In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: August 13, 2023
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Weighted keyboards represent the perfect blend between acoustic pianos and digital convenience.
As the music industry evolves, so does the need for equipment that mimics traditional instruments with precision yet offers the advantages of digital technology. The best weighted keyboards capture the tactile feedback and responsiveness of grand pianos, offering musicians a playing experience that’s close to the real thing. They provide consistent and reliable performance, indispensable for seasoned professionals and budding pianists. But with the array of choices in the market, finding the right one can be a daunting task. This guide breaks down the best weighted keyboards available, diving deep into their features, pros, cons, and suitability for various needs.
"A premium choice for stage artists, the Nord Stage 3 incorporates diverse sound engines for pianos, organs, and synths. The model provides seamless transitions and layered sounds, truly setting it apart for live sessions."
"Perfectly balancing design and function, the Korg Grandstage offers seven powerful sound engines and an intuitive interface. Its RH3 weighted hammer action keys ensure a tactile response reminiscent of grand pianos."
"A gem for home use, the PX-870 integrates Casio’s AiR Sound Source for resonant tones. Its slim design and Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II ensure a genuine piano feel without consuming too much space."
"An amalgamation of advanced V.A.S.T. synthesis and FlashPlay technology, the Forte is a frontrunner in sound quality and user experience. Its 16 GB memory ensures a vast sound selection, catering to diverse genres and styles."
"Pushing the boundaries with its T2L (True to Life) sound engine, the S7 Pro produces impeccable harmonics and decay. Its high-resolution sound and 88-note graded hammer action keyboard make it a professional favorite."
"A nod to tradition with a modern twist, the CP88 blends Yamaha’s legacy of sound with advanced features. Its Natural Wood, Graded Hammer, triple sensor keys, and VCM (Virtual Circuitry Modeling) technology offer a holistic piano journey."
The Yamaha P-515 seamlessly marries elegance with performance. Its sleek design isn’t just for aesthetics; every curve every finish speaks of Yamaha’s dedication to producing top-tier musical equipment. The heart of the P-515 is its Natural Wood X (NWX) keyboard, meticulously crafted to reproduce the tactile nuances of a traditional piano. Each key is carefully weighted, offering variable resistance levels that correspond to the unique weight of each hammer inside an acoustic piano.
When you delve into its performance, the P-515 doesn’t disappoint. Its sound is augmented by enhanced Virtual Resonance Modeling (VRM), which, in conjunction with meticulous sound sampling from Yamaha’s iconic grand pianos, provides a rich, immersive auditory experience. Every note every chord is rendered with a clarity and depth that truly elevates the digital piano experience. For professionals, this precision is invaluable, be it in live settings or in the studio.
What sets the Yamaha P-515 apart is its unmatched combination of Yamaha CFX and Bösendorfer Imperial piano samples. These provide musicians with a palette of sounds that can adapt to any genre or style, from classical compositions to modern renditions. The onboard speakers are powerful and crisp, capturing the expansive soundstage of a concert grand piano.
But every masterpiece has room for improvement. While the P-515 excels in delivering professional-quality sound and feel, beginners might find it lacking in onboard learning tools. Given its price range, it is predominantly geared towards the advanced pianist or the serious enthusiast looking to invest in their craft.
Roland has long been a name associated with musical innovation, and the FP-90 is a testament to that legacy. At first glance, its robust build and sleek design hint at its stage-oriented capabilities. This isn’t just a keyboard; it’s a performer’s trusted companion.
Delving into its sound reveals the magic of Roland’s renowned SuperNATURAL piano modeling technology. Unlike traditional sampling, which involves recording piano sounds, this modeling technology reproduces the sound creation process of an acoustic piano, offering a dynamic and ever-evolving auditory experience. The FP-90 captures the intricacies of a live piano performance in its entirety, from the softest pianissimos to the most thunderous fortissimos.
One might argue that the FP-90’s real strength lies in its adaptability. It’s not just about classical or traditional music. With an extensive range of electric pianos, strings, organs, and synth sounds, the possibilities are endless, making it ideal for live performances where versatility is paramount.
However, what distinguishes the FP-90 from its counterparts is its powerful onboard speaker system, which delivers a sound projection suitable for a small venue performance without needing external amplification. It’s essentially a mini-concert powerhouse.
Yet, perfection is elusive. The FP-90, with its plethora of features, can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers. And while it’s designed for stage performances, its weight might not be ideal for musicians always on the move.
