Digital Pianos vs Acoustic Pianos
Is a digital piano as good as a real piano?
If you are in the market for a new piano, the amount of options can grow to be overwhelming pretty quickly. There are upright, digital, and acoustic pianos of all sorts on the market today.
When it comes to ease of maintenance, sound, and price, you need to decide which aspects are most important to you.
There are advantages and drawbacks to owning both digital and acoustic pianos. Choosing which characteristics are the most important to you can help you decide which piano models to go with.
Making a comparison between acoustic and digital pianos is the best way to assess both of their merits. Between the two different types, each offers different things in terms of sound, maintenance, versatility, touch sensitivity, price, and pedals.
Remember that your personal preferences may affect whether or not you choose to go with a digital or acoustic piano. Your preferred music genre, level of proficiency, amount of practice hours, and piano location can all affect whether a digital piano or acoustic model will best suit your needs.
Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to pianos is the sound that it produces.
An acoustic piano produces a better sound than a digital piano does. This is because with an acoustic piano, an actual hammer hits a string to give you a more authentic and resonant tone.
With an acoustic piano, the musician also has better control over the expression and articulation of the different notes that they are playing.
With a digital piano, the device simply mimics the sound of an acoustic piano. The sound is a digital file saved in a computer and does not allow for the same acoustic nuances that an acoustic piano does.
Keeping all this in mind, a higher end digital piano can produce better sound than a low end acoustic one.
When it comes to maintenance, an acoustic piano requires much more than a digital piano does. An acoustic piano’s wooden case, felted hammers, and steel strings all require proper care that usually has to be done by a professional.
Acoustic pianos should be tuned once or twice a year. Again, this requires a professional, so piano tuning can eat into a musician’s budget quite a lot.
Acoustic pianos are also vulnerable to humidity and temperature fluctuations in the environment.
Both wood and felt are very sensitive to large changes in the humidity and temperature of the room they are kept in. If not kept in the proper environmental conditions, the acoustic pieces of your piano could be severely affected.
Ideally, acoustic pianos should be kept in relative humidity between 45 and 70 percent and kept at a constant ambient temperature of about 20 degrees Celsius.
If your acoustic piano becomes damaged due to environmental temperature and humidity, a professional technician can preform a process called regulation in order to bring it back to working order.
Overall, acoustic pianos produce a better sound than digital pianos do, however digital pianos do have some advantages.
Digital pianos are more versatile than their acoustic counterparts. For example, digital pianos can provide the user with a wide range of other instrument sounds. This allows for the user to play around with different kinds of sounds and choose the ones that fit your music best.
Digital pianos also allow the user to play a drum beat while you play your music, which serves as an internal metronome.
Perhaps the largest advantage of digital pianos is their ability to be connected to computers. You can record and store your own unique audio files, which is a must for beginner songwriters and recording artists.
Digital pianos also have a volume control which allows you to practice anywhere and at any time without disturbing your neighbors. This is a great feature if you lived in a shared house or apartment building.
Digital pianos come in many shapes and sizes, but all of them are more portable than their acoustic brothers. This is especially helpful if you need to take your keyboard to and from gigs.
The feeling and touch of playing a digital piano can vary hugely to playing an acoustic piano. Many musicians shy away from digital pianos simply because acoustic models offer a better way to play music with more nuance and feeling.
One reason why the sensitivity of digital and acoustic pianos is different is because of the weight of the keys.
The user must apply some strength to strike the keys of a traditional acoustic piano. In contrast, a very light touch on a digital piano key can elicit a sound.
Some digital pianos do include weighted keys, which makes up for some of their lack of sensitivity.
Overall, acoustic pianos are more touch sensitive. The movement and strength applied by your fingers determines the tone and sound of the note. The possibilities are endless.
On a digital piano, there are a finite number of ways that a note can sound, even with weighted keys. This limitation can affect musical expression.
Generally speaking, an acoustic piano will cost more than a digital piano.
The resale value of a digital piano is much, much lower than an acoustic piano, however. While it is difficult to gauge resale value, digital pianos depreciate in value much more quickly than acoustic ones do because of advances in technology.
While an acoustic piano will be more expensive up front than a digital piano, it will serve to be a better investment for the future if you ever plan to part ways and sell it.
Acoustic pianos come with three different pedals for three different purposes. These are a soft pedal, a sostenuto pedal, and a sustain pedal.
The soft pedal is most frequently used across all genres of music, and the sostenuto and sustain pedals are not commonly used.
Some digital pianos only come with a single sustain pedal, and some do not even come with any peals.
Pedals for digital pianos can be purchased separately, however the sostenuto and sustain pedals are not commonly found.
If you plan to play piano with all three pedals on a regular basis, then an acoustic piano will make for a better fit for you and your musical needs.
Pros and Cons
Here is a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of digital and acoustic pianos.
Pros of Acoustic Pianos
- Acoustic pianos produce a warmer, more authentic sound and allow for more musical expression
- Acoustic pianos have a higher resale value
- Hammers, strings, and resonance of acoustic pianos give the musician better control over musical tone and expression
- All pedals are included
- There is no power source required
Cons of Acoustic Pianos
- These pianos require tuning one or two times every year
- The environment in which the piano is placed must have a suitable humidity and temperature
- These are generally more expensive than digital pianos
- They are heavier and not portable; more space is required for an acoustic piano
Pros of Digital Pianos
- Digital pianos do not require tuning
- There are no upkeep costs and they are less expensive upfront than acoustic pianos are
- Digital pianos can produce other instrument sounds, have a volume control, and also have the ability to record
- They are lighter and more portable
- They do not take up a lot of space in a room
Cons of Digital Pianos
- The piano sound of a digital piano is not as authentic as from an acoustic piano
- Digital pianos have a worse resale value than acoustic pianos do
- Some models of digital pianos lack touch sensitivity
- Not all models come with pedals
- Digital pianos require a power source