Who can purchase a budget digital piano?
These keyboards are simply perfect for any student, child to elder, who’s thinking about learning how exactly to play piano. They are inexpensive, have built-in speakers so a supplementary amplifier isn’t necessary, you need to include multiple piano sounds and simulated acoustic-piano action (aka “key feel”). These keyboards are relatively light-all our picks weigh around 26 pounds-so it’s easy for one person to transport the piano when necessary.

The value of the keyboards doesn’t visit the beginner level. Accomplished and professional pianists could find these useful for bringing to gigs or connecting to a computer for recording. They’d also be useful for practicing without bothering cohabitants.

If you’re looking for a thing that better mimics an acoustic piano and will serve as the center point of a room, have a look at our digital console piano recommendations, which are better at emulating the action and sound of a normal piano compared to the keyboards in this guide. However, also, they are much heavier and cost 3 to 4 times a lot more than our priciest pick here.

How exactly we picked and tested
Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
A digital piano ought to be as similar to an acoustic piano in feel and sound as possible. If you’re learning piano technique and piano music on an electronic instrument, you ought to be in a position to easily transition to an acoustic piano. Whilst every digital piano’s sound and feel were our primary concerns, we also carefully considered the excess features, which is often confusing and overwhelming for beginners.

The smallest amount requirements for a budget digital piano are to have 88 keys (the same number entirely on traditional acoustic pianos) and internal speakers to facilitate practicing lacking any amplifier. Beyond that, some amount of weighted key action (either semi-weighted or hammer action, more upon this in an instant) and a precise piano sound were the principal deciding factors for our picks. An included stand and sustain pedal weren’t requirements, as aftermarket options are plentiful and inexpensive. (We discuss some options below.)

In piano lingo, “action” describes what sort of piano keys feel once you press in it. With an electronic piano, the closer the action would be to that of an acoustic piano, the higher. Semi-weighted action runs on the spring to generate the resistance felt when pressing an integral and its rebound once you lift your finger. Hammer action runs on the hammer mechanism like this within an acoustic piano to reproduce the feel. Graded, or progressive, hammer action takes a step further by increasing the weight of the action as you descend to the low notes on the keyboard. Utilizing a keyboard with weighted action is effective for multiple reasons. It can help build finger strength while practicing (a spring-based action is only going to minimally address this), also it permits more variation and musicality in the manner you play an email. While a piano keyboard might appear to be only a couple of on/off switches, the truth is there’s a variety of volumes and timbres which can be achieved according to how quickly or strongly you depress the keys. Hammer action best replicates those possibilities.

Jack (front) and John (back) put the digital pianos through their paces. Photo: Brent Butterworth
After the basic parameters were established, I reached out to colleagues that are piano teachers or musical directors to have a sense of what models were in highest rotation in the professional world. I also played several models at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in January. From there I searched through Amazon, Musician’s Friend, and Sweetwater for available models, then cross-checked that information with manufacturer websites and added whatever was missing. After considering all that information, I made a decision to limit the purchase price to $500. That has been high enough to add several quality-built keyboards that met all (or most) of the standards without having to be too pricey. This gave me a set of 21 models from nine different companies.

I then attempt to a few local LA music stores to obtain my practical some keys, speak to the store employees who work around these instruments each day, and commence to whittle down the list. After contacting manufacturers to request samples and/or to obtain recommendations on pianos that may better fit our guidelines (or, in a single case, to see us of a model that has been being discontinued), the list was narrowed right down to seven keyboards.

The keyboards all came directly into our LA office. After unboxing them and setting them up, I invited Liz, Jack, and Brent ahead in and try them out. I asked them to rate the main element action and the sound of the piano and evaluate features from the perspective of a beginner. After playing through every one of them over a couple hours, we talked through the benefits and drawbacks of each keyboard, plus they gave me their top three choices.

Our pick: Casio Privia PX-160
Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
Our pick
The Casio Privia PX-160 is an outstanding choice for both beginners and professionals, offering the very best combo of great key feel, satisfying piano sounds, and useful features. It had been a clear favorite amidst our panelists: Three testers picked it as their first choice, and something ranked it second.

Most of us agreed that the keyboard action felt probably the most as an acoustic piano. It has what Casio calls “tri-sensor scaled hammer action,” that involves the utilization of three sensors rather than the most common two. This makes the keyboard more responsive with repeated notes for the reason that key doesn’t have to go back to its resting position before being struck again. Inside our testing, this appeared to allow more musicality than simply the on/off trigger switch that a lot of synthesizers use. In the transition in to the second 1 / 2 of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, for example, the tri-sensor action will let you better control the dynamics of the quickly repeated C-sharp.

John Higgins demonstrates the PX-160’s Grand Piano Concert sound with the initial movement of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A, Op. 54. Video: Kyle Fitzgerald

The Casio action simulates the difference in weight of an acoustic piano’s hammers over the keyboard-lower notes (the left side) are heavier and have a bit more finger pressure compared to the higher notes (the proper side)-so the keyboard feels similar to a real piano.

The piano sounds, specifically, were lauded by all, although Jack felt that the majority of another sounds were too trebly and thin, lacking bass. The PX-160 supplies a total of 18 built-in sounds. When compared to competition another sounds are decent and usable, although I came across that a handful of the organ sounds lacked authenticity.

Three sounds (Grand Piano Concert, Grand Piano Modern, and Elec. Piano 1) have dedicated buttons on the control panel. Selecting the other 15 sounds requires the ball player to press the event button and a corresponding piano key labeled with the name of the sound, such as for example Vibraphone or Jazz Organ. The keys useful for instrument selection come in the center of the keyboard, starting at middle C, for easy accessibility. Various other keyboards that utilize this selection method have the choice keys assigned to underneath octave of the keyboard, which will make changing sounds a lttle bit more difficult as you need to look and reach right down to the far left end of the keyboard. Assuming you have a library of sounds on your pc, the Casio Privia PX-160 works extremely well as a controller by connecting it to your personal computer via USB.

Even though PX-160 has dedicated buttons for only three sounds, the ball player can use the event button and certain piano keys to gain access to 15 additional sounds. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
Casio definitely considered the student/teacher relationship when making the PX-160. It includes a duet play mode, which splits the keyboard into two halves. Each half may be the same octave range (around three . 5 octaves per side), so a teacher can demonstrate using one side as the student plays on another at exactly the same pitch. Two headphone jacks allow both players to utilize headphones with no need for a splitter. If the speakers are increasingly being used, they can even be configured to output sound from the left keyboard side left speaker and vice versa.

The PX-160 includes the square SP-3 damper (sustain) pedal. It can the work but is definately not an traditional piano experience. You can find other piano-style pedals available, including the M-Audio SP-2, which are nicer to play and don’t slide around just as much. Casio supplies the optional SP-33 pedal unit, that includes a three-pedal configuration with separate soft, sostenuto, and sustain pedals-the traditional three-pedal setup entirely on most pianos. In duet play mode, the left and right pedals serve as damper pedals because of their respective sides of the keyboard. The downside of the SP-33 is that it can be utilised only with Casio’s CS-67 stand (both may also be available together as a package).