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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel S

A Feature I've Never Seen On Any Other Keyboard - NUX NEK-100


A keyboard is not as portable as a guitar. That’s a common complaint among keyboard players but this feature-packed ultraportable NUX NEK-100 is set to challenge both the very popular compact Casio CT-S300 and the CT-S1 keyboards and here’s 7 reasons why.


Reason 1 - Onboard Battery Power

You no longer have to hunt for a power outlet or have a supply of expensive AA batteries to juice up your keyboard. In my experience, the built-in 3,000mAh rechargeable batteries on the NUX NEK-100 lasted for up to 10 hours with the onboard speakers at maximum volume. The keyboard can also be powered via the bundled power adaptor if needed. The Casio CT-S series do not feature built-in batteries but run on expensive to replace AA alkaline batteries. But if you prefer keyboards that run on AA batteries, check out my recommended digital pianos, keyboards, and music-learning app right here


Reason 2 - Lightweight & Compact

At about 3 kg or 6.8 lbs, the NUX NEK-100 is one of the lightest and most ultraportable keyboards in the market today. At just 36” wide and 10” deep, I could tuck this keyboard under my arm or use the integrated carry handle to bring it everywhere I go. I’m truly amazed that even with the in-built batteries, the size and weight of this trumps the ultraportable Casio keyboards. Even without batteries, the Casio CT-S1 is a staggering 30% heavier than this keyboard which has a 3,000mAh battery inside.


Reason 3 - Key Action

To achieve a balance of weight vs usable musical range, NUX decided to equip this keyboard with 61 semi-weighted touch sensitive box-style piano keys. The key action is one of the best in this price category and is definitely better than the keys on Casio’s CT-S300 which it competes with. There are 5 velocity curves to suit your playing style whereas the Casio keyboards come with just 4. I didn’t like the default “Normal” touch velocity curve on the NUX NEK-100 as it was a little too sensitive. Configuring the keys to respond to a slightly harder touch worked better for me. Just like any ultra compact keyboards, the key pivots are short which is not surprising considering the price. If you don’t mind a heavier and bulkier portable keyboard because you want 88 weighted keys, check out the keyboards I recommend.


Reason 4 - Sound Quality

This keyboard has one of the best sounds I have heard in such a lightweight and compact package. Most cheap keyboards come with a gazillion sounds but only a handful are decent. Not so for this keyboard. More than half of the 500 acoustic and electric pianos, organ, strings, brass, woodwinds and synth sounds punch well above what’s expected at this price. 3 configurable reverbs really help sweeten up these voices further.

A pair of 5 watt amplifiers are able to drive the 2 onboard speakers to a pretty bright and loud volume, enough for small school gigs, around the campfire or in a car on road trips. But the magic really shines when I plug in a pair of my favorite headphones. The voices can be layered and also split across the keyboard which many more expensive keyboards cannot do. What surprised me further was that the volume of the voice layers can be adjusted. A feature most budget keyboards skip. To sweeten things, all the infinite configuration possibilities can be conveniently saved onto 5 user presets.


Reason 5 - Rhythm Style Accompaniments

To spice up your playing when you don’t have a full band with you, this keyboard packs 100 drum rhythms ranging from Rock, Funk, Jazz, Hip Hop, Pop & Latin. You can thicken the rhythms with a full band accompaniment which supports both single finger and multi-fingered auto chord detection. Each rhythm accompaniment also comes with an intro, an ending and 2 style variations including rhythmic fill-ins. That’s truly a lot of functionality at this price although I was kind of disappointed that the volume of the percussion and accompaniment cannot be adjusted and for many of the rhythms, the bass drum was just way too dominant. 


Reason 6 - Features, Functionality & Connectivity

It seems like the engineers at NUX have been watching my videos. I have never seen such a comprehensive set of features and functionality on a keyboard at this size, weight and price. You get a pitch bend wheel - which many more expensive keyboards don’t include. Key transposition to accommodate singers, pitch tuning to match other acoustic instruments, octave shift to match the full musical range of an 88-key keyboard, metronome with tap tempo, dual & split voice layers, 5 user registration presets and 100 demo songs. There are also 20 “live music modes” which give you the capability to use this keyboard like a DJ deck - applying effects, sound samples and arranging the sequence of a song. Budget Casio keyboards have this feature too, but I personally find these really cheesy and never use it.

I was spoilt for choice when it comes to connectivity options. For quiet practice, I used my favorite pair of headphones with the 3.5mm headphones jack. A robust ¼” aux-out jack is great when I need to connect to a mixing deck, external amplifiers or to a music recorder. When I want to connect to music learning apps or recording software, the USB-C MIDI port and wireless Bluetooth MIDI is great. When I need to stream backing tracks to jam along with, I have the option of both the aux-in jack or go cable-free with wireless Bluetooth audio. A pedal input is available for you to plug in a sustain pedal - absolutely necessary when playing piano repertoire.


You can find the full specifications and best prices for the NUX NEK-100 keyboard here.


Reason 7 - Ease of use & Build Quality

Unlike the Casio keyboards that had an necessarily clunky user interface, I was able to maneuver the various settings on this keyboard without even touching the owner’s manual. The large, backlit and informative LCD screen definitely played a part. To keep weight down, almost everything I touch is made from plastic. While it doesn’t exactly feel premium, there was no chassis flex and the keyboard looks like it can take quite a bit of beating when you’re on the go. Buttons are available on the panel for the most commonly used features such as transposition, rhythm variations, metronome and volume. But I would have preferred to have a more tactile volume knob. Buttons to quickly activate octave shifts were also disappointingly missing.


Conclusion

If you are looking for an ultraportable, compact, lightweight, carry everywhere keyboard with in-built long-operating life rechargeable batteries while also containing great sounds, this is right now your very best choice. At about the same price, the Yamaha PSR-E383 has even better sound and rhythm accompaniments but it is way less portable.


You can find out the full specifications and the best price for this together with my recommended digital pianos, keyboards, and music-learning app right here.



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