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#604476 - 01/31/07 10:03 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Dan Moos Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Bellingham, WA
 Quote:
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.
On a quality digital, you COULD tell the difference between the kid and the maestro.

That should give pause to those who think the piano can tell what part of your finger is pushing the key.

I hope that this doesn't devolve into a thread on ThAT subject though, and apologize in advance for my contribution if it does. Never could keep my mouth shut. :rolleyes:
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Apprentice piano tech

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#604477 - 02/01/07 02:24 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
Is it

1) the composers that have pushed pianobuilders to improve the imstrument, as claimed in one thread

2) or have the improvements - longer sustain, more projection, faster repetitions - opened a new world for composers?

I tend to support the latter theory - but who knows? There can in fact have been an interaction between composers, pianists, and pianobuilders.

But I ask whether the only goal in the development of digitals is to imitate an auccustic piano as close as possibly? Why not go further and add properties like

- automatic repetition,
- coupling of octaves in the bass, as on organs
- vibrations
- aftertouch increasing the volume, but no decrease of volume by decreasing pressure - only normal piano sustain - otherwise impossible to control sound volume, I suppose
- no whistles and bells - they belong to children's synth!

This was just my spontaneuos ideas. Then we would have a fully new generation of pianos, and enter a new era, like the modern grand took over the hammerklavier, which had even no sustain pedal.

I am personally fully satisfied with a top tier accoustic, but such an attitude would be detrimental for the evolution...

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#604478 - 02/01/07 04:02 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
I was lying in bed this morning, as you do, thinking about this topic. I thought, the zenith of acistic pianos was several decades ago (almost every house had a piano it seemed) - right about the time when aeroplanes were, like a piano, also made out of bent wood and bits of wire.

No doubt there are those who say bi-planes are best. You just can't beat a classic Tiger Moth. But technology moves on and instead of bits of wire we now have fly by wire. Maybe its the same with pianos. I accept that people like Fazioli and Stuart have probably improved the established and almost universal basic design, but the changes are marginal not radical.

Pianos have moved on in other ways. They have lost their universal popularity in the home as music has embraced electronics and new delivery systems. And many acoustic pianos have been supplanted by digitals.

It is inevitable that digitals will soon be able to deliver an entirely realistic sounding and feeling acoustic experience. And they will do this at far less cost than a tier 1 or 2 acoustic grand.

Whilst obsolescence is a factor in electronics, this has more to do with our susceptibility to marketing than it has to do with a step change in performance.

I cant see many digitals being handed down as heirlooms though.

My original perspective was that digitals are more likely to encourage children to want to create music rather than just plug their MP3 player into their ears. That can only be a good thing and may be the catalyst for more children eventually aspiring to own the real thing - an acoustic piano.

A
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#604479 - 02/01/07 08:26 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Ozor Mox Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Hampshire, England
I don't see digitals as "taking over" acoustics. They clearly both have their place. I have both and would not like to be without either. My digital (CLP-240) allows me to practice silently, requires no maintenance, allows me to record and so on, and reproduces the sound of an acoustic very well to my ears. But as much as I like my digital, my acoustic piano I have a deep fondness for. It feels like it's really mine, I love to sit and play at it and listen to its unique sound and feel its unique touch complete with the quirky keys. There really is something special about an acoustic, no matter what happens with regards to digital piano technology. I love both of my pianos and I think digital pianos and acoustic pianos can live side-by-side.

A couple of points though. With an acoustic you are buying an acoustic. Ok so they vary in quality, but you are getting keys, hammers, strings, dampers, soundboard, enclosed in wood. With a digital, compromising on price means compromising on how accurate a representation of a real piano it is. The technology is improving amazingly fast, but you still get what you pay for, and each new "authentic" piano feature is introduced as you move up the manufacturer's line...drip-fed was how I heard it put before. Strange comparison I know, but it reminds me of dividing a number by 2. You'll get closer and closer to zero the more you divide, but you could divide for infinity and you will never hit zero. Digital pianos can get better and better, and the top of the line ones closer and closer, but it will never truly be the real thing. It doesn't matter how realistic it sounds, it is still emulating the real thing, it isn't the real thing itself and it never will be.

