Korg B1 Review – Is Cheap Always Bad?

Korg B1

$499.99
6.3

Design

4.0/10

Key Action

5.0/10

Sound

7.5/10

Features

3.0/10

Accessories

8.0/10

Value

10.0/10

Pros

  • Nice Music Rest
  • Proper Piano Pedal
  • Decent Speakers

Cons

  • Limited Features
  • Very Limited Connectivity
  • Some Reports On Broken Keys

The Korg B1 digital piano has been around for a while now. It is one of the most popular entry level on the market. In this Korg B1 review, I will showcase every aspect of this instrument. By the end of this review, you will have all the information you need to draw your own conclusion whether the Korg B1 is right for you.

DESIGN


  • The Look

The Korg B1 is designed as a portable digital piano. It looks simple with a modern accent.

What makes the Korg B1 stands out is its curved corners. That gives it a soft and comfortable vibe that invites you to play music on it.

Modern design of the Korg B1

Another thing you might immediately notice is the long wide speaker grill on the korg B1. It takes a large proportion of the surface area. Personally I’m not a big fan of the speaker grill but if it helps improve sound quality I can live with it.

  • Music Rest

The music rest that comes with Korg B1 is rather unique. I haven’t seen anything like this from other manufacturers. Unlike the instrument itself, the music rest has straight lines and slightly sharper corners. It is not very wide but it’s definitely tall enough to support any score book or printed sheet music.

The Unique Music Rest on The Korg B1

What’s rather unique about the music rest on the Korg B1 is the placeholder at the corner. I find that a really thoughtful touch from Korg.

  • Control

The control panel on the Korg B1 is extremely simple and clean. It consists of 1 volume dial and 4 buttons. I do love the simplicity here.

Besides the power button, you have 1 piano sound button, 1 button for other sounds and 1 last button to turn on metronome.

Just like any other entry-level digital pianos on the market, many advanced functions requires a combination of buttons and keys on the Korg B1.

  • Keys

The Korg B1 has 88 keys. They are all plastic. The black ones have a matte finish while the white keys are glossy. It looks quite similar to Yamaha P45. The keyboard looks good quality and well built. I haven’t noticed any uneven spacing between the keys.

  • Size & Weight

As a portable digital piano, the Korg B1 is small in size and light in weight. Compared to its competitors in the market, the Korg B1 is slightly deeper thanks to that speaker grill. It is around the same weight like the Yamaha P45 and Casio PX 160.

The Korg B1 weighs about 12 kg (26 lbs).

Without music rest, it has the dimensions of 131(W) x 33(D) x 12(H) cm (52” x 13” x 5”)

KEY ACTION


On the Korg B1, you will find what they call Natural Weighted Action keyboard. Behind the keys, there are real hammers to mimic the key action of an acoustic piano. The keys are weighted and graded. Each key has a different weight. It goes from heavier on the left side to lighter on the right side, just like an acoustic piano.

The keys are also touch-sensitive. you can adjust the level of sensitivity to your liking.

Overall I find the Natural Weighted Action from Korg feels quite similar to Yamaha’s GHS on the P45. Compared to the Casio PX-160, Korg B1 lacks slightly on dynamic. The keys on the Casio PX-160  has also Ivory/Ebony key tops. This significantly helps with grip and moisture absorption during long playing sessions. It is unfortunate that the Korg B1 doesn’t have that.

SOUND


The sound engine on the Korg B1 is called PCM Stereo Sampling. It took samples from an acoustic concert piano. There are also synthetic string and damper resonance. This adds a lot more details and make the sound much richer.

In my opinion, the Korg B1 sounds around the same level as the Yamaha P45. and I find the Casio PX-160 sounds slightly better with a little bit more richness.

The Korg B1 is equipped with two 9 watt speakers. Behind that speaker grill, they use a special technology called Motion Feedback to control the movement of the speakers. This creates a much better sound quality on the Korg B1. Overall the speakers and not very loud. But it is enough to fill a small to medium sized room.

FEATURES


What’s really lacking on the Korg B1 are its features. It doesn’t have any internal recording capability. it doesn’t have the Dual or Split mode. The choices of sounds are quite limited. And there is no internal songs for you to listen and practice with. One more significant disadvantage is that the Korg B1 doesn’t have any USB or MIDI connectivity. Feature wise, the Korg B1 is really bare-bone.

