Digital Piano Features: Modes

In the digital era, digital pianos are getting ever more popular. There are several apparent reasons that more people opt for digital pianos:

  • Affordable price
  • Easier maintenance, no periodic tuning required
  • Lightweight, easy to move around the house or carry to different locations
  • Digital piano features not available in traditional pianos

Moreover, technological advancement has made digital pianos provide an authentic feel and sound of an acoustic piano. It is especially reflected in key actions and sound resonances that most pianists care about the most.

Refer to Digital Piano vs Acoustic Piano for more details.

Digital pianos come with many built-in digital features such as metronome, record and playback, preset songs, headphone jacks, and modes. In this blog post, we are focusing on modes of digital pianos.

What are Modes in Digital Pianos?

When you are shopping for a digital piano, you may come across the terms dual-mode and/or duo mode. The MODE in digital pianos refers to a way to divide the keyboard for different purposes.

Commonly, there are three ways to divide the keyboard:

  • Dual Mode (also known as Layers)
  • Duo Mode (also known as Duet)
  • Split Mode

Dual (Layers) Mode

digital piano features: layering mode

Dual-mode allows you to layer two different voices when playing. For example, if you layer string with piano, every note you play will sound like the two voices you select.

You can combine any built-in voices in a particular digital piano, hence the combination is numerous. In some models, you may not use the bass lower voice for layering, while others allow you to balance the volume independently for each voice.

On the other hand, some digital pianos have string ensemble voices, when layering the voice with a concert grand piano, you can play an orchestra all by yourself. One good example is the Kawai KDP120 digital piano.

Duet (Duo) Mode

digital piano features: duet mode

As the name indicates, the duet mode splits the piano into two sections. The two sections have the same pitches, meaning each section has its own middle C and the same octave range.

This is the best option for student/teacher experience. For instance, a teacher can play tunes on the left side of the keyboard as the student follows on the right side. It would also be fun for two people to play the same song.

Many digital pianos come with this duet mode, for example, Yamaha YDP184.

Split Mode

split mode

The split mode has two segments on one keyboard. It allows you to assign different voices. Usually, it is recommended that you select the bass lower or the low range on the left side of the keyboard.

Using the split mode your two hands can play two different sounds. Normally it is easy to specify the tone to be allocated on each side. If the digital piano also has layer mode, you can actually assign two tones to each side. Thus you get a small ensemble enjoyment, for instance, Casio PX-S3000 offers such an experience.


Modes are common digital piano features. Some may only present one or two modes and many have all three. Understanding the modes of the digital piano will help you to choose a digital piano to meet your needs.

For example, if you are getting a digital piano for a lesson studio, you may want to make sure the model has the Duo Mode. On the other hand, should you enjoy your music pieces more with multiple instruments or an orchestra experience at home, you would want to have the layering and split modes in your digital piano.

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