REVIEW - Korg G1 Air Digital PIano - Amazing

Korg G1 Air picture
Korg G1 Air picture🎹 UPDATED REVIEW - August 3, 2018 - Korg G1 Air digital piano - Recommended - The new Korg G1 Air ($1599US internet discount price - bench optional) is Korg's first serious entry into the home digital piano market over $1000 in many years. The Korg company is based in Japan and they were founded way back in 1962 and ever since then they have been designing and producing some of the top and most popular professional stage digital pianos for many, many years along with a myriad of keyboards, synths, pro guitar effects products, portable organs, digital percussion, and many other pro music gear products. I have personally played on Korg pro digital pianos including the latest Kronos models and going all the way back to the T1, Triton, and M1. Back in the early 1990's Korg was actually a leader in the digital piano home market producing some of the best home furniture cabinet digital pianos in the business and I use to play many of those pianos including the popular C3500 & C5000. However, some years later Korg basically got out of the home furniture cabinet digital piano business (I really don't know why) and instead focused on their pro keyboard division while also offering some very basic low priced Korg consumer digital pianos under $1000, some of which I did not like so much. So I had pretty much given up on Korg to come out with anything "serious" when it came to a high quality, higher priced home style digital piano in the $1000-$2000 price range....that is until now. See bottom of this review for special lower discount pricing. *Please click on pics for larger view.

Korg G1 Air picture
The G1 Air is really Korg's first attempt at trying to come back into the home digital piano market in the $1000 - $2000US price range in many years with a piano that can keep up with and perhaps surpass its formidable competitors in that same price range, and the question is...did they do it? I must confess that I really had my doubts that Korg could offer a home digital piano that could compete with the likes of Yamaha, Roland, Casio, and Kawai which are the other top Japanese piano companies. But at the same time, Korg produces such awesome professional stage digital pianos with amazing piano & instrumental sounds and features that I thought how hard could it be for them to put some of that impressive sound technology along with great key action, great sound system, and other features into a home furniture cabinet model and sell it for a relatively low price? Well, I am happy to tell you that after personally playing and analyzing this new G1 Air, in my opinion Korg has managed to even surpass some of the other top name brands in this price range for a home digital piano (around $1500-$1600 and more) including Roland and Yamaha. So instead of only having 4 very popular Japanese brands with competitive quality products selling for between $1000-$2000, I must now add Korg to the mix as they definitely deserve it this time.

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Korg G1 Air pictureOK...so what makes the Korg G1 Air so good and why do I like it? First of all the piano key action is amazing in my opinion but that should come as no surprise to me because it is the same key action that Korg uses for their top of the line professional Kronos stage digital pianos and I have played those instruments many times. A key action needs to be properly weighted, graded, and responsive not only in touch but how it triggers the piano sound from a light gentle touch to a hard touch, and for a fast movement of your fingers across the keys. As I have talked about in my other reviews, the quality and movement of the key action is 1st and foremost when shopping for and considering a digital piano. The Korg RH3 key action is outstanding in just about every way, but especially in this price range, and the RH3 key action does not feel like any other brand of home digital piano under $2000. It's very unique in that it has a natural, organic piano feel to it and in my opinion it is incredibly responsive regardless of the type of music you are playing or whether you are a beginner or very advanced player. You can really pound on this key action or play it lightly with subtle finger movements and the G3 Air responds accordingly like a real quality acoustic piano does offering lots of expression and great balanced weight on each each key so that you can really connect the keys you are playing to the music you are wanting to make. In other words you can put a lot of feeling into your music and this RH3 key action will keep up with you and not disappoint. I would consider the touch weight on this key action to be "medium" meaning not too firm and definitely not light. When you press down on the keys it feels like you are pressing down on acoustic piano keys in terms of key weight whether they be white or black keys. Also, just like on regular acoustic upright and grand pianos, the white key tops are made of a synthetic gloss white acrylic and the black keytops have a matte black finish on them which is nice so that you could more easily transition from this digital piano to a real acoustic piano without noticing much of a difference at all, especially when comparing the G1 Air to a fine upright acoustic piano.

Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture I will also mention that when shopping for a new digital piano there are a couple other things that you'll want to consider with regard to key action. You will notice that many of the other brands have key actions with "synthetic" ivory and ebony keytops. What that means is that the feel of the keytops are trying to simulate what real ivory and ebony feels like to the fingers because many decades ago older pianos were able to use real organic elephant ivory and African ebony wood to make their key tops. Within the last 10 years or so a few digital piano manufacturers thought it would be a good idea to try to create a synthetic version of those organic materials and put it on their digital piano keys. Depending on the proprietary chemical makeup of this "synthetic" material, the result in the beginning was pretty bad and the synthetic material did not hold up well at all. Although it has gotten much better, it is still synthetic and in reality real piano keys don't feel that way. So when it comes to the keytops of the Korg G1 Air, the keys look and feel like real acoustic piano keys and are not synthetic versions of keys that were out decades ago. In reality, you can play on any of the keys of the major brands and be fine, but the synthetic nature of the keytops is ultimately a mute point in my opinion when it comes to playing a piano. Some people may say that they think slick white keytops are "plasticky feeling." But then you need to consider the fact that is how real acoustic piano keytops feel...the same way as the Korg RH3 key action. It really just depends on what's important to you. The final thing I will mention about key action, and in this case I mean any key action on any digital piano, is the build quality and the noise level of the keys when they move. The Korg RH3 key action has been out for many years and is nearly "bullet proof" as far as durability based on all my experience with this particular RH3 action. It is solid with very little lateral movement or wiggle, all 88 keys are well aligned and mechanically move up and down uniformly, and just as importantly, this is a (relatively) very quiet key action when it comes to the keys moving up and down. On every digital piano brand and model, there is mechanical key noise and depending on the brand and model, that key movement noise can be very loud and irritating or relatively quiet. This can be especially noticeable when playing the piano while wearing stereo headphones when the only thing a person can hear (other than the player wearing the headphones), is the sound of the keys going up and down. On some digital pianos the key noise is loud and can be a distraction to others in the house or even to the player. Sometimes the noise happens when the keys go down and sometimes it's when the keys come back up. I can tell you from experience that the G1 Air key action has quieter keys regardless of what direction they are moving or how hard you are playing the keys. However, there will always be some key noise because keys are mechanical just as they are in real pianos. But it's really all about how the key action is made with as much key noise reduction as possible in this piano, and the developers at Korg knew what they were doing because this is right at the top when it comes to quieter key actions in the digital piano business. If you are making a solid, response key action then why change it? My hat is definitely off to Korg on this one 🎩😃

The next important thing that people are looking for is accurate, natural piano sound...but what does that mean? Piano sound can vary in a number of way from one piano to another, one brand to another, and one model to another when it comes to real acoustic pianos and how they sound. They can have a bright, medium bright, more mellow, very mellow or delicate tone with dynamic tonal expression, or without dynamic tonal expression. The main aspect and goal of a great piano sound is...can it play music in a very delicate and mellow way all the way to big, bold, and dynamic tone while offering a great amount of musical color and expression all in one piano? The answer is "YES" but as long as it is a great grand piano such as the ones played in symphony concert halls of by famous jazz or pop piano players such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, etc. Ultimately, music is about passion & expression and the piano sound being able to come out of (in this case) a digital piano with a wide range of musical colors depending on how hard you strike the key, how many keys are being played simultaneously, coupled with using the damper-sustain pedal and how all that interacts together. At the internet discount price of just $1399US right now, the Korg G1 Air really surprised me with all of the musical colors and dynamic tonal range that it has. It's one thing to have a really good key action but it's an entirely different thing to also have a satisfying acoustic piano sound experience and the G1 Air delivers on that point too.

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Korg G1 Air pictureAlmost all of the digital piano companies out there claim to copy or sample a full grand piano sound and put it into their digital pianos...but that is easier said than done. Copying or sampling a piano sound is just the first step of the process, but then that digital piano company needs to have copied that sound from a quality grand piano with the proper microphones, the proper technology, and then put all that into their digital system which can then hopefully correctly translate it into the digital piano so when you play it then that sound comes out sounding real and natural rather than fake and artificial. In my opinion the Korg G1 Air gets extremely close to sounding like it is not a digital piano but instead a real acoustic piano, and that is really hard to do, especially in this price range under $2000. The G1 Air has 7 acoustic multi-sampled piano sounds which are accessed on the control panel with a row of three buttons. The first button accesses what Korg calls "G" grand piano sounds and the "G" stands for a German Steinway grand piano. Each button has 3 variations of piano so every time you press that button the sound advances to the next piano sound in that sound bank. The next Button is the "A" grand piano sounds which stand for an Austrian Korg G1 Air picture Grand Piano otherwise known as Bosendorfer and there are variations within that button of the Bosendorfer grand piano sound that are different from each other. The next and last piano button is the "J" grand piano sounds with the "J" standing for Japanese grand piano and in this case is a Yamaha concert grand piano. Since Korg does not build acoustic pianos then they were free to choose any of the famous grand pianos out there to be included in the G1 Air instead of being limited like other digital piano companies are because they may not want a competitive acoustic piano sound in their digital piano. For instance, you would never see a Yamaha grand piano sound in a Kawai digital piano because those two companies are fierce competitors in the acoustic piano world. Likewise, you would never see a Steinway grand piano sound in a Yamaha digital piano because those two companies are fierce competitors in the acoustic piano world. Korg does not have that issue because as I said, they don't build acoustic pianos so they have more freedom to use different high quality acoustic piano samples in their digital pianos.

