The One Light keyboard is a portable digital piano from the same creators of the ONE Smart Piano. Like the piano, the keyboard relies on the accompaniment app for all of its learning features. Created for beginners, the Light keyboard features LED-guiding systems, an interactive app with real-time sheet music, and a ton of other fun features that make learning to play the piano a breeze.
Originating in San Francisco, the company ran an Indiegogo campaign with full access to their story, product timeline, and announcements. And, now that the ONE Light is here, let’s take a quick peek at a few key specs:
- 61 touch responsive, light up keys
- Compact design
- Headphone socket
- MP3 Speakers
- Sing & Play
Below, please take a look at the interactive table to compare the ONE Light Keyboard to some of its notable competitors that are currently for sale on the market:
$ = $500 or less | $$ = $500 – $1,000 | $$$ = $1,000 and up
|ONE Light Keyboard||61||11 lbs.||$|
|Casio LK-280||61||9.92 lbs.||$|
|Casio LK-175||61||9.92 lbs.||$|
|Yamaha YPT-255||61||9 lbs.||$|
|Casio CTK-6200||61||12.8 lbs.||$|
|Casio CTK-7200||61||15.0 lbs.||$|
The Light keyboard comes in black, gold, or white color schemes. Aside from the interactive app, one of the best things about this keyboard is that its weight (weighing in at just 11 lbs). It’s very portable and there’s few controls on the hardware for a sophisticated, sleek design. And since the keyboard connects to electronic devices, the MP3 speakers transform it into a stereo entertainment system to play Spotify, Apple Music, and iTunes.
The “Sing & Play” feature allows for a mic to be plugged in – something that the Smart piano doesn’t have. There’s also separate headphone socket, which makes the sound quality even better. The 61 touch responsive light up keys are ultra-sensitive and work in conjunction with the app, however the feel of the keys is typical of lower-grade keyboards – slippery and plastic.
The main panel has a few knobs including master volume, Sustain, Tone Setting, and Power buttons for easy access. There are 20 built-in tones that range from the default grand piano, harpsichord, and the violin.
And should you be called away to answer the phone, walk the dog, or tend to a child, the keyboard will automatically turn off after 30 minutes without use.
The back panel is extremely important for connectivity. There is a port that connects Android and iOS devices – these cables are included. Another power socket is used in combination with the included 12V DC power adapter and a mic-in jack that accommodates a 6.25mm microphone (for sing & play). Other sockets include a 6.35mm aux-in socket for additional speakers, an aux-out socket of the same size to stream audio from the keyboard, and a 6.35mm pedal socket for those who want an external pedal (not included).
Below, please take a look at some of the best selling digital keyboards currently on today’s market:
Sound and Keys
The ONE Light keyboard is accompanied by two 50-watt main speakers that allows it to properly showcase its 64-note polyphony. Keep in mind that the keyboard uses stereo sound, so users can play up to 32 notes at the same time. Even though there are pianos that house a polyphony of 128 and above, for the affordable price of the ONE Light (and the intended audience, which is beginners), 64 is sufficient. It’s in range with other keyboards of this price and beginners don’t really need more than 64-note polyphony because they haven’t advanced to the point of playing more complicated and intricate pieces of music yet.
Therefore, I would recommend that you treat the One Light keyboard as your starter keyboard. Get the basics down, understand what you’re doing and why, and when you’re ready to upgrade, do so.
As stated before, the keys are not of the highest quality, so there is a bit of a “clacking” sound to be aware of (which is not a malfunction on this keyboard, but simply a result of using plastic keys). It’s not too distracting, but playing at a low volume or without headphones can definitely change the experience.
App Integration on the ONE Light
Users can connect the following devices to the ONE Light keyboard:
- iPad 2, 4, mini, mini 2, Air
- New Pad
- IPhone 3GS, 4, 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 plus
- Android 4.0+
Basically, as long as you can download the app to your device, the Light keyboard supports it. The piano has USB ports that can be used to connect your device. For the Android, it will utilize the USB host, while the computer with use the MIDI port.
The keyboard can also accommodate headphones with the audio jack on the side. There’s a place for your device to sit on the music stand, as if sheet music were there. The stand is sleek and sturdy, and it will hold your device in an upright position that makes it easy to use on the stand without having to remove it.
The user interface for the Smart app is simple to follow and it also saves your place should you exit and go back. The app holds all your purchased, liked, and practiced songs along with a browsing history and place for your recordings. There’s also advanced Bluetooth and sound settings that can be changed through the keyboard.
One thing that I was worried about with the ONE keyboard was how it would affect learning. I didn’t want the lights and interactive sheet music to be a crutch for beginners. After all, you want to improve—not remain a beginner. But I was actually pleased to know that the app offers ear training and score reading to sharpen music listening skills and improve music reading. The ear training has “free mode” and “challenge” mode, and the score can be broken down to treble, bass, or both.
