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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel S

Best Keyboards 2023

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

I have made more than 500 keyboard and digital piano reviews, comparisons, and tutorials and here are 14 of my favourite keyboards, arranger workstations, and digital pianos for every price point - from $100 to $1,000 and every skill level - from absolute beginners to performing musicians. I’ll start with the most affordable and work up to the premium prosumer category and I’m sure you’ll find a keyboard or digital piano that suits your budget with a sound and features you’ll love.

Best $100+ Beginner Keyboard - Casio CT-S300 ($179)

The Casio CT-S300 is the most affordable budget beginner keyboard that I can recommend. At a mere $179, you won’t find a cheaper reputable brand keyboard that has touch-sensitive keys. Just like a traditional acoustic piano, the 61 touch-sensitive keys respond to how hard or soft you play the notes. The CT-S300 has 3 levels of touch response and a 48-note polyphony which is more than sufficient for a beginner.

While not all the 400 voices in the CT-S300 sound good, those that matter such as acoustic and electric pianos are decent for what you pay. 77 accompaniment rhythms, a Dance Music Mode and a pitch bend wheel help you sound like a complete band while the onboard metronome helps you keep time during practice. You can plug in a pair of headphones for quiet practice or jam along with a backing track using an aux cable. A USB MIDI connection lets you use this keyboard with music learning and music production apps.

The onboard speakers are sufficient for home use and an integrated carrying handle makes it really easy to bring this ultra compact, “AA” battery operated and lightweight 7 lbs keyboard everywhere you go. You might find a cheaper keyboard at the Costco bargain bin, but anything less than the Casio CT-S300 is pretty much a music toy rather than a pitch perfect beginner music instrument. You’ll find my in-depth review, sound demonstration, and the best price right here.

Best Value Keyboard under $200 - Yamaha PSR-E373 ($199)

At $199, the Yamaha PSR-E373 is ridiculously great value for money. I’m pretty sure Yamaha barely makes any money from this keyboard but is practising a penetration pricing marketing strategy to lure newbies into their brand.

With a whopping 622 legendary Yamaha voices including a couple of Super-Articulation Lite voices inherited from their previous flagship keyboards, I’m pretty sure you’ll find a suitable sound for your music. You can further tweak the onboard sounds with more than 60 DSP, Chorus, EQ and Reverb effects. These sounds can be layered or split across the keyboard for a richer tone. From my more than 500 reviews, I can assure you, you won’t get a better grand piano sound at this price. Afterall, Yamaha is a renowned concert grand piano builder.

Yamaha’s rhythm accompaniments are legendary and the 205 styles encompassing pop, rock, jazz and world music are some of the best programmed in the industry. A large backlit LCD screen, numeric keypad and 9 user registration memory makes the PSR-E373 an excellent live-performance choice where quick sound changes are required. A 5 song, 2-track recorder is great for creating polished songs but where this keyboard truly shines is the USB connection. The USB port isn’t just for use with MIDI but it is also a stereo audio interface which is needed if you want to record the internal keyboard sounds on your iPad or laptop. Other keyboards at this price do not have an onboard USB audio interface and getting a stereo external audio interface will easily cost you a few hundred dollars. For beginners, you get Yamaha’s excellent interactive “Keys to Success” learning system. While this keyboard may not be as compact or lightweight as Casio keyboards, this design allows Yamaha to use larger speakers for a beefier output.

There’s the usual headphone jack for silent practice and an audio aux-in to stream your songs. To power this keyboard, you can either use ‘AA’ batteries or an optional power adaptor. I’ve made numerous sound demos and tutorials on the Yamaha PSR-E373 and I’ll leave links to these and the best prices right here.

Best $200 Key Action & Sound - Casio CT-S1 ($219)

If you want the most solid key action, the latest sound engine generating one of the best in class samples, do not need a gazillion sounds you won’t use and think that rhythm accompaniments are cheesy, the Casio CT-S1 is your affordable choice. At just $219, the CT-S1 is packed with 61 of the best bread and butter keyboard sounds focused on pianos, electric pianos, organs and voices from the classic Casiotone which can be layered. The CT-S1 also comes with DSP, delay, chorus, reverb and EQ effects programmed and preset by professionals.

The keys are textured like ivory and ebony on old acoustic pianos and the 4 levels of touch-sensitive keys help you dial in the exact velocity curves your fingers need. While specially designed fabric covered bass reflex speakers help deliver the rich tones, the biggest advantage of the CT-S1 is the compact size and 9 lb weight.

