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#1583850 - 12/25/10 02:23 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
Scooby Hoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/30/10
Posts: 56


This is a DP forum, so the statement -- "digital pianos suck" is going to draw a strong reaction. It's a flame. That said, I'll actually concur with the statement that "digital pianos suck", but only with a few caveats and reservations.

First, what makes digital pianos suck is the distance that has developed between digital pianos and software pianos. This distance widens every year.

Whether musicians love and need their digital piano or not, it is hard to witness the decision of digital piano manufacturers to build pianos costing several thousand dollars using 128MB or so of vintage ROM memory.

Second, the concept and potential of digital pianos does NOT suck. In fact, already useful, digital pianos have incredible untapped potential.

Many choose a digital, due to neighbors, economic realities, and space constraints of the modern household. You can take a DP where you need to go, or store it (this becomes harder with a software piano computer along). It can play more than one sound or even piano sample. It remains in tune. You can even play in different rooms, change ambiance, and alter tone.

It is only a matter of time until an designer builds a software driven 8GB digital piano with a replaceable hard drive running something like a Kontakt-compatible sampler. Then, the manufacturer will concentrate on designing piano actions. (I am not as sold on modeling as some, at this point).

At some future point, an enterprising engineer (probably recently out of college and incredulous at vintage design approach used by his bosses at his new job) at a DP manufacturer is going to turn the presumed "safe haven" of toy romplers into a disastrous place to have remained complacent and grow old.

So, the concept of digital pianos is alive. But the lack of innovation and improvement in DP hardware sucks; it's disappointing.

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#1583860 - 12/25/10 02:53 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: Scooby Hoo]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: Scooby Hoo
At some future point, an enterprising engineer (probably recently out of college and incredulous at vintage design approach used by his bosses at his new job) at a DP manufacturer is going to turn the presumed "safe haven" of toy romplers into a disastrous place to have remained complacent and grow old.

I'm not so sure that would be allowed. This is 100% pure conjecture, but it's difficult to not speculate that manufacturers are somehow conspiring to keep DPs in the technological backwaters.
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#1583862 - 12/25/10 02:58 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: Scooby Hoo]
LesCharles73 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/07
Posts: 739
Loc: Denton Texas
Originally Posted By: Scooby Hoo

Second, the concept and potential of digital pianos does NOT suck. In fact, already useful, digital pianos have incredible untapped potential.


I think you're on to something here, Scooby. As I said earlier, digital pianos themselves don't suck. They are very viable instruments. While the actions on many may not be an exact replication of a grand piano action, I still wouldn't say they suck. Most of the complaints I have read here are regarding the turtle pace of the development in sound. This falls to marketing. It's a part of that "planned obsolescence" we heard about earlier.

Make no mistake, this is a conscious decision on the part of the engineers. Any big digital piano company out there has the potential to load their models with top quality samples and a boat load of memory, but they don't. Why don't they? Because they will effectively eliminate their potential for growth. Sure their sales will initially skyrocket, but where do they go from there? It's all about the long run. If they keep producing these incremental upgrades, they will keep the sales flowing at an even pace, which is conducive to sustainability. It's smart business for them, but unfortunately we pay the price.

Edit: What Dewster said above is what I feel to be correct. It's called "milking the cash cow". Keeping the carrot on a stick so we keep chasing it. We keep throwing money at them and that's exactly what they want. If they give us the best DP they are capable of, we'll all buy it and be happy with it for years and years and years. But, it's all about repeat business. That's what they want and need to keep their business alive. I feel like a high percentage of Roland, Yamaha and Casio's sales rely on repeat business (upgrading). Without that, they'd cease to exist. Give us the best of the best and they won't see our repeat business for a veryyyy long time. This is not what they want to have happen.


Edited by LesCharles73 (12/25/10 03:04 PM)
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#1583882 - 12/25/10 03:53 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: LesCharles73]
Possum SP280Krome Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/23/10
Posts: 624
It seems that in the late 1990's, the improvements that began to take shape year after year were less noticeable. I hesitate to say this, but I think perhaps my Korg SG Rack sounds as good as my P95.

I think the major improvement has come with portability, which of course comes with the sacrifice of realism. However, practicality and convenience is something that can not be overlooked.

