5 Best 88-Key Keyboards – Consumer Reports
One of the main purposes of owning a digital piano is to imitate the traditional upright piano without having the drag a 1,200 lbs piano up and down flights of stairs. One of the most crucial factors in recreating the piano experience is the feeling you get when you push down on each individual key.
Acoustic pianos come with 88 keys (52 white and 36 black). Small-sized keyboards come with between 61 and 71 keys for beginner plays that don’t really need the full experience of playing a full 88-key setup. However, limited keys mean that you won’t be able to play some of the more complex pieces of music. If you’re looking to upgrade from a 71-key setup to an 88-key one, then you’ll need to know which full-sized keyboard works best.
One of the most important features to pay attention to is whether the keyboard has weighted keys. Weighted keys mean that the lower keys will be heavier than the higher ones, simulating the feel of an authentic acoustic piano. The keyboards detailed here give some of the best real piano-feel to its users.
Kawai ES110 Portable Digital 88 Key Keyboard Piano
The first 88-key digital piano we want to point out is the Kawai ES110 model. It’s an extremely lightweight and portable keyboard which features weighted keys. Since it’s a Kawai model, you know that the keyboard is going to offer extreme comfort and an authentic acoustic piano-feel when you bang out music on this keyboard. The key action on Kawai keyboards is good, but the ES110 takes it up another notch.
Its Advanced Hammer Action IV (AHAIV-F) is extremely sensitive and the feel is about as real as it can get on a portable keyboard. There’s a dual mode for combining notes together, and also a split mode which lets you play two individual tones on either side of the keyboard.
One of the greatest benefits of this 88-key digital piano is its portability. It only weighs about 26 lbs. without a carry case, so it’s easy to move take with you to different gig venues or to your friend’s place to bug them. Overall, this by far one of the best weighted digital pianos with 88 keys for use at home or on stage.
Korg LP-380 Lifestyle Digital Piano
Korg is a popular producer of some of the world’s best digital pianos with weighted keys. The Korg LP-380 model is proof of their high-quality standards. This digital piano features Korg’s Real Weighted Hammer Action 3 which responds realistically to how much pressure you apply to each key. It produces a dynamic tune for each press, and the volume range is a close-to-perfect imitation of the experience of playing a true acoustic piano.
With Korg, you know you’re getting some of the most true to life acoustic piano sounds, including traditional piano tunes. Another neat feature is the “Layer Mode” which lets you layer two sounds in combination for producing interesting, complementary sounds.
Yamaha P-115 Weighted Action Digital Piano
One of the best weighted keyboards with an 88-key setup is the Yamaha P-115 digital piano. It has plenty of digital functionality and the weighted keys offer a lifelike tune combined with the signature sounds we hear of so often from Yamaha instruments.
This model features the Yamaha Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action which lets you play soft, medium, and hard sounds based on how much pressure is applied to the keys. There are also plenty of digital effects. This programmable model combines the best of acoustic pianos and electronic digital pianos.
Another neat feature is the acclaimed Pure CF sound engine by Yamaha which captures the mesmerizing sounds of some of Yamaha’s best acoustic pianos. A bonus feature is the comfortable matte finish on the black keys which offers less slippage under your fingertips when playing this beautiful 88-key digital piano.
Casio Privia PX-770 Digital Console Piano
Casio isn’t just known for creating scientific calculators and affordable watches, but they’re also popular for being among some of the best weighted-key digital piano producers. Casio’s upgrades to their Privia line of keyboards definitely fulfill the demand of high quality and standards we expect from Casio. The company has an impeccable reputation for producing some of most widely-used digital pianos on the planet.
The Privia PX-770 by Casio comes with good key heft and simulates realistic resistance when you press the keys. This digital piano actually uses hammers instead of springs, thus giving the unit a mechanical impression you get when playing traditional acoustic pianos. However, the most prominent feature that makes this Privia one of the best 88-key digital pianos is its superior sensor technology.
The Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II built into their line of Privias is a group of three electronic sensors under each individual key. Comparable products on the market usually feature one or two sensors, but Casio has taken things to another level. This allows for repeated depression and note playing without even having to release the keys from their original spot.
Yamaha DGX-660 88-Key Graded Hammer Action Digital Piano
Last but definitely not least is anther model by the Japan-based instrument manufacturer, Yamaha. This model by Yamaha replaces the popular DGX-650 that has become widely used for its superior performance and play-feeling similar to acoustic pianos. The DGX-660’s many features make it one of the best weighted key digital pianos available on the market. If you think of key action, the DGC-660 reminds us of the quality of their Scaled Graded Hammer action which allows you to play soft, medium and hard sounds with almost true to life fashion of traditional acoustic pianos.
The realistic resistance of pressing these digital piano keys will truly help students who are building up technique and muscle memory, and even pros can get a kick out of this keyboard with its seamless transition between acoustic and digital effects. The DGX-660 by Yamaha has increased polyphony, a built-in microphone unit, Yamaha’s Piano Room feature, and realistically enhanced digital sounds.
These are our pick for the top five best 88-key digital piano set ups. If you’re going to advance from 71-key keyboards into 88-key ones, then you’ll need the extra feature of weighted keys to give you that realistic feel of playing real acoustic pianos.