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#2193044 - 12/05/13 04:28 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: renato]
dewster Online   content
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Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4363
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: renato
From the reviews, I tend to believe that VILabs have managed the samples in a such way that the number of layers is no more such important than it was before.

From my quick peek the layers are blended.

Would I buy a fully sampled, 8 layer DP tomorrow? Most likely!

Are 8 or 9 layers all I would ever want in a DP or sampler? Hmm. I guess, all else being equal, the more the merrier. More samples for each note means chances are I'll hear something slightly different with each playing of that note, likely lowering long-term fatigue due to the unavoidable monotony of a sampled instrument.

IOW, gobs of velocity layers can pretty much get you around the need for the whole round-robin thing (because it's difficult to replay exactly the same velocity twice).
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#2193090 - 12/05/13 05:54 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: dewster]
StarvingLion Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/13
Posts: 226
It seems to me that Truekeys is a Pianoteq killer hoping to maintain the illusion of Steinway D authenticity. In other words, no boxy sound of the pianoteq and "Look, there are a bunch of pristine steinway samples on your hard drive!" being inputted to the engine. However, my suspicion is that the slippery slope of playability to conquer Pianoteq comes at the price of authentic Steinway traits being somewhat less than authentic.

Its a marketing masterpiece though. The dopes at Roland shout from the tallest mountain: "Playability (Synthetic) is us!" and are now getting clobbered for it. The snooty snoot Steinway/Roland dealer in my city announced two weeks ago that its packing its bags and heading to some new location.

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#2193114 - 12/05/13 06:37 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: dewster]
renato Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/29/13
Posts: 19
Loc: Brazil
Dewster,

I'm with you. I think more samples is better. Computer power increasingly much faster than any other technology, so the computer power isn't the problem to handle more and more samples.

Maybe VILabs is keeping it to release a possible version 2 with more layers, since nowadays they are the best one or one of the best. smile

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#2193122 - 12/05/13 06:49 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: MacMacMac]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9679
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Pianists concern themselves with the former. Engineers get hung up on the latter.


Great point!

I also believe it's important to judge a software piano/digital piano based primarily on how it sounds, and its technical specifications.

The Nord Piano Library is quite a good example of this. The 'XL'-sized samples typically require twice the memory of the 'L'-sized equivalents, however in my [admittedly limited] experience, they do not necessarily sound twice as good.

Cheers,
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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#2193129 - 12/05/13 07:04 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Kawai James]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3484
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
I also believe it's important to judge a software piano/digital piano based primarily on how it sounds, and its technical specifications.

The Nord Piano Library is quite a good example of this. The 'XL'-sized samples typically require twice the memory of the 'L'-sized equivalents, however in my [admittedly limited] experience, they do not necessarily sound twice as good.


Clearly XL won't sound twice as good as L, but if they sound better at all, then your example supports the opposite of what you just said. Namely, that bigger size, more layers, etc. is better. And we can use those specifications to make judgments about whether one product is better than the other or not.

Unless you meant to say that in your opinion XL doesn't sound better than L at all. Is that what you meant?


Edited by gvfarns (12/05/13 07:06 PM)

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#2193134 - 12/05/13 07:13 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: renato]
Macy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 619
Originally Posted By: renato
Macy,

I want your thought about before made a decision. I'm interested to buy the whole package, but I'm not sure if True Keys American will be a worth step up from Vintage D. About Italian and German, I don't have any concurrent, so it will worth.

I'm more engineer than player, that's because I want to clarify those things. If we take a look on the main competitors (Synthogy, Pianoteq ...) the main market is about the layers. Pianoteq promisses a incredible playability because it doesn't have samples, so 127 level in the standard MIDI.

From the reviews, I tend to believe that VILabs have managed the samples in a such way that the number of layers is no more such important than it was before.

I think too much is made of the number of layers as a single specification. The design, implementation, and condition (performance) of the piano sampled is more important.

