The main advantage is its versatility. It can replace a whole stage orchestra or in domestic conditions, it can be used as a tool for practicing playing the piano. Thanks to its lightness and compact dimensions, it is easy to carry and store, even in a small apartment. It does not take up as much space as a digital piano and unlike a stage piano, it has its own speakers, so connecting to headphones is only a good option, not a necessity.
Typical functions of most keyboards are automatic accompaniments, automatic chords, arpeggio, drum rhythm generators or effects such as reverb, delay or equalizer. Due to the ability of autonomous play, it is also referred to as self-play. The features offered vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and significant differences can be found between the most popular brands in the segment such as KKurzweil, Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Casio. However, these basic parameters and functions can be a good tool to help you choose the right keyboard.
The ability of the keyboard to change the resulting tone volume of different keystrokes. A dynamic keyboard is essential for picking up the right habits for playing the piano.
Indicates how many tones the keyboard can play at one time. The higher the number, the more authentic the sound of the instrument.
A decomposed chord played as a sequence of tones. During the game, it is used as background or an accompanying melody and the player defines the sequence, tempo and cadence.
The most common effects on the keys are reverb, chorus, delay or equalizer. Reverb creates the spatial depth of the sound, the chorus doubles the tone and then slightly untunes it. The delay mimics the sound of the echo and the equalizer is used for more detailed sound shaping.
They consist of rhythmic patterns or background compositions with several instruments of different styles and genres.
The built-in sequencer allows you to record your own songs on individual tracks and save them on an external storage medium or internal memory.
The reduced body, mini-keys, colourful design, rounder shapes and low weight (up to 1.5 kg) leave no doubt that keyboards in this category are designed for small children's fingers. In a more detailed comparison, however, it is surprising how many differences can be found between the individual models. In this category, some keyboards are a design scale of a grand piano and even have a dynamic keyboard delivering a pleasant surprise. Other models seem to have been taken from a sci-fi film. Thanks to the silicone material, they are flexible and can even be rolled up. The strong point of other models is the development of children's creativity on their exploratory journey into the world of music using the sounds of various animals or means of transport. Extra fun is provided through a quiz question mode, in which the child has to hit the right sound effect or note and also with the possibility of tailoring the accompanying sound of "own band" by adding various instruments.
Models for beginners possess everything you need to get started. They offer 49 to 61 standard keys, backing tunes, styles and rhythms. More sophisticated models in this class also boast a more advanced split function, which allows you to split the keyboard into different registers, so that one hand can play a bass line and the other, for example, a flute melody. The headphone output, auto power off function or battery power are standard on most models. The manufacturer was also able to incorporate a USB input for connection to a PC in some models.
The dynamic keyboard plays an important role in the selection. The dynamics bring the keyboard closer to the feeling of playing an acoustic piano. Therefore, switching to a regular piano is much easier and the player acquires the right habits. The mid-range models also offer a number of creative features such as a sequencer, rhythm editor, multi-track mix, arpeggiator or built-in DSP effect that simulates a rotating speaker and gives the sound a typical vintage look. There is a higher number of automatic accompaniment styles, and some manufacturers even offer the option to set these styles in real time depending on the chords played. Other manufacturers are already thinking about the ability to play backing formats such as SMF, MP3 or WAV in this class to allow you to connect wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet and share recorded music through various free applications.
Professional-class models have a dynamic keyboard and allow you to record, edit and save your own creations via a connected SD card, USB key or integrated hard drive. They also have the option of mixing sounds or creating their own accompanying rhythms. Bonus features of these models include a clear touch screen, line output for connection to a mixer or directly to an audio device, or a professional video output that allows you to send content from the keyboard display to an external monitor. Thanks to their creative functions, they are perfect for use on stage. There is also a dynamic keyboard with an aftertouch function to additionally affect the sound key and a processor with a built-in SSD disk. This allows the processing of sounds, data, MIDI files, samples, mp3 formats or WAV files with uncompromising response speed. The top-class keyboards have a microphone input and an internal voice processor, thanks to which, the entertainer can further change, adjust and creatively mix his voice directly into the performance with the sounds of the keys and various effects. The icing on the cake is the ability of these professional models to display notes or song lyrics on the screen.
With its compact dimensions and low weight, the keyboard is an easily portable instrument. During transportation, it is prudent not to be compacent and to use a suitable case of the right size. For more expensive keyboards, it would certainly be wise to provide a higher degree of protection in the form of a hard case. If the keyboard is to be used for live stage performances, it will be necessary to invest in a stand and a piano bench. Although the keyboards have their own speakers, headphones can be useful at home or in the recording studio. Many high-end models offer the ability to save your creations to an external storage medium. It is easy to get used to using the external pedal for the keys and it is a pleasant experience to operate the modulation of the resulting sound.
A sensible alternative to getting a generous keyboard package with all of the accessories, whilst still saving money, is to choose a discounted set.