Digital Piano vs Keyboard vs Synthesizer

Ever wondered what these three types of musical instruments have in common or how they differ from each other? Every musician should understand the comparison of digital piano vs keyboard vs synthesizer to be in a better position to choose one that will suit their needs.

Contrary to popular belief, a keyboard is not similar to a synthesizer. This post will have an in-depth look at the differences between these instruments and help you understand them better.

Digital Piano

Image Credit: Kytary

A digital piano is an electronic keyboard instrument that primarily serves as an alternative to an acoustic or traditional piano. It serves as an acoustic piano both in the way it feels when playing, as well as the sound. The difference between a digital piano and the real/acoustic piano is that it uses recorded samples or synthesized emulations of an acoustic piano, which are then amplified through the provided internal loudspeakers.

Digital pianos also include weighted keys that tend to recreate the feel of a traditional piano. Some digital pianos are also resemble a grand or upright piano.

Types of Digital Pianos

Some of the various types of digital pianos include:

  • Upright digital pianos – These offer a classical design similar to that of an acoustic upright piano. The expensive models are similar to acoustic upright pianos in their outer appearance. Upright digital pianos are mainly ideal for home use and are typically costly.
  • Grand digital pianos – These tend to resemble a grand acoustic piano and have a more precision keyboard action, and high-quality sound system. The sound system is built into the unit’s cabinet similar to the strings on a grand acoustic piano.
  • Stage digital pianos – Just as the name suggests, stage pianos are suitable to use on live stage performances. However, you can also use them in studio recordings or as professional audio. Stage digital pianos normally try to imitate the design of acoustic pianos.

There are also other types of digital pianos such as portable and hybrid digital pianos.


digital piano vs keyboard vs synthesizer
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The keyboard is the actual instrument, unlike a synthesizer which is not an actual instrument. Keyboards also resemble acoustic pianos, since they mostly come in black and white colors, and also have different sound features. Unlike acoustic pianos, keyboards use electricity to function, so when you press their keys you’re completing an electric circuit signaling tone production.

Keyboards are simply defined as the combination of MIDI and sampling because the key presses trigger MIDI, which links to the corresponding samples. Another thing you need to note about keyboards is that they are portable and easy to use. It’s easy to carry and transport a keyboard.

Types of Keyboards

The various types of keyboards include:

  • Workstations – These offer the best control and can deliver in-depth editing to your music. They also include sequencing that allows players to record and edit parts and layers on top of each other.
  • Synthesizers – These are also part of the keyboard which we’ll discuss below in detail.
  • MIDI controllers – They don’t generate sound independently but require a connection to a sound source to be heard. This may include DAW or a sound module. The good thing about MIDI keyboards is that they are cheap and easy to use.
  • Portable arranger keyboards – These serve people who need high-end sounds. They tend to compete with workstations, although they are not as flexible.
  • Performance synthesizers – These deliver the best experience since they come with solid editing capabilities and excellent preset management. They mainly focus on control.


digital piano vs keyboard vs synthesizer
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Synthesizers are found in keyboards – although a keyboard doesn’t need to have one. Since a synthesizer is not an actual instrument, it’s more like a controller. However, synths tend to be more complex than keyboards. This is because they imitate acoustic sounds such as vibrations in the air.

Synthesizers also feature an oscillator, which is where the sound comes from and this creates electrical signals. The signal’s transmission then goes through an amplifier and into a speaker. When they reach the speaker, they become vibrations and eventually sounds.

Digital Piano vs Keyboard vs Synthesizer – Which Is the Best Option?

All these three musical instruments are unique in their own way. If you’re a pianist or want to learn to play the piano, then I would recommend buying a digital piano. Digital pianos come in different sizes and offer distinct features designed for both beginners, intermediate, and advanced players.

However, if you want more control then keyboards and synthesizers are the best options to consider. That’s because these instruments are suitable for studio recording and live performances.


The comparison of digital piano vs keyboard vs synthesizer all boils down to your needs. What do you need the instrument for? Also, are you certain the musical instrument you want to buy will serve you appropriately? These are crucial questions to ask yourself before buying either of these three instruments we’ve discussed here.

As always, we hope our post has been able to help you and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to us through email.