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#604446 - 01/30/07 04:20 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
BruceD Online   content
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18031
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by op30no3:
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. [/b]
Quite the contrary, the acoustic piano can't "tell" which part of your finger you used to strike the key, nor whether you even used your finger or a pencil or a plumber's wrench.

Regards,
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#604447 - 01/30/07 04:53 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Bruce - you said succinctly what I was thinking!

A piano key is merely a lever. It is depressed and releases a hammer. It responds to the velocity of depression but that is it. Nothing more! There is nothing magic about pianos, whatever some pianists may like to believe. They are merely percussion machines with a lump of felt hitting a string.

An upscale electronic piano key is also a lever, and electronics recognise the rate of key depression and interpret that to produce a range of sounds. The range depends upon how many samples are programmed in.

If you have enough samples, it is possible to get extremely close to an acoustic piano sound.

I am not trying to be a digital guru here, just injectinging bit of realism. If you were unimpressed with digitals 5 years ago, try a good one now. You may be surprised and find yourself forced to discard some prejudices.

A
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#604448 - 01/30/07 05:01 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
mwf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/06
Posts: 419
Loc: Peterborough, England
 Quote:
Originally posted by op30no3:
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. [/b]
singing tone does not really exist IMO, once you have depressed the key thats basically it... and I agree that an acoustic piano cannot tell what part of the key you pressed either. These are of hardly any importance when training as a pianist IMO, as fundamentally one can develop technical ability and musicality on either a digital or acoustic piano.

It does not make sense to say whether or not digital will take over acoustic because digital pianos have to be sampled from an acoustic in the first place, otherwise there will be no digital piano to play with.
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#604449 - 01/30/07 05:20 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
iconoclast Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 389
Loc: Ancramdale, NY
Piling on.....

At this point I believe that the only significant technological barriers to a digital sounding exactly like an acoustic are pretty much a.) effective emulation of sympathetic string vibrations when the sustain pedal is down and b.) sound image (speakers don't disperse sound in the same way as a sounding board). The first is already being solved (pianoteq's is quite good already) by algorithm development and more powerful processors. The second can be solved by alternative speaker technologies (ribbon electrostatics in particular). Couple this with the inherent advantages of headphone practice, portability, freedom from tuning and maintenance, ability to revoice or use alternative temperaments on the fly, freedom from miking (and all the problems that go with it) and things don't look good for the home team.

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#604450 - 01/30/07 05:40 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
iconoclast Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 389
Loc: Ancramdale, NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by mwf:
 Quote:
Originally posted by op30no3:
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. [/b]
singing tone does not really exist IMO, once you have depressed the key thats basically it... and I agree that an acoustic piano cannot tell what part of the key you pressed either. These are of hardly any importance when training as a pianist IMO, as fundamentally one can develop technical ability and musicality on either a digital or acoustic piano.

It does not make sense to say whether or not digital will take over acoustic because digital pianos have to be sampled from an acoustic in the first place, otherwise there will be no digital piano to play with. [/b]
unless they're modelled - which brings up some interesting possibilities. For instance, what would a 26' grand piano (that could sound a low A without ANY inharmonicity) sound like?

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#604451 - 01/30/07 11:52 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
I have both, and I play the acoustic instruments 99.9999% of the time. The digital seems distant from me like I'm listening to a CD recording instead of feeling the piano. There's nothing technically wrong with the Technics SX/PX-667; it's just not "right" and there's something impersonal and cold about its tone.

Granted the instrument does have its value like late night practice, recording, etc. but that's it. The acoustic instruments like the piano and clavichord have a warm tone that reaches into the soul. The acoustic piano even resonates right through the room, and makes me feet and body vibrate. The clavichord, being much softer fills the room like soft warm light and surrounds the player (The recordings don't even come close to the real sound).

I absolutely never got that from the digtal even with the volume turned up. With the volume too high, the tone was saturated, and annoying. When turned down too low, the "Acoustic Reflection Technology" (tm) didn't kick in.

Just a couple cents on the pile.

John
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#604452 - 01/31/07 01:58 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
Does anyone think that the climbers scaling Mount Everest would ever be content with virtual reality?
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#604453 - 01/31/07 02:45 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Even though the route to the summit is now a tourist trail, the number scaling the heights are few. Most, the vast majority, potter about in the foothills, and for them virtual reality is not only fine, but possibly better.

John - I take your point, but not all digitals are equal. Some do now come very close to feeling and sounding like an acoustic. The pace of technological change means that the gap will reduce.

Kind regards

Adrian
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#604454 - 01/31/07 03:03 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
AJB,

 Quote:
Even though the route to the summit is now a tourist trail, the number scaling the heights are few. Most, the vast majority, potter about in the foothills, and for them virtual reality is not only fine, but possibly better.
I didn't ask about the tourists. I asked about those scaling Mount Everest. There's a difference.

