In recent years, we have seen an incredible improvement in the quality of digital pianos. They now offer better sound than ever, and advances in materials have enabled designers and manufacturers to offer digital pianos at a lower price than ever before. The portability of digital pianos also makes them the ideal choice for those who alternate between indoor and concert performances. It is for all these reasons that digital pianos have become incredibly popular with musicians and especially beginners. Nevertheless, a number of features and options may seem confusing to novices.
As always, Donner is here to help ensure you have the perfect instrument in your hands. We hope that after reading this little buying guide, you will be more comfortable in your choice of acquisition.
Introducing the Digital Piano
The Digital Piano was developed in the 60s and 70s, and became popular in the 80s and early 90s as an excellent substitute for the massive acoustic piano. The operation of a digital piano is simple: an electronic signal is created when one of the keys is pressed, according to the velocity and the force with which the key was activated but also according to other conditions such as the position of the foot pedal, the piano will reproduce a sound appropriate to the situation. This sound produced comes from a library of sample recordings, i.e. sound samples recorded from a real acoustic piano, in order to reproduce the sound of hammer mechanics as realistically as possible. Every instrument that uses this sample recording technology to reproduce the sound of a piano falls into the category of digital pianos.
Before you make your final decision on whether to purchase your piano, there are a few features you should consider first.
Why Choose a Digital Piano?
If you are still undecided about whether to buy an acoustic or digital piano, here are some important aspects you should consider in your decision.
Adjusting Volume and Variable Tones
Like all electric instruments, the sound volume of a digital piano is easily adjustable. On the better models, you can even adjust the EQ (equalizer) to get the exact sound you're looking for. On a digital piano, you can also plug in your headphones / pair of earphones, in order to immerse yourself in your world of music, without disturbing the people around you. Digital pianos notably benefit from a variety of sounds other than those of a piano. With just a press of a button, you can get the sound of guitar, bass, flute, violin etc.
Portability and Cost
Playing an acoustic piano will give you all the elegance in the world, however there is one major problem: its portability. For people who need to travel with their instrument often, the portability of a digital piano is a necessity. Digital pianos are also much cheaper than their acoustic piano counterparts. Acoustic pianos also require a lot of maintenance to keep them functional and in tune, which can come at a cost.
Registration and Extension
As a beginner, recording your progress and sharing it with others can be rewarding. With its recording feature, you can easily record your songs in high definition. Digital pianos also have jack outputs, allowing you to record your songs more directly with other hardware. Recording your songs from an acoustic piano would require more hardware and a perfectly controlled environment.
Most digital pianos have many built-in educational tools, such as backing tracks (accompaniment tracks), or even metronomes. Some even display the notes on the monitor screen. These features can be extremely beneficial for beginners to help them practice their fundamentals.
Types of Digital Piano
Upright Digital Piano
Upright pianos, also known as console pianos, are generally used for domestic purposes. They generally benefit from better furniture, giving them the appearance of traditional acoustic pianos with their three pedals. And even if it doesn't look like it, it benefits from the many electronic components of a digital piano, more than built-in speakers. Thanks to its traditional assets, it will embellish your interior.
With 128 polyphony and 8 premium sounds, the DEP-10 with semi-weighted touch gives you a pleasing playing response. In addition, the 3 pedals (Soft/ Sustain/ Sostenuto) ensure a certain quality and more expression for your performances. Whether you're on stage or in a room, you can play your favorite music with your headphones (6.35mm jack) or on your amplifier. Resulting from quality know-how and equipped with high-definition sound, this instrument will accelerate your learning and perfect your performance. Progress is immediately visible with a quality instrument!
With its 128 polyphonies, the Donner DEP-20 gives you 200 rhythms and 238 premium piano sounds. Its heavy touch keys allow you to better feel what you play. The DEP-20 has standard piano pedals and audio jack outputs.
Portable Digital Piano
With a different design philosophy, portable digital pianos are designed to be more portable for players who alternate between studio and stage performance. Unlike upright digital pianos, portable pianos are supported by a stand. They also usually have fewer pedals but more rhythms and sounds available. Portable models also usually have more options than upright pianos, which is why it is important to know your musical needs well before making a choice of acquisition.
The Donner DEP-45 benefits from a duet keyboard mode, splitting the keyboard in two, with identical notes, as if it were two separate keyboards. This mode is generally very useful when it comes to teaching, the teacher and the student can then play on the same keyboard with similar notes and tones. This keyboard is intended for more experienced musicians. The extra duet voice feature can play two different sounds from the recording library on just one keyboard allowing you to play two different parts at the same time. The DEP-45 is suitable for MIDI connections for your computer, allowing you to expand the recording possibilities of your songs.
