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#678358 - 08/24/03 08:02 AM Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
Nunatax Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 704
Loc: Belgium
Hi,

Haven't decided yet, hope I'm not getting boring ;\)
Someone told me it might be interesting to buy a GT 15 instead of a GT 20 and use a sound module to upgrade the sound and polyphony. I just have a few more questions regarding these devices because I'm a little bit sceptic about them :
I don't know if I have the right picture of these things, I think of it as completely independent devices, no PC needed, is that right? Just a small box that needs to be plugged in the piano and for the rest requires nothing else but electricity? (I hope I'm not completely wrong here ;\) ) Would a Roland XV-2020 be such a device?
Which connections do you need in the piano? Midi, AUX?
Which module might be a good one to make the GT 15 a nice sounding piano with a polyphony of let's say 128? Maybe the previously mentioned XV-2020? Is there no problem in connecting a Roland device to a Yamaha piano?
Are these things as good as they say they are? Could it really make a bad sounding digital piano sound as good as the best digitals they sell these days? Because I'm pretty sure there will be not a single store in my country which has both the GT 15 AND such a sound module \:\( Let alone they could give me advice about this matter...

Thanks in advance!

Rgds,
Michiel
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#678359 - 08/25/03 10:04 AM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
JimM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/02
Posts: 200
Loc: Northern California
Someone told me it might be interesting to buy a GT 15 instead of a GT 20[/b]

Don't know the GT 15.

think of it as completely independent devices, no PC needed, is that right?[/b]

Generally, yes. Some sound modules are PC boards, but you probably want one that is stand-alone, just plugs into the piano and mains

Which connections do you need in the piano? Midi, AUX?[/b]

Midi at least, USB would be nice but I don't think the GT pianos have it (check with Yamaha)

Which module might be a good one to make the GT 15 a nice sounding piano with a polyphony of let's say 128? Maybe the previously mentioned XV-2020? [/b]

The XV-2020 pianos have gotten good reviews, but as far I can tell the box only has a USB connection, not Midi. That probably rules it out for the GT series. Polyphony is 64, which is probably enough for just piano. I don't know of dedicated sound modules that have 128 voices, but there might be some - Yamaha makes sound modules that they promote for the GT series, worth taking a look

Is there no problem in connecting a Roland device to a Yamaha piano?[/b]

Should be fine with Midi. USB or AUX compatibility can be more problematic


Could it really make a bad sounding digital piano sound as good as the best digitals they sell these days?[/b]

That's in the ear of the listener, but probably not. "The best" digitals have more sample memory than most modules, more sound processing functions, etc. In my opinion, the best pianos are found in soft samplers like GigaStudio, Halion, etc. but that requires a separate PC setup that could cost as much as the piano
jim
_________________________
=========
Jim
Mason and Hamlin BB, Clavinova CVP900

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#678360 - 08/25/03 11:06 AM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
The XV-2020 pianos have gotten good reviews, but as far I can tell the box only has a USB connection, not Midi. That probably rules it out for the GT series. Polyphony is 64, which is probably enough for just piano. I don't know of dedicated sound modules that have 128 voices, but there might be some - Yamaha makes sound modules that they promote for the GT series, worth taking a look
The XV2020 is most definitely MIDI compatible. That's the only way to create sound. USB is only for editing and archiving sounds -- not for performance. In fact, there is no current USB standard that allows a module to be controlled in a similar manner as MIDI.
The XV5080 is 128-voice but is probably overkill for someone just starting out in the world of electronics.

 Quote:
That's in the ear of the listener, but probably not. "The best" digitals have more sample memory than most modules, more sound processing functions, etc. In my opinion, the best pianos are found in soft samplers like GigaStudio, Halion, etc. but that requires a separate PC setup that could cost as much as the piano
jim
The best digitals do not in fact have more memory than the best modules. That's a generalization that isn't quite true. The more memory, the more expensive the product is. This is true with modules and keyboards. There are modules/keyboards with little memory, and there are modules/keyboards with lots of memory. The XV5080 module for example, has the same sound-set and sound engine as the XV88 keyboard, but has slightly better sounding converters and a better output stage (sounds better -- I have both).
Piano sampler libraries are getting better, but they still sound rather one-dimensional to me. I haven't found one yet that beats the Concert Grand expansion board that Roland makes. Personally, I think the next big thing will be pianos created with modeling technology. The Promega (General Music) modeled piano is pretty good, but there are some glitches. I'd imagine that NAMM 2004 may bring some new options.
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#678361 - 08/25/03 11:34 AM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
Nunatax Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 704
Loc: Belgium
Don't know the GT 15.[/b]

