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#696006 - 10/11/08 03:50 PM Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Geof175 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/08
Posts: 36
Loc: Be
Hi,

I was just wondering why so many of you are using softwares such as Ivory, Pianoteq instead of the internal piano patches of your DP ?

No experience with these softwares ... Do they sound far better than the main piano sounds of high end DP (CV409, CLP380, HP207, 700SX/GX, ...) ?

If yes, do you know why ? I mean why can't we find better piano sounds with high end DP ? Is this related to fact that high level libraries require a strong CPU ?

Regards.

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#696007 - 10/11/08 09:00 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
dettch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Idaho
I think many of us simply need a new toy now and then. We are compelled to try new things.... but that's just a guess because I'm not one of those who've tried the "software piano".....but I would like to experiment with some of them.
Bob

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#696008 - 10/11/08 09:50 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
The following two recordings represent the same piece being played by me. It is Clementi Opus 36 Sonatina 1.1, which of course is a practice piece. Also, I am a beginner (can’t you tell from my slow playing?).

Virtual (Software) Piano - Akoustik Piano

Resident Clavinova CLP-230

The computer is a DELL XPS with 3GHz dual core processor that cost me $1900. The external audio interface unit is a $130 EMU 0202 (to record the CLP-230).

My own opinion is that for a beginning player like me it is not worth the expense of a virtual piano. Perhaps when my playing improves the differences will seem greater. But at my current level it is hard for me to even tell the difference between the two. I usually play with the resident sound of the CLP-230 and keep the computer in its recording configuration, rather than switching various connecting cables to use in virtual piano configuration.

I needed a new high end computer for recording purposes anyway, so I don’t regret that. But the $300 Akoustik Piano software was in my opinion a waste.

You be the judge.

I may in future purchase different software, perhaps Ivory, but not for a while due to recent economic downturn.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696009 - 10/12/08 03:20 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
Software libraries are hands down better than the ones that come built into your piano. Storage, CPU, RAM it all comes into play and a $500 computer far exceeds specs on a $2000 DP.

Consider 40GB Ivory samples to a measly 20MB built into a low end digital. That's 3 orders of magnitude of difference. That's why digital pianos need to use tricks - like looping of sustained sounds, and interpolating between keys to squeeze everything in. The end product is piano audio that sounds artificial.


Orez Eno:
For future computer purchases, depending on your familiarity with computers - you may want to save yourself hundreds of dollars (in your case almost $1000), and build your own machine (you can buy parts really cheap from tigerdirect.com). On top of that you won't have to rely on proprietary dell hardware.

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#696010 - 10/12/08 05:19 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
Eternal,
As a retired electrical and software engineer I feel reasonably qualified to select the model of computer that I need, although I refrain from calling myself an expert. The computer industry changes so fast there are no experts. Depending on processor and a wide variety of configurations, the DELL XPS series is considered by many in the industry to be the best for high end applications, and they can cost in excess of $5,000. The system I purchased has phenomenal speed and I am very satisfied with it for the price I paid. Indeed I have never heard anyone who has invested in such as system ever complain about it.

I’d much prefer my XPS to any “Rin-Can, Crash-If-You-Can, Guaranteed Nameless, Third World Reject”. Did you know that most motherboards from places like tigerdirect.com fail to meet their advertised specs for speed? Oh sure, you can put a 3 GHz processor on them, but their motherboards are so poorly designed that the processor must go into multiple wait states before the address and data buss’ settle during the execution of each op code. Rather than take the exact number of clock cycles advertised by the processor for a standard op code, like perhaps a memory fetch, the system takes a few more. So the computer operates slower, but the speed reported in the “System Information” window still says 3 GHz. Of course you would never realize these defects if you didn’t run known benchmark software. I test every system I buy with benchmarks that I wrote myself in C++. Each benchmark is designed to test a different aspect of the system. I am very impressed with the performance of my XPS. Thanks, but no thanks to tigerdirect.com.

Of course prices and system capabilities change almost weekly in the computer market. I paid extra for an E8500 processor. I notice that I can buy that processor from tigerdirect.com today for just under $300, which sounds a bit less than I remember. So, if I bought the same system today it might cost $1800 instead of $1900? Or, perhaps even much less. I haven't returned to the DELL site to check. I bought the computer 6 months ago. At the time it was in my opinion very price competitive considering its performance capability and robust construction.

But the point of my post was to compare two recordings. You didn’t even comment. Of course the Ivory samples are larger than the resident samples on my piano, and Ivory supports dynamic sampling, which means the computer must keep more recorded notes in active memory. My Akoustik Piano software also has large samples and also supports 16 level dynamic sampling. The computer must keep in memory 16 separate recordings for each key. My system memory (RAM) is 4 GBytes in order to handle such software.

But what difference does it make to the sound of an average beginner's playing? Both recordings are very high quality. What you hear on your end (please use studio headphones) is what I hear when I play. Plus I am using 4 three-way speakers, two per stereo channel, and each speaker has a 12 inch woofer. Yes, the actual sound in the room sounds like an acoustic.

Again, I ask you to be the judge.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696011 - 10/12/08 07:45 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9152
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Orez Eno, which 64bit OS are you using?

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#696012 - 10/12/08 09:50 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Othello Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 121
IMO, after going soft piano, there is no going back to the original sound, though the investment cost is much larger (PC, software and sound system).

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#696013 - 10/12/08 09:57 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
Hi JAWAI James,
Thank you for your response. I’m using XP Pro, Version 5.1, SP-3. Please advise if you feel I should be using a different operating system.

I chose that operating system because it was recommended by Native Instruments, the company that publishes the Akoustik Piano software. I had already decided on that software before I purchased the computer, and luckily at the time DELL was still building some machines (just the high end ones) with XP Pro. After installing and using Akoustik Piano, I suspect that Ivory would have been a better choice, but not for the quality of the sampled sounds, which is what everyone raves about. My immediate complaint was that Akoustik Piano did not support partial pedaling (half pedaling). My piano does, and I got used to it. Akoustik Piano doesn’t and I noticed it immediately. But that is a whole other discussion.

I have played various recordings of myself to enough unbiased people to know that the tonal difference between the Akoustik Piano virtual piano system and the native sounds of a CLP-230 are almost imperceptible, at least for a beginner's playing like mine. And, the CLP-230 does not even support dynamic sampling. I have also had several people listen to my playing live with the same results. When I play live the virtual piano software outputs to a $300.00 PreSonus FireBox external audio interface unit, which feeds a HiFi system with four three-way speaker units (two per channel), each unit having a 12 inch woofer. Most people are amazed at the quality of the sound. But they notice little difference between the virtual piano and the resident sound of the CLP-230. The difference is noticeable, but so slight that it hardly seems worth it.

When I first set up the virtual piano system I was posting often here at PianoWorld and I had promised to submit a complete technical review of my experience. But I never did because I knew everyone would disagree with my perception of it. So I didn’t bother. I decided to post less often and spend more time practicing piano.

I intend to submit in the next PianoWorld recital. Perhaps I will submit an Akoustik Piano recording rather than a Yamaha Clavinova CLP-230 native sound recording. I haven’t really decided. But I do admit that in the last month I have not even fired up the virtual piano. It does not even seem worth switching the cables around for.

