We are looking at the best digital pianos and keyboard pianos (stage pianos) on the market in 2021.
With so many options, we had to leave out some fantastic pianos. But, we believe our final picks represent the best blend of quality and value for money for every kind of player.
Whether you play on stage or at home, a professional or student, we’ve got something for you.
1. Roland RD-2000
The most versatile keyboard piano for performers
The Roland RD-2000 has been topping these kinds of lists for a few years now with good reason. It’s still the most flexible performance-ready keyboard piano around. When it comes to performance features and integration with external hardware/software, none do it like the RD-2000.
Roland introduced the RD series many years ago, and the RD-2000 highlights the most significant advancement in technology so far.
The RD-2000 is powered by two iconic sound engines, the SuperNATURAL and V-Piano engines. Over 1100 sounds, including pianos, synths, and organs, come from the SuperNATURAL engine (max polyphony 128-notes). The V-Piano engine delivers stunning grand pianos with full polyphony.
The vast selection of sounds includes recreations of two legendary Roland’s, the RD-1000 and MKS-20 electric pianos.
Accompanying the high-quality sound is Roland’s best progressive hammer-action keybed to date (PHA-50). The keys are a hybrid wood/plastic mix with a synthetic ivory feel, making for a remarkably expressive keyboard.
As well as recreating some vintage keyboards, the RD-2000 features emulations of some classic analog effects, including the Boss CE-1 Chorus and Roland Dimension D. Beyond those emulations, there’s a wide range of effects, including reverb, delay, tremolo amp-simulations, a multi-band compressor, and 5-band EQ.
Where the RD-2000 sets itself apart is in its workflow. Eight zones (controlled by faders) are available to create massive layered sounds. Layers can come from onboard sounds, external sources, or virtual instruments. The abundance of assignable controls makes it easy to adjust/manipulate any parameter on the fly.
2. Yamaha Clavinova CLP-735
The best authentic piano experience
The Clavinova CLP-735 is about as real as it gets for a digital piano. It looks like a real piano, it feels like one, and it sounds like one. The only downside is that it doesn’t come cheap. If you have the budget for it, indulge yourself, you won’t regret it.
Obviously, the CLP-735 will be outside of many people’s budgets. But, the overused maxim that you get what you pay for has never been so fitting.
Let’s start with the flagship sounds of the Yamaha CFX and Bösendorfer Imperial. Each of these iconic pianos offers a slightly different character, and more importantly, they have been impeccably recreated. To add to the authenticity, the CLP-735 also offers two stunning Fortepiano voices.
Another great thing about the sound is that Acoustic Optimizers deliver sound like it’s natural, rather than coming directly from a speaker.
The weight, resistance, and expression of the keys will blow you away. It comes from Yamaha’s Real Grand Expression technology, and it captures the tiniest nuance in your touch, delivering limitless dynamic performance. The keys have a simulated ebony and ivory feel.
There are some lovely features like Dual, Duo, and Duet modes, Smart Pianist app compatibility, and so on. But, it’s all about the sound and feel; just incredible.
3. Yamaha CP88
The best vintage sound
The CP88 is one of the best keyboard pianos we have seen for some time. While it isn’t as flexible as the Roland RD-2000, if you want authentic vintage effects, stunning pianos, and a realistic feel, look no further.
The CP88 is a modern keyboard with a vintage vibe, paying homage to Yamaha’s 1970s Combo piano.
It features Yamaha’s NW-GH keyboard with natural wooden keys. It gives the CP88 a very authentic weight/feel that’s lovely to play.
Yamaha’s CP88 utilizes the AWM2 tone generator, producing stunning sounds with 128-note max polyphony. Like the Nord Stage 3, the CP88 has a modular layout with three voice sections, Piano, Electric Piano, and Sub.
There are 10 acoustic piano voices, including stunning recreations of the Yamaha CFX, S700, and the Bösendorfer Imperial 290. The Electric Piano section features the vintage tones of the Yamaha CP80 and 75RD.
