Standard 88 fully-weighted hammer-action keys for a realistic feel. Capable of 64-pitch polyphony. Offers 10 voices including grand piano with dual mode for playing 2 voices together. Offers a USB port. Comes with a sustain pedal.
Doesn’t come with a stand or bench.
Full 88-key weighted keyboard for realistic touch. Includes 12 alternate sound types, including church organ and synth. Lesson mode teaches the basics. Wide array of ports. Capable of 128-pitch polyphony. Impressive speakers.
Doesn’t come with a pedal.
Hammer-action weighted keys faithfully simulate acoustic piano touch and feel. Boasts 128-pitch polyphony. Offers full set of soft, sostenuto, and sustain pedals. Features volume control and headphone jack. Sturdy metal taper legs screw on securely.
Height is not adjustable. Doesn’t come with a bench.
This digital keyboard's high quality stereo speakers react according to where on the keybed you’re playing. You can choose from 12 sounds to play with, including a range of pianos and even strings, and the keyboard’s USB port supports both MIDI and audio out for recording and amplification. A sustain pedal and music stand is included.
Lacks a 1/4-inch output jack.
This digital piano features a USB port that you can use to connect it to your computer and Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II which makes playing its 88 weighted keys feel remarkably like a real piano. Concert Play lets you perform along with ten familiar orchestral pieces.
Users report that this piano ships poorly packed, sometimes arriving damaged.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Modern digital keyboards have advanced a great deal, with low-cost instruments able to produce tones that were unimaginable even on yesterday’s premium models. With the great strides made in digital sampling and synthesis over the years, today’s digital pianos are able to faithfully recreate the sounds and atmospherics that could previously only be enjoyed in concert halls using world-class instruments.
From portable pianos that can run on battery power to large console instruments designed to also function as furniture, beginner musicians and pros alike have a wide range of digital keyboards to choose from. Thanks to its realistic keybed action, flexible connectivity and included sustain pedal, Yamaha’s P71 Weighted Action Digital Piano offers the versatility and quality that experienced pianists demand in a compact form factor that appeals to new players as well.
Our top pick, this feature-packed digital keyboard features 10 sounds to select from, with many of them sampled from legendary Yamaha grand pianos and synthesized using Yamaha’s Advanced Wave Memory sound engine for incredible realism. You can layer two sounds together at the same time, letting you experiment with your music in ways that most digital pianos at this price range don’t allow for. A 1/4-inch headphone jack lets you play quietly, and the instrument’s 88 keys employ the company’s Graded Hammer Standard, which makes the lower keys heavier than the higher ones, just like on an acoustic piano.
The lack of a separate audio output limits the piano’s usage when it comes to stage performance, but a USB port lets you plug it into your computer for controlling other digital instruments via MIDI. It comes with a sustain pedal, power adapter and music stand.
Alesis produces budget pianos that play better than they should given their price range, and the Recital Pro is no slouch, with weighted hammer-action keys that capture the feel of a traditional piano. The instrument’s 1/4-inch stereo headphone and audio outputs offer a professional manner in which to connect it to an external amplifier or PA system. A USB connection lets you use the piano as a MIDI controller for digital instruments or other external gear in a home studio environment.
Marketed as an entry into the premium digital piano market, the Recital Pro comes with a free trial subscription to Skoove for interactive online piano lessons. It can be powered via its included AC adapter or six D batteries.
Casio has been a household name in home pianos and keyboards for decades. While most people may be familiar with their budget offerings, they also manufacture a range of high-end digital pianos under the Privia moniker. This one features a USB port that you can use to connect it to your Mac or Windows computer, a stereo amplification system that simulates the sound source of a real instrument and Casio’s AiR sound engine that creates highly accurate grand piano tones.
It features Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II, which makes playing its 88 weighted keys feel remarkably like a real piano. Concert Play lets you perform along with 10 familiar orchestral pieces, and you can connect the instrument to your iOS or Android device to learn your favorite songs using the free Chordana Play app.
Legendary manufacturer Roland has put portability at the forefront with this 15.4-pound, 88-key piano. It features Bluetooth connectivity for using external speakers or interfacing with your phone or tablet for accompaniment and music lessons. It includes a sustain pedal, a music rest and a power adapter, but it can also run on batteries for playing on the go.