Nevermind, I just found out it's no longer available \:\(
Anyway, it was the same as the GT 20 but with a polyphony of only 32, less memory (only 4Mb) and reverb control in 4 steps instead of continuously. It would have been nice with a module *sniff* \:\(
I might need a module for the GT 20 too since a lot of people say it doesn't sound so good...

Midi at least, USB would be nice but I don't think the GT pianos have it (check with Yamaha)[/b]

I have to get rid of some last bad ideas about midi :
My father told me midi information is just On/Off and velocity. If that's right, won't you lose the expressiveness of the sound if you use a midi connection? My idea of midi is that it's a way to create sounds artificially without needing tons of memory but with very synthetic sound and no dynamic variance. Wouldn't an AUX connection be more interesting or am I completely wrong :rolleyes: ?

The XV-2020 pianos have gotten good reviews, but as far I can tell the box only has a USB connection, not Midi.[/b]

It's got midi \:\)
Take a look here :
http://www.roland.be/productinfo/productimages/_XV2020.jpg
You have any idea what the outer right connections are for (the "R" en "L(MONO)" ones)? The red and white are for speakers I presume but the other two I don't know :rolleyes:

Yamaha makes sound modules that they promote for the GT series, worth taking a look[/b]

A guy from Yamaha promoted the Motif rack, but it seems quite expensive

Rgds,
Michiel
_________________________
Some can tell you to go to hell in such a manner that you would think you might actually enjoy the trip, but that is far more polite than civil - JBryan

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#678362 - 08/25/03 01:26 PM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
Nunatax,
I would strongly suggest that you consider educating yourself on MIDI before you spend your hard-earned money on a keyboard and/or sound module. It's obvious that you're just starting out with music technology. That's fine. But you're likely to regret any purchases you make later if you don't learn a bit more first. Message boards like this can be helpful, but quite honestly it sounds like you could use a bit more help. There are quite a few books that are great for helping you learn about MIDI technology. There are also some helpful websites like this one:
http://mp3.about.com/library/weekly/aa021797.htm
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#678363 - 08/25/03 02:06 PM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
JimM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/02
Posts: 200
Loc: Northern California
My father told me midi information is just On/Off and velocity. [/b]

Midi is much more flexible than that. Take SteveY's advice and read some primer material on Midi before you buy. Midi is a set of instructions that (among other things) tells the hardware what sounds to play, how loud, how long to sustain and much besides. The Midi data stream does not contain "sounds" itself, so the quality depends on what's in the device that's receiving the signals as well as on the subtleties of the Midi data being sent to it. Compared to analog devices (like an acoustic piano) it has some limitations - for example, it can only recognize 128 levels of loudness variation where a piano can in principle play "infinite" levels of variation.


You have any idea what the outer right connections are for (the "R" en "L(MONO)" ones)? [/b]

I think they're both speaker (audio) outputs - one set uses pin plugs, the other 1/4" plugs. (Standards are wonderful, there are so many of them, and they keep the adapter people in business...). Mono is just that - if you want a monophonic signal into your amplifer, you use that output.

Sorry for the mis-information on Midi connectors - I just read a text description of the module (which didn't mention it) and stressed the USB connection. It would be silly to make any kind of electronic musical instrument without a Midi interface. The advantage of connections like USB is typically speed, but there can be issues with software compatibility. For what you want Midi should be just fine.