Korg G1 Air picture Since Korg does not build real acoustic pianos then how come their piano sounds in the G1 Air is so realistic with so much tonal color and expression which all great pianists seek when shopping for a piano? We'll, just because you don't build real acoustic pianos does not mean you don't know how they work and what goes into them. Korg has a big staff of professional pianists along with outside professional tech support from top rated concert piano technicians/tuners who are advisers to Korg piano division. Beyond that, Korg has digital music technology that is so advanced that they have won many awards throughout the world over the years from big name industry leaders for their advanced proprietary sound technology. Given Korg's expertise in this area and my long time experience playing many of their previous stage and home digital pianos, I still was blown away by how much "presence" the G1 Air had when playing it. I have played it in a small room, a big, room, and a really big room and it did a excellent job in all venues. But when you put it in a regular size room in your home, studio, etc, then you can really hear it come alive when playing on it. The stereo tonal expression of those grand piano sounds are all so different with the German Steinway stereo sound being mellow when playing more lightly but also big & bold when really putting some force into the keys (Billy Joel plays Steinway grand pianos). The Austrian Bosendorfer stereo sound is more delicate but at the same time the bass frequencies really come through to make it a big resonate tone when putting some energy into your playing...really a beautiful sound (great for classical music). Finally, the Japanese Yamaha concert grand stereo sound is brighter and more distinct and the clarity cuts through with a more metallic tone just like Yamaha grand pianos can be (a great pop piano sound - Elton John is famous for being a Yamaha grand piano artist), but there is still a nice bold, bassy tone as well. Then when you mix two different stereo acoustic piano tones together which you can do on this piano, then you can have the best of both worlds in terms of the personality and character of that mixed stereo piano sound. As an example you can combine Austrian Bosendorfer with German Steinway or Japanese Yamaha with Austrian Bosendorfer and you can select which version of each piano to combine with the other one. When you make those combinations it really is like hearing both pianos playing at the same time mixing their unique stereo tonal qualities qualities together in a way I have not heard before on any digital piano in this price range. I can tell you by experience as a long time piano teacher and pro musician that different people like the sound of different pianos. A piano sound that I may like, another person may not personally like that sound as much...and that's OK because we all have different ears. The point is that at least on this Korg G1 Air piano you have 7 different acoustic piano tones coming from 3 distinct grand pianos to choose from plus all the combinations you can get when mixing them so you are likely to find one or more piano sounds that really speak to you. When it comes to a natural, organic acoustic piano sound with lots of dynamic tonal color in this price range, this G1 Air is pretty amazing and if it impresses me (which it does), it should also impress you. 👍😊

Korg G1 Air pictureOne thing that is especially important for me to mention here is the polyphony specification of the G1 Air. Polyphony is a number that a lot of digital piano shoppers don't really understand at all or maybe they think they understand it but they really don't. Either way, the polyphony number (amount of maximum notes that can be heard playing simultaneously) of a digital piano can play an important part in the ability of the piano to play the piano and instrument sounds in a way that sound good and natural. A few decades ago it was not uncommon to see digital pianos have 12-note polyphony, then 24 note, 32-note, and then as the years went by and digital piano technology got better you would 48-note, 64-note, 92-note, 128-note, and now today it is not uncommon to see 256-note polyphony. However, here's where it gets complicated; polyphony is rated in mono, not stereo. Piano sounds in older digital pianos could only be heard in mono, not stereo. But for last last number of years piano sounds in most good digital pianos are recorded and heard in stereo which is great because they sound better that way. However, just because they are in stereo does not mean that's the only thing which has changed. Some of those stereo piano (and instrumental sounds such as string symphonies, etc) are so complex that they include more organic elements in the piano sound which makes them sound more natural such as string resonance, sympathetic vibrations, overtones, and other natural sound recreations through new digital piano technology. Some of the non-acoustic piano sounds such as electric pianos, guitars, etc are normally recorded in mono, not stereo. Then there is something called "dynamic voice allocation" which allows the computer chip to allocate certain notes that you are playing to remain being heard even when you are supposedly over the maximum notes of polyphony. Are you getting confused yet? Don't worry....you should be.

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Here's the bottom line concerning polyphony; the way I judge a digital piano's ability to have enough polyphony is to play the best stereo piano sound in that digital piano using complex classical music playing as many notes as I can while using the damper-sustain pedal. Trying this method will quickly tell you if you can hear any detectable "note drop-out" while playing the digital piano. With low polyphony, when you play complex music with lots of notes using lots of damper-sustain pedal, you normally and eventually will hear sustained notes abruptly stop playing even if you have those keys pressed down..you just won't hear them anymore because you have out-played the polyphony. The computer chip just won't play any more notes until you release most of the other notes being played (which resets the polyphony) so that you can play new notes and hear them. Yikes...sounds crazy but that's the way it works!

