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#1882894 - 04/20/12 09:19 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: piano_shark]
voxpops Offline
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Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3021
Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Most of defending here sampled piano are kids raised on digital
instruments to start with so no wonder the low expectation...

On what do you base this assertion? Before you state these unequivocal, simplistic remarks, please be sure of your facts.
_________________________
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#1882901 - 04/20/12 09:38 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3788
Loc: North Carolina
I hate to see these topics digress into generalities about the nature of sampling and the nature of modeling.

I'm guessing that few here have any clear idea of how modeling works, so it's not useful to build conclusions upon unsubstantiated premises. Likewise for sampling.

It would be meaningful if the discussion were to focus on the products in each of these categories.

I don't find much meaning, though, in statements about the methods and technologies, given that these are semi-secret/proprietary, and given that few here have any means to dig beyond a first-level understanding. (You just can't get that from a vendor's press releases, advertising copy, or web page self-aggrandizement.)

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#1882903 - 04/20/12 09:43 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: voxpops]
Gigantoad Offline
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Registered: 01/02/12
Posts: 336
Originally Posted By: voxpops

On what do you base this assertion? Before you state these unequivocal, simplistic remarks, please be sure of your facts.


Isn't it obvious by now? He has absolutely no clue what he's talking about. After posting silly facepalm images and defending an irrelevant point about optical illusions and how such phenomenon are not possible in the audio domain, he is now resorting to generalized and insulting statements about the type of people who use sampled pianos. Not much more needs to be said I think.

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#1882908 - 04/20/12 09:52 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: MacMacMac]
anotherscott Online   content
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Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
I hate to see these topics digress into generalities about the nature of sampling and the nature of modeling.

Did you happen to take a glance at the Subject of this thread? ;-)

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#1882919 - 04/20/12 10:19 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
piano_shark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 201
ok, I'm outta here, good luck with your samples.

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#1882923 - 04/20/12 10:26 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: piano_shark]
36251 Online   content
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Registered: 11/12/10
Posts: 726
Originally Posted By: piano_shark
exactly - playability, dynamics and control are much more important for serious player then just simply "nice sound".
Here's a big fat Raspberry! I'm just a jazz schump and not as serious as you obviously are. By the way, I think you just put down the sound of a modeled piano with your assumption that samples have a "nice sound."

I would get a cold - detached feeling if I only could play a piano that might have control but sounds like Mr. Roboto. But to each his own.

I haven't counted but it appears that you are in a minority here who thinks Modeling at it's current form doesn't hold a candle to a real piano that's been recorded and made playable by people who can't own a concert grand piano.

It also appears that it's your clan that keeps having to defend your precious expensive V every chance you get.
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#1882932 - 04/20/12 10:56 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
voxpops Offline
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Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3021
Loc: Oregon
Once again, a thread on this subject has descended into vitriol spewing ultra-partisanship. I don't get it.

I think it's great that manufacturers are experimenting and developing the science of modeling. Have they perfected it? No. But given the snail's pace of change in electronic instrument technology this past twenty years, we're lucky it's taking place at all.

In the meantime, we have access to a slew of sampled offerings - either through the power of VSTs or the convenience of hardware. Do they provide a flawless substitute for the real thing? Not quite. But are they viable? Undoubtedly.

The internal combustion engine has been around well over a century. It's polluting and inefficient. The new technologies involving batteries and fuel cells are likely going to be much saner alternatives for an overpopulated planet. Can they do everything the oil-based engine can do? No, not yet. But should we welcome their development? Absolutely.
_________________________
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#1882933 - 04/20/12 11:00 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: anotherscott]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3788
Loc: North Carolina
Does it help to have 127 velocity samples, rather than 10 or 20?

Disregarding velocity as it pertains to timbre, for just a moment ... If the total dynamic (loudness) range is, say, 50 dB, then 127 velocity levels produces about 0.4 dB change per step. Given that it's difficult to hear the difference between two sounds that are 1 dB apart even under the best conditions, does having 0.4 dB steps help? I don't think so.

Bringing velocity-dependent timbre back into the picture: I think likewise about the velocity samples number. I think 3, 4, or 5 isn't enough. But isn't ten enough? Surely twenty must be enough. But 127? Can anyone distinguish that many timbre gradations?