The Sub section contains synths, strings, organs, and more. As good as these sounds are, the acoustic and electric pianos steal the show.
One of the biggest selling points of the CP88 is Yamaha’s Virtual Circuitry Modeling. VCM mimics the behavior of high-end studio signal processors. Vintage circuits are emulated in incredible detail, producing some of the best effects in the class. Each sound section has dedicated effects, with some global effects available, too.
Features like Seamless Sound Switching and 2-channel audio make it a performance powerhouse.
4. Nord Stage 3 88
The choice of professional musicians
The Nord Stage 3 is an incredible keyboard piano that comes at a very high price. Although worth every penny, the price is a clear indication that it’s not for beginners. If you’re a professional performer, there are few better options. It delivers world-class sound, performance, and build quality. The Nord Piano 5 could be a slightly cheaper alternative if your budget doesn’t stretch far enough.
It’s hard to discuss the best keyboard pianos without mentioning one of the most recognizable keyboards ever, the Nord Stage 3.
The Nord Stage 3 is a must-have for many professional performers. Besides its striking red design, what makes it so popular is its ultra-high-quality sound and modular layout.
The modular layout separates the three unique sound engines, piano, synth, and organ. Having dedicated controls for each section makes it easy to find things quickly on stage.
Overall, the sound quality is outstanding, and between the three sound engines, there are approximately 400 presets. The grand pianos are amongst the best you’ll hear on any stage piano in terms of real depth and richness of sound. There are some fantastic upright voices, too, that are ideal for pop tracks.
The synth sounds come from Nord’s Lead A1 engine, and if you’ve ever heard a Nord Lead A1, you’ll know it’s a serious synth. Piano voices have a max polyphony of 120 notes, with synths at 34 notes.
The feel of the Nord Stage 3 is interesting and sometimes splits opinions. While we don’t think it’s the best feeling keyboard on our list, it’s vastly improved on previous models; so much so that it’s not far behind. It also has a nice feature that adjusts the weight depending on the sound engine in use.
Built-in effects include chorus, phaser, ring mod, and speaker emulations that are awesome for organ tones.
5. Kawai KDP120
The best mid-price digital piano
Kawai’s KDP120 is one of our favorite digital piano releases this year. It improves upon what was already stellar performance from previous models. It’s the perfect mid-price digital piano for professionals or serious students.
Any time we talk about a digital piano from Kawai, it’s pretty much positives all the way. It’s not a sales pitch either; it’s down to Kawai’s illustrious history in building world-class concert pianos.
The KDP120 delivers the sound of the 9-foot Kawai SK-EX concert grand piano. When coupled with the graded hammer-action keys, there’s something magical about this sound. Outside of spending thousands of dollars, very few pianos deliver such an immersive playing experience.
There are 15 voices in total, with four acoustic pianos and 192-note max polyphony. There are more versatile options, but again, we have to highlight the quality of the SK-EX tone.
You can add a sense of venue to your playing with six different reverb types.
In terms of features, it offers 55 internal songs and a 3-track recorder. The recorder is ideal for capturing ideas or assessing your performance. You can control most features via the PianoRemote app, which does make it a little easier.
The built-in speakers pack quite a punch, too, powered by dual 20 W amplifiers. There’s no dedicated audio output, but you do get two headphone jacks. It’s hard not to love this piano on sound and feel alone.
6. Roland RD-88
The best sounding lightweight stage piano
When Roland released the RD-88, we couldn’t have been happier. It bridges the gap between the cheaper FP series and the flagship RD-2000. It might not offer the extensive feature set of the RD-2000, but you get the incredible sound and feel in a lightweight package. Ideal for performers who want to drop some weight but not sound quality.
The RD-88 maintains the same kind of layout found on older RD models. Each sound group has a dedicated button, and there is a small screen for menus. So, it’s a very easy-to-use keyboard.
