My Digital Piano Reviews
Korg has always been a big name in the music equipment market, being responsible for some of the most iconic instruments since the 1970s.
Its Kronos keyboards, M1 sampling synthesizers and MS-20 analog synthesizers have appeared on records all over the world.
Korg has proven to be a master at designing high-quality instruments that are easy to use and enjoyable to play countless times. With the Korg D1, I'd say they've done it again.
The Korg D1 is marketed as an entry-level stage piano, priced at $700. Korg claims that it is marketed for both beginners and artists, and I agree.
Unlike Korg's more expensive offerings, such as the Grandstage and SV-1 stage pianos, the D1 eliminates fancy features and brings the essentials together in a simple and affordable package.
With a long history of success behind it, can the D1 reproduce the magic of Korg's signature sound? Let's find out.
Korg D1 Specifications
- 88 fully weighted keys
- Hammering with actual weight (RH3)
- Touch Sensitivity: 4 types, Off
- LED display
- Sound: PCM stereo, 30 high-quality sounds (German and Japanese grand pianos)
- Polyphony of 120 notes
- Reverberation, Brightness, Chorus (each adjustable in 3 levels), Temperament (9 types)
- Shock absorber resonance, simulation of a key stoppage
- Modes: double (layer)
- Metronome, transposition, fine tuning
- Speakers: no built-in speakers
- Connectors: MIDI input/output, headphone jack (1/8″), line output (R, L/Mono), damper jack
- (Width)x(Depth)x(Height): 132 x 26.3 x 12.8 cm (52.2" x 10.3" x 5")
- 16 kg (35.2 pounds)
- Release date: January 2018
The 88-key, full-size Korg D1 is marketed as a stage piano, but its weight might make you think otherwise. At 16 kg/35.27 lbs, it's certainly not the lightest.
The weight is a small price to pay, however, for the free key bed, but let's not get carried away.
Let's start with the largest number of Korg D1s for home players. This digital piano is not equipped with on-board speakers.
For players, this is not a big problem, and the lack of speakers also means less weight and volume.
However, if you're looking for a practice piano to use at home, don't write the D1. You can always use external speakers or headphones to listen to your performance.
The Korg D1 is available in two finishes - black and white.
The look is clearly influenced by the legendary Yamaha and Steinway pianos, and the matte finish of the body means it is not a fingerprint magnet, which is a big advantage for people with sweaty hands!
The D1 is portable, although I wouldn't want to move it around all the time because of its weight. The good thing is that it is well built and will easily survive concerts and shows thanks to its sturdy exterior.
The D1 doesn't come with a keyboard stand, although I didn't find this a problem.
The keyboard fits very well on desktops and works with almost any keyboard stand.
In my case, the keyboard fits well on my Korg ST-SV1, but it can easily be used with any standard size keyboard stand.
The D1 is equipped with a basic piano style damper pedal.
The included pedal is decent enough for a standard performance, but it looks a little smaller than a regular piano pedal.
Another negative aspect of the pedal is the lack of half-pedal support, which is a bit of a shame since the D1 itself has half-damper functionality.
But it's still a much better pedal than those thin box-type switches that equip most digital pianos in this price range.
As an alternative, I recommend the Korg DS-1H mute pedal, especially if you're going to use the instrument at home.
The DS-1H has a touch-sensitive key and supports half-pedal, which makes playing even more natural.
One thing I love about the D1 is its controls.
Like Korg's classic synthesizers and workstations, everything is clearly laid out at the top of the keyboard, and you even get a digital display for easy navigation, something you won't find in most other alternatives in this price range.
Apart from a few hidden features (which we'll talk about later), operating the D1 is child's play.
By the way, I love the volume knob. Incorporating volume increases is much easier with the buttons than the sliders found on most other digital pianos.
Overall, the Korg D1 is simple and easy to use, except for the lack of built-in speakers.
Everything works, and the interface is well-designed, without interfering with the way you play. And speaking of gaming, the Korg D1 doesn't just play, it excels.
It can be said that Korg is best known for its workstations, Korg Kronos (and by extension its younger brothers, Krome and Kross) being one of the best known workstations on the market.
This doesn't mean that the Grand Theatre is the first stage piano Korg made. His old SV-1 stage piano has been a great success over the years.
His latest effort is the Vox Continental performance keyboard, named after the legendary Vox Continental organ, which has a striking red finish and incredible organ sounds.
However, when it comes to stage pianos, the gold standard is probably the world's favourite Nord Stage and Nord Piano piano line, which we have already reviewed.
In our opinion, Clavia has found a balance between flexibility and ease of use, offering powerful sound generating technology hidden behind a user-friendly interface.
We also looked at the Roland RD-2000, which has a slightly more complex user interface, but has become a favorite because of its workstation-style power, excellent keyboard, and robust sound set.
