Digital Pianos: Key to Specifications & Prices
If you’ve read any of the “Brand and Company Profiles” on the acoustic side, you’ll see that discussions of digital makes and models are of a very different nature. For one thing, although a few manufacturers of digital pianos can trace their roots back over 100 years, such histories, while occasionally fascinating, have little or no relevance to a type of instrument that has existed for only a few dozen years. For another, whereas acoustic piano makers may boast of using slowly grown spruce carefully harvested from trees on north-facing slopes in the Bavarian Alps, there are no stories from digital piano makers of silicon carefully harvested from isolated south-facing beaches during the second low tide of October; no tales of printed circuit boards still crafted by hand as they’ve been for generations, or descriptions of internal cable harnesses made of only the finest German wire. And while it’s interesting to know who was the first to introduce a particular feature, digital pianos, like all modern electronic products, are very much a matter of “What have you done for me lately?”
This section contains brief descriptions, or profiles, of most brands of digital piano distributed nationwide in the United States and Canada. You can look up each brand in the Brand Index.
Following each profile is a list of that brand’s models, along with their prices and some of their more important specifications. Even more than with acoustic pianos, the profiles provide only a small part of the story, and must be supplemented by an understanding of features and specifications if you are to have a clear picture of a given brand’s offerings.
The same model and price information and specifications are also available through our searchable database, with which you can filter models based on physical type, price range, features, and specifications.
Key to Specifications and Prices
In the specification chart for each brand of digital piano (see Brand Index to access charts), 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. 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 charts.
Form The physical form of the model: G=Grand, V= Vertical (Console), S=Slab.
Ensemble A digital piano with easy-play and auto-accompaniments (not just rhythms).
Finish The wood finishes or colors available for a particular model (not always specified for slab models). Multiple finish options are separated by a slash (/). A manufacturer’s own color term is used where a generic term could not be determined. See the box below for finish codes.
|Bl||Blue||P||Polished (used with a wood or color designation)|
|DB||Deep Brunette||S||Satin (used with a wood or color designation)|
|L||Lacquer (used with a wood or color designation)||WG||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 blue 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.
Sound Source Indicates whether the sound source is Sampling (S) or Physical Modeling (M).
Voices The number of different musical voices the user can select from the instrument panel, plus (if applicable) the number of General MIDI (GM) or XG voices that are not user-selectable but are available for playback of MIDI files.
Key Release Indicates the presence of samples or simulation of Key Release sounds—acoustic piano keys and dampers returning to rest position and cutting off the sounds of vibrating strings.
Sustain Resonance Indicates the presence of samples or simulation of the sound with the sustain pedal depressed (allowing the strings to vibrate sympathetically).
String Resonance Indicates the presence of samples or simulation of String Resonance—the resonance sound of the strings of non-played notes.
Rhythms / Styles For ensemble digitals, this is the number of auto-accompaniment backing tracks (styles) available. For non-ensemble digitals, this is the number of rhythm tracks present.
Polyphony The maximum number of sounds the instrument can produce simultaneously. UL=Unlimited
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 indicates the availability of an optional pedal unit with additional pedals.
Half Pedal Indicates that the model supports half-pedaling.
Action Indicates the type of action used, if specified.
Triple-Sensor Keys Indicates the presence of three key sensors, instead of the usual two, for greater touch realism.
Escapement Indicates the presence of an acoustic piano action’s escapement feel.
Wood Keys Indicates actions with wooden keys.
Ivory Texture Indicates actions with ivory-textured keytops.
Bluetooth Indicates that the instrument is equipped with Bluetooth for connecting to the Internet.
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 Storage Indicates the type of external memory storage accessible, such as USB or SanDisk.
USB to Computer Indicates the model’s ability to interface with a Mac or PC via USB cable.
USB Digital Audio Indicates the ability to record and play back digital audio via a USB flash drive.
Recording Tracks The number of internal recordable tracks for recording of MIDI files.
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.
Dimensions Width, Depth, and Height are rounded to the nearest inch.
Weight Weight of the model rounded to the nearest pound.