Best Digital Piano Review in 2018

The right digital piano can improve your musical experience and increase your playing enjoyment. While most digital pianos look the same, an inexperienced buyer may get sucked in by the number of instrument voices it boasts or the addition of a digital display. Knowledge will help you avoid the most common mistakes when buying a digital piano, and you'll be able to enjoy your investment for years to come.

Things To Consider

Selection

Best Digital Piano

There are many options available for people who are looking for a quality digital piano. Your budget, interests, playing ability and personal needs all come into play. When looking for a digital piano, you'll want to choose one of the top brands. There are over 300 manufacturers of digital pianos and many of them skip corners to save costs. It's worth paying an extra 10 to 20 percent more to get a piano that functions properly and will last. If you're looking for a piano online, there are certain aspects of the playing experience you won't be able to test. Customer reviews and brand quality are two components that can help you make the right decision and choose a quality instrument to fit your needs.

Benefits

If you're looking to purchase a digital piano because acoustic pianos are too expensive, you're on the right track. The fact is, it's impossible to accurately replicate the sound of an acoustic piano with a digital piano. However, the better digital pianos have onboard computers and sample memory so that the piano can use real piano sounds to perform your piece. A sample library is a collection of notes sampled from a real piano. The better libraries will sample each note of the piano using different mic positions and at various dynamic levels. From there, the software can enable the sounds to blend in a way that is very similar to a traditional acoustic piano. While it's not perfect, you'll get a realistic sound if you can afford to spend a few hundred dollars on a decent digital piano.

Buying Criteria

Price is going to be the determining factor for most people interested in purchasing a digital piano, but it really shouldn't be the primary reason to purchase a musical instrument. If you want a digital piano that replicates the sound and experience of playing a real acoustic piano, you can get by spending less if you choose a digital piano that leaves out some of the unneeded features. Many digital pianos are stocked with cheap sample libraries and several instrument sounds as a way of reducing the cost and increasing the perceived value. There are only a few criteria that really matter when getting a digital piano.

First, the digital piano must have some form of weighted keys. A real piano has keys that have a certain amount of push back against the player. This tension of the keys is important so that the keys will spring back into place and the performer doesn't accidentally play the wrong key. Digital pianos without any resistance make it too easy to play the wrong note since the keys are easily depressed. The second feature is the ability of the piano to play with varying volumes and intensities. This means you need a piano that is touch-sensitive. A real piano will play louder or softer depending on how hard you depress the keys. A touch-sensitive digital piano will do the same. The final aspect to consider is the amount of polyphony. This refers to the number of notes that piano can play at once. The lowest you should go is 32 notes. The highest polyphony available on a digital piano is 264 notes. A decent digital piano should use polyphony of 64 notes or higher, and it should also have a full 88-key keyboard.

Care and Use

Most digital pianos don't require much care. Unplug the piano from the wall and wipe it down with a damp, but not wet, rag and you're good to go. It's best not to use household cleaners on the piano, but if it has wooden components you may wish to use furniture polish. The piano should be kept in an area that is away from direct sunlight to prevent warping. You'll also want to make sure the piano is in an area where it won't accidentally get wet or bumped into. Your piano is an investment, and there are also specially designed kits you can use to clean the keys. A good dusting every now and then is also a good idea. Many musicians will buy covers for their piano to prevent dust from getting inside the piano.

Controversy

The main controversy over digital pianos is whether a beginning student really needs an expensive instrument. This is especially a concern for parents who aren't sure if their child is going to enjoy the instrument enough to continue. Justifying the expense of a good digital piano is always difficult, but consider the fact that if you purchase a digital piano with subpar sound and that doesn't operate like a real piano, your child may lose interest and never give the instrument a chance. There are so many developmental benefits that come from learning to play a musical instrument that it would be a crime to not give a beginning student a chance to learn on a quality instrument. The instrument doesn't need to be perfect, but it should at least include basic features like touch sensitivity, 88 weighted keys and good polyphony. Make the decision to refuse to compromise on those three features, and you'll end up with a decent piano.

Prerequisites

Before buying a digital piano, you should assess your needs. If you need to take the piano with you on gigs, then you're going to need to get a piano that is portable. If portability isn't an issue, you may be able to get a piano that is a bit heavier and costs a little less. Portable pianos tend to be made with lighter and cheaper materials. A piano that isn't portable makes it possible to use better quality materials, but it also may end up weighing close to 200 pounds. A classical performer is also going to want a piano that offers the highest polyphony possible while a popular performer may only need a piano that offers a huge sample library and plenty of sounds.

Selection Criteria

For our recommendations, we're only going to look at pianos in the $200 to $400 range. All of the pianos selected have 88 keys and good sound quality throughout the range. There are digital pianos that cost upwards of $3,000, but these are suited more toward the professional pianist.

