The arrival of the digital piano in the mid-80s revolutionized the instrument beyond what we could have been imagined. There had been synthesized pianos, even what some called ‘toy’ versions, but the first real digital pianos made new things possible.
By 2002, it had been redesigned to make it a sleeker, more manageable instrument. You didn’t need to have a large house for a piano anymore. It would fit in your apartment. And instruments, like the digital piano I am going to look at in this Donner DEP-20 Review, became commonplace.
Innovation Creates Opportunity
And so it was with the digital piano. There were the mainstream manufacturers, of course, the ‘big’ brands. Yamaha, Korg, Kawai, Roland, and Casio.
But new companies emerged who produced digital pianos as part of their product range. That is what we have here. So, let’s take a look at Donner and see what they are all about.
Donner was founded in 2012 and has since carved a useful niche in a competitive market. My first contact with them came through looking at their guitar effects pedals. They were small, basic and very cheap. But they worked and took up very little room on a pedalboard. An innovative product.
They took criticism for a variety of reasons, most of which were unreasonable. Donner didn’t set out to rival Yamaha, Roland, or Boss. They set out to provide a decent cost-effective alternative for those with a smaller budget. And they succeeded.
Good Quality at Affordable Prices
That is what Donner aims to provide. A noble target for sure, if it can be obtained. The digital piano range, of which the DEP-20 is a key product, aims to fulfill those goals. We are going to take a look to see how it does.
They make no secret that the products are all made in China. But, when you order, they will be delivered from a warehouse operation that holds the stock in America or Canada. Therefore, will be no excessive delays, and they will fulfill their 30-day return policy.
This is a digital piano that, on the face of it, looks like it has plenty of features. But at this price, have Donner cut too many corners? Or have they managed to produce a digital piano that can compare with the cheaper alternatives? Let’s find out…
Donner DEP-20 – Overview
I think we can all be guilty of preconceived notions about things. One of mine is about a musical instrument that is made to look like an original. But at a much cheaper price. If that’s the case, then it tells me it might not be any good.
The positive side of that is that you go into your look at this instrument, not expecting much. It is almost like you expect to be disappointed. So, when it doesn’t disappoint, then you are pleasantly surprised. That is the case with the Donner DEP-20. A pleasant surprise is how I would describe it.
Some Good Features
At this price point, you would be forgiven for thinking you might not get much included. But there are some very nice features.
It comes as part of an affordable digital piano package that includes the following:
- The Digital piano with its own MDF furniture-designed stand.
- A 3-pedal unit.
- Sheet music rest.
- Built-in metronome.
- Power unit.
The majority of the materials used in the building of this digital piano are plastic. But, as I am no doubt sure you are aware, there is plastic, and there is plastic.
Some plastics are quite flimsy, but that is not the case here. The build feels secure and quite sturdy, which leads you to think it is going to be quite durable. Therefore, it’s a very reliable digital piano.
The stand is made specifically for this instrument, and there is a good secure fit. This is made of MDF fiberboard and finished in black, giving the instrument a nice look. Important if you are going to keep it in a place where it will be seen. It measures 52 by 11.2 by 29.9 inches and weighs 54.4 pounds.
Quite often with digital keyboards if you are supplied with foot pedals which can sometimes be rather poor quality. There is a three-pedal arrangement supplied with this piano that is made from a high-quality Zinc Alloy.
No flimsy quality here. The three pedals offer Soft, Sustain, and Sostenuto playing options. You do not get a bench with this package, as you don’t with many digital pianos, but a stand for sheet music is included.
A basic amplifier and speakers are included offering you 25 watts of power. It does allow you a decent volume for practice. I shall return to the built-in sound to discuss that later.
It has a fully-weighted keyboard with 88 keys. These are designed with a hammer action to simulate playing an acoustic piano. The keys are full-size and touch-sensitive.
Touch sensitivity means the sound will react to your style of play. Allowing you to accent certain parts with a harder action. Or play gently and get a softer sound. A nice touch is the fitted red felt that also reminds you of a real acoustic piano. A good addition.
The keys are solid to the touch and do not feel cheap. To add to the feel, they are given a slightly textured finish. All of this makes this one of the best affordable 88 keys digital pianos on the market.
The Controls and Connections
The controls for sound are located on the front of the keyboard in a convenient place. They are all well labeled. It has a backlit LCD screen that shows the notation you are playing and any chord names.
A good and useful idea for all beginners learning chords and scales. It also displays the functions and settings that you are currently using. Controls for the dual-tone mode are located on the front allowing you to use two instrument voices at the same time.
The built-in recording feature allows you to record any song or piece you are playing. That way, you can listen back to assess your performance and correct any mistakes.
A Good Design Idea
So often, connections for headphones are placed at the back of keyboards. That makes them difficult to use and connect up. On this piano, those connections are placed on the front where you need them.