Which brings me to my other point. How can acoustic pianos ever go? The digital samples acoustics, it copies them and tries to get as faithful a reproduction as it can. Surely it can never take over the thing it's reproducing otherwise there would be nothing for it to reproduce from! It's not like the other comparisons of a chess computer beating a human or a computer game emulator. These are just doing something better than the previous "technology". Though you can argue that a digital piano is being a better piano than a real one, there's no denying it depends on the real one to sound like a piano at all!

Basically I think there's always room for both. Digitals give a more convenient and more fully-featured piano, and make the piano more accessible, but the acoustic is how the digital exists and is something really special that can never be replaced and I really hope it isn't ever replaced as it is a wonderful instrument.

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#604480 - 02/02/07 12:56 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Dan Moos Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Bellingham, WA
I am a huge acoustic piano fan. I am learning to tune and repair them, so it I definitely want them to be around forever!

That said, not only do I expect digitals to equal acoustics in touch and feel eventually, I look forward to this.

As an instrument, the piano really lends itself to digital technology. The "user interface" lends itself to this. It will be a long time before a wind instrument can be efectively done digitaly for instance. Perhaps more than any other instrument, pianos are vastly unique in feel amongs themselves, even if you only consider concert level instruments. In other words, NO ONE knows what an accurate modeling of piano feel is because there is no one right answer. Accurately modeling the feel of a particular instrument should not be that hard, although maybe not yet cost effective.

That brings us to sound. While it is about as complex a sound as an instrument can make, the pianos voice is still created by and bound by the laws of physics. These root laws are simple. A piano's complex tone comes from the interaction of thousands of very simple phenomena.

I think the future of digitals is not samples. Samples are a fixed sound that can only superficially be altered. They are responsible for the amazing sounds of current digitals, but they are a dead end. What will really change things is when the sound is modeled in software from top to bottom. It is simply a matter of proccessing power and software. The processing power exists. The software does not.

Don't misunderstand me. I realize this would be a slow process, and the initial efforts would likely be inferior to sampled digitals.

I liken this to when 3d graphics first came on the video game scene. Before this, graphics were done with 2d images, that were often photo realistic in later times, i.e., samples. The downside was that you were bound to the simple 2d image, and realism was only as good as the number of "samples" stored of each image in different configurations.

3D graphics were a step back in photorealism, but infinitely fluid and alterable on the fly. In time, they even surpassed 2d in realism. I think sampled sounds are akin to hig end 2d graphics, and software modelling of piano is akin to the move to 3d.

I just hope I get to see this when it becomes viable.

On venue that acoustic will ALWAYS win out in is classical. No matter how good digital instruments become, tradition will DEMAND a true acoustic grand be on the stage at a concert or recital. As well it should be. The romance surrounding the piano is an important part of the classical music experience.
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#604481 - 02/02/07 01:31 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Horace Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 505
 Quote:
Originally posted by op30no3:
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. [/b]
That's a fine way to think about it. Everybody thinks in abstractions at some level, the abstraction that a piano "knows what part of the finger struck the key" is a perfectly servicable one and it correlates with reality not substantially less than any other abstraction.

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#604482 - 02/02/07 01:39 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i think there exists some 'modeling' technology now for digital piano, such as Pianoteq, which is totally not base on sampling technology. but it needs a computer and midi interface to run on a digital. if some day, such software is built in a digital piano, then it will be a totally different story from most of current digital pianos. there might be such modeled digital piano model already, GM's? i seems to remember reading it from somewhere.

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#604483 - 02/02/07 02:11 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
Not only classic music will demand real pianos on the stage, but als the "modern" avantgarde music, where the "pianist" plucks the strings, not to mention some piano destructive measures.

But short cutting a digital is a cheaper method of making "art".

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#604484 - 02/02/07 02:46 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
I wonder if the resonances in a room or studio are affected by the acoustic instrument differently from a digital device.

