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Best digital piano: Our favourite digital pianos, keyboards and MIDI controllers

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Whether you’re a serious pianist or just want to tickle the ivories, we’ve got you covered with our picks of the best digital pianos

From classical and jazz, to contemporary pop music; whatever your forte, the best digital piano is a versatile instrument. Going digital means you don’t have to worry so much about issues such as space, transport, or tuning that come with owning the real thing.

Nevertheless, there are still a lot of questions to ask yourself when buying a digital piano, particularly if you’re considering buying your first piano. What size keyboard is right for you? Are you looking for something portable? Do you want lots of voice options, or just a realistic piano sound? Do you need pedals? Whether you’re after a beginner’s keyboard or something more serious, there are a lot of options out there.

No need to worry, though. We’ve put together a handy buyer’s guide to answer any questions you might have, and to help you find the right digital piano for you.

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The best digital pianos: At a glance


How to choose the best digital piano for you

Keyboard vs digital piano?

This really depends on what you want out of your piano. If you’re after an authentic feel and sound, or you’re serious about learning the piano, it’s worth getting yourself a decent digital model. Naturally, these are going to cost a bit more, but – if your budget allows it – the experience of playing on a full-size piano with pedals can’t be beaten.

On the other hand, if you’re a beginner or you’re dealing with a tight budget, you might not want to make such an investment. Cheaper keyboards might not have the full 88 keys, nor will they feel like you’re playing on a real piano, but they’re a good option if you’re just looking to play around and have some fun - they’re usually more portable too.

What size keyboard do I need?

A standard piano is 88 keys (seven octaves), but you might not necessarily need a full-size keyboard – particularly if you’re just starting out. You can also buy digital pianos with 76, 61 and even 49 keys.

What about MIDI keyboards?

If you’re into music production, then you’ll likely want a MIDI keyboard or keyboard controller. These can be used in tandem with a computer and Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software to record and edit your performances, and allow you to transform your keyboard into a vast range of acoustic and electrical instruments using virtual instruments.

As with other keyboards, MIDI controllers can be full size keyboards with 88 weighted keys, or much smaller controllers (sometimes even just one octave long) with semi-weighted or unweighted keys. They are sometimes also kitted out with various buttons, knobs, sliders and drum pads to control sounds and effects.

The key word in all this is “controller”. MIDI keyboards are not standalone digital pianos; they don’t have speakers and they won’t work on their own.

What software do I need?

If you want to get the best from a MIDI keyboard, and you’re keen to get into recording and producing your own music, you’ll need DAW software. This allows you to record MIDI notes from a connected keyboard or controller, and you can combine these MIDI performances with audio from a microphone, or audio files on your computer. We’ve listed a few popular options below:

Many DAWs come with their own virtual instruments and software synthesizers bundled as standard, and these can replicate everything from vintage synthesizers to a concert grand piano. If you want the most advanced – and most realistic-sounding – virtual instruments, however, you’ll likely need to purchase a standalone package. These can integrate seamlessly into any DAW, or you can usually run them in standalone mode if you just wish to practice. Here are a few examples:

How much money should I spend?

Again, this is largely down to what you want from your digital piano, and how serious you are about playing. The pianos on our list range from £58 to £2,399, so there is a lot of room for movement budget-wise. But, ultimately, if you don’t need a full-size authentic-feeling digital piano, there’s no need to spend thousands of pounds on one.

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The best digital pianos to buy

1. Yamaha YDP-144: Best digital piano under £1,000

Price: £749 | Buy now from Musicroom

When it comes to digital pianos, Yamaha is a household name. The company’s Arius series offers a range of upright cabinet style digital pianos suitable for the beginner and intermediate player, that will give you an authentic feel and sound without breaking the bank. Plus, they’ll look nice in your home too.

The full-size keyboard is fitted with a Graded Hammer Standard system giving you the weighted feel that you’d get with an acoustic piano - heavier in the bass and lighter in the upper register. And among the 10 different voice options is the sound of Yamaha’s renowned flagship 9ft CFX concert grand piano, sampled for the Arius range, so a decent piano sound is guaranteed.

