Yesterday, I was trying to learn the piano part to Van Morrison’s song “Stranded.” Because I was working on aural skills, I was learning it straight from audio.
At first, I let my iPad play the song with its own speakers while I played my keyboard out loud. Turns out, I couldn’t hear the piano in the song that way.
Instead, I played the song through one headphone. But that just made my head feel split in two.
I ended up using speakers across the room. That was alright, but it made me realize something. As simple as it might seem, there really aren’t any good ways to balance keyboard and audio without extensive gear.
Fortunately, there is another option, and that is buying a Bluetooth-enabled digital piano.
Below are five keyboards for a wide array of players, all including Bluetooth for all your jamming needs!
Best Digital Pianos with Bluetooth Support
Table of Contents
- Best Digital Pianos with Bluetooth Support
- Picking a Keyboard with Bluetooth Connectivity
1. Roland GO:KEYS 61-key
Roland excels at combining technology with their products. As one of the least expensive products here, Roland’s GO:KEYS manages to do this.
Admittedly, its key-feel and range won’t produce acoustic-like authenticity. I wouldn’t seriously perform Debussy on it.
However, it fulfills the criteria for casual jamming and busking. It’s battery-powered and weighs nine pounds. You could just as easily set it up on your lap as you could on a stand.
I found its 500 sounds remarkably lush. If you’re looking for groovy Hammond sounds, the GO:KEY boasts some convincing samples.
Often, street performers are solo acts. The GO:KEYS addresses this by including the “Loop Mix Function,” which can loop 5 tracks in real-time. Each track can only use one octave for recording. However, for the price point, it’s a nice feature without the need for extra gear.
The Bluetooth allows jamming to audio without additional speakers or a PA system. Definitely another cost-effective feature!
Unfortunately, several features are harder to appreciate. The GO:KEYS replaces pitch and modulation wheels with pads. I found this gimmicky, as wheels provide more control. It also has limited input/output, so while you can skip the stereo, it would be nice to still have the option.
Still, given its price point and portability, the GO:KEYS is worth considering for those looking for an effective jamming instrument!
2. Korg C1 Air
Korg might not be as well-known for pianos as Yamaha or Kawai, but their products are still fantastic. The C1 Air combines phenomenal craftsmanship with authentic sounds and feel.
The first thing I noticed with the Air was its simplicity. Korg made a complete digital piano that felt and sounded like an acoustic (within reason).
The Air is complete with three pedals and a stand, all connected to the keyboard. The three pedals alone make it a star product, as most keyboards only include one – if they include any at all.
The sides are about two inches wide. Yet it remains sturdy when playing. Korg did an excellent job at designing a reliable product without unnecessary bulk.
But enough about the design – how does it sound?
Fortunately, it excels here too! The acoustic pianos are convincing samples of real grands, but it doesn’t end there. I was a big fan of its electric piano and clavichord sounds.
Most clavichord samples I find are tinny and shallow. But the Air’s are beefy and resonant – enough to make Stevie Wonder himself proud! Likewise, the Rhodes and Wurlitzer pulsed with depth.
The C1 Air isn’t meant to be portable or a production tool (although it has USB/MIDI connectivity). However, as a robust tool for authentic playing, it can’t be beat.
3. Roland FP-10
While the Korg C1 Air is great, sometimes you need a real-feeling keyboard you can easily transport.
In my opinion, the Roland FP-10 and Kawai ES120 (next listing) are the best products in my article for addressing this need. Both are full-range, hammer-actioned, and 27 pounds.
I have a natural tendency towards hammer-action keyboards because they are the best imitators of an acoustic’s feel. If you look inside, each key’s end trigger’s a small lever.
While its triggering cannot perfectly duplicate an acoustic, weights help to recreate the feel. If you need nuanced resistance when playing, the FP-10 will do it.
However, the Korg C1 Air also has hammer-action keys – what makes the FP-10 special? As mentioned, the FP-10 is portable. You carry it around separately from the stand and pedals.
That might not seem special, since most synths are portable too. However, combining portability with hammer-action keys makes the FP-10 unique. Most synths and MIDI controllers don’t come with authentic-feeling keys.
Of course, the downside is that stands and pedals aren’t included. If you consider the FP-10, make sure to factor these accessories into your budget.
Lastly, you can use its Bluetooth with the Piano Partner 2 app. This app includes mainstays like metronomes and additional sounds. This instantly increases the potential for what you can do with Bluetooth!
4. Kawai ES120
As mentioned above, the Kawai ES120 is built for portability like the Roland FP-10. While similar, at a slightly higher price point, it includes a few extra features to elevate functionality and sound.
Like the FP-10, the ES120 is full-range, hammer-action, and 27 pounds. It’s hammer-action is technically graded hammer-action, which furthers the acoustic similarities. In a real acoustic piano, the higher keys have less resistance.
To recreate this, the higher keys include less internal weights. The result is a subtle recreation of an acoustic feel that I appreciated, slightly more realistic than the FP-10.