If the vibrations are affected then that is a serious matter. I suppose Hi Fi can answer for some aspects of resonance and could compensate.

Listening to Ray Charles on his digital piano the other night on TV showed how different the digital is in a concert hall atmosphere.

Any comments on that aspect.

Alan

PS.

Quote '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?'

I would guess that the acoustic piano will be difficult to replicate digitally in areas such as the keys, these use velocity and leverage pivot points.That means the fingers have the touch effect caused by the position on the key relative to the pivot point. Distance from the pivot of the finger on the key. Which means the same touch pressure will vary according to the leverage point and alter the velocity of the hammer to string.

On another matter the acoustics have a massive sound board and other vibration characteristics that fill the air with sound vibrations. I doubt the digitals give the same tonal vibrations, yet.

Alan.

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#604485 - 02/02/07 03:19 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Bill Finn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/05
Posts: 86
Loc: Florida
The only live A/B test I've heard is a concert by Keiko Matsui. Since she is an official Yamaha spokesperson, she always has the best, both the digital and acoustic. And she plays both during the same concert.

My own experience at such a concert tells me that digital keyboards sound more like other digital instruments, than they do acoustic pianos.

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#604486 - 02/02/07 05:09 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Alan, with regard to your question about room respnance, digital versus acoustic, you are right, this does make a difference.

Actually, Michael in Switzerland may be a good person to comment on this as he has his Bosendorfer and CLP280 in the same room.

I would make a few comments:

Digitals have speakers (obviously) instead of a soundboard. This provides a big variable (quailty, type, positioning etc).

Digital grand emulators (with speakers horizontal) certainly sound different to digitals with speakers in a vertical plane in my limited experience.

My digital (CLP280 Yamaha) sounds quite realistic in its acoustic piano mode. It sounds more like a piano than a CD player.

It also has a set up function that produces sounds and measures them with a built in microphone, using the resulting data to adjust the sound of the piano to optimise room set up. This certainly does make a big difference and the settings can be tinkered with manually. (This is similar to some up scale hi-fi set ups).

Just like an acoustic piano, digitals benefit from experimenting with placement within the room. Of course this is irrelevant if you plan mainly to use headphones.

Digital actions can also closely replicate acoustic actions, with some digitals basically incorporating all of the lever elements of an acoustic action. Modelling takes the place of the hammer hitting the strings, and the realism of this presumably depends on the number and quality of samples used.

Tuning Jedi - I thought your perspective was very interesting.

Kind regards

Adrian
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#604487 - 02/02/07 02:44 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Markeyz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/06
Posts: 135
Loc: Seattle
I agree with Tuning Jedi regarding modeling. My complaint with digital pianos thus far is that I've always felt like I was playing a recording, which I was. Microphones are not human ears. Small changes in microphone placement can have a huge effect on the recorded signal. They are, as Tuning Jedi put it, acoustically two dimensional. Even the best mic preamps color the signal. And then there is the playback mechanism with its limitations that others have already discussed.

On a more fundamental note, playing back two recordings at the same time is not the same as playing two notes together on an acoustic piano. On a digital, two waveforms are added together and the resulting waveform, containing amplified or cancelled harmonics of the original notes as well as new harmonics from beating between the two notes, is the sound. The same process occurs on an acoustic piano, but rather than occuring in a mathematical vaccuum, the interaction occurs through the physical mediums of metal, wood, and air, each of which impacts the final sound by further amplifying or deadening certain frequencies. For this reason I've found chordal playing in particular to be unsatisfactory on a digital piano. It may also explain a previous poster's observation that it's easier to bring out individual lines on a digital, since the notes aren't being modulated in as complex a fashion and thus retain more of their original "single note" character.

I suspect that all of this will eventually be quantified and modeled, and I look forward to it, although I will still probably prefer the acoustic. There are already quite succesfull software models of Hammond organs and Rhodes electric pianos. Incidentally, there are the exact same arguments amongst players of those instruments as exist here in this thread.

