I recently demoed the PSR-E453, a 61 key digital keyboard made by Yamaha. It’s part of the PSR series, which also has the E253 and the E353, as well as a few other models.
In this review, I’ll dissect the PSR-E453, including breaking down its sounds, buttons, screen, learning and recording function and more. I’ll also talk about how it compares to some of the other great keyboards in its family, such as the Yamaha PSR E-443, PSR-E253, PSR-E353, and the new PSR-EW400.
And below, please take a look at our interactive table that allows you the ability to compare and contrast the Yamaha PSR-E463 (the successor the PSR-E453) to other excellent keyboards worthy of your consideration.
|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)|
Yamaha’s PSR-E453 has some pretty awesome features. But let’s talk about how it looks first.
It’s lightweight plastic, but it’s a matte black color with standard black and white keys. They keys are full-sized and they look great. Now, on some keyboards, the keys appear solid, like on a real grand piano. On this keyboard, the keys hang and stick straight out. There’s a gap below them that allows you to press them all the way down.
This is extremely common for a keyboard to have; it’s nothing unusual, but it’s worth noting because some people prefer thicker keys.
Despite the slimmer look, they’re still very standard and comfortable to press. The face of the keyboard gradually slants down like a ramp and flattens out horizontally where the keys attach. This allows you to see all of the buttons more easily without having to lean over the keyboard.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best selling keyboards online:
|1) Yamaha P-45|
|2) Casio PX-360|
|3) Alesis Recital Pro|
|4) Casio CDP-S350|
|5) Casio PXS-1100|
There are two speakers, each covered in a mesh-like speaker cover.
The screen lit up blue when I turned on the keyboard, and the display was easy for me to read. Surrounding the screen is a gloss black border that makes the middle of the keyboard’s face all shiny and sleek looking.
It certainly drew my attention to the screen. That’s a clever design element by Yamaha that helps the user know where the screen is even when they’re not looking at it.
The buttons are matte black as well, so it can be a little confusing to look at them and find the button you want to press, but they’re all labeled so I had no trouble finding the button I was looking for. The master volume is a knob, but they are two other knobs below it.
These knobs are really cool, and I’ll talk about what they do a little later. I personally like the variety that comes with having knobs, buttons, and sliders on keyboards, because it makes it look professional.
Besides the buttons, there’s also a wheel that scrolls through all of the sounds. It was easy for me to use and I had no trouble getting through all the patches quickly. But if you have a specific sound in mind, there’s also a keypad where you can enter the number of the patch you want for even quicker access. This knob is cool looking and easy to use, so I think it’s a win.
This keyboard also has ridges engraved in the plastic on the face of the keyboard, giving it a nice texture instead of a flat, plain, boring surface. Design wise, it’s pretty cool looking.
Features of the PSR-E453
I was very impressed by the amount of features this keyboard has. But more than that, I was surprised by how well they all work together.
Before I get into specifics, I’d like to talk about the kind of player Yamaha is trying to market the PSR-E453 toward, which is beginners. And I can understand that. There’s a lot of useful features for beginners here that professionals probably wouldn’t need or enjoy.
Take the learning feature, for instance. I played around with this one for a while. As someone who knows the names of all the notes, can play chords, knows how to play to a metronome, and can read sheet music, I’ll admit this feature isn’t meant for me.
However, if you aren’t fluent in everything I just talked about, you’ll love this learning feature. Not only is it comprehensive, it actually works. You can practice listening to a melody, and play it back to see if you heard it right.
That’s pretty great.
You also have a timing and waiting learning function, as is standard with all of the beginner keyboards by Yamaha. As I played with the learning function, I enjoyed the feedback as displayed by the screen, telling me whether I did it correctly or needed to try again.
It’s a helpful way to build up your skills.
So what other features might be geared more toward beginners? Well, if you want to get started on the recording process and learn how it works, this keyboard gives you a six track recorder.
This is perfect for people who need to learn more about how playing with a band works. You’ll have your rhythm section, bass, guitar, keyboards, and then any melody you put on top of it.
While it might not be the most flexible recording system, it’s a ton of fun.
I made a couple great ideas on this keyboard when I played it that I hope to take into the studio later and turn into real songs. The beauty of this keyboard is that it’s a great launching point. You’ll be able to brainstorm new ideas and melodies, regardless of your playing skill.
