01 Jan Korg Digital Pianos | REVIEW | 7 models under $1000 to $2000
By: Professor Tim
Korg Digital Pianos | REVIEW | 7 models under $1000 to $2000 | 2021
Korg has 7 home digital piano models under $2000 including the G1 Air, C1 Air, LP-380U, SP280, LP180, XE20, and B2. The Korg music products company from Japan is one of the most well known digital piano & keyboard companies in the world and produces a vast array of high quality pro keyboards, synthesizers, recording gear, drum machines, digital pianos, digital organ keyboards, effects processors, digital tuners, guitar pedals and other music products. They have come out with proprietary digital music technology over the years that have been very innovative and many of their most famous products are designed and made in Japan at the Korg factory. Although the Korg company is well known in the “pro music community” they are not as well known in the mainstream “home piano” community whereas Yamaha, Kawai, Casio, and Roland are more well known that way because they have been making more home digital pianos over the years than Korg. Also, those companies have digital home pianos well over $2000 as compared to Korg which has all their home digital pianos under $2000along with Yamaha and Kawai being well known for high quality acoustic upright and grand pianos. whereas Korg does not build acoustic pianos.
These 7 models in some cases offer a “bigger bang for the buck” than the other brands in terms of a realistic piano playing experience for their price range as compared to a real acoustic piano, especially the top of the line G1 Air. So if you are looking for an impressive 88 piano weighted key (key action) portable or furniture cabinet digital piano for under $2000 with high quality built-in internal speaker systems and you want it to sound convincing as a piano, feel great with regard to key action, and have responsive pedaling, then the Korg digital pianos may be the perfect choice for you. Most of them also have powerful internal sound systems and an attractive contemporary cabinet with a smaller footprint. By the way, these 7 Korg digital pianos all have audio outputs built into them so that they can also be heard through external speaker systems and therefore can be used in churches, schools, studios, and other places where larger groups of people gather together.
Korg G1 Air | REVIEW | $1799 internet price | This 2021 model is Korg’s top-of-the-line home digital piano with the most powerful internal speaker system under $2500 with 4 speakers,4 amplifiers, and 80 watts of power. Two of the speakers are housed in a separate acoustic chamber speaker box just under the piano with the speakers pointing forward so that the main bass sound comes out towards the player where you can really feel and experience that bigger sound unlike many other digital pianos under $2500. So you have 2 big speakers pointing towards you and the other 2 smaller speakers with their own amplifiers driving the high frequency piano sound through the top of the piano so that you can hear the clarity of the sound more distinctly than on other digital pianos.
The 3 main piano sound samples are comprised of a Steinway grand Piano, a Bosendorfer Grand Piano, and a Yamaha Grand Piano so that you get three distinct pianos in the G1 Air which is great because those pianos are quite different from each other tonal color and personality. This means that you can play a variety of piano music and use the appropriate piano sound depending on the style of music you are playing. Whether it is classical, Jazz, pop, rock, ballad, whatever it may be, there are many great piano sound choices with the 3 main acoustic piano sounds along with variations of those pianos for an even larger library of pianos to choose from. You can also mix/layer those piano sounds together to create your own custom grand piano sound if you wish to experiment with that which the other digital pianos out there cannot do.
The G1 Air has 120 note polyphony power which seems like it might not be high enough in polyphony power when compared to other digital pianos at 192-note polyphony and 256-note polyphony. However, Korg had a special high definition multi-layered piano sound technology which takes that 120-note polyphony part of the sound chip and extends the actual playing experience well beyond the top 256-note polyphony chip even when layering 2 stereo sounds together. In other words this model never has “note-dropout” or other anomalies normally associated with lower polyphony piano sound chips like some other pianos do.
Beyond the impressive acoustic pianos sounds are the non-piano instrument sounds including strings, organs, vintage electric pianos, choirs, harpsichord, etc and all of those sounds are very high HD quality as compared with the other brands in this price range. Having symphony violins to layer/mix with an acoustic grand piano sound or be able to digitally split the keyboard with a different sound on the left hand and another instrument sound on the right hand can also be musically useful. The piano weighted-graded key action in this model is also of higher quality than you would expect in this price range with regard to a more authentic piano playing experience and in our opinion much more enjoyable to play than what Roland and Yamaha are currently offering.
There are many more features and functions in the Korg G1 Air including 2-track MIDI recording & playback along with built-in Bluetooth wireless audio connectivity so that you can stream music from your external device such as iPhone, iPad, Android and hear that music come through the stereo speaker system of the G1 Air which is very cool. The Korg G1 Air is an extremely strong competitor for digital pianos under $2000 and with it’s contemporary good looks with front support legs and full privacy back panel (you cannot see through the piano stand), realistic expressive piano sound, responsive key action along with full pedal sustain and half-damper effect, and minimalist control panel with LED display screen, we believe this model should be a serious consideration when shopping for a new digital piano under $2000. The G1 Air is offered in 3 cabinet colors including matte black, matte dark rosewood (pictured above), and matte white. The factory warranty on the G1 Air is 5 years parts &labor which is a very time long for a factory warranty in this price range.
Korg C1 Air | REVIEW | $1449 internet price | The C1 Air is a relatively new model and is the next one down in the Korg lineup of pianos and is also impressive for what it does in it’s price range under $1500 although it is significantly different than the G1 Air in most (but not all) ways. This model has a 2 speaker, 2 amplifier 50 watt internal speaker system which gives it powerful bass response with those speakers contained in a separate acoustic speaker box chamber pointing towards the player offering a fuller grand piano type sound than any other digital piano under $1500. The piano sound chip has 2 sample recorded grand pianos which are very good using a 120-note piano sound chip. This 120-note polyphony power has plenty of capacity for regular piano playing.
However, if you layer a stereo violin symphony sound with a grand piano sound then you may lose notes along the way if you are playing a more complex piece of music, but this only happens when layering 2 sounds together like piano + strings, etc which most people don’t do too often when playing more complex piano music. Like the G1 Air, you can layer any 2 sounds together but you cannot split any two sounds on left & right hand. The split function is limited to a bass sound on the left hand and a piano sound on the right hand which is fine for playing jazz or other popular forms of music. The other instrument sounds in the C1 Air are quite good but not as realistic overall as the instrument sounds in the G1 Air.
The C1 Air has the identical smooth playing, responsive key action that is offered in the G1Air so that is a very good thing and gives an edge to this model over its competition in the price range between $1000 to $1500. The C1 Air also has a 2-track MIDI recorder & playback feature along with the same Bluetooth audio wireless connectivity like the G1 Air. Pedaling functions are identical to the G1 Air which is good and it offers long, full piano sustain and sustain/decay time along with half-damper effect which intermediate to advanced players will appreciate.
Unfortunately the C1 Air does not have USB direct output so you would need to purchase MIDI to USB adapter to convert the MIDI out put to USB. The cabinet on this model is also compact & contemporary with a fold-down lid that folds flat over the piano keyboard but the cabinet is not as elegant or curved as the G1 Air. The C1 Air cabinet also does not have the back privacy panel as is on the G1 Air but nevertheless the cabinet is sleek with front support legs and is attractive in any of its 4 cabinet color options including matte black, matte rosewood, matte white, and a limited edition matte white ash (pictured above).