Are you looking for a digital piano for beginners? Or are you a more advanced player who wants a digital piano as a silent alternative to your acoustic instrument? Modern digital pianos are available for all budgets and with a wide range of features. In our buyer’s guide to digital pianos, we check out five current models to showcase the wide variety of available options.
What to look for in a digital piano
Digital pianos have certainly come a long way! With features like meticulously sampled grand piano sounds, resonance modeling, sophisticated speaker systems, and hammer-action keyboards that closely mimic the feel of an acoustic piano, modern digital pianos sound and feel very similar to the real thing. Plus, they offer added benefits like the ability to play silently over headphones, additional sounds, or built-in recorders for MIDI and/or audio, so they’re usually more versatile than their acoustic counterparts.
One thing to note is that it’s always best to try a variety of models before you buy. Every pianist has their own preferences in terms of sound, playing feel, and features. Moreover, sound files and videos found in online reviews don’t always convey an accurate impression, as they’re often recorded through the instrument’s outputs rather than its speakers. This means that they can sound totally different from what you hear when you actually sit in front of it. If at all possible, try to play a couple of different instruments before you make a decision – especially with an investment as big as a digital piano.
That said, this list is comprised of five digital pianos in different price ranges that I know well and can highly recommend. Here’s our list of the best digital pianos – from budget to professional.
Thomann DP-28 Plus
If you’re looking for a compact digital piano for beginners that doesn’t break the bank, look no further than the Thomann DP-28 Plus. While it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of more expensive instruments, it gets the basics right with 88 hammer-action keys, two powerful speakers, 25 sounds, and 192 voices of polyphony. You can even stack two sounds in layer mode or split the keyboard into two separate sections. In addition to a metronome, the DP-28 Plus even includes 50 rhythm patterns from a variety of styles.
While the DP-28 Plus is easy to carry at just 12.5 kg / 27.5 lbs, there’s also an optional stand that turns it into a home piano. With a full set of connectors including MIDI, USB, sustain pedal, line output, and an Aux input for a music player, the digital piano also offers beginners everything they need to record or play live. It even connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to iOS and Android devices, so you can access its features using the Pianotool app. The Thomann DP-28 Plus is available in black or white, and there are also various bundles including stands, headphones, and other accessories. Get it at Thomann*.
Casio PX-S1100 Privia
When we think of Casio, most of us picture watches, calculators, and the cheesy keyboard that our parents wished they’d never bought for us. The Japanese manufacturer even dabbled in vocal synthesis earlier this year. But as it turns out, Casio also makes very good digital pianos, and they’ve achieved a remarkable quality leap in recent years.
The Casio PX-S1100 is a sleek, incredibly compact digital piano that only weighs about 11 kg / 24 lbs, so you can easily take it to your next choir rehearsal or band practice. It can even run on batteries, so you can really use it anywhere! Casio also offers an optional stand that transforms it into a home piano.
Despite the compact size and affordable price, the PX-S1100 offers many features that were previously only available on more expensive digital pianos. The full-size hammer-action keyboard mimics the feel of an acoustic grand with scaled key weighting and ebony and ivory-textured surfaces. Among the 18 sounds, the German Concert Grand is the main event. By emulating the damper and string resonances of an acoustic piano, as well as the mechanical noises of the keys and pedals, it offers an impressive degree of realism for this price range.
The PX-S1100 also offers advanced features like a MIDI recorder, audio recording to USB, and built-in DSP effects. It even comes with a Bluetooth adapter, so you can connect wirelessly to your tablet or phone and use the free Chordana Play app, as well as a wide variety of other music-related apps.
The Casio PS-S1100 Privia is available in black, white, or red. Bundles that come with accessories like a stand, stool, and headphones are also available. Find them all at Thomann*.
