From use in live performances to the special journey that takes a musician from student of piano to proficient, choosing the right keyboard for your practice is important. If you want to be able to play with a variety of different instruments built in and an essential set of core components there are many different options available to you. However, one of the best examples we've seen of a fantastic all-in-one keyboard is the Yamaha DGX-660.
WHAT IS THE YAMAHA DGX-660
The Yamaha DGX-660 is by any measure a professional keyboard. It's basically a more portable grand. Equipped for the coffee shop open mic or the stage performance, the Yamaha DGX-660 has a variety of different compatibilities, and is versatile in almost any sound setup/system. It also has the ability to connect both a damper pedal and a sustain pedal. And it also comes with 88-keys so there's no sacrifice when it comes to the full spectrum of notes.
The Yamaha DGX-660 is infinitely portable at a mere 30 inches tall, 55 inches wide (when fully set up). You get access to 152 different voices and instrumental tones. In addition for beginners, there are educational features that allow you to learn a basic set of simple songs. There's also XLR and USB compatibility. Or with wireless MIDI connectivity you can utilize WiFi to stream audio to and from an iOS device.
The keys also are weighted just like a standard acoustic piano so you can easily use this to practice for a performance on a larger piano. And even more importantly for singers, there's a 1/4" microphone port so that you can connect up and sing along while you play. This is particularly useful if you're looking for a simple low tech setup that's portable and does not take a lot of time to take out/break down.
This is one of the most affordable keyboards for under a thousand dollars on the market. At any given time and depending on the condition, you can find one for between 675 and 950 dollars easily. It's a great value for people who want a utility keyboard that has the ability to wear many different situational hats and that also doesn't sacrifice sound quality.
HOW IT COMPARES
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
- GHS weighted action is heavier in the low end and lighter in the high end, just like an acoustic pia
- 1/4" microphone input allows you to connect a microphone so you can sing along while you play
- Wireless audio & MIDI features utilize Wi-Fi to stream audio and MIDI to/from your iOS device
- The assignable pedal allows you to connect a foot switch and configure it to control various functio
- USB audio recording and playback captures performances on a USB drive
The Yamaha DGX-660 offerers just about as many features as can be had at this price point. While some more of the 'educational components' seem a little redundant, they're still useful, and the fact that its applications can be shared across a large range of devices and outputs gives it five stars in this category.
The Yamaha DGX-660 has been described as the 'portable baby grand' this should be all the proof you need to hear when you're looking to move it yourself. Also if it's being transported with a large set of other instruments, it doesn't take up a lot of space on its own. This leaves more space for the sousaphone if you're playing in a horn or jazz band. It's measurement specs are: 30 inches tall, 55 inches wide, 17.5 inches deep, and 61 pounds.
The classic sleek design of the Yamaha DGX-660 is something that this company has always done well. It's neutral enough to be able to handle different stage/lights setups and also can simply stand on its own for solo recitals. It's well made, and gives the user a feeling of power when they put their hands on the keys for the first time.
Though there will never be a portable keyboard that matches the majestic sound of the grand piano, the Yamaha DGX-660 sure comes close for what it is. Also, every instrument has its proper time and place for sustaining its best use. In this case it's best equipped either for solo practice or mid-stakes performances. Its sound may definitely be over-qualified for busking, but underqualified for the concert hall or something comparable.
You can purchase a 3 or 4 year warranty for between 67 and 75 dollars. This is a fantastic price point for the quality and value of what you're receiving. So many things can go wrong with a keyboard due to unforeseen circumstances. It's great to know that you can get such a well-priced warranty to go along with a fantastic product like this one.
- The AiR engine provides highly-accurate grand piano sounds with seamless dynamics for a remarkably expressive and powerful performance
- The Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard has an incredible feel and captures the dynamics of a performance with unparalleled speed and accuracy
- Features a chassis designed for an elegant look and to house a 8w x 8w speaker system that delivers the PX-160's remarkable sounds with total richness
- Features newly developed string ensemble sounds that sound wonderful by themselves or layered with the PX-160's grand pianos, electric pianos, harpsichord and more
- Provides split and layer capability allowing you to play bass in your left hand and have two layered tones in your right
This keyboard is sacrifices a little quality for an overall lower price, but for what it does it's solid. It doesn't sport an onboard MIDI Recorder and Split Mode. But if these items are not useful then it may be a good fit. Casio is known for the beauty of its simplicity. Not very many harmony settings or built in alternate sounds/tones to speak of. But the major instruments are all here. A keyboard doesn't need to be a swiss army knife, and in this sense it's straightforward.
It attempts to imitate a grand piano sound and does offer some dynamics allowing for a flexible and diverse performance potential.
It's a bit smaller than the Yamaha. But only slightly. It's definitely lighter, so that's a plus. Where it comes up slightly short is in shape and handling methods. Also the additional performance set up comes separately, so you're slightly on your own when crafting your live setup.
The design here is pretty basic. Not quite as digitally compatible in terms of its display/navigation as the Yamaha DGX-660, but what it does it does well. It's got all of the features clearly laid out above the keys, so when you turn it on, you'll be able to find the right setting quickly.
