Best Home Digital Pianos Under $3,000 You Can Get in 2019

best digital pianos under $3000

Over the past two years, we’ve been covering a lot of digital pianos in different price ranges and for different skill sets.

Today, due to a growing number of requests, we’re going to take a deeper look at the top-of-the-range console digital pianos under $3,000.

Note: This article covers only console (home) digital pianos. If you’re looking for a portable digital piano, check out our “Best Portable DPs Under $2,000” article.

If you’re looking for a console digital piano but your budget is limited, you might also want to check out our “Best Home DPs Under $1,500” article.

At this point, you probably already know what a console digital piano is and how it differs from the other types of digital pianos.

Even so, let’s talk about console digital pianos with regards to this particular price range to see what you can expect from these instruments.

For many people, spending this kind of money on an instrument is a big commitment, so you want to make sure you’re making the right investment.

premium home digital piano

The most important and obvious difference compared to the lower-end models is that premium console digital pianos have bigger, fancier cabinets that more closely resemble an acoustic piano.

Many of them have elegant front legs, top lids (sometimes even openable), multi-speaker sound systems, and other elements that make a digital piano look and feel closer to the real thing.

In most cases, you’ll also be able to choose from several finish options.

However, the most important things to evaluate are how good they sound and how realistic their touch is.

High-end home digital pianos usually offer the newest, most advanced technologies the manufacturer has at its disposal.

This includes top-of-the-line hammer key actions, which sometimes include wooden keys and acoustic-like seesaw action mechanisms.

The samples are also incredibly detailed and rich with dozens of acoustic nuances, seamlessly simulated and integrated into the sound.

samples audio waves

All in all, it’s safe to say that these instruments will get you the closest to the sound, feel, and look of an actual piano.

Now that we’ve covered some of the core features of console digital pianos in this price range, let’s move on to our top picks, which we think are the most realistic console digital pianos under $3,000.

As usual, we’ve selected 4-5 digital pianos to focus on, but this time I will also try to go a bit wider and cover some product series as a whole. Many of them have the same design ethos, similar feature sets, and target the same people.

We’ll start with Yamaha but before that, let’s take a look at the comparison table.

