or less
to spend, then you’ve come to the right place. You may be wondering, “What
can I get for that price? And how close will those keyboards sound to an actual
acoustic piano, electric piano, etc.?” We wondered that, too, so we brought
these 10 keyboards into the studio, set them up, then played and recorded them.
We suspect you’re just as curious about how they sound as we were, so we wanted
to share the sounds of these digital pianos with you.

In this article, you’ll find:

The main features of each keyboardThe type of musician each is best suited forObservations that we made during the recording processTwo sound examples from each keyboard — grand piano and electric piano

So, here’s our curated list of the best keyboards under $500 so you can compare their prices and features and also hear how they sound. Read on and listen closely until you find the keyboard your ears love the most!

Alesis ConcertAlesis Recital ProAlesis VirtueCasio CDP-S150Korg B2Roland GO:KEYSRoland GO:PIANOYamaha P-45Yamaha Piaggero NP-12Yamaha Reface CP

Alesis Concert 88-key Digital Piano

Weighing under 16 pounds and able to run on D batteries, the Alesis Concert Digital Piano is an ideal companion on weekend getaways or nights busking with friends. The Concert features 88 full-size, semi-weighted keys with adjustable touch response, 10 voices, 128-note polyphony, built-in 20-watt speakers, and reverb and chorus effects. To enhance its flexibility, you can combine any two modes at once in Layer Mode or assign them to the left or right hands with Split Mode.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

Alesis Recital Pro 88-key Hammer-Action
Digital Piano

The Alesis Recital Pro features a great-feeling hammer-action keyboard, adjustable touch response, 20-watt speakers, 12 onboard voices, and onboard effects like modulation and chorus. The keyboard can be split, layered, or divided into two zones with the same pitch and voice. It features practice tools like a built-in metronome and Record Mode for hearing playback of performances.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

Alesis Virtue 88-key Digital Piano

The Alesis Virtue 88-key Digital Piano has 360 premium voices; unweighted, full-size keys; three pedals; and built-in speakers. It also has a built-in music rest, a matching wooden stand, and an included adjustable piano bench. New pianists will enjoy the three months of free Skoove Premium piano lessons and real-time chord-name and notation display because you’ll always know what chord you’re playing. All three of the Alesis keyboards on this list are great entry-level keyboards ideal for beginners and those who are working with a smaller budget.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

Casio CDP-S150 88-key Compact Digital
Piano

The Casio CDP-S150 Compact Digital Piano gives you the weighted feel of a piano in a compact package. I was surprised by the weighted touch of this keyboard; it feels really good. It features 10 sounds; onboard effects, including reverb and chorus; a MIDI recorder; a Duet Mode for real-time, hands-on student-teacher interaction; PDF Score Viewer compatibility with pedal-activated page turning; and audio playback with musical tools such as key shift, tempo change, and looping. The CDP-S150 is also compatible with Casio’s Chordana Play for Piano v2 app.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

Korg B2 Digital Piano

The Korg B2 Digital Piano features Korg’s Natural Weighted Hammer Action keyboard with 88 full-size keys and adjustable touch control. Korg’s new sound engine delivers 12 great sounds, including grand pianos, electric pianos, and organs. The electric piano particularly impressed me on the B2 — very lush, deep, and warm as a Rhodes should be. Use the Korg B2 as a MIDI controller or connect with your phone for recording or playing back audio through the onboard speakers. The Korg B2 comes with a three-month trial of Skoove piano lessons, the Korg Module Le app, and the Korg Gadget 2 Le DAW for mobile. This is an ideal instrument for the beginner piano student.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

Roland GO:KEYS 61-key Music Creation
Keyboard

If you are a complete beginner who wants to start making music quickly, then you will enjoy the Roland GO:KEYS. The Loop Mix function allows you to manipulate the built-in loops and patterns to start building songs instantly. You can play over those songs with any of the 500 instrument sounds available on the GO:KEYS. Record your performances to the built-in recorder to listen back to your creations. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to connect the GO:KEYS to your smartphone or tablet. This is an ideal choice for the young producer who is starting to create their own tracks.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

Roland GO:PIANO 61-key Music Creation Keyboard with Alexa Built-in

“Alexa, ask GO:PIANO to order me a pizza!”