Korg G1 Air pictureSo why am I going into so much detail about polyphony here? It's because the Korg G1 Air polyphony specification says 120-note maximum polyphony which seems low by today's standards compared with other digital piano manufacturers having 128-note polyphony, 192-note polyphony, and 256-note polyphony. So people would normally think more is better and less could cause playing problems, right? No, actually not. The bottom line is this; if you play the piano well and try to out-play the polyphony like I did to the G1 Air and you cannot hear any note-drop-out even while playing full glissandos and arpeggios with every piano sound and pedaling technique you can, then the polyphony number is irrelevant. It's all about what you actually hear and not what the polyphony specification might suggest. The Korg G1 Air sounds like is has almost unlimited polyphony because of how good the sound was without note drop-out interruptions no matter how I played it. When I layered (mixed) a stereo symphony strings on top of the piano sound then occasionally I would hear a few notes drop out when I was playing a ton of notes and holding the damper pedal, but they were the string sounds and it was quite subtle when they dropped out due to dynamic voice allocation system. Plus there are few people, other than myself, who drives a digital piano that hard. So under normal playing situations, even when layering two sounds together (piano + ?), you won't hear note drop-out and that's what polyphony is really all about. So just don't get hung up on polyphony specs...it's really all about what it's like in "real life" and I can tell you by experience the G1 Air can keep up with any of its competition in actual piano playing when it comes to the polyphony issue.

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OK...so what is next?  It's got to be the pedals. There are 3 pedals that come with the G1 Air and they play like a real piano. All 3 pedals will do what they are designed to do including soft, sostentuto, and damper-sustain. Since the damper-sustain pedal (the right pedal) is by far the most important pedal as it is used probably 99% of the time, then that's the one I want to talk about. On the Korg G1 Air, all of the pedals including the damper-sustain pedal have a good amount of resistance when pressing down the pedals and the pedaling mechanism overall is very quiet unlike some other digital pianos which have noisy pedal movement. In other words they don't feel like cheap keyboard pedals and  other digital pianos that have pedals that are much too light and noisy and offer little resistance when you press them down which is not good. So the G1 Air pedals definitely feel more realistic. The damper-sustain pedal part of the 3-pedals is important because it controls how much sustain is coming from the notes you are playing. The damper pedal needs to offer the half-damper mode which allows for a variable amount of sustain instead of just on & off. Fortunately the G1 Air does offer this feature and it works fine and allows you to do your pedaling as you would on a grand piano. Speaking of grand piano, when you press down your damper-sustain pedal while playing some notes in the middle of the keyboard for example, the notes should sustain over a period of time before they naturally fade out until you cannot hear them. On a regular grand or tall upright piano when playing notes in the middle of the keyboard and using your sustain pedal, the amount of time a note takes to fully fade away with natural  volume decay time as well is about 25 seconds or more depending on the size of the acoustic piano. The bigger the acoustic piano, the longer the strings and the longer the decay/sustain time will be. That's why when you hear a ginormous 9' grand piano sound, it's so beautiful because there is so much tone and sustain going on in the piano. Long decay/sustain time is very important in creating beautiful, resonate music with the piano strings vibrating and resonating together over time.

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OK, now that you know all of this detail about pedal decay/sustain time and sustained note volume, here's why I brought it up; many digital pianos have very little pedal decay-sustain time for their piano sounds. In fact some digital pianos fade out in less than 6 seconds of time, which is terrible. One of the big reasons for such poor pedal sustain is because they use a cheaper piano sound chip with a small amount memory that cannot hold a note for more than a few seconds. Other digital piano are much better and can go up to 10-15 seconds of time which is fine if you are a beginner or low intermediate player. But if you are a better player or even very an advanced player you definitely want the digital piano to have the sustained piano sound like a real piano where it's long and beautifully resonate. The Korg G1 Air has an incredible amount of pedal decay/sustain time across all 88 notes and way more than I thought it could have. In fact in the middle of the keyboard the decay/sustain time with sustained note volume was a whopping 25 seconds until it fully faded away. It was even a higher amount of time on the bass notes (as it should be) and a slighter lower amount of time on the treble notes (as it should be). In other words, with regard to piano decay/sustain time, this G1 Air absolutely outperforms any other furniture cabinet digital piano under $2000 that I know of in this way. I was very impressed that it could keep up with the demands I put on it when it came to sounding beautiful regardless of whether I wanted quick staccato notes or long resonate sustained notes over time. I am impressed with the Korg company for being able to accomplish this task particularly in this price range.

Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture The Korg G1 has 32 total instrument sounds which are located inside of 4 instrument sound buttons on the front control panel with 7 of those instruments being the acoustic piano sounds from the 3 piano sound buttons as I mentioned before. All sounds are displayed in the small LED display screen in red letters. The non-acoustic piano sounds such as electric pianos, organs, strings, choirs, harpsichord, bass, and other tones are found inside the "others" button and are exceptionally realistic as compared to many other digital pianos in this price range including Yamaha, Roland, etc. Those instrument sounds I mentioned are very dynamic which means they change tonal character as you play the keys softly or play the keys with more velocity and more force. The sounds really come alive as you put more expression into your music and those sounds are not just static like they are on other digital pianos. There are some digital pianos whose instrumental sounds really come out sounding like toy instruments and it's easy to hear that as compared to this Korg G1 Air. These extra instrument sounds in the G1 Air that I mentioned really are at a pro level in quality and realism especially the electric piano sounds, strings, and the organs including pop, jazz, classical, and church. Korg did a great job including quality sounds instead of just quantity with low quality. However, there are no brass, woodwind, synthesizer, and or other similar sounds in this model so if  you think you want those tones for some reason then the G1 Air does not have them. For the majority of piano shoppers out there I don't think this is an issue at all. The control/button panel itself is a polished black piece of Plexiglas with smaller all matte black buttons which have a built-in red light when the button is selected (very useful) and also a simple, easy-to-use master volume knob on the left side of that panel which all help give the the G1 Air a bit of class along with it being more minimalist in appearance without having too many buttons. I did want to mention something that bothered me just a bit. When you press any button or function on the piano, if you were playing a previous sound and wanted to switch sounds in mid-stream or use an editing function to make a change to the sound, the previous sound immediately cuts off and stops playing. In other words, you cannot manipulate sounds in real time as your are playing your song. You basically have to set up the instrument sound the way you want and then play your song. I am definitely not fond of this system and in fact most digital pianos don't have this limitation. The only other brand I know that does is Roland on all their new digital pianos over $2000, but that limitation is only on their piano sounds and not on every button and every sound. So I am disappointed in the G1 Air concerning this limitation and hope that Korg can improve upon this in the near future. Perhaps it is an issue because of this new piano technology they are using to get their new piano sounds...I don't know. If you can be happy picking your sound, function, feature, etc and just playing your song and then change settings in-between songs then the G1 Air can do that well and I think that's what most people tend to do and won't be bothered by this limitation at all. But if you want a digital piano with quick real-time performance changes and sound manipulation capabilities while you are playing, the G1 Air would not be for you. Keep this in mind when considering this model.

Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture Within the front control panel which is conveniently placed up and behind the keyboard just below the sheet music holder, there are a few other useful buttons, two of which are called function and select. They allow you to quickly access some of the other useful features in this digital piano including changing the reverb effects, chorus effects, brightness control (which can bright or soften the overall piano sound), transpose key for automatically playing or singing in a different key, touch sensitivity of the keyboard to adjust for the way you play the keys, relative volume controls for sounds, layer controls, and many other features. On the control panel there are 2 more buttons next to the instrument sound buttons called favorite and split. The split button allows you to put one bass instrument sound on the left hand and one on the right hand to be played independently but simultaneously, such as a string bass player on the left and a piano on the right light a jazz trio might do, minus any drums because the G1 Air does not have any percussion/drums in it other than a preset bass/cymbal sound which is nice. You can determine where the left and right hand separate by holding down the key on the keyboard where you want the separation to happen...easy to do. Also, within the others button there are a lot of sounds that you need to scroll trough to find. It's not the best way to find sounds as I would have preferred more sound buttons instead for direct access. But, you can save your favorite sound in the others button (strings, organ, electric piano, etc) by actually loading it into the favorites button for instant recall. That works good but I wish there were other sounds that you could put into the favorites button, but it's only one at a time. If you want to layer (mix) two sounds together to play at the same time you just press two sound buttons together at the same time and you'll get an instant layer. One quick comment worth mentioning is that the function button features are not convenient to use as well as being somewhat cryptic to find. You have to scroll through the function button and the editing features inside to find what you are looking for based on a chart in the owners manual. There is no direct access button or easier way of selecting the function. For instance, if you want to to transpose the key you need to go into the function button and then scroll through a few settings until the the transpose mode comes up and then you can select a key you want to be in. A couple other digital pianos, particularly the new Casio AP470 now offer an iPad/Android app so that you can easily and intuitively control these features with an proprietary control app from your device color touch screen...it makes the whole thing sooo much easier, assuming you have an want to use an external device to do that. Otherwise you need to reply on the piano operating system to get around and through the functions which is always a bit more challenging but certainly doable as it is on the G1 Air. I am hoping that Korg can come out with a device controller app for the G1 Air which would make things so much easier to navigate.

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On the right side of the control panel there are some other buttons which control the digital metronome and the 2-track (2-part) MIDI recorder. The MIDI recorder is useful, especially for students because it allows you record your left and right hand independent of each other and then play them back that way so you can hear how your right and left hand parts are doing by listening to them apart from each other. Then when you have done that you can play back both recorded parts at the same time to hear how the song is doing and to see if you need to make improvements. You can use the digital metronome and set it Korg G1 Air picture to any time signature and tempo you want which helps with rhythm and timing training while you are learning your songs. In the recorder section you are able to play and save up to whopping 99 individual songs in the the piano including 999 measures (or 45,000 notes) in each song. This is way more internal song memory than most digital pianos in this price range which may have the capacity of 1, 2 or 3, or 10 songs at most. The G1 Air does not have audio wav or MP3 recording as a few other pianos have not does the piano have a USB flash drive input to load or save songs. But I have found that most people just want a capable 2-track MIDI recorder-player on the piano to learn songs and have fun. Plus, if you record 2 separate parts with 2 different instruments and play them back together you can even play "live" on top of that with any other instrument you choose. So basically you can play along with your own recorded song and set the playback speed at any tempo you like...pretty cool. Beyond that, when playing back a practice song you recorded, you can set up a specific passage or part in the music where you may be having a few playing problems and just have that part play over and over at a slow peed so while you play along with it (either right hand, left hand, or both) so that you can focus on just that set of measures rather than the entire song. The G1 Air is capable of doing that too and it does help in a number of ways and you will become better more quickly. As a long time teacher I know this works because I've used this technology many times with students.

