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#1758628 - 09/24/11 08:10 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2100
Loc: Sydney, Australia
I just tested Pianoteq again. I was wrong when I said it overlaps about 3 voices - it's 12. If I just play a single note with the sustain pedal, it only uses 1 voice, so it appears that the sympathetic resonance effects don't consume any extra voices - at least nothing that shows up on the performance tab.

The voices are terminated about 2 seconds after release without the sustain pedal, but for repeated notes with the sustain pedal, playing a note just twice will cause 2 voices indefinitely. So, it appears that Pianoteq is intentionally sustaining the earlier voices - it's not just the normal release fade time.

Without having any knowledge of Pianoteq internals, I can't be 100% sure that it's doing the overlapping in precisely the manner I have always assumed, but on the surface, it appears that it could be. (although 12 sustaining voices for a single note seems a bit excessive, if it really is doing that!)

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (09/24/11 08:46 PM)

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#1995521 - 12/06/12 03:41 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
So where does "playing off the jack" come in?
With reference to this site, I surmise that it's the ability to play a note by pushing the key very slowly to the double escapement position without sounding a note, and then playing the note from there?

One thing I'm curious about is why manufacturers haven't made double escapement standard across all pianos. There should be no excuse with Digital Pianos. Even on Acoustic Pianos I don't understand why classical music pianists would want to buy uprights, or why manufacturers haven't found a way to incorporate the mechanism into uprights.

I don't buy the argument that it's "for advanced players" only. Classical music is full of trills and other ornaments, and having double escapement would seem to help greatly in playing them well. And how will you even learn to do that if your instrument doesn't allow you to repeat notes without fully lifting the key?

Anyway, this an older thread, so to update as of the end of 2012, my understanding of the premium keyboard actions on the market are:

Yamaha AvantGrand N1/N2/N3:
- full wooden keys with replica grand piano action right up to (just before) the hammer
- optical sensors
- DOES have double escapement
- slightly heavier action than a real grand

Kawai Grand Feel(GF) (CA65/CA95):
- Wooden keys with similar pivot point to a grand piano
- 3 optical sensors
- DOES simulate double escapement
- great feel, has simulated "let-off" bump

Roland PHA III (LX-15, RG-1F, FP-7F, etc)
- Plastic keys
- 3 optical sensors
- DOES simulate double escapement
- simulated "let-off" bump? (unsure)
- lighter action with a harder stop at the bottom of key travel

Would this be a fair assessment?

I'm interested in updating my DP and my priority is the key action since superior sound can always be generated by software as long as there is MIDI out. I was going to go with the N1, but was interested in the new Kawai GF keys at 1/3 the price until I found out it doesn't do double escapement... EDIT: I have now verified this to be untrue. In fact the GF keys really do feel good.








Edited by Acca (12/08/12 02:26 AM)

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#1995534 - 12/06/12 04:13 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
I need to reread this thread to see why you are saying the GF action in the CA line doesn't simulate double escapement. I think it does. As far as I know, every triple sensor action simulates double escapement in the sense that you can repeat a note without lifting the key fully and resetting the damper.

Also, the sensors in the Roland and Kawai models you mention are not optical. They are electromechanical--somewhat reminiscent of the switches under the keys in your computer keyboard. This type of switch is all but ubiquitous in digital pianos.

Lastly, the action in the AvantGrands are modified. There are no felt hammers. Just weights. So the "up to the hammer" part is incorrect.


Edited by gvfarns (12/06/12 04:22 PM)

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#1995540 - 12/06/12 04:28 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Hmm thanks for the insight, gvfarns. It seems that I am a bit confused and underinformed about issues.

See for instance this post.

I don't quite understand how "let-off" comes into the equation since from my understanding from here, let-off is the distance that the hammer travels away from the strings after striking it... Obviously it does not make any sense in a Digital Piano, so obviously Kawai have to be using the term to mean something else.

