Korg is one of the giants in the world of music technology. They manufacture a variety of different musical instruments and most people know the brand for the synthesizers they make. Korg is one of the leading brands in synths, but they also manufacture a lot of other keyboards and digital pianos.
In this guide, we’re reviewing the best, and going through the different types of keyboards and piano that the brand offer. What makes the best keyboard for one person might not be the best for another, so it is worth doing some research before you dive in and make a purchase.
Table of Contents
- 1 In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
- 2 The Korg Brand
- 3 The Korg Sound Engine
- 4 Do I Need a Korg Workstation?
- 5 Is a Korg Worth the Money?
- 6 The Best Korg Digital Pianos, Workstations and Keyboards
- 7 Summary
In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
The Korg Brand
If you grew up listening to bands who used futuristic synths and weird, out-there sounds, you might have seen a lot of Korg keyboards and synths played. If you don’t know loads about music technology or synthesizers, then you might be wondering what the brand is all about.
The brand definitely has a more professional reputation than many of the other brands out there. Korg has a great track record of making some great products including stage pianos, keyboards and synths that have been use by professional musicians as well as beginners.
If you are in the market for the very cheapest keyboards to get started or learn how to play then you might want to look elsewhere for a budget range, but for a professional feel, Korg models definitely can fit the bill.
As well as amazing key instruments, Korg also operates the brand Vox which manufactures guitar amps, pedals and more. The brand has been around since 1962 since it started in Japan, so Korg is intrinsically linked with a lot of the popular music out there.
Types of Korg Keyboard
We’re including all sorts of keyboard instruments on this list, so it might be important that you work out which you will find most suitable. A sound designer or electronic composer might want a synth, a musician who focuses on classical music might want a digital piano.
Here are some of the types of Korg Keyboards we’ve covered in this guide:
- Digital Pianos – These are designed to mimic the features of an acoustic piano or a grand piano. They usually have a hammer action or weighted hammer action that provides the feel of pressing the keys harder to get a louder sound, just like on an acoustic piano model. Digital pianos have the benefit of not needing to be tuned. Korg models are often 88-keys in design and have the full range of a concert piano.
- Keyboards – Keyboards have many different sounds inbuilt and though some sound similar to a piano, they aren’t designed to be as close a replica. They are often smaller than a digital piano, and 61-keys is not unusual. Some have touch sensitivity, especially within the Korg range which has quite a professional feel and touch sensitive action keys in almost all of their keyboards.
- Workstations – These are designed not only to be keyboards but also tools for music production, they can help you to layer different sounds, load up lots of different sounds and presets and even sequence and write music. A keyboard workstation is quite a specialist product, but it is an area where Korg excels, and they make some of the best keyboards in this style.
- MIDI Keyboards – MIDI keyboards are just controllers for your DAW. They allow you to trigger different sounds, but without being linked to a computer or other workstation they don’t work as a standalone instrument. They’re good for the studio, but you need to remember that they will need to be linked to software to make any sound.
- Synthesizers – Synths give you full control over designing sounds yourself. They generate the sound rather than just playing it, and do so by using oscillators. Whereas a keyboard will have a sound engine that triggers samples, a synth lets you make your own sounds. These may be totally new and unique, but they won’t sound like a piano.
The Korg Sound Engine
The sound engine within a digital piano or keyboard is what actually generates and produces the sound we hear replicated by the speakers or headphones. Korg’s sound engine is one of their unique selling points. In a lot of their models, they include multiple sound engines in charge of producing different tones and sounds, allowing for the very best sound quality whether you want to recreate a piano or an organ sound. Some models including the Korg Kronos range include 9 different sound engines whereas many keyboards just have one or two to drive the audio.
This is another way in which Korg proves itself to be one of the most professional brands, and something that pro musicians trust time and time again. There are plenty of keyboards with good sound engines but Korg is truly one of the best.
Do I Need a Korg Workstation?
If you are looking to buy a Korg then you might well take a look at some of their keyboard workstations. They are the industry leader in these products, but what do they do? Who are they suitable for?
Each model is slightly different, but in general there are lots of great features for musicians built into these workstations.
They include some of the following benefits:
- Drum sounds. Having drum sounds and patterns inbuilt can let you play along in a live performance.
- The option to layer and arrange sounds. You can record and play different sections simultaneously as with all the best keyboard workstations.
- Lots of sounds, and sometimes the option to download and add more sounds to the keyboard/workstation.
- Inputs, outputs and connectivity. There are lots of connection options including MIDI, USB and audio ins and outs within these music workstation models.
- Effects. Some of the workstations come with inbuilt effects for you to alter the properties of your instrument tones.
If you are serious about songwriting or live performing then a workstation can really help you to layer and produce music as well as just playing it back on a keyboard.
Is a Korg Worth the Money?
The answer to this depends on your budget, your level of ability and what you are looking to get with your keyboard/piano. If you are in the market for a cheap keyboard then you might be able to get a good quality model with less investment, but if you are after a the very best keyboard workstations to center your studio around then this brand is unlikely to be beaten.
The Best Korg Digital Pianos, Workstations and Keyboards
1. Korg EK-50 61-Key Arranger Entertainer Keyboard – Best Overall
The “arranger entertainer” model is great for both use as a keyboard for live performances or for arrangements and building songs. It has a lot of features we would associate with a good Korg keyboard but also some added extras for those who want to dabble in some production or come up with demos that they can take to the studio.