I think this is vendor specsmanship. It takes real work to sample more levels when building a sampled library. But it takes little effort to give a modeled piano more levels, up to the limit of MIDI granularity. The result is a "superior" spec that might attract a buyer's attention, but offers no real improvement.

I don't think we need 127 levels of loudness. Fifty would be plenty.
And I don't think we need 127 velocity layers, either.

I wonder about the work done to "improve" either of those. Isn't that a cheap way to avoid the hard work of making real improvements?
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
A modeled piano can create 127 distinct sounds for those 127 velocities, each containing numerous parameters that are gradually and smoothly varied from steps 1 through 127. Unless a sampled piano includes 127 sampled velocity layers, the equivalent interpolations will be "bumpier" -- i.e. cannot be entirely smoothly gradated from point 1 to 127 because the underlying sound being manipulated has distinct shifts at various points (even though they may try to minimize the audible effects with layer blending).

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#1882943 - 04/20/12 11:16 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: anotherscott]
Vectistim Offline
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Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 316
Loc: Reading, UK
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
For example, if you want to manipulate just the third harmonic of the tone in a particular way over time as velocity changes, you can easily extract and manipulate that in a model, not really in a sample.

Isn't that what Mr Fourier is for with his transforms?

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#1882969 - 04/20/12 12:16 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4859
Whatever the pros & cons of sampling v modelling, what matters in the end is the music-making, not the technology behind them. Don't know about any of you people, but I buy a DP based on how it responds to my (inept or otherwise grin) attempts at getting it to produce lovely (when appropriate), soothing (when appropriate), expressive (always appropriate) music; or conversely, ugly, menacing, aggressive sounds (when appropriate). If it doesn't respond as I expect it to, I don't buy it. End of. grin wink cry

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#1882971 - 04/20/12 12:17 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: MacMacMac]
anotherscott Online   content
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Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Does it help to have 127 velocity samples, rather than 10 or 20?

I am not claiming that it is necessarily ideal to have 127 velocity samples. I was just saying that I think that would be the only way to capture the same detail of velocity transitions that could be accomplished with modeling. Whether that should be the goal, or whether there are other problems with doing that, or whether it is worth the effort and expense, are all other questions.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
If the total dynamic (loudness) range is, say, 50 dB, then 127 velocity levels produces about 0.4 dB change per step. Given that it's difficult to hear the difference between two sounds that are 1 dB apart even under the best conditions, does having 0.4 dB steps help? I don't think so.

To create a truly smooth gradation between 50 audio points, I think you should be unable to hear the difference between any two adjacent points (but it's fine to be able to hear the difference between any point and another that is two points away). So yes, based on your numbers, that would be what would be required.

It's the same with visual colors. I'm sure you've seen an illustration of a color spectrum where you can easily see the change from one end to the other, yet you cannot see the difference between any pixel and the one right next to it. The result is a smooth gradation. If you could actually see a change from one pixel to the next with the naked eye, the "stairstepping" would get in the way of a the illusion of a seamless transition from color to color. So I think the smallest programmed change over time/distance should fall below the threshold of perception.

Also, note that the ease with which you can hear a 1 dB difference is variable. It is easier to detect at some volume levels and some frequencies than at others. At some frequencies and volume levels, even a smaller than 1 dB change can be easily detectable, at least by some people. Here is an interesting page, where you can test your ability to hear volume differences of smaller than 1 dB.

http://www.audiocheck.net/blindtests_index.php

Also, sometimes people can hear that something sounds "different" even if it's not exactly registering to them as "louder." This is used to explain why people will generally think that the louder of two otherwise identical sound sources sounds better even if the volume difference isn't enough for them to tell you that they think it is louder. A meter shows that it's louder, but subjectively, a person may simply think it sounds "better." Or someone may simply be able to tell that two things sound "different" even if it's so close that they can't tell you which is "louder." It is still affecting their perception of the sound, even if it isn't being expressed in the words you expect.

Getting back to the idea of using 127 steps for 50 db of range at .4 dB per step, there's another problem there, in that you assume that evenly spacing them that way will yield a realistic playing response, which I'm not sure is the case. You might need a specific amount of velocity change to create a smaller audible change in some areas and a larger audible change elsewhere in the overall velocity range.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Bringing velocity-dependent timbre back into the picture: I think likewise about the velocity samples number. I think 3, 4, or 5 isn't enough. But isn't ten enough? Surely twenty must be enough. But 127? Can anyone distinguish that many timbre gradations?

