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#1334948 - 12/27/09 07:56 PM Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out?
jameskey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/09
Posts: 43
Loc: United States
Just had a visit with a local piano dealer, who has been in business for over 100 years. He sells mostly acoustic pianos, and a small selection of digital pianos. He feels that within 10 years almost 100% of the market for new pianos will be digital. With the advances with the V-piano and the Avant Grand, he feels that both Yamaha and Roland will build on that technology and move forward, and at the same time, much like the computer market, prices will come down. He felt that because of the cost of building and maintaining acoustic pianos, the digital market will continue to grow. What do members think? Cheers!

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#1334963 - 12/27/09 08:15 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: jameskey]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Unless they can make an acoustic piano that won't go out of tune, more and more people will turn to digitals, especially with the newer technology replicating the sound and the action so accurately....now, they can even replicate the feedback.

I see Chick Corea is is endorsing the Yamaha Avant Grand N3...no doubt more will follow, and we must also remember, the Avant Grand N2/N3 are supposedly the beginning of a whole new series. The V-Piano will also have it's own offspring.

I think Yamaha, who makes acoustic pianos, has realized that digitals are a serious consideration, since the Avant Grand was developed by both the acoustic and electronic divisions.

There will be those of the "I must have an acoustic" persuasion, but they are getting less in numbers...most of my piano playing friends in Nashville are using digital pianos for live gigging, although a few studios still rely on the acoustics that they've had for years.

Mic'ing an acoustic for stage use is very difficult...in a studio, the mics are more or less left in place permanently.

I won't miss the acoustic piano if it does become extinct. I don't miss my Steinway B one tiny bit since I've been playing the Avant Grand.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1334982 - 12/27/09 08:36 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: snazzyplayer]
Melodialworks Music Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 1309
Loc: Canada
When I was making the deal for the purchase and installation for my Rodgers organ, I made part of the deal that they would remove my Nordheimer upright grand. The dealer told me that he had a warehouse full of such pianos, which he couldn't sell. People mostly wanted digitals or small acoustics. No market at all for larger instruments. (So I guess size does matter!) I had tried to sell the Nordheimer, with no success, and then offered it for free, with still no takers.

When I listed my HP-207 for sale (one of two that I owned at the time) it sold within 1-1/2 weeks. (I had two: one for home use, and one for the church. I still use the one at the church - very effective for rehearsing the choir.) I replaced my home HP-207 with a Roland RD-700gx, which I then replaced with V-Piano, and now I'm thinking of the Yamaha CP1).

Some purchasers of grand pianos are buying it for status or furniture, and cannot even play it! (Sad, but true). However, most buying grands are actually buying them to to play them!

Lawrence
_________________________
Melodialworks Music
Yamaha C3X
Yamaha CP300 + Omnisphere
Yamaha NU1 + Production Grand

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#1335028 - 12/27/09 09:48 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: jameskey]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: jameskey
Just had a visit with a local piano dealer, who has been in business for over 100 years. He sells mostly acoustic pianos, and a small selection of digital pianos. He feels that within 10 years almost 100% of the market for new pianos will be digital. With the advances with the V-piano and the Avant Grand, he feels that both Yamaha and Roland will build on that technology and move forward, and at the same time, much like the computer market, prices will come down. He felt that because of the cost of building and maintaining acoustic pianos, the digital market will continue to grow. What do members think? Cheers!


He is right. The market for Acoustic pianos will decline. Already it is literally 1/10th of what it once was. In my Grandmother's time (she was born in 1911) most houses had pianos in them. Today very few do.

But I think there will always be acoustic pianos in the way that there will always be clarinets, violins and drums. An acoustic grand piano is needed for public performance of classical works and people will want to practice on them. My experience (and some experiments I've done) lead me to believe that anything that sounds like a grand piano will need to be as large and massive as a grand piano. The cost of DPs is going down but not the cost of such large and massive objects.

I think digitals will mostly cut into sales of the uprights pianos.