The number of layers allow the designer to provide distinct timbre changes (breakpoints) across the MIDI 1-127 velocity range. The MIDI velocity values of the timbre break points vary for each key and the number of layers can be different for each key. So the idea is to have enough layers that the timbre changes gradually enough that the player doesn't notice any unexpected abrupt changes in timbre while playing. All sampled pianos interpolate (doesn't have to be linear interpolation) volume changes across the 1-127 MIDI velocity range so volume changes should be smooth (when done correctly) and have 127 levels. More layers only help make shaping the volume interpolation easier, although that could be done with key specific non-linear interpolation too. But not all sampled pianos use timbre interpolation, and that's when more layers can make a difference.

Regardless of how its done, the bottom line is whether or not the timbre (and volume) changes are natural and represent the sound of the original acoustic piano that was sampled. So there are both technical design issues (number of layers and interpolation methods if and when used) and implementation issues (all of the samples collected have to be assigned to different MIDI velocity ranges that can be different for each key and matched to the original acoustic piano). The implementation is a huge job regardless of how good the design may be. If volume or timbre variations are non-monotonic (i.e. volume decreases or timbre becomes more mellow when velocity increases) or there are large changes in volume or timbre at layer breakpoints, then individual notes will stick out at particular velocity levels and ruin even great designs. There are examples of bad implementation and excellent implementation.

So my point is that while design technique and number of layers is important, implementation is even more important. In my opinion, the Vintage D and Ivory II American D are examples of excellent design and implementation, which produces pianos that sound very authentic and are very playable. The Ivory II American D is interesting because it includes pre-defined sample sets ranging from 4 layers to 20 layers if you want to make comparisons based on number of layers (using its design techniques). The Vintage D has fewer layers (13 if I remember correctly) but uses different design techniques. I don't hear any "layer-related" sound or playability issues with either of them. I prefer the Vintage D because I prefer the harmonic richness of the really magnificent Steinway D from which it was sampled, and the broader timbral range over which it can be "voiced" (to use the acoustic terminology) while still sounding authentic. Whether that is a function of the Vintage D's software design, its sampling techniques and implementation, or the original acoustic piano itself I'm not certain (although I lean toward the latter reason), but note that it has a broader authentic timbral range even though it has less layers than the Ivory II.

My bottom line - the design technology and care in implementation (sample recording and processing) used by the Vintage D and Ivory II American D have reached a point that playability is no longer an issue provided you have the right computer resources to completely support their full capabilities - which is different between the two - the Vintage D is CPU intensive and the Ivory II is disk intensive (use an SSD). At that point, you choose by the sonic characteristics of which original acoustic piano you like better (both appear to have been exquisitely prepared prior to sampling).

I'm now trying to determine (in my opinion) if the TrueKeys American D falls into the same category as the Vintage D and Ivory II American D.
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Macy

CVP-409GP, Vintage D, Ivory II GP's & American Concert D, True Keys American D, Ravenscroft 275, Garritan Authorized Steinway, Alicia's Keys, EWQL Pianos, MainStage, iPad/forScore/PageFlip Cicada, Custom Mac MIDI/Audio Software Design, Macs Everywhere

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#2193142 - 12/05/13 07:21 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
TheodorN Offline
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Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1221
Loc: Skåne, Sweden
Might be tempted to make use of this offer, isn't the piano usually selling at double the reduced price? I actually like the piano voices of my current digital and I'm not sure a software piano would add anything noteworthy to them.

Can a good pianist maybe make even a faulty piano (software, digital or acoustic) sound good?
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#2193151 - 12/05/13 07:36 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: gvfarns]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9679
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Clearly XL won't sound twice as good as L...


Yes, I think we can both appreciate this, however to someone less knowledgeable it is not such an illogical assumption.

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
And we can use those specifications to make judgments about whether one product is better than the other or not.


Specifications are useful to a certain extent, however I would never recommend customers make a purchasing decision based solely on numbers alone.

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Unless you meant to say that in your opinion XL doesn't sound better than L at all. Is that what you meant?


No, that's not what I meant, nor what I said. However, now that you mention it, I do recall some Nord users preferring the 'L' version (over the 'XL' version) of the Fazioli grand when it was released last year.

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
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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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#2193152 - 12/05/13 07:38 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
renato Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/29/13
Posts: 19
Loc: Brazil
Macy,

Vintage D uses more CPU because the samples are loss-less compressed, reducing the size by 50%. When trig a sample, first it need to be uncompressed. If the CPU power is the problem, we can batch-resave all the samples uncompressed. This reduce the CPU but double the size lib.

