Playing a musical instrument has been proven to increase brain capacity. Not only that but – especially in young kids – piano lessons are great for improving fine motor skills and coordination too. We won’t let this article turn into a science journal, but the amount of joy and pleasure that accompanies the proven health and developmental benefits when you play the piano should serve as enough motivation for you to buy a decent piano.
So, if you’re the type who loves to tinker on the ebony and ivory keys of a decent piano – be it as a concert pianist or a total newbie player with an enthusiasm to boot, you’ll love one of the best pianos for beginners and professional players alike: The Alesis Recital.
Introducing the Alesis Recital
Since the mid-’80s, Alesis has been manufacturing electronics of the highest standard – including a wide range of digital instruments that have proven to be reliable and fun to play on. This range includes Alesis pianos, and the Alesis Recital 88-key beginner digital piano which we’ll be reviewing today. The Alesis Recital was initially designed in their USA factory, where they have been at the forefront of digital advancements and cost-cutting developmental changes – which included moving their manufacturing plant to China.
While the thought of a Chinese manufacturer scares a lot of people off buying, the good news here is that manufacturing instruments offshore often makes prices at which they are sold reasonable – as a matter of fact, the Alesis Recital is the cheapest (playable) 88 key piano with semi-weighted keys on the market today.
Speaking of the Alesis Recital, you are about to see why this is one of the best piano keyboards for beginners. Oozing with style and functionality, offered at a price that won’t break the bank, and the reputable name of Alesis stamped on the casing means that you’re getting a great piano at a great price.
Of course, we can’t review a digital piano on price and look alone – so in this review, we’ll take a comprehensive look at the pros and cons and discuss all the advantages and disadvantageous of the Alesis Recital in depth. We’ll have a look at the design, sound, and features and weigh up its pros and cons. So, after reading this article, you should be able to make an informed buying decision.
Alesis Recital review
These are all the elements and functions that make the Alesis Recital one of the best digital pianos on the market today:
This piano really should have been named the Alesis Recital 88-key beginner digital piano. Yes, we know, many avid players who currently own the Alesis Recital will be up in arms if we make it sound any less potent than it is. But, the sensational design of the body that encases the 88 keys, the simplistic style of operation, and the easy can-do attitude of this piano are IDEAL for the beginner pianist.
Let’s start with the slim physique of this piano. Ultimately, transporting this piano is a breeze, and it can be stored or packed away easily too.
The LED buttons that action the functions on this piano looks futuristic and modern – especially when you compare them to other pianos offered in the same price range.
All in all, if you go just on looks, you will undoubtedly nod your head in approval when we say that it is very clear that the designers at the Alesis plant didn’t just chuck a few keys together and plug a few buttons on it. It LOOKS like it can do the job, and everything is in proportion. The buttons, flanked by speaker covers with modern-looking corners, and even the exact placement of the sheet music stand… the looks are just testament to the incredible design of the Alesis Recital as a whole.
The Alesis Recital is packaged with a power supply cable. Set up is as easy as plug and play. Literally, Simply plug the adaptor into the power port, and switch the piano on.
The Recital also has the ability to run on batteries – so if your first-play is at a remote location, simply insert the batteries at the back in the battery port, and you’re good to go. Just remember, these batteries aren’t included in the purchase, so you’ll need to buy 6D batteries before you can operate it on battery power.
All the systems and functions on the Alesis Recital are self-explanatory and easy to master – but, it comes boxed with a comprehensive user manual too. So, after initially powering her up, you might want to refer to this manual to master all the features of this stunning piano.
The Alesis piano comes stock with 88 full-sized piano keys – meaning they are the same length and width of a traditional piano. The fact that there are 88 keys means that you’ll have the same range as that of a grand piano too!
These keys are semi-weighted, which equates to keys that respond to force and velocity inputs. If you play the keys loudly, the feedback you’ll get will be loud. And likewise, a softer touch will result in softer sounds. The keys also feature an “adjustable touch sensitivity” function which allows you to manipulate the sensitivity of the touch response to your liking.
Most beginners will prefer a more sensitive touch, and more professional players will probably want something less responsive so that they can really bang out those forte notes, and tone down considerably for the softer pianissimo notes. We’ll leave that choice and setting up to you.
The Alesis Recital takes a lot of rap when it comes to these keys, and the touch response it has. It is important to know that these keys aren’t weighted – so they do NOT feel like real piano keys. Touch response or semi-weighted keys just don’t simulate the action of graded or weighted keys, like those found in the way more expensive ranges of digital pianos and acoustic pianos. And to be fair, unless you’re buying a top-end digital piano, most digital pianos aren’t equipped with weighted keys.
