Is Korg EK 50 The Best Option In Entry Level Arranger Keyboard
Korg EK 50 Review : On September 2018 KORG launched the EK-50 budget friendly entry-level arranger keyboard mocking KORG re-entry into this budget segment keyboards.
Korg generally does not manufacture low budget keyboards but after a long time they did so.
This new competition is good news for both you and me because all the industry players will try to race against each other to produce a better keyboard at a lower price point.
And whenever a new keyboard is launched there will no doubt be calls for comparison between other keyboards from other manufacturers within the same price segment.
So in this article we will review Korg EK 50 Arranger Keyboard but in a slightly different way.
I will make a 36 point comparison between keyboards from Casio and Yamaha in the same price segment and at the end of the article I will suggest what possible scenarios are where each of these three keyboards will be most suitable for you.
In this article the keyboards we will compare are Yamaha PSR EW410 (as it cost same as that of Korg EK-50 – $390+) and from Casio it is from the top-of-the-line CTX series the CT-X5000.
The CT-X5000 is running on Casio's latest top-of-the-line AIX sound generation chip and this is the keyboard that we will be using in this comparison
Even though it costs slightly more than the other two keyboards found in this comparison we will be putting these three key boards against each other. So lets Begin the comparison and review.
A detailed Comparison Between Korg EK 50 , Casio CT X5000 - Yamaha EW 410
The first point we will be comparing is the price.
The Yamaha PSR-EW410 cost the same as the KORG EK-50 which is around $390+ and Casio CT-X5000 costs around $445+
Therefore in round one Yamaha gets one point and one point for Korg too.
Korg : 1 | Casio : 0 | Yamaha : 1
Numbers of Keys
The number of keys Yamaha comes with are 76 keys which is 15 more keys then the KORG EK-50 as well as the Casio CTX 5000.
So, when playing piano sounds and electric piano sounds and when trying to use caught on bass it's really useful to have the additional keys and therefore in this round Yamaha gets one point
Korg : 1 | Casio : 0 | Yamaha : 2
Whereas both Casio and Korg EK-50 has 64 notes polyphony which is really useful,if you're trying to do long piano runs or you are trying to layer a lot of sounds without any of the sounds dropping off.
Korg : 2 | Casio : 1 | Yamaha : 2
Upper Voice layers
In this comparison and we will be looking at the number of voices you can layer on the upper section of this keyboard.
And here Korg takes the price because it can layer up with three voices on the upper level whereas Casio and Yamaha only allows a layering of two voices.
However, being able to layer three voices on the upper section is also a double-edged sword because I found that the polyphony of 64 notes run up really very quickly when I am layering three sounds on the upper section.
For example every chord I play I would have two times that number of notes by three so for example if I'm playing a four note chord I would have two times that by three and that will give me chopped notes that would gobble up chopped notes on the polyphony.
And when I'm doing long piano runs that has a piano sound layered with a string sound layered with a pad sound the three voices plus the piano runs at the end of the run I do hear a couple of notes that actually drops off from the beginning of that run.
Korg : 3 | Casio : 1 | Yamaha : 2
Lower Voice Layers
Let's look at the,number of voices you can layer on the left side on the lower part of the keyboard.
In this section Casio wins because Casio allows you to layer up to two voices on the lower part of the keyboard whereas Yamaha and Korg only allows one single voice on the left side of keyboard.
Korg : 3 | Casio : 2 | Yamaha : 2
Korg : 3 | Casio : 3 | Yamaha : 2
However having a lot of voices does not mean that the keyboard is the best so let's look at the quality of the voices in the keyboard and how realistic and usable they are.
So, here I am giving my personal opinion it is something you may contradict with.
For Korg EK 50 I feel that the strength is In the keyboard sets which has been pre-programmed in the factory to have really nice layers and very good effects applied in a way that allows you to get ready to play very quickly and immediately without having to dwell into very deep levels of the editing to get a specific sound you want.
Korg EK-50 strength is also in that it has a really good grand piano sample, some nice piano and pad combination, the guitar sounds and the saxophone sounds are also very realistic on the keyboard.
Yamaha strength here is In the sweet voices. So, for example the flute voices the harmonica voices and the saxophone voices Yamaha is simply unbeatable in this segment.
