The Yamaha PSR-E353 is a 61-key digital piano, part of Yamaha’s beginner PSR series. And in this article, we’re going to look at how this keyboard is suited for beginners and what features it has that can benefit new players.
We’ll look at whether these features achieve the goal set out by Yamaha: to make a great keyboard packed with helpful things beginners can use to grow in their piano-playing development.
Not only will we examine the E353 in this article, but we’ll also see how well it stacks up against the likes of the Yamaha PSR E443, PSR-E253, the new PSR-E453 and the PSR-EW400.
So, is the PSR-E353 a keyboard worthy of your money? Well, let’s first begin our dissection of this instrument on its most basic level, aesthetic level.
Below, please take a look at our interactive table to see how well the Yamaha PSR-E363 (the successor to the PSR-E353) compares to other noteworthy keyboards:
|Yamaha PSRSX600||850 voices, 43 Drum/SFX, 480 SB voices|
|Roland E-A7||Over 1,500 instrument sounds|
|Casio WK-6600||700 Tones|
|Korg EK-50 L||790 sounds, 59 drum kits|
|Roland BK-5||160 x 160 Dots Graphic LCD (with backlight)|
How Does the PSR-E353 Look?
The first thing to notice about the Yamaha PSR-353 is its looks. If this keyboard is for beginners, it certainly does not look like it. But what should you expect a beginner keyboard to look like?
First, it might have a lot of bright colors. Second, it might look like it’s made cheaply, or with low-quality plastic. Third, the speakers might be a bit small, and finally, the keyboard itself might appear flimsy.
Well, fortunately Yamaha has done a very nice job dispelling these stereotypes. The PSR-E353 is gray and black, with a very sharp, angular, and rigid frame. There are little to no rounded edges here, so it looks very geometrically symmetrical.
The face of the keyboard (above the keys themselves) is gray, with black, gray and white buttons. There’s a small, minimalistic screen that displays information about the sounds, songs, and style (more on that later), and this screen emits a yellowish orange hue when the LCD screen is on.
In fact, the only other color on the keyboard besides white, black, and gray, is the demo button, which is a pale yellow color. So, aesthetically, the keyboard looks much more professional than you might first think. If you’re worried about the fact that because it’s not brightly colored that the buttons must be confusing, there are still very clear labels indicating what each button does.
So, no worries there.
And below, take a moment to view a few keyboards that are currently best sellers online:
|1) Yamaha P-45|
|2) Casio PX-360|
|3) Alesis Recital Pro|
|4) Casio CDP-S350|
|5) Casio PXS-1100|
The Features of the PSR-E353
Let’s talk about features. The PSR-E353 comes with a whopping 573 sounds to select from. These sounds include everything from grand pianos, electric pianos, organs, brass and horns, drums, and more.
Flipping through these sounds is easy. You can scroll through them individually or select patches manually by entering the number of the patch you want into the keypad to the right of the screen.
There’s 158 backing styles, meaning you can play along to different rhythms, chords, and genres with the press of a button. As with a lot of Yamaha keyboards, the PSR-E353 comes with a portable grand button, which resets everything back to the default sound: the grand piano sound it starts with when you turn the keyboard on.
This is a great feature to have, because it can be easy to get lost or confused with even the simplest keyboards. This ensures you can always start over without having to power off the keyboard.
Now, another huge feature to talk about is this keyboard’s learning system. Yamaha includes this in a lot of its keyboards, so this is pretty standard. But here, you have the option to practice listening, practice timing, and practice waiting. You can play along to classical music to get comfortable moving your hands around the keyboard and building your musical repertoire. You can also practice playing chords. Chords are any series of notes played at the same time. You have major and minor chords, and this keyboard will teach you how to play all of the basic chords every burgeoning pianist needs to know.
Some of the more technical features on this keyboard might make it more marketable to intermediates than you think. For instance, the arpeggiator sequences notes in a rhythmic way to make playing tons of notes much easier. There are also a lot of effects built in, including a stereo widener, master EQ, a melody suppressor, and a panner. These features might not appeal to beginners, who are more concerned with playing than designing sound.
However, these features are frequently left out of beginner keyboards, and the fact that you can find them in the PSR-E353 is surprising and convenient for intermediate players on a budget.
The PSR-E353’s buttons also do several other things too. For instance, you can select your song, style or voice. You can use the many recording buttons to record melodies and songs you’re making and play them back.
There’s a metronome button and tempo tap, so you can practice playing at pretty much any speed. You can also layer sounds or dual split them between the keys to create a more dynamic sound blend. A common example of this is piano and strings, which allows you to have instant string accompaniment while you play the piano sound. The keyboard also has an easily labeled master volume and power button, so you can adjust volume on the fly and easily turn it off when you’re done.