Finally, our latest stage piano review focused on the Yamaha CP-88. The CP series doesn't beat around the bush, just select presets and play.
There's not a lot of blurring, and that, I think, has given a focus to playability rather than power, which might be ideal for most people.
Korg's Big Scene is similar to the CP series in that respect. It focuses on plug-and-play, which is fast, but does the lack of customization end up getting in the way?
Korg doesn't seem to think so, as the marketing material highlights 7 included sound engines, all of which come directly from Kronos.
How does Grandstage stand up to the competition and, more importantly, is it worth beating the similar price of the RD-2000? Well, let's find out.
The Korg Grandstage is a rare beast. It's a stage piano with a stellar sound and it's stupidly easy to use (in fact, the manual is less than 20 pages long without the legal jargon and warnings!).
I was expecting something like the modern Yamaha CP88, but I was surprised to find it even more stripped down. Even if you have no experience with stage pianos, you won't have a problem with the Korg Grandstage.
I'll be honest, the sound designer in me was hesitant at first. I loved the Nord Stage 3 and the Roland RD-2000 for their sonic flexibility, and the affordable Korg Kross Workstation was one of my favorite studio and performance options.
Having a maximum of 4 parameters to work with, with only one effect, was extremely limiting.
However, my fears were misplaced. Korg's 7 sound engines (again, directly from the Kronos) are incredible and shine brighter with key instruments, especially pianos.
I dare to say that they are the best acoustic and electric piano sounds that can be found on stage pianos today.
After reviewing (and praising) Nord Piano 4 over the past few months, I can say that the Grande Scène is doing very well, and even surpasses Piano 4 in some respects thanks to its RH3 keys, which I prefer to the functional Fatar keyboard of the Nordic instruments.
The RH3 keys are the other great attraction and provide a sense of well-being despite the lack of hybrid wood structures found in the competition.
The keys are precise and sensitive, and their weight is balanced to work well with acoustic and electric pianos, even with convincing organs.
In the end, I couldn't help but love the simplicity. Of all the stage pianos I've tried so far, the Grand Théâtre is the most accessible. You don't need this manual at all. Interface design is important these days, and Korg has been very successful in this area.
Unfortunately, simplicity also means compromise.
The 500 presets are sufficient and hide a lack of synthesis and real effects. For most stage piano use scenarios, you'll be perfectly in tune with what Grandstage has to offer.
It is a pity that the sound engines are not accessible. Kronos sound engines are extremely powerful. Even increasing the number of parameters to 8 per sound could bring performers closer to their ideal sound.
The effects also leave something to be desired. It could be spoiled by the effects sections proposed by the competitors. However, it is not enough to have a single combined reverb and delay effect.
Although the reverb algorithms look good, I would have liked to see a dedicated chorus, an amplifier simulation or a rotary speaker emulation. Of course, the mileage may vary.
Finally, you may have noticed the short film section compared to our other stage piano reviews. The Grand Stage is really basic and doesn't have things like the Nord Piano's fade function, the RD-2000 live mix and single point separation. It's not necessary, but note that competitors offer more "bang for your buck".
In summary, the Grand Theatre sounds good, plays well and is extremely easy to use. I wasn't kidding when I said that this is one of the best stage pianos, and I'm willing to overlook the small set of features that comes with it.
All in all, I highly recommend the Grandstage to pianists who want a wide range of tasteful sounds. It sounds amazing, and if you don't need the extra bells and whistles, the Grand Theatre is an easy choice.
It's been a long time since we've covered a Korg instrument. We got a glimpse of their D1 digital piano, which was a pleasant experience, with excellent sounds and one of the best keys in this price range.
The only minor disadvantage was the lack of speakers on board, which was a decisive factor for most musicians who don't have access to an amplifier or external speakers.
Still, we always liked the instruments of this Japanese company.
Their Kronos, Krome and Kross workstation ranges are used on stages and in studios around the world, and their latest attempts to bring classical and analog synthesis back to the forefront with their Minilogue and Volca series have received almost unanimous praise.
Although digital pianos have not been Mr. Korg's priority, his long experience in instrument making ensures a certain degree of finish and quality in his products.
Today we will see an update of Korg's B1 line, their entry-level digital piano series, which will be launched for the first time in 2016.
We looked at the Korg B1 (and by extension the B1SP model, which included a few additional accessories) some time ago, and found it to be a decent beginner's piano, with great tone, but a limited set of features that lagged behind the competition.
These criticisms were also widespread, so Korg took most of them into account when designing the B2, B2SP and B2N. Many issues have been resolved and I can say with confidence that the B2 is a great improvement over the next generation B1.
This does not mean that it is perfect. As we have seen in the distribution of digital pianos under $500 (which happened to be the Korg B1), beginner digital pianos have reduced their expenses to an affordable price, and the B2 is no different.
The questions to be answered here are whether the B2 is worth your money, and whether it compares to our best selections of digital pianos for under $500.
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