Enter the realm of authentic acoustic experiences with the Kawai MP11SE. This isn’t just a digital piano; it’s a homage to the grandeur of classical pianos. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, every element of the MP11SE, from its keys to its sound engineering, is designed to mimic grand pianos with unparalleled precision.
Soundwise, the MP11SE is a masterpiece. Kawai’s Harmonic Imaging XL sound technology reproduces the unique tonal characteristics of each key, offering a depth and richness that’s truly captivating. When played, it’s hard to believe that one isn’t sitting before a grand piano in a concert hall.
Its crowning jewel, however, is the Grand Feel (GF) wooden key action. These keys are not mere imitations; they are crafted using long pieces of wood, with finely textured ivory-like surfaces applied to absorb moisture and assist control. It’s a tactile experience that’s unmatched in the digital realm.
Yet, even a gem like the MP11SE has its caveats. It’s tailored for those who yearn for a genuine acoustic experience, which might not cater to everyone’s taste, especially those seeking more modern features or sound variations.
The Nord Stage 3 is more than just a digital piano—it’s a true musical powerhouse. Recognized for its bright red aesthetic, Nord has a reputation for crafting instruments tailored for stage performance, and the Stage 3 lives up to that legacy. Encased in its compact design is a myriad of features, making it a formidable tool in the hands of any musician.
Musically, the Nord Stage 3 is versatile, hosting three separate sound engines for pianos, organs, and synthesizers. Each engine is crafted precisely to capture the nuances of the instrument it emulates. This trifecta of engines, combined with Nord’s high-quality sound library, provides artists with an expansive sonic palette, allowing for adaptability across genres.
The standout feature, however, is the Stage 3’s synthesis section. Apart from the traditional waveforms, it boasts a super wave function, adding depth and dimension to sounds. For musicians who like to experiment and push boundaries, this offers an avenue to craft unique tones and timbres, setting their performance apart.
Yet, with great power comes a certain level of complexity. The Stage 3, brimming with features, may appear daunting to novices. Its emphasis on performance might overshadow some of the nuanced touches expected by classical pianists.
Step onto any stage with confidence with the Korg Grandstage. From the household name of Korg, known for decades of electronic instrument innovation, comes a keyboard that promises to be a performer’s steadfast companion. It’s not just about playing; it’s about owning the stage.
At the heart of the Grandstage are its seven powerful sound engines, which encapsulate a range of instruments from classic grand pianos to vintage electric pianos. The rich layering and dynamic range make it suitable for both soft ballads and energetic performances, showcasing its versatility.
What sets the Grandstage apart is its intuitive interface. The layout, with its clearly labeled buttons and dials, ensures quick access during live performances. The real-time control knobs, which allow on-the-fly adjustments, ensure that musicians can adapt and shape their sound as they perform.
However, perfection is elusive. While the Grandstage is tailored for stage performances, studio musicians might find it lacking in terms of deeper sound editing capabilities. Moreover, its weight and bulk could pose challenges for frequent travel.
A marvel in the realm of home digital pianos, the Casio Privia PX-870 redefines expectations. What appears as a humble, elegant furniture piece is, in reality, a well-engineered instrument designed to bring the concert hall into living rooms.
Soundwise, the PX-870 shines with Casio’s Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source. This ensures that tones evolve naturally, capturing the decay of notes and the nuances of soft and loud play. With its 88-key scaled hammer action, it feels as authentic as it sounds, making practice sessions more fruitful.
For learners, the PX-870 is a gift. With its Concert Play feature, students can play along with a symphony orchestra, making practice a routine and an experience. The duet mode, which splits the keyboard into two equal pitch ranges, facilitates teacher-student sessions, fostering learning.
However, while the PX-870 is a gem for home usage and learning, it’s not tailored for the stage or advanced sound editing. Its in-built speakers, while adequate for home use, might not suffice for larger settings.
When we speak of brands that seamlessly fuse technological innovation with musical craftsmanship, Kurzweil stands out with distinctive prowess. The Forte is not just another addition to their legacy; it’s a magnum opus in the world of digital pianos. At first glance, its sleek and modern design might hint at a pure aesthetic play, but beneath the surface, the Forte is a powerhouse waiting to be unleashed.
The Kurzweil Forte boasts an impressive 16 GB sound library, an attribute that sets it miles ahead of many competitors. It hosts a myriad of sounds from grand pianos to orchestral instruments and synth patches, all rendered with stunning clarity and depth. Its patented FlashPlay technology ensures zero loading time, providing instant access to its vast library.
