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#1996432 - 12/08/12 02:23 PM some thoughts on digital pianos
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I was a guest tonight at a party where the pianist used a piano I had rented a few years earlier. I believe this was a Yamaha P85 or P90.

I know it was the same exact piano because I know the people involved.

I was not happy with the piano when I rented it a few years ago. For the entire evening I was irritated with the piano.

Tonight, someone else was playing it, and it sounded just fine. This is not the first time I encountered this, where I did not like the piano but liked the sound of the piano when someone else played it. I'm sure I am not alone in experiencing this.
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#1996436 - 12/08/12 02:32 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Dave Horne]
EssBrace Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
You are not alone!

I remember vividly a couple of occasions when I've sold DPs - interested parties have turned up at the house and I've left them to it. Whilst they've been playing it I've thought "I'm mad, that sounds fantastic, perhaps I should keep it". But to sit down again at it to play is to feel the disappointment again, immediately.

Pianos sound different to an audience than they do to the player. I'm not really sure what the exact explanation is though.
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#1996438 - 12/08/12 02:35 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Dave Horne]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
You are definitely not alone. When I play I feel very critical of the sound and my playing. I never really enjoy it (I guess because I'm at least partially thinking about the playing rather than just enjoying the music). Yet when I have recorded myself and watched the video or listened to the recording, it just sounds great.

A similar thing goes for the sound of the piano. We often talk about pianos for gigging as if they really had to be high quality. But the truth is that people listening to you are not in a position to be super critical. The speakers are room acoustics hide a multitude of sins on the part of the piano. For personal playing only the best VST will satisfy. For gigging, onboard sounds are fine.

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#1996440 - 12/08/12 02:38 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Dave Horne]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2323
Loc: UK
Must be your playing then! smile

But lots of things do affect the sound, as you know. The voice options in the digital, the external speakers if used, the room ambience, your position relative to the piano, etc.

But maybe it is our own playing, from a psychological perspective. Do we hear others playing our instrument, past or present, sounding better than we hear our own playing.

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#1996442 - 12/08/12 02:42 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: spanishbuddha]
EssBrace Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
Originally Posted By: spanishbuddha
But maybe it is our own playing, from a psychological perspective. Do we hear others playing our instrument, past or present, sounding better than we hear our own playing.


Emphatically yes in my opinion. It's a strange little quirk but real, certainly to me anyway. My little Kawai upright was tuned on Tuesday (big day - first in-home tuning). The tuning guy was old school and a very decent chap. He seemed to tune it entirely by ear and as part of that process would often play short musical passages and I listened intently from the other room. It just sounded magical.
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#1996444 - 12/08/12 02:47 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Dave Horne]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1779
Loc: Pennsylvania
And THAT ... is part of what sells a new line of pianos.

They place an expert pianist playing beautiful pieces on their new piano and VIOLA ... we have to have it. We think we are going to sound like that ... WRONG.

But it is all fun anyway.

It is all part of the game we call LIFE !
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My current system: Kawai ES7 + Focal CMS40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, Mackie ProFX8 Mixer, Ravenscroft275, True Keys American Grand, Ivory II American Concert D, Steinway Basic, Galaxy Vintage D, True Pianos, Pianoteq, Alicia's Keys

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#1996532 - 12/08/12 05:59 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Dave Horne]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3788
Loc: North Carolina
I thought this was about the PIANO, not the VIOLA !?

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#1996551 - 12/08/12 06:53 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: spanishbuddha]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
But maybe it is our own playing, from a psychological perspective. Do we hear others playing our instrument, past or present, sounding better than we hear our own playing.

It wasn't the playing, it was the sound of the piano. smile
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#1996804 - 12/09/12 08:41 AM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Dave Horne]
Aeons Holle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 55
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
My opinion and experience:
If I play a piano myself, I want to express something I "hear in my head" and try to output this through my fingers.
If what comes out of the piano is not close enough to what I expect, I become irritated. I don't connect with the sound and fail to express feelings, thus disappointment occurs.

If I listen to somebody else playing a piano, I am free of such expectations.
Which basically means, that usually the sound is not the problem, but the response. If not playing myself, response is eliminated entirely from the equation.
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#1996820 - 12/09/12 09:14 AM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Aeons Holle]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Aeons Holle
My opinion and experience:
If I play a piano myself, I want to express something I "hear in my head" and try to output this through my fingers.
If what comes out of the piano is not close enough to what I expect, I become irritated. I don't connect with the sound and fail to express feelings, thus disappointment occurs.

If I listen to somebody else playing a piano, I am free of such expectations.
Which basically means, that usually the sound is not the problem, but the response. If not playing myself, response is eliminated entirely from the equation.


That sounds like a very good explanation of what's going on.
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#1996863 - 12/09/12 10:57 AM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: dmd]
slipperykeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/12
Posts: 365
Loc: Dorset, England
Originally Posted By: dmd


But it is all fun anyway.

It is all part of the game we call LIFE !



So true.

