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Most piano players – especially purists – prefer the sound and feel of a grand piano if not a concert grand piano.
Of course, most of the time, such a piano is out of reach due to the exorbitant cost of ownership. For many students, teachers, and performers, the opportunity to play a grand piano may only come around at formal recitals, performances, and perhaps a visit to a wealthy friend’s home.
Fortunately, there are some good alternatives within reach – such as digital pianos. No, they may not sound or feel exactly like a grand piano. And, they can still cost several thousand dollars. But they are versatile instruments, great for practice, performance, and recording alike. They often come with a good selection of quality sounds and have built-in speaker systems.
Any practicing pianist or studio engineer should have a quality digital piano on hand.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced player, there are some great options out there for you to consider. Here are several of the best digital pianos on the market.
Best Beginner Digital Pianos
What exactly is a beginner digital piano?
From our perspective, it’s an affordable standalone instrument that either doesn’t come with a keyboard stand or only comes with a cheaper one (sometimes with the option for a better stand).
That doesn’t make beginner digital pianos bad by any means. They’re great for practice and many still have a good sound to them.
Ideal for practicing at home and maybe the occasional jam or rehearsal, beginner instruments aren’t necessarily going to cut it for professional stage and studio use.
But there are still some great products out there and if you needed to, you could probably still “fake” the tone of better sounding instruments.
I recall that I’ve used cheap Yamaha keyboards for recording sessions in the past, and was rather surprised how good they sounded in my mixes (after adding some effects). So, recording with a beginner digital piano could be a possibility too.
With that, let’s look at the best beginner digital pianos.
Casio Privia PX-160BK 88-Key Full Size Digital Piano With Power Supply
The Casio Privia PX-160BK comes with the AiR engine, allowing for accurate grand piano sounds and seamless dynamics.
It features the Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard, an 8w x 8w speaker system, new string ensemble sounds, split and layer capability, duet mode and a two-track recorder for playback.
Although buyers point out that it’s far from perfect, at this price point, that’s hardly surprising. For basic practicing and jamming purposes, it should suffice.
Still a great choice for those on a budget, the Casio should be explored.
Yamaha P71 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano With Sustain Pedal And Power Supply
The Yamaha P71 is an Amazon Exclusive Model digital piano. Some users, however, have pointed out that it’s the same as a P45 model. So, it’s an either/or situation.
In any case, the P71 comes with a power adapter and sustain pedal, 88 fully weighted piano-style keys, 10 voices including digitally sampled tones, a dual mode to combine two voices and a slim and lightweight design.
Customers are overwhelmingly happy with this keyboard because it’s great value for the money. Even intermediate and pro players should be impressed, though you may want to spend more if you can afford to.
Have a look at the Yamaha, especially if you’re on a tighter budget.
Alesis Recital White 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano With Full-Size Semi-Weighted Keys And Power Supply
The sharp-looking Alesis Recital comes with five expertly crafted voices (acoustic piano, electric piano, organ, synth and bass).
It has 88 premium full-sized semi-weighted keys with adjustable touch response, built-in 20W speakers, a sustain pedal input, stereo headphone output and stereo RCA outputs to connect to a recorder, mixer, amplifier or sound system.
It also has some built-in educational features, which can be great for beginners, including standard, split, layer and lesson modes with 128-note polyphony and built in effects (chorus and reverb).
You’ll get access to a three-month subscription to online piano lessons too. That could be a bit of an incentive.
There aren’t too many downsides to this unit. Some customers mentioned issues with the straps but aside from that buyers are happy with it.
The affordable Alesis is great starter kit.
Korg SP280BOK 88 Key Digital Piano With Speakers/Stand
The Korg SP280BK offers rich, dynamic acoustic piano sounds and comes with vintage electric piano sounds, Natural Weighted Hammer Action (NH) keyboard, two-watt stereo speaker and studio audio input.
All this comes in a portable, lightweight design.