I keep my computer in a configuration that runs Finale notation software into the piano, as well as into my other instrument, a Yamaha YPG-625, with very good results. In that case the computer is controlling the instrument, rather than the other way around when it is set up as virtual piano. That explains why I have to switch a few cables.

One thing I am disappointed about is that none of the software that I use is compiled to take advantage of the dual core processor. I use the System Task Manager and see that only one core is active. In contrast, if I execute a system operation, like searching all files for a test phrase, both cores are used. My understanding is that that is because the operating system was compiled to take advantage of both cores. But software like Finale and Akoustik Piano are not.

Indeed, I just upgraded my Finale software to the latest 2009 version expecting it to use both cores, but it still uses only one core. This is frustrating because I know from being a programmer that all they need to do is select a different option in the compiler when they produce their executable. My experience is that most companies know very little about compilers like Microsoft’s Visual Studio. They just accept its default configurations. Often, they do not even upgrade it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company “MakeMusic”, who publish Finale, are still using Visual Studio version 6. It is silly that they are using only half my computer. When I ask Finale to play back a score the software pushes that one core to its limit while the other is idle. The Task Manager reports 50% CPU use. I even have to shut down my internet/network connection and virus protection to give the software the most CPU power as possible, otherwise I hear occasional spikes in the sound. With the network shut off the software still uses one core full bore, but there are no spikes. Well, maybe in the next release they will upgrade their compiler? I hope so.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696014 - 10/13/08 12:53 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9152
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Orez Eno, am I correct in assuming that you are using the standard 32-bit version of Windows XP? If so, the following information (quoted from Wikipedia) regarding Windows XP x64 Edition may be of interest to you:

 Quote:
The primary benefit of moving to 64-bit is the increase in the maximum allocatable system memory (RAM). A single process on a 32-bit Windows operating system is limited to a total of 3.2 GB, which is typically equally divided between kernel and application usage. Windows XP x64 can support much more memory; although the theoretical memory limit a 64-bit computer can address is about 16 exabytes, Windows XP x64 is limited to 128 GB of physical memory and 16 terabytes of virtual memory.
As piano sample libraries continue to grow in size, the 3.2 GB memory barrier of 32-bit operating systems will become more of a factor, thus I expect that the major virtual piano software developers will provide native x64 versions of their software in the near future - if they have not done so already.

Finally, I believe it is a little unfair to assume that professional computer programmers do not wish their software to perform as efficiently as possible. Without viewing the program source code, it is very difficult to predict the optimisations that can be achieved through adjust compiler settings, however it is almost certainly true that such alterations may lead to hardware incompatibilities for certain customers.

On a separate point, I would be rather interested to test your benchmarking software - may I ask if it is fully 64-bit aware?

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#696015 - 10/13/08 02:38 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
Hi Kawai James,

My system has 4 GB of physical memory and it is all visible. I found out about the typical 32 bit memory limitation after I had ordered the system and I was worried that I might have made a configuration mistake. But when the system arrived the full installed memory was visible. I guess that is the advantage of purchasing a high end system directly from DELL. They wouldn’t allow the customer to configure a system in such a manner unless it really worked, whereas a local computer store, like CompUSA or Circuit City would just throw it together and ship it. Those consumer grade computers are typically build by 18 year old kids who work part time and who don’t really understand what they are doing. Not that I would understand either. These configuration issues change so often it’s hard to keep up with them. Also, when I specified the system I could have chosen much more than 4 GB of physical memory if I had wanted to. I stopped at 4 GB because at the time I suspected that higher than that was a foolish expenditure. When I retired from my last job we had servers that did not have half as much memory. But at the rate that the footprint of software is increasing, perhaps it would not have been so foolish after all. Well anyway, the amount I have does seem to be plenty at this time.

I still wonder if it is possible that my operating system is not really 64 bits but can still access more than 3.2 GB. After all, the 64 bits refers to the data buss, not the address buss. Although typical 32 bit systems have limited memory capability, there is no reason theoretically why one cannot be redesigned to have a wider address buss (assuming the processor can support it), in which case it could use more physical memory. Or am I wrong about that? System design has changed so much since my time perhaps I am too much out of touch to know what I am talking about.

Sorry, but my benchmarks were compiled for 32 bits using version 6 of Visual Studio, which is what my company was using at the time I retired. They will run on a 64 bit system if in fact my system truly is 64 bits like I think it is (so I guess they are 64 bit aware if that is all that the term means), but they would be more informative recompiled for specifically 64 bit systems. I did upgrade my compiler, but I never did any serious work with it, like I thought I would. I found out that retirement caused me to lose my competitive edge in programming very quickly. And now, so much time has passed that it would be too difficult for me to install the compiler on my 64 bit system and recompile the source code of my benchmarks. Still, I find the benchmarks very useful for making comparison tests between systems. When I got my system I made comparisons with similar clock speed systems at various computer stores and my DELL XPS beat them all out. I was very happy.

My opinion that many programmers are unfamiliar with their compilers comes from first hand experience, and I'm just as guilty as anyone. In addition, I worked on many systems that would not compile on new releases of Visual Studio. For example, my company had several projects that were stuck in Visual Studio version 5 and could not be upgraded. It was always caused by the way the source code was written. This happened most often with large pieces of software that had teams of software writers who didn’t talk much to each other. It is especially typical of Windows Win32 API or MFC projects that also use a lot of generic standard library underlying code. Programmers typically don’t understand the intricacies of connecting underlying generic C++ code to the hundreds of system functions that these Windows APIs provide, particularly those of the user interface. Some projects used GUI wrapper software that the company paid thousands of dollars for, but these were even more problematic than allowing the programmers to use Win32 directly, and they were especially difficult to upgrade to new versions of Visual Studio. My comments may have sounded a bit disrespectful, but they weren’t intended to be. It’s just the way it is.

My benchmarks are not publishable pieces of software. Like most home made utilities, their interfaces are not clean or professional looking. But they do provide accurate timing for various standard operations, like drawing random lines or filled rectangles to test the video processor, or calculating fractals to test the floating point processor. If you give me your address I’ll mail them to you on a CD, but I’m sure you will find them a bit dated. For example, I do not provide for the user to enter the number of filled rectangles that the program will draw. I believe it is fixed in code to be 100,000 rectangles. With today’s clock speeds I wish I had designed them to draw 1,000,000. You might think it would be simple to modify them, but it’s been so long since I touched the source code, and also since I used the compiler, that I don’t feel motivated enough. I prefer to spend my time practicing piano, which for me is a new hobby that I started after retirement.

The reason I found my benchmarks useful is because they contained such a limited number of operations. I knew exactly what the programs did and how they did it. Running professional benchmarks, like Wheatstone (I hope I spelled that correctly - it’s been a long time) involve such wide varieties of operations that it is difficult to evaluate different aspects of a system, or even to compare different systems against each other.

I hope all of my rambling has been useful to you. It wasn't my intention to talk so much about computers. I really wanted people to listen to my recordings to help them realize the difference in sound between a virtual (software) piano and the resident sound of a standard model, which is what this thread is supposed to be all about.

Once again, send me your address and I’ll dig out a few of my benchmarks and put them on a CD for you.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696016 - 10/13/08 03:41 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9152
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Orez Eno, thank you for your informative post - you make some very good points there.

