Audio vs. Midi for Piano: What’s the Difference? | Piano Marvel

Audio vs. Midi for Piano: What’s the Difference?


As you begin your piano journey, you might wonder what the difference is between an audio signal and a MIDI signal when playing the piano. Find out more about the key differences here.

While navigating the world of digital pianos, you likely have come across the terms audio (or analog) signal and digital (or MIDI) signal.  Understanding the difference between these two types of signals can provide you with a knowledge base that can give you a leg up in your endeavors in playing and recording music.  So what’s the difference?

Audio Signals 

Audio signals correspond to the actual instrument’s sounds, meaning its acoustic or electronic waveform is directly captured. To put it simply, an audio signal is all about capturing the actual, continuous, analog sound wave that an instrument makes. So, you can’t really make an edit or remove tones or sounds once the audio has finished recording.  Traditional acoustic pianos generate audio, or analog, sound waves.

MIDI Signals (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)

MIDI signals, on the other hand, are created by sequencing the specific data and details about each note played, rather than generating any actual sounds on the piano or any other instrument. That is the main difference between an audio signal and a MIDI signal, as the MIDI makes no sound, instead capturing the data of each note. The benefit of creating music digitally is that you can more readily make edits and changes to your recordings, since it is easier to manipulate data in the form of "ones" and "zeros" than it is to manipulate the actual analog sound wave, without losing the integrity of the sound wave itself.  A MIDI signal, therefore, can provide more convenience and flexibility. 

Which Is Best?

When using piano learning software, like Piano Marvel, your best option currently is to utilize a digital, or MIDI-capable piano, over an acoustic piano. Using a MIDI-capable piano allows you to take full advantage of all of the features Piano Marvel has to offer.  A MIDI-capable piano captures the data you input, which helps our piano learning software guide you along your journey, as it accurately determines whether you’re playing the correct notes, thus helping to ensure you get the specific feedback you need to catch mistakes, help you identify the areas in which you can improve, and ultimately excel in learning to play the piano.

That being said, however, there is still no substitute for an acoustic piano when it comes to producing an overall, good-quality, analog sound.  With the skills you pick up from the feedback you get through learning and playing on a MIDI-capable piano, you will be able to present your final, polished performance on an acoustic piano that can truly showcase your musical talent with its rich, natural-sounding tones.

Though we recommend using a MIDI-capable piano when using Piano Marvel—as you can connect it directly to our learning software—it’s important for you to know that you can also use Piano Marvel on an acoustic piano using the Book Mode function.

Book Mode allows you to manually track your progress and play along with pieces and exercises. Book Mode is designed for practice without a MIDI connection and does not provide the feedback and scores that our Assessment Mode does when using a MIDI-capable piano.

Additionally, we now have our Microphone Assessment option out in a limited beta capacity on select iOS products that allows Piano Marvel to capture the notes you play from an acoustic piano by analyzing the actual audio, or analog sound wave generated by an acoustic piano!

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