88-key keyboards aren’t what they used to be; they’re evolving, offering you more sophisticated features, sounds, and styles. But let’s face it, with so many options out there, it can be tough to figure out which one’s right for you. Whether you’re a seasoned musician looking for an upgrade or a beginner about to make your first keyboard investment, we’ve got you covered. Our comprehensive guide on the best 88-key keyboard of 2023 is here to help.
In this article, you’ll find detailed reviews of top-tier models from renowned manufacturers, along with their key benefits, pricing, and notable pros and cons. So, get comfortable and join us on this melodious journey to find your perfect 88-key keyboard. Remember, every musical masterpiece starts with the right instrument!
The Roland RD-2000 is a well-crafted stage piano renowned in the music industry for its high-quality sounds and outstanding craftsmanship. Part of the RD series from Roland, a prestigious music instrument manufacturer since the 1970s, the RD-2000 is the most advanced model in the series.
It boasts a hybrid wood/plastic action keyboard with 88 fully weighted keys, providing a realistic playing experience. The RD-2000 is a versatile instrument with a wide spectrum of sounds, from acoustic and electric pianos to organs, synths, and beyond, offering over 1,100 preset tones to choose from.
- Hybrid wood/plastic action keyboard with 88 fully weighted keys (PHA-50) for a realistic feel
- Two independent sound engines – the V-Piano Technology and the SuperNATURAL Piano/E.Piano/Clav for realistic and customizable piano sounds
- Variety of effects like reverb, chorus, modulation, and amp simulations for sound customization
- Comprehensive control layout with knobs, faders, and buttons for easy access to various parameters
- Extensive connectivity options including USB to Host and USB to Device ports, MIDI In/Out, headphone jack, main outputs
The Roland RD-2000 is available for purchase from various retailers for aproximately $2599 USD.
The Roland RD-2000 stage piano is a dynamic and versatile instrument, suitable for professional musicians, performers and serious hobbyists. It stands out for its wide range of features and high-quality sounds. With two independent sound engines, it enables the combination of different sounds and the creation of complex layers and splits.
The RD-2000 is a powerhouse of sounds. With a total of 1,100 sounds including acoustic and electric pianos, organs, synths, and more, it offers a rich variety of tones. It also includes a broad range of effects such as reverb, chorus, and EQ to enhance the sound.
The keyboard of the instrument is weighted and has a responsive feel, making it suitable for both piano players and keyboardists. Having 88 keys made of wood with an ivory feel further elevates the realistic playing experience.
The RD-2000 offers extensive control options including eight knobs and nine sliders which can be assigned to various parameters. This, combined with a large color LCD screen, facilitates easy navigation through the different settings and options.
While the RD-2000 is impressive in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks. For instance, the owner’s manual could be more detailed, particularly when it comes to using the RD-2000 as a MIDI sound module. Another downside is that the RD-2000 does not have Bluetooth connectivity or a built-in music stand, which may be a disadvantage for some.
Despite these minor setbacks, the RD-2000 remains a sturdy, durable and highly customizable instrument. Its built-in audio interface facilitates easy connection to a computer or other audio devices, and its MIDI and USB connectivity make it compatible with a wide range of external devices and software.
The Yamaha P125 is a digital piano that stands out as an upgrade to the well-known P115 model. This piano, introduced in 2018, offers several new features, improvements, and an excellent piano performance reminiscent of its predecessor.
It boasts a well-crafted 88-key fully weighted keyboard with matte black keytops, offering a realistic playing experience akin to an acoustic piano.
The piano uses Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard action, creating a unique touch sensitive to the player’s style, and the Pure CF Sound Engine, which utilizes samples from the renowned Yamaha CFIIIS 9′ Concert Grand piano. The result is a rich and dynamic sound with a remarkable 192-note polyphony. This piano is portable, lightweight, and ideal for gig situations due to its compact design.
- Compact and lightweight design, ideal for both home use and gig situations.
- 88-key fully weighted keyboard offering a realistic playing experience.