With regards to how much memory the computer 'sees', I believe that the amount displayed by the BIOS may differ to that displayed in Windows XP (the 'System' applet, for example), however as my laptop is only equipped with 2 GB of memory, it is impossible for me to confirm this.

Regarding your benchmark tools, while I appreciate the offer of receiving a CD, I do not wish to trouble you with the postage cost etc. However, if you are willing to make the files available online (I can provide means if necessary), I would gladly test the programmes.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#696017 - 10/13/08 10:19 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
Othello wrote:[/b]
IMO, after going soft piano, there is no going back to the original sound, though the investment cost is much larger (PC, software and sound system).
Thank you for your reply. However, do my recordings reflect your experience?

If they do, you have a better ear than myself and most of my friends.

If not, perhaps my recordings are incorrectly done? What do you think?
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696018 - 10/13/08 12:20 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
Orez - our professional background seems to be similar. I'm also an electrical engineer, doing a lot of Visual C++ programming these days, but plenty of embedded projects sprinkled in as well.

I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree as far as Dell/tigerdirect. From my experience you'll pay much more for the same hardware from Dell. You are of course getting something in exchange for the extra money - like a peace of mind (warranty), and no headaches when it comes to setup. In my case, the extra cost is not justified. I enjoy playing with the hardware, and being able to customize everything that goes in, and I'd much rather spend the extra money on upgrades.

But going back to the original question. I'm at work right now, and I doubt my tiny speakers will do your recordings justice. I'll listen to your files tonight on my home piano setup and give my opinion then. Better yet - can you post the midi file so I can sequence it through my Ivory setup and add another file to comparison.

By the way I noticed you said you have to switch cables around - that definitely can be a pain and take away from your enjoyment of your virtual piano. Perhaps you can modify your setup so nothing needs to be switched around? It's definitely worth it, even if it means you have to build a custom box. All I need to do is turn my PC on and within 1 minute Ivory pops up and I'm ready to go, without even turning my monitor on. I also run Finale (2008), so I guess the fact that you have 2 pianos hooked up makes it an issue of sorts?

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#696019 - 10/13/08 12:42 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
dettch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Idaho
Orez Eno
I liked both samples very much but I could definitely tell a difference in favor of the software piano, richer and less brittle in sound. I've been playing acoustic piano for over 70 years so I think I have pretty good auditory discrimination. But your digital piano sound is also very good. By the way, I think both samples sounded better than most of the acoustic pianos I've had. I hope my new Yamaha CP300 will sound as good.
Bob Dettloff

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#696020 - 10/13/08 12:44 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
dettch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Idaho
By the way Orez Eno, you are a pretty darn good "beginning" pianist.

Bob

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#696021 - 10/13/08 02:11 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
Eternal wrote:[/b] I enjoy playing with the hardware, and being able to customize everything that goes in, and I'd much rather spend the extra money on upgrades.
I certainly would NOT want to discourage anyone from an activity that they enjoy. Myself I haven’t had the best of luck building systems. And, I guess you can sense that I am more anxious to actually use the system than to build it. Even my programming experience has always been at a level far removed from the hardware or system configuration level. Another problem I have, which you have probably read in one of my previous posts, is that since retirement I have lost a lot of my technical edge. I wrote those C++ benchmarks many years ago when I was a competitive programmer and knew what I was doing. It’s easy for me to run them on new systems that I buy out of curiosity. But I could never write those programs from scratch again, or even modify them for that matter. Perhaps it’s best that I let other, more skilled people build my systems. The truth is, I suspect that some of my beliefs about my system are actually not what I think. But I’m not too concerned. My hobby now is piano, not computer science. And the system does a pretty good job in my opinion. I try not to let computer work interfere too much with my practice time.

Sorry, I don’t have any MIDI files. The links I provided are for mp3 audio recordings. My Yamaha CLP-230 will allow me to copy MIDI files from the computer into piano memory and play them from the instrument, but the recording features of the piano do not allow me to transfer the recording in MIDI format to the computer. I don’t have access to the section of memory where the piano’s recordings are saved. And, I suspect that the recordings would be in a proprietary format anyway. I believe the CLP-240 has that feature of exporting recordings in MIDI format, but the CLP-230 does not. I have noticed that the new CLP-330 also has the feature. But my piano does not. So after working on a performance and getting a recording that I consider acceptable, I must then record the audio output of the piano using Audacity software.

In the case of my Akoustik Piano software, from what I can tell they also save recordings in a proprietary format. The idea is the same as MIDI in the sense that they are small instruction files. But they don’t seem to be in MIDI format. The recorded files have an extension called .APS, and the files cannot be played using Media Player, which can indeed play MIDI files. I have tried loading them into Media Player, but the software complains that it doesn’t recognize the format and cannot play them. So I assume the files are not MIDI. The software does allow recordings to be exported to .WAV format, which I have used. I then use a utility to convert them into mp3. But I haven’t noticed any provision for exporting to MIDI format from the Akoustik Piano software. The software will load and play MIDI files, but it seems it will not save my performances in MIDI format. Perhaps I don’t know what I am doing here, but I’m not too concerned because I am primarily interested in the audio recording anyway, not a MIDI recording.

As far as cable switching is concerned, yes I can set it up so that all cables are connected to run the system in any configuration. But as often happens with audio systems, if I do that I get a lot of noise pick up. For example, the digital MIDI signal between the piano and the computer can be heard in the HiFi set. I also get noise pickup due to ground loops between the various interconnected units. You may have noticed that the noise performance (hum and noise) of my recordings is very good. To achieve that I must disconnect all stray, unused cables from the system.

Sounds like you have your Ivory system working pretty good. I realize that I accidentally chose the wrong piano software. At the time people here at PianoWorld said it was the absolute best. Now it seems popular opinion has switched its allegiance to Ivory. I will probably eventually get Ivory.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696022 - 10/13/08 02:41 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
dettch wrote:[/b]
I could definitely tell a difference in favor of the software piano, richer and less brittle in sound. … But your digital piano sound is also very good. … I think both samples sounded better than most of the acoustic pianos I've had.
My point, and I think you are confirming it, is that both recordings are high enough in tonal quality that either is acceptable for a beginner’s playing. I say “for a beginner” because I suspect that an accomplished pianist would be able to draw greater difference between the two systems.

You can see that my entire experience setting up a virtual piano has been a bit of a disappointment. Yes there are differences, but they tend to be exaggerated by pointing out technical differences, like sampling rate and levels of dynamic sampling, rather than comparing the actual sound. I don't regret purchasing a rather expensive, high end computer. I need that anyway. And I may in the future go back to using the virtual system, perhaps with different softare, like Ivory. But for at least another year I feel I should concentrate more on practicing and building playing skill, rather than building computer systems.

Naturally, one person’s ear might be better than mine. I wouldn’t fault anyone for setting up a system themselves and raving about it, if the raves are really authentic. In my case I openly admit that Akoustik Piano software is not worth it. My CLP-230 is fine enough.