Important Digital Piano Features You Should Pay Attention To
When an instrument is evaluated, sound quality is always a priority. Digital pianos are no exception to the rule, and their sound quality depends mostly on their electronic components. Even if a digital piano has an excellent library of sound recordings, without quality output it will not sound good. When evaluating a digital piano, it is still important to look at the average realism of its sound. More generally, the best digital pianos have more memory, which allows them to reproduce a wider range of sounds and therefore reproduce the tones of an acoustic piano with more realism and fidelity.
Key Response and Sensitivity
Key touch, response and feel are extremely important factors to pay attention to. This is a point that you will face directly and the feeling of playing the keys will be a determining factor in your enjoyment of playing your instrument. On acoustic pianos, the sound is produced thanks to a mechanism of hammers. These hammers connected to the keys by wires will therefore cause a certain tension when they are played. Things are therefore more complicated to reproduce on digital pianos. There are three types of touch for the keys on the digital piano: unweighted, semi-weighted and weighted. If your budget is limited but you still want a quality keyboard with a playing feel similar to that of an acoustic piano, digital pianos with weighted or semi-weighted keyboards could be an excellent alternative for you! These keys replicate the playing feel of hammer action tuners. In particular, if you are looking for a playing sensation similar to that on an acoustic piano, on your electric piano, you can choose a weighted keyboard, with a heavy touch therefore, which is also embellished with progressive weighting. As on an acoustic piano, the higher notes require less effort to activate the hammer action than the lower notes, heavy touch and then progressive throughout the keyboard, and heavy touch digital pianos, 100% weighted, can replicate it.
Another important key factor that could affect your playing is the sensitivity of the keys. As mentioned in the introduction, velocity-sensitive sensors detect the speed and force at which keys are struck. With this data, they calculate which appropriate sound to reproduce corresponding to a similar situation on acoustic piano. High-end digital pianos capture the smallest subtleties of your playing, while determining the timbre and sound to be reproduced.
Don't Be Impressed by the Number of Sound Effects
It may seem fun to be able to play many other musical instruments than the piano on your keyboard, however you should not fall into the trap of quantity over quality. While it's fun and intriguing to be able to play many instruments with just your keyboard, you'll find out soon enough that the first mode, classical piano, will be the one you'll use the most. This is why its quality is not to be neglected.
Polyphony refers to the number of notes a piano can play at once. Basic models offer 32 or 64 note polyphony. We recommend that you take a piano with a polyphony of at least 32 notes. The greater the polyphony, the better. You can go up to 128 notes and even higher if you need it.
Amplification et Sorties
If you have more home use, although most digital pianos come with built-in speakers, having a good quality amplifier can be important. But if you play on stage, make sure your piano has all the ports necessary to connect to a real sound system.
The Donner Digital Piano has many inputs, outputs and jack settings.
Accompaniments and Tools
To help beginners in their learning, piano manufacturers have incorporated features that can help them progress faster. Most pianos available on the market offer the possibility of being able to play rhythms at different speeds while you practice. These rhythm sequences allow you to exercise your sense of tempo and understanding of playing speeds. If these percussions seem too distracting to you, you can simply activate the metronome function. Practicing along with a metronome is highly recommended for beginners. Many models also benefit from a screen to be able to visually follow the notes, chords, and sheet music played or which must be played. This feature is also very popular with beginners.
Whether you are buying a piano to play at home or on stage, you will definitely need accessories.
If you are buying a digital piano and no stand is included in the bundle, you will definitely need to buy one separately. They are generally foldable, adjustable and easily transportable.
You will most definitely need to be seated comfortably at your piano, so a piano bench/stool is an important item to check. Sitting comfortably will allow you to be totally focused on your performance.
On a bench with an X-leg you can adjust the size with three screw positions, to ensure you are comfortably seated when playing your instrument.
Donner X-Shaped Benches feature high-density foam that won't deform and can support up to 250 pounds.
If you play an acoustic or digital upright piano, a classic bench is ideal, however, they do not adjust. These benches are made of wood and will prove their strength over time. The foam resists deformation and can support up to 140Kg. They also have storage for your notebooks and sheet music.
Amplifier and Cables
In general, to be heard, the piano speakers will do the trick. However, when you do gigs, a digital piano amplifier and cables are necessary.
If you have any questions about the digital piano or any other related subject, do not hesitate to contact us by clicking on the "Contact us" button. We will be happy to help you!