Monday, August 31, 2015

REVIEW - The ONE Smart Piano - New digital piano - iPad or Android App controlled

UPDATED REVIEW -  September 2, 2016 - The ONE Smart Piano (digital piano) - Semi Recommended - Many people all around the world want to play piano and it's a great thing to do and a big passion of mine. With all the music in my family and how much of a blessing that has been for all of us, I encourage everybody, if at all possible, to learn to play piano. There is a new digital piano just being introduced but is not in major US stores yet and is called The ONE Smart Piano. I will be referring to this instrument as The ONE ($1499US suggested retail price). Why is this digital piano called The ONE? It's my best guess that the makers of this piano want it to be the one piano that helps you really learn to play piano and do it faster along with having more fun while you are learning as compared to all other digital pianos in its price range. OK, that sounds like a great idea and if that's what actually happens then this new piano may have a promising future. In The ONE company's own words they say "the fastest and most affordable way to learn your favorite pop songs and classical pieces on piano." Learning to play piano however requires a lot of effort, motivation, and a certain amount of training with some one-on-one help, regardless of what anyone may otherwise tell you. So after playing this new piano many times, I have written this lengthy unbiased, in-depth review to help you understand what this new product really is.

The first thing that needs to be considered is the piano itself. In other words, what is it? The ONE is a digital piano with ONE piano sound built in, one adjustable electronic metronome function, an on/off power switch to the right of the keyboard, 2 headphone jacks underneath the piano (which is good), and a USB to device connection on top of the piano all housed in an attractive imitation satin black walnut cabinet (pictured above) and is also available in satin white, both finishes with 3 built-in piano style pedals and a sliding key cover. The piano has no other buttons or functions apart from both knobs being mounted on the left of the keyboard, and the piano sound is projected through 2 main speakers and 2 small tweeter speakers going through 50 watts of power, according to the owners manual. So the functionality is extremely minimal and no other digital piano in this price range I know of has such basic and limited features considering the retail price for this instrument is $1499, so on the surface, that price would seem exceedingly high for what you get.

The stereo piano sound in this model was supposedly recorded from an acoustic grand piano like many of the other brands and models which are done that way. Although the piano sound (which is in stereo) is somewhat basic, I actually liked it and it's not bad at all, although it is no better, and in fact not as realistic as the basic portable 88 weighted-key digital pianos offered by Yamaha & Casio such as the new Yamaha P-115 ($599 internet price) or the new Casio PX160 ($499 internet price). In other words, although The ONE piano sound on this piano is definitely acceptable for beginners and maybe for piano players who just don't have much experience with real acoustic pianos, it's not anything special and nowhere close to the authenticity of other digital pianos in this $1500 (or less) retail price range when it comes to realistic organic quality piano sound. The piano sound chip in The ONE is also just 64 note-polyphonic which means how many notes can be played or heard at one time. Polyphony is actually sound processing power and when you have a stereo piano sound, it takes up two notes of polyphony for each key you play which means the maximum polyphony of a 64 note polyphony chip is only 32 notes maximum using the stereo piano sound. Most digital pianos in this price range these days have 128 notes of polyphony up to 256 notes of polyphony processing power to handle more advanced playing along with being able to easily layer and play two sounds at one time, so The ONE is on the low side. As I just said, depending on your piano and musical background you may not know if this piano sound sample is a good one or not and if it is good enough for you because you may have little experience with real acoustic pianos and how they actually sound and behave. In the $1000-$1500 price range of new digital pianos, any of the new models by Roland, Kawai, Yamaha, and Casio are far more authentic and inspiring in my opinion with their more advanced piano sound chips in every way including having string resonance vibrations, overtones, damper resonance, a much greater dynamic tonal range and other natural occurring piano elements in the tone. Without those natural occurring elements, the piano sound in The ONE sounds more "digital" than the major brands. So just keep that in mind when considering the one piano sound in The ONE piano.