With the SP280BK, you get samples from a Steinway grand piano, which is essentially the golden standard. And, it’s loud enough for practice and even a little jamming if you like.
The previously mentioned NH action offers a real piano feel, which is surprising at this price point. You’ll often find this feature on higher priced digital pianos.
What will likely make it most attractive to beginners is that it’s lightweight. So, if you’re planning to take it to rehearsals, jams and even on stage, it’s not too bulky to cart around from place to place.
Frankly, I don’t know how Korg can offer such a great keyboard at this price range, but why not? Check it out for yourself.
Intermediate Digital Pianos
At the intermediate level, your options begin to broaden considerably.
The are a variety of brands and models severing this market, and in some cases even pros are satisfied with the quality of an intermediate digital piano. Plus, the price range still tends to be palatable.
At this price point, instruments typically come with a stand, bench, headphones, apps, lessons or other extras.
The diverse selection doesn’t necessarily make your buying decision any easier, as it can be overwhelming.
But if you’re looking for an intermediate level instrument, it’s important that you wade through the options because I can assure you they aren’t created equal.
So, let’s look at several intermediate digital pianos.
Casio PX870 BK Privia Digital Home Piano
The Casio PX870 BK Privia, which is an upgraded version of the PX-860, comes with 88 scaled, weighted hammer-action keys with simulated ebony and ivory textures.
Its sound offers detailed resonance and 18 new tones, a Sound Projection-4 speaker system, and it’s great for practice, performance and even MIDI/audio recording.
Some customers mention the pedals as its chief weakness, while others have noted that they experienced some issues with the ports.
Not perfect but still good for the price, the Casio is a bit of a draw.
Korg B1SP 88 Weighted Key Digital Piano
The Korg B1SP has 88 natural weighted hammer action keys, eight digitally sampled sounds with 120-voice polyphony, a built-in sound system, stand, bench, and three pedal board. At $599.99, the piano is great value and is perfect for practicing at home. Its sound will not even compare to an upright piano, but it still has a nice tone to it.
If you’re looking for the complete package at a reasonable price, you’ll love the Korg.
Casio PX160BK Black 88-Key Touch Sensitive Privia Digital Piano
The Casio PX160BK is essentially a direct competitor to the Korg B1SP. It is priced the same at $599.99, features a scaled hammer action keybed, a built-in speaker system, furniture style stand, bench, and triple pedalboard, and a pair of open ear headphones for private practice sessions. Customers have also had good things to say about the Casio overall. If you know you’re going to need headphones, or just want a little more bang for buck, get the Casio over the Korg.
Williams Rhapsody 2 88-Key Console Digital Piano
Are you looking for something a little more affordable? Then the Williams Rhapsody 2 might just be the right fit for you. It features 88 fully-weighted hammer action keys, 12 high-definition sounds ranging from grand piano to nylon guitar, and modulation/FX control. Its cost? Only $499.99.
While the Williams piano is an Amazon best seller, it is not as highly rated as some of the other pianos on this list. Some customers have noted that the sound is a bit muddy. Others have said it does not have the feel of a true piano, but that’s hard to duplicate with a digital piano anyway. It’s a decent practice piano, but not much more than that, so keep your expectations realistic.
Kawai ES110 Full Digital Piano
The Kawai ES110 comes with a furniture style keyboard stand, the F-350 triple pedal, and Bluetooth MIDI. It features 88 keys with responsive hammer compact action, costs $875, is highly rated by customers, and is an Amazon best seller in its category.
The Kawai would be another solid purchase for practicing pianists from another well-known brand in the piano world.
Suzuki MDG-300 Black Micro Grand Digital Piano
The Suzuki MDG-300 “micro grand” could be considered a hybrid digital piano. At $1,599, it features a black lacquer furniture cabinet, is spatially efficient, has 128-note polyphony, a six-speaker sound delivery system, Bluetooth compatibility, iPad connectivity, USB port, full true color LCD display, and more.
