The digital piano market has always been limited by the state of the technology. In years past, the only way you were able to guarantee quality when purchasing a digital piano or keyboard was to splash the cash on a top of the line model. Spending anything less generally meant having to settle for much less – whether this be plasticky keys, poor audio playback, lack of any defining functions: the instruments were generally a lot less usable.
Luckily in recent years, the technology has advanced leaps and bounds – manufacturers, previously unable to adequately replicate the acoustic piano playing experience at all, are now focussed on fine-tuning the experience, with the problem solved to an extremely satisfactory level.
As a result, the market is now saturated in quality: with even digital pianos at lower price points still able to boast fantastic usability that would have once only belonged to the upper echelons of the market.
And so, in this article, we’re going to present you with our picks for the best digital pianos for the money on the market. And to better help you make a good decision, please take a moment to view out interactive guide below, which showcases some of the most popular digital pianos available.
|Casio PX-S1100||192-note polyphony; 18 built-in tones|
|Alesis Prestige Artist||30 voices, 256 polyphony|
|Casio CDP-S350||700 built-in tones|
|Yamaha P-515||40 Voices, 18 Drum/FX Kits, 480 XG Voices|
|Casio PX-870||Redesigned Cabinet, Speaker System|
|Korg LP-180||Natural Weighted Hammer Action|
|Casio PX-770||128 Note Polyphony|
|Yamaha P-45||64 Note Polyphony|
For the most part, when picking out a specific keyboard or digital piano model from amongst the budget range – it often helps to focus on what you want to buy the keyboard for. Are you looking to play it as a substitute for a real piano? Are you looking for something to use as a MIDI controller? Are you looking for something small and compact? By asking yourself all these sorts of questions, you are able to pinpoint exactly the kind of instrument you are after, and from there you can choose a budget model that best delivers this end – providing you with the best value for money.
But occasionally you come across an instrument that manages to fit all these briefs, and does so well – without diminishing on quality – and the Roland FP-30 is one such instrument.
The FP-30 features 88 fully weighted keys, all of which are a joy to play: the keys are quiet, and the subtle weighting and resistance allows for depth in your playing. The SuperNatural sound engine delivers sparkling piano playback.
The keyboard can be connected through bluetooth to any smart device or computer – allowing you to easily hook this up to your favorite programs and use as a lesson tool or MIDI controller.
All of this, combined with relatively small profile of the keyboard, result in an instrument that manages to fulfill multiple briefs at once, without compensating on quality. The FP-30 offers stunning value on a budget, and is a great all-rounder.
Below, please take a brief moment to check out some of the best selling digital pianos currently on sale online, and see how well they measure up to the pianos we mention in this article:
|1) Casio PX-770|
|2) Yamaha YDP-144|
|3) Roland RP-102|
|4) Yamaha YDP-164|
|5) Casio PX-870|
You Might Also Like: Roland FP30 review
Casio Privia PX-160
The digital piano market has always sought to provide the best translation of an acoustic piano playing experience onto a digital instrument. Accurate emulation of this had in previous years been reserved only for the most expensive instruments, however I am happy to report that quality translation is now available across the market – with even most budget keyboards able to offer functional weighted keys.
With good quality across all spectrums of the market – the devil is in the detail in terms of the difference between lower price instruments and higher price instruments. The digital pianos towards the higher end of the market are now concerned with ironing out the kinks, and exploring the small nuances of playing acoustic piano. This attention to detail isn’t always evident in the budget range – however the Casio Privia PX-160 goes above and beyond its low price-tag, delivering outstanding quality more typical of a higher end instrument.
The 88 fully weighted keys feature a trio of sensors beneath the keys, which help to pick up on the subtleties of your playing, for example allowing for you to play note more than once before being released. The weight is graded across the keyboard, with the lower notes noticeably heavier than those in the higher octaves, and feature realistic hammer-action. Not only that, but the keys are manufactured in a faux ebony and ivory fashion, resulting in a playing experience that is remarkably lifelike.
The keys are quite simply the best in the budget market, and make a mockery of the instruments budget pricing. The instrument also boasts 128 polyphony, and a further bank of 18 high-quality voices, all of which have been produced well (not something always evident in rival models) – making the Casio Privia PX-160 a high-quality digital piano, and offering the best value for money if you are looking for a cheaper digital piano.
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If you are on an a particularly strict budget, but are still looking for a decent 88-key digital piano, then the Williams Legato provides great value for money – offering quality, despite being noticeably cheaper than the aforementioned models.
The keys are only semi-weighted (a necessary cut-back at this price-point) but are still more than serviceable, offering the player good velocity control. The piano is well sampled, and the remainder of the voices are too of a decent standard.
All of these voices can be edited using a variety of different effects and modulators, which is defiantly a plus point considering most of its similarly priced rivals fail to even offer adequately sampled voices.
The keyboard is also very durable and well-made: meaning that despite its lower price-point, this does by no means feel like a cheap instrument.
The Williams Legato does not really compare with the likes of the Roland FP-30 or the Casio PX-160, however it does offer great digital piano emulation on an 88-key keyboard for a fraction of the cost: and if you are looking for the best digital piano on the strictest budget, you could do a lot worse than this Williams digital piano.
- You Might Also Like: Williams Legato review
It can be sometimes be tough trying to find a keyboard at a relatively inexpensive price that manages to cope with all the modern demands of keyboard playing.
