Portable Keyboard Roundup

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Portable keyboards have an uncanny ability to make musical exploration fun. They’re great for beginners because they have built-in music lessons, and everyone enjoys tinkering around with their exotic instrument sounds and pre-programmed rhythms. Seasoned players can take advantage of the battery-powered and built-in speaker aspects of portable keyboards, which enable them to practice and perform when they’re away from power. Songwriters are often inspired by the endearing and campy quality that all portable keyboards provide. They’re entertaining musical instruments that appeal to just about everyone.

This roundup is intended to help you better understand the various portable keyboards that are available at B&H. The models are broken into three categories: lighted key, 61 key and 76/88 key. A chart is provided after each category so you can quickly compare the different options. If you’re looking to gain a better understanding of what a portable keyboard is, how it differs from other kinds of keyboards, and what kinds of features it has, be sure to check out the B&H buying guide, Home Keyboards.

All portable keyboards run on batteries, but many of them can use AC power as well. However, it’s common for the AC power supply to be sold separately. Links are provided throughout the article for power supplies and other essential accessories. B&H has assembled several money-saving kits that include keyboard stands, headphones and other useful accessories, and links are provided for them as well. As you read through this article, imagine there's a toe-tapping samba beat breezily playing in the background.

Lighted Key Portable Keyboards

As the name implies, Lighted Key Portable Keyboards have keys that become illuminated when pressed. The glowing lights really draw people in. Children are more likely to spend more time playing the keys, and adults are often equally as enchanted. Lighted keys also make the built-in tutorials much more interactive and engaging. The keys visually teach you how to play tunes.

Casio LK-165

The Casio LK-165 is loaded with 400 instrument tones, 150 rhythms and 110 built-in songs. It features a microphone input for amplifying your voice and for sampling. The LK-165 can sample up to ten seconds of sound, and the samples can be played back on the keys and its five voice pads (all of the Casio keyboards in this category share this ability). A headphone jack allows you to play without disturbing those around you. An AC adapter is included. The LK-165 is also available in a B&H Kit that includes a keyboard stand and headphones.

Casio LK-230

The Casio LK-230 has nearly identical features to the LK-165, with the critical addition of touch-sensitive (velocity-sensitive) keys. Touch-sensitive keys are a fundamentally important feature. They react to the velocity at which they’re struck. When you play a key softly, the note is soft. When you strike a key with force, the sound is louder. An audio input is provided, enabling you to connect an MP3 player. The LK-230 is also available in a B&H Kit, which includes a keyboard stand and headphones. The Casio AD-5 AC adapter is available separately.

Yamaha EZ-200

The Yamaha EZ-200 has an exceptionally intuitive layout and interface, which should appeal to beginners and experienced players alike. There’s an ambitious sound library with 375 sounds and a dedicated button that brings you back to the piano sound, should you get lost. The keyboard also includes 100 built-in songs and Yamaha's highly-regarded lesson function, which offers a fingering guide, a chord dictionary and grade-performance evaluation. The PA-130 power adapter is available separately.

Casio LK-280

The Casio LK-280 offers all of the features found in the other Casio Lighted Key keyboards, with a little bit extra. The sampling abilities, karaoke sing-along features, built-in lessons, layering and splitting are all here. In addition to extra sounds and songs, the LK-280 is capable of recording and saving songs with up to six tracks. The Casio ADE95100 power adapter is included. The LK-280 is also available in a B&H Kit, which includes a keyboard stand and headphones.

Casio LK-165

Casio LK-230

Yamaha EZ-200

Casio LK-280

Keys

61

61

61

61

Velocity Sensitivity

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tones

400

400

375

600

Rhythms

150

150

100

180

Songs

110

110

100

152

MP3 Input

No

Yes

No

Yes

Batteries

Six AA

Six AA

Six AA

Six AA

AC Adapter Included?

