Just like any other purchase decision, research is crucial! The digital piano industry can be confusing and overwhelming. There are so many brands and models, each has its own features and specs. To help you with that, I list my best pick of digital pianos in 2021 and share with you my knowledge of the industry. Are you looking for your very first piano to start learning this amazing instrument? Or maybe you are looking to upgrade your current keyboard because your skill has out-grown it. Are you a student or a pianist looking for a secondary piano to practice at home? Or are you in a band and need a good piano to perform from place to place? Maybe you just really want a concert grand but don’t have the budget nor the space to accommodate it. Whatever your reasons are, if you are looking for the best digital pianos for your need in 2021, you have landed on the right place.
Along the years, the digital piano industry has come a long way. Newer and better technologies are being pushed out every year by major manufactures. There are quite some amazing choices in 2021 to meet your different needs.
- The good news of the industry expanding is that digital pianos now a days have very realistic key actions and natural sound. In many ways, they are superior to your traditional upright acoustic piano. I do firmly believe that it will come a day when digital pianos replace acoustic ones for home use.
- The bad news however is that there are so many models from so many brands and various different technology terms. It can be a taunting task to compare and find the right digital piano for you.
To help find the perfect digital piano for you, here are some buyer’s guide to consider:
Whether you have no experience and want to benefit from learning piano, or you are a performing pianist, your skill level is one of the key factors to determine which digital piano is right for you.
Portability is another major factor. If you are in a band performing from venue to venue, you simply can not use a console style digital piano.
Last but definitely not the least is your budget. Due to the heavy competition in the industry, I’m happy to report that most digital pianos on the market are properly priced. However, there are many bells and whistles that you might not want to be paying for. This is why checking reviews before you purchase is so important.
WHAT WE’LL BE LOOKING AT HERE
Before we get to my list of best digital pianos in 2021, I want to first set some criteria so that you understand what we are looking at here.
Piano play is the main purpose here when I compile this list. Other instrument voices would be a nice addition but they are not my main focus.
All the models I list here are equipped with 88 keys. That to me is simply a must if you want to learn and practice piano.
The keys must be weighted with hammer, graded and are touch sensitive.
They need to be weighted because the keys on acoustic pianos are. And you need that weight to express emotion during your play. The weight need to be created with actual hammers instead of springs. This is the best way to ensure a realistic key action.
To get on this list, the keys also need to be graded. This means the weight on each key is different. It is to reproduce the key action on an acoustic piano. The weight is heaviest on the bass and gets lighter towards the treble. You need this to be able to easily switch to an acoustic piano after practicing on your digital piano.
Just like an acoustic piano, the keys on a digital piano need to be touch sensitive. The volume of the sound produced is controlled by the strength and speed of the key press. This is another necessity for a proper piano play experience.
The models on this best digital pianos 2021 list are judged based on key action, piano sound quality, relevant features and price.
DIGITAL vs. ACOUSTIC PIANO
If you are new to the digital piano world, one of the first thing you would ask yourself is whether you should get a digital piano or would you be better off purchasing an acoustic piano. Here I want to help you with some of their pros and cons so that you can look at your need and limitations to choose the right one.
The sound of an acoustic piano is produced by the hammer hitting the string. The string then vibrates and creating a sound wave that not only moves directly toward the players ears but also projects at all directions and bounces off components inside and outside of the instrument. The sound is immersive and full of subtle nuances. The drawback however is that sound quality varies largely from cheaper upright models to expensive concert grand ones.
Digital piano on the other hand uses various technologies to re-produce the sound of an acoustic piano and then delivers that sound with its speaker system. It usually contains less nuances due to the limitation of the electronics on board. Dynamic range is another disadvantage of digital piano sound and that could limit the control and expressiveness of your performance. However, with most digital pianos, you usually get samples from the world’s best acoustic concert grand. This makes many digital pianos sound better than a cheap acoustic upright. Another benefit of digital pianos is that they usually let you easily tweak and fine tune the sound characteristics to your liking. To do that on an acoustic piano, you will need to hire a professional technician.
Digital pianos over the years have much improved their key actions but still could not quite meet the level of control and expressiveness from an acoustic piano. However, quite a few premium models and hybrid models come really close and many can not tell the difference. Generally speaking, acoustic pianos still have the better key actions. However, bear in mind that acoustic upright and grand pianos have very different key mechanism. And since most digital pianos are mimicking actions from grand piano, you might prefer a digital piano to an acoustic upright.
If you go for an acoustic piano, you will need to be mindful to the maintenance needed own the road. The exterior, soundboard, wooden components, felt on the hammer and the steel strings are all parts that would be subject to age, humidity and temperature. As a result, you not only need to keep your instrument under ideal environment, but also need to tune the piano couple times a year. These could mount to be exhausting and expensive. Meanwhile, a digital piano is mostly care free.
Digital pianos provide many valuable features that are simply not possible on acoustic pianos. Many would choose a digital piano over an acoustic one for this reason alone.
- Portability: While acoustic pianos are heavy and bulky, digital ones come with all sizes and weights. You can find ones that you can carry with one arm and are ideal for gigs. There are other digital pianos that are so slim they can be fit in a hallway. Furthermore, if you live in an apartment upstairs, you can easily move your digital piano through the stairs or elevator. While with an acoustic one, you will need some professional help.
- Headphone: Digital pianos allow you to practice and play using headphones. This is to many the biggest advantage of a digital instrument. It can save a lot headaches and embarrassment for your neighbors and family members when you just want to smash some keys in the middle of the night.
- More Instruments: Almost all digital pianos come with multiple piano sounds as well as some other instrument voices. You can choose the sound best suited for the piece you are working on and even layer it with a secondary instrument. It is a lot of fun playing with all the different sounds and fuel you with creative ideas.
