It is important to know that the new Artesia AG28 & AG40 are not all bad because many of the digital features are fun to use and play with including the drum patterns, interactive auto arrangement chords, playalong songs, MIDI recording features, and additional instrument sounds. It has lots of connectivity to many external devices including iPad, computer, and external speaker systems as well as headphone jacks for private practice, so all of that is good. The AG28/AG40 have a number of sound EFX and editing features to adjust the sound and other functions so there is plenty to keep the average person busy. However, getting a piano is really all about getting a realistic and satisfying piano playing experience and this is where the Artesia AG28 falls short. All of the digital features in the world are not enough to help this piano become something that it is not...a piano. I have played $300 Casio & Yamaha keyboards that have more realistic piano sound and dynamic response than the AG28/AG40. Also, when it comes to all of the many rhythm backgrounds and extra non-piano instrument sounds, the AG28/AG40 don't come close to those $300 keyboards I was just talking about...and I am not exaggerating.
First and foremost I want to talk about the AG28/AG40 key action. In the past, the Artesia brand, which is designed and built by a Chinese digital piano manufacturer (being built in China does not mean the digital piano will be bad), was using an all Chinese designed and built key action (that can be bad) and those key actions were terrible. They were noisy, clunky, and played bad. However, on the new AG28 & AG40, it would appear as if Artesia has substituted a better key action made by the Fatar key action company in Italy. This is a good thing and a welcome addition to the Artesia pianos. The Fatar key action company produces a number of different model key actions for different purposes and have different costs associated with them. Based on my personal playing experience with the new AG28/AG40, it is easy to tell that this particular Fatar key action is the basic bottom-of-the-line key action. Although it is a better built key action than the previous Chinese made key actions, this key action is still not very realistic at all and has some noticeable key action movement noise and deficiencies when playing the keys, especially when the keys are coming back, they make noticeable action noise. Also, many of the keys emit a slight squeaking sound when they go up and down which I found to be quite irritating to me.
|AG28 micro grand|
The 2nd most important aspect of any piano (digital or acoustic) is the piano sound itself. With regard to the Artesia AG28/AG40 pianos, the so-called "stereo" piano sound is noticeably bad. When I say "bad" I mean that the acoustic piano in these pianos sound is nothing like a real piano and isn't even as good as a basic $200 Yamaha or Casio keyboard (and I am not kidding about that). First of all, the piano sound in most good digital pianos is recorded in stereo to reproduce the movement of natural acoustic piano tone from the left hand up through the right hand. Although the Artesia brand claims the AG28/AG40 piano tone is recorded in stereo, if it is, it's the poorest sounding stereo I have ever heard because it sounds just like basic mono! Stereo piano tone moves from left to right or right to left as you go up & down on the keys. This piano sound does not move at all, it just comes out in the middle, like mono. Clearly this is a cheap piano sample of a real piano. Not only that, the piano sound itself is very thin and "toy-like" as compared to a real piano and most other good new digital pianos. I was quite surprised how cheap the piano tone sounded as compared to better sounding low priced digital pianos and keyboards. The sound is simply not beautiful or even near being beautiful, especially as compared to a real piano. It is true that there
are some piano shoppers who have little or no piano playing experience and may not recognize a poor quality acoustic piano sound when they hear it. So for those people the Artesia AG28/AG40 may actually sound good to them. But in reality, it's a poor recreation of what a real piano sounds like and doesn't come close to some of the good Casio, Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland digital pianos for under $1000. There are only two acoustic type pianos sounds on the AG28/AG40 grand piano and bright piano. The grand piano is not grand at all...it sounds like a toy. The bright piano is even worse and does not really sound like a piano and it does not fade out like a piano does when you hold down a key, which makes that bright piano tone actually sound like an organ because the sound keeps going until you let up on the key. So essentially these Artesia pianos have just one acoustic piano sound and it's definitely not very good in my opinion, and I have played hundreds of digital pianos and acoustic pianos. Most other good digital pianos have a selection of anywhere from approximately 3-10 different grand piano sounds with noticeable actual stereo imaging so those brands offer a good variety and good quality, but the Artesia pianos do not.