When you’re playing along to song, you might feel like it can get too repetitive. Yamaha has integrated an option to play different parts of the same song at the push of a button, and it also has a fill button, that when pressed, creates a little drum fill to add dynamics to the backing track.
It’s a fun way to feel like you’re really playing with a band.
The Feeling of the Keys
The first thing to note is that these keys are not weighted. This means that unlike a grand piano or weighted digital piano, this keyboard’s keys are lighter to the touch and easier to press.
Is this a negative aspect? Not necessarily. A lot of players prefer lighter keys, and lighter keys can also be good for beginners who may not have the finger strength required to press fully-weighted keys for long periods of time.
Most of Yamaha’s beginner keyboards are lightweight, and they usually feel quite nice. This keyboard’s touch sensitivity is surprisingly adequate. It allows you to play loud or soft and practice your dynamics so that your playing style gets refined quicker.
This keyboard has a 32 note polyphony, which means you can play up to 32 notes at the same time without worrying about notes dropping out. For a 61-key keyboard, a 32 note polyphony is great. In this case, polyphony means that you can play more than half of the keys without losing a single note.
And beginner compositions don’t usually require more than 6 to 8 keys being played at the same time anyway. Yamaha has decided to use a 32 note instead of a 16 note just to make sure you have exactly what you need (or a little more than you need, to be honest).
Because there are so many sounds, some sound amazing, while other sound just okay.
The grand piano is warm and friendly, and great for getting a real feel for what it would be like to be playing a real piano. Because this is a keyboard however, it’s designed to attempt simulate a real piano in certain aspects. But, do not be under and delusion that this keyboard can even remote simulate the true touch, feel and sound of an acoustic piano.
It’s just not possible with this keyboard.
Still, some of the other sounds are really fun to play around with, such as the drum sounds. On the face of the keyboard, just above the keys, you can see which drum sounds are mapped to keys when using the drum presets. This allows you to keep track of the drum sounds and learn about what the real drums look like, and what each piece sounds like.
Key Specs Worth Noting
Here are a few key specs for this keyboard:
- 9.7 Lbs.
- 61 Keys
- LCD Display
- USB to Host (Allows you to connect to a computer)
- Headphone Jack
- Aux In (Play along to your favorite song)
- AWM Stereo Sampling
- Sustain Pedal Input
- DC IN 12V Power
- 2.5W Speakers (2)
The PSR-E353 vs. PSR-E453
Let’s start with the PSR-E453. First of all, the PSR-E453 does cost more. It’s still a 61 key keyboard, but it has a couple hundred more sounds, 6W speakers, a 48 note polyphony (as opposed to the PSR-E353’s 32-note polyphony), and it has more options for touch sensitivity.
Sound quality-wise, however, this keyboard is pretty similar. It’s definitely geared more toward intermediates due to its more complex layout and bigger keyboard face. However, if you already own the PSR-E353 and are looking for a slight upgrade, this keyboard should do the trick. I’m not entirely convinced, however, that for beginners this is better. It’s a little more confusing, and the PSR-E353 has most of the same features anyway.
Yamaha PSR-E353 vs PSR-E443
How about the PSR-E443? Well, this one is really similar to the E353, but it’s a little more expensive.
So why is that? Well, its sensitivity is a little fancier, and it has a few more sounds to choose from. Other than that, this keyboard is about the same, although it weighs about 15 pounds while the E353 weighs just under ten.
So, if portability is a bonus to you, the E353 still wins.
Yamaha PSR-E353 vs PSR-E253
Next up is the PSR-E253. A much cheaper keyboard than its older brother, the E353, this keyboard still packs a punch for the budget. It’s a couple pounds lighter and still has a great learning function.
The recording function is only one track though, and there’s no arpeggiator function. It also has a few less sounds to choose from too. For kids and beginners, this is still a great keyboard. It just doesn’t have quite as many features, and doesn’t look as fancy as the E353.
Yamaha PSR-E353 vs PSR-EW400
Lastly, let’s look at the highest tiered keyboard on our comparison list, the PSR-EW400.
It’s a 76 key keyboard and clocks in at 18 lbs. It has 758 sounds to choose from, a six-track function control, a sleek design, and the same great learning function found on the other keyboards.
The keys feel really good, and there are more, which is a plus to a lot of players. I would categorize this keyboard more as an intermediate keyboard because of its added features and because of the price range it’s in.
Is it better than the E353? Well, it has a little more to offer, but I think the E353 is still a better bargain.
The PSR-E353 certainly holds up to its description. It’s a great beginner keyboard, and could even work for some intermediate players.
Still, if you’re a beginner looking for a great keyboard to start with, try this one, or one of the other PSR keyboards we’ve discussed today (depending on the features you want).
RATING: 3.9 out of 5 stars
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