Best premium home digital pianos under $3000

  • Model
  • Keys
    Modern acoustic pianos have 88 keys. Most digital pianos and keyboards have 88, 76, 73, or 61 keys.
    In reality, 73 keys are enough to play most modern pieces. Some advanced pieces require a full set of 88 keys.
  • Fully-Weighted Keys
    There are 3 most common types of key actions:
    1) Non-weighted - most organs, synths and entry-level keyboards are not weighted.
    2) Semi-weighted - often used portable keyboards and workstations. Spring-loaded mechanizm adds more resistance to the keys compared to the non-weighted action.
    3) Fully weighted (hammer action) is designed to replicate the action of a real piano. It uses small hammers (rather than springs) attached to each key to recreate the mechanical movements and resistaince similar to the acoustic piano action.
  • Simulated Ivory/Ebony
    Some digital pianos come with a simulated Ivory (white keys) and Ebony (black keys) key surfaces, which gives them a nice textured feel, helps absorb excessive moisture and prevents your fingers from slipping off the keys.
  • Touch Sensitivity
    The volume produced by the instrument changes depending on how hard or soft you play the keys.
    Touch Response, Velocity Sensitivity, Touch Sensitivity are the same thing .
    Many digital pianos allow you to adjust touch sensitivity (make the keyboard more or less sensitive to the force of your keystrokes) to better suit your playing style.
  • Tone Generator
  • Polyphony
    The number of notes a piano can play at once.
    The more polyphony the better, especially when layering several sounds or using backing tracks, etc. When you reach the polyphony cap, the piano starts to drop the earliest played notes to free up memory for the new ones, which affects the sound and its fullness.
    It’s desirable to have at least 64 notes of polyphony.
  • Built-in Tones
    Often, a digital piano will have other musical instrument sounds besides pianos.
  • Modes
    1) Split - divides the keyboard into two parts, allowing you to play a different instrument sound in each of them.
    2) Dual (a.k.a. Layer Mode) - allows you to layer two different sounds so that they sound simultaneously whenever you press a key.
    3) Duo (a.k.a. Duet Play, Partner Mode, Twin Piano) - devides the keyboard into two halves with identical pitch ranges (two middle Cs) allowing two people to play the same notes at the same time.
  • Lesson Function
    The ability to use built-in/user songs for practice by turning off the left- or right-hand part of a song and practicing it along with the playback of the other part.
  • MIDI Recorder
    Allows you to record and playback your own performances.
    A multi-track recorder (2 and more tracks) allows you to record several musical parts on separate tracks and play them back as a single song.
  • Audio Recorder
    Allows you to record the audio output of the instrument and save it to a flash drive usually in WAV format (Linear PCM, 16bit, 44.1 kHz, Stereo).
    You can then share your recording on social media, upload it to SoundCloud, burn to CD, etc.
  • Preset Temperaments
    Ability to change the standard “Equal Temperament” tuning to other tuning systems (used in the 16th to 19th centuries), which are better suited for playing certain styles of music (Indian, Arabian, classical, etc.).
  • Piano Elements
    Organic piano elements that are reproduced on the instrument, often using physical modeling. These elements are usually quite sublte but important if you want to get the fullest, and the most natural piano sound.
  • Transpose,Tuning
    1) Transpose function allows you to shift the overall pitch of the keyboard in semitone steps.
    2) Tuning function (aka Fine Tuning, Master Tuning) allows you to shift the pitch from the standard A440 tuning in 0.1Hz or 0.2Hz steps.
  • Metronome
    A useful tool for practice that will help develop your rhythmic and timekeeping skills by providing a steady beat to play along with.
    Some pianos allow you change the conventional click sound of the metronome to various drum rhythms.
  • USB Type B
    This port enables you to connect the keyboard to a computer/smart device and use it as a MIDI controller with VST plugins and music apps like GarageBand, Flowkey, Synthesia, FL Studio, etc.
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
    Allows you to connect your piano to a smart device wirelessly and exchange MIDI data with various music apps (e.g. GarageBand, Flowkey, Simply Piano, etc.). This can be used as an alternative to a USB type B port. Note that some pianos can only transfer Audio data via Bluetooth, others can only transfer MIDI.
    Some pianos support both MIDI and Audio data via Bluetooth.
  • Speakers
  • Weight
  • Yamaha CLP-635
  • 88
  • Graded Hammer 3X (GH3X)
  • 5 types, Off
  • Yamaha CFX (+ Binaural Sampling), Bösendorfer Imperial
  • 256 notes
  • 36 (13 pianos)
  • Dual, Split, Duo
  • 50 classics + 303 lesson songs
  • 16-track, 250 songs
  • WAV, 16bit, 44.1 kHz, stereo (to a flash drive)
  • 7 types
  • Damper/String/Body/Aliquot/Key Off Resonance; Smooth Release; Lid Simulation
  • + Audio support
  • 30W + 30W (2 speakers)
  • 123.4 lbs (56 kg)
  • Kawai CA58
  • 88
  • Grand Feel Compact (GFC)
  • (Ivory only)
  • 5 types, Off
  • Harmonic Imaging XL (HI-XL): Kawai SK-EX, EX Grands
  • 256 notes
  • 42 (10 pianos)
  • Dual, Split, Duo
  • 12 built-in lesson books
  • 2-track, 10 songs
  • WAV or MP3, 16bit, 44.1 kHz, stereo (to a flash drive)
  • 7 types + User
  • Damper/String/Undamped String/Cabinet/Key Off Resonance, Damper/Fall-back Noise, Lid Simulation
  • Bluetooth (MIDI)
  • 50W + 50W (4 speakers)
  • 161 lbs (73 kg)
  • Roland DP603
  • 88
  • Progressive Hammer Action (PHA-50)
  • 100 types, Off
  • SuperNATURAL Piano Modeling
  • 384 notes (unlimited for piano tones)
  • 307 (10 pianos)
  • Dual, Split, Duo
  • 363 built-songs/exercises
  • 3-track
  • WAV, 16bit, 44.1 kHz, stereo (to a flash drive)
  • 10 types
  • Damper/String/Body/Key Off Resonance; Hammer/Damper/Key Off Noise; Lid/Soundboard Type Simulation
  • Bluetooth (MIDI + Audio)
  • 30W + 30W (2 speakers)
  • 101.4 lbs (46 kg)
  • Casio AP-700
  • 88
  • Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II
  • 3 types, Off
  • AiR Grand Sound Source: Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna Grands
  • 256 notes
  • 26 (12 pianos)
  • Dual, Split, Duo
  • 60 songs
  • 2-track, 1 song
  • WAV, 16bit, 44.1 kHz, stereo (to a flash drive)
  • 17 types
  • Damper/String/Key Off Resonance; Damper Noise
  • 30W + 30W (6 speakers)
  • 105.8 lbs (48 kg)

1) Yamaha CLP-635 – Clavinova Series

yamaha clp-635 review

UK & Europe:
Gear4Music Thomann

Yamaha is one of the most recognizable names on the digital piano and keyboard market.