I don't know what the number is, but I suspect it is a lot more than you think. Think of a simple low pass filter adjustment on a synth... imagine how coarse its operation would sound if it had only ten or twenty positions! And that only adjusts one parameter of the sound's timbre (essentially "brightness"), and in a piano tone, it is more than simple brightness and volume that varies with velocity... there is the behavior of hammer attack and subsequent decay, and how those harmonics vary over time.

I'm not saying you need the "infinite" variation of a real piano to create a convincing piano sound, I'm just saying that I think we are capable of hearing a lot more differences than you suggest.

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#1882990 - 04/20/12 12:57 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: anotherscott]
voxpops Offline
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Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3021
Loc: Oregon
A very well thought-through post, anotherscott.

Given that DP manufacturers try to get concert pianists to endorse or at least validate their products, there may well be people out there with the kind of experienced ears that can detect these minute changes. I've seen it stated that 127 steps is still too crude a number for such refined players. This is one of the reasons why digital recording has gone beyond 44.1khz (CD quality), even though the quantization at that level is "inaudible". The closer we get to a completely analog curve, the better, imo.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

https://soundcloud.com/richards-recordings/sets/strange-charm-waiting-for-the/s-ppGuy

"can hardly wait to hear what voxpox has to say..."
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#1882997 - 04/20/12 01:09 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
gvfarns Offline
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Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
I am personally inclined to view claims that layer transitions in VST's are audible with skepticism simply because I can't hear them. I have reasonably good ears and I've played a good bit with several VST's and I can't decipher one layer from another in any reasonable one. Certainly they are not something that bothers me either in playing or listening.

On the other hand, when the timbre is off (fake, or whatever), I hear it right away and it bothers me a lot. That's why sampled pianos are better. It's as simple as that for me.

Should they have more timrbal layers and velocity steps? Sure, why not? I just got a new computer that is supposed to be a lot faster than my other computer. Can I tell the difference without a stopwatch and processor-intensive program? No. But that doesn't mean I don't want computers to keep getting faster.


Edited by gvfarns (04/20/12 01:10 PM)

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#1883002 - 04/20/12 01:16 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: gvfarns]
voxpops Offline
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Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3021
Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
I am personally inclined to view claims that layer transitions in VST's are audible with skepticism simply because I can't hear them. I have reasonably good ears and I've played a good bit with several VST's and I can't decipher one layer from another in any reasonable one. Certainly they are not something that bothers me either in playing or listening.

It's not purely a question of hearing. A concert pianist is almost subconsciously trying to give extremely subtle nuances of expression to a piece. If s/he perceives (either through hearing, touch, or a combination of all the senses) that the instrument is not responding with this almost infinite precision, s/he will become frustrated.

Quote:
On the other hand, when the timbre is off (fake, or whatever), I hear it right away and it bothers me a lot. That's why sampled pianos are better. It's as simple as that for me.

Although tone perception is very subjective, I agree with you. We seem to have an almost innate ability to detect the tonal signature of a real acoustic instrument, and for some reason we find a recreation displeasing. That's why more work needs to be done on piano models.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

https://soundcloud.com/richards-recordings/sets/strange-charm-waiting-for-the/s-ppGuy

"can hardly wait to hear what voxpox has to say..."
[HisKidd, May 2014]

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#1883003 - 04/20/12 01:20 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: voxpops]
gvfarns Offline
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Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Although tone perception is very subjective, I agree with you. We seem to have an almost innate ability to detect the tonal signature of a real acoustic instrument, and for some reason we find a recreation displeasing. That's why more work needs to be done on piano models.


Maybe we could say that current modeled pianos are stuck in the piano version of the uncanny valley.

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#1883074 - 04/20/12 03:22 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: anotherscott]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3788
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
To create a truly smooth gradation between 50 audio points, I think you should be unable to hear the difference between any two adjacent points (but it's fine to be able to hear the difference between any point and another that is two points away). So yes, based on your numbers, that would be what would be required.
But there are two questions here. What can the piano do? And what can the performer do?

Can any performer exert such a fine level of control? I suspect only the greatest masters can do so, and I'm not even certain of that. Regardless, that level of talent won't be playing a digital piano, eh?

