[Regular readers may want to skip this post, as it’s a review of a keyboard. I’m writing this because I couldn’t find a single, good in-depth review when I was looking to buy so to the regular readers, see you tomorrow!]
Ok, to begin with I should state that I’m not a professional piano player, or even close to it. I bought the LK300 to learn, so what you’re going to get here is a layman’s review of this keyboard.
First of all, I have to say that the LK300 was a lot bigger and more impressive looking than I imagined. It also feels ‘expensive’ and high quality. While obviously, the keys aren’t hammer-action or anything, they feel good and have just the right amount of resistance.
Above all, it sounds good. The piano sounds sound like a real piano. I mean, obviously, if you stood this keyboard next to a Steinway grand and played them both, it would probably sound like crap…but if you played this next to a recording of a real grand piano, there’s not much difference (at least to my untrained ears).
The other feature I love is the touch-sensitive keys. Basically, stroke a key lightly, you get a quiet sound, hit it with some force, and you get a much stronger note. This is very neat feature, because without it, your playing will sound flat an unexpressive…no matter how good you are.
The main thing I want to focus on, however, is the reason I chose this keyboard over so many others, and that’s the teaching features.
Plug the keyboard into a TV, and not only do the keys light up to show you how to play the song, but the screen also shows the correct fingering as well. The three-step system works amazingly well, and leads you to playing some songs right out of the box.
The first step lessons let you focus on timing. It doesn’t matter if you miss the right key, the correct tone plays anyway. The second step, which I found particularly useful, makes the keyboard wait for you while you find the correct note. This helps you build up your speed and accuracy together.
This works by the key you should be hitting lights up, and the next key (or keys) you need to hit flash, with the flash getting faster as it gets closer to the time to push it. It’s sounds clunky on paper, but works incredibly well in practice.
Step three is full speed with full accompaniment. By this time, you should be able to play the song anyway, and just use the lights to see where you go wrong.
Then, you can redo all three steps with ‘scoring’ enabled. Basically, the keyboard judges your accuracy and timing and gives you a score at the end out of 100. It seems like a bit of a gimmick, but it does help you get that feeling of accomplishment.
Another nice feature with the lessons is that there’s a good range of songs at different difficulty levels. Anyone should be able to play “Twinkle, twinkle little star” or “Oh Christmas Tree”, right out of the box…but songs like “The Entertainer”, “Canon” and “Maple Leaf Rag” are tough enough for intermediate players.
One thing I’m not sure whether to rate as a good or bad thing is that you can only use one hand at a time with the lessons. Right or left, but not both. This is a good thing because everything I’ve read about learning to play the piano is that you should focus on your right hand for a good long while before even attempting anything with your left. On the other hand, it would be nice to try.
Unfortunately there are some downsides to the lessons.
When you’re playing in ‘scoring’ mode, if you miss the timing by a little, the keyboard doesn’t play the actual tone, it plays a muted, xylophone-sounding note to let you know you’ve missed it. This should be a feature, but it’s incredibly off-putting and you have to be absolutely spot-on to get the right tone.
This wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to be so spot-on. It feels like you have to be a machine to get it 100% right. Trust me, this isn’t sour grapes because I couldn’t get it right…I had difficulty getting it perfectly right on something as simple as “Twinkle twinkle little star”.
Basically, no-one plays a piece of music exactly the same way twice. We’re talking nano-seconds here. It’s not a huge problem, but there should be an option to turn it off.
One of the other things I loved is the ability to download midi files off the internet (which are everywhere), and upload them to your keyboard via USB cable or through as SD card. This means that you have an unlimited number of lessons and always have something new to learn.
However, there are a few downsides to this as well.
First of all, if you want to learn a song, the left hand and right hand pieces have to be on particular channels in the midi file, and the software to do this isn’t included. There are free midi sequencers available on the internet, but it would be nice to see a simple one bundled with the keyboard.
Secondly, there’s no USB cable included. Luckily, the cable you need is exactly the same as a USB printer cable, so if you have a computer and USB printer (which is pretty much everyone), you can just ‘borrow’ your printer’s cable.
The last downside to this is that the keyboards memory gets erased every time you unplug it, if you don’t have batteries installed. Because my keyboard (although not all versions of this model) came bundled with an AC adaptor, I didn’t buy batteries…so I can download all the songs I want…but they’re gone the second I turn off the keyboard.
Of course, if you forego the USB route all together, and go for an SD card (which are cheap, but also not bundled), you dodge this all together. Obviously, the same if you buy batteries.
This is a great keyboard and well worth the $200 price point. It’s great for beginners (such as myself), but with the sound quality, touch sensitive keys and other great features, it’s still good as a practice instrument for intermediate players. It’s obviously not a keyboard designed for performance, but if you’re performing, you’re probably more suited to a $5000 Korg Synth than $200 keyboard.
The pros far outweigh the cons, and most of the problems I have with this keyboard tend to be ones of inconvenience rather than a major fault. Sure, I’d like to see a USB cable or SD card bundled with it, but I can buy those cheaply from somewhere like newegg.com anyway.
Sound Quality : 4/5
Awesome piano sounds, and a good range of others. Obviously not as good as a professional performance keyboard, but well below that price range.
Ease of Use : 5/5
If you can use a TV remote, you can work out this keyboard, especially using the display on the TV
Price Point : 5/5
Any less, you get a much worse keyboard, if you want better, you’re going to pay a lot more.
Accessories : 4/5
Mine came with an AC adaptor and a Microphone. Another nice thing was printed music for every song in the keyboard. A USB cable would have been nice, as well as an SD card.
A great beginner’s/intermediate keyboard.
Ok, people, I hate that I have to say this but I'm getting a ridiculous amount of email and comments from people asking me for tech support.
DO NOT EMAIL OR POST ANY MORE COMMENTS ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS KEYBOARD.
The truth is that 99.9% of the emails I receive about this keyboard are asking questions that are CLEARLY covered in the LK300TV manual or on Casio's website, and over half the emails I receive are downright rude. (Manners 101, guys, when you're asking a complete stranger for free help, it pays to say please and thank you, not a terse couple of lines demanding information.)
Any future emails or comments asking for help will be ignored.