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#1335029 - 12/27/09 09:49 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: snazzyplayer]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4338
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
I see Chick Corea is is endorsing the Yamaha Avant Grand N3

I think Yamaha endorses Chick Corea:

http://www.yamaha.com/Artists/ArtistDetail.html?CNTID=29415

If so, I'd take that with a huge grain of salt (i.e. completely ignore it).

Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Mic'ing an acoustic for stage use is very difficult.

Agree 100%. I jam a MIDI file into standalone Pianoteq and a out pops a wave file on the other end. Incredibly simple & it totally fools me (which is all I ask - I'm really easy to please when it comes down to it).
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1335033 - 12/27/09 09:54 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: dewster]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4338
Loc: Northern NJ
Largely, yes. Though it will go out faster if DP manufacturers can get their act together.

That is all.
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1335039 - 12/27/09 10:04 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: dewster]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: dewster


I think Yamaha endorses Chick Corea:

http://www.yamaha.com/Artists/ArtistDetail.html?CNTID=29415

If so, I'd take that with a huge grain of salt (i.e. completely ignore it).



You'd better watch all that salt...it's bad for your pressure. wink

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1335122 - 12/28/09 12:32 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: snazzyplayer]
Glenn NK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 457
Loc: Victoria BC
I'll echo other opinions above, with one proviso: Acoustic grand pianos will not likely ever be completely eliminated.

Their numbers will drop significantly, but they won't disappear completely (I've a piano rebuilder friend that is considering a change in careers because acoustic sales are way down).

Of course, these comments are going to incur the wrath of a certain individual (un-named) that will be incensed over them.

. . . just waiting . . .

Glenn

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#1335191 - 12/28/09 04:15 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: Glenn NK]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
The acoustic piano industry will basically parallel the photographic industry. Just look at the once giant of the industry Kodak, now a mere shadow of its former self. Only as recent as 1990, any talk of digital photography would ever over take that of film photography would be considered unlikely. Besides, people were so familiar with the universality of the 35 mm film, and digital photos had such poor resolution.

Once there were 35 mm film processing and printing shops everywhere. Then some years back, they started to go out of business very rapidly to now, you would be hard pressed to find yourself a custom film processing and print enlargement shop that still handle either B&W or color film. For the acoustic piano, it will be the availability of the piano tuner technician. Once those professionals start declining significantly in numbers, it is no longer an option for most consumers to buy an acoustic piano whether or not it is better or not.

A small number of very skilled tuners will always be available to service the concert hall and conservatories, the very serious places, but for homes, it may get to a point where a consumer would either have to learn piano tuning as well or just buy a digital. Those who live near large cities may be able to hang on to their acoustics a bit longer while the tuners are still available. But at some point, the few available tuners would have to charge so much that few would want to pay the increasingly more expensive cost of maintaining a niche product unless the piano happens to be in Carnegie Hall or Julliard's.

With Moore's Law in effect and computing power doubling every 18 months, it is only a matter of time that a small processing circuit the size of a small notebook computer would have enough processing power to virtually recreate the experience of of an acoustic piano or at least the difference between a virtual piano and a real piano would no longer be enough to matter to any amateur. It is only a matter of time.

_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#1335228 - 12/28/09 06:25 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2190
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: 4evr88keys
With Moore's Law in effect and computing power doubling every 18 months, it is only a matter of time that a small processing circuit the size of a small notebook computer would have enough processing power to virtually recreate the experience of of an acoustic piano or at least the difference between a virtual piano and a real piano would no longer be enough to matter to any amateur. It is only a matter of time.


For recording, we've already reached that point IMHO.

Greg.

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#1335250 - 12/28/09 07:21 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: jameskey]
Ludwig van Bilge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/09
Posts: 204
Acoustics may be in decline but real pianos won't go away so long as there's people who know the difference between a piano and a simulator and who can afford the real thing. As good as high end digitals are they ain't pianos any more than flight simulators are airplanes.

