on December 10, 2012
I am very happy with this keyboard. It has the touch-sensitive keys so the harder you push the key, the louder the note sounds. It is polyphonic up to 40+ keys which is way more than I need considering I only have 10 fingers. Even if the whole family played at the same time (which sometimes does happen) we would be covered.
It comes with the 61-key keyboard; a music book which has ~ one hundred songs (they are all numbered so you can play them in demo mode on the keyboard to see what they should sound like before you attempt to play them yourself); a power cord (not very long, ~ 6-8 feet); headphones with a converter so that you can plug them into the keyboard with the converter(which has the wide headphone opening) or into a PC, MP3 player etc. without using the converter; and a single-X stand.
The keyboard is great. I played piano 20 years ago at the intermediate level (always on a real piano, never on a keyboard), and it felt pretty natural to me right away. The keys respond similarly to how real piano keys do. I felt a little bit strange at first playing on a keyboard with 2 octaves missing, but I got used to it quickly and I actually haven't noticed the missing keys on any song I've played yet. The one thing I miss the most vs. a real piano is the pedal. I sometimes switch to a different voice in order to get the sound I want of the notes flowing together since you cannot use a pedal to achieve that effect. There are over 400 "voices" including 15 pianos, 15 electric pianos, strings, brass, ensembles and drums. My kids love to play on the drum setting. You change the voice by pressing the voice button and then typing in the number of the voice you want on the number pad. There is a metronome, beats and demo songs you can play (you just press the appropriate button and then key the number of the song, beat, etc. you want to hear). When you press the a piano keys, you will see the corresponding note on the treble or base clef on the small screen in the top/middle of the keyboard. There is also an image of the piano keys on the screen where it highlights the key you are pressing. When you have it play a demo song it highlights the melody key as it plays. The keyboard is very light and not too thick; it could easily be stored in a closet or on a shelf. As for the sound, it sounds great. I notice a very slight ringing on the end of each note, but it is very very slight.
The headphones a decent. They are great for practicing so everyone in the room doesn't have to hear you play.
The stand is ok. I've seen reviews on similar products where reviewers have complained about the stand. I just think this is the type of stand you are going to get for the price. It assembles easily - with 4 screws. I've found the stand itself to be fairly sturdy, but the keyboard does not attach to the stand. There are adjustable caps on the top of the stand so you can trap the keyboard in between them a little bit. But I would be nervous having my kids play with it on the stand. I typically put it on the dining room table to play. It is portable enough that you can just pull it out when you want to play.
The music book has songs ranging from level A to level D. There are some Christmas songs (Joy to the World) religious songs (Amazing Grace) Folk songs (O Susana) and lots of classical pieces. There is good range of material and difficulty here to get started if you don't already have a music book. The keyboard comes with a curved wire rack that hooks into the top of it to hold the music. It won't hold too thick of a book, but it serves its purpose.
This was the perfect keyboard for me. I am glad I didn't spend any additional money for more features - there are more than enough features on this model for me. I might end up needing those 2 missing octaves as some point, but for now I'm glad to save some space and still be able to play.
on December 18, 2013
OVERVIEW: After doing extensive research on keyboards - outside of Amazon, too! tho I love Amazon customer reviews, keep it up people! - I chose to buy this keyboard/electronic piano/MIDI controller. Mostly because of its MIDI capabilities, weighted/"touch response" keys and the variety of instruments, rhythms, intro/fill, chord accompaniment, and the Step Up Learning software built-in, assignable Voice Pads, and the auto shut-off feature (I think it's 30 mins but you'll have to look it up if you're interested). I haven't tried all of the features yet, but I've watched them demonstrated and reviewed online, listened to them, and chose this one for those features primarily.
MY AGE, MY HISTORY WITH MUSIC AND EXPERIENCE LEVEL: I am a beginning piano player in my early 40s with a background in music. I was lucky enough to have music in my public education system and I began in elementary school through high school symphonic band, then played two years in college marching and orchestra bands there. Back then, I played trumpet and moved onto French Horn, but I've never lost my interest in making music nor my ability to read and play it. I really wanted to get back into making music, but didn't know how I would do it, who to play with, or anything besides Open Mic Nights at local cafes and lounges - not my style, at all. About 10 years ago, I bought myself a nice acoustic guitar expressly for the purpose of getting familiar with reading and playing music for my own pleasure and feeling of accomplishment. In less than 6 months (playing almost every day), I taught myself to play a good variety of music, with basic chords and learned where all the notes are, from a beginners guitar book, and I believe I can play most anything now, since I can read musical scores and know where the foundation chords are (or can always look them up and learn that way). Later, I bought myself an electronic drum set (Yamaha), a MIDI controller (M-Audio Axiom 25) to make beats and write simple songs, and finally I got back around to purchasing a basic inexpensive trumpet which I have fun noodling around on.
