I vaguely have thought that some good digital pianos sound sharp and a bit sophisticated. They might be only an imitation of accoustic pianos, but are there many people who use digital pianos for their cold and urban tone?

Only recently heard that Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai was recorded by Yamaha p155 or something.

Oh, I have another question related to this too. If digital pianos are essentially inferior, are synthesizers the only thing to stand against accoustic pianos? Synthesizers have many controllers and settings which makes it quite expensive, but I find that their natural piano sound is so much more decent than general digital ones. There are Nord stage series and S90ES from yamaha which has some great piano sound. Why is that? Can't they just make digital pianos with that only one sound and those weighted hammers?(S90ES has its reputation for its weighted keys.)

  • Product recommendations are off topic here, but find some demos of Pianoteq and see what you think. My piano teacher used to have a Grotrian-Steinweg grand (some G-S family members emigrated from Germany to the USA and renamed themselves Steinway....) which I played for many years. Pianoteq have recently brought out a model of a G-S grand which sounds "exactly the same as the real thing" to my ears - including the annoying little flaws in the real thing that you find after years of playng one!
    – user19146
    Aug 1, 2017 at 5:24
  • Oh, is it what they call a virtual instrument or VST? I'll definitely check them out. I've heard Pianoteq somewhere before.
    – Victoria
    Aug 1, 2017 at 5:59
  • Victoria - welcome to the site. Please read our tour and How to Ask pages to understand what questions are in or out of scope, and please stick to one question per post.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Aug 1, 2017 at 11:14
  • I notice my mistake. I'm sorry and post a better question next time. Thanks for all who helped me in this post.
    – Victoria
    Aug 1, 2017 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


Recording live piano is, to be blunt, a pain in the rear. With a digital piano, you can record keyboard events and play them back exactly the same for every take; you can adjust the timing or velocity of any note; and it is easy to record into a mix. With a real piano, you are limited by the skill of the pianist, and you have to mic the thing (there is a whole art to this by the way), set it up in a silent room, and record everything very carefully. If you need to change something, you need to call the pianist and record it all over again.

Clearly, digital versus real piano has its pros and cons.


Digital pianos are far less expensive to own, maintain, and record, so they have made their way on to many records going back at least to the 1980s for reasons of cost as well as sound.

Nothing sounds bad but thinking makes it so, which means sometimes a digital piano is the right sound for a track. Sometimes it's just close enough and fits in the recording budget.

Obviously digital pianos are also popular for live concerts for the same reasons.

The word synthesizer has many meanings, and certainly any digital piano can be described as a certain kind of synthesizer. So to wonder about the difference between digital pianos and "synthesizers" doesn't make a lot of sense.

  • Thank you for the answer. But isn't the synthesizer more of a high-end instrument that the generic digital piano? And in that sense and for the sake of performing on-stage, doesn't they care more on their synthesizer's permormance on piano sound(many people modify them or just use VST though.) and hammers?
    – Victoria
    Aug 1, 2017 at 6:07
  • I've heard sayings in a Jazz forum that recommend synthesizer over digital pianos if you're not buying an accoustic. What possibly might that be I wonder... maybe those people are stage performers that naturally go to synthesizers.
    – Victoria
    Aug 1, 2017 at 6:09
  • A digital piano has a few preset sounds, whereas a "proper" synthesizer is unlimited in the sounds and envelopes that it can produce. Aug 1, 2017 at 8:21
  • 3
    @Victoria I'll say it again, a digital piano is a synthesizer. It is a purpose made, sampling synthesizer that also uses component modeling. Jazz forum people are probably talking about analog subtractive synthesizers when they use the word. A classic example of an analog subtractive synth is a Minimoog. It is a keyboard musical instrument but other than that is nothing like a digital or acoustic piano, so it doesn't make much sense to decide between the two. The Nord Stage products combine a digital piano with other digital models, including a subtractive synth model. Aug 1, 2017 at 10:15
  • 2
    Victoria - to your comment about synthesisers being more high end... not at all. Both synthesisers and digital pianos range from very expensive to incredibly cheap, in fact the cheapest sysnthesisers tend to be cheaper than the cheapest digital pianos, as they have much simpler circuitry.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Aug 1, 2017 at 11:13

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