One of the Forte’s most striking features is its touch-responsive user interface. The intuitive controls, combined with a widescreen color display, make it incredibly user-friendly, allowing even the most tech-averse pianists to navigate with ease.
What truly sets the Kurzweil Forte apart from the competition is its focus on integration and adaptability. With seamless transitions between sounds and modes, it’s built for live performance. Whether you’re layering multiple sounds or switching between complex patches, the Forte manages without a glitch.
However, no product is without its downsides. While the Forte excels in live performance settings, beginner pianists or those seeking a simple, traditional experience might find its vast functionalities a tad overwhelming.
What are its best features?
16 GB sound library offers unmatched versatility.
FlashPlay technology for instant sound loading.
User-friendly interface with a widescreen color display.
What could be improved?
Might be overwhelming for beginners.
Pricey compared to more straightforward digital pianos.
Dexibell’s legacy as a premium musical instrument manufacturer is undeniably etched in history, and with the VIVO S7 Pro, they continue to champion that reputation. The very moment one lays eyes on this keyboard, it’s clear that this isn’t just an instrument – it’s a statement. The meticulous craftsmanship and state-of-the-art technology ingrained within the VIVO S7 Pro is tailored for those who refuse to compromise on quality.
Diving into its features, the VIVO S7 Pro harnesses Dexibell’s T2L (True to Life) technology, a synthesis method that enhances the clarity, resonance, and authenticity of every note played. This results in an uncanny reproduction of acoustic sounds, especially its grand piano tones, which are nothing short of breathtaking.
The VIVO S7 Pro doesn’t just stop at delivering impeccable sound; its touch is equally commendable. The hybrid wood and ebony/ivory feel keys offer a tactile experience reminiscent of an acoustic grand piano. This, combined with its meticulously calibrated hammer action, ensures an expressive and dynamic playability, catering to the most discerning pianists.
In the realm of connectivity, the VIVO S7 Pro is unmatched. It boasts an array of ports and wireless Bluetooth functionality, making it compatible with a myriad of devices and software. This connectivity, coupled with its onboard high-quality speakers, makes it a favorite for both stage performances and studio recordings.
However, every masterpiece has its nuances. The VIVO S7 Pro, with its abundant features, may pose a steeper learning curve for those new to digital pianos. Moreover, its premium pricing can be a hurdle for budget-conscious buyers.
Studiologic is synonymous with the marriage of Italian design elegance and technological prowess, and the SL88 Grand is a testament to that commitment. At first glance, the minimalist design language of the SL88 Grand is both inviting and intuitive. But beneath this simplicity lies a powerhouse of features that cater to professional musicians and serious enthusiasts alike.
What distinguishes the SL88 Grand from its competitors is its TP/40WOOD Graded Hammer Action keybed. Each key is crafted from a perfect blend of wood and ivory-feel materials, giving it the touch and feel of a true concert grand piano. This keybed doesn’t merely replicate the touch of an acoustic piano; it elevates it, offering unrivaled control and expression across all 88 keys.
Studiologic’s VFP1/10 triple switch pedal, which comes included, further boosts the instrument’s playability. This feature allows pianists to convey the nuances and subtleties of their performances, whether they are intricate classical pieces or soulful jazz renditions.
The SL88 Grand also excels in user customization. Its innovative TFT color display combined with the powerful SL Editor for detailed sound modeling and the Magnetic Rail System for custom positioning of the music stand and accessories ensures a personalized playing experience.
Yet, for all its perks, the SL88 Grand does have its challenges. The keyboard’s sheer weight and size can be cumbersome for those frequently on the move. Additionally, its vast array of customization options may be a bit overwhelming for novices.
Why did it make our list?
TP/40WOOD Graded Hammer Action offers an authentic touch.
Comprehensive customization with TFT display and SL Editor.
Stepping into the arena with a rich heritage of piano craftsmanship, Yamaha’s CP88 is the culmination of years of research, innovation, and feedback from professional pianists. Designed with the live performer in mind, this instrument exudes confidence, reliability, and, most importantly, unparalleled sound.
Central to the CP88’s appeal is its Natural Wood Graded Hammer (NW-GH) keyboard. Made with synthetic ebony and ivory, the keys provide an authentic tactile response. Coupled with Yamaha’s proprietary Virtual Circuitry Modeling (VCM) technology, players are treated to a sound that is warm, rich, and remarkably true to its acoustic counterparts.
