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Buyers Guide: How do I Choose the Right Digital Piano?

The digital piano, a.k.a the electric piano, is capable of mimicking the sound of an acoustic piano with great accuracy. If you're wondering why a digital version exists of an acoustic instrument, there are a few reasons. perhaps the most important reason is the price—an electric piano is much more affordable than an acoustic one. Also, you can adjust the volume of a digital piano and even use headphones on some models. What's more, an electric piano can produce other sounds, giving you the choice of a grand piano, an upright, and often a selection of other virtual instruments as well. Another important factor is that a digital piano weighs much less than an acoustic, making it easy to transport and move. Finally, it won't require tuning, ever!

Digital piano or keyboard?

Experienced and beginning pianists alike are better off investing in a digital piano rather than a keyboard. Particularly for those just learning how to play the piano, it's a good idea to use an instrument that comes as close to the real thing as possible. When it comes to quality, construction, and possibilities, digital pianos and keyboards are quite similar, but the former resembles an acoustic, which it means it can facilitate you in your learning and practice methods, which are all adapted to the traditional, acoustic piano method.

Features of the digital piano

First of all, a digital piano has a full-size keyboard consisting of 88 keys. More importantly, these keys are built to imitate the hammer mechanism of the keys of an acoustic piano. Basically, this means you physically feel the characteristic response whenever you play a note, which is essential to good piano technique. Then, there's the realistic sound. Digital piano manufacturers go above and beyond to create the best possible samples of acoustic pianos. You'll also need a sustain pedal, at the very least, (also known as a damper pedal), so you can extend your tones. On an acoustic piano, this would be the pedal on the right. The other two pedals are a great addition, but are by no means essential.


Features of the keyboard

Keyboards are designed to offer automatically-generated accompaniment and lots of different virtual instrument sounds. For pianists who wants to be able to use these sounds, there are keyboards that offer the functionality of a keyboard as well as high-quality piano sounds and the heavy, natural playing feel and classic look of a digital piano. Another feature of a keyboard is that it's very lightweight. Does your piano need to be portable? Make sure to check the weight in the Specifications tab before placing your order. If you need a piano that can be moved make sure the base is removable. Please note that some of the less expensive models do not have removable stands.

The right brand

There really is no such thing as the 'right' brand, but Yamaha, Casio and Roland are the three most popular names when it comes to digital pianos. Casio is more focused on entry-level models, while Yamaha and Roland offer products for the mid and high-level segments. If you want to buy a digital piano, determine your budget first, and think about how you plan to use this instrument. Are you planning on taking piano lessons? Then you probably won't need a large library of virtual instruments, automatic accompaniments, and a wide array of advanced functions!

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Every brand has its own unique sound sources, keyboards, speaker systems and special digital technology that sets them apart from the rest. A Yamaha digital piano features things like Graded Hammer functionality and Virtual Resonance, while a Roland is equipped with SuperNATURAL, PHA and Acoustic Projection. A Casio digital piano, on the other hand, will have Scaled Hammer Action and Morphing Air. These are all ways manufacturers can emulate the sound and feel of an acoustic piano as accurately as possible while at the same offering sounds and functionality specific to their own brand.

These days, though, you can assume that any fully-fledged digital piano will be well-built and offer great sounds. The decision will be down to taste. It's a fact, though, that as the price increases, so does the quality. The sounds will be better, the keys will feel more like real ebony and ivory and come a lot closer to a real hammer mechanism, and the number of speakers (and quality of them) also increases.

Speakers and connections

Contrary to the stage piano, which is designed for use on stage, the digital piano is meant for use at home and includes a set of two or more integrated speakers that are located on top, in the rear, underneath and/or in front. The more speakers, the more rich and spacious your sound will be. Furthermore, large speakers are better at reproducing low tones than small ones. The speaker cabinet and body of the instrument itself are also contributing factors to the sound.

*A headphone output is almost always included on a digital piano, and sometimes there's a line output as well for connecting a set of external speakers, a mixing console, or an audio interface. If it features a USB/MIDI output, you can send the notes you're playing as MIDI information to MIDI software on a computer. What's more, many digital pianos offer the possibility to store your performance as MIDI or audio format, either internally or on a USB stick. This same principle also makes it possible to playback similar files.

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