The key action of The ONE is a 88-key piano style weighted action which is actually OK in terms of its key weight and movement and overall I do like it, but it is definitely not a grand piano key action as advertised by them. The key action moves and responds more like an acoustic upright piano (which is fine), and although the white keys move pretty nicely, the black keys do not. They are heavy and stiff to push down and not at all like a real acoustic piano. The heavier weight and resistance of the black keys can create a fatiguing situation for the player (as they progress in their playing ability) and this key weight is something which unfortunately cannot be altered. Some people may see extra resistance in the keys a good thing, but not when it's this much stiffness and not when that weight (resistance) is out of balance with the weight resistance of the white keys. The white key tops on The ONE are shiny white plastic and they do not use the newer synthetic ivory key tops that are on other brands these days. That's not a bad thing but it's worth mentioning. Another issue with the key action is that it is noisy. What I mean by that is when the keys are going up & down, especially the black keys, they make a lot of ambient clunky noise, especially when playing the keys harder. Actually I have heard much worse key action noise coming out of other Chinese digital piano brands such as Artesia, Suzuki, and Williams, but the key noise in The ONE is still loud enough to be distracting, especially when the master piano volume is lowered and you can more easily hear the key noise. Also after playing the white keys for a longer period of time over many days, some of those keys seem to loosen up and become even more noisy, sounding somewhat plasticky and clacky. If you are using headphones with the piano, then the only thing you'll hear is the key action and then the key noise will be more apparent and annoying. When it comes to key action, that is the number one thing you should consider in any digital piano in this price range and it needs to be stable, fairly quiet (even the good ones make a bit of noise which is normal), and should have proper weighting (resistance) and movement for both black and white keys. So as far as key action goes, I like it and I don't like it, if you get my meaning...but it is definitely not anything like playing a real acoustic grand piano, and I did not expect it to be that way.

The ONE has 3 piano pedals which physically move (more or less) like an upright acoustic piano. They are nickel plated, look attractive and function OK. However, there are a couple of issues that bother me with regard to the pedaling and one of those issues is that the pedals themselves are too high off the ground as compared to many name brand digital and acoustic piano pedals. This may not seem like a big deal but it does cause the foot to get somewhat fatigued as the ankle and foot needs to start from a higher level in pushing the pedals down, and for me, that higher angle is just not comfortable , I can play on almost any piano pedals and do well, but it doesn't mean I like it, and on this one I really don't like that higher position. Even though there are three pedals, pedaling involves primarily using the right pedal when sustaining a note or multiple notes. Digital piano sustain pedals can either have an on and off switch in the pedal which is how most inexpenisve keyboards work, or they can have half-damper control which offers more levels of sustain (not just on & off), or it can have continuous detection pedaling which offers incremental levels or amounts of sustain as you depress the pedal (such as what Roland digital pianos do). The on & off switching is OK for beginning piano students or players, but is not good as the student progresses with their playing and they want a natural piano sustain sound experience and response like they would get on a real acoustic piano. Without having a half-damper or continuous detection sustain control over the piano notes, the piano sound itself can become choppy, more digital sounding, and overall create an uninspiring and more digital sound experience when using the pedal rather than a more natural and inspiring piano playing experience. This is something I noticed right away about the damper/sustain pedaling and it did bother me. All of the major brands have, at the very least, half-damper pedaling control on their furniture style digital pianos starting with the Casio PX760 cabinet model ($799 internet discount price).

The speaker system in The ONE is good with 50 watts of power and produces a fairly loud tone. But even with 4 speakers (2 small & 2 larger) and 50 watts, the quality of the sound is just OK as compared to other digital pianos I have played in this price range and the sound is a bit muffled and mid-rangey without a lot of clarity. I did expect the 50 watts of power to be a bit louder and fuller than it actually was, and in fact, it is no louder than the smaller 24 watt speaker system in the Roland RP401R ($1599 internet price) or 40 watt systems in some Yamaha & Kawai digital pianos. So it's not about the so-called wattage power rating or speaker quantity, but in the audio world it's about performance, component quality, decibel levels, and other audio aspects that creates a better piano playing experience and overall volume . In reality The ONE sounds much better through a good pair of good headphones, but that's also true of other brands and models.

The ONE is touted by this company as being the best digital piano in its price range to learn to play piano. Actually what really sets this piano apart from all others in this price range is a set of nicely hidden red & blue LED lights which are underneath a black plastic strip above the keys. These lights are activated by learning programs that reside in a special tablet App called The ONE Smart Piano App. I connected my iPad Air to The ONE using a supplied connecting cable from the piano to my iPad Air. The ONE has a clever small flap in the top of the piano behind the music rack which hides the connecting jack for an iPad/Android device. You just connect the cable to this USB input and run the cable around to the front of the music rack and plug in your device. Although The ONE does not have wireless capability, the wired connection it does have and where it is located helps in reducing unneeded cable and also allows for a more intuitive connection process because of the location of the cable input. When you want to disconnect your tablet device, you just unplug the cable and flip the small lid down over the connecting box which hides it inside the piano top. It's a really cool idea and I like it. I wish other digital piano companies thought of this idea because it's a good one and makes wired USB connections so much easier to do. The Smart Piano people are pretty smart when it comes to this design:).

