If you’re in the market for a keyboard, you may be wondering what the difference is between a MIDI keyboard and a digital piano. While each instrument has benefits and drawbacks, it may be tough to determine which is best for you. In this article, we will discuss the key differences between MIDI keyboards and digital pianos, as well as some of the pros and cons of each instrument. We’ll also provide some helpful tips on how to choose the right keyboard for your needs!
What is a Digital Piano?
A digital piano is an electronic musical instrument that produces sound by means of digital signals that simulates the sound of a traditional acoustic piano. It uses samples of real acoustic pianos to create its sound, which is then amplified through speakers or headphones. Many digital pianos on the market use recorded samples of actual pianos to produce their sound. In addition, they often come with weighted keys, built-in speakers, and a host of other features.
If you’re a beginner or intermediate player looking for an authentic piano experience without any of the bells and whistles, then a digital piano is perfect for you. Digital pianos are often used in the home for personal enjoyment, or in schools and music studios for teaching and performance. They are also ideal for use in small spaces, as they are typically much smaller and lighter than an acoustic piano. However, digital pianos can be more expensive than MIDI keyboards, and they often lack the same level of flexibility and expandability.
Digital pianos come in a wide range of sizes and styles, from portable keyboards to full-size instruments with 88 keys. They also have a variety of different features, such as weighted keys, built-in speakers, and USB connectivity.
Furthermore, digital pianos usually have more sounds and voices than MIDI keyboards. This is because they use samples of real acoustic instruments to create their sounds, rather than synthesized waveforms. This gives them a more realistic and authentic sound that can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels.
Digital pianos usually have built-in effects, such as reverb and chorus, that can be applied to the sound. These effects can add depth and texture to the tone, making it more versatile for different styles of music.
Digital pianos typically have a headphone jack, which allows you to practice without disturbing others. This can be beneficial for late-night practicing, or for use in noisy environments. 
What is a MIDI Keyboard?
A MIDI keyboard is an essential tool for any musician. It can be used to generate sounds and convert them into music, which you will then hear through speakers or headphones. MIDI keyboards can imitate natural sounds, such as the sound of a piano or guitar, or they can create new, unique sounds. Some of the most popular MIDI keyboards are the Akai MPK249, the M-Audio Oxygen 49, and the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49. MIDI is a protocol that allows electronic instruments to communicate with each, something which has been integral for musical composition for many years now.
You can find a wide range of MIDI keyboards, from 25-key controllers to full sized 88 keys. The number of keys determines the range of notes that the keyboard can play. MIDI keyboards come with various features that set them apart from traditional keyboards, such as velocity-sensitive keys and aftertouch. You’ll also find pitch bend and modulation wheels on some models. Some have piano style keyboards while others include drum pads and faders that allow you more control over your music production process. A MIDI keyboard typically has black and white keys that are set up like a regular piano would be. They can be used for live performance, or for composing and recording music in the studio.
MIDI keyboards can be connected to a computer using a USB cable, or they can be connected wirelessly using Bluetooth. MIDI keyboards can also be connected to iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. 
MIDI Keyboard vs. Digital Piano
With all of the different digital pianos and MIDI keyboards on the market, it can be hard to pick which one is perfect for your needs. They each come with a unique set of pros and cons that make them ideal for disparate intents. In this article, we’ll break down the key differences between MIDI keyboards and digital pianos so you can make the best decision for your needs.
Portability: Weight and Size
One of the main differences you’ll notice between a MIDI keyboard and digital piano is portability. MIDI keyboard controllers are typically small and lightweight, making them ideal for traveling musicians or those who don’t have a lot of space in their homes for musical equipment. Digital pianos, on the other hand, tend to be larger and heavier due to their built-in speaker systems.
MIDI keyboard controllers come in a variety of sizes, from 25 keys up to 88 keys. The number of keys you need will depend on your level of experience and the type of music you want to play. If you’re a beginner, a smaller model with 25 or 37 keys may be all you need. For more advanced players, a 61- or 88-key model will give you a wider range of notes to work with. Digital pianos also come in a variety of sizes, but they all have 88 keys like a traditional piano. If you’re serious about learning to play the piano, an 88-key digital piano is the way to go.
