Best Digital Piano 2017 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
It is common knowledge to everyone that the grand piano or a classical piano takes up so much space at home. This is why most musicians who do not have much room for a classical piano just opt for a digital one.
Finding the best digital piano should not only be cheaper, but it should also sound similar to an acoustic piano. Furthermore, maintenance and storage is a must too.
The 5 Best Digital Pianos You Should Check
The Yamaha DGX-660 is the second cheapest in our list at around $780-$850. It is also probably one of the best bargains you will get in the market. It is a standard digital piano that comes with many extras makes the price tag all the more attractive.
The DGX-660 comes with an instructional video, instruction book, polishing cloth, dust cover, sustain pedal, and furniture-style bench. For the sound, Yamaha’s DGX-660 emulates a concert grand piano’s sound. This is made possible by Yamaha’s Pure CF Sampling sound engine.
The piano also comes with an authentic piano touch and an 88-note weighted GHS keyboard. The keys produce a truer sound thanks to the Damper Resonance feature of this piano.
Here, Yamaha further discusses the DGX-660’s features and design.
- Incredibly cheap for the amount of add-ons it has.
- The piano resonates a sound similar to a grand piano
Comes with a Pure CF sampling sound engine that generates a more realistic sound.
88 weighted notes give you a closer performance to that of playing a grand piano.
- Comes with pre-recorded songs that help you practice.
- It comes with alternative voices
Tunes like organ and harpsichord helps you practice Bach or church songs.
- The backboard material is not sturdy. It can be prone to breakage due to low-quality wood.
- The furniture-style bench is not fit for tall people that are around 6 feet in height. It will be good if there’s variation.
- Learning guide that comes with it is quite complicated to understand.
Yamaha’s YDP143R Arius series delivers the conveniences of a digital piano without sacrificing an acoustic piano’s performance. The excellent performance of the Arius comes from the CF Sound Engine that is modeled after Yamaha’s grand pianos.
This engine meticulously delivers the right tone that’s best for expressive playing. The Arius also presents an advancement in its approach on pianos. This is because it comes with the controller app for iOS devices. This enables you to navigate and configure your piano using a rich graphic interface.
The Arius’ Graded Hammer keyboard is also perfect for playing. The keys are made from ivory which gives you the best touch. Moreover, you can play this piano with a pedal. It has a half damper control feature which creates the subtlety of a grand piano.
Check this link for Yamaha’s in-depth discussion of the Arius YDP143R.
- New Headphone Experience
Stereophonic Optimizer gives you control on the spacing of the sound and separation from the piano.
- Preloaded songs
Over 50 playable songs to follow and learn are available.
- iOS compatibility
The Digital Piano Controller app is ideal for easy use of your piano. You can now use your touchscreen when fixing the settings, recording songs, and much more.
- Realistic pedal performance
It comes with a stereo sustain which creates mellow reverberations when the damper pedal is depressed. This creates a more realistic sound.
- 2-track song recorder
Gives you an option to practice one hand at a time or record a song.
- The bench that comes along with it is too narrow.
- Sound may feel electronic in the upper registers
You can further notice this if the damper resonance feature is enabled.
- Pedals are hard to operate
The pedals are quite stiff, but it might loosen over time.
- The build may be not durable. The cover may be stiff and hard to close.
The One Smart Digital Piano comes in either classic white or classic black. It is different from other digital pianos because it uses LED lights and software to guide your performance. This LED feature makes it the best and only Apple MFi certified interactive piano.
This interactive piano comes with a free app that can teach you a song in around 5 minutes. You can download thousands of songs and learn it by yourself. It works for both iOS and Android.
This video shows the sound and interactive features of The One Smart digital piano.
The digital piano is robustly built. It’s a classic wooden piano, and the music system does not disappoint. It comes with professional stereo sound, 88 weighted keys, and three piano pedals.
- Ideal for beginners
Offers a different way of learning by having free mobile apps, downloadable tutorials, video instructions, and much more.
- LED lights guide you by lighting up which key to press.
- You can connect the piano to any device supported by Apple and Android.