 Quote:
dettch wrote:[/b]
By the way Orez Eno, you are a pretty darn good "beginning" pianist.
I appreciate very much your kind assessment. I bought my piano three years ago but suffered from severe pains in my hands and arms. This was a big surprise to me. I had to give it up completely for five months, and then reintroduce myself to it in only very small increments. If I played more than three days a week the pains would return. For another year I played only occasionally and did not progress at all. I was beginning to think that I had wasted my time trying to play piano. I even took up guitar for a short while. I also did a little strength training with weights and squeeze exercisers. Then about a year ago I began to realize some significant improvement in strength and stamina. I was both surprised and pleased. These days I can practice three hours at a stretch. I’m so happy I stuck with it. I am also intrigued at how the human body can adapt if you are patient enough to give it enough time.

When people ask how long I have been playing I answer one year because the first two years were not really about learning to play piano. They were all about strength training.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696023 - 10/13/08 02:56 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
Don't feel bad about Akoustik. I've bought Ivory almost 2 years ago, and the opinions were split down the middle. In fact Akoustik has one advantage over Ivory - with use of Kontakt and some script files you can set it up to reproduce sympathetic resonance. That's something that Ivory can't do, and it can add a lot to realism to the sound.

I got Ivory because of a few reviews that claimed it's more playable than Akoustik - but quite frankly you can find people claiming otherwise. There isn't much difference between the two if you ask me (and in fact Akoustik may have an edge due to the resonance feature I mentioned).

Also - the pedal on Ivory plain sucks. I usually just hold it throughout the whole piece - it acts more like a reverb effect, than a real pedal (I use Pianoteq for pedal practice).

Let me ask you about your setup - what audio card are you using? One of the main advantages of software pianos is that you can end up with studio quality (noise free) recordings, because obviously only the MIDI signal is traveling over the cables, while the actual sound is being generated/recorded right on the sound-card.

You also should consider recording to MIDI and then rendering. There are so many advantages to that method. You can render to different instruments, adjust gain, sampling rates, filters, fix possible mistakes - everything right on the raw MIDI file stage. And if one day you upgrade to a better software piano, you have your raw MIDIs right there ready for upgrade rendering.

I'm pretty sure you can set up Finale to record your MIDI. I use Sonar Home Studio myself. Here's my Braveheart submission from last year's recital - rendered in Ivory:
http://www.box.net/shared/4b9xp4hkfq
If you want I can post MIDI file for that piece, so that you can compare with Akoustik. Also - I'm a beginner myself, so clearly this should not be the benchmark for Ivory/Akoustik quality.

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#696024 - 10/13/08 04:14 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
Eternal:
Wow! That is a fantastic performance. I am downloading the file into my MP3 player, which I call my active listening repertoire. It’s what I listen to every day. Your playing is truly inspiring to a person at my level. Your dynamic expression is impressive. If I could play like that I would consider features like dynamic sampling more important.

My playing is just now reaching a level where I am beginning to accomplish some dynamic expression. But since as you can see that I am still working on Clementi skill building pieces, I have a long way to go.

I hear you about the MIDI files, and yes, using Finale to listen to my playing is an acceptable way of doing it. It would be an advantage today to give you the file and then listen to it rendered on your system. I will look into this. Perhaps on my next recording I will make a point to put it in MIDI format.

You asked about the audio of my system. I’m using a PreSonus Firebox, external audio interface unit. I had the experience some time ago using a different computer where the internal sound card was picking up noticeable EMI (electromagnetically induced) noise from a wide variety of signals within the case, most of which might have been from the switching power supply, but some possibly from the motherboard. I switched to a low cost, USB controlled, external interface unit and the difference was phenomenal. Since then I have aspired to the practice of having external units based on the argument that they can be physically placed sufficiently far away from all those switching signals and possible EMI pickup. On my new computer I didn’t even bother to try the internal sound card. I simply connected an external audio interface unit immediately out of principle. At first I had an E-MU 0202, but just recently I purchased the Firebox. I get noticeably better noise performance with the Firebox, I think partly because of its balanced audio inputs for both stereo channels. On the E-MU 0202 only one channel was balanced and the other channel had some barely perceptible noise. With the Firebox both channels are completely clean as far as I can tell.

Note that the recordings that I posted earlier were made using the older E-MU 0202.

I’m glad you told me that the pedal performance of Ivory is not very good. You are the first to admit that to me. That’s a bit of a turn off for me since my CLP-230 has such excellent half pedal performance, which I have grown so used to. I have to admit, I recently played on the new CLP-330 and I am sufficiently impressed that perhaps I will remain with resident instrument sounds rather than virtual, software sounds. I won’t really be upgrading to the CLP-330. Although it is noticeably better than my 230, it is not sufficiently better to warrant an upgrade at this time. But perhaps in a few years, when my playing is sufficiently skilled to take better advantage of dynamic sampling, I could upgrade to something like a CLP-370 or even CLP-470 if it’s available at that time. I could also choose equivalents from other manufacturers. At least by purchasing a complete instrument I can be sure that the pedals will work correctly.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696025 - 10/13/08 07:51 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
Thanks for the compliment Orez - the Braveheart piece is not that hard but sounds great, even in inexperienced hands (I've been self taught for 1 year when I learned it). I just listened to your two files, and they do sound great. I did a blind test on myself and I could tell which one was done by Akoustik (slightly richer sound) - but I have to admit the difference wasn't what I would expect. It's also possible some of the extra frequency information from Akoustik recording was attenuated by mp3 compression.

But at the same time - you are starting off with a much better instrument. I am playing on a $500 Casio Privia - so listening to Ivory was like night and day - I remember I started spending much more time at the piano after I got it.

It's funny you mention external cards, because I have the exact opposite bias. I hate any piece of external hardware. I view it as another communication layer in-between, where things can bottleneck or go wrong, because good driver programmers are hard to find. Things did change from the days where USB drivers were just plain horrible, so maybe I should start looking into those solutions again.

Your point about the advantage of audio interface separation from the rest of the system is well taken. Luckily I haven't ran into those problems just yet (even with my current Shuttle system where things are really crammed. I just don't like the mess and prefer when things are out of sight. It's bad enough with a dozen audio cables running between the Piano, Speakers, Headphones and PC.

Do record a MIDI version of your piece, and we'll see if there's a significant improvement in Ivory.

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#696026 - 10/14/08 10:03 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
mafagafo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Montenegro - RS, BRAZIL
Orez Eno, I have some words about your recordings.
First, I think the difference between quality of piano sounds is evident. Sample library pianos are recorder from real stuff with much more quality and variation. Of course it comes at price, and your computer setup has to be improve proportionally to your library's size. Although I really don't like Akoustik Piano, this one sounds still better than any built-in samples of any DP, simply because of the refinement of the work involved with sampling the sounds.

Second, I've been struggling for years with plastic keys and equally plastic sounds of Digital pianos. Now, with the always-improving quality of Hammer-Action keyboards, I think I have found a reasonable resort while I can't cover the burning hole in my wallet and go out there buy a Grand.
Software pianos will never replace the real thing, but we have guys making great job at stuff like Pianoteq and Ivory (different approaches to different tastes), and we can really have some pleasure between all those plugs and leds.
The argument that you are "just a beginner" does not justify the choice for a poorer sound solution, having in mind that you should expand your experiences and explore all of your feeling to improve your playing (you are doing really well, I liked that Cementi). I hope you can try many alternatives and not be held into toy pianos.
I've been just a beginner for years while I was close-minded about technology. Even with a starving bank account (welcome to Brazil) I'm currently able to do nice job with software and a simple Casio PX-100.

