Keyboard/Piano Buying Guide 2019 - 2020


Updated November 2019, (do check for retails shop/ online store offers before buy)


This guide is for those who don't know where to start or have limited budget but need quality product with good features to start learning
or to get a general idea for learning music with a Keyboard/Piano/MIDI controllers

Which Keyboard is most suitable for learning properly ?

Though keyboards price starts from range 3,500 Indian Rupees (INR) (Casio 44-49 Key ones) and 6,000-6,500 INR (no touch response 61 keys) for the purpose of learning to play a piano/keyboard properly it's highly recommended that you start with atleast a 61 key entry level keyboard with Touch response ( velocity sensitive ) also if you want to connect the keyboard to your computer for recording/composing, a USB to Host MIDI port is necessary, 61 key gives proper playability with both hands compared to 49 key keyboard, most of the popular songs can be played with a 61 key instrument, So features to look for is, Touch response,61 Keys, USB to HOST or USB MIDI and Good sound,

Here's a list of CASIO and 1 Yamaha keyboard ( I like CASIO because of it's piano style keys/keybed)

CASIO CTK 3500 ( INR 8,500 Range)
Pros: 61 keys, Touch Respose, USB MIDI, Pitch bend wheel if you want to incorporate Indian classial playing, and the lowest price
Cons: Sound quality and volume is not good compared to CT-X700

CASIO CT S300   (INR 9,500 Range )
Pros: Latest release (2019), Sleek Design, around same price of CT-X700, 61 Keys, Touch Respose, USB MIDI
Cons: no AiX sound, other features like split, layers, recording not included

CASIO CT-X700 ( My Recommendation ) (INR 10,000 Range)
Pros: AiX sound source ( quality sound ),  good volume, 61 keys, Touch Respose, USB MIDI, Recording, Tone Layering, Split, etc
Cons: Doesn't have pitch bend wheel, but if not aiming for Indian classical style playing or creating electronic music with bending sound , it's not needed
* There's a new model CT-X800 with pitch bend wheel, but is not available in India (updated : Nov 2019)

YAMAHA PSR E-363 (INR 11,500 Range)
(My Recommendation for those who wants/like Organ Style Keys)

Pros:61 keys, Touch Respose, USB MIDI (btw, Organ style keys have a slight speed advantage over Piano style keys)
This is the starting model from Yamaha with above 3 required features
There's a wide range of keyboards from Yamaha starting up from here, do look their website to know more
 

CASIO CT-X870IN ( INR 12,500 Range)
Pros: AiX sound source ( quality sound ),  good volume, Indian Tones, 61 keys, Touch Respose, Pitch bend wheel, Pendrive Support, USB MIDI, Recording, Tone Layering, Split, etc
Cons: Nothing

CASIO WK-240 (INR 15,000 Range)
Pros : 76 Keys  then almost same features as CT-X700
cons: No pitch bend wheel
 

CASIO CT-X8000IN (INR 18,000 Range)
Pros: 61 keys, then all of above written features with sequencer, 10 song recording, effects, tone edit, track mixer etc
Cons: Nothing
 

DIGITAL PIANOS

CASIO CDP-S100 BK (INR 35,000 Range)
Features: 88 Keys, Touch Response, Graded Hammer Action, USB MIDI


CASIO CDP-S150BK (INR 38,000 Range )
Features: 88 Keys, Touch Response, Graded Hammer Action, around 16 Scale tuning modes, USB MIDI , Recording
 

YAMAHA P 45 (INR 38,000 Range)
Features: 88 Keys, Touch Response, Graded Hammer Action, USB MIDI
 


CASIO Privia and Celviano Digital Piano Series  ( INR 50,000 to INR 1 Lakh )

At Digital 88 Keys Graded Pianos, Yamaha and Roland has some amazing produts, do check those out if planning to buy

 

and the REAL Deal, upright Piano's from Yamaha will Cost you from INR 2.5 Lakh to INR 10 Lakh and Baby Grandpianos from around INR 10 Lakh and upwards
 

What is Piano Style and Organ Style Keys ?

CASIO keyboards have Piano Style Keys (Keys will be a block) and Yamaha have Organ Style (keys will look cut/ have space underneath) (some Yamaha model have piano style keys), how they differ ?, you have to give it a try at your nearest music store and then make your personal choice (basically it's about how we feel the keys when it's pressed as both style has different hitting point in the keybed and that produce different sensation on fingers, I personally like Piano Style Keys, but Organ Style keys have slight speed advantage, also budget wise, if you can comfortably spend more money, there's a wide range of keyboards from high end brands like KORG, Roland along with CASIO, Yamaha etc with lot's of cool functions :)

The standard 88 key Digital piano with touch and hammer action from both brands (CASIO and Yamaha starts around 35,000 INR and upwards, please check the respective websites / online stores or your nearest music store for more details