- The piano sound emanates a great, non-digital sound that makes you feel like you are playing a grand piano.
- Full dynamics control
Comes with a built-in metronome and volume control for peaceful playing.
- Quite big. Thus, it might be difficult to assemble and move.
- Can have problems synchronizing with Android devices.
- Not an advanced digital piano
It focuses more on beginner tutorials and fast learning
Doesn’t offer advanced features in sound and technique.
- Song choice for tutorials and practice are limited.
- May be a challenge to operate because it has too many features.
The Alesis Coda Pro is an 88-key digital piano that offers much versatility. It features hammer action keys for your musical performance. Moreover, its keyboard can also be split into equal halves. This gives you room to play the piano with an instructor or friend.
It is the cheapest product at around $380-$580. The full price range is due to the option of purchasing it with or without the stand. So if you are looking to save money and you do not need a piano stand, then this is a good option. Of course, if you buy the stand you will have sustain pedals along with it.
Before purchasing, you’re also given the option to choose between two styles: Hammer action or Semi-weighted keys. Having these options present should help you decide on which is the best piano for you.
The sound from the Alesis Coda Pro is also top-notch. It gives off a great acoustic piano sound. The octaves are low and muffled when played in the bass. This makes it similar to an authentic piano.
Check this video for more on the Alesis Coda Pro’s sound and quality.
- Sounds like a traditional piano
If you are looking for a digital piano that doesn’t produce clean tunes, then the Alesis could be for you. This is because it gives off a somewhat incomplete tune that doesn’t make it sound digital compared to keyboards that always sounds perfectly.
Lower bass octaves sound exactly similar to authentic pianos.
- Has new features that are unique such as:
Great built-in speakers. It comes with a fast boot feature that turns the speaker on in just 10 seconds.
There are only 20 instruments, but all are rich in quality. All of these instruments such as harpsichord and clavichord respond to velocity when playing.
- Offers much versatility when buying
Comes with four options that can save you money help you specify your needs.
- Weighted keys may be quite stiff
Although this can be seen as positive by musicians who have tried playing an authentic piano for longer periods, it is not ideal for easy use.
- There are no bells and whistles that can give you added effects in your performance.
- There is an absence of user presets
These preset can help you store settings used for functions like Voice and Key to be used in playing a song.
- Sustain pedal is underwhelming
The sound does not last long. It needs help from a reverb.
Doesn’t produce a beautiful harp sound that you will normally get. Sustain pedal is quite weak.
The Casio PX860 Privia is a very sleek digital home piano that can either come in black, white or brown. It features 88 ebony and ivory keys. Thus, you will get the best feel whenever you play each key on this digital piano.
Having ivory and ebony-made keys gives you the advantage of touch sensitivity. Hence, it significantly boosts your music performance!
A Grand Revolution
One of Casio’s highlights in the PX860 Privia is their slogan “A Grand Revolution.” By this, Casio features and advanced AiR sound set. AiR or Acoustic Intelligence Resonator aims to replicate acoustic sounds of grand pianos. This set provides you a new level of realism for your piano’s sound.
This feature is coupled with their new keyboard action, the Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II. Combining these two features gives you a new level of detail and nuance that benefits your grand digital piano experience.
PX860’s piano sound source named “AiR” mimics the unusual sound of a 9-foot grand concert piano.The sound is engineered to meet the four dynamic levels in music.
The key action of this digital piano is scaled to match the weight and resistance action of an 88-note grand piano. The three sensors that were mentioned earlier capture the dynamics of your performance with high accuracy and speed.
To further guide you, here’s a demonstration by Casio in playing the PRIVIA PX860
- Comes with a three-year warranty
- Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Keyboard provides great features
Has a Hammer Response feature that considers the rate at which different hammers move inside. This is measured along with the given velocity when you press the keys.
- Offers 256 notes of polyphony
You also have a choice of 18 instrument tones.
- Provides split layer
You can play bass with your left hand while play two layered tones with your right.
Also, comes with a Duet mode that splits the keyboard in equal ranges.