Getting back to the original poster's points, I see great value in even the current crop of digitals, particularly for beginners. Kids like to play their songs (pieces) using the different sounds available on a digital piano. The recording features can be fun and educational. Combined with software and MIDI the written note / physical location / sound of note connection can be reinforced through immediate feedback.

Also, in the real world most student's acoustic pianos are not tuned frequently enough. Any arguments regarding touch and tone are irrelevent on an out of tune piano. In most cases a digital beats an out of tune acoustic.

Finally, I think it is the teacher's responsibility to make the student and / or parents aware of the advantages and disadvantages of digital pianos and to assess when a student is being hampered by the limitations of a digital piano.

Marc
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#604488 - 02/04/07 03:10 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
gerg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/07
Posts: 1651
Loc: Houston, TX
This has happened in the past.

We used to have vinyl records. Then, CD's have taken over, followed by MP3's. Still, hardcore audiophiles appreciate that a Linn Sondek with a good Class A amplifier and an expensive stylus will outdo the latest and greatest in clarity and fidelity. The older technology is expensive, and is the best for quality. The newer is cheap, but of lesser quality and greater convenience.

We used to have reel lawn mowers. Now, most everyone with a lawn maintains it with a rotary mower. Still, the finest lawns in the world, including golf greens, are cut with the superior mechanism of a powered reel mower. Again, The older reel technology is more expensive, but the best for quality, cutting grass blades like a sharp pair of scissors. The newer is cheap, but of lesser quality and greater convenience.

The same will hold true of pianos and other instruments. What will happen, as in the previous two examples, is digital will satisfy the majority of the market with greater versatility for the average consumer. Those who value the very best, who value elegance, who value tradition and quality, will continue with the acoustic instruments. I cannot see Carnegie Hall replacing its Steinway with the latest gizmo.

Newer is not always "better" - depending on your metric for better. As a culture we've this notion of inevitable progress drummed into our minds. Looked at from another angle, maybe some of that change is actually regression.

FWIW I play on a Roland HP-1800. Yes, digital pianos have come a long way since 1994, but I consider an eventual switch to a quality grand to be an upgrade. That is closer to what legends played than anything with a power plug will ever be. There's something transcendent and profound about the genuine article, something we will grow to appreciate more as digital becomes more dominant with the average consumer.

My $.02
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#604489 - 02/04/07 03:31 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
gerg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/07
Posts: 1651
Loc: Houston, TX
Markeyz:

GREAT POINTS!

Jedi:

When we get our baby grand, we'll give you our business, since we live 25 minutes from Bellingham.
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#604490 - 02/04/07 10:37 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
MooGoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 244
 Quote:
Originally posted by gerg:
This has happened in the past.

We used to have vinyl records. Then, CD's have taken over, followed by MP3's. Still, hardcore audiophiles appreciate that a Linn Sondek with a good Class A amplifier and an expensive stylus will outdo the latest and greatest in clarity and fidelity. The older technology is expensive, and is the best for quality. The newer is cheap, but of lesser quality and greater convenience.

We used to have reel lawn mowers. Now, most everyone with a lawn maintains it with a rotary mower. Still, the finest lawns in the world, including golf greens, are cut with the superior mechanism of a powered reel mower. Again, The older reel technology is more expensive, but the best for quality, cutting grass blades like a sharp pair of scissors. The newer is cheap, but of lesser quality and greater convenience.

The same will hold true of pianos and other instruments. What will happen, as in the previous two examples, is digital will satisfy the majority of the market with greater versatility for the average consumer. Those who value the very best, who value elegance, who value tradition and quality, will continue with the acoustic instruments. I cannot see Carnegie Hall replacing its Steinway with the latest gizmo.

Newer is not always "better" - depending on your metric for better. As a culture we've this notion of inevitable progress drummed into our minds. Looked at from another angle, maybe some of that change is actually regression.

FWIW I play on a Roland HP-1800. Yes, digital pianos have come a long way since 1994, but I consider an eventual switch to a quality grand to be an upgrade. That is closer to what legends played than anything with a power plug will ever be. There's something transcendent and profound about the genuine article, something we will grow to appreciate more as digital becomes more dominant with the average consumer.

