Feeling unsure of what exactly to look for in a digital piano? Here’s a basic, easy to understand overview of the main specifications and features of a digital piano.
Number of Keys
88 Key: This is the same number of keys as a real piano and is most ideal for learning, practicing, and playing the piano.
76 Key: Though a less common choice for learning the piano, 76 key models such as the Yamaha P121 can be a good choice for those wanting the feel of a piano, as it has weighted keys. Not all 76 key models have weighted keys however, so it is important to check
61 Key: Ranging from keyboards with hundreds of sounds and rhythms to explore creativity at home, to workstations and synthesizers suitable for the stage. 76 key models also exist in this category.
The sound engine is the technology used to produce the sound. Unlike acoustic pianos which produce sound from a hammer striking a string and resonating through a wooden soundboard, a digital instrument uses recorded samples of a piano, or a type of technology called ‘modelling’ which closely models the sound, feel, and behaviour of an acoustic instrument.
Each brand has their own name for the technology that they use and they all sound slightly different from one another, much in the same way that different brands of acoustic pianos each have their own distinct sound.
The way the keyboard feels is often described as the ‘action’. You might have heard of ‘weighted keys’ – it’s important to learn piano on an instrument with weighted keys to develop the muscles and dexterity in the fingers.
Graded Hammer Action technology takes it one step further in giving the player an authentic piano playing experience. If you’ve ever had a good look inside an acoustic piano, you’ll see that the hammers that strike the strings are larger – and therefore heavier – in the bass end of the piano, and smaller at the top. The natural effect is that the keys at the bottom feel heavier and gradually get lighter as they go up.
Digital piano technology emulates that feeling by making the keys heavier at the bottom, and lighter as they go up – depending on the brand, this can be called ‘Graded Hammer Action’, ‘Scaled Hammer Action’, ‘PHA-4’ (progressive hammer action) to name a few. Just like the sound engine, each brand uses their own technology and terminology.
There are also variances in the key’s texture across the different brands. A beginner is unlikely to have a strong preference (though, some do!), but an experienced player is likely to have a preference for a particular key feel.
Please note that 61 key keyboards generally do not have weighted keys.
Polyphony is the amount of notes you can play at once.
The ability to record your playing and store it on the keyboard
In the past, a specific midi cable and keyboard port was required to connect the keyboard to the computer for recording midi. These days, the majority connect via a USB cable. Once connected, you can record midi using your preferred recording program.
A metronome is a click sound which keeps you playing in time. You can set the tempo and time signature. It’s an incredibly useful practice tool.
All current digital pianos have a headphone jack to connect headphones with. Depending on the type of headphones you own, you may need to buy a small adapter. These are not costly.
Any more questions related to a specific model? Feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced piano specialists on 1300 888 279