As for the App itself, that's where everything happens. The ONE Smart Piano App has functionality which shows sheet music from digital lesson books which include standard practice methods, classical music, and Ragtime, among others, and allows the songs or practice drills to be played at any speed you choose within the App. Also, the playback note on the iPad/Android sheet music along with the follow along lights on the piano will pause and wait until you to press the correct piano key, if you choose to do it that way. This is a very useful training method but is not new to the follow along light systems such as what Casio keyboards and some Yamaha pianos have available. As the song plays in The ONE App and the music is being displayed on your tablet, there are color marks that highlight each note on the music which is playing back so that you can see where you are on the music at all times. As the notes are being played and you are trying to follow them, the lights above the keys on The ONE piano are also lighting up to coincide with the sheet music notes so you can visually see on the piano the notes you are hearing and seeing on the music, although you obviously need to look down at the keys to see the lights which takes your attention away from the music and what's happening there. You can also independently adjust or mute the left and right hand song volume in the App which allows you to balance or change volumes when necessary, which is a useful feature. If you want to revert back to the beginning of a song you can instantly do that with a control in the App. Another useful App feature is being able to record yourself as you are playing the song and then play your recording back. As your recorded performance or practice session is playing back, not only can you hear it but you can also see the lights above the piano keys light up which shows you what keys you actually played, and that can be helpful to actually see your mistakes besides just hearing them.

As I just mentioned, following along with built-in lights on pianos is not new and has been used in pianos and keyboards in the past years including a number of lower priced Casio models. Yamaha currently uses follow-along lights on some of their latest digital pianos and all of the controls are on the pianos themselves, but those instruments start at about $4000 and go up from there, so they are not cheap! The difference here is that The ONE Smart Piano is in a much lower price range but is also completely dependent on its App and the digital lessons to send the timing and placement of the note in an electronic signal for the proper light(s) on the piano to light up when the notes are being played in the music. Following the moving lights is definitely fun and can give a person a sense of accomplishment right away, especially if they have never played a piano or keyboard before. The more you see the music being highlighted in your iPad or Android and see the lights on the piano to indicate the proper key(s) to play, the easier it can be to repeat that. So there's no doubt this system can create some motivation to continue to want to play. However there are some drawbacks to this method of learning with combining visual LED lights above the piano keys along with moving sheet music notes on the tablet, all at the same time. So what may appear to be fun and helpful in the beginning can later possibly be used as a crutch, so to speak. So it's always good to think about how you or a child should be learning to play piano.

Also in the App are video lessons given by a professional piano teacher by the name of Joseph Hoffman. I happen to personally know this teacher on a professionally basis and he definitely knows what he's doing when it comes to piano lessons and performing. Joseph has put together an extensive video course of piano lessons for beginners (on up) of all ages and the lessons are well done, easy to follow, and instructive, and best of all...FREE. His teaching method is a step by step process in learning to play piano and understand the fundamentals including fingering and position, hand and note exercises, technique, rhythm & timing, key movement, and music theory among many other things. Joseph makes his video lessons available to the general public and anyone with a computer or tablet can download them, so you do not need The ONE to get his lessons. However, The ONE has the synchronized red & blue moving lights that add an extra element of visual note recognition which other digital pianos don't have. During the video lessons whenever Joseph is teaching a particular playing concept, the lights on The ONE piano are synchronized to light up as Joseph plays the keys of his piano in the video. This is actually pretty cool and allows you to see on The ONE piano where the notes are as well as watching the keys on the piano in the video. This is a nice idea and can be effective. Joseph Hoffman also has written materials that go along with his free videos but those materials do cost money but are worth it in my opinion and I recommend them. But remember, the goal of any good piano teacher is to get a person to be able to read music and not be conditioned to look down at the keys and lights.