I still don't quite grasp the difference between "play off the jack" and a normal double escapement playing though, because if you look at the mechanism of a grand piano, the hammer can only be in one of 2 positions at rest - fully retracted or sitting on the Back Check. So how can there be a difference between playing off the jack (if I've described it correctly above) and a normal half-depressed repetition of a key (aka double escapement)

As for the optical sensors - I was under the impression that the sensors measure the position and velocity of the key action, and the rubber domed switch (of which there is only 1 per key) is just the on/off indicator when the key is fully depressed.

I take your point about the N1 lack of hammers and have adjusted my list.

I think I will need to read up a bit more on these issues.


Edited by Acca (12/06/12 04:42 PM)

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#1995553 - 12/06/12 04:54 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Lots of good questions. I'll try and keep them organized.

People say "double escapement" to mean a number of things in digital pianos. The most significant meaning is the ability to restrike a string without putting down the damper and resetting the action. That is something a grand can do (thanks to double escapement) but an upright cannot. In digital pianos, a two-sensor action behaves as an upright action does: you cannot restrike a note without lifting the key enough to reset the action, which also lowers the damper. This is because the higher sensor is used both to control the lifting of the digital dampers and to begin velocity measurement. In a three sensor action there's a separate sensor for the dampers and two to calculate the velocity, so you can repeat a note without lowering the damper.

Sometimes people are also referring to the physical sensation you get when escapement happens. It's a little jitter or bit of resistance. Roland has been simulating this for some time and some Kawai actions do it as well. It is more correctly termed "letoff simulation." It doesn't affect the ability of the piano to play repeated notes.

Playing off the jack means pushing down the key to where this letoff simulation kicks in, and then pressing down from there, as you can on an acoustic. Whether this works or not has to do with where, exactly, the manufacturer placed the sensor relative to the resistance. As far as I know, playing off the jack is not tied to anything else more significant in digital pianos (the AvantGrand has a real double escapement mechanism, but it cannot play off the jack), so it can safely be ignored if you do not use this technique. Roland does it, Kawai and Yamaha (at least the AG line) do not.

Most people don't play off the jack. The primary reason for concern is that for greatest accuracy velocity is measured as near the end of the strike as possible (as near the letoff point on an acoustic). The fact that some digitals have letoff simulation but cannot play off the jack might lead us to believe that the sensors are not placed very close together. For this reason, the reply pv88 got from Kawai is a little cryptic. I'm not sure anyone around here (James excluded) understands exactly why correct position of the sensors precludes playing off the jack. At least, I don't. The Kawai engineers appear to be action purists, though, so they probably know better than I do.

Digital piano sensors are typically on/off switches placed at different heights. Velocity is calculated by the time it takes from one switch being activated to the next being activated. Your computer keyboard has only one switch per key. But if it had one at 2mm of depression and one at 3mm, then it could calculate the velocity with which you pressed the key. This is how most digitals work. For each key there is a rubber dome with three switches that activate at different heights. The AvantGrand has an optical equivalent. It has two beams of light that are broken as the hammer passes them. The time between the two breaks is used to calculate the velocity. The third sensor on the AG is under the keys. We don't know the details of how they work but probably they shine a light up to the key and when the reflected light reaches a certain intensity, they are considered "on," which probably means the software dampers are lifted.

As far as I know none of these switches is continuous. They are all on or off. The reason Yamaha uses optical sensors (as far as I know) is not because they are more continuous or in other ways better, but because they don't affect the feel of the action. Since the AG already has a grand action, they wouldn't want to make you push down rubber domes and perturb the natural key sensation.

The super-expensive alpha piano apparently operates on a different principle than other digitals and has an actual pressure sensor. I have never heard of anyone around here owning or even trying one, so we may never know the details on how or how well this works.


Edited by gvfarns (12/06/12 05:14 PM)

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#1995575 - 12/06/12 05:39 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: gvfarns]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Appreciate the detailed reply, gvfarns.

I had not appreciated the fact that the damper stays off the string during a double escapement action. However it still doesn't make sense that "double escapement" as defined by "in the sense that you can repeat a note without lifting the key fully and resetting the damper" can exist independently of "playing off the jack". As far as I can see, if you have one, you have the other. Playing off the jack is just a case of playing ONE note as opposed to repeating a note, under exactly the same circumstances (half-depressed key). Unless of course, the key "release" or "reset" point is at the halfway point of return travel, but in that case the damper would have come back on the string, and it would not be considered "double escapement".