With a bunch of ‘AA’ batteries coupled with a headphone jack you can literally practise everywhere while shutting out all the noise around you. The CT-S1 is also perfect as a MIDI keyboard supporting both USB & wireless Bluetooth MIDI with an optional accessory. While I love my red version of this keyboard, it is also available in a more understated black or white. For my comprehensive review and sound demo of the Casio CT-S1 as well as the best prices I’ve researched for you, do click the links included right here.

Best Key-Lighting Learning Keyboard - Yamaha EZ300 ($299)

If you have no idea where the notes are on a keyboard, Yamaha’s lighting system learning keyboard is one of your best choices. For $100 more, the Yamaha EZ300 is based on the PSR-E373, the 2nd keyboard on my list. You get the exact same sound, rhythms and features but with keys that light up and tell you which notes to play.

As this is an education focused keyboard, Yamaha has included significantly more songs and exercises for use with the key lighting system. You also get the excellent large backlit LCD screen that displays the lesson instructions. I love the cream white colour which the EZ300 comes in and I do wish the PSR-E373 also had this colour option.

Once you are more confident on your keyboard, the Yamaha EZ300 allows you to switch off the key lights and use this as a regular keyboard. Check out my in-depth review of the key lighting education features of the Yamaha EZ300 and the best prices here.

Best Lightweight Ultra-Portable 88-Keys - Korg Liano ($329)

A traditional acoustic piano takes up space, is heavy, needs frequent expensive tuning and can be too loud for some homes. Korg’s $300 Liano is the answer for those who need an 88-key for classical piano pieces yet want an ultra-slim, compact, 13 lbs lightweight, battery operated keyboard that you can carry anywhere.

Korg has included their detailed and warm legendary Italian Concert Grand Piano sample together with 8 of their best bread and butter sounds that are popular with performing keyboardists. Korg also bundled 2 of their best mobile software sound engines with the Liano.

With a simple USB connection to your iPad, you get hundreds of studio quality professional sounds at your fingertips. With a 120 note polyphony, the Liano ensures demanding pianists do not get note drop offs while playing.

With a headphone jack that also doubles as an audio output for connecting to PA systems and a USB port that supports both MIDI and digital audio connection, performing musicians, piano students and electronic music producers are well catered to. A 16-watt pair of speakers and amplifiers provides more than adequate volume for street buskers and for cell group sessions. A music rest, a sustain pedal and a power adapter is included in the box so you have everything you need to start making music. Check out my in-depth review where I deep dive into the sounds and features of the Korg Liano.

Best Budget Weighted 88-Keys - Donner DEP-20 ($364)

I reviewed the Donner DEP-20 two years ago and concluded that it was an immense value for those looking for an 88-key touch sensitive weighted hammer action digital piano. For $360, you get 238 sounds, which can be layered and split as well as 200 rhythm accompaniments covering pop, rock, jazz and world music. An LCD screen makes tone selection and configuring functions convenient.

In addition to dual headphone jacks useful for practice, there’s also a pair of stereo ¼” outputs for connecting to external speakers and a USB MIDI port. A metronome, transpose function and song recorder is useful for music students. You have a choice of buying a wooden furniture stand and triple pedal unit if you are not moving it much or you can buy just the keyboard with a folding keyboard stand for a more portable setup. You can find both bundled deals together with my in-depth review and sound demonstration right here.

Best Weighted 88-Keys under $400 - Alesis Recital Pro ($379)

For about $20 more than the Donner DEP-20, the Alesis Recital Pro is a slightly more premium keyboard with 88 full-size touch sensitive hammer-action keys. Instead of giving you 200 voices you may never use, Alesis included 12 high quality, essential voices most keyboardists need. Effects such as reverb, chorus and modulation can be applied to thicken the sounds. A generous 128 note polyphony allows the voices to be layered as well as split across the keyboard without note drop outs.

You can enjoy the beautiful sounds either through a pair of powerful 20-watts amplified speakers or a ¼” headphone connection. For hooking up to a stage amplification system, a pair of ¼” stereo outputs is available. There’s an easy-to-use single track song recorder for you to record your performance. A USB MIDI connector lets you use your own virtual instrument plugin or interact with the 3 included music lesson software.

While there is a sustain pedal input , no sustain pedal was included in the box which was a disappointment for me as every other 88-key keyboard at this price point included a pedal in the box. The Alesis Recital Pro can be powered using an included power adaptor or batteries. Check out the best bundled deals and my deep dive into the Alesis Recital Pro features and sounds.