Okay, well, maybe you can’t order food on it, but you can do things like load sounds, start/stop recording, play back music, set alarms, and even check the weather... with a keyboard! What will they think of next?! The lightweight, 61-key Roland GO:PIANO with Alexa Built-in has 40 onboard sounds and, yes, Amazon Alexa voice control, which allows you to control your keyboard without missing a beat. DigiScore Lite displays music notation for the onboard songs so that you can read along. It has educational features like the Flash Card game, which offers fun challenges to help develop ear-training and reading skills. The GO:PIANO also has built-in Bluetooth to connect to the free Piano Partner 2 app on your smartphone or tablet. You can also use the free online cloud to store your performances and recall them at any time for playback or to share with friends. For the musician that wants maximum connectivity in a 21st-century world, the GO:PIANO has got you covered.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

Yamaha P-45 88-key Digital Piano

If you aren’t into built-in drum beats and loops and just want an all-around great digital piano, then it’s hard to beat the Yamaha P-45 Digital Piano. The P-45 has a weighted, 88-key Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keybed, which has a nice, weighted feel. Yamaha’s AWM (Advanced Wave Memory) sampling is the way Yamaha records, or “samples,” the instruments to add to the P-45. The results of AWM are stunningly realistic for a piano of its size and affordability. Additional features include four reverb effect styles, keyboard layer mode for creating more complex sounds, and duo mode for instructional use or practicing with a partner. With a well-designed keybed, great sounds, USB/MIDI connectivity, built-in speakers, and onboard performance features, the P-45 will be an ideal keyboard for both the new keyboardist and the seasoned professional.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

Yamaha Piaggero NP-12 61-key Piano

Like the P-45, the Yamaha Piaggero NP-12 features Yamaha’s Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) stereo sampling, but it’s contained within a compact, touch-sensitive 61-note keyboard. The NP-12 features 64-note polyphony, half-damper control with the optional FC3A pedal, built-in speakers, an onboard recorder, and AA battery power for a duration of five hours. It is also compatible with Yamaha’s series of iOS apps, including a controller app for quick navigation through the NP’s controls. If you like the P-45 but want something even more compact and affordable, then the NP-12 could be a great choice for you.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

Yamaha Reface CP Electric Piano
Synthesizer

The Yamaha Reface CP is a modern reimagining of the legendary Yamaha CP-80 contained within a shockingly compact instrument, coming in at only four pounds. But don’t let its size fool you into thinking that Yamaha skimped on the sounds because they certainly did not. In addition to its classic combo piano sounds, the Reface CP’s Vintage Keyboard Sound Engine has six classic sounds including Tine, Reed, Clavi, and Toy electric pianos. It also has a hidden gem — a grand piano sound! The piano can be selected by holding the Sound Type knob between two voice settings with the power off then powering on. What a cool Easter egg! The Reface CP’s 128-note polyphony and sustain-pedal input mean you can sustain arpeggiated lines and larger chords even with a small, 37-note keybed. The Reface CP also contains five stompbox-style effects with direct control and the ability to run on six AA batteries for up to five hours. When it comes to the rare intersection of portability and great sounds that even the seasoned ear would deem worth their salt, the Reface CP takes the cake.

Acoustic Piano

Electric Piano

In Conclusion

I hope you found this article interesting and informative because I sure enjoyed playing these keyboards and listening to them! If you want to learn more about the digital pianos in this article, then feel free to contact your Sweetwater Sales Engineer at (800) 222-4700.

The Technical Details

I enlisted Shawn Dealey to record yours truly playing these keyboard samples in Sweetwater Studio A with the help of Lynn Fuston, our Manager of Written Content and informal “Director of Shootouts.” The outputs of the keyboards were routed to Radial JDI direct boxes into our Grace Design m801mk2 preamp and recorded at 24-bit/96kHz to Pro Tools using Avid MTRX converters.
The post 10 Best Keyboards Under $500 – Take a Listen appeared first on inSync.
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/best-keyboards-for-under-500/

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