It is important for people to be able to play 4am without bothering others, as well as having a 25 pounder to put it ones car.
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#1583938 - 12/25/10 05:53 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
offnote Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/10
Posts: 258
Loc: Banned
some of you are missing completely my point.
Looks like everything always must be said clearly and literally because 95% of people won't get it.

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#1583943 - 12/25/10 06:22 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5282
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: offnote
some of you are missing completely my point.
Looks like everything always must be said clearly and literally because 95% of people won't get it.

... and which point is that?



Your last statement was less than clear ....

Originally Posted By: offnote
Originally Posted By: gingko2
Being a better pianist is the upgrade I want.


ane there is a problem, because you cannot buy or that...
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#1583950 - 12/25/10 06:33 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3866
Loc: North Carolina
Make no mistake, this is a conscious decision on the part of the engineers.
Engineers don't make those decisions. It's marketing.

Any big digital piano company out there has the potential to load their models with top quality samples and a boat load of memory, but they don't.
True. But that's not a conspiracy. It's simply a reflection of market demand.

Perhaps ... For every one of us who dreams about a piano with a top notch sampler built in, there are many, many more people who just don't care. That's conjecture, since we have no access to their market research. But this line of reasoning applies to many product lines. You make whatever it is that more people will buy. You don't make whatever it is that few people will buy.

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#1583979 - 12/25/10 07:25 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
ClassicalMastery Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/10
Posts: 52
Add one more design point here: most people just play the presets. They don't care about having the absolute best sounds or having thousands of sounds and an upgradeable library. In fact, having too many sounds is counterproductive. This why romplers continue to be quite popular.

Earlier today I watched an interview with the principal developer of the Yamaha CP1. In the final segment of this lengthy interview Kunimoto mentioned that most customers do not edit the presets.

This is a very interesting insight that shows all the discussion about having thousands of sounds and modifying sound parameters as the ultimate goal exists only in the minds of purist forum members, not as the goal of most keyboardists. Actual customers want to make music.

Kunimoto interview

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#1584009 - 12/25/10 08:41 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: MacMacMac]
LesCharles73 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/07
Posts: 739
Loc: Denton Texas
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Make no mistake, this is a conscious decision on the part of the engineers.
Engineers don't make those decisions. It's marketing.


True. I used the wrong verbiage. But you see what I'm getting at.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Any big digital piano company out there has the potential to load their models with top quality samples and a boat load of memory, but they don't.
True. But that's not a conspiracy. It's simply a reflection of market demand.


I think Dewster is our resident conspiracy theorist wink.

Honestly, I'm in the "don't care" category. I play synth/workstations and true piano is about 25% of what I play. My K2600X, while I always aspire for something more, is good enough for me. I can't begin to tap its capabilities, and no amount of gigabytes and sampling layers is gonna make me sound better. Right now, my sound is limited by my capability as a pianist, not necessarily my keyboard's capability to facilitate my demands.

I do agree with Dewster that it wouldn't take that much money to replicate a very nice piano sound. Much nicer than we're all used to with our stage pianos. We already know that $999 in hardware can feel pretty close to the real thing. Add another $999 for the equivalent of a MacBook in computing power and you've really got something there. Sure, R&D costs money, but after something like this was produced, it wouldn't take very long to pay that off. The problem still lies in expansion. How do they convince you to upgrade when they've already peaked and used all their resources? I know they are holding back, but respectfully, I don't think it has anything to do with market demand.

If a digital piano was available with a great action and the power of a MacBook for $2,000, I think most buyers would hold out for it. But, they'd keep it.

Let's take Roland for example, with their RD line. Sure they could have started right out with the RD700GXF (or whatever it is), but instead they incrementally improved, starting at the RD700. How many of those original owners have been chasing the upgrades? Probably a lot. And this is where they make their money. Had they introduced the RD700GXF back when the original RD700 was introduced, they wouldn't have made all this money on enticing all these users to upgrade. When a digital piano has the physical capability of lasting a decade or more, you have to be pretty innovative in how you're going to keep making money on your current clientele. Roland and Yamaha have certainly figured out how to do that.