A lot of the other features are fantastic, too. The DJ pattern, for instance, allows you to practice writing chords and beats in the EDM genre, to introduce you to the elements used in DJ production.
Add the digital effects to this and you’ve got a pretty impressive beat to do what you want with. Of course, there are plenty of other styles to play along to, including some rock, hip-hop, and jazzy backing tracks. I grew up playing jazz, so messing around with those rhythms is both refreshing and fun.
The keyboard can actually follow your chords in real time, so the guitars and bass will play the same notes (or notes in the same scale) as you. You have standard voice control on this keyboard, which allows you to split the sounds down the middle of the keyboard or layer them together.
Also included is an arpeggiator, which is a note sequencer that turns your chord into a melodic pattern, and a harmonizer, which allows you to harmonize with yourself.
Other features include a metronome and tempo tap, as well as a time signature adjuster. You can also press the demo button for some really well produced demo tracks you can play along to as well.
Buttons, Knobs, and Sound
If you look at the keyboard, you’ll see a button labeled “portable grand.” This button takes you back to the default sound when pressed, so only press it if you’re lost and you need to get back to the beginning. I was on a certain patch and wanted to turn on the metronome, but accidentally pressed the portable grand and lost my settings.
It’s a great feature, just be careful.
The last incredible feature I want to mention is the live controller knobs. These are the two knobs I mentioned earlier. You can assign these knobs to different effects, including envelopes like cutoff and resonance, retrigger rate, reverb, chorus, and more.
These are definitely pro terms, which makes me wonder why Yamaha included these features on this keyboard if it’s allegedly a starter keyboard. I can’t complain though, these knobs are a huge plus for me. I like sound design a lot, which means I like to customize my sounds.
These knobs allow you to put effects on the patches you like for the perfect sound you’re looking for. Plus, you can modulate the effects in real time just by turning them. It’s like a little intro to synthesizers, I think. For beginners who want to learn a little more about how to modify sounds, these knobs are perfect.
How does this keyboard sound?
The piano is deep, warm, and responds well to the sensitivity. Normally I have issues with the saxophone sounds on Yamaha’s entry-level keyboards, but not on this one. It sounds real, and I was pleasantly surprised.
If you pick up this keyboard, try soloing a saxophone over a smooth jazz backing track. It’ll change your life.
I really don’t have a lot of complaints about the sounds in this keyboard. Even if something doesn’t sound quite right, you can modify the sound with the live knobs to get it where you want. Yamaha definitely did well in terms of sound production.
The PSR-E453 is fairly light (14 lbs., not including batteries), so it’s portable and easy to lift. Here are some of the specs that you can expect to find on the keyboard:
- 2 6W speakers
- USB to Host
- 48 note polyphony (which is good for a 61 key keyboard)
- 758 Voices
- 220 Styles
- Aux In
- Sustain Pedal
- DC IN 12V power (comes with power supply when purchased)
Yamaha PSR-E453 vs E443
The PSR-E453 is a mild improvement on the E443. The E443 is the older model, and definitely lacks some of the great features present on the new E453, such as louder speakers, a higher polyphony count, and more sounds to choose from.
It still has the live knobs, the learning function, and the recording function. However, if looks count, the E443 is lacking a bit in this department too (although beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder). Still, to me, the E453 looks fancier, more professional, and cleaner overall. The knobs feel sturdier and the organization of the buttons are better too.
Yamaha PSR-E453 vs E353 vs E253
How about the younger brothers? The E353 and the E253 are part of the same family, but they have fewer sounds to choose from compared to the E453, they’re not quite as handsome as the E453, and the polyphony is limited compared to the E453.
They also don’t have six-track recording, and they do not come with live control buttons or a DJ pattern option.
I would describe these two as watered down (and no doubt cheaper) versions of the E453. Not quite as nice, and not as many features, but still great for beginners.
Yamaha PSR-E453 vs EW400
Lastly, let’s look at the EW400, which is kind of like the fraternal twin of the PSR-E453.
There are actually only a few differences, and they’re small. For instance, the EW400 is a 76 key digital piano instead of a 61 key. It still has the exact number of sounds, recording, and learning. And it even feels pretty much the same.
So the only reason to spend the extra money would be to likely get the extra keys.
I had a lot of fun with the E453. It’s not perfect, but no beginner keyboard is.
Still, for what it’s tasked to do (and for the intended demographic that will be using it, which could include children), it’s a very nice keyboard for the price.
GRADE: 4/5 stars
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