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Best Portable Digital Piano 2020: Compact And Capable

Best Portable Digital Piano

One of the most important advantages of portable pianos is their compact size and lightweight. It’s easy to move them around and you can fit them anywhere at home. Some of the newer models even have battery power capabilities. What a romantic idea it is to bring your piano to the forest during picnic! To help you find the right one, here I list some of the Best Portable Digital Piano in 2020.

Roland FP-90

Roland’s flagship FP-90 is introduced to compete with the Kawai ES8 for the premium portable digital piano segment. As it turns out, the FP-90 is no less impressive than the ES8.

The Roland FP-90 uses Roland’s best key action PHA-50. This is the key action on other Roland’s flagship models like the LX17. Not surprisingly, you can find all the advance feature including triple sensor, synthetic Ivory/Ebony key tops and simulated escapement. The keys are made of plastic but has wooden panels on each side of each key. This not only gives a premium look to the keys but they also serve to improve the feel of key press.

The SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling technology that’s on the FP-90 is different than most sound engine used on digital pianos. Instead of recording of acoustic pianos, this engine uses pure computer modeling to create a piano sound from scratch. It must be a very sophisticated system because the end result is nothing short of amazing. However, using a innovative technology usually creates a love it or hate it situation. Some players find the FP-90 sounds fake and other can’t love it enough. In the end, it depends on personal taste, like everything audio wise.

Another impressive feature that the modeling technology brings to the FP-90 is the unlimited polyphony while play the piano tones. This is just not possible with sample technology from other manufactures. For the rest 346 instruments, the maximum polyphony is 384.

The FP-90 has two 30 watt amplifiers firing 4 speakers. This is one of the most powerful speaker system you can find on portable digital pianos now a days. Those 2.5 cm tweeters works great to reproduce accurate high frequency notes.

Internally, the FP-90 can only record one MIDI with no multi track capability. But this shouldn’t dis-encourage you because the FP-90 has all the connection features you need to handle your recording/mixing externally. It has the USB to device port as well as Bluetooth and it can output WAV file to your memory stick.

The Roland FP-90 will set you back around $1,800. If you have that budget, the FP-90 is definitely one of the premium portable digital pianos you should consider. Do be careful though, the FP-90 weights 23.6 kg (52 lbs), making it the heaviest portable digital piano on the market right now. Read here my full review on the Roland FP-90!

Kawai ES8

Being the flagship of Kawai’s ES series, the ES8 has all the best that Kawai has to offer on a portable digital piano. There are many upgrades you will find on the ES8 compare to the ES110. Although that’s to be expected because the ES8 cost more than twice the price of the ES110. But if you ask me, the ES8 is worth the price, especially if you are a gigging pianist.

The ES8 has Kawai’s newest Responsive Hammer III key action. Many claim it to be the best plastic key action they’ve ever tried on a digital piano. It has all the premium features you will find on a keyboard, including three sensors, simulated let off, counterweights and synthetic Ivory/Ebony key tops. Playing on the ES8 is just a breeze. The keys are working for you instead of against you and it’s much easier to express emotion on this keyboard than many of its competitors.

An improved sound engine called Harmonic Imaging XL samples each individual note on various volume level and extends the sampling duration up to 120%. You will also get three sampling of Kawai’s top of the line grand acoustic pianos: the 9 foot SK-EX concert grand, the medium sized studio grand SK-5 and the 9 foot EX concert grand. You will have to listen to it yourself to see how close Kawai has done to reproduce the sound of their grand acoustic pianos.

Unlike those cheaper models, the Kawai ES8 has a maximum polyphony of 256.

The Kawai ES8 has two 15 watt speakers in it. They are quite powerful and can easily fill a large room. This is the one portable digital piano that I can comfortable recommend for large venue and out door performance. Quality wise, the sound from the built in speakers are rich and natural with wide dynamic range.

Aimed at gigging pianists, the ES8 has a rugged build quality. Its frame is built with aluminum and the side panels are made with wood. You don’t need to be careful while dragging the ES8 from gig to gig.

Just like the ES110, the ES8 comes with a high quality sustain pedal supporting half pedaling. It feels realistic and responsive.

Internally, the ES8 can record up to 10 song each with 2 tracks. It can also record and export to a USB stick WAV as well as MP3 audio files, making it that much easier to share your performances.