This could be a great instrument for intermediate and advanced players alike.
This unique and feature-rich digital piano is highly rated, and has a nice sound to it. Suzuki has done right by us with this entry.
The ONE Smart Piano 88-Key Home Digital Piano
The ONE Smart Piano is the oddball on this list, because it’s designed specifically for practice. It features a free app that gives you access to video lessons, sheet music, and games. It also has built-in LED lights, which show you which notes to play next. At $1,499, it has 88 weighted keys, professional stereo sound, three piano pedals, and is made for beginners. It doesn’t come with a bench, so you may want to add that to your purchase if you opt for this unit.
To be fair, the cost might be a slight bit prohibitive for a beginner, and while customers have had good things to say about this offering via The ONE, it isn’t quite as highly rated as other pianos mentioned here.
Since it is a tech-heavy unit compared to the others, it’s fair to say there may be a few glitches too, but in most cases, it should be functional.
Yamaha Arius YDP-181 Traditional Console Style Digital Piano
The Yamaha Arius YDP-181 features 88 Graded Hammer weighted action keys, a dynamic stereo sampling AWM piano with up to 128-note polyphony, a two-track three-song recorder, USB to device port, and LED display. It also comes with the bench and stand. At $1,699, the piano is highly rated by reviewers, is spatially efficient, and has a nice sound. For the average home, it’s probably more than enough piano – especially for general practicing purposes.
Again, this could be a good choice for both intermediate and advanced keyboardists or pianists.
Now, if you’re expecting it to sound like a grand piano in a concert hall, your expectations are probably a little skewed. But it’s also important to note the price difference between a grand and a digital piano: You’re not going to spend 10 to $50,000 on the Yamaha, which is what you could easily spend on a grand.
Advanced Digital Pianos
At the advanced level, you’re probably prepared to spend a little more and you’re looking for a workhorse that will hold up to many years of playing. You probably have a specific purpose for it in mind too.
Generally, advanced digital pianos come with better keys, better sounds, better pedals and the like.
That isn’t always the case, of course, and you can spend a lot on an advanced piano that still has flaws. That’s just the nature of the game.
Another thing to be mindful of is that there are also more “specialty” keyboards in this range that have amazing tones.
So, if you’re a savvy consumer willing to do your research, you’re sure to come across a piano or two that’s well-matched to your needs.
Here are the best advanced digital pianos.
Dexibell Vivo S7 88-Key Digital Stage Piano
The portable Dexibell Vivo S7 features 88 hammer-action keys, 80 sounds and unbalanced L/R, Aux In, Foot Pedal, Phones, MIDI In/Out/Thru, USB host, USB Device and Bluetooth inputs/outputs/ports.
The weighted keyboard feels good and it gets a checkmark for all sounds, including piano, synth and organ. And, because it comes with a wide range of sounds, you’ll probably be set for most live situations, especially when playing with a band.
The electric piano sounds aren’t the best available, so that’s something to know. You can certainly find better electric piano sounds elsewhere.
Further, there’s quite a bit of menu-surfing involved if you want to tweak all onboard parameters. In that sense, it’s not as intuitive and user friendly as it could be.
But the Dexibell is a good keyboard for the price and a worthy addition to this list.
Roland RD-2000 Premium 88-Key Digital Stage Piano
The Roland RD-2000 comes with loads of great features.
It features two independent sound engines and modern controller features, a dedicated acoustic piano sound engine and 128-voice polyphony for electric pianos and other sounds.
It also has eight knobs with LED status indicators, nine sliders for real-time control of sounds and effects and eight fully assignable zones for combining internal sounds and external sources.
It’s made of hybrid wood and molded construction for durability.
Designed especially for the stage and studio, the design and functionality of this piano is worth the asking price.
Customers have been overwhelmingly happy with their purchase, so put the Roland on your radar.