It doesn’t have the same number of assignable controls as the RD-2000, but it does provide two assignable wheels and eight knobs.
Two things make the RD-88 special, the sound quality, and the keybed. Thanks to the legendary SuperNATURAL sound engine, the RD-88 has some genuinely outstanding acoustic and electric pianos. Roland’s ZEN-Core engine provides access to over 3000 preset voices, so you’re ready for anything.
The PHA-4 progressive hammer-action keyboard is one of the best you’ll play in such a lightweight instrument. It even comes with ivory touch keys that add a luxurious piano feel.
It comes with built-in speakers, built-in effects, and plenty of gig-ready connectivity.
7. Casio Celviano AP-710
Impeccable C. Bechstein sound
Despite not liking the image of the AP-710, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a beautiful piano. Along with the great sound, it offers more features than you might expect. It comes with a pretty hefty price tag, but if you love the C. Bechstein sound, it’s worth it.
Casio might not be the first name people think of when they think about high-end pianos. However, Casio’s Celviano series can compete with most.
The AP-710 is a digital piano for players who are looking to invest in a serious instrument. It features excellent graded hammer-action keys with simulated ebony and ivory tops.
The real value comes in the sound, which Casio developed alongside C. Bechstein. The AP-710 delivers three legendary pianos, with the star being the iconic D282 Berlin Grand. From the richness of the bottom-end to the mechanical noise and string/damper resonance, the attention to detail is quite stunning (256-note max polyphony).
The surprising thing about this piano is just how many features/functions it has. It includes a built-in recorder capable of capturing up to 99 songs. It also has 60 internal songs that are helpful learning tools.
The built-in effects are six reverbs, four chorus types, and brilliance.
The downside of having so many features is that the front panel isn’t as bare as most high-end digital pianos. So, it looks like a digital piano and less like a real piano.
Even the range of connectivity is surprising, offering dual audio inputs and outputs, dual USB ports, dual headphone jacks, and MIDI in/out.
8. Roland F701
The most versatile modern digital piano
The Roland F701 is a stylish, modern digital piano that looks great and doesn’t take up much space. Despite the slimline design, the F701 delivers a performance that is a good as any at the same price. It’s a perfect choice if you want something with a modern look.
At first sight, the F701 doesn’t look like a professional digital piano. It doesn’t have a traditional look, and that might be an issue for some potential buyers.
It has a slimline, modern design that makes it easier to move and position around your house.
Beyond the stylish looks is a very serious instrument, powered by Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine. That tells us straight away that it will have excellent piano voices. The voices extend to organs, guitars, synths, and more (324 in total with 256-note max polyphony).
There are a whopping 377 internal songs and 287 lesson songs, making the F701 ideal for students. It even offers 10 temperament types, which encourages experimentation. One thing we were glad to see on the F701 is the addition of a small OLED screen to help get around the many features.
It lacks a little connectivity with no dedicated audio output, leaving you with just the two headphone jacks. It does offer MIDI via USB or Bluetooth, though.
The F701 is far more than meets the eye.
9. Korg D1
The best lightweight, but rugged option
We had a hard time choosing between the D1 and Casio’s PX-S3000 for our list. Both keyboards are fantastic, but the D1 is more robust for life on the road. It’s a great mid-priced keyboard piano, and what it lacks in versatility, it makes up for in reliability.
The Korg D1 is a keyboard that doesn’t need too many words. It’s an 88-key stage piano with weighted hammer-action keys. The keys are graded, which makes them feel more realistic.
It’s Japanese-built, and when compared to some keyboards in the same price range, it makes them seem flimsy.
There are 30 onboard sounds in total (Stereo PCM – 120-note max polyphony), including Korg’s Concert Piano and Grand Piano voices. While they don’t challenge the best piano sounds on our list, they are very good at the price. Other sounds include electric pianos, strings, and choir.
It comes with some studio-grade effects: three levels of Brilliance, Reverb, and Chorus. Although only a small number of effects, they are very authentic, which is common with Korg.