The discussion is getting very interested. I didn't find any other technical discussion about True Keys up to now.

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#2193200 - 12/05/13 10:36 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: gvfarns]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2231
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
And as I understand it, the Vintage D samples use a lossy (but high quality) compression.


It is lossLESS compression - no loss of fidelity at all.

Greg.

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#2193214 - 12/05/13 10:55 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
sandalholme Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 783
Loc: Dorset, UK
I'm supposed to be on holiday - due at the pool soon! - so have been following but not participating. I have been playing TK Italian for some months, via an ES7. My background is over half a century of playing any number of APs and owning AP grands from 5'3'' to 9'. Apart from trying out Pianoteq, TK's Italian is the only s/w piano I have played.

There are two main aspects in moving from APs to DPs for me: playability and sound and the two cannot be completely separated unfortunately. I have found the ES7 to be very playable, re action and, largely, sound, except for lack of string resonance, which we are all familiar with in playing DPs. The Italian provides satisfactory resonance/sustain, for me as well as a satisfactory playing experience generally. In terms of sound I experience huge differences between headphones (Sennheiser 640s ?540s? can't remember) and the ES7's speakers. So I need a blend of TK and ES7 for playing through the speakers (sound feedback), whilst I can enjoy the Italian on its own through headphones. In terms of recording (i.e. pure sound considerations), I use the Italian on its own, but need to reduce the bass - quite considerably - to play through my domestic system. No problem through Audacity.

The limitation to the Italian is I suspect not due to the s/w, but to midi limitations. Small crescs and dims - over just a few notes - fall short of what I could do on an AP. Rightly or wrongly, I attribute this to having only 127 velocity levels and would therefore apply to any s/w piano. In other words, subtlety of touch is much greater on an AP.

Having said that, I have been very happy migrating to ES7/Italian from a lifetime of APs. One further point: I have a long history of being dissatisfied with one or more aspects of the APs I have owned. No instrument will be perfect, especially as we get used to it over time. So I am into living with the "good enough" principle. ES7/TK is certainly good enough and I intend adding the Bechstein and American when I get back home.

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#2193216 - 12/05/13 11:02 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: TheodorN]
dewster Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4363
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: TheodorN
Can a good pianist maybe make even a faulty piano (software, digital or acoustic) sound good?

Depends on what's faulty about it. Most DPs are beyond all hope.

Depends also on how much you're musically into S&M or the whole martyrdom thing.
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
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#2193226 - 12/05/13 11:29 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1221
Loc: Skåne, Sweden
Most DPs are beyond all hope?
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#2193238 - 12/05/13 11:52 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: sullivang]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3484
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: sullivang
It is lossLESS compression - no loss of fidelity at all.


Guess that's right. I wonder where I got the idea that it was lossy. Well, good to know.

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#2193331 - 12/06/13 04:53 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: sandalholme]
renato Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/29/13
Posts: 19
Loc: Brazil
Sandalholme

could your share with us a demo of the True Keys Italian being played so soft, increasing, up to hard. Would be nice to listen the different tone/volume changes.

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#2193363 - 12/06/13 07:48 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: renato]
sandalholme Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 783
Loc: Dorset, UK
Could do this, but only when I get back to the UK next week.

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#2193371 - 12/06/13 08:05 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: sandalholme]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: sandalholme
Could do this, but only when I get back to the UK next week.
Yes, right now he's at the pool according to his previous post. :P Enjoy!
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#2193391 - 12/06/13 08:54 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: renato]
doudou Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 26
Originally Posted By: renato
Vintage D uses more CPU because the samples are loss-less compressed, reducing the size by 50%. When trig a sample, first it need to be uncompressed. If the CPU power is the problem, we can batch-resave all the samples uncompressed. This reduce the CPU but double the size lib.


Hi,
how can I do this trick : batch resave all the samples uncompressed ?
I have Vintage D, my laptop Cpu is a bit old now (core 2 duo) but I replaced the 5400 internal hard disk with a SSD.

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#2193394 - 12/06/13 08:58 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: TheodorN]
dewster Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4363
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: TheodorN
Most DPs are beyond all hope?

