It used to be that when your eight-year-old started piano lessons, you went out and plunked down a thousand bucks for a used upright and then spent two hundred more a year on tuning. Ever since Roland introduced the game-changing EP-7 (and the Casio Privia redefined the category a decade later), entry-level digital pianos have stayed consistent in form and function: They all feature five or more key instruments with options such as sound layering and splitting, effects such as reverb and chorus, and a number of basics—a metronome, a simple MIDI notepad, tuning capabilities, and an adjustable velocity curve.
Although the piano sounds are not as convincing as you would find on more expensive digital keyboards, the Allegro 2 provides a more-than-satisfactory entry-level piano experience (even better when you plug the audio outputs into some good amps or studio monitors) and will delight any new player. In the organ department, both the clone-wheel and the church organ are a little wheezy and lose their authenticity at the edge of their ranges. The Pad button brings up a warm, legato-string section that is smooth and convincing through its entire range and sounded better to my ears solo than layered, which you can access by touching any two sound buttons.
And many of the control-surface functions are refreshingly uncomplicated: Want to record a track? The 16-channel, multi-timbral MIDI Receive feature lets you use the Allegro 2 with a DAW if you wish.
A lot of us keyboard players grew up playing pianos that would never see the inside of Carnegie Hall. In fact, you probably will even if they don’t make any improvements because the price is so inviting.
Williams redefines digital piano elegance with the new Overture 2, complete with a classic, luxurious ebony gloss finish, a robust sound palette, extraordinary feel and unexpected extras.
As part of a huge renewal process, Kurzweil completely redefined its SP stage piano by adding four new products in the intermediate price range: the SP4 (which includes three models, from 61-key to 88-key versions) and the SP5 (exclusively in the 88-key version).
One of the most interesting products is the SP4-8, an 88-key hammer weighted action stage piano that offers a lightweight chassis (despite Kurzweil’s history of very heavy products) and some other useful features for live musicians, in addition to the classic piano, electric piano and strings sounds from the US-based manufacturer. Thanks to the four programmable zones for split and layers, and the compatibility with the PC3-series sound library, this stage piano promises to be one of the best all-in-one solution for gigs.
The first downside for a $999 product is the lack of a real piano-style sustain pedal: the included footswitch is not suitable as a damper pedal and would be helpful only if used for changing the sounds with your feet. There’s no half-pedal or triple-pedal support here at all either, and this is an unforgivable omission for a product of this price range.
The SP4-8 offers the traditional Kurzweil interface and includes two wheels on the left side (used for modulation and pitch), a volume slider, a multi-purpose knob that can be used to edit the sounds, ten function buttons, a LCD display with two navigation buttons, and nineteen more buttons on the right side to manage the sounds. One of the most interesting features of the Kurzweil SP4-8 is certainly its PC3-derived sound engine, which offers up to 128 sounds taken from the workstation-series, including the classic Triple Strike Grand Piano, the renowned strings tones, several KB3 organs and KVA synths sounds. Users can even import other factory programs from the PC3 into the SP4-8 ROM using the USB port. The major problem is that the Fatar TP-100, chosen by Kurzweil to keep the chassis as lightweight as possible, is good for almost everything… except for playing the piano properly.
In fact, the keys are too soft in zones where you would expect them to be heavier, and the feelings derived from playing the SP4-8 are very far from the sense of realism achieved by other stage pianos. While the keyboard had to offer an optimal compromise for playing both piano and other sounds, the main role of a stage piano is obviously to allow playing piano in the most natural way.
If you consider the lack of half-pedal or triple-pedal support, the limited 64-note maximum amount of polyphony, and no support for any kind of mechanical emulation, you will easily understand why it may be worth your time to at least consider a few other options. Yes, what is the point of having four available zones if you can’t quickly manage them live in the SP4-8? The differences between the two models end here: both SP4-8 and SP5-8 offer a limited FX editing with 10 different units to enrich your sounds, and both have no internal memory to sample your own, unique sounds.
The updated 2.0 version of the RD-300NX stage piano added so many great innovations to an already convenient formula, such as the instant selection of the favorite live sets, a new live editing, and the option to connect the piano to your iPad both wired and wirelessly to manage and create your sounds via the RD-NX Editor. The RD-300NX features the SuperNATURAL technology, first introduced by Roland with the Fantom G workstation-series, which offers many stunning piano sounds and a brand new electric piano derived from the Fantom G’s expansion ARX-02.
