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#604416 - 01/29/07 05:25 AM Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
This weekend, my son, almost 10, decided to play my digital piano. He has successfully ignored my acoustic grand piano for most of his life, but the recent arrival of a Yamaha CLP280 - with its various knobs and buttons, is much more interesting.

He figured out for himself (being male he does not use the instructions) how to do recordings. How to record multiple voices in one pass (I did not know it could do that), and how to record left and right hand separately.

I taught him by rote to play "doh a deer" (or whatever it is called) from The Sound of Music. Four different left hand triad chords and a simple right hand melody.

He had the whole thing recorded, at tempo and sounding pretty good really, within 90 minutes.

There is no way on earth that I would have got him to spend 9 minutes, let alone 90, on the acoustic grand.

I am beginning to see why digital pianos are gradually taking over from acoustic instruments. They are getting so close to a proper piano sound and feel, and they are so flexible as well. It was an interesting learning experience for me.

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#604417 - 01/29/07 11:35 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
It's an interesting observation, but it's one that's been made since the 1970's. Many people believed that electronic instruments would take over back then, but here we are today three decades later and the good ol' acoustic piano is very much alive and well.

Digital pianos are important and wonderful, but they'll never "take over."

\:D
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#604418 - 01/29/07 11:43 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
it may never take over acoustic, but more people in the world will be playing digital pianos than acoustic pianos in next 5-10 years, as digital technology improves. it's my guess at least.

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#604419 - 01/29/07 11:43 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1555
Give me an acoustic any day..digitals are good if you want to do a one man band type thing..

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#604420 - 01/29/07 11:44 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
ecm Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Republic of Macedonia
Kreisler, that's so true.
No digital will ever be the same or take over an acoustic. Yes, digitals are close, but I am speaking from my own experience. I practiced for years on Yamaha p-80 and some other clavinovas, and finnaly December 2006 I bought an upright Petrof from 1973. I couldn't even imagine how big the difference was when I had that clavinova.

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#604421 - 01/29/07 12:27 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
MooGoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 244
No digitals will ever be the same as an acoustic. This is true.

But it cannot be denied that digitals have a great deal of advantages over acoustic pianos. As time goes on, digitals will get ever better while acoustic pianos stay stuck in the late 19th century.

I liken the situation right now to video game emulator software. In the beginning, the emulators were a poor substitute for playing the game on the original machine. They were too slow, the music didn't sound right, many of the graphics were missing or corrupt, and so on. As time went on, and computers got more powerful, these problems went away. Now many emulators can play a game in an almost 100% similar way to how the original machine would. But they also have features that could never be had on the original. Save states, graphics filters, Internet play, etc.

Eventfully the minor difference between the emulator and the real thing will be far outweighed by all the extra options afforded by the emulator. Only the most stubborn and nostalgic players will still demand the original, and at some point, it will be doubtful whether they can actually tell the difference, or if they are just being fuddy-duddys. It's a moot point, as those stubborn few will soon die out anyway.

It's the same for the piano. Except that, as long as you are just playing classical music, an acoustic will always suffice, as the music as written has no need for extra abilities.

But imagine what composers like Bach would have written if they could have laid their hands on the high tech digital pianos we have today. The ability to add vibrato to the piano tone is powerful enough in itself. Even more so, the ease of using different tuning systems, at the flick of a switch. In the baroque era, harpsichords had multiple manuals, organs had many stops, all in the desire to slightly alter the sound of the instrument. With a digital piano, that ability is infinite. The possibilities truly are endless.

Yet we seem stuck in the backwards view that every single blotch of ink on sheet music is sacrosanct, and to ignore or change any of it even in the slightest is blasphemy (yet at the same time no one minds substituting the modern piano any time any music calls for a keyboard part). We forget that past composers often modified their scores, played them on different instruments, and improvised around them, and were expected to.

I don't deny that the tone and feel of a grand piano is superior to that of a digital. But I can't ignore the tremendous advantages a digital possesses, which will become more important as the rigidness of classical performance dies down (I believe it will), and performers learn how to be free, be creative, and have fun again, even with the classics.

I also believe that in another 50 years, even the most stubborn pianist will be hard pressed to tell the difference between an acoustic and an electric in a blind folded test.

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#604422 - 01/29/07 12:41 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
Moogoo:
It's the same for the piano.[/b]

I'm not sure that your analogy is really appropriate. Video game emulator software was merely trying to imitate other (proprietary) software of what was basically just another computer. Getting a bunch of pixels in the right place at the right time on a screen is not at all the same challenge as reproducing the complex waveform of a piano via samples and speakers, not to speak of emulating the user interface and interaction with the instrument, regardless of how complex and effective the acoustic modelling might be.