This link demonstrates that there is only 1 type of motion possible with "double escapement", so there doesn't seem to be a different type of motion possible for "playing off the jack"

Anyway, are you sure about your assertion earlier that the Kawai GF keyboard "implements double escapement" as defined above? Might have to look around for a Kawai dealer to test it out after all...

I had not appreciated the let-off "feel" issue. I should pay attention to that in my testing.

Incidentally, I tested a Yamaha GB1K "silent" (acoustic) baby grand yesterday. Whatever sensors they put in there, it does NOT do double escapement in silent mode. It was plain that repeating a key with very short travel from the bottom would sound in "regular" mode and would NOT sound in "silent" mode. In any case, they went through all that trouble to put a silent module in, but neglected to include simple midi out, very disappointing.



Edited by Acca (12/06/12 05:42 PM)

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#1995580 - 12/06/12 05:52 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2235
Loc: UK
Some of the Kawai plastic actions have the escapement feel feature. For example my old CN33 did, so I assume the newer range of x4 models do.

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#1995615 - 12/06/12 07:06 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Acca]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Acca
However it still doesn't make sense that "double escapement" as defined by "in the sense that you can repeat a note without lifting the key fully and resetting the damper" can exist independently of "playing off the jack". As far as I can see, if you have one, you have the other. Playing off the jack is just a case of playing ONE note as opposed to repeating a note, under exactly the same circumstances (half-depressed key).


Depends on how you define "half." These digitals do not actually have jacks, so there's no reason to think that the point of resistance and fast repetition should be related in any way at all. All you need is for the resistance point to be placed below at least one of the velocity sensors and playing off the jack is impossible. This appears to be the case in the Yamaha AvantGrand and in Kawai's triple sensor actions. It's not called playing off the jack unless you can rest the key on the point of resistance and then play from there. But you can definitely replay a note on a triple sensor action without lifting it as far as you need to on a double sensor action, and that's the key characteristic of a grand action.

Notice that the placement of this resistance point has nothing to do with the sensor governing the dampers. The important characteristic of a double escapement is that you can play a note twice without lifting the key to the point where damping occurs (and the action resets). The point of resistance used when playing off the jack is a very unimportant characteristic of a double escapement action by comparison.

Originally Posted By: Acca
Anyway, are you sure about your assertion earlier that the Kawai GF keyboard "implements double escapement" as defined above? Might have to look around for a Kawai dealer to test it out after all...


I am quite sure, but you can test it for yourself if you would like.

Be aware that in all pianos (acoustic and digital) the difference between the point at which you can replay a note in a single- and double-escapement action differ by only a couple of millimetres or so, so you have to be very careful in your testing. Under normal circumstances one can't easily tell if an action has double escapement or not. That's one reason so many very fine digitals have been made without this feature.

In other words, try it on an acoustic upright and grand before moving to the digitals. That way you will ensure that your testing methodology is sound.

Originally Posted By: Acca
In any case, they went through all that trouble to put a silent module in, but neglected to include simple midi out, very disappointing.


That is disappointing and saddening indeed. I had no idea there were silent modules that did not export MIDI.


Edited by gvfarns (12/06/12 07:54 PM)

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#1995635 - 12/06/12 07:57 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: gvfarns]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Originally Posted By: Acca
However it still doesn't make sense that "double escapement" as defined by "in the sense that you can repeat a note without lifting the key fully and resetting the damper" can exist independently of "playing off the jack". As far as I can see, if you have one, you have the other. Playing off the jack is just a case of playing ONE note as opposed to repeating a note, under exactly the same circumstances (half-depressed key).


Depends on how you define "half." These digitals do not actually have jacks, so there's no reason to think that the point of resistance and fast repetition should be related in any way at all. All you need is for the resistance point to be placed below at least one of the velocity sensors and playing off the jack is impossible. This appears to be the case in the Yamaha AvantGrand and in Kawai's triple sensor actions. It's not called playing off the jack unless you can rest the key on the point of resistance and then play from there. But you can definitely replay a note on a triple sensor action without lifting it as far as you need to on a double sensor action, and that's the key characteristic of a grand action.