WHAT I WANTED AND WHY: This is all to say what my experience has been, my interest, and what knowledge I have going into making a purchase like this. Now, I'm taking weekly piano lessons at a nearby Recreational Center (again, I am lucky enough to have this option, and to have the free time during the day to get the lessons for free through the city's Rec Development Commission. I can't tell you the joy I've had so far -- even though I've had lessons for less than 6 months -- my first recital (adult potluck social) was nerve-wracking and then utterly thrilling and has really spurred me onto continue learning as much as possible! To me, a piano is another of those instruments that I call "a complete music maker," like guitar is, IMO. You can play a whole song just with that instrument, and really get some depth and impressive sounds out of it - leading to really moving music, for your own benefit or for playing WITH or for others.
PRIMARY USAGE: Enter this keyboard. I am a picky user; there's no doubt about that, and I have specific requirements when I make purchases - always balancing price with features and options - with some being necessary and some I can take or leave. My piano instructor told me, when asked, that I should get a minimum of 61 keys, if I want to continue to take lessons; This one will take me way beyond beginner level, so I'm happy about that. It'll be used for music education but also some song and beat creation. I'm using a beginner's piano education book and going though it with my instructor. In this phase of my education, I come home to practice what I've learned in my lesson - not unlike a kid whose parent paying for the lessons might insist upon - but I really WANT to do it, because I love love love music, and I love making it, too. Unfortunately, my MIDI controller (25 keys) broke down right before the recital, and going into my next lesson without practice, I was so frustrated and upset. I knew I'd have to pay to have it repaired (but then outgrow it once I got past the first section of the book I'm using) or go ahead and buy a decent keyboard (or try to get a free piano from Craigslist - would they deliver?? LOL) that I could learn on into infinity, that was satisfying to play, like my experience on the digital piano at the rec center, and that I didn't have to plug up to my computer (awkward, cumbersome, time-consuming, and didn't always work) - that I could just turn on, start practice, and power off when I'm done. This was a necessary function for me, too.
FEATURES: Like I said, I bought this for learning and practicing piano - and having a history of playing music and being a dynamic kind of person, the weighted keys were necessary for me - but I also like the idea of it having the extra capabilities to play songs, compose music, connect to my music making software (Ableton Live), play 400 other instruments, make beats, save the samples and tunes in MIDI, use the metronome when I need to. I couldn't give two squats about the Pitch Bend Wheel and some of the other features, which I consider gimmicky.
SONG BANK: I don't know if I'll use the built-in songs much, other than being able to hear what an unfamiliar tune should sound like, and that's only if I want to learn it. Sheet music for these songs is included in the Song Book (A COOL FREEBIE)! The Song Book is not bad, either - I couldn't find much about it online, so I'll mention a few basics here: 150 songs with suggested fingerings (based on a standard hand position on the keyboard - not sure which one, tho, yet), written with instructions in both English and a few other languages, and then arranged into sections called World (45 English/American folk and other cultures' standards), Event (a couple of X-Mas tunes), and Piano/Classics (40 of these). The rest of the song bank is devoted to Lessons.
SOUND: I have to say I'm a little disappointed with the sound, at least for the piano. There are ~20 piano type instruments, and I don't think the Grand Stereo Piano really sounds like a piano. It's a good simulation, but it's obviously not the real thing. The last time I played before this arrived at my house, it was on a real piano, and this pales in comparison, unfortunately. It's a little deflating, honestly. Also, the weighted keys could also be a little more dynamic, IMO. It works, obviously, but it could be a little more sensitive and responsive. Still, I'm glad I didn't skimp on this feature, as I knew I'd kick myself down the road. Maybe these are technically called "semi-weighted?" Hmmmmm...
Finally, though you can increase the "accompaniment" volume (what you play with your right hand), the keyboard comes with volume turned all the way up, and it could definitely be much louder. Maybe you need bigger speakers for this? It is really low, IMO, but maybe I'll figure a way to change this. Well, I do have a small amp but I'd have to look into plugging them with adapter into the headphone jack. Hopefully, this would work. The final jack is for a sustain pedal (or I any similar gadget) that will INPUT data, like an MP3 player, your phone, etc. - I imagine - I have not tried it yet. I know it's a capability, but I cannot personally comment on what I learned from trying it.
INSTRUMENTS: 400 of them to play around with, including synth pads and drum sets. Lots of choices.
OVERALL: You could get pretty sophisticated with this machine, if you want to really delve into it, but as a piano it leaves a little to be desired. Still, I might learn to love it more, and I'm glad I made the purchase for sure.
I hope this review has been helpful, as I always read (and am very grateful for) reviews when I have a purchase like this to make. Sometimes, I know hardly anything about the products and do end up learning what others like and chose, why, and what to expect from similar items.
If you have questions, go ahead and ask in the comments and I'll try to answer them as time allows.