Kurzweil really needs to do something if the company wants to achieve the same quality and completeness of its competitors. In the past few years, Yamaha has updated the most affordable products in its popular PSR-series to create the perfect digital keyboard for beginners.
Yamaha followed this path once again by announcing the new PSR-E443, an evolution of its former best-seller PSR-E433, which it has replaced recently.
To be honest, the PSR-E443’s new additions are not so striking to hail it as a miracle, but after all the revisions that this product has had in the past few years, we cannot realistically expect Yamaha to add even more features to this instrument than what they’ve already done. The Yamaha PSR-E433, and the new PSR-E443, look almost identical: while the first had a black chassis, this revamped version only ships in the new steel finish, which is surely a good way to mask the aesthetic similarities and the lack of new relevant features. The main interface includes a pitch bend wheel, the Master Volume knob, a power switch, the two Live Controls knobs introduced with PSR-E433, the Accompaniment section, the Track Control section, the Memory presets and the numeric keypad, useful for selecting one of the available sounds and styles. As usual, the Voice Control mode allows you to split, layer and harmonize two different sounds, while the Arpeggio mode can create great automatized patterns.
The two-2.5W speakers are placed on each end of the chassis, while in the middle we find an LCD display with all the most helpful details, such as the score, the virtual keyboard, the chords or notes that are being played, and the selected sound or groove. When you use the new Melody Suppressor mode, the keyboard automatically lowers the volume of the melody and vocal lines, so that you can sing along it or play a keyboard solo. The Yamaha PSR-E443 shares the same sound engine with the previous PSR-E433: the old, good AWM Stereo Sampling returns with more sounds and new rhythms. A brand new responsive 61-key organ-style keyboard has been introduced by Yamaha in the PSR-E443 and supports up to four sensitivity layers (Soft, Medium, Hard and Fixed), while the previous model had only two layers.
This is quite a good improvement that can be really helpful in understanding the importance of the piano dynamics, because the added sensitivity of touching the keys can bring you one step closer to feeling like your having a genuine 88-key digital piano experience—well, at least to some small relative degree.
The maximum polyphony amount is still set to 32 notes, so you’ll have to be careful while playing richer chords or phrases while pressing the sustain pedal or playing in layer mode with two different sounds.
There is also a built-in music database based on 305 popular tunes, which is made even better because the machine can automatically select the best accompaniment and voices for you to play with. Another returning feature from the PSR-E433 is the Pattern function, which allows you to instantly create grooves using the two Live Control knobs, along with the new crossfade and retrigger functions. The Live Control knobs are helpful to control filters, effects, envelope generators and more parameters that you can assign live by pressing the Assign button. Now, let’s analyze if it is really worth buying the new PSR-E443 keyboard from Yamaha, or if you’re better off hunting down the PSR-E433 model and using the money you save to buy a few needed accessories.
Well, as we said before, the new features included in the PSR-E443 are not so significant as to justify an upgrade from the old PSR-E433.
Of course, if you can not find a cheaper price for the previous model at your local retailer and have to choose between the PSR-E433 and the PSR-E443 at the same price, it would be better to buy the new model and to get better touch response in the keyboard, which will help you in the long term as you eventually mature in your growth as a piano player.
But keep in mind that with the recent launch of the PSR-E443, some retailers have already dropped the PSR-E433 to an attractive $199 to $219.
With the same $249 price, it’s very easy to find online offers for a complete PSR-E433 starter pack, so definitely give it some thought before buying.
After several absent years from the keyboard scene and the resounding failure of the 2011’s Cadenza product, Alesis tries again to enter into the affordable segment of digital pianos market with its Coda series, which replaces the former with two brand new products. Officially introduced at NAMM 2015, the Alesis Coda and Coda Pro digital pianos are the new solutions for beginners to intermediate from the house founded by Keith Barr.
The Cumberland-based company learned from the mistakes made with the Cadenza and delivered a much more attractive and modern product improved in all its main features, offering two different keyboard types and a new built-in sound engine, made in collaboration with AiR Music Technology and SONiVOX, two of the world’s most renowned music software companies.
For an additional $149.99, you can transform both Coda and Coda Pro in a upright digital piano thanks to the optional Coda Piano Stand, an elegant piece of wooden furniture which includes the three pedals-Soft, Sostenuto, Sustain and the half-pedal functionality, and can be connected to the keyboard via a single cable.


