2018 Buyer’s Guide to the Best 88-key Keyboard

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Best 88-key Keyboard Reviews – A grand piano is really great. It has one of the most distinctive sounds, and it is a captivating instrument. However, it is big and static that it is inconvenient to carry them around when you want to bring them to a gig or somewhere else. Another drawback with an acoustic piano is they are limited and does not offer additional features to learn new music and create new sounds.

The solution to this dilemma is an 88-Key Keyboard. This device is a full-sized electronic option that is designed to reproduce the sounds of the acoustic piano as close as possible. It can expand your repertoire by giving you a variety of digital enhancements to your music. In addition, they are more convenient as they are smaller and lighter.

The Best 88-key Keyboard – My Top Picks

In this review, we will look at the best 88-Key Keyboard available on the market today and the guide on how you can get the best sounding model.


#1. Nord Piano 3 88-Key Piano


Nord is at the forefront of the innovations in producing an electric piano that is compact and close to the sound of the acoustic one, and this Nord Piano 3 is the giving them the top position in producing high-quality digital piano. The overall quality – the feel, sound, the editing abilities, and the portability have given Nord back the title of the best digital piano today.

Nord piano 3

In terms aesthetics, the trademark bright red keyboard is here to stay in this model, some consumers may not like it, but the color stays, and it is high quality and does not chip nor fade easily. This is a clean keyboard with the comfortable front panel. It has an editing panel but not too busy to clutter the piano. It is sturdy equipment but not heavy perhaps it is made for touring musician.

Nord piano 3 features

One of its best selling points is the keybed, which has the realistic feel of the acoustic piano keys. The Nord Virtual Hammer Action Technology give the piano a fantastic feel. Its sound is robust and full, and you can have different ranges with the different playing styles.

  You can buy the Nord Piano 3 from  Amazon or Guitar Center 

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Portable.
  • It has superb sound quality.
  • 1 GB of storage space for the samples.

Cons

  • There are limited ports.
  • There are limited automated tools.

#2. Roland JUNO-DS88


If you’re looking for the best 88-key keyboard that has an excellent functionality, you can consider Roland Juno-DS88. This keyboard is part of the series that modernized the earlier line from Roland.

Roland Juno-DS88

One of the exciting features of this line is its ability to upload your own sound into the synthesis engine, not necessarily groundbreaking but important nonetheless. The keys on this 88-key version are semi-weighted Ivory keys which feels like the real deal. Build quality here is solid, and all the knobs and buttons are arranged simply.

The sound and effects quality is excellent with many impressive-sounding presets; the sound bank is fully loaded with tons of variation. Another bonus from this model is its ability to expand using the Roland Axial website.

Roland Juno-DS88 features

It is a workstation perfect for doing commercial work and scoring. The only drawback here is that the analog presets sounds too digital. Another is the small LCD screen on the panel that is not helpful when editing because it will get too crowded. For serious editing, you can instead download its own editor program to tweak and make music.

  You can buy the Roland Juno-DS88 from  Amazon or Guitar Center 

Pros

  • It has a reasonable price tag with all the features.
  • It weighs lighter.
  • Portable to carry around.
  • The Ivory G keyboard if perfectly balanced and not stiff.

Cons

  • The screen is small when editing.
  • The analog presets have digital tones.

#3. Yamaha DGX-660 Digital Piano


In this digital piano, Yamaha has managed to raise the bar once again with an even better model by fine-tuning and updating the technology in all aspects. The additional features added in this piano are the wireless adapter, piano room, a dedicated microphone, chord helper, style recommendation and music sheet viewer.

yamaha dgx-660 keyboard piano

For sound quality, Yamaha DGX-660 has high-quality built-in speakers that allow the sound to express a lot of details. The samples in this digital piano are made from Yamaha’s own grand piano, which is clear and clean. Its 192 polyphony enables the piano to provide dynamism to any genre. The weighted key hammer action gives the digital piano a similar feel of an acoustic piano.

yamaha dgx-660 keyboard piano

You can take advantage of the variety of apps provided by Yamaha to use with this piano wirelessly enhance the digital experience. The LED screen added fun and ease of use to the piano. This is particularly helpful for beginners. It also added more complexity to making and playing music through the various enhancements on its playing mode. The dedicated microphone input, piano room, and style recommender, all made this piano a good option from beginners and musician alike.

  You can buy the Yamaha DGX-660 from  Amazon or Guitar Center 

Pros

  • It perfectly replicates playing an acoustic piano.
  • It has a digital screen and connectivity for enhancing the experience.
  • Good recording component to save your music.
  • Easy to transport and move.

Cons

  • The keys are not as responsive as expected.
  • The speakers should be softer to be suitable as a performance piano.

#4. Yamaha P115 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano


This model is no doubt as one of the best 88-key keyboard models by Yamaha. The P series from Yamaha is noted for its perfect balance between feel, performance, and portability and this model did not disappoint. There are 14 different voices in the Yamaha P115, and the dual sound feature allows the user to use them. It also has a split function that divides the piano into two, which is great for giving the impression of a two-person band.