BTW, SteveY has offered some good counter-points to my admittedly generalized advice/opinions. He knows what he's talking about! But do your homework - it's hard to get too specific until you're up to speed on the technology.
_________________________
=========
Jim
Mason and Hamlin BB, Clavinova CVP900

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#678364 - 08/25/03 02:46 PM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
Midi is a set of instructions that (among other things) tells the hardware what sounds to play, how loud, how long to sustain and much besides. The Midi data stream does not contain "sounds" itself, so the quality depends on what's in the device that's receiving the signals as well as on the subtleties of the Midi data being sent to it. Compared to analog devices (like an acoustic piano) it has some limitations - for example, it can only recognize 128 levels of loudness variation where a piano can in principle play "infinite" levels of variation.


Great description!
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#678365 - 08/25/03 05:14 PM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
Nunatax Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 704
Loc: Belgium
OK guys, I'll try to learn some more basics about midi. Though I'm pretty sure now what I want. That I'm buying a GT 20 is almost a fact (I need the realistic keyboard action... boy, am I repeating myself \:\) ), the rest can follow later.

One huge pile of thanks for the both of you, you make an incredible pair \:D It was all great advice
If I have more (advanced) questions about midi that I can't find anywhere I'll post it on this forum.
Thanks again!

Rgds,
Michiel
_________________________
Some can tell you to go to hell in such a manner that you would think you might actually enjoy the trip, but that is far more polite than civil - JBryan

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#678366 - 08/26/03 11:58 AM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
Roxane Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 932
I own a GranTouch DGT2A and a few months ago, I asked a question similar to yours on the rmmp board. The general concensus of the replies I received was that none of the stand-alone sound modules can match the software-driven ones in terms of realism. I got the strong impression that it would not be quite worth my while to purchase a stand-alone sound module for my GranTouch.

I have to caution you against having too high an expectation of the GT20. I own a 6' grand besides the GranTouch, and I find it impossible to reproduce the nuances on the GranTouch the same way as I can get with the acoustic. Whether you notice this or not would depend on your level of playing (I am an advanced player). The action on the GranTouch is also not as responsive, and the electronics cannot keep up with fast trills etc.

You should seriously consider getting an acoustic with a silent mode. I understand that the action of the acoustic in silent mode is compromised, but at least you would have the option of playing aloud if your father is not around. I am not sure the sound from the GranTouch would be any better than that coming from a silent piano.

Oh, and the GranTouch makes quite a racket even with the headphones plugged in. The keys make fairly loud thumps when played, which might annoy those around.

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#678367 - 08/26/03 02:34 PM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
Nunatax Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 704
Loc: Belgium
Hey, thanks for your reply!

I have to caution you against having too high an expectation of the GT20. I own a 6' grand besides the GranTouch, and I find it impossible to reproduce the nuances on the GranTouch the same way as I can get with the acoustic. Whether you notice this or not would depend on your level of playing (I am an advanced player). The action on the GranTouch is also not as responsive, and the electronics cannot keep up with fast trills etc.[/b]

I don't really expect the same nuances as on an acoustic (I've never been able to express a lot of nuances anyway on that bloody ol' Roland ;\) ). I'm not a professional, but playing on digital keyboards is frustrating because I cannot improve my techniques any further. Do you think it's adequate as an instrument to practice and improve techniques?

What my level of playing is I don't know, right now I'm practising Chopin's second scherzo and the third movement of Beethoven's moonlight sonata. I always took lessons in an "unofficial" school without "grades". You just go there year after year, get no evaluations or anything, didn't have to do exams either...

I'll certainly check the trill issue, I believe such an unwanted "effect" could get on your nerves!

You should seriously consider getting an acoustic with a silent mode. I understand that the action of the acoustic in silent mode is compromised, but at least you would have the option of playing aloud if your father is not around. I am not sure the sound from the GranTouch would be any better than that coming from a silent piano.[/b]

A lot of people told me that you could not get a decent upright under 5000 (and that at the start of this budget you still have to be really careful). That is just out of my budget. I need an instrument that doesn't deteriorate too much once you have it a certain period.

