Looking for the right piano to bring to your next gig? This list shows my recommendation for the Best Stage Digital Piano in 2020. You really can’t go wrong with any of these amazing pianos. But I would still encourage you to dive into details so that you know exactly what you are bringing onto the stage. The right stage piano will boost your performance to the next level.
Before we move on to the list, I do want to mention that some portable digital pianos are also very good for stage performance. If you don’t need any of the advanced features, you can make great music on stage with one of those. It’s worth checking the best portable digital pianos in 2020.
The MP11SE is highly focused on piano play experience and Kawai delivers an amazing package. To many, It has the best key action and sound on a stage piano. For that same reason, I put the Kawai MP11SE on the top spot of my best stage digital piano list.
The MP11SE (Second Edition) is equipped with Kawai’s latest Grand Feel key action. The keys are made out of wood and are beautifully constructed. It has a long distance to the key pivot point, the exact same distance on the key action of a grand acoustic piano. This not only creates a realistic grand piano feel but also gives the player much more control and expression compare to a shorter key pivot length. Being the latest key action, the MP11SE has all the newest features from Kawai, including synthetic Ivory key tops, simulated let off, triple sensor and counterweights.
Just like other flagship models from Kawai, the MP11SE has the improved sound engine called Harmonic Imaging XL, which samples each individual note on various volume levels 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.
The MP11SE has a maximum polyphony of 256.
To recreate a realistic piano playing experience, Kawai has re-designed their triple pedal unit that comes with the MP11SE. This pedal unit is modeled GFP-3 and it uses an advanced optical sensor instead of traditional contact sensor. This new technology gives the pedals more control over the whole press distance and more responsiveness. It also allows for more precise fine tuning of the pedal behavior through Kawai’s Virtual Technician app, along with other 22 parameters you can tweak for the MP11SE.
The Kawai MP11SE can record internally 10 songs without the ability of multi tracking mixing. It can also export MP3/WAV files to a USB stick with the USB to device port.
Aimed at gigging pianists, the MP11SE is built like a tank. The frame is made from sturdy metal and it can withstand all the abuse you can throw at it’s way. However, the cost of that is size and weight. The MP11SE is bulky and quite heavy at 34 kg (75 lbs.).
Even though it lacks some features like Bluetooth and is bulky and heavy, the MP11SE is truly the stage piano that dedicates itself to create the best piano play experience. For around $2,800, you are getting the best key action, sound and pedal behavior on the market. To many professional gigging pianists, the Kawai MP11SE worth every dollar of its price.
The Yamaha CP4 has been around for a few year now. It might not have the latest features that’s been throwing around. But it remains many pianists’ favorite gigging piano, for very good reasons.
The key action on the CP4 is what Yamaha calls Natural Wood Graded Hammer action. The white keys are made of wood and all the keys are covered with synthetic Ivory materials. There are three sensors in the action to provide an accurate and fast repetition of the same note. Many like the CP4’s key action and consider it to be very close to an acoustic grand piano.
Yamaha uses their Spectral Component Modeling and Advanced Wave Memory 2 technology to drive the piano sound on the CP4. Not only is the result authentic but these modeling technology allows tweaking the sound in many different ways, using the master EQ sliders on the control panel. It features Yamaha’s flagship CFX 9 foot concert grand together with more than 400 other instrument voices.
The CP4 has a maximum polyphony of 128.
There is no capability to record internally on the CP4. However, being designed for stage play, that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. What’s going to keep gigging pianists happy about the CP4 is that it’s lightweight at only 18 kg (39 lbs).
The awesome wood key action, authentic voices and various tweaking capabilities make the Yamaha CP4 one of the most popular stage digital piano. For $2,000, it offers great value and performance that any serious stage pianist will appreciate.
Roland RD-2000 is a powerful keyboard for stage play. Just by looking at it, you know it means business. All the knobs and sliders are not there for looks.
Beneath that almost intimidating control panel is Roland’s PHA-50 key action. It is currently the best key action from Roland and it feel great. This is the same 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.
When it comes to sound, Roland does its magic on the RD-2000. It has one dedicated sound engine only for acoustic piano voices. This is Roland’s V-Piano engine, that creates authentic piano sound from scratch by using computer modeling. The other SuperNATURAL sound engine drive all other voices, and there are more than 1,000 of them!
The acoustic piano sounds created by the V-Piano engine have unlimited polyphony while the other voices with the SuperNATURAL sound engine has a maximum polyphony of 128.
