After meticulous analysis, today is the day I publish my Donner DDP-100 review. This is one of the cabinet style digital pianos from Donner. Considering the fact that during the last year, especially, multiple models from Donner have risen in the best seller ranks, including the DDP-100, I was anxious to test this digital piano out, in order to understand what it’s all about. Because the company is relatively new on the musical instruments stage, my concern was very much about the quality of these digital pianos, especially considering the very accessible price tag, compared to alternatives.
Donner is a relatively young company. They started in 2012 by filling a specific need in the musical instruments market, producing exclusive mini guitar effect pedals. Because they identified this lack in the market, they were able to experience success pretty fast. Next they started producing a number of musical instruments like guitars, ukuleles and digital pianos among others. All of their musical instruments come at an advantageous price range, which is probably one of the reasons for their digital pianos’ rise among the best sellers list. But is this growing popularity based solely on lower prices, or is it doubled by a benefic value to money ratio. These are only some of the facts that I wanted to learn more of. Let’s start by taking a glance at the specifications list.
Donner DDP-100 Specifications
|Piano cover||Slide cover|
The lack of experience in producing musical instruments and the too affordable price range, made me think that this piano is of lower quality than it turned out to be. And, because I want to be 100% true in this Donner DDP-100 review, I must say that it surpassed my expectations by quite a bit.
Do you wonder if it’s at par with similar looking digital pianos from more experienced manufacturers? I’d say let’s not jump to conclusions just yet. Yes, it looks and feels really nice, it sounds good as well, and has all around appeal no matter where you decide to install it. But, it’s not really comparable with Yamaha or Casio cabinet style digital pianos. Is it enough for most beginner and intermediate pianists? I’d say it’s a good choice even for more advanced pianists that only want to have fun.
A person can easily assemble the parts, but two people can evidently get the job done faster. The box contains the cabinet style stand, the pedal unit, the keyboard and the music rest. The built is really sturdy, something that you notice progressively more as the piano takes shape. The cabinet is made of MDF, the keyboard and music rest of plastic materials. The overall feeling is that you got more than you paid for, in terms of looks and quality of built. The MDF is also a more durable choice than other types of pressed wood. The pedals are made of metal, another point sustaining my argument that it’s designed to be durable.
The design is very sleek and elegant, with a bare minimum number of control buttons, which are located on the left hand side of the keyboard. You would get this digital piano for the sole purpose of installing it in a fixed location and practicing or otherwise playing the piano. It doesn’t come with extra bells and whistles, and in a way, this extra focus on the one thing it offers, makes it pretty good at it, I must say.
The dimensions are pretty compact, within the acceptable lines for cabinet style digital pianos. It’s a bit heavy, though, but you wouldn’t be transporting it a lot anyway, because it’s not a portable design. The slide cover is a nice design feature that keeps dust from entering the inside of your keyboard.
The connectivity ports are located on the back side of the piano. But I will get into more details about this in the “Connectivity” part of my review further down the page.
Like I always say, sound, next to the keyboard, is the most important part of a piano in general, and more so of a digital piano. One of the great advantages of digital pianos, compared to acoustic pianos, is that they don’t need tuning. This means that the sound quality of your digital piano will remain constant with to maintenance needs on your part.
There are two methods that digital pianos use to produce their sound, by sampling or modeling. The first method is used by most digital piano manufacturers, and is used by Donner as well. What they do is taking recordings of each one of the keys at different velocity levels, and then attributing those recordings to the respective keys of the digital piano. The other method, the modeling method starts from the former one but uses a lot more computing technology to produce the sound, the moment you press the key, in accordance to the velocity with which you press the keys. It’s very similar to the way acoustic pianos produce their sound. Which one is better? Opinions vary on the subject.
I will not complain about the sound unnecessarily, but I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of it. It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong, but I tested better sounding cabinet style digital pianos, but definitely not in this price range. And this is exactly its advantage point. It’s definitely the best cabinet style option in its price range. Usually you would find anything similarly looking from other manufacturers at a higher price.