The people I know recognise my voice, they accept it, they never question it and in virtually 100% of cases they do not think there is anything strange or horrible about it, to them it is simply me, but how I hate it.

Because when I hear me I sound awful, how does anybody put up with my terrible voice?

If I listen to a recording of friends talking I recognise all of them straight away, but then I hear this weird voice and I am told that it is ME!!

Well, that's life indeed.

I started playing the piano when I was 20. I remember quite clearly that I was so busy making the correct movements at the correct time that for probably about 10 years I never really and truly heard what I was playing. I simply did not have the capacity to perform all that AND listen!

Sitting relaxed listening to somebody else make your piano sound like the dream concert grand at The Carnegie or Royal Albert Hall is fine.
I think that what we should try to remember is that no matter what we hear when we play, we have the power to impress others as they impress us.

When I first played in a relaxed state of mind, trying out a piano in a chapel as a few friends talked to the vicar, I was astounded that they thought I was some sort of genius, I assure you I am not. A few 12 bar "tricks" some modern pop/rock, a bit of classical, just to amuse myself, they thought it was wonderful.

If I am set to play for somebody I get tense and am incapable of sounding the same.

That IS life. But some of it is an illusion. I want to learn to use the illusion for myself.

Playing the piano is a personal experience and I get get joy from it, but finding I can give great joy to others from my poor standards makes me feel really good. How can it be wrong to make others happy?

They always are.... it's great. But when I FEEL, not hear, when I FEEL I have played the scale of E Major over 4 octaves, both hands ascending and descending, alone, with nobody listening, more smoothly, more evenly, more completely than ever before, the joy I get from that is so great I simply don't have the words to express it.
I don't think I could say with any honesty that I actually HEAR a better performance though, even now, over 40 years later.

I could literally write a book on why I play the piano, what I get from it and the effect it has on my life. The original post here just touches on one tiny aspect of it and I have, effectively, taken paragraphs from different chapters in this response so this is a little confused.

But I do think we hear our own piano differently, just as we hear our own voice differently.

Of course, there is an alternative answer, perhaps we are wasting good practice time posting dozy replies on this forum while the talented pianists are stealing a lead on us all.

Now that really would be dreadful!

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#1996906 - 12/09/12 12:10 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Aeons Holle]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 451
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Aeons Holle
My opinion and experience:
If I play a piano myself, I want to express something I "hear in my head" and try to output this through my fingers.
If what comes out of the piano is not close enough to what I expect, I become irritated. I don't connect with the sound and fail to express feelings, thus disappointment occurs.

If I listen to somebody else playing a piano, I am free of such expectations.
Which basically means, that usually the sound is not the problem, but the response. If not playing myself, response is eliminated entirely from the equation.


I agree.
Anyway, in recent threads we also have had a similar topic regarding the HP-505: it seems that it sounds better if you are in the audience (somewhere on distance in the living room), than sitting right in front of it. Even with my own, internally on the 505 recorded, pieces from my practice session, I observe it. So, the difference in sound distribution in the near field and the far field is likely to add its effect as well. (I could easily imaging, that this applies for an acoustic piano as well.)
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#1996914 - 12/09/12 12:34 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Dave Horne]
wouter79 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3463
Another explanation is that if you play yourself, you can accurately judge the responsiveness of the piano: if you hit the key twice as loud, the sound should go up twice. Also you can feel how much top power is available with an acoustic.
So if the piano/DP is not responsive accurately, you feel this immediately. And then the pianist will have to hammer louder to get the desired response, which makes it all unsatisfying. But the public can not hear this lack of responsiveness (since the pianist is compensating for it as far as he can), they can only hear the final result.
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#1996931 - 12/09/12 01:10 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: Dave Horne]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 473
I suspect that people who play piano do not record their playing enough. It is one routine that can have exponential impact on your growth and, for obvious reasons, your awareness of what your efforts sound like.

We are very fortunate to have relatively pristine recording devices available to us for as little as the price of a computer. We all have one and if it is a Mac you get Garageband. Other digital recorders either come in your DP or cost $50+ or-.

Additionally, hearing what another musician does on an instrument you are familiar with is a surprise. The familiarity sets up a condition for you to recall your own abilities and limitations. Someone playing what you do not expect (and good to boot) will catch your attention.



Edited by o0Ampy0o (12/09/12 01:19 PM)

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#1996955 - 12/09/12 02:18 PM Re: some thoughts on digital pianos [Re: o0Ampy0o]
Temperament Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/10
Posts: 424
Loc: Hun,EU
This whole issue seems just to reinforce my recent thesis, the coincidence is just stunning: just yesterday stated, that I guess that the major shortcoming with sampled digital pianos (as practically all of Digitalpianos are) is the rigid microphone perspective chosen for their sampling process: How to heal Achilles's heel of sampled pianos
The pianos perspective is the audience (or recording) from the side of the instrument.
This is very different from the usual player perspective, which could have a very disorienting, deteriorating effect on playability. Attila
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