The first noticeable change between the old Cadenza and the new model is of course in the aesthetics: Alesis chose to abandon the old-fashioned design of the previous piano and embrace a better-looking modern design, by putting two big speakers in the top of the flat chassis and making a huge facelift to the layout and the main controls interface. The chassis itself now features a more convincing mix of materials in both lucid and matte finishes, which helps the Coda and Coda Pro be far more attractive than its predecessor. On the left, a pitch bend wheel allows to raise and lower the notes currently being played.
While the Cadenza grand piano patch sounded awful, the new piano sample from SONiVOX and AiR really makes the difference between the two Alesis models. Coda and Coda Pro are now aligned with the best products in the entry-level market (like the new Yamaha P-45) and feature a great piano sample, which sounds as good in the middle section as in the lower part.
Alesis expanded the available sounds set from the Cadenza model by adding up to 20 different presets, including two Grand Piano sounds, three Electric Piano tones,   Harpsichord, Clavinet and Vibraphone voices, five different Organ sounds (from Church Pipe Organ to the B3-like Rock Organ), Accordion and Harmonica, Electric Guitar and Fingered Bass, two Strings sounds and a Percussion set. The ability to split or layer two different tones (or do both, being careful of the total available polyphony) allows Coda and Coda Pro to achieve a very rich and versatile range of voices, much wider than competitors such as Yamaha. Another big improvement from the previous model is the new 88-key hammer action weighted keyboard chosen by Alesis, which replaces the horrible Cadenza’s keybed and offers much realistic feelings while playing.
Having two separate products differing only in the weighted keybed (semi-weighted vs hammer-action weighted keyboard), you might be asking yourself the following question: how do I pick between Coda and Coda Pro? Well, the obvious choice is in favor of Coda Pro, which offers a more versatile choice useful for almost any situation, from studying to gigs, from rehearsals to being used as a USB controller to manage your VSTs. With that in mind, if you are a teacher, it’s easy to suggest the Coda Pro for its hammer action keybed. If you are a solo-musician, the Styles and Songs sections allow you to play along a wide variety of musical genres (from rock to blues, from pop to jazz, etc.) and even mute a specific part of a play-along song to perform your solo. If you are a live or studio musician, by choosing the Alesis Coda Pro, you can acquire a great digital piano suitable that has several great features and overall purposes.
The Aux input allows you to connect an external audio source (like drum machines or backing tracks), while the Aux output allows you to connect to a mixer or digital recorder without using the headphone outs. But if your goal is to play for fun and have a great, extremely-lightweight digital piano, then you may consider saving $100 and buying the standard Coda.
If you enjoyed this review and would love to read others, be sure to bookmark Digital Piano Review Guide. In the past few years, Korg has been particularly busy with a full facelift to its music workstations line-up.
Contrary to expectations, the new Korg Krome is not derived from its big brother Kronos, or at least not completely.
The Krome is made out of an aluminum chassis that is at the same time extremely heavy-duty and lightweight.
Like its predecessor, the Krome’s touchscreen is very sensitive and allows for touch-drag of basically everything, such as knobs, sliders and boxes. On the left side, there is the multi-use joystick and two assignable buttons, while in the upper-left side you notice the volume knob and four knobs which are used to manage three rows of functions, such as cutoff, resonance, filter envelope intensity and amp envelope release. On the right side, there are all the controls to navigate into menus, manage the tempo and using the Krome’s built-in 16-track sequencer. The Krome is based on what Korg calls EDSx, which stands for Enhanced Definition Synthesis Extended.
The EDSx sound engine features a 3.8GB PCM memory and 583 multi-samples, along with 2,080 high quality drum samples.
When using the Single mode (one oscillator), the maximum available polyphony is fixed to 120 voices, while in Double mode (two oscillators) the maximum polyphony drops to 60 voices. The Kronos-derived Jazz Ambience Drum Kit takes the whole scene in Drums section, while the Orchestral category offers so many high quality Strings and Brass programs and combinations that can fit different needs. Live musicians can count on 15 different categories of pre-made programs (plus another category for user-made patches), and 384 different combinations (a patch which contains multiple programs, combined to play as one, unique instrument). One of the biggest features of the Korg Krome is its built-in 16-track sequencer, which allows for recording your own songs in a home studio or backing tracks for live shows.
It was a sizeable commitment, especially when you didn’t know if your child was going to be the next Joey Alexander or flame out in three weeks. The Allegro 2 hits all these notes while providing an easily readable layout and built-in speakers. As it happened, I had the instrument set up in the studio when a singer and her guitarist husband came by to work out some arrangements: They found the Allegro 2 to be enjoyable to work with, and were impressed by its action and value. Consequently, there are two electric pianos—a Rhodes and a Wurly emulation—and they are both highly musical and a kick to play. But both can be sent through a Leslie simulator that speeds up when you depress the sustain pedal (a rare feature at this price point).