Rgds,
Michiel
_________________________
Some can tell you to go to hell in such a manner that you would think you might actually enjoy the trip, but that is far more polite than civil - JBryan

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#678368 - 08/26/03 03:40 PM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
I asked a question similar to yours on the rmmp board. The general concensus of the replies I received was that none of the stand-alone sound modules can match the software-driven ones in terms of realism.
I've heard this sort of thing occasionally as well. The problem is that it's simply not true. How do you think a hardware module creates its sound? The same way that a keyboard does -- or that a virtual instrument on a computer does. There's software involved in all of them. The reality is that most pros upgrade their set-ups through purchasing newer modules (as opposed to new keyboards). I don't mean to come down on you, Roxanne. You're just repeating what you've heard. I just wanted to correct some misinformation.
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#678369 - 08/26/03 05:25 PM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
Nunatax Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 704
Loc: Belgium
Steve or Jim,

You've probably read the problem Roxanne described about fast trills, that the electronics cannot keep up with the notes. Since (correct me if I'm wrong) a module shortcuts the entire hardware in the piano (except of course amp and speakers), that could solve that problem. Right?

Rgds,
Michiel
_________________________
Some can tell you to go to hell in such a manner that you would think you might actually enjoy the trip, but that is far more polite than civil - JBryan

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#678370 - 08/27/03 12:13 AM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
JimM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/02
Posts: 200
Loc: Northern California
You've probably read the problem Roxanne described about fast trills, that the electronics cannot keep up with the notes. Since (correct me if I'm wrong) a module shortcuts the entire hardware in the piano (except of course amp and speakers), that could solve that problem. Right?
[/b]
I don't think there's any way to answer that question without trying the specific components. If there is a problem, it could be the keyboard itself, the electronics, or a combination of the two. If it's the electronics, a sound module might be better, or it might be worse (since sending Midi data to the module is probably slower than sending it to an internal tone generator.)

FWIW, I haven't seen a repetition rate problem on either my CVP900 or the GigaStudio "module" which is interfaced through Midi, but I'm not an accomplished pianist, which I think Roxanne is.
_________________________
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Jim
Mason and Hamlin BB, Clavinova CVP900

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#678371 - 08/28/03 04:57 AM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
Nunatax Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 704
Loc: Belgium
I've tested the GT 20 yesterday, comparing it to the CLP-990. I noticed the slow response. Sound is not that good, could live with it though.
I've also played some acoustic uprights and a remarkable evolution is that even the touch of acoustic pianos is getting lighter every year! I don't know what to conclude from that, I don't think it's a positive evolution.
Considering that observation, and that the keyboard of the CLP-990 is not that much different from and sometimes even better than some acoustic pianos, I chose the CLP-990 after almost two hours of testing and comparing, running from one piano to another... What weird turns life can make, huh? :rolleyes: \:\)
Anyway, thanks for your unlimited replies and your patience with me ;\) It made me make the best choice!
And maybe one day I will add a sound module to the CLP 990 \:\)

Rgds and thanks again!
Michiel
_________________________
Some can tell you to go to hell in such a manner that you would think you might actually enjoy the trip, but that is far more polite than civil - JBryan

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#678372 - 08/28/03 10:00 AM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
JimM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/02
Posts: 200
Loc: Northern California
Congratulations Michiel. I think you made a good choice in the CLP990. The piano not only has wooden keys (which may or may not matter very much) but a totally different hammer mechanism than the rest of the line. I agree that the touch is the best of the Yamaha digitals (my CVP900 has the same keyboard.)

The piano sample is also very good. I didn't much care for the speaker setup (kind of "in your face") but you can add external speakers later if you want to and of course there are always headphones. (FWIW, I found that Sennheiser open back headphones were best from both a sound and comfort standpoint)

Have fun!
_________________________
=========
Jim
Mason and Hamlin BB, Clavinova CVP900

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#678373 - 08/28/03 10:17 AM Re: Sound modules + Yamaha GT 15?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
Michiel,
Congrats on the new purchase! Hope it brings many hours of enjoyment to you!

Regarding the trill problem, I'm wondering if it isn't the polyphony? Or even just the processor? It's possible that keyboards with 32 voice polyphony (for example) wouldn't be able to handle fast trills. They may not "reset" fast enough if that makes sense. I'm just speculating. But I don't see why a module would be a disadvantage. I have several modules and have never had a problem.
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