We all love music. And, most people don’t just like listening to music. They love playing it, too. So, while you adore the sound, feel, and versatility of a piano, you’d wish to avoid the expense, size, and weight of the actual thing. You need not worry, though. You can play music like a pro with the right 88-key weighted keyboard.
You’ll come across multiple, different models and brands on the market. And, selecting the right one can prove to be quite a daunting task. That’s the reason why we’ve compiled this guide.
By the end of this read, you’ll have an easier time doing the necessary research and choosing which 88-key weighted keyboard is ideal for your intended purposes.
Table of contents
- What to Look for When Buying an 88-Key Weighted Keyboard?
- Why do you Need an 88-Key Weighted Keyboard?
- Selecting the Best 88 Key Weighted Keyboard
What to Look for When Buying an 88-Key Weighted Keyboard?
1. Touch-Sensitive and Weighty Keys
The keys’ actual weight does matter. Acoustic pianos are designed with weighted keys — an element that’s inherent in the instrument’s design. As such, you should consider getting a digital piano which features weighted keys. You’ll, otherwise, have a difficult time making the switch to your acoustic instrument.
Aside from that, weighted keys tend to offer much better dynamic capabilities, which implies better execution and enhanced interpretation of soft and loud passages. But, unweighted keys often fall short when it comes down to such aspects.
2. Authentic Sound
Naturally, an authentic sound is paramount in digital pianos. Unfortunately, most keyboards barely capture the true, signature sound of a well-designed piano. Ensure your 88-key piano fits that bill. In case you’re not certain of the sound you ought to look for, we recommend consulting a professional or a friend who’s used to it.
Modern keyboards get better each day when it comes to replicating the true piano’s sound. And, recent advances in sampling techniques and sound engines make for inspiring creations. But still, you ought to do some researching. As with almost everything else, not all digital 88-key pianos are created equal.
A keyboard’s polyphony affects the size and type of chords. In turn, it affects the kind of music you’d be able to play. Additionally, it’ll affect how well and how much the sound is capable of building as you add and sustain notes and chords.
Nowadays, most keyboards come packed with 64-note and 128-note polyphony. The numbers are rising with time. It’d be regrettable to end up using a keyboard which simply can’t achieve what you wish to.
It’s quite simple to determine the quality of an individual model. An easy test is striking and holding down a high-note key (near the keyboard’s top). Then, listen and define how the sound decays.
Do you note any fuzz or crackling as the sound finally disappears? In such a case, you’ll know you’re dealing with a low-quality keyboard, and it’d only be wise to move on!
Will you need to move around with the keyboard, or it’ll normally stay in the home? For the former case, you’ll need to consider how heavy the instrument is. Full 88-key weighted keyboards are often difficult to lift. Also, if they’re ‘weighted-action’, the chances are that they’re heavy.
Semi-weighted models are typically lighter and are often the ideal option for live performances or when the instrument requires frequent transport from one place to another. Thankfully, most of the modern 88-key weighted-action keyboards are significantly lighter.
Why do you Need an 88-Key Weighted Keyboard?
88-Key weighted keyboards are designed to bring the sound and feel of the grand piano. They feature 88 separate keys, with 33 black keys and 55 white keys, which enhance the overall sound generation and performance of the hammer striking. These create a sound which ranges across seven full octaves, with an additional third.
88-Key weighted keyboards are way more customizable and adjustable, making the overall feel of their keys a more pleasing experience. Most of these have 3-5 adjustment levels for different key sensitivities, from soft, medium, and hard, to fixed sensitivity.
Additionally, options are hugely abundant when it comes down to weighted 88-key designs. You only need to evaluate your needs and budget to choose which of the different designs available appeal to you more.
Selecting the Best 88 Key Weighted Keyboard
So, which 88-key weighted keyboard should you purchase? Below, we review the 6 best 88-key weighted digital keyboards. These reviews are the result of intensive research, and determination of the specific features each keyboard has.