This is bundled with loads of other items too, so as well as getting a keyboard you are getting a full kit ready for gigs. There are headphones, a stand, sustain pedal, bench and an AC adapter.
Other “keyboard” features include over 700 different sounds, which are far better quality than some of the sounds that you can find in cheaper keyboards. There are also 280 rhythms. The grand piano job does a pretty good job of turning this keyboard into an electric piano!
In terms of the arrangement, you can play and record audio data such as .wav files and SMF files. It is compatible with a flash drive making it super easy to put your ideas from a jamming session on your laptop and turn it into a full song. A simple button to record allows you to track your ideas with ease.
If you are looking for the fun and function of a Korg workstation bundled into a keyboard that is portable and has a lot of accessories then this might be the instrument for you. It is half keyboard workstation and half live performance keyboard, and the piano sounds inbuilt are pretty good too, so this really is a versatile product.
2. Korg Kross 2-61 61-Key Synthesizer Workstation – Best Workstation and Synthesizer
Rarely do you find a model that can give you the functionality of both a workstation and a synthesizer all wrapped into one. These are two things that this brand is known for and the Kross 2 does a fantastic job of packaging them all together into a small, portable keyboard. This is arguably the best keyboard on the list for people who want control over all of the sounds.
This doubles up as an audio interface to allow you to record from a microphone. You can use loads of music production tools within including a sequencer, drum track and step sequencer, arpeggiator and more. Record a demo without ever having to enter the studio.
The sound quality doesn’t suffer either. There are an amazing 1075 different sound presets for you to switch between, and within these you can change some of the aspects of the sound such as the resonance. It allows you to express full control over both your playing and the synthesizer sounds.
The Korg Kross 2 is an improvement on its predecessor as it is very lightweight and has a new, enhanced sample engine with some added trigger pads.
Some of the best keyboard workstations are becoming much like miniature studios that can follow you around. The Kross 2 is a superb example of this. Though the synth-style keys don’t give the feel that some piano players and traditionalists will love, it is a very good option for keyboard and synth lovers.
3. Korg SP280BK 88-Key Digital Piano – The Best Korg Digital Piano
Are you in the market for a Korg keyboard that does the job of a piano? Many people still want the full range of 88-keys and find the best keyboard for them is one with a weighted hammer action that replicates the feel and sound of an acoustic or grand piano. The Korg SP280 could be the answer if you want to learn how to become a classical pianist or just love the feeling of a digital piano rather than a synth-style keyboard.
This makes an excellent stage piano. The brand includes a brilliant folding metal stand that helps it to stay lightweight as well as having a realistic piano feel to it. The design is pretty stylish and modern, but that isn’t the main benefit of this style of electric piano.
The incredible acoustic piano sounds are driven by a high-quality Korg engine. The instrument could easily be mistaken for acoustic, and the brilliant high-output amplifier helps with this as it faithfully replicates the sound of a piano.
88 hammer action keys allow you the full range of any other piano and also the dynamics you need as you play softer or harder throughout a performance. The “NH” action stands for Natural Hammer. It’s designed to feel like you are playing an older, acoustic model.
For a lightweight and portable model that has the feel of an acoustic piano, the Korg SP280BK could be a great option. It has fantastic sound quality and although it costs a little more than some other digital stage pianos and instrument options within the Korg range, it could be a traveling piano player’s dream.
4. Korg MicroKEY – The Best Korg MIDI Keyboard
Korg manufactures so many different models of MIDI controller including their “NanoKEY” range, extremely tiny controllers for your computer and DAW. The MicroKEY is a MIDI controller so it doesn’t produce sound on its own, but this is extremely versatile and can be paired with a huge number of devices and different forms of audio software.
One great thing about this model is the fact that it can suit almost any keyboard player, and you can choose an option as portable as you need. There are 25-key, 37-key, 49-key and 61-key options. The fact that the MicroKEY can work with your phone or tablet means that you can either get a small and portable model to keep in your laptop bag, or a 61-key model to build a home studio around, the choice is yours.
Don’t have software ready to use with this keyboard? It even comes with bundled software such as DAWs that can be used to create and trigger different sounds. The “Korg Control Editor” can unleash the full potential of the keyboard. You can connect a pedal if you wish and even play piano sections with full sustain.
If you are happy with a MIDI keyboard instead of having a workstation keyboard or synth that generates sounds then the MicroKEY could be a fantastic option for you. It is especially good for musicians who are constantly on-the-go and want to use an iPad or iPhone in their production or to come up with new ideas.
There is always quite a lot of variation within the range of a keyboard brand. For example, Yamaha and Casio have such huge ranges it is hard to keep track. The Korg range is similar, but with a focus on keyboard workstations and synths as well as digital pianos and MIDI keyboards. For this reason, it is even more important that you get your research right and end up buying a model that is suitable for your needs. There is no point in spending thousands on one of the best keyboard workstations if you just need to trigger a few different sounds at a time.
For music tech lovers, producers and songwriters, the Korg range offers such a huge amount of functionality and endless possibilities for playing and making music. It isn’t the cheapest brand, but it is easy to see why they have been successful and popular for over 50 years.