01 Feb Korg Digital Pianos – REVIEW | 7 models $500 to $2000 for 2023
By: Professor Tim
Korg Digital Pianos – REVIEW | 7 models $500 to $2000 | 2023 update | LOWER PRICES HERE
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 $2000 along 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 | $1999 internet price | This current 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 $2000.
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).
It also has 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 | $1599 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 $1600.
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).
Korg LP-380U – $1349 internet price | The Korg LP-380U has been out for awhile and it was formerly referred to as the LP-380 (no U). Although it is a bit older model it is still a very popular seller for the Korg company because it was ahead of its time when it came out and it has the same advanced key action that is found in the G1 Air and C1 Air and it also has a powerful built-in speaker system with 2 main speakers going through 44 watts of power in its own acoustic chamber speaker box similar to the C1 Air.
In the price range under $1400 the speaker system audio power in most digital pianos is anywhere from a total of 12 watts to 24 watts of power so having 44 watts of power puts the LP380 way past other models of name brand digital pianos. The sampled piano and instrument sounds in the LP380U are closer to the C1 Air but not quite as realistic in piano authenticity as the C1 Air with regard to digital piano technology.
The control panel is fairly simple with its LED display screen and round light-up selector buttons enabling you to choose any one of 30 built-in instrument sounds and then layer any two of those sounds together. There is no recording function on this model or ability to spit the keyboard electronically into two independent sounds like you can on the C1 Air or G1 Air.There are a number of other features on the LP-380 including key transpose, brilliance, reverb effects, and digital metronome. The pedaling is responsive and does include half-damper effect for more advanced players.
What makes this model especially impressive is its new USB audio streaming technology which allows 2-way instant communication with external digital devices such as an iPad. 2-way instant communication enables MIDI and audio to stream at the same time with MIDI connectivity to device and audio streaming from the device into the Korg LP380U internal speaker system. This is definitely a win-win situation for the user because now you get to use the power of iPad instrument, drum, and educational apps being heard through the impressive Korg audio system and being played on the more advanced pro RH3 key action in the LP-380U. These things allow you to expand the capabilities of the LP-380U well beyond what it can already do by itself.
There is no Bluetooth wireless connectivity on the LP-380U although there is an audio output in case you want to connect this piano to an external sound system. The reason that someone would want to purchase this model is not only because you want to play piano, but that you want to explore the exciting music related apps now available on an iPad. If fact, you can now add a $150,000 full concert grand sound to the LP-380U direct from your iPad and play it right on the RH3 keyboard within the piano. In other words, you can turn the new LP-380U into the finest grand piano available for just a few dollars.
There are not very many “bells & whistles” on the LP380U which a lot of people seem to think is good because they mainly want to “play piano” and don’t necessarily care about other sounds, features, etc. However, if you wanted to incorporate brand new acoustic piano and instrument sounds in the LP-380U along with drum rhythm patterns to help with rhythm & timing as well as having some very cool piano educational features, you would instead utilize an iPad and specific apps for all the power and musical enjoyment you would likely need.
Given its compact and contemporary styling offered in a few different cabinet colors, big internal 44 watt sound system, and impressive key action, this model is very popular. And given that it’s $350 less money than the C1 Air, it is a piano definitely worth considering, especially if you want to be closer to $1000. The LP380U is available in 4 colors including matte black, matte rosewood, matte white, matte red, and a natural black wood-grain finish.
Korg SP-280 – $999 internet price | The SP-280 is Korg’s portable version of the LP380 cabinet model. The SP280 has the identical in almost all functions and features of the LP-380 including the same piano & instrument sounds, same digital features, etc, but with a couple of important exceptions. The key action in this model is entirely different with a much lower level weighted 88-key action that does not feel like a real piano, even through it is weighted.
It has a springier, lighter touch with less key travel along with less expression and using this “entry level” key action reduces the cost of the instrument quite a bit and that’s one of the reasons it’s a lot less money than the LP-380. Other reasons for the lower cost of this model is lack of a larger cabinet with built-in triple pedal and no key cover although the SP-280 does come with a metal stand, single sustain pedal, and matching music rack to hold your music.
The internal amplification is identical to the LP-380U at 44 watts total which is pretty amazing considering the smaller size of this model, so it can very loud if you need the extra volume. Even the internal speakers in the SP280 are a bit larger to carry more volume assuming you would need a big sound because you might take this piano out to a larger venue to play it live and not have external speakers.
The SP280 does have separate audio left & right channel output to connect to an external speaker system, and audio input to run external audio devices through the piano, and also standard MIDI connectors like the LP380 and it does not have a USB connection to external device.