Notice that the placement of this resistance point has nothing to do with the sensor governing the dampers. The important characteristic of a double escapement is that you can play a note twice without lifting the key to the point where damping occurs (and the action resets). The point of resistance used when playing off the jack is a very unimportant characteristic of a double escapement action by comparison.


I can understand how a keyboard action with fake/simulated double escapement feel and sensors in the wrong place can give rise to the dichotomy of "double escapement for repeated notes but no playing off the jack". However the Avantgrand has EXACTLY the same mechanics as a grand piano. (I could not find a clear cross section picture to verify that, but articles like this make me assume that the whole shebang including double escapement is identical.)*
If this assumption is true, then the double escapement action on an Avantgrand must be generated by mechanical action identical to a grand piano. If so, it's impossible for it to have double escapement but no playing off the jack. It's not like the Avantgrand has a sensor for saying "oh, the key is now in double escapement phase"... it just happens mechanically same as in a real grand piano!

Any action that will cause the hammer to hit the strings in a real grand piano, should trigger the hammer sensor on the Avantgrand. And like I've said, in a real grand piano (and presumably in the Avantgrand), as far as I can see, the action that gives rise to double escapement is exactly the same as that for "playing off the jack".

Anyway, it's just something that puzzles me, but you're right, "playing off the jack", whatever it means, is not something I would need. However, the double escapement feature is definitely a requirement. I just don't see how the two are different in the grand piano mechanism.

*Edit: found this. You can clearly see there is a Back Check that the Hammer Tail rests on, so it's safe to assume the mechanical double escapement is all there, exactly like a grand piano.


Edited by Acca (12/06/12 08:04 PM)

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#1995642 - 12/06/12 08:12 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
You are right that the double escapement mechanism is there and being used, but when you say "Any action that will cause the hammer to hit the strings in a real grand piano, should trigger the hammer sensor on the Avantgrand" you make the mistake of assuming that the sensors on the AvantGrand are at the location of the string and infinitesimally close together. They are not.

Only the hammers passing the two velocity sensors are used in computing whether a strike has happened or not. If the first sensor is further up in the stroke than the jack is, no playing off the jack. You can make the hammer shoot up from the jack, but no note sounds.

It is a well-established fact that the AvantGrand cannot play off the jack but it does feature a triple sensor action, real double escapement, and fast repetition capability. Though I guess the repetition may not be as fast as that of an acoustic if the configuration is as I have described.


Edited by gvfarns (12/06/12 08:17 PM)

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#1995644 - 12/06/12 08:14 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: gvfarns]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Originally Posted By: gvfarns


Originally Posted By: Acca
In any case, they went through all that trouble to put a silent module in, but neglected to include simple midi out, very disappointing.


That is disappointing and saddening indeed. I had no idea there were silent modules that did not export MIDI.


I'm very annoyed with Yamaha right now. They charge a $2000 premium over the standard acoustic to have the silent module, but they intentionally do the minimum necessary for a single purpose (silent practice), forcing you to pay for much higher end pianos $30k and up for "extra" features like midi out. They also charge huge 200% markups in markets like Australia while not even making the latest models available. I have a lot more respect for companies like Kawai and Roland, I just wish they would make an Avantgrand competitor, and I wouldn't even need to consider Yamaha.

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#1995645 - 12/06/12 08:16 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
It is a well-established fact that the AvantGrand cannot play off the jack but it does feature a triple sensor action, real double escapement, and fast repetition capability.

I'm not sure what that means, but I know I will sleep well tonight.
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1995648 - 12/06/12 08:18 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Haha, I did modify the fast repetition part, since that's not as well established as the other statements. smile


Edited by gvfarns (12/06/12 08:18 PM)

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#1995766 - 12/07/12 04:36 AM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: gvfarns]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2100
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Here's a post where I found a link about playing off the jack, however the link appears to be dead now:
Re: Let-off feel - grands vs uprights - any difference?