Even the best are nowhere near the quality of PC/Mac offerings. Almost all are looped, which I suppose makes them borderline passable for playing in bars and such. Perhaps my expectations of the product category termed "digital piano" are too high.
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
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#2193430 - 12/06/13 10:22 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: dewster]
bfb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 542
Loc: Atlanta GA USA
Originally Posted By: dewster

From my quick peek the layers are blended.

Would I buy a fully sampled, 8 layer DP tomorrow? Most likely!

Are 8 or 9 layers all I would ever want in a DP or sampler? Hmm. I guess, all else being equal, the more the merrier. More samples for each note means chances are I'll hear something slightly different with each playing of that note, likely lowering long-term fatigue due to the unavoidable monotony of a sampled instrument.

IOW, gobs of velocity layers can pretty much get you around the need for the whole round-robin thing (because it's difficult to replay exactly the same velocity twice).


i think your comment about the layers being blended is really significant, although i admit i don't know squat about the technical aspects. But a smooth transition from one layer to the other to my experienced player's but technical layman's ears is the ultimate answer, regardless of how many layers. i think it's why i have no use for playing the Kronos piano. I also agree with you that sampling every stinking key is like 21st Century Piano 101, and probably why i will choose a Kawai over Yamaha for a new slab.

The Ivory II German steinway has less layers than the American D, but- for the way I play- I like it better and that is all that really matters to me. I know the engineers will shoot me down for that.

As a side, i'm inclined to buy that bechstein. i got a factory full of software steinways in my digital warehouse here. Enough!! i like the subtlety i'm hearing, and the more compressed dynamics fits my style of pound/don't pound/ playing.


Edited by bfb (12/06/13 10:24 AM)
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#2193444 - 12/06/13 10:43 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: sandalholme]
bfb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 542
Loc: Atlanta GA USA
Originally Posted By: sandalholme

One further point: I have a long history of being dissatisfied with one or more aspects of the APs I have owned. No instrument will be perfect, especially as we get used to it over time. So I am into living with the "good enough" principle. ES7/TK is certainly good enough and I intend adding the Bechstein and American when I get back home.


That is so well said. Acoustics are like people, aren't they? some days they say the right things, look pretty and smell good, and life is all smiley, and the next day they seem to get gas and need to take a shower. that could be driven by the changing environment they live in or the changing environment surrounding the player's ears, fingers and brain. Who knows. I like the "good enough" approach- probably the right philosophy for a lot of things in life.
_________________________

Steinway M; Roland V-Piano; Yamaha P250; Roland FP 5
Ivory II Grands, Italian, American D; Galaxy Vintage D; Alicia's Keys; Garritan Steinway; Galaxy Pianos; The Grand 3

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#2193477 - 12/06/13 12:24 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1221
Loc: Skåne, Sweden
May I say, dewster, I really appreciate your work in providing a platform for unbiased scientific evaluation (= objective) of DPs and all the information you (and many others) are providing about DPs. Really helpful for people on their way to buying a digital piano.

Too high expectations, well, I don't know, that is subjective. Maybe DPs should have come further, considering recent advancements in the world of digital. I remind myself that DPs are not "real" pianos, just emulators.

I recently watched a comparison video of Casio AP-450 and a concert grand and was surprised how close the AP-450 was to the real thing. The CA65 and CA95 Kawais also sound very realistic.

Edit: I also like to live by the "good enough" principle, as sandalholme puts it. The Kawai ES7 sounds like a great instrument.


Edited by TheodorN (12/06/13 12:28 PM)
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#2193870 - 12/07/13 09:36 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: TheodorN]
dewster Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4363
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: TheodorN
May I say, dewster, I really appreciate your work in providing a platform for unbiased scientific evaluation (= objective) of DPs and all the information you (and many others) are providing about DPs. Really helpful for people on their way to buying a digital piano.

You are quite welcome, I'm glad when the project can be a benefit to others.

Originally Posted By: TheodorN
I recently watched a comparison video of Casio AP-450 and a concert grand and was surprised how close the AP-450 was to the real thing. The CA65 and CA95 Kawais also sound very realistic.