The Yamaha P-series has long been a favorite of pianists looking for an affordable and highly portable instrument for practice and gigging. 20 years ago in college, I shared an apartment with an incredibly gifted pianist from Poland, who swore by his Yamaha P-80. The current equivalent of that model is the newly released P-125A, and it’s still the de-facto standard for a compact piano that’s easy to use and easy to carry around while delivering a convincing sound and feel.
And what’s not to like? The P-125A doesn’t offer many bells and whistles, but that’s the whole point! Most people – especially beginners – don’t need a ton of options; they need an instrument they can turn on and start playing. And the P-125A excels at that, just like the P-80 did 20 years ago. The main piano sound was sampled from the renowned Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand and offers string resonance, key-off samples, and damper resonance. The Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard emulates the touch and feel of an acoustic grand with heavier keys in the bass and lighter keys in the high range. And despite its compact size, the P-125 features a four-speaker system that delivers the full range of a grand piano sound. At the end of the day, that’s really all you need.
That said, you do get a couple of modern perks like the ability to connect a tablet or phone via USB and use the Smart Pianist app to access advanced settings. The app also displays the sheet music for over 300 built-in practice songs. And it can even analyze your favorite songs to display their chord symbols.
The Yamaha P-125A is available in black or white. You can get it at Thomann*.
Yamaha YDP-145 Arius
Looking for a classier look? The Yamaha Arius series features affordable home pianos that more closely resemble real pianos than their portable counterparts. With many features descended from the manufacturer’s more expensive models, the Arius series is perfect for beginners who want an instrument that gives them the true piano experience right from the start.
Despite its affordable price, the YDP-145 Arius features a piano sound sampled from the manufacturer’s top-of-the-line CFX concert grand piano. It also emulates the complex resonances of the piano sound using Yamaha’s VRM Lite modeling technology. The GHS keyboard (Graded Hammer Standard) has slightly heavier-feeling keys in the bass register, just like a real grand piano.
When you connect the YDP-145 Arius to a smartphone or tablet, you can use the Yamaha Smart Pianist app to access advanced settings and features. The app is also excellent for practicing: It can display the sheet music for more than included 350 songs, and you can practice the left or right hand individually on the piano, while the other hand plays automatically.
The Yamaha YDP-145 Arius is available in black, white, and rosewood finishes. You can also get it bundled with a pair of headphones and a piano bench. Find all offers at Thomann*.
If you really want to splurge, the Kawai CA99 is an obvious choice. I’ve personally owned the pre-predecessor CA95 for many years and can attest to the fact that this is a truly wonderful digital piano. Let’s begin with the fact that it has an actual wooden soundboard that’s an active part of the sound projection system, along with seriously powerful speakers. The Grand Feel III keyboard features wooden keys with ebony and ivory touch key surfaces and an action that’s very similar to that of an acoustic grand. Even the pedals are made to feel exactly like the original.
All of this combined makes the CA99 a seriously heavy beast at 83 kg / 183 lbs, but it contributes a great deal to a realistic experience. This is an instrument that not only sounds like the real thing, it also vibrates and feels like it – yet you can play it in complete silence using headphones if you wish.
The piano sound itself comes from the renowned Shigeru Kawai SK-EX. All 88 keys of the prestigious original were sampled at multiple points within the body of the grand piano, and paired with some clever physical modeling to emulate the complex resonances that form the essence of the piano sound. Needless to say, you also get all other amenities of a modern top-of-the-line digital piano, such as a touch display, Bluetooth MIDI and audio, MP3 and WAV recording, and remote control via the PianoRemote app. Yes, it’s a big investment, but it’ll last you a long time and it’s about as close as you can get to an acoustic piano without actually buying one.
The Kawai CA99 is available at Thomann* in black and rosewood finishes.
Digital piano videos
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- Thomann DP-28 Plus: Thomann
- Available in three colors: Casio PS-S1100: Casio
- Yamaha P-125a: Yamaha
- Yamaha YDP-145 Arius: Yamaha
- Kawai CA99: Kawai