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The Yamaha CK88 and CK61 are two of Yamaha’s newest stage pianos, which debuted at NAMM 2023. I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours with them that day, and I believe you are in for a pleasant surprise. In this review, I will break down my full thoughts on the Yamaha CK88 and tell you whether or not it’s a good purchase.
The CK88 and CK61 offer a range of features that make them ideal for on-the-go performance, including built-in speakers, battery power, and extensive connectivity options.
One of the standout features of these keyboards is their build quality. The CK88 and CK61 are well-constructed with sturdy materials that can withstand the rigors of touring. The keyboard bed is also comfortable to play on, with responsive and natural keys under your fingers.
But it’s not just about durability – these keyboards also deliver sound quality, with a wide range of presets available to suit any style or genre. Plus, with their extensive connectivity options, you can easily integrate them into any live setup or recording studio.
If you want a portable keyboard with extensive connectivity options and impressive voices/key action, Yamaha’s CK88 and CK61 keyboards are perfect. These models have drawbars, envelope and filter controls, USB audio/MIDI interface, and battery power. They are lightweight and can be powered by eight AA batteries, making them ideal for on-the-go use.
The three-part sound architecture is designed for easy switching between sounds. The built-in effects include filters, envelopes, modulation processors, delay, and reverb. There’s also a final global effects section featuring a master EQ. The intuitive control has all the important parameters under your hands, making it easy to customize your sound according to your preferences.
Both the CK88 and CK61 feature dedicated organ drawbar controls. The former has Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keys that provide a more piano-like experience. At the same time, the latter features lightweight Future System Basic (FSB) keys with an action inspired by old Electone organs. With Bluetooth audio connectivity, mic/line-in, MIDI/DAW control, and audio interfacing capabilities included in both models, these keyboards offer everything you need for an enjoyable playing experience, whether at home or on stage.
One of the things that surprised me outside of the patch quality with the CK series was the weight. This is a powerful keyboard that comes in, weighing just 28.8 lbs.
- Type:Stage Piano
- Sound Engine:AWM2, AWM (Organ Flutes)
- Number of Keys:88 Weighted Keys
- Type of Keys:GHS Keyboard, Matte Black Keytops
- Other Controllers:2 x Mod Wheel, 13 x Faders
- Polyphony:128 Notes
- Presets:363 voices, 160 Live Set Sounds
- Effects:4 x Delay, 3 x Reverb, 3-band Master EQ
- Audio Inputs:2 x 1/4″ (L/mono, R)
- Audio Outputs:2 x 1/4″ (L/mono, R)
- Headphones:1 x 1/4″ TRS
- USB:1 x Type B, 1 x Type A
- MIDI I/O:In/Out/USB
- Bluetooth:Yes, Audio Input
- Pedal Inputs:2 x 1/4″
- Built-in Speakers:2 x 4.72″
- Amplifier:2 x 6W
- Display:Full Dot LCD
- Power Supply:PA150
- Weight:28.8 lbs.
The build quality of these keyboards is top-notch. They have a sturdy feel and well-designed controls that make it easy to access all the features. The CK88 and CK61 have a sleek and modern design that looks great on stage or in your home studio. The buttons, knobs, and sliders are well-placed and feel solid when used.
One standout feature is the customizable color coding of switches, which makes it easy to remember what each button does. The keyboard feels durable but not so heavy that it’s difficult to transport. The CK88 has Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keys for a more piano-like experience, while the CK61 features lightweight Future System Basic (FSB) keys with an action inspired by old Electone organs.
Overall, if you’re looking for a portable keyboard that doesn’t sacrifice quality for convenience, either of these models would be an excellent choice. They offer plenty of connectivity options, robust sound architecture, and intuitive control, all wrapped up in a package that’s built to last. Whether you’re a gigging musician or just need something to practice at home, Yamaha’s new CK series keyboards have been delivered again.
As you run your fingers over the keys of the CK88, you’ll notice the graded hammer standard action keybed of the former and lightweight Future System Basic keys with an action inspired by old Electone organs in the latter, providing a comfortable and responsive keyboard bed for playing.
The CK88’s GHS keys give a more piano-like experience with heavier initial key resistance. In contrast, the CK61’s FSB keys are designed to be lightweight for portability and have increased key travel for expressive playing.
