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#2048851 - 03/15/13 08:01 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Disagree. They definitely will reach a point where the differences in sound become very hard to tell, at least in small room settings and when compared to acoustic instruments of the same price point. Moreover, I think we will reach that point within 10 years.

I hasten to add that I don't think that digital pianos will REPLACE acoustic ones, not do I think they should.

I know many piano teachers who will refuse to teach children unless they have an acoustic piano. I find this sad. A good acoustic piano is beyond the budget of many UK households, especially in the current climate. The merits of digital pianos should not be so quickly dismissed.


Edited by debrucey (03/15/13 08:06 PM)

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#2048853 - 03/15/13 08:02 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Registered: 08/29/09
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Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Hopefully not in our lifetime!
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#2048855 - 03/15/13 08:05 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: debrucey]
Lemon Pledge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 353
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Disagree. They definitely will reach a point where the differences in sound become very hard to tell, at least in small room settings and when compared to acoustic instruments of the same price point. Moreover, I think we will reach that point within 10 years.


Absolutely no chance, imo. On my scale, if digitals 25 years ago were at 1, and if the situation you describe above is represented by 100, digitals are now at 3. Not happening in 10 years, unless they take a completely new and different technical approach, one that's beyond my current imagination.

Edit: I didn't notice your "same price point" condition. That makes for an uninteresting comparison. Good acoustics cost real $, and always will, while the cost of digitals could theoretically get Foxconned down to almost nothing.

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#2048857 - 03/15/13 08:10 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Which digitals have you played on?

I am used to regularly playing steinway B's and D's, and I was still very impressed by the high end digital models I sampled recently. They felt better to play than most upright pianos I have played.

Not that this is really a fair comparison. I think it's quite important to consider than digital pianos are much cheaper than acoustic pianos, therefore it's unreasonable to expect them to be able to sound the same as a piano that costs £100,000.

Edit: Just saw your edit


Edited by debrucey (03/15/13 08:14 PM)

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#2048860 - 03/15/13 08:16 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: debrucey]
Lemon Pledge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 353
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Which digitals have you played on?

I am used to regularly playing steinway B's and D's, and I was still very impressed by the high end digital models I sampled recently. They felt better to play than most upright pianos I have played.


I try out the new models every couple years, just to see what's going on. Maybe you've played a model that I haven't played. But I don't need to play them to know what they sound like; listening to them is enough. If you can recommend a particular model, I'll play it within the next few weeks and report back.

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#2048865 - 03/15/13 08:23 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Newer models have to played in person to compare. They don't sound as good through headphones, or a computer, the sound is too 'clean'. The Kawai CA-95 for example, has a wooden soundboard, which gives the sound a much warmer, resonant sound, and when playing it you feel the whole instrument (and the room) vibrate in the same way you do with a real piano. The action it uses has full length (inside the case I mean) wooden keys which pivot like a grand piano action and uses the same lever mechanism, although on smaller scale. The shiny plasticy keys of yesteryear are replaced with ones which look and feel like ivory. It really does feel very convincing. The yamaha Avant Grand series have real grand piano actions in them, and as such feel indistinguishable from playing a grand piano (but in the size of an upright).

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#2048868 - 03/15/13 08:25 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: debrucey]
Lemon Pledge Offline
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Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 353
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Newer models have to played in person to compare. They don't sound as good through headphones, or a computer, the sound is too 'clean'. The Kawai CA-95 for example, has a wooden soundboard, which gives the sound a much warmer, resonant sound, and when playing it you feel the whole instrument (and the room) vibrate in the same way you do with a real piano. The action it uses has full length (inside the case I mean) wooden keys which pivot like a grand piano action and uses the same lever mechanism, although on smaller scale. The shiny plasticy keys of yesteryear are replaced with ones which look and feel like ivory. It really does feel very convincing. The yamaha Avant Grand series have real grand piano actions in them, and as such feel indistinguishable from playing a grand piano (but in the size of an upright).