The keys on a MIDI keyboard controller are typically non-weighted, meaning they don’t have the same resistance as the keys on a traditional piano. This makes them less responsive to your touch, but it also makes them lighter and easier to play. Some higher-end MIDI keyboard controllers do have weighted keys, which can give you a more authentic piano playing experience. Digital pianos always have weighted keys, which means they’re heavier and harder to play than the keys on a MIDI keyboard controller. Digital pianos are designed to provide a realistic piano playing experience.
Another difference you’ll find between MIDI keyboard controllers and digital pianos is velocity sensitivity. Velocity sensitivity means that the keys are sensitive to how hard you press them, and this can affect the sound of your music. For example, if you play a piano note softly, it will sound different than if you play the same note with more force. Velocity-sensitive keys allow you to replicate this effect when you’re playing a MIDI keyboard controller. Not all MIDI keyboard controllers have velocity-sensitive keys, but many do. If you want a piano that responds to how hard or soft you play, opt for one with velocity-sensitive keys. Digital pianos always have velocity-sensitive keys, so you can produce the same soft-to-loud sound effects that you would on a real piano.
The sound quality of a MIDI keyboard or digital piano is an important consideration, as it will affect the overall tone and feel of your music. There are a few factors to keep in mind when assessing sound quality:
- The number of voices or timbres available. More voices means more options for creating unique sounds.
- The number of polyphony voices supported. Polyphony refers to the number of notes that can be played simultaneously. More voices means more complex chords and melodies can be played without dropouts.
- The overall tone quality. This is a matter of personal preference, but some sounds may be too harsh or tinny for your taste.
When it comes to MIDI keyboard vs digital piano, there is no clear winner in terms of sound quality. It really depends on your personal preferences and what type of music you want to play.
The feel of a keyboard is important when playing a piano. Digital pianos have been made to feel like an acoustic piano. Weighted keys add heft and resistance under your fingers, helping with dynamics and phrasing. The keys on some digital pianos are coated with a smooth synthetic ivory called Ivory Feel-G™. This gives the keyboard a softer, more organic feel. Digital pianos also have a variety of touch-sensitive settings that can be customized to your playing style. These settings affect how the keys respond to your touch, from very light to very heavy. You can also set the release time, which determines how long the sound continues after you lift your finger off the key. Most MIDI controllers have unweighted keys, which can make them feel cheap and plastic-y. The good news is that many of them are designed with portability in mind, so they’re lighter and smaller than digital pianos. This makes them ideal for traveling musicians or those who want to save space in their homes.
MIDI Keyboard: A MIDI keyboard usually has 5-pin MIDI In/Out ports to send and receive MIDI data to and from other devices. It may also have a USB port to connect to a computer. Digital Piano: A digital piano will have different input/output ports than a traditional one – namely, a USB port to connect it to a computer. A digital piano has keys that send MIDI data when pressed. In addition to the keys, a digital piano usually has buttons and/or a touch screen to control the functions of the instrument.
Action (keys/buttons) MIDI Keyboard: A MIDI keyboard has keys that send MIDI data when pressed. Keys aren’t just for pressing anymore; some have buttons or pads that can make different sounds or control settings.
MIDI Controller options
The most popular type of MIDI Controller is the keyboard controller. A physical interface that allows you to control sound parameters for electronic musical instruments, computers or other devices with just your fingertips.
There are several different types of keyboard controllers available on the market today, each with their own set of features and capabilities. The piano-style keyboard controller is the most common type of MIDI Controller. It typically has a full sized, 88 key keyboard and can be used for all sorts of music making purposes from performance to composition with ease. Piano-style keyboard controllers are designed to emulate the feel of a traditional acoustic piano. They usually have weighted keys that create a resistance when pressed, just like a real piano. If you’re looking for a way to create music that sounds like it was played on an old-fashioned piano, then this type of controller will be perfect. There are many different varieties available; some come with just one note while others allow more complex melodies and chords as well. A keyboard controller is a physical interface that allows a user to control sound parameters of electronic musical instruments, computers or other electronic devices. 