Another section is MIDI controller keyboards, the ones which only produce MIDI data and no sound, they usually have added potentiometers for MIDI control values in the form of knobs and faders and they come in all sizes from 25 key to full 88 keys, the budget ones are Nektar LX 25+, AKAI mpk mini 25 and Arturia minilab (all around 9,000-9500 INR) while Samson mini 25 is more cheaper option at around 6,000 INR, but all these are very plastic and small built and is usable only for production/composing while traveling or so, better option will be Nektar Impact LX25+ ( which is lil less priced but sturdy and large build, further in the budget MIDI controllers are KORG nano series (ya very small), around same price in India, as above written ones, to compare controllers with higher keys and function, an AKAI MPK 61 key might cost around 43,000 INR while M-audio Oxygen 61 Key can be bought for under  20,000 INR, at same price range of 20K Novation Launchkey is available, while Nektar Impact LX61+ is being more budget frindly at around 17,000 INR ( M-Audio, Novation, Nektar has more budget friendly options here in INDIA, so don't forget to check them out first ) btw, the cheapest 61 key MIDI controller currently available is Samson Carbon 61, and Nektar ImpactGX 61 priced at around 10,000 INR (these has no pads/mixers etc, therefore a casio/yamaha keyboard with onboard sound/speakers will be a better choice )

What does graded hammer action, weighted, semi-weighted, touch response, USB MIDI etc means ?

In a grand/baby grand piano (which cost anywhere from 7-10 lakhs INR for base models from Yamaha)(or 3-5 lakhs INR for upright pianos) can even go upwards like 20-40 Lakhs INR ( Steinway ) :) In the real thing, when we press a key, the key makes a tiny hammer move and the hammer hit the strings to produce the notes, now the keys will be having a resistance and a hit point where we can actually feel when the key is lifting the hammer and the hammer is about to hit the strings, this usually happens halfway of key press, then there will be tension to get it back to it's position, and left side keys will be hard to press compared to right side keys (in real piano the low end notes will have thicker strings and hence need more force), also if we play a grand piano softly it will produce less volume and if we hit the keys fast and hard, the piano will make louder volume

reproducing these effects in modern keyboards/digital pianos are the terms like graded hammer action, weighted, semi-weighted, and touch response appears, so a graded hammer action in a digital piano means, the keys at the left will be more hard to press and gets easier as we go right, weighted keys mimics the grand piano key press feel, and can be found in synthesizers, arrangers from KORG, Roland etc and high end ones frm CASIO, Yamaha etc., semi-weighted keys produce similar feel of grand piano keys(but not complete, therefore 'semi') can also be found on synthesizers and general MIDI keyboards (btw, a 61 key, touch response, semi-weighted MIDI only keyboard from M-audio (keyboard doesn't produce any sound, only MIDI information which can be interpreted/processed via computer or other MIDI instruments) will cost like 13 to 15,000 INR and can only be used with a computer) touch response means the same volume thing I mentioned above thus giving dynamic volume changes to play music with expression, it plays softly if we plays softly and the keyboard plays high volume if we play fast and hard, and finally the USB MIDI TO HOST means, the keyboard can send MIDI data ( a communication protocol for musical instruments ) to a computer via USB ports, for electronic music production with a keyboard, a USB to Host MIDI connection is required ( though there are options to make electronic music just by using the computer mouse or computer keyboard, learning to play a real keyboard helps to make quality music )


What all things are needed to learn electronic music production ?

a) A PC/Laptop with minimum 512 MB RAM (2/4 GB recommended), Windows OS/ Mac, Linux or even Android

b) A USB to Host MIDI Keyboard (optional), minimum 25 keys (61 keys for proper playability)
( if the MIDI keyboard have controls like knobs/faders it's added benefit, look from AKAI, Novation, Nektar, M-Audio etc )
( please note, unlike a normal keyboard/piano which contains inbuilt sounds and speakers, a midi controller keyboard
doesn't produce any sounds by itself, they only sends MIDI data and need a computer software to work)

Actually you don't need a MIDI keyboard at all, as notes can be created with a mouse or played with virtual keyboard, only problem will be realtime velocity variation won't be recorded as these methods register full volume for every notes, ofcourse you can manually edit velocity information for all notes in MIDI editor later

c) Optional, not necessary : Audio Interface, Microphone, Studio Headphones, Studio Monitors, Room Acoustic Treatments etc.
above things are costly options, so it's upto you to decide how much you want to spent, just for learning purpose, onboard sound of your PC and a decent 2.1 Speakers or decent Headphones will do..


more doubts ? please give Adarsh a call at 974 62 62 836, thanks :)


(models/prices obtained on Nov 2019, expect changes, be sure to check online stores too as there will be offers )





Provides training in..

~ Digital Audio Workstations
~ Virtual Instruments (VSTi)
~ Sound Designing
~ MIDI Programming
~ Composing / Arranging
~ Mixing and Mastering


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Digital Audio Workstations Guide
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