Best regards!
_________________________
I promise I'll never promise anything...

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#696027 - 10/14/08 11:46 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
RodDaunoravicius Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 57
Loc: Paris, France
Well I'm an engineer too, and yet nothing appeals less to me than having to depend on running a laptop plus monitors plus cabling when I'm trying to focus on my piano playing.

However limited the DP's memory and CPU may be, the boys at Roland did a fine job on packaging it all up on my HP-207, string resonance, half-pedalling and all, and I'm pretty sure that it won't BSOD* on me 20 minutes into my Waldstein**!


*Blue Screen of Death
**It's not like I have[/b] a Waldstein, but you get the idea.

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#696028 - 10/14/08 12:05 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
Hi mafagafo[/b]

Thanks for listening to my recordings and giving your opinion.

My difference of opinion with many people here at PianoWorld on this subject is not whether or not a difference can be perceived, but whether the amount perceived is worth the expense. That’s a subjective evaluation that everyone if free to make for themselves. My motivation here was to provide comparative recordings to allow people to do that with a beginner’s playing rather than with an accomplished pianist’s playing. Such a comparision might provide the opportunity to develop a more pratcical and realistic opinion on the subject, and to help decide if it is worth further depleting your starving bank account. I hear you.

Naturally, I’m as curious as anyone, and based on advice I received here about nine months ago, I took the plunge and set up a system using a high end computer, a high quality audio interface unit, and what conventional wisdom here at PianoWorld claimed at the time was the best software. I see that that opinion has since change slightly, people now seem to prefer either Ivory or Pianoteq, but I think that is natural. Opinions do evolve over time.

My emphasis on comparing the playing of a beginner, like me, is not because my playing is very bad, but let’s be honest, it is not good either. Yes, I can hit the notes in the correct order, and I believe my playing is smoother than it was a year ago. But I feel I have a long way to go. I’m not depressed about that. Indeed, I am excited about it. I look forward to further improvements in my playing skill. But at my level I am not fooling myself about drawing out the full potential of any instrument, electronic or acoustic.

Specifically, at my level I have not yet developed the dynamic expression skill that I see many people here at PianoWorld possess, dynamic expression that would really take advantage of such features as dynamic sampling. I have listened to demos of the various sampled libraries, and they are all very impressive. And, those demos were all created by very accomplished pianists. However, I admit that when I finally got a virtual system up and running and I started to play it myself, I felt that the difference between it and the resident sounds on my CLP-230 were so marginal that it was not worth the trouble and expense of setting it up. I submitted as proof two sample recordings of my own playing and of course it is up to anyone here to form their own opinion about whether or not the difference is significant enough for them.

And, it is not as if I don’t appreciate high quality sound. I have enough to perceive that the speakers that are installed in my CLP-230 are marginal, and I have improved on them. I have installed an external audio amplifier and four three-way speaker units, two per stereo channel. Each speaker enclosure is 3 feet tall and each has a 12 inch woofer plus midrange and tweeter with proper cross-over networks. Everyone who has listened to my system agrees that it sounds as good as any top-of-the-line acoustic grand piano. Many are surprised that they can even feel the sound on the floor, just like they would from an acoustic grand in a residential living room. And I respond, “Of course, the speakers are on the floor, just as an acoustic would be.” Yes, of course there are better instruments and better sounding virtual systems. But the question is, "Is a virtual piano system like Akoustik Piano good enough for me to warrant the expense?" The published demos certainly suggest that it is. But my experience after listening to my own playing is that it is only marginally better. And, several friends who have listened to me switch between systems feel exactly the same way. The conclusion is that for my level of playing skill it is hardly worth the expense and trouble of setting it up.

I am not bitter about what I have done. Indeed, I welcome the opportunity to educate myself on this subject. And as far as the expensive computer I bought is concerned, I needed that anyway for other reasons. But now that I have been through the experience I feel that it is only fair, since it is here at PianoWorld that I first received the advice to do this, that I report the result. And my recordings speak for themselves. I feel I owe it to others who are contemplating investing in a similar system the opportunity to hear my recordings. If I had heard similar recordings before I had set up my virtual system, I would not have done it.

 Quote:
Eternal wrote:[/b]
But at the same time - you are starting off with a much better instrument.
I think this is the most valid point that I have heard in this thread. Many people here graduate to virtual systems from keyboards that are worth less than $1000. Hence the improvement in sound that they perceive is significant. I have a $2,500 instrument, so it is only natural that it’s higher quality sound narrows the gap between resident instrument sound and virtual (software) system sound.

I will be posting again in this thread soon. Eternal[/b] has asked me to provide a MIDI file of my playing to allow him to evaluate the tonal quality of my playing on an Ivory system. Perhaps that will be informative. Stay tuned. I’m a bit busy this week. I should be able to submit the MIDI file in this thread by the weekend.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696029 - 10/14/08 01:26 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Eternal Offline
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Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
One also has to remember about the price being an issue here. What's better:
$2500 for a high end digital piano,
or
$500 for Casio Privia + $300 for Ivory + $500 for computer = $1300?

You end up paying half the price for a (slightly) better sound (but admittedly worse action). And most of the time - people already own a cheap digital piano, and a computer - so the final cost is much less.

I was in that boat - I didn't know if I would enjoy piano - so I bought the cheapest instrument I could get that had a good enough action. Only after I really got into the whole piano thing, I decided to upgrade the sound.

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#696030 - 10/14/08 02:31 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
Eternal:[/b]
Good news. I have the MIDI file. Here it is.

MIDI file for Orez Eno playing Clementi

I recorded a new performance on my YPG-625, which unlike my CLP-230, does support exporting saved performances in MIDI format. Since it is a more recent performance (10 minutes ago), my playing has improved. It is a bit faster, and I think a bit smoother with better dynamics. Please feel free to disagree if you feel my progress is not very noticeable.

There are also a few other issues about MIDI file recordings that I want to elaborate on, but I do not have time right now. Perhaps Thursday I will submit an audio recording of my CLP-230 playing the same MIDI file, and I will also submit a separate performance of the same piece played directly on the CLP-230 and using its internal recording features. You will see that the sound quality of the two are not the same, and I’ll elaborate on that on Thursday.

Getting back to our discussion, which I hope others are finding interesting, you advise a good strategy for a person who has already purchased a $500 keyboard. But I had already purchased a $2,500 instrument. So for me, I had less to gain by setting up a virtual piano system.

I do admit spending more for my computer than many other people would. I had my reasons, as we have discussed. That is why I have openly admitted that I needed the computer anyway for other reasons. But do you really think a $500 computer will do the job? Also, is that quote based on having to build the computer yourself from basic parts? If so, not everyone has the skill, time, patience, or love for building computers to succeed with that.

After all that has been said, and after what I have experienced myself, I actually feel that even if I was to start over again from scratch, I would still take the same route that I did and purchase the CLP-230 for $2,500. Today I could do even better. I saw a CLP-330 at my local dealer for $2,450. It has dynamic sampling, which mine does not. It has the ability to save MIDI files directly, which mine does not. And I think its tonal quality is a bit better. I spent considerable time at the CLP-330 using studio quality headphones. I really like it. But of course it would be foolish to upgrade. My CLP-230 is still very good. The differences are only marginal, just like the differences I am finding between my Akoustik Paino and CLP-230.