More to the point ... I don't notice ANY shortage of dynamic control or of timbral control with a library having a mere ten sampling layers.

If Galaxy wanted to offer me a twenty (or 127) layer version, I'd have to ask them why they're not working on other, more important improvements.

Again, I think the Pianoteq's claim of 127 is just specsmanship. The samplers cannot match that, so the speccie-techie buyer will glaze over at the thought, without regard to its irrelevance.
Quote:
... you assume that evenly spacing them that way will yield a realistic playing response, which I'm not sure is the case. You might need a specific amount of velocity change to create a smaller audible change in some areas and a larger audible change elsewhere in the overall velocity range.
I considered that point, but I dismissed it. Granted that some ranges might tolerate larger steps. But if you put larger steps in some places, you have to put even smaller steps elsewhere. I have no doubt that 0.4 dB is overkill, so a still smaller increment has no merit.
Quote:
I'm not saying you need the "infinite" variation of a real piano to create a convincing piano sound, I'm just saying that I think we are capable of hearing a lot more differences than you suggest.
You make a conjecture here, but where is the justification? I don't mean to contrary. I just can't reach that same conclusion without some basis.

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#1883139 - 04/20/12 05:03 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: MacMacMac]
anotherscott Online   content
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Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Can any performer exert such a fine level of control? I suspect only the greatest masters can do so, and I'm not even certain of that.

It has nothing at all to do with control, it has to do with how realistic it seems to play. You don't need to be able to reliably duplicate a specific velocity to be able to benefit from its presence. You may not be able to drive at exactly 52 miles per hour on demand, but if every time you accelerated from 51, the car lurched to 53 because it was incapable of 52, you would notice it.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
More to the point ... I don't notice ANY shortage of dynamic control or of timbral control with a library having a mere ten sampling layers.

Heck, I've enjoyed playing a single-layer P95. ;-) But are you saying that your 10-layer piano gives you an experience that is as completely satisfying as an acoustic piano? Even if that's the case, people have different experiences and demands... the fact that you don't notice any short-coming in a given system doesn't mean that no one will. Maybe more layers would be better, maybe it wouldn't. But unless someone gave you a 20-layer version of the same piano to play, it seems to me that the difference (or lack of one) is somewhat unknown.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
If Galaxy wanted to offer me a twenty (or 127) layer version, I'd have to ask them why they're not working on other, more important improvements.

Again, without hearing the results, that might be a premature question. (As an aside, what improvements do you think would make a bigger difference?)

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Again, I think the Pianoteq's claim of 127 is just specsmanship. The samplers cannot match that, so the speccie-techie buyer will glaze over at the thought, without regard to its irrelevance.

Pianoteq and a VAX77 gives you 14,000 velocity layers! (I don't know if it matters, though have read numerous reports of people who love playing the combination, for whatever reason.)

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
I considered that point, but I dismissed it. Granted that some ranges might tolerate larger steps. But if you put larger steps in some places, you have to put even smaller steps elsewhere. I have no doubt that 0.4 dB is overkill, so a still smaller increment has no merit.

You almost got my point there, but it sounds like you just missed it. Yes, if you make the steps larger in some areas, they have to become smaller somewhere else. The issue, though, isn't how inaudible the small steps become as you suggest there... it's how audible the large ones might then have to be. If, for example, you need to "stretch out" the velocity mapping toward the center of the range to make it feel natural to play, then you might have to compensate by having single-velocity-unit differences be far greater (i.e. more audible) in areas that are farther from the center. I don't know if it's important... but like you, I simply thought it was an issue worth considering, I just don't agree with your reason for dismissing it, because I think you looked at the wrong side of the equation.


Originally Posted By: MacMacMac

Quote:
I'm not saying you need the "infinite" variation of a real piano to create a convincing piano sound, I'm just saying that I think we are capable of hearing a lot more differences than you suggest.
You make a conjecture hear, but where is the justification? I don't mean to contrary. I just can't reach that same conclusion without some basis.

Well for one thing, I think I provided reasonable evidence that 10 steps of timbral difference can easily be nowhere near enough to represent the limits of the differences we can hear with my low pass filter example... and that didn't even include the variables of a sound that changes over time. From my perspective, my post was full of facts, and it was yours that was full of conjecture!