- High-quality audio recordings of 10 live philharmonic orchestra performances.
- Very cheap compared to other brands. Comes with a bundle promo too.
- Sustain pedals do not sound or feel like an acoustic piano
The pedals do not mesh together to create a cohesive sound when playing.
Quite easy to press. Not necessarily a bad thing but it can make you feel uncomfortable if you started with a grand piano.
The connection can be loose if you try to unplug the pedal.
- The base of the piano is not sturdy
- Tones can be sometimes shallow.
What Is A Digital Piano?
A digital piano can usually have a range of 44, 66 or 88 keys. An 88 key digital piano is the standard range of keys you should have to produce as many flats and sharps as the full key grand piano.
Remember that a full grand piano has a lot more keys than portable ones like the digital piano. So, if you want the full range of keys, it is better to look into grand pianos.
Just as we mentioned earlier, a digital piano mimics the sound and the feel of a real grand piano. Moreover, by the term “feel’, this means that your digital piano should also emulate the sensitivity of the keys of a real piano.
The harder or the heavier you press the keys, the louder and stronger the music it produces. The lighter you press on the keys, the softer the music should be. Unfortunately, not all digital pianos have this feature.
Some older models are not updated with this particular characteristic. However, if you intend to learn how a real piano is like or if you want to get the same feel, you should invest on a digital piano with the key sensitivity feature.
How Is A Digital Piano Different From Its Other Kinds?
However, note that a digital piano is distinct from a keyboard organ and an electronic keyboard/piano. Unlike the keyboard organ or the electronic keyboard, the digital piano cannot produce effects, record music or be connected to a computer.
The digital piano only replicates the feel and the sound of a real classical piano. The classical piano is also known as the acoustic piano.
Also keep in mind that there are lots of other kinds in this categories as well. Research well on what you want to get before clicking the “Add to Cart” button. There are several terms used for digital pianos which you might confuse for another one.
For instance, the digital piano is also known as a piano synthesizer, portable piano or weighted keyboard.
The keyboard organ or electronic keyboard, on the other hand, is more on the technological side. You can play the electronic keyboard through your earphones. They usually come with sustain pedals much like a guitar does.
Here is a discussion on the difference of electronic keyboards from digital pianos.
You can experiment with the music you are making by adding effects and plugging the electronic keyboard to your computer to further edit.
They also come with pre-downloaded music and can record whatever music you are playing even without another recording device. This recorded music can be played back in the electronic keyboard itself.
What To Look For When Buying A Digital Piano?
Just as we mentioned earlier, it is very crucial that your digital piano mimics the sound of an acoustic piano. This is the whole purpose of a digital piano. If it sounds any less than that, you might want to reconsider your buy.
Most digital pianos can accurately mimic the sound and feel of an acoustic piano because of their hammer action, touch key sensitivity levels and weighted keys.
If you meticulously look into the components of an acoustic piano or the grand piano, you would see the hammer action that happens whenever you press its keys. That is what creates the unique full sound of a full press on a piano key.
Personally, the first thing I look into when trying a digital piano for the first time is its keys. How many keys does it have? Does it have enough to cover the standard range of piano keys? Are the keys made out of plastic or ivory?
A lot of long time musicians overlook the keys of their keyboard or piano. Plastic is the most common and cheapest material out there for piano keys.
However, if you want to get the best feel to your digital piano, you must pay attention to its keys. Ivory keys usually add more weight to every press on the key. This greatly affects the music produced by your piano.
In this video, you’ll see the Graded Hammer Action (GHS) feature present in Yamaha’s digital pianos. We will further talk about this in our product review later.
This is in contrary to the notion that plastic keys with the right technology might replicate how ivory keys would sound like. A full or semi-weighted keyboard is a splendid starting point if you want to grasp how playing on a grand piano is like without going through the hefty price and size of a grand piano.
The second thing I look at is its essential features, is it touch sensitive? Does it have a synthesizer? A MIDI controller keyboard? Does it come with a sustain pedal? How durable/sturdy is it when I start playing music from it.
Here’s a tutorial that further explains what a MIDI controller is.