Where the CP88 truly shines is in its intuitive user interface. With a one-to-one interface that ensures that you see exactly what you get, performers can make real-time sound adjustments without the hassle of navigating through submenus.
Despite its myriad features, the CP88 is remarkably portable, a testament to Yamaha’s commitment to offering stage-ready solutions. Its aluminum body is both lightweight and durable, ensuring that the instrument can withstand the rigors of regular transport and stage use.
The CP88, however, isn’t without its limitations. Its focus on stage performance means it might lack some of the recording and sound editing features that studio-focused musicians may seek.
What makes it stand out?
NW-GH keyboard offers an authentic touch and feel.
Intuitive one-to-one user interface.
Durable yet lightweight aluminum construction.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Might lack advanced features for studio recording.
Sound editing options may seem limited for some users.
Things to Consider
Delving into the vast universe of weighted keyboards is akin to embarking on a sonic odyssey. With every model promising a unique blend of touch, sound, and technology, it becomes imperative to sift through the nuances to unearth the right pick for your needs. Whether you’re an amateur pianist or a seasoned maestro, a discerning eye and ear will pave the way to your ideal musical companion. Let’s journey together into the intricacies of weighted keyboards.
Weighted Key Mechanisms
When it comes to capturing the feel of an acoustic piano, the weight and action of the keys play a pivotal role.
Fully Weighted Keys: Simulating the exact heft and resistance of an acoustic piano, fully weighted keys offer a graded experience. For instance, the lower notes demand more force than their higher counterparts, replicating the hammer sizes in grand pianos. Instruments like the Kawai MP11SE pride themselves on such precision, providing an unparalleled authenticity.
Semi-Weighted Keys: A middle ground between the depth of fully weighted keys and the breeziness of non-weighted ones, semi-weighted keys are ideal for versatility. They are apt for players who tread the world of both classic piano melodies and contemporary synth-driven tracks.
Hammer Action: Hammer action is not just a feature; it’s an experience. Echoing the intricate mechanism of an acoustic piano, every keystroke yields a tactile response, making every note played on a Yamaha CP88, for example, feel like a miniature masterpiece.
Sound Quality & Versatility
Beyond the touch, the essence of a digital piano lies in its sonic soul. Each instrument sings its own song, but how do you judge its tune?
Sound Sampling: The depth of a digital piano’s voice hinges on its sound samples. The multi-dimensional nuances, the resonances, and the ambient echoes – all stem from this. Prioritize keyboards that offer multi-layered sampling, where every keypress triggers a symphony of sounds, not just a note.
Polyphony: Imagine playing a complex piece and having some of your notes silenced. A nightmare for any pianist! A high polyphony ensures that even when you’re at your expressive best, not a single note gets lost in translation.
Sound Customization: The power to shape sound is transformative. Keyboards, such as the Dexibell VIVO S7 Pro, equip players with this power, allowing them to craft and modify tones, turning a mere performance into a personalized sonic artwork.
Portability & Build
Beyond the internal wonders, the external form is equally consequential, especially for those on the move.
Weight & Size: In the touring realm, every ounce counts. Lightweight models like the Yamaha P-515 prove to be a boon, ensuring seamless mobility without compromising performance.
Build Quality: Durability is non-negotiable. Instruments housed in robust bodies, such as the Yamaha CP88‘s aluminum chassis, guarantee longevity, warding off the regular wear and tear that comes with transport and rigorous stage use.
Aesthetics: While functionality is paramount, aesthetics play a role in inspiring the musician. The sheer elegance of certain keyboards, combined with their ergonomic design, ensures that they’re not just instruments but pieces of art.
Connectivity & Modern Utility
Today’s keyboard isn’t just a standalone entity; it’s a digital marvel that interfaces with a plethora of devices and platforms.
MIDI & USB Connectivity: In the realm of music production, these connections become your lifeline. Whether it’s recording, editing, or sound sculpting, MIDI and USB interfaces allow your keyboard to communicate seamlessly with external software.
Audio Outputs: In live scenarios, sound routing can be intricate. Multiple audio outputs enable you to send your keyboard’s sound to various amplifiers, mixers, or recording devices, ensuring optimal sonic delivery.
Integration with Apps: Living in the app era, modern keyboards often bridge the gap between tactile instruments and digital platforms. Whether it’s tutorials, sound editing, or performance enhancement, app integrations open a world of possibilities.