My $.02 [/b]
Basing an argument on audiophiles is never a good idea. 90% of them are completely insane. They could be legally deaf and still demand the most expensive turntable and tube amp.

Besides, 50 years from now, I doubt enough of them will be alive for their old man ramblings of how they did it back in their days to have any weight. And without all that interference, people will finally stop doubting the superior quality of their CD audio discs, and DVD audio discs, and holodeck audio crystals, etc.

The same goes with everything else. Soon enough, all you fuddy-duddies will be kicking the grave, and all that will be left will be the meddling kids with their high tech gizmos. I'm sure if you could dig up a 200 year old musician, he'd be bitching about the superior sound quality of his fortepiano to these new fangled "iron" pianos and their plastic keys.

Finally, progress denotes change. From the first gravecembalo col (or di) piano e forte to now, all improvements to the acoustic piano have come along with a change in its sound and feel. With digitals, for the first time, significant improvements can be made, without altering the sound produced at all.

And yet, even two acoustics can never sound the same. There are plenty of grand pianos that produce sounds that I just don't like, no matter how prominently the Steinway logo is displayed. All pianos sound different. Eventually, digitals will just sound "different", but not necessarily worse.

I stand by my statement that in a reasonable amount of time 99% of you will not be able to tell the difference in a blind test.

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#604491 - 02/04/07 12:53 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Dan Moos Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Bellingham, WA
 Quote:


Jedi:

When we get our baby grand, we'll give you our business, since we live 25 minutes from Bellingham.

Well, I'm not quite at the point where I can in good concious charge for my tunings, but I would gladly hook you up with the fellow who is teaching me. Great tuner, and great guy.

25 minutes must put you in Skagit Co, right?
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#604492 - 02/04/07 05:23 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
gerg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/07
Posts: 1651
Loc: Houston, TX
"25 minutes must put you in Skagit Co, right?"

Correct. About ten minutes from the Casino.

My mom uses a fellow named Klapwijk. Perhaps you know him.

We don't have a baby grand yet, just a digital, and I'm going to take my sweet time making the right choice.
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#604493 - 02/04/07 05:42 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
gerg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/07
Posts: 1651
Loc: Houston, TX
Moo:

Your thinking is a bit one-dimensional. Consider that "progress" does not always benefit the end consumer. Sometimes, "progress" can mean increasing profits by reducing manufacturing costs through a reduction in end-product quality. It's true (generally): you get what you pay for.

My choice of vinyl records/audiophiles was unfortunate because you completely missed the point - it had nothing to do with sound, hence the second example.

Anyway, I don't think there's ought to be gained in debating the matter further.
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#604494 - 02/04/07 09:46 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
MooGoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 244
Nothing to be gained? Then what is the point of this thread?

I think you missed my point. I'm not arguing whether digital will ever become "better" than acoustic. I'm saying that eventually it will supplant the acoustic, just as the modern acoustic piano replaced the fortepiano, and just as the fortepiano replaced the harpsichord.

Despite the drastic differences in sound between these instruments, the modern piano is almost always used instead.

You don't see this happening now because digital pianos are just now starting to come into their own, and they still have a little ways to go at that. Just the same, it took the fortepiano nearly 3 quarters of a century after it's invention to really compete with the harpsichord.

Luckily tho, now we have historically informed performances. And I've listened to plenty of recordings of Baroque pieces using period instruments and modern ones. I find merit in both, and usually which I like better comes more down to the recording than to the instruments used.

So you shouldn't worry if digitals take over, there will always be acoustics around.

The adaption will probably be much slower as well, because in the 18th century, the composing for the fortepiano was much more active than new compositions for piano now. Along with audiences now that care not much for newer music and pianists who are not expected to compose or even improvise, there's not yet as much of a need to leverage a digitals increased capability in new compositions yet.

Oh well, things will still change, they always do.