The ONE Smart Piano App also provides access to popular current and classical songs (at a cost) and there are some video tutorials as well a visual non traditional method of playing (more of a game mode) which displays vertical color bars in various lengths that drop down in a waterfall effect on the appropriate virtual piano keys. The moving color bars define the rhythm and timing of the song and is similar to Guitar Hero and Piano Magic and those Apps/programs use a comparable way of displaying a quick non-music method (game style) of playing notes on the keyboard. This can be a fun way of playing keys and having the result be recognizing a particular song without having to actually read music. However, this type of game is available on other Apps as well, although they are not tied into the follow along lights on the piano. There are also ear training exercises on the app which allow you to listen to notes and then you have to identify where they are on the keys and it gives you a hint if you don't know the answer and where to put your fingers. Notes are displayed as well as hints, and learning to play by ear is a good thing and can help a musician play music without the sheet music in front of them! It's not that difficult to do, you just need to know some of the secrets behind it:). The visual LED lights on the piano do light up on the note that you are trying to play by ear, so you can see where it is on the music and on the piano. In this exercise, seeing the light above the keys can actually be a good thing when learning where notes are located doing ear training exercises. It is also important to know that The ONE offers video lessons such as the Billy Joel song above left. However those lessons are not setup for the LED lights so those lessons are just going to be through watching the videos and their waterfall bars on the keys within that video only, and not using the lights on the piano. The songs on the game mode can not adjust for a slower tempo so unfortunately have to be practiced and played at full normal speed, so these things are limitations in the software.

Within the Smart Piano App is also a special digital instrument sound library which offers access to 128 different instrument sounds that can be activated and played by simply selecting a instrument on your tablet touch screen from the list including strings, electric pianos, brass, winds, guitars, and other instruments, and then when you play keys on The ONE piano, that sound will play. This is a very nice feature and allows you to have access to more than just the one piano sound in The ONE piano. You can hear these instrument sounds individually or layered together with a piano sound coming through the speakers of the piano. You can also split two sounds and have one on each side of the keyboard such as piano on the left and harpsichord on the right. The ONE App also allows for editing of the instrument sound library including adding effects, reverb and changing the transposition key, and all of it done from a tablet touch screen which is pretty cool. All of these features are fine if you are connected to the App, but the piano itself only has the one piano sound and an adjustable digital metronome. So when you are not using your tablet you cannot access any of these functions from the piano itself. Although I do like the extra instrument sound features in app and they can be useful and do a good job for what they are, quick local access from The ONE piano such as what you would have on other digital pianos with all of the sounds and functions being built in to the piano, is not possible on The ONE.

A very cool feature of The ONE that I find quite useful is the ability of the USB cable connected to a tablet to transmit audio data directly into and through the piano speakers. This means that unlike a traditional USB/MIDI cable connected to a digital piano that doesn't transmit audio signals, the audio portion from any app in a tablet, phone, or other device can be heard through The ONE piano speaker system because of their upgraded USB connectivity. If you want to hear and play along with your iTune song library from your iPad or iPhone going through the piano, you can do that without the need for any an additional audio cable connection. However, the one drawback is that when you play iTune songs from a device connected in this way instead of through a regular audio cable plugged into an audio input in the digital piano (assuming it has one), that device (iPad, etc) volume control will not work at all and you are limited to using only The ONE master piano volume control. If you intend to play along with the piano while your iTune or other music plays back through the piano, you will not be able to lower the piano volume without the device volume (controlling your iTunes) also being reduced in volume at the same time...so that's not a good thing and means the piano volume may normally be too loud relative to the playback song volume. This was my experience when I tried it. Other Apps with their own volume control did work independently from the piano, but not the device volume for iTunes and the piano has no other inputs or outputs for separate audio connections.

As far as the piano cabinet construction and design goes, as I mentioned near the beginning of this review, the cabinet looks fairly attractive and has front legs on it as well. It has a back privacy panel which goes approximately half-way up the back of the piano which is about normal for a variety of digital pianos in this price range and is nice to have. The piano itself is made of particleboard also known as MDF pressed wood, with a photo-paper vinyl veneer over that board which gives the piano its imitation satin black walnut (or satin white) appearance. But make no mistake about this cabinet...it is not "solid" wood, solid core wood with real wood veneers, or any other kind of real wood as you might be led to believe otherwise by The ONE web site. It's an imitation wood looking cabinet, but nevertheless it is quite attractive in my opinion with good construction. The ONE company claims their cabinet was designed in Finland and if this is so, then that does not really impress me. Although the piano exterior is fairly attractive as I mentioned, it is not using expensive materials, but this is true of many other pianos brands so it's not unusual. Normally I wouldn't have to point this out, but The ONE company is making a claim that this piano has a "wooden body." I don't know what their definition of wood is, but in my book a wooden body does not mean MDF board, particle board, press wood or anything less that solid core wood with actual wood veneers. If you look at the 2 pictures to the left above, the first photo is of the piano cabinet with key cover closed. The second photo is a view directly underneath the keyboard showing a speaker grill pointing down towards the floor. The material surrounding the speaker grill is definitely not solid core wood and this MDF material is what the entire piano cabinet is made out of which as I said, most other digital piano companies also use these days. The piano does have a nicely designed (non-wood) music rack and sliding key cover to protect the keys. The ONE digital piano has an optional piano bench available for an extra cost and although I have not personally seen this bench yet, it's probably fine as most digital piano benches go.