Of course, this is all my opinion and perception on what the market and manufacturers are doing. While stating it all as "fact", I realize that what is really going on may be very different. While still in the 'don't care' category myself, I offer the above information as a point of discussion, but no more and no less.
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#1584137 - 12/26/10 05:04 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: LesCharles73]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5282
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: LesCharles73
I think I'll go with pure acoustic too. I'll sound so much better when I show up at my friend's house for a jam sess... Oh wait...

wink


Oh yes, the good old days ... and then you discover that your piano is almost a half step lower. smile
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#1584174 - 12/26/10 07:56 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Haha, funny and interesting discussion. This is the revival of the a thousand times mentioned dewstonian conspiracy theory.

I don't think that something like this exists. The big mass of buyers just don't asks for such a gigabyte monster. And, as someone else mentioned, does this really improve the sound of your live playing?

Let's have a look at other products: computers, digital cameras, mp3 players, videocams, TVs, ... They all make huge steps forward every year, simply because there is a demand for it, and they have competitors.

Something like a milking cow can only exist if you a) have no comptetitors or b) your competitors are miles away from you. Both is not true in the small market of DP music instruments.

If this big memory thing would be so eas and there wpuld be a demand for it, why don't any of the competitors just build it, for example a chinese newcomer (giga-williams)?
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#1584217 - 12/26/10 09:30 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: mucci]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: mucci
The big mass of buyers just don't asks for such a gigabyte monster.

Very few ask for the V-Piano, or the C-30 digital harpsichord, but Roland makes these niche instruments nonetheless.

Originally Posted By: mucci
... does this really improve the sound of your live playing?

I honestly can't believe anyone here is arguing against better sound, particularly if it is entirely possible and wouldn't add much to the overall price of an already expensive DP, and particularly since DP sound inexplicably hasn't improved much in the last decade. I'd trade our NX in a second for a decently made DP with an uploadable 4GB sample set.

Originally Posted By: mucci
Something like a milking cow can only exist if you a) have no comptetitors or b) your competitors are miles away from you.

There are antitrust laws in place worldwide that try to protect market mechanisms, laws that wouldn't be needed if that kind of thing never happened. The world's largest LCD manufacturers were recently caught colluding to keep prices high.

I'm not saying or implying that anyone is necessarily breaking any laws, just that it's easy to not move forward in an industry if your competitors aren't either, and if your customers aren't complaining too much.
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
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#1584246 - 12/26/10 10:11 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: dewster]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: mucci
The big mass of buyers just don't asks for such a gigabyte monster.

Very few ask for the V-Piano, or the C-30 digital harpsichord, but Roland makes these niche instruments nonetheless.

V-Piano was clearly a dissapointment for Roland. C-30 - honestly I have no idea, must be a hobby of a very influential engineer or marketing "expert". wink
Originally Posted By: dewster

Originally Posted By: mucci
... does this really improve the sound of your live playing?

I honestly can't believe anyone here is arguing against better sounds


No I don't, I also like better and more realistic sound. I also know that it doesn't matter in our church what DP or sophisticated VSTi sound you take. It sounds quite similar when playing live (and singing). I think the same applies to many beginners that never heard a real acoustic piano. Here we are again, what's the real demand of better sound (i'm not talking about us enthusiasts). dewster, did you ever had a chance to talk to a real big brand DP engineer? Maybe that would help to get some insight into this somehow mysterious phenomen.
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#1584250 - 12/26/10 10:13 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Oh, and BTW: the keyboard is by far more important in a DP than it's internal sound.
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#1584259 - 12/26/10 10:27 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5282
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I have to add this. I owned a GranTouch for about 12 years which was my main practice instrument. I never got tired or annoyed from its sample set. It wasn't a perfect sample set but it didn't get in the way of me playing.

By the way, it was only 30 megs in size.
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#1584265 - 12/26/10 10:43 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: mucci]
ClassicalMastery Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/10
Posts: 52
Originally Posted By: mucci
Very few ask for the V-Piano, or the C-30 digital harpsichord, but Roland makes these niche instruments nonetheless.

V-Piano was clearly a dissapointment for Roland. C-30 - honestly I have no idea, must be a hobby of a very influential engineer or marketing "expert"
No, they both have their own specialized set of customers.