This model is available in a matte black or matte white (pictured above) so it does look good although it is a bit heavy at 42 lbs so if you need something to carry around that is much lighter in weight but of good piano playing quality with a powerful internal speaker system then the lower priced and newer Korg B2 would be the answer. Even though the SP280 has also been on the market for a number of years we do expect it to continue through 2023 because it is still an overall good model for the Korg company.
Korg LP-180 | $749 internet price | The LP-180 is the lowest priced Korg “cabinet model” with side panels and fold-down key cover. This piano only has a few buttons. There are 10 instrument sounds in this model and those sounds are based off the same sound technology that is in the SP280 and LP380.
For a small, inexpensive model the internal speaker system is actually quite powerful with 2 larger speakers going through a total of 22 watts of power. The cabinet itself is fairly compact with a depth from the wall of just 11″ deep and the weight of the entire piano is only 51 lbs. The piano does come with the portable triple pedal unit which supports half-damper sustain pedal
The piano has basic reverb and chorus effects, basic electronic touch sensitivity setting, and a button that you press to change the sounds one after another. As far as connectivity is concerned it does have 2 stereo headphone outputs and one standard MIDI output but no USB. There is no recording features on this model nor can you layer or split any of the instrument sounds. Overall it’s a nice piano for the money although it is fairly basic and there are some better options out there.
However, if you want a Korg cabinet style digital piano with a built-in key cover then this would be the lowest price digital piano available other than going up to the Casio PX770 at $899 discount price which is also a nice digital piano and I like it better than this LP-180 for a number of reasons.
Korg XE20 – REVIEW | $849 internet price with single pedal | XE20SP – $949 with Korg stand and triple pedal unit | The 2023 XE20 portable digital piano is Korg’s 1st attempt to provide a quality digital piano in a lower price range that provides a lot of “bells & whistles” including accompaniments, many non-piano instrument sounds, lots of recording and playback features, and many other cool digital features that will keep you entertained and busy all the time.
Essentially this model is a big step up from Korg’s lowest priced B2 digital piano which I talk about below. The XE20 offers 2 of the B2’s stereo acoustic piano sounds with are excellent and provide smooth dynamic tonal transitions and have long sustain-decay time. At 120-note polyphony for the 2 main stereo acoustic piano sounds and separate 64-polyphony for the non-piano instruments sounds, that would give you a total of 184-note polyphony which is generally more than enough piano processing power depending on how you are using the instrument.
There are over 700 higher quality instrument sounds (you name it and the XE20 has it), many drum kits, is general midi compatible and plays GM songs from a USB flash drive, has over 64 pro quality music accompaniment styles with tasteful intros, endings, variations, etc, can play audio wav and MP3 song files along with being able to record and playback 12 tracks of midi including 8 tracks of instruments and 4 tracks of accompaniments. It can hold 40 preset registrations of your own custom setups which is very helpful, and it offers stereo digital multi-effects as well.
The internal speaker system consists of two 5″ elliptical speakers in a bass reflex speaker box powered by 36 watts total stereo sound This new sound system makes this model the best in its class with regard to its speaker system for sound quality, bass response, and power. Korg is also known for it audio equipment so it comes as no surprise that they would have an impressive audio system in this model.
The XE20 also has a good looking and fairly intuitive LCD display screen near the center of the piano with nicely laid out buttons that control the functions in the piano along with those buttons lighting up light up which make them easy to use and see. There are also a few dedicated buttons on the far left side of the piano above the keys so that you can instantly access the 2 acoustic pianos along with styles and mater volume control. There is a professional grade selector dial on the right side of the display screen so that you can dial through the many sounds and accompaniments very quickly and efficiently which is very helpful.
Ergonomically speaking, Korg did a good job with the user interface. We were especially impressed by the realism of the other instrument sound like the guitars, strings, pads, synths, organs, reeds, horns, etc, along with the accompaniment styles being musically tasteful without sounding “cheezy” and toy-like. So if you enjoy doing other types of music other than just playing piano then this new XE20 may be the perfect instrument for you.
It seems to have lots of great connectivity including audio ins and outs, USB connectivity to external device, USB flashdrive inputs, and headphone jacks. However, it does not have any Bluetooth wireless features so if you feel you need to have that then this model would not be the one to get. However, for most people you will find that you can still easily connect using the hardware connections which can also be more reliable depending on where you are and what you are trying to do musically.
I really like this model especially because you are getting so many good features and functions for the money and the EX20 only weighs 25 pounds and is just 52″ wide so it is very portable and easy to take with you or store away if you need to do that. It also looks good too in its sleek, matte black contemporary cabinet. As with all digital pianos you can always find something you may not like about it or wish it had, but for the money it is hard to complain about this new model.