Here is what you should know when shopping for a digital piano and especially with regard to The ONE. Piano lessons can be expensive and if you are paying for more than one person taking lessons (child or adult), then the cost can be prohibitive for some people if taking traditional private lessons. In some areas in the US and in many other parts of the world, access to pianos and lessons is very costly and fewer families can afford it. So coming up with a cost saving solution with regard to the cost of lessons is a very good thing...and I fully support it for people who need to stay within a lower budget. I am a long time piano instructor in group and private lessons and have taught thousands of children and adults over the years and obviously know what it costs them for lessons. One
student taking a 1/2 hour lesson once a week from a qualified teacher for 1 year currently averages approximately $80-$100 per month in the US. After one year of lessons you would have paid approx $960-$1200 just for the year, not counting the cost for the music books and sheet music. In just two years you would have paid $1920-$2400...and that's just for one student! If you have two students taking lessons then you can figure out the math for that cost, not counting the cost of a piano for home practice!:). Of course, many types of lessons are generally in this price range for children or adults...painting, sports, etc...and some cost even more money. Paying for things that you want or need is not unusual but it's just that paying for piano lessons is considered more of a luxury by some people and not a necessity, and that's where digital pianos and on-line lessons come in.

The ONE piano company obviously has a goal of getting more people involved in playing music on their new piano by using the follow-along light method coupled with their proprietary APP that you download for free once you have purchased their piano. The upside to all this is that The ONE is FUN...hey, that rhymed:). You can watch and listen to the music, hear vocal help with which finger to use when following the lights, and have control over the song speed, volume, and other aspects of practice and playing. So in the beginning it would seem as if The ONE was indeed the one:). But as fun, useful, and motivating as it all might seem, there is one thing that I cannot escape and that is...the follow-lights are just above the keys, which may seem good, but also may not be good. To see the lights you must look down at the keys and that may seem OK...but in the long-run it is not OK. This is because the goal is for you or your child to learn to  read music and that music is in front of you, whether it be on your tablet device or on a regular piece of sheet music. Reading music does take time but is not difficult if you are using the right method. Getting into bad practice habits is an easy thing to do if your eyes are always looking down at the keys where the lights are. If you are constantly looking down, not only is that a bad position for your neck, head, and eyes, but you may likely not be inclined to actually look straight ahead at the music. I like the idea of hearing the song play back, having control over the tempo of the song to slow it down, and even looping certain parts of the song for practice, but not at the expense of getting into poor playing habits and posture. I am NOT necessarily talking about having to play and practice in a "traditional way" with "traditional music scores and lesson books." I am talking using technology including tablets to help you learn to play in the correct way but yet for you to be highly motivated, have fun, play cool songs and stimulating arrangements of traditional songs and do it all for a very low price and at the same time have a very good digital piano.

A big issue I have with The ONE is that it is just a very basic digital piano with no built-in options other than one piano sound and a metronome. Given that it only has one piano sound on it (apart from what the App offers) and that piano sound is not near as authentic as compared to the name brand pianos in this price range (Roland, Casio, Yamaha, Kawai) along with the pedaling and overall key action just being basically OK. Then what we're really looking at is a $1500 retail price piano with it likely selling for about $1100-$1200 when it becomes available in US stores, and when you compare what else you can get in this price range for a good digital piano, then The ONe has a lot of competition. The difference is, of course...the ONE App. So what you really need to ask yourself is...what is this ONE App worth to you? That's what it really boils down to in my opinion because without the App, The ONE follow-lights don't work and then what you are left with is an overpriced basic digital piano for a retail price of $1500. Also, if and when you get to the point where you are not using the App for playalong and learning with lights or for other reasons,  then what you have is an overpriced basic digital piano with a name that few people know or recognize, which can reduce any resale value The ONE might have. As I said before, The ONE is quite attractive to look at (although it's a fake wood photo finish over particle board) and the cabinet style has nice lines to it. Actually a beginner player may like this model very much because they don't have enough piano experience to know what a piano should really be able to do and sound like.