Yes

No

No

Yes

61-Key Portable Keyboards

Likely the most ubiquitous size for a portable keyboard, a 61-key instrument gives you a comfortable amount of space on which to play and a decent amount of tonal range, while remaining compact and lightweight enough to be truly portable (note that all of the Lighted Key models also have 61 keys).

Casio CTK-2100

The Casio CTK-2100 features a built-in sampler with 1 second of sampling time, a comprehensive beginner's lesson plan with a metronome, and a highly playable sound library with 400 tones. There's a collection of 110 songs to play along with and 150 internal rhythm accompaniments. The CTK-2100 is also available in a B&H Kit that includes a keyboard stand, headphones and an AC adapter. The Casio AD-5 AC adapter is available separately.

Yamaha PSR-E233

The Yamaha PSR-E233 also benefits from Yamaha’s easy-to-understand, user-friendly interface. Aside from being easy to use and with great  sound, there is a wealth of built-in music tutorials in its advanced YES (Yamaha Education Suite) lesson functions. An AC power adapter is not included, but it’s available separately in the Yamaha Survival Kit B2. The PSR-E233 is also available in a B&H Kit, which includes an AC power adapter, a keyboard stand, a sustain pedal, headphones and training DVDs.

Casio CTK-3000

The Casio CTK-3000 has the same number of tones, songs and rhythms as the CTK-2100, with the added advantage of having velocity-sensitive keys. It has reverb effects to sweeten the sound, and a music challenge mode to keep you on your toes. An AC power adapter is not included, but the Casio AD-5 AC adapter is available separately. The CTK-3000 is also available in a B&H Kit that includes an AC power adapter, a keyboard stand, a sustain pedal and headphones.

Casio CTK-4200

The Casio CTK-4200 is a powerful portable keyboard with a vast library of 600 tones, 180 rhythms and 152 songs. It has a five song, six-track recorder, so you can capture your ideas and performances. A microphone input is included so you can amplify your voice and apply the keyboard’s reverb effects to your vocals as well. An AC adapter is included. The CTK-4200 is also available in a B&H Kit, which includes a keyboard stand, a sustain pedal and a pair of headphones.

Yamaha PSR-E333

The Yamaha PSR-E333 is an affordable portable keyboard that’s packed with sophisticated-sounding instruments, an “Easy Recording” feature that lets you record five of your songs or performances, chorus and reverb effects and Yamaha’s above average user-friendly interface. A dedicated button instantly brings up Yamaha's world-famous grand piano sound, rich and authentic in tone and exceptionally responsive to your playing touch. The PSR-E333 is also available in a B&H Kit, which includes an AC power adapter, a keyboard stand, a keyboard bench, a sustain pedal, headphones and training DVDs. The PA-130 power adapter is available separately.

Casio CTK-6000

The Casio CTK-6000 is a good option for those who like the idea of composing their own music. The CTK-6000 features a 16 + 1 track sequencer and a 32-channel mixer, giving you total control over the recording. It’s packed with a diverse array of instruments, and gives you the power to edit the accompaniments as well. An AC adapter is included. The CTK-6000 is also available in a B&H Kit that includes a keyboard stand, a sustain pedal, and a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M2X headphones.

Yamaha PSR-E423

The Yamaha PSR-E423 offers a user-friendly interface and helpful training tools like the Yamaha Education Suite, plus an oceanic library of sounds and accompaniments. It also offers additional control over the sound with two real-time knobs (for doing filter sweeps on synths) and a pitch bend wheel. An AC power adapter is not included, but it’s available separately in the Yamaha Survival Kit B2. The PSR-E423 is also available in a B&H Kit, which includes a keyboard stand, a keyboard bench, an AC power adapter, a sustain pedal, headphones and training DVDs.

