Gone are the days when entry-level keyboards were nиothing more than huge compromises. They were mostly meant to satisfy a passing interest. These days, however, people on a very tight budget can get great quality instruments and the Yamaha PSR E373 is a great example of that. The PSR series by Yamaha has for a long time been the industry standard for the maximum bang you can get for your bucks and the Yamaha PSR E363, the predecessor to the 373 has been a very popular keyboard among budding musicians. The E373 builds on that with some excellent and much-needed upgrades while still retaining the friendly price tag.
Table of Contents
PSR-E373 Main Specs
|Keyboard||61 key non-weighted organ-style with touch response|
|User songs||5 two-track songs,10000 notes|
|Effects||DSP (38), Reverb (12), Chorus (5), Master EQ, Harmony|
|Other features||Transpose, Fine tuning, Metronome, Dedicated Piano buttom, Lesson Mode ("Keys To Success")|
|Built-in speakers||Yes (2x2.5 W)|
|Battery support||6 AA size|
|Weight||10 lb 2 oz/4.6 kg|
|Dimensions (without stand) (WxDxH)||37-3/16” x 14-1/2” x 4-5/8” (945 x 369 x 118 mm)|
If you have owned an E363 or seen one, you might feel that the E373 isn’t all that different when it comes to looks. However, there are a few changes. While the material used is still primarily plastic, it feels like it is of a higher quality. A little digging through the literature associated with this keyboard reveals that it is made mostly from sandblasted plastic. This gives it a subtle elegance while being durable and lightweight.
This keyboard can take a few knocks without getting all dinged up and scarred up. This also makes it a great option as a first keyboard for a child who might not be very careful with the handling of their musical instrument. It also makes it a worthy option as a portable travel keyboard. As long as it isn’t thrown around too much, it can live up to the rigors of being a travel instrument without coming apart.
The LCD display is bright and big enough to fit all the information about current voice, effects, modes, etc.
PSR-E373 weighs in at 4.6 kg or a little over 10 pounds. While this can’t be called featherweight, it is still one of the lightest keyboards out there at this price range and with this feature set. To make it truly portable, it also comes with the ability to run on batteries. Six AA batteries can power this keyboard for a reasonably long time. However, your mileage might vary on a few things like how loud you are playing. Nonetheless, it is a very handy feature that can be useful if you want to practice on the move or want to play something outdoors.
One of the areas that felt like a clear compromise on the previous generation E363 was the keyboard and I was sort of expecting more of the same here. Thankfully though, Yamaha pleasantly surprised me here especially since nowhere in the documentation is there a mention of an upgraded keyboard. Do not get me wrong. It does not play like a pro keyboard but it has gone from being a major compromise on the E363 to one of its strengths in the E373.
The 61-keys though unweighted are velocity-sensitive which allows you to control the intensity of the sound with the force you apply on the keys. The touch sensitiveness can be modified as well. You can choose from four different settings and I have found it very useful especially among total beginners. These keys are organ-style and non-weighted but there is a clear change for the better in the way they feel. They feel very consistent and livelier and oftentimes they made me feel like I was playing a keyboard that was at least twice or thrice the price of the PSR E373.
A big issue with entry-level keyboards in the past was that the keys used to feel so ordinary that whenever someone graduated to a more premium option, the jump would be very drastic and unnerving. That shouldn’t be the case with this keyboard as it feels quite good. Another advantage of having nicer keys is that it will make the learning process more intuitive as they will offer a consistent feel. They are still on the lighter side and this can make them a bit alienating for someone accustomed to semi-weighted or fully-weighted keys.
Voices, Sound quality, Speakers
The biggest indicator of good keyboard, however, was in the sound quality. Being electronic in nature means that these keyboards rely on or recorded sounds of all the different instruments known as samples. The previous generation of PSR keyboards was based on a software and hardware platform that is nearly a decade old now. While the premium keyboards could accommodate higher-quality samples and powerful hardware, the budget options really suffered. This made them unsuitable for any sort of professional or even semi-professional use.
However, we live in wonderful times where computing power has become cheaper and more accessible, and even highly affordable digital instruments like the Yamaha PSR E373 now feature enough processing power to challenge some of the ultra-high-end models from the past. Since the sound engine (AWM Stereo Sampling) used in this keyboard is the same as the one used on the previous generation, the quality of the samples themself has made a big leap forward with the help of new LSI tone generation technology. Acoustic instruments also sound much more realistically with Yamaha’s unique Super Articulation feature.