You're thinking that the V-Piano is a failure because thousands of units are not being sold like a RD-300GX. Synth manufacturers are aware of the economy of scale when developing an instrument. They have different sales expectations than customers. Korg knew this when they developed the OASYS. They announced at the beginning that the OASYS would have a limited production because their intention was only to produce more of them if there was strong demand.

The V-Piano is successful whether you believe it or not. They just are not sold every day or month at a given store. Guitar Center, for example, isn't going to waste valuable floor space on a V-Piano with a $7,000 price tag unless they know that they can sell one occasionally and earn more profit in a single sale than they collect from the sale of many software instrument packages. They put on their sales floor items that sell and which return a good profit. Everything else is sold from their website.

As for the C-30, it has a niche market. Some buyers are hobbyists, but the majority are schools and churches.


Edited by ClassicalMastery (12/26/10 07:16 PM)

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#1584280 - 12/26/10 11:12 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: mucci]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: mucci
Oh, and BTW: the keyboard is by far more important in a DP than it's internal sound.

Perhaps you should wander around NAMM with a "KICK ME" sign on your back. When I shell out $2-4k I fully expect the best keys and best sound.

I know it's not exactly apples to apples, but a $100 acoustic guitar is capable of meeting all of my fairly reasonable expectations for a musical instrument - i.e. playability and sound. A plastic box full of plastic keys and $50 worth of electronics could do the same if they brought it fully up-to-date.
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#1584321 - 12/26/10 12:41 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Thanks, I can live with that offense... wink
But it's still true in my eyes.
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#1584444 - 12/26/10 04:29 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
I'm sorry about the nasty gram mucci.

Even you spent some time supplementing the sound of your Kawai via external means, trying to get something better. Like many of us, you ended up falling back to the internal sounds. All the more reason to make them as good as they can, or at least somewhere near as nice as a decent PC sampler from five years ago.
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The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1584479 - 12/26/10 05:04 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9549
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
dewster, I would be interested to know the opinions of your piano playing wife. As a teacher, I expect her preference will be for keyboard action realism over non-looped piano sounds.

What does she think of her new Christmas present, by the way? wink

Cheers,
James
x
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#1584489 - 12/26/10 05:15 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
@dewster, yeah, this might be true.

But - hear what I say - there is something missing with all the sophisticated PC piano sounds. All the ones that I have tested cannot compete with the playability of the original sound of my DP: I own Truepianos (didn't try the few days old update), Pianoteq play, Steinway The Grand 2, Gigapiano and several freeware and tested several Demo versions of other Pianos. Some sound amazing when playing single notes, but when playing my stuff it's somehow not what I want. I was quite satisfied with Truepianos (diamond) for some time. I tried hard to really like Pianoteq, but for sound signature they're just not there yet.

I really like the sound of my CA63! And hear what I say: I don't care any longer about the technical specs! Yes, that's right, although I'm a computer scientist and should really care about technical specs, I intentionally stopped to do so for my DP as long as I really like the sound. Full stop.
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#1584494 - 12/26/10 05:19 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3866
Loc: North Carolina
"I really like the sound of my CA63! And hear what I say: I don't care any longer about the technical specs!"
Bravo! Specs can give some slight guidance when comparing pianos, before you go hunting for one. But in the end, ears matter. Specs don't.

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#1584550 - 12/26/10 06:40 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
ivoryeyes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/10
Posts: 102
I personally think , for the majority of beginner , amateur piano players and keyboardists who either play on their own or in local bands , that todays DP "s are more then adequate and those people are happy with them . The only group of people I can imagine that are still extremely critical of the DP''s sound and playability in todays market, would be proffesional pianists who are skilled enough to be playing in symphony orchestras or jazz bands, etc. Im not sure how many posters on this forum are actually in that proffesional player group. I sure aint..in fact, the most complex piano pieces I can play are songs like Martha My Dear { Beatles} . I am perfectly happy with the sounds/capabilites and feel of a $699 yamaha dgx640 . For those who claim DP"s suck...I have to ask this : " Would you rather they did not even exist , knowing that the alternative would be for all of us to be stuck buying a full size acoustic piano" ? Such a alternative would make it difficult to have bands on the local scene , performing original songs with piano parts.