Just my 0.02 CHF, obviously \:\)

-Michael B.
_________________________
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#604423 - 01/29/07 12:50 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
I also usually prefer to play my acoustic grand rather than the digital Clavinova.

But the digital does seem to be attractive and motivational for children (I talked to the music director at my son's school about this today, since we bumped into each other and she said that in a teaching environment, especially for group lessons, digital pianos are very useful).

It is easy for us pianists to be critical of digital instruments, especially if we do not have much experience of the latest models. Indeed I was critical. But the latest instruments, with very good action simulation and pretty good sampled sounds, really are getting close to acoustic instruments. It is becoming harder and harder to dismiss digitals.

And they have other advantages. I have taken a liking to some organ works that sound really hopeless on piano but which the Clavinova produces very well. And the recording function is incredibly quick and easy - a good practice tool.

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#604424 - 01/29/07 12:53 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
MooGoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 244
 Quote:
I'm not sure that your analogy is really appropriate. Video game emulator software was merely trying to imitate other (proprietary) software of what was basically just another computer. Getting a bunch of pixels in the right place at the right time on a screen is not at all the same challenge as reproducing the complex waveform of a piano via samples and speakers, not to speak of emulating the user interface and interaction with the instrument, regardless of how complex and effective the acoustic modelling might be.

Just my 0.02 CHF, obviously \:\)

-Michael B.
Emulating a piano is obviously many orders of magnitude more complex than emulating a SNES. And fundamentally different, as you correctly note.

But my point with emulators was, is that the differences between the real machines and the emulators at this point are so vague and ambiguous, that most of the time it comes down to something like, "It just does not feeeeel right". Which could be only because there's not a light grey box with a cartridge sticking out of it sitting in front of your 13" TV.

Digital pianos are not at that point yet, but they will be, and relatively soon.

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#604425 - 01/29/07 01:01 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
gabytu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/05
Posts: 1522
Loc: Portland, Or.
Ajb, I agree with the others that digitals are unlikely to replace acoustics. However, something else occurs to me. If your son really enjoys playing on the digital, it can serve as a great introduction to serious piano playing. He can start on the digital, and then hopefully graduate to an acoustic. Gaby Tu

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#604426 - 01/29/07 01:35 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
bach1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/06
Posts: 94
Loc: pismo beach
Digitals are also good for recording. I saw a photo of the jazz pianist great Oscar Peterson in his recording studio in his home and it showed him using digital pianos along with recording equipment. If digitals are good enough for him should need I say more?

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#604427 - 01/29/07 02:59 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I also think it's a matter for the right tool for the right job. Especially in ensemble situations, if the rest of the band is playing acoustic instruments, then using a digital piano makes no sense. On the flip side, if you're playing in a group with an electric bass, guitar, drums, and an EWI, then an acoustic piano would probably sound out of place.

There's a sense in which comparing acoustic and digital is an apples to oranges thing.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#604428 - 01/29/07 07:22 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4981
Loc: boston north
Why is a digital compelling?

It's a new toy. A computerized toy. With gimmicks and gadgets.

No, that is not a put down. Just an observation.

I have been through the home theatre organ and even the Baldwin Fun Machine and all the sister products... With all their gimmicks of instruments and background drums.

They were a great way to get people interested in playing music - fast.

They have now been replaced by digital pianos.

They have their place for sure in the music world.

Your son is the perfect example.

On the other hand, for those needing something to transport; needing something miked; a recording machine; headphones; silent features; and something to play that does not cost as much as a good acoustic - enjoy them for what they are.

LL
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#604429 - 01/29/07 08:34 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Iain Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/06
Posts: 545
Loc: London, UK
"No digitals will ever be the same as an acoustic. This is true."

Not singling out any post in particular, but this thread sounds EXACTLY like the old computer chess story. About how no computer could ever be made to beat humans in chess because the computer is just so limited! (Nobody doubts now that computers are at least as good as our best and probably much better.)

I certainly agree that no digital piano comes close to the richness of sound of an acoustic grand, however, consider the absurd amount of progress achieved in this area just in the last 20 years or so! I would presume to say that digitals are now several hundred percent better (on some kind of scale) than they were then.

I don't have the heart to tell my student (who is a casual player) that he probably wasted his money on an upright piano that was close to double the price of a decent digital. This piano will be a continuing drain on his wallet, as it is not a great one and already needs work and tuning, where a digital's only running cost is the electricity. (My rent is inclusive!!)

The point is, a beginner casual pianist will notice very little difference in his/her playing when playing on an acoustic or digital. The vast majority of pianists are casual.