At around $2,000, the Kawai ES8 is not a cheap piano. But for serious gigging pianists, this is a great portable digital piano to perform on. It’s built like a tank, plays like a concert grand and sounds amazing. That’s why it takes the third spot on the best portable digital piano list. Read my full review on the Kawai ES8.

Yamaha P-515

The flagship model of the P series from Yamaha really shows you what Yamaha is capable of. This premium model has the best of everything.

The P-515 packs Yamaha’s Natural Wood X keyboard. This is the only model in the complete P series that you can have real wood keys. The specs of this key action look amazing. It has synthetic Ivory/Ebony key tops and simulated escapement. The keys feel natural to the touch and playing experience is nothing short of excellency.

Being the flagship model, you can expect the best sound engine from Yamaha. The P-515 packs the world famous Yamaha’s 9 feet CFX Grand Piano as well as the Bösendorfer Imperial Piano. I find these two profiles compliment each other very well.

Another strong feature is the Binaural Sampling. If you are familiar with this technology, you would know that it help create a three dimensional listening experience with headphones. Combined with the Stereophonic Optimizer, the Yamaha P-515 produce one of the best headphone experience if not the best.

With a polyphony of 256 notes and hundreds of sounds, it’s hard to want more from this premium model. You also get an impressive 16-tracks recording capability, up to 250 songs.

Although it’s a bit heavy to move around, the Yamaha P-515 is definitely one of the best portable digital pianos on the market. For more details, read my full review here.

Kawai ES110

Kawai ES110 is highly focused on the piano play with minimum bells and whistles. Every dollar you spent goes to enhance your piano playing experience.

It is equipped with Kawai’s Responsive Hammer Compact key action, which is realistic and responsive. Kawai has created something very close to the key action of an acoustic piano on the ES110. Personally, I think the RHC feels better than Yamaha’s GHS. The keys are made from plastic with matte finish.

ES110 uses Kawai’s Harmonic Imaging technology to sample every single note with different volume from Kawai’s world famous EX concert grand. Combined with reverb and resonances, the ES110 sounds rich, natural, dynamic and reproduces a very realistic sound experience to the EX concert grand.

The ES110 has a maximum polyphony of 192.

Like most portable digital pianos at this price range, the Kawai ES110 does not have the best speaker system. There are two 7 watt speakers in the ES110. It is loud enough to fill a room or a small venue. The sound produced by these speakers are clear and detailed even at maximum volume. For a larger place or out door performance, you will need to connect it to an external amplifier.

The Kawai ES110 is the only one at this price range that comes with Bluetooth. You can connect ES110 to an iPad and there are several app you can use to either fine tune the instrument or to help you learn and practice piano.

Internally, the ES110 can record 3 songs and there is no possibility to combine tracks. However, since there’s Bluetooth, you can easily connect the ES110 to a smart device and do your recording/mixing there.

Another great value you will get with the Kawai ES110 is the high quality sustain pedal that’s included in the price. Unlike other models in this price range, the included pedal supports half pedaling and is surprisingly responsive.

For less than $800, the Kawai ES110 offers massive value and has features that are only found on much more expensive models. It takes the crown to be my best portable digital piano and I’m sure you will not be disappointed by it! For more details about the ES110, read my full review here.

Yamaha DGX-660

The Yamaha DGX-660 is a strong contestant for the best portable digital piano. Being the flagship of Yamaha’s DGX line, the DGX-660 is packed with features and is also solid in very aspect.

The Yamaha Graded Hammer Standard key action is what you will find on the DGX-660. It is not a bad key action, but it’s slightly lacking compare to its competitors. It is on the low end of Yamaha’s key actions and is not that impressive. The keys are not very expressive and I find it hard to put emotions into my play with the GHS. The keys are plastic with matte finish.

The Pure CF sound engine in the DGX-660 does a great job to reproduce the sound of Yamaha’s world famous CFIIIS 9 foot concert grand. The sound is natural, detailed and has Yamaha’s signature bright tonal characteristic.

The DGX-660  has a maximum polyphony of 192.

To show off the sound engine, DGX-660 is equipped with two 6 watt amplifiers firing four speakers. I like that Yamaha puts the extra  5 cm speakers for the high notes. The speaker system creates a realistic and rich experience. It also gets quite loud to fill a living room.

What makes the Yamaha DGX-660 stand out is its features. You can find everything you want on it, including hundreds of voices, present styles and a whopping 5 songs 6 tracks internal recorder. You can have a lot of fun on the DGX-660.

