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#1542996 - 10/25/10 10:11 AM High-end DP v acoustic comparisons
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4389
I'm posting on this forum rather than the Piano forum because I can guess what the response will be from those who've never played good DPs grin.

A couple of days ago, I was passing by a showroom and decided to go in and try out a few of their acoustic instruments. I hadn't played on one for over 6 months ever since I bought my V-Piano, and was curious to discover what my reaction would be towards an acoustic again (having always played acoustics ranging from honky-tonks to concert grands till I bought the DP). To my surprise it was the opposite of what I was expecting: it didn't rekindle my love of acoustics, or brought out a pang of regret that I didn't buy one instead of my DP (not that it was feasible - I have neighbour problems).
I played on several Yamaha uprights, and found them too strident and shallow-sounding, then moved to baby grands, finding the same 'problem', lacking any real bass or deep resonance, and far too bright. Only the 6 footer Yamaha they had gave me any joy, though its bass still paled in comparison to my DP's. Then I tried the Bösendorfer 185, thinking that it should do the trick (my favourite piano remains the 290 Imperial, though I must admit I haven't yet heard Stuart & Sons pianos) but though its sound was richer and deeper than any of the others, its bass notes still lacked the deep resonance of what I expected (and obtained from my V-Piano). And the Bosie costs over 10 times my DP!

The showroom had a brand new Yamaha CFX which I really wanted to try, but the bloke there told me it had just been moved several hundreds of miles there and they hadn't had it tuned yet. So, I didn't have a concert grand for comparison (maybe that would have rekindled my love of 'real pianos'?).

That exercise was an eye-opener for a former die-hard acoustic piano lover like myself - if it had been feasible, I would have bought an acoustic upright for the same price, and never even bothered to try any DP, but now realise that no upright of this price range can compare with my DP's concert grand sound (which incidentally I have customized to my own ideal), nor its concert grand key action. The one thing missing on my DP was the tactile vibration from the keys, but it doesn't bother me - indeed when I tried out the Yamaha N2 (which produces the vibration artificially) in the store, I found it unconvincing as it seemed to be the same regardless of how loudly I played. Even without this vibration 'feedback', I still felt my V-Piano gave me a more direct connection from my fingers to the sound that came out.

Has anyone else been through the same process, and what are your views?


Edited by bennevis (10/25/10 10:12 AM)

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#1543003 - 10/25/10 10:26 AM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
Upright Offline
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Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 129
Loc: Germany
May I ask you, what speaker system you are using? The problem of DPs, in my opinion, is often, that they do not sound like an instrument that is radiating sound in all directions, but like a hifi-system.

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#1543010 - 10/25/10 10:37 AM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
bennevis Online   content
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Posts: 4389
I don't actually have speakers for my DP because of my neighbours, so I'm using the headphones the store gave me free as part of the deal, AKG K271 Mk II. They sound fabulous, better than my own Bose QC 3 (which admittedly I bought to use in-flight mainly). The sound via headphones is similar to what a 'real' piano would sound like in a medium-sized hall in terms of stereo spacing etc, from the pianist's perspective. According to Roland, the mix they use in the headphones output is the combined quadraphonic speaker system, if I was using one.

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#1543018 - 10/25/10 10:47 AM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Upright]
TADutchman Offline
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Registered: 03/26/10
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Originally Posted By: Mawima
The problem of DPs, in my opinion, is often, that they do not sound like an instrument that is radiating sound in all directions, but like a hifi-system.

Correct, that's one of the reasons why I bought a CA93 with real spruce acoustic soundboard and advanced 6-speaker system. cool
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#1543042 - 10/25/10 11:30 AM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
Dave Horne Offline
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I play my N3 usually with headphones but I have to say with or without headphones the N3 has sufficient bass response. When played at a level softer than what you would expect to hear from a grand piano (and without headphones), the N3 does have less bass than what I would prefer.

I don't believe this is a deficiency of the N3 per se but the nature of sound. At a quiet listening level the bass response drops off and as many old timers are aware, older stereo systems had a loudness button or switch which would boost the bass at softer listening levels.