Keep in mind that not all these features are present in all digital piano models.
Depending on your concerns and preferences, look carefully into the features. For example, if you are a beginner, opting for a digital piano which does not have hammer action or semi-weighted might not be the best idea.
You do not always have to get the model with the latest features or most advanced technology to get the best out of your buy. If you only want to learn the piano, why not get a simpler yet durable model?
Although these certain features come with a hefty price, you would not want to sacrifice the durability or the music quality of your digital piano, right?
Is The Brand Relevant?
Lastly, I look at the name. Funnily, buying a digital piano is one of those instances when you can trust the brand for its quality.
These are those instances where you know you are not only paying for the brand name but its quality as well. Usually, the most popular brands like Yamaha, Roland, Korg, and Casio are among some of the best out there. Traditional piano brands often live up to their names, doing what they claim they do.
However, this might not always be the case. You have to look at specific models and versions to make sure you get the best out of the deal.
Moreover, there are also several other competing brands out there which you can try and are as good. This is especially if you only want to learn the piano and are not mindful of the brand name.
For a more detailed review on what to look for when buying digital pianos.
How To Keep Your Digital Piano In Best Shape
Cleaning and Maintaining
Despite being a lot cheaper than a grand piano, a digital piano still deserves Tender Loving Care to keep it in the best shape. In a view to prolonging the life of your digital piano, you must religiously follow the do’s and don’ts.
First, you must not underestimate the impact of dust and dirt on your instrument. Just because the interior of your digital piano is not as opened and exposed as a grand piano’s, this does not mean that it will not accumulate dust.
Make sure to dust your digital piano, especially its keys, now and then. Although you might’ve heard already cleaning your digital piano with water or a damp cloth is bad, this is not entirely accurate.
You can use warm water to dampen your cleaning cloth then pat the keys dry later on with a dry cloth. You can also use a Q-tip for hard to reach places.
Be careful not to leave and droplets or moisture on your keys. It is also a good idea to buy a piano cover. A keyboard cover is not only useful when traveling, but it is also necessary even when your instrument is going to be sitting at home.
Should you feel the need to, consult the manual to get more info on how to properly clean your digital piano.
Here’s a quick tutorial in cleaning all kinds of pianos.
Your Digital Piano Components and Its Interior
Second, take note of the location. Keep your digital piano away from heat, water, moisture or direct sunlight. Too much humidity can damage the components of your digital piano and shorten its lifespan.
Another aspect you should look into is: Is your digital piano going to experience a lot of foot traffic? Will people bump or hit it when they pass by? You must not underestimate the damage this can bring to your piano.
Third, check faulty wirings and power outlets before plugging your digital piano in. Faulty wirings and incompatible power outlets might cause your digital piano’s components to heat up and bust.
Fourth, remember to turn off your digital piano before unplugging it. Just like any other devices or appliances, it also needs to be unplugged when not in use.
Lastly, your digital piano should simply be an instrument. Do not use it as a shelf, a leaning wall or a table. Applying pressure or heavy weight on your digital piano will not only cause a scratch or a dent its surface, but it can also affect its sound.
Moreover, when the time comes that you need some repairing to do with your digital piano, consult professionals—especially, if you are not familiar with the components and interior. Try to fix whatever is wrong with your instrument by randomly touching on some parts.
Nothing beats the quality of a well maintained musical instrument! The price, brand or features should only come in second. When investing in musical instruments, it is essential that you know what to do with them when you get them.
Although there are a lot of great pianos to choose from, the Yamaha DGX-660 stands above the rest. Not only do you get a fantastic bargain for the piano, but you also get a lot of extra add-ons. The cheap price tag below $1000 saves you much money without sacrificing the piano’s sound quality.
Furthermore, there aren’t many flaws with this piano. It does have problems with the backboard material. However, if you are all in for sound quality and easy performance, then this digital piano is for you.
Surely, the Yamaha DGX-660 does not try to do much. Yamaha has made this a straightforward piano that aims to deliver acoustic piano performance and sound. You will not go wrong with this one!