There are an infinite number of velocities the human hand is capable of between generating an acoustic piano's quietest and loudest notes. On a scope, each would be different, but at some point, differences would not be audible. MIDI gives us an upper limit of 127 tones that can be generated (except in special circumstances, like the Pianoteq/VAX77 combination). Simple volume level manipulation gives us those 127 tones even out of a single layered sample, but that doesn't capture all the ways an actual piano differs as volume is increased. How many layers will capture it with complete authenticity, without modeling (even assuming a blend can be done absolutely perfectly, which is questionable in itself)? I am not suggesting that I know the answer to what that number is; I'm just saying that I don't see any evidence that that magic number is ten or whatever. Maybe, if everything else is done right, even fewer would be enough. Or maybe the sound of ten can be surpassed by the sound of more. I'm not saying I have the answers, but I don't see the justification for your dismissing of some of the possibilities.

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#1883156 - 04/20/12 05:42 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3021
Loc: Oregon
Human beings have a surprising range of perception, even if they don't know it, or don't notice it consciously! Advertisers have known the effects of subliminal messaging (such as the classic inserted message frame in a commercial that is not perceived consciously) for a long time. Concert pianists and some lesser players will be able to feel that something is not quite right without necessarily being able to put their finger on exactly what is wrong. This is why it's important, for authenticity, to approach as close as is reasonably practicable to an analog curve - i.e. with as many steps as is feasible, so as to reduce the apparent "sound posterization" effect of jumping from one level to the next, rather than grading smoothly.

Anotherscott is right about this, imo.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

https://soundcloud.com/richards-recordings/sets/strange-charm-waiting-for-the/s-ppGuy

"can hardly wait to hear what voxpox has to say..."
[HisKidd, May 2014]

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#1883176 - 04/20/12 06:12 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
Dave Horne Offline
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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
There are limits after which we don't feel, see, hear, whatever, any improvement in resolution. It's the job of the marketing guys to convince us otherwise.

I do find it amusing that many here with such strong opinions have such a quiet profile. Guys, at some point you have to stop comparing lenses and start taking pictures. smile
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#1883181 - 04/20/12 06:17 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: piano_shark]
The Monkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 423
Loc: Vancouver BC
Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
I find the search engine here pretty useless most of the time--though I haven't put a lot of time into it, so it may be user error.

Sadly, I agree. Although some people seem to be able to do a better job of using it than me.


don't need to use build in search engine at all - far better results are directly in google, e.g. just one thread in the results etc. not too mention many google options to customize your search.


An example is to enter following in the Google search box
site:http://www.pianoworld.com Sampled vs Modelled

The site:http://www.pianoworld.com part tells google you only want to search the content of piano world.

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#1883183 - 04/20/12 06:21 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
Gigantoad Offline
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Registered: 01/02/12
Posts: 336
it's a bit of a misconception that a sampled piano with 10 velocity layers ends up having 10 timbres. It ends up with 127 timbres in reality. Each velocity will sound unique because the samples are blended steplessly. By adding more samples, all you do is give a more realistic reprensation of how these in between steps are supposed to sound like.

I'm thinking of a circle with 10 points that still looks pretty angular. If we add more points, it gradually starts to look rounder and rounder. But does it really need a high number of points in order to look round? When does adding more points become a waste of resources instead of an aesthetic benefit? Consider that the points wouldn't produce angles but form a curve in between similar to the blending in sampled pianos, you wouldn't need many points at all.

I'm pretty convinced that 20 to 30 samples are that point where adding more just doesn't make sense. These changes in timbre would be so minor compared to the already changing timbre achieved with the blending that it would just be a waste of resources.

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#1883186 - 04/20/12 06:27 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
voxpops Offline
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Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3021
Loc: Oregon
I agree that there will be a point at which the steps are no longer noticeable, but just be aware that specialists in any field are trained to a very high level of awareness, and attuned to tiny differences. What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized. It depends on your target market (and the cost-benefit ratio of the technology employed) as to the cutoff point.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

https://soundcloud.com/richards-recordings/sets/strange-charm-waiting-for-the/s-ppGuy

"can hardly wait to hear what voxpox has to say..."
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#1883188 - 04/20/12 06:30 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
Dave Horne Offline
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What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized.