To the original poster - you own the V Piano I see. I played one in a store so I'm aware of its possibilities. After you've tweaked all the parameters that you can, do you find yourself now just playing the one tweaked piano sound or do you constantly change the sound from day to day? ... or do you have a handful of tweaked presets that you play or a regular basis?
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#1543060 - 10/25/10 11:55 AM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Dave Horne]
Art A. Offline
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Registered: 02/08/10
Posts: 145
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
I agree, my Roland HP 307 which has the same key action as the V piano certainly sounds more rich and complex in the bass than every acoustic I sampled in its price range.

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#1543096 - 10/25/10 12:53 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
ChrisA Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: bennevis

Has anyone else been through the same process, and what are your views?


I get to play a (about 6 or 7 foot) Kawai grand briefly a couple times a week and other then that I have a Yamaha P155 at home. I have some larger speakers attached to the P155, not graet ones but I tried several and there are the best that "a few hundred dollars" will buy.

My opinion is that the tone oof the acoustic is better and it makes much more volume than my little 50W per channel amp can push through the speakers. The sound is not comparable.

I think the action on the yamaha is easier to play. Maybe it is not "realistic" but still it easier to play. This may be because the acustic piano needs some work, I suspect so but then most acoustic pianos are not brand new.

Possibly the tone of a V-Piano would compare more favorably than my P155 to the acoustic. But it likely depends on the speakers. Those are always the weak link on a DP. Te other thing is that I don't think the piano bench is the best location to test the sound. Grand pianos are set up so the listenersare on the piano's right side some distance back

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#1543123 - 10/25/10 01:23 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
BillM Offline
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Registered: 05/12/08
Posts: 1520
Loc: Maryland
bennevis - Last year I went out shopping for an acoustic grand. I have 2 digitals and thought it was time to "upgrade" to an acoustic. As a recently retired guy I had plenty of time to try pianos - I probably played 50 or more acoustics in the 5' to 6' range all around the greater Washington D.C. and Baltimore area both new and used, from dealers and private sellers.

After a month or so of searching I came to the realization that for me a digital is the only way to go. I bought a Roland KR17M and wouldn't trade it for a Steinway. Disclaimer: I don't like, play or listen to instrumental piano music so my requirements for a piano are probably different from a lot of folks on this forum.
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#1543131 - 10/25/10 01:27 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: ChrisA]
Hideki Matsui Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 786
If you enjoy playing your DP more than an acoustic, that's all that matters. I would say however, that while DPs are great for live band settings, a DP just does not replicate the sound of a nice acoustic piano. First of all you can't listen to an acoustic piano through headphones...only a recording. The beauty of an acoustic piano is not just in the sound that gets recorded but the myriad of nuances an acoustic piano produces.

Sure, the NP3 can try to replicate vibrations, but use it a couple of time and it starts resembling a vibrating joystick. I like what they did with the speakers and multichannel processing but IMO, it is still memorex. An amazing tool for practice, but practical considerations aside I doubt any pianist would choose to perform on the N3 over a proper acoustic grand.



Edited by Hideki Matsui (10/25/10 01:27 PM)
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#1543135 - 10/25/10 01:31 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: BillM]
Hideki Matsui Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 786
I think the type of music you play what you use your piano/DP for is going to have a big impact on your view of DPs or acoustic pianos. I can totally understand why some gigging musicians or recording guys don't need an acoustic piano and prefer DPs. There are some situations where you aren't really going to notice any difference.

Originally Posted By: b528nf7

After a month or so of searching I came to the realization that for me a digital is the only way to go. I bought a Roland KR17M and wouldn't trade it for a Steinway. Disclaimer: I don't like, play or listen to instrumental piano music so my requirements for a piano are probably different from a lot of folks on this forum.
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#1543303 - 10/25/10 05:05 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
An amazing tool for practice, but practical considerations aside I doubt any pianist would choose to perform on the N3 over a proper acoustic grand.