The typical keyboard player might have once wanted to use their instrument to play along with in-built backing tracks, to switch between sounds instantly, to control the chord progressions and pace of the backing track. Nowadays, people are demanding new things of keyboards. More than ever, people are looking for an instrument on which they integrate with their smart devices, on which they can trigger and mess around with loops – even playing along with their favorite songs.
A big part of this stems from the success of electronic music in recent years – with keyboard players increasingly steering away from traditional methods of playing.
For the most part, budget keyboards manage to parts of this brief well: for example, you can buy good midi controllers, or good stand-alone keyboards – however not too many models manage to do all of these things well. The Roland Go:61K is a great example of an instrument that manages to cope with all the modern demands of a keyboard player.
The instrument is both small, portable, and stylish: being available in a few different bright colors. 500x voices can be played, all of which are sampled to a good quality, and can be played through the Roland’s built-in speakers.
The Go:61K really comes into its own when we consider its integration with smart technology. Once paired up wirelessly over Bluetooth, you are able to write and record your own songs, and download build and play loops on the fly.
The GO:61K manages to both act as a competent stand-alone keyboard, and as a controller for samples and loops – the instrument is a great at dealing with the demands of both he traditional keyboard player, and the modern.
Nord Stage 3
If you are looking at the higher end of the market for a versatile performance keyboard, then the Nord Stage 3 is the instrument for you, providing stunning value even at a higher price point.
The Nord Stage 3 is a stylish piece of equipment, coming in Nord’s signature hot-red color, and with enough knobs and buttons to quench the thirst of even the most demanding audiophiles.
This array of buttons are used to tap into the Stage 3’s overwhelmingly complex network of EQs, filters, and sound libraries – all voices built into the Nord are of the highest quality, and they can all be amended through the use of specific Eqing, and introducing filters and effects such as reverb, distortion and flange.
The keys are semi weighted, and are capable of accurate piano playing, whilst still remaining comfortable while playing organ and synth lines.
The Nord Stage 3 is an absolute no-brainier if you are looking for a stage-piano at the high end of the market, every dollar spent on this Nord digital piano will be rewarded.
While the Nord Stage 3 is an extremely powerful and versatile instrument, it does sacrifice some capability in terms of its digital piano playing experience, and if you are looking to buy a stage piano for the purposes of conventional piano playing: then the Korg SV-1 is a great alternative.
The SV-1 comes in either a 77 or 88 key model, and boasts Korg impressive RH3 key system: a method of key weighting that has been fine-tuned through years of work, and is amongst the best in production today. The SV-1 is an absolutely beautiful instrument, with the imbedded control system and heavy-duty retro-futuristic aesthetic a stunning addition to any live performance.
There aren’t as many voices included as the Nord Stage-3 – however the Korg focuses on more traditional sounds as opposed to the synth heavy action of the Nord: various electronic piano and organ voices have been expertly captured. The Rhodes emulation is among the best I have ever played on any digital piano or keyboard.
All of these voices can be customized and edited – with effects such as reverb, delays, and chorus ready for use.
The Korg SV-1 undoubtedly delivers quality regardless of its higher price-tag, and pretty much checks all the boxes when it comes to looking for a stage piano for traditional piano and keyboard playing.
- You Might Also Like: Korg SV-1 review
Grand-pianos are expensive. Not only will the initial outlay set you back thousands, but you then need to consider all of the maintenance costs associated with owning such a high-end piece of equipment. A tuner will need to be called in every now and again to get all the notes sounding pitch perfect. Depending on the finish, the body of the piano will need to be maintained. You might at some point even need to replace some of the piano strings.
The Roland V-Piano, on the other hand, requires no further upkeep beyond sporadic updates and the occasional dusting.
If you are after high-end piano or digital piano, it is defiantly worth considering the V-Piano. The V-Piano is quite simply unlike most other digital pianos, because as opposed to being reliant upon different piano samples being triggered as a key is pressed, the V-Piano instead physically models the playing of the piano: effectively creating a completed synthesized piano.
This has a huge amount of benefits over the typical digital piano sample in method – it allows for realistic and sparkling resonance. All the subtle nuances of piano playing are captured and emulated marvelously – the clicking of hammers, the resonance when the damper lifts from the strings. You can even change the virtual material the digitized strings are made out of, tweaking the sound and responsiveness of the piano.
The Roland V-Piano provides great value for money because it in effect synthesizes an acoustic grand piano into something much lower maintenance, something more permanent, something more versatile. Nothing is quite like playing a real grand piano – however in this day and age many people simply can’t afford to buy even the cheapest grand pianos, which will often deteriorate after a few years of hard use. The V-Piano is a great and cost-effective alternative, delivering sublime quality and control for the fraction of the price of some of the best Grand Pianos.
The budget MIDI controller market is extremely crowded these days, mostly because small MIDI controllers are relatively cheap and easy to make, with online shops swamped with multiple different manufacturers, makes and models.
It can, therefore, be quite tricky to choose between so many different options, however the M-Audio Mini 32 offers ion my opinion the best bang for its buck.
The USB controlled instrument features 32 keys, which is a lot more than its competitors at a similar price point. Not only this, but it included chunky knob for modulation, pitchbend control, and octave switches.
While other models at this price point might offer a few of the above things, the Keystation Mini 32 has them all, and provides you with fantastic value even at the bottom end of the keyboard market.
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- Kawai KDP-110 review: Better than the KDP-90?
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- Roland RP-102 review
- Yamaha P-515 review