While it allows for a whopping 128 voices of polyphony, this keyboard is decidedly marketed toward beginner players who won’t object to its small speakers. A headphone jack allows for private playing and external amplification, which users recommend for better sound quality. Its keys aren’t realistically weighted, but they feature touch sensitivity for nuanced performances.
Bucking design trends with a beautifully minimal faux wood cabinet that fits in stylishly no matter where you place it, Donner’s DDP-80 looks as great as it sounds. Its 88 weighted keys offer a faithful reproduction of an acoustic piano’s feel, and three sustain pedals let you musically express yourself without limits. It comes with a 1/4-inch headphone jack and sturdy metal legs for stability while playing.
Unlike many other options, the DDP-80 doesn't feature multiple instruments to choose from aside from a standard piano sound, which some users may find limiting. However, it lets you adjust its touch response to your liking and includes a dedicated 1/4-inch audio output jack, as well as USB and MIDI ports for connecting to your computer or other instruments.
Korg’s B2 digital piano features 88 fully weighted keys and a hammer-action keybed that employs the brand’s NH4 keyboard action for supreme realism and playability. Its high-quality stereo speakers react according to where on the keybed you’re playing, with the lower tones coming from the left side of the instrument and the higher ones more focused on the right. The instrument is less than 5 inches thick and can be powered by six AA batteries, but at 25 pounds, it's a bit heavier than some portable alternatives. You can choose from 12 sounds to play with, including a range of pianos as well as strings, and the keyboard’s USB port supports both MIDI and audio out for recording and amplification. A sustain pedal and music stand are included, and the keyboard also features a built-in metronome for practicing rhythm and timing.
For those who desire a premium piano playing experience but still wish to avoid the bulk and weight of an actual acoustic instrument, Yamaha’s Arius series delivers. Presented in a gorgeous console with a matching bench, this keyboard captures the stately look of a traditional piano but includes digital features such as an LCD display, the ability to customize the piano’s tones with effects such as reverb and chorus and the option to connect to your devices via USB.
Three built-in pedals and 88 synthetic ivory keys with a moisture-absorbing texture give the piano a feel that even the most experienced players will find realistic. It has 128 voices of polyphony and features two headphone jacks, so you can learn and play with a teacher or accompanying musician without disturbing your housemates.
When shopping for a digital keyboard, there are essentially two paths you can take.
Some people seek an instrument that duplicates the performance of a traditional keyboard, such as a piano or organ. Others seek a multifunctional synthesizer with more advanced capabilities.
Modern digital synthesizers include functions and features that allow players to perform in ways that traditional keyboards can’t accommodate.
More basic digital keyboards may not be as versatile as synthesizers, as they are primarily designed to function as alternatives to acoustic pianos.
Many music students don't have easy access to traditional upright or classical pianos. Digital keyboards offer an affordable solution that duplicates the action and touch of a real piano, including weighted keys and sustain pedals.
Traditional piano keys are mechanical levers. The player depresses a key that engages an internal hinge and hammer. The hammer strikes the piano's tuned wires, creating a note. A cloth damper then presses on the string and ends the vibration. This design puts weight on the keys, and piano students eventually develop a performance technique based on that resistance.
A digital piano doesn't have hammers, so it relies on internal technology to simulate the action of an acoustic instrument. Poor action can cause a player to develop a playing technique that may not translate well to an acoustic piano. For the best, most expressive learning and playing experience, choose a keyboard with realistically weighted keys.
Touch sensitivity takes the concept of “action” one step further. A touch-sensitive keyboard allows the player to convey the emotion of the music by depressing keys with varying amounts of pressure and velocity. Many digital keyboards have special sensors that measure the amount of pressure and speed performers place on each key. A lighter touch results in a softer tone, while a heavy or fast touch creates a louder note with a faster “attack.” This is a useful feature during performance since part of what makes music interesting to the listener is a change in dynamics.
Some digital keyboard manufacturers like to pack as many additional features as possible into their high-end models, but shoppers should avoid the temptation to upgrade without cause.
There are additional features that enhance or improve performance, but there are also add-ons that casual users don’t need. Composers may want to create and store original tracks, for example, but most players, rehearsing the work of others, will not.