MIDI controllers are often built with durability in mind. Many models feature metal casing and hard-wearing keys that can withstand years of use. Digital pianos, on the other hand, are not as rugged. The moving parts inside a digital piano make it more susceptible to wear and tear. Worth noting, however, that some digital piano manufacturers are now offering extended warranties of up to 5 years. Also, if you take good care of your digital piano, it can last for many years. However if you are looking for an instrument that will withstand years of heavy use, a MIDI keyboard is the better option.
The cost of a MIDI keyboard can range from as little as $50 to over $1000. A digital piano, on the other hand, will generally cost between $200 and $2000.
Pros and Cons Keyboard and Digital Piano
Advantages of MIDI Keyboard:
- They are usually smaller and lighter in weight than digital pianos, making them more portable.
- Keyboards with a wider range of assignable controls, such as pitch bend and modulation wheels, aftertouch, and sustain pedal inputs, are typically more versatile. This allows for greater expressive possibilities when playing.
- MIDI keyboards that come equipped with sequencing and arpeggiator features can be extremely beneficial for music production.
- MIDI keyboards are an excellent way to control virtual instruments and external sound modules. You can also use them with your computer, so they’re perfect for tablet players too.
Disadvantages of MIDI Keyboard:
- They usually have a smaller number of keys, typically ranging from 25 to 61. Fewer keys can make some digital pianos less able to play complex pieces or two-handed passages.
- Instead of having separate keys for velocity and pressure, the ones on a standard MIDI keyboard are sensitive to both velocity (how hard you press) as well as force application.
- Most MIDI keyboards don’t contain speakers, so you’ll have to hook them up to something that does.
- They can be more expensive than digital pianos, depending on the features and build quality.
Advantages of Digital Piano:
- Most grand pianos typically have 88 keys. This makes them more suited for complex piano passages or two-handed playing.
- The keys on a digital piano are often pressure-sensitive. This means that they can detect not only how hard you are pressing the keys, but also how much pressure you are applying.
- Digital pianos often have built-in speakers, so you don’t need to connect them to an external sound system.
- They can be less expensive than MIDI keyboards, depending on the features and build quality.
Disadvantages of Digital Piano:
- They are usually larger and heavier in weight than MIDI keyboards, making them less portable.
- They typically have a narrower range of assignable controls, such as pitch bend and modulation wheels, aftertouch, and sustain pedal inputs. This can limit the expressive possibilities when playing.
- Digital pianos often do not come with built-in sequencing and arpeggiator features.
- They offer less flexibility when it comes to connecting to other devices and computers. For example, you cannot use a digital piano to control virtual instruments or external sound modules. 
MIDI Keyboard vs. Digital Piano: What’s the Difference?
Explore the comprehensive differences between MIDI keyboards and digital pianos, including key action, sound quality, portability, and common use cases, in this informative table.
|Key Action||Sound Quality||Portability||Use Cases|
|MIDI Keyboard||Varies (based on virtual instruments)||Portable and lightweight||Music production, MIDI instrument control|
|Digital Piano||High-quality sampled piano sounds||Generally less portable (heavier)||Piano practice, live performance, stage use|
Explanation of the Table:
- Key Action: Describes the type of key action on each instrument.
- Sound Quality: Reflects the quality of sound produced by each instrument.
- Portability: Discusses the instrument’s ease of transport.
- Use Cases: Outlines the typical applications and scenarios for each instrument.
Understanding the detailed differences between MIDI keyboards and digital pianos can guide you in selecting the right instrument for your musical needs:
MIDI Keyboard: MIDI keyboards offer versatile key action that varies based on the virtual instruments they control. They are highly portable and lightweight, making them ideal for music production and MIDI instrument control in studio and live settings.