So, as much as sound is concerned, I think it’s definitely enough for beginners and intermediates. It’s actually a very good option for beginners because they can concentrate on practicing piano, without being distracted by other instrument sounds. The Donner DDP-100 is designed to be a digital version of an acoustic piano, even lacking other instrument sound, like many other digital pianos have.
The polyphony level indicates the number of notes that can be sustained at the same time. You would think that there’s no chance of playing more than a couple of notes at the same time but actually when using pedals, and especially while playing certain musical pieces, you can reach to a higher level. The Donner DDP-100’s polyphony is 128. This is more than enough for beginners and also for intermediates. But as you progress, and especially if you stick with it for a long time, you’ll get to a level where you can play music that requires higher levels of polyphony as well, to be able to perform at your highest expressivity. Chances are you will never need more polyphony, so, there’s definitely no need to worry about this aspect.
The speaker system of the DDP-100, is the same 25W one as that of the Donner DEP-10 and DEP-20. This is more than enough power to use in a home or classroom environment for practice. But if you need a higher quality sound, you can always plug in external amplification or, if you want to go the other way, and avoid disturbing those around you, headphones. Especially through headphones, and this is the case with most digital pianos, the sound is more immersive, creating an even more realistic piano playing experience.
What I like about the keyboard of the DDP-100 is that it’s fully weighted. This means that the keys behave similarly to those of an acoustic piano. I can say that they have a very realistic weight to it. This is an advantage for beginners who want to learn the proper finger technique from the start, as they can easily transfer their ability to an acoustic piano. The keyboard is also a full 88 keyboard.
I also like the feeling of the keys, they seem pretty realistic to me. The texture of the keys is also nice. The surface is not artificial ebony and ivory but they still feel right. The surface also offers a nice grip, again, not as good as that of higher end keyboards but still, good enough for the price. Although they’re made of plastic, the way they feel and behave makes you rather think of acoustic piano keys than cheap plastic keys.
One of the characteristics of digital pianos is that they often come with different functions that acoustic pianos, due to obvious reasons, don’t. These functions might be beneficial for some, but a distraction for others, especially beginners.
As a beginner you would want to practice as much as possible, in order to form the new abilities as fast as possible. Other instrument sounds and effects might tempt you into wasting time with things that are not part of the fundamentals. In the beginning you should focus on developing those fundamentals. It’s especially good in a classroom environment where kids would be tempted to play around and push various buttons, significantly decreasing your ability to maintain enough attention to teach piano.
There is no actual control panel on the DDP-100, therefore a cleaner design. The only controls are located on the left hand side of the keyboard and consist of a power button and a volume knob.
An important thing you should keep in mind when researching digital pianos is if they have MIDI connectivity capabilities. Especially if you’re a beginner, the ability to connect your digital piano to a computer, can prove itself to be a big game changer, in the way you learn to play the piano. You’re able to use various software and courses that can make a big difference.
The connectivity panel is located on the back side of the piano and offers an mp3, a USB, a power and two audio interfaces, along with a sustain pedal socket, where the 3 pedal unit is connected to the keyboard. Bluetooth would be a nice addition, to avoid some of the cables. But I can’t complain too much, considering the price range the Donner DDP-100 sells for.
I really like that they included a 3 pedal unit in the cabinet style package. And they are pretty nice too. The base is made of plastic, but the pedals themselves are metal. It offers a sense of durability, which again only raises the value for money ratio.
After going through all the different aspects of this digital piano, I hope my Donner DDP-100 review was useful in helping you take a better decision.
Would I recommend it? Yes in most cases. Are you a beginner or an intermediate looking for a practice instrument that will complement nicely any interior décor? Then yes, absolutely, because it offers a realistic enough piano playing experience to be useful for at least a few years.
But if you are more advanced, and want to hold performances in front of smaller crowds, then you should probably look for a higher end digital piano. Overall the DDP-100 scores well in all the fundamental departments, it feels, sounds and looks great, without many bells and whistles, and for a very correct price.