Other factors taken into account include the keyboard’s quality, additions, and price, as well as the actual value each model has to offer. Read on to discover which model would best suit your needs, preferences, and budget.
Nord Stage Piano 3
The original Nord was released back in 2010. It was aimed at discerning piano players who sought access to the brand’s respected Piano sounds but in a more portable form-factor. The second edition was then launched in 2012, adding Nord’s Sample Library capability, user sample loading, and more memory.
The Nord Piano-3 (NP3), freshly released in 2017, brings even more features and capabilities. The end-cheeks which are notable in previous editions are now unvarnished. Although they look slick now, it’s reasonable to speculate they’ll be less durable than their predecessors in the long term.
But, the NP3 takes pride in its undoubtedly attractive OLED menu and display system. It makes for a significant improvement over the predecessors’ monochrome LCD. It still doesn’t include a mod wheel or pitch bend, though, which would certainly improve its MIDI controller performance and abilities.
The keys feel ideally great, responding to every nuance the fingers can imagine. The new Nord Virtual-Hammer Action and Triple-Sensor key-bed technologies combine to allow for more piano-like playing. You’ll be able to retrigger repeats and sounds from halfway down without needing to release the fingers fully.
Additionally, the integrated Triple Pedal is conveniently capable of triggering sympathetic resonance samples. The free Piano Library is rated very highly, as well. The acoustic and electrics are extremely musical. An additional gigabyte of memory is included to drop in the pianos you love the most.
Besides all that, several improvements have been implemented in the NP3’s Sample Synth section. It features LED indication for split points and ‘deep’ modes for authentic modulation effects.
With this brand, it’s not about revolution. It’s always about evolution.
And, the Nord Piano 3, enhanced in all aspects, provides a substantially authentic experience. The incorporated sample content makes this model even harder to beat! The fact here is that you won’t fail to find this unit impressive, especially when we consider the all round, authentic piano-like experience it offers.
- The keyboard feel is truly excellent, with a perfect piano-like response
- It boasts excellent included acoustic sample library
- The top-notch onboard effects only add icing to the overall value offered by the Nord Stage 3
- Most users shy away from this top-quality model due to its expensive pricing
- It doesn’t offer a mod wheel or pitch bend for controller tasks
- There’s some doubt about this unit’s durability and reliability in the long-term
Roland RD-300NX 88-Key Digital Piano
The brand made quite some stir in the industry when they released the RD-300NX Digital Piano. It’s a certified 88-key weighted keyboard which reserves the tradition of top-level pianos exemplified in multiple Roland models.
Its body comes in an appealing metallic, black finish, which is the traditional touch for most stage pianos. You’re definite to love the dotted, LCD backlit display set along with an exclusive assortment of sliders, buttons, and knobs for various functions like the equalizer, volume, layer level, voices, and rhythms.
This model comes with several accessory options such as the KS-G8 keyboard stand. Additionally, keyboard users have been praising the proprietary Roland 3-pedal unit, which is referred to as the RPU-3. This pedal unit features the same configuration you’d find on that of grand pianos, with a soft sustain pedal.
Onboard, the RD-300NX also boasts an excellent selection of over 900 tones, including 23 rhythm kits and GM2 tones. Its sound is based on the SuperNatural Piano engine, which is founded on 3 key areas: note decay, key range, and velocity response.
Weighing only about 38 pounds, the RD-300NX was specially designed to provide all the major benefits of its predecessor, the RD-700NX, but at less cost.
It’d be an excellent addition for music lovers, especially if you’ve ever played piano on stage before. With such a unit, you’ll never have to endure the hassle of trying to manage sound levels in the middle of performances.