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#1883192 - 04/20/12 06:37 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: voxpops]
Gigantoad Offline
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Registered: 01/02/12
Posts: 336
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I agree that there will be a point at which the steps are no longer noticeable, but just be aware that specialists in any field are trained to a very high level of awareness, and attuned to tiny differences. What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized. It depends on your target market (and the cost-benefit ratio of the technology employed) as to the cutoff point.


Sure, but I don't see software pianos being a product tailored to these extrordinary people, whoever they might be.

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#1883198 - 04/20/12 06:43 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: Dave Horne]
voxpops Offline
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Registered: 03/20/07
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Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized.

MonsterCable? wink

Nice try! But not a good analogy. Some things have no proven benefit, or make no discernible difference. However, in the area we're discussing, I think we can all agree that 2 velocity layers is inadequate (even with layer-blending). On the other hand 200 (for example) may be beyond anyone's ability to detect. So that must mean that somewhere in between those numbers will be the point at which the average person ceases to be able to hear a difference. However, not everyone will conform to the average. Those who have trained their ears may be able to detect changes way beyond where the ordinary person notices things.

As a related analogy, performers go to extraordinary lengths to play instruments that meet their demanding standards, even though audiences would be completely unaware of the subtle difference between such devices.
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#1883204 - 04/20/12 06:49 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: Gigantoad]
voxpops Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I agree that there will be a point at which the steps are no longer noticeable, but just be aware that specialists in any field are trained to a very high level of awareness, and attuned to tiny differences. What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized. It depends on your target market (and the cost-benefit ratio of the technology employed) as to the cutoff point.


Sure, but I don't see software pianos being a product tailored to these extrordinary people, whoever they might be.

I agree - at the moment. However people have speculated as to whether at some point in the future, a classical concert might be performed on just such a piano. Obviously, it won't be unless the technology matches the pianist's expectations. Even for private practice purposes, professionals will require there to be no detectable difference that could possibly affect technique. So to suggest that we've gone as far as we need in terms of development may be premature.
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#1883214 - 04/20/12 07:05 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: musicmad]
Gigantoad Offline
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I doubt digitals will ever fully replace acoustics. This would mean that all instruments in an orchestra would need to be digital too, why else would the pianist be the only digital guy? I really don't see that happening.

The only reason we even have digital pianos is because of money and space issues. Nobody is seriously asking for a digital violin, and I mean one where the sound is generated entirely digital. Since neither money nor space is usually an issue for serious concerts (and that's the only place where you would find such incredibly demanding performers), I don't think we will ever see such a development.

Unless in some distant future they will have a digital instrument that will actually top the sound of an acoustic with some alien technology that we cannot imagine yet. At that point performers might be willing to let go of acousics in favor of even more expressive possibilities.

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#1883221 - 04/20/12 07:11 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: Gigantoad]
voxpops Offline
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Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
I doubt digitals will ever fully replace acoustics. This would mean that all instruments in an orchestra would need to be digital too, why else would the pianist be the only digital guy? I really don't see that happening.

The only reason we even have digital pianos is because of money and space issues. Nobody is seriously asking for a digital violin, and I mean one where the sound is generated entirely digital. Since neither money nor space is usually an issue for serious concerts (and that's the only place where you would find such incredibly demanding performers), I don't think we will ever see such a development.

Unless in some distant future they will have a digital instrument that will actually top the sound of an acoustic with some alien technology that we cannot imagine yet. At that point performers might be willing to let go of acousics in favor of even more expressive possibilities.

I agree with this, although I might not be quite as emphatic about the future - we never manage to predict it accurately!

One thing to bear in mind is that recording artists - even some classical and jazz pianists - may be more willing to embrace this kind of technology if it can rival the real thing.
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#1883227 - 04/20/12 07:21 PM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: anotherscott]
Macy Offline
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Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 605
Originally Posted By: anotherscott

It has nothing at all to do with control, it has to do with how realistic it seems to play. You don't need to be able to reliably duplicate a specific velocity to be able to benefit from its presence. You may not be able to drive at exactly 52 miles per hour on demand, but if every time you accelerated from 51, the car lurched to 53 because it was incapable of 52, you would notice it.

A sampled piano with even 1 level can play MIDI velocities 51, 52, 53 (in any shape you want) monotonically increasing loudness for each step. It doesn't have to lurch any more than a modeled piano would.

