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Topic Options
#1996096 - 12/07/12 05:53 PM Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65
jam13 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 6
I've just taken delivery of a Kawai CA-65, and having spent a few hours with it I've noticed that I regularly "drop" notes when playing quiet passages. I don't remember noticing this as a problem when I tested the same model (plus the CA-95 which I understand has the same action) in the shop, but I'm wondering if I just didn't spend long enough with it.

There seem to be several other threads on the forum that mention the "let off" of the GF action, and that this might make it harder to play softly because of the bump in the key travel. Depressing a key slowly to the let off point and then striking it produces no sound at all, but this seems to be common to most DPs.

I've tried playing with the "Minimum Touch" setting in the virtual technician menu, which is supposed to adjust the minimum key velocity that produces a sound. The default is 1, which is the lowest (most sensitive) setting, but I can't say I can really notice much difference even when I wind it up to 20.

Having not really played many grand pianos, I don't know whether this is a characteristic of the grand action that I'll get used to, or that the Kawai GF just falls short in this regard. Have I got a fault, or just unrealistic expectations?

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#1996111 - 12/07/12 06:20 PM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3100
Loc: Oregon
Every piano, DP or otherwise, requires a period of adjustment. Unless the let-off is unreasonably resistant, I'm fairly sure that, as you adapt, you'll develop the wished-for control over pp passages.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

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#1996112 - 12/07/12 06:21 PM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9572
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
jam13, may I ask what kind of piano you owned prior to the CA65?

Also, have you tried adjusting the 'Touch Curve' setting, or creating a 'User Touch Curve' to match your own style of playing?

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1996114 - 12/07/12 06:29 PM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: Kawai James]
jam13 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
jam13, may I ask what kind of piano you owned prior to the CA65?

Also, have you tried adjusting the 'Touch Curve' setting, or creating a 'User Touch Curve' to match your own style of playing?


My other piano is an old Berry upright, which has quite a nice action but will no longer stay in tune even a tone below concert pitch.

I did have a play with the touch curve, but this seemed to only adjust the velocity required to play louder and even on the very lightest setting makes no difference to the minimum sensitivity.

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#1996126 - 12/07/12 07:02 PM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: voxpops]
jam13 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Every piano, DP or otherwise, requires a period of adjustment. Unless the let-off is unreasonably resistant, I'm fairly sure that, as you adapt, you'll develop the wished-for control over pp passages.


That's basically what I was hoping for: I'm not used to any kind of let off, so once I get used to it then it will cease to be a problem.

I will take a trip back to Rose Morris next week to see if the display models behave the same way though.

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#1996133 - 12/07/12 07:20 PM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1974
Loc: Philadelphia area
I would still try working the touch curve setting.

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#1996257 - 12/08/12 05:06 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2434
Loc: UK
I have this problem still today when I visit a friend who has a FP7F. It's just a question of your own adjustment IMHO although fiddling with the velocity response will help. You will wonder what the problem was yourself in a couple of weeks time after you have adapted.

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#1996719 - 12/09/12 03:17 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: spanishbuddha]
Dragon777 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 27
Hi Jam13,

this problem is exactly what I was experiencing when doing a shoot-out between the CA65 and the Yamaha NU1 at the store. I have written about it here:

www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1993617/Yamaha NU1 or Kawai CS9 (or CA.html#Post1994197

I have compared several models in-depth about their ability to play softly and my impression was that the CA65 was not able to play pp or below, at all. Several good players at the shop tried it and all dropped notes all the time while trying soft play. I think this is mainly because of the let-off simulation. Because the let-off resistance-point fools you into thinking that this is the lowest point from where you can hit a soft note. But in fact, it is not, but you have to raise the key a bit higher to get a sound. That´s why you are dropping notes. I guess, you will adapt to this behaviour with time, though it´s different from how an acoustic action behaves.

And I found that the dynamic range of the CA65 does not strech very far down. The softest notes that can be played are quite loud still. So try to get used to the volume of the softest notes possible and don´t try to push it even lower. You have to accept that an acoustic can got lower on volume.

If you take those things into account, I think you will very soon adapt to the action of the CA65 and stop dropping notes. But it may be a bit tougher if you switch to acoustic instruments often.

Best
D


Edited by Dragon777 (12/09/12 03:18 AM)

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#1996739 - 12/09/12 04:48 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
DrAlan Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/04/10
Posts: 18
Loc: Portsmouth UK
Hi jam13, I had exactly this concern when I was auditioning the CA65 in the shop. I made a post about my dilemma on the ABRSM forum.

I was looking for an upgrade from a CL30 and pp was one of my most important criteria. One of my current studies is Adelita from the ABRSM grade 5 book, and I also like to play the first movement of Moonlight (I know that's beyond grade 5 but I made a special effort for it!).