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#1335259 - 12/28/09 07:38 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: Ludwig van Bilge]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: Ludwig van Bilge
Acoustics may be in decline but real pianos won't go away so long as there's people who know the difference between a piano and a simulator and who can afford the real thing. As good as high end digitals are they ain't pianos and never will be.


I can't agree with you there, Mr. Bilge. I've just replaced a Steinway B with an Avant Grand, and I couldn't be happier. I've had plenty of experience (40 plus years) with acoustic pianos, and most of it has not been good. Tuning, has always been an issue with me, and, although I don't have perfect pitch, it is definitely up to scratch enough to hear the instrument go out of tune with itself and other instruments.

My Steinway is in fantastic condition, but after a few weeks, it starts to go out, as do most acoustics...then, it needs the services of a tuner; which involves money and inconvenience.

Sorry, but even a decent digital provides much more playing pleasure for me; of course, your mileage obviously varies, but perhaps your ear can "adjust" to tuning discrepancies (or you know how to tune), but I can not.

The quicker the demise of the acoustic...the happier I will be.

They should rip out the innards of grand pianos, and put in a digital piano, for those who have to have the look.

And finally...digitals are pianos...not acoustic pianos, but pianos nevertheless...they sound like pianos, they play like pianos, and with the Avant Grand, they feel like pianos...they just hold their tune 100% better...that's all.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1335281 - 12/28/09 08:27 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: snazzyplayer]
Ángel Santana Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/27/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Gran Canaria (Spain)

Hi.

I think that acoustic pianos will never dissapear. Digital pianos are very nice, flexible, suitable for an apartment or small house, don't need maintenance... I chose one, even when I own an old W.H. Barnes upright piano.

I'm sure manufactures will be closer and closer to a real piano, but your ears and hands will still finding diferences, and if not, the prices for these instruments will be very high. Technology is always becoming cheaper, but not wood, and also the human touch applied for making musical instruments.

I tried to argue from another point of view: why can anyone re-sell a second hand mint condition acoustic piano for a good price? Can do the same with a digital one?

I'm not an expert on the piano market, I only tried to get the solution for my needings, and it was a Kawai CN32. But I'm into the guitar world for many years, and I know that good musical instruments will never dissapear, and it's almost impossible to get them for cheaper prices.

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#1335299 - 12/28/09 09:06 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: Ángel Santana]
Masume Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/09
Posts: 90
Loc: Germany
Well, I know and understand the advantages of digital pianos and I wouldn't want to miss those advantages, but under no circumstances can they truly replace a true, acoustic piano, not yet anyway and I believe not in a long time. I have tested AvantGrand and V-Piano, and they are absolutely awesome and on a recording it would be hard to distiguish acoustic from digital and advancing technology might make the feel and sound of digitals even better, but what makes a real difference is the sound production itself. Even in the great AvantGrand you can obviously hear speakers playing piano sound. It's kind of like hearing a recording of incredibly great quality, but still a recording and not a live performance. You can hear the difference between real strings and fake speakers.
And on a less rational side, it's just more fun knowing you play a REAL instrument, not a great simulation =D
I'm not an enemy of digital pianos, I nearly bought a v-piano myself, and I'm sure digital pianos will sell better than acoustic ones, but the idea of the acoustics dying out altogether is preposterous.

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#1335304 - 12/28/09 09:14 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: Ángel Santana]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11427
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
The one thing that I think DPs are a long way off in duplicating an acoustic are the acoustic properties of an instrument. The entire instrument vibrates in order to create the sound, not just the strings and the sound board. With a DP, if anything vibrates with it it is an annoyance, a disturbance to the sound. Because of the need for DP manufacturers to eliminate any sympathetic vibrations in the instrument, we only get the sound from the speakers - by design - and the sound is mostly directed somewhere. Acoustic piano sound goes out in all directions from an acoustic (although some directional sound is created by the lid). This allows the sound to fill the room and bounce off of everything in it. Now I suppose if you could spend $10k on some nice speakers and put them in the right place for the shape of the room, you might be able to get close. But then it's more like you are the audience and not the performer, because the instrument still isn't vibrating, only the speakers are.