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#604495 - 02/04/07 10:31 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
gerg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/07
Posts: 1651
Loc: Houston, TX
"I think you missed my point. I'm not arguing whether digital will ever become "better" than acoustic. I'm saying that eventually it will supplant the acoustic, just as the modern acoustic piano replaced the fortepiano, and just as the fortepiano replaced the harpsichord."

I don't disagree at all, and thought I made that plain in the original comment. Sorry for the lack of clarity. Digital will become dominant because it meets the needs of a larger segment of the musical population - headphones ability, multi-timbre, recording, etc.

That said, a real acoustic piano will always be considered "the standard" and used in performance halls, and by strict traditionalists. I think the phantom for most people (i.e. the "ideal") is something along the lines of a Steinway "D", although that is quite subject to the application (type of music, purpose of instrument, etc.) For some of us there is a perception of "cheating" in using digital - if the goal is personal performance, at least.

But choices are a good thing :-)

It is interesting about the harpsichord. Thanks for the history lesson :-)
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#604496 - 02/04/07 11:29 PM Re: Digital is the way forward?
MooGoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 244
To me, saying "Digital is the way forward", is as obvious in the 21st century as saying "Steel is the way forward" in the 19th century.


I still believe digitals will one day be able to model everything about an acoustic. As computers get more and more powerful, it is somewhat conceivable that recorded samples would be ditched entirely for actual physical modeling. Though this time may not come until the distant future.

Just wait until we have Holodecks.

There's one thing a digital will never be able to replicate, and that is the feel of having the actual, authentic article, in all its original glory. I certainly would not mind having an intricately decorated baroque harpsichord laying around. Even if the sounds I'd get out of the thing would make Bach cry.

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#604497 - 02/05/07 04:04 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
Horace Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 505
 Quote:
I still believe digitals will one day be able to model everything about an acoustic. As computers get more and more powerful, it is somewhat conceivable that recorded samples would be ditched entirely for actual physical modeling. Though this time may not come until the distant future.
We may find that a real acoustic piano is always the cheapest way to get the acoustic sound, though, even after we're able to model exactly how the acoustic sounds. The computer hardware won't be too expensive probably but the speaker necessary to replicate a real soundboard's sound would literally have to be in the shape of a soundboard - it is impossible to accurately "model" the exact sound produced by a piano without using something that produces sound along that same physical area. It might turn out that a real acoustic piano is the easiest way to do that.

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#604498 - 02/05/07 04:29 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
twitchy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/04
Posts: 60
Loc: London
 Quote:
On a digital, two waveforms are added together and the resulting waveform, containing amplified or cancelled harmonics of the original notes as well as new harmonics from beating between the two notes, is the sound. The same process occurs on an acoustic piano, but rather than occuring in a mathematical vaccuum, the interaction occurs through the physical mediums of metal, wood, and air, each of which impacts the final sound by further amplifying or deadening certain frequencies
This is a very interesting point. I've always owned digital pianos (about 15 years now), and while the sample reproducion and key touch has improved phenominally I still feel like there's something missing. I absolutely agree that the mathematical result of two sounds played together digitally will yield a different result from two sounds played together but seperated in space - and hence time. How much of this is noticable to the listener is open to debate.


I think the next step for digital piano developers is to replicate a soundboard, which will probably mean increasing the number of speakers many times or maybe developing one large speaker that can reproduce sounds from different points on its diaphram (science fiction?). Unfortunately this would be an expensive developement for piano manufacturers that are used to utilising current technology rather than pushing the envelope themselves.

Personally I can't wait to buy a house so I can buy a decent acoustic upright

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#604499 - 02/05/07 05:16 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
There seems to be a general asumption that digital users are seeking to replicate the sound of an acoustic piano. Hence this talk of speakers replicating soundboards.

However, I am not sure that this assumption is correct.

I suggest that many people mainly listen to music, including acoustic piano, on CD (or digital download) and the sound they are aiming for is often that produced by their hi-fi system or computer.

This is a recorded sound, digitised, usually compressed etc. It may not greatly resemble the original acoustic sound as experienced by the audience or player.