Here you’ll find a list of most important features on Korg B1:

  • Sound (15 total):
    • Piano × 3
    • E.Piano × 2
    • Organ × 2
    • Harpsichord
  • Polyphony: 120
  • Modes:
    • Duet Mode: split the keyboard to identical halves
  • Connectivity:
    • Headphone jack

ACCESSORIES


The Korg B1 comes with a music rest and a pedal. Unlike many of its competitors, the Korg B1 gives you a proper piano pedal. This pedal feels authentic and it works pretty well. It also supports half pedaling which you couldn’t find on other models in this price range.

Depends on the bundle you get, you might need to purchase a separate stand and bench. Like any other portable digital pianos, you can choose between furniture style stand and bench or portable style ones.

A good pair of headphones are always recommended for any digital pianos.

Although the speakers on the Korg B1 is slightly better than its competitors. It is still not very good enough for any serious performance. For that you would still need an external speaker/monitor.


WHO IT’S FOR


The Korg B1 is an entry-level digital piano strictly for beginners on a tight budget. It is a very bare-bone instrument with low price tag.

This piano is also suited for any gigging musicians that just started their career. It’s easy to carry around and it’s not too big of an investment.

However, if you have more experience or a larger budget, there are many other much better choices for you on the market.

CONCLUSION


Overall the Korg B1 works well as a digital piano. But that’s about all it does. You don’t expect much more from it.


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OTHER OPTIONS

Korg B1 vs. Yamaha P45

Compare to the Yamaha P45, Korg B1 has about the same quality key actions. The playing experience on these two instruments are more or less equal. Neither Korg B1 nor the Yamaha P45 has any internal recording capability.

The Korg B1 does have better speakers compared to the Yamaha P45. It definitely sounds better through speakers. It also comes with a proper piano pedal unlike the foot-switch that comes with the Yamaha P45. One more advantage of the Korg B1 is that it has almost twice the amount of polyphony notes.

At the same time, the Yamaha P45 has many advantages as well. It has a lot more sounds for you to choose. There are quite a lot internal songs that you can listen to and practice with. The P45 also has a USB jack that you can connect the instrument to a computer.

For more details about the Yamaha P45, click here for my full review.


Korg B1 vs. Casio PX-160

Casio PX-160 is another competitor to the Korg B1. They are about the same price range.

The PX-160 has a much better key action in my opinion. When I play on the Casio PX-160, I feel more at ease and more expressive thanks to the better dynamics of the keyboard.  The keys on the PX-160 also has Ivory/Ebony finish. This really helps during long playing sessions. I also find the sound engine on the Casio PX-160 slightly better the Korg B1.

Both of these two instruments have similar speakers. The Korg B1 has a slightly better base performance. I find the base on the PX-160 a little bit muddy.

Just like the Yamaha P45, the Casio PX-160 comes with a terrible foot-switch. The proper piano pedal from the Korg B1 is a significant advantage.

Unfortunately the Casio PX-160 wins on many other aspects. It has a lot more sounds to choose from, many internal songs, 2 extra modes and a USB jack. The PX-160 can also record your performance internally. This is a function that neither the Korg B1 nor the Yamaha P45 has.

For more details about the Casio PX-160, click here for my full review.


Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this review. And if you happen to have some experience with the Korg B1, please share with us in the comment below.

8 Comments

    • Yes, with a tight budget, you can’t go wrong with the Korg B1. However if you can stretch your budget a bit, the Yamaha DGX-660 would be a better choice for you. That one has a microphone jack so that you can sing along with the piano.

  1. Hi, and thanks for the information in your article and for the useful comparison. I think Korg B1 will do for our son for his 30th bday. He would like to start again with a digital piano. For a low price it will be OK..

    • Yes, as a starter instrument, the Korg B1 is more than capable. However, do prepare to upgrade in the near future. Your son could quickly outgrow the korg.

  2. Thanks. Very informative. I think I would probably go for the casio PX-160 just because of the internal recording capability. I will definitely send this to my nephew who builds mandolins in Bend, Oregon and works with musicians. I can see someone just learning could certainly use the Korg B1. Really helpful website.

    • Hi John,

      Good call. My Mom has a Casio PX-870. We love it. What’s great about Casio is that even if you go cheap with the brand, you still get the best key action Casio has to offer. The PX-160 plays every well and sound pretty decent. And yes, it also has that internal recording feature that many including myself couldn’t live without.

  3. Wow! What a great thing to have in the house if you are a classical music lover. I would buy cheap over expensive for the first time always. I tend to break stuff, so Korg B1 would be perfect for me to learn some basics first. Great review and comparison with Yamaha. Thanks for your review. Ivan

    • Hi Ivan,

      Love to see you around again. Korg B1 is well received for an entry-level digital piano. Can’t really go wrong with it. Unless some of the features that it lacks are important to you.

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