Top 10 Best Digital Pianos

Digital pianos are an often overlooked and mistaken category which loosely falls within electronic keyboards. They were first developed to give pianists a more compact and affordable way of learning how to play the piano, as well as practicing at home. Today we will do our best to introduce you to these awesome instruments. First we will go over our top picks for this category, and then we will discuss what makes a good digital piano, how to chose the one for you and much more. Lets start with our top 10 best digital piano picks and go from there.

Top 10 Best Digital Pianos:

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AR RATING 99/100

  • One of the best digital pianos on the market currently.
  • Comes with a great weighted action solution.

AR RATING 98/100

  • Among the most impressive pianos in terms of core performance.
  • Features Yamaha's well known graded hammer weighted action.

AR RATING 98/100

  • One of the best looking upright models out there.
  • Features one of the best weighted actions available.

AR RATING 95/100

  • One of the best Casio models on the market.
  • Features a good weighted hammer action and pretty authentic keys.

AR RATING 92/100

  • Features a very impressive keyboard and action system.
  • Features good presets and a capable sound engine.

AR RATING 91/100

  • Yamaha's GHS action alone makes it competitive.
  • Features one of the best sound engines on the market.

AR RATING 89/100

  • One of the best actions on the market.
  • Features great sampling and a capable sound engine.

AR RATING 85/100

  • Great build quality and attention to detail.
  • Features a good selection of sounds and presets.

AR RATING 75/100

  • One of the best budget models out there.
  • Features Yamaha's GHS weighted action.

AR RATING 75/100

  • Great weighted action makes it pretty competitive.
  • Good sound engine and piano samples.

AR RATING 99/100

Kawai's top tier digital pianos have always been at the very edge of what was available on the market. Despite all the fierce competition, this brand has somehow always found a way to offer the most performance at prices which were fairly reasonable. This perfectly describes Kawai ES8 digital piano. It's professional model with plenty to offer across the range.

At its core we find the responsive Hammer III keyboard, Shigeru Kawai piano samples as well as a sound engine that is capable of handling it all quite nicely. With such an extensive library, you are looking at very high levels of authenticity of samples and an incredible amount of range. That alone makes this awesome piano worth looking into.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the best digital pianos on the market currently.
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    Comes with a great weighted action solution.
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    Features great keys which feel good and look great.
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    Loaded with high-end piano samples and a mighty sound engine.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    It is definitely on the more expensive side.

AR RATING 98/100

One brand that you will run into frequently while looking into the top tier segment of the market is Yamaha. They have been in this game for a very long time, always finding new ways to move the entire industry forward. Because of that, their models such as the Yamaha Arius YDP-162R, are considered to be among the absolute best.

Under the hood, this piano packs their Graded Hammer weighted action which has proven to be both efficient, reliable and authentic. That paired with their incredible sound engine makes these pianos a solid option for anyone. The samples that come with it are on a whole different level. Yamaha's concert grand pianos need no introduction, and that's what you get.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Among the most impressive pianos in terms of core performance.
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    Features Yamaha's well known graded hammer weighted action.
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    Comes with their famous sound engine and grand concert samples.
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    Great attention to detail across the range.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Not the most aesthetically pleasing model in this price range.

AR RATING 98/100

Next we have another Yamaha model, this time around it is the YDP-181. Compared to the previous model we have shown you, this one might look very similar. And it is, at least on the outside. However, there are are a few significant yet subtle differences between these models. When you are shopping at this level, those differences definitely matter.

The action in this model is the same Graded Hammer weighted action we have seen used in many of Yamaha's top tier pianos. The sound engine is also the same and so are the samples. However, this one features Yamaha's Dynamic Stereo Sampling AWM technology, which gives it a distinct flavor. This is just the beginning. There's more to it.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the best looking upright models out there.
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    Features one of the best weighted actions available.
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    Comes packed with awesome samples and a capable sound engine.
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    Comes with cool accessories which complete the experience.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Shares the same aesthetics with the rest of YDP series.

AR RATING 95/100

Another brand that's going to be seen a lot on the market is Casio. Along with Yamaha, Casio has always been a figure of authority on the market. In the grand scheme of things, they are the brand you turn to when you need the best bang for the buck option. That's definitely one way to describe Casio PX870 Privia.

The entire Privia series of digital pianos is incredible. However the PX870 takes things to a whole new levels of excellence. These come with Casio's weighted hammer action that also features emulated ivory and ebony keys. Then there is the impressive sound engine which is packed with great piano samples and so much more. This Casio definitely hits the spot.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the best Casio models on the market.
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    Features a good weighted hammer action and pretty authentic keys.
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    The sound engine Casio has chosen definitely packs range.
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    A pretty versatile package in terms of I/O.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    Doesn’t come with basic accessories which we expected.