These beginner keyboards have always packed in a lot of tones and the E373 has 622 of them. While most of them are great for experimenting or simply creating unusual sounds, the core tones have received a lot of attention. The Piano tones for example which are the bread and butter of any keyboard are very great and can even be used in a semi-professional setting. What this means is that truly beautiful pieces of music can be played and created on this keyboard by even an accomplished and seasoned musician without the quality of the sound holding them back. The other instrument sounds are equally impressive.
As has always been the case with these keyboards, synth sounds are very good and professional sounding. The electric pianos, wind instruments, and various other tones are all very useable.
It is worth pointing out that the 622 tones are a bit of a gimmick. The actual number of distinct tones is closer to a hundred with the other merely a variation of these original tones. However, that does not impede this keyboard in any way. If anything, it will help you understand how various effects can modify certain sounds which in turn can help you appreciate the nuances of music even more deeply.
The speakers are decent. The two speakers are each rated at 2.5 watts. This isn’t earth-shatteringly loud but it is good enough for solo practice. The sound quality from these speakers are decent although, if you have access to an external sound system of higher quality I would suggest using that instead as that will help you appreciate the quality of the sound sample in the keyboard even better.
One drawback of the keyboard is the polyphony: it supports only 48 polyphony notes. And taking into account that auto accompaniment utilizes quite a lot of them, you have quite a few polyphony left for your playing. If you are a beginner you won’t notice it, but if you are planning to perform serious classical pieces with a lot of sustain pedal, this can be a problem.
- Rhythms: The PSR E373 is marketed as an arranger keyboard and as such comes with a few “arranger” features. There are a total of 205 preset rhythm styles and once again, the quality of most of these impressed me. They have more of a punch to them and that makes them clearer and more defined. Once again, you can use these styles and rhythms in a semi-professional setting or even a professional setting and get away with it.
- Effects: There are plenty of onboard effects to choose from as well to add that extra layer of realism and expressivity to your playing and sound. It also allows you to create your own sounds. The 38 DSP effects are really cool and useable and mixing and matching the various effects can create many useable tones. These DSP effects cannot be modified to a finer degree but that is not really what this keyboard is meant for. The bevy of other effects such as Reverb, Chorus, and EQ do offer a bit more customization and they too are surprisingly good for a keyboard in this range.
- Modes: All the standard features are available here. Dual voicing allows you to pair up two tones. While there are default combinations, you can change them on the fly. The split feature allows you to essentially play the rhythm on one instrument and the melody on the other. There are 150 different types of arpeggiators although I could only find a handful of them actually useful.
- Other Special Features: The PSR E373 does come with a few new tricks as well. The Super Articulation Lite sounds are a collection of 11 improved tones that replicated the sounds of the original acoustic instrument even more faithfully. These are a stripped-down version of the tones found on the much more expensive Genos line of keyboards but they are pretty great anyway. These tones can make use of the articulation button that adds a bit of extra flair to really accentuate the musicality of the sound.
- This keyboard also has an in-built sound recorder that can record up to 5 two-track songs in Midi format with a total of 10,000 notes. Though you will most likely record your playing to the computer, but anyway this feature is nice to have.
And that brings us to the connectivity options. The options are very limited and the rear of this keyboard is pretty basic looking as a result. But there are all the standard options you may expect from it.
There is USB port you can use to connect to a computer as mentioned previously. And it can work both in USB Midi and USB Audio modes, that means you can either use your E373 as a MIDI keyboard if you connect it to PC, or use it as a source of quality sounding synthesizer for audio recording through the same USB port.
There is a single 1/4″ TRS headphone jack that doubles as the audio output for an external amplifier. A sustain pedal jack and a 1/8” AUX In jack complete the connectivity options. That last one is a great practice tool and allows you to playback songs through the keyboards speaker while you play along.
If you want all these features but need more keys then the Yamaha PSR EW310 is a great alternative. It is slightly pricier but it comes with 76 keys.
The rest of the features are exactly the same.
If you are looking for more features and are willing to shell a bit more money than I would look at PSR-E473: it offers a few great options in addition to which E373 has, such as more powerful speakers, assignable Live Control knobs, more connectivity options (including Microphone input and USB to Device port), Groove Creator, more voices and accompaniment styles, flash drive port, and more.
Yamaha PSR-E373 vs Casio CT-X700: How do they differ?