For classical pianists, I think that acoustic pianos will remain. I do believe the days of having an upright in every household are gone, however. I will recommend an acoustic (in good condition) any day to a student except if size or sound bleeding is a consideration.

As for the tuning thing, if I had to I could certainly learn how to do it myself. I have watched my piano tuner enough that I know I could get a few books or take a class and do it.

Something I want to point out, however, is that when listening to all the great piano software out there, the downfall is that everything is perfectly in tune, and so it was recommended to me by someone (ChrisA I believe) that you want to detune a couple of the keys to make it sound more realistic. I think that when you are listening to any live instrument in a concert, the slight out of tuneness is what makes it alive and exciting. I'm not talking about someone constantly singing flat, but simply that there is something organic and alive about this aspect that is desirable. A digital that doesn't have a few notes detuned sound very sterile, IMO.
_________________________
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1335307 - 12/28/09 09:24 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: Masume]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11427
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Masume
Well, I know and understand the advantages of digital pianos and I wouldn't want to miss those advantages, but under no circumstances can they truly replace a true, acoustic piano, not yet anyway and I believe not in a long time. I have tested AvantGrand and V-Piano, and they are absolutely awesome and on a recording it would be hard to distiguish acoustic from digital and advancing technology might make the feel and sound of digitals even better, but what makes a real difference is the sound production itself. Even in the great AvantGrand you can obviously hear speakers playing piano sound. It's kind of like hearing a recording of incredibly great quality, but still a recording and not a live performance. You can hear the difference between real strings and fake speakers.
And on a less rational side, it's just more fun knowing you play a REAL instrument, not a great simulation =D
I'm not an enemy of digital pianos, I nearly bought a v-piano myself, and I'm sure digital pianos will sell better than acoustic ones, but the idea of the acoustics dying out altogether is preposterous.

Hehe, we were typing at the same time! I agree with you wholeheartedly. There is something exciting about playing my acoustic pianos vs. the digital, and I love my Roland fp-7. I was playing my parent's Clav (not sure the model, but whatever the base model is), and I was not impressed with the sound quality at all, although it felt OK to play. But it was really the fact that you don't feel like you are making the sound yourself, but just a spectator. Similar to those video games where you "play" and instrument by pressing the Y button over and over again, though certainly the same skills to play well on an acoustic are required to play well on a DP. Simply the disconnect from the physical manipulation to the acoustic sound is the troubles me. It's like banging a pot with a spoon but the sound coming from somewhere other than where the spoon hits the pot.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1335309 - 12/28/09 09:25 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: Masume]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Selling a second hand acoustic, unless it is a big name instrument, like Yamaha, Bechstein, Steinway, or Bosendorfer to name some, you are going to have a tough time getting a decent price.

Those with Young Chang, Samick or Pearl River are in a very tough situation.

Even worse, is trying to sell an upright.

There are plenty of stories to back this up in the other sections of this forum.

Generally, people buy an acoustic grand for life, but situations change...divorces, deaths, and the need for different living conditions often force the sale of these instruments, and, generally, the outcome is not good, unless the instrument has a valued name...and even then, there are sometimes big losses.

Yes, there will be acoustic grands used in concert halls, and maybe the odd jazz club, and of course, some homes, but the buying direction is definitely away from acoustic and towards the convenience of the digital.

The original poster mentioned almost 100% would be digital in 10 years...almost is not all...but we're getting closer every year.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1335317 - 12/28/09 09:40 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: snazzyplayer]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11427
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I am not disagreeing with this, except to say that for classical piano aficionados, whether professionals or amateurs, there will be a preference because of the disparity in the way the sound is produced. There is also a difference in feel, but I think that technology will soon be able to overcome that issue if they haven't already (I haven't played a V-piano or Avant). Even a good upright piano I think is better than a good digital in this area.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1335323 - 12/28/09 09:55 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: Morodiene]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: Morodiene


I am not disagreeing with this, except to say that for classical piano aficionados, whether professionals or amateurs, there will be a preference because of the disparity in the way the sound is produced. There is also a difference in feel, but I think that technology will soon be able to overcome that issue if they haven't already (I haven't played a V-piano or Avant). Even a good upright piano I think is better than a good digital in this area.