Casio CTK-2100

Yamaha PSR-E233

Casio CTK-3000

Casio CTK-4200

Yamaha PSR-E333

Casio CTK-6000

Yamaha PSR-E423

Keys

61

61

61

61

61

61

61

Velocity Sensitivity

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tones

400

385

400

600

497

670

700

Rhythms

150

100

150

180

106

200

174

Songs

110

102

110

152

102

305

30

MP3 Input

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Batteries

Six AA

Six AA

Six AA

Six AA

Six AA

Six D

Six AA

AC Adapter Included?

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

76- and 88-Key Portable Keyboards

If your goal is to have a more traditional piano-playing experience, you’re better off getting a keyboard that has more than 61 keys. There are several portable keyboard available that feature 76- and 88-note keyboards, and unlike full-blown digital pianos, these portable keyboards remain relatively lightweight and battery powered.

Yamaha YPG 235

The Yamaha YPG 235 is equipped with 76 graded touch-response keys and a 12-watt stereo amplifier with a pair of 2-way ported speakers. The Yamaha Educational Suite is useful for both beginners and intermediate players, and the expansive sound library features a striking stereo-sampled piano. There's a pitch wheel, a six track sequencer, onboard equalization and effects processing, 16-part multi-timbral functionality, and a USB/MIDI port for file transfer and external storage. The Yamaha PA-150 AC power adapter is available separately. The YPG-235 is also available in a B&H Kit that includes a keyboard stand, a keyboard bench, an AC power adapter, a sustain pedal, headphones and training DVDs.

Casio WK-225

The Casio WK-225 is loaded with 600 instruments, 180 rhythms and 152 songs. It’s capable of recording and saving up to five songs, each with six independent tracks. A microphone input is included so you can amplify your voice and apply the keyboard’s reverb effects to your vocals as well. An AC adapter is included. The WK-225 is also available in a B&H Kit, which includes a keyboard stand, a sustain pedal and headphones.

Casio WK-6500

The Casio WK-6500 is basically a 76-key version of the CTK-6000. It has the same advanced composing features (a 16 + 1 track sequencer and a 32-channel mixer), and the same deep pool of instruments, rhythms and songs. An AC adapter is included. The CTK-6500 is also available in a B&H Kit that includes a keyboard stand, a deluxe keyboard bench, a sustain pedal and a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M2X headphones.

Yamaha YPG-535

The Yamaha YPG-535 has 88 graded touch-response keys, built-in effects, and 500 lush-sounding instruments. Like all Yamaha portable keyboards, it’s easy to use. The powerful 12-watt stereo amplifier and stereo speakers really bring out the rich tones of its grand piano and other instruments. An AC power adapter and a matching keyboard stand are both included. The YPG-535 is also available in a B&H Kit, which includes a keyboard stand, a deluxe keyboard bench, felt cover, a sustain pedal and a pair of headphones.

Yamaha YPG 235

Casio WK-225

Casio WK-6500

Yamaha YPG-535

Keys

76

76

76

88

Velocity Sensitivity

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tones

489

600

670

500

Rhythms

160

180

200

160

Songs

30

152

305

30

MP3 Input

No

Yes

Yes

No

Batteries

Six D

Six D

Six D

AC only

AC Adapter Included?

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Thanks for checking out this B&H InDepth article. If you have any questions about Portable Keyboards, we encourage you to submit a Comment below.

Add new comment

I'm looking for the best lighted keyboard available. What would this be in your honest opinion, the LK-280 or Yamaha EZ-200.

I've always responded better to the user interfaces on Yamaha's portable keyboards. I simply find them easier to use. So for myself, the Yamaha EZ-200 would be my choice of the two. 

Which has better sound quality and a more piano feel....Yamaha ypg 235, Casio WK225 or Casio WK6500 ?

Thanks!

Hi -

In this group I'd go with the Yamaha YPG235.  It has graded touch-response keys and built-in 2-way speakers with separate 4.7" woofers and 1.2" tweeters and bass-reflex ports for improved low end reproduction and overall pristine audio.  The speakers and amplifiers on the Casio offerings are not nearly as robust or pleasing.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com