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Once the basic parameters were established, I reached out to colleagues who are piano teachers or musical directors to get a sense of what models were in highest rotation in the professional world. I also played several models at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in January. From there I searched through Amazon, Musician’s Friend, and Sweetwater for available models, then cross-checked that information with manufacturer websites and added anything that was missing. After considering all that information, I decided to limit the price to $500. That was high enough to include several quality-built keyboards that met all (or most) of the criteria without being too pricey. This gave me a list of 21 models from nine different companies.

An acoustic piano produces reverberation in its soundboard and in the room where it is played. Digital pianos often have a feature to electronically simulate reverberation as well. Other digital pianos may have additional reverberation options such as a "stage simulation." Some also have chorus, tremolo, and phaser effects, all of which are generated by digital signal processing.

Sheet music from the 1920s provides evidence that the drummer's sets were starting to evolve in size and sound to support the various acts mentioned above. However, the first "talkies" or films with audio, were released circa 1927 and by 1930 most films were released with a soundtrack and the silent film era was over. The downside of the technological breakthrough was that thousands of drummers who served as sound effect specialists were put out of work overnight. A similar panic was felt by drummers in the 1980s, when electronic drum machines were first released.

Digital pianos and keyboards are designed to accomplish very different things. Digital pianos, as the name suggests, are intended simply to be a digital replication of an acoustic or grand piano. Digital pianos have weighted keys so that the experience of playing one more closely resembles a traditional piano. Digital pianos are ideal for those who want to learn to play the piano but don’t want to pay the incredibly high cost of purchasing one or deal with the hassle of finding space for one. After all, there’s almost nothing cheap, easy, or convenient about buying or owning a traditional piano. Digital pianos have been designed to mitigate these factors by being less expensive, easier to maintain, and much easier to transport. Digital pianos are also beneficial for more advanced musicians that want to record their music onto a computer.
Just like the acoustic instruments they're derived from, digital pianos come in different sizes. They also offer dozens of options for your perusal, so you can weigh all kinds of factors to find the right model for you. For instance, if you're looking to pack a lot of piano into as small a space as possible, consider instruments such as the Williams Allegro 88-Key Digital Piano or the Casio CDP-120. These are fairly compact pianos, but that doesn't limit the breadth of their samples and sound settings.

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