Beginners often think that a digital piano and electronic keyboard are the same. Both are electrical instruments that operate either with battery or a power source. Neither of them have hammer and string components, which make the similarity more apparent. But a closer look would suggest that there are clear distinctions which separate one from the other.
Keyboards are portable and hence are called by the name. The number of keys in a keyboard ranges from 49 to 61. The one with 49 keys is widely used. The electric version is bigger in size and offers a higher range of notes, similar to a Fisher Price first keyboard for a child. It can be used on any surface like tabletop, countertop, or a keyboard stand available in any instrument shop.
Digital Pianos on the contrary look more like standard acoustic piano. It stands upright or in the form of a grand piano. It has wood finish and looks like furniture. The general idea of a digital piano is to replicate the look and feel of a classic piano. Digital Pianos come with a built in stand and thus are harder to store than a portable keyboard which can be slid off under the bed or put away in a closet.
An upright digital piano weighs 100 lbs at the most. Though grand piano version weigh much more than this yet is lighter than the acoustic grand piano. As most digital pianos weigh less than 100 lbs, it becomes a convenient alternative to the traditional variety. It gives the feel anf the appearance of the acoustic piano but is more portable.
Portable electronic keyboards on the other hand weigh only 20 lbs, which makes it under a quarter of the heaviest upright digital piano, due to its compact design. Even with a portable stand, keyboards weigh lesser than vertical piano and can be moved from one place to the other without any hassle. Narrower models of digital piano also cannot compete with the size of an electrical keyboard. Most DJs, digital artists prefer keyboard to synthesize sounds during events.
Ability to store sounds and record music is the best feature of an electronic keyboard. A traditional acoustic piano does not have this feature. On both the devices sounds can be amplified with the help of speakers or amplifiers. You can also play music privately with the help of headphones plugged into the port.
The preset sounds and effects that are stored in electronic keyboards often sound computerized, electric or phony. The flip side of keyboards is that volume is limited and all models cannot be plugged into amplifiers.
Digital pianos often contain selection of same sounds and effects that are found in the keyboard. The main difference is that sounds in digital piano gives genuine sounds unlike keyboard’s phony and computerized sounds. The sounds often are of various other musical instruments, which are sampled from top instruments; as a result the sounds are more apt.
Electronic instruments are less sensitive. Portable keyboards are known to have ‘plasticy’ and light visual aspect and feel. Now a day’s manufacturers try to improve on the touch sensitivity of portable keyboards. The difference in volume depends on how hard or soft you press the key. This feature does not come with all portable keyboards and are generally categorized as unweighted keys. Keyboards are also limited as far as number of polyphonies is played due to the limited number of notes.
However the keys on digital piano are opposite. The digital piano accomplishes the motto of creating electronic simulation of an acoustic. Digital Piano re very similar to grand acoustic piano as it is designed to have heavier weighted keys that help in building muscle structure required to master the skill and art of piano playing. Its bass octaves sound deeper due to the feature of ‘graded hammer action’. Unlike the portable keyboard, digital piano boasts of notes that range from 32 up to 64 notes or more, and thus give better polyphonic tones.
The portable keyboard is budget friendly ranging from RM300 to RM1500 depending on the brand, function and keyboard size. The best digital piano with 61 key notes might cost you approximately RM300.
The Digital piano is available in as low as $300, but majority will range from $500 to $1000 or a bit more.
Holistically, keyboards can be fun affordable instruments as well as device for learning. Digital pianos are preferred as it replicates an acoustic piano, but a more budget friendly option is electronic keyboard. However if you do not have budget crunch then beginners may opt for a digital one.