I agree wholeheartedly about the classical bunch..."There must be a grand piano, Cedric!"

But, although an upright might feel better than most digitals (except the Avant Grand...the V-Piano feels exactly like any other high-end Roland digital), it is still subject to tuning discrepancies. I have no quarrel with the "sound" and "feel" of an acoustic piano, grand or ungrand...but, I do dislike their propensity to drift out of tune, thus requiring maintenance.

Concert halls have their pianos tuned before an important performance...I feel every performance by even the most beginning beginner is important and a piano in proper tune encourages one to play better.

An out of tune piano encourages nothing.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1335329 - 12/28/09 10:04 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: jameskey]
kimba Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/29/09
Posts: 5
Reminds me of my old Andrew Kohlar upright I tried to sell. Eventually, I eneded up pushing it down the street and giving it to some kids who wanted to learn piano. I am very happy with my Triton Extreme. Sounds great and I can take it to gigs with me. No way will I ever own a piano. Don't get me wrong, I love the instrument and grew up with one. However, today's technology just offers way too many options and convience.

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#1335347 - 12/28/09 10:26 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: kimba]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1438
Loc: Australia
Whilst I hope that there will always be people who can afford to own and maintain a quality acoustic instrument ( sales of Rolls Royce motor cars have steadily increased over the past five years, when those of mass market producers have slumped),

I am beginning to agree with Dewster, in that DP manufacturers have sat on their hands for far too long, content to supply an eager mass market with inferior products, in the interests of 'shifting boxes'.

If a relatively small outfit, such a Moddart, can bring us an amazing, (if not yet, totally convincing) product, just imagine what the 'Big 4' could develop, with their huge R&D budgets, and technical resources!
_________________________
Rob

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#1335357 - 12/28/09 10:31 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: R0B]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Pianoteq...does it play with that connectedness that elevates it to an actual instrument? No. In my opinion it does not. No tactile feedback whatsoever.

The ideal would be a combination of sampling and modeling.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1335369 - 12/28/09 10:41 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: Morodiene]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3159
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

Something I want to point out, however, is that when listening to all the great piano software out there, the downfall is that everything is perfectly in tune, and so it was recommended to me by someone (ChrisA I believe) that you want to detune a couple of the keys to make it sound more realistic.


Acoustic pianos go out of tune the way they want to, not the way you want them to. So this sword cuts both ways.

If you like a particular couple of notes out of tune a particular amount, you can program any digital to do so. Or, with the press of a button you can play any digital in any historical temperament, or any weird modern tuning you can come up with.

Play a simple Bach piece in three different temperaments, back to back, so you can compare. This is easy on a digital. Impossible, on an acoustic (unless you're rich enough to buy three of them!)

I practise on a digital, have my lesson on a digital, and get on a decent acoustic once a week at church. I like having the opportunity to play both. Even at my level there are some things I like better about the acoustic. But also there are some mechanical defects I notice, even with our Steinway grand. The touch is not predictably even across the keyboard, dampers don't all respond the same, etc. As we advance and become more discriminating we find more things to dislike about the digital, but if we are honest we could say the same of the acoustic.

I think that at some level of market share, there are no longer enough of us with experience on both. At that point the digital wins by default, regardless of actual merit. We may be nearing that now. And as skilled tuner-technicians become scarce, the acoustics that survive sound worse.