Of course I'm not saying digital doesn't have it's place, but it has it's place.
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#604455 - 01/31/07 03:27 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
I feel a bit confused again. It would appear to be the case that the acoustic instrument is best and the most challenging to master. You are playing the instrument not operating a electronic gadget that plays perfectly without chance of feeling. How do you folk feel about electronic guitars as against acoustic.

Then again we have the 'player-piano', they sound a bit mechanised more like the old barrel organ and hurdy gurdy. So is it the lack of human feeling that is lost on electronic digitally enhanced instruments, yes? And mechanised automatic instruments too ?

Two different pianists on the same piano and playing the same piece can have vastly differing application and tonal warmth to the same piece of music. If we loose the tonal nuances with electronic instruments that would be a bad situation for music perhaps.

I find playing a high quality grand piano the tone is enhanced/varied by the touch to the point of not really needing the damping pedal except for sustaining tones. Perhaps high end digitals can emulate this too?

John Citron seems to make a valid point or two.

Alan

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#604456 - 01/31/07 04:11 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
My original post was not a statement. Rather it was posing a question, as I thought it might be interesting to discuss whether digitals have acquired or are likely to aquire acceptance among pianists.

It was from the perspective that my son has shown far more interest in the digital than in my acoustic grand, simply because one of the advantages of a digital is that music can be more quickly accessible.

There will always be those who prefer good quality acoustic pianos, and I am among them. However, having dipped a toe in the digital waters, I am surprised at how good the latest ones are. You do get what you pay for and the more expensive digitals are a lot more realistic (at emulating acoustic pianos) than the cheap ones I found. In this regard, Alan the answer to your emulation question is Yes.

For many amateur players who do not have great musical aspirations - but who may have children who might be inspired - a digital perhaps increasingly represents a viable alternative.

Some of them even have teaching systems built in, with screens in the music stand that can display scores (even quite advanced pieces), exercises (e.g. Hanon), teaching notes and so on. For example I have recently seen some Roland instruments that do this quite well.

In the end, it is much more about the music than the instrument. By far the biggest influencer of the output is the pianist, not the piano.

To have a new tier 1 acoustic concert grand piano in your house, is going to cost $70,000 or more. If a digital manufacturer can replicate the action feel (this has already been done) and can sample that grand piano sufficiently well, and reproduce it through good speakers that emulate a piano soundboard - and all for a fraction of the cost of the "real thing" then this will be attractive to many people. It is close.

And digital technology must presumably offer the tantalising prospect of giving you a range of acoustic piano sounds. Finally you have a Fazioli, and a Steinway D and a Bosendorfer Imperial and a Mason & Hamlin and a Yamaha CF111S and a 10ft Stuart ....all realistically available at the touch of a button. Might be quite tempting?

Kind regards

Adrian
_________________________
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#604457 - 01/31/07 04:44 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Van Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 1215
Loc: S. California
As far as studying piano is concerned, one critical advantage digitals have is the ability to control the sound level. First, you don't have to feel self-conscious, second, there are days, and nights, when I'm on it hours at a time, and at the weirdest hours (i.e., whenever the mood strikes me). I wouldn't dare do this on an acoustic, it would literally drive my family and neighbors nuts.

The net result is that I've probably squeezed in probably ten times (or even more) the amount of practice as a result of playing on a digital instead of on an acoustic...the fact that the digital is also kept in my warm, private and comfortable bedroom and is the first and last thing I see between sleep really makes playing an on-going temptation.

Ultimately, digitals will win out, based solely on Moore's law...computer technology is still continuing to double v.v. performance/cost every three/four years, the keyboard of today is an order of magnitude better than those made just 5 years ago and is already obsolete compared to next year's model...and as one poster has already observed, the acoustic is still stuck in the 19th century, and it's costs will continue to rise as the scale economies for acoustics collapse.

For the cost of a year's interest on the price of a new acoustic, I can buy a pretty decent digital that is always in tune, never needs costly maintenance and offers a host of advantages.
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#604458 - 01/31/07 08:45 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
As upgrading and tuning-up seems to be a main issue in America (Wapinization, and Stanwoodization), the digital offers limitless possibilities in this respect: You can improve the sound by changing electronic cards, using the newest samples, boost the woofer sound, customize this and that. No need for handicraft skills - just order the parts, plug in, turn the knobs and evaluate the result.

The action respons can be made very standardized or customized without the physical restrictions connected to traditional grand actions.

But I think a digital can never beat the perfect imperfection (I do not remember whose words) of the real piano sound, with its complex resonance. Nor the beauty of the interior of a grand - hammers and strings, golden shine of the iron frame.