Korg Grandstage 88 Stage Piano
The Korg Grandstage digital piano comes with 88 hammer action keys, 500 sounds and L/R main, L/R balanced outputs, phones, damper, switch, pedal, MIDI In/Out, USB MIDI and USB for storage media in terms of connectivity.
From acoustic and electric pianos to synths, you can pull a wide variety of sounds out of this keyboard. Plus, they all sound great. The operation is quite straightforward too. You’d be hard pressed to ask for more.
The main upsides of this piano is that it offers a wide range of sounds and is great for home and stage.
But hammer-action keys aren’t necessarily great for synth playing and the keyboard can take a while to boot up.
This versatile Korg is great for players that want to be able to play a variety of sounds.
Nord 3 88-Key Digital Stage Piano With Full Weighted Hammer Action Keybed
I love Nord keyboards. And, I know that many players out there do too.
It seems to be a bit of a debated issue because some keyboardists feel its sound isn’t authentic enough. I’ll let you be the judge (i.e. watch some demos on YouTube).
The Nord 3 comes with super-clear OLED displays, extended split functionality with optional crossfade, a Song List Mode, doubled memory for the piano section for the Nord Piano Library, 120 voice polyphony and piano filters.
The C2D organ simulation B3 tone wheel and Vintage Transistor Organs and two new Principal Pipe Organs is award winning.
The synth section comes with Nord Lead A1 Synth Engine and Sample Playback and OLED display for Oscillator functions.
The effects section features a brand new Filter Effect, extended morphable parameters, an enhanced Delay effect and a separate Reverb and Compressor for each slot.
To be fair, Nord is most known for their organ and electric piano sounds. But that doesn’t mean their piano sounds are a slouch.
You’ll likely have a hard time finding negative reviews for this digital piano, however, making the high price tag worth it.
What Should I Look For In A Digital Piano?
Though the basic functionality of a digital piano is comparable across the board, they aren’t all the same. There are different brands and models, different types of keys, different speaker systems, different sounds and effects, and so on.
So, what’s right for another may not be right for you. It’s worth doing a little bit of research and digging before you decide.
Here are a few questions that can help you decide on a digital piano.
What Is Your Budget?
As you’ve already seen, digital pianos can cost several hundred – and at times – several thousand dollars. Typically, you do get a better-quality product when you pay more. But there are different solutions for different folks. If you’re just getting started, you probably don’t need the most expensive product on the market. If you’re a purist, then maybe a $7,000 digital piano isn’t what you’re looking for (hint: It might be time to start looking at grand pianos). With that in mind, digital pianos at that level do offer something special.
Your budget will help you determine what piano you can afford, and which is right for you.
How Will You Be Using It?
The three most common uses of a digital piano are practicing, performing, and recording. If you’re just practicing, you may not require a quality sound. But if you’re going to be recording or performing, you may want to look for a keyboard that sounds good plugged in. If you’re going to be using it for everything, then it’s better to have a good quality sound period.
Think about how you’re planning to use the piano. This should help with the buying process.
What Sounds Do You Need?
This goes hand in hand with the last question.
How you intend to use the keyboard will play an important role in your buying decision.
Is a good piano sound all you’re looking for? Or, would you like to be able to use electric piano, organ, synth and other sounds too?
It doesn’t make much sense to pay for more than you need, though it’s always nice to have some wiggle room.
This will also depend on how you’re going to be playing the keyboard. Will you be jamming with others? Will you be playing in a band? Are you going to be doing some solo performances?
If you’re going to be playing in a band, then having more tones is generally an asset. If you’re doing recitals or solo performances, then a piano sound may be all you need.
You may already know one way or another but this is an important point to consider when buying a digital piano.
Do You Need Additional Tech?
As you’ve already seen, digital pianos today can come with a variety of tech options, including Bluetooth, USB, apps, and so on. This tech may be fun, and even useful in some situations. But inevitably you will pay more for these features, and if you don’t need them, then you may not want to sink more money than you need to into a keyboard. And, these features don’t always work as well as they should, either.
