Since the digital piano came onto the scene, there has been a debate over which piano is better. In the early days this really wasn’t such a hard decision, however as now technology is changing, the supporters of the digital piano have more reason to be selecting the digital piano. Yet the acoustic piano still has the natural tone and this is something the digital piano manufacturers are always striving to improve.

Some digital pianos and computers can reproduce the pianos sounds closely. Essentially, a digital piano is a computer with more features and specialized controls to produce effects that pianos players will appreciate. Modern digital piano technologies include things like authentic sampling technology and near exact reproductions of the acoustic pianos tones.  The major digital piano manufacturers are continually making improvements as they try to minimize the differences between the two types of pianos. The acoustic vs digital piano war is being intensely fought as there are hundreds of millions of dollars on the line for the company that can sway people’s minds and their purchase. One of the changes being worked on is the move to make the digital piano feel more like the real acoustic piano, by adjusting the pianos key with weighted mechanisms the digital piano manufactures can produce a keyboard that simulates the real thing. Then we have the sound quality and what these companies are doing to try to control the reproduction of the acoustic pianos sound. As this is one of the most essential gap to close between the acoustic vs digital piano and it is continually being studied by digital piano manufacturers.  One way that these companies are approaching this challenge is to use multiple recorded samples of acoustic piano sounds. This is the way they can reproduce the pianos tone at different levels depending on how the user presses the pianos key.

Digital Piano Manufacturer’s Clever Tactics

When the digital piano manufacturers program the sounds into the pianos, they have recordings of an acoustic pianos keys being struck softly, a medium strike and then struck with force. These recordings are then used to generate the tone depending on how the player of the digital piano plays the instrument.  So if you are playing with aggression and striking the keys forcefully, a reproduction based on a loudly played acoustic piano is what you will hear. The software has varying samples and it can combine and average out so these samples will create a more lifelike sound. This is critical as in a real piano the sound will vary as the force of the key strike varies and the timbre will change as varying pressures are applied.  As these digital pianos manufactures relentlessly work to narrow the gap of acoustic vs digital piano technology, they are coming up with some amazing insight. There are now manufactures that are reproducing the most intricate sounds that the acoustic piano will produce. Sounds that many novice piano players might not even be aware of. Things like the internal sounds of the hammers hitting the strings, the light sound of the keys as they are released from the strings as well as the damper pedals as they being pressed and released. All of these different things are used to create a much more realistic piano playing experience. But is this is enough to change minds in the debate of acoustic vs digital piano, which one is better?
Experts for the most part still agree that the acoustic piano is the preferred instrument, especially to the trained ear. In a concert setting, you will still encounter the real acoustic piano being played. In society, from what I have read and people that I have talked to, still many people vote for the acoustic pianos as the choice of the connoisseur.  Will there ever be a day when the opinions are changed; opinions related to the acoustic vs digital piano superiority are still up for discussion. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of facts and information, the pros and cons. These varied ideas will help you to decide on what matters to you in the debate between the acoustic vs digital piano.

Digital Pianos- Advantages

Digital pianos have many options that acoustic pianos do not offer. For some, these options are enough to earn these digital piano companies new customers. As improvements are made and the sales of the digital pianos increase, the proponents of the digital piano are growing. What do you see, a war or harmony of acoustic vs digital piano?

  • Digital Pianos offer a wide range of sounds
  • You may select sounds like the flute, stringed instruments, organ or even drums.
  • Rhythm synchronization is coordinated to keep up with your playing
  • Headphones can be used for privacy during practice
  • Easy setup and take down for increased portability, they are also lighter in weight
  • These digital pianos never need to be tuned.
  • You have the option to record and play back your playing (Depending on which model)
  • Digital pianos are usually less expensive than acoustics

Some of these options are only available on newer and more expensive digital pianos. If you are a new piano player who is looking to buy a digital piano you may not be able to find all of these options unless you buy a more expensive model. 

Digital Pianos – Disadvantages
The most apparent problem with digital pianos is that they can not duplicate the tone and feel of the real thing. This has plagued the digital piano since its inception, as we mentioned earlier piano manufacturers are making some improvement in this area yet it is still an issue in the debate between the acoustic vs digital piano superiority. The acoustic piano has the ability to blend sounds naturally as the keys are struck, the wood sound board construction of the piano can help create a rich warm sound. Some who reject the digital piano claim that the digital sound is almost “sterile” as it has a electronic and non natural feel.
For some, there is the issue of value, once a digital piano become old and possibly obsolete the resale value also can take a dramatic drop.
To piano purists, the sound and feel of playing the piano is part of the joy. Many of the more expensive digital pianos have tried to introduce an acoustic pianos feel by creating weighted mechanisms to give the piano that natural feel, as the keys are pressed this weighted key feature is supposed to give the sense of playing the real thing. Even then, the response and feedback is does not reach a consensus.

Acoustic Pianos – Advantages

  • Polyphony – Have you heard of “Polyphony”? Polyphony is at word that is used to reference the number of musical notes that can be heard simultaneously. If you are a piano player who plays rapidly, you can create a melted together natural sound that is a challenge for the digital piano to reproduce. This limit to Polyphony is another strike against the digital piano in the debate between acoustic vs digital piano superiority.
  • Practicality is another use of the acoustic piano; you don’t need any electricity to use an acoustic piano, so you can enjoy playing the piano at any time and save electricity.
  • As we have already mentioned the sound of the acoustic piano is difficult to reproduce, there are many reasons why from the construction to the way the pedals, wires and keys are designed within the piano. This design yields the rich sound that can not be duplicated by a digital device. Inside the piano there are damper pedal assemblies that press on the wires when the player depresses the pedals, this in turn creates a unique set of piano vibrations and sounds.

The digital piano is a computer that reproduces the pianos’ natural sounds. It is constructed using computer chips and speakers; although the higher quality models make a good effort at making their version of a reproduction, it is still just that a reproduction. It’s important to mention that the digital piano is imitating the acoustic piano, what does that mean to you? You may have heard the expression “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery”, well what does that say for the acoustic piano? If you are looking for a keyboard that can be transported easily or a device that can be used to practice in privacy by using headphones, then the digital piano is an option. However remember that it can not compare with the musical quality of the acoustic piano. I hope this information has helped you study the differences between the 2 options, thus acoustic vs digital piano. If you are looking to buy a piano, do also consider your needs, think long term if you are serious and consider your budget.

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