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#3066685 01/08/21 12:41 PM
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Digital Piano or Acoustic Piano?

Digital pianos are the next step up from keyboards. They are typically more expensive than keyboards with the higher-end models reaching up to $10,000. Digital pianos come with 88 weighted keys, include piano pedals to control the sound and are closer in sound to an acoustic piano than a keyboard.

For those students without a piano at home to practice on, the higher-end digital pianos with weighted keys and pedals can be used when students are first beginning to practice. Young children and elementary-level students can practice on a digital piano while they are learning the basics. However, as the digital piano is secondary to the experience of playing an acoustic piano, students should look to move to practice their piano lessons on an acoustic piano as they progress to more advanced piano lessons. Lower end digital pianos don’t replicate the amazing quality of sound that comes from an acoustic piano which is a big part of the piano experience.

The True Sound of a Piano

When looking at a piano vs a keyboard, or whether a digital piano is suitable for piano practice, consider the differences between the instruments. For depth of sound, touch and the full experience of a piano, there is no substitute for an acoustic piano. Although keyboards and digital pianos offer their unique benefits when students learn and practice on an acoustic piano, they develop the technical skills, piano performance skills and an ear for music that only comes from playing a piano – an experience that is unmatched by any other instrument.


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I say both is always best.

None of my vst's sound or play exactly like an acoustic piano, but my u3 doesn't sound like a concert grand of choice. Both have benefits the other option can't match.

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Acoustic Pianos are inferior to Digital Pianos in input control consistency and dynamic range.

Acoustics have a complex sound, but it is not inherently better than a Digital, it's just DIFFERENT.


By all means get both, But one should never fall into the valley of acoustic fanboism, it's rampant and is a form of prejudice.

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The original post is a direct quote from https://www.pianoforte-music.com/blog/piano-vs-keyboard/

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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
The original post is a direct quote from https://www.pianoforte-music.com/blog/piano-vs-keyboard/

Thanks -- I was just about to look it up . . .


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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Acoustics have a complex sound, but it is not inherently better than a Digital, it's just DIFFERENT.

When DP would have copy all advantages and issues of AP, we perhaps have a knob : ’60 e.piano, ’80 e.piano (DX aka FM synthesis), ’90 e.piano (early PCM), ’2030 (unlooped samples) .... and so on.


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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
Originally Posted by jeffcat
Acoustics have a complex sound, but it is not inherently better than a Digital, it's just DIFFERENT.

When DP would have copy all advantages and issues of AP, we perhaps have a knob : ’60 e.piano, ’80 e.piano (DX aka FM synthesis), ’90 e.piano (early PCM), ’2030 (unlooped samples) .... and so on.


It's so straightforward, they need an AI sound engine to map the convolution from samples. IDK why they're just sitting on their ass.

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If there was an alternate scenario that a piano school teaches entirely on DPs, holds exams on DPs up till ABRSM Gr 8, performs publicly on DPs, public accepts the DP output sounds, or has extra rock school modern piano courses, exams and performances, maybe jazz courses, exams, and public performances where DP output is acceptable for jazz pieces...

In such a scenario does anyone need AP action or an acoustic piano?
It would still exist in its own in universe and have separate fans.
And at higher level of ability the student can try to jump ship.
But the foundation given by one method might be stronger than the other.

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Originally Posted by kailord
If there was an alternate scenario that a piano school teaches entirely on DPs, holds exams on DPs up till ABRSM Gr 8, performs publicly on DPs, public accepts the DP output sounds...
You don't need an acoustic to pass grade 8. Above that maybe, but the pianola I practiced on was far worse than any digital I have ever owned.

I would avoid dealing with any teacher that claims only an acoustic can get you past grade 8. Find someone more educated / open minded.

Last edited by Burkey; 01/08/21 09:30 PM.

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The best combo IMO would be an acoustic + a mobile digital piano with onboard speakers which you could take to play outside - as the biggest advantage a digital has over an acoustic is mobility (the second biggest is being able to play quietly/at night and I'd say the third biggest would be that it's easy to great for music production/recording MIDI & audio). However if I had to choose only one, then of course it'd be a good well maintained acoustic every single time! if you're a student, you should definitely practice on an acoustic piano anyway even though it's possible to only have a keyboard for the beginning phase.