Every big music brand offer keyboards in the price bracket of ~$300 –keyboards. I would name Casio CT-X700 as Yamaha PSR-E373 main competitor. These two keyboards are very similar, have a look at the comparison table below.
|Yamaha PSR-E373||Casio CT-X700
|Number of keys||61 organ-style keys with touch response||61 standard size keys with touch response|
|Sound engine||AWM Stereo Sampling + LSI tone generator||AiX|
|USB type B||USB to Host, USB Audio||USB to Host|
|Midi Recorder||2-tracks 5 songs||6 tracks 5 songs|
|Dimensions (inch)||37-3/16” x 14-1/2” x 4-5/8”|
(945 x 369 x 118 mm)
|37-5/16" x 13-3/4" x 4-5/16"
(948 x 350 x 109 mm)
|Weight||10.14 lbs (4.6 кг)||9.5 lbs (4.3 kg)|
|Power by Batteries (optional)||6 x AA||6 x AA|
|AC adapter||DC 12V (sold separately)||DC 9.5V|
Both keyboards have 61 keys with touch response but Casio’s keys look more like piano keys because of their box-shaped exterior, so they are a bit heavier. But they are more plastic to the touch. Yamaha’s keys are organ-style. Anyway keys are non-weighted in both cases: you shouldn’t expect much from beginner keyboards.
Yamaha has lot’s of DSP effects, which Casio can’t boast of. CT-X700 only has reverb (20 types) and chorus (10 types). PSR-E373 has 38 types of DSP effects, plus many types of reverb, chorus and harmony.
Both Casio and Yamaha have education mode. In PSR E-373 it is called KEYS TO SUCCESS (it was called Yamaha Education Suite before), and in CT-X700 it is STEP UP LESSON system. Both of them allow you to listen and play along with demo songs hand by hand.
Though none of these keyboards have pitch band wheel, but Yamaha lets you to connect the keyboard to your IPhone and use pitch band controller on a special app. This is a nice feature which I think should be noted.
The two keyboards have equal number of connections, including Line in, Output, Pedal input and USB type B. But Yamaha’s USB can be used not only to transfer MIDI, but also Audio. So you can record digital sound from your PSR directly to your sound editor.
In terms of piano tones my choice is Yamaha, it has always been number one for me (maybe because my first keyboard was Yamaha PSR:) ). It’s piano voice has been sampled from a real concert grand piano, and you get it for a very low price. Plus it has a dedicated Grand piano button. On Casio this button is combined with organ, so sometimes need more then one button press to recall your favorite piano voice). But if we dig further and listen to other voices we will see that Casio is at least not worse but even better on some voices. So I can’t give you the only true recommendation for choosing Casio or Yamaha. My advice is to listen to both of these keyboards and choose the one you liked more.
Final Verdict (overall impression)
Not that long ago, choosing a beginner keyboard was all about deciding which compromises you wanted to live with as there would inevitable many with all the available options. The Yamaha PSR E373 bucks that trend beautifully as it is still very reasonably priced while offering great performance. It is a good instrument without even considering the price tag and if this is the price range you are targeting then this is one purchase you can make with your eyes closed. It does have its flaws and won’t replace the high-end keyboards necessary for pro work. However, as a learning tool and a backup instrument, the quality it offers is very good and unheard of when I was first starting out as an aspiring pianist.
- Excellent bang for the buck
- One of the best grand piano sounds among entry and mid-level keyboards
- Decent build quality
- Large number of highly usable voices with great quality sound samples and DSP effects
- USB Audio and USB Midi interface
- Unweighted synth-action keys
- Using some of the more advance features (which you will probably never use) can be a bit tricky as the interface is a bit clunky
- Only 48 polyphony notes
- The package doesn’t include AC adapter, it must be purchased separately, here is one.
Check Yamaha PSR-E373 price on Amazon here.
For more advanced options please look at my review of Yamaha PSR-E473 (and PSR-EW425).
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Tags: 200-500 USD, onboard speakers, polyphony 48, Yamaha
This is the type of review I was looking for. Being a sax man for more than 50 years, I am looking to expand my horizons and availability to the local music scene. I have been yearning to play keyboards and the E373 seems to fit the bill nicely. Have been listening to and watching local combos with a keyboard player for some time now. Seems to be a huge upgrade from the days of the B-3 and the Leslie systems, and other gear. If not in sound, at least in portability. I will be purchasing this unit, along with power cord, sustain pedal and stand shortly along with some private lessons.
As a part time novice I have found this review very good but very technical. I was looking for more basic info like which sort of external speakers would be useful and how to connect them. I am not a computer geek.