Their vast experience and knowledge in making acoustic pianos give them a big advantage, ensuring that their instruments deliver an impressive, realistic playing experience.

You’ll find Yamaha pianos in every price range imaginable. The premium Clavinova line is their answer to the most demanding home-based piano players. The series has been around for several decades and has found thousands of fans throughout the years.

All instruments in the series follow the same concept and differ only in their key action mechanism, sounds, and the total number of features.

Looks-wise, the size of the cabinet is pretty much the only difference. You’ll also notice that digital pianos (not only Clavinovas) that have a polished finish cost about 15% more than non-polished finishes.

yamaha clp-635 white

Yamaha CLP-635 in White finish

The most affordable model in the Clavinova range is the CLP-625. It’s fairly basic in terms of built-in sounds and features. However, it does come with the same detailed grand pianos samples as the rest of the models in the series.

In particular, it features samples of the Yamaha CFX 9-foot grand as well as the Bösendorfer Imperial Grand – the “Rolls Royce” of acoustic pianos. These don’t need an introduction as they continue to be the centerpiece of many famous concert halls and stages around the world.

The CFX is known for its bright, precise tone, while the Bösendorfer has a woodier, softer sound with an impressive dynamic range.

It’s worth noting that when listening via headphones, you’ll be able to enjoy CFX Binaural sampling, which offers the sound of the CFX grand recorded in a special way providing a more natural, “three-dimensional” experience when listening through headphones. I’m sure many will agree that this is the most realistic sound available on the CLP-625.

When it comes to the touch of the CLP-625, it features Yamaha’s Graded Hammer 3X (GH3X) key action from the well-known GH3 family.

This is a very similar action to the one used in the YDP-164 as well as many other Yamaha instruments with the GH3 key action. The only difference is the added escapement simulation, which is what the “X” at the end of the name represents. I wouldn’t say that this key action is particularly impressive, but it’s not bad by any means.

GH3X is known for its relatively heavy feel, not too much “bounce back” motion, good key pivot length, and nice-feeling ebony and ivory simulated keytops.

While I prefer the slightly lighter and more responsive NWX wooden action in the CLP-645 model, this is a very decent action for the price.

yamaha key actions

You might be wondering why I put the CLP-635 on the list if it’s such a fine instrument.

Well, that’s because aside from the quality samples and decent keyboard, there isn’t much to be excited about in the CLP-625.

This is why you might want to consider the CLP-635, the next model up in the series.

It features the same sound engine and the same key action as the CLP-625, but here’s what you’ll get beyond that.

  • An easier and more intuitive user interface due to the inclusion of a small LCD.
  • More complex, realistic piano sound. While the samples themselves are the same, the CLP-635 features Virtual Resonance Modelling (VRM) technology, which recreates several important acoustic elements such as string resonance, damper resonance, aliquot resonance, and body resonance. The CLP-625 doesn’t use VRM, and it only has damper and string resonance, which are built into the samples rather than modeled as you play. This makes them less dynamic and realistic compared to VRM.
  • More built-in sounds. The CLP-635 has 36 different instrumental sounds that offer a much better variety than a mere 10 tones in the CLP-625.
  • Additional sound effects and settings including chorus, brilliance, and 11 additional master effects (depends on the selected tone).
  • 303 Lesson Songs, which allow you to practice each hand’s part independently.
  • A 16-track MIDI recorder with storage for 250 songs. The CLP-625 allows you to record and store only one song that can contain up to two tracks.
  • An audio recorder that allows you to record your performances not only in MIDI but also in WAV format (44.1 kHz sample rate, 16-bit, stereo), which is very handy.
  • 6 additional Temperament options on top of the default “Equal Temperament.”
  • More powerful speakers: 2 x 30W (16 cm) vs 2 x 20W (10 cm).
  • Additional connectivity options: MIDI In/Out, Line Out (R, L/Mono), Audio In mini-jack, and USB flash drive port (for saving your audio recordings).

Now, this is a lot of goodies to get with the CLP-635, but it’s up to you to decide whether those extra features are worth the price difference. In my opinion, they are. However, chances are that you don’t need the extra functionality and sounds, so why pay extra?

Another option that you may never have considered is the Yamaha YDP-184, the flagship of the more affordable Arius series.

Don’t be discouraged just yet – the YDP-184 actually has much more in common with the Clavinova series than the Arius line.