With the USB to Host feature, you can easily connect the YDP-144 to your iOS device and Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app. A handy companion, this app lets you select voices, adjust the tone and reverb of the piano, record and even score your playing. It also comes with some in-built songs to play along to, and backing band accompaniment.

The Yamaha YDP-144 is one of the cheapest pianos in the Arius range, and while its features might not be as refined as some of the more advanced models (see the YDP-164, for example), it’s a good choice if you’re looking for quality at an affordable price.

Key specs - Dimensions: 1,357mm x 849mm x 422mm; Weight: 42kg; Number of keys: 88; Pedals: 3; Number of voices: 10; Connectivity: Headphones, USB; App functions: Yes; Speakers: 2 x 8W; Power: Mains; Colours: Black, Rosewood, White

Buy now from Musicroom


2. Casio PX-S1100: Best digital piano under £750

Price: £615 | Buy now from Casio

Branded “the world’s slimmest digital piano”, the PX-S1100 is the latest model in Casio’s Privia range. With a full-length keyboard and solid weighted keys, it feels great to play. It sounds great too, with 18 realistic tone choices (including three grand piano variants, rock piano, jazz organ and harpsichord), and a selection of sound modes to simulate the ambience of a hall or stadium.

Other features include basic metronome and audio recording functions, and more advanced options such as transposing and scale tuning, dual layering and a split mode for playing duets. The PX-S1100 also comes with Casio’s WU-BT10 adapter for Bluetooth audio streaming and MIDI connectivity.

With its streamlined design and minimalist touch-sensitive control panel, the PX-S1100 looks fantastic. However, many of its functions use the keys themselves as control buttons, so it can take a while to get the hang of what does what; the technologically challenged might have a tricky time. Our advice is to make sure you keep the user’s manual handy.

Note too that, while the PX-S1100 is very slim, it’s still quite a hefty instrument, and it felt rather wobbly on the folding stand we tested it on. We recommend you use it on a solid foundation, or partner it with Casio’s dedicated CS-68 stand. We also found that the plastic sustain pedal tended to slip about on hard floors; if you can spare an extra £59, Casio’s SP-34 pedal unit might be better for you.

Key specs - Dimensions: 132.2 x 23.2 x 10.2cm; Weight: 11.2kg; Number of keys: 88; Pedals: 1; Number of voices: 18; Connectivity: Headphones, USB, Bluetooth (with adapter); App functions: Yes; Speakers: 2 x 8W; Power: Mains or 6 x AA batteries

Buy now from Casio


3. Carry-on Folding Piano by Blackstar: Best cheap folding keyboard

Price: £89 (88 keys), £68 (49 keys) | Buy now from Amazon

A ‘folding piano’ might sound like something of a novelty item, but in this instance it’s actually rather ingenious. Blackstar’s Carry-on Folding Piano combines a standalone digital piano with MIDI keyboard functionality to create a clever, folding package that will appeal to beginner pianists and music producers alike.

It’s available in two sizes: a full-sized 88-key version (pictured above), and a smaller 49 key model. Its battery is rechargeable via the included USB cable, and provides up to eight hours of usage in standalone mode. Also included is a small plastic sustain pedal. The full size keyboard comes with a tote bag and a set of notation stickers, which can be handy for the beginner pianist.

The most unusual feature here is that the keyboard has 128 built-in sounds for standalone usage. Its in-built speakers do sound tinny, however, and the lack of velocity sensitive keys (which allow for varying dynamics depending on how hard or soft you play) will be a deal breaker for many. At £90, though, the unusual range of features means that it’s actually pretty good value for money.

Key specs - Dimensions: 1320 x 125 x 18 mm; Weight: 2.28kg; Number of Keys: 88, 49; Pedals: Yes; Number of voices: 128; Connectivity: Headphones, USB; App functions: No; Speakers: 2 x 2W; Power: USB rechargeable battery; Colours: White

4. Yamaha NP-12: Best budget keyboard

Price: £180 | Buy now from Gear4Music

For our budget choice, we have another Yamaha keyboard, showing the company is as versatile as it is reliable.