Yamaha P-115 keyboard piano

This model has six speakers in its front and back that make the sound great. It radiates a crisp and clear treble and a pleasant bass providing a great band experience without the piano being overshadowed by other instruments. Another good addition to create beautiful sound is the boost feature. This made the speaker gives off a clearer and cleaner tone.

Yamaha P-115 keyboard piano

The MIDI and USB port to carry out the MIDI activities. This is an underrated feature in most digital piano but particularly helpful to enhance its use. You can also connect this piano to an iOS device and control it with the Yamaha app. The integrated recorder is also a good feature allowing the player to record the sound, which is handy when composing.

  You can buy the Yamaha P115 from  Amazon or Guitar Center 

Pros

  • Weighted key action.
  • Modulated speakers for great performances.
  • It is easy to carry around.
  • High polyphony.

Cons

  • There is no wireless connectivity.
  • The keys do not feel like the keys in a real piano.

#5. Casio Privia PX-160 88-Key Digital Piano


According to Casio, the Privia PX-160 is the most portable digital piano in the market today that offers many great features that a piano player actually wants. When it comes to sound quality, it really stands out due to the Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator. It allows this piano to deliver the sound of a grand piano with the same dynamism and great sound quality.

Casio Privia PX-160 keyboard piano

The keyboard mechanism with the Tri-sensor technology gives a delicate feel, and incredible sound and the keys have simulated the ebony and ivory feel of a grand piano. The speed of the key action also matches the action of an acoustic piano. This provides a good key-to-sound experience like no other. This piano has additional two speakers that give an incredible sound ideal for performances in halls and classrooms.

Casio Privia PX-160 digital piano

Another innovative feature is the ability to play the piano in three modes. The Duet mode that allows two players to play a duet or practice simultaneously. The additional new sounds in the form of string ensemble sounds and electric piano tones are remarkable. The USB connectivity and track recorder allow you to connect the piano to a computer or laptop. The two-track recorder lets you record your performance in the built-in ROM. Bottom line, you can have a good expectation to the Casio Privia PX-160 if you are looking for the best 88-key keyboard that is lightweight and has a realistic piano feel.

  You can buy the Casio Privia PX-160 from  Amazon or Guitar Center 

Pros

  • It is lightweight.
  • The AiR technology.
  • It has a realistic piano feel and sound.
  • The rear speakers are an excellent addition.

Cons

  • A little instability on the keys.
  • A little lean on the features.

#6. Yamaha P-71 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano


This digital piano is the best option when you need a piano to study and rehearse at a modest price. It has superb craftsmanship and with sensible sound features. They are sturdy and portable in a simple design. It has 88 fully weighted piano keys that will help you train your finger, make them stronger, and make playing more enjoyable.

yamaha p71 keyboard piano

In terms of sound quality, it has carried on with what Yamaha is all about, and this piano did not disappoint. The extra features added in this model helps the piano elevate its status above its contemporary. The dual mode and recording features are both useful because you can join two different instruments and play them together and at the same time record this sessions or play them again.

best 88-key keyboard - yamaha p71

The USB port is also useful to connect the instrument directly to a PC. With the earphone jack, you can play the piano day or night without disturbing your housemates or neighbors.

  You can buy the Yamaha P71 from  Amazon

Pros

  • It is easy to play with the user-friendly interface.
  • Weighted keys simulate the feel of playing in an acoustic piano.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • The dual mode allows you to play two instruments at the same time.

Cons

  • The features and sounds are not enough for a professional musician.
  • No LED screen.

#7. M-Audio Hammer 88 USN/MIDI Controller


Unlike other companies that offer plastic-feeling, lighter and more portable keyboard, M-Audio’s Hammer 88 is actually a real deal. It feels solid, and it is well constructed. It also has a fantastic feel and response.

M-Audio Hammer keyboard

The M-Audio Hammer is one of the best 88-key keyboard models that can work a triple duty of a playing piano, a synth, and organ. It also has the weighted keys that let the player ‘hammer’ into the keys while playing to produce a beautiful sound on a digital keyboard.

M-Audio Hammer keyboard piano

The arrangement of controls, pitch, and modulation wheels are user-friendly too. The back panel is complete with connections for footswitch ports, USB, MIDI output and AC power socket. It also has a sumptuous suite of software that will help the player make music in minutes; most notable of this is the Preset editor that will customize the controls and ports. Sound quality is also incredible.

  You can buy the M-Audio Hammer 88 from  Amazon or Guitar Center 

Pros

  • Great hammer action.
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Affordable with lots of features.
  • Very helpful software.

Cons

  • Without the software, there are limitations on its functionality.