What I eventually decided was that the CA65 would help me develop my ability to play pp precisely because it is a bit more difficult due to the let-off feature, and I bought it in preference to the CA13.

My reasoning was as that playing pp requires a slow press of the key, but that doesn't imply a light press; if you take control of the key rather than letting it control you, you can master the let-off notch and play through it to get a slow press and a pianissimo result. I decided that this would help me develop good technique (or at least be able to cope with a variety of instruments); I really hope I'm right!

Having had the piano for a month or so, I now believe that it is possible to play pp on this instrument (and you really can go quite quiet even with the volume fully up on factory settings). It is certainly an improvement over my CL30 which is what I originally wanted. The CA13 may be easier to play quietly, but doesn't have the dynamic range of the CA65 so this may be an illusion.

Getting even more subtle, I now understand a bit about playing "off the jack" and that would be the icing on the cake if the Kawai modelled that!

By the way I'd say you don't have a fault; my CA65 is the same. If you press to the let-off point and then play, you won't get a sound (this is the missing "off the jack" behaviour). You have to play from just above the let-off point, and mentally / physically ignore the notch; play through it firmly (i.e. in a controlled way) but slowly and you'll get pp.

Cheers

Alan


Edited by DrAlan (12/09/12 04:53 AM)

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#1996741 - 12/09/12 04:49 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9572
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Dragon, I wonder if there was something wrong with the CA65 at that store, or perhaps some settings had been adjusted extremely. I'm not aware of any issues playing pp on any Kawai DPs, not least the latest generation CA models.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1996743 - 12/09/12 04:58 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: Kawai James]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2702
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
I'm not aware of any issues playing pp on any Kawai DPs, not least the latest generation CA models.


@James,

I have also noted that there can be difficulty in producing "pp" dynamics on the CA95, as this is probably due to the fact that one cannot "play off the jack" from the "let-off" point to produce the softest possible tone.

The V-Piano allows for much better control over very soft playing as it has correctly modeled the escapement feature.

Both "let-off" issues have been reported to Kawai.

Extra note:

Have also experienced as to how the "let-off" bump (or, point of resistance) appears to be too firm and not allow the player the softest possible sound as the finger gets caught up with the bump instead of making a sound.

Consequently, attempting to play very softly can produce "dropped notes" as mentioned by the OP.

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#1996747 - 12/09/12 05:12 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2223
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Playing off the jack is a very esoteric thing IMHO, at least according to the SINGLE web page that I found on the topic. I'm not at all convinced yet that this problem has anything to do with playing off the jack. On a real grand, in order to play off the jack, one must play FIRMLY in order to produce any sound at all, and the sound that is produced is VERY ppp. (this is assuming the web page is correct. The link is dead now so no use providing it)

I think the first thing I would do would be to inspect the velocity values that are generated when playing softly. (playing NORMALLY and softly). See what the lowest velocity value is, and then see how evenly it increases as the playing strength is gradually increased. If the velocity values start very low, and the change in velocity seems even, then the issue is with the tone generation. Either the dynamic range is insufficient, or there is insufficient change in timbre, or both. (and adjusting the sound settings might improve the response - if not, a firmware update might be required) If the velocity response is no good, though, and it can't be corrected by adjusting the velocity settings, then perhaps there needs to be a firmware update to fix the velocity response.

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (12/09/12 05:46 AM)

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#1996750 - 12/09/12 05:35 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: DrAlan]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2702
Originally Posted By: DrAlan
If you press to the let-off point and then play, you won't get a sound (this is the missing "off the jack" behaviour). You have to play from just above the let-off point, and mentally / physically ignore the notch; play through it firmly (i.e. in a controlled way) but slowly and you'll get pp.


This is exactly where I think Kawai didn't get things right...

The player should not have to adjust their playing to the piano's "let-off" mechanism, as the piano should respond directly to the way in which the player renders their touch to the key.

If there is an impediment to producing the softest sound due to the resistance of the key, then it's not authentic escapement simulation.

Other members in the forum appear to agree that the resistance of the "let-off" to be a little bit overdone, as it is not subtle enough.

Kawai missed the mark with not having the correct "off the jack" behavior, which also needs to be addressed.

So far, only the V-Piano gets closer to replicating/simulating the escapement in a grand piano.

Both of these features have to be right for the player to achieve "ppp" dynamics, realistically.

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#1996754 - 12/09/12 06:08 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: pv88]
DrAlan Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/04/10
Posts: 18
Loc: Portsmouth UK
Originally Posted By: pv88

Other members in the forum appear to agree that the resistance of the "let-off" to be a little bit overdone, as it is not subtle enough.


Yes I'd agree too. The CA65 isn't perfect, but in my mind was less imperfect than the CA13 and certainly better than my old CL30.