- Recording and Connectivity: Most digital pianos on the market right now allow you to record your performance so that you can play it back and fine tune your technique or expression. Many also give you the capability to mix multiple tracks so that you can really compose your own piece. Furthermore, all of them have ports or Bluetooth to connect with your computer and you can do your magic with software.
Price & Accommodation
Digital pianos are almost always cheaper than their acoustic counterparts. The difference in price is very significant and that would most likely be a major factor for your consideration. Accommodation is another strong point to go for a digital piano. We all love a 9 foot acoustic concert grand. But you better buy a huge house first.
DIGITAL PIANO TERMINOLOGY
While researching on the best digital piano for you, it is inevitable to encounter numerous terminologies. These can be overwhelming and it’s a taunting task to figure what each of them means. To add to the confusion, each manufacture tends to use their own term and you end up with several different names for the same thing. To set things straight for you, I list some of the most important terminologies and explain what they are.
- Key Action
- Sensors: Instead of strings, a digital piano uses sensors to measure the timing and volume of the sound it should produce. It starts with two sensors. When the key/hammer moves from one sensor to the other, they measure the time difference thus to understand the speed of the movement. This gives you control of volume by how hard you press the keys, much like an acoustic piano. A triple sensor system is later introduced to provide fast repetition possibility. Instead of return the key/hammer to the first sensor, you can now return it to the much closer middle sensor. On some high end hybrid digital pianos, you can often find more advanced optical sensors. These are sensors that use some sort of laser to capture the position, movement and speed of the key/hammer.
- Escapement a.k.a. Let off: On an acoustic piano, a clever mechanism is engineered to free the hammer after it hits the string. This is necessary because the string needs to be able to vibrate freely to create and maintain sound. This mechanism is called escapement or let off. It gives a subtle notch feeling when you press the key slowly. While on a digital piano, such mechanism serves no purpose, many manufactures include a simulated escapement to mimic that notch feeling.
- Key length & Pivot point: A pivot point is where the key stick rotates around. The placement of the pivot point together with the length of the key stick is often an important factor for key action quality. The longer the key and the further back the pivot point, the smoother and lighter the key feels. It is also crucial when you need to press a key near its back end, there is still enough distance from the pivot point for the key to feel light and responsive.
- Counterweights: On an acoustic grand piano, individually calculated weights are added to the front end of the keys to lighten the action. This can also be found on some high end digital pianos.
To understand the lineup of different key action technology, click here for details from Yamaha and Kawai.
- Sound Engine
- Sampling vs. Modeling: Sound can be produced in two ways on a digital piano. When you press a key, it can play back a pre-recorded sample from an acoustic instrument, or it can use computer modeling to create the sound from scratch. Most manufactures use a combination of both. The tone of each individual key is recorded and various resonance are being added by computer modeling.
- Polyphony: When you have the sustain pedal pressed, the sound continues to live after you lift your fingers from the keys. This allows multiple notes to sound at the same time. The maximum polyphony determines how many notes can be sounded at the same time. It goes without say that the more the merrier.
- Multi-track recording: Not all digital piano supports that function but it can be very useful to you. Multi-track recording allows you to record separate parts of a piece and then play them back together. For example, you can first record the left hand part. Select the same song and record the right hand part. Or, you can record a piano piece first and then add some strings or rhythms. Depends on your need, this could be a must have feature.
- USB to device: On almost all the digital pianos out there, you will find USB to host port. With an adapter, you can connect the piano to your computer and do all kinds of fun stuff. In addition to that, some digital pianos also have a USB to device port. This will allow you to plug a USB stick in it and record/export audio files of your performance on to the USB stick. It is a very convenient feature to export your recording for further mixing on a computer or share it with your friends and families.
WHAT TYPE OF DIGITAL PIANO IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
To help you find your perfect digital piano, I further narrow the list down based on categories. Each of these will be fit for different purposes of use. Choose your category based on your need and then you can easily find the right digital piano.
- Portable digital pianos are designed for gigging musicians, who need to move the instrument from venue to venue. They are compact in size and light in weight. Many people mistaken them for electric keyboards or synthesizers. They usually have a very simplistic sustain pedal and you will need to purchase a stand and bench separately for these. They have built in speakers and can be used with external amplifiers or PA systems. Generally speaking, these are the most affordable digital pianos on the market. Which makes them also good choice for home use on a budget. You can usually find a console style stand for these and make it look more furniture wise for your home.
- Stage digital pianos are similar to portable digital pianos. These are designed for high-end professional gigging musicians. They usually have the best key action the manufacture can offer and are packed with many features that are important for stage performance. The internal sound samples are also top notch. These are your premium quality digital pianos and are built with strong materials to withstand all kinds of accidents during transit. Usually there is no internal speakers in these stage digital pianos because they are meant to be used on stage with amplifiers. Being premium products, stage digital pianos are usually quite expensive and should only be considered if you are a professional gigging pianist.
- Digital upright pianos are sometimes also called console style digital pianos. They sit up against the wall and are not meant to be moved around. Aesthetics wise, they are designed to function as a furniture to your home. Most digital upright pianos are small and sleek, which make them better fit for modern home compare to traditional acoustic upright pianos. They come with three pedals just like an acoustic piano and they usually have pretty good speakers system built in.
- Hybrid pianos are a special breed. Don’t confuse these with silent pianos. Hybrid pianos are fully digital pianos with a key actions that’s identical to an acoustic piano. They combine the best of both worlds. You can find all the benefits of digital pianos and enjoy an actual key action from an acoustic piano. In most cases, the key actions built in the hybrid pianos are from grand pianos, which is different from the key action of an upright acoustic piano. The downside of these is of course the price. Hybrid pianos are very expensive and is only suitable for those who want the best of the best and don’t care much about money.
