Acoustic vs Digital Piano

Which would be a better buy? An acoustic or a digital piano?

Before anything else, let me give you my definition of what a digital piano really is. Although some electronic musical instruments can also reproduce the sound of a piano (examples are music workstations, sound modules, sample-based synthesizers, software and hardware samplers), this article refers to a digital piano as an instrument that integrates a keyboard controller with a sample playback device that specializes in piano sounds. Digital pianos vary in shapes and sizes. Some (like the ones designed for home use) may resemble the look of an upright acoustic piano. But others may resemble the look of modern synthesizers or music workstations. These are called stages pianos. They are generally lighter since they don’t usually include internal loudspeakers and amplification.

Should you had been to ask me the above question 20 years ago (when our residence piano was still brand new and digital pianos sounded crappy), I could had answered acoustic piano. But right now, with the advent of modern and state-of-the-art sampling technologies I could have changed my mind. Particularly now that our property piano started to show some signs of wear, like broken strings, worn out keys, and detuning (my brother somehow got tired of continuously performing tuning jobs). Furthermore, the modern digital piano has grow to be increasingly more comparable to its acoustic counterpart both in sound and feel. Most of them utilize multi-sampled piano sounds. This means that samples are recorded from a real piano at unique levels of loudness, to ensure that in the event you lightly press a key in a digital piano, the soft recording is sounded. When you pound on the keys, the loud sample is utilized instead. This is needed due to the fact in a real piano, the timbre and not just the loudness changes with the pressure applied to the keys. Some newer models even have distinctive sets of samples for every key inside the piano. And still other people produce even the most intricate sounds of the piano’s internal machinery like a hint of a hammer striking the string, the delicate sound produce by the keys as you release them, and even the discrete sound of the damper pedal being depressed or released. All these combine to produce an amazingly realistic piano sound. Most models may well also likely to incorporate graded hammer action. This merely means that the keys progressively grow to be heavier as you go down the lower pitched keys – a lot like within the real acoustic piano – for additional expressive playing.

Some specialists may well argue that acoustic pianos sound much better than their digital counterpart. But for the untrained ear (and admit it, most of us are) the distinction isn’t at all noticeable, specially in recorded music. Some newer and far more high priced models of digital piano for instance Roland’s KR series even went to the extent of sampling string harmonics, and even consist of an actual soundboard to faithfully capture the vibrance of a real concert grand. With these recent developments, a question arises: What set these two types of pianos apart? This article tries to point out the benefits and downsides of utilizing every kind of model which might guide newbie piano buyers what model to pick.


Let me point out that the extreme digital piano features explained above may possibly only be present in newer and additional costly models. If you’re an amateur digital piano buyer and trying to find an entry level model (or a utilized 1), chances are, these may possibly fall short of the genuine article. Nevertheless, most digital pianos have particular benefits over the real 1. These contain the following:

* Digital pianos are normally less pricey. So if your on a spending budget, a digital piano could be the correct 1 for you. * They’re typically lighter and far more compact. If room space is your concern, then you may possibly decide on to have a digital piano. Also, if you’re a gigging musician, it’s simpler to transport a digital stage piano. It fits nicely at the backseat or even the trunk of most cars. * They don’t need tuning. As with most string instruments, an acoustic piano lacks the capacity to stay in tune. Tuning the piano your self is really a painstaking procedure and hiring somebody to do it means extra expense for you. On this aspect, a digital piano is really a greater option. * They might contain several extra instrument sounds. You’re not limited with only 1 piano sound. These may well contain unique types of piano sounds like modern pianos, electric pianos including Rhodes, also as organ, guitar, and string sounds. It may well also be feasible to layer two or extra sounds together to produce some fascinating effects. Some newer models even consist of hundreds far more sounds and act as music workstations. * They may perhaps incorporate a MIDI implementation. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, a technology that was produced inside the 1980’s that offers different digital musical instruments and computers a standard method to communicate with every other. What this does is that it permits you to expand the capabilities of your digital piano by connecting it to external sound modules, sequencers, and computers. It also lets you playback standard MIDI files – readily available from several locations – on your piano making it act as a pianolla with out the bulky and ungainly roll of punched paper. * They may well offer a approach to record and store your performances. Most models of digital pianos have built in sequencers with a minimum of two tracks. To ensure that in case you have a sudden surge of inspiration, you’ll be able to instantly record your music and store it (on disk, smart media, or to your personal computer) and play it back at a later time. * They may possibly consist of a interactive learning assist feature. This is helpful for those beginning to discover the best way to play piano. Eliminating the require for a piano teacher. (Poor news for them.) If you’re a beginner, try asking your piano dealer what models have this feature. * They commonly contain headphone output. Should you suddenly feel a surge of inspiration within the middle of the night, you need to have not worry that you may well wake up other members of your household or even your neighbors. * They frequently have a transposition feature. Now this is what I like about digital musical instruments for the reason that I normally hated having to manually transpose a tune. With this feature, you could play a tune in a convenient key but truly heard in an additional. * They nearly constantly contain an audio output. This eliminates the use of microphones when recording your music plus the problems associated with them like feedbacks and noises. This significantly simplifies the recording procedure.

Some of the features may or may not be included in some models. Just ask your music dealer about them.


I can not say much about acoustic pianos. But this does not mean that I am bias about digital pianos. Acoustic pianos also have advantages over the digital piano. Foremost of them is the sound quality. Experts will definitely argue that the acoustic piano sounds infinitely better than its digital counterpart. The reason for this is that there are crucial physical and mathematical aspects of an acoustic piano that are difficult if not impossible to accurately duplicate in digital format.

An example is when the damper pedals are depressed, the keys which are not struck vibrate sympathetically when other keys are struck. This have the effect of having a fuller additional resonant sound in acoustic pianos. (Even though, as mentioned earlier in this article, progress is being made in digital music to emulate sympathetic vibrations and string harmonics.)

An additional aspect where acoustic pianos are greater than digital ones is its unlimited polyphony. Polyphony refers to the number of notes that will sound simultaneously. Digital pianos have limited polyphony which tend to grow to be a trouble when executing complex and thick passages specially if the damper pedals are depressed. (Digital piano polyphony ranges from 32 to 120 notes. But needless to say, progress is also being made to extend this limit.

Furthermore, acoustic pianos does not will need electric power to function. So you may still take pleasure in playing your instrument even when there’s no readily available electrical power. In our village within the Philippines where power outages usually happen, this aspect proved to be a excellent benefit.

Lastly, acoustic pianos typically last longer. (Even though some may possibly argue otherwise.) I once came across a hundred-year-old piano and it really is still playable. The reason is that even old and worn out pianos may be reconditioned by replacing several parts, and may well be made to sound as excellent as new pianos. Even though older pianos tend to sound warmer. I do not know if the exact same might be said about digital pianos. Technology progresses at a quick pace and this occasionally becomes a disadvantage. To accommodate the manufacture of newer chips, they may possibly stop making the older models. As an example, should you bought a synth 20 years ago, chances are it would be tough for you to locate spare parts now, or even a technician who knows the technology. You end up purchasing a newer model.

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