It is also the only model in this price range that comes with a display. And it’s not a simple display to show some numbers. This is a 320×240 full dot LCD display that’s capable of displaying scores and lyrics.

Unlike most other portable digital pianos at the price range, the DGX-660 also has the ability to record in WAV format. Combined with a USB to device port, you can easily export your performance and share it on the internet.

For around $800, you will not find another digital piano that has so many features as the DGX-660. If I’m ranking for the best all round, the DGX-660 would take the top position. It ends up second only because I focus on piano play experience. For more details about the DGX-660, read my full review here.

Casio Privia PX-160

As an entry level model to the Casio  PX line, the Privia PX-160 may lack some features but it doesn’t cut back on what’s important.

The PX-160 has Casio’s Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II key action. This is probably the cheapest triple sensor key action you can find on the market. It is identical to many of Casio’s high end models, including its flagship PX-870. So even on this relatively cheap model, you are getting the best key action from Casio. The keys are made from plastic and have the synthetic Ivory/Ebony key tops. This keyboard feels responsive and expressive. To me, it feels better than Yamaha’s GHS. It might just be the best key action you can find at this price range.

Another important feature that you can find on the Casio Privia PX-160 is the Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source. Again, this is the exact same sound engine you will find on Casio’s flagship PX-870. Combined with two 8 watt speakers, the PX-160 sounds realistic with rich dynamic range.

The Casio PX-160 only has a maximum polyphony of 128. This is where you start to see the cheap price taking its effect. However, for most beginners, a smaller polyphony is not necessary a deal breaker.

Internally, the PX-160 is able to record only one song up to two tracks. There are two headphone jacks and one USB to host port.

For just over $500, you are getting the best key action and sound engine from Casio. This alone guarantees a spot on my best digital piano list. Yes, you are missing a lot features. But for an entry level instrument, I’d rather pay for the key action and sound than fancy features that might not be useful to me as a beginner. Click here to read my full review on the Casio PX-160.

Yamaha P-45/P-71

This is another great choice for beginner piano players. Especially those who want to give piano a try but don’t want to invest too much in the beginning. For that reason, I say the Yamaha P-45 is the best digital piano for beginners. There is a Amazon exclusive version called P-71 that is identical to the P-45.

The P-45 uses Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard key action. It is the same key action you can find on Yamaha DGX-660. Keys are made from plastic with matte finish. It is a decent key action for beginners. Although I find the keys a little dull and hard to express emotions though them.

AMW Stereo Sampling is the sound engine built in the P-45. It’s Yamaha’s low end sound engine and it’s quite basic. The result is not too bad. But compare to its competitors, the sound of the P-45 is not impressive at all. Combined with two 6 watt speakers, the P-45 can handle a medium sized room and produce enjoyable sound, although you might need to adjust your expectations.

There is no internal recording capability of the P-45 and it only has a maximum polyphony of 64.

Overall, the P-45 has decent key action and okay sound engine. It lacks many important features and you will have to upgrade in the future. However, for less than $400, you really can not find anything better than the Yamaha P-45. Read my full review on the Yamaha P-45.

Roland FP-30

This entry level portable digital piano from Roland’s FP series is a strong option to consider. It is quite solid in many aspects and will provide an enjoyable playing experience.

The FP-30 is equipped with Roland’s 4th generation PHA-4 key action with plastic key and synthetic Ivory/Ebony key tops. It is also a triple sensor keyboard that gives the capability of fast and responsive key press. In addition, the FP-30 keys also has an advanced feature called ‘escapement‘. It is sometimes also called ‘let-off’ and is a simulated notch feeling that you can find on grand acoustic pianos. This keyboard feels natural, precise and expressive.

Like many other Roland digital pianos, the FP-30 has the SuperNATURAL Piano Sound engine. It record each individual note on an acoustic piano and build upon that with computer modeling. The result is a realistic, rich and dynamic re-production of acoustic piano sound. Coupled with two 11 watt speakers, the Roland FP-30 is capable of filling en entire room and impress every audience.

The FP-30 has a maximum polyphony of 128. It is slightly less than the competition you can find around similar price range.

Bluetooth and USB to device port are two of some very useful features you can find on the FP-30. You can connect it with your smart device and utilize apps to help fine tune the instrument or help with your practice.

Unfortunately, the FP-30 does not support multi tracking recording. The internal recorder of the FP-30 can only record one song.