Now that you have narrowed it down to one specific type of digital piano. Let’s dive in and find the best digital piano that’s on the market for you!
BEST PORTABLE DIGITAL PIANOS
BEST STAGE DIGITAL PIANOS
BEST UPRIGHT DIGITAL PIANOS
BEST HYBRID DIGITAL PIANOS
I hope this buyer’s guide has helped you in some way to narrow down and find the right digital piano in 2021. Leave a comment and share with us your thoughts, comments and experience.
My brother recommended I may like this blog. He was once totally right. This post truly made my day. You can’t imagine just how so much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!
Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!
You could definitely see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.
I think that everything said made a lot of sense. But, what about this?
suppose you were to create a awesome post title? I am not suggesting your
information isn’t solid., however what if you added a title that makes people
want more? I mean Best Digital Pianos in 2021 – The Ultimate Buyer's Guide!
is kinda boring. You might look at Yahoo’s home page and note how they write news titles to get viewers interested.
You might add a video or a related pic or two to get readers
excited about what you’ve got to say. Just my opinion, it would bring
your blog a little livelier.
What is your recommendation for a beginner ? I prefer something that can last until intermediate for my 7 years old daughter.
I am looking at Yamaha CLP 635 that fits my budget, however this model has been discontinued.
I am also looking at CLP 745 which is slightly above my budget.
Need your advise, as there are so many Brand’s with newer version today.
I plan to get Yamaha, seems the resale value can be better compare to others, just in case my daughter stop playing. but I am willing to take other models as well.
Thanks in advanced.
First of all, sorry for the late response. Somehow I missed the notification about your message.
For Yamaha, if CLP 745 is above your budget, you can check out YDP-184. Very solid piano and is definitely one of the best around $2,000.
As for other brands, I would strongly recommend the CA49 from Kawai. Personally, I like it slightly better than the YDP184. But both are excellent.
thanks for the thorough reviews. I’m upgrading my son’s cheap Casio entry keyboard and, if you have the time, would love your input. In researching, I’ve discovered I want 88 fully weighted keys, preferably wooden vs synthetic, and importance being on the sound being as close to an acoustic as possible. He loves classical, really wants an acoustic grand, but due to our lifestyle (moves) and his dad’s naysaying, I’m looking at digital consoles. Portable would be ok, but I think he would love the look of a console, it being similar to an acoustic. However, I wouldn’t want to spend more for a console if there’s a better portable for the price. Budget should stay around $1000, preferably, but could be persuaded up if I find the right fit. Currently, I’m looking at a used (by owner) Kawai kdp 90 and wondering your thoughts on how it matches up with a newer model. I don’t want/need bluetooth, just midi capability, so can’t see spending more for that feature. I had also been looking at the clavinovas (pre-bluetooth), but can’t decide which would be better. Thanks for any feedback!
First of all, if you want wooden keys, the cheapest model you can get is probably the Kawai CA48/CA49 and those cost around $2,000.
The Kawai KDP90 is not bad. But since your son already has some experience and this is considered an upgrade, I’d recommend the Kawai KDP110. This is the model that replaces the KDP90. It has a better key action that plays more like an acoustic piano. The newer model also has the additional SK-EX sound, which is the top of the line grand piano from Kawai.
Other options that fits your budget would be:
– Casio PX-870
– Roland F-140R
– Yamaha YDP-144 / YDP-S34
Hope this helps and do share with us your thoughts on the model you end up with.
thank you so much, that’s a great help!
You are always welcome Chey.
Looking forward to hearing from you about the piano you choose.
although, it (kdp110) has bluetooth. I’d rather have the key/sound upgrade without the bluetooth. :/
Bluetooth is almost standard now a days. Don’t think it as a feature that you are paying extra for.
I am a beginner and really like your reviews on various digital pianos. I am evaluating the following options and would appreciate your views. Apart from the quality of key action and piano sounds, I am also keen to buy a piano that is reliable and will last for ~10 years without having the need to upgrade.
– Roland HP 702
– Roland HP 704
– Yamaha CLP 745
– Kawai CN 39
– Kawai CN 49
Would you be able to provide your recommendation on the above options?
I am inclined to go with CN39 as it has more features and more sounds but I have read some posts on the internet that certain Kawai pianos might have issues with the keys being noisy. Would you have any views? Is this specific to RH3 or would GFC also have the same issue?
Sorry for the late response. Have been busy the last few days due to the holidays. I hope my reply isn’t too late to help you.
I assume you mean the Kawai CA 49 on your list.
Among the pianos on your list, I myself would go for the Kawai CA49. It’s a newer version of the popular Kawai CN48, which I have a detailed review here.
The Yamaha and Roland are certainly excellent choices as well, but you do end up play a premium for the brand. The CA49 from Kawai has full wooden keys that feels most authentic to me.
You don’t need to worry about key noise at all for the CA49/48. The GF key action doesn’t suffer such issue like the lower end models.
I learned piano 60 yrs ago on a 50 yr old Shoeninger upright grand, tuned by me & my dad. I learned the touch of keys on that instrument, and the third piano teacher in a row, dying a macabre death, my parents refused to hire another teacher. Bottom line, I am highly sensitive to touch and response of keys. I clearly understand why a piano is classified as a percussion instrument. (this is in counterdistinction to those who played accordian or organ).
Simultaneously, I began a brief but very successful foray into stringed instruments. I (with little effort) became a prima violist inside of 18 months. My teacher noted that I have “perfect pitch” (which I have confirmed on my own, since then; perfect pitch is a godsend if you want to play a stringed instrument well).