The fact that the keys are essentially spring-loaded, and that you have touch sensitivity (which adjusts) means that you do get a fairly realistic feel. And, this is a way easier keyboard to play, as the semi-weighted keys aren’t as heavy as fully weighted or graded keys. Some see this as a drawback – but, this is one of the things that makes the Alesis Recital one of the best pianos for beginners.
If you’re doing long performances (like hotel pianists who perform for upwards of 3 hours at a time) having semi-weighted keys is also less of a drain on energy and stamina.
So to conclude: The keys aren’t premium range. But, they’re responsive and they are fun to play on!
Many digital pianos are equipped with sub-par speakers, with the manufacturers rating you can amplify them yourself if you need better quality or output. The Alesis Recital is NOT one of them.
The sound quality of the two 20W speakers is fantastic, and they offer a well-balanced smooth and rich sound.
Besides the reverb and chorus settings which can enrich the sound output in different rooms and situations (depending on where you’re playing on it), the Recital also has a good sort-of surround sound. The sound is cleverly programmed to distribute between the two speakers – the bass tones sound more from the left speaker, and the crisp higher notes resonate from the right with the mid-range tones being distributed between both to create a centered feel.
The stereo RCA output at the back is perfect for plugging in speakers if the need arises – such as in live-performance situations. We need to mention how awesome the sound IS that comes out of live PA/stereo systems once you plug this piano in… it really is stintingly close to the sound a grand piano would make!
The Alesis piano comes with perfectly sampled piano tones that will appease any ear. We especially like the rich sound of the lower notes, which offers the opportunity to create a perfect bass line for any melody. There are also other curated voices – such as the electric piano, pipe organ, synth and bass to choose from. Although 5 isn’t a big number, you can customize these voices by combining any two at once in the layer mode.
The Alesis Recital has a user interface that does what it needs to do without overpowering you. The buttons for accessing its features are easy to reach, and most of its features can be activated with the push of a button.
We’ve already mentioned that it has 5 voices and a customizable touch response. These are the other features that should convince you of the boundless potential of this piano:
Skoove lesson platform
We’ll start with the one feature that makes the Alesis piano stand head and shoulders above its competitors: It is fully Skoove Compatible. Skoove is an online piano instruction service that works on your piano playing skills in a progressive, easy to follow approach. This is done via manual instructions and a feedback system that simulates a one on one piano lesson.
Skoove can listen to your performance and offer real-time feedback on your playing. You can also play songs on the piano with adjustable tempo settings (that are chosen to match your level of capability) while you learn. So, set your learning tempo, and let Skoove show you how!
The folks at Alesis have thought it good to include a 3-month premium subscription with the purchase of any new Alesis Recital, which will get you on the way to becoming a Liberace if you’re not already a competent player. Skoove premium is packed with a curated catalog that contains everything from current chart hits to the most beautiful classical melodies.
The Alesis Recital has three noteworthy and very useful modes.
Transposing, Octave Shifting & Tuning
The Recital does not have a transposing function – one simple feature that shouldn’t have been left out. But then again, if you’re a beginner you won’t need it, and if you’re a professional pianist, you would be able to transpose songs on the keys yourself… so there’s that…
There is no option for octave shifting or tuning to join other instruments either. Other instrumentalists will need to tap into what you’ve got – which is pretty standard unless you start looking at the Rolls-Royce type of digital pianos.
Recording and Playback
The Alesis Recital has no recording and playback function.
The Alesis Recital 88 key is not only a full-sized piano. It is also a full-sized metronome! This piano comes with a built-in metronome, that is capable of clicking anything between 30 and 280 beats per minute. There is also a tap tempo function, which no traditional or old school wind-up metronome can replicate: simply tap the rhythm you wish to play, and the metronome will click it and keep the beat regular for you.
The Alesis Recital has a variety of different ports and connectivity options. This is a modern-day piano that has all the options the average pianist would need.
Let’s start with the standard or expected connections. First off, to power it, we have the plug-in power port. Then there’s the ¼ inch sustain pedal input, to make it easier for you to play legatos or phrase ballad-like melodies. There is also a ¼ inch stereo headphone output, which is great for students who want to practice on the piano without disturbing those around them. Playing with a decent set of stereo headphones improves the quality of the sound and the general playing pleasure you have tremendously!
There is a USB connector, which makes laying down MIDI tracks a breeze. You can use the USB connector to connect to any smartphone or device with a USB port, including a laptop or computer.
The RCA stereo output, located at the back of the Alesis’s cabinet, connects to recorders, mixers, amplifiers or any other sound system of your choice. Having RCA ports mean that you can connect this piano to a speaker system and use it as a performance instrument.
Whatever function you have in mind, the Alesis Recital will render the service required. Simply connect it to the device or system you have, and Presto… your flexible digital piano does it!