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#604430 - 01/30/07 12:38 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
As a professional photographer, I can tell you that many of us thought that digital imaging would never replace film. But, as a practical matter, and even though Kodak film is available in a few drugstores, digital has replaced film.

I think it will take significantly longer with digital pianos though, because of the nature of the classical music community. Classical musicians make a deep bow to the past--more than any other artistic endeavor, it seems to me. We like our violins old. And what was good enough for Beethoven, or Schubert or Brahms is good enough for us. Ever notice how some ads for used pianos stress the age of the piano, as if an old piano is better than new. "For sale: 1913 grand piano, original ivories." That sort of thing.

So I think there will be some residual resistance to digital, even if they are superior to acoustics.

Photographers are more geeky by nature, and love technical advancement. So digital caught on more quickly.

Tomasino
_________________________
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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#604431 - 01/30/07 01:45 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
Who once spoke about the perfect imperfection of the sound from an accoustic piano?

Certainly there will be place and use for both cathegories. Remember - without power supply you cannot use any electric devices!

The action respons of a digital can be made ideal, i. e. better than on an accoustic, because there are no physical restrictions. The sustain and resonance will allways be more complex and thrilling on accoustic pianos.

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#604432 - 01/30/07 01:52 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Horace Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 505
I think a decent digital (like a yamaha p90) with a good pair of headphones is better for the vast majority of people than most uprights. The digital plays fine, the keys are weighted so you don't really have much of a recalibration procedure when you play a real piano. Never out of tune, can play any time of night or day regardless of other people, can record yourself, record one hand and play the other, all that. As a practice aid I believe the benefits of all that outweight the small hit you take in expressive power - but even then you might conside a digital to be "high altitude training" where if you can make good music with it, you sound even better on a real piano.

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#604433 - 01/30/07 03:08 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Bill Finn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/05
Posts: 86
Loc: Florida
I believe digital keyboards are a new instrument altogether, like a modern version of the old Thomas electric organ. The fact that they have acoustic piano samples in them and can seemingly mimic a piano doesn't really make them a piano.

I own both a digital keyboard and an acoustic one. And I can appreciate the uses of both, but they are different. Yes, I agree, the digital is a good way to interest children in music lessons.

Things I like about my digital keyboard:

It's fun and really great entertainment. I can make it sound like I'm a mariachi band if I want.

I can easily record what I play.

You don't have to pay to have it tuned.

It can play computer midi files.

You can make it sound like thousands of other instruments.

You can use headphones and not both anyone else.

The weighted action is nearly like a real piano.


Things I don't like about it:

It's currently broken, something in the pedal settings causes the sustain to remain on all the time. And the repair technician can't seem to find the trouble. Since my particular brand of keyboard is no longer being made and the company that made it completely dropped the line, there is is no longer any support.

It's flawed for playing any serious classical or jazz music. It doesn't have the decay time of the note and so is pretty useless for playing so many pieces (e.g. Debussy).

It's more expensive than an acoustic upright.

You can't play it when the power goes out. ;-)

I do think they will compete in a lot of homes for the same buyer that used to buy an upright piano. But by and large, the guitar has today already replaced the keyboard for most kids.

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#604434 - 01/30/07 03:45 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
TheMadMan86 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 341
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
there is a reason we like our old violins in alot of cases they play amazingly well and they are made to last. I agree the keyboard is a different instrument all toghert form the piano. I am a classical muscian training in a conservaotyr, but befoer i got serious intoclassical*about 3-4 years ago at about 16* i playe keyboard for rock bands. I had a yamaha clavinovaa now i have a petrof upright though its at home and since im at school ive been playing on a boston. Either way the way i used a keyboard was totally different from how i use a piano. The same way that and organ is differen from a piano. i believe u can right classical music for keyboard but it would not be a piano solo the keyboard has bells and whistles. Of course im thinkingmore of the synth sounds and waht u can do with them

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#604435 - 01/30/07 03:46 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
TheMadMan86 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 341
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
anyway i apologize for my typing its really late and im just plane worn out

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#604436 - 01/30/07 06:20 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Adrian and all,

I see the merits of the Digital and I did have a Digital Hammond organ for some years. I realized the danger of being lulled into a tranquil situation but was always back on the acoustic grand very quickly,for I knew the danger of loosing the touch required for an acoustic. Sold the Hammond 20 years ago.

It's also,I fear,a 'tool which will fool' by that statement I mean; I have many times thought whilst listening to clips of our member's musical abilities, what a fantasic acheivement in X number of weeks to produce such piano playing.....but I then looked up their profile and found they were on a digital device.

