2018 Best Digital Piano Reviews and Comparison

Best Digital Piano
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The digital piano is a more affordable, compact and portable alternative to a traditional acoustic piano. The primary function of the a digital piano is to replicate the sound of an acoustic piano through similar key action as an acoustic piano. Thanks to the advancement in technology, you can now enjoy playing the piano without spending a fortune.

There are a lot of advantages of digital pianos, among which the biggest one being affordable prices, followed by the size and portability and also the fact that you can practice at night time or any other time without disturbing neighbors or even other family members.

With so many kinds of digital pianos available on the market, it is a daunting task to pick the right one. Below is some information on how to choose the best digital piano for your particular situation. Let's take a look. Here are some options for beginners.

1. Best Digital Piano for Beginners 2017 Comparison

Price Range

Product Name

Number of Polyphony

Number of Voices

Weight

Over $1,000

192

15

83 lbs 12 oz

About $1,000

256

18

78 lbs 5 oz

About $1,000

192

10

83 lbs 12oz

About $500~600

120

8

26 lbs

About $500~600

128

18

25 lbs 8 oz

Under $500

64

10

25 lbs 5 oz

Features of the Kawai KDP-90:

  • Harmonic Imaging Sound Technology
  • 88-key piano sampling
  • AHA IV-F Graded-Hammer Action
  • Dual and Four-Hands modes
  • 192-note polyphony
  • Built-in Alfred piano lessons
  • Grand Feel Pedal System
  • 10-song, 2-track built-in recorder
  • 2 headphone jacks, audio input/output jacks
Kawai KDP90 Digital Piano
List Price: $1,149.00
Price: $1,149.00
Price Disclaimer

The model comes with three pedals: soft, sostenuto and damper.

With a recorder system built-in, you can record your own performance and check progress or record your composition.

Kawai KDP90 Digital Piano

Pros:

  • 88 weighted keys with superb graded hammer action
  • Includes digital audio sampled from the company’s excellent acoustic pianos
  • 192 polyphony
  • Three pedals that are similar to the company's grand piano
  • Kawai's Concert Magic and Alfred lessons built in
  • 3-song recorder built in
  • MIDI jacks and headphone jacks
  • 3 years of warranty


Cons:

  • Relatively smaller number of tones, 15 
  • No USB connection
  • Only one color, rosewood

For full review, visit Kawai KDP-90 Digital Piano Review.

Features of the Casio PX860 BK Privia Digital Piano:

  • 88 keys that with ebony and ivory textures
  • Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II
  • Casio's AiR (Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator) sound source 
  • 256 polyphony notes and 18 instrument tones 
  • Duet and layer modes
  • USB to Host, USB to Device 
  • MIDI
  • 20W x 2 amplifiers

Casio Privia PX-860

Pros:

  • 88 keys with scaled hammer action
  • Ebony and ivory feel keys
  • Includes sound from a 9-foot acoustic grand piano
  • 256 polyphony
  • 18 high quality tones
  • USB to Host, USB to Devivce
  • MIDI capabilities
  • Real time recording in .wav format
  • Open lid to better project sound
  • Built-in 3 pedals
  • 3 years of warranty


Cons:

  • Casio has a relatively shorter history in digital piano market as well as no acoustic piano presence.

Features of the Yamaha Arius YDP-143:

  • 88 keys with Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard action
  • Pure CF Engine, high quality sound from Yamaha grand piano
  • Damper Resonance
  • 192 note polyphony
  • 50 pre-loaded songs
  • Up to 2 tracks of recording 
  • Intelligent Acoustic Control (IAC)
  • The Stereophonic Optimizer

Yamaha Arius YDP-143

Pros:

  • 88 keys with Graded Hammer action
  • Matte black keys
  • Includes sound from a 9-foot acoustic grand piano
  • 192 polyphony
  • USB to Host
  • Headphone connections
  • Built-in 3 pedals
  • Recording function


Cons:

  • You need to assemble by yourself
  • No USB flash drive port
  • Not for an experienced pianist

Features of the Korg B1 model:

  • 88 keys with Natural Weighted Hammer (NH) keyboard action
  • Servo-assisted MFB technology used in its built-in speakers
  • Concert grand piano sound is sampled
  • 8 voices
  • Modern design in black or white
  • Light weight
  • Improved music rest to keep the notes in place

Korg B1

Pros:

  • 88 keys with Natural Weighted Hammer action
  • Includes sound from a concert grand piano
  • Sleek and elegant design
  • Partner mode
  • Headphone connection
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for beginners


Cons:

  • Not for advanced pianists
  • 1 pedal (sustain) comes with it as a standard; 3 pedals are optional (Depends on a bundle deal or not)
  • No USB or MIDI capability
  • No recording capability

For full review, visit Korg B1 Digital Piano Review.

Features of the Casio Privia PX-160 Digital Piano:

  • 88 keys that with ebony and ivory textures
  • Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II
  • Casio's AiR (Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator) sound source 
  • 128 polyphony notes and 18 instrument tones 
  • Duet and layer modes 
  • USB to Host 
  • MIDI
  • 8W x 2 amplifiers

Casio Privia PX-160

Pros:

  • 88 keys with scaled hammer action
  • Ebony and ivory feel keys
  • Includes sound from a 9-foot acoustic grand piano
  • 128 polyphony
  • 18 high quality tones
  • Easy-to-use control panel
  • USB to Host
  • MIDI
  • Can connect external speakers
  • A very good buy for the price range


Cons:

  • Casio has a relatively shorter history in digital piano market as well as no acoustic piano presence.
  • No USB port for a flash drive
  • No half-damper pedal operation with one pedal, but possible with a 3-pedal option

Features of the Yamaha P-45 Digital Piano:

  • 88 keys with Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard action
  • Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) sampling 
  • Matte black keys
  • 64 note polyphony
  • Dual / Layer modes
  • USB to Device
  • 6W x 2 amplifiers

Yamaha P45

Pros:

  • 88 keys with Graded Hammer action
  • Matte black keys
  • 64 polyphony
  • USB to Host
  • Headphone connections
  • Very compact and light-weight; portable


Cons:

  • Speakers seem slightly less powerful
  • Only one pedal (sustain)
  • No recording capability
  • No MIDI capability
  • Not for advanced pianists

For full review, visit Yamaha P-45 Digital Piano Review.

2. Points to Consider when Buying a Digital Piano

1) Size and Weight 

Check out the size of every digital piano model that you are interested in. It should fit the spot where you want to use it. If you do not have a lot of space and intend on putting away while not in use, you would want a simple keyboard style piano that you can put on a table and practice rather than purchasing an exclusive stand for it. 

Weight is another aspect of the digital piano that you need to consider. If you are planning to carry it for some performance, you need a light portable one. In case you need to move around the house or are not sure where to put your digital piano in, it is helpful if it is light weight for easy move. 

2) Finishes

When you think of a piano, you'd think of a black color grand piano or a console piano. There are digital pianos with similar wood-grain finishes and the polished ebony finish. If you want a little different colors, brown or even white color is available, too.

Depending on where you want to put and how your new piano blends in with other furniture pieces you may have, a desired color of your digital piano may vary. A traditional black shiny finish may go well with your traditional room design while a modern design with white color may be better for your room.

3) Keys

If you need a great digital piano, you need to invest in a model that has 88 keys. Whether you are a beginner or have had experiences playing one, digital pianos with 88 keys are the best option. That way, you can play and create all of the songs you want. Having 88 keys is also important if you have plans to switch from a digital to an acoustic piano so that you can be used to it. 

All the models above have 88 keys. In fact, professional pianists would not consider one a "digital piano" unless it has 88 weighted keys, which brings up another important factor, weighted keys.

Models with weighted keys give the same impressions as a traditional piano. To make sound on an acoustic piano, you need to press keys harder than, for example, playing an organ or typing on a computer keyboard. There should be some resistance to the keys when pressing the keys. Otherwise when you switched to an acoustic piano, you cannot make proper sound. By using a digital piano with weighted keys, your fingers can be strengthened and skills can be developed just like you would be practicing on an acoustic piano. The keys of most of digital pianos are fully weighted, however, there are also models that come with semi-weighted keys. It is recommended that you choose a digital piano with weighted keys in full.