If the proper acoustic grand were not regulated and out of tune, I would prefer an AvantGrand or GranTouch, wouldn't you?
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#1543339 - 10/25/10 06:00 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Dave Horne]
MarcoM Offline
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Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
If the proper acoustic grand were not regulated and out of tune, I would prefer an AvantGrand or GranTouch, wouldn't you?


this is a straw-man, it'd be like saying "what would you prefer to have, a well cared for toyota or a ferrari that needs servicing", just because the ferrari needs servicing right now it doesn't make it inferior to a toyota.

Not to mention that the AG could end up needing regulation just like an acoustic grand given that it has the same action... (the flip side is that of course any piano tech can service most acoustics, while you need a yamaha tech to service your ag)

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#1543358 - 10/25/10 06:14 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Dave Horne]
Hideki Matsui Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 786
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
An amazing tool for practice, but practical considerations aside I doubt any pianist would choose to perform on the N3 over a proper acoustic grand.

If the proper acoustic grand were not regulated and out of tune, I would prefer an AvantGrand or GranTouch, wouldn't you?


Uhhh yes.... But if I live in the forest with no electricity I would take the out of tune piano. I'm not sure why the piano has to be out of tune or why I would need to be in a forest.


Edited by Hideki Matsui (10/25/10 06:28 PM)
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#1543359 - 10/25/10 06:15 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
MarcoM, it's not a straw-man argument. If I had to choose between an out of tune, out of regulation grand or a AvantGrand or GranTouch, my choice would be easy; an out of tune piano makes me sound bad ... an out of tune piano makes anyone sound bad. When I'm auditioning pianos in a showroom I can't make a valid judgment if the piano is question isn't in tune, can you? An out of tune piano is too distracting to me.

Do you play publicly for money? Those very few times I encountered a hybrid grand on jobs (GranTouch), the action was in excellent condition since it was a piano that didn't receive abuse each and every day, it was only used for performances. It wasn't a practice piano.

I am well aware that hybrid pianos need to be regulated. After five years of pretty demanding use I had the action of my GT1 worked on. Even though it needed to be worked on I would have preferred that GT1 (in need of regulation) to a grand piano that was out of tune and out of regulation.
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#1543362 - 10/25/10 06:17 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Dave Horne]
Hideki Matsui Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 786
Do you not have piano tuners where you live?
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#1543363 - 10/25/10 06:18 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
Gyro Offline
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Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I personally regard acoustic pianos as essentially obsolescent for home use. People continue to go ga-ga over them, but to me, they are, in effect, 20th century period instruments that are living on borrowed time. A V-Piano will play rings around any acoustic piano, and so the handwriting is on the wall: acoustic pianos are going the way of the manual typewriter and the film camera. And yet people still fork over $6000 for a good but unspectacular acoustic upright piano, when they could have a vastly superior instrument for the same price in a V-Piano.

Since the early 1980's I've had a high-end acoustic upright in storage (a similar model today would be in the ~$20,000) price range. It stays in storage, because I find my low-end, not high-end, $600 digital console to be a more practical, and better, instrument overall. It's adequate for playing anything, from jazz to big concertos.

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#1543366 - 10/25/10 06:21 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Hideki Matsui]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Hideki Matsui
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
An amazing tool for practice, but practical considerations aside I doubt any pianist would choose to perform on the N3 over a proper acoustic grand.

If the proper acoustic grand were not regulated and out of tune, I would prefer an AvantGrand or GranTouch, wouldn't you?


Uhhh yes.... But if I live in the forest with no electricity I would take the out of tune piano. I'm not sure why the piano has to be out of tune or why I would news to be in a forest.


I'm guessing you don't play many jobs on acoustic pianos ... or am I mistaken? Are we having a hypothetical discussion or a real world discussion?
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#1543369 - 10/25/10 06:21 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
MarcoM Offline
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Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
people playing (classical) piano publicly for money usually play on fairly well kept instruments, I have yet to see a concert in person where the piano was badly out of tune: actually usually at intermission there's a piano tech touching things up as well.

Now if you're saying that you're playing a gig with your band in the middle of nowhere and your tour manager told you there was a piano on location so you don't have to worry, you get there and you find it's a turn-of-the-century upright that hasn't been tuned in 30 years... well, that's a different kettle of fish smile in that case having an AG in your van would for sure be helpful...