With 61 keys, the NP-12 is smaller and cheaper than its otherwise identical brother, the 76-key NP-32. Its simplistic design - with a minimal control panel focusing on the essentials such as voice controls, reverb, metronome and recording - makes it perfect for beginners or students. Despite this simplicity, however, the NP-12 still produces a decent piano sound that doesn’t sound cheap or tinny.

As with the other Yamaha digital pianos, you can connect your iOS device via the keyboard’s USB to Host function, allowing you to make full use of Yamaha apps such as Digital Piano Controller, Metronome and Notestar. And those wanting to play on-the-go will be pleased to learn that the NP-12 can also run on batteries as well as mains power.

The NP-12 won’t give you the experience of playing on a full 88-key weighted keyboard. But it’s lightweight and portable, making it an excellent budget option.

Key specs - Dimensions: 1,036mm x 105mm x 259mm; Weight: 4.5kg; Number of Keys: 61; Pedals: No; Number of voices: 10; Connectivity: Headphones, USB; App fucntions: Yes; Speakers: 2 x 2.5W; Power: Mains or 6 x AA batteries; Colours: Black, White

5. Casio CT-S1: Best mid-range keyboard for beginners

Price: £255 | Buy now from Casio

The latest in the Casiotone range, the 61-key CT-S1 is not the cheapest keyboard on our roundup but it’s far from the most expensive. And considering what you get for the money, we’ve no complaints. It’s a great choice for the beginner with serious intentions.

Most importantly, the CT-S1 feels very good, thanks to touch sensitive keys with satisfyingly responsive dynamics. And its speaker system produces a clean and authentic sound: the default piano setting, for instance, sounds nice and bright (but not tinny) in the upper register, while it feels richer towards the lower end of the piano. There are 61 different tone options in total, from sensible sounding piano and organ presets to more “out there” synth tones.

The control panel is very easy to use, with buttons to change basic settings, while more advanced functions, such as changing the speed of the metronome, transposing the keyboard, changing key sensitivity and cycling through additional tones are accessed by pressing the keys of the piano itself while holding down one of the main buttons. It also has Bluetooth audio streaming via the bundled WU-BT10 adapter. This is perhaps best used with Casio’s Chordana Play, a free app loaded with MIDI files and on-screen sheet music to play along with and help you learn.

Ultimately, the CT-S1 looks nice, sounds great, and gives you plenty to play around with for £255. Unless you need a full-size 86-key piano, it’s a fantastic mid-range option. Plus, you get some extra goodies with your order, including a plastic pedal unit and free online lessons worth £50.

Key specs - Dimensions: 93 x 26 x 8cm; Weight: 4.5kg; Number of keys: 61; Pedals: 1; Number of voices: 61; Connectivity: Headphones, USB, Bluetooth (with adapter); App functions: Yes; Speakers: 2 x 2.5W; Power: Mains or 6 x AA batteries

Buy now from Casio


6. Casio SA-78: Best keyboard for children

Price: £55 | Buy now from Amazon

The SA-78 has only 44 keys, making it the smallest keyboard in our roundup. Its limited range is perhaps not perfect for budding pianists looking to seriously learn the instrument, but it’s a great introductory keyboard for younger children, and a nice little touch is the SA-78’s LCD screen, which displays notes as they are played.

Despite its stature, the SA-78 has enough features to keep your child occupied, including 100 built-in voices, 50 drum patterns, five live drum pads and ten songs. The quality of these tones isn’t going to be great (certainly no premium grand piano sampling), but they’re fun for kids. With this in mind, parents will be pleased to know that, yes, the keyboard comes with a headphone connector.

On top of all this, the relatively low price means that you aren’t making too big a financial commitment if your child suddenly decides that playing the piano isn’t for them. Should you want to spend even less, Casio’s mini keyboard range begins at £40 RRP with the SA-46.