Best 76-Key Workstation Arranger - Yamaha PSR-EW425 ($489)

If you are less of a piano player but are more into producing and sampling contemporary pop, rock and dance music, the Yamaha PSR-EW425 is your perfect gateway to electronic music making. With 76 touch sensitive keys and a staggering 820 voices including 28 drum and sound effects kit, a Groove Creator feature, 290 rhythm accompaniments and more than 100 DSP, reverb, chorus and EQ effects, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting your sound palette.

The PSR-EW425 is also highly expandable. You can add 3rd party style files, record and playback digital audio & MIDI files, and even sample any sound via the microphone input. 2 configurable knobs, motion effects button and a pitch blend wheel allow the bedroom music producer to morph and modulate your sounds in real-time during your DJ sets. A mic input, vocal effects and one of the best piano and electronic piano sounds makes the PSR-EW425 a fantastic instrument for those who love to play and sing.

A large backlit LCD screen and 32 user registration memory settings allow quick sound and function selection. A ridiculously powerful pair of 24 watts high dynamic range amplified speakers means you do not need external speakers for most situations. For stage performances, a pair of stereo ¼” outputs allow connection to any sound system. At just 18lbs, you can easily bring this keyboard with you everywhere you go. This powerful keyboard can be used with a power adaptor or regular batteries for ultimate portability. The class compliant USB port transmits and receives both MIDI and audio data making it perfect for desktop music production with your favourite digital audio software. The Yamaha PSR-EW425 is an absolute steal for what it costs and what it can do. You can check out the best prices and my in-depth review of the Yamaha PSR-EW425 .

Cheapest Weighted Yamaha 88-Keys - Yamaha P-45 ($549)

Yamaha is a renowned concert grand piano builder and there are many who prefer to buy a digital piano keyboard from a company that builds real pianos. The Yamaha P-45 is the most affordable 88-key digital piano keyboard with user configurable touch sensitive keys and a graded hammer action. The P-45 comes with 10 voices which can be layered and 4 reverb effects to thicken the sound.

A pair of 12 watts amplified speakers while not the most powerful at this price point is adequate for home practice. A sustain pedal is included in the box and a headphone connector is also available for quiet practice. The USB MIDI jack works well for connecting to music learning apps but it sorely lacks wireless Bluetooth which the competition offers.

The P-45 cannot be powered with batteries and a power adaptor is included. The Yamaha P-45 may not be the winner when it comes to specifications but the build quality, century old reputation and higher resale value makes it a popular choice. You can find the best prices and my in-depth review of the Yamaha P-45 right here.

Best 88-Key Action & Sound under $600 - Roland FP-10 ($599)

For a mere $50 more than the Yamaha P-45, the Roland FP-10 is my preferred choice. I love the ivory feel of the 88-keys and the graded hammer action comes with an escapement mechanism which in my opinion simulates the action of an acoustic grand piano.

You get 15 sounds including Roland’s renowned SuperNatural piano modelling. The piano tones also feature string, damper and key-off resonance which is not found on any other digital piano at this price point. In addition to a headphones jack which doubles as an output connector for external speakers, the USB port of the FP-10 handles both MIDI and audio data which is superior to that on the Yamaha P-45. In most markets, the FP-10 comes with onboard wireless Bluetooth which is really convenient for connecting to Roland’s mobile app and other music learning apps without pesky cables.

The onboard speakers are powerful and have a good dynamic range. Which sounds better? The Roland FP-10 or the Yamaha P-45? You have to trust your ears. It is really a matter of preference as both piano keyboards have excellent sounds. But in my opinion, the Roland FP-10 gives the best action and sound for under $600. You can listen to both these keyboards yourself in my in-depth review here.

Best 88-Key Workstation Arranger Digital Piano - Yamaha DGX-670 ($849)

Can’t decide if you prefer playing serious piano pieces, arranging contemporary music, making electronic dance beats or singing and playing along as a one-man-band? The Yamaha DGX-670 is a jack of all trades. There is literally nothing it cannot do except wash your dishes. I love the 88-key touch sensitive graded hammer action, triple pedal unit and a “Piano Room” with a high resolution, detailed and warm Yamaha Concert Grand sample. It has more than 600 high quality stereo samples, drum kits and 263 rhythm accompaniment styles for you to play along with. There are also more than 400 DSP effects, reverb, EQ and compressors to morph and sweeten the onboard sounds. You get a 16 track sequencer and an audio recorder in addition to an onboard audio interface and wireless Bluetooth connectivity.