One thing I wish digitals would do less well is emulate the bass notes. That growly non-pitch that makes the bottom few notes not useful on an acoustic is replicated on a digital. Why not extend the clean bass tone from a few notes higher right down the bottom?
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1335392 - 12/28/09 11:13 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: TimR]
wildpaws Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/25/07
Posts: 154
Loc: Richmond, VA
The condition and care of an acoustic piano can greatly affect how it plays, feels, and sounds. Many "piano technicians" are nothing more than piano tuners, they don't have a clue about regulating the action or voicing the piano to make it play and sound it's best. An acoustic piano that is constantly going out of tune has issues that need to be fixed, once strings are "broken in" (i.e. most of the stretching has been finished), a good acoustic piano should stay in tune provided you are maintaining constant temperature and humidity levels. DPs are getting better all the time, one of these days they will sound and play well enough that you won't miss an acoustic piano. Are acoustic piano sales going down? I don't think anyone can ignore the obvious answer that they are rapidly falling, many people are opting for DPs and software pianos. I think there will always be some acoustic pianos around, but I think they are rapidly disappearing from most people's options.
Clyde
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#1335394 - 12/28/09 11:14 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: snazzyplayer]
setchman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 166
I think most of us here can remember a day before digital pianos. Our perception of "digital vs. acoustic" is based on the fact that we've known a world before digital pianos and have seen the creeping effect of digital pianos as they've entered the marketplace.

What I think will be interesting to watch is what happens as the next generation starts making their decisions. I know that, in my son's case, he sees my keyboard and acoustic piano as two different instruments and can already see the advantages and disadvantages of each. Just the other day he was complaining to me about a buzz that was coming from one of the long hinges on my K-3. Assuming that he never pursues the piano as a professional endeavor and becomes only a casual player, it will be interesting to see if he ever sees the "value" of having a real acoustic piano in his home. Already in his piano lessons at school they've started to incorporate the use of digital pianos both in practice and performance, including the use of other voices to accompany their playing.

Considering he's only 10 now, by the time he has his first job and the expendable income to purchase an instrument, I can only imagine what a digital piano is going to sound like.
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#1335401 - 12/28/09 11:19 AM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: 4evr88keys

With Moore's Law in effect and computing power doubling every 18 months, it is only a matter of time that a small processing circuit the size of a small notebook computer would have enough processing power to virtually recreate the experience of of an acoustic piano or at least the difference between a virtual piano and a real piano would no longer be enough to matter to any amateur. It is only a matter of time.


We are already there. Software running on a notebook can recreate a piano. The weak link is the speakers and audio system. Good speakers and good amplifiers have always been expensive and remain so. The other expensive part of a digital piano is the key action. Hammer action keys have a certain minimum number of parts and must be very well built.

If you believe in Moore's law then the cost of the digital portion of the electronics will soon approach zero but the minimum cost of a DP is defined by parts not subject to this law, like the key action, the audio system, the case and the engineering cost of the samples or the model inside. The cost of software (and there is a lot of it inside a DP) is actually going up, not down. (I'm in the business and can say first hand how little software development $1M buys)

Already I'd estimate the cost of the digital electronics to not be driving the cost of a DP.

I think in the future we will see a wider gap between the cost of the best DPs and the low end. If you can live with cheap speakers and low cost key actions the there is noting to prevent someone from selling $100 DP's but if you demand a certain level of audio quality and power then I expect DP's to cost in the "few thousands" for quite some time.

I think over time smaller size upright pianos will become more and more rare. But the person who wants an acoustic grand piano is someone who has the space for one. Space typically costs MORE then the piano that fill it. So these buyers are not so senitive to price. But there are few of them.


Edited by ChrisA (12/28/09 12:55 PM)

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#1335450 - 12/28/09 12:34 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: jameskey]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7139
Loc: torrance, CA
Good thread, with the exception of Snazzy’s death wish for acoustic pianos and incessant pimping of the AG laugh .

Studio production costs, concert venue maintenance costs, and rising costs of concert quality acoustic instruments and their maintenance have all been mentioned, and all are extremely pertinent. An instrument’s eccentricity, production of extraneous noise, predilection for being slightly out of tune – all that cuts both ways, as a recent poster pointed out. Tuning your home digital so that a couple of notes are pleasantly (to you) out of tune may please a few casual players conditioned to acoustic eccentricity, but, try that in an ensemble setting and see how popular you are. On top of everything else, music is an advertising and sales tool. More money is expended on finding the right mass-appeal jingle for a big brand-name product than is expended on a year’s concert series at most classical venues.