On top of keys being weighted, it is even better if keys are graded, which means that as notes go further down, the resistance to your touch increases. The lower the note is, the heavier it is to touch. In other words, the higher the note is, the lighter it is. 

4) Headphone Jacks, Speakers and Amplifiers

One of the main reasons why people choose a digital piano over an acoustic piano is that people want to play the piano without disturbing others at night or neighbors if you live in an apartment. You can certainly lower the volume, but if you can listen to your performance through headphones, there is no need to worry about lowering the volume of your digital piano. 

The size of the onboard speakers vary depending on the model. Some have powerful speakers and amplifiers built in while there are models, though in a small number, that do not have onboard speakers. Those without onboard speakers are primarily used for professional musicians who carry their digital pianos to the venues of performance where external speakers and amplifiers are connected. 

If you intend on practicing at home, such powerful speakers may not be necessary for added cost; onboard speakers and standard headphone jacks may be the only connection necessary. On the other hand, if you plan on performing at different venues, you would need Aux output capability for connecting to external speakers and amplifiers and Aux output is not available on all models.

5) Voices (Tones) and Effects

You see the word "voices" or "tones" when you are in the market of a digital piano. Voices mean sounds from different musical instruments and sometimes vocal sounds built in digital pianos. 

Available sounds differ in each model. Voices, of course, include piano sound, however, some models offer multiple sounds from different pianos including a grand piano. Other voices typically included are sounds from electric piano, guitar, string instruments, wind instruments, organ, harpsichord, percussion, and ensemble, for example, of string and brass instruments. 

If your sole purpose of purchasing a digital piano is to practice piano, you may not be interested in additional voices. However, there may be times when you would want to play together with violin to see what it is like; in such case, additional voices would be handy. 

Another additional feature that is typically available in digital pianos is effects such as reverberation, jazz, rock, chorus, and so on. Again, if you intend on using your digital piano as an alternative to an acoustic piano, you do not need so many effects. The quality of these extra voices vary, too, that if you want a particular sound, it is best that you make sure that the sound is one of the tones included and see how the quality is.

6) Split / Duo / Duet, Dual / Layer Modes

This is another point in specifications that you see and may wonder what the functions are.

Depending on the manufacturer, the function may be called differently, however, the "Split," "Duo," or "Duet" modes mean the capability to split the 88 keys into half and let two players use the instrument at the same time. For example, one person plays the left side while another person plays the right side such as in the case where the teacher and the student play together, using two equal ranges side by side. Or two pianists play duet together.  

"Dual" or "Layer" function is instead of splitting the keyboard, to sound different instruments over the other. The player play the piano and violin sound can be put on top of your piano sound, for example.

7) Piano Sound and Polyphony

Piano tones in digital pianos are generated through the process called sampling in most cases. Sounds of piano are carefully sampled and recorded to be reproduced later when the keys are depressed. 

The more complex sounds are, more time it takes to produce the sounds and more memory is needed, which means the price is likely to go up because of the technologies and process it takes to produce higher quality sounds and a larger memory required to store all the sounds. 

Polyphony is another term you see in specifications of digital pianos and it is one measure to gauge the quality or level of digital pianos. The number represents how many sounds can be made simultaneously. On a stand alone piano without any pedal use, normally, 10 notes can be played at one time with five fingers of each hand. With digital pianos, you can layer different instruments. Add effects, use pedals, and record at the same time. How many sounds could be heard at the same time? A lot! Then, you would need a lot of tones to be sounded simultaneously. 

It depends on how you want to play your digital piano, but typically, it is said that 64 polyphony is enough for most people who are beginner to intermediate levels. If you are an advanced player or want to do ensemble with orchestra or percussion instruments, for example, you'd probably want higher than 64.

8) Pedals

A traditional acoustic piano has three pedals: soft, sostenuto and sustain. To have an authentic experience of acoustic piano playing, it is recommended that all three pedals present, however, you may not need all three pedals.

There are models with one pedal, in which case, most likely it is a sustain pedal (which may be called a damper pedal) that is included because it is the most frequently used pedal among three. 

