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First, what is a digital piano?
Digitals use state of the art digital technology to imitate, both the sound and the feel, of an acoustic piano, basically by replacing the string and other sound producing elements with..well, digital technology. Many digitals today do an exceptional job of effectively replicating the weighted hammer action of an acoustic grand or upright, and some are just more successful than others at creating that “right” feel. For example, the action on an upright piano is fairly easy to duplicate, but the grand piano action is much harder since a true grand has escapement. This is when the hammer falls away from the string as the key is pressed, so some companies only offer this feature on their most expensive digital pianos. All in all, the enhancements in technology enable the player to develop a sense of connectivity to his or her instrument, therefore, yielding an old organic type of sensation toward a new electronic device. It’s essentially a mutual aspiration amongst these companies to add acoustic elements into their digital products.
In what ways can a digital actually be like an acoustic piano?
Let’s start with real wood keys. It’s no secret that the main problem with wood is that it will expand and contract with the weather. Now, we think it’s funny to note that one of the top proponents of WOOD in the digital piano industry, actually promotes the use of styrene plastics in their ACOUSTIC pianos to solve the problems of expansion and contraction. We don’t understand why some companies have allowed their marketing departments to dictate their choice of materials, using a material in digital pianos today that was put in acoustic pianos 300 years ago. It’s like adding a mechanical compass to a Tesla. Basically, wood will continue to expand and contract even in a digital piano. Piano keys can be made of many materials but the truth is that styrene will outlast the others. What we like about wood keys though, as pianists, is simply that feel of the wood as our fingers rub against the side of a key. That is when Roland came to the rescue; they figured out that the ideal key could be made of styrene but include wood inserts, adding to that nice wood-action feel with the wood embedded into a styrene frame. Check out some of Roland’s products here. These parts can go decades without failing, and Roland alone provides an UNHEARD OF 10-year digital piano parts and labor warranty.
In what ways can a digital actually be BETTER than an acoustic?
The first thing anyone should note is that it doesn’t go out-of-tune so you’ll never have to pay for tuning. Also, key transposition and sound selection of various instruments are features that come on many digitals manufactured today. Aside from that, you have the convenience of portability because all brands make models that can easily be packed and unpacked. Stands, too are widely available in various styles with a variety of unique capabilities. The most popular positions include X-style and Table stands. A portable X-stand was mainly designed for on-stage purposes and can hold over 400 pounds. Some positions are fixed and just serve the purpose of retaining a piano. Aside from just being portable, you have dynamics. The volume of the digital piano is incredibly easy to control with an onboard dial, lever or switch. If you have grumpy neighbors, you and they will LOVE the fact that all digitals offer headphone jacks. This is a great segway into the next, and arguably most handy feature of owning a digital and that is the connectivity. The majority of computers possess MIDI-based capability to allow an individual to connect the piano to various recording equipment and machines like computers. Some pianos can connect directly to a computer via USB. Some models can even connect via Bluetooth. Also, most are unaware of the fact that Roland basically invented MIDI and was the first major manufacturer to successfully refine, improve and implement this digital interface.
So which digital to go with?
You have to ask yourself…Specifically, what am I buying this for? Digital pianos are categorized into two broad categories: for the home, or for the stage/studio. A lot of the digitals that are intended for home use are console types. These pianos are precisely housed traditionally with a cabinet designed to blend with certain household furniture. A good example is the Roland LX 708 in high gloss ebony. Digitals that are made for the studio, on the other hand, are specifically designed to have a more versatile and mobile nature than console pianos. This type of digital is typically intended for musicians who regularly travel to various studios or venues. Studio digital pianos don’t have cumbersome cabinets. However, they always offer options for connectivity and voicing than home-use digitals. A good example is Roland FP90. Ultimately it really depends on your purpose. Do you need something to play around on for the home that is easier to operate? Or do you prefer the professional keyboard for a power boost in your artistic work? The good news is, whatever the answer to that we can help you with.
As these companies continue to make more and more enhancements with their products, the technological timelines will continue to raise these instruments closer and closer toward the acoustic standard; it’s an exciting thing to look out for in the future! We hope that you found this information useful and be sure to check out our wide selection of products at Digital Pianos.com Follow us on Instagram at @hollywoodpiano along with our subsidiary @digitalpianos for more updates!