The Definitive Piano Buying Guide
IN THE CHART that follows, we have included those features and specifications about which buyers, in our experience, are most likely to be curious. However, many models have more features than are shown here. Listings are sorted in the following order: first by brand; then, within each brand, by physical form (slab, vertical, or grand); within each form, by type (standard digitals, then ensemble digitals); and finally, by price or model number, whichever seems most appropriate. See the various articles on digital pianos elsewhere in this publication for more information about each of the terms defined below, shown in the order in which they appear in the chart.
Form The physical form of the model: G=Grand, V= Vertical (Console), S=Slab.
Ensemble A digital piano with easy-play accompaniments (not just rhythms).
Finish The wood finishes or colors available for a particular model (not specified for slab models unless multiple finishes are available). Multiple finish options are separated by a slash (/). A manufacturer's own color term is used where a generic term could not be determined. Real-wood veneers are in italics.
Lacquer (used with a wood or color designation)
Polished (used with a wood or color designation)
Satin (used with a wood or color designation)
Wood Grain (wood type not specified)
Estimated Price This is our estimate of the price you will pay for the instrument. For digitals sold online or through chain and warehouse outlets, this price is the Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) and is shown in italics. For digitals sold only through bricks-and-mortar piano dealers, the price shown is based on a profit margin that piano dealers typically aspire to when selling digitals, including an allowance for incoming freight and setup. Discounts from this price, if any, typically are small. For more information on MAP and other pricing issues, please read "Buying a Digital Piano," elsewhere in this issue.
MSRP Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price, also known as "list" or "sticker" price. Not all manufacturers use them.
Voices The number of different musical voices the instrument can produce.
Key Off Indicates the presence of Key Off samples.
Sustain Samples Indicates the presence of samples with the sustain pedal depressed (allowing the strings to vibrate sympathetically).
String Resonance Indicates the presence of String Resonance.
Rhythms/Styles The number of rhythm patterns available.
Polyphony The maximum number of sounds the instrument can produce simultaneously.
Total Watts Total combined amplifier power.
Speakers The number of individual speakers.
Piano Pedals The number of piano pedals supplied with the model. A number in parentheses indicate the number of optional pedals.
Half Pedal Indicates that the model supports half-pedaling. Many manufacturers do not specify this capability.
Action Indicates the type of action used, if specified.
Escapement Indicates the presence of escapement feel. Models using acoustic-piano actions with actual escapement are indicated by an underlined Y.
Wood Keys Indicates actions with wooden keys.
Ivory Texture Indicates actions with ivorytextured keytops.
Player Moving Keys Indicates that the keys move during playback of recordings.
Vocal Support The model supports some level of vocal performance. This support can vary from the piano simply having a microphone input, to its having the ability to produce the vocalist's voice in multi-part harmony, to pitch-correct the notes sung by the vocalist, or to alter the original voice.
Educational Features The model includes features that specifically support the learning experience. Note that while the ability to record and play back is an important learning tool, it is present on almost all models and so is not included in this definition.
External Memory Indicates the type of external memory accessible.
USB to Computer Indicates the model's ability to interface with a Mac or PC via USB cable.
Recording Tracks The number of recordable tracks.
Warranty (Parts/Labor) Indicates the manufacturer's warranty coverage period: the first number is the length of the parts coverage; the second number is the length of the labor coverage. Single digits indicate years; double digits indicate days.
Dimensions Width, Depth, and Height are rounded to the nearest inch. If space is particularly tight, refer to the manufacturer's specifications for the model's exact dimensions. Note that grand height measurements sometimes indicate the piano's height with its lid up.
Weight Weight of the model rounded to the nearest pound.
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