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The 8 best digital piano and keyboard brands in 2024

So many keyboard instruments are available, but a relative handful of brands typically dominate the market.

Of course, there are always a few exceptions, but in this article, I’m looking at the brands that consistently produce the highest quality keyboards and digital pianos year after year.

Why you should trust me

James Nugent, writer at Higher Hz

I’ve been playing piano for over 20 years and spent much of that time as a professional performer, composer, and teacher.

Over the last two decades, I’ve played instruments from every brand on the market and owned many along the way.

I regularly test and review new keyboard instruments in the studio or at launch events, allowing me to share my opinions with others.

But, above all else, I’m just someone who loves playing piano, always looking for the best.

How I chose the best brands

Some brands produce instruments for a wide range of users, from beginners to professionals, and other brands are specialists who cater to a specific type of user or purpose.

Whatever the case, there are certain boxes I must tick before adding a brand to this list.

To make the list, a brand must:

  • make high-quality instruments with features and attributes that appeal to the target user (beginner, pro, performer, etc.),
  • have a stellar history/reputation,
  • consistently produce instruments at a high level,
  • outperform the competition in a given class or price range.

The assumptions above are straightforward, especially making high-quality instruments, but I’ll clarify further.

Looking for a stellar reputation and history is more than just determining the brand’s age. Some brands will never compete with the likes of Yamaha in terms of longevity. Seeing that a brand evolves and maintains the highest standards is more important to me.

Maintaining the highest standards means being consistent. I want to see brands pay the same attention to detail in every instrument, whether a budget keyboard or a high-end stage piano.

Outperforming the competition is trickier because deciding between two of the best brands is very subjective.

But to become one of the best brands, you have to be well above average in terms of:

  • sound quality,
  • build quality,
  • features,
  • suitability for the target user.

Any brand that ticks all the boxes above is one of the most significant manufacturers in 2024.

Best for professionals: Nord

Best known for: Exceptional sound quality.

Nord keyboards aren’t for beginners; the price alone will tell you that. For many years, Nord keyboards have been a common choice for professional performers and studio musicians.

Surprisingly, Nord didn’t start with keyboard instruments. In 1983, Nord launched the Digital Percussion Plate 1, synths came in 1995, and stage pianos came even later.

Nord has a few highly popular keyboards, like the Wave 2 (wavetable/FM synth), Lead A1 (analog modeling synth), the Nord Piano, and Nord Grand 2. But, the start of the lineup is undoubtedly the Nord Stage, one of the best-loved stage pianos by performers and session musicians.

Nord Stage 4 on stand
Nord Stage 4 stage piano | Image: Nord

I’ve never been the biggest Nord fan, but I’ve always loved the sound. My issues have always been with the price and keyboard action. So, I understand why so many professionals choose Nord.

Every Nord keyboard has a few things in common: the distinctive red color, modular interface, and exceptional build quality.

Nord consistently produces some of the most realistic piano sounds and innovative synths on the market.

What I like

  • Premium sounds.
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Modular interface.
  • Extremely versatile.

What I don’t like

  • Very expensive.
  • Keyboard action could be better at times.

Best all-rounders: Yamaha

Best known for: Creating the right instruments for every budget.

Suggesting Yamaha is the best all-rounder might not sound like a glowing recommendation, but I mean it with the utmost respect. Yamaha produces some of the best keyboard instruments of any kind at any price.

Yamaha is one of a few manufacturers that cater to beginners and professionals with the same success.

My introduction to music came with a Yamaha PSR keyboard, and throughout my studies, most of the acoustic pianos I played were Yamaha, so I’ll always have a soft spot for this brand.

One of the things that Yamaha has in its favor is a rich and extensive history in making acoustic pianos that most makers can’t match. With a history spanning over 130 years, Yamaha knows precisely what to prioritize at each price range.

Yamaha’s Clavinova series includes some of the most realistic digital pianos ever made, like the CLP-735.

Yamaha Clavinova CLP-735
Yamaha Clavinova CLP-735 digital piano | Image: Higher Hz

When it comes to high-end synths, workstations, and stage pianos, Yamaha has been at the top for years with instruments like the legendary Motif series, the CP88, and the Montage M8x.