Yamaha has given E410 a very good grand piano sample as well.
The strength of the Casio CTX 5000 lies in its electric piano sound as well as its synth sounds.
So if you are intending to do EDM music the Casio CT X5000 is very much more suitable for you since all three keyboards have their own individual strengths they will each get one point for the voice quality.
Korg : 4 | Casio : 4 | Yamaha : 3
Number of Styles
The next comparison we will look at is the number of styles that each keyboard contain.
As all these are an arranger entertainment keyboard so styles form an integral part of these keyboard.
And in this comparison the Korg EK 50 takes the price here with 280 Styles built into the keyboard. Yamaha and the Casio both have 235 styles built into their keyboard.
Korg : 5 | Casio : 4 | Yamaha : 3
Styles are incomplete without the variations. So if we are look at the star variation the EK 50 as well as the Casio CTX 5000 both comes with 4 variation for every style.
Whereas the Yamaha PSR 410 comes with only two variations per style.
Korg : 6 | Casio : 5 | Yamaha : 3
Now, let's look at the intro which plays before a style.
EK 50 comes with 2 intro as well as a count in for a total of 3 intros before a style plays.
Yamaha and the Casio both had only one intro for each style
Korg : 7 | Casio : 5 | Yamaha : 3
In the same manner as the ending that's available for each style the Korg EK 50 has two endings available for each style whereas the Yamaha and the Casio both had only one ending for each style.
Korg : 8 | Casio : 5 | Yamaha : 3
Another integral part of a style is where the fill in and sound connected.
And in the segment the Casio wins hands down because it has four fill ins. Whereas, the EK 50 and Yamaha has only two fill ins.
Korg : 8 | Casio : 6 | Yamaha : 3
In this comparison we will look at the style editing. So the EK 50 and the Yamaha PSR410 in the same way as the e463 has no ability to edit a style.
It has ways to turn off parts of a style as it's playing but there is no way to go deep in the style and delete certain notes, replace notes or even create new styles.
And this is where Casio CTX 5000 wins a point as it has in depth style creation and editing functions as well
Korg : 8 | Casio : 7 | Yamaha : 3
A keyboard can have a million styles but what is crucial is the quality of the style. Is it well programed? Does it feel likely? Does it feel real? Does it feel gloomy?
And in this respect from my own experience of having played with numerous Korg keyboards, numerous Casio keyboards ranging from the Casio CTX, CTK line, The Yamaha PSR takes the point for having the best style quality in this segment.
Korg : 8 | Casio : 7 | Yamaha : 4
In this comparison we will look at the Arpeggiators function that is available in these keyboard.
The EK 50 is meant to be an entertainer keyboard where you'll use it in little functions like gathering parties as well as gigs and therefore the Arpeggiators function is missing in the EK 50.
Whereas, On the Yamaha as well as the Casio you can find 150 Arpeggiators patterns that is available for you to use in music production or if you intend to do EDM music
Korg : 8 | Casio : 8 | Yamaha : 5
USB Stick Audio
Now let's look at which keyboard supports playing back music files from a USB stick.
The EK 50 from Korg can read both WAV files as well as mp3 files whereas the Yamaha and Casio can only read WAV file from the USB stick.
Therefore in this comparison the EK 50 takes one point.
Korg : 9 | Casio : 8 | Yamaha : 5
Pitch Bend Function
To better express the voices you need a pitch band function and here the ek 50 wins hands down because it has joystick control which is a lot more intuitive and more precise when controlling pitch band.
The Casio CTX 5000 and the PSR 410 comes with a pitch band wheel but it does not offer the precision that a joystick offers.
Korg : 10 | Casio : 8 | Yamaha : 5
Now, let's look at the modulation wheel, and the same joystick that is used for pitch band on the EK 50 can be used for activating the modulation as well.
It can also be used to trigger tremolos on organs and this is where it is really useful because we've just one joystick from which you can control both the pitch Bend and the amount of modulation for the sounds that you are playing.
Whereas on the Yamaha ESR EW410 you have to deal with two wheels to control both the pitch band and the modulation.