Touch Sensitivity and Responsiveness
In the realm of weighted keyboards, touch sensitivity is a feature that can’t be overlooked. This refers to how the keyboard responds to different pressures on the keys.
Variable Touch Sensitivity: Many premium keyboards, including the Casio Privia PX-870, allow players to adjust the touch sensitivity. This means that you can customize the keyboard’s response according to your playing style, providing a tailored experience.
Aftertouch: Some advanced keyboards also feature aftertouch, which lets you modulate sound even after pressing the key. This added many experienced players prize level of control.
Additional Sound Options and Voicings
While the primary purpose of purchasing a weighted keyboard might be to emulate a piano, many modern models offer a myriad of additional sounds.
Instrument Voices: Instruments such as the Dexibell VIVO S7 Pro not only provide a robust piano sound but also incorporate other instrument voices, like organs, strings, and synthesizers. This can be invaluable for composers and performers who crave versatility.
Layering and Splitting: Some keyboards allow for sound layering, enabling you to play two voices simultaneously. Additionally, splitting divides the keyboard into sections, each with its voice, ideal for duet performances or complex compositions.
Features & Accessories
Sometimes, it’s the little things that elevate an instrument from good to exceptional.
Onboard Effects: Every note can be an echo, a whisper, or a roar. Built-in effects, from reverberations to chorus, give players the palette to paint their sonic landscape.
Pedals & Expression Controls: Dynamics make music breathe. With accessories like the VFP1/10 triple switch pedal, seen with the Studiologic SL88 Grand, subtlety and power dance at the pianist’s command.
Layering & Splitting: Multitasking is the keyboard’s forte. The capability to superimpose sounds or segregate the keyboard into zones exponentially increases its versatility, catering to multifaceted performances.
“Better” is subjective and depends on the player’s goals. Weighted keyboards offer a playing experience closer to acoustic pianos, providing tactile feedback and fostering proper finger strength and technique. Weighted keyboards are often preferred for those looking to replicate the feel of a traditional piano or transition between digital and acoustic instruments. However, non-weighted or semi-weighted keyboards might be more suitable for certain genres or musicians focused on portability and variety.
Keyboards with a fully weighted, graded hammer action mechanism offer a feel closest to acoustic pianos. Instruments like the Kawai MP11SE or the Yamaha CP88 have received praise for their authentic touch, simulating the nuanced weight and response of a grand piano’s keys. It’s always advisable to test various models personally to gauge which feels most authentic to you.
Weighted keys demand a bit more force than non-weighted ones due to their design, which mimics the resistance of acoustic piano keys. For someone accustomed to light or non-weighted keys, transitioning to a weighted keyboard might initially feel challenging. However, with practice, many find that weighted keys provide a more expressive and dynamic playing experience, allowing for better control over volume and articulation.
While both terms relate to the feel and response of the keys, they aren’t synonymous. Weighted keys refer to the resistance the keys offer to simulate the feel of an acoustic piano. On the other hand, Hammer action replicates the piano’s mechanism where hammers strike strings. Keyboards with hammer action possess weighted keys with an additional mechanical design that mimics the movement and feel of an acoustic piano’s hammers, providing an even more authentic playing experience.
Navigating the vast expanse of the digital keyboard market can be a daunting task. The importance of getting the right instrument cannot be overstated, as it shapes the musical experience and journey of the artist. The best weighted keyboards bring an authenticity and depth of expression that is unparalleled. They bridge the gap between the digital and the acoustic, allowing musicians to enjoy the best of both worlds.
The Yamaha P-515 stands out as the Editor’s Choice, and it’s easy to see why. Its impeccable sound quality, combined with an authentic touch, makes it a favored choice among professionals and beginners alike. Yamaha’s expertise in crafting both acoustic pianos and digital instruments shines through, offering a playing experience that is both nuanced and profound.
Close on its heels are the Roland FP-90 and Kawai MP11SE. The Roland impresses with its innovative technology and versatility, while the Kawai is often lauded for its touch that is eerily reminiscent of grand pianos.
In the realm of weighted keyboards, attention to detail, the authenticity of touch, and sound quality reign supreme. Whether you’re a budding musician, a seasoned professional, or someone rediscovering their passion, investing in a high-quality instrument can make all the difference. Let your musical journey be marked by instruments that inspire, challenge, and elevate. Choose wisely, and let the magic of music enrich your life.