Besides that your example doesn't apply to playing a piano. On a piano the sound does not glide continuously from velocity level 51 to 52 to 53 as you would in car. You discretely have to strike a key (or keys) in a sequence from 51 to 52 to 53. Each strike has its own attack and decay. Therefore it lurches with the attack of each separate note by definition. And besides lets see you repeatedly strike 3 keys in succession with velocity levels 51, 52, 53 on purpose while playing normally. If you do it, it will be completely by accident. You can't control the pressure of your fingers that exactly. So your playing is going to "lurch" anyway for these reasons.


Edited by Macy (04/20/12 08:25 PM)
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#1883493 - 04/21/12 07:51 AM Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? [Re: Macy]
anotherscott Online   content
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Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: Macy
A sampled piano with even 1 level can play MIDI velocities 51, 52, 53 (in any shape you want) monotonically increasing loudness for each step. It doesn't have to lurch any more than a modeled piano would.

You seem to have misunderstood me two ways, maybe I wasn't clear, or the natural imprecision of my car analogy made things worse instead of better. I'll try to clarify.

To answer MMM's assertion, "Can any performer exert such a fine level of control?", I was making the point that you don't need to be able to have fine enough control to produce a velocity on demand to benefit from its existence. To use your example here, it is indeed valuable that there is a MIDI velocity of 52 between 51 and 53. You may not be able to reproduce 52 on demand, but if you were playing something in that velocity range, and every time you happened to hit on 52, it refused to play it, but instead substituted 51 or 53, you could conceivably notice that a slight an unevenness of response in that range, compared to the smoothness of response of a real acoustic piano.

Or to make the point even more clear, let's say that you didn't have fine enough control to ever produce anything between 50 and 55 on demand, and you used that argument to eliminate MIDI velocities 51, 52, 53, and 54. Now you'd hear a jump between 50 and 55, and that would almost certainly be audible to many people as they played up and down through that general velocity region. The point, again, simply, is that the value of a velocity point's existence is not predicated on the player's ability to produce that velocity at will.

To the other issue you allude to: As you say, the normal behavior, even for a single layer sample, is to "increase loudness for each step." If this was, in fact, the only way a piano's sound changed with velocity, there would be no reason for more than one layer. But also, as velocity increases, the timbre of the note changes, as does the the shape in which the sound falls off immediately after the hammer attack. If you record a real piano striking a single note very hard, you cannot make that sound like the same piano playing the same note very softly merely by lowering its volume, or even by lowering the volume and closing down on an EQ filter. This is why (at least in lieu of more sophisticated modeling) multiple sample layers helps. You're right that the volume changes exist in MIDI pianos no matter what, it is these other changes that require more than just simple processing to achieve additional realisim.

How many sample layers would be required to reproduce those transitions as perfectly as they occur on a real piano? I don't know. (You would need 127 of them to do what a model can do, but that doesn't mean you necessarily need 127 of them.)

When dewster ran his DPBSD test on the up-to-8-layer Korg Kronos, he heard 6 distinct points where the timbre shifted as he gradually increased velocity on middle C. On a real piano, you would not be able to hear any. The more "data points" exist along the continuum, the smoother the transitions can be. I don't know if that difference--although clearly audible--really is crucial to making a digital piano feel more real to play, but I am not willing to say it makes no difference, either.

Originally Posted By: Macy
And besides lets see you repeatedly strike 3 keys in succession with velocity levels 51, 52, 53 on purpose while playing normally. If you do it, it will be completely by accident. You can't control the pressure of your fingers that exactly. So your playing is going to "lurch" anyway for these reasons.

Right, but the fact that all those velocities are represented--even if you can't hit each one on purpose--helps make it natural sounding. Again, to exaggerate the difference, if every one of those hits were rounded to 50 or 54, it would not sound as natural as a bunch of smaller variations around 52.

In fact, since our fingers are capable of an infinite number of possible velocities between even 51 and 52, some rounding is already taking place. The question is how much rounding is permissible before someone can recognize that, gee, for some reason, this just doesn't seem to feel as natural as playing a real piano. If your argument is that nobody would ever be able to tell if 52 were missing (i.e. if the only options were 51 and 53), then by logical extension, we have no need for 127 velocity levels... we could eliminate every second one and have just 63 velocity levels (say, all the odd numbers) and no one would be able to tell the difference in how the boards played. It would be an interesting experiment, but I would not assume to know the answer without some actual experimentation.

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