The D1 has the connectivity you need for any gig, including MIDI in/out and two 1/4″ audio outputs. If you want a home keyboard, you could look at the cheaper Korg B2N with built-in speakers.
10. Alesis Recital Pro
The ultimate budget keyboard piano
The Recital Pro is one of the best keyboard pianos money can buy. Not because it outperforms all others (it doesn’t), but because it delivers incredible value for money. The kind of value for money gives more people access to 88 hammer-action keys, which can’t be bad. It punches well above its weight and is an excellent steppingstone for students.
The Recital Pro is a beginner’s keyboard piano. It’s perfect for students moving on to weighted keys for the first time. It’s also a valid option for more experienced players who want a cheaper option for gigging.
In terms of gigging, it will not produce the same sound quality as high-end stage pianos do. But, the 12 onboard voices are surprisingly good, especially the acoustic pianos.
The hammer-action keys are not in the same class as the CP88 or RD-2000, but they provide a fantastic starting point. Or, for more experienced players, they have enough weight be play with expression.
It comes with some nice beginner-friendly features like Lesson mode. Lesson mode splits the keyboard into two identical zones for student/teacher practice.
Another reason the Recital Pro offers such good value for money is that it has both built-in speakers and two audio outputs. So, whether at home or on stage, you have all the output you need to reach your audience.
11. Korg LP-380U
The best electric piano sounds
The LP-380U made our list as an alternative to the Roland F701. It delivers the same slimline, stylish looks, and high-quality sounds. It lacks the versatility of the F701, but some users may prefer the Korg piano voices.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Korg LP-380U is that it’s very sleek, especially in black. You can expect a quality build, too, as it’s crafted in Kyoto, Japan (although, still not as robust as larger units).
Once you get past its good looks, it has some of the best acoustic and electric piano tones in its class. Strangely, the electric pianos might be more of a deciding factor than the acoustic pianos. We say that because we feel the electric pianos from Korg are better than those of the Roland F701. The downside is that it only offers 30 voices (120-note max polyphony) compared to the F701’s 324 voices.
It features Korg’s RH3, Real Weighted Hammer-Action 3 keyboard, which is impressive for a slimline unit. Onboard effects include brilliance, reverb, and chorus; as we have said, Korg tends to deliver authentic effects.
One of the areas where the LP-380U outperforms most rivals is its high-output speaker system. It comes with two 3.93″ speakers, powered by two 22 W amplifiers. It also has a dedicated audio output along with dual headphone jacks.
12. Yamaha Arius YDP-103
Simple value for money
The Arius YDP-103 makes our list thanks to a blend of quality and value for money. It’s not a Clavinova by any means, but it’s an entry point to more serious instruments. The max polyphony of 64-notes is disappointing, but otherwise, it’s a solid digital piano for the home.
The Arius YDP-103 is a pretty straightforward digital piano. We don’t have an abundance of features to discuss, but here are the main ones.
It has four reverb types that add ambiance to the piano’s tone. It also features Duo mode, Layer mode, half-damper control, and access to the Digital Piano Controller app.
Now, we didn’t skip through those features to make the YDP-103 sound bad; we did it to be clear about why you should buy it. It’s not a feature-rich digital piano, and it’s not a high-end instrument.
It’s something in-between that offers a very good sound and a very nice feel – not the best, but very nice, and worth the money.
There are 10 voices that come from Yamaha’s AWM Stereo Sampling. The acoustic piano sounds are lovely, and unless you compare them to something like a Clavinova, you’d have no complaints.
The sound is complemented by 88 graded hammer-action keys that feel responsive with plenty of dynamic range. If you want to step slightly higher up the Arius range, you could look at the YDP-164, but the YDP-103 will serve you well for the money.
The worst part about lists like this one is that you can’t own them all. We firmly believe our choices have something to offer every budget and every experience level. The most important thing is to choose the one that best fits your current ability, budget, and future ambition.