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#2024794 - 01/31/13 05:32 PM Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain
SixtyThousandCats Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/31/13
Posts: 8
Hi all, first time poster here! smile

I'm about to get a digital piano and these models are interesting and seem sufficient for my needs:

- Casio PX-150
- Yamaha P-105, P-95
- Korg SP170, SP250

I really would like to use a continuous sustain pedal with the digital piano that I get. Would that be possible with any of these models?

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#2024810 - 01/31/13 05:53 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
TrumpetMan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/13
Posts: 43
Loc: Essex, UK
Hi and welcome.

What is the difference between a continuous sustain pedal and a normal sustain pedal?

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#2024816 - 01/31/13 05:58 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: TrumpetMan]
SixtyThousandCats Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/31/13
Posts: 8
Most sustain pedals for digital pianos are on/off only, meaning either you full sustain or no sustain at all. Some digital pianos also feature "half-pedal", meaning the sustain has in addition to full sustain something in between full and off.

With continuous sustain you can have anything in between. That's the way it works on acoustic pianos.

I like that because then you can have sustain but not necessarily a harmonic mess.

I think I got that right.

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#2024822 - 01/31/13 06:02 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3128
Loc: Northern England.
Continuous sustain? I`d sure like that on mine!
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2024911 - 01/31/13 10:04 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
Charles Cohen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 938
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
The PX-150 and PX-350 are "kissing cousins".

The PX-350/PX-150 3-pedal unit (SP-33, I think) does _not_ have a "continuous sustain" pedal. It's "off", or "half-pedal", or "on". That's all the pedal will do. The amount of damping for "half-pedal" is adjustable through the PX-350 "Function" menu. I don't know if it's adjustable on the PX-150.

HOWEVER:

The PX-350 _sound generator_ may accept quasi-continuous "pedal damping" data, from other MIDI sources, according to its MIDI specification. So there may be a possibility of later upgrade. [I'm going to test this in the next few days, if I can figure out how to do it!]


I suggest that you read through the manuals _very_ carefully, if "continuous damping" -- the gradual change in decay time, as you lower the "sustain" pedal on an acoustic piano -- is important to you.

. Charles



Edited by Charles Cohen (01/31/13 10:21 PM)

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#2024912 - 01/31/13 10:06 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: Charles Cohen]
Charles Cohen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 938
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
FWIW --

The Yamaha P105, according to one (possibly biased) reviewer, is substantially better than the P95 (older model). See:

http://azpianonews.blogspot.ca/2012/07/review-yamaha-p105-digital-piano-very.html

. Charles

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#2024983 - 02/01/13 12:41 AM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
SixtyThousandCats Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/31/13
Posts: 8
What the manuals say:

From the Korg SP170 manual: "Alternatively, you can use an optional DS-1H damper pedal. A half-pedal damper ef-
fect can be applied to Piano 1 or 2."

Korg SP250 sends four MIDI-values out for the damper pedal: 0 38 74 127. So two settings in between off and full.

The Korg website doesn't have a manual for Korg SP280.

On Casio Privia PX350 you can change "the amount of the pedal effect applied when the damper pedal is pressed part way". You change this on the keyboard, and assign a value from 00 to 42.

Here you'll find the info on the MIDI implementation on the Privia series. On page 46 it seems to made clear that only PX-850 and PX-1200GP has support for continuous sustain.

More coming...

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#2025425 - 02/01/13 04:18 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
SixtyThousandCats Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/31/13
Posts: 8
Some info on Yamaha P-105 regarding sustain can be found here, at Yamaha's website.

In the 'P-105 MIDI reference' PDF, on page 4, you'll find the following:

Code:
(6) Damper Pedal/Sustain
    ccH  Parameter  Data  Range (vvH)
    40H  Sustain    MSB   00H...7FH


Makes me think at least the MIDI out of the P-105 is able to produce 'off', 'full' and everything in between, values 0-127 in other words.. I'm not sure though so I sent a question to Yamaha.

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#2027855 - 02/06/13 03:43 AM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
SixtyThousandCats Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/31/13
Posts: 8
I got an answer from a Yamaha rep saying that the P105 does indeed has a stepless sustain (you won't feel any off/half/full sustain steps or the likes), and that it only works with the FC-3 pedal.

Thumbs up for the Yamaha then!

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#2027930 - 02/06/13 07:51 AM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3075
I really think this is another one of those features that is being overblown and won't matter to the majority of players. I even get the impression that the people who ask about this are often people who have never even used the technique on an acoustic piano!

If you're not certain of what it does, it is described in this video, from about 8 to 10 minutes in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6zToqwWjDA

Not only is its use somewhat uncommon (except perhaps for the release of the last chord of piece), but in fact, DPs are still so far from acoustic pianos in how they reproduce subtle resonances, that even if the hardware supports it, I am skeptical about whether you get the intended sonic effect anyway. Especially when you're talking about the built in sounds of the lower end models being discussed here to begin with.