As for beginner instruments, Yamaha’s PSR series has provided the perfect first keyboard for countless learners over many decades.

What I like

  • High performers at every price range.
  • Iconic sound engines.
  • Incredible sound quality.
  • Well-thought-out interfaces.

What I don’t like

  • Some beginner models are easily outgrown.

Performance masters: Roland

Best known for: Performance-ready keyboards.

Roland is another manufacturer that succeeds at every level, from beginner to pro. It’s also one of the most innovative brands on the market.

Roland has been around for 50 years, and unlike some other leading brands, they exclusively manufacture electronic instruments. This extreme focus is the thing that allows them to be innovators in the keyboard and digital piano markets consistently.

Roland’s FP and RD stage pianos have been the choice for students and professionals for many years. In fact, a Roland RD-700 was the first stage piano I ever bought, and it served me well for many gigs.

The RD-2000 is still widely considered one of the best stage pianos ever made.

Roland RD-2000 on a matching stand
Roland RD-2000 stage piano | Image: Roland

Roland also created one of the most sought-after synths of all time in the Juno-106. In terms of modern synths, the Roland Fantom range is amongst the most popular in 2024.

Roland is a brand that takes some risks, and not every idea has been long-lived (like the D-Beam). But that mentality has led to some of the most intuitive performance keyboards and realistic digital pianos ever.

What I like

  • Iconic sound engines.
  • Performance-ready interfaces are better now than ever.
  • Incredible sound quality.
  • Innovative technology.

What I don’t like

  • Build quality at lower range could sometimes be better.

Most luxurious: Kawai

Best known for: Realistic acoustic piano sounds.

Kawai is one of the only manufacturers that can genuinely rival Yamaha’s authority when it comes to creating a realistic piano experience. Kawai keyboards and digital pianos are primarily aimed at intermediate to advanced players.

Kawai is a brand that dates back to 1927. Its concert grand pianos, like the CP series, are some of the most desired and luxurious in the world.

The attention to detail shown in their acoustic instruments is clearly passed on to their electric keyboards and digital pianos.

Kawai is one of the best digital piano brands, with mid-level models like the KDP120 and the more high-end CA501. The KDP120 is the best mid-range digital piano I’ve played, and the sound quality still surprises me every time.

Kawai KDP120
Kawai KDP120 digital piano | Image: Higher Hz

You can expect the same luxurious sound and feel from stage pianos with models like the MP11SE with Grand Feel wooden keys.

Kawai can do most things well, but if you are looking for a piano/synth/organ all-rounder, there are better ways to spend your money. But, if your primary concern is an authentic piano sound and feel, Kawai is rarely beaten.

What I like

  • Stunning piano sounds.
  • Authentic piano feel.
  • More entry-level options now available.

What I don’t like

  • Not the most versatile instruments.

Tech innovators: Korg

Best known for: Being innovative.

Kord makes keyboard instruments for every purpose, whether a home piano, studio controller, or stage piano for live performance. Although Korg makes beginner-friendly keyboards, it’s a brand that fits better in the intermediate to advanced range.

Korg was founded in the early 1960s and has been an industry leader in new technology ever since. Over multiple decades, it has earned a reputation as a master of all kinds of electronic keyboard instruments.

Korg has produced some instruments that shaped not only the future of the company but also the future of the industry, such as the M1 synth, Trinity and Triton workstations, and Oasys stage piano.

I’ve owned classic Korg models like the Trinity and Radias, and I always felt they were ahead of their time.

These days, Korg’s Grandstage X stage piano and Nautilus synth workstation are two of the most popular choices for intermediate to advanced performers.

Korg also produces some excellent beginner digital pianos, like the B2 (and B2SP).

Korg B2 portable digital piano
Korg B2 portable digital piano | Image: Higher Hz

It’s noteworthy that Korg’s grand piano tones are somewhat distinctive and not to everyone’s taste, but most users love them.

What I like

  • Always pushing technology.
  • Great performance-ready keyboards.
  • Outstanding sound engines.
  • Iconic models.

What I don’t like

  • More beginner options would be great.

Best for beginners: Casio

Best known for: Beginner keyboards.