I live in a lakeshore area, with extremes of temp over the year, electronic is what I do these days. I recently purchased a Yamaha Clavinova (435? 445? 465? not sure) and both tonally and touch-wise I find it suitable.
I would like to purchase a (full furniture-style) piano comparable to my Yamaha for my second home. Is there anything recommendable at or under $2000 that I should consider? I know I require 256 polyphony [yes, I notice a difference] , and I am very entertained by a lot of different instrumental voices.
Since you find your Yamaha Clavinova suitable, I guess you would probably prefer another Yamaha for your second home.
For your need, the Yamaha YDP 184 comes to mind. Check out my detailed review and see if it’s something you would like.
Hello, I’m looking for a piano with a large library of good sounds, good key action, and great design for home use and music production. I’ve thought about buying the Casio Privia PX-S3000 or the Yamaha DGX-660. But I don’t see the PX-S3000 on this list. Is the PX-S3000 not good enough for this list?
I really like the Casio PX S3000 and it is definitely good enough for this list.
The reason you couldn’t find it here is because it’s a new model from Casio in 2019. I haven’t got the chance to upgrade my best list yet. Should really find the time to do that.
Here’s my detailed review of the S3000.
thanks for your effort and this page. After many years of playing piano + my son some 4y, I would like to bring some fun with digital world. As always, demads are high, budget limited 🙂 – I’m looking for good key performance + max. sound/mix abilities and now I have some tips to examine somewhere in a shop… Your page forced me to read it completely incl. all comments … best regards RM
I own a Yamaha CVP-709 and kind of disappointed to see it didn’t make it into the ranking. Secretly hoping it would outrank something.
It’s a grand, visually beautiful in the home, sounds like a Bösendorfer Imperial, including the extra 12 notes in both directions for all instruments, has more instruments than I imagined possible, and can orchestrate multiple instruments together. The pitches of every note can be controlled or reprogrammed, and even create new voices within the organs which is more than I need. Various articulation on wind and string instruments generate special effects that the real instruments also do.
I love to practice piano concertos, play Bach on the harpsichords and organs, or just evening relaxing with some mixed jazz instrumentation.
This piano is only a few months old, but I intend to enjoy it for decades to come.
Thank you for your comment and input. Funny that you mention the CVP-709. It is one of the instrument planned for a new section of this list. I plan to do a new section about digital grand. Since these are usually at a different price range, it would be a bit unfair to compare them to other digital pianos.
Honestly, I’m a bit jealous that you have the space to accommodate such a beauty. I wish you decades of music and fun with it!
I really appreciate your research into this. I am interested in buying a second digital instrument. I am a fairly accomplished amateur. My sons gave me a Korg SP-250 a number of years back, which I quite like. I do not see any ratings for Korg pianos in your article and wonder why. One issue I have, and I am not sure if all the digital pianos have the same problem, is that the sound of the hammer action transfers through the floor, like a clonking, which is not very pleasant to listen to living below. You do not mention any of this in your reviews. Are some less noisy than others? (I will still try to put carpeting over the hardwood floor under the instrument to lessen the transfer.)
Welcome and thank you for your kind comment. Korg is an established brand in the digital piano industry.
I’m working on several reviews of Korg and I’ll update this list once that’s done.
As to the issue with key noise going through floors, I can assure you that some will be louder than others.
I assume you own both floors? In that case, sound proof the room you play piano would work. Also, simply close as many doors as possible to block the coise. Of course it also depends on the structure and materials of the building.
Generally speaking, Korg digital pianos are not the quietest. Yamaha is also known for its noisy key action. Roland is slightly better and Kawai is probably the least noisy.
Hope this helps!
Excellent article and review! This describes the pros and cons of each very well. I would be curious where the new CP88 would fall on this list if you were writing the article today. This new stage piano has really gotten my attention recently. Thoughts?
Thank you for all this very-helping information. I just would like to rectify two things in the article. Firstly, a “let-off” mechanism is almost as important in a digital piano as it is in an acoustic one because, although the tri-sensor technology alone allows for fast note repetition, the double-escapement is also what allows for fast playing at very soft nuance and, last but not least, it acts as a “shock-absorber” for the pianist’s body. And secondly, the P-125 from Yamaha not only DOES offer USB-to-device function, it also acts as an audio interface, and that is a way-more-powerful feature than bluetooth, because it transmits both audio and midi signals to the computer at incredible speed while midi over bluetooth always presents unacceptable delay times and audio over bluetooth just does not exist in digital pianos.
Thank you very much for your constructive comment. I really appreciate it. Allow me to give my 2 cents on the points you mentioned.
The benefit of a ‘let-off’ on a digital piano is in my humble opinion insignificant. Only when you have extensive experience with an acoustic piano will you notice and benefit from such mechanism on a digital piano. I dare say, for any beginner, ‘let-off’ shouldn’t be a factor to base purchase decisions on.
As for the USB-to-device port on the Yamaha P-125, I think we have misunderstood each other. What I was referring to is the port where you can plug in a USB stick and export your recordings. Technically it’s call a USB type-A port.
The port you are referring to however is the USB-to-host (that’s how Yamaha name it) where you can connect the piano with a computer and use the instrument as a MIDI controller. Technically called a USB type-B port.
I agree that Bluetooth is not the best solution to use the piano as a MIDI controller. However, it’s not what Bluetooth is meant to be used on digital pianos. The function is for convenient configuration and customization of the instrument as well as utilizing applications on smart devices. Like for example, apps that you can learn piano with.
Thanks again for your comment and do come back for more discussions about digital pianos. I absolutely love it.
