Korg is known for making some of the best modern digital pianos on the market. In this Korg C1 Air review, I’m looking at a piano that showcases that modern, sleek design. I will discuss the most important aspects of the piano, like how it sounds and feels, along with interesting design and functionality features.
If you want a slimline digital piano, Korg is usually a solid choice; let’s see if the C1 Air meets expectations.
About the author
- 88 weighted keys
- 120-note polyphony
- built-in speakers
- 30 voices
- 1/8″ audio out
- two headphone outs
- MIDI I/O
Final verdict on the Korg C1 Air
The C1 Air is a fantastic modern digital piano that sounds amazing and does most things very well indeed. The price tag means I have to judge it against some very stiff competition, and that’s reflected in my scores. But, if you want a slimline piano with dozens of high-quality sounds, it’s outstanding.
What I like
- Outstanding grand pianos.
- 30 voices (including excellent electric pianos).
- RH3 keyboard.
- Sleek design.
- Built-in recorder.
What I don’t like
- Slimline design won’t suit everyone.
- In a very competitive price range.
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The Korg C1 Air features 30 voices, which makes it a relatively versatile digital piano. Grand piano sounds are always the most important, so that’s where I’ll start. The flagship sounds come from Korg’s German and Japanese concert grand piano voices.
Experience has taught me to have high expectations regarding Korg piano sounds; as you can see, I’ve given a pretty high rating.
The German concert grand sound is rich, powerful, and has incredible depth at the low end. It’s ideal for classical music, especially dynamic pieces that use all keyboard ranges, because you can hear that stunning clarity through all 88 keys. The Japanese concert grand is equally nice, but it’s brighter and lovely for jazz or pop music.
The other reason I gave a high score is the variety of sound. The 30 onboard sounds include stunning electric pianos (an area where Korg excels) that are both soulful and funky. You’ll also get gorgeous tonewheel organs, funky clavs, a surprisingly good acoustic guitar, and more.
I gave the acoustic guitar a special mention because it’s often a sound that goes unused on keyboards/digital pianos, but this one has some potential.
Honestly, the difference in speaker systems from one piano to the next isn’t always too substantial. I don’t see massive variation because they all do a similar job, regardless of price; they fill a small room/space, that’s it.
The C1 Air has two 3.9-inch speakers powered by dual 25-watt amplifiers, which is about as powerful as you’ll get in this range. But, rather than focus on power and loudness, the more critical aspect is clarity and articulation; it’s about hearing those stunning piano sounds as Korg intended them to be heard.
In that regard, the built-in speakers perform well. Nothing seems to get muddy or harsh, whether you’re playing ballads, ragtime, or hammering out death metal covers.
The Korg C1 Air has an RH3 keyboard, which means it has real weighted hammer-action keys. Real weighted refers to the lower keys being heavier, and the higher keys are lighter, as they are on a real acoustic piano.
It’s fair to expect a digital piano at this price to have graded weight keys; unfortunately, they don’t all have a realistic weight progression. In this case, the progression is excellent; the keys aren’t precisely like an acoustic piano (very few are), but it’s close, and the action is realistic.
When I say the action is realistic, I mean the keys reset sensibly, meaning you certainly feel the weight, but you can still play at speed with dynamics.
There are five levels of touch sensitivity: Light, Normal, Heavy, Stable, and Steady. These varying levels are a great addition to the weighted keys and allow different players to find the perfect balance.
If I had to be critical, a few digital pianos in the same (or similar) price range feel a little better, but the C1 Air isn’t far behind.
Digital pianos aren’t typically packed with features, as they emulate a real instrument. But, it’s always good to have a few handy features that enhance the experience or assist practice/creativity.
Partner mode is a keyboard split mode that creates two equal zones for student/teacher practice.
Bluetooth audio receiver
Streaming audio via Bluetooth means you can jam along to backing tracks or listen to songs you want to learn. It’s a great way to make practice a little more exciting.
The C1 Air features Split and Layer modes. These modes allow you to create split zones across the keyboard and layer multiple sounds to create a new voice.
It’s common for digital pianos to recreate any resonant or mechanical noises produced by a real piano. The trouble is sometimes they go too far and become too intrusive. Korg has never struggled in this department; it’s all tastefully done and adds to the realism.
Korg provides a built-in recorder capable of capturing up to 14,000 notes.
Whether it’s the C1 Air or any other digital piano, I can’t stress enough the importance of recording and listening to your practice or performances. It’s the best way to spot bad habits early before they develop further.
The control panel on the C1 Air is more like a keyboard than a typical digital piano. It has dedicated buttons for instrument sounds with a Bank button to shuffle through variations. Next to a large Volume knob are dedicated buttons for the built-in effects, Piano Song, Function, and Transpose.
The control panel also has a small screen that you can set to display the Tempo, Song, or Measure. Next to the display are some basic transport controls and the all-important Metronome switch that beginners should love.
It has more buttons than some digital pianos, but it’s straightforward, even for kids and beginners.
You might look at the score and think it doesn’t seem overly impressive, but remember, this is a very streamlined digital piano. I’ve rated pianos of a similar design far lower, and I think my score reflects that even with such a slim unit, Korg has made a quality instrument.
It doesn’t have the reassuring weight of more substantial pianos, but all parts feel more than secure. The keyboard lid, in particular, feels great, as do the controls/buttons.
The C1 Air is hand-built in Kyoto, Japan, and I can’t say every manufacturer delivers the same hand-built attention to detail.
Connectivity isn’t vast, but all of the basics are well-covered. You get two 1/8-inch TRS headphone jacks and a single 1/8-inch TRS audio output. You also get 5-pin MIDI In/Out, and Bluetooth is the icing on the cake.
Compared to other digital pianos
As always, I have a few of my favorite alternatives for you to consider. But you can also check out my recommendations for the best digital pianos to buy.
Korg C1 Air vs Korg LP-380U
If you want something cheaper that still has the Korg name and sound, the LP-380U is an excellent option. It’s not quite as good, but it offers many of the same features.
Korg C1 Air vs Kawai KDP120
I have said it many times, but I’ll repeat it: I love the KDP120. It might not be everyone’s favorite, but do not buy another piano at the same price until you check it out.
Korg C1 Air vs Casio AP-470
The AP-470 is a fantastic digital piano with a far more traditional image. If you want something that looks a little more substantial, this one’s great.
Who is the Korg C1 Air best suited for?
The C1 Air digital piano suits all players, especially those who want more than a great acoustic piano sound.Buy Korg C1 Air at: SweetwaterAmazon