GEAR EXPO 2021: There’s never been a better time to tune up your keyboard skills or treat yourself to new gear in order to further your musical hobby.
Today’s home keyboards are more affordable and more powerful than ever, turning any upcoming musician into a possible pro in record time. Here’s the latest keys that are all set to make you sound great through 2021 and beyond.
Roland FP-X digital piano
At the top of the range you’ll find the FP-90X, which features Roland’s Pure Acoustic Piano Modeling technology for “ultimate piano realism”. This also offers a PHA-50 progressive hammer action keyboard with escapement that incorporates the very latest sensing technology and a combination of wood and ivory-feel materials for top-notch playability.
The more affordable FP-60X and entry-level FP-30X, meanwhile, get Roland’s SuperNATURAL piano engine and an 88-note PHA-4 keyboard with progressive hammer action, escapement, ivory-feel keys and high-resolution sensing.
Each has a set of built-in speakers and the option to plug in two sets of headphones. There’s Bluetooth audio, too, so you can stream songs to your piano and play along with them.
Available in black or white, the FP-90X, FP-60X and FP-30X will be available in February priced at $2,100, $1,000 and $700 respectively.
Find out more on the Roland website.
Yamaha’s EZ-300 is EZ name and even easier by nature…
Yes, it has the usual built-in accompaniments and lets you trigger chords with a single finger, but its big USP is a light-up keyboard that promises to make it easy to learn to play.
Select one of 140 songs and you can then play along just by following the lights on the 61 touch-sensitive keys. And if you want more songs, you can download MIDI files from the Yamaha online shop and then import them via USB from a Mac or PC.
Built-in sounds include pianos, organs, strings, brass, percussion, guitars and synths, and there are also SuperArticulation Light Voices that add gestures - pizzicato plucks on a violin, for example - for even greater realism.
The EZ-300 is priced at $400. Find out more on the Yamaha website.
Yamaha’s P-45 digital piano has already been top of the bestseller lists but that's for good reason.
There's an excellent Graded Hammer Standard keyboard, weighted heavier from left to right like an acoustic piano and the Yamaha brand’s tried-and-tested Advanced Wave Modelling (AWM) sampling technology to make it sound great.
True, it may be a little light on features compared to some of its peers, and Yamaha’s AWM technology may be getting on a bit now, but as an entry into the world of Yamaha digital pianos, the P-45 still represents great value for money, backed up by a peerless heritage.
It's priced at $499/£486/€429
Kawai is another heavy hitter from the acoustic piano realm, and the ES110 is their contender for the beginner digital piano crown.
It features 19 tones, 8 of which are acoustic piano sounds sampled from the Kawai 9’ EX Concert Grand piano and powered by their Harmonic Imaging technology for increased realism across the dynamic range of the samples.
The ES110 benefits from Kawai’s newly-designed Responsive Hammer Compact action, which employs the same principles as the higher-end RHIII action, but redesigned to fit into the more compact case of the ES110.
The new entry point for Casio’s latest CT-X lineup of portable electronic keyboards benefits from the AiX (Acoustic Intelligent Expression) sound engine developed especially for the CT-X range, representing a big improvement over previous CT models.
Of the 600 AiX-generated tones, the dynamic piano, organ, string and synth sounds are the CT-X700’s strong suits, and there’s a large bank of world instruments to explore. You’ll also find 195 preprogrammed rhythms with variations and fills, 110 song demos, and 50 practice exercises on board.
You can layer dual voices and split the keyboard. There’s a decent six-track song recorder and 32 memory slots to store user settings as custom presets.
Best of all is that price tag for all that power at just $174/£246/€182.