AR RATING 92/100

Our next model also comes from Casio but features a slightly different layout. What you are getting here is a fairly minimalist setup which is all about performance. This is Casio's version of function over form and it is awesome. Casio CGP-700 is great for those who need a compact home digital piano but still want something with a base.

Hardware wise you're getting a great weighted action which features actual hammers. The keys are those same simulated ebony and ivory models we've seen in the Privia range. In terms of sound, you are looking at great samples paired with a capable sound engine. This yields a very awesome performance that is great for stage work, not to mention practice.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Features a very impressive keyboard and action system.
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    Features good presets and a capable sound engine.
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    Offers one of the best acoustic piano samples out there.
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    Great sound coming from dual 40 Watt speakers.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    The base doesn't inspire too much confidence.

AR RATING 91/100

Going further down the Yamaha line of pianos, we run into Yamaha DGX-660. Despite its simple looks, this piano is all about performance. Yamaha did a great job at bringing a good number of their flagship features to a segment of the market which should still be fairly affordable. Because of that, DGX-660 is among the most popular choices currently.

It all comes down to the hardware and software that Yamaha has put inside. For starters you get the GHS weighted action which we know is found in their more expensive models. The Pure CF sound engine that comes with this piano is every bit as capable as their flagship offerings. There are differences, but this piano is still great.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Yamaha's GHS action alone makes it competitive.
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    Features one of the best sound engines on the market.
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    Features a great set of responsive pedals.
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    mpressive software ties it all together.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    The retro look may not work for everyone.

AR RATING 89/100

The model that we would like to talk about next comes from Casio's Privia series. This would be the second model from that family that has found its way to our top list. This time around we are looking at the Casio Privia PX-770 and it is quite something. On top of that, it features a bunch of great accessories.

At its core this piano brings you the 88 key, weighted hammer action that we have fallen in love with from Casio. When combined with their very responsive pedals, you really get a very authentic performance in terms of pure, raw tactile feeling. Then there's the impressive sound engine and great samples. Overall, this Privia model is very nicely balanced.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the best actions on the market.
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    Features great sampling and a capable sound engine.
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    Comes with a great set of features and accessories.
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    Ivory and Ebony emulation is truly impressive.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    The seat could have been better.

AR RATING 85/100

Next on the menu is another Casio, this time around we are looking at their PX150. Compared to the previous models, this one may come across as quite simple and that is ok. It all makes perfect sense when you factor in the price of this unit, which makes it one of the best bang for the buck choices available.

One of the best things about this piano, and where Casio really shows how much they care about the budget player, is the 128 note polyphony. In other words, you won't be creatively limited by the piano in any way. Then we have the great learning tools which are built into this thing as well as the good sound engine.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great build quality and attention to detail.
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    Features a good selection of sounds and presets.
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    Good overall performance and a decent keyboard.
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    A very portable digital piano, perfect for performers.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    The stand it comes with doesn't inspire confidence.

AR RATING 75/100

Moving down into more affordable pianos, we find Yamaha P45. This piano is all about getting the budget users all they could possibly need in terms of performance and sound. It's a great little piano that shares a few crucial features with its flagship brothers. That alone makes it quite interesting, especially if you need the best for your money.

It is all about Yamaha's GHS weighted action which is quite impressive to say the least. The fact that they offer it in this price range is quite impressive on its own. The piano also comes with a great set of software tools as well as a decently diverse samples library. Overall, it is a great budget choice for everyone.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the best budget models out there.
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    Features Yamaha's GHS weighted action.
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    Packs a whole lot of awesome sounds and samples.
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    Very easy to transport due to its design.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    The included stand is pretty shoddy.

AR RATING 75/100

Last but not the least we have a great model coming from Korg. This brand is right up there with the best when it comes to flagship digital pianos, however it is their beginner oriented segment that really takes the cake. Korg B1 may not look like much, but you better believe that this bad bay is all about performance.

The features it offers are a full scale weighted action and a sound engine that simply hits above its weight class. That leaves you with a relatively affordable yet quite capable beginner model. Then there are the presets and other software features which definitely sweeten the deal a lot. Overall, this digital piano is perfect for beginners and budget users.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great weighted action makes it pretty competitive.
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    Good sound engine and piano samples.
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    Simple design makes it easy to use.
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    Comes with Korg's MFB Servo technology.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

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    You will need to get an aftermarket stand.