Five Best Digital Piano

Yamaha YDP-160

Best Digital Piano

This piano boasts plenty of features to ensure that you get a memorable playing experience. It's a non-portable upright piano, but the benefit to this is a more robust and reliable piano. The piano comes with three damper pedals to replicate the sound of a real piano, and you'll be able to play any classical piece with the right technique on this piano. The damper pedal uses a half-damper function to simulate a real piano, and you'll get 50 songs pre-loaded into the system to aid you in your practicing or to experience the brilliant tone of the piano.

  • Uses real stereo sampled sounds to replicate the sound of a real piano
  • Built-in song recorder makes it possible to play back your songs for additional critique
  • Nuanced control over the sound of the piano and graded volume levels
  • ​The piano is not portable
  • Included damper pedals means you can't use your own
  • Key action is smooth but the clacking may bother others in the room
  • Yamaha YDP 143B

    Best Digital Piano

    While this piano won't appeal to those who want a portable piano, it's loaded with extra equipment that makes it a real value buy. The piano uses a weighted action and gives a pure sound in the high and low register. As with an acoustic piano, the higher keys are lighter and easier to depress than the lower keys. This makes it possible to get a good feel for how a real piano will sound. The piano comes with extra components, including a bench, headphones, dust cover and a piano book. Although advanced players likely won't care for the piano book, it's useful for teaching others to play the piano.

    • Sturdy design and attractive finish make this a welcome addition to any home
    • A rich graphical user interface makes it easier to make selections
    • The matching bench makes it possible to get started playing right away
    • The piano isn't portable and weighs over 100 pounds
    • The bench is useful, but it's not adjustable
    • The power button feels a little flimsy, but it powers on just fine

    Roland F-120-WH

    Best Digital Piano

    Roland is synonymous with quality when it comes to musical instruments. They have a long history of creating exceptional electronic instruments, but you have to be careful because they produce both low- and high-end instruments. This particular piano isn't portable, but it will give you an outstanding sound, realistic action for the keys and it also has an energy saving function. The piano turns off automatically after a period of inactivity. You'll also love the option to select from a satin black or white finish. It's an exceptionally clean, no-fuss piano that will make your playing experience memorable.

    • Weighted keys are designed to replicate the feel of a real piano
    • Multiple velocities and volume levels help to give this piano a realistic sound
    • The sound of the low and high notes are accurate and even seem to produce some overtones
    • ​Weighing close to 100 pounds, this isn't a piano you can take with you
  • The piano is a solid piano, but some may not like its blockish look
  • Some of the highs reveal that its not an acoustic piano with tinny and thin sounds
  • Yamaha P155

    Best Digital Piano

    There is nothing like a bit of wood affixed to the top of the piano to make it feel like you're playing a solidly built piano. This piano is portable, and it comes with a host of features that you'll enjoy. This piano boasts 88 keys and 128-note polyphony for a high-quality sound that will make it possible to reproduce your music effectively and accurately. The piano also offers dynamic stereo sampling, and you'll be able to choose from four separate layers of stereo samples to get just the right sound. The piano also emulates the sound of half-pedaling, which makes this the perfect piano for learning complex works.

    • The pedal allows the option for half-pedaling to perform classical pieces realistically
    • Real sampled piano sounds makes the piano sound like the real deal
    • The piano uses a graded hammer design for expressive and realistic playing
    • Sustain pedal only offers one function, and is not a three-pronged pedal
    • Doesn't offer a MIDI controller output
    • Reverb is good but thin on the higher settings

    Yamaha DGX-650WH

    Best Digital Piano

    Boasting both portability and fixed settings, this piano comes with a stand that makes it easy to disconnect the keyboard from the rest of the unit. You'll enjoy an 88-note keyboard to play even the most demanding musical works. The damper resonance option creates the natural overtones that are normally missing from a digital piano. This gives the sound of a piano that is constructed with real, copper wire strings. The piano also offers USB audio recording and playback with recording quality sound. The piano provides a realistic concert piano sound thanks in large part to the professional sampler built inside the piano.

    • Headphones make playing in an apartment or late at night possible without disturbing others
    • Realistic sound production replicates the sound of real strings
    • Weighted key action resembles a real piano
    • It comes with a sustain pedal, but the other two pedals are not included
    • An optional LPTA pedal unit is available for additional cost
    • Headphones aren't the best quality for realistic tone reproduction

    Conclusion

    The Yamaha DGX-650WH is our preferred pick. It offers the best of both worlds with good portability and excellent sound. You'll also save money since the bench isn't included. Ultimately, a pianist needs an adjustable bench to reduce strain and make certain they are playing level with the keyboard. This piano also offers the most realistic sound reproduction of the bunch, which is largely due to the exceptional damper resonance that reproduces the sounds of real strings. This piano will also appeal to those who like to record their own songs and it comes with the ability to record directly into the unit. The amatuer to professional will love this piano, and it's at the right price to make it possible with most any budget.

    Stephanie Su
     

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