Best Digital Pianos

25th May 2021

Choosing the best digital piano on to the market can be a daunting task, this is because there are more options to choose from than ever before, from the likes of Casio, Kawai, Yamaha, Roland, etc. it can be pretty hard to know where to start. However, we are here to help you know more about digital pianos and we will also take a look at frequently asked questions about these gadgets and crucial considerations to help you find the right piano whether you're a beginner or a seasoned classic player.

What is Digital Piano?

If you are new to the piano world, this is the first question you will probably ask yourself. Well, a digital piano is a type of electronic keyboard that is more advanced and designed as an alternative to the original traditional acoustic piano. Digital pianos use recorded samples of an acoustic piano, which are then amplified through an internal speaker of the piano. They also include weighted keys which recreate the feel of an acoustic piano.

Even though digital pianos are not as excellent as acoustic pianos in terms of sound and feel, they also have their good part. For starters, digital pianos are smaller and potable meaning you are able to carry them with you whenever necessary, they are not expensive when compared to the traditional acoustic pianos and they can be connected to other musical instruments to produce louder music.

Digital pianos can be divided into two main groups – Slab and console. The slab one is compact, lightweight, and portable. You are able to carry them with you when travelling, you can use them on the stage when gigging and they are portable to fit in small spaces. However, they are designed to be used with external amplifiers especially when wanting to produce loud sound for a large audience. The key features of these slab pianos include hammer-action keys, robust performance features, hundreds of customizable tones, etc. On the other hand, console pianos look more like acoustic traditional pianos. They are heavier and designed for stationary use. Key features include hammer-action hybrid keys for a true-to-life playing experience, more robust sound, etc. You will also find grand pianos which have similar features to the console pianos but these are more expensive.


How to Choose a Digital Piano?

Before you buy a digital piano, it’s important to keep in mind what exactly you’re looking for in terms of your needs and experience. Do you need a big, heavy piano for stationary use or a portable piano you can travel with from show to show? Do you need hundreds of instrument sounds, or will you use piano tones 99% of the time? These are some of the questions that will help you make the right decision when choosing the right piano that best suits your needs.

The factors you need to consider when deciding which piano to buy include budget, sound quality, number of keys, keyboard action, and touch response, number of sound and tines, speakers and amplifiers, polyphony, tools for learning, and portability. Let's take a look at these in detail below:

Budget

The first thing you need to consider when buying a digital piano is how much money you’re willing to spend on the instrument. If you are ready to spend more, then you will definitely find the best piano available in the market. Digital pianos that cost more have more features and are as well of high-quality. If you want to spend less, there’s also a lot of options you can choose from that will best suit your budget but keep in mind that the sound will not be as great and the quality too will not be that impressive. On the other hand, pricier pianos are similar to the traditional acoustic piano meaning you will have the best sound from them.

Sound Quality of the Digital Piano

This is the second most important factor you need to consider. There are many things you need to put into consideration when it comes to sound, including the speakers and the internal sound library. Speakers are the main sound output for a digital piano, you rely on the speakers to produce sound as you play. Therefore, they need to be of high quality and loud as you want them to be. The ideal digital piano must as well have internal or external speakers especially if you need it to play for an audience or your friends and family. The ideal digital piano must as well come with several sounds including electric pianos, organs, strings, clarinets, and harpsichords. These sounds are a great way of spicing up your performance and will help your music sound excellent.

Number of Keys

A digital piano usually has 88 full-size keys. You can play anything from these pianos with 88-keys, but then the keyboard is about 5 feet long and it may be very awkward to carry them around, and if the keys are fully weighted, the piano will be heavy weighing about 675lbs. These types are usually best for stationary use and not for carrying from one place to another. If you need a portable keyboard for travelling, you should consider the 61-key keyboard, these are lightweight and can be used anywhere i.e. on a table, on a bed, etc. 76-key keyboards are also available but are, they offer only 15 more keys than a 61-key piano, not much of a difference.

Keyboard Action and Touch Response

The keyboard plays a crucial role on the digital piano and therefore it should be a high-quality build and feel realistic when you touch just like the acoustic traditional piano. The keyboard action depends on several factors including the key mechanism use in the digital piano. The ideal digital piano must have a fully-weighted hammer-action keyboard that is similar to the feel of the acoustic piano. The lower resister keys should have weight and then get lighter when you play the upper keys. Cheaper digital pianos will have about 88 keys that are semi-weighted and will feel different from the acoustic piano. Therefore, if you want to learn the piano and produce the best sound, weighted keys are a must on a digital piano. So when going to a piano store, make sure you try out several pianos to know how the keyboard action and touch respond.

Number of Sound and Tones

Digital pianos offer a variety of different sounds, they offer an acoustic piano sound suitable for classic music, jazz, and pop. Some digital pianos use sound samples taken from acoustic pianos that have a very bright sound while others use a sample from acoustic pianos that have a mellow or warm sound. Digital pianos also sample 88 notes of the acoustic piano at different levels and volumes. These notes are softer in tone when played quietly and much brighter and harder when played with force. This is called velocity.

Speakers and Amplifiers

Digital pianos have built-in amplifiers and speakers. But if you need the piano for performing to an audience, these will not be adequate for your performance. So you will need to connect your piano to external speakers and amplifiers for your sound to be high.

Polyphony

Polyphony may sound like an unusual when, but you will come across it when choosing a digital piano. The term mentions the number of notes you can play at the exact time without notes being cut off early. When playing the piano, you need to explore and express yourself at the same time, so the limitations of certain keys shouldn't stand in your way. Therefore, you need to make sure the piano you buy has enough polyphony, 64 notes of polyphony are ideal for any piece you may perform.