In particular, the YDP-184 looks almost identical to the CLP-635 and has most of the same features, including a small LCD, VRM technology, 24 built-in sounds, 16-track MIDI recorder, 2 x 30W speakers, etc. (no additional lesson songs or audio recorder though).

The main difference from the Clavinova series is that the YDP-184 doesn’t come with the Bösendorfer Imperial tone. Plus, there are no binaural samples for the CFX sounds.

That said, the YDP-184 has many advantages over the CLP-625, and costs considerably less than the CLP-635, even though they are very similar.

yamaha clp-635 controls

Yamaha CLP-635 control panel

Going back to the Clavinova series, the next model up from the CLP-635 would be the CLP-645. This model is slightly above the budget we’ve set, but I mention it because it’s a popular mid-range option.

The CLP-645 is identical to the CLP-635 in terms of the features and there only 3 main differences between them.

  • The CLP-645 comes with a more advanced wooden key action called Natural Wood X (NWX), which I like better than the GH3X of the CLP-625 and CLP-635. While these actions share a similar design, they feel different. The NWX despite having wooden white keys seemed a bit lighter, more responsive, and more enjoyable to play overall.
  • Unlike its smaller brother that have only two speakers, the CLP-645 comes with 4 speakers boasting 100W of output power.
  • The CLP-645 comes with Bluetooth Audio connectivity, allowing you to stream your favorite songs through the piano’s speakers easily.
yamaha wooden keys

Yamaha’s NWX wooden key action

The other two models, the CLP-675 and CLP-685, are well beyond our budget, but if you’re looking for an ultimate piano playing experience you might want to check them out.

These instruments won’t be very different sound-wise and feature-wise. The main difference would be fancier-looking cabinets, more sophisticated multi-speaker setups, and a top-of-the-line GrandTouch key action. The CLP-685 also has additional tones.

Overall, you get more than enough options to choose from, and while I wouldn’t say these instruments are ideal, they should definitely be on your list of contenders.

If you’re looking for the best value for the money, I’d recommend taking a closer look at the CLP-635 and YDP-184.

2) Kawai CA58 – CN & CA Series

kawai ca58 review

UK & Europe:
Gear4Music Thomann

Kawai is the first brand that comes to mind when you think about high-end home digital pianos. The company is well known and respected in this segment.

I have been a big fan of console models that they’ve introduced in the past years, and today we’ll talk about their advanced home series in more detail.

In particular, let’s talk about their premium CA and the more affordable CN series.

While it may seem that CA digital pianos, being Kawai’s high-end home series, are superior to the CN models, this is not always the case.


CA Series

When Kawai introduced the simpler, more affordable CA-48 and CA-58 models, the lines between the CN and CA series became even more blurry.

One of the noteworthy features of CA models remains an incredible wooden-key action, something you get even in the lower-end CA pianos.

The flagship models (CA-78 and CA-98), which sell for well over $3,000, feature Kawai’s flagship Grand Feel II key action.

This is a full-size wooden key action where each white key is a single piece of wood of the same size as with an acoustic piano. While this is not considered a hybrid key action, it resembles it closely.

Overall the Grand Feel II is arguably the most realistic key action found in a digital piano regardless of price category (not counting hybrids). While this is fairly subjective, Yamaha with their GH3X doesn’t come close to Grand Feel II in terms of feel and response.

kawai grand feel compact

Wooden seesaw-type key actions like the Grand Feel II have an advantage over plastic folded key actions because their design better resembles the action of an acoustic piano. This, in turn, allows for a longer key pivot length and a more realistic touch.

The more affordable CA-48 and CA-58 have become popular alternatives to their big brothers. While they don’t come with the flagship Grand Feel II action, they have a simplified version called Grand Feel Compact (GFC).

This action also has a wooden seesaw design with white keys made of one-piece wooden sticks. However, the action is about 15% shorter than the full-size GFII. In practice, both actions feel enjoyable to the touch.

Despite being shorter, the GFC offers an extended key pivot length, making it easy to play towards the back of the keys. Just like the GFII, it also offers individually weighted hammers, counterweights, let-off mechanism (escapement), triple sensor detection, and ivory feel keys.


CN Series

The main difference of the CA series is that its pianos don’t use a wooden key action. Instead, they use a folded type plastic key action called Responsive Hammer III (RHIII).

It’s the best plastic key action in Kawai’s arsenal, which we already covered in depth in our Kawai ES8 review.

Like Kawai’s wooden actions, the RHIII is well-regarded in the pianist community and feels great to the touch. While it’s not far behind the GFC and GFII, these wooden actions have a more refined, natural feel, which is hard to explain in words.

kawai key actions

When it comes to sound, CA pianos don’t always have an advantage over CN models. In fact, the CN-39 has a more advanced sound generator than the one used in the CA-48.

