Keyboards can be an expensive purchase these days – largely because they come with so many bells and whistles that the production costs make them expensive to produce. MIDI controllers – the standard modern electric piano – can connect to PCs and help DJs and producers create music. This makes them extremely valuable to the music industry – so the price stays high, since the demand is easily met.

Still, not every keyboard player can afford studio quality equipment. Aspiring musicians and people new to the industry aren’t able to shell out thousands of dollars for a new keyboard – so we’ve compiled a list of the best keyboards you can get for under $500.

1. Casio CTK2400 Portable Keyboard – $130

This 61 key keyboard is produced by Casio, which is fairly well known in the electronic instrument market.

This keyboard features a built-in microphone allowing for you to record your own voice. There are 110 premade songs loaded onto the keyboard, with 400 instrument voices and 150 rhythms installed for you to play music over.

The keyboard comes with an optional sustain pedal for added musical depth. It can plug into a power outlet, but it runs on six AA batteries for easy portability.

2. Yamaha PSR-E353 – $180

Yamaha is a very well-known brand in the musical industry .This particular keyboard is one of the most popular entry-level devices.

This is another 61 key keyboard. This one boasts weight-sensitive keys, and 136 different styles to choose from. The device features a built in two-track sequencer that allows you to create your own rhythm sequences with ease.

Like the previous entry, it can run on six AA batteries, making portability no issue. The keyboard clocks in at just under ten pounds, so it’s not a cumbersome device to carry around.

Users praise this keyboard’s value, reporting that you certainly get your money’s worth.

3. Casio WK-7600 – $450

This keyboard’s a bit more on the expensive side – however, the price is not without reason. This keyboard has 76 keys – only an octave and a half short of a full grand piano’s 88 keys.

Weight sensitive keys and a 64-note polyphony make playing this keyboard feel authentic. There are 820 instrument tones, 260 rhythms to play over, and dual/split modes for you to combine different instruments for new sounds.

This powerful keyboard comes with a 17 track sequencer, allowing the production of very intricate music without having to use other equipment or even hook your keyboard up to a PC.

Of course, you can still hook this up to a PC. You can save your files to SD card – the keyboard has a built in SD reader – and transfer them to your computer, or you can line directly in and use the keyboard as a MIDI controller.

There are tons more features that you can check out on the product’s description.

4. Yamaha PSR-E453 – $280

This is one of Yamaha’s more popular lines of keyboards – for a good reason. The price is reasonably low, but the capability of this keyboard crosses into professional tiers.

It’s a 61-key keyboard, with weighted keys. There are almost 800 different voices to choose from, along with a one-touch grand piano mode. It comes loaded with 150 arpeggio patterns and 220 accompaniments – both making the creation of complex music much easier.

The PSR-E453 comes with a six-track recorder, allowing you to record fairly complex arrangements without having to move from your keyboard. You can modify your music with built-in effects like chorus and reverb.

This keyboard also runs on 6 A batteries, and can be plugged in with a 12 volt power cable. This one’s a bit heavier – almost 15 pounds – so it might not be something you want to lug around with you everywhere.

5. Alesis Coda Pro – $400

This is a very impressive keyboard. It’s a full-sized, 88-key piano. All the keys are weighted, and there’s an auxiliary output that allows you to plug the keyboard into an amplifier. The keys are hammer-action, meaning they simulate the action of a real grand piano – and, the Alesis Coda Pro does it well.

The keyboard only comes with 20 voices, but you can split and layer them over each other to create many combinations. It boasts a 64-voice polyphony though, meaning that you – and even other people – can play together, and hear every note you play without overlaps.

The purpose of keyboards like this is to simulate the sound and feel of a grand piano effectively, while providing portability and ease of use. Reviewers praise the realistic feel of this keyboard, and the accuracy with which the keys respond to weight and touch. It is renown for being one of the first keyboards in the industry to match the sound of a real piano – something that many keyboard manufacturers struggle with.