The layered strings are fine, but don’t offer a decay so there is no dynamic shape to the music. For starters, because the electronics here are relatively basic, the keyboard boots up in two seconds—a pleasant surprise; it’s a little like the lift you feel when you’ve upgraded to a solid-state hard drive. But MIDI Transmit is limited and there is no pitch bend, mod wheel, or expression pedal jack.
Yet those instruments brought boatloads of joy into so many lives, and the Williams Allegro 2 will too. Although I was skeptical when I first saw the sticker, the Williams Allegro 2’s simple pleasures won me over.
The Overture 2 is built on 15 quick-to-grab custom-crafted, high-resolution sounds as well as plenty of other instruments from brass to percussion and beyond.Enjoy beautifully captured tones, sampled directly from a world-renowned grand piano, plus a collection of many vintage electric pianos and organs. It’s worth nothing, too, that similar products from other competitors, such as the Roland RD-300NX and even the Yamaha CP-33, ship with an included piano-style sustain pedal and support for at least one of the aforementioned functions. The TP-100 88-key hammer weighted action keyboard from Fatar contributes to keep the SP4-8 extremely lightweight (only 39 pounds) and allows users to easily carry it over their gigs and rehearsals. Of course, you will get the usual Triple Strike Grand Piano tone, which has been one of the most authentic emulations of the last decade, but the industry has much evolved from then in several ways. This more expensive model shares too many features with the SP4-8 to justify its higher price, and despite the heavier LK40GH 88-key hammer graded action keyboard, the choice to opt again for the same PC3-based engine and 64-note maximum polyphony condemns it to the same judgment. Do I have to connect my laptop during a gig to simply increase the volume of a layered string section? You can create your sounds and combine up to three layers and choose between 939 different tones.
Despite the efforts to keep its stage piano lightweight and ultimately create a compact digital piano with a good sound spectrum, the SP4-8 is unfortunately far from being able to offer a natural and realistic piano experience. Year after year, the company has revisited all its entry-level products, adding new sounds and interesting features to the mix. This revamped E443 offers all the features of the previous model, plus some minor updates that make this keyboard almost like a compact digital piano. You can choose from 150 pre-made patterns and adjust or morph them live while playing chords or notes. This is a good feature if you aim to play for fun and use the PSR-E443 as a sort of karaoke or MIDI-file player. You can even choose to add five additional rhythms if you want to further expand the keyboard’s catalog with more ethnic styles from all around the world.


But in general, the PSR-E433 will be an optimal choice to learn piano basics before buying a proper digital piano. You can even record your own songs using the integrated recorder and later save them to a USB flash memory, as well. You can choose from twelve different options, including Cutoff, Resonance, Reverb, Chorus, Attack, Release, Suppressor Pan, Balance, Ultra-Wide Stereo and Retrigger Rate.
That’s not to say that the PSR-E443 isn’t worth the money, it’s just that these two keyboards are basically the same, so if you don’t mind having a few new sounds and rhythms, the AUX input and all the related features, our advice is to look for a good offer on the web and buy the PSR-E433.
The PSR-E443 actually ships for roughly $249, so if you want to buy additional accessories (AC adaptor, sustain pedal and a keyboard stand) you will ultimately spend between $279 to $299. The new PSR-E443 is basically identical to its predecessor, but includes some new sounds, a new AUX input with two interesting modes for karaoke and playing along the backing tracks, and a new touch response keyboard that improves the sense of realism while playing the piano.
Designed with portability and affordability in mind, these two products are also strongly focused on sound and overall quality. Both share the same design and main features, but while the first is an 88-key semi-weighted digital piano, the Pro model offers instead a 88-key weighted action keyboard, which is of course a better choice for piano students, teachers and live musicians. Other options can be managed using the SHIFT button, plus the related note on the keyboard. Of course, we are talking about basic sounds and not professional ones, but it’s worth mentioning that some presets sounds particularly good, also thanks to the integrated DSP, which adds some great effects to the mix.
Of course, clicking noises are still there, but at least the overall quality of the new keyboard meets the standards of competitors’ products.
Keep in mind that, aside from the different keyboard types and weight, the two models’ features are basically the same. Thanks to the Duet mode, you can split the keyboard in two parts for playing along with your students.