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#2028012 - 02/06/13 10:59 AM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
xorbe Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/12
Posts: 568
Loc: Mt View, CA
If you're really impossibly good, you can actually let an ON/OFF switch up just briefly, and control the rate of damping in a ... digital manner! ie, damper switch off causes a time-based damping that's not instant -- well at least on my PX-330 with the main piano sound. One could technically build a fully variable damper using this trick using the standard jack input, once the minimum time slice was determined experimentally ...


Edited by xorbe (02/06/13 11:00 AM)

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#2028076 - 02/06/13 12:39 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: xorbe]
Charles Cohen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 938
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Quote:
If you're really impossibly good, you can actually let an ON/OFF switch up just briefly, and control the rate of damping in a ... digital manner! ie, damper switch off causes a time-based damping that's not instant -- well at least on my PX-330 with the main piano sound.


That only works if the sound generator is smart enough to say:

. . . The pedal is down;

. . . C4 was played and released -- I'll start the "undamped decay" sample for C4.

. . . I'll respond to "pedal up" by starting the "damped decay"
. . . sample for C4 (volume matched to instantaneous volume of the "undamped decay" sample)

. . . I'll respond to "pedal half-down" (or "pedal down") by
. . . re-starting the "undamped decay" sample for C4, with
. . . its volume matched to the _instantaneous_ volume of
. . . the "damped decay" sample.

I don't think _any_ mid-priced tone generator is that smart.

I've just shown that for the Casio PX-350:

. . . The sound generator responds correctly to "graduated" half-pedal MIDI events;

. . . The built-in pedal (SP-33) doesn't generate "graduated" events -- it only does "pedal up", "pedal half-down", "pedal-down".

. Charles

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#2028091 - 02/06/13 01:02 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
xorbe Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/12
Posts: 568
Loc: Mt View, CA
Actually, it does -- I tried it before I posted with the included on/off switch. (Yeah I have the SP-32 for my PX-330 also.)


Edited by xorbe (02/06/13 01:02 PM)

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#2028202 - 02/06/13 03:58 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: SixtyThousandCats]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
I guess I'm a bit confused by this thread. I may be misreading it. My understanding is the following:

* Essentially all DP pedals produce an analog signal (voltage or something).

* The DP receives this and translates it into as many steps as make sense--it doesn't do all MIDI steps because little foot jiggles would clog up the MIDI stream. If you look at the MIDI output of a typical DP there are, maybe 20 levels being sent.

* Doesn't matter, though, because the internal tone generator of the DP only has three levels (up, down, half) as do all VST's I'm aware of. If there is any exception to that it would be PianoTeq.

For me the difference between not having a half pedal region and having one is a big deal. I don't think the fact that there are only three regions is a big issue, though. I've never noticed it to be a problem. Frankly my foot is not precise enough to tell the difference and I doubt anyone else's is either--all the differences would be right in the boundary between up and down.

When it's translated into digital signals, there's no true continuous anyway. Was the OP hoping that there was a DP that used 128 levels of pedal?


Edited by gvfarns (02/06/13 04:19 PM)

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#2028219 - 02/06/13 04:21 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: xorbe]
Charles Cohen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 938
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: xorbe
Actually, it does -- I tried it before I posted with the included on/off switch. (Yeah I have the SP-32 for my PX-330 also.)


. . . What _exactly_ did you do ?

. . . What _exactly_ did you measure or record ?

If there's a way to get a continuous half-pedal, I'd love to know what it is.

. charles

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#2028237 - 02/06/13 04:53 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: gvfarns]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3075
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
I guess I'm a bit confused by this thread. I may be misreading it. My understanding is the following:

* Essentially all DP pedals produce an analog signal (voltage or something).

* The DP receives this and translates it into as many steps as make sense--it doesn't do all MIDI steps because little foot jiggles would clog up the MIDI stream.

No... Most DP pedals connect with two wires and simply send OPEN or CLOSE which is MIDI zero and 127, period. Some DP pedals have three wires and can send values in between, if the receiving device is also designed to receive values in between. You can tell by looking at the plug at the end of the pedal... i.e. is it a 2-conductor "mono" plug (like a guitar cable) or is it a 3-conductor "stereo" plug with an extra ring (like a 1/4" headphone cable). (However, the exact behavior of these 3-conductor sustain pedals are not all identical to each other. And, for that matter, as you probably know, neither are all 2-conductor pedals identical, as some are wired in reverse from others... i.e. a Yamaha pedal works backwards on a Korg.)

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
For me the difference between not having a half pedal region and having one is a big deal.