Finally, if you’re just in the mood to play piano and not use any of the impressive built-in bells & whistles, in my opinion even doing that will be a very satisfying experience with its responsive key action, piano sound, pedaling sustain response, and powerful internal speaker system given the price with both furniture stand and triple pedal unit is only $999. For a portable piano to have all that for $999 is hard to beat.
Korg B2 | $649 | Korg B2SP (with stand & triple pedal) $749 | This model is Korg’s lowest priced digital piano and newest model including furniture stand and triple pedal unit with new piano sound sampling technology. It has the most powerful internal speaker system in its class for any top name digital piano under $600, and an improved responsive piano weighted key action with equally improved pedaling response and long lasting sustain/decay time & resonance. If you are mainly wanting to get the most authentic piano playing experience you can get in a lightweight portable digital piano under $600, then this model would be it.
The B2 comes with a large matching music stand to support a lot of music, a matching attractive furniture stand that attaches to the piano, and portable triple pedal unit that supports half-damper sustain and can actually attach to the stand for more stability, all for under $600, then as far as we are concerned there is nothing out there right now that can beat the new Korg B2SP.
This model has 12 outstanding high definition instrument sounds with 5 of them being brand new grand pianos including studio quality Steinway, Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Bechstein, and Yamaha grand piano recorded sounds all coming through the B2’s powerful 30 watt (total) internal stereo speaker system.
The other non-acoustic piano instrument sounds are equally impressive including all new string symphony, pipe/church organ, vintage electric pianos, harpsichord, and a few others. The B2 does not allow for layering/mixing 2 sounds together nor can you electronically split the keyboard into two separate sounds. So as far as flexibility that way the B2 does not offer it.
However, unlike some of the Korg digital pianos above this model, the B2 does have USB output to device which is a very good thing and great for instant USB/MIDI connectivity to computer, iPad, Android, etc. Not only that, but once you plug an iPad (as an example) into the B2 using a special USB cable, the Korg B2 will also transmit USB audio streaming from your tablet back through the B2 internal speaker system so that you can trigger new instrument and music sounds from external apps when playing the B2 keys and hear those new sounds coming through the B2 piano and also have them layered on top of the internal B2 piano sounds.
It’s a great new feature that no other Korg digital piano has under $1000. As I mentioned earlier, the B2 key action has been improved with better expression and smoother key movement and it really makes you think you’re playing a real piano.
With a lightweight, compact, and attractive cabinet weighing only 26 lbs and really good grand piano sound and responsive key action & pedaling, for someone wanting to mainly focus squarely on piano playing while also getting a few useful “bells & whistles” for a very low price, the B2SP has definitely broken price barriers among the top name brands for what it offers. In out opinion nothing comes close to it in terms of a pure piano playing experience in its price range.
The next best thing to the Korg B2 would be the new Casio PX-S1100 at $679 (stand and triple pedal extra cost). The Korg B2 also comes as a piano by itself independent of the stand and triple pedal and the cost of it by itself is just $649. However, the package price of the B2SP which includes the custom furniture style stand and triple pedal unit is just $100 more and is really worth that extra cost.
Normally accessories like that would cost more than $200 extra over just the piano alone so we think that everyone who wants a Korg B2 should get it as a the B2SP “combo package” including that stand and triple pedal. The B2SP model is new and likely will be out for another 2-3 years before we see anything else in this price range from Korg.
Korg D1, SV2, and Korg Pro Digital Pianos | It’s also good to know that there are other Korg digital pianos available in their lineup which are called “stage” digital pianos because they are more for use on stage or in recording studios although you can definitely play them at home with an external speaker system and enjoy them very much. If you add these “stage” pianos to the 7 main pianos above then Korg would actually have a total of more than 12 digital pianos in their line-up. However, I am only reviewing the “home digital pianos” in this Korg Review.
These “stage” digital pianos don’t have a built-in speaker system inside of them, they don’t typically come with a matching stand, and they tend to have functions and features that fewer people would use who are mainly wanting to focus on a great piano playing experience at home. One of these stage digital pianos is called the SV2 and it has the same advanced top key action that Korg produces for their G1 Air, C1, and LP-380U home digital pianos.
Most 88-key stage piano models have many internal instrument sounds which include acoustic piano tones, orchestral tones, and a variety of other instruments and effects. Those sounds become more realistic as you go up in price along with getting a larger internal instrument sound library and many more functions and features.
The connectivity and other functions on these stage pianos tend to be much different than on the home pianos because playing them on stage or in recording studios requires different kinds of connections and functions that playing a digital piano at home would likely not require. The SV2 without internal speakers and SV2SPSP (SP means internal speakers) sells for $2399 online for the SP 88-key model.