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#604459 - 01/31/07 10:18 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18031
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by sid:

Ultimately, digitals will win out, based solely on Moore's law...computer technology is still continuing to double v.v. performance/cost every three/four years, the keyboard of today is an order of magnitude better than those made just 5 years ago and is already obsolete compared to next year's model...and as one poster has already observed, the acoustic is still stuck in the 19th century, and it's costs will continue to rise as the scale economies for acoustics collapse.

For the cost of a year's interest on the price of a new acoustic, I can buy a pretty decent digital that is always in tune, never needs costly maintenance and offers a host of advantages. [/b]
Moore's law is frightening, isn't it? While my grand may be "stuck in the 19th century" I do have considerably less fear of its being out-dated by the latest computer technology six months after I buy it than I would an expensive digital. There is some considerable angst involved in the purchase of any piece of electronics - angst which rises in direct proportion to the initial cost - knowing that within six months to a year the product will be out of date and will have been followed up by the newest must-have technological advances. The suggested wisdom of buying the best available - which means, usually - the most expensive - becomes an exercise in extravagance knowing how soon a digital product is going to be out-dated. The out-of-date product may indeed continue to function as it was originally designed to do, but knowing that my $7,000.00 (or more) high-end digital is out of date and may eventually have to be replaced to keep pace with the latest developments because replacements parts will soon no longer be available is a direction that I might not wish to take.

While I have no intent to sell my piano, either, surely the proportional initial-cost-to-trade-in value of a five-year old digital is going to be much less than the similar trade-in value of an acoustic. Try "dumping" a five-year old digital product; most such antiques won't even be accepted as trade-ins, and one might be lucky to find someone willing to take it away. I don't think the same would be said about a well-cared for quality acoustic instrument.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#604460 - 01/31/07 12:23 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
iconoclast Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 389
Loc: Ancramdale, NY
On the other hand Bruce, you could upgrade a $7000 digital ten times for the cost of one Tier 1 piano.

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#604461 - 01/31/07 12:52 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18031
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by iconoclast:
On the other hand Bruce, you could upgrade a $7000 digital ten times for the cost of one Tier 1 piano. [/b]
I could, admittedly, do that, but I don't think I really want to get into that race, spending too much time and energy on regularly shopping for an upgrade, worrying about my regular contributions to the local landfill as well as the dubious wisdom of buying planned obsolescence. Instead, I would want to spend my energy enjoying playing. Moreover, even if I could buy ten digitals for the price of a tier one acoustic each one would still be only a digital, wouldn't it?

My not-quite-tier-one-but-pretty-darn-close-to-it piano (Larry Fine) didn't cost $70,000.00, by the way.

Regards,
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#604462 - 01/31/07 01:41 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
BDB Online   content
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Registered: 06/07/03
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Loc: Oakland
I have said before that I feel digital and acoustic pianos are similar enough for the beginner that they are interchangeable, but it does not take long in a pianist's development before they become separate instruments. At that point, substituting one for another is a compromise.

Admittedly, I do not play digitals very often, but these are some of the limitations that I have found in them:

I have never found one that was tuned nor voiced as well as I can tune an acoustic piano. Many do not even sound like pianos.

I have not found a digital piano where you could depress the key silently.
I have not found one where you could hold a key until it no longer plays.
Once you have done either of these things on an acoustic piano, holding that note still affects other notes audibly. Not so on a digital.

So I was wondering whether any digitals are better now. Feel free to name names.
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#604463 - 01/31/07 02:00 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Vid Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 839
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Haven't visited these boards for a while but here I am again.

I have owned both acoustic and digital pianos. I have sold the acoustic and practice almost exclusively on a P80. The great thing about this is that I can play and practice whenever I want without disturbing my neighbors. The drawback is that while the sound and touch are quite good and the technology is constantly improving, the reality is that the digital instruments do not even approach the quality of the real thing.

The acoustics of a real piano is very complicated. The quality of sound is influenced by so many factors on the instrument itself including sympathetic string vibrations, the harmonics, the sound board, and on the acoustic properties of the environment its in. No matter what you do you cannot fully duplicate these qualities with digital technology.

I find when I do play on an acoustic I have to adjust my playing in a lot of ways. The pedaling on a digital piano is a lot more forgiving than on an acoustic because the digital simply doesn't blend all the notes together as much as an acoustic. I also find that I have to work more to voice melodies on an acoustic because it is much easier to hear separate melodies on a digital.