From my perspective the AG is really a home practice instrument, for concerts you either have classical (where there's no way a sampled DP would cut it) or pop (where a slab is way realistic enough in terms of action, and a lot less delicate, not to mention light). I am sure that 20 years from now the proposition might be different (what with modelling getting better & better) but IMHO for now I doubt anybody would try an AG as a performance instrument.

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#1543374 - 10/25/10 06:25 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
MarcoM, there's a whole world of hotels, restaurants, cafés, cruise ships where the music isn't necessarily classical and the instrument is not necessarily in tune.

What are the pianos like on the jobs you work?
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#1543377 - 10/25/10 06:27 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Gyro]
Hideki Matsui Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 786
V piano will run circles around any acoustic? Surely you mean a similarly priced acoustic. Why would someone who can afford a serious grand find it obsolete?
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#1543383 - 10/25/10 06:34 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
Gyro Offline
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Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I could get a big grand, but why bother? You've got to hire movers to move it, you've got to tune it, maintain it, fuss over it. Why spend even a second doing all that when even the cheapest digital will play anything, with no tuning or maintenance? When I was 7 yrs. old and taking piano lessons, the teacher had a big grand in the studio, and I never noticed anything special about it. I still don't see anything special about grand pianos, even the most expensive concert grands. My $600 economy digital will play anything, even the most difficult works in the classical repertoire, so why do I need more than that?

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#1543390 - 10/25/10 06:41 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Hideki Matsui]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Hideki Matsui
V piano will run circles around any acoustic? Surely you mean a similarly priced acoustic. Why would someone who can afford a serious grand find it obsolete?


Hideki, I could afford a nine footer but I suffer from tinnitus. Acoustic pianos are great for the stage but for every day practice I wouldn't want an acoustic piano in my living room (even if you gave me a nine foot Bösendorfer). They're simply too loud.

For me the action comes first (thus a hybrid piano - my N3 has a real grand piano action) and the sound comes a very close second (thus a hybrid piano - a sample from a CFIIIS).

A piano for me is just a tool. I don't have emotional attachments to them. If Steinway, Kawai or Bösendorfer marketed a hybrid piano like the N3, I'd probably trade in my N3 for something else. What I'd like is the action from a nine footer in a hybrid to practice on every day but it doesn't yet exist.
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#1543423 - 10/25/10 07:22 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Dave Horne]
MarcoM Offline
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Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
MarcoM, there's a whole world of hotels, restaurants, cafés, cruise ships where the music isn't necessarily classical and the instrument is not necessarily in tune.

What are the pianos like on the jobs you work?


my paying music days are behind me, however being a drummer I either brought my kit or at least my cymbals and made do with what was there: not many horror stories for me...

I do think that the ones you mentioned would be served even better by a slab piano in a grand-shaped wooden wrap, after all for that kind of gigs it's more important that you have a 'piano shaped object' compared to actually having a real piano... I also don't think the real action of an AG would fare too well on a cruise ship environment compared to a typical DP's...

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#1543428 - 10/25/10 07:29 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Dave Horne]
Hideki Matsui Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 786
Dave, understood. I happen to have a large house with big rooms and although a nine footer would be overkill, having a 6-7 footer is totally practical for me. I don't find tuning expensive and only use my digital when quiet around the house is needed.

I know you are an active working musician and totally understand your practical considerations and experiences with acoustic pianos. I don't perfrom for a living but I do gig with a singer on occasion. I almost always use a digital because of practical considerations.

That being said guys like Chuco Valdes, Michael Kamen, etc. can afford to have their grands properly kept. Not easy for most but that luxury would sure be nice.
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Originally Posted By: Hideki Matsui
V piano will run circles around any acoustic? Surely you mean a similarly priced acoustic. Why would someone who can afford a serious grand find it obsolete?


Hideki, I could afford a nine footer but I suffer from tinnitus. Acoustic pianos are great for the stage but for every day practice I wouldn't want an acoustic piano in my living room (even if you gave me a nine foot Bösendorfer). They're simply too loud.

For me the action comes first (thus a hybrid piano - my N3 has a real grand piano action) and the sound comes a very close second (thus a hybrid piano - a sample from a CFIIIS).