Note that it says that the piano must be finely regulated to be able to play off the jack at all, and also, you must play firmly. It also says that this technique allows playing so softly that it is not possible to achieve that softness playing normally. (do any digitals simulate THAT aspect, I wonder?)

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (12/07/12 05:02 AM)

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#1995829 - 12/07/12 08:11 AM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Very interesting link, sullivang, thanks! So it seems there IS another type of action possible apart from double escapement after all!

It's funny how they were so dismissive of digital pianos, but I would have thought the actions of an upright would be far inferior compared to a grand... (and possibly to digital pianos?) But there was a good point about how manufacturers would not be interested in introducing more parts and expense to the action, hence no one really trying to come up with a way of adding double escapement to uprights.

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#1995885 - 12/07/12 10:21 AM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Acca]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3340
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Acca

It's funny how they were so dismissive of digital pianos, but I would have thought the actions of an upright would be far inferior compared to a grand... (and possibly to digital pianos?) But there was a good point about how manufacturers would not be interested in introducing more parts and expense to the action, hence no one really trying to come up with a way of adding double escapement to uprights.


Yes, they are inferior. I think you need to read that link again if you got the message from it that the upright action is equal to the grand action. It clearly comes down in favour of the grand.

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#1995894 - 12/07/12 10:41 AM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Acca]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3670
Loc: North Carolina
Actually, this has been done:
Originally Posted By: Acca
But there was a good point about how manufacturers would not be interested in introducing more parts and expense to the action, hence no one really trying to come up with a way of adding double escapement to uprights.
The Bafunnon patent (US PAT 7,718,872, May 2010) shows a double-escapement action for an upright piano. But it's more complicated than a conventional upright action, and likely more expensive. And I wonder how well it works: It has a peculiar backcheck mechanism.

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#1996012 - 12/07/12 02:45 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: ando]
Acca Offline
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Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Originally Posted By: ando

Yes, they are inferior. I think you need to read that link again if you got the message from it that the upright action is equal to the grand action. It clearly comes down in favour of the grand.


Obviously the grand is the standard, but I thought they were far more dismissive of digital pianos than of uprights (there was a "analog vs digital" tension there, when it should have been "grand vs everything else").

In any case I was more thinking about how some people will prefer to spend more money on a "good" upright than a cheaper grand piano, especially for classical music. I would have thought a better keyboard that allows better technique would trump any slight differences in "tonal" quality. (Granted, there could be space considerations.)


Edited by Acca (12/07/12 02:48 PM)

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#1996024 - 12/07/12 03:05 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2100
Loc: Sydney, Australia
I suspect that a good upright action is still very well respected, and is considered superior to most digital actions. I know that an upright doesn't have double-escapement, but I don't think that matters all that much for many players - I think the general feel of the action is what most players look for, and most digital actions are hindered by the fact that they don't have a real, mechanical (single) escapement at all - the hammers simply never really detach/escape from the keys in the same way as they do in a real piano. If the upright action is so lousy, I don't think Yamaha would have bothered to develop the NU1 digital, which has a real upright action.

I agree that they did seem overly dismissive of digitals, and yes, I felt the tension. ;^) I was glad to get out of that place in one piece. I don't know what would happen if I were to give them a link to that post here where someone likened all real pianos to a (fictional) Fiat Doblo.

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (12/07/12 03:14 PM)

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#1996061 - 12/07/12 04:38 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Acca]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3340
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Acca
Originally Posted By: ando

Yes, they are inferior. I think you need to read that link again if you got the message from it that the upright action is equal to the grand action. It clearly comes down in favour of the grand.


Obviously the grand is the standard, but I thought they were far more dismissive of digital pianos than of uprights (there was a "analog vs digital" tension there, when it should have been "grand vs everything else").

In any case I was more thinking about how some people will prefer to spend more money on a "good" upright than a cheaper grand piano, especially for classical music. I would have thought a better keyboard that allows better technique would trump any slight differences in "tonal" quality. (Granted, there could be space considerations.)


I think the difference in tonal quality is more than slight. A good upright really trumps a digital because of the dynamic range and the amount of resonance available with hundreds of real strings.