- Pure CF Sound Engine provides rich and dynamic sound.
- A variety of instrument sounds, including four grand pianos, electric pianos, organs, strings, etc.
- Lesson function, 2-track MIDI recorder, and 20 accompaniment rhythms to enhance practice.
- Compatibility with Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app for easy control of instrument functions.
- Comes with a music rest, sustain pedal, and AC power adapter with optional accessories available for purchase.
As a top-tier digital piano, the Yamaha P125 offers excellent value for its pricing. The cost reflects its high-quality build, superior sound technology, and the myriad of features it offers. While it doesn’t come with a furniture-style stand or a triple pedal unit, these are available as optional accessories for those who want a more realistic playing experience.
The Yamaha P125 digital piano offers numerous advantages. It is known for its versatility and portability. With its sleek and compact design, it can be easily transported and fits comfortably into any space. This makes it an excellent choice for gigging musicians and those needing a compact instrument for small spaces.
The piano provides a realistic playing experience, thanks to its Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard and the Pure CF Sound Engine technology. It reproduces the sound of Yamaha’s renowned CFIIIS 9-foot concert grand piano, delivering high-quality sound. With 24 different instrument voices, from electric pianos to organs and strings, the P125 allows for diverse musical expression.
The P125 digital piano is user-friendly and easy to navigate, even without an LCD screen. It has a clean design and offers convenient features such as a master volume switch and headphone jacks. The piano also has recording and playback functions. Its compatibility with Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app enhances the overall playing experience by providing additional features and control options.
However, while the P125 has many strengths, it has some drawbacks. It might not have many additional features compared to some other digital pianos in its price range. Also, while the keyboard action provides a weighted feel similar to that of an acoustic piano, there are more realistic keyboard actions available from other models in this price range. Nonetheless, the Yamaha P125 still offers great value for its price, a testament to its popularity among beginners and experienced musicians alike.
The Kawai ES110 Portable Digital Piano is a high-quality, budget-friendly digital piano that provides a realistic and enjoyable piano experience. It integrates a Responsive Hammer Compact action and 88 fully weighted keys with matte black/white keytops for a closer resemblance to an acoustic piano.
The ES110 is accompanied by 19 instrumental sounds and modes such as split and dual. It also features a MIDI recorder, a lesson function, and Bluetooth MIDI for connectivity. This digital piano is compact and lightweight, making it an excellent choice for on-the-go musicians or those with limited space. The ES110 is available in two colors: stylish black and elegant white.
- 88 fully weighted keys with Responsive Hammer Compact action for a realistic playing experience
- 192-note polyphony allowing for complex classical pieces to be played without notes cutting off
- 19 instrument sounds, including 8 pianos, for a variety of music styles
- Built-in MIDI recorder for storing and replaying performances
- Bluetooth MIDI connectivity for wireless connection to smart devices
- Lightweight and compact design for easy transportation and storage
- Suitable for beginners and intermediate players looking for a budget-friendly digital piano
The Kawai ES110 is recognized for its affordability while offering a balance of features, sound quality, and a realistic piano playing experience. It is an economical option for those looking to invest in a portable digital piano without compromising on the sound and touch of a grand piano.
The Kawai ES110 Portable Digital Piano is lauded for its light touch and finely tuned feel, comparable to that of a high-quality acoustic piano. The main piano sound is highly praised for its resemblance to a brand-new Kawai grand piano. The built-in speakers deliver a clear and defined sound, ensuring that the instrument does not interfere with the playing experience. The ES110 is suitable for beginners, intermediate players, and even professionals.
However, some might find the speakers of the Kawai ES110 to be less than impressive, recommending the use of headphones or external speakers for an improved sound experience. Some keys may produce a noise when pressed and are perceived to be springy. Despite these, the Kawai ES110 is generally considered a worthwhile investment, with no regrets from the majority of its users.
In contrast, some users reported a fair amount of noise from certain keys clacking when released and a lack of response from the vendor and Kawai support. These concerns led to some users returning the product and opting for a different model.