Casio has long been one of the best electronic keyboard brands on the market. While it offers some high-end options, it shines most in the beginner price range.

Casio has created outstanding beginner keyboards that have helped many budding pianists, starting with the famed Casiotone range and models like the CT-S1.

Casio CT-S1
Casio Casiotone CT-S1 portable keyboard | Image: Higher Hz

The difference between Casio and a brand like Yamaha regarding portable keyboards/stage pianos is that Casio is less prolific in every range and focuses more on beginners. However, when Casio steps out of the beginner price point, they typically do very well.

A great example of a high-end Casio keyboard is the Privia PX-S7000 stage piano with gorgeous concert piano tones. The cheaper PX-S1100 is one of the slimmest stage pianos ever.

Casio’s Privia range includes digital piano consoles, which are some of the best mid-range options available.

Casio also ventures into high-end digital pianos with its Celviano range and models like the AP-550. Celviano digital pianos are exceptional and often created in collaboration with C. Bechstein.

What I like

  • Value for money.
  • Ideal for beginners and first-time buyers.
  • Surprising sound quality.

What I don’t like

  • Not as many high-end keyboards as some competitors.

Best key actions: Studiologic

Best known for: Fatar keyboard actions.

Studiologic is a brand that might previously have missed out on my list. They make keyboards that are fantastic for intermediate to advanced players. But, they are so reasonably priced they are a valid option for beginners, too.

Studiologic is a branch of Fatar, and Fatar manufactures some of the most realistic keyboard actions available. Many top brands, including some on this list, use Fatar keys.

With such a long history of making exceptional keybeds, it made sense that they started producing instruments, too, and Studiologic was born.

The most prominent range would be the Numa series, including organs, synths, and pianos. The Numa Compact SE is my favorite budget stage piano. The sound quality, even in the cheapest keyboards, is surprisingly good.

The Numa X Piano GT has the most realistic hammer-action keyboard I’ve ever played on a portable stage piano. It’s so good that I bought one shortly after testing it for the first time.

Studiologic Numa X Piano GT keys and controls closeup
Studiologic Numa X Piano GT stage piano | Image: Studiologic

Studiologic still has a way to go before it gets the recognition gained by the other brands on the list, but the quality speaks volumes, and it’s getting there slowly but surely.

What I like

  • Outstanding Fatar keyboards.
  • Great sound quality.
  • Intuitive/simple workflow.
  • Value for money.

What I don’t like

  • Typically semi-weighted keys outside of the high-end.

Elegant and rugged: Kurzweil

Best known for: Great piano voices and exceptional build quality.

Most Kurzweil keyboards and digital pianos start slightly outside the beginner price range. But not so far out of reach that they shouldn’t be considered.

Any beginner with a slightly higher budget or intermediate players upwards could do far worse than choosing Kurzweil.

Kurzweil led the digital/keyboard piano market for some time, despite not being the household name that some other manufacturers are. They were once the most trusted stage pianos by some of the world’s most famous artists.

Kurzweil’s most popular instruments include stage pianos like the SP6/SP7, flagship SP7 Grand, and the K2700 synth workstation.

a close-up look at the Kurzweil SP6's keyboard
Kurzweil SP6 stage piano | Image: Higher Hz

The SP7 Grand is the instrument that convinced me Kurzweil can compete with the big players in the market. The concert grand piano tones are world-class, and the keyboard feel is outstanding.

One thing I don’t like about Kurweil keyboards is that they are quite bulky, which usually means they are pretty heavy.

On the plus side, they are typically built like a tank, and the designs have been getting more stylish recently.

What I like

  • Great piano voices.
  • Rugged build quality.
  • Simple user interfaces.

What I don’t like

  • Less flexible than other high-end stage pianos.
  • Somewhat heavy/bulky.

Frequently asked questions

Now that we have established the best keyboard and digital piano brands on the market, let’s address some of the most common questions potential buyers have.

What brand of keyboards is most trusted by professional musicians?

At a professional level, the decision will be based on personal preference because professionals have the experience to know what suits their style of play. Some musicians will prefer the sound and feel of one manufacturer over another. However, if I had to choose one, it would most likely be Nord.