An important element of performance is the ability to sustain a note or chord for a long time or close it off immediately.
Traditional pianos accomplish this through the use of foot-operated sustain pedals. These pedals move the dampening board closer to or further from the piano's strings.
Many digital keyboards designed for rehearsal offer all three pedals, but others offer only one pedal as an add-on feature.
Digital keyboards should have the capability to communicate with the outside world through external ports. The two most important features to look for are an external headphone/amplifier jack and a MIDI connector.
The onboard speakers on most digital keyboards, even on the higher end, can only produce a limited amount of sound, so the synthesizer needs the ability to connect with a mixing board or powered amplifier rated for keyboards. Budget keyboards may only include a single headphone jack. If you plan to amplify your sound or perform publicly, look for an instrument that includes a more robust 1/4-inch jack dedicated to external output.
MIDI implementation lets you use your keyboard to control an almost limitless number of digital instruments via your computer. Most digital keyboards feature MIDI via USB.
One very useful addition, especially in terms of performance, is a pitch bend controller. Usually found on the left side of the keyboard, a pitch bend wheel is a spring-loaded switch that can “bend” a note several tones above or below its original setting.
Using a pitch bend wheel on an electronic keyboard can improve the authenticity of a voice’s sound.
Pitch bend wheels are only found on synthesizers, as the use of this feature is not a part of traditional piano playing.
A keyboard's polyphonic capacity reflects the number of pitches that can be held and/or sustained at the same time. Once a keyboard reaches its polyphonic maximum, the pitches begin to cancel each other out. In general, the higher the polyphony, the better. Most modern digital keyboards allow for 128 voices of polyphony.
When used as an in-home rehearsal instrument or recreational synthesizer, volume isn't usually a major consideration. The onboard speakers should deliver enough power to fill a small room with sound.
However, there are times when a home digital keyboard may have to fill some much larger shoes. Under these conditions, even the most expensive synthesizer speakers could be drowned out by other instruments or lost in the expanse of an auditorium. This calls for serious amplification.
There are times when a wired instrument can be a safety hazard to others, or a small sound system has no available channels. One low-tech solution is to attach a wireless lavalier microphone to one of the keyboard's external speakers and mix it into an existing channel with a wireless receiver. The keyboard and player can be positioned anywhere within the microphone's range, and the sound can be balanced through the mixing board.
A safer solution for keyboard amplification is to plug the piano into a mixing board first and then adjust the channel to the proper balance. This is a workable solution for church and performance halls where the player can hear other musicians and the keyboard through monitors or PA speakers. An experienced sound mixer should be able to monitor the keyboard's channel and keep everything in balance.
Manufacturers offer dedicated amplifiers designed to accept the output from a digital piano or synthesizer. Like a guitarist or bass player, a pianist can use an external amp to hear their playing while on stage or make further adjustments to their sound using the amp’s tone controls or built-in effects.
A. Budget digital keyboards can cost under $100, but they're limited in functionality and many don’t include 88 keys. Premium digital pianos can cost thousands of dollars but are loaded with technology that most users won’t ever need. The average player should expect to spend $300 to $600 on an instrument that offers a feel and sound close to that of a real piano.
A. Ordinarily, you would want to match the rehearsal instrument with the performance instrument as much as possible. If your child's instructor uses a traditional piano with weighted keys, then investing in a similar digital keyboard would be best. However, these instruments can be very expensive. For the short term, a younger player just learning the fundamentals of music can practice scales and basic melodies on a smaller keyboard with fewer keys.
A. Synthesizing authentic instrumental voices was a major problem with earlier generations of digital keyboards. The few voices featured on these instruments sounded very little like the real thing. But the invention of digital sampling software revolutionized the industry. Sound engineers recorded real musicians performing on real instruments under laboratory conditions.
A. Even digital keyboards on the higher end of the price range tend to have speakers that aren’t great quality, especially at high volume. You can increase the loudness and fullness of your sound by running it into an external amplifier or speaker that's more suited to higher output.
That said, the sound quality of the samples included in many budget keyboards usually sound dated and unrealistic upon close inspection, regardless of what they’re played through.
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