Review: Finally! Amazing Sound from A Beautiful Digital Piano under $600
There is a problem with today’s music industry when it comes to designing affordable digital pianos - especially those under $1,000. How beautiful a keyboard looks is just as important as how good it sounds. Most new digital pianos under $1,000 from major brands are cookie-cutter mass-produced black or white plastic rectangular boxes that look out of place with most home decor. I was excited when I saw a new digital piano from Donner. It has a retro, elegant, and minimalistic Scandinavian design that immediately grabbed my attention. However, can the key action and sound quality match up to its ravishing looks? With such a ridiculously affordable price, did Donner sacrifice function over form?
Today, I am going to review the sound quality, key action, and notable features of this keyboard and demonstrate the onboard sounds. So you can see that this keyboard is ridiculously great value for money in order to help you make a better buying decision.
I get a ton of compliments from friends and family on how good the Donner DDP-80 looks in my living room. The stylish retro vintage clavinet-inspired design.
The beautiful solid wood grain and timber laminate match the color of my walls, my pendant lights, and my wooden cabinet doors is a great touch.
The sturdy wooden legs can also be removed making it suitable to be carried around as a portable keyboard for stage use or for busking.
There are no buttons, switches, or LED lights on the top fascia giving this piano an extremely clean and minimalistic look.
Instead, the buttons and knobs are cleverly hidden behind the piano.
The music rest is also made from real wood instead of flimsy plastic which every other brand uses.
It would be nice if Donner did not place such a big logo on it though. The funny thing is most of my friends who know nothing about pianos, thought that this is a “real” acoustic piano. Donner went as far as to color coordinate the triple pedal unit to match the rest of the keyboard
The Donner DDP-80 comes with full-size touch-sensitive keys which respond to how hard or soft you strike the keys. Just like a traditional acoustic piano, the keys use a graded hammer action.
These progressively weighted keys feel heavier on the lower register and get lighter as you move to the keys on the right side of the keyboard. The key action is surprisingly balanced, even when the keys are played near the pivot points. The action could also keep up when playing repeated notes and musical trills.
The red felt strip at the key pivots, just like on acoustic pianos, helps reduce key noise while giving a classy design accent.
The key surface is gloss plastic but the coating does not feel as slippery as competing brands when my fingertips get sweaty when practicing. It would be nice if the action simulates the double escapement of concert grand pianos, but at this ridiculously affordable price, it might be asking for too much.
You can check out my beginner piano app. As well as some beginner video courses and course materials available for you. At the same time, you check out this free 25 Piano lesson as well. You might be interested in this recommended list of digital keyboards as well.
Honestly, I did not have high expectations for the sound quality of this digital piano considering its low price. But I was pleasantly surprised. To be clear, the piano samples on this $600 digital piano are not going to rival Yamaha’s $18,000 CVP-809 digital grand piano. However be assured, that the piano samples are rich and resonant on the lower bass notes yet crisp and woody when hitting the higher octaves.
With the soft, sostenuto and damper pedals, serious jazz and classical pianists can extract every nuance from this sound. From my teaching experience, most piano students do not use more than the default grand piano tone on their keyboards.
With this information, Donner has decided to allocate all of the keyboard’s internal sample memory to store one high-quality, high-resolution stereo multi-sample instead of giving us 20 bad low-resolution sounds. In my opinion, this is a great decision as you do not pay for sounds you most likely do not use, making this keyboard a true instrument for piano purists.
Onboard Speakers and Headphones
There is no point in having a rich and beautiful sound sample if the onboard speaker amplification is not powerful enough to project the sound. It comes with a pair of powerful 25 watts amplifiers driving large speakers found below the chassis for an immersive sound.
With these speakers, the low bass notes are thunderous and rich while the higher register is crystal clear with no discernible distortion even when the volume is cranked all the way up. For performing to a larger audience, you can connect large external speakers to the DDP-80 using the stereo auxiliary out connector. You will, however, only truly appreciate the detailed piano sample when using a pair of quality headphones
There are thousands of free high-quality professional sounds you can use with the DDP-80 just by using the class-compliant USB MIDI port on the rear of the keyboard.
This USB MIDI port also allows you to connect to hundreds of music learning and music production apps on your smartphone or iPad without the technical hassle of installing drivers. To start you off, this piano includes a free music app containing video piano lessons from instructors at the renowned Berklee College of Music.
I hope that this review has helped you in making an informed purchase of the Donner DDP-80. Do check out the links provided in this article to get the latest prices and updates on the Donner DDP-80. To find out more about the world of keyboards and pianos, do read more articles on this blog to find the most suitable and perfect instrument for your needs.