In terms of the sound capabilities, I’d rank them in the following order:

CA-98 > CA-78 > CA-58 > CN-39 > CA-48/CN-29

Let’s focus more on the last four models since they’re closest to the sub-$3,000 range.

kawai ca58 cabinet

Kawai CA58

The CN-29, CN-39, and CA-48 feature Kawai’s mid-range sound engine called Progressive Harmonic Imaging (PHI).

The CA-58, on the other hand, comes with the Harmonic Imaging XL generator (also used in the CA-78/98), which provides longer, more detailed samples compared to the PHI.

However, both sound engines use samples of the magnificent Kawai SK-EX and EX concert grand pianos.

The sound character is obviously going to be different from the CFX and Bösendorfer samples of Yamaha instruments, so depending on your prior experience with acoustic pianos and your personal preference, you’ll like some of them better than others.

kawai harmonic imaging xl vs harmonic imaging

At this price point, manufacturers are putting their best technologies in the instruments, so there’s not one instrument on this list that is clearly a winner or a loser.

I love the sound of Kawai instruments for their natural, warm tone. They’re often recommended for those looking for the most acoustic-like experience.

The CN-29 and CA-48 models are very similar (if not identical) when it comes to their sound and features.

They both have 19 built-in sounds, 192-note polyphony, 40W speakers (4 speakers in the CA-48 and 2 speakers in the CN-29).

In addition to the detailed samples of the SK-EX and EX grands, you get simulations of string and damper resonance, as well as 17 different sound parameters adjustable within Virtual Technician. These include subtle details like damper noise, fallback noise, top board simulation, voicing, etc.

The CN-39 has a more advanced version of the PHI sound engine, making it more similar to the CA-58 (which uses Harmonic Imaging XL) with regards to its piano sound.

Both pianos come with the SK-EX and EX grand piano sounds, 256-note polyphony, and 19 adjustable parameters available through the Virtual Technician function.

On top of the string resonance and damper resonance, these two models also simulate undamped string resonance and cabinet resonance.

kawai shigeru sk ex grand piano

Kawai Shigeru SK-EX concert grand piano

Even though the CN-39 has a lower-end sound engine, it has several advantages over the CA-58.

Aside from the SK-EX and EX grand piano tones, CN-39 offers the sound of the Kawai SK-5 6-foot grand, perfect for those looking for a more intimate sound.

Also, the CN-39 has a much wider selection of non-piano instrument sounds (355 vs. 42), so if you’re looking for a wide sound palette that includes drums, synth leads, choirs, guitars, and other non-piano instruments, the CN-39 is the way to go.

On the other hand, the CA-58 has a more powerful speaker system (100W vs. 40W), and let’s not forget about its wooden-key action, which, in my opinion, is a more important factor than having hundreds of sounds, at least from a pianist’s perspective.

kawai ca58 controls

Kawai CA58 control panel

Feature-wise these two models are very similar. Compared to the CN-29/CA-48, you get 24 more sound effects, more Concert Magic songs, more built-in lesson books, a 2-track MIDI recorder, an audio recorder, line out/in jacks, and a USB Flash Drive port.

Comparing these instruments can be a bit overwhelming and confusing since some aspects of the CN pianos are better than in the entry-level models of the CA series and vice versa.

So, let’s sum up everything in a more convenient format – a comparison table.

 

3) Roland DP-603 – HP, DP & LX series

roland dp603 review

UK & Europe:
Gear4Music Thomann

We can’t end the list without talking about Roland instruments. Unlike Yamaha and Kawai, Roland doesn’t necessarily go for that classical acoustic-like playing experience. Instead, their instruments are known for their playability, versatility, and a more modern flair.

roland hp704 cabinet

Roland HP704 (light oak finish)

Roland offers plenty of home-focused digital pianos for all budgets and needs.

In this article, we’ll focus on the mid-range HP and DP series and will quickly touch on the premium LX models, which sell for well beyond our specified budget.

In mid-2019, Roland introduced the new HP700 series (HP702 and HP704), but at the time of writing, the older HP601, HP603, and HP605 are still available. In other words, Roland didn’t replace the HP600 series with the HP700 outright.

The new HP700 models don’t really bring much new to the table, so I wouldn’t consider them as superior to HP600 instruments.

Either way, let’s take a deeper look at the sound generators and key actions these instruments use, as these are the most important features.