The sophisticated control panel is probably the first thing you would notice on the Roland RD-2000. There are 9 sliders, 8 knobs, 2 wheels and 2 more switchers. The effects and tuning of this instrument is almost endless.
The RD-2000 does not have the ability to record MIDI internally. It can however export WAV files to USB stickers with the USB to device port.
For about $2,500, the Roland RD-2000 is certainly not cheap. But the authentic and versatile sound engine combined with many effects and tweaking makes this an impressive and powerful instrument for the stage.
Nord Stage 3 88 Keys
The Nord Stage 3 88 keys is a very popular choice for stage performance. Although piano play is only part of its functions, some of its features grants the Stage 3 a spot on the best stage piano list.
Although fully weighted, the key action on Nord Stage 3 88 keys is not that impressive compare to other models on the market. Especially when you judge it by how close it reproduce the key feel of an acoustic grand piano. The keys are plastic and do not have any advanced features that are being thrown around these days.
The sound of the Nord Stage 3 however is nothing short of amazing. Not only does it creates authentic and enjoyable sound, it also allow you to download which ever sound you like from Nord’s library to the 2 GB on board memory on the Stage 3. Their online piano library contains many world famous instrument, including Steinway, Bosendorfer, Fazioli and others. Besides piano, the Nord Stage 3 also has an organ section as well as a synth section.
The piano section of the Stage 3 has a maximum polyphony of 120.
The Stage 3 does not have internal recording capability nor does it have a USB to device port. But it is equipped with 5 different pedal jacks to support its various playing mode and effects.
Overall, at around $4,500, the Nord Stage 3 88 keys is reserved only to the most demanding stage performers. But if the features on this instrument is useful for your kind of gigs, the Nord Stage 3 is definitely one great choice to look out for.
Casio has been making solid stage digital pianos for a while now and their flagship PX-560 is a performance powerhouse with great value.
The PX-560 uses Casio’s Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II key action. This is one solid key action with plastic keys, synthetic Ivory key tops and triple sensors. It feels responsive and expressive. However, at this price range, there are simply better key actions out there.
The Casio Privia PX-560 is equipped with Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source. Each note of a grand acoustic piano is recorded at multiple levels and the sample uses lossless audio compression. This give the PX-560 an authentic and dynamic reproduction of a grand acoustic piano. Furthermore, there are 650 voices and a maximum polyphony of 256. The PX-560 also comes with two 8 watt amplifiers firing 4 speakers.
This flagship of Privia from Casio is designed for performers. There are tons of effects, tweaking, rhythms and modes that you can choose from. To make life easier and ensure a quick switch on the fly, the PX-560 has a 5.3-inch LCD touchscreen display. This is the only one that you can find at this the price range.
The PX-560 has an impressive internal MIDI recording capability. It can record up to 100 songs each with 16 tracks. You can also come back to any part of the song and re-record it using the punch-in recording function. Once you are happy with the result, you can export the song in WAV to a USB stick with the USB to device port.
Overall, the Casio PX-560 might not be as impressive and powerful as other flagship stage digital pianos. But at around $1,300, the PX-560 is worth every penny and then some. It is a great choice for stage performers who are a bit tight on budget. Here’s my full review on the PX-560.
Nord Piano 4
Newly introduced in 2018, the Piano 4 is the newest and most advanced stage piano from Nord. Unlike the Nord Stage 3, the Piano 4, as it’s name would suggest, is highly focused on piano performance on stage.
A triple sensor fatar keyboard is used on the Piano 4 with Nord’s own Virtual Hammer Action Technology. This is by far the most realistic key action from Nord. It has good control, wide dynamic range and fast repetition.
True to Nord’s name, the Piano 4 comes with a 1GB memory for piano samples to be downloaded from Nord’s online library. All the samples are highly customizable with the new Creative Piano Filters to fit the performers’ need. With a much expanded 120 polyphony, the Nord Piano 4 sounds authentic and rich in details.
Being a stage instrument, the Piano 4 has many customization and effects that you can choose from. The built in OLED display helps to change your settings on stage under the worst lighting condition. Nord has developed seamless transitions and split point crossfades to insure a smooth transit when you change something on a live performance.
The Nord Piano 4 is a force to be reckoned with in the stage piano market. Although the price tag of about $3,000 is quite a barrier to many pianists.
This is my list of Best Stage Digital Piano you can buy this year. Have you already found the one for you? Do I miss any model that’s worth mentioning? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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