Putting on a Performance – We put the best-selling pianos through their paces!
Digital pianos have taken over in popularity from the larger, more stately and infinitely more expensive traditional acoustic models for many reasons. Modern homes just haven’t got the room for a large, even if beautifully made, grand piano. However, the sound of a piano is certainly not outdated, and that’s where these digital instruments come in.
Smaller and neater than traditional pianos, digital models are easy to move, transport and find house room for.
Whereas a traditional piano produces a volume range based on how hard you strike the keys, a digital keyboard’s volume is controlled, even allowing for silent practice, and most have a headphone socket.
Often with an extensive sounscape that can be added to your composition, and many include a built-in metronome – a very useful feature.
The majority of digital pianos have recording capabilities. This is great if you’re learning to play and want to review your progress, and is a useful feature if you wish to create your own compositions.
Most digital pianos have USB ports,making it easy to connect and record your music. Some models accept flash memory cards making it simple to transfer music to other devices.
Electronic pianos designed for beginners often include built-in lessons and access to online resources. Some have dual headphone jacks or even split keyboard functions, allowing students and teachers to work together silently, or to play the same parts in the same octaves.
Beyond dusting, this isn’t an issue with digital pianos – they just keep going!
Acoustic pianos have a total of 88 keys (52 white and 36 black), so it makes sense to look for a full keyboard with a digital version. Aim for a keyboard with at least 5 full octaves, even if you’re just starting to play.
A big difference between traditional and digital pianos is the way it feels when you physically press down on the key. With a traditional piano, when you strike a note, a soft hammer hits the strings in the body of the piano causing a not to sound. Lifting the hammer creates a very slight resistance, or weight, in the keys. Becoming familiar with this weight is important if you ever wish to play an acoustic model, but also it actually aids playing and ‘feeling’ the music. Many digital pianos are designed to mimic this weighted feel with their keys.
With Casio, having such an impressive history, you’d expect the CDP-130 to be a well designed instrument, built to last and have a range of useful features – and you’d be right. This is a stylish, sleek and easily portable model, with a full size keyboard of 88 weighted keys, variable sensitivity levels and a great range of functions.
What We Like
Casio’s technology uses four different levels of original acoustic piano samples in order to produce the sound that mimics that of a genuine acoustic piano, and it really does the job well. Played next to an acoustic – and believe us, we did, you cannot tell the difference.
We like the fact that the user interface is so simple, without a whole heap of buttons and knobs to complicate matters. Instead, the keys on the keyboard are used to create shortcuts to access the features and functions. With plenty of high quality voices and sound effects, plus the ability to split the keyboard, and a built-in metronome, this is an infinitely versatile piano.
What Needs Improving
We did find that if the damper pedal is on a smooth surface, it can slide around slightly. However this doesn’t detract from the user experience.
If you’re after a hugely versatile, easily portable, good looking piano, the CDP-130 is well worth considering. It’s perfect for beginners but also has lots of advanced features which more experienced piano players can enjoy.
For years, Alesis have been manufacturing innovative electronics, and the Recital is no different. With a full 88 semi-weighted keyboard, this possesses an almost futuristic and very stylish design. Being lightweight and slim, it’s incredibly easy to transport and looks great in a modern living space.
What We Like
The Recital feels and sounds like an actual acoustic piano, which, given the affordable price band, is impressive.
We found this model to be easily customisable, and with the built-in voices, including acoustic piano, organ, synth, and bass, it has a wide range of musical capabilities. We especially liked the Reverb and Chorus features, which added a real flourish and a realistic depth to our playing experience.
The Lesson mode has lots to offer, including split keyboard, and the ability to separate the keyboard, thus creating two separate and distinct areas that can harmonise, relating to voice and pitch.
What Needs Improving
Whilst not a deal breaker, the fact that this doesn’t come with a separate sustain pedal is a bit annoying.
A great learning tool for beginners, the Alesis Recital is a reasonably priced, good looking, well built piano with plenty of useful features which any level of player would appreciate. Highly recommended.
3) Yamaha P125B
Yamaha, a long standing respected name in musical instruments, have created a very compact, lightweight digital piano that’s suitable for home use as well as for gig situations. It has the great build quality expected from this brand, and its minimalist design is completed with a red felt ribbon across the tops of the keys as well as an elegant curve on the front panel, mimicking the style and presence of the classic grand piano.
What We Like
We’ve found this piano to be very user friendly, and although the stand is an optional extra, you can put the P-125 on a table. Ingeniously, Yamaha have even included a setting – Table EQ, that optimises the sound when the keyboard is placed on a flat surface.
The graduated weighted keyboard is nicely touch-sensitive, which means that the volume and timbre of the sound varies depending on how hard or soft you play the keys.
With LEDs to indicate which settings you are using, the button count is not excessive, and Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app makes it insanely easy to control all the functions using an intuitive graphic interface – we had great fun with this!
What Needs Improving
The P125’s lack of an LCD screen could be seen by some as a disadvantage. However, navigating the menu is simplicity itself, and without a screen, the design is much cleaner.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced musician, the P-125 packs high-quality piano performance and versatile practice features into a very compact, easily portable instrument. Conveying all the richness and dynamic range of a traditional piano, this a great option for beginners right through to the more advanced pianists.