PROS AND CONS
For $300, this is an affordable digital instrument that has much more to offer than its competitors. Along with a sleek design, portable capabilities, and interactive LED-guiding for quick learning, the possibilities are endless with this keyboard. Even though I believe that nothing will truly replace the authentic, personal teachings from an instructor, anyone who learns from this keyboard has a very good chance of becoming an effective player so long as they’re willing to put in the work to get there.
Strangely enough, while I do like the idea of an app-integrated keyboard, I’m also a bit leery about it (I know, I know—we live in a technological age). Without the app, this is certainly a solid keyboard, but it doesn’t appear to be uniquely special aside from the app (and certainly give nits price point). Due to that, if you don’t plan to use the videos, games, and tutorials, I’d argue that you might be better off looking elsewhere (or at least consider doing so). There are plenty of digital keyboards of equal or higher quality, and you can always purchase learning software separately.
Granted, it won’t be as slick and feel as “all-in-one” as the One Light, but again, it’s another option to consider. But for convenience sake (and even overall effectiveness, although some users are a bit frustrated with the Android integration), the One Light is a solid alternative.
It’s probably worth noting, too, that the app selections are not entirely free. There is a good downloaded selection of songs and lessons for beginners to spend time browsing through, but considering how fast one learns from using this keyboard, paying for some individual songs may not be favorable to those that become a bit more proficient in playing as time goes by.
There is also a is a membership service available through the app, for those that want additional lessons. You pay $60 for 12 months of access to over 300 songs thanks to HD Pianos. There’s always the option to pay $0.99-3.99 for each individual song, but for those who want to learn and play their favorite songs on the radio, I suggest the membership (which does renew automatically). In the past, there was no way to filter content, but now you can browse song selections, with another selection for “paid” songs.
LEARNING WITH THE APP
Video lessons from Hoffman Academy are one of the ways that you will learn to play piano with the Light keyboard. However, there do appear to be some lessons available for free on YouTube, so it may also depend on how much help you feel you will need in terms of how useful this app is to you.
Again, I think a big thing that’s a true selling point with this keyboard and app is convenience. Why jump to multiple software programs or YouTube when everything can be all found within an app on your iPad or Android tablet?
Moving on, you do need the keyboard in order for the lights to synchronize – which is one of the main learning facilitators of this keyboard. Joseph Hoffman is your virtual instructor and you can follow along during his lessons with the lights. With these videos, you’ll be able to get your fingering on the keyboard, learn notes and keys, and learn how to read sheet music. Right now, most of the videos are at an introductory level (again, this is ideal because this keyboard is aimed at beginners), but there will likely be more lessons coming in the future that cater to those that have already mastered the basics are are looking for something a bit more challenging or advanced.
When you hit “Video Lessons” on the app, you’ll also be able to browse through song tutorials. When you pick one, a virtual keyboard will pop up with different colored bars flowing to the keys you should be playing. Practicing is no longer tedious, as this method is more like playing a game. There’s a wonderful classical selection, but you can even learn songs like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.
LED-guided practices and games are similar to the song tutorials, but you have access to these songs in full. One thing worth noting is that you can’t adjust the song to make learning easier. The tempo and other settings will stay as they are, instead of allowing you to slow it down to get the song.
One of the main competitors of the light keyboard is Casio’s LK-280. The key lighting system is one of the things that both pianos share, which contributes to a heightened learning experience for the user. Even though they are comparable in their teaching capabilities, the Casio LK-280 and ONE Light differ in $100, which I believe goes a long way.
The LK-280 has a 48 notes polyphony, while the ONE has 64. Each keyboard has at least 400 built-in tones (the LK-280 has 600 tones to be exact), but with the integrated app, the ONE will always have more up its sleeve thanks to tones that can be added via app updates.
The greatest difference is in the lesson functions. The LK-280 has step-up lessons, performance evaluations, and a voice fingering guide. But the ONE keyboard offers video lessons, song tutorials, and piano games that really make it one of the most fun digital keyboards for kids to use. The left and right hand tracking feature contributes to an added dimension of learning that the Casio doesn’t offer. Another feature that makes the ONE unique is the ear training and score reading games and lessons to teach users more techniques and skills, which we covered earlier.
While this keyboard is the ultimate instrument for a piano newbie, its reliance on the app cannot be ignored. Don’t take the app and the flashing lights to be a bad thing—it’s not in my mind. Just know that eventually, you’ll want to progress towards an instrument which doesn’t rely on these features to help teach you the ropes. But, I think if this is your very first keyboard, and it’s or it’s an attempt to get a complete novice interested in understanding how to play piano, you really can’t go wrong.
And novices of all ages, really. This is great for kids to get a feel for the keyboard or for someone that wants to learn but can’t (or doesn’t want to) afford to hire a teacher.
By itself, this keyboard’s quality is in-line with similar-grade keyboards in its price range, and admittedly, it doesn’t do anything monumentally special. But, I think if you’re getting the One Light Keyboard (and to some degree, the One Smart Piano—although that’s far more expensive), you’re buying it for its tech-savvy app integration and it’s longterm potential to not only teach you how to play, but help make the process of learning extremely fun in the modern age.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS
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