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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel S

Donner DDP-400 Premium Home Piano at An Affordable Price

In this article, I will review the key action, sound quality, build quality and run through the features and functionality of this affordable value-packed digital piano.

For those who can spare more space and do not need their keyboards to be portable, full-size console cabinet digital pianos, like this one over here, are better options over their smaller & lighter counterparts. Console piano keyboards usually have better key action, a more solid construction, have more powerful speakers, more space for buttons, knobs, a screen for greater ease of use and generally blends in better with a typical home decor. However, the 2 biggest drawbacks of home console digital pianos are the weight and the cost. They are almost always more expensive. Until now. Let me explain.

This is the DDP-400, a console digital piano from Donner, a name synonymous with giving the established keyboard brands a run for their money.

Key Action

One of the most important features on a digital piano is the key action. And here this keyboard does not disappoint. You get 88 full-size & progressively weighted piano-style keys. With the graded hammer action, the keys on the lower register are heavier and get progressively lighter as you move your fingers up the higher register. There are 6 velocity curves for you to configure how sensitive you want the keys to be according to your skill level and playing style.

The key pivots are consistent and there is only a slight perceptible increase in effort as I play nearer to the pivot points. This keyboard uses a dual-sensor system which handles repeated notes well and the black keys have a matte surface which helps if you have sweaty fingers like me. However, the white keys are a little too glossy for my liking. I love the striking red felt liner at the key pivots which keeps dust out of the mechanism as well as reduces noise on key release. However, overall key noise is louder than the keys on more expensive competing brands. For me, this is more a nuisance than a deal breaker but your case may be different. For a similar price, another 88-key keyboard I recommend has a better key action but it does not have the console form factor that this Donner digital piano has.

Sound Quality

The DDP-400 comes with 128 sounds ensuring compatibility with General MIDI. The stereo multi-sampled grand piano sound, which is what 99% of the owners will use 99% of the time, is warm, woody, resonant & rich. The triple pedals support soft, sostenuto and damper which more advanced classical and jazz pianists will find useful. The 30 watt amplified speakers with cut-outs directing the sound towards the floor and towards the player’s ears are adequate but would have been even better with added tweeters for enhanced frequency separation. There were no discernable vibrations from the speakers when I cranked the volume to the max although audio fidelity suffered at high volume. The grand piano sample sounds better through a pair of good headphones than via the onboard speakers.

Out of the 128 sounds, you get about 30 good sounds, including acoustic & electric piano, organs, drum kits and a couple of orchestral instruments. However, the remaining sounds are average and exist purely for use with MIDI file playback. This isn’t a deal breaker for most who will mainly use only the grand piano tone. With a 128 note polyphony, I didn’t experience note drop-outs when playing demanding classical pieces or long sustained passages.

These voices can be layered or split across the keyboard and you can easily balance the volume of the voice layers. 8 reverb environments, 8 chorus effects and 8 EQ settings allows you to tweak the sound to please your own ears. If you are playing with other musicians or a singer, the onboard transpose feature is useful. All your configurations can be saved onto 2 user memory presets for quick recall - a feature I wish more budget console digital pianos have. You can find the full specifications of this Donner DDP-400 and a list of my recommended digital pianos, keyboards, and music-learning apps.

Build Quality

One of the reasons we spend more on console digital pianos over portable keyboards is the significantly more solid build quality and here the DDP-400, which is built like a tank, does not disappoint. The matte wood laminates have a premium look and a glossy panel completes the aesthetics. The beautifully crafted wooden legs and support structures makes this digital piano significantly more stable and less wobbly than portable keyboards with flimsy wooden furniture stands. This higher build quality comes with a significant weight penalty. This digital piano weighs a hefty 135lbs - 1,000% heavier than a 13lbs portable keyboard.

The cover protecting the keys from dust has a smooth mechanism, the buttons and knobs are tactile with no lateral free play, the music rest is large, useful and is supported by a cleverly sprung hinge at the rear, the LCD screen is bright and clear, and the triple pedals are smooth, quiet and modulates well. Anodized fasteners ensure a long service life without rust that cheap digital pianos are susceptible to. For the best price and technical details of this digital piano, do check this link.

Features & Functionality

For quiet practice, you get two ¼” headphone jacks - useful if 2 persons are practicing their duets or having lessons with a music teacher without disturbing those around you. In addition to an easy to use metronome for keeping your playing in time, this digital piano comes with 100 rhythms encompassing rock, pop, jazz & world music. There’s also a chord-based accompaniment feature, but these accompaniments are not as well programmed compared to the competition.

The music rest is sturdy and a 6-track song recorder is great for building up your music compositions. You can stream backing tracks wirelessly via Bluetooth to the onboard speakers to play along with although I was disappointed that wireless MIDI isn’t supported. However, you do get a pair of proper 5 pin MIDI for controlling external keyboards and sound modules as well as USB MIDI to connect to your laptop or iPads for music production and learning with music apps. The strangest thing on this digital piano is the RCA audio in and outputs which are a relic from audio equipment in the 1980s.

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

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