Digital pianos are a wonderful resource for people of all ages and all kinds of disciplines. These musical instruments can be used by a wide variety of people on a number of different levels, whether personal, professional, or simply just for leisure. Since their inception, digital pianos have served to greatly change the landscape of musical professionalism and production, making a difference in the way musicians and hobbyists practice and perform music.
Digital pianos make learning and performing with a piano much easier and way more affordable than it was in past generations. Because of the opportunities they provide consumers have been searching after the best digital pianos that can be obtained within their resources. This search can prove to be a very exhausting and frustrating task at times, as it may be difficult to understand each and every machine due to a lack of familiarity with certain brands, technologies, and special features.
Because of these difficulties this article is meant to serve as a comprehensive digital piano buyer’s guide that gives a tangible starting point for consumers who feel uncomfortable about their knowledge of digital pianos. It is a disservice to both the customer and the manufacturer if an incorrect purchase is made due to a lack of information concerning digital pianos, leaving the customer with a dissatisfied experience and the manufacturer with lost business.
Helpful Piano Buying Guide
Below, please enjoy the interactive guide that was created to make your piano purchase easier, as you can quickly compare some of the top pianos on the market against one another:
|Yamaha YDP-144||GHS action, CFX Grand Piano Voice|
|Yamaha P-515||Natural Wood X Key Action|
|Casio PX-870||Redesigned Cabinet, Speaker System|
|Yamaha YDP-164||GH3 action, CFX Grand Piano Voice|
|Roland RP-102||Works w/Roland Piano Partner 2 app|
|Casio AP-470||256 Note Polyphony|
|Yamaha YDP-184||Graded Hammer 3 Action (GH3)|
What Kind of Piano Do You Need?
There are a number of key characteristics that must be determined beforehand in order for someone to make an informed decision on what digital piano will be the best fit. First, the person must first determine what kind of digital piano they are looking for. Here is a list of some of the different kinds of digital pianos:
- Digital keyboard piano
- Upright digital piano
- Digital piano console
- Stage pianos
- MIDI controller keyboard
Digital keyboard pianos are the most general and pervasive kind of digital piano, and they usually contain either a limited or large range of tones and rhythms, while emphasizing mobility and portability along with different piano technologies. Upright digital pianos contain many of these same elements, but have the construction of an actual upright piano, complete with a cabinet and some form of support.
Digital piano consoles build upon the construction theme of upright digital pianos, and are built with a variety of constructions that can even reach the general construction of a real acoustic piano, but only with a digital infrastructure. Stage pianos incorporate much of digital pianos concepts, but are built to accommodate the live performance in terms of functionality and connectivity.
Synthesizers focus on a wide range of sounds and are geared more towards musical production. MIDI controller keyboards are also geared towards musical production and control other devices using MIDI, and usually do not have speaker systems.
Choosing From the Best Brands of Digital Pianos
One of the next key characteristics of choosing a digital piano is deciding on a certain brand or manufacturer. This is something that is not exactly exclusively necessary to selecting a digital piano, as a person can simply go from machine to machine looking at every single feature individually. Nevertheless, familiarizing with a certain brand or manufacturer will help the consumer gain an understanding of what to expect in a purchase and help gain access to specific forms of piano technology.
Many of the better name brands of digital pianos have been making musical instruments since the beginning stages of the growth of technology. These companies have expertly engineered instruments that utilize all of the capabilities that bring more and more of a real piano experience to the digital platform. Some of these name brand companies include but are not limited to Korg, Casio, Roland, and Yamaha.
Each of these companies has their own proprietary technologies, which they develop and apply over a wide range of their products. As technology and engineering continues to improve, so do the capability of their digital pianos, along with a decrease in overall prices and an increase in industry standards. It is good for consumers to become acquainted with the different technologies and engineering produced by each company, as every consumer will have their own suitable taste.
Top Selling Pianos by Brand
Below is a short list of the top selling digital pianos by brand (in no particular oder):
Key Features of the Best Digital Pianos
After the consumer has determined the type of digital piano he or she desires to purchase, and possibly the desirable brand or manufacturer from which he desires to make his purchase, he must then decide upon the important key features he will need in the particular machine he chooses to buy. Some of these features are specific to a certain type of digital piano, and some are applicable across all or some of the types. These features include tone and voice selection, key sensitivity and hammer action technology, tone generation and sound sources, design and structure, connectivity, beginner vs. advanced features, and of course, price.
Tone and voice selection is very important concerning the type of digital piano a consumer wants to buy. Many digital pianos focus very closely on creating realistic piano tones that have been sampled from real acoustic pianos and are adequately resourced by the onboard tone generation technology. For some musicians this feature is more important than others, most likely for pianists wishing to practice on a machine that most accurately represents the medium they perform on.
The tone and voice selection is supported by the key sensitivity and hammer action technology, which is vastly different depending on the maker and expertise of the digital piano concerned. Each company has varying levels of expertise, from simple plastic touch responsive keys, to fully featured graded hammer action keybed systems. Some examples of this are the PHA systems from Roland and the GH systems from Yamaha.
Different companies have different systems for tone generation, which is how the digital piano selects the correct samples that correspond with the notes the pianist plays. Casio has their proprietary AiF and AiR sound sources, while Yamaha has the Pure CF Sound Engine and Roland has its SuperNATURAL piano technology.
Each company also has differing levels of class compliant connectivity features, from USB to HOST ports that enable MIDI connections to dual headphone jacks and AUX outputs and inputs. Beginner models of these digital pianos offer a limited array of many of these features while the advanced models throw out everything they have to offer while costing significantly more. Beginner digital pianos usually range in the $200-$600 range, while intermediate to advanced digital pianos can range anywhere from $800-$5,000.
- Read our recent article about the best piano key actions here.
Top 5 Digital Piano Bundles
Already know that you want more than just a digital problem? Well, no problem. Below, I have carefully created a list of what I believe are the best digital piano bundles available. In these bundles, you not only get a fantastic piano at an affordable price, but also important items like a stand, bench, and headphones, and even things such as power adapters and pedals.
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