- The RD-300NX packs multiple, handy features in a relatively more versatile and lighter package
- It features an Ivory Feel-G keyboard, along with the metallic black finish, which makes for an excellent design
- The One-Touch feature makes it incredibly easy to switch between different tones
- The Roland RD-300NX doesn’t feature any advanced synth sounds
- The editing features are not quite comprehensive
- There’s no inbuilt speaker, implying that you’ll require headphones or an amplifier
Yamaha P115 Digital Piano
This list would be incomplete without the Yamaha P115 Keyboard. This digital piano, using GHS technology, is weighted lighter across the high end and heavier across the low end.
It features the innovative Pure CF Sound Engine, which includes Yamaha’s proprietary sound of the renowned CFIIIS-9 Grand Piano. It’s a handy inclusion which results in an unbelievably dynamic sound. The keyboard itself spans approximately 58 inches, weighing in at a relatively light 37.7 pounds.
Additionally, you can install the handy Yamaha app (free) to control most of this piano’s features right from your iPad or iPhone. You can make use of the inbuilt drum rhythms in various music styles, from swing to rock. Another unique inclusion is the ‘Pianist Style’ feature that allows for additional functionality by providing various accompaniment patterns while playing.
For even more sound, simply connect a powered speaker or an amplifier using the integrated AUX-out jacks. It’s among the multiple connectivity features integrated into this unit. You can also connect headphones to the 0.25-inch jack without undermining the internal speakers’ facility. You can connect this keyboard to your computer or tablet using the inbuilt USB-TO-HOST port, as well.
This famous brand has been crafting musical instruments for over 100 years now. They’re a widely-respected brand in this field. The Yamaha P115B is particularly a leading, high-end unit which offers an extensive list of unique benefits. Its upsides clearly outweigh the cons. The former is actually more about individual preferences.
It’s actually among the best-selling 88-key weighted models on the market.
And, that’s attributable to multiple, valid reasons. Such include the 88 graded hammer-standard action keys, various effects, 14 voices, and enhanced recording capabilities. It has an accompanying iOS app, too.
For major factors like versatility and price, the P115 is among the best-weighted keyboards available for professional use, on and off the stage.
- The P115 packs a broad variety of accompaniments and effects to help round out the sound output
- The drum rhythms will enhance your creative possibilities even further
- You’re definite to love its amazing inbuilt speakers
- Action may barely feel precisely like the acoustic pianos, especially to advanced players
- Some piano players feel that the model is a little over-priced
- It’s not highly portable, despite the fact that it delivers in almost all other facets of an extensive keyboard
Casio Privia PX160BK Digital Piano, Full-Size
The Privia PX160BK is a leading, yet affordable 88-key weighted keyboard. It stands out as an excellent option, both for home and stage use. It’s a meticulously-crafted instrument, boasting full-size Ivory and Ebony keys which are suitably textured for the ultimate classical piano feel.
As well, this unit features the widely acclaimed Triple-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action-II keyboard. In turn, it’ll be able to sensitively transfer your motion to each note’s audible timing using hammer response.
The PX160BK packs an all-new sound quality level with the integration of 18 genuine sounds, including grand piano tones and select string ensemble sounds. The various sounds are delivered through the ‘Acoustic intelligent Resonator’ (AiR), thus allowing for the exceptional vibrancy of sound. Other aspects of this piano like the split/layer function, a two-track recorder, and duet mode only advance its facility even further.
A well-innovated speaker system helps amplify the unit’s resonant sound quality using advanced precision and power. The entire setup is specially built for optimal listening, with the speakers placed open at the front and ported at the back. The result is enhanced sound clarity, even when the unit is rested against flat surfaces like a wall.
The Privia PX160BK has been designed by a reputable brand, Casio. In fact, it’s currently among the few, most-trusted brands in this industry. Casio piano keyboards are highly rated as excellent choices of instruments for most musicians, credit to their technological innovation, convenience, and portability.
The PX160BK, in particular, is a worthwhile option for performers, credit to the exclusive lineout. Besides, it sounds and looks just as sleek as the ultimate home digital, offering incredibly multiple voices for its price.