In this case, choosing between Coda and Coda Pro would only depend on your interest of having (or not having) a fully-weighted keyboard under your fingers. With the USB port, you can transform the Coda Pro into a controller for using your favorite VSTs (which can be controlled with the Pitch Bend, absent in most of competitor’s models), while the MIDI output can be used with external expanders and sound modules to create very complex setups. Both Coda and Coda Pro offer a wide array of options that are particularly great for a $399-to-$499 digital piano. After the debut of the Kronos flagship model and the revamped Kronos X edition, the Japanese house created an intermediate workstation to replace the older M50 in a market in which the new Yamaha’s MOX-Series is doing pretty well.
While sharing the same modern design, the huge touchscreen and some features and sounds with Kronos and Kronos X, most of the Korg Krome concept is based on the previous M3 and M50 models.
At the top of the chassis, we find a large 800×480 pixel TouchView Color display, which can show lots of helpful information at once and can be used with a single finger while playing. You can quickly manage your sounds and all the related options without pressing a single button. This is a Kronos-derived sound engine that runs on PCM samples and shares the same, beautiful, 88 full-length unlooped stereo samples for the main grand piano, which is modeled after a Steinway “D Grand”. Each sound program can include one or two oscillators, and each oscillator includes up to eight multi-samples that can be enriched by two filters, amp envelopes and dual LFOs.
You can even use the free standalone Krome Editing Software to create your patches and combinations directly from a computer. Its buttons are raised and have a concave center that, on some controls, sport a blue LED to indicate multiple functions. If you want the AC power supply, the optional Williams ESS1 Essentials Pack ($30) provides it, as well as a sustain pedal and a set of consumer-style headphones. I’d confidently take them on a gig that required just an electric piano and tell everybody that this axe cost less than their dress-up shoes. That and the smooth, hall reverb do the trick in pushing both patches over the line into the workable-for-a-gig category.
Plus, the instrument’s 64-voice polyphony limits the amount that you can pedal the layers before losing voices: One big arpeggio and you’re stealing notes from the bottom. The action is snappy, the electric pianos are delightful, and if Williams can hold this price and upgrade its piano sample a bit, you’re going to see this instrument in living rooms, dorm rooms and clubs near you. Highly credible Rhodes and Wurly simulations and a piano sample that will work well in any rock band. Of course, if you aim to do a lot of layering and splitting, keep in mind that only the SP5-8 model will allow you to control and manage the balance between the four sounds on-the-fly. It’s very important to master the different nuances of the piano in order to learn the basics of classical music—at least if that’s your future intention. So, ultimately, your choice comes down to how the piano keys feel under your fingers, how heavy it will be to move from location to location, and how much more money you’re willing to spend.
You can even count utilize the two headphones outputs so that you can rest assured you’re not disturbing anyone else in the piano studio or house. Alesis can now feel comfortable facing its competitors, as they’ve created a worthy and convenient product, and arguably one of the best budget digital pianos on the market. You can even add 5 Insert Effects, 2 Master Effects and 1 Total Effect to the mix, counting on more than 193 different Effects types.
For under three bills it offers an 88-key weighted-piano action, a serviceable acoustic-piano sample, surprisingly authentic electric pianos, and a few other surprises, all in a 25-pound instrument that will never see a tuning hammer.
It’s delightful to find a digital-piano action this responsive on such an inexpensive instrument.
While Nord won’t lose any sleep over this baby, the Allegro 2’s electric pianos don’t take a backseat to the upper-scale competition. The other Pad sound is a fat, buzzy synth patch that will let you cover the horn punches from Van Halen’s “Jump” and the opening bass pedal to any Michael Jackson song since “Thriller”.
The all new, fully weighted, hammer-action keybed provides a higher standard in realistic response and feel. You can also use the built-in metronome or record directly on your keyboard using the integrated 2-track recorder, which allows for up to five songs to be recorded. Although there are a few compromises on the instrument, it offers tremendous value for the entry-level musician (or the musician who has a cabin in the woods or wants to take a piano to the beach). And while it does offer the ability to alter the velocity curves, I found the default setting is best. Which is fine because, other than a little scrapey-ness from the key edges, there is not much I’d change about it. The chorus that pops up on the EPs is reminiscent of the vintage, blue Boss pedal that we all love. To get into the tricky stuff such as changing volume levels on the splits and layers or selecting reverb and chorus effects, you have to dive a little deeper into the menus.
But even when you’re doing the fancy stuff like boosting the treble EQ or changing the pedal rotary-speaker options on the organs, you only have to go four steps at most.



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