For me the digital piano is really a tool that I use to eventually achieve what I want for performing on an acoustic piano. The benefit is that I can play many more hours on my digital than I ever could on my acoustic, but the drawback is that my development suffers from having to adjust my playing to working out the subtleties that come with playing on the real thing.
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#604464 - 01/31/07 02:01 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
MooGoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 244
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
I have said before that I feel digital and acoustic pianos are similar enough for the beginner that they are interchangeable, but it does not take long in a pianist's development before they become separate instruments. At that point, substituting one for another is a compromise.

Admittedly, I do not play digitals very often, but these are some of the limitations that I have found in them:

I have never found one that was tuned nor voiced as well as I can tune an acoustic piano. Many do not even sound like pianos.

I have not found a digital piano where you could depress the key silently.
I have not found one where you could hold a key until it no longer plays.
Once you have done either of these things on an acoustic piano, holding that note still affects other notes audibly. Not so on a digital.

So I was wondering whether any digitals are better now. Feel free to name names. [/b]
Then you have not played a newer digital.

I am by no means an expert on this, but at the very least, the Roland HP-107 does all those things that you never found a digital capable of doing.

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#604465 - 01/31/07 02:11 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
BDB - an interesting and in some ways unusual perspective. Makes a lot of sense to me. §Funnly enough I agree with your tuning point, even though it seems illogical as clearly a digital can be "set" at any desired pitch for every note very accurately by the manufacturer. Somehow though, this does not have the organic quality of an expertly tuned acoustic and I think it is one of the main intangibles that sets digitals apart for me too.

As to your other points, I can depress keys silenty on my Yamaha CLP280. I have just tested it! On its best grand piano voice it also has note decay that fades to inaudible. It does not do this in the same way as my acoustic grand (which is not a Yamaha), but the length of sustain is similar and realistic.

Kind regards

Adrian
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#604466 - 01/31/07 02:55 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
most current digitals can play 'silently', unless you're talking about synths.

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#604467 - 01/31/07 03:51 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21531
Loc: Oakland
But once you hold a note silently, what happens when you play a staccato note an octave away?
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#604468 - 01/31/07 04:01 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
MooGoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 244
If the keyboard is good, it'll play the resonance sound of the key still held down. They do exist.

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#604469 - 01/31/07 04:20 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
On my P-80 I can hold a note "senza battera", after playing and mixing many chords and then lifting sustain pedal. This is not possible on Kawai ES-3, where the sound of that note is cut off. This is, however not a major drawback.

The "senza battera" problem I have met only twice in my life. In Selim Palmgren's transcription of Sibelius' "Säv, säv susa" and Toivo Kuula's "Wedding march".

But this shows simply that there are many small things to consider when developing digitals, reflecting the properties of accoustic pianos.

The question is, should the "copying" of the characteristics of an accoustic piano be the sole goal, or should the digital pianos be developed further, adding new properties that offers new possibilities for composers?

Remark! You can not e.g. pluck the strings on a digital, nor can you hammer on the iron, or knock on the soundboard, so there are modern music you simply cannot perform on todays digitals!!!!

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#604470 - 01/31/07 05:07 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
op30no3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 360
Loc: Rochester, NY
I stand by the fact that an acoustic piano can in fact tell what part of the finger you use. Every pianist has his/her own sound and every pianist has the ability to produce different tones (e.g. warmth, harshness, cantabile, etc.) This is not possible on a keyboard duplicating a single sound from a real piano.
A kid comes and plays some chords and then a concert pianist plays the same chordss and it is impossible NOT to tell the difference. Not so on a digital.
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#604471 - 01/31/07 05:10 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
op30no3 Offline
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Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 360
Loc: Rochester, NY
Somebody like Koji or something back me up on this? C'mon...? :rolleyes:
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#604472 - 01/31/07 05:29 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
ipgrunt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 419
Loc: Western US
op30no3,

I see you're new here, so I will advise you that this is an old and abrasive topic around here.

There are some here that will support your idea and there are others that will not. Some of these people hold very strong opinions about the subject and unfortunately cannot discuss the matter without losing their temper.

It may be better to leave it alone.
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#604473 - 01/31/07 05:38 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
op30no3 Offline
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Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 360
Loc: Rochester, NY
Righto, thanks \:\(
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#604474 - 01/31/07 06:03 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
schuyler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/05
Posts: 374
There is no way that digital pianos will overtake acoustic ones any time in the near future. And in my opinion I dont think they may ever take over. I personally dont see the point in trying to perfect a digital piano to the point where an acoustic may become obsolete. The creation of this beautiful instrument is such an artform, and i would hate to ever see that artform die. Besides, seeing as how I own acoustic, I like to have something to do in a power out!
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#604475 - 01/31/07 06:20 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
BDB:
But once you hold a note silently, what happens when you play a staccato note an octave away?[/b]

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/16828.html#000013

-Michael B.
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52" Samick
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