Not to be contentious, but the Kraft Music videos make the lowly Yamaha P105 sound like a dream machine. You get it home and it's exceedingly obvious to anyone with a half-deaf ear that it's looped. Demo musicians (consciously or unconsciously?) are often remarkably good at hiding the otherwise glaring sonic imperfections of DPs. And a bit of reverb, either captured naturally in the room or added later, can conceal a multitude of sins. For these reasons I try to avoid demos, but it's difficult.
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#2194188 - 12/07/13 08:31 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: dewster]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 473
Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: spanishbuddha
You just know what I think of SN which you love. Basically I think it sucks. Great dynamics and expressiveness, but unpleasant. IMHO, but not yours or others. The point is SN passes the technical questions but fails the musical ones.

I don't believe I've ever said that I "love" SN....

Would someone mind explaining what "SN" refers to?

Thanks

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#2194197 - 12/07/13 08:48 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
toddy Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1860
Loc: Portugal
SN (SuperNATURAL) Roland's latest hybrid sound generation system - some synthesis, some sampling, some modelling. At least one SuperNATURAL piano is in all Roland DP's these days, I think. It is way better than their 'traditional' piano patches and is the most authentic, complex, and lively piano sound I've heard this side of a computer software generated piano.
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#2194391 - 12/08/13 06:15 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
daz100 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/22/11
Posts: 111
Hi, I'm still waiting for the thumbs up before I go ahead and purchase .Has anybody got any demos other than the true keys website demos and opiniuns .
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#2194483 - 12/08/13 12:02 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1221
Loc: Skåne, Sweden
Dewster, I'v often wondered about the same, how all DPs can sound so good in the demos, entry level and higher priced alike. At least some of them must sound bad.

Since you mention the P105, I noticed the demo of the P85 sounded much better in the Kraft Music video, than it did in my home. I actually bought it after testing it, not having seen the demo at the time of purchase. Just made the observation afterwards. Not sure it would have changed my decision, since this was after all one of the lower priced digitals and you can't have all the world for few hundred dollars (otherwise nobody would buy the most expensive ones and higher prices must equate higher quality, at least to some extent.)

Still I wonder, how can they tinker with the recordings, without audiophiles discovering and exposing their methods? Maybe most people see through the marketing, and the resellers rely on the fact that the last fool is not yet born. eek

Joking aside, there should be strict rules how DP resellers can render the audio (like only through the internal recording equipment) or they'd be obliged to report in all demos, how the sound is recorded and remixed (if it is.)


Edited by TheodorN (12/08/13 12:03 PM)
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#2194755 - 12/08/13 09:37 PM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1221
Loc: Skåne, Sweden
Daz100, the following is an amateur recording of the True Keys American Grand. According to a disclaimer in the beginning of the video, the uploader is not affiliated with VI Labs, the maker of software piano.
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#2194812 - 12/09/13 01:29 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: TheodorN]
daz100 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/22/11
Posts: 111
Originally Posted By: TheodorN
Daz100, the following is an amateur recording of the True Keys American Grand. According to a disclaimer in the beginning of the video, the uploader is not affiliated with VI Labs, the maker of software piano.



Sorry I don't see a related link here other than your tube link which can't be it.
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Rd700nx,True keys American,Ivory Grand pianos and Pianoteq 5.0

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#2194897 - 12/09/13 08:10 AM Re: True Keys American D - First Impression [Re: Macy]
bfb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 542
Loc: Atlanta GA USA
TheodorN, absolutely wonder the same thing. all i can figure is that amateurs don't add enough reverb or balance the EQ properly, nor do they get enough volume on the recorded tracks. and they probably don't use enough compression. i have noticed that the basic settings for dynamic control on the Ivory II pianos probably don't use enough compression for recording. I think using less dynamic range may lessen the playing experience, but it greatly improves the listening experience, at least on non-classical piano. That is where timbre changes at different velocity layers are really helpful- you can get the listener sensation of dynamic changes without that much actual volume change.
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Steinway M; Roland V-Piano; Yamaha P250; Roland FP 5
Ivory II Grands, Italian, American D; Galaxy Vintage D; Alicia's Keys; Garritan Steinway; Galaxy Pianos; The Grand 3

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