Review: NUX NPK-10 Packs Surprises But Can It Compete with the Big Boys?
Updated: May 15, 2021
NUX is well known among seasoned guitarists. The 15-year-old brand is well known for money guitar pedals. Its parent company Cherub Technology has been producing music instrument accessories for the last 25 years. Now NUX has joined the already extremely crowded with razor-thin profit margins market with their own product. The NUX NPK-10 priced at 500 dollars competes with the big players who dominate the market.
The NUX NPK-10 comes with 88 full-size weighted graded hammer action keys just like on an acoustic piano. The keys start off heavier on the lower register and get progressively lighter as you move to the higher register. It comes with touch response which can be configured with 5 different velocity curves to suit your playing style. The NPK-10 comes incorporated with triple sensors in the key action, a feature even the competitors in the market that cost more do not have.
The NPK-10 has a certain degree of simulated escapement, but the implementation is not as good as on the Roland pianos in the same price category. The NPK-10 has white textured key tops simulating real ivory keys and the black keys have a matte non-slip surface.
While pressing the black keys nearer to the pivot point is effortless but playing the white keys nearer to the pivot point requires a little more effort. The keys are quiet, well dampened, and have very little lateral movement.
The key actions on the NUX NPK-10
The NUX NPK-10 default grand piano sample has a mellow tone that suits those who play contemporary pop & jazz ballads. A disadvantage of the NPK-10 is that it does not include an additional brighter piano sample for those more accustomed to the bright Yamaha tone. The piano allows adjustment to the tone brightness of the sample to match the genre of music you are playing. There are 12 voices on the NPK-10 which can be layered and split.
The volume mix of the layers can also be adjusted which is not a feature, many digital pianos at this price can do. With 189 notes of polyphony, you can layer and play the most complex pieces filled with lush sustained notes and will unlikely experience note dropouts. With the NPK-10, you will get 5 types of configurable reverbs as well as a chorus effect to mold your sound.
The NPK-10 comes with 2 user memory slots that can store your own registration presets. The unique selling point on the NUX NPK-10 which is yet to be seen on most digital pianos in this price range is that you can transpose and tune the NPK-10 to match the rest of your band members when you need to perform with them.
The Sound Quality on the NUX NPK-10
The NUX NPK-10 comes with 12 rhythm patterns covering modern pop, jazz, Latin, country, and ballroom music. These rhythms sound pretty mechanical though and are more suitable as practice tools rather than for performances.
As a musical scratchpad, the NPK-10 has a single track, single song recorder that is extremely easy to use. It records everything you play including the voice layers, splits, and effects in real-time. The only downside to this is that there is no option for you to offload the recordings to a USB stick and the existing recording will be overwritten whenever you record a new song.
Apart from having an auxiliary audio input jack common with the digital pianos in this price range, it has Bluetooth audio functionality that allows you to pair your smartphones to the speakers and stream your backing tracks or simply use the piano as a pair of powerful Bluetooth speakers.
The speakers are driven by a pair of 10 watts amplifiers capable of producing 20 watts of beefy audio output to fill a living room with no discernible distortion when the in-built speakers are set to the maximum volume. However, with only a pair of speaker cones, the NPK-10 struggles with the extreme ends of the frequency range when pushed hard.
The NUX NPK-10 has a pair of 1/4 stereo output which is something rare to see on digital pianos of this price. This allows you to connect to more powerful speakers for your home or to a PA system if you are using the piano to gig or busk with.
There are also two 3 and a half mm headphone jacks that can be use for practice alone or with a teacher. However, it would be better if there was a more sturdy 1/4 headphone jack or if both the headphone jacks size were different to be able to cater to more different sizes so it is compatible with any headphones you have
The NUX NPK-10 has a very solid sustain pedal that feels heavy and premium unlike other leading brands that bundle cheap sustain pedals with their digital pianos. If you need full control over soft, sostenuto and damper functions, NUX has an optional triple pedal system for the NPK-10.
Built-in features on the NUX NPK-10
Comparing to other competitors in the market of similar price points, The NUX NPK-10 is significantly more portable and compact similar to Casio’s ultra-compact PX-S pianos. At just 10 kilograms, the NPK-10 is easily 20% lighter than the competition. The disappointing thing of the NPK-10 is that it cannot be battery operated which would have increased the portability of the NPK-10 even more.
While the speakers are adequate, they only fire downwards. Compared to the competitors where their pianos have cut-outs at the rear of the piano to direct sound at the audience or bounce the sound off a wall. These pianos also have cut-outs just above the keys facing the pianist to direct the sound towards the pianist's ears.
There is a little felt accent at the top of the keys just like on an acoustic piano. This felt strip helps to keep dust out from the internals of the piano and hide any unsightly gaps. However, the music rest is cheap plastic, has a lot of flex, and looks totally mismatched with the beautifully designed NPK-10.
Another issue with the NUX NPK-10 is that as NUX has taken the entire minimalist concept to an extreme it only has 7-panel buttons and not having direct access buttons for most of the functions. This requires you to refer to the manual in order to find out which combination of button and key you need to press to activate a sound or a function 95% of the time. It will often leave you wondering if the function or sound has indeed been activated. To circumvent this issue NUX promises a mobile app that lets you connect to the NPK-10 allowing you more direct access to its functions. To use an app, you will need to deal with an additional cable and it isn’t guaranteed that the app is compatible with future smartphones
The NPK-10 has a glossy fascia which gives a nice design accent but it's a massive fingerprint magnet and the dust is very obvious on the reflective surface. This is an issue that plagues Casio’s PX-S digital pianos and it is unfortunate that NUX chose form over function in this instance.
Build Quality features on the NUX NPK-10
The NUX NPK-10 is a newer take on the usual digital pianos out there with its features and functions that are unique to itself. It would be a great option if you are looking for something different
I hope that this review of the NUX NPK-10 has been useful for you. Do check out the links provided in this article for the latest updates and prices of the NUX NPK-10. If this keyboard is not for you, do look at the other articles in this blog to find your ideal instrument.