Thank you very much for your reply, Wei. I will definitely keep checking your website, and I’ll recommend it to anyone around me who’s interested in the matter.
Thank you Pierre, you are always welcome here and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
What about hybrid pianos such as the Roland LX-708, Yamaha AvantGrand N1x, Casio GP510, Kawai Novus NV-5 and so on … That is where the World is moving too …
You can find in this Buyer’s Guide a link to my Best Hybrid Digital Piano.
These are amazing instruments but they do have their own drawbacks and they tend to be quite expensive. I can only recommend these for people who have tons of piano experience and have the budget to go for the best model that money can buy.
Thank you for your article.
Could you please help me to choose the right piano for long years to play.
Now I have five options:
1. Yamaha Clp-645 (2300 $)
2. Kawai CA48 (2400 $)
3. Kurzweil Mp120 (1500 $)
4. Casio AP700 (2000 $)
5. Kawai ES8 (2600 $)
I live in Ukraine and we don’t have a store where I can try all these pianos. So it is really hard to compare when instruments are not standing near.
I know only that Kawai is 50 watts versus 100 watts at yamaha. But many people say that it sound better then yamaha. And what can you say about Kurzweil? It has plastic keys, but still many people say it sounds wonderfull and has not a bad touch. And it is is much lower price range.
So I really would like to hear your thoughts about them all. Which one is better? Does the price of yamaha and kawai worth it? Or Kurzweil is a good option? Or maybe you can suggest any other model?
I am 30 y.o. Self educated and now I’ve just started to study piano in Academy of music.
Want to buy a piano for 10-20 years for me and maybe for my children to play if they want to.
Welcome to Digital Piano! From what I read, you want a digital piano that will last you at least 10 years and you don’t seem to need to move it around. If I’m right about that, we can exclude the Kawai ES8. It’s an excellent instrument but more geared towards gigging musicians.
I would also emphasis that key action is the most important aspect that you should be looking at. You can always change the sound by connecting the digital piano with a computer. But since you don’t want to buy another digital piano for at least 10 years, the key action is something you are stuck with.
At the price range you mentioned, I think we can also eliminate the Casio. They make solid digital pianos at low to middle price range. But can not yet compete with Kawai or Yamaha at the high end segment.
The Kurzweil is cheap for a reason. Its action might be good for the price. But if you put it head to head with the Kawai or Yamaha, the difference is significant.
I would recommend the Kawai CA48. It sounds great but most importantly, it’s such a pleasure to play on it. The action is simply just right. I am confident that after 10 years, when your skill improves, you would appreciate the key action even more.
The Yamaha also sounds great and I love the Bösendorfer and the binary recording for headphones. But the key action on the current CLP series from Yamaha is unfortunately a bit lacking compare to equivalent models from Kawai.
I hope this helps you to make the right decision. If you want to know more about the Kawai CA48, here’s my full review of it.
Do come back and let me know which you choose and share with us your experience of it.
I used to play alot of synthesizer as a kid and now as an adult I want to get into piano and music theory. For now i have little place and I would be playing on my desk in apartment. Eventually I’d move it to a dedicated stand once I’ve moved into my house (1 year from now)
I’m looking for a top future proof pick with great action that will serve me well for my beginner years but also afterwards?
What would you recommend please? I’ve looked at:
Yamaha DGX 660
If my budget is max 2000 dollar and I want something to take to my lessons, what would you recommend please as a future proof pick?
Thanks in advance!
First of all, it’s very hard to future proof in this industry. Every year each of these manufactures push out newer and better technologies. For your budget and requirement, I would recommend the Kawai ES8. It in my opinion has the best key action of any portable digital piano.
As always, I encourage you to give them a try in a shore so that you can pick the key action most suitable for you.
Hi there, I wondering if you could help me with a query I have with digital pianos…
I’m currently on the market for a digital piano but I would like one that is completely MIDI friendly out of the box. I’m not looking for a MIDI controller here – I’m looking for a full range digital piano.
Do all the pianos you have listed here have the global MIDI function? I’m looking to set one up and record my sessions in Ableton Live if possible?
Thanks for dropping by. All the models I list here are full range digital piano with 88 keys. Almost all of them have the capability to be connected to a computer and being used as a controller.
This article is not really within my area of experience. But I was impressed by the detail with which the article covered keyboards and made allowance for those trying to learn the piano, no matter what their level of progression. The parameters are clearly set out with a very logical set of minimal requirements that all the models rated had to meet. This takes out a lot of the guess work when trying to pick a model as the reader knows that all the comparisons drawn are like versus like.
Hi Adrian, thanks for dropping by. I do consider myself a logical person. And the information out there in this industry is a bit messy. That’s why I created this article. I try to share everything I know about digital pianos with a logical arrangement that’s easy to read and to understand. I’m glad you found it helpful.
Wai you have educated me today about the differences in the digital and acoustic pianos. I leaned to read notes and play from the piano lesson books. But I never learned anything about the instrument itself. I didn’t know about the weighted hammer and that the weight is needed to express emotions during play. Now I know also that each key is weighted differently. The base weighted heavier and lighter toward the treble.
Thank you for the technical information. So I now have some understanding of the differences between acoustic sound and the electronic sound. Of course all you have to do is listen to know there is a difference in the sound but I didn’t know why. I love the acoustic piano and the organ. I like the keyboard and all it can do but it wouldn’t be my first preference.
You provided a good resource full of comprehensive information and description. .I have pinned the post as a future resource.
Thank You,V. Pearl
Hi Vanna, welcome and thank you for your kind remarks. As you can imagine, when looking for a digital piano, these technical stuff can be difficult to figure out. Certainly took me a while.