Half-pedal operation, meaning you step on the sustain pedal half way on an acoustic piano, may be available in some digital piano models, but not all of them. Since digital pianos are "digital," everything is either on or off. The sustain pedal is either turned on or off and there is no half on, however, some models offer a half-pedal function. 

9) MIDI Capability and USB Port Availability

MIDI is the acronym of Music Instrument Digital Interface, a language for music communication among digital equipment including computers. MIDI is a set of commands that specify what notes are played when at what loudness. 

Some digital pianos have a USB port so that the piano can be be connected to the computer through its USB port. This capability may be referred to "USB to Host" in digital piano specifications. Some may have MIDI ports on the digital piano side that connects to a USB port on the computer.

By connecting your digital piano to the computer, you can perform almost anything using different pieces of software on the computer to edit, notate, record any performance played on the digital piano. There are many types of educational software, too.

As opposed to "USB to Host," there is "USB to Device" capability. This is where you use a USB flash device as an external storage. You can keep your performance on the digital piano in a flash drive. Recordings can be saved in .wav format or sometimes in MP3 format. A USB flash drive can store files of additional rhythms or voices downloaded on the Internet, which you can use on the digital piano. This capability may be important to you if you want to store your music in a flash drive and use on the computer or utilize other files available online.

10) Educational Support

As discussed above, if you can connect your digital piano to the computer, you can use a variety of educational application to help you learn how to play the piano. Some digital pianos come with educational programs built in so that you can play along to practice. Songs may be preloaded or lessons are available or you may need to use online programs. Although the value in learning from a real person, a teacher, cannot be replaced by software, if you do better by self-learning or budget or time to take lessons is a concern, educational support available on the digital piano you purchased can be very useful. 

11) Other Features (Recording, Microphone, etc.)

There are many other functions that may be present in digital pianos beyond what is mentioned above. Some that may be of interest to you would be recording

Digital pianos often offer a recording function where you can record your performance. It is useful in listening how you played for improvement. Teachers can utilize this feature for their students to point out what could be corrected. Recorded songs may be used for you to play a duet or you may want to record your performance to share with friends. 

Another feature that you may be interested in is to have a microphone connected to the digital piano. By doing so, you can sing and some models may be able to add some effects to your voice. 

Almost all digital pianos have a metronome feature built in, however, the range of speed may be different from a model to model. It is by no means a deciding factor, but a metronome is a very useful tool you would need in practicing playing the piano.

As technology advances, some digital pianos now have Bluetooth capability to connect your digital piano to the Internet. There will be more applications available online and subsequently your can perform more activities on the digital piano. 

FAQ

1) What is the difference between a keyboard and a digital piano? Digital piano vs. Keyboard

A digital piano is, as the name suggests, a piano that generates sounds similar to an acoustic piano, using digital technology. It imitates a real acoustic piano in terms of appearance and feel and touch of acoustic piano keys. Digital pianos should have 88 keys in the same size as an acoustic piano and are weighted.

A keyboard may sound like an acoustic piano, but it is not necessarily trying to sound like an acoustic piano. The number of keys may be 76 or 61 and most likely, keys are not weighted and the size of a key may be smaller or narrower and made of plastic. It is lighter and easy to carry around and typically have more features. If you are looking for authentic acoustic piano sound, however, a high quality digital piano is the choice.

You can read more about the difference here.

2) Does a digital piano need turning?

No, unlike an acoustic piano, a digital piano does not need any tuning since sounds are recorded in its memory and when keys are pressed, corresponding sounds are heard. 

Since digital pianos do not require regular tuning, maintenance cost is significantly lower than acoustic pianos; however, digital pianos do not last for decades like acoustic pianos do.

3) Is an electric piano the same as a digital piano?

Acoustic and digital pianos might share the same functions; however, there is a disparity between the two in terms of feel. It is good to be accustomed to the touch and feel of an acoustic piano even if you are a beginner.

No, they are different musical instruments. An electric piano uses mechanical hammers to strike metal strings or wires and the resulted vibration is converted into electrical signals which in turn is picked up and amplified to be heard. It was first introduced to the world in the 30s and became popular, however as time passes, digital technology advanced and today, there is no new electric pianos produced. 

Most digital pianos have electric piano sounds in their voices.