The Kawai ES110 Portable Digital Piano is highly recommended for its beautiful piano sound choices and authentic touch. The keys are responsive and the sound is beautiful. However, some users expressed regret over not purchasing the wooden stand made specifically for the Kawai ES110. Despite the matte finish of the keys and keyboard making it look somewhat cheap, the keyboard is still highly recommended for its price point. Overall, it can be said that the Kawai ES110 offers an unbeatable value in its class, providing an authentic piano experience with excellent sound quality.
The Yamaha DGX-670 is a fully weighted hammer action digital piano that offers a blend of advanced features and high-quality sound. It provides a wide range of functions, such as arranger keyboard features and additional sounds from other instruments, setting it apart as an outstanding instrument in its category.
The design of the DGX-670 is sleek and premium, featuring a textured plastic body that resembles Yamaha’s P-series. However, despite being labeled as a portable grand piano, it is fairly heavy, making it not as portable as its name implies.
- 88 fully weighted graded hammer action keys providing a smooth and easy playing experience.
- High-quality digital piano samples and a large number of additional sounds.
- Offers 601 voices and 29 drum/SFX kits, and 256 notes of polyphony.
- Variety of effects including reverb, chorus, DSP, master compressor, master EQ, part EQ.
- USB flash drive port for easy connectivity.
- User-friendly interface with a full-color screen and easy navigation buttons.
- Offers 263 rhythm styles, including variations, fills, breaks, intros, and endings.
- Built-in 16-track MIDI recorder with punch in and punch out capabilities.
- High-quality speakers with a total wattage of 12 watts.
The DGX-670 offers great value for money, delivering a wide range of features and capabilities at a competitive price point.
Pros & Cons
The DGX-670 excels in providing a realistic piano playing experience, thanks to its Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action. The wide range of sounds, with 601 panel sounds, 29 drum kits, and 263 styles, offers versatility and variety. Its sound quality, particularly the VRM-based piano sounds, is impressive and comparable to Yamaha’s high-end Clavinova pianos.
However, its bulkiness and weight make it less suitable for musicians who need to transport it frequently. Besides, the sound quality from the onboard speakers can be underwhelming and can significantly improve with the use of external speakers or headphones. While the MIXER/EQ buttons on the front panel make it easy to adjust the volume faders, sometimes the backing instrumentals may be too loud and overpower the main lead sounds. An added limitation is the lack of dedicated stereo outputs, which some musicians may find necessary.
Nevertheless, the DGX-670 is a value-focused instrument that offers a myriad of features at a surprisingly low price. It is highly recommended for those who enjoy playing with accompaniments and want a versatile and customizable keyboard. However, for pianists who prioritize key action and sound quality, there might be better alternatives available.
The Alesis Prestige is a digital stage piano, featuring 88-note, weighted keys with a beginner-friendly action. The instrument, while aesthetically appealing with a simple control layout, offers a wide range of voices spanning from pianos to strings to synth bass sounds.
Despite this, the key action and sound quality may not be up to par with other beginner-friendly pianos from brands like Yamaha or Roland. Although it might underdeliver on its bold claims about sounds, the Prestige is still a well-built stage piano offering a satisfactory basic grand piano sound and a decent level of power for home practice through its micro-array speaker system.
- Full 88-note, weighted keys stage piano with beginner-friendly action
- Wide range of voices, including pianos, strings, and synth bass sounds
- Simple control layout with colored buttons for easy voice selection
- Micro-array speaker system delivering 50W of power, sufficient for home practice
- Comes with a basic sustain pedal
Being a digital piano that boasts about its affordability, Alesis Prestige comes at a relatively low price-point. It’s also worth noting that the Alesis Prestige Artist is an upgraded model with more features and a slightly higher price point.
Based on my understanding, the Alesis Prestige has a lot to offer to beginners and intermediate piano players. It has a full digital piano set-up, complete with a bundle of home accessories including a stand, bench, and pedals. Its design is sleek and the piano touch feels substantial and high-quality.