Both keyboards offer three keyboard zones or layers to create more complex patches, making it easy to switch between sounds. The customizable color coding of switches and dedicated organ drawbar controls add to their intuitive control.
With this level of attention paid to detail in their design, both models provide an enjoyable playing experience. Whether you prioritize fully weighted keys for piano pieces or prefer a lighter touch for organ playing on the go, Yamaha has created two impressive options in their CK series keyboards.
Overall, they offer a comfortable and responsive keyboard bed that will meet your needs as a player.
Explore the wide range of sounds and presets available on these keyboards, allowing you to switch between instruments and genres as you play seamlessly.
The CK88 and CK61 offer a three-part sound architecture designed for easy switching between sounds, making it effortless to create complex patches. With customizable color coding of switches and dedicated organ drawbar controls, you can easily access the settings you need.
The built-in effects include filters, envelopes, modulation processors, delay, reverb, and a final global effects section with a master EQ. This allows you to contour your sound to fit any music style or venue.
The electric piano samples are fantastic, with particularly cool presets included in the built-in live sets;. At the same time, the organs are fabulous with AWM organ flute engine inherited from Reface YC keyboards, physical drawbars, organ percussion, and effects section, and onboard rotary speaker controls with rotary on/off and rotary speed.
With all these features at your fingertips, the Yamaha CK88 and CK61 make it easier to explore new sounds in your playing. Whether you’re experimenting with different genres or looking for more versatility in your music-making process, these keyboards have covered you. So why not use their vast array of sounds and presets today?
Connectivity is one of the standout features of these keyboards, allowing for seamless integration with other equipment and devices. The CK61 boasts excellent connectivity options, with all ports labeled on the top of the keyboard.
Foot pedals can be configured to do specific things within live sets, while the switch to enable or disable speakers has no effect if headphones are connected. The CK series also offers dependable Bluetooth connectivity and streams external audio into the keyboard’s headphones, speakers, and audio outputs.
MIDI DIN in and out ports allow for connecting the keyboard to other keyboards or MIDI sound sources and using it to trigger those sounds. The USB TO Host port has a built-in audio interface and sends audio data in both directions.
These keyboards are super impressive when it comes to voices and connectivity. Whether a beginner or an advanced musician, you’ll appreciate how easily connecting with other instruments or devices is.
With their customizable color coding of switches, dedicated organ drawbar controls, lightweight design for portability, three-part sound architecture designed for easy switching between sounds, and more – these keyboards genuinely offer something for everyone!
VS Roland RD88
When choosing between the Yamaha CK88/CK61 and the Roland RD88, imagine two heavyweight contenders stepping into the ring. Both are highly respected brands in the music industry, with a wealth of experience in creating high-quality keyboards. However, when you compare the features of these two models side by side, some notable differences may sway your decision.
One area where Yamaha shines is with their sound quality. The CK series offers sounds from different instrument categories with filter and envelope controls for contouring synth sounds and drawbars for real-time adjustment of organ sounds. The piano also has fantastic electric piano samples and cool presets in the built-in live sets. In contrast, while Roland’s sound engine is capable, it doesn’t quite match Yamaha’s offerings in terms of variety and quality.
Ultimately though, both models have their strengths, and it will come down to personal preference when making your decision.
To sum up, you’ll be impressed with the intuitive controls and customizable features of the Yamaha CK88 and CK61 portable keyboards.
They’re an excellent option for musicians seeking lightweight, versatile instruments. With three keyboard zones to create complex patches, built-in effects including filters and envelopes, and dedicated organ drawbar controls, these keyboards offer endless possibilities for sound creation.
The CK88’s Graded Hammer Standard keys provide a more piano-like experience, while old Electone organs inspire the CK61’s Future System Basic keys. Both models have Bluetooth audio connectivity, mic/line-in ports, MIDI/DAW control capabilities, and audio interfacing options. And with customizable color coding of switches and an easy-to-use interface, these keyboards are perfect for beginners and professionals.
Overall, the Yamaha CK88 and CK61 portable keyboards are impressive instruments that offer great value for their price.
Will you be trying out the CK series? Let us know in the comments below.