Then, there is the subject of keyboard action. You yourself admit that the keyboard action on an inexpensive keyboard is marginal. The keyboard on my YPG-625 is certainly not as good as on the CLP-230. Keyboard action is something that was very important for me as a beginning student. The keyboard action on the CLP-230 is fine. I have no complaints.

Finally, you admitted yourself that the pedal action of Ivory was not to your satisfaction. And Akoustik Piano doesn’t even support partial pedaling. In contrast, I find the pedal action on my CLP-230 to be very nice. I have had the opportunity to play for extended periods on several very good acoustic pianos, and I have found the pedal action to be very similar to my CLP-230. Of course a more accomplished player might not agree. But that’s the way it seemed to me. However, when I play my Akoustik Piano system, that has no partial pedaling, or when I play a sub $1000 keyboard at a music store, I find the pedal characteristics upsetting.

Again, I hope people are finding this discussion interesting. I hope we are not beating a dead horse to death. If you think so, just let me know and I will stop.

See you Thursday with results of the above MIDI file on my CLP-230, and possibly even on my Akoustik Piano system.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696031 - 10/14/08 02:47 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
One last comment: I would have prefered making the MIDI file from the same instrument (CLP-230) that I used to make my previous recordings. But I had problems doing that. So the YPG-625 will have to do for now. I feel that I play a bit better on the CLP-230 due to its better keyboard action.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696032 - 10/14/08 03:52 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
mafagafo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Montenegro - RS, BRAZIL
Indeed, I'm right now looking for a better piano, since my Privia does not fill my needs anymore. Of course a Clavinova or a Roland will bring dramatic improvements to sound quality, due to its action. I only think that there is no DP to beat high-quality sample libraries.
Now I understand your point, Orez Eno, about the "beginner / expert" difference of needs. Perhaps a huge and expensive sound library could be an extravaganza right now.
But thrust me: in a few years, you will want that "plus" sensitivity, that magical response of a grand, and you will want it more and more.
Then, you will look with better eyes towards libraries and modelling software. I cpuld bet that.

Oh, by the way, great topic, best regards to you all guys!!!
_________________________
I promise I'll never promise anything...

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#696033 - 10/14/08 04:04 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Geof175 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/08
Posts: 36
Loc: Be
Orez Eno,

Regarding your last post and the pedal action.

I can't imagine a beginner who learned on a DP (no matter the quality) being able to switch to an acoustic piano and feel comfortable.

The most important problem will be, from my point of view, the pedal action.

On most DP's (even high-end), you can play a whole piece with the sustain pedal "on" without making it sound terrible.

What do you think of piano softwares regarding pedal action ?

Pianoteq approach vs Ivory approach vs CLP230 ?

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#696034 - 10/14/08 04:52 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
Geof175 wrote:[/b]
I can't imagine a beginner who learned on a DP (no matter the quality) being able to switch to an acoustic piano and feel comfortable.
Well, I am definitely a beginner who learned on a DP, and I have had the experience of playing a Baldwin Concert Grand acoustic piano at a community college. In the spring semester I was able to practice twice a week, three hours each time. To do that I had to get up at 5:00AM. Practice time on the grand is permitted only at certain times when there are no other activities in the concert hall. This current semester I am doing it again, only this time three times a week. That’s nine hours a week! So, you can see by the investment I am making that I consider this experience very valuable. However, I do this for educational purposes, not necessarily because the Baldwin is better than my own CLP-230. I made some posts about that earlier this year.

As far as the transition from electronic to acoustic, speaking for myself, it was the keyboard action of the Baldwin Grand that I found most different from my own electronic piano, and it was quite difficult to get used to. The action of my CLP-230 is a lot smoother and I still prefer it to the Baldwin. The pedal action was stiffer on the Baldwin. Yes, I admit that. It took more force to depress the damper. However the transition from damper off to damper on was very much the same as on my CLP-230. This is not the case when I play using my Akoustik Piano system, my YPG-625 keyboard, or when I play a sub $1000 keyboard at a local music store.

Last semester I was introducing myself to syncopated pedaling with a waltz rhythm. I practiced the technique extensively on both the Baldwin Grand and my own CLP-230. I found the performance characteristics of both instruments to be very equivalent. And, I would hope they would be. My impression is that the whole emphasis of the Clavinova line is to accurately simulate an acoustic grand.

Of course acoustic pianos differ a lot from each other. Just visit any acoustic piano store, and I have. Perhaps a different acoustic might be more difficult for me to get used to. But the Baldwin Concert Grand that I am currently practicing on has been very highly praised by the faculty, by the more advanced students, and as well as by visiting performing artists.

 Quote:
Geof175 wrote:[/b]
On most DP's (even high-end), you can play a whole piece with the sustain pedal "on" without making it sound terrible.
If you keep the damper fully depressed on my CLP-230 it sounds terribly muddy, just like any acoustic piano that I have tried. If you play a scale with the damper held down the whole time it sounds very dissonant, again, just like on any acoustic.

Your comment got me curious. I tried the same experiment on my YPG-625, a sub $1000 keyboard. It was the same. The sustain characteristics of both my instruments seems to me exactly the same as an acoustic. The sustain on both of my instruments is very long. Is it as long as an acoustic concert grand? I don't know. Perhaps I will measure the two out of curiosity. But the sustain on my CLP-230 is certainly long enough that you cannot get away with just holding the damper down. That sounds terrible.

Note that I feed both my instruments into high quality audio systems. Perhaps if you repeat my experiment yourself using the internal, very small speakers, you will not hear the sustain as long as I can.

I find that the transition between damper off and fully on does not feel as good on the YPG-625 as it does on the CLP-230. I assume that’s because the CLP-230 supports partial (half) pedaling and the YPG-625 does not. But the length of the sustain of both instruments is about the same in my opinion. To be sure, if I stop syncopating the pedal each measure and just hold the pedal down, the piece sounds very muddy. It's very irritating to listen to.

My Akoustik Piano virtual system does not support partial (half) pedaling at all. I don’t like that. I prefer a transition over a small range in position of the damper, just like on an acoustic. I don’t like Akoustik Piano’s instant transition at a particular position. It sounds too abrupt to me.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696035 - 10/14/08 08:48 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
As far as pedaling goes - I only use Pianoteq now. It sounds horrible if you keep the pedal pressed for longer than needed.
My Privia supports half pedaling as well - and the firmware simulates the way it should behave much better than Ivory.

Orez - regarding your question about a $500 dollar computer, I actually am using one that cost just that much (if not less). It's not my main machine, and is dedicated only to the piano, so I didn't bother buying an expensive graphics card. Here's the price break-down of something very similar with what I ended up with:

Shuttle Barebone Kit (case + motherboard + supply)- $240
500GB Hard Drive (7200) - $70
Intel Dual Core E2200, 2.2MHz Processor - $70
4GB RAM (PC6400 DDR2 800MHz) - $40
M=Audio 2496 Audio card - $80.