Moreover, it offers a variety of sounds, from grand piano to bright piano, even extending to other instruments like harp, which adds to its appeal. It also has 256 notes of polyphony, which is a benefit for playing wide chords without any notes cutting off.
However, despite its affordable price and wide range of features, some downsides may hinder the overall experience. For instance, the key action is decent but may be on the lighter side, making it difficult to achieve dramatic dynamics since keys can be unresponsive, especially when played lightly.
The sounds, while promising, do not fully live up to the bold claims made by Alesis. The other voices, like organ and electric piano, are on par with other entry-level pianos on the market. The sustain pedal that comes with the piano is functional but may not be as durable as the upgraded pedal included with the Prestige Artist.
Lastly, even though the internal speaker system of the Prestige is powerful and provides a good bass frequency range and sound dispersion, it may not be the loudest stage piano on the market which might be a factor for some.
The M-Audio 88 Hammer Piano is a fully weighted 88-note keyboard that offers a sturdy build quality at an attractive price point. Designed to cater to those seeking a basic keyboard controller with just the right touch of additional features, this piano is robust with its metal top panel and hefty weight of 38.5 pounds.
One aspect that immediately stands out is the keyboard action, praised for its excellent feel and response. From pitch and modulation wheels to buttons and a volume fader, the Hammer 88 presents basic controls that are intuitive and easy to use. Its ability to be split into zones and configured for performances with the included preset editor app adds an extra layer of versatility to the instrument. Furthermore, it’s well-equipped with three footswitch ports, a USB and MIDI output, and the option to be powered via USB or AC power. The Hammer 88 is also bundled with a suite of professional software, including Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, and various virtual instruments.
- Fully weighted 88-note keyboard
- Solid build with a metal top panel
- Fantastic feel and response for the keyboard action
- Includes basic controls such as pitch and modulation wheels, buttons, and a volume fader
- Can be split into zones and configured for performance using the preset editor app
- Equipped with three footswitch ports, a USB and MIDI output
- Can be powered via USB or AC power
- Bundled with a suite of professional software
The M-Audio 88 Hammer Piano offers remarkable value for its cost, making it an attractive choice for individuals seeking a cost-effective, yet highly capable MIDI controller.
As an individual who has experienced playing on a variety of keyboards, the M-Audio 88 Hammer Piano stands out in several areas. The fully weighted keys resemble the feel of a traditional piano, contributing to a more realistic playing experience and aiding in developing proper technique and finger strength. The build quality is solid, and the design is sleek and compact, allowing it to fit into almost any space. The built-in speaker system eliminates the need for external speakers or headphones, a convenient feature for any setting.
The Hammer 88 shines in its Pure CF Sound Engine, a renowned sound technology from M-Audio that recreates the sound of a concert grand piano, thus providing a rich and authentic tone. It offers a variety of voices and sound effects, which allows experimentation with different sounds and styles. Additionally, the dual and split modes provide further versatility for layering and dividing voices across the keyboard.
The USB port on the Hammer 88 allows easy connectivity to computers and other devices, making it convenient for recording and composing music, as well as accessing educational resources and online tutorials. Despite the array of features, the Hammer 88 maintains its ease of use, contributing to a smooth and enjoyable playing experience.
Although the Hammer 88 offers a multitude of advantages, the instrument is not without its shortcomings. For instance, the keyboard could benefit from enhanced touch responsiveness, allowing for a more dynamic range and expressive playing. Overall, however, the M-Audio 88 Hammer Piano remains a reliable choice given its array of features and authentic piano feel.
The Nektar Impact LX88+ is a dynamic USB MIDI controller keyboard specifically designed for keyboard players who desire an extended range. It’s not just a controller; it offers expressive performance control and seamless integration with many popular DAWs.