This is the most comprehensive and detailed article that’s I’ve ever come across about digital pianos. I’ve had interest in learning how to play the piano but each time I take a serious leap, I drop it along the line due to my schedules. Do you have any advice for me on how to discipline myself in the learning process? I will go for the portable piano when I’m ready to get one and I must say that you certainly didn’t leave out what I have to know about pianos.
Hi there, I was afraid of the same issue. We all have busy schedules and there is a good chance that I couldn’t persist. That’s why I bought the Yamaha P45 because it is a great beginner’s piano and the price is really low.
As for motivation and discipline, you need to start thinking about learning piano like starting a business. Have a clear goal and good planning would help you practice consistently.
Thanks so much for sharing this very informative and detailed list of the best digital pianos in 2018.
I’ve been thinking about buying a piano for my house for a while now. I haven’t played in years but it is something I’d love to practise, as well as for my children to learn. I particularly like the digital vs acoustic section as this has been something I’ve been thinking about. Truth is, until I read your article I wasn’t sure which direction I would go.
Thanks again Wei.
Hi Shane, welcome and thanks for your comment. If you are thinking about picking up piano again, don’t hesitate. There are many benefits you and your children will enjoy from learning to play the piano.
I’m glad my comparison between digital vs. acoustic is helpful to you. Have you decided which one is best for your needs?
Pianos are and will be an attraction to many people. Digital sound, finding your selection or choice.
Okay, I will try to stay focused. I play keyboard and love music. I feel the creation of digital pianos are excellent for so many reasons. Your topic is great because there are so many different pianos that if you didn’t know sound quality you can be fooled.
The best on this page is you selected a variety of pianos and the sound that each on has. You explain the market of 2018 and the various places to purchase. I enjoyed the visit to your page. Another comment is cost, vs. quality. so depending your use like beginners, go for the low cost.
Hi Ronald, thanks for dropping by. Digital pianos would be great for you if you like to play around different sounds and compose your own piece using their multi track recording capabilities.
And yes, it’s so confusing and could take a long time to figure out the industry when shopping for a digital piano. I know I did. The aim of this list is to narrow it down and save my readers some time.
Great information. It’s a one stop shop of knowledge, availability and choice selection.
My wife plays piano and was thinking of going digital to save space and have some portability. Her full size piano was to big for our place so it’s still at her parents. But she loves to play.
Does it take long to adjust from playing a regular piano to digital, or is the migration fairly smooth?
Do you prefer using a digital over a regular? I play guitar and I remember making some adjustments from acoustic to electric. Is it similar, softer keys on digital vs. more pressure on a traditional piano, none or just a state of mind?
Your information is so thorough, her and I will have to go over all of it together. It’s wonderful, everything we need is all in one place, you covered pros and cons, types, maintenance, differences, comparisons and accessories. It will streamline decision making.
One of the most informative and useful buyers guides I’ve seen in a long time. You are a credit to your industry.
Thanks for the information,
Hi Noke, welcome and thank you for your kind comment. It pleases me to know that what I wrote is helpful to others. I will keep up the good work. 🙂
Digital piano is quite different from electric guitar. Digital pianos try their best to sound and feel like the regular ones.
Your wife shouldn’t have any trouble adjust to a digital one. Of course, the more expensive models usually have better key actions that feel more closely to an acoustic. And for someone who’s experienced in piano play, the cheaper ones might feel wrong to her. So in a way, it also depends on your budget.
I did not know that digital pianos were getting so advanced. I’m sure some mourn the idea that they will most likely replace acoustic pianos, but I think it’s great. It’s a major space saver. Their designs also fit well with modern homes. Older pianos don’t always look good in a modern look.
Hi Nicole, I agree with you 100 percent. While acoustic upright pianos look classic on their own, they just don’t fit the modern decor styles. Most modern homes are sleek and somewhat minimalist. This can be the key advantage for many to prefer a digital piano over an acoustic one.
Hello Wei, I don’t think you left anything out. The portable keyboards got bigger and more expensive. When I was a teenager I used to go into the electronic section of the store and mess around with keyboards. They have all kinds of buttons for whatever kind of music you like. My favorite one was always rock and roll because I always like the beats and stuff. I used to have fun putting those beats on the keyboards. I never play around with the keys because I never knew how to play the piano. It’s neat how you can hook your phone, tablet or laptop to the piano. It sounds like if I did play the piano, I rather do with digital piano than the acoustic.
Hi Roger, keyboards are indeed fun to play with. But they are actually different from digital pianos. Maybe later I will include a section about the difference. The main one is on the keys. Electric keyboards do not have weighted key action. And that is the main reason why they are smaller and lightweight. If you like rock and roll and experiment with different genre, I would recommend to you the Yamaha DGX-660. It has all the great features and hundreds of voices from different instruments. You can also play with the multi tracking recording function to mix it up and create your own piece of music.
Thank you for bring this up about digital piano this is another wide range for music industrial Casio is a good product that will last for a period of time
Hi Wilson, Welcome and thanks for your comment.
I think you make a good point. I also believe that through technology advancement, someday, digital pianos will become totally different instruments than the acoustic pianos. They will serve different purposes and are no longer interchangeable. Casio is doing something great and I think they are on the right direction. They offer very solid instruments with much lower price. The fact that they don’t produce acoustic pianos could be a disadvantage but I think it also gives them more freedom and the ability to look at digital pianos from new angles.
I’m a pianist and for sometimes I’ve not been playing due to the nature of my job. I travelled to a foreign country and my work setup doesn’t allow any time for playing my long friend instrument.
However, my plan is to purchase a classic and fancy piano because when I get back home I want to start a personal music studio because this is one of my passions.
