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I am looking to buy an entry-level digital piano for playing at home, and it seems that of the brands available locally, Yamaha and Casio provide an entry level range that suits me price-wise.

However, there seem to be no objective opinions comparing the two, because the same store that was very pro-Casio is now pro-Yahama.

Are there any comparisons on e.g. Technical Merit, Support, Guarantee, etc. that I can refer to?

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Do you have a particular price range in mind? Do you have specific products of each brand that you wish to compare? –  UtopiaLtd Jul 6 '11 at 7:20
    
There's also Korg (sp-200, 250) in entry-level price range, comparable to Yamaha. –  Kos Jul 6 '11 at 13:51
    
You will just get opinion here - shopping questions like this are generally discouraged on se so I have voted to close. –  Dr Mayhem Jul 7 '11 at 8:28
    
@Dr Mayhem - I don't think this is a shopping question, which would be more like "which piano should I buy." Rather, this question is asking "what criteria should I use when comparing digital pianos?" –  NReilingh Jul 9 '11 at 15:21
    
What about Kawai? –  Tobias Kienzler Jan 2 '13 at 15:59
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The prevailing stereotype is that Yamaha are the real digital pianos, while Casio makes primarily toys.

While this may have been true ~20 years ago, it's definitely not anymore. I'm not sure what you consider "entry-level," but I did a lot of research (both online and in stores) when buying my first piano, and ended up buying a Casio PX-330 for $500, which is far better than any Yamahas I found in that price-range.


Of course, the only real answer is, go to different stores, try out a lot of digital pianos, and pick the one you think sounds and feels best, with the features you want and at a price you're comfortable with. Other than doing some research on how good their support is, ignore the manufacturer.

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This is what I use as well. Phenomenal piano sounds (especially through nice headphones) and great price. –  user234 Jul 10 '11 at 4:08
    
I like your answer. Probably because after doing some investigation, I am leaning toward a Casio myself (also looked at the PX-330), and based on the value for money in terms of what you get for e.g. audio interface, this seems the better buy. –  mydoghasworms Jul 10 '11 at 19:12
    
@mydog: They also have the "PX-130," which is the same piano but with less instruments and a cheaper price-tag (I think it's also missing the SD-card slot) –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jul 11 '11 at 0:53
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I think "objective opinion" is an oxymoron and can only speak subjectively from own experience. In my opinion Yamaha have the edge over Casio. Their products tend to sound better (some of their entry level products use samples of real grand pianos for example instead of artificial approximations). Also Casio's primary focus is entry level whereas Yamaha have a wider range, so if you want to move on to something more sophisticated later you may find it advantageous to already be familiar with Yamaha products.

As Kos pointed out, it's worth looking at other manufacturers too as several now offer decent entry level products - which again gives you that familiarity advantage if you want to move on to something else later. As well as Korg, I would say Roland are worth a look.

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You are indeed right: There is no such thing as an "objective opinion" :-) –  mydoghasworms Jul 10 '11 at 19:11
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I think Yamaha would be better option. As far as I know, even at entry level, Yamaha product ranges little higher than Casio. As @Waggers said I also believe that it's a sophisticated brand with better sound quality. I started learning on Casio 2 years back just because I was little low on budget.

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Which piano you should buy is going to be up to your own preferences and price range. However, these are some criteria you can use to make that decision critically:

  • Sound: Entry level digital pianos use what are called samples to generate a sound from a keypress. Each company has spent lots of money recording every individual key of a high-quality piano at different dynamic levels, and then done quite a lot to program how these sounds will be played back based on input from the keyboard. Many digital pianos offer more than one sound option, but rarely will options on one brand of keyboard be identical to those on another (unless they have licensed the sounds from a third party). On the high end of digital pianos, lots of modeling is done to decide how different "strings" interact with one another and with the various pedals, but you at least want to make sure you're getting a range of sound you're happy with at the low end of things.

  • Feel: In my opinion, this is the most important criteria for digital pianos. Chances are, the sound is going to be rather close to that of an acoustic, but the feel is a little bit harder to replicate. On the low-low end of digital keyboards, each key is just supported by a spring and that's that, but on the ultra-high end, each key has a replicated double-escapement piano mechanism behind it with hammers weighted the same as the felts on an acoustic piano. Most digital pianos have a graded hammer weighting system, but limit the mechanism significantly. The keyboards you're comparing are going to be similar in complexity, but will likely vary in the precise feel of the mechanism; a lot of R&D is spent developing that proprietarily.

  • I/O: Make sure the speakers are of a pleasing quality, and that the keyboard in question has all of the input/output you need; things like MIDI or USB, Line In/Out, headphone jacks, etc.

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totally agree with "feel" being the most important criteria. And you need to get to compare that feel with a real piano keyboard. –  gurney alex Oct 22 '12 at 7:23
    
One of the reasons I went with the Yamaha P155 personally is that you can go to a Yamaha outlet or supplier, play a Yamaha concert grand, and then just walk to the other side of the room to try a Yamaha digital piano and see how accurate they are with the replication. –  NReilingh Oct 22 '12 at 17:24
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