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Korg D1 review

Korg has produced many high-end keyboards over the years that have raised the standard for all manufacturers. These days, they are on a roll in the affordable price groups, too. In this review, I am looking at one of those affordable keyboards, the Korg D1.

About the author

I’m a producer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience in the music industry. As a professional pianist, I’ve played and tested everything from a Bösendorfer Imperial concert grand piano to budget-friendly beginner keyboards.

Korg D1 digital piano/controller review
Image: Higher Hz
  • 88 weighted keys
  • 120-note polyphony
  • touch sensitivity
  • 30 voices
  •  two 1/4″ audio outputs
  • headphone jack
  • MIDI I/O

Final verdict on the Korg D1 4.5

The Korg D1 is a mid-price keyboard that I can put in the affordable bracket for regular performers. It’s not the most versatile keyboard piano by any means, but it’s solid everywhere.

It has excellent pianos and electric pianos; it’s lightweight and still robust enough for the road. A great portable keyboard piano for a gigging musician.

What I like

  • Good build quality and sleek design.
  • Great acoustic pianos.
  • Excellent electric pianos.
  • Lightweight for gigging.

What I don’t like

  • No built-in speakers.
Buy Korg D1 at: SweetwaterAmazon


Use these jump links to navigate to the desired section of the review.

Sound quality 4.5

The Korg D1 has 30 onboard sounds, split into three banks of 10. Sounds include acoustic pianos, electric pianos, organs, strings, choirs, and more.

The overall sound quality (Stereo PCM sound generation) is very good, but I wouldn’t say all sounds are even. So, if you need to stray from the acoustic and electric pianos often, it might not be the best choice.

Korg D1 sounds and voices
Image: Higher Hz

The other sounds are not bad at all, but there are a number of better options if a versatile voice list is important to you. However, if your primary concern is the piano sounds, then you’re in very good hands. There are five acoustic pianos and six modeled vintage electric pianos, and they steal the show. The grand piano sounds are rich, expressive, and have lots of character.

A common problem with keyboard pianos at this mid-price range is that they have a good base piano sound, but it lacks variation. With the Korg D1, you feel like you can clearly articulate your emotion through variations of touch.

I think Korg does electric pianos better than most, especially if you want a vintage flavor. So, I’m more than happy with the sound quality at this price.

Keyboard feel 4.7

The D1 features Korg’s Japanese-built RH3 weighted hammer-action keyboard. It has five levels of touch sensitivity, which is very useful when changing from a piano organ, etc. The keys are graded, so they are heaviest in the bass and lightest in the treble.

Korg D1 keys and feel
Image: Higher Hz

With a lightweight keyboard piano like the D1, manufacturers sometimes get the weight of the keys wrong. Sometimes they don’t offer enough resistance to feel like you can truly play with expression.

However, for the size, and weight of the Korg D1, the keys feel surprisingly realistic. They provide enough weight to make the player feel they can exploit the dynamic range of the grand piano voices.

There is a couple of lightweight, slimline keyboards that beat the D1 for a realist feel, and those are the Casio PX-S1100 and Roland’s RD-88. But, neither of them is as robust as the Korg D1.

Features 4.2

There aren’t many features to talk about with the Korg D1. What you see is what you get.

Studio-grade effects

It’s important to say studio-grade effects rather than just plain old built-in effects. Because I believe this is another area where Korg performs better than most other digital piano brands.

The upside is that the effects are fantastic quality; the downside is that there aren’t many. You get three types of brilliance, reverb, and chorus.


To enhance the piano experience, the Korg D1 accurately recreates the resonances of a grand piano. I say this all the time: it’s a feature you rarely think about until it’s poorly done, then it’s a real problem.

The resonances and mechanical noise reproduced by the D1 are tasteful, realistic, and not overwhelming.

Layer mode

You can combine two sounds to create a new layered voice.

In use 4.7

The Korg D1 is a straightforward keyboard piano with no complicated functions. While that might not sound appealing, I think it’s the simplicity that makes it attractive for the right user.

Above the keyboard, to the left, you’ll find a small but comprehensive control panel with a small LCD screen. Switching sounds and choosing effects is easy.

Korg D1 LCD screen
Image: Higher Hz

It’s a fantastic keyboard if you’re in a band and don’t need a massive arsenal of sounds. You won’t break your back carrying it around either, which is a nice change for keyboard players who are used to far heavier instruments.

It also doubles as a very good MIDI keyboard controller in the studio. The slimline design is ideal for a small home studio where space is at a premium, too.

If all you need is a controller, you should buy something cheaper. But, if you go between the stage and the studio, the D1 is awesome.

Build quality 4.7

Here’s the thing with the Korg D1: there are lighter, more portable keyboards, and there are sturdier keyboards. However, very few can offer the blend of robust build quality and portability that you get from the D1.

Korg D1 build quality
Image: Higher Hz

Even through the bumps and scrapes of gigging every weekend, you shouldn’t have any problems with the D1. There are no flimsy controls that are likely to get damaged in transit either.

Connectivity 4.0

As far as connectivity goes, the most important thing is that there are two 1/4-inch audio outputs. Some similar keyboards still rely on a headphone jack. There is one 1/4-inch headphone jack, which is enough since there is no Duo mode.

You also get MIDI in/out, which is great, but there is no USB. The lack of USB connectivity will understandably put some users off. Even though it has MIDI, people are used to the convenience of USB, so it’s a bit of a downer.

Compared to other keyboard pianos

I like the Korg D1 because it’s simple, and does the basics very well. But, if you want something with extra features, here are some possible contenders.

Korg D1 vs Roland RD-88

In my opinion, the Roland RD-88 is the best keyboard piano in its class. It’s slightly less robust than the Korg D1, but it makes up for that in many other ways.

Read the full Roland RD-88 review

Korg D1 vs Casio PX-S1100

The Privia PX-S1100 is a far more versatile keyboard piano, and it looks fantastic. But, if you don’t need more voices and better polyphony, the Korg D1 is a solid, reliable choice.

Read the full Casio Privia PX-S1100 review

Korg D1 vs Korg B2

If you are looking for something a little cheaper from Korg, the B2 is a nice alternative. It’s not as good overall, but it does have the added bonus of built-in speakers.

Read the full Korg B2 review

Who is the Korg D1 best suited for?

The Korg D1 suits performers who want something rugged and lightweight.

Buy Korg D1 at: SweetwaterAmazon