I’ve gone through the list of the pianos and preferably I wanted a hybrid piano. When I looked at Yamaha N3X, it looks so bulky and so this pushes me off already. I wonder if you can assist me get a Yamaha hybrid piano which is lighter and portable?
Hi there, thanks for dropping by. If hybrid digital piano is what you are looking for, then don’t expect it to be light and portable. Since the key action is almost identical to the key action on an acoustic grand, they will always be heavy. There are other Yamaha hydrid models, but they are also big and heavy. Another reason I didn’t include those is because they are quite a few years old.
What’s your plan for your personal music studio? If you want to compose your own music, then maybe one of the stage digital piano is more suited for your need.
This is an amazing amount of information.
I knew keyboards could replicate different instruments.
What I hadn’t realised was how closely a keyboard could replicate the piano-playing experience, with keys that are weighted, graded and touch-sensitive!
It seems that particularly at the lower end of the market you get better quality by going for a digital option. This surprised me.
Have you any videos of you playing the piano?
All the best!
Hi Julia, thanks for dropping by.
Digital pianos now a days come pretty close to acoustic pianos. Especially on the premium side of the industry. Lower priced ones are great for beginners.
On the lower priced part of the market, an acoustic piano is simply not possible. You might find one cheap in a second hand shop but the restoration, tuning, moving, etc. are going to mount up quickly.
I’m anxious to start a YouTube channel about digital pianos and learning piano for beginners. But since I know nothing about making videos, it’s going to be a project for the future.
This is the most comprehensive review that I have ever seen on Digital Pianos. You could name it the Encyclopedia of Digital Pianos. I have been playing the piano nearly all my life, and until about 4 years ago, You couldn’t have convinced me that a digital piano was comparable to what I labeled a “real Piano.”
In 2015, I bought a Kawai Concert Artist CA67. It’s been the best piano I ever owned.
You have spent an enormous amount of time researching this review and you have presented it in exceptional detail. Your illustrations enhanced your excellent report.
Thanks for dropping by. You are too kind for calling it the Encyclopedia of Digital Pianos. There are so many great and knowledgeable reviewers out there and I have learn a lot from them.
Congrats on your purchase of the CA67. It is an amazing instrument and almost everyone who bought it are happy with it. The only reason I didn’t include the CA67 in my best digital piano list is because it has been replaced by a newer model the CA97. I wish you all the best and tons of joy on your CA67.
Great post and this will help my best friend.
He always had a piano, but he wants to be more modern, so he was looking for a digital one for quite a time.
One question, for people who always played on a real one, will it not feel strange?
Thanks for sharing it, I will show him!
Hi Emmanuel, welcome and thanks for your comment.
If your friend has been playing piano for a long time, he will need a good digital piano to not feel strange. A cheap one will not be good enough. I would suggest the Kawai CA97. Of course that depends on his budget. Also, he must have developed his own preference for key action. Thus it’s better for your friend to go to a store and try them out. He might find one key action better than others.
I am really really inspired, i used to see people playing musical instruments at church and also on TV… Music is a mind stimulant, it really pick and lift me to places i have never been to so watching music on TV with nice piano sound really lifts me. I began by loving to see the people operators playing the piano and i felt like it was me then it was a passion to me but without the skills of how to play good quality music.
Now that you you have just outlined the realistic key action and everything it increases my knowledge and get me to budget to have one of my own.
Hi there, thanks for dropping by. I was just like you. Every time I see someone play the piano on TV, I would be inspired and day dream if it were me who’s producing all those beautiful melodies. That is the reason why I finally decided to give piano a try. I started with a solid but cheap digital piano, the Yamaha P45. If you ever want to give your inspiration a go, the P45 is a great choice. It’s a good enough instrument for beginners and it’s really affordable.
Wow Wei, what a comprehensive review! I didn’t know about the criteria used to judge digital pianos, your info on the weighting and grading of keys was very interesting. Thank You.
We have an antique wooden upright piano with ivory keys. Is that called an acoustic piano? My son just turned 5 and he’s been playing around the piano since he was about 2 years-old. I haven’t started teaching him piano yet, but I’d like to, especially as I’ve noticed his sensitivity and handling of the keys is improving and he’s starting to try work out how to play his favourite tunes. Do you think it would be easier teaching him on a digital piano? I have the feeling he will be more motivated to use a digital piano because of all the additional funky sounds digital pianos can recreate.
Would you still recommend the Kawai ES110 in this instance? Maybe we’re looking for maximum bells and whistles for a child?
Hi Lauren, welcome and thank you for your comment. I’m pretty sure that wooden upright piano you have is an acoustic piano. The sound is produced by a series of strings in the cabinet.
What kind of musical preference has your son developed? What kind of music does he like to listen to? If it’s more classical style, I think you are set with the acoustic piano you have. Only thing you need to worry about is the maintenance of the instrument.
On the other hand, if your son prefers a more pop or rock and roll style of music, then I would suggest a digital piano that has different instrument voices and built in rhythms. The Kawai ES110 is a great choice. Not only because it’s a sold digital piano, but also the built in Bluetooth means you can connect it with a smart device and utilize all kinds of fun apps to keep your son hooked.
An alternative would be the Yamaha DGX-660. The DGX-660 has hundreds of instrument voices and it’s really fun to play around. This could be the ideal choice to keep your son interested and motivated.
What a great resource on digital pianos! I really never considered all the technical details of the piano before, but you lay them out clearly. I play the trumpet and as a kid it was always considered a bother to my family and neighbors when I practiced, and a trumpet is so limiting compared to a piano. Piano music is welcome by all. I would like to get my kids started on keyboards for enjoyment and to get a broader musical understanding than playing a trumpet requires. It will take a bit to digest your information. When I have I hope to pick up a modestly priced piano and go from there. I’ll use your site here as my guiding light.