Again, the Casio is a solid instrument, but don't expect to be moved to tears with the sound quality. It's a nice way to put your or other's notations out in the world. There's certainly nothing to suggest that the sound quality gets in the way of anyone's perception. But it's best not to set your expectations too high in this category.
For a product that has a lower price point, you'd think that the cost of a warranty would be lower as well. It's still affordable, but the price could also be lower.
- FULL SIZE KEYBOARD: A true full size 61 key keyboard piano with standard key sizes features LCD screen, record and playback functionality, 100 keyboard sounds 100 rhythms, and 50 demo songs
- HEADPHONES: A set of high quality headphone are included within your digital piano package meaning letting musicians and leaners play comfortably without disturbing others
- STOOL: A durable and sturdy padded stool accompanies your musical keyboard kit meaning you can play without discomfort for hours
- STAND: Your keyboard package provides a strong and adjustable keyboard stand that is designed to hold your keyboard securely and adjust to musicians of all sizes
- LEARNING AID 1: To start your beginner keyboard journey the RockJam 561 provides you with access to one month's free membership of the Simply Piano app (IOS & Android)
This is a great keyboard to learn on for beginners and pre-beginners alike. It's got 61 keys and can be taken anywhere and set up with relative ease. It also has an LCD screen for a crystal clear display when navigating its features and also comes with headphones so that you can explore what you're creating in real time without disturbing anyone around you. It's learning features are its biggest draw though, with fully fleshed out modules Learning Aids 1 & 2.
This is one of the best priced keyboards for what it does. It's primarliy a teaching tool, and for beginners who want an even lower cost barrier of entry, the RockJam delivers.
Beyond being a simple 61 note keyboard with basic compatibility (which keeps it from 5 stars), the features to really write home about here are its teaching tools. The purchase of this keyboard gives you one month's free membership to the Simply Piano app for iOS/Android as well as two months worth of face to face lessons through the Take Lesson service. These built in learning tools go above and beyond what other competitors offer in this department.
This is one of the smallest and simplest to set up keyboard systems that we reviewed. It has an easily understood structure and is small enough that it can fit into many different performance spaces/places to practice. This keyboard could also be ideal for busking if you have a portable battery that it could plug into.
The design here is meant to be instructional, and the large screen helps the player keep up with both the timing and different chord combinations with its large display. So if you're looking for additional instruction that can easily and efficiently be practiced on your own, this is definitely the keyboard for you.
The sound is not the focus here and that's alright. The priority first is to instruct. Ultimately an instrument can have the best sound in the world but have nothing going on if the person playing it is not proficient. So when you feel you're ready to move beyond this learning stage, there are options for you a few price brackets up the ladder.
The warranty here is worth the value, as it runs anywhere between 20 and 30 dollars. This seems right for a keyboard that will never have more than a 140 dollar price tag.
- The Pure CF Sound Engine faithfully reproduces the tone of a meticulously sampled, acclaimed Yamaha 9 feet CFIIIS concert grand piano, allowing for incredibly dynamic and expressive playing
- GHS weighted action is heavier in the low keys and lighter in the high keys, just like an acoustic piano
- 50 classic piano songs are provided in the built in song memory as well as in a music book, "50 Greats for the Piano"
- The Controller App for iOS devices adds a rich graphical user interface, allowing for quick and easy navigation and configuration
- The 2 track song recorder allows players to practice one hand at a time, or record their next hit single. Half damper pedal control creates more detailed nuance and subtlety when playing, similar to pedaling on a grand piano.Data Capacity:100 KB/Song (Approx. 11,000 notes)
This takes what's good about the Yamaha DGX-660 and brings it to the next level. It is more highly priced. And for the extra money you spend you get most if not all of the features of the Yamaha DGX-660 with the added bonus of even more dedication to recreating the grand piano sound. It also features a '50 Greats for the Piano' songbook, with both a physical copy and one built into the keyboard itself.
There are certainly more features to play around with here. You can connect it to a computer or smartphone with built in app support. There's also the 'acoustic optimizer' that allows you to play with the dynamics of the built in sounds that already exist (things like brightness, fullness, and intensity). Like the Yamaha DGX-660, it also sports GHS weighted action on all of its keys. Giving the user a fully textured piano playing experience.
This product is a little harder to move around. What you get in top quality, you may sacrifice a little in how easily it can get from point A to point B. This is primarily because of the added weight of the rosewood in its design, which while beautiful, makes both the stool and the keyboard itself heavier.
The design elements here could not be more beautiful. You have two options of wood that you can pick when you decide to purchase this item (either dark rosewood or black walnut). Also the pedals are a gold or silver color depending on which variant you choose, which adds even more lustre to an exquisite stage picture.
The sound quality here is unmatched. According to Yamaha it's 'meticulously sampled.'
The Warranty here is great for the price point, and won't run above 77 dollars.
So which of these products do we ultimately recommend? We'd still stand by the Yamaha DGX-660. It's the most effective all-in-one keyboard that we've come across. It merges ease of use, portability, and great sound quality in a way that can't be matched. Of course if your purposes are more geared toward learning or symphony style performances, then perhaps another one on this list may be for you. But for the most versatility we'd choose the Yamaha DGX-660.