However, a more practical alternative in my opinion would be to purchase an upgraded top name brand digital piano for approx $1000-$1500 that would allow for a more realistic piano playing experience such as almost any new digital piano in that price range from Yamaha, Casio, Roland, or Kawai. Any of those pianos would take the student much further into the future in terms of having a more authentic piano playing experience and growth potential. But what about the lesson/learning/fun side to all this? Well, I am glad you asked that question:). One of my favorite iOS piano learning Apps right now is Piano Maestro by JoyTunes and this App is much more visually exciting (colorful with great graphics and characters for all ages (even me), offers more motivational content, piano practice, playing, cool song and lesson libraries, as well as offering full control over your lessons like tempo adjustment, volume, etc, and has game modes that gives you scores and results on the way you played the song. In fact, if you had a good practice session with one of the lesson songs, the virtual audience claps for you:).

Beyond that, the Piano Maestro song accompaniments themselves are much more musically motivating, in my opinion, and have full orchestra and band arrangements with their music lessons which The ONE App does not have. Piano Maestro also offers the famous teacher recommended Alfred piano books (I know many teachers who use Alfred in their studios) from some of their best selling children and adult curriculum. This is something not available in The ONE App.There is a cost to using this Piano Maestro App over a period of time but that cost is only approx $60 per year and you get access to all of what this lesson app offers. Piano Maestro is a MIDI App so all you need is a MIDI/USB digital piano and the App will respond to the input from the keys on your digital piano, regardless of the brand and model. At the end of  2 years worth of lessons (as an example) of playing songs from their impressive song library (for the whole family), you would have only spent about $120 for using their App for those two years and then you can just stop using it and simply play your much better digital piano. With The ONE piano, if you pretty much stop using the App and the lights, and you just want to play songs on your own, you are left with a basic digital piano as compared with any of the other, better ones I mentioned. There's also another USB/MIDI App which is very popular called Synthesia (left pic). This App offer the same "waterfall style" learning system that's in The ONE App, but with more flexibility and available songs. Synthesia has been out for awhile and is the most popular App by far which allows for a beginner through advanced player to play a song of their choice and have the music highlighted while it plays and set the music to wait for you until you play the note correctly. It also shows the actual notation along with the "waterfall" game style color lines simultaneously, so you can see both ways of playing the song. The point I am trying to make here is that there are other iOS/Android Apps out there which can recreate some of the the cool features of The ONE App, but that will work with any USB/MIDI digital piano...as long as you realize there are no LED lights to look at on your piano keys. Also good to know and remember is that all of the good apps (including The ONE App) offer a large library of popular and classical music from Hal Leonard publishing, Alfred, Faber, and other song and lesson curriculum publishers which will cost you money. The charge for those songs are approx $2 to $4 per song depending on the song popularity, along with other factors, In some cases you can purchase the entire digital lesson or song book which has a group of songs in it for a reduced price. But overall, many of the songs are $3.99 each and after purchasing 25 of your favorite songs to learn in sheet music form, you could have spent and additional $100 for that. It's similar to purchasing iTunes but instead it's songs to play through the App so you can utilize the learning features of the App. This would be true for The ONE App, Synthesia App, Piano Maestro App, Notestar by Yamaha, and others. You usually don't get something for nothing except if the (US) government is involved...but that's another story:)

In the final analysis, if you do want a follow-along light up instrument then I would also recommend considering the 61-key keyboard version that this company offers called The ONE Light. It uses the same ONE App but you purchase & play a keyboard with spring-loaded keys instead of the $1500 piano version. A keyboard is not my preference (because of the lightweight spring key action) but if you just love the idea of the ONE Smart Piano App and the follow lights, you can do it for a lot less money with their LED light
keyboard ($299 internet selling price), and have a great time. Then when you are feeling more confident about your playing and commitment to music, you can move up to a real (better) digital piano and use other apps if you still want to do that. As far as low cost on-line piano lessons or lesson Apps, there are a number of them available including the full lesson video tutorial library from Joseph Hoffman which you can still use with any piano (digital or acoustic) even without the lights. If your digital piano doesn't have a bunch of sounds on it and you want more, there are iPad instrument Apps which you can get for your tablet which gives you access to many other instruments which are MIDI controllable from your digital piano or keyboard and similar to the instruments in The ONE App. If you want a speaker system to play songs through and you don't have one for your external tablet or other device, you can always buy a low cost Blue-Tooth speaker for wireless/cordless connection and you can still have full independent volume control over your iTune music, although The ONE keyboard has its own built in speakers to hear the piano and the app sounds.