I've tried Avant Grands already. Will check out the Kawai. My comments above are about the sound, not the feel.

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#2048870 - 03/15/13 08:28 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I'm looking forward to the release of the Kawai CS10, which is essentially the CA-95, but inside the same case as their K-2 acoustic pianos.

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#2048872 - 03/15/13 08:31 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
One also has to consider what the instrument is going to be used for. If, like me, you are a (soon to be ex) conservatoire student who needs a practice instrument for complex and difficult music but you can't afford an acoustic piano that is good enough, you can't do much better than the avant grand. Sure, the sound is not quite there yet, but essentially you are paying £5000 for a high quality grand piano action that would otherwise cost you many times that and take up many times the space. For my purposes, the action is more important than the sound, and that is something that modern digital pianos do very well.


Edited by debrucey (03/15/13 08:32 PM)

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#2048874 - 03/15/13 08:34 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: debrucey]
Lemon Pledge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 353
Originally Posted By: debrucey
One also has to consider what the instrument is going to be used for. If, like me, you are a (soon to be ex) conservatoire student who needs a practice instrument for complex and difficult music but you can't afford an acoustic piano that is good enough, you can't do much better than the avant grand. Sure, the sound is not quite there yet, but essentially you are paying £5000 for a high quality grand piano action that would otherwise cost you many times that and take up many times the space. For my purposes, the action is more important than the sound, and that is something that modern digital pianos do very well.


That's all very reasonable, but I was never addressing anything here other than the sound of digitals, which is completely unlike the sound of acoustics. That doesn't mean that I think digitals are useless.

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#2048876 - 03/15/13 08:39 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Offline
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I think the progress of digitals/hybrids has been astronomically fast. I played a Clavinova in the 90's in countless high school musicals and the the Avant Grand and others are light years beyond that in the space of 20 years or less.

Around thirty years ago the best computer chess programs were very weak. Now some $25 program can beat 99% of chess players and the best computer programs regularly defeat grandmasters. It has gotten to the point where only grandmasters have a chance against the best chess computer programs. In blitz chess, I don't think even the best grandmasters can beat the best computers.

I actually find it hard to believe, based on the exponential improvement in computers and technology, that anyone thinks that non acoustics will not eventually become indistinguishable from acoustics. The only thing that might prevent this is a lack of market for this type of non acoustic piano.

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#2048877 - 03/15/13 08:41 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
It's getting closer though. Digital pianos tend not to sound as good themselves as standalone software packages which are available separately. But if you put the two together, they can sound pretty good.

If I spent £2800 on an yamaha upright, and then spend £2500 on a Kawai CA-95 and £300 on TrueKeys for my laptop and paired them up, I feel confident that I could get more colour, contrast and subtlety out of the digital setup, especially with the features I mentioned like the inclusion of a wooden soundboard.


Edited by debrucey (03/15/13 08:42 PM)

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#2048890 - 03/15/13 09:18 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Lemon Pledge]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
The world, as usual is always changing. When I was a kid I grew up in a trailer so a piano was not possible.

Today an 88 keyed weighted keyed piano can be had for 600 dollars Canadian. When I bought my shack it cost 40, 000 and vehicles cost 3 thousand dollars. Today houses on a small lot cost a million dollars and a condo, 400 sq ft. cost a half a million. Today vehicles cost 50,000. Food is interesting. I remember visiting Japan and seeing produce in small boxes. Today lots of fruit and vegtables come in boxes. Everywhere I look, I see lots of baby carriages with 1 or 2 babies. Today, I understand, that 2,000 people a month move to this city.

The cost of housing and what it means if you own a piano - digital you can play 24/7/365 and an acoustic restricted by neighbours. I love my acoustic piano but the future, who knows. When I was 13 I taught myself to type on a manual typewriter. Today, it is difficult to get ribbons for typewriters and manual and electric typewriters aren't seen. Everyhwere you go people of all ages are holding cell phones, etc.

When the personal computer first came out it was around 4,000 dollars and today laptops can be had for 300 dollars.