Key specs - Dimensions: 64 x 23 x 8 cm; Weight: 1.4kg; Number of Keys: 44; Pedals: No; Number of voices: 100; Connectivity: Headphones; App functions: No; Power: 6 x AA batteries, Mains (adapter not included); Colour: Black and pink

7. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A Series: Best entry level MIDI controller

Price: From £129 | Buy now from Native Instruments

The Komplete Kontrol A Series is a great entry level MIDI controller for budding music producers. It looks great, feels sturdy, and has full integration with Native Instruments’ range of virtual instruments and software as well as a number of popular DAWs (such as Ableton, Garageband and Logic X Pro) – which means you can take advantage of all of its rotary knobs and buttons.

Available in 25, 49 and 61-key versions, there are some understandable cut backs compared to Native Instruments’ pricier S Series controllers, most notably the omission of an 88-key model and the loss of two large colour screens to provide visual feedback. Instead, the A series has a much smaller, OLED text display.

There’s a generous software bundle, though. You get NI’s Maschine Essentials, alongside thousands of sounds including The Gentleman, Monark and Reaktor Prism. And, at this price, the combination of semi-weighted keys, a decent control panel, and a 4D encoder knob for browsing through presets and navigating software makes for an impressive package.

Key specs - Dimensions: 488 x 257 x 89 mm; Weight: 2.4kg; Number of Keys: 25, 49, 61; Pedals: No; Number of voices: 6,700+ included; Connectivity: USB; App functions: No; Speakers: N/A; Power: USB; Colours: Black

Buy now from Native Instruments


8. Nektar Impact LX88+: A great value full size MIDI keyboard

Price: £218 | Buy now from Amazon

Although the Impact is available as 25, 49 and 61 key controllers, the full-size LX88+ is designed for keyboard players “looking for extra reach”, says Nektar. With 88 semi-weighted keys, it comes equipped with a comprehensive array of controls, complete with faders, pitch bend, modulation and transpose buttons, and eight drum pads. And it can be integrated smoothly with popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) including Cubase, GarageBand, Bitwig and Sonar.

At just under £198 for a full-size keyboard, it’s pretty great value too. Amazon sells it either on its own or as part of a bundle with other accessories including a keyboard stand and a sustain pedal.

Key specs - Dimensions: 1.27cm x 2.79cm x 8.9cm; Weight: 8.16kg; Number of keys: 88 (semi-weighted); Pedals: No; Controls: 8 x potentiometers, 9 x 30mm faders, 9 x assignable buttons, 6 x dedicated transport buttons, 8 x velocity sensitive pads; Connectivity: 1/4in TS jack footswitch input, USB, MIDI Out; App functions: No; Power: USB, mains

9. Kawai CA59: Best digital piano if money is no object

Price: £2,199 | Buy now from Gear4Music

If you’re serious about getting an authentic experience out of your digital piano, look no further than the Kawai CA59. From the dynamic and subtle range of piano voices - which include two of Kawai’s premier grand pianos, the Shigeru SK-EX and SK-5 - to the Ivory Touch key surfaces, counterweights and let-off simulation, it’s a lovely piano to play.

The sound quality is good too. Kawai has teamed up with Onkyo, one of Japan’s leading manufacturers in audio equipment, to bring premium quality and volume to the CA59 through a powerful 100W 4-speaker system.

If that wasn’t enough, the CA59 uses a triple-sensor key detection system for “enhanced playing realism”. If all this sounds complicated, it’s probably because it is (the graphs offered by Kawai in the product description doesn’t help much either), but the resulting effect is the same - a digital piano that sounds and feels just like a real one.

Key specs - Dimensions: 142.5cm x 46.5cm x 91.5cm; Weight: 66kg; Number of keys: 88; Pedals: 3; Number of voices: 44; Connectivity: Headphones, USB, Bluetooth; App functions: Yes; Speakers: 4 x 100W; Power: Mains

Buy now from Gear4Music

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