I'd also agree that adding "off the jack" behaviour would be really desirable & would make the illusion of playing a real piano quite believable when added to the three-sensor (repeatable) action and hammer delay.

Cheers

Alan


Edited by DrAlan (12/09/12 06:08 AM)

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#1996755 - 12/09/12 06:09 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
EssBrace Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2423
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
I think this is a case of DP fanatics over-thinking and over-analysing. It's a non-issue, just something to become obsessed by.

There are two issues:

1. The third sensor allows the note to be repeated without having to wait for the key to fully rebound (desirable in order to better facilitate fast repetitions).

2. The (pathetic and pointless) little rubber flap that simulates the escapement point may not necessarily be at the exact same point as the third sensor's trigger point. Roland seems to have got the two to be coincidental, Kawai might be 1mm out. Yamaha, the world's biggest acoustic piano manufacturer provides the third sensor in most of their DPs - and has done so for many years now - but doesn't bother with simulating the little notch (that is a flaw in piano actions and on any level is undesirable anyway and no doubt many years of development have gone into reducing it as far as productions methods allow).

So what does it all achieve? Playing off the jack is just voodoo. When and where would you ever want to do it? There is an escapement point in upright pianos but you can't "play" off it. What would you say to all the extremely accomplished pianists that use upright pianos? Or more to the point, what would they say to you? "Get a life" would be the most likely retort.
_________________________
Yamaha CP1

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#1996758 - 12/09/12 06:15 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: Kawai James]
Dragon777 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 27
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Dragon, I wonder if there was something wrong with the CA65 at that store, or perhaps some settings had been adjusted extremely. I'm not aware of any issues playing pp on any Kawai DPs, not least the latest generation CA models.


Hi Kawai James,

I don´t think there was anything wrong with the instrument or that it had been altered. It was brand new and a CN34 in the store had the same problem, as well as a CS9. On all of them, the quietest tone was still quite loud. The dropping of notes may be caused by the let-off simulation (and I guess you can get used to it). But by just trying to play quietly with one finger, you will notice that the quietest note possible at reasonable volume level is not pp at all. Is there really a setting for this lowest level in the dynamics? If so, at least the factory setting is somewhat off...

Best
D

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#1996759 - 12/09/12 06:27 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: pv88]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2702
Extra note:

I now own three digitals, and, for me the one that wins out for best action and sound projection, is:

Kawai EP3*

Note that this older model has no "let-off" of any kind (very desirable), and, the speakers (while not perfect) project very realistic concert grand sounds with great clarity.

The CA95 & V-Piano can take a back seat to the EP3 for these reasons.

*One has to have at least one digital with no escapement.

As no digital available simulates this correctly.

However, very smooth action on the EP3!

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#1996760 - 12/09/12 06:35 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: EssBrace]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2223
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: EssBrace

2. The (pathetic and pointless) little rubber flap


It is most certainly not pathetic nor pointless. It is there because real pianos feel like that, and moreover:...

Quote:
(that is a flaw in piano actions and on any level is undesirable anyway and no doubt many years of development have gone into reducing it as far as productions methods allow).


This is oversimplifying the situation, because many players LIKE the notch feel. Steingraeber have a version of their action that uses rollers for the hammer nuckles, that does eliminate the notch, but not everyone likes it - see thist post by David Stanwood, who is an expert on piano actions:
http://mail.ptg.org/pipermail/pianotech/2003-April/131820.html

Quote:
Playing off the jack is just voodoo. When and where would you ever want to do it?


The link that I found some time ago says that some players use it to achieve extremely PPP tones. I agree that it seems to be an esoteric thing, but that doesn't mean it has no value at all. Not only is a grand piano required, but the piano must be regulated well. It seems to be a little trick that has been discovered. Nothing wrong with that.

Greg.

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#1996765 - 12/09/12 06:50 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3877
Loc: North Carolina
Put me in the don't-care-about-the-feel-of-escapement camp, with essbrace and pv88.

To me, there are two sides to escapement in an acoustic piano.
1. You need it because it disengages the hammer from the key. This critical function was lacking in pre-piano instruments, but it's been in all pianos for the last three hundred years.
2. You don't want it because it creates an annoying discontinuity in the key travel. But you have to live with it because the mechanics of an acoustic piano make it unavoidable.

In a digital piano, you need the functionality of escapement (item 1) but not the click/crunch discontinuity of escapement (item 2). Until some genius at Roland decided to put a clickety flap into their piano actions, digitals had #1 and not #2. Perfect.

My Yamaha has no clickety flap. Good.

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#1996766 - 12/09/12 06:52 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: EssBrace]
DrAlan Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/04/10
Posts: 18
Loc: Portsmouth UK
Originally Posted By: EssBrace
I think this is a case of DP fanatics over-thinking and over-analysing. It's a non-issue, just something to become obsessed by.


