The 5 Best Digital Pianos That Are Totally Awesome
If you’re in the market for a new digital piano, but aren’t quite sure which brand or model is the right choice for your needs, then you’ve come to the right place. Because in this article, I’m going to provide you with what I believe are some of the best digital pianos in 2019, and why they stand out amongst other quality pianos.
And what’s great is that, whether you’re reading this in 2019, 2020, or 2021, these pianos will remain a fantastic option for anyone interested in a quality instrument that provides you the best bang for your buck.
In order to better help you find the right piano for your needs, please use the guide below to check out some of the top digital pianos on the market—some of which we’ll be discussing in-depth today.
What Should You Want in a Digital Piano?
What you want and need in a digital piano varies from person to person, but I do think there are some relatively standard things that you should focus on as most important when searching for a new digital instrument.
- Touch/Feel of the Keys
- Hammer Action
- Learning Features
When it comes to digital pianos, it’s important to remember that they are conceived to be convenient and cheaper alternatives to acoustic pianos. And yet, at the same time, you want them to be able to emulate the feel and sound of an acoustic pianos as best as it can.
One of the best ways that this is achieved is through the keys of a digital piano. Of course, the cheaper the keyboard, the less quality keys you’ll get. But, if you get a good digital piano, there’s a great chance you’ll find keys that feel high quality, are grippy and weighty, and in some cases, even feature escapement.
Escapment, essentially, will simulate the let off of the keys you’d find in a grand piano. You’ll certainly pay more money for something like this, but if you’re already familiar with the touch and feel of a grand piano, you’ll appreciate the addition.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best selling digital pianos online, and see how well they stack up to the digital pianos we discuss today.
|1) Yamaha P-515|
|2) Casio PX-S3100|
|3) Casio PX-870|
|4) Roland FP-E50|
|5) Roland FP-30X|
Hammer Action and Sound
Next, you’re going to want very good hammer action. This is of course subjective, but the ability to simulate real hammers hitting strings inside a grand piano is ideal for anyone wanting to get as close to a real piano feeling they can get while using a digital instrument.
Next, sound is very important—you not only want to have great grand piano samples inside your digital piano, but you also want additional sounds (like strings, harpsichord, vibraphone, etc) as well. These sounds are not only good to have on their own, but for the purposes of layering one sound on top of another too.
Polyphony—and Why It Matters
Polyphony is also worth mentioning here, as well. Not everyone will need 192 or 256 notes of polyphony in their digital piano.
For some, that’s overkill.
But as you mature in your playing experience, you’ll likely want to play more complex pieces of music. And if you do, you’re going to want notes that don’t decay quickly. And the only way to guarantee that is to have a relatively high polyphony count.
I tend to liken this to the rise of 4K content these days. For example, if you still enjoy buying movies on Blu Ray, and a studio releases the film you want in a Blu-Ray/4K combo pack for only an additional $5.00, you might not have a strong desire to pay the extra $5.00 for a bonus 4K disc if you don’t already have a 4K TV or 4K player.
But, at some point in the future, you might actually choose to upgrade to a 4K TV and 4K Blu Ray player. So, for just an extra $5.00, you can essentially future proof yourself.
This is how I look at polyphony. Get as much polyphony in your new digital piano as you reasonably can afford today. This will help future proof yourself. And your future self with thank you for it.
Learning How to Play Piano
And lastly, we arrive at the topic of learning features. If you’re brand new to the world of learning how to play the piano, then you just might want a piano that helps make the learning process relatively easy to understand.
You can likely expect a digital piano to come with a metronome these days, but some go much further, allowing you to incorporate immersive apps that will help teach you how to play your favorite song or simply record and save the music you create.
The Top Digital Pianos of 2019
Without further ado, let’s begin with the Yamaha P-45.
Yamaha P-45: A Cheap Portable Piano
Costing less than $500, the Yamaha P-45 is a good portable piano that’s very affordable. This is a piano that features a Graded Hammer Standard keyboard, and while that’s not exactly one of Yamaha’s best key actions, the graded feel of the keys help give you the sensation what playing on a real acoustic piano feels like.
On top of that, the P-45 is a slim and trim digital piano. We’re talking about an instrument with a depth of about 12” and clocking in at just 25 lbs in weight overall. That means that if you are looking for a digital piano to lug around with you from gig to gig, it’s not going to get much better than the P-45.
It’s also important to know that there’s a Yamaha P-71 and a Yamaha P-125 on the market, too.
Yamaha P-71 vs Yamaha P45
What’s the difference between the Yamaha P-45 and Yamaha P-71?
Not much. Actually nothing, to be perfectly accurate. In fact, the only difference is that the Yamaha P71 is an Amazon exclusive digital piano, so think of it as a slightly rebranded Yamaha P-45.
Yamaha P-125 vs Yamaha P45
The Yamaha P-45 has a bigger brother called the Yamaha P-125. While they both share a lot of similarities, there are some notable differences that might make it worth the extra $150.
The first is that it features a Pure CF sound engine, compared to the AMW Stereo Sampling found in the P-45. On top of that, the P-125 is rocking a whopping 192 notes of polyphony and 24 total voices.
The P-45 just can’t compete with that, as it comes with just 64 notes of polyphony and only 10 total sounds.
The P-125 has a bit more amplification in the sound department too, as it comes with 7 watts of power via two speakers (14 watts in total) compares to the 6 watts of power via two speakers in the P-45 (for a total of 12 total watts of power).
The P-45 is no slouch in any way, shape or form. If you want the best affordable digital piano for your money, you probably can’t do a lot better. But, it should be noted that something like the Yamaha P-125 is indeed a better all around instrument.
- You can read our full review of the Yamaha P-45 here.
Yamaha DGX-660: Interactive Portable Piano
I want to stay on the portable piano train for a bit longer and discuss the Yamaha DGX-660. What’s fun here is that you can connect a microphone to this digital piano and begin essentially performing karaoke songs that are pre-recorded by Yamaha. You’ll then be able to hear what you sound like via the instrument’s built in speakers.
On top of that, the DGX 660 allows you to go wireless. Use the Chord Tracker app to play back some of your favorite songs from your iPhone or iPad through the DGX-660’s speakers.
In fact, this app will analyze the music being played and begin displaying proper chord symbols, allowing you to play along with the music. These are the kinds of wonderful learning features I mentioned earlier that you can get when you commit to a digital piano.
It’s also worth mentioning that the DGX-660 is one of the very few popular digital pianos available today that come with a built-in LCD screen. While the screen is relatively small (all things considered), it’s nice to be able to navigate the piano’s settings with the help of the screen, or simply use the screen to read music of some of your favorite songs.
- You can read our full review of the Yamaha DGX-660 here.
Casio PX-870: A Great Piano Experience
In many ways, the Casio PX-870 is a beast of a digital piano. Once it’s set up, it appears far more like an upright digital piano than a portable one, so don’t expect to lug this baby around anywhere. Wherever you set it up is where it’ll stay, especially since it weighs 74 lbs.
What I like about the Casio PX-870 is that it seems to give you a grand experience at the piano for a very reasonable price (about $1,100).
With this piano, you’re getting additional features that, when added in totality, really immerse you in the sensation that you’re playing a grand piano. Things like realistic damper resonance or key action sounds or lid simulator or key off simulation are welcome additions.
On top of that, you get 19 voices, and of course you can split the keyboard as well as layer sounds. Casio doesn’t skimp on the polyphony count either, as 256 notes of polyphony are present here.
One of the nicer things about the PX-870, too, is it’s ability to work with PC or Mac computers, as well as Android or iOS. Just fire up the Chordana Play for Piano app, and you’ll instantly be able to control almost any setting or function within the PX-870.
And as far as learning features goes, this piano offers Duet Mode, which essentially splits the piano into two equal pitch ranges. This is most ideal for leaning alongside a teacher, as now a student and teacher can sit side by side to play on the same instrument.
- You can read our full review of the Casio PX-870 here.
Yamaha YDP-164: Better Than the YDP-144
A lot of people may be wondering why they should consider paying more money for the Yamaha YDP-164, when they can save a bit and just get the YDP-144.
First off, either way, you’re likely to be happy with your purchase. These Arius digital pianos are quite impressive. But I wanted to mention a couple things that I feel make the YDP-164 a better piano than the YDP-144—key action and sound amplification.
The Yamaha YDP-144 features a Graded Hammer Standard action. This is the most basic of all of Yamaha’s key actions. The Yamaha YDP-164, on the other hand, features GH3 or Graded Hammer 3 action.
What you get with that is simulated Ebony and Ivory keys, and keys that are grippy in touch and feel. This will help prevent your fingers from slipping off the keys. The GH3 key action is more of a mid-tier level key action offered by Yamaha.
In terms of amplification, you get considerably more power with the YDP-164. While both pianos have two speakers, the YDP-164 is working with a total of 40 watts of power (20 watts per speaker), while the YDP-144 features a total of 16 watts of power (8 watts per speaker).
So, if you’re looking to buy a digital piano that will fill a large room with sound, you’re going to likely be far more satisfied with the YDP-164 over the YDP-144.
Both pianos are great—they both feature the Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano sound, along with a a Pop Grand piano sound and a Mellow Grand Piano sound. But if you want better action and better sound and power, the YDP-164 is the better choice.
- You can read our full review of the Yamaha YDP-164 here.
Yamaha P-515: Best High Quality Portable Piano
The Yamaha P-515 is a digital piano that has replaced the Yamaha P255, which was a very popular instrument in its own right.
Coming in around $1,500 or so, the P-515 is not a cheap piano, but it just might be one of the most impressive portable digital pianos on the market.
Let’s first start with the keybed on the P-515. This piano features a Yamaha Natural Wood X keyboard—top of the line when it comes to Yamaha’s digital pianos. Just like a grand piano, the keys are made from wood. You also get an escapement mechanism within this keyboard, which will further give you the sensation that you’re playing on a real acoustic piano.
In terms of piano sounds, Yamaha has you covered here too. Just like on the Arius models we discussed above, you get the Yamaha CFX Grand Piano sound here. But, unlike those pianos, you also get the Bösendorfer Imperial and CFX Binaural Sampling, as well.
Also, I always think it’s nice when a digital piano, especially a portable one, comes with an LCD screen, and the P-515 does that, as well.
And lastly, this piano integrates very well with the Smart Pianist app—an app that let’s you control your P-515 via an app downloaded to your iPhone or iPad.
Now, instead of doing it manually on your piano, you can do everything from change sounds to split and layer all via the app. And if you use your iPad, you also get a bigger screen to see everything from your settings to digital sheet music.
The app even has a feature called Chord Chart, which will analyze some of your favorite songs and display chord symbols on your device, allowing you to play along to your favorite song as it plays through your piano’s internal speaker system.
- You can read our full review of the Yamaha P-515 here.
Whatever piano you select, you’re unlikely to make a bad choice, as digital pianos have rapidly advanced in function and overall technology over the years.
I think if you want a cheap, solid solution (especially if you’re a beginner), going with the Yamaha P-45 or Yamaha P-125 is a great choice. You may even want to consider something like the Korg B1SP or Casio PX-160, as well.
I think if you want something more robust and long term, the Yamaha P-515 is a digital piano that will tick off a lot of boxes for you—from the keyboard to its key action to its ability to work well with your iPhone or iPad via the Smart Pianist app.
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