The Casio CTX 5000 in this instance is the one that loses out because the modulation option is just a button that you can turn on and off it does not offer a precise control of the modulation compared to the EK 50 and the Yamaha keyboard.
Korg : 11 | Casio : 8 | Yamaha : 5
In comparison let's look at the registration Bank sets available for the user to store their own registration settings.
The Casio has a massive 128 slots that the user can use to store their settings whereas the Yamaha on the other spectrum has only 32 slots.
The EK 50 has 40 registration memory slots to strong user settings and in this round Casio takes the point.
Korg : 11 | Casio : 9 | Yamaha : 5
Tempo Freeze Function
The next function which I use very often while practicing a song is the tempo freeze function.
The EK 50 has a tempo freeze function and the Casio also has a tempo freeze function too but Yamaha does not have a freeze function.
At this price point it is only offered in the PSR S series of the keyboards from Yamaha which is not good because the e series is very popular among those who are trying to learn a keyboard and a piano and for them the tempo freeze function is very useful.
Korg : 12 | Casio : 10 | Yamaha : 5
In this round we will be looking at the sequencing capabilities of these three keyboards.
If you intend to do any sort of music production and wanted layer multitrack recordings then CT-X5000 is the most suitable for this job.
Because it allows you to layer up to 17 tracks whereas EK 50 allows you to record 12 tracks and the Yamaha is the one that's most lacking in this department casue it only allows you to layer up to a maximum of 6 tracks.
Korg : 12 | Casio : 11 | Yamaha : 5
Let’s look at the sampling function in each keyboard.
The Yamaha PSR EW410 is the only keyboard within this three keyboard that has a sampling function.
However I find the sampling function to be limited and quite gimmicky in a certain sense nonetheless kudos to Yamaha for including the quick sampling function in this price range and therefore one point goes to Yamaha.
Korg : 12 | Casio : 11 | Yamaha : 6
What’s the use of a sequencer if we don't talk about these song editing capabilities on these keyboards.
The Casio and ek 50 offers both overtop as well as punch In/ punch out recording functions but Yamaha has no such function therefore the Casio and the EK 50 both take a point each.
Korg : 13 | Casio : 12 | Yamaha : 6
Song Event Editing
When we talk about really deep song editing function like going in and editing individual notes, individual events then Casio is the one that wins the song event editing segment comparison.
Because the other two keyboard doesn't offer you very deep level song editing capabilities.
Korg : 13 | Casio : 13 | Yamaha : 6
Now, we will be looking at the user interface of these three keyboards.
There is no point having a keyboard that is really powerful lots of nice voices installed but it is such a pain to use.
To use a function you have to go through the manual each time and go really deep in the sub menu to find the functions that you need.
Especially when you're trying to play live having all the functions within your fingertips is really important.
And in this instance the EK 50 is the winner because most of the buttons can be found on the panel itself.
If you want to use any particular style it is there, If you want to turn on and off layers it is there.
Whereas for the Yamaha PSR-EW410 most of the functions are actually hidden in the function button and you have to scroll to the button many times to get to the specific function you want this can be quite a pain.
And out of the three keyboards the one that is a nightmare to use in terms of the user interface is the Casio CTX 5000.
I understand it is a very powerful keyboard, there are a lots of capabilities but it is so non-intuitive and you have to go through the manuals and even after reading the manuals there are many other functions that just doesn't seem very logical and doesn't seem apparent.
Korg : 14 | Casio : 13 | Yamaha : 6
Let's look at auxiliary in feature and all of these keyboards have auxiliary in and each of them all take a point
Korg : 15 | Casio : 14 | Yamaha : 7
Now let's look at output options and, all these three keyboards have a pair of quarter-inch output that you can connect to an external PA system or a pair of monitor speakers.
Korg : 16 | Casio : 15 | Yamaha : 8
For much better sound we will have a look at microphone input and here CT X-5000 is the only keyboard that allows you to plug in a microphone and sing along and perform along with keyboard.
Korg : 16 | Casio : 16 | Yamaha : 8
USB Audio Out
As you know USB socket output a USB audio just like an audio interface for you to connect directly to the computer for recording.
For this instance only the Yamaha PSR EW410 has the capability of an audio output via its USB jack to the computer for recording and editing.