Hi Joe, welcome and thank you for your comment. Piano is indeed a great intrument to learn and there are many benefits of it.
For your kids, it depends on if you plan for them to persist along the journey or if you just want them to give it a try. For the long run, a better piano would make sense since you don’t need to upgrade very soon. Like the Kawai CA48, Casio PX870 or the Yamaha YDP-184 are all great choices. If you only want them to give it a try, the Yamaha P45 is the one I’d recommend.
All the best to you and your family.
Wow, I definitely feel like I know way more about digital pianos now! You probably know more about your field than most people online, and you’re post is super informative.
I haven’t played piano since I was 18 (I’m now 25) so it’s safe to say im extremely rusty, and these are definitely different than using my piano teachers piano in her back room. Tell me, is the digital recording easy to do? Or is it to complicated for this novice?
Hi Brace, I’m glad you find my post helpful. I did put in a lot time and effort into it. I can’t say I know more than most people online, because there are some awesome reviewers out there. But I do try to share everything I know about digital pianos.
If you haven’t been playing for a while, I urge you to give digital piano a try. You would be surprised how good they are now a days.
Recording being one of the core advantages of digital piano’s, it is made really easy for users. Just click a button and that’s it. Many also allow multi track recording where you can record on top of an existing recording and the instrument will combine them.
I am an ex pro muso (flute player) and I own a Yamaha P85. When I bought it I was not looking for anything fancy and it was some time ago now. But, for the purposes that I use piano, it is all I really need! It is quite amazing what technology has done over the last 10-15 years and it does make a lot more sense to buy a digital piano over an acoustic for the purposes of portability and versatility. However, I know that the professional piano players are always going to prefer a full blown acoustic grand (I mean who wouldn’t) but, in most cases it does not make sense economically or even space wise. In terms of the most expensive digital pianos, they still don’t come near the price of a steinway, and yet, they are not too far off when it comes to realistic sound…It will be interesting to see where the future of acoustic instruments go. Great review and very helpful!
Thanks for your comment. You are right, the acoustic ones are still better for performance. However, most professional pianists have access to acoustic grand either at school or work. When they need one secondary piano to practice at home, digital ones will be more suited. Just like you, I am also really excited to see where the industry will go in the future. I think we are going to see some amazing technologies and instruments that not only come close to the acoustic counterparts but in many ways better.
For example, they now use optical sensor on those high end hybrid digital pianos. I wait to see when this technology will be adopted more widely. It would significantly boost the realistic feel of the key actions.
I would love to learn how to play the piano, but I don’t want to spend a crazy amount of money for a big clunky piano. As I live in an appartement I need a relative light and small piano.
I think for me the Yamaha P-45 would be a great choice. Not too expensive, but still a good piano. One thing though. Can I connect a headphone? That’s an important feature for me, as I don’t want any troubles with my neighbours.
If you are looking for a digital piano to learn the instrument, you have landed on the right place. There are many benefits of learning to play the piano. And I’m sure you will enjoy it.
I was exactly like you, wanted to give it a try but don’t want to invest too much in the beginning. The Yamaha P-45 is actually the first digital piano I bought. It help me learn the basics and together, I progress further with my learning. Of course, you will need to upgrade some time in the future because once your skill level increases, you will find the P-45 lacking for your need. But I highly recommend it as a first digital piano for beginners. And yes, all digital pianos have headphone jacks for you to practice without driving your neighbors crazy.
Wow, this is a very comprehensive article about the digital piano. I am surprised that there is the digital grand piano too. I have a cousin who are expert in playing piano. He has a digital piano already, the Yamaha one. His dream is to buy a grand piano in the future. He practices his piano playing skill every day. I will pass this info to him. Thank you very much.
Hi Melani, welcome and thank you for your comment. If your cousin is an expert and have been practicing for a long time, I think one of the hybrid digital pianos would be a great fit. The actions on those are really close the an acoustic grand piano and they sound amazing. They are pricey but not as expensive as an acoustic one.
Great article Wei! My brother is pianist and he is using acoustic piano but I must say that digital pianos are better for me. I will buy one for sure because when there is some celebration like birthdays and weddings, this pianos are perfect. I will forward this article to my cousin who have his own band, he will be interested in digital pianos.
Hi Daniel, thanks for dropping by. There are certain many advantages of a digital piano and they are getting better and better over the years. I expect great things to happen in the industry. For your cousin, if he needs to move around gigs with his band, something portable is a must. I would say a Kawai ES8 should be great for that. If on budget, then the Kawai ES110 is a strong option.
Wei, this is one of the most detailed and informative reviews I have ever seen online. You share an amazing amount of expertise and insight to help anyone make the best decision about what digital piano will work best for them. My son is a musician and would just love one of the hybrids, but it’s nice to know there are a lot of great options that are easier on the budget. You have everything covered for players from novice to pro. Amazing!
Thanks for your comment. It took me weeks to put everything together on this post. I really want to share everything I know and help people.
Hybrid digital pianos now a days are just amazing. Your son will not be disappointed by any of them. If you are on a budget, check the Casio GP400. There are also several models from Yamaha’s Avant Grand line. They are a bit old but could still be strong options if your son loves the key action.
I’m so glad you did your due diligence in your research! I also agree that 88 keys are a must if you are serious about actually being able to learn on and play your keyboard. I personally have something very similar to the Kawai, though it is a Casio, and I’m excited for my son to start lessons soon.
Your recommendations are solid and you clearly know your stuff!
Hi Holly, welcome. I’m glad that this article has helped you. Casio is very good for its price. If you have the PX-870, your son would be very happy and I think it will stay with him while he grows on skill level.