Korg SP280BK 88-Key Digital Piano Review

When it comes to digital pianos, intermediate piano tend to provide the best value. They have enough features and good quality to satisfy most users, but won't break the bank with a four-digit price tag. The Korg SP280BK is an intermediate piano with a good mix of features, cost, and applicability to different uses. It stands out from the crowd and makes itself known with its unique features.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Digital Intermediate Piano

Digital pianos come in several different styles. Some of them are especially for practice and teaching. Others are used for composing and have many different stored instrument samples. A few models focus on recording and mixing. Try to decide what you need and how much you are willing to spend early in the process. This lets you cut down the market to a short list.

The Korg SP280BK

The SP280BK costs $700 and comes with a bench, a stand, and headphones that are compatible with its headphone port. It is especially known for its speaker, but it also has a variety of different voices, or stored instrument samples. That makes it suitable for performance as well as for practice. The price point puts it slightly above the middle of the intermediate digital piano market.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Excellent speaker
  • The sounds themselves are spectacularly recorded and layered so that the tones shift smoothly. As the most important feature of a digital piano, Korg nailed it

Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • While the weighted action of the keys is solid, the actual material is plastic. This can make playing the Korg a bit awkward that does not translate perfectly
  • Not too many features

Features and Benefits

Speaker

Korg SP280BK 88-Key Digital Piano

The most notable and obvious feature is the pair of 22-watt amps that drive the sound. These are much more powerful than is standard. The biggest advantage of this is the fact that it reduces the need to get external speakers or a PA system for a performance, because these amps are loud enough to fill a large room comfortably. They also provide excellent clarity at all volume levels, which complements the quality of the samples for each voice.

Key Feel

There are two features that help improve the feel of the key response. The first is the Natural Hammer system. This is present on many digital pianos and it provides heavier weight on the lower keys. It is a realistic simulation of the key weight on an analog piano, so it is good for practice. The other is Key Touch Control. This feature provides three different levels of response between the keystroke and the sound output. You can customize how the notes react and play hard, soft, or in the middle using the settings.

Value

The high initial price tag of the SP280BK might be intimidating, but in reality the digital piano fits a lot of value into that cost. There are plenty of digital pianos with the same price level that have worse samples and sound. The speaker advantage is especially crucial because it elevates the entire sound of the instrument. Most intermediate digital pianos are geared towards home play and practice, but the SP280BK can handle performance in many different venues and settings. The included bench and headphones are worth at least $50 on their own, because that is how much you would pay for a basic bench and inexpensive headphones.

​Rating

Design

4

Performance

5

Construction

4

Value for the Money

5

User Satisfaction

4

Alternatives

Korg B1SP

Korg B1SP

The B1SP is a similar Korg intermediate digital piano. It costs $700 before sales and discounts and comes with a bench and a set of three pedals. It also has two amps, although they are not as big as the ones on the SP280BK. It has eight voices and a polyphony of 120 tones.

Comparison

Korg B1SP

Price: $700

Voices: 8

Special Feature: High-quality samples

Korg SP280BK

Price: $700

Voices: 30

Special Feature: Enhanced amps

Williams Rhapsody 2

Williams Rhapsody 2

The Rhapsody 2 costs $500 and has 12 voices. Its most interesting feature is the effects switch, which adds a different effect depending on the voice that is currently being used. This adds additional flavor and control over the tone of the instrument. It also has realistic weighting and grading to make the key action more like an acoustic piano.

Comparison

Williams Rhapsody2

Price: $500

Voices: 12

Special Feature: Variable Effects

Korg SP280BK

Price: $700

Voices: 30

Special Feature: Enhanced amps

Yamaha DGX-660

Yamaha DGX-660

The DGX-660 from Yamaha costs $800 and is a good upgrade option if you want a larger selection of features. It has 15 voices, weighted hammers, voice layering and splitting, effects, and input for a microphone that you can use to accompany yourself. The samples are also of high quality. It doesn't have the big amps of the SP280BK, but it has many different features that are suitable for recording and composing across several different instruments using the included voices.

Comparison

Yamaha DGX-660

Price: $800

Voices: 15

Special Feature: Layering and splitting voices

Korg SP280BK

Price: $700

Voices: 30

Special Feature: Enhanced amps

Final Thoughts

The Korg SP280BK is a standout in the intermediate digital piano market. While it doesn't have as many features as a Yamaha piano, it does have a totally unique advantage in its large pair of amps. No other digital piano that is even close to this price range has a comparable ability to project sound, and the amps deliver crisp, detailed tones. The competition includes pianos that cost less or offer a greater breadth of features, so if the amps do not appeal to you then one of those is likely to be a better fit. Regardless of which of these options you choose, the market for intermediate digital pianos is healthy if you know where to find the best value.

Stephanie Su
 

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