However, I have heard news from credible sources that the USB jack on the EK 50 will be able to output USB audio somewhere in the near future however for now this Yamaha is the only one that provides USB Audio Out function.
Korg : 16 | Casio : 16 | Yamaha : 9
Speaker Amplification System
Let's look at the speaker amplification system and the Casio is the most powerful here with 15 watts X 2.
Whereas Yamaha's amplification system has 12W X 2 . But EK 50 has the weakest amplification system with 10W X 2 amplification system. So CTX 5000 wins this round.
Korg : 16 | Casio : 17 | Yamaha : 9
The sound that comes out from a user perspective like myself when I play on each of these 3 keyboards the one that sounded the best, the most neutral, and the one with the most punch is actually the Korg EK 50
The Casio even though has the most powerful amplification system but it just lacks the little sparkle in the sound.
And I was surprised that on the EK 50 the keyboard actually sounded better through the speakers than through the headphones.
Korg : 17 | Casio : 17 | Yamaha : 9
Now we will be comparing portability with reference to the battery power.
The Casio CTX 5000 does not run via batteries and Yamaha PSR EW410 needs 6 * D size batteries and Korg EK 50 can be operated via 8 * AA batteries.
In this instance the EK 50 wins the points because the AA batteries are the easiest to find if you run out of juice anywhere.
When you're on the road you can very quickly pop over to convenience store and find yourself a set of double A batteries.
Korg : 18 | Casio : 17 | Yamaha : 9
Let’s have a look about pedal inputs. How many pedals can you connect to a keyboard to control the various functions of the keyboard.
In this instance Casio wins. Cassio has 2 pedal inputs whereas EK 50 and the Yamaha has only one pedal input each.
Korg : 18 | Casio : 18 | Yamaha : 9
Portability - Weight
In terms of portability let's also look at the weight of each keyboard. It is amazing that the Casio has built this keyboard to be really lightweight and the entire keyboard only weighs only 15.43 Lbs.
The EK 50 slightly heavier 1 pound more at 16.5 Lbs. The Yamaha has bit more keys considering it weighs around 18.51 Lbs.
In terms of weight the Casio wins a point here
Korg : 18 | Casio : 19 | Yamaha : 9
Now let’s have a look at the build quality talk about a build quality.
I have played on all three of the keyboards and EK 50 and CTX 5000 feels the most well-built.
It feels like it can take a bit of thrashing around it feels like if you bring it around and you can give it a couple of knocks it will suffice.
Yamaha just feels a little bit less well built than the other two.
Korg : 19 | Casio : 20 | Yamaha : 9
This is our final check list and we will take a look at the firmware upgrades.
When it comes to firmware updates the main question that strikes us is will any of these keyboard be able to future-proof itself by having a firmware update function.
Whenever a manufacturer decides to add a new function because of requests of the users or if there are bugs that define later on after releasing the keyboard the manufacturer can release a firmware update to update the internals of the keyboards.
And the Casio and Korg EK 50 has firmware update function but Yamaha does not have a firmware update function.
Which means when you buy the keyboard that's just about it, you can’t update it at all.
Korg : 20 | Casio : 21 | Yamaha : 9
Now that we have covered all 36 differences between points you can see that CTX 5000 surpassed the other keyboards in the list.
Yamaha is lagging behind with only 9 points and that is because the PSR E-series hasn't got a proper revamp from the past half a decade.
Casio CTX with his a AiR chipset and Korg RK 50 these are quite new entrance to this arranger keyboard segment and it brings a bit new technology, new functions and this is why they lead in the list.
SO, if you intend to do music production, if you intend to do a lot of multi track recording, if you intend to do electronic dance music. I would suggest the Casio CTX 5000.
If the bulk of what you do is mainly to play solo in gatherings, in gigs and you are playing a lot of styles and you love to have nice style sounds I recommend the Korg EK 50. Cause it's really easy to use. It's not intimidating even if you are seeing the keyboard for the first time.
The sounds are all really very usable the styles are decent too.
If you're someone for whom sampling is important to you and the quality of the styles is important to you then that is where Yamaha excels.
That’s it for this comparison article. Hope I have cleared some doubt clouds around you and helped you in making a wise decision in choosing your next keyboard.