The fidelity with which series elastic actuators (SEAs) render desired impedances is important. Numerous approaches to SEA impedance control have been developed under the premise that high-precision actuator torque control is a prerequisite. Indeed, the design of an inner torque compensator has a significant impact on actuator impedance rendering. The disturbance observer (DOB) based torque control implemented in NASA's Valkyrie robot is considered here and a mathematical model of this torque control, cascaded with an outer impedance compensator, is constructed. While previous work has examined the impact a disturbance observer has on torque control performance, little has been done regarding DOBs and impedance rendering accuracy. Both simulation and a series of experiments are used to demonstrate the significant improvements possible in an SEA's ability to render desired dynamic behaviors when utilizing a DOB. Actuator transparency at low impedances is improved, closed loop hysteresis is reduced, and the actuator's dynamic response to both commands and interaction torques more faithfully matches that of the desired model. All of this is achieved by leveraging DOB based control rather than increasing compensator gains, thus making improved SEA impedance control easier to achieve in practice.