That's $500 right there, and most of the cost went into getting that fancy tiny case (I plan on mounting it right underneath actual piano bench, so you won't even see the computer. You could easily get a regular case with motherboard for $150, and spend the savings on a CD Drive, a monitor and shipping, or a processor upgrade.

I do have another computer meant for video processing and gaming - where I spent twice as much on as on this, but as far as audio editing this is more than enough for my needs.

I'll sequence your MIDI file when I get a chance later on this week.

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#696036 - 10/15/08 07:40 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
Comparison of Akoutik Piano Software Piano to Clavinova CLP-230[/b]
The following recordings are the results of sequencing the MIDI file that I posted earlier in the thread on my Clavinova CLP-230, as well as on my Akoustik Piano virtual (software) piano system.

Note that this is a different performance from the audio recordings posted earlier in this thread. I had to create a new performance because the CLP-230 does not provide the feature of exporting saved performances in MIDI format. Indeed, it doesn’t even provide the feature of exporting saved performances at all. Performances on a CLP-230 need to be recorded from audio, which I do using Audacity audio recording software.

The MIDI file was produced by recording my performance on a YPG-625 keyboard, which does provide the feature of exporting saved performances in MIDI format.

Once the MIDI file was created I loaded it into both my CLP-230 and my Akoustik Piano virtual piano system and made audio recordings of the results.

For those who have not read the entire thread, the motivation for doing this is to compare the Akoustik Piano software system against the resident sound of a CLP-230 using music that would be typical of an average beginning player, rather than music produced by a virtuoso pianist like in the official demos. These recordings represent what a beginning player can expect to realize themselves with their own playing on the Akoustik Piano virtual (software) piano system.

Virtual Piano (Akoustik Piano by Native Instruments)[/b]
These files were produced according to the following steps:

1 - Load the MIDI file into the software

2 - Select the piano configuration that I like the most, which is the “Concert Grand D” instrument.

3 - Create WAV file directly from software.

4 - Convert file to mp3 using utility (WAV MP3 CONVERTER by Hoo Technologies).

I produced two files. The first is CD quality (44.1K sample rate and 128K bit rate) I provide this for convenience of anyone wanting to listen to the files streamed from Box.net rather than having to download them. The second is the highest quality that the converter utility could produce in mp3 format (48K sample rate and 320 K bit rate). I provide this one for people who have a fine ear and can tell the difference. Personally I cannot tell the difference, but I know some people are gifted with better ears than mine. Box.net may be unable to stream the high quality recording and as a result you may have to download the file. Note that the Akoustik Piano software does not allow me to make adjustments to the WAV file that it produces and I do not know what sample rate they use.

CD Quality Akoustik Piano Recording

HQ High Quality Akoustik Piano Recording


Yamaha Clavinova CLP-230 Resident Sound Sequenced from MIDI[/b]
These files were produced according to the following steps:

1 - MIDI file was copied into user memory of piano from host computer

2 - Audio headphone output of piano is fed to input of external audio interface unit (PreSonus Firebox)

3 - MIDI file is played using front panel controls of the piano and the resulting audio output is recorded using Audacity software.

I produced two files. The first is CD quality (44.1K sample rate and 128K bit rate) I provide this for convenience of anyone wanting to listen to the files streamed from Box.net rather than having to download them. The second is the highest quality that Audacity can produce in mp3 format (96K sample rate and 320 K bit rate). I provide this one for people who have a fine ear and can tell the difference. Personally I cannot tell the difference, but I know some people are gifted with better ears than mine. Box.net may be unable to stream the high quality recording and as a result you may have to download the file. These audio recordings represent the actual sound of my piano, as I would hear it isomg studio quality headphones or from my high quality HiFi speakers.

CD Quality Recording of MIDI Sequenced on CLP-230

HQ High Quality Recording of MIDI Sequenced on CLP-230

Yamaha Clavinova CLP-230 Resident Sound Saved from Performance[/b]
I have noticed that my CLP-230 does not allow any panel adjustment to the sound sequenced from the MIDI file. I cannot for example make the sound more mellow, or add slight reverb to represent the piano being played in a room. It turns out that I have my own favorite combination of settings that I like, and so it seems that the only way for me to compare the Akoustik Piano virtual system to my favorite sound configuration on the CLP-230 is to save an actual performance.

These files were produced according to the following steps:

1 - Performance recorded using front panel feature of CLP-230

2 - Audio headphone output of piano is fed to input of external audio interface unit (PreSonus Firebox)

3 - Previously recorded performance is played using front panel controls of the piano and the audio output is recorded using Audacity software.

I produced two files. The first is CD quality (44.1K sample rate and 128K bit rate) I provide this for convenience of anyone wanting to listen to the files streamed from Box.net rather than having to download them. The second is the highest quality that Audacity can produce in mp3 format (96K sample rate and 320 K bit rate). I provide this one for people who have a fine ear and can tell the difference. Personally I cannot tell the difference, but I know some people are gifted with better ears than mine. Box.net may be unable to stream the high quality recording and as a result you may have to download the file. These audio recordings represent the actual sound of my piano, as I would hear it using studio quality headphones or from my high quality HiFi speakers.

CD Quality Recording of performance on CLP-230

HQ High Quality Recording of performance on CLP-230

Conclusions[/b]
The basic theme I have contributed to this thread, which was started by Geof175, was to answer his question about the relative difference between virtual (software) piano systems to the resident sounds of my instrument. These recordings demonstrate what I have experienced for improvement for the trouble and expense of setting up a software piano system.

I openly admit that the improvement that I expected based on the advice of others was not realized and I propose the following reasons:

1 My own instrument was high enough quality that there was little to gain.

2 My playing ability (beginner) is insufficient to take advantage of the dynamic sampling feature. Note that my CLP-230 has no dynamic sampling. The Akoustik Piano software has 16 levels of dynamic sampling. Yet I perceive little difference in tonality between the softest and loudest notes. A better player might realize more since he/she might possess better dynamic expression skills than me.

3 The pedal characteristics of Akoustik Piano were not to my liking, whereas in my opinion the pedal characteristics on the CLP-230 mimic those of an acoustic piano very well. Recently I have heard that the pedal characteristics of other virtual piano software systems may not be very good either.

I provide all of this comparison material for the reason that I believe I was ill advised by members here at PianoWorld to set up a virtual piano system based on specs rather than on the actual sound improvement that I might expect to realize over and above the instrument I already had.

That does not mean a virtual (software) piano system is not good for you. You can listen to the recordings and judge for yourself. But I admit that if I had had the opportunity to listen to the recordings that I have provide here today, I would never have invested the time and effort into setting up a virtual piano. This is similar to how when I go to a piano store and see a model that is slightly better then mine, I don’t rush out and buy it. The differences are not sufficient, and the piano I already own is good enough for many years to come.

I am not bitter about the experience. I learned a lot. Also, other people are free to sequence my MIDI file (earlier in the thread) and make recordings from their own system. If I hear one that sounds a whole lot better, I might consider purchasing that software.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696037 - 10/17/08 12:02 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
dettch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Idaho
Orez Eno
VERY instructive. My first reaction was yes, there was a difference with the piano software sounding a bit less "covered" but after two or three seconds listening, I lost that impression and was highly impressed with both but, surprisingly, liking the resident sounds on your 230 better!!! I guess I would characterize the 230 sound as somewhat softer. If I listened several times I would probably change my mind again...and again...and again. SO I think it might be partly expectation about what one is going to hear....one's changing mood etc etc.