Digital Piano: Digital pianos are known for high-quality sampled piano sounds and realistic key action that emulates the feel of an acoustic piano. They are generally less portable due to their weight but excel in piano practice, live performances, and stage use where authentic piano sounds and key action are essential.
Whether you’re a music producer, a pianist, or a live performer, understanding these detailed differences will help you choose the instrument that best suits your musical aspirations.
Should I get a digital piano or MIDI keyboard?
It depends on what you need. If you need a larger number of keys, pressure-sensitive keys, or built-in speakers, then a digital piano may be a better option for you. If you need a smaller and lighter keyboard, more assignable controls, or built-in sequencing and arpeggiator features, then a MIDI keyboard may be a better option. Worth noting is that MIDI keyboard controllers often cost more than digital pianos. Also, digital pianos typically have a better sound quality than MIDI keyboard controllers.
Can you use a MIDI keyboard as a digital piano?
The answer is yes, but with some caveats. A MIDI keyboard is useful for playing and controlling a digital piano, but it falls short in replicating the full experience or functionality. For example, a MIDI keyboard will not have weighted keys or velocity-sensitive keys, which are important features for many pianists. Additionally, MIDI keyboards typically do not have built-in speakers, so you will need to connect the keyboard to an external sound system in order to hear it. However, if you are looking for a more affordable option that can still be used to play and control a digital piano, a MIDI keyboard is a good choice.
What is the difference between a MIDI keyboard and a keyboard?
A keyboard is an input device that sends data to a computer or other electronic device. A MIDI keyboard is a type of keyboard that uses MIDI to send and receive data. MIDI is a protocol that allows electronic musical instruments and computers to communicate with each other. MIDI keyboards are used in a variety of applications, such as music composition, live performance, and music education. Also, Check Best 88 Key MIDI controllers. MIDI keyboards come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from standalone controllers to all-in-one workstations. They usually have a piano-style keyboard with a minimum of 25 keys, although some models have more. MIDI keyboards also have a variety of knobs, pads, faders, and buttons that can be used to control sound parameters such as volume, pitch, and timbre. Digital pianos are a type of electronic keyboard designed to mimic the sound and feel of an acoustic piano. They typically have weighted keys, multiple voices (e.g., piano, organ, strings), and onboard speakers. Some models also include a sustain pedal and other features that are found on acoustic pianos. Digital pianos are used by musicians of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. However, they are most commonly used by students and hobbyists.
Is a digital keyboard the same as a digital piano?
A digital keyboard is a type of musical instrument that can be used to play songs on your phone or computer. Digital keyboards usually have less full-size keys than regular pianos, but they’re great for making quick adjustments when you need them. This makes the digital piano better for simulating a traditional acoustic piano feel, while the digital keyboard is better for portability and ease of use. The two most popular types of keyboard instruments are digital pianos and keyboards with the latter being more widely available. Digital Pianists often come equipped for practice by including features such as built-in speakers or headphone jacks, but not all those found in this category have these additional benefits. This again comes down to portability and ease of use; digital pianos are designed to be played at home, while digital keyboards are made for easy transport and setup. Worth noting is that some digital pianos come with stands and pedals, while others do not – this is something to keep in mind when making your decision.
Can you use a MIDI keyboard without a computer?
A MIDI keyboard can connect to a standalone device, allowing you to use the keyboard without a computer. However, most MIDI keyboards will require some form of power in order to operate. Additionally, using a MIDI keyboard without a computer will limit your ability to create and edit music. Also, keep in mind that some standalone MIDI devices may not be compatible with all MIDI keyboards.
What is a MIDI keyboard used for?
A MIDI keyboard is used to create, record, and edit music using a computer. It is an input device that connects to a computer or other electronic musical instrument via a MIDI cable. A MIDI keyboard usually has piano-style keys, but it can also have other types of keys, such as organ-style or synth-action keys.
MIDI keyboard keys are velocity-sensitive, meaning that the harder you press a key, the louder the sound will be. MIDI keyboards also have aftertouch, which is pressure-sensitive. This means that you can add vibrato or other effects by pressing down on the key after you’ve struck it. MIDI keyboards also have pitch and mod wheels, which you can use to control pitch and modulation.
