MIDI keyboard vs. Digital piano: learning the differences

The world of key instruments has gotten more and more complex over the years. Decades have passed since the dawn of synthesizers, but their impact is felt just as strongly nowadays. Digital platforms and music software are the industry standard nowadays, where pianos and keyboards play a major role in how songs and different compositions end up sounding. For music experts, there is little they can’t achieve in terms of sound without the right instrument and digital interface. However, for people new to the music scene, it can be a bit confusing to tell exactly what the differences are among so many key instruments. Below, we will break down the main differences between two of the most popular ones: the MIDI keyboard and the digital piano.

What is a digital piano?

A digital piano, just like its name indicates, is a digital version of the traditional acoustic piano we all know. Whereas acoustic pianos rely on strings and hammers to produce notes when someone presses a key, digital pianos mimic this mechanism without those parts. There is an “acoustic” component to it, given that you still play both pianos the same way. The difference, though, lies in how the sound is generated.

Digital pianos tuned to play like a classical, acoustic piano will reproduce a sound as close as possible to the one that instrument would make upon pressing the same key. However, due to the inherent limitations of digital instruments, manufacturers can only fit so many tunes of the same note. This makes the digital pianos lack the qualities that make acoustic pianos so rich in their sound.

On the other hand, digital pianos compensate for their lack of sound fidelity with many useful features. These instruments often have a rich polyphony library and can offer a wide variety of timbres. On top of that, they can mimic other instruments that you can play using the keyboard of the piano, including not only key instruments but also percussion and string instruments. Last but not least, most digital pianos on a professional level can be used as MIDI controllers.

So what is a MIDI keyboard and how is it different?

A MIDI keyboard or controller is a key instrument that isn’t technically an instrument. It is rather a tool that integrates qualities of key instruments, more specifically digital pianos, to allow musicians, audio professionals, and other sound and music creatives to record, create, and edit music via a digital interface.

Simply put, the MIDI keyboard can generate sound and music digitally, but its purpose goes beyond that and into the realm of music arranging, mixing, and editing. For this purpose is that these controllers feature a lot of additional buttons, sliders, and other parts that traditional digital keyboards do not have. MIDI controllers have a lot of potential uses and are very versatile devices, which sets them apart from other digital pianos and keyboards that can be used as MIDI keyboards but lack the sophistication and complexity that these devices can offer. For a comprehensive list of the best MIDI keyboards currently available, make sure to check reviews by mrpianist.com.

124 thoughts on “MIDI keyboard vs. Digital piano: learning the differences

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