The digital piano and the synthesizer seem to have been with us for a long time. But, in truth, it hasn’t been that long. The first digital piano was the “Yamaha Clavinova,” which was on the market at the same time as the Yamaha PF piano series as well as the early DX synthesizers. They were all released in a similar period.
The Alesis Prestige Artist is quite a few steps along the road from those instruments, as we shall find out in my in-depth Alesis Prestige Artist 88 Key Digital Piano Review.
Forging The Way
And they did in the early days. The YP Clavinova and the PF models didn’t have the programming possibilities of the DX synths. With their FM architecture, the YP/PF models were presented to us as keyboards but with an orientation towards the piano.
The FM synthesis was a very broad design of generating sound, but it was excellent at being able to create two things:
- A very good percussive attack – essential to get an accurate piano sound.
- Elaborate harmonic structures – better to simulate the acoustic piano’s upper harmonics.
But Were the YP/PF Products the First?
Yamaha again produced the GS1 in 1981. It looked just like a piano, gave you a full range of piano sounds, but it used FM synthesis, so it was digital. It wasn’t a mass-market instrument and was only for the select few because of its cost. But you could argue that it was the first.
The Arrival of Alesis
It was at about the same time that a new company was flexing its muscles. Not at first with digital pianos. Those came later. But with their ground-breaking semiconductor chip designs, they made high-quality studio recording products that were available to everyone.
Their range of digital reverbs, including the MidiVerb and MicroVerb, as well as their excellent affordable drum machines such as the SR-16, were highly thought of, as were their mixers and consoles. And it was a very small step from there to synthesizers and on to digital pianos.
Under The Radar
In many ways, for their digital pianos, they sometimes slip a bit under the radar. After all, they are competing in the same marketplace as Kawai, Korg, Casio, Roland, and the mighty Yamaha. That is always going to be a tough battle to win.
The release of the Alesis Prestige Artist Digital Piano with 88 keys is a direct placement in the same marketplace. Can it hold up against them? Let’s find out.
Alesis Prestige Artist 88 Key Digital Piano – Overview
This is a digital piano that has been designed to sit in a certain space. That is, it will accommodate the starter and beginner through to the more experienced players. As a result, it’s one of the best mid range digital pianos on the market. It is not a piano that is going to appeal to the professional player. But then the price point isn’t that level either.
An Important Market
Some may not agree, but it is the beginner that, in many ways, is the most important market to be in. Tomorrow’s professionals are today’s beginners.
Manufacturers need to provide instruments that fire up the imagination. Create excitement. And make the beginner want to spend hours at their piano practicing. This is a digital piano that is designed to do just that. Meaning it’s one of the best digital pianos for beginners you can buy.
We will be considering all the features that this digital piano offers but let’s consider a few here. For the beginner, there are excellent learning and teaching aids built-in.
This offers students and their teacher’s access at the same time via keyboard split. And there is a Recording Mode that allows you to listen back to what you are doing. This is invaluable to a new player. They can hear what they need to be working on.
256 Polyphonic and 30 Voices
Once you have begun to understand and improve, this makes a great asset to what sounds you can achieve. Assisted by split and layer modes, this gives you endless music creation opportunities.
Add on to this a very powerful arpeggiator and an LCD, OLED screen, giving you all the displays you need. You have a piano with great potential. So, let’s see exactly what the Alesis Prestige Digital Piano offers.
If you have been around long enough to remember the Rhodes pianos, you might notice a certain likeness in the design of this Alesis piano.
The Rhodes, invented by Harold Rhodes and later to become the Fender Rhodes, was a must-have instrument in the 70s and 80s. If you played keyboard on stage, you probably used one of those.
The Control Panel
We shall consider the controls in more detail, but there is something worth mentioning here. As with those Rhodes pianos, the instrument panel on this digital piano is facing you.
Easy to see, easy to use. Almost like a breath of fresh air that you haven’t got to lean over your keyboard at a myriad of controls and buttons. And having to use binoculars to try and read them. In other words, it’s one of the easiest to use digital pianos on the market.
Sometimes you can pick up a keyboard or a digital piano, and it just feels a bit weak in its construction. A bit vulnerable. Not so with this. It has a solid feel to it indicating they have used quality plastics and materials in its construction.
That gives you the confidence to carry it with you if you need to without fear of it getting damaged. It measures 52.04 by 11.69 by 5.87 inches and weighs 28.2 pounds. It is made in China, but don’t consider that a negative.
There are 88 full-size keys as on a traditional full-size acoustic piano. These are fully weighted and designed to have a graded hammer action. This creates a feel under your fingers that you’re playing a real acoustic piano.
A good addition is the four velocity curves that allow you to choose what is best for your style of playing. Therefore, it is a highly versatile 88-key digital piano.
What Are Velocity Curves?
It is a parameter that is designed into some, but not all keyboards. It takes the velocity values of the player and translates them into alternative velocities to change the feel of the instrument.
There is a small, centrally-located LCD with a high-contrast OLED screen amongst the other controls. This gives you up-to-date information.
A big plus with this keyboard is the quality of the built-in amplification and speaker systems. The amp will deliver 50 watts of peak power. To accommodate that volume, the speakers have to be adequate.
Alesis has made sure there are no problems in that area fitting four woofers and four radiators. These eight speakers ensure a good volume with no distortion or overload.
