In the past few years, Yamaha has updated the most affordable products in its popular PSR-series to create the perfect digital keyboard for beginners. Year after year, the company has revisited all its entry-level products, adding new sounds and interesting features to the mix.
Yamaha followed this path once again by announcing the new PSR-E443, an evolution of its former best-seller PSR-E433, which it has replaced recently. This revamped E443 offers all the features of the previous model, plus some minor updates that make this keyboard almost like a compact digital piano.
To be honest, the PSR-E443’s new additions are not so striking to hail it as a miracle, but after all the revisions that this product has had in the past few years, we cannot realistically expect Yamaha to add even more features to this instrument than what they’ve already done.
Below, please use the interactive table to compare the Yamaha PSR-E443 to other great digital keyboards and arrangers on the market:
|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)|
Without further ado, let’s analyze this new keyboard.
What Does the PSR-E443 Come With?
The PSR-E443 comes with the following:
- Yamaha PSR-E443 digital keyboard
- Music rest
- Owner’s manual
- Song Book (downloadable from Yamaha’s website)
- Optionals: AC Adaptor PA-150D and sustain pedal
Below, please take a look at some of the best-selling keyboards currently available online:
|1) Yamaha P-45|
|2) Casio PX-360|
|3) Alesis Recital Pro|
|4) Casio CDP-S350|
|5) Casio PXS-1100|
The Yamaha PSR-E433, and the new PSR-E443, look almost identical: while the first had a black chassis, this revamped version only ships in the new steel finish, which is surely a good way to mask the aesthetic similarities and the lack of new relevant features.
The main interface includes a pitch bend wheel, the Master Volume knob, a power switch, the two Live Controls knobs introduced with PSR-E433, the Accompaniment section, the Track Control section, the Memory presets and the numeric keypad, useful for selecting one of the available sounds and styles.
As usual, the Voice Control mode allows you to split, layer and harmonize two different sounds, while the Arpeggio mode can create great automatized patterns. You can choose from 150 pre-made patterns and adjust or morph them live while playing chords or notes.
The two-2.5W speakers are placed on each end of the chassis, while in the middle we find an LCD display with all the most helpful details, such as the score, the virtual keyboard, the chords or notes that are being played, and the selected sound or groove.
On the rear side, we find two USB ports (one for MIDI/USB, the other for an external flash memory), a Sustain jack, a Phones output, a new AUX input and the power jack.
There are also two minor additions to the interface: the first is a Transpose button, which allows for a quick change in the pitch of the notes that are being played–without having to use the main menu.
The latter is a new feature called Melody Suppressor, which works in conjunction with the aforementioned AUX input: you can connect an iPod or MP3 player to the keyboard using a 3.5mm jack and play along your favorite tracks.
When you use the new Melody Suppressor mode, the keyboard automatically lowers the volume of the melody and vocal lines, so that you can sing along it or play a keyboard solo. This is a good feature if you aim to play for fun and use the PSR-E443 as a sort of karaoke or MIDI-file player. To see an example of this mode, check out the YouTube video below where a user is playing Michael Jackson’s Bilie Jean using the Melody Suppressor function:
The Yamaha PSR-E443 shares the same sound engine with the previous PSR-E433: the old, good AWM Stereo Sampling returns with more sounds and new rhythms. You can even choose to add five additional rhythms if you want to further expand the keyboard’s catalog with more ethnic styles from all around the world.
The new PSR-E443 offers something like 755 different instruments, including five Sweet! Voices (an emulation of some natural acoustic instruments), three Cool! presets (electric instruments) and three Dynamic tones. The keyboard also features 200 different rhythms.
A brand new responsive 61-key organ-style keyboard has been introduced by Yamaha in the PSR-E443 and supports up to four sensitivity layers (Soft, Medium, Hard and Fixed), while the previous model had only two layers.
This is quite a good improvement that can be really helpful in understanding the importance of the piano dynamics, because the added sensitivity of touching the keys can bring you one step closer to feeling like your having a genuine 88-key digital piano experience—well, at least to some small relative degree.
As for the sensitivity, it’s what you expect: if you play/touch the keyboard lightly, you’ll get a softer sound. If you play harder, you’ll obviously get a much more aggressive sound. It’s very important to master the different nuances of the piano in order to learn the basics of classical music—at least if that’s your future intention.
PIANO PLAYER OR DJ?
The maximum polyphony amount is still set to 32 notes, so you’ll have to be careful while playing richer chords or phrases while pressing the sustain pedal or playing in layer mode with two different sounds. But in general, the PSR-E433 will be an optimal choice to learn piano basics before buying a proper digital piano.
Also returning from the previous model is the Yamaha Education Suite Y.E.S., a powerful Lesson mode which includes nine useful step-by-step lessons for beginners, that allow to learn how to play the left, right or both hands.
There is also a built-in music database based on 305 popular tunes, which is made even better because the machine can automatically select the best accompaniment and voices for you to play with. You can even record your own songs using the integrated recorder and later save them to a USB flash memory, as well.
Another returning feature from the PSR-E433 is the Pattern function, which allows you to instantly create grooves using the two Live Control knobs, along with the new crossfade and retrigger functions.
The Live Control knobs are helpful to control filters, effects, envelope generators and more parameters that you can assign live by pressing the Assign button. You can choose from twelve different options, including Cutoff, Resonance, Reverb, Chorus, Attack, Release, Suppressor Pan, Balance, Ultra-Wide Stereo and Retrigger Rate.
The PSR-E443 vs PSR-E433
Now, let’s analyze if it is really worth buying the new PSR-E443 keyboard from Yamaha, or if you’re better off hunting down the PSR-E433 model and using the money you save to buy a few needed accessories.
Well, as we said before, the new features included in the PSR-E443 are not so significant as to justify an upgrade from the old PSR-E433. That’s not to say that the PSR-E443 isn’t worth the money, it’s just that these two keyboards are basically the same, so if you don’t mind having a few new sounds and rhythms, the AUX input and all the related features, our advice is to look for a good offer on the web and buy the PSR-E433. If you cannot find one, then by all means spring for the E443.
Of course, if you can not find a cheaper price for the previous model at your local retailer and have to choose between the PSR-E433 and the PSR-E443 at the same price, it would be better to buy the new model and to get better touch response in the keyboard, which will help you in the long term as you eventually mature in your growth as a piano player.
But keep in mind that with the recent launch of the PSR-E443, some retailers have already dropped the PSR-E433 to an attractive $199 to $219. The PSR-E443 actually ships for roughly $249, so if you want to buy additional accessories (AC adaptor, sustain pedal and a keyboard stand) you will ultimately spend between $279 to $299.
With the same $249 price, it’s very easy to find online offers for a complete PSR-E433 starter pack, so definitely give it some thought before buying.
Yamaha has once again updated its top keyboard in the entry-level series. The new PSR-E443 is basically identical to its predecessor, but includes some new sounds, a new AUX input with two interesting modes for karaoke and playing along the backing tracks, and a new touch response keyboard that improves the sense of realism while playing the piano.
If you’re aiming to update from your PSR-E433 to the new model, there’s really no reason to do so, but if you’re looking to buy your first keyboard to learn the basics, this model will be one of your best choices to start.
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