And another aside. We were on the Cruise ship 'Minerva ll' just before Christmas and on the two dance bands with different pianists, they used a keyboard device on top of the music desk (Yamaha acoustic pianos)playing the left hand chords on the acoustic, and the right on the digital which played sounds of music other than piano, this was in short bursts during one 'number' not as a standard part of the band, but an add on.

There were 5 of these Yamaha grands on board, one, the full concert grand and others smaller. I was allowed to play the one in the dining room between mealtimes.

Anyhow I will never succumb to playing digital (unless for silent practice with ear phones)as I value my rather mediocre ability to play the real pianos and have not acheived my goals.

The digital era is here and it has it's place but I feel it is like having automatic dummy drivers in race cars, with all the current technology they can now just about do that.

I fear the days of 'art of the piano' are rather threatened by the digital advances. Just a few emotions.

My I suggest that if you have a child prodigy that they only use the digital as second to the acoustic. And will teachers always use acoustics, as will exams too?

Alan.

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#604437 - 01/30/07 06:49 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
TheMadMan86 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 341
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
lol it feels as if us pianists are always threatened when it comes to our end. I heard in highschool a teacher was saying the piano is obsolete instrument anymore. oh well if we have to go out, lets go out fighting or playing

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#604438 - 01/30/07 07:43 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Hello Alan, I do take your points. However, I am not interested in the automatic features that some digitals have. The one I chose has an action with weighted keys and a mechanism very similar to that on an acoustic grand - I have played it a lot now and I really feel that the action is not detrimental to my acoustic touch. In fact quite the reverse actually, I have a suspicion that I am becoming more sensitive to exactly how I depress the keys.

It (CLP280) also has very few gadget features (these were of zero interest to me) as it is aimed at pianists, so it does have good quality piano sampling.

I think that the top end digitals have a useful place for us pianists. It was essential when I was in Switzerland as an acoustic piano would fill all four floors of the house because of the unfortunate (and unforeseen) acoustics of that building.

They are very useful when quiet practice is a necessity for domestic harmony! In my case I am working on some long (e.g. 63 pages) and quite difficult (for me) pieces and there is a limit to the willingness of my very tolerant partner to listen to my practice of difficult passages over and over again.

Kind regards

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#604439 - 01/30/07 08:20 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4981
Loc: boston north
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Finn:


You can't play it when the power goes out. ;-)

[/b]
Funny!
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#604440 - 01/30/07 09:00 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18295
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by TheMadMan86:
there is a reason we like our old violins in alot of cases [/b]
[snip]
... and sometimes we like them out of their cases, too! \:D

Cheers!
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#604441 - 01/30/07 09:21 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Adrian, I see your viewpoint and have to agree that the signs are,probably both is the route. I have considered this matter for a while. Plus I think the old Hammond digital organ was well beyond today's technology.

I do get frustated if I cannot play the Bosendorfer when my wife wants to watch something on the TV in the drawing room. I would have the digital in the office upstairs near the Computer.

Will be thinking hard about the idea. I have a grandson who plays the violin and says he intends to have piano lessons too.

Kind regards,

Alan

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#604442 - 01/30/07 09:51 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1555
thats my only wish on an acoustic piano..headphones!

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#604443 - 01/30/07 03:41 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
Somebody watching the TV should not disturb a pianoplayer and vice versa!

Why must the TV be in the drawing room? Have a TV in your bedroom, or furnish a special home cinema in your basement, with all surround devices, and also with headphones.

Nevertheless, for silent playing, if you do not want that anyone else hear what you are playing/training, a stage model digtal with good headphones, standing on somethingelse than a X-rack, and a separate music desk is the best solution. It is very flexible - you can carry it everywhere where you get electricity.

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#604444 - 01/30/07 04:10 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
op30no3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 360
Loc: Rochester, NY
For a pianist focused on tone and articulation, the digital piano simply cannot cut it. A digital piano cannot tell what part of the finger you used to hit the key, but the acoustic can. On an acoustic, it makes all the difference in the world. I speak for myself when I say that I would go crazy trying to get a singing tone out of a digital piano and then try to get a pizzicato sound and not be able to tell the difference. If that were the way things were going to be, I just might die right then and there.
_________________________
Help people. www.thehungersite.com
Go and click the button. That's it. Just do it.

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#604445 - 01/30/07 04:16 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Jan-Erik,

Thanks but, I have my wife here who has a say in the matter and I cannot send her out of the drawing room nor can I really afford to have a studio built on the side of the house although there is room. We have no basement.

Most of the time she is cooperative but when the situation is I want to play, a digital in the office would be good and they have some extra features that would be useful to my practice and certainly recording would be a big help too.

All the best to you,

Alan

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