AZ PIANO REVIEWS!: REVIEW - Korg SP250 Digital Piano - Good but has older technology - Digital Piano Reviews

Nov 9, 2011

REVIEW - Korg SP250 Digital Piano - Good but has older technology

UPDATED REVIEW - April 20, 2013 - The SP250 is now discontinued and no longer being made. My review of new replacement models called the SP280 can be found here: Korg SP280 Review

Review of the Korg SP250 - Partially Recommended - Korg is a leader in pro keyboards they have produced some great ones over the years, and I know them well. Korg used to produce many home digital pianos, but in recent years has all but gotten out of that market (except for the recent addition of the lower priced SP170S at $499 internet price).
The Korg SP250 piano (pic left) was first introduced 7 years  years ago in 2005. The SP250 has a very nice stereo sound system with 22 watts total power using two 4" speakers the top side of the piano. The 22 watt internal audio power on the SP250 is still more powerful than the competing new Casio or Yamaha portable models in its price range, so that's a nice plus. The sound buttons feel good and work well, the control panel is user friendly, the key action is solid, and the piano has 1/4" outputs which can be useful if wanting to plug into an external sound system. And although the stand on the SP250 is fairly sturdy, in my opinion it's not that attractive for a home, so this could be a disadvantage as compared to what Yamaha & Casio has to offer (furniture style stands with 3-pedals) in the same price range.

When the Korg SP250 first came out back in 2004/2005, it was selling for about $900 and was my favorite digital piano under $1000 at the time. Yamaha, Roland, and Casio did not have anything to really compete with it. I do like the stereo piano tone especially in the bass portion of these pianos although the treble piano sounds on the upper 3 octaves are a bit plunky (short and muted sounding on some notes, a little bit odd) when playing staccato style or using the included pedal. It has fairly realistic piano key action although the new Yamaha P95 & Casio PX130/330 are better in my opinion. The polyphony is OK at 60 notes for one sound although polyphony is especially important and when you layer two sounds together at the same time which this Korg cannot do very well.because the notes start dropping out quickly.

These days, the SP250 is still available from Korg and has not changed and is the only piano that I know of that is still offered by a major keyboard company that is technologically old. I suppose that's OK because the piano still compares favorably in some ways with a few of the newer piano brands and models, and the internet price on the SP250 has come down in the past few years to $695 including the metal stand. 

However, as with all technology, things change and mostly improve. Seven year old digital technology is considered by most people to be outdated, and in certain ways this Korg piano is no exception. Polyphony, which generally allows the notes to play more smoothly especially when playing more complex music or using layered sounds, has increased since seven years ago when this instrument came out. Increased polyphony which is due to increased and better computer memory is now available on other brands such as the new Casio Privia PX130 at $499 with 128-note polyphony. A USB output is also very good to have on a digital pianos so you can more easily connect to a computer and that feature is not on the Korg's. Even the new Korg SP170S at $499 has 120 notes of polyphony, twice that of the SP250.

There are 3 different acoustic piano sounds on the SP250 which are grand piano, bright piano, and mellow piano and they are different from each other. They sound pretty convincing except in the upper octaves when playing normally or lightly. That's where the realism of the piano tones give out and sound electronic and plunky. The electric piano sounds aree very convincing and really sound as well as the organ sounds.

The SP250 does have velocity key sensitivity controls for light, medium, and hard key touch, but this has nothing to do with acoustic piano tonal characteristics and changes. Sensitivity refers to how much finger strength you need to apply to the keys to get note volume control depending on how hard you press on the keys. The sensitivity simply allows the piano to play louder if you have a very light finger touch (lack of finger strength due to loss of muscle, arthritis, or a young child with little finger strength yet), or if you have a very hard, aggressive touch and don't want the sound to come in too strong too quickly. Key sensitivity can help control and adjust for those things and just about all good digital pianos available today have that feature.


The SP250/LP350 do have a good amount of nice instrument sounds on it (30), and the piano can layer any two sounds together (no split function) along with having good reverb, & chorus effects and also is able to change keys with a transpose feature. However, these pianos do not have the ability to record and/or playback your music. That feature is available on all the other digital piano brands in this price range and can come in very handy when learning to play or wanting to play along with a song that you recorded on either left or right hand. And some digital pianos in this price range allow you to playback pre-recorded lesson songs from lesson books which can very very helpful.

Casio PX750 digital piano
At the end of the day, you can enjoy playing the SP250 as it is fun to play (even with older digital technology), but there are certainly other options with better polyphony, better key actions, full tonality changes when playing from soft to hard, USB outputs, higher wattage speaker systems, etc in similar price ranges. If you are a piano student or just want a more authentic piano playing experience, the SP250 may not be the piano for you, but if you cannot tell the difference between what a piano is supposed to sound & feel like as you play it, then the Korg would be fine and certainly is affordable for most families. Check out my reviews on other models including the Kawai EP3, Casio PX850, Casio PX150, Casio PX350, Casio PX750 ($799 internet price - left pic), Yamaha P105, and Yamaha YDP142 as examples of what else is available with some of these newer digital piano features.

Casio PX350 digital piano
As I mentioned earlier, the new Casio Privia PX150 for about $600 including stand, has 128 note polyphony, distinct tonal changes over key velocity & time, a graduated upright piano weighted key action, a USB plug & play computer output, and weighs just 24 pounds by itself without stand & pedals. That model should also be a consideration as well as the more advanced PX350 ($799 internet price - pic left). In addition to what the Casio PX150 has, the PX350 (above left pic) also offers an intuitive LDC display screen, 250 instruments, drums, plays & records General MIDI song files over 16 individual tracks, and has stereo audio inputs & outputs along with being able to split, layer and edit various tones including saving them into 64 memories. The keyboard can even be divided into two identical 44-note keyboards for dual simultaneous piano play such as teacher/student, etc. Not bad for $799.

Playing piano is supposed to make you (and/or your audience) feel good and as far as I'm concerned that's what it's all about. If you think you could be happy with the Korg piano then I recommend you buy it. Also, check out the following reviews of other pianos:

Yamaha P105 Review
Yamaha YDP142 Review
Casio PX150/350 Review
Casio PX750 Review

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

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