A piano for me is just a tool. I don't have emotional attachments to them. If Steinway, Kawai or Bösendorfer marketed a hybrid piano like the N3, I'd probably trade in my N3 for something else. What I'd like is the action from a nine footer in a hybrid to practice on every day but it doesn't yet exist.


Edited by Hideki Matsui (10/25/10 07:33 PM)
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#1543429 - 10/25/10 07:30 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Drummer?

Am I in the wrong forum?
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#1543435 - 10/25/10 07:39 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Gyro]
Hideki Matsui Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 786
So do you think classical musicans should be recording on your $600 piano? I understand for practice but for recording? Plus most DPs have actions that would not be suitable as the only practice instrument for a classical musican. That seems to be changing with DPs like the N3/N2. Neverthelss, I don't see a future where classical piansists record or perform on DPs... but who knows.

Originally Posted By: Gyro
I could get a big grand, but why bother? You've got to hire movers to move it, you've got to tune it, maintain it, fuss over it. Why spend even a second doing all that when even the cheapest digital will play anything, with no tuning or maintenance? When I was 7 yrs. old and taking piano lessons, the teacher had a big grand in the studio, and I never noticed anything special about it. I still don't see anything special about grand pianos, even the most expensive concert grands. My $600 economy digital will play anything, even the most difficult works in the classical repertoire, so why do I need more than that?


Edited by Hideki Matsui (10/25/10 07:45 PM)
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#1543438 - 10/25/10 07:42 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: bennevis]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3667
Loc: North Carolina
Given a choice between an AG or an acoustic grand ... I'll take some tasty waves, some cool buds, and I'm fine.

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#1543439 - 10/25/10 07:43 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Dave Horne]
Hideki Matsui Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 786
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
What I'd like is the action from a nine footer in a hybrid to practice on every day but it doesn't yet exist.


If I could have an N3 and my SK3 that would be ideal... but a bit indulgent for someone who primarily plays for pleasure.


Edited by Hideki Matsui (10/25/10 07:43 PM)
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#1543442 - 10/25/10 07:45 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: MacMacMac]
Hideki Matsui Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 786
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Given a choice between an AG or an acoustic grand ... I'll take some tasty waves, some cool buds, and I'm fine.


Don't know about waves but the cool buds go really well with the acoustic or digital experience... especially here in CA.
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#1543446 - 10/25/10 07:54 PM Re: High-end DP v acoustic comparisons [Re: Dave Horne]
MarcoM Offline
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Registered: 02/17/10
Posts: 246
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Drummer?

Am I in the wrong forum?


hey, you know how it goes, who are the people that hang around musicians? drummers (and bass players) smile

Actually as a drummer I have a pretty good perspective on the whole acoustic vs digital world (which has been going on for quite a while), and as most drummers would tell you as much as practicing on vdrums is the best especially if you don't live on 20 acres on your own, a sampled instrument will never feel the same as the real thing.

Now as a piano dabbler my 'pickiness level' is a LOT lower, but even at my lower level despite having tried the AG and the vpiano (and playing with pianoteq at home) just because of the physics of it it seems doubtful that an electronic would ever supplant the acoustic in a performance scenario where you can appreciate the difference (background piano playing in a crowded restaurant of course would not be the same thing). Digitals of course have a lot of other advantages, can't push a button and get a growly EP on that acoustic grand...

As a guitar dabbler it's the same thing, nobody will ever bring an electric guitar to an acoustic guitar gig, it's just not going to happen, but of course you're not going to play Crazy Train on your Martin for sure...

I guess my perspective is that "electronic" instruments of all kinds are the best for private late night practice, for large gigs where mic-ing can be difficult, for low-maintenance scenarios where the venue owner doesn't want to spend anything on maintenance etc. the closer the electronic can get to the acoustic the better the practice will be of course.

"acoustic" instruments provide a lot more possibilities to the musician and so are much better when the musician has the chance to use them to their fullest: a great piano player can be a lot more expressive on an acoustic than on a digital, any drummer will be able to get way more variety out of a real cymbal than a v-cymbal, any classical guitar player will be able to get endless sound shading possibilities on an acoustic.

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