Current DPs have very crude resonance simulation. The Amplifiers they use use a fair degree of compression so the dynamic range is not there. Loudspeakers tend to be a compromise. they aren't going to put full range state-of-the art speakers in a DP. There is a very real reason why a lot of people will prefer an upright over a DP. It feels more real, more present.

I would also say that a good upright action is right up there, if not superior to most digital actions. The sensation of a full sized hammer swinging and rebounding off a string is a real plus. As Sullivang said, the main disadvantage of the upright action is the lack of rapid/undamped repeats. The thing is, most of these 3 sensor digitals still fail to implement this really well anyway. If you don't play music that uses rapid repeats, it's inconsequential.

I still see DPs as a technology of great potential, but one which has not yet marshalled all its resources to put all the right features in the one box. I love reading this forum because I'm interested in the evolution of the technology, but every ounce of the musician in me says acoustic is still king, by a comfortable margin. DPs are a practical means to an end for me. Silent practice, easy recording. But they are definitely not my instrument of choice, sometimes a "tool" of choice though.

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#1996116 - 12/07/12 06:33 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: ando]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: Acca

In any case I was more thinking about how some people will prefer to spend more money on a "good" upright than a cheaper grand piano, especially for classical music.


I think the difference in tonal quality is more than slight. A good upright really trumps a digital because of the dynamic range and the amount of resonance available with hundreds of real strings.


I was talking about acoustic uprights vs acoustic grands, not digital. In my experience, a lot of people will prefer to pay top dollar for an upright even though they could get a baby grand for less. However like I said, perhaps it's because of space considerations, but I find this true even for professional musicians and that's puzzling (especially for classical music)


Edited by Acca (12/07/12 06:36 PM)

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#1996184 - 12/07/12 11:06 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Acca]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3340
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Acca
Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: Acca

In any case I was more thinking about how some people will prefer to spend more money on a "good" upright than a cheaper grand piano, especially for classical music.


I think the difference in tonal quality is more than slight. A good upright really trumps a digital because of the dynamic range and the amount of resonance available with hundreds of real strings.




I was talking about acoustic uprights vs acoustic grands, not digital. In my experience, a lot of people will prefer to pay top dollar for an upright even though they could get a baby grand for less. However like I said, perhaps it's because of space considerations, but I find this true even for professional musicians and that's puzzling (especially for classical music)


That's because baby grands generally sound pretty terrible. They have shorter strings than a larger upright and it is very noticeable. It goes to show that sound does trump action more often than not. As I said, unless you specifically need an action that repeats rapidly, you would go for an upright with a nice sound over a grand with a weak sound. And a lot of grands out there are so poorly regulated that they don't really play any better than an upright action anyway. There is nothing terrible about a well-maintained upright action. It will get you through most situations, and you have to be pretty advanced to be held back by it.

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#1996210 - 12/08/12 12:56 AM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
That's absolutely true. I regularly play on a grand and upright and I notice many differences between them (primarily the way they are regulated) but speed of repetition has never been one of them. The difference between grand and upright actions (and even digital, for that matter) only matters when things are working right...properly regulated and so forth. A grand action *can* be the best of the three. That doesn't mean it always is.


Edited by gvfarns (12/08/12 12:57 AM)

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#1996235 - 12/08/12 02:58 AM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
I've finally managed to visit a couple of small acoustic piano specialist stores, and I have a much better idea of things.

First off:
What people refer to as the "let-off" feel is actually a small bump of resistance at the last third or last quarter of key travel. On a grand piano, if you rest the finger at that point, and then push the key down all the way, you will get the hammer to hit the string. It also seems to be the point at which double escapement happens. Therefore if you re-tap the key slightly above this point, the note will repeat. Hence, you can repeat notes by merely lifting about 1/3 - 1/4 of the travel from the bottom.

Uprights have a resistance point about 1/3 to halfway from the top of the travel. A note will not repeat if you do not lift the key past this point. So you practically have to lift the key up all the way to repeat a note.