brighter and sharper when playing the keys hard and more aggressively. When a person is a beginner these variable aspects of piano sound response is not so important because beginners don't get into that right away. But as a person progresses in their piano playing and they become a bit better, then having a piano sound that responds to your touch in the correct way is very important! The Artesia AG28/AG40 does a very poor job of this and it shows in the tonal dynamics and expression being choppy, unpredictable, and not easily controllable. In fact when the piano keys are being played faster and harder, the sound dynamics and volume is almost impossible to control, it misses some notes altogether, and the sound gets stuck in a lower volume range no matter how hard you press the key, when it should be playing the note at a higher volume. In my opinion all of these deficiencies are due to bad key action electronics, low quality and low number of key sensors under each key, giving the player a less than desirable piano playing experience. Beginner piano students would probably not notice these things but anyone who plays piano (even just recreationally) will likely notice them. Even with all that being said, a person can still have fun playing this piano but don't expect it to work like a real piano in these important ways.
|AG28 micro grand|
OK so now that I have pointed out the most important features in what to look for when shopping for a good piano, I want to talk about the other less important features that many digital pianos offer which can add to the overall enjoyment of playing a digital piano . The new Artesia pianos have 136 built-in instruments sounds (including the 2
piano sounds) such as strings, brass, woodwinds, guitars, organs, electric pianos, harpsichord, bells, synthesizer, etc. There is a split & layer function to take any two instrument sounds and mix them together of play them on either side of the piano keyboard simultaneously. These pianos also offer 99 interactive rhythm and
accompaniment arrangements such as rock, jazz, Big Band, swing, march, waltz, country, Latin, etc, a built-in metronome for timing, editing controls for special EFX, autochord features for playing 1-finger or 3 finger left hand chords, a 16 track MIDI song recorder and player which can play General MIDI files from a USB flash drive, a
auto-harmonizer for playing single notes and getting the entire chord, and the list goes on. There is even a digital function to turn the 88 notes (bass and treble clef) into two 44-note keyboards that play the identical octaves. In other words, two people can play at the same time and play the exact same notes in the same octave even though one person os on the bass note side and the other playing the treble note side. This function is called the duet feature and is useful for teacher-student or any two people who want to play together and learn the same song. So when it comes to "fun features," there is really no shortage of those things on these pianos. But is that really the most important thing when considering a new digital piano purchase...I don't think so.
The buttons across the control panel are easy to see and the LCD user display screen lights up nicely and reads out info to tell you what functions you are using when you press a button. So as control panels go, it's a good one and there is a new data entry knob that allows for easier access of the many features in these pianos, so that is a good thing. However I found that the buttons themselves are quite hard to push and not that comfortable to use. If the button switches were of higher quality, they would likely have been easier to press and go from one to the next. The material and surfaces of the buttons and control panel are fine, it's just the
resistance of the buttons to pushing on them that bother me. It may be a small issue to some people, but if there are going to be a lot of buttons, they should be easy to push, and they are not. It is interesting to note that some of the aspects of these control panels, knobs, buttons, and LCD display screen have been on previous Suzuki digital pianos which I have reviewed in past years such as the low priced Suzuki SD10 compact vertical piano, which I did not like. So I suspect the Chinese digital piano company who produces this Suzuki piano is also the same company who supplies the Artesia brand pianos. I am not surprised as there are a lot of similarities amongst many Chinese built digital pianos.
The new Artesia pianos are definitely attractive pianos, they have loud built-in speaker systems with 120 watts of power and 6 speakers, and as I mentioned earlier, the pianos do a lot of things and have many enjoyable functions. These pianos also have very good connectivity to external devices including blue-tooth access to iPad fro audio streaming, USB connectivity to computer, audio output connectivity to external speaker system, audio inputs to connect other devices to the piano like a microphone along with independent volume control, and MIDI
Artesia even includes a USB flashdrive with pre-loaded songs to play on the piano, which is nice. However, most of the preloaded songs are not very good, you probably would never have heard of many of them, and they are just free songs that mean very little to most people. However there are some familiar songs that most people would recognise including Christmas songs, some classical tunes, and some pop music. It's hard to complain when the music is included for free:).
So here's the bottom line: if you want a digital piano that looks great (they also come with a very nice matching padded benches) and can be fun to play, the new Artesia pianos are a good choice. The AG40 has upgraded cabinet design and hardware over the AG28, but it also quite a bit more money too. However, if you want to be sure you get a digital piano which allows you to have a decent quality piano playing experience when it comes to reproducing what a real piano is actually like, then the Artesia pianos are definitely not going to do that as far as I am concerned...and I don't think I am being too picky about that. These pianos are pretty to look at and have fun extra features that are entertaining and even useful to some degree. But as a piano, it doesn't pass the test...not even the basic test. There is a reason for this and it's called MONEY. It typically costs a lot more money to produce a great looking piano cabinet that has equal quality piano playing realism. That is why the well known major brands normally cost more money for their pianos...they sound and play good like pianos should:).
|AG40 mini grand|
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