Don't get me wrong, overall I like The ONE digital piano and it's an interesting fun concept, although as I say, I've seen this light system on other keyboards and digital pianos, but not combined with an educational App. The ONE is musical tool for getting motivated to learn piano and have musical fun...and I am all about supporting that effort. But...I also have to be honest...The ONE piano as a piano is somewhat overpriced for what it is (minus the lights and App). I would also suggest that you could get a much better digital piano with many more useful features built into the piano for the same or more/less money and combine that piano with other USB/MIDI lesson Apps that you can choose from in the App store including music game Apps, video piano lessons, and extra sounds if needed, which would give a person more flexibility in my opinion, When you don't want or need the App(s) any longer or want to take a break from them, you still have a better piano as an alternative to The ONE which will, as I have already mentioned, likely take you much further as a better piano and offer a more realistic piano playing experience. For me and for many families, it's about getting that perfect balance of low cost lessons that work well, some great interactive supplemental piano/music education Apps and/or computer programs, and the best piano a person can afford. That's what it's really all about. I need to also point out that The ONE piano sound can never be muted while the piano is on. This is unfortunate because if you connect to other USB/MIDI learning or instrument sound Apps, those Apps have their own resident piano and instrument sounds which you will likely want to hear apart and separately from the ONE piano sound. To do this you need a feature on The ONE piano called "local off" which shuts off the "local" sound on your piano and most regular digital pianos have that function, but The ONE piano does not. So you will always hear The ONE piano sound when connected to other Apps whether you want to or not.

Finally, a real live qualified and enthusiastic piano teacher is definitely the best way of learning to play in my opinion (along with some good apps on your tablet) because the teacher can obviously monitor and motivate you in a personal way and it's difficult to replace that experience in other ways. The bottom line is...if you think The ONE digital Smart Piano or Keyboard is the best piano lesson and learning solution for you, then you should buy it, because at the end of the day...it's your money and your decision and I support a person's efforts in getting themselves and their family involved in playing music:). After all, without music in a person's life in some way, no matter how old or young you may be, I believe they are missing an important element of life which can never replaced. I also believe The ONE digital piano company is a good company and wants to help people of all ages learn to play piano in a fun, motivational, and constructive way and this new piano can help in that way. But, before you make a piano buying decision please note that for about the same money or less you could get a much better digital piano in terms of piano playing authenticity, so please contact me first and I will give you personal advice so you can make the right choice.

If you want more info on new digital pianos and LOWER PRICES than internet, Amazon, store discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for your thorough and honest review.

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  2. I was seriously considering The One but after your review having 2nd thoughts. I'm music lover but a total beginner on the piano or any musical instrument (other than 2 years of tenor sax in HS - though I was s***!) What would you recommend for a digital piano that has great sound, attractive looking (looks like a real piano) will grow with me as a pianist, make it fun, and so on? Thanks,

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  3. Hi there.
    Regarding the piano sound sample, do you think future software updates could make it better, or is it a hardware limitation?

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  4. Nice review, but I wouldn't be too hard on them regarding the mdf. Mdf is very popular in cabinet making. For those who don't really know, many, if not most kitchen cabinets, or even cabinets around the home, are made from laminated mdf and are never questioned. Mdf is made of real wood fibers held together by wax or resin and can actaully by quite strong. A true solid hardwood would add tremendous expense and weight to the piece, if done right. Sorry, your review shows great points regarding the piano, but I just wanted to clarify that for those who don't understand what mdf was.

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  5. I understand MDF construction and know it is better in many ways and common in digital pianos. However, for a long time the One Piano web site was claiming that their piano was all (solid) wood...which it is not. I talked to them about it as well so I just wanted to be sure that people were not mislead into believing the One Piano was something that it is not. Beyond that point, the construction itself seems to be good and equal to many other digital pianos, although the black wood tone vinyl outer layering is just OK.

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