The Kawai Grand Feel keyboard (CA65, CA95) has a SIMULATED let-off. From playing with their cross section model, the "let-off" is simply a bit of resistance from a rubber flap, and happens at the last quarter of key travel. However, no note will sound if played from that point. There is another point about halfway down the travel, at which the note will play if you press from that point. It is also the point you need to get back to before "double escapement" will happen.

So what I didn't realize was that the digital piano keys have a different escapement point above the "let-off", whereas on a grand, they are one and the same (and very low down in the travel).

I must say, I was very impressed with the Kawai GF keyboard. It had a very good touch, the fake "ivory" felt good, and the black keys had a different texture which is quite similar to how it is on a grand. And it's funny but the wooden keys seem to make a difference even though the keytops are covered in that fake ivory. It also doesn't bottom out too abruptly. The simulated let-off.. well, it's kind of silly because it doesn't do anything. On a grand, it signals the point at which you can pop the hammer up to the strings again. Whereas on the GF keyboard this is patently not true, you need to lift the key up another 1/3 of travel. They should make the bump coincide with the "double escapement" of a note, to simulate the grand. All in all though, the best feeling digital piano I've experienced so far.

In contrast, I was not at all impressed with the Roland PHA III keyboard - the fake ivory has too much texture and actually has random grooves in it. The keys seem to sit too "flat" and the travel seems a bit short. They also hit the bottom a bit abruptly.

Yamaha and Casio had no resistance at all throughout the travel. Not in the same league.

However, none of them can beat the real thing of course. Even the cheapest grand feels great.


Edited by Acca (12/08/12 03:02 AM)

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#1996421 - 12/08/12 01:56 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
It's real nice to be able to get your hands on these pianos after talking about them so much in the forums, isn't it? Sounds like you went a real good store if all four big brands were represented and they had high end models from each. Good deal!

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#1996474 - 12/08/12 04:05 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Yes, all the reading and speculating is no substitute for just trying the damn things! However, without my prior research I would never have even known what the differences between DPs, uprights and grands were, and wouldn't even know what to look for! smirk


Edited by Acca (12/08/12 04:11 PM)

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#1996483 - 12/08/12 04:20 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2100
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Thanks Acca - very informative! Just one little point though - I don't agree that the simulated let-off "doesn't do anything" - I think it would still allow the pianist to become accustomed to having to overcome the extra resistance when playing softly.

Did you test the let-off point and double-escapement repeat point of the Roland? If not, get back there please. ;^)

Greg.

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#1996491 - 12/08/12 04:43 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: sullivang]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Originally Posted By: sullivang

Did you test the let-off point and double-escapement repeat point of the Roland? If not, get back there please. ;^)

Greg.


I must admit no, because I tested the Rolands last week before I knew much about the let-off point. I did test double escapement, but I didn't note where the double escapement point was (didn't know enough to test that last week.) I tested the LX-15 and FP-3F. However, I really was not impressed with the keyboard in general, it just felt like the travel was too short and hit the bump stop at the bottom rather abruptly.

The fake ivory also didn't look or feel right (does real ivory have grooves like that?) Kawai's fake ivory looked and felt a lot better, much closer to a normal grand (which I was able to compare almost side by side yesterday).

This is just my personal opinion of course.

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#1996499 - 12/08/12 04:50 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: Gomer]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2100
Loc: Sydney, Australia
I've seen that comment about the Rolands having a shallow key travel often. I measured one once, and I'm pretty sure it was about 9.5mm, which is quite normal for a real grand. However, it is a bit less than my Kawai MP9000, which is 11mm. I think my Casio is 10mm.

Greg.

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#1996501 - 12/08/12 04:54 PM Re: Escapement and double escapement in digital piano actions [Re: sullivang]
Acca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/12
Posts: 67
Originally Posted By: sullivang
I've seen that comment about the Rolands having a shallow key travel often. I measured one once, and I'm pretty sure it was about 9.5mm, which is quite normal for a real grand. However, it is a bit less than my Kawai MP9000, which is 11mm. I think my Casio is 10mm.

Greg.


Wow, that doesn't SEEM like a lot of difference... I'm also coming from a Casio Privia, but it's a perception that I never had when I tried the Kawai. (and obviously the grand)

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