Also, some MIDI keyboards have built-in displays that show you information about the notes you are playing, the velocity of your keystrokes, and other data. MIDI keyboards are used in a variety of settings, including studio recording, live performance, and education.
Do you need speakers for a MIDI keyboard?
MIDI keyboards generally do not come with built-in speakers. This means that you will need to connect your MIDI keyboard to a computer or an external sound system in order to hear the sounds it produces. If you are planning on using your MIDI keyboard for live performances, then you will definitely need to invest in a good quality sound system. Also, keep in mind that some MIDI keyboards come with a headphone jack, which can be used for private practice or recording sessions.
Can you hear a MIDI keyboard?
MIDI keyboard is one of two types of controllers that can be used to create music. It is a digital device that sends out signals to control the sound and playback of other electronic devices. A MIDI keyboard cannot be heard on its own, as it does not produce any sound. It must be connected to a computer or another type of sound system in order to be used. Worth noting , however, that some newer models come with a built-in sound system. Also, keep in mind that not all MIDI keyboards are the same. Some models have more keys than others and some have special features such as pitch bend or modulation wheels.
Do any MIDI keyboards have speakers?
MIDI keyboards generally do not have built-in speakers. However, some MIDI keyboard controllers come with USB connectivity that allows you to connect the device directly to your computer. This way, you can use the controller as a MIDI interface and play sound through your computer’s speakers or headphones. Also, many digital pianos have MIDI ports that allow you to connect a MIDI keyboard and use the digital piano as a controller. However, not all digital pianos have this feature.
How does a MIDI keyboard differ from a digital piano?
A MIDI keyboard and a digital piano are distinct musical instruments. A MIDI keyboard primarily generates MIDI data to control external devices or software, while a digital piano is designed to replicate the sound and feel of an acoustic piano, producing sound directly from built-in speakers.
What is the primary function of a MIDI keyboard in music production?
The primary function of a MIDI keyboard is to transmit MIDI data to control external devices or software, allowing you to play and manipulate virtual instruments or synthesizers without producing sound on its own.
How does a digital piano differ from a MIDI keyboard in terms of sound production?
A digital piano is equipped with onboard sounds and speakers, replicating the sound and feel of an acoustic piano. It produces sound directly when you play its keys, while a MIDI keyboard relies on external devices or software to generate sound.
Which instrument is better for piano playing, a digital piano, or a MIDI keyboard?
For piano playing and piano-like feel, a digital piano is typically the better choice. It replicates the touch and sound of an acoustic piano, making it suitable for pianists. A MIDI keyboard is more versatile for music production and electronic music.
What features distinguish a digital piano from a MIDI keyboard, and vice versa?
Digital pianos prioritize realistic piano sound and touch, often featuring weighted keys and high-quality piano samples. MIDI keyboards focus on control and versatility, offering various modulation tools like knobs, faders, and pads for music production.
Are there specific music genres or applications where one is more suitable than the other?
Digital pianos are ideal for classical, jazz, and any music where piano authenticity is crucial. MIDI keyboards are well-suited for electronic music production, sound design, and live performances where versatility and control are essential.
Can you use a MIDI keyboard and a digital piano together in music production?
Yes, you can use a MIDI keyboard in conjunction with a digital piano for music production. The MIDI keyboard provides additional control and modulation capabilities, allowing you to enhance your compositions and performances.
What factors should I consider when deciding between a MIDI keyboard and a digital piano?
Consider your musical goals and preferences. If you prioritize piano playing and realism, choose a digital piano. If you want versatility and control for music production, a MIDI keyboard may be more suitable. Additionally, consider your budget and available space.
Useful Video: Keyboard VS Digital Piano – What are the Differences?
So, what’s the difference between a MIDI keyboard and a digital piano? The answer is quite simple – it all depends on how you intend to use the instrument. If you need a versatile musical tool that can be used for both composing and live performance, then a MIDI keyboard is the better option. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an authentic piano experience, then a digital piano is the way to go.
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