Category Breakdown 

Beginners

Everyone has to start somewhere. In this category we are looking at the best beginner digital pianos you can find at the moment. A beginner model has to meet two loose requirements. It needs to have full sized keys, velocity sensitive keys and it needs to be affordable enough for beginners to find it attractive. Even though we definitely support getting the absolute best digital piano your money can buy, the truth of the matter is that not everyone can or is willing to commit to a high end model right off the bat. That is why we have beginner models and why they are becoming increasingly popular these days.

Weighted Keys

Digital pianos stand out from average keyboards in a number of ways, one of which are weighted keys or weighted actions. We will go deeper into what this technology means and why it matters, but for now lets just say that it's all about acoustic piano emulation. Pianos we have selected for this particular group all feature weighted actions of different quality and complexity. Which one is going to work best for you will depend largely on your needs and whether or not you need the professional grade performance

Budget / Under $300

Entry level digital pianos used to a very taboo part of the market until very recently. That is mostly because the technology simply wasn't there to offer us affordable performance that we could say is sufficient. These days that's no longer true. While these keyboards definitely aren't representing the best of the best, they are allowing new players to learn and practice with an instrument that both sounds good and feels good during use. In this part of our guide you will find the best budget models we could find right now.

Under $500

Once you increase your budget to around $500, you are getting into lower mid range section of the market. This is also one of the most competitive segments at the moment. Right around $500 is where we run into the best bang for the buck value. You will see many solutions found in the top tier segment, such as premium sound engines and similar, only delivered in a simpler and more basic package. In a perfect world scenario, this is where we suggest new players start looking for their first piano.

Under $1000

Next up are digital pianos that will set you back $1000. These are pretty much at the very top of mid range, bordering lower top tier segment. Models you will find here are colorful both literally and figuratively. You will find a number of different designs, different base layouts, ivory/ebony emulations etc. Most importantly, this is where we first run into flagship sound engines and flagship piano samples. If you are a professional or you aspire to become one, you probably know that the quality of a sample can make or break a piano. Investing this kind of money into one guarantees that you will find what you're looking for.

For Advanced Players

Advanced players are ones who have mastered both the technical and theoretical part of the playing piano. As such, they have certain standards when it comes to the quality of their digital piano as well as to the type of features it needs to have. Because of that, we have selected a handful of models which we think meet these requirements. Digital pianos for advanced players need to be reliable, well designed and they need to sound good. That is what this category is all about. 

For Classical Players

Classical players are a special breed of pianists. Coincidentally, they are the one group that really requires a high level of both emulation and quality in their digital pianos. A classical pianist is trained on an acoustic piano and measures everything against a high end acoustic model. Because of that we have selected a few models which we think would meet and exceed the needs of an average classical player. Some of them are flagship models from the top tier segment of the market while some are a bit more attainable.

Portable

Last but not least we have the portable segment of digital pianos. One of the biggest advantages of using a digital piano over an acoustic one is the fact that it's lighter and far more portable on average. However, the market has gone one step further than that and delivered niche designed portable models whose main goal is to be as compact and as mobile as possible. These models are perfect for performing artists who are doing different gigs every other night and can't afford to rock a full sized, upright digital piano. As you'll find out later in our guide, these pianos are very much capable, just like their larger brethren.

Intro To Digital Pianos - The Difference Between Digital Pianos And Keyboards 

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about digital pianos is that they are nothing more than large keyboards. This couldn't be further from the truth. Although they look fairly similar, keyboards and digital pianos share very little with each other. As a matter of fact, these two instruments are based on two completely different ideologies. Your average keyboard is designs to offer its user ultimate mastery of sound through various presets, emulations, effects and what not. On the other hand, digital pianos are all about emulating just one type of sound. That's only the beginning, though. As you will find out in a moment, sound is just one part of the equation. There is also the matter of playing sensation and so much more. At the end of the day, you could say that digital pianos loosely belong the the keyboard family of musical instruments, but all similarities end there. 

Now that we know what digital pianos aren't, lets find out what they actually are. There are several key components to a good digital piano. You will need to full sized keys first and foremost. Then we need a weighted action which is an interesting topic on its own, and finally we want a good sound engine with good piano samples. These are the basics of a good digital piano. Naturally, there's more to it. Lets take a look at each of these requirements a bit closer and see what the big deal is about.