Overall, the Roland FP-30 is a decent choice around $700Read my full review on the Roland FP-30 here!

Yamaha P-125

If you are on team Yamaha and the P-45 is too basic for you, the next one to look at is the P-125. This is a new release of 2018 and it brings some good upgrades.

The P-125 uses the same Graded Hammer Standard key action as the P-45. It’s a good entry level keyboard with plastic keys and matte finish. The action is a little dull and I find it hard to be expressive while playing on the P-125. That said, it’s still a good enough keyboard for any beginners.

Unlike the P-45, the P-125 has Yamaha’s more advance sound engine called Pure CF. It does a great job to reproduce the sound of Yamaha’s world famous CFIIIS 9 foot concert grand. The sound is natural, detailed and has Yamaha’s signature bright tonal characteristic. This is certainly a better sound engine than the one you can find on the P-45. There are two 7 watt amplifiers with 4 speakers in the P-125. The two 4 cm tweeters help produce natural and clear high frequency notes.

The P-125  has a maximum polyphony of 192, another big upgrade from the P-45’s 64.

Internally , you can record one song with up to two tracks. This might be a big upgrade from P-45 but facing competitions at similar price range, the recording capability of the P-125 is a bit lacking. Especially considering it’s a new model from 2018. The P-125 also does not have USB to device, nor does it have Bluetooth.

To conclude, the P-125 is a solid mid range digital piano from Yamaha’s P series. It’s main advantage would be the Pure CF sound engine. It sits comfortably at a little over $700Read here my full review on the Yamaha P-125!

Yamaha P-255

Yamaha’s flagship portable digital piano is the P-255. It fits in a good spot that you might find appealing.

The P-255 has the Graded Hammer keyboard that’s plastic with synthetic Ivory/Ebony key tops. This is a different key action from the cheaper Graded Hammer Standard. The keys are much quieter, stable and heavier. However, this is a two sensor key action, which seems out-dated as of now.

The Pure CF sound engine in the P-255 does a great job to reproduce the sound of Yamaha’s world famous CFIIIS 9 foot concert grand. The sound is natural, detailed and has Yamaha’s signature bright tonal characteristic. The speaker system consists of two 15 watt amplifiers with 4 speakers.

The Yamaha P-255  has a maximum polyphony of 256.

The P-255 can record internally 10 songs each with up to 2 tracks. It has also a USB to device port that it can output WAV files to a USB memory stick.

Overall, the Yamaha P-255 is much inferior to the other flagships like the Kawai ES8 and the Roland FP-90. However, the P-255 is also much cheaper. If your budget is around $1,300, the P-255 is a model you need to consider.

Have you find the portable digital piano for you? Did I miss any model that’s worth mentioning? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

4 thoughts on “Best Portable Digital Piano 2020: Compact And Capable”

  1. Hi Wei,
    Loving your insights into the world of pianos. I am looking at getting my wifey a piano for her 35th birthday. She used to play when she was younger and was real good and enjoyed it. Have been leaning toward the ES110 since reading your reviews but would love something with battery capability really.
    What’s your thoughts on the Roland GO:PIANO 88?

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Drew,

      Thanks for your kind comment. It’s really sweet of you to buy a piano for your wife’s birthday. I think she’ll be super excited.

      If you are looking for a model with battery capability, maybe try the Casio PX-S1000. It is a pretty new model and I really like its sound and key action.

      Based on the experience your wife has, I wouldn’t get her the Roland GO: PIANO. The GO series from Roland features non-weighted keys. It doesn’t feel like playing a piano at all.

  2. Hi, loving your website and all the good advice. I am a rusty reasonably-advanced pianist looking for a portable model to teach my two young children on and refresh my skills. Was thinking the Roland FP10 as a balance between me wanting something a little more advanced (particularly on the pedal side) against wanting something basic for the kids. If we had the space I’d go for an acoustic piano so I’m not bothered about digital bells and whistles. Are there any others you think I should consider?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Eleanor, the FP-10 is a great model that provides excellent value. At around the same price range, you have the PX 160 from Casio and the ES110 from Kawai. Both are decent alternatives to the FP-10.

      Between the three, it really come down to the personal preference of the key actions. I personally prefer the one from Kawai, although marginally. I’d say for your children, any of these would be good enough. For someone with a bit experience like yourself, you might already developed your own preference when it comes to the keys. My best recommendation would be to buy from a reputably retailer where you can return without questions.

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