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Some considerations:

Expression
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On an acoustic grand, when you play from ppp to fff the changes in the sound are not just in the "volume" of the sound, but in the "shape" of the sound itself. Pianoteq tries to achieve that with modeling. Sample-based VSTs try with dozens of velocity layers. Our typical sample-based DPs have from 1 (very old or low-end cheap models) to 5-6 velocity layers for the most expensive ones. That's not enough to get all the nuances you can get from the tonal range of a real grand.
And the length of the attack samples in most DPs is just a few seconds (for many notes even smaller than 1 sec) before the looping. When the looped part starts, you don't feel sound variations anymore and that note becomes more like an organ note. If you keep a note pressed on a real grand the sound is full of little variations for all its duration. On a VST these variations are recorded inside the full-length samples. On a digital piano, after a few seconds (depending from the played note), the sound of that note becomes dull and boring. Some DP models try to improve this by adding some little resonance FXs to the sample played (and some people call this: 'modeling'), but IMHO they are very far from the real thing.

1-Corda
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Actually there are no 1-corda sounds in DPs. Just a low-pass filter or a mellower/limited velocity curve, when you press the left-pedal.

Keyboard
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1) Due to the shorter key length, most low/middle/middle-high range digital piano actions are much harder to play near the fallboard, compared to acoustic actions.
2) When you keep a key pressed on a DP, the hammer is not released, so you feel all its weight on your finger. This doesn't happen on the acoustic action, because when you press a key the (real) escapement releases the hammer which is free to return to its initial position, so less weight on your finger.
3) This is more a subjective thing, but IMHO on a real grand action you feel a greater connection with the sound generated by the instrument itself.

Sound Quality
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Go to a piano store and try playing a good acoustic grand and then try a good digital piano with sound generated from its internal speakers. Then tell me if you feel the same sound quality, tonal detail, connection with the instrument...
On a real grand we have hundreds of long strings connected to a large and deep wooden soundboard. Then there is the big wooden (not chipboard) body of the instrument. All of these things resonate together in sympathy. When you play it, the sound surrounds you totally. You really hear sounds coming from all directions. You feel the resonances in your fingers, in your body... The sound is sweet and clear... How much you should pay to get an Hi-Fi sound system with similar result (assuming it is possible)?

HOWEVER...
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Digital Pianos are great. You can learn to play piano without having to spend prices similar to those of a car. They require significantly less maintenance. They can be played without disturbing others. You can easily move them from a room to another one (well, at least with stage pianos). You can easily record your playing, experiment with electric pianos, organs and other sounds. You can do gigs. Usually a digital piano sound fits very well in a mix. You can connect them to a computer, etc. ...

But they are NOT superior to acoustic pianos. IMHO they are not even comparable to acoustic pianos. At least, not yet. Maybe in 10-20 years? Who knows...

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Acoustic pianos are also massively impractical, they've always been impractical.

$200-300 tuning cost a year. $$$ regulation cost every 3-5 years.

The majority of acoustic owners have languished on these costs, and their instrument typically performs poorly relative to its max potential.


So in reality, if we count the totality of Properly performing instruments in the wild with proper sound/ playability, Digital is the new KING.

Last edited by jeffcat; 01/09/21 11:56 AM.
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Are you saying the acoustic, as we know it, is on its way to extinction?

Surely, I must’ve misinterpreted your post; if this is the case, I apologize in advance.

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There will always be enthusiasts, like the people who hoard plasma and crt tvs.

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Originally Posted by jeffcat
There will always be enthusiasts, like the people who hoard plasma and crt tvs.

Hey, stop snooping around my basement wink


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
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I have never heard a digital piano that I liked. The range of tone just isn't there in my experience. YMMV.

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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I have never heard a digital piano that I liked. The range of tone just isn't there in my experience. YMMV.

john you sure hang around the DP forum alot being such a self proclaimed acoustic fanboi. laugh

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Originally Posted by jeffcat
There will always be enthusiasts, like the people who hoard plasma and crt tvs.
grin

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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Originally Posted by johnstaf
I have never heard a digital piano that I liked. The range of tone just isn't there in my experience. YMMV.

john you sure hang around the DP forum alot being such a self proclaimed acoustic fanboi. laugh

I play my DP all the time and have followed developments very closely for the last thirty years. Why wouldn't I hang around here?

There's nothing wrong with DPs. I just don't happen to like the sound of them.

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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I play my DP all the time and have followed developments very closely for the last thirty years. Why wouldn't I hang around here?

There's nothing wrong with DPs. I just don't happen to like the sound of them.

Alternative theory:

DP exceeded AP long ago, but you struggle with that mental dissonance internally.

So you play the DP, you're glued to the DP forum, but you perpetuate the long obsolete AP Slogans.

Similar to how a teenager says girls are icky, but harbors a secret crush on the goth chic.

Last edited by jeffcat; 01/09/21 02:43 PM.
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