All HP models, except for the HP702, feature Roland’s top-of-the-range PHA-50 key action with hybrid wood/plastic keys, escapement simulation, and synthetic ebony/ivory key surfaces.

roland pha50 action

Roland’s PHA-50 key action

While this action is not necessarily going for that acoustic-like feel, it feels very responsive and enjoyable to play.

It’s not too heavy or light, but it’s quick and has a great key pivot length. The PHA-50 is also quite versatile, and I can easily see myself playing electric pianos, guitars, synths, and other non-piano sounds on it pretty comfortably.

For now, the HP702 is the only HP model using a lower-end PHA-4 Standard action, often used in Roland’s entry-level digital pianos including the FP-30, RP-102, etc.

roland hp702 keyboard

Roland HP702 keyboard

The action is by no means bad, but it doesn’t feel as nice as the PHA-50, at least to me. In particular, it has a noticeably shorter key pivot length, making it slightly harder to play into the keys.

It’s also slightly noisier, especially when you strike the keys harder for playing fortissimo, for example. Overall, I’d describe the PHA-50 as being more “fluid” and expressive than the PHA-4 Standard.

roland keyboard actions

Another feature of Roland HP digital pianos is that they feature the advanced version of the SuperNATURAL sound engine called SuperNATURAL Piano Modelling.

Unlike the lower-end version of SuperNATURAL that uses a hybrid sample-based approach, this sound processor uses pure modeling to generate piano sounds.

This means that instead of triggering a pre-recorded sound of an acoustic piano, these instruments create the sound from scratch using complex mathematical algorithms. Since this approach doesn’t require storing GBs of sampling data, you’ll find that modeled sounds often come with unlimited polyphony.

We won’t go too deep into the pros and cons of the modeling approach here since we already discussed this in our Roland overview article.

Just know that the “full modeling” approach is not something you typically find on digital pianos of other manufacturers, including Yamaha and Kawai, that use a more traditional sample-based or sometimes hybrid approach (where only certain elements of the sound are modeled).

Be sure to listen to as many sounds as you can, since there’s no way to tell which one you’ll like better, there are fans of both the sampling and the modeling approach.

roland supernatural

What’s interesting is that the lower-end HP601, despite having the premium PHA-50 action, is the only instrument in the HP series that uses a more basic (sample-based) version of SuperNATURAL.

At the same time, the HP702, which is also one of the lower-end models, uses the modeling-based SuperNATURAL generator but has a lower-end PHA-4 Standard key action.

The most affordable HP model that has both PHA-50 keys and the fully modeled piano sounds is the HP603/HP603A (HP-603A is the same model as the HP603 but with Bluetooth Audio support).

The Roland DP-603 is nearly identical to the HP603, except it has a more compact modern-style cabinet. This makes it slightly more affordable than the HP603, presenting an even better price-value ratio.

roland dp603 colors

Roland DP603 finish options

The HP605, the next model up, resembles the HP603. The main difference is that the HP605 comes with a bigger cabinet and a more sophisticated speaker system, which uses 6 speakers (74W of output power), while the HP603 has only 2 speakers (60W of power).

In practice, this means that the HP605 delivers a fuller, richer bass sound with a more immersive sound field. When playing through headphones, though, you get pretty much the same experience with these models.

The newly introduced HP704 has a newly designed cabinet, and when it comes to the playing experience, it’s very similar to the HP605.

The most obvious difference lies again in the speaker setup. The HP704 has a slightly less powerful sound system consisting of 4 speakers (60W of output power).

As you can see, most differences between the HP601, HP603, HP605, HP702, and HP704 relate to cabinet design, sound generators, speaker systems, and key actions.

Feature-wise these models are very similar. All of them have around 300 built-in tones (53 main tones + basic GM2 accompaniment tones), 350+ preset songs, a 3-track MIDI recorder, an audio recorder, a small display for easier navigation, Bluetooth MIDI and audio, headphones jacks, dedicated line out jacks (HP601 excluded), and an audio-in jack for streaming music into the onboard speakers from your smartphone.

roland hp704 controls

Roland HP704 control panel

An interesting design feature of all HP models is a special lid position called “Classic Position.” It hides all the control elements of the piano, giving it a more acoustic-like, distraction-free look, which is pretty cool.

All in all, you have a lot of models to choose from that are similar in design, features, and playing experience. I’d say the HP603/DP603 and HP704 are the most successful models in terms of the combination of price, features, sound, and touch.

As with other higher-end digital pianos (e.g., Kawai CA & CN), the Roland HP series is not always easy to order online, especially in the U.S. Many models are available in-store only and you can’t even see what price they’re selling for, which is very inconvenient.