#8. Williams Legato 88-Key Digital Piano


The aim of this digital keyboard from Williams is not for quality but to provide the most cost-effective piano to the market. It offers a full-sized weighted keyboard for the price of a 61-keys piano, for comparison. However, there are good features in the piano that is worth a second look.

williams legato keyboard piano

The sound of this digital piano did not disappoint as it is on the warmer side for a piano tune. There are shortcomings on the low and high ends because the speakers do not have enough volume, but the keyboards offer a better bass when connected to an amplifier. In short, the sounds produced are like those found in entry-level pianos.

williams legato keyboard piano

The semi-weighted keys are typical of soft keyboards that give the player able to play notes with emotions. The action of the keys is not graded, so it is the same all throughout. The plastic keys feel cheaper too. The features are also limited so do not expect much for a multi-dimensional sound. The keyboard thus offers MIDI connectivity so you can link it to other machines. It has USB port too and a headphone jack.

  You can buy the Williams Legato from  Amazon or Guitar Center 

Pros

  • The price is definitely its strength.
  • It has full-sized keys.
  • It can be operated with batteries.
  • Various connectivity functions.

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with a power supply.
  • Low polyphony at 32 notes.

#9. Alesis Recital 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano


The main strength of Alexis Recital is its incredible style and the overall look of the machine and with its low price; it is actually surprising that you can buy a keyboard like this. It is equipped with LED buttons, lightweight and slim body making it easy to store and will look nice in the living area. The Alesis Recital also has adjustable sensitivity on its semi-weighted keyboards, so it does feel and play like a real acoustic piano.

alesis recital keyboard piano

It has five stunning tones, which provides a wide range of musical capabilities. Its strongest selling point, however, would have to be the educational feature called “lesson mode.” This splits the keyboard into two providing the same pitch and voice on both sides. This is perfect for a student-teacher piano lesson.

alesis recital keyboard piano

Using the digital keyboard is easy with the interface and the keys replicating that of an acoustic piano but not too intimidating. The connectivity options are also diverse for headphones, plug in power, USB and MIDI for you to create and write tunes without hassle.

  You can buy the Alesis Recital from  Amazon

Pros

  • Incredible sound quality.
  • Offers great connectivity.
  • Ability to run on batteries.
  • Very good feel and interface.

Cons

  • Distortion on high and low tones.
  • Sensitive keys are light and springy.

What to Look for When Buying an 88-Key Weighted Keyboard?

best 88-key keboard piano

#1. The Weight of Keys and Touch Sensitivity

The weight of the keys actually matters. This is because the digital keyboard is made with the goals of replicating the features of an acoustic piano and one of this distinct characteristic is the weighted key. This is an inherent element in the design of the instrument that makes execution better and enhanced the interpretation of soft and loud notes.

The weighted key action is designed in the acoustic piano to provide more resistance when playing as compared to playing the organ. In short, this is what separates the piano from the organ.

Keyboards with weighted keys are made to simulate the hammer action of a grand piano, making it better to learn on. More digital pianos have improved the gravity hammer action making them closer to the grand piano’s touch.

#2. Authentic Sound

Of course, the sound quality is important for digital pianos and the more authentic it is, the better. Unfortunately, for some, they cannot capture the true and real sound of a well-made piano. If you are looking to buy a digital piano, make sure to look for one that has an authentic sound. If you are not sure, what an authentic piano sound is, bring or consult with a professional.

The digital keyboards you can find today are getting better in replicating the sound of a true piano. There are also more new creations made from sampling techniques and sound engineering.

#3. Versatility

The digital keyboard’s polyphony is very important because it affects the types and size of chords. With that being said, it affects the kind of music you can play. It will also affect the quality and quantity of sounds that you can build when you add more notes and chords.

Most of the digital keyboards available are packed with 64-note, and 128-note polyphony and the numbers continue to rise.

#4. Quality

Just like what you need for most products, the quality of the keyboard should not be compromised. It should be from the built of the keyboard to the sound. In the digital piano world, quality is all-encompassing and should not be limited to certain makers.

#5. Portability

When you are going to move the piano around and bring them to a gig or a studio, portability is necessary. Full weighted keyboards are always difficult to lift and if they have ‘weighted-action,’ expect them to be heavy.

The semi-weighted options are typically light and an ideal option for live performances. However, most weighted action pianos are lighter now so you will have plenty of options.


Conclusion

The latest 88-key digital pianos are more advanced and filled with features never seen before in the traditional electronic keyboards. Ever since the introduction of the first digital pianos, all manufacturers have one goal, and that is to provide the player with an affordable and portable acoustic piano. This is not an easy endeavor, but each maker has surprised the consumers each year.

Choosing the best 88-key keyboard can be challenging. However, if you are planning to buy a good one, figure out everything you need in one before making your purchase. You can read the reviews and weigh the pros and cons of each option against your preferences. Most importantly account for your budget by evaluating and comparing the value of each keyboard has to offer. With patience and research, you will end up the best 88-key keyboard that you will love.

See also: The Best Digital Pianos under $1000

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Michael Popkin

My name is Michael Popkin and I am the founder of Pianopenguin.net. I love playing the acoustic piano so much and is a big part of my life. I enjoy listening to and playing pop and classical music.