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#1584556 - 12/26/10 06:51 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
ivoryeyes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/10
Posts: 102
I can remember purchasing my first semi expensive keyboard., It was a CASIO I bought for $320 about 20 years ago . It had many sounds and the piano sound was useable , but the keyboard itself was crappy. The keys were all plastic , no type of hammer action, no pressure sensitivity , etc. Looking back, I can easily see that it was a cheapo setup, but it allowed me to hone my playing skills and write several piano songs. Even when I would let my friends hear the piano songs I had written and recorded with that cheapo Casio , none of them ever said to me " THAT PIANO SOUNDS CHEAP" .

Now, 20 years later, a person can spend $399- $499 on a Casio { on sale} and get a unit that is easily twice as good as the one I bought 20 years ago. So the prices have not really went much higher, but the quality , playability and reliability has went much higher IMHO.


Edited by ivoryeyes (12/26/10 06:56 PM)

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#1584560 - 12/26/10 06:55 PM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
ivoryeyes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/10
Posts: 102
From my standpoint, I would not even purchase a DP that was $1500 , but sounded exactly like a acoustic piano , because for my needs , a $699 DGX640 is more then good enough for writing and recording my original songs. I would bet , that you can take a real acoustic piano, vs my DGX640 , record both of them in a digital recording studio , and the majority of people in society would not be able to listen to the recordings and tell you that one of the pianos was a DP and one was a acoustic.

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#1584763 - 12/27/10 02:48 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
mucci Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/10
Posts: 1070
Loc: Munich, Germany
Haha! I can tell you. ALL the listeners that heard our CA63 are just impressed by the realism and great sound, I'm sure they wouldn't been able to distinguish from a real AP. If I would stumble something like "but... The decay goes too fast, if I press a single key long enough there might be a chance to hear some subtle looping... You see, when I press the damper half down and play these three keys... Okay, forget it!" they would just sit there with their mouth open absolutely having no idea what I'm talking about (even my wife who hears my playing often enough). I think she thinks: "If he's happy then I'm happy"
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#1584773 - 12/27/10 03:26 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: mucci]
offnote Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/10
Posts: 258
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: mucci
Haha! I can tell you. ALL the listeners that heard our CA63 are just impressed by the realism and great sound, I'm sure they wouldn't been able to distinguish from a real AP.


they could tell right away by the looping and level of tuning...
You can cheat on your eyes but not ears.

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#1584774 - 12/27/10 03:33 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: offnote]
Artur Gajewski Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 306
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
I just visited my brother-in-law and his wife has an acoustic upright piano. I asked her if I can try it out while others were chatting. When I started to press the keys I got surprised of the loudness of the piano. First reaction was to turn the volume down so I wouldn't bother people in the living room with my key-hitting. I just wanted to take my headphones and plug them into the piano, but no luck.

Digital pianos might suck for your hardcore purists out there, but for those of us who just want a descent piano sound and the ability NOT to bother others with our music, DPs are God's gift.

Oh, one more thing. I just didn't like how the keys felt like on the acoustic piano and neither the sound of the hammer. My SP-170 has hammer sound in the samples but nothing as hard as on this piano.

But, it was nice to play this acoustic one, no argument there. It's just that I wanted those features my DP has but acoustic could never offer.
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#1584781 - 12/27/10 04:21 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: Artur Gajewski]
offnote Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/10
Posts: 258
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Artur Gajewski
First reaction was to turn the volume down so I wouldn't bother people in the living room with my key-hitting.


hey there is a una corda pedal...

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#1584791 - 12/27/10 05:38 AM Re: digital pianos suck! [Re: Artur Gajewski]
hoffy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/10
Posts: 109
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
Originally Posted By: Artur Gajewski


Oh, one more thing. I just didn't like how the keys felt like on the acoustic piano and neither the sound of the hammer. My SP-170 has hammer sound in the samples but nothing as hard as on this piano.


That is oh, so true. I read a lot about how people don't think a DP can come close to the action of an acoustic. To a degree, that is true, but is it actually a bad thing? I know with my SP-170 (SNAP! we have the same keyboard)A0 through to C8 is going to have the same feel, the same action. I hit the key with the same feel, I am going to get the same response, just a different note. I know people tend to suggest that this is a bad thing, but is it really?

As for the una corda pedal, I have yet to find a piano where it actually makes a substantial difference


Edited by hoffy (12/27/10 05:39 AM)
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