Now, let’s quickly talk about Roland’s most expensive LX series of home digital pianos. These are by no means affordable instruments for people looking for a no-compromise piano playing experience in a luxurious package.

All three LX models, the LX705, LX706, and LX708, feature the PureAcoustic sound engine, which uses two separate sound processors, one for an American piano tone and the other one for a European piano.

Again, I won’t go into much detail here, so check out our Roland guide for more details on the PureAcoustic sound generator.

roland lx708 speaker system

Roland LX708 – 8-speaker setup

Another feature of the LX series is their fancy-looking cabinets with advanced multi-speaker systems (4 speakers on the LX705, 6 on the LX706, and 8 on the LX708!).

The LX706 and LX708 also have an improved longer version of the PHA-50 key action, called the Hybrid Grand keyboard.

Thanks to a longer action, the keys are easier to play toward their rear points, making long playing sessions less fatiguing.

4) Casio AP-700 – Celviano series

casio ap700 review

UK & Europe:
Gear4Music Thomann

You may be surprised to see a Casio instrument on this list, but it’s here.

The Casio AP-700 is the flagship model of the Celviano line of console digital pianos. It’s priced very similar to the Roland DP-603, Yamaha CLP-635, and Kawai CN-39, so consider these direct competitors.

Like all the other high-end digital pianos on this list, the AP-700 shows off the latest and best technologies that Casio has been developing in recent years.

The piano comes with a gorgeous upright-style cabinet, 6-speaker, 2-way sound system, and the most advanced sound generator in Casio’s arsenal.

At the heart of the AP-700 is the AiR Grand sound engine ripped straight from Casio’s GP Hybrid series.

The piano comes with 26 preset tones, including three district grand piano sounds dubbed from Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna Grands.

The Berlin Grand piano tone was designed in collaboration with C. Bechstein, a famous German piano manufacturer. In particular, Casio went for the sound of their state-of-the-art D282 9-foot grand, and the result is impressive.

The Hamburg and Vienna Grands are also beautiful with their own unique character.

The sounds offer a very good dynamic range, long natural decays, and simulation of string resonance, damper resonance, damper noise, and a few other acoustical elements.

Overall, the AP-700 is on the same level as the competing models of Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland as far as piano sound is concerned.

Depending on your taste, you may lean towards the Yamaha/Kawai/Roland sound, but I haven’t found one particular sound-related aspect of the Casio that’s inferior to the other models.

Coupled with the 6-speaker system, the AP-700 sounds fantastic! The only thing I can mention here is that the AP-700 doesn’t have as many adjustable parameters for tailoring all the acoustic nuances (noises, resonances) to your needs.

However, this isn’t critical since it has all the basics and the default sounds are great out of the box.

Where the AP-700 falls behind its competitors is in its key action.

The piano comes with the Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II, which is used in nearly all their Privia and Celviano digital pianos.

It’s not necessarily a bad action, but you would expect something more interesting from an instrument of this caliber, especially considering that the competitors offer considerably better, more realistic key actions, in my opinion.

We’ve covered the Scaled Hammer Action II multiple times in our reviews of the PX-160, PX-770, PX-870, and other Privia models.

As you can tell by its name, it’s a 3-sensor folded-type plastic key action with a hammer action mechanism and ebony/ivory simulated keytops.

Compared to the key actions covered above, this action feels slightly lighter (especially compared to the Yamaha’s GH3X), noisier, and has a much shorter key pivot length, since the action itself is pretty short (typical for lower-end key actions).

casio ap700 keyboard

Overall, it’s definitely not as realistic and enjoyable to play as Roland’s and Kawai’s key actions, but it feels nice to the touch, even considering its flaws.

Touch is such as subjective thing – you’d be surprised how many people (especially those with less playing experience) prefer lower-end key actions over premium counterparts. The reason is simple: there’s no “ideal” action to use as a reference point.

All acoustic pianos differ greatly in how they feel, and the same applies to digital pianos. So, the only way to know which digital piano feels most “authentic” to your fingers is to go to a store and test.

Doing that is much more helpful and insightful than reading hundreds of comments and forum discussions about the experiences of other people.

In terms of features, the AP-700 is basic and straightforward, like most digital pianos.

You get a layer and a split mode, a 2-track MIDI recorder, an audio recorder, 2 headphone jacks, line out/in jacks, a USB to Computer port, a USB to Device port, and a few other standard functions.

casio ap700 cabinet

All in all, the Casio AP-700 is a fantastic instrument for the price, with the main flaw being an unspectacular key action. This may turn off the more advanced pianists looking for a more authentic touch that allows for more expression and nuance.