Much thought and energy were evidently put into the designing of the PX160BK. It’s among the best, well-rounded, and top-quality 88-key weighted keyboards available on the market today.
- It comes integrated with 18 inbuilt voices
- The PX160BK conveniently features input for pedals and headphones
- It offers output slots for speakers, extending its connective capabilities
- The textured keytops might feel a bit strange
- The keys’ sensitivity may be limited at high speeds
- Some of its state-of-the-art features might be possibly confusing for most beginners
Yamaha P71 Digital Piano
The Yamaha P71 is a bestseller in the ‘Home Digital Keyboards’ category on most online marketplaces, including Amazon. It presents a classic design, carefully crafted with authenticity and quality in mind. As a result, the P71 provides a playing experience that’s comparable to what you’d get from Yamaha’s high-end, full-size grand pianos.
It spans 88 fully weighted keys which are able to mimic the exact feeling of acoustic pianos. To add to that experience, the P71 utilizes Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) sampling, which is an innovative technique that’s often used to record the acoustic piano sound with digital technology. The result is superior recording which is more resonant and richer.
This model also features ‘Dual Mode’, a facet you’ll appreciate when trying to merge two different voices simultaneously. In turn, that allows for even greater creative freedom, providing endless musical possibilities.
The P71 has been designed to be compact and lightweight, measuring less than 12 inches high and weighing in at just around 25 pounds. It’s, thus, considerably portable.
Piano players praise the authentic feel provided by the P71’s weighted keys, in addition to the single-button operation. It’s an exceptional value that you’d barely obtain for a lower cost.
For a lightweight unit which delivers on nearly every level, from playing experience and sound quality to affordability, you need not look further than the P71 Digital Piano.
- The Yamaha P71 produces top-notch sound
- It offers 10 different voices
- It stands out with its USB-MIDI connectivity capabilities
- The headphone jack might be somewhat cumbersome to use
- The lack of a LED screen restricts you from fully enjoying the simplicity of adjusting voices and impacts being used
- Some users may find this model a little costlier
Williams Legato Digital Piano, Semi-Weighted
The Williams Legato stands out as yet another excellent option worth considering. The velocity-sensitive keys allow for expressive and dynamic play. This piano’s sound is also very commendable, coming along with four more voices: electric piano, bass, synth, and organ.
You can apply the Reverb and Chorus elements to individual voices, and still retain them after powering down this instrument. Additionally, the Legato comes with 0.25-inch sustain pedal and headphone ports.
It also runs on battery power, which will be conveniently suitable as you won’t need to use the instrument from only one place. Besides, it comes with inbuilt speakers. But, these may fall a little short concerning delivery. You can, however, remedy that by connecting your piano to an amplifier.
The battery-powered William Legato boasts a relatively light 23.6 pounds, taking up little space. You’ll find it difficult to get a better quality 88-key weighted piano within this price range.
It boasts full-size, velocity-sensitive keys which offer an exceptional feel that’s much comparable to an authentic keyboard. It’s a fantastic, wallet-friendly option for beginners and experts alike.
- It offers exceptional Layering and Split capabilities
- You get to enjoy top-quality sound, with five voices
- It comes integrated with superb Reverb and Chorus elements
- The Legato offers only five voices
- The inbuilt speakers might not be loud enough
- It’s not fully-weighted
Today’s 88-key weighted digital pianos are more technologically advanced and well-equipped than traditional, electronic keyboards. In particular, the models discussed above are engineered and developed to simulate the real sound, feel, and look of traditional acoustic pianos.
Figure all you’ll need before finalizing your purchase. Read through the above reviews again, weighing what each model offers against your preferences. Account for your budget, as well. Most importantly, evaluate and compare the value each of options above has to offer.
Take your time, and you’re definite to end up with the best 88 key weighted keyboard – one that you’ll live to adore. Good luck!