Right from the start, the Williams Legato 88-key Digital Piano has something that other keyboards in its class don’t – the number of keys is extraordinary. Usually, electronic keyboards only have 61 keys, or less often 76 keys. But a digital piano with 88 keys is something you rarely see.
61 keys are often enough for beginners to start learning the instrument, but after 2 or 3 years you learn most songs that can be played on that many keys and you need to evolve. With 88 keys, this digital piano has the same number of octaves as a full-sized piano. Of course, the quality of the sound and the overall size is not the same, but you can still play all of the music pieces that can be played on a piano.
With the split function, which basically splits the keyboard into two smaller ones attached one to another, the large number of keys is even better, as you then have 44 keys for each player. This is why this instrument is great for beginners because a teacher can be playing on one side of the digital piano, while the student is one the other side, learning and observing.Buy from Amazon.com for ($389)
Taking into account that this keyboard feels like it’s one made for beginners, and it can truly help them, it’s a pity that it doesn’t come with more accessories. You don’t get a full package, but rather the keyboard itself and nothing else.
This is at first a problem from a monetary point of view – what’s the idea of buying something cheap if you can’t use it to its full potential? You need to get everything from the stand the digital piano will stay on to a pair of headphones and maybe pedals if you want to feel like playing a real piano.
Main features explained
When you have a digital piano, you ideally want it to mimic the feel of a real piano as close as possible. The feel of a piano is best portrayed in the keys the electronic keyboard has. When you press them, you have to imagine yourself playing the piano. But in order to do that, they have to act the same.
How does a digital keyboard manage to do that? By weighting the keys. In a real piano, the keys require a certain power to be pushed and they come back up differently. The keys that are closer to the right side, meaning that they produce higher-pitched sounds are lighter to touch, while those on the left side, producing the bass sounds, are heavier.
This is because in a piano the heavy keys need more power in order to strike the heavier strings found inside the piano. In an acoustic piano, this weight feels natural and helps our minds recognize how hard we should press a key or not. If you press softly, the note will be soft.
Digital pianos don’t work the same and they don’t have this mechanism. But they still need to replicate that, for the feeling to be a natural one. To emulate the acoustic piano, weighted keyboards actually have weights under each key. The difference between weighted and semi-weighted digital pianos is the fact that the second ones also come with a set of springs that help the keys rise back up.
There is also the issue of graded keys. In this piano, that is not the case, unfortunately. Graded keys mean that those keys that produce the bass sounds should be harder to use than the ones on the higher-pitch end of the keyboard, in a graded manner.
Controls and interface
Given that this is a beginner instrument, you shouldn’t expect much from its interface. It does a decent job for what the digital piano is designed. It is a basic interface that gives you all the controls and knobs needed. However, the main disadvantage is that it has no display, so you don’t really know what settings you are on at all times.
Furthermore, the digital piano doesn’t come with a recording function, and you can’t immortalize the moments you achieve playing it, or the ideas you come across. But then again, this is one of the most accessible such keyboards that you can find, and you shouldn’t expect too much from it. You get a power switch, the volume knob, and you will be pleased to find out that each of the sound effects has its own button.
What’s good, however, is that you can find separate controls for tempo mode and metronome mode. You will also find buttons that separately control the 5 built-in sounds and a button on which you can activate the split mode. It’s not a complicated device and that is the advantage of being so simple.
On the front panel, you can find the speakers, placed on the sides. They aren’t the best speakers around but they still do a decent job, so there is no need for you to go and purchase a pair of powerful speakers. However, if you want to feel the atmosphere and get to play better, a pair of headphones would be recommended.
As you might expect, connectivity ports can be found on the back. You get a port for a MIDI interface and a slot for USB connections. The keyboard has a jack where you can plug a sustain pedal, although the pedal itself is not included in the package.
When discussing an instrument it’s impossible not to talk about the sound it can produce. Once again, because this is an instrument meant to be played by beginners, and thus it is pretty affordable, it won’t have the best sound. It is decent for most players, but if you want something professional, you will have to look elsewhere.
One small good thing that can be said about this digital piano’s sound, however, is the fact that it produces a warm sound, but with tradeoffs. While the middle section of the keyboard is pretty good, the high and low ends are not so much. The mid keys produce a more natural tonality, but when pressing keys that create high-pitched notes, it’s clear that these notes are digitalized.
A beginner might not be upset about that, but for a professional, or for someone expecting the sound of an acoustic piano, it’s disturbing for the ear. Furthermore, the low-end notes are not powerful enough and they feel like the piano is losing its voice when playing them.
However, this problem might be caused by the speakers. When tests were made with headphones and amplifiers, the bass was clearer and it came out with more volume. Even though it could be better, when listening to the keyboard like that, the sound is actually good.
When discussing the built-in sounds they are decent too. Again, nothing extraordinary, but not very bad either. There is one interesting choice that the company took when creating this instrument. The number of sounds is limited, but they decided to include organs in their built-in sounds but didn’t include strings, which are a basic function for most digital pianos.
Strings are also better for layering and allow for more creativity, but it’s probable that the manufacturers just wanted to give more keyboard-related sounds to the beginner players.
Body and design
Making a digital piano that comes with as many keys as a real acoustic piano, the full set, is quite expensive. And as a result, the company needs to cut costs somewhere. The manufacturer’s decision was to invest less in the materials used for creating the body of the instrument.
It is a keyboard that looks cheap and the plastic it is made of also feels cheap. The plastic is durable enough, but if you have worked with other keyboards before you can feel that it is of lower quality. The same can be said about the buttons and knobs and the mechanisms that hold everything together.
Thus, don’t expect much from this digital keyboard in terms of design and aesthetics. It was made to be efficient, not pretty. On the other hand, it does have some advantages, mainly the fact that this keyboard is really light and compact. Fitting all those electronics in this small frame is an impressive feat.
It is one of the lightest full-sized digital keyboards out there and for that reason, it is an excellent choice for those that travel a lot and have to carry their instrument with them. If you are careful enough not to smash it into something, you should have a long collaboration with this keyboard.
Speaking about that, it might be important to remember you that the keyboard doesn’t come with anything else. And that includes the fact that it has no protective case, and when moving something so fragile you need such a case. Invest your money in a hard case that can protect a keyboard like this. Don’t worry if the case is more expensive than you might expect, you will probably someday get to the point of changing this keyboard for a professional one and you will still need the case.Buy from Amazon.com for ($389)