Korg G1 Air picture
Speaking of lesson practice, the G1 Air also has a Piano Partner mode which allows 2 people (siblings, friends, parent-child, teacher student) to practice the same song at the same time using the same notes in the same octaves. This is by the piano electronically dividing the 88 keys into two 44-note keyboards so that one person plays 2-hands on one side of the middle C and the other person plays 2 hands on the other side of middle C. The piano automatically adjusts the left part of the keyboard to sound identical to the right side of the keyboard. Other digital pianos have this mode too and it can be called duet mode, 4-hand mode, twin mode, etc. It's a cool practice feature but only useful under the conditions I mentioned...same song, same notes with same sound, at the same time for 2 people using one or both hands depending on whether you're practicing treble, bass, or both clefs.

Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture The connectivity available for this piano is pretty much what most people are looking for which includes separate line audio output jacks, MIDI in & out connectors, USB to device connector, and 2 stereo headphone jacks. The only thing missing that I would have preferred to see for an additional connector is an audio stereo line input jack to connect outside audio to go through the G1 Air speaker system. This would be great to hear your music coming from your external personal device and being fed directly through the piano speaker system. I say that especially because the G1 Air speaker system is by far the best, most powerful speaker system of any major brand or model under $2000 that I know of. The G1 Air has 4 speakers, 4 amplifiers putting out 80 watts of total power being dispersed and diffused through a very impressive system of a fully enclosed boxed housing 2 woofer speakers facing the player (just below the keyboard) and then high frequency top speakers dispersing the sound upward into the air and deflecting towards the player just below the music rack pointing upward. When I played this piano for the first time I was amazed because of how full and yet clear the piano sound was coming out of this internal speaker system. For a minute I thought I was playing a real piano piano. I experienced very little if any distortion on full power and the dynamic tonal range and expression of the stereo concert grand piano sound was very good. It's one thing to have an impressive key action and piano sound chip in or around the $1500 range but it's another thing entirely to have a great internal speaker system to play it through. In the G1 Air you can even feel the bass notes bring out the bottom end of the piano sound. Also, being able to clearly hear the higher frequency range without the overall sound being mid-rangy or muddy is no easy task in a small compact digital piano but in my opinion Korg has really nailed it. In other words, weather you play Korg G1 Air picture this piano at low volume levels, medium volume, or you turn up the master volume all the way, in my opinion the G1 Air sounds natural like a real piano and even at low volumes it doesn't sound "tinny." It doesn't loose that low end bass sound that real pianos have whereas on most digital pianos when you turn down the volume then the bass frequency tones just pretty much disappear and piano tend to sound like a toy. That's why a lot of people who demonstrate digital pianos do so at loud volumes because anything loud will generally sound big. But it's at the lower volumes where quality piano sound reproduction gets much more difficult to achieve through a typical digital piano internal speaker system. I also do not recommend anyone needing an additional speaker or sub woofer system for this piano...it's got plenty of power and bass response for most rooms all by itself. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you extra stuff. Oh, and when you play it through stereo headphones for private practice, the internal stereo headphone amp is so good and powerful, it will also sound like you're playing a ginormous grand piano through your headphones, assuming you have a decent pair of stereo headphones. In terms of the headphone listening experience, I have heard a few digital pianos in the $4000-$5000 range that cannot keep up with this Korg G1 Air in that way.

Korg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture So, given that Korg has such an impressive internal speaker system in this model, what else can Korg do to follow that act? OK...here's something very cool (and useful) that no other major digital piano brand in this price range can do. The Korg G1 Air has built-in Bluetooth wireless audio. In other words, you can take your Bluetooth device such as an iPhone, iPad, etc (I use iPad a lot) and play your favorite MP3 song files on your device (iTunes) through the G1 Air speaker system. This is a very special bonus you get with the G1 Air because now your piano can become your in-home high definition, high quality speaker system to play your songs through. You can be quite a distance from the G1 Air in another part of your home from where the piano is and control the song volume and the songs that you are hearing right from your device without cables or any other wired connection. So even through the piano does not offer an audio input jack, it really has something better...a full Bluetooth audio connection and it's so easy to use. As soon as you power up the piano the Bluetooth function automatically switches on and the G1 Air shows up on your device. Just touch the G1 Air name in your device Bluetooth list in settings and the piano and your device instantly connect (pair). That's all there is to it. Then you play your favorite song on your small device and hear it through the awesome G1 Air powerful internal speaker system your song will sound just as good through the piano speaker system as your live piano playing does. It's a win-win situation. On top of that feature, you can also play the piano live with your songs coming through the speaker system and learn to play your favorite songs on the piano while listening to your songs. If you want to that in privacy then just plug in your stereo headphones and hear your iTune, Google Play, etc songs and your piano playing all together through your headphones without disturbing any one else. There is no other name brand digital piano under $2000 that has this built-in capability. I have personally tried this feature many times on the G1 Air and it's really awesome, especially because if you want to be in another part of the room or house you can still control your songs (within reason as far as distance goes) and the lack of an audio input is also not an issue. Now don''t get this confused with Bluetooth MIDI. Bluetooth MIDI is completely different and you will find that feature in this price range on Kawai and Roland digital pianos. However, Bluetooth MIDI controls only Bluetooth wireless apps on your iPad/iPhone device and you don't really need it because you would need to be sitting at the piano to use those apps anyway so that the educational or instrument app can respond to the keyboard when you're playing it. You can otherwise easily get that MIDI connectivity feature connecting a USB cable to the G1 Air instead of Bluetooth and then you can use all the MIDI apps on your tablet that you want. But that's not audio and not playing music through your piano wirelessly from another place in the room which is what most people are looking for. Bluetooth audio is the cool feature which only this piano has under $2000.