The sound and looks are the strong suits of the AP-700.

Three distinct grand piano sounds with several different flavors, a 6-speaker sound system, and 256-note polyphony ensure you’re getting a remarkable experience, whether you’re listening through headphones or the onboard sound system.

Not included in the list but worth mentioning

Dexibell Vivo H1/H3/H7

dexibell h1 h3 h7 review

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Dexibell is a new player in the digital piano market. It’s an Italian-based company formed by former employees of Roland Europe R&D after that department closed in 2013. So it wasn’t exactly a “start from scratch” type of situation.

Sound Generation (T2L Sound Technology)

From day one, Dexibell focused on sound and innovations, and they have already achieved great results in a short period of time, which is impressive.

Their cutting-edge set of technologies used in all of their instruments is called T2L (True to Life). It combines sampling and modeling techniques to achieve the best results in recreating an authentic playing experience.

dexibell brand

Some unique features of this technology include the “Quad Core” sound engine that includes 320 digital oscillators responsible for generating dozens of small pieces and nuances of each tone, with virtually unlimited polyphony.

The samples used in Dexibell instruments contain up to a 15-second waveform, allowing them to capture natural decays and complex behaviors of each note without using any looping/stretching techniques (for the first 15 seconds).

In terms of audio quality, Dexibell is at the forefront as well, using 24-bit audio data compared to the industry-standard 16-bit (CD-quality), further contributing to the clarity and accuracy of tone.

While this all can be very exciting on paper, in reality, things don’t always work out the same way. This is not the case with Dexibell’s keyboards.

dexibell h7 white

Dexibell H7

While I haven’t had a chance to give their Vivo H-series a proper test drive, online demos and my brief experience with their Vivo S7 Pro impressed me with how good they sound.

I will go as far as saying that their instrument tones are one of the best sounds I’ve heard in a digital piano. This is not limited to only acoustic pianos, their organs, strings – their other non-piano sounds are on-point as well.


Dexibell Product Lineup

Dexibell has many similarities with another famous manufacturer of digital pianos, Clavia (Nord).

Like Nord, Dexibell mostly targets stage performers, and their S-series stage pianos are their best-selling, most well-known line.

However, unlike Nord, Dexibell has a line of console digital pianos (H-series) for those who want a full-fledged home digital piano with built-in speakers and a furniture-like cabinet.

Speaking of the cabinet, their H-series digital pianos have a very district futuristic design that’s very different from what you find in instruments of other makes.

What’s interesting is that these console models use mostly the same tech as their stage pianos, which makes them expensive yet capable instruments.

Some of the features they inherited from Dexibell stage pianos include an expandable sound library with 1.5GB wave memory, a wide selection of reverb and DSP effects, and support for .wav, .aiff, .mp3, audio playback.

You might be wondering why Dexibell H-series digital pianos weren’t included in this list if everything I’ve said so far is mostly positive.

Well, we haven’t yet touched on another very aspect of every digital piano – the touch. Here is where things get less exciting.

Dexibell, like Nord and many other smaller keyboard manufacturers, don’t make their own key actions, mostly because designing and manufacturing key actions is a technologically complex process requiring lots of resources that these smaller companies don’t have.

This is why they have to go to companies like Fatar (an Italian key action manufacturer) to buy key actions for their instruments.

dexibell h7 controls

Dexibell H7 controls

As I mentioned several times on this site, I’m not a big fan of Fatar key actions and their lower-end models in particular, so this, to me, is the main problem with Dexibell’s lower-end console digital pianos, Vivo H1 and Vivo H3 (though considering the price and the fact that they all use the same sound technologies Dexibell don’t really have “low-end” instruments).

These use Fatar’s most basic TP-100 LR key action, which is unspectacular from a pianist’s standpoint. It suffers from what many lower-end key actions suffer – short key pivot length, a spongy feel, and an unrealistic response.

All in all, TP-100 LR is not the worst key action out there, but it’s definitely not one of my favorites. I wouldn’t recommend buying it if your main focus is the piano.

The Dexibell H7, the flagship of the H-series, features a higher-end, heavier, and more realistic action from Fatar, the TP-40 GH.

This would be a much better option for classical pianists, but even this action is inferior to those used in the Kawai, Yamaha, and Roland digital pianos we covered earlier.

All in all, if you’re looking for a combination of both realistic sound and touch, the H7 is the only model I would recommend in the H-series. But since it costs significantly more than $3,000, we didn’t include this model in this top list.

 

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