Korg B2 review: What is it?
In recent years, we've seen a sizable shift in players looking for a straight-to-the-point learning instrument. It seems that players these days aren't all that interested in having access to an infinite amount of sounds and features, instead opting for a handful of top-quality voices, comfortable action and useful learning aids built-in - enter the Korg B2.
Unsurprisingly, the B2 is Korg's sequel to the relatively popular B1 digital piano, and like its precursor, this piano is designed to be one of the best digital pianos for beginners. The B2 sits alongside two variants, the B2SP, which comes with a stylish stand and a three-pedal unit and the B2N, which opts for a lighter keyboard and different speaker set.
Coming with 88 fully weighted keys and Korg's Natural Weighted Hammer Action (NH) keyboard, the B2 prides itself on its natural feeling response. The keys are graded, meaning they are weighted differently throughout the piano, with the lower notes feeling heavier than the keys at the higher register.
At the heart of this instrument is 12 unique voices that cover just about every style you'd need. From five fresh piano sounds - courtesy of the new piano engine - to electric piano, organ, harpsichord, and strings, every genre is catered for. This piano also comes with a headphone output for silent practice, audio in for jamming with your favourite songs and a piano-style sustain pedal.
Korg B2 review: Performance and verdict
Look and playability
The thing that strikes you first about the Korg B2 is the uncluttered and sleek design. This is something we very much liked about the previous version, so it's nice to see Korg stick to this styling on the upgrade. In addition, we enjoyed the unfussy labelling of the buttons, as it leads to a more piano-like look, rather than the typical layout seen on beginner keyboards. The keys themselves also look the part, opting for the lipped style of key found on an acoustic piano.
When we come across a stripped back, purposely feature-light piano, we can't help but compare it to the insanely popular Yamaha NP12 and NP32, as well as the Roland GO:PIANO 88. However, it's got to be said that while we are fans of the reasonably priced Yamaha and Roland, the Korg is streets ahead in terms of feel. Both of the previously mentioned pianos opt for a keyboard style key action which can feel light and spongey, while the B2 utilizes a fully weighted action that is way more piano-like.
Now, while the B2 may not be the best feeling piano ever, at this price point, it's more than just serviceable, it's actually remarkably enjoyable to play. The key action is smooth and responsive while being light enough to not put off newcomers to the instrument. So while it's true that professional players may prefer the likes of the Yamaha YDP144, the beginner will most certainly get on with the easy playing nature of the Korg B2.
If you know anything about Korg, you'll know they have a stellar reputation for killer sounds, and the B2 certainly doesn't sully that reputation. While there isn't an abundance of voices, what is present are 12 very high-quality sounds. We found the piano tones to be bright and articulate, with a rich and satisfying low end. Let's face it, most people just want their piano to be, well, a piano and will never stray into other sounds. If that's you, then you needn't worry about the B2, as it most definitely delivers on the piano front.
While we'd be happy with just the five top tier piano sounds, the B2 does have more up its sleeve, just in case you want to broaden your horizons. The electric piano voices here are a lot of fun, and they feel surprisingly accurate, allowing you to play with the dynamics needed to get the most out of those classic retro electric piano tones. The organ sounds may not be anything to write home about, but they do a decent job of recreating the sound of a rock, jazz and pipe organ. Rounding out the selection of tones is a harpsichord and strings setting that both do exactly what they say on the tin. They are perfectly serviceable and actually pretty satisfying to play around with, if not something you'd use all the time.
Okay, so that brings us to the onboard features and extras, and unfortunately, this is where the Korg B2 falls down slightly. The instrument's rear panel houses the inputs and outputs you've come to expect of a digital piano, with an audio in, headphone out and USB. Unfortunately, Korg has opted to go with a mini-jack format for both the ins and outs and for us, this may have proven to be a mistake. While, yes, the majority of players will get on absolutely fine with this format, it somewhat limits the appeal of the piano. Say, for example, you want to use your new piano on stage at a recital or gig, then the mini-jack simply won't cut it; you'll want a full ¼" jack. The same goes for using headphones, with most professional headphones - be those studio headphones or the best headphones for digital piano - using the larger jack.
So, let's move on to the sustain pedal. If you've ever seen one of our digital piano reviews before, then you know we have a distinct dislike for the sewing machine style piano pedal. They are never responsive enough, and we genuinely believe that beginners deserve to learn on a proper piano-style pedal right from the get-go. Imagine our surprise then when we saw that the Korg B2 came with a rather lovely looking piano-like pedal. We were delighted, to say the least. That said, this feeling didn't last long.
Don't get us wrong, the pedal itself feels sturdy enough, with an excellent action, but it has one fatal flaw. This pedal utilizes Korg's own proprietary connection rather than the standard jack found on every other sustain pedal on the market. This may not sound like a big deal, but it means you can't upgrade the pedal to a different brand or even replace it if it was to malfunction.
We'd understand this decision from Korg if the new connector was bringing something new to the table. Still, unfortunately, the connection itself actually feels very flimsy, and it really won't take a lot of force to break it off completely - something that doesn't tend to happen with, you know, a jack.
Yes, the Korg B2 has a few small issues, but in reality, these complaints are relatively minor. This piano is well-made with a solid key action and superb tones. If you are a complete beginner or even an intermediate player, you'll be sure to get something out of this fun and enjoyable piano.
Korg B2 review: Hands-on demos
Korg B2 review: Specifications
- Keyboard: 88 key (A0–C8), NH (Natural Weighted Hammer Action) Keyboard
- Touch Control: Three types
- Sound Generation: Stereo PCM
- Maximum Polyphony: 120 voices (max)
- Sounds: 12
- Effects: Reverb, Chorus
- Demo Songs: 12
- Metronome: Tempo, Time signature and Volume controls
- Pedal: Damper
- Connections: PHONES (Headphone/ LINE OUT combined use), USB TYPE B), AUDIO IN, PEDAL
- Controls: Power, VOLUME, PIANO PLAY, SOUND, METRONOME
- Power Supply: DC 15 V, AC adapter (included)
- Power Consumption: 8W
- Amplification: 15 W x 2
- Dimensions (W x D x H): 1,312 x 336 x 117 mm / 51.65" x 13.23" x 4.61"
- Weight: 11.4 kg / 25.13 lbs.
- Contact: Korg