The LX88+ boasts an 88-note semi-weighted keyboard with four velocity curves and medium tension, ensuring a more realistic playing experience. It also includes split, layer, and transpose buttons, providing flexible zone control. Featuring a user-friendly interface with an LED display, nine faders, nine MIDI buttons, and eight programmable encoders, the LX88+ offers extensive DAW integration, supporting numerous software like Cubase, Studio One, Logic, and Reason.
- 88-note semi-weighted keyboard with four velocity curves
- Split, layer, and transpose buttons for flexible zone control
- Extensive DAW integration with popular software
- Comprehensive control center with customizable encoders and buttons
- Portable and lightweight design suitable for both studio and live performances
The impact LX88+ does offer great value for its features. It comes bundled with Bitwig 8-Track software, providing a comprehensive package for musicians.
In my evaluation, the Nektar Impact LX88+ stands out for its versatility and affordability. This full-size keyboard with 88 keys offers space for extensive control over mixer settings and virtual instrument parameters. The semi-weighted action feels authentic, much like playing on a real piano. Moreover, it provides compatibility with popular music software, featuring pre-dialed parameters for effortless integration. This keyboard can be mapped to control MIDI CC, which is ideal for controlling sample libraries and creating realistic music compositions.
Notably, the LX88+ lacks integrated sounds, requiring reliance on software and plugins for sound manipulation. Yet, it compensates for this with its transport functions and controls. These features enable control over playback, access to menus, and the performance of various functions, eliminating the need for a mouse entirely.
Additionally, this keyboard includes knobs that can be mapped to control envelopes, providing a hands-on approach to music production. However, for musicians who frequently work with sample libraries and seek a versatile and intuitive keyboard for their music production needs, the Nektar Impact LX88+ is a commendable investment despite its few shortcomings.
The Casio Privia PX-S3000 is a part of the PX-S series that Casio introduced to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Privia digital piano series. This particular model is known for its sleek and innovative design, with its compact and visually striking chassis of 52″ x 9.1″ x 4″, and a glossy plastic surface that gives it an attractive, albeit fingerprint and scratch-prone, finish.
The PX-S3000 features a touch-based control interface with capacitive touch buttons that light up when in use, and a 3-line LED screen for easy navigation and control. One of its key features is its Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard with simulated ebony/ivory key textures which provide an authentic piano feel. However, it’s not just its look and feel that are impressive, but also its sound, thanks to Casio’s AiR sound engine, which offers 192-note polyphony and 700 instrument sounds.
- Compact and visually striking design
- Touch-based control interface with capacitive touch buttons
- Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard with simulated ebony/ivory key textures
- Uses Casio’s AiR sound engine that offers 192-note polyphony and 700 instrument sounds
- Features modes such as Layer, Split, and Duet Play for versatile playing styles
- 3-track MIDI recorder and audio recorder for recording and playback.
- Built-in speakers with 8W + 8W amplifiers for a wide stereo field
- Variety of effects such as reverb, chorus, and surround sound
The Casio Privia PX-S3000 is priced at roughly $970 USD, offering a wide range of features and high-quality sound. This makes it a versatile instrument that can be used for both practice and performance, providing good value for its price.
The PX-S3000 offers an impressive range of features and high-quality sound that provides a complete experience for both practice and performance. It has 88 fully weighted keys with 5 levels of touch response, providing an authentic piano feel. It includes a variety of sounds and features, including 700 built-in tones, editable DSP effects, assignable knobs, and a pitch bend wheel. However, one of its minor drawbacks is the short key pivot length, which may not suit all playing styles.
The glossy finish, despite being visually pleasing, tends to attract fingerprints and scratches. The piano also lacks Bluetooth MIDI connectivity, which limits compatibility with various apps and devices. This is a missed opportunity as other keyboards in the same price range offer this functionality. The key action, while praised by some, is found to be a bit lighter compared to other models. This might affect the playing technique of some musicians, especially those who are used to traditional piano keys.
Despite these drawbacks, the PX-S3000 is still a versatile and compact instrument that offers a wide range of sounds and features, making it a great choice for both practice and performance. It’s an instrument that justifies its price with the array of features it provides, making it a good investment for musicians.