Tools for Learning

If you’re a beginner, then your digital piano needs to come with learning tools. Digital pianos come with extra features that will enhance learning and make playing fun.

Portability

Before you buy the digital piano, you need to keep in mind what exactly you need it for. If you want a digital piano that you can carry and travel around with from show to show, then you need to consider its portability. Buy the one which is lightweight and easy to carry. If you buy the heavier type, then you will have a hard time moving it from one place to another.

How much do digital pianos cost?

Digital pianos come in different types, sizes, and brands and therefore the prices will vary. You can get a decent digital piano at about $500 while others will cost as high as $7000.

Digital piano vs. acoustic piano

The main difference between the digital and acoustic piano is the mechanism that produces the sound. The acoustic piano produces sound by channelling the power of the fingers pressing the keys into the hammers which then strike the strings and produce sound. On the other hand, digital pianos do not have strings, sounds are recorded for them and each key is a switch to produce a specific sound. Some digital pianos have hammers but they are not for striking strings but to capture the dynamics with which the key is played.

Types of Digital Piano

Home Piano

Home pianos are large and designed for stationary use. You cannot move this from one place to another because they are heavy.

Upright Piano

The upright digital piano is very common in many homes. They produce great sound and are only for stationary use, as it is impossible to move them from one place to another.

Stage Piano

These are designed for use in live performances on stage or in a studio. They produce great sound and many professionals love to use them.

Portable Piano

Potable pianos are lightweight ones, you can carry these from one place without any difficulties.

Grand Piano

A grand digital piano is very much similar to an acoustic piano, it is large and designed for stationary use.

Weighted Keys vs. Non-Weighted

An electric keyboard with weighted keys is what is referred to as a digital piano, not a keyboard. On the other hand, keyboards are instruments with non-weighted keys. Deciding which one is best goes down to personal preference. However, weighted keys are excellent for building up finger strength which then encourages your overall playing experience. On the other hand, non-weighted keys are excellent for encouraging very precise playing which is beneficial in rhythmic/contemporary type of music. Both weighted and non-weighted pianos are important to learn when you're a beginner. But professionals who have all the experience in playing the piano should go for pianos with weighted keys.

What digital piano do professionals use?

If you're a professional in need of the best digital piano, then you should consider the Yamaha Avantgrand NX1 you can view the specifications here. The Yamaha also has acoustic sampling as well as 4 channels built-in speaker system to give you an awesome experience similar to the real acoustic piano. The instrument also comes with virtual resonance modelling which captures every detail on internal components of the traditional acoustic piano, all the notes struck, string resonance is very much similar to the acoustic piano. With this piano, you will definitely feel like you are playing the actual acoustic piano

Can I learn on a digital piano?

The short and simple answer to this question is, Yes! You can definitely start learning on a digital piano. But there are things you need to consider when choosing the best digital piano to learn from. For starters, you need to look for a weighted action keyboard. A weighted keyboard will help you learn the piano the best way possible, without it, you will only get one dynamic range because there is the only level of pressure that can be applied to the key, which is not pleasing. The weighted keys will also encourage the right development of the muscle needed to play the piano with the right technique. You should also consider the size of the keyboard, if you have a large space for the full 88-keys piano, go for it as it will give you a sense of the whole range of sounds available that you can learn to play.

How much do digital pianos weigh?

There are many types of digital pianos available in the market. Small and portable ones weigh about 20lbs, while larger digital pianos weigh about 100lbs.

What is the best digital piano for the money?

The best budget pianos for beginners include the Kawai ES110 Portable Piano at just £475,00 on Broughton Pianos. The keyboard offers the best combination of great key feel, satisfying sounds, and all the useful features for beginners.

What is the most realistic digital piano?

There are many digital pianos with the most realistic piano feel, one of them is the Korg Grandstage 88 which has been on the market since the early 1980s. The sound engine of this piano captures the smallest nuances of six German and Japanese grand pianos such as damper resonance and mechanical noise. The weighted hammer action is excellent and the sound produced is very much realistic.

Which digital piano is closest to acoustic?

Console digital pianos are the ones that are closest to the acoustic piano in terms of sound, touch, and look.

How much should I spend on a digital piano?

How much you spend depends on what you can afford. If you’re a beginner, you and get a nice digital piano with weighted keys for about $400 to $5000 such as the Kawai ES110 Portable Piano White. If you’re a skilled professional who needs something to play to an audience, then you should go as high as $2000 to $4000, why not look at the Yamaha CLP-745 Clavinova. The CLP-745 allows you to enjoy both of these acclaimed piano's, with a natural wooden key, and still maintain a friendly relationship with your neighbours.

Which is the best digital piano for beginners?

Several digital pianos are best for beginners including the Yamaha YDP-S34. This digital piano is great for beginners because it is affordable and will as well give you the best learning experience. The sound it produces is great, it's very easy to use, and the tutorial content is excellent.

Do digital pianos sound like real pianos?

A digital piano mimics the sound of the real acoustic piano, so if you invest in a high-quality digital piano with all the necessary features, it will sound like the real piano.

Best digital pianos for recording

Several digital pianos perform very well when recording, our top pick is the Kawai ES110 Portable Piano. This one is ideal for basic home studios, it is small versatile, and easy to use. The ES100 is an advanced musical technology with class. It is suitable for beginners and a beautiful preamble to Kawai's digital pianos. It is a combination of keyboard and original piano sound technologies on a light and straightforward board.