1. The sound
The digital piano produces sound by playing pre-recorded sounds of acoustic pianos. The method and equipments used to record these tracks affect the quality of the sound. A good digital piano should sound warm and less digital, closely mimicking an acoustic piano. With that said, everyone prefers different sound quality, and it is important to choose a piano that sounds nice to you.
Apart from the general quality of the sound, you should also listen for the articulation and the decay—the start and the end—of the sound. A digital piano with better control over articulation and decay more closely resembles an acoustic piano and thus sounds more natural.
2. The number of keys
A full-sized piano consists of 88 keys. However, some digital pianos come with only 61 or fewer keys. For advanced piano players, a piano with 88 keys is required. Therefore, if you’re a beginner who’s serious about learning the piano, it is advisable for you to get a full-sized piano.
Polyphony refers to the maximum number of sounds that a piano can produce at any time. This means that a piano with 32-note polyphony can produce up to 32 notes at once. Intermediate players should get pianos with at least 64-note polyphony. For advanced pianists, getting a piano with 128-note polyphony or more is desirable.
One question that I frequently hear is this: a full-sized piano has 88 keys, why should there be a piano with 128-note polyphony? This is because the use of the sustain pedal allows the piano to produce many notes at once. If you’re playing a long string of notes while using the sustain pedal, the piano could be producing more than 88 notes at some point.
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