The good news is that digitals pianos can put a piano everywhere in the reach of almost anyone who want to learn to play a piano like never before.

When I go to music store the digital keyboards department always has lots of people of all ages. When I go to the acoustic piano department there is only one time that I saw a customer there when I went there. Remember what a descent piano costs, new or old, and what a digital piano costs - less than a monthly paycheque.


Edited by Michael_99 (03/15/13 09:21 PM)

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#2048891 - 03/15/13 09:23 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Michael_99]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Originally Posted By: Michael_99

The good news is that digitals pianos can put a piano everywhere in the reach of almost anyone who want to learn to play a piano like never before.


Yes, absolutely. Surely this is something to be celebrated. If I didn't have a digital when I was a teenager, I wuldnt have had a piano at all. I wouldn't be where I am now.


Edited by debrucey (03/15/13 09:23 PM)

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#2048892 - 03/15/13 09:30 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
yhc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/04
Posts: 150
Loc: NYC, NY
The future of piano I think probably is just like that of the harpsichord today. When later generations ascustom to the tone color of the electronic piano, the piano now will fade but not diminish.

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#2048901 - 03/15/13 10:06 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
ShiroKuro Online   content
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Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3485
Loc: not in Japan anymore
One thing not mentioned (enough) so far is the organic sound of an acoustic, which I miss terribly now that I only have a digital. I'll probably get pelted with rocks and garbage for saying this, but I used to love how I could hear the weather change in my (acoustic) piano. The instrument was alive to me. I have always loved the differences in the sounds of (acoustic) pianos, what some people complain about to me sounds like the piano's own character. You never get that on a digital.

I had the pleasure of playing a Yamaha Avant Grand for several lessons, and it was very impressive. I would much rather have it than my current wimpy little Yamaha Arius. And given my current living situation (apartment, grad student) I am grateful to have the Arius rather than no piano at all. But these pianos are painfully sterile and their stability is dull. I long for my beloved acoustic and it's personality and warmth. An acoustic piano is organic in a way that a digital one can never be.
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#2048903 - 03/15/13 10:15 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Unless you could figure out a way of programming in said organicness. It could be done.

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#2048905 - 03/15/13 10:29 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Quick question. On a really good DP, when you hold notes using the sostenuto pedal but don't actually play those notes and then play and release harmonically related chords several octaves higher, do the held notes sing by sympathetic resonance, as in an acoustic piano?

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#2048910 - 03/15/13 10:44 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Yes, high end digital pianos now sample sympathetic resonance. The same is true when you lift the sustain pedal. All of the notes resonate, not just the ones you play. I have even tested holding a low C and playing up the harmonic series.

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#2048912 - 03/15/13 10:49 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
The comparison with harpsichords is interesting, but ultimately I think inaccurate. Pianos superseded harpsichords because they were wholly different instruments. Digital pianos tend to be judged largely on how faithfully they recreate the experience of playing an acoustic, i.e the more indistinguishable they are from real pianos the better they are.

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#2048921 - 03/15/13 11:26 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2147
Loc: Canada
The Avantgrand I own is probably the only reason why I'm able to continue with music right now... it's something that I'm eternally grateful to my family for providing it for me. It's more expensive than a lesser digital, but I don't think I would have able to expand my repertoire to its current state without it.

@Debrucey - LOL, we're playing like the same stuff this year. I also did the 4th ballade and will be performing the Ravel again soon...+ I've fooled around with some Kapustin preludes. Not played at your level however :P.


Edited by Kuanpiano (03/15/13 11:27 PM)
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#2048923 - 03/15/13 11:27 PM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8890
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
...