The DGX-670 works great as a MIDI keyboard with music learning apps and 3rd party software instrument plugins. You can practise silently with the headphone jack and blast the latest hits through the massive 4 speaker amplification system. And if you wanna croon and swoon, a mic input mixes and sweetens your voice with a plethora of vocal effects. While every other manufacturer is doing away with buttons and an LCD screen, the DGX-670 is truly a performer’s dream. You get loads of buttons for one touch access and an informative colour LCD screen.

At home, the wooden stand and triple pedal matches your decor yet with just a couple of screws, the DGX-670 can hit the road with your bandmates. If I could only have one keyboard from this list, this Yamaha DGX-670 is the one. Check out the bundled deals I’ve found for you as well as my in-depth review and sound demo.

Best Key Action & Grand Piano Sound under $900 - Kawai ES-120 ($899)

If you are a serious pianist who demands nothing but the very best key action and the best sound but do not want to spend more than $900, the Kawai ES-120 is the one you seek. The 88-keys are well weighted, extremely responsive, well-damped and are beautifully graded throughout the keyboard. I swear that if you were to play on the ES-120 blindfolded, you wouldn’t be able to tell that this is a digital keyboard. While you get 25 voices, the true stars are the sound samples from the ¼ million dollar Shigeru Kawai Concert Grand Pianos.

The piano tone is detailed, warm and woody unlike the more clinical samples from other digital pianos at this price point. You can wireless connect to Kawai’s Virtual Piano Technician mobile app using Bluetooth to tweak up to 17 parameters: voicing, temperament, key noise, damper and string resonance just to name a few.

The 20 watts amplified speakers are loud but do get a little bright when the volume is pushed up. But when you plug in a good pair of studio headphones, you will hear every nuance of the excellent piano tone. Both wireless MIDI and audio is available via Bluetooth in addition to the USB MIDI port. I love the pair of sturdy ¼” outputs for the performing musician who needs to connect to stage amplifiers and the manageable 26 lb weight - quite a feat considering it’s a weighted action.

The ES-120 is available in 3 colours with a wooden furniture stand and triple pedal option. You can listen to all the sounds in my in-depth review and demo of the ES-120.

Best 88-Key Weighted MIDI Music Production Keyboard - Arturia Keylab MKII 88 ($999)

For the more adventurous bedroom digital music producer, you won’t go wrong with the Arturia Keylab MKII 88 - the Rolls Royce of MIDI keyboards. You get 88 weighted hammer action keys, 16 dynamic RGB backlit performance pads, DAW controls to take command of the software of your choice, 9 rotary knobs and faders, 5 DIN and USB MIDI inputs and outputs as well as loads of configurable pedal inputs.

The Arturia Keylab 88 MKII is bundled with a DAW software but the value is the massive number of full-fledged software instruments including pianos, clavs, tines and organs in addition to Arturia’s flagship Analog Labs plugin containing more than 7,000 synth and keyboard sounds.

I love the beautiful crafted wooden legs and the integrated laptop plate and music sheet holder. If you want nothing but the best MIDI keyboard controller, this is the one. I made an in-depth review of the Arturia Keylab 88 MKII which is linked here.

Best Home Digital Piano for $1,000 - Yamaha Arius YDP-S35 ($1,199)

For those who prefer a more traditional cabinet console style digital piano, the Yamaha Arius YDP-S35 gives great value without you selling a kidney. You get 88 touch sensitive, graded hammer action keys with matte black key tops and triple pedals supporting soft, sostenuto and sustain. The default grand piano sound is from Yamaha’s top of the line CFX concert grand piano and Yamaha’s Virtual Resonance Modelling is great at bringing out the nuance of this excellent sample.

The main focus of the YDP-S35 is the grand piano tone, but there are a total of 10 keyboard tones for those who want to expand their sound palette or for layering sound sounds. 2 headphone jacks are perfect during music lessons without disturbing those around you and the 16 watts stereo amplified speakers are adequate without adding too much to the cost. A single song, 2 track recorder is available to capture your performance and a USB MIDI connection is available for use with music learning apps or laptop music production software. I’ve found the best price for the Yamaha YDP-S35 digital piano which you can check out right here.

Don’t forget to also check out my recommended digital pianos, keyboards, and music-learning apps.

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