Full Sized Piano Keys 

The whole idea behind digital pianos was to design an instrument that is capable of emulating an acoustic piano without all the weight, size and exclusive pricing. Since piano keys are arguably the only real interface we have with this instrument, it is only normal that digital pianos need to have exact same keys as an acoustic piano. If they didn't, you simply wouldn't be able to apply the same technique to them. So, the very first thing to look for in a digital piano is a good quality key.

A good key needs to be the same size and shape, but we can take it a bit further as well. Traditionally, piano keys were made out of ivory and ebony. These days that practice is no longer in effect due to obvious reasons. However, we have found ways to emulate both ebony and ivory. This way the sensation of playing a digital piano is that much closer to that of playing a vintage concert grand piano. Naturally, this emulation of exotic materials comes with a price tag that might make it somewhat exclusive for some.

Weighted Actions 

Alright, so we have a set of keys which look the part and feel the part when you touch them. Now they need to feel the part when you actually use them. This is where weighted actions come into play. Unlike digital pianos, acoustic ones rely on a set of mechanical links to produce a tone. You hit a key which is hard linked to a hammer, which then hits a wire, which produces a tone. This entire process has a signature feel to it, which you experience every time you press a key. Over the centuries masters pianists and those who were on the forefront of piano technique and theory have accommodated for this mechanical process. So much so that accounting for it has become an integral part of playing a piano.

That becomes an issue when you no longer have that robust linkage system in your piano, but rather a key and a sensor. One solution was to design weighted actions. In other words, the keys sit on a device whose sole purpose is to replicate the feel and resistance of an acoustic piano key. There are varying levels of weighted action designs. Some are simple but some are complex to a point where you have actual hammers built into the system itself. Naturally, these tend to cost quite a bit but that is a small price to pay when you are a professional and when you require the absolute best the market has to offer.

Sound Engines And Piano Samples 

The last big thing that every digital piano needs to have is a good sound engine. Everything up until this point was created and implemented to emulate the tactile feeling of playing an actual acoustic piano. Sound engines and sample libraries are there to cover the sonic part of the equation. To some people, a good sound engine is one that is all tricked out with cool effects and presets. That maybe applies to keyboards. With digital pianos, a proper sound engine is there to allow you to use fully manipulate the piano samples library. It needs to support high polyphony, which is nothing more than its ability to play multiple sounds at the same time. It needs to be able to recognize user input both in terms of velocity and complexity. Although digital piano sound engines are pretty optimized and streamlined compared to their keyboard counterparts, it is still no easy task to design something that actually works. 

Piano samples are a whole different type of beast. Most leading brands on the market also make high end acoustic pianos. We are talking Yamaha, Casio, Korg and others. This allows them to use various techniques to record these impressive instruments and load those samples into digital pianos. Here's the thing. Every brand does it differently which has tangible effect on the way your piano will sound. When you go for a flagship model of any of these brands, you will get near perfection. However, each one offers a slightly different flavor and that is something worth keeping mind.

Different Types Of Digital Pianos 

Digital pianos come in different sizes and shapes. There is a perfectly good reason for this. Not all pianos are designed to fit the same role which implies large design differences. We can divide digital pianos in a number of different categories, but for the purpose of this guide we will divide them into two main categories. There are pianos for home use and portable pianos.

Pianos For Home Use 

These digital pianos are also known as upright pianos. They come with a base, which may or may not include speakers and other details. Additionally, they feature built in pedals which are often times fixed into the base just like on an acoustic piano. As their name states, these pianos aren't meant to be moved very often. Even though they are much smaller, lighter and easier to wrangle than their acoustic counterparts, upright pianos are still best parked once and left alone.

Portable Pianos 

On the other hand, we have portable pianos. As you can probably guess, these were designed to be moved around often which is why they have no base and are as slim as digital pianos get. The tradeoff is that you don't have fixed pedals and most of these come with no built in speakers for the sake of saving some weight. However, if you are a performing artists who plays different concerts or gigs on a weekly basis, you will grow to appreciate the lack of weight and complexity that these pianos bring to the table. One of the main misconceptions that people have about portable pianos is that they are somehow worse than upright models in terms of sound quality and actions. That is just not true. Top tier portable models feature the same sound engines, sample libraries and weighted actions as top tier upright models. The main and only difference is in the role these models were designed to fill.

Conclusion 

Digital pianos are a very exciting musical instruments. Compared to acoustic pianos, these offer a lot more in terms of versatility and agility. If you are a beginner who needs a good practice setup, this is where you will find your money's worth. Same goes if you are a professional who needs a quality workhorse. Models we have listed above are what we consider to be the best on the market right now. As you can see, we have pulled top performers from a variety of different categories so that you are guaranteed to find something suitable for your needs.

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