Korg G1 Air pictureKorg G1 Air picture Korg G1 Air picture Now we're near the end of this report...finally! I did want to talk about the G1 Air cabinet because it's impressive. For a small compact furniture cabinet digital piano, it actually has a nice designer look to it with its curved side panel legs, attached front support legs for extra front support and stability, and raised front header console where the control panel is placed. The piano cabinet is an "open-air" style so it may not appeal to some buyers, and that's OK....different strokes for different folks. If you want something more traditional looking with a full privacy panel in back then in this price range the new Casio Celviano AP470 would be a good option which you can check out here: Casio AP470 Review. Most compact open-air cabinets are just flat on the top with controls facing up from the flat surface and the music rack being on that flush flat surface in a limited space up against the key cover when the key cover is folded opened backwards. On the G1 Air, the higher raised surface and top of the entire front panel will support the sheet music so that you can put three times as much music on the G1 as you can on the typical digital piano in this price range and the piano will support it and has a long groove for the music to sit in. Not only that but the music itself is at the correct height for the proper eye position unlike some other compact digital pianos that don't have this extra height. The key cover on this piano is very special in my opinion because it's a "slower-close" key cover so when you drop the cover from its tallest open position, the cover has a slow-down breaking system in it so the cover more slowly falls to the bottom and closes up...it doesn't just slam down. So it you are a child in your home lets go of the cover while closing it, they won't get their fingers cut off and the cover won't slam down. Also, the key cover has a slow-open process with a break system in it. This means that when the cover is opened and you let it fall backwards to stop, the cover won't just fall backwards and bang off the cabinet. It actually slows way down and softly settles backwards where it stops at its designated point. I don't know of any digital piano in this price range with such a nice cover that also works so well and is practical in these ways. When a company pays attention to cabinet details and offers more for the money, I am always impressed. The G1 Air also comes in three really nice looking colors including matte black, matte white, and a very attractive custom wood grain dark brown matte finish which no other piano manufacturer offers. The measurements of the piano is approximately 53"x 15"x 32" without key cover opened and with key cover fully opened the height measurement is 39" and the weight of the piano is only 90 lbs so it's relatively easy to move. The G1 Air has low power consumption, has automatic power shut off in case you forget to turn it off when you're through playing it, and Korg products are known to last not just years, but decades. The factory warranty is currently 5 years parts and 1 year labor after you register the piano on-line with Korg.

Korg G1 Air picture
One more thing that I nearly forgot because it is so rare to find on any digital piano at any price. Most of the Japanese brands including Yamaha, Casio, Kawai, and Roland design their digital piano products in Japan but have them built and assembled in other countries such as China, Indonesia, and Malaysia. That's fine as long as the manufacturer owns and runs the factory in that other country. Quality control in products is extremely important and all the strong, respected digital piano companies want their products to turn out good. However, having them build their products in Japan itself can be quite costly because Korg G1 Air picture costs of living and wages are so high as compared to many other countries such as China so that's why the actual manufacturing for these digital piano companies don't happen in Japan anymore, they just cannot afford it. But the upside in making things in Japan is that it is a well known over the years that the quality and longevity of the products built in Japan by Japanese people has been much higher than in other countries such as the ones I mentioned. Having them made in the US isn't going to happen because of distance, costs, and business restrictions, but having them made in Japan is the next best thing. Well, believe it or not, the Korg company makes their G1 Air in a Korg owned and operated plant in Japan. In fact the entire Korg G1 key action, pedal system, piano sound chips, speaker system, and cabinet is completely designed, engineered, produced and shipped from Japan to end users. I was very surprised to learn this and Korg even labels this info on their boxes and on the piano itself. So when it comes to being ahead of the crowd, I think Korg is showing they can do it even with where they make it and who designs it. No wonder their products seem to last forever...at least that's been my experience with them, although no one is 100% perfect.

