Digital vs. acoustic: old debate

General discussion about digital pianos

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archivist
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Digital vs. acoustic: old debate

Post by archivist » 22 Oct 2007, 11:12

Hello there! I am a beginner adult on the piano (background in classical guitar and singing). To start playing and taking lessons I bought a Roland HP 101, which the music shop suggested was the best I could get for that price for a piano (it was around 800 pounds). I enjoy it to no end - albeit of course not being in the professional position to judge as many of you are. I only get annoyed with the red lights on it, especially at the front - but feel much better now that I stuck some black cloth on it with blue tak... But seriously I began to think about the whole digital vs. accoustic thing and what is better. I put the question to the "piano" general thread which probably was not a good idea, because I got a few rather snappy replies trashing the idea of a digital. I thought you guys would be more objective. So what do you think? I also noticed the "Pianist" magazine uses a digital Roland for their CD to go with the scores, so surely it means they think it's professional enough? I am a bit confused, and would love your input.
Many thanks!

cothse
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Post by cothse » 25 Dec 2007, 05:51

Hi,

As far as my knowledge, there's no acoustic benefit to a digital piano. It's ubiquitously held that the piano is the most difficult instrument to reduce to a digital medium, mainly because of the nature of the hammer action and the infinitely compicated behavior of the harmonics produced by different string combinations. When you hit a chord on a digital piano and it just doesn't sound the same, that's the wall digital piano makers haven't been able to get around. To my knowledge, there's isn't a digital piano that exists that truly reproduces the tone and richness real pianos offer.

There are obviously unlimited advantages to digital pianos, however, such as volume control, the precious convenience of recording and replaying, sophisticated metronome functions, etc. Whatever programmers can think of to make the instrument more comprehensive to the pianist's training needs are the strength of digital pianos. You also have portability, and, in most cases, affordability. So it may not necessarily be an open-and-shut if you're not so much a connoisseur of authenticity.

Here's a page I got off google that goes into it a little deeper.
http://www.concertpitchpiano.com/DigitalVsAcoustic.html
Pianos are such dignified instruments - they're either upright or grand!
Piano Lessonswith Master Teachers

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Re: Digital vs. acoustic: old debate

Post by markymark » 06 Jan 2008, 15:42

archivist wrote:But seriously I began to think about the whole digital vs. accoustic thing and what is better. I put the question to the "piano" general thread which probably was not a good idea, because I got a few rather snappy replies trashing the idea of a digital. I thought you guys would be more objective. So what do you think? I also noticed the "Pianist" magazine uses a digital Roland for their CD to go with the scores, so surely it means they think it's professional enough? I am a bit confused, and would love your input.
Many thanks!
The digital piano then is really what is says – a digital version of the acoustic piano. As with any replicas or emulations of an original, there will be a few short-comings, particularly given how compact a digital is to an acoustic. Although many of the Yamaha CLP range do a fantastic job of reproducing the key action of an acoustic, the sound quality still isolates you from the final sound. When I play my acoustic, I love feeling the sound in the keys and hearing the resonance from the soundboard of the piano which varies slightly even within the “loud” and “soft” ranges. You don’t get this with the digitals and that’s where I feel the digital falls down mainly.

The question of professionalism among digital instruments is not really the main issue when comparing them with acoustics. Digital instruments were mainly designed to allow us to interact with the instrument so that sounds and settings could be combined, tweaked, adjusted to suit our needs. Brand names such as Roland, Korg, Kurzweil, Alesis and even Yamaha have produced many stage pianos and keyboards that combine a weighted feel with the flexibility to adjust the default settings on the keyboard. There are many arranger keyboards or controllers within these brands that allow you to sequence and edit performances, write music to MP3 formats as well as the normal layer, split and reverb options. Some will also come with rather sophisticated drum rhythms for song writing and composing. I’m really only skimming the surface here!

Having said that, I own a CP300 stage piano, which I absolutely love and where the acoustic falls in sound and production options, the digital will pick up the slack. As a composer and songwriter, being able to save arrangements and to connect your digital to a keyboard is a God-send. In popular music settings, digital instruments are much easier to record, amplify, equalise than acoustic instruments. I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that acoustic instruments are certainly harder to work with at the mixing desk too!

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Re: Digital vs. acoustic: old debate

Post by markymark » 21 Jan 2008, 21:34

archivist wrote:Hello there! I am a beginner adult on the piano (background in classical guitar and singing). I put the question to the "piano" general thread which probably was not a good idea, because I got a few rather snappy replies trashing the idea of a digital.
You are a new member then, aren't you! :wink:

You walked into that situation with your eyes closed taking a digital piano question into the general piano forum! "Digital piano" is almost a bad word in there... :lol:

Having said that, they are more or less right. To add to the digital vs. acoustic debate, the digital piano/stage piano/keyboard market behave similarly to that of the computer. When the new model comes out, the former one soons becomes obsolete!

That is one of the more serious downsides to a digital piano.

Antz
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Electronic digital vs strung acoustic - both please

Post by Antz » 06 May 2008, 10:16

I've had a real piano nearby since I was a child, and started learning officially at age 7. The straight-strung English piano I'd had for the last twenty years recently died (wont hold a tune anymore and not worth fixing).

So I embarked on a hunt for its replacement - another real :wink: piano, of course.

But I've ended up with two pianos instead - a new digital (Yamaha DGX620) and another old upright (1904 Feurich 50")! Best of both worlds.

Two late teenage children love the digital - the variety of sounds & voices, the ability to layer instruments, record, connect to PC, duets with different instruments via split keyboard etc.

I like the digital's headphone option (actually, the sound is much better quality out of headphones, than from the DGX620's built in speakers!). Great for late at night, or when people are studying or watching movies or, if I'm honest, just whenever I'm playing something for the ten thousandth time.

My wife pretty much only plays the Feurich, but everybody else plays both.

A new digital can spoil you because of the relatively good sound and consistent action for much less money than a real piano with comparably good sound & touch. To get a real strung piano which sounds as good and whose touch is as consistent as a new digital tends to cost considerably more.

However, nothing quite beats the thunder & reverberation of a strung acoustic piano. I don't like the rapid decaying of sound on the digital, nor the very bell-like treble, though the bass is stunning - I'd have had to pay five-ten times as much to get an acoustic with comparable bass sounds.

Digital vs acoustic? It's not either/or, it's both/and for me! :D

Cheers,
Anthony Cooke

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Post by Grenache » 06 May 2008, 12:14

Hi Anthony,

I also replaced an aging upright recently, but I chose an accoustic Yamaha U1 with the SG silent option, which is blessing for my family when I want to practice when they want peace & quiet.

The piano voice sounds great with the Yamaha headphones but they are uncomfortable to wear for long periods. I also tried playing with my Sennheiser hi-fi headphones and the sound was better still. But I must admit that the accoustic piano sound is better than the digital samples.

I haven't tried the midi functions yet, but one day I'll get round to it.

I agree that some of the extra voices can offer variety, but for a pianist they tend not to be used too much. However the harpsichord voice on the SG is absolutely superb, and I do use it to play some baroque pieces which were originally written for that instrument.

So, I also have the best of both worlds!

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Post by markymark » 06 May 2008, 17:03

Wow! This really is resurrecting an old post!

I think you're right Anthony. As I think I said in my post, they both have their strengths, so much so that I would say there is a case for having both an acoustic and digital piano.

I have a P121N and a Yamaha CP300. I enjoy both of them, although the CP300 is more versatile for music production. It is nice however to move between instruments as you move from one style to another for example.

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