I also found its strings samples incredibly well-rounded. Most of the time I’m unimpressed by digital keyboard strings. I love synthesizers, but dislike it when they are used as cheap alternatives to acoustic sounds.
When a keyboard has strings as nice as the ES120, I know its creators were intentionally trying to take it to the next level. And for what it’s worth, the bass samples are great too!
The built-in EQ is another unexpected feature. I’ve seen reverb and brilliance on other keyboards, but not usually something as in-depth as EQ. While the ES120 wouldn’t work as a full-fledged sound design tool by itself, it packs enough features to make it self-sufficient in a live gig.
5. Yamaha PSRSX900
As easily the most expensive product on this list, it makes sense that the Yamaha PSRSX900 is also the most extensive in terms of features. However, if you’re familiar with music production, deciphering the features should come quite naturally.
As an arranger, the PSRSX900 can do most everything. Given this, rather than listing everything, I’ll mention features that popped out to me.
I have to give a shout out to its extensive world instruments library. Our world becomes more interconnected every day, and the exchange of music traditions comes with it. This is Yamaha’s forward-thinking innovations at their finest.
I grew up in West Africa, and Sweetwater’s sales page features a Nigerian jamming with Afrobeat sounds. It sounds like an authentic song I’d hear on the radios in Senegal!
I also appreciated its features for all kinds of performance. You can display lyrics on the screen … a lifesaver -- it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve played “Piano Man”! You can also plug a guitar or mic directly into it, avoiding a PA system entirely.
This is only scratching the surface, of course. Paired with Bluetooth audio and tools, the PSRSX900 could effectively do whatever you want. If you are a gigging musician in need of a tool with extensive parameters and have the money, you should consider it!
Picking a Keyboard with Bluetooth Connectivity
Picking a digital keyboard can be confusing. I have found that most of the time it’s not the features, but the feel and portability that are most relevant to buyers.
However, given the fact that this article distinctly looks at keyboards with Bluetooth connectivity, the criteria become more focused. While Bluetooth is not the most important feature, its usage will dictate how you view the other features.
Below are “normal” tips to watch out for, influenced by Bluetooth connectivity.
Tip 1: Think About How You Will Use the Keyboard, and How Bluetooth Factors in With This
Some people use pianos in a classical or jazz tradition, emphasizing virtuosity and nuance. Others use them in a pop setting, with simpler sounds that meld with other instruments. Still others use it as a tool for sound design.
However you use your keyboard, you’re going to use Bluetooth in a unique way. Classical pianists might play along with orchestral recordings. Jazz pianists might use drum loops, or pause recordings a lot. Buskers, on the other hand, might just need the convenience of a built-in “PA system.”
Whatever it is you do, think about how your overall usage will mix with your Bluetooth needs.
Tip 2: What Sounds Do You Want?
This is pretty general, and for the most part self-explanatory. If you’re classical, you’ll probably just want a quality sounding acoustic sound. If you’re a pop pianist, on the other hand, you might want Hammond and Rhodes sounds too.
Tip 3: Portability
While also general, this tip will be more influenced by Bluetooth connectivity. If you will keep your keyboard stationary, things are pretty simple: just pick a keyboard with Bluetooth that makes you happy.
However, if you move it around, things get a tad trickier. If you move it for studio work or recording purposes, you’ll want one that is geared towards production. If you move for gigging, you’ll want one that emphasizes live performance.
Tip 4: Compatibility
By compatibility, I mean how well it functions with a PA system and/or DAWs. If you’re primarily a live player, you’ll probably only care about PA systems. If you’re a composer, then the DAW is probably more important.
Whatever you choose, realize that the Bluetooth will supplement whatever compatibility you choose, rather than dictate it. For gigging, it will probably make your PA setup easier. For studios, it may be less useful for recording, but helpful for improvising ideas.
And if you just enjoy playing, it’s probably quite simple – you just want to jam with your favorite tracks! 🙂
Tip 5: Accessories
This is more related to budget than anything else. The above tips are more important for deciding what keyboard to choose, but accessories remain essential to actually playing it. Personally, that’s why I don’t really like calling them “accessories” – but hey, I’m not the companies creating industry jargon!
If you choose the Korg C1 Air, you won’t have to worry about stands or pedals. The Kawai ES120 comes with an optional stand, but the rest do not. Besides the Air, the others don’t provide pedals either.
It’s not really practical to avoid a model simply because it doesn’t come with a stand or pedal. However, you will need to factor their costs into your budget.
Digital keyboards truly are powerful tools for music making, extending far beyond simply playing. Paired with Bluetooth capabilities, their pre-existing features become even more useful!
Whatever you choose, realize that Bluetooth should be the “cherry on top” of whatever features you primarily use. Don’t get me wrong: Bluetooth makes all the difference when you practice or perform, and should be a major deciding factor (otherwise we wouldn’t be posting this article!)
However, it stops being useful if you can’t do what you originally set out to do. Keep it in context with your primary intentions though, and it will make your music making much more practical!