One aspect of the overall question that has been touched on only lightly is the relationship between the acoustic piano and the classical repertoire. If you spend any time on the (acoustic) Piano Forum here, you will notice that acoustic purism and the willingness to spend major bucks on an upscale acoustic piano is more often than not linked to DEAPS (the Dead European Appreciation and Preservation Society). Sure, there are jazz fans and even New Age folks who are in tune with exploiting the charms of an acoustic and willing to pay up for it, but in the main it is DEAPS that keeps solvent the mid to high-end part of the acoustic piano industry and all the cottage industries tethered to it.

What are the cottage industries? Classical method piano teachers, acoustic piano tuners and techs, classical-only recording labels, highbrow music critics, classical-only concert venues, professional piano evaluators such as LArry Fine, and last but not by a long shot least, music conservatories steeped in the values of so-called ‘serious’ music. Take away the enthusiasm for Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, etc., and the self-dedication or imposed parental dedication to achieving a degree of mastery of Dead European lit written for piano, take all that away, and the acoustic piano will begin to be a period instrument, exquisite and charming, but increasingly irrelevant.

Mastery of the notes, of the tempo, of the dynamics, of the indicated expression in classical lit is obsessive. A person needs obsessive dedication to get even part way there. In the instance of minimal talent played against lit of extreme difficulty, obsession may take the player to only the first level (the notes). Whereas jazz or pop notation invites you to explore, classical notation reminds you in every measure of your never-ending responsibility to stay on track.

Creativity, however, is frowned upon in the DEAPS world. Even in ‘professional’ critical reviews of top-tier concert pianists, a new approach to an old warhorse has a better chance of being panned than praised. Even so,the lit of the Dead Europeans continues to be re-worked, re-worked, and reworked again by both the few concert pianists who are actually able to support themselves from that activity, by the wannabes who claim to be concert pianists because of some solo gigs for church benefits or an appearance or three with a community orchestra, or by all those home enthusiasts who find beauty and solace in the unplugged lit of a simpler less convoluted era of human history.

Digital pianos offer a suite of options that entice any undisciplined player away from mastery and toward creativity. Whereas mastery can be measured against the standard of the notated page, creativity is simply a measure of the player’s enjoyment of whatever originality he is creating or the appeal of that which he has created to the listening public. Thus, many creative pianists who have wide popular appeal do not have the greatest technique, the greatest mastery, or the greatest ‘credentials’ in their piano pedagogy training.

It’s not really a question of which is better. Some people will gain a sense of fulfillment painting by the numbers, completing a Czerny exercise book, or completing basic training in a military service stint. Others will feel fulfilled by writing a personal blog, composing a pop song built on a standard chord progression, or mastering the ‘self’ through Tai-Chi, Yoga, or some fringe sort of transcendental meditation. It’s all good! Whatever works. Both can be personally rewarding. Neither interferes with anyone else’s self-fulfillment

Reduced to the simplest terms, the digital piano is about creativity. It invites exploration. Deviant options are many, in combination almost unlimited. Digital makers should worry less about the tedious pursuit of acoustic piano peculiarities and continue to expand the creative options (along with the dynamic and expressive range of ‘piano’ options). This approach conforms to strong contemporary ‘self’ trends such as the home performance studio, personal publishing, and the one-wire self-sufficient household.

Meanwhile, the acoustic piano industry should focus on Asia, and all evidence suggests that it is doing precisely that. Acoustic piano exhibitors at NAMM are shrinking in number while the big annual show in Shanghai is not to be missed. The successive booms in DEAPS membership in Japan and Korea are being dwarfed by the biggest boom of all possible DEAPS booms – the awakening of China to class consciousness and ‘refined’ taste. It’s anyone’s guess how long and how far the DEAPS missionary effort to the remaining parts of the world that have not overdosed on its lit can be sustained, but Yamaha, S&S, and the smaller players will pay their marketing people to reckon the answer.
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#1335453 - 12/28/09 12:39 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: 4evrBeginR]
Glenn NK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 457
Loc: Victoria BC
Originally Posted By: 4evr88keys
The acoustic piano industry will basically parallel the photographic industry.