Is it something you make use of when playing an acoustic piano? Have you played DPs where the half-pedal implementation gives you the sonic effect you're familiar with from an acoustic?

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#2028248 - 02/06/13 05:13 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: anotherscott]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
For me the difference between not having a half pedal region and having one is a big deal.

Is it something you make use of when playing an acoustic piano? Have you played DPs where the half-pedal implementation gives you the sonic effect you're familiar with from an acoustic?


It's not very often that I spend time trying to hover at the half-pedal point, either on the acoustic or digital. However, my pedal technique involves pretty small movements up and down so as to avoid adding pedal noise. On an acoustic if you accidentally stray a hair too high or low you will feel and hear and correct it but it won't be so blaringly obvious that it will ruin what you are playing.

On a digital piano you can't feel the transition so it is very easy to stray over the line from on to off inadvertently. When I play a digital without half-pedal I can tell you the effect is very jarring for me.

I do occasionally use half pedal technique to clear the mud without fully releasing the pedal. Probably a bad habit of mine.

If your pedal technique is cleaner than mine, perhaps it's not an issue for you. It definitely has been for me on all the DP's and VST's I've used that do not have a half-pedal region.

Regarding your comments about the pedals, I could be wrong, but I don't think the pedals that are capable of partial pedaling send midi signals or any other digital information. Just varying resistance as I described (poorly). There are no brains in there that I've ever seen. I believe the DP converts that analog signal to a MIDI value as I described.

As for whether *most* DP pedals are of the on/off or continuous variety, I suppose it's an empirical question. There aren't that many digitals around that don't do partial pedal any more so I don't know how one could think that on/off type pedals are common by any normal metric.


Edited by gvfarns (02/06/13 05:19 PM)

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#2028250 - 02/06/13 05:17 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: anotherscott]
SixtyThousandCats Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/31/13
Posts: 8
I a keyboard/piano beginner and started playing on the 1th of January actually. I am however starting to feel the benefit of being able to half-pedal. Not having it is now annoying.

Should the P105 (for example) not produce an acceptable sound then at least it produces values 0-127 MIDI-out with an FC-3 pedal (and no stops in between) and I should be able to get desired results with Ivory/Pianoteq/other. smile

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#2028269 - 02/06/13 05:59 PM Re: Entry level digital piano with continuous sustain [Re: gvfarns]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3075
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
my pedal technique involves pretty small movements up and down so as to avoid adding pedal noise.

Ah. At least that's not an issue on a DP, where pedal noise usually doesn't exist, or if it does, it is often a "feature" that can be adjusted or turned off.

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
On an acoustic if you accidentally stray a hair too high or low you will feel and hear and correct it but it won't be so blaringly obvious that it will ruin what you are playing.

On a digital piano you can't feel the transition so it is very easy to stray over the line from on to off inadvertently. When I play a digital without half-pedal I can tell you the effect is very jarring for me.

This could have at least as much to do with where the transition point between On and Off is (on a simple two-position pedal), as it does with whether the pedal sends any values in between.

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Regarding your comments about the pedals, I could be wrong, but I don't think the pedals that are capable of partial pedaling send midi signals or any other digital information.

Correct. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. A simple pedal is an analog switch, open or closed, which the keyboard converts into MIDI 0 or 127. The half-pedaling capable pedals are sending a range of analog values which are than converted to 0, 127, or one or more points in between... the pedals, themselves, are not sending MIDI data, I agree.

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
As for whether *most* DP pedals are of the on/off or continuous variety, I suppose it's an empirical question. There aren't that many digitals around that don't do partial pedal any more so I don't know how one could think that on/off type pedals are common by any normal metric.

On/Off pedals have been the standard DP sustain pedal going back at least to the 1970s. They are also the same as footswitches that have been used for synths, workstations, drum machines, recording devices, organ rotary effects, etc., for just as long. (I am including the little square sustain pedals as well as the ones that are shaped like piano pedals... traditionally, their physical operation has been identical.) So that's most of what you'll find out there. Continuous pedals in a spring-back mechanism (as opposed to in an expression/volume pedal, which stays where you leave it) is a relatively recent development, and other than the pedals that come with the pianos that support it, there aren't a whole lot of them around. Probably in part because there is less use for them (as I said, the other kind is used for all kinds of things), they are more expensive, and there is probably less standardization/interchangeability among them.

edit: To that last point, if you look up "sustain pedals" on sweetwater, you'll see more switch pedals than half-damper pedals. And the switch pedals--as well as the switch functionality of the half-damper pedals--will work on all instruments (with the usual caveat that some instruments require normal-open and some require normal-closed; some pedals are switchable), while the half-damper functions are only listed as being certain to work on particular keyboards that are made by the manufacturer of the pedal.


Edited by anotherscott (02/07/13 09:38 AM)

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