I have already mentioned the front-facing control panel, which contains the most used options. The LCD, as I mentioned, has a high-contrast OLED, or “organic light-emitting diode” screen.
This screen is a step up from the usual basic LCD screens, which can be difficult to read in sunlight. Therefore, all settings are displayed very clearly.
The encoder control is particularly useful with its use of tactile confirmation of settings you choose. Simply scroll through all the various functions, choose which you want, and press down on the knob to choose that parameter.
Sockets And Connections
Another useful front-facing addition comes with the headphone jack. No more leaning over the keyboard trying to find where to plug your headphones in round the back. It’s looking at you. They are positioned underneath the lower lip of the keyboard out of the way.
Alesis realizes that not everyone has the same size headphone jack. Therefore, they have given you both options. No need for adapters. When you use your headphones, it mutes the internal speakers. As a result, it’s one of the best digital pianos with headphones on the market.
Round the back
There are stereo ¼-inch TRS outputs that allow you to connect up to more powerful amplification if you need to. So while this is a great machine to learn and improve on, you can also gig with it if you want to. There is also a USB MIDI port. With this being a premium level keyboard, you are provided with a metal sustain pedal, not a plastic version.
Back To The Front
There are the controls for Lesson mode when your teacher is with you. When you engage this option, all 88 keys are split into two identical zones. You can then play with your teacher or tutor at the same time rather than taking turns.
Record mode is also located here for recording what you are doing and playing back. To further assist you in learning mode, there is the built-in metronome. Always an essential extra when designing a keyboard or piano for a beginner.
How Does It Play?
Possibly the most important section in this Alesis Prestige Artist 88 Key Digital Piano Review. The playability is quite good, even if it does have a couple of drawbacks.
I have mentioned the graded hammer-action with fully-weighted keys. And this does create an “acoustic piano feel” to this instrument. The adjustable touch response is also an added advantage and improves the playing experience.
A couple of minor things. Firstly, the keys have been given a glossy surface rather than a matte finish. Now, I would agree this looks smart, but it may not be the best to play on. Matte finish keys do usually have a little more grip.
Secondly, the action is noticeably noisy, and the keys do not give you the fastest response you will come across. Now, this may be unfair. You can only judge this by comparing it to the digital pianos with a similar price point. However, it is noticeable.
How Does It Sound?
The Alesis Prestige Artist delivers twice as many built-in sounds to the next in the Alesis range, the Recital Grand. It is worth paying that extra bit of money for that. What is especially noticeable is the quality of the two main Grand Piano sounds.
The default piano or main Grand Piano has a detailed sound that is best suited to Classical Music. It is sharp and concise in its tone. The second, Grand Piano 2, is more suited to the jazzier, more mellow sounds you need with ballads. There are also three more piano sounds to choose from.
The Alesis Prestige Artist gives you 256-note polyphony. While it is not the only keyboard at that price point to do so, the norm is lower than that. Some only offer 64 notes. The 256 polyphony will mean you experience fewer note dropouts.
This might not be so noticeable when you are a beginner. But, you will progress and will start to play faster and more complex pieces with involved chord structures. Then it will pay dividends.
There are plenty of options for sound creation, some of which I have already mentioned, and it might be best to list them.
- 256 Note Polyphony.
- 30 multi-sampled sounds.
- The multi-sampled sounds can be split or layered to add extra texture.
- 5 piano voices.
- 5 electric piano voices
- 5 organ voices.
- Orchestral, Synthesizer, and Bass sounds.
- Built-in arpeggiator.
- 5 adjustable Reverb effects.
Most companies that manufacture instruments for the student do like to give you a few extras. This particular instrument offers:
- A metronome.
- Removable music rest.
- Ten demo songs.
But there’s more. You get a bundle of free lessons:
- 60 lessons on Melodics.
- A 3-month subscription to Skoove.
- Two months of live classes conducted by video from Take Lessons Live.
That alone is probably worth quite a few dollars. There is no doubt that this is a great all-around digital piano package. And it is set at a very attractive price point.
Alesis Prestige Artist 88 Key Digital Piano Review – Pros and Cons
- Good quality build.
- 256 note polyphony.
- 30 voices.
- Built-in amp and speakers delivering 50 watts.
- 88 weighted keys with graded hammer-action.
- Built-in metronome.
- Music stand.
- Controls all at the front for easy use.
- LCD with OLED screen.
- Learning, Record, and Playback modes.
- The key action isn’t the quietest or the fastest around.
- Glossy surface keys instead of non-slip Matte.
- Unable to save user presets.
Looking for a Great Digital Piano?
We can help with that. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Cheap Keyboard Piano, the Best 88-Key Keyboards, the Best Portable Keyboard Pianos, the Best Digital Grand Piano, the Best Kawai Digital Piano, and the Best Yamaha Digital Pianos you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Digital Pianos, the Best Digital Pianos For Under $1000, the Best Digital Pianos for Under $500, the Best Digital Piano With Weighted Keys, and the Best Digital Pianos For Beginners currently on the market.
Alesis Prestige Artist 88 Key Digital Piano Review – Conclusion
If this was an attempt to upgrade their Recital Grand model to a higher level, then they have succeeded. It offers plenty more features in other ways as well. It will suit both the complete beginner as well as the more accomplished player. And it is also equipped to take on to a live stage.
A very good value digital piano for the money. And if you are considering buying your first digital piano, or upgrading your current model, then you should definitely consider this excellent affordable option.
Until next time, let your music play.