I think you have proved your point.

Bob

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#696038 - 10/18/08 11:19 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
dettch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Idaho
I think one of the most persuasive reasons I've seen for NOT trying "software pianos" was made by RodDaunoravicious who wrote:

"Well I'm an engineer too, and yet nothing appeals less to me than having to depend on running a laptop plus monitors plus cabling when I'm trying to focus on my piano playing"

I bought an expensive Yamaha Tyros arranger keyboard (one man band) two years ago and devoted my life to that monster. The distractions with the Tyros were not so much cords and cables as an incredibly complicated instrument. I enjoyed the gimmicks for a while but just quit cold turkey a few months ago because I was just too involved in technology rather than simple, straightforward piano playing.

Bob

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#696039 - 10/22/08 02:40 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
dettch and RodDaunoravicious[/b]

Thanks for your unbiased opinions, first on the tonal quality of my recordings, and second on the often inconvenient and occasionally overwhelming technical aspects of virtual systems, and of complex instruments like the Tyros as well. For many, especially beginners like myself, such technical challenges interfere with the task of learning to play piano. This does not make such systems undesirable to everyone. It simply represents a different activity. I believe that that should be made clear when advising others.

I had hoped that others would sequence my MIDI file and demonstrate the tonal quality of their system with a beginner’s playing.

There is another link in this forum that provides a much better demonstration of virtual systems by comparing many voices while playing a single piece. The demo was made by propianist.
LINK to propianist demo

Naturally, propianist’s demo will be of greater interest to intermediate and advanced players. However, I feel that what I have provided here is valuable for beginning players, especially those who are led to believe that the resident sounds on their existing instruments are grossly inferior, as I was. In the end, after considerable effort and some expense, I discovered that the resident sounds on my instrument were perfectly fine. Different? Yes. Inferior? No. Worth upgrading? Not until I become a much better player, thank you very much.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696040 - 10/25/08 02:29 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Orez, [/b] it's always Compared to what? IMO your comparison of cost and complication to improved sound is exactly the one to make. That said, the decision will be strongly influenced by one's sensitivity to tone.

I started on a Yamaha P80. Quickly discovered that I tended to obsess about tone. Bought Sennheiser's HD580 'phones. Big improvement in tone. Began moving up thru increasingly sophisticated software pianos. (Currently play ArtVista's Virtal Grand - a New York B. Galaxy II's Hamburg D is literally in the mail.) Each one was better than the P80's included sounds and represented a significant improvement in tone compared to the previous software piano - to someone who obsesses about that.

Relationship with tone is, IMO, independent of proficiency. My technique is pathetic on a good day, but I'll sometimes noodle for a half hour on a particular chord.

Bottom line: a $300 software piano + (currently) $300 'phones yields a pleasurable experience which is well worth the expense - to my ears.

PS, don't expect a visiting player to slam that Baldwin. They wouldn't be invited back;-)

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#696041 - 10/28/08 01:13 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
FogVilleLad wrote:[/b]
Orez, it's always Compared to what?[/b] IMO your comparison of cost and complication to improved sound is exactly the one to make. That said, the decision will be strongly influenced by one's sensitivity to tone.
The recordings earlier in the thread are comparing a CLP-230 to a virtual (software) system using Akoustik Piano software. Did you notice any difference?

 Quote:
FogVilleLad wrote:[/b]
Relationship with tone is, IMO, independent of proficiency.
You could be correct. I only proposed that theory because although I notice a great difference between the online demos of various software pianos (including Akoustik Piano) and the sound of my own piano when I play it, I notice very little difference between my Akoustik Piano system and my CLP-230 when I play both. The only difference is that the online demos are being played by very accomplished pianists. So it is intuitive for me to conclude that playing ability might have something to do with it.

So, if you don’t buy that theory, what would explain the fact that my recordings of the same performance on both systems sound so much the same?

I was expecting people to question the accuracy of my recordings. But so far no one has. But just to save time, I can tell you now that I am confident that the recordings are very accurate. Still, I could be doing something wrong, and if you think so please let me know. Also, I have had several people listen to the two systems in the room both with me playing and with them playing and they are baffled by how little difference there is between the two sounds. Of course if you choose (within the software) the Bosendorfer or the Steingraeber und Soenhne (upright) their tone is noticeably different. But neither I nor anyone else who has heard my system feels that any one could be called BEST. Indeed, it seems that most people agree that each software simulation seems better suited for certain genres of music and not others. One thing that everyone has agreed on is that there is insufficient difference between the CLP-230 and the Akoustik Piano software system to justify spending $300. The improvement is simply not that great.

Of course adjustments can be made in the Akoustik Piano software to change the sound radically, like adding excessive reverb, or emphasizing certain registers. But such experiments are artificial. I’m much more interested in comparing the basic instrument sounds.

Myself I prefer using the Bechstein software simulation of the Akoustik Piano software, however I admit that most of the time I leave my computer configured as a recording device for the resident sound of my CLP-230. The sound of the Bechstein is not even worth the trouble of swapping the cables around to configure the system to operate as a virtual instrument.

Despite my own experience that the improvement of a virtual system over and above an instrument like the CLP-230 is very marginal, I give the benefit of the doubt to others who claim a greater difference. Perhaps they have a better ear than me? That’s why I have submitted recordings. But so far no one has come back and said, “Orez, you really need to get your ears checked”. Also, I can say with confidence that I do have the ability to perceive differences in the quality of sound between the internal speakers of my CLP-230 and the same sound fed to a high quality HiFi system. So although my tonal appreciation may not be as good as others, I’m not exactly tone deaf either. But I leave it to you to listen to the recordings and judge for yourself.

So far, the only theory I can come up with to explain the very marginal differences between the virtual and resident systems is that the playing ability of some people can make better use of the software system’s dynamic sampling feature?

Who knows why, but so far I have not heard anyone claim more than marginal differences between my various recordings, or between the actual sounds in the room.

 Quote:
FogVilleLad wrote:[/b]
PS, don't expect a visiting player to slam that Baldwin. They wouldn't be invited back;-)
I don’t blame you for being skeptical about an instrument that is in a community college setting because of the heavy use that it gets. Personally, I don’t really like the instrument. I have discussed this in another thread about six months ago. But whenever I share my opinion with faculty members, advanced students, or performing artists (except for one) everyone disagrees with me. The one performing artist who did agree with me said he didn’t like the feel of the keyboard, but that the sound was superb. I also don’t like the keyboard. Still, I practice regularly of the instrument at the advice of the faculty who say I will learn better dynamic expression on the Baldwin than on my Yamaha CLP-230 at home. So far, although my playing ability continues to improve in terms of accuracy and smoothness, no one has noticed a great improvement in my dynamic expression. But I’m not giving up just yet. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the theory that some things take time to develop.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696042 - 10/28/08 02:26 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Orez,[/b] in my post above, I forgot to mention the limitation on quality imposed by your soundcard. I don't have time to check the specs today, but when I was looking for an upgrade to an M-Audio card, I did notice that E-mu's 1212M had a larger dynamic range than did that card and E