The point may be, does the digital instrument produce an acceptable sound?

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#604500 - 02/05/07 05:33 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
twitchy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/04
Posts: 60
Loc: London
AJB, I think you have to assume both. Manufacturers like Yamaha reached CD quality sound years ago, but they're still persuing a better more piano like sound, hence things like the AFC feature which is *very* subtle, yet costs money. If digital users only wanted an 'acceptable' sound these extra features wouldn't be necessary.
But yes by the same token some digital users do just want an acceptable sound for headphone practice, transportablility etc. It cuts both ways.

Like I said I've owned digital pianos for over 15 years but I'm still going to buy an acoustic at the first chance. If there was a digital option that was genuinely as good I would go for that hands down because I have no sentimentality for a cumbersome fire hazard

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#604501 - 02/05/07 06:52 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
zilla12345 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/24/07
Posts: 12
I prefer the real thing. Have fun with your blowup dolls.

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#604502 - 02/05/07 06:54 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3187
Loc: Virginia, USA
I have played a number of acoustics and have to admit I like them better, though less than one of ten were in tune.

I have moved a number of acoustics and hated every second of it!

99% of the good piano music I listen to is digital, just like all of you. It's called CD.

A digital piano could be used for programmed instruction that would make piano practice 1000 times more efficient. Nobody has done that yet, but in theory it could work.

Will digital overtake acoustic? Well, I think it is likely that digital is increasing, but i'd really like to see statistics on piano playing in general. It wouldn't surprise me if the trend isn't sharply down, making the question moot.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#604503 - 02/05/07 11:26 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
MooGoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 244
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horace:
 Quote:
I still believe digitals will one day be able to model everything about an acoustic. As computers get more and more powerful, it is somewhat conceivable that recorded samples would be ditched entirely for actual physical modeling. Though this time may not come until the distant future.
We may find that a real acoustic piano is always the cheapest way to get the acoustic sound, though, even after we're able to model exactly how the acoustic sounds. The computer hardware won't be too expensive probably but the speaker necessary to replicate a real soundboard's sound would literally have to be in the shape of a soundboard - it is impossible to accurately "model" the exact sound produced by a piano without using something that produces sound along that same physical area. It might turn out that a real acoustic piano is the easiest way to do that. [/b]
It may turn out that the best way to truly accurately model the sound of an acoustic piano is with headphones. Many may scoff at this, but headphones really are the best way to achieve accurate sound reproduction, especially if the sound is designed for headphone use.

Basically, everything we hear is reduced to two waveforms, one for the left ear and one for the right. Whether the sound is a telephone conversation, or a symphony orchestra, by the time it gets to you, it's simply stereo sound. Given that headphones gaurentee the position of the sound source, properly designed audio can simulate surround sound to an incredible degree. With headphones you don't need 7.1 speakers for a proper surround effect, just two.

So it's possible that digital pianos could design the sound produced to make it feel like the sound is coming from more positions than just a couple of speakers, while wearing headphones.

Of course this would not account for the subtle differences in sound as you change your position about the piano, and it would not address performance to an audience at all.

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#604504 - 02/05/07 11:37 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
twitchy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/04
Posts: 60
Loc: London
How would you model the effect of soundwaves that cause the cranium to vibrate and subsequently the inner ear? It might actually be impossible to get soundwaves down the ear pipes (the what?) that can truely represent this sound.

Also, I've always been curious but never got a satisfactory answer - how do ears differentiate between sounds in front and sounds behind the head? Left and right is well known but I can't fathom the front and back.

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#604505 - 02/05/07 11:55 AM Re: Digital is the way forward?
MooGoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 244
I'll give it a shot, but don't hold me to it.

Basically, your brain compares the difference in volume and timing between the same sound heard in each ear, in a similar way to how your eyes compare two separate images to figure out depth. Also, when we hear stuff, we tend to adjust the position of our head to get a better listening point, this movement, and the subsequent changes in volume and timing also assists us in determining where the sound is coming from.


This might be enlightening.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_localization

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