Plugging in headphones won’t cause a problem. And while we are on the subject of headphones and good ideas, they provide two jack sockets. That is in case you need to use them with your tutor at the same time.
On The Rear
This is where you will find the connections. There is a MIDI and USB port and the connection for the triple pedal. Also, there is an MP3 socket, the mains socket, and audio in and out.
However, there is no Bluetooth connection with this piano. But having said that, at this price point, you will very rarely find a piano having that facility.
How Does It Play
One of the important aspects of what determines a good piano is how it plays. This is surprisingly good for an instrument at this price point. The keys feel authentic and respond well to your style, courtesy of the weighted design.
The keys themselves are not cheaply made, and therefore the feel and touch go a long way to simulating a real acoustic piano. Not as similar as expensive instruments, but as I keep saying, at the price point, it is very good.
How Does It Sound
Another important aspect of this Donner DEP-20 Review, and once again, there will be little to complain about. It is packed with a variety of instrument voices you can call up.
These include drums and bass, as well as the usual options. There are 238 tones and 200 rhythms in all that give you plenty of sounds and other options. As a result, this is one of the most versatile budget digital pianos you can buy.
This is always an exciting feature to play around with. With this piano, you can pair up any of the preset sounds to give you a variety of sound options. The possibilities will be exciting to a new young player.
If you are not sure what polyphony is, let’s just give you a brief description. Polyphony is the maximum number of notes you can play at the same time. This number can be played before you start losing some notes.
This piano has a Polyphony of 128, which is quite good. It is a high enough figure to allow you plenty of room before there could be problems. Given this is a cost effective digital piano for beginners or new players, you don’t need that much.
A 128 polyphony will easily handle all the pieces you are likely to play. It will only become an issue with more complex pieces, which are likely to come much later, if at all.
The Main Sound
The majority of people will buy a digital piano for the main piano sound, which is the Grand Piano. And, if I am honest, that is the most important sound a digital piano has. It is therefore critical.
The Grand Piano sound on this piano is quite nice. There are no problems with the high or low notes, and the reproduced notes are constant. Of course, it is helped by the weighted keys, but the sound has an authentic feel to it.
Are There Better Sounding Pianos?
Of course, if you want to go to the top of the Yamaha or Kawai range and pay ten times the price. But we are not at that level.
But, even digital pianos I have heard and played that cost more than this Donner are not as good. This Grand Piano sound certainly has the edge on the majority of them.
Consequently, it’s one of the best cheap 88 keys digital pianos on the market you can buy without paying a fortune.
Pay More For Better?
I suppose the question is, why would you do that? Is it worth paying more because it has a recognized name on it? What is more important to you, the name or the sound? I know which I would choose. Although it does beg the question if Donner can do it, then surely others can.
I mentioned earlier we would return to the speaker system, so let’s consider that. Normally, I would make mention of a built-in speaker system and not much more. That is because usually, they are not so great.
It is a worthwhile addition, of course, and I would agree that a sound that is below par is better than no sound at all. The sound produced by the system in this piano is not bad at all. Even when you turn up the volume a bit, there is no distortion, and the sound remains crisp and clear.
And pleasingly, the piano doesn’t have any parts that vibrate, even at the low-end frequencies, when you use the speakers. The speaker system is a surprisingly good addition.
It comes as a package with some useful extras which we have already looked at. But one extra that is worth a quick mention is the new Donner App.
They have recruited talented piano teachers to provide lessons using the app. The idea is that you can get instruction whenever and wherever you want or need it.
Donner DEP-20 Review – Pros and Cons
- A nice design with a “furniture look.”
- Well-made stand.
- Stable and secure.
- 88 weighted keys.
- Dual Sound options.
- Over 200 instrument voice tones and over 200 rhythms.
- Music Sheet Rest.
- Power adapter provided.
- Built-In metronome.
- Decent sound from the built-in speakers.
- 128 polyphony.
- Useful connections.
- A good sound.
- Plays very nicely with an acoustic piano feel.
- Excellent price point.
- No Bluetooth connectivity options.
Interested in Digital Pianos?
We have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Digital Pianos for Under $500, the Best Digital Pianos For Beginners, the Best 88-Key Keyboards, the Best Digital Piano With Weighted Keys, and the Best Cheap Keyboard Piano you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Digital Grand Piano, the Best Portable Keyboard Pianos, the Best Digital Pianos For Under $1000, the Best Digital Pianos, the Best Kawai Digital Piano, and the Best Yamaha Digital Pianos currently on the market.
Donner DEP-20 Review – What I Think
I have to say this is a very impressive digital piano and even more so because of the price point. It has some very good features. Including some you only find on more expensive instruments.
The real big plus points for me are the way it plays and the Grand Piano sound, which are both excellent for the money. Add on the sound produced by the internal speaker system, and you have a winner. It won’t compete with the high-end instruments, but it isn’t supposed to. If you want a cost-effective piano, then you will go a long way to find one that offers this much for this price point.
Until next time, let your music play.