I'll put my hands up to being guilty of that sometimes, but this isn't one of them.

What I (and the OP I think) want is simply to be able to play pp as close to an acoustic as possible, and we are wondering how to achieve that (and indeed if it is possible) on the CA65.

I don't care about "off the jack" playing for its own sake.

I do wish Kawai had made the let-off simulation a little more subtle, but that's about it.

The rest of the discussion is about whether or not the samples go quiet enough - and I think they are reasonable in this respect.

This is just about Piano fanatics (not DP fanatics) wanting to progress their playing isn't it?

Cheers

Alan

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#1996772 - 12/09/12 07:10 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: MacMacMac]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2702
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Put me in the don't-care-about-the-feel-of-escapement camp, with essbrace and pv88.

To me, there are two sides to escapement in an acoustic piano.
1. You need it because it disengages the hammer from the key. This critical function was lacking in pre-piano instruments, but it's been in all pianos for the last three hundred years.
2. You don't want it because it creates an annoying discontinuity in the key travel. But you have to live with it because the mechanics of an acoustic piano make it unavoidable.

In a digital piano, you need the functionality of escapement (item 1) but not the click/crunch discontinuity of escapement (item 2). Until some genius at Roland decided to put a clickety flap into their piano actions, digitals had #1 and not #2. Perfect.

My Yamaha has no clickety flap. Good.


Excellent synopsis... as no one needs resistance in the action.

Digital piano makers should forget about trying to copy it.

V-Piano & CA95 would be better off without the feature.

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#1996775 - 12/09/12 07:16 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: pv88]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2223
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: pv88

Excellent synopsis... as no one needs resistance in the action.

Digital piano makers should forget about trying to copy it.


I don't understand how you could say this. Did you read my post just above where I quoted David Standwood?

Even if it were true that everyone did not like the resistance (and it is NOT true), it would STILL make sense to duplicate it on a digital piano, IF the player is using the DP as a substitute for a real piano! It would allow the player to become accustomed to overcoming the resistance when playing softly, so that when transferring to a real piano, they would not have to adapt as much.

GReg.

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#1997014 - 12/09/12 05:07 PM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: DrAlan]
jam13 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By: DrAlan
What I eventually decided was that the CA65 would help me develop my ability to play pp precisely because it is a bit more difficult due to the let-off feature, and I bought it in preference to the CA13.

My reasoning was as that playing pp requires a slow press of the key, but that doesn't imply a light press; if you take control of the key rather than letting it control you, you can master the let-off notch and play through it to get a slow press and a pianissimo result. I decided that this would help me develop good technique (or at least be able to cope with a variety of instruments); I really hope I'm right!


That's an interesting point, and something I did consider when I was originally comparing the Yamaha Clavinovas. The action on the 430 and 440 felt much more familiar and easy to play (coming from an old acoustic) than the 470, but the 470 felt somehow more responsive even though I was not as comfortable on it.

After managing to track down a Kawai showroom though, I decided fairly quickly that I much preferred the GF action. I did consider the CA 95, but it didn't feel noticeably different to the 65 to me, and as I'm going to be using headphones most of the time, I didn't think the £600 premium was worth it. The CA 95 did sound quite a bit better through the speakers though.

Originally Posted By: DrAlan
By the way I'd say you don't have a fault; my CA65 is the same. If you press to the let-off point and then play, you won't get a sound (this is the missing "off the jack" behaviour). You have to play from just above the let-off point, and mentally / physically ignore the notch; play through it firmly (i.e. in a controlled way) but slowly and you'll get pp.


Hopefully something that will come with practice then. I hope that it will not unduly affect how I perceive other acoustic pianos though smile

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#2225646 - 02/04/14 08:24 AM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
midenok Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/24/14
Posts: 5
I have an opposite complaint. CA-95 can't play fff. Well, it's fortissimo level is very limited. I felt this kind of constraint on Roland RD-700NX, but its forte fortissimo is higher than of Kawai's. Roland can't differ *BAH* from *BABAH* (strongest punch ever possible). So it produces *BAH* instead of *BABAH*. Kawai can't do even *BAH* (no string hysteria, no anguish), just dumb plain *BAM*, peaceful enough, no matter how hard you thrash keyboard. So, IMHO it is most significant deficiency in Kawai action -- weak, very weak fortissimo.

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#2225772 - 02/04/14 01:07 PM Re: Playing pp on a Kawai CA-65 [Re: jam13]
Marcos Daniel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/13
Posts: 184
Loc: Punta Alta, Buenos Aires, Arge...
I would generate a midi file with notes at different velocities, particularly v=127 and listen to it, perhaps you want sound brighter and louder than your DP is able to produce.

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