Korg G1 Air picture
I believe that at the end of the day, if you cannot find something to like about this new digital piano model then you are not trying very hard! If you want a piano to primarily play piano on with fewer bells & whistles (but still a few cool ones like I described), and you're also wanting uncompromising grand piano playing sound quality and an exciting piano playing experience, then in my opinion you cannot miss with the new Korg G1 Air. I am also personally happy that Korg has re-entered the higher quality home furniture cabinet digital piano market in such a strong way. I have always liked the Korg company and I felt it was just a matter of time until they decided to get serious about the home furniture cabinet digital piano market like they have in their pro piano division for so many years. At $1599US internet discount price (bench optional) the G1 Air is an impressive piano for what it offers in my opinion, especially as compared to a lot of its competition. Please contact me before you buy anything anywhere and I will help you save even more money than internet and Amazon discount prices incl free shipping, no tax, brand new.

* Please take a look at a couple of nicely done video demos below of the G1 Air in action:




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

15 comments:

  1. Wow, you basically convinced me to buy this piano!
    What can you tell about piano action being kinda old for 2018, key wobbles and clicks? I was considering Kawai ES8, but its much more expensive with the stand.

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    1. The Kawai ES8 is at a different level of piano sound sampling key action, and pedaling. But it should be given it's much higher price range. As for being "old" the ES8 key action, piano sound chip, and pedaling are being used in 2 model Kawai digital pianos with a total of 5 Kawai models using that same key action and many people who own those pianos have great things to say about their playing experiences. Just depends on your budget and preferences

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    2. If you live in the US and have further questions then please let me know and I can also show you how to purchase either piano brand new for less money than internet and amazon discount pricing.

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  2. Px870 vs korg air, which one do you recommend?

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    1. they are both great choices. Just depends on your budget (price range) and also the features and functions that most appeal to you.

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  3. Very good review,Tim. Since this board only allows Bluetooth audio for songs,can you connect your I pad via USB to host and utilize your I pad apps with this digital piano?. Thanks for having this review of the g1 air.It looks like a bargain for what it does.

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  4. Howard, I have updated my G1 review to make my USB comments more clear with regard to your question. Yes, you certainly can use MIDI interactive apps for tablet by connecting a USB cable (and adapter) to an iPad from the tablet. If you live in the US and want a G1 or other digital piano then please email me and I can help arrange for you to purchase for even less money than internet and amazon discount pricing.

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    1. Thanks Tim .You answered my question.Pleaseskip over this subject in my recent e mail to you. I think this Korg digital piano is probably the best console digital piano in its price range along with the Casio's Px consoles. Keep up the good week- You' re making a difference!

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  5. Hi Tim,

    Great review of the Korg G1.
    How would you compare the G1 to the Kawai KDP90? The KDP110 is obviously around $300 cheaper($200+$100 for the included bench).

    Also what's your opinion on the C1 Air?

    Thanks,
    John

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  6. Hi Tim, thanks to your comprehensive and detailed review, I have gotten myself a Korg G1 :)

    In your review, you mentioned that the piano does not have audio WAV and MP3 recordings. So, how can one still make a recording of the songs to be played back on the computer?

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  7. you could purchase an external audio wav/MP3 stereo recorder and connect it to the audio output of the piano. You would then record your audio performance on that device and save it to a USB flash drive or memory card and then transfer that recorded song into your computer for storage and use in software programs. The external audio recorders are generally quite inexpensive...near or under $200US. Then you would get what you are asking about.

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  8. Dear Tim,
    What do you think about Roland 140.
    Compared to korg G1?

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  9. A clarification on the USB port on the G1 Air is that besides its possible use as a MIDI connection, it also has an alternative USB storage mode. While the G1 Air cannot export audio wav/MP3 files, if you need more than the 99 recording slots built in (or if you just want to back up to or restore from a computer your compositions), you can do so using the USB port.

    For both the C1 Air and G1 Air, although you don't have built-in bluetooth MIDI to connect to iPad app like some other piano brands, you can use a Yamaha or Quicco bluetooth MIDI adapter instead of a cable, particularly since they only cost about $5-$10 more than a physical cable. For the G1 Air you can also use a Bluetooth USB adapter, though it requires power and costs about the same as the MIDI version, so it isn’t the preferred solution.

    A good choice for a Bluetooth MIDI adapter that works well with the G1 Air is the Yamaha MD-BT01, so you can keep your USB port open to use as a means to back up songs from the piano to a computer and still have a wireless connection to an iPad.

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  10. Hi Tim,
    My new piano arrived yesterday afternoon, assembled easily, and plays beautifully!
    Thanks so much for another smooth exchange. You deliver such great value through your in-depth reviews, and of course, your factory direct prices are icing on the cake.
    Having bought two pianos through you this past year (this one, and the Kawai ES8 for my girlfriend), I don't anticipate being in the market again anytime soon, but when I hear of others who are, I'll be sure they at least visit your site before they make any buying decisions.
    Thanks again,
    Chad
    Update: one week in and I'm in Love! Great action, amazing sound - through the speakers and through headphones, and a total bonus that it's now my stereo system for playing mp3's from my phone or computer. Awesome!

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    1. Chad, happy to hear you love your new piano and that it is living up to your expectations! This is why I do what I do...to help people become musically happy with the right digital piano that will fit their musical needs and budget, and also be a long term enjoyable experience.

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