What keyboard or digital piano brand is most used by today’s popular artists?

Nord keyboards are still a common choice, but exclusively piano-based artists often turn to Yamaha or Kawai. Artists who want a more flexible setup interacting with external hardware often choose Korg or Roland.

Which company makes the most authentic/realistic-feeling digital pianos?

Yamaha and Kawai generally perform best across the board, but the Studiologic Numa X Piano GT is the stage piano with the most realistic action.

If you want the most realistic feel, look at models that feature real wooden, scaled hammer-action keys with escapement and a simulated ivory/matte finish.

Which brand has the best piano sound?

Yamaha and Kawai produce the best sound in high-end digital pianos, while Nord and Roland are very close in the high-end stage piano market.

What makes one brand better than another?

Ultimately, what you get from the instrument in terms of musical development makes any brand better than another.

People like to compare brands directly, which doesn’t always work because they each have different strengths. But, we will put popular brands head to head and pick out the areas that we think they perform best.

Before we start, the answers we give here are based on the average performance of each brand in certain areas. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions.

Roland or Yamaha?

In my experience, both brands perform exceptionally in most areas, but Yamaha has the edge in beginner keyboards and high-end digital pianos.

Both brands produce excellent stage pianos and synths for performers, although Roland typically has a more performance-ready interface and expansive connectivity.

The sound quality in stage pianos and synths is relatively even.

Casio or Yamaha?

Casio and Yamaha are pretty even when it comes to beginner portable keyboards. I lean towards Yamaha because my first-ever keyboard was a Yamaha PSR-3, but Casio is right up there.

In mid to high-end stage pianos, Yamaha wins quite convincingly in terms of sound quality, realism, and features.

However, when you get to high-end digital pianos, despite my slight preference for Yamaha, it’s a very close race.

Korg or Roland?

In the beginner range, Roland wins hands down because Korg just isn’t as active in that area.

Roland also does better in the digital piano market, mainly because Roland focuses more on realism.

It gets far more competitive when discussing stage pianos and synths; I lean toward Roland, again, but it’s so close; it’s personal preference.

Korg or Yamaha?

Yamaha produces far better beginner instruments, as well as digital pianos. But it’s more competitive with synths and stage pianos.

Korg instruments are often more forward-thinking and distinctive, but Yamaha always delivers solid sounds and features.

Roland or Kawai?

Roland is the better choice in almost every area, including beginner keyboards, stage pianos, and synths.

However, if your primary concern is a realistic concert piano sound, Kawai wins; it just doesn’t offer Roland’s versatility.

Roland or Nord?

Nord doesn’t get involved in beginner instruments at all, so Roland is the way to go if you’re at that stage.

As for synths and stage pianos, Nord has a few great synths, but Roland has a much more comprehensive selection and greater pedigree.

Separating the stage pianos is difficult; few keyboards sound better than a Nord, but Roland often has a more user-friendly interface for all experience levels.

Are there any brands to avoid?

It seems harsh to single out particular brands that you should avoid, but the maxim “you get what you pay for” is very relevant. In other words, if you spend $200 on a keyboard, don’t expect $1000 worth of performance.

Is Donner a good piano brand?

Relative to the brands that I have highlighted, absolutely not; it’s lightyears behind them. However, it’s not a brand that intends to compete with industry giants.

It’s a brand that offers budget instruments that act as a first step before committing to anything more expensive. Remember, not everyone who starts learning to play piano sticks with it.

Are cheap pianos from lesser-known brands worth trying?

I don’t advocate overspending as a complete beginner. Sometimes you need to think of an instrument as a long-term investment, and other times it’s just a steppingstone.

So, keep in mind a cheap keyboard from a lesser-known brand might be the best way to find out if playing the piano is for you or not.

Final thoughts

I believe the brands I have highlighted collectively manufacture the best keyboards and digital pianos on the market.

While highlighting areas where I feel they perform best, I also want to emphasize that no brand is best every single time. If someone asked me for the best keyboard for home practice and stage performance, I would give two different answers.

Choosing an instrument from one of the manufacturers I’ve selected is an excellent place to start. But remember to tailor your choice to your specific needs, ability, and budget.