THE ULTIMATE SOUND EXPERIENCE
When it comes to computers, cars, and phones, we are quick and willing to replace old technologies. When it comes to pianos, though, it is much harder to convince those who love acoustic pianos of their newer, digital counterpart’s quality. While it is still the case that a well-made grand piano has no substitute, the makers of quality digital pianos have come increasingly close as each year passes.
Music is as old as the shepherd with his pan-pipes, but now
it also is as new as the space age. Ikutaro Kakehashi, Founder of Roland [ 1 ]
No Tuning Required – Digital pianos have the benefit of needing no internal moving parts; this means no pegs or strings lose their tension and fall out of tune. Depending on the city and the condition of the piano, a visit from a professional tuner can cost anywhere from $80-$200. That's a hefty price to pay every year.
Easily Transported/Portable – Digital pianos don't have the cast iron plate or soundboard of an acoustic piano, and are thus significantly lighter. Add to this the durability of digital components—when compared to the sensitivity of acoustic strings, pinblocks, and actions—and a digital piano becomes the obvious choice for someone on the move.
Something many people fail to consider after a big move is that an acoustic piano is already under immense stress from its own string-tension (on average about 180-220 lbs per string). Additional torque is hard on the piano's structure, and may necessitate a tuning or conditioning upon arrival. A digital piano, however, will be plug and play.
Variety of Sounds – For those who value variety, a digital piano has the flexibility to become almost any instrument. Pre-loaded sound libraries are standard, with many digital pianos having the option to download more from the manufacturer or from 3rd party providers. Children are especially prone to practice fatigue, and this feature can be used to pique their interest and re-engage their attention.
Roland’s HPi-50e even allows the player to personalize the sound of the piano, adjusting hammer noise, string resonance, and temperament to suit the individual’s taste.
No Cleaning/Less Maintenance of the Inside – A digital piano imitates the action of an acoustic piano at a significantly lower maintenance threshold. While all instruments are sensitive to dust and moisture, digital pianos do not require the same care for complex internal mechanisms.
Electronic components aside, a digital piano is less susceptible to water damage, as the case will not be critically damaged by moisture. Dust and other debris, wear and tear, and even damage on the hammers is not an issue; whereas these can impact the sound quality of an acoustic piano very quickly, and require a professional to remedy.
Less Space – The benefits of a digital piano become extremely apparent in smaller spaces. While a grand piano is typically at least five feet long, a digital piano, like Roland's HPi-50e, can be a compact but suitable option for students and professionals alike. Many digital pianos offer the ability to modify acoustic variables, allowing the player to adjust the reverb and volume.
PA/Amplifier Hookups – The “gig” is a staple of the traveling musician, and not every venue comes equipped with an acoustic piano. Small venues, or even unorthodox venues, might require equipment be portable. Luckily, digital pianos are very easy to move, and they also come with PA/Amplifier hookups, which allow them to be quickly assembled and easily heard with the help of speakers.
Weighted Keys – The best digital pianos mimic the subtle action of acoustic pianos by recreating the mechanisms responsible for the latter’s unique, sensitive feel. The action of the weighted keys on high-end Roland V-Piano Grands is nearly indistinguishable from acoustic keyboards. This grants the player a realistic feel during practice and performance, preparing them for a larger stage.
Durability – Acoustic pianos, despite their size, are deceptively fragile and sensitive instruments; and they are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in their environment, like humidity or temperature changes. The minute expansion and contraction of the fine materials used in acoustic pianos can lead to damage over time, if not properly accounted for by humidifiers and temperature controls.
A digital piano, short of a major flood, is effectively immune from these slight fluctuations—meaning less maintenance, less cost, and less time spent worrying about keeping the piano in prime condition.