Is A Digital Piano As Good As A Real Piano?
It depends on what “real” piano you’re comparing it to. Just as digital pianos vary in quality (you can find ones that cost thousands of dollars), “real” pianos also vary in quality. Many digital pianos have a great sound, and closely emulate what a grand piano would sound like recorded.
In many ways, this closely follows the digital vs. analog debate that has been going on for years. You can’t emulate the warmth of analog equipment with digital gear, nor can you get the exacting pristine sound of digital equipment with analog gear. Or so we’re told. Some say you should take this with a grain of salt.
An acoustic instrument has certain qualities, while a digital instrument has its own qualities. It’s better to think of this difference between a digital piano and an acoustic piano as a comparison between an acoustic and electric guitar, as opposed to the difference between two acoustic guitars made by different brands.
But in the end, the simple answer is “no”. A digital piano will never sound or feel exactly as a real piano does.
How Many Keys Do I Need?
All the keyboards mentioned in the above list have 88 keys, though you can also purchase 49-key, 61-key, and sometimes other models.
An 88-key keyboard is probably ideal for playing most music. Not that a lot of music is played in the lower and higher registers of a piano, but on those occasions when you need those extra keys, it can be frustrating to be playing a smaller keyboard.
Conversely, if you’re regularly gigging, an 88-key keyboard might prove cumbersome to haul around. This still comes down to preference, but if you can think on your feet and are adept at arranging for fewer keys, you might prefer going about things this way.
If you’re mostly practicing from home, then an 88-key digital piano is probably what you want.
Can I Learn To Play Piano On A Digital Piano?
Experts suggest you can – so long as the piano has 88, fully weighted keys that respond to dynamics. It won’t be any harder or easier to learn than an analog piano.
As I’ve already shared, a digital piano will never sound or feel exactly as an acoustic piano does, but a good quality one is still an option worth considering.
I’m not a purist myself, and wouldn’t have any problem practicing on a piano that didn’t have all the above. I would want to upgrade as my skills improved, but there would have to be a reason for it – I don’t see much point in buying more piano than I need off the bat. Imagine spending a lot of money on a piece of equipment you don’t even use!
Either way, I would suggest thinking about what your goals are and what the best path is for you. If you’re on a budget, then you may not even have the option of starting with a quality piano. So, just having one to practice on is better than not practicing at all.
Should I Practice On A Digital Piano Or Real Piano?
No purist would agree to the notion that all pianos are created equally, because this is simply not the case.
But for most players, a digital piano is perfect for practice. Many do have weighted keys that resemble (but aren’t exactly like) what you would find on a real piano. You may have noticed terms like “weighted”, “graded hammer”, “responsive hammer compact”, and others. These are all references to the action of the keys themselves, which affect the feel of the instrument.
When considering how to practice, it is important to keep your goals in mind. If you want to play in bands and utilize a variety of sounds, you’re probably not going to be performing with a grand piano anyway. Or, if you do, it will be for a limited number of songs.
If you’re part of the orchestra (or aspiring to be), then you’re almost certainly going to be playing a grand piano in concert, though you may not own one for use at home. An upright piano might be better suited to your needs.
I don’t personally see a problem practicing on a decent quality keyboard, because the skills transfer over no matter what. It just may take some getting used to playing another instrument that isn’t your own if you need to. If money’s really tight, you may even consider a virtual piano.
Best Digital Piano Conclusion
Digital pianos are great for students, hobbyists, recording musicians, and even pros, depending on the application. They are less cumbersome than acoustic pianos, are more portable, tend to come with more tonal options than an acoustic piano (for obvious reasons), and are usually more affordable.
Are they great for everything? No. But most pianists tend not to haul an entire grand piano around when gigging. If they’re a concert pianist, they probably didn’t have to move the grand piano into place in the first place.
Digital pianos are getting better and better over time, and will continue to evolve and inspire pianists and keyboard players.