Edited by argerichfan (03/16/13 02:23 PM)
Edit Reason: not really relevant
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#2048951 - 03/16/13 01:01 AM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: ShiroKuro]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19786
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: ShiroKuro
One thing not mentioned (enough) so far is the organic sound of an acoustic, which I miss terribly now that I only have a digital....I used to love how I could hear the weather change in my (acoustic) piano. The instrument was alive to me. I have always loved the differences in the sounds of (acoustic) pianos, what some people complain about to me sounds like the piano's own character. You never get that on a digital

....given my current living situation...I am grateful to have the Arius rather than no piano at all. But these pianos are painfully sterile and their stability is dull. I long for my beloved acoustic and its personality and warmth. An acoustic piano is organic in a way that a digital one can never be.

I agree. I had never thought of it before as a plus, but yeah. I fight this characteristic of pianos, by working hard to stabilize humidity, temp etc., but I guess I love it too, just as you said.

One of the challenges of performing is feeling out how the piano is at that particular moment and adapting to it. Even if we tried the piano the previous day, or that morning, it'll be a little different when the performance comes around. Just like what I said in the above paragraph, I've viewed this mostly as a 'problem,' but y'know, I also love it. It has become a familiar and wonderful part of the performing routine and helps make each performance a unique moment.

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#2048965 - 03/16/13 01:56 AM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: SBP]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: SBP
I hope they don't.

Personally, I hope that acoustics will evolve away from the loud beasts they are today. That would sure make them more pleasant to play for long periods :P


This is an excellent point.

Why should all quality grands be more appropriate for the concert hall than home?

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#2048977 - 03/16/13 03:00 AM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: theJourney]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 693
Loc: Finland
I hope not but...

For professionals it probably won't happen soon, they mostly study on an acoustic and that's what is expected in concerts.

But in homes of the amateurs? I would expect that it might happen for a few reasons: Price, convenience, space.
I was talking to a piano dealer the other day and he said he sells quite a few grands to older people to be more furniture than an instrument shocked
Where will all the grands go after these peole are gone?
And why would anyone want a grand as furniture? No matter how much I want one they are actually pretty ugly things...

For me the digitals don't get more appealing even though they get better and better. The things about the acoustic that draw me into it are the feel of the playing, the effort it takes to be able to get the sound I want and the little differences or imperfections that make the piano an individual and it's sound more living than a perfect digital sound.
I don't know if the young people today would care for this, more like the easier the better so I do think acoustics will become less and less common in households. Especially when the old uprights get dumped and the new good quality uprights are pretty expensive. Why buy a cheap acoustic that is low quality when you can get a really good digital for less...

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#2048978 - 03/16/13 03:07 AM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: theJourney]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 693
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: SBP
I hope they don't.

Personally, I hope that acoustics will evolve away from the loud beasts they are today. That would sure make them more pleasant to play for long periods :P


This is an excellent point.

Why should all quality grands be more appropriate for the concert hall than home?


I agree 100%!

My dream is to own a fortepiano one day, because they have so much more appealing sound than the modern monsters...

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#2048979 - 03/16/13 03:21 AM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6353
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Yes - you can purchase a digital for less than an acoustic - but a digital only lasts about 25% as long as an acoustic (at best).

If your power goes out - a digital will be completely useless.

At least you can play an acoustic by candlelight.

I imagine that acoustics will be very popular with future doomsday preppers. grin
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#2048981 - 03/16/13 03:31 AM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: pianoloverus]
-Frycek Offline
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Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think the huge percentage of pianists, including those on this thread who hate the sound of digitals/hybrids, would have difficulty telling the difference in a blind test.



Cher, it's not the sound of a digital I hate (though I'm not wild about it)-it's the feel. I keep one at my elderly parents' home to practice on when I'm down there. Yes, it has weighted keys but it still feels like some sort of toy compared to my not particularly grand acoustic.
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#2048987 - 03/16/13 04:12 AM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Mark_C]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2608
Do you remember the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence?

This is from IMDb:

"A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother."
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#2048994 - 03/16/13 04:50 AM Re: Poll (sort of): Will the 'acoustic piano' become a relic? [Re: Hakki]
ClsscLib Online   content

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1766
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Do you remember the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence?

This is from IMDb:

"A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother."


Didn't Disney do an animated film on the same point some decades earlier? wink
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