How does the Alesis Recital differ from the Alesis Recital Pro?
The Alesis Recital is one of three different models currently made by the Alesis factory.
The other two models are the Alesis Recital Pro, and the more sophisticated (and expensive) Alesis Coda Pro, which we won’t discuss in this article.
The Alesis Recital and the Alesis Recital Pro are very similar instruments. They look almost identical, and they share some of the same features. They both have 88 keys – but the biggest and most notable difference is that where the Recital has semi-weighted keys, the Alesis Recital Pro has hammer-action keys.
Furthermore, the Alesis Recital Pro features 12 instrument voices, while the Recital has only 5.
Both of these pianos share the same 20W built-in speakers and a 128 note polyphonic capability. The lesson mode is also transplanted into the Pro version, and the chorus and reverb effects are identical.
The only other benefit of the Alesis Recital Pro is that it has a record mode and an adjustable modulation function.
In the east, the saying “Same same but different” is a very popular saying – and it seems to hold true here. Sure, the Alesis Recital Pro has a few additional “pros”, but you’re essentially just buying a Recital with a better key action if you go for this one!
If you’re the lucky owner of an Alesis Recital, high five. You might want to better your playing experience with some of the following accessories:
The Alesis Recital has been well received by pianists across the globe. It seems like the general level of satisfaction is quite high – with hundreds of users providing an average rating of 4.1/5 for the Recital on Amazon.
Most users who provided reviews made comments such as “you get what you pay for”, which seems unfair but realistic at the same time. Sure, it’s not a high-end piano… but for what you pay, it seems, everyone concurs that it is a fantastic piano.
Some reviewers had much to say about the key action and mentioned it didn’t feel “great” or “right”. It goes without saying that this is not a hammer-action keyboard, and you don’t get the feel of an acoustic piano of it.
Everyone seemed to love and rave about the excellent sound quality. Many people cited how easy it is to cart the slim and lightweight body of the Alesis Recital around too.
Our favorite review was made by one user who mentioned that he is a professional pianist who has been playing for many years – and he was so impressed that he gave it a 5-star rating, citing the excellent feel and sound of the Alesis Recital as the reason.
It doesn’t matter what reason you voice for wanting or buying the Alesis Recital. It is a great beginner digital piano, and a workhorse you can rely on. There are many reasons to fall in love with the Recital – not the least the price-point at which it is offered.
The ease of operation, great key action, and phenomenal sound system add up to its appeal, and the subscription and compatibility with Skoove make the Alesis Recital the leader of the pack when it comes to 88 key digital pianos for beginners.
It is an unpretentious instrument that doesn’t even try to be an acoustic piano – but in the realm of entry-level digital pianos, it reigns supreme. We are of the opinion that the Alesis Recital will open the world of music up to anyone and everyone – and we conclude that this IS a great digital piano and a must-buy!
It doesn’t really matter where you fall on the spectrum of piano playing ability – the Alesis Recital can do it all. It functions perfectly well as a beginner’s keyboard, and it is the ultimate travel partner for the gigging pianist.
If we’re perfectly honest, a lot of the digital pianos currently flooding our shores have too many features (and unfortunately, a lot of them don’t have ANY). In this regards, the elegant, easy-to-use Alesis Recital 88-key piano has proven to be the ultimate middle-of-the-road solution, it’s sleek, semi-weighted keys are fun to play on, and easy to use.
Bearing these facts, and the low, low price point in mind, we score this piano at 5/5, the most we could give it.
Casio PX 160 (full review)
The first big difference between the two is the price at which they sell. The Alesis is WAY cheaper.
Both offer 88 keys – although the action is slightly better on the PX160’s tri-sensor hammer-action keys. Both have 128-note polyphony, and both have split and layering functions. The Casio has more voices (13, versus the Alesis’s 5), but no teaching function that comes close to that of the Alesis.
The Yamaha P-45 (full review)
The Yamaha P-45 is another old favorite and a best seller from the Yamaha stable. We know Yamaha as a manufacturer of fantastic pianos, and the P45 is their version of the entry-level digital piano. It is slightly more expensive than the Alesis Recital, but probably its fiercest competitor.
The P-45, like the Recital, has 88 keys. The keys are graded hammer keys, with weighted action. They are much better to play on, BUT only capable of a 64-note polyphony (versus the Alesis’s 128).
The 10 built-in tones are more than what is on offer from the folks at Alesis, but the meager 7w speakers come nowhere near the 20w speaker system of the Alesis.
The Yamaha P-45 is a solid piano, and if you’re a Yamaha fan, you’ll probably see more good than bad in it, and you won’t necessarily be wrong!