* Prices may differ from that shown
When I came to University, I obviously couldn't bring my Piano, and although I hadn't played properly for a year, I yearned to play more. I decided to spend some of the money I had saved from my work for a keyboard. I wanted something which I could play as a piano, but which I would be able to do stuff on which would never be possible on a piano. Rather than spending £100 on something which I would grow tired of within half a year, I would spend up to £300 on something that would keep me playing for at least 4. In Dundee, there is only one shop that sells a decent selection of keyboards. Thus, with my £300 budget, I was limited to getting either a Yamaha, a Roland EM10 or an EM20. The Yamaha and EM10 were both decent instruments costing about £170 but at £250, but I still felt that it might be worth getting the EM20. I am extremely satisfied with the basic funtions and sound. The sustain pedal works well (although that is sold separately), and although the keys feel slightly different, it sounds as much like a piano as can be expected, if that is how you want to play it. There are over 300 'instruments' and with a good selection of Pianos and Saxaphones, and maybe 30 'novelty' instruments, these count for a lot more than on any Yamaha where 'Space Fantasy Harp' is the order of the day. With the Saxaphones, there are versions where after staying on the one note for a while, it starts to resonate (because of the way the player would need to sustain their breath) and versions which do not do this (and although they may not be quite as accurate, they sound nicer). It is small touches like these which really draw you in. The main improvements that the EM20 has over the EM10 are its ability to overlay instruments (meaning that those crashing wave sound effects can actually be used - and sound excellent when played with piano) and a touch-sensitive panel used for various functions. (The defaul
t function - and probably the best - is changing the pitch and tonal qualities of the sound. With a little practise you can get great control over the sounds and do things which would otherwise be impossible.) There are also more instruments, more rythms, slightly sharper and louder sound, but those are by the by. I would definitely reccomend this as a first keyboard if you already play the piano. Compared to the EM10? Sure, £80 sounds like a lot to pay for those two functions, but after I've stopped messing about and start really experimenting, 4 years will be an underestimate. The only improvements I would use anytime soon would be a few more keys and the ability to make your own sounds. Having said that, there is every instrument under the sun ready for you anyway and making your own, unless you are a professional, would be more a novelty than anything else. The main reason that I haven't given the keyboard 5 stars are the 4 or 5 'missing' notes and the less than perfect feel of the keys. However, the only keyboards I have ever liked the keys of cost over a thousand pounds. /*UPDATE - I now understand that to get a keyboard with any more keys, you must either give up some of the features that the EM20 has or pay a lot more. Also, as I say below, extra keys can be simulated. Therefore, the only real problem with this machine is its keyboard stand(see below). - END UPDATE*/ I'll be looking forward to that next step in upgrading technology - when for this price you can get all these features and (near) perfect keys. Better keys obviously exist on nearly any piano, but this really encourages you to play around. Good fun. *********************************************************** UPDATE *********************************************************** Actually, having now owned the EM20 for half a year, I have decided that maybe being a
ble to create your own 'instruments' wouldn't be such a bad idea. Specially if it was done through a PC. However, if it's only a half hearted attempt, I mantain that there's no point. A big problem however, is the music stand. Generally, I need to place an object in front of the music to keep the pages from turning. I think I'll probably have to get the music photocopied. Having said that, I'm not entirely happy with my piano's music stand either (although it's much better than the EM20s). A nice feature (to counterweight the previous criticisms) is the fact that you can plug 2 (2!) headphones into the keyboard, so that you can play and one other person can listen in without you having to humiliate yourself further. Or, you could connect the headphone socket to a pair of better speakers for better sound. Also, settings can be saved and implemented with the touch of one button. Since you can change the pitch by up to an octave, you can use a saved setting to simulate an increase in the number of notes you can work with. Saving variables shows its usefulness in many situations. Mostly, it's simply a convenience. Overall, I'd say I've grown to love my keyboard. The only real problem is the music stand. Photocopying music will become a necessity!