When you’re thinking about buying an 88-key keyboard or a digital piano with weighted keys, certain features can really change your playing experience. The great thing about a digital piano is that it can mimic the sound and feel of a real acoustic piano, often without the hefty price tag and space requirements. That’s why you’ll want to think about the weighted keys.
Weighted keys help to give the feel of an acoustic piano, promoting good technique and letting you control the sound and dynamics of your play. Keyboards with non-weighted keys or semi-weighted keys might be cheaper, but they might not give you the same real experience.
Size is another thing you’ll want to think about. Full-size pianos have 88 keys, but there are also keyboards with fewer keys like 73, 76, or 61 keys. A smaller keyboard might be easier to carry around and more convenient, but it could limit your playing range and might mean you’ll need to upgrade later.
Sound quality is a key feature to think about. While beginner keyboards might have okay sound quality, higher-end keyboards give more realistic and authentic sounds. Plus, having built-in speakers can be a useful feature, as some keyboards need external speakers or headphones for sound output.
Other things to look out for when buying an 88-key keyboard include extra sounds and effects, an LCD screen for easy navigation and control, and the ability to connect to other devices like computers or mobile devices. The perfect keyboard or digital piano should match your needs, whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced player, and should have the features and quality to improve your playing experience.
If you’re a beginner, you might want to consider a keyboard with weighted keys when choosing your instrument. Why? Well, weighted keys mimic the action of an acoustic piano, providing the necessary resistance that’ll help you develop the right piano playing technique. Unweighted keys, which you’ll often find on entry-level digital keyboards or synthesizers, don’t offer this resistance, making it tough for beginners like you to hone your playing skills.
There are various types of weighted keys, from semi-weighted to hammer action and graded weighting. These mechanisms offer different levels of resistance, all with the goal of replicating the feel of an acoustic piano. Take Yamaha’s digital pianos, for example. Models like the CP73 and CP88 combine portability with weighted keyboards. Each model offers a different type of weighted action, including Graded Hammer Standard (GHS), Graded Hammer 3 (GH3), and Grand Touch keyboards.
If you’re on a budget, portable beginner pianos with weighted keys, like the Casio CDP-S90, are a fantastic choice. This compact and affordable option comes with 88 touch-sensitive, weighted keys. The textured finish of the keys adds a touch of quality and provides grip while you’re playing. Instruments like the Casio CDP-S90 encourage the right finger technique, providing a better experience for beginners like you and helping you develop the finger control you’ll need as a piano player.
Starting off with a good quality instrument with weighted keys, like the Casio CDP-S90 or Yamaha’s digital pianos, can really enhance your learning experience and might even save you from needing an upgrade later on.
In the vast sea of digital pianos and keyboards, your perfect match is patiently waiting. The wide range of options might seem overwhelming, but don’t worry, each instrument has its unique charm, catering to different musical tastes, purposes, and budgets.
Whether you’re a curious beginner starting your musical journey, a seasoned gigging musician looking for a reliable partner, or a music producer wanting to spark your creativity – there’s an 88-key keyboard for you. A variety of rich sounds, improved touch sensitivity, compact designs, and cutting-edge technologies are just the beginning when you start exploring these amazing instruments.
From the expressive Yamaha P125 to the versatile Roland RD-2000, the multifunctional Yamaha DGX-660 to the budget-friendly Kawai ES110 – each offers a unique array of features. The sleek Casio Privia PX-S3000, the beginner-friendly Alesis Prestige, the dependable M-Audio 88 Hammer Piano and the dynamic Nektar Impact LX88+ also each have their own appeal.
Choosing an instrument is a personal journey, as it should reflect your musicality while pushing you to grow and explore new areas. It’s not about owning the best or most expensive model, but the one that syncs with your style and nurtures your creativity.
In the end, your quest to find the perfect 88-key keyboard or digital piano is a symphony in itself, filled with trials, errors, and beautiful discoveries. So, take your time, immerse yourself in the diverse world of music, and find your perfect match.