If you’re reading this article, you’re either a parent looking to purchase your child’s first keyboard or a passionate artist exploring affordable, portable keyboard options. Either way, we first recommend that you look at the various key options you have before deciding on a portable keyboard.
We have an expert-reviewed blog titled - The Easiest Guide to Buying Your First Keyboard + Our Recommendations – to help you understand your options and make an informed decision.
As for portable keyboards, these are primarily aimed at first-time key users, those looking for a backup board, and especially for kids and pre-teens seeking to learn a new, productive skill. As the name implies, these keyboards are relatively lightweight, can be transported and stored easily, and are designed to be operated without complications. These are some of the main factors impacting a beginner’s decision to take the leap of faith.
Our list of portable keyboards takes the functionality a step further with emphasis on tone and build quality as well. After all, purchasing any instrument is an investment in the right direction; an investment that should satisfy the artist for years to come. Following are our 5 best portable keyboard options for 2020:
Best Budget Option - Casio CTK-2550 61-Key Portable Keyboard
If you’re on a tight budget and absolutely need to have a portable keyboard (that doesn’t look, sound and feel like a toy), the CTK-2550 is a good go-to. It has a no-nonsense 400 voices and 100 styles to go with. Unfortunately, the keybed feel is below par when compared to the other options on the list, but, we’re not complaining because the whole package costs below AED 700. The built-in speakers are loud enough for a small-sized room, but the headphone jack has a superior application benefit in this case. In addition to these basic keyboard functions, Casio also decided to throw in the Chordata play app to further support your first steps into the world of keys.
Alternate Budget Option - Yamaha PSR-E273 61-Key Portable Keyboard
This list would be incomplete without mentioning Yamaha’s entry-level keyboard which also happens to fall in the same price range as the CTK-2550. If you want Yamaha’s slightly better build quality and tonal range, the E273 is the way to go. Pegged at the base end of Yamaha’s reputed PSR lineup, the E273 comes preloaded with 384 voices and 130 styles – lesser in number than the Casio – which is why this model is our ‘alternate’ option. The keyboard supports sustain pedals and has a standard stereo headphone jack. It also features a mini LCD screen so you know exactly what you’re opting for when playing the instrument.
Best Seller / Most Recommended – Yamaha PSR-E463 61-Key Portable Keyboard
When thinking ‘Beginner Keyboard’ the E463 is most likely the keyboard of choice for many. With 758 voices and over 230 styles, the 61-key board is a well-designed power horse with features to indulge an artist through to their intermediate phase. In addition to the usual features like eight memory banks, arpeggio function, and three-level touch responses, the E463 also has knob controls to manipulate voices, a groove creator, and a quick sampling feature to mimic a controller pad. For a keyboard that currently costs less than AED 1400, the functionality, play feel, and build quality is unrivalled. Moreover, this model is built on the foundations of years of PSR x63 models, so rest assured, the keyboard has stood the test of time and come out victorious.
For the Unconventional – Roland GO:Keys
The GO:Keys may be slightly out of place in this listicle, but we’re dedicating space for this device simply because we know instances where it has single-handedly fuelled creativity in excess. While there are over 500 pre-set voices to play from, there aren’t any styles to readily play from like other options on this list. Its innovative Loop Mix function allows you to produce full songs right away, while intuitive touch controls allow you to manipulate your looped sounds. This function means you don’t necessarily need to know chords to play style-based background tunes, but rather, working in tandem with your Bluetooth connected phone, you can make beats from scratch to suit your needs. Furthermore, when you decide to go professional, there’s a MIDI out and headphone out to support your music production aspirations.
Only the Best - Yamaha PSR-S670 61-Key Portable Keyboard
If you’re looking for a keyboard that will not leave you wanting for more, the PSR S670 is a brilliant investment to make. While it maintains all the basic requirements of a portable keyboard, it certainly goes above and beyond with the functionality. We absolutely love the keybed feel of this device.
Backstory: Around the time the S670 was released, owing to consistent complaints against their keybeds, Yamaha made the decision to switch their high-action keys to low-action to enable smoother playing and lower key noise. Overall, this increased the comfort levels and bettered the ergonomics of the keyboard. Since then, Yamaha has replicated and improved their subsequent models with the new and improved keybeds.
We love the layout of the buttons on this keyboard. Every button is within reach, well labelled, and highly functional. Unlike the other keyboards, all the main functionality and usability features are outside the ‘functions’ folder. So this makes for easier transitions when performing. The keyboard also has a headphone jack and MIDI out. The recording function is also made easy here, but we’re not the biggest fans of the LCD screen used. That is the only outdated-feeling component of this device. However, the speakers are massive and will go very well with any medium-sized performances without an amp.
All in all, the S670 is the perfect beginner portable keyboard money can buy. Sure, the newer SX700 and SX900 from Yamaha has redefined the arranger range, but again, we cannot classify those as ‘portable’. If you are willing to spend a few big bucks for a long term investment and portability isn’t your biggest concern, we recommend you read our expert-reviewed article on picking the right Arranger-Workstation keyboard in 2020 that will surely exceed all your expectations and needs.
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