Is Digital Piano As Good As Real Piano? Fundamentals Explained
Are you thinking about purchasing a piano for your musical journey, hobby or career? Are you confused to choose a Real Acoustic Piano or a Digital Piano for your musical needs? Well in that case, you have landed in the correct place, in this discussion. Here we have compared both Digital and Acoustic Piano and discussed a 5 Step Process on How you can play real piano sounds on a Digital Piano.
Actually, Digital Pianos are a perfect way to start your piano playing journey. With the advent of technology and science as well as improvements in the music software space, digital pianos are being a seamless and suitable replacement for real acoustic and grand pianos for the pianists.
No doubt an acoustic piano is an authentic instrument with the real looks, feel and rich sound of a splendid instrument, but digital pianos are increasingly replacing these pianos among most of the pianists and keyboardists.
What Is Actually A Digital Piano?
Digital Pianos are modern day musical keyboards, which have sampled piano sounds (acoustic, grand, upright and other types of piano sounds). They come with a much lower price tag, have weighted / semi-weighted keys with velocity and expression features just like the acoustic and grand pianos.
This piano uses digital technology to produce the piano sounds from a sound generator chip. They are operated with electricity / battery backup and are usually controlled with digital sound synthesis systems which are built-in inside the piano.
Digital Pianos also have pedal inputs to control sustain and expression parameters just like the acoustic and grand counterparts as well. Furthermore, a range of Digital signal processing (DSP) effects such as Reverb, chorus, flanger, echo etc are also available for selection from the piano controls section on these keyboards.
Yamaha P45 88-Key Digital Piano with adaptor and pedal
What Are Real Acoustic Pianos?
The real-world pianos are acoustic stringed instruments which have been used since the 15th century for music compositions, concerts and recording. These pianos are based on a hammer-string mechanism, where the sound is derived when the hammer strikes the corresponding string to produce the desired sound on a specific pitch.
Acoustic Pianos are available usually as a Concert Grand, Upright or Console Pianos depending on the use, sizes and applications. They have a rich and warm sound and are used in churches, schools and also by professional pianists in concerts, halls and places of musical interest.
Yamaha Upright Silent Acoustic Piano with 3 pedals
Acoustic Pianos are a part of most of the Orchestras, large choir bands and are featured in many movies and TV content world-wide. Usually, these pianos are very bulky in nature and occupy large space for storage. Most of the pianos come with a 3 pedal assembly (sustain, damper and expression), which are used to control the sound texture of the instrument.
Is A Digital Piano As Good As Real Piano? Comparative Summary
Digital pianos are no doubt a replacement for the real acoustic pianos for musicians who are looking for portability, convenience and variety in sound timbres. Digital pianos pack-in multiple types of piano sounds ranging from concert grands, upright, acoustic to vintage CPs, honky-tonk and bright pianos for a wide variety of musical styles and genres.
Here is a comparative summary of Digital Pianos versus Real Acoustic Pianos which will help our readers to choose the right kind of pianos for them:
|Evaluation Parameter||Digital Pianos||Acoustic Pianos|
|Pricing||Low priced, between 500 – 1500 USD||High priced, between 5000 – 25000 USD|
|Sound Collection||More sounds with variety of pianos||Limited options in terms of sounds|
|Sound Timbre/ Quality||Sounds are digital and lack warmth and realism||Sounds are acoustically generated with greater warmth and texture|
|Pedal Controls||Some pianos come with 3 pedal options, while most of them use sustain (1-pedal) control||They have 3-pedal or 2-pedal control options usually for all acoustic pianos|
|Portability / Transportation||Highly portable, easy to carry for concerts and shows||Bulky in stature. Needs significant effort to transport for shows/concerts.|
|Upgradation / Connectivity||Connectivity Comes with connectivity options such as MIDI, USB, Audio ins and outs||Limited connectivity options with no digital ins and outs usually.|
|Tuning & Maintenance||Does not need tuning due to digital nature of sound source. Maintenance is almost negligible||Needs frequent tuning of strings and moisture control devices such as humidifiers for maintenance|
|Sound Editing / Design||Editing sounds with in-built DSP and processing effects such as reverb, delay, chorus is possible||Has limited editing capabilities with only control using the 3 pedals provided with the piano.|
Real Acoustic Pianos are preferred over digital pianos due to their tonal quality, timbre and beautiful sound. However, with the features, pricing and portability of digital pianos, the later are preferred by most of the musicians and pianists for training, performance or concert tours. You decide – which one to choose (a digital or acoustic piano) based on your specific needs, budget and music commitments.
How To Play Real Piano Sounds On Your Digital Piano? 5 Step Process Explained
Here are the steps that will enable you to convert your digital piano to an instrument with real acoustic piano sounds:
Step-1: Choosing Correct Digital Piano Model:
Make sure you choose the correct Digital piano model to begin with. You should choose the model which has MIDI / USB capabilities so that you can connect it with your MAC/PC to play virtual instruments. Some of the decent models are from Yamaha and Casio are equipped with USB and MIDI connectivity for expansion and connection to Virtual Instruments with PC and MAC.
Step 2: Choosing Audio Interface / Sound Card:
Choose a decent soundcard such as M-Audio or Focusrite Scarlet 2X2 for your playing or recording setup for your PC/MAC. For more details, please visit our in-depth article on Top 10 Audio Interfaces for playing and recording music .
Step 3: Choosing An Appropriate PC/MAC Computer:
Choose a good quality PC (Windows based) or MAC (from Apple) with a good build quality (minimum configuration: 4 GB RAM / 8GB best recommended, 250 GB HDD Space, Intel Core I3 – I7 Processors or AMD equivalent).
Step 4: Choosing the Correct Digital Audio Workstation (DAW):
The next step is to choose the music playback / recording software popularly known as the DAW. There are wide variety of professional and fee DAW softwares available – Protools, Nuendo, Cubase, Garage band, Logic Pro to name a few. For more details, check out our article on Choosing the best Music recording software (DAW) for your Music Needs.
Step 5: Choosing Acoustic Piano VST Plugins for your DAW:
This is the last step of playing the acoustic piano sounds with the Digital Piano keyboard. There are many acoustic piano VST plugins which are available in paid and free versions depending on the sound and timbre quality. You can choose some of the top sounding acoustic piano libraries such as Synthogy Ivory Pianos, Spectrasonics Keyscapes, Vienna Imperial which can be purchased online. These instruments can be used as a life-long piano asset along with your digital pianos to get high sounding and rich timbre of professional grand and acoustic pianos.
For more details, please visit our latest article on TOP 10 Piano VSTs of 2022.
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Digital Pianos no doubt serve as easy and hassle-free replacements for the real acoustic pianos. Many musicians are opting or digital pianos and synthesizers and replacing their acoustic gear gradually for the sake of convenience, features and ease of use. However Real Acoustic pianos will remain a symbol of true elegance in musical world, due to their build and high sound quality.
We advise our fellow musicians and enthusiasts to start with a digital piano for learning and playing piano professionally. Invest on a real acoustic piano if you have the budget and it is really worth your spend.