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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel S

NUX NPK-20 - Demolishes the Big Boys


This NPK-20 from NUX is now my main keyboard which I use for practice, teaching and off-site performances. Here’s 9 reasons why it has a great balance of price, portability, features and functionality.


Key Action

I love the 88 full size graded hammer key action which is heavier on the lower register and lighter on the higher octaves just like a traditional acoustic piano. The simulated escapement action and triple sensors replicate the touch of a concert grand piano especially when I play trills and ornaments. With 5 touch velocity curves, I could customize the touch sensitivity of the keys according to the skill level of my piano students. Even with its compact size, the key pivots are not compromised. Lightly textured simulated ivory & ebony key tops ensure my sweaty fingers maintain a good grip with extended practice. A red felt liner at the key pivots helps dampen key noise and keeps dust out of the mechanism while providing a beautiful aesthetic accent.


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.


Sounds

While other piano keyboards at this price category have just a couple of dozen sounds, the NPK-20 contains 217 voices organized into 7 groups for quick and easy selection. You get Pianos, Electric Pianos, Organs, Orchestral, Leads, Pads and an “Others” voice group for all other sounds. While not all the sounds are ear candy, I love and use a good 70% of them. With a quick press of a button, the 217 sounds can be layered or split across the keyboard and I could conveniently balance the volume of the voice layers thanks to the vivid color display.


A 9 band EQ allows me to tweak sounds at a micro level on the fly to suit my musical arrangement. When I’m accompanying other musicians and singers, it’s easy for me to instantly transpose the key and execute octave shifts using convenient buttons. To further thicken up the sounds, there are 4 reverbs, 4 compressors, delay and chorus effects each with at least 4 tweakable parameters giving me an unlimited sonic palette. After all my hardwork programming the sounds and settings, I can save the registrations I created into 7 user presets.


Microphone Input

More keyboards should have a mic input. Afterall, many of these prosumer keyboards are often used for entertainment at home, for casual busking and for informal gigs in school, cell groups and nursing homes which I do quite a bit of. The NPK-20 comes with a mic input for use with a dynamic microphone and on the panel you get 2 huge accessible knobs for balancing the microphone volume and the amount of reverb effect applied on the mic input signal. Another similarly priced piano keyboard with mic input and even more mic effects can be found here.


Onboard Speakers

The 20 watt amplifiers driving a pair of oval downward firing onboard speakers are not the best I’ve heard in a keyboard. But it is definitely a great convenience whenever I want to sit down for a quick practice without connecting to a set of external monitor speakers. What you hear from a set of decent headphones will definitely sound much better than the onboard speakers.


Large Color LCD

The large color LCD on this keyboard is a game changer for keyboards at this price level. Other digital pianos in this price range don’t even come with an LCD screen. Even when they do, it’s a tiny monochrome 2 line display. The large color LCD allows me to easily see at a glance all my settings. The huge knobs and loads of buttons ensure I do not need to dive deep into the menu to set things like transpose, octave shifts and mixing the layer volume. The large 4-way data selector is intuitive which is what many of the big brands should learn from. Give us more buttons, knobs and a screen instead of trying to look minimalist and relegating the graphical user interface to a mobile app. Another piano I recommend with a large color LCD screen but is a lot less portable can be found here.


Rythmic Backing Tracks

When I’m practicing pop, jazz, rock & latin songs, having a rhythm section helps me feel and keep the groove. This keyboard comes with 100 rhythms encompassing genres such as pop, rock, jazz, latin and fusion. Every rhythm comes with 2 variations, an intro and ending, letting you transition from a song’s verse to chorus easily. When I’m out performing and my percussionist is out of action, these onboard rhythms are a lifesaver. While these rhythms are no replacement for a live drummer, they'll do in a pinch. These rhythms also come with an accompaniment mode where with just one finger, I get an entire band playing along with me. If playing with lush rhythm accompaniment is important to you, check out my recommended keyboards with hundreds of professionally programmed accompaniments.


Lightweight & Compact Design

At a lightweight 26 lbs in a compact design, I could easily bring my keyboard along whenever I travel or for gigs. I use the keyboard with a single sustain pedal included in the box when I’m away from home. When I get home, it takes just 4 thumb screws to attach my keyboard to the optional wooden furniture stand that comes with a triple pedal unit supporting sustain, soft and sostenuto.


Track Recorder

I often need to quickly record my musical ideas when I’m playing. The 5 song, single track recorder allows me to capture quick performances and review them. When I need more complex multitrack recordings, I’ll use a DAW instead, for a larger virtual workspace. But if you need a similarly priced weighted 88-key that has multitrack recording capability check these keyboards out. 


Connectivity

To cut costs, manufacturers have been removing connectivity ports on their keyboards, especially those under $1,000. It is refreshing to see loads of connectivity options on the NUX NPK-20. I love the dual 3.5mm headphones jack which is really useful when I’m teaching as both my student and myself can put on headphones during lessons without disturbing those around us. When I’m performing to a larger audience, the pair of stereo ¼” outputs allow me to easily connect to the stage PA system. There are 2 ways to stream backing tracks to this keyboard to play or practice along with. You can either stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth or with the 3.5mm audio aux-in port. For connecting to music-learning apps on my iPad and for recording on my laptop, you get both a wired USB-MIDI connection as well as wireless MIDI via Bluetooth.


The music-learning app I recommend as well as the full specifications and price of the NUX NPK-20 can be found here.


Conclusion

Despite a lesser known name, this keyboard does a lot for not much money. Whether you are a beginner or a casual performing musician, the NUX NPK-20 is a great choice with its combination of sound quality, portability and connectivity.


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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Randy Freemire
Randy Freemire
Apr 13

Jeremy- thanks as always! Hadn't heard of the NUX brand, appreciate it that in the relatively small music market that the big boys have some competition!


Like you I'm always looking for bang for buck. For my stage piano money, the Numa X Pianos hit the sweet spot of features and cost:

  1. The Numa X 73 is only $1,300! I bought mine used for $900

  2. Has a steel shell but weighs only 26 lbs and fits in a case for a 61 note board

  3. 4 note multi-timbral! Must have for me, 3-4 notes is the minimum for flexible sound design

  4. Stage piano with super user-friendly interface: FX, mic/line, volume mixing of the 4 voices, presets, outboard control, all are quick…


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