<snip>

With Moore's Law in effect and computing power doubling every 18 months, it is only a matter of time that a small processing circuit the size of a small notebook computer would have enough processing power to virtually recreate the experience of of an acoustic piano or at least the difference between a virtual piano and a real piano would no longer be enough to matter to any amateur. It is only a matter of time.



Maybe:

1. Drawing a parallel between photography and pianos may not hold up. One could just have easily said, "now that artists have computers, they won't be using pencils, oils or acrylics anymore - they'll do graphics on the screen."

2. Moore's Law isn't a law of physics or mathematics, but a statement of an observation of a trend that started about 1965. Exponential growth cannot continue indefinitely except in the world of mathematics.

Want more proof?

http://news.techworld.com/operating-systems/3477/moores-law-is-dead-says-gordon-moore/

Glenn

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#1335457 - 12/28/09 12:43 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: TimR]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11427
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

Something I want to point out, however, is that when listening to all the great piano software out there, the downfall is that everything is perfectly in tune, and so it was recommended to me by someone (ChrisA I believe) that you want to detune a couple of the keys to make it sound more realistic.


Acoustic pianos go out of tune the way they want to, not the way you want them to. So this sword cuts both ways.

If you like a particular couple of notes out of tune a particular amount, you can program any digital to do so. Or, with the press of a button you can play any digital in any historical temperament, or any weird modern tuning you can come up with.

Play a simple Bach piece in three different temperaments, back to back, so you can compare. This is easy on a digital. Impossible, on an acoustic (unless you're rich enough to buy three of them!)

I practise on a digital, have my lesson on a digital, and get on a decent acoustic once a week at church. I like having the opportunity to play both. Even at my level there are some things I like better about the acoustic. But also there are some mechanical defects I notice, even with our Steinway grand. The touch is not predictably even across the keyboard, dampers don't all respond the same, etc. As we advance and become more discriminating we find more things to dislike about the digital, but if we are honest we could say the same of the acoustic.

I think that at some level of market share, there are no longer enough of us with experience on both. At that point the digital wins by default, regardless of actual merit. We may be nearing that now. And as skilled tuner-technicians become scarce, the acoustics that survive sound worse.

One thing I wish digitals would do less well is emulate the bass notes. That growly non-pitch that makes the bottom few notes not useful on an acoustic is replicated on a digital. Why not extend the clean bass tone from a few notes higher right down the bottom?

Perhaps you missed my point, that one of the main complaints is a piano going out of tune, where this is something that people try to duplicate in DPs post-production or with different tuning methods in piano software. Either this slight "being out of tuneness" is desirable or it is not. Either it detracts from the acoustic piano sound or it adds to it.

My pianos generally keep their tune quite well as long as the temperature and humidity remains the same. There aren't usually one or two notes that go out of tune, as well, but the notes in the extreme ranges, so the tuning is usually in clusters of notes. This is quite different from one note standing out.

Also, if a piano is not regulated, then the feel and sound of one note will be off. This is a maintenance thing that you should ask your piano tech about.
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#1335458 - 12/28/09 12:43 PM Re: Is the Acoustic Piano market on the way out? [Re: turandot]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3159
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: turandot

Digital pianos offer a suite of options that entice any undisciplined player away from mastery and toward creativity. Whereas mastery can be measured against the standard of the notated page, creativity is simply a measure of the player’s enjoyment of whatever originality he is creating or the appeal of that which he ihas created to the listening public.


Even mastery may be available to the DP player.

What if I programmed one key press to produce a blazingly fast two octave scale? Or chords that my fingers couldn't reach? In real time, while my other fingers were adding whatever my creative mind came up with?

Cheating? Or composing? The organist can change manuals instantly, registrations almost as fast. The surface hasn't even been scratched for the DP.
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