There are a lot of things to consider when trying to find the best digital piano brand on the market. But there’s no question that, when it comes to developing a quality piano, a manufacturer is going to have to create a keybed that feels incredibly realistic—almost as if one were playing on an acoustic piano.
If you take playing the piano seriously, you never want to buy a piano or keyboard that has cheap plastic keys. Although it may be fine for a synthesizer, trying to play the piano on a keyboard with bad keys is a difficult task.
It’s especially important for younger children and those just learning to play the piano to use a digital piano with properly weighted keys; otherwise beginners may get used to the plastic keys and struggle with finger strength and agility when they finally play on an acoustic piano.
Below, please enjoy an interactive table showcasing some of the best digital pianos currently available on the market (from a wide variety of brands):
|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)|
Sound and Cost Matters
The sounds of a digital piano are the heart and soul of the instrument. The tone of your patches can make or break a performance. Finding a great and realistic sound on a digital piano can be incredibly inspiring and motivate you to practice more. And the truth is, different companies use different methods for creating their samples—and that can have a huge impact on how the piano sounds.
In addition to the feel and the sound of a digital piano, the cost of the instrument is obviously a major factor too. It’s possible to find digital pianos for under $600 as well as one that cost thousands of dollars.
Companies also tend to excel at certain aspects of their digital pianos more than others. Just because a certain brand is known to have exceptional tones and voices doesn’t necessarily mean that they will have a great weighted keyboard action.
Despite there being a lot that goes into determining who makes the best digital pianos, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite brands.
Before revealing our favorite brands, we wanted to quickly show you a small list of some of the best-selling digital pianos currently on sale online:
|1) Casio PX-770|
|2) Yamaha YDP-144|
|3) Roland RP-102|
|4) Yamaha YDP-164|
|5) Casio PX-870|
And now, without further ado, let’s first begin with Yamaha.
Yamaha is probably one of the best known and most widely available digital piano brands. The Yamaha corporation has involvement in many kinds of manufacturing: several kinds of instruments (pianos, guitars, drums, etc.), audio equipment, various electronics, motorized vehicles, and much more.
Yamaha’s experience with acoustic grand pianos gives them an edge when it comes to creating great piano samples for their digital pianos. Their Arius line, which includes models such as the YDP-143, samples their incredible CFIIIS 9’ grand piano for stunningly realistic tones. Yamaha also packs a ton of great reverbs and effects into their digital pianos.
Other cool features, like the use of binaural sampling when headphones are plugged into the piano, can be found on the CLP-625. It gives an almost 3D piano experience that puts the player in the middle of the music.
Our Notable Yamaha Piano Reviews:
- Yamaha P-125 review
- Yamaha YDP-184 review
- Yamaha YDP-143 vs Yamaha YDP-163
- Yamaha P255 vs Yamaha DGX-660
- Yamaha DGX-660 vs Yamaha P-115
Kawai is another example of a digital piano manufacturer that got their start making acoustic pianos. Kawai digital pianos are some of the most impressive digital instruments available on the market today. They have superb sounds and impressive technology, but the most prominent feature that Kawai is known for is their incredibly realistic weighted hammer actions.
Kawai has taken several mechanical features from the actions on their acoustic grand pianos and implemented them into their digital keyboards. The Grand Feel II is a fully wooden key action that takes into account many things like pivot point locations, triple sensor key detection, and a key’s let off. This kind of detail and perfectionism is apparent in many aspects of Kawai’s digital pianos.
The Kawai ES8 is a great example of a more affordable keyboard that still has great features. Some of its highlights include:
- Individual samples for 88 notes
- 34 instrument sounds
- Polyphony of 256
- 100 varieties of rhythm section accompaniments
- RHIII graded hammer action
Our Notable Kawai Piano Reviews:
Roland is another big contender in the world of digital pianos. The Roland company that we know today was started in the mid seventies. They specialized (and still do) in creating synthesizers and combo organs rather than acoustic instruments.
Because of this, some of the best Roland instruments have a heavy emphasis on the synthesis and effects side of things. Roland’s Piano Designer is a great feature that gives users total control over very specific and detailed characteristics of their piano patches.
The HP 603 is a good example of a great Roland digital piano. It has a “limitless polyphony” of 384. It has three pedals: one capable of continuous detection, and the other two are assignable. The best thing about this keyboard is the feel. The HP603 uses Roland’s PHA-50 action. Roland has created a fantastic hybrid key for its PHA-50 weighted hammer action. These keys have a wooden core and a molded material on the outside.
Our Notable Roland Piano Reviews:
Like Roland, Korg has been around as a company for quite a while, and got their start in synthesizers and effects. The Korg company is credited as being the first to integrate effects into synthesizers, and one of the founders of the company was the first to create transposition: a feature used in almost every digital piano on the market.
Today, Korg keeps its reputation by its array of synthesizers and digital workstations, like the Korg Kronos.
Korg takes its excellences in synthesizers and applies it to digital pianos. Great sounds, effects and hammer actions can be found in many of its products, like the Korg LP-380.
Our Notable Korg Piano Reviews:
Kurzweil is another digital piano company that has also dipped into the synthesizer and electronics market. They have been manufacturing synthesizers and samplers since the eighties.
More recently, Kurzweil has put several great weighted action digital pianos on the market, namely their Artis and Forte lines. The Artis pianos have gained their popularity because of the exceptional sounds and tones. Kurzweil recorded a Steinway model D grand piano and sampled it extensively.
They used six variations of samples for different velocities on each key, and included small but important details like pedal noise and various other resonating string sounds. The digital pianos in their Forte line has a sampled Steinway too, and additionally includes a Yamaha C7 grand that has been sampled in great detail.
The Kurzweil keyboards are not necessarily cheap. The Artis line is slightly more affordable, with digital pianos ranging from $1,200 to $2,000. The Forte, being a higher quality digital piano with more features and effects, is priced slightly higher. Pianos in the Forte line can range from $3,000 to around $4,000.
Kurzweil Piano Review:
Casio keyboards and digital pianos have become an increasingly popular option for beginners and younger children. Casio’s prevalence has a lot to do with their low prices. When it comes to digital pianos, you really do get what you pay for.
Although Casio has stepped up its game a bit with its Privia digital piano line, they are still seen by some as being digital pianos aimed moreso at the newbie piano player.
Our Notable Casio Piano Reviews:
As a producer of affordable digital pianos, Williams’ primary focus is producing digital pianos at a relatively cheap price. Williams is able to make 88 key weighted hammer action digital pianos, like the Allegro 2, that sell for less than $300. It’s no wonder that these keyboards are popular as a beginner or children’s piano. Anyone who plays above a beginner level might want to look elsewhere for a digital piano, since the tones aren’t particularly great and their weighted actions fall short.
Our Notable Williams Piano Reviews:
- Williams Symphony Grand review
- Williams Overture 2 review
- Williams Rhapsody 2 review
- Williams Legato review
- Williams Allegro 2 review
Nord, which is known for producing portable or stage digital pianos that can be bright red in color, is also respected for making really great instruments. Offering tons of options for the gigging musician, Nord has been able to carve out a great piece of the market in what has certainly become a competitive space.
Our Notable Nord Reviews:
It seems that companies tend to highlight and spend the most time on aspects of a digital piano that they are most familiar with. Because companies like Kurzweil, Korg, and Roland got their start in the synthesizer, sampler, and electronic industries, it makes sense that they excel in making those products. Korg and Roland’s most well made and popular instruments are their keyboard workstations and synths.
On the other hand, companies like Yamaha and Kawai have started out by making instruments and grand pianos. They seem to better understand how an acoustic grand piano is supposed to feel and sound. Digital pianos today are trying to emulate and recreate all aspects of an acoustic piano, while still maintaining the benefits and perks of digital technology. Yamaha and Kawai have an excellent reputation for realistic sampling for awe inspiring piano tones. It makes sense for them to know the best way to record and sample their own grand pianos.
Even the most technically gifted pianists can’t create good music if the instrument doesn’t play well. The feel of the keys and the hammer action in digital pianos is absolutely critical. Both Yamaha and Kawai digital pianos do an excellent job of reworking the hammer actions found in acoustic pianos to work with their digital keyboards. Kawai in particular uses many of the same mechanisms and parts in both their digital and acoustic keyboards.
Although there are definitely some brands that are of a higher quality than others, you always get what you pay for when it comes to digital pianos. The cheapest model of a Yamaha may not necessarily be better than some of Casio’s higher end keyboards.
This is only a guide to which piano companies have which quality features. Finding the “best” piano brand depends on your personal playing needs and your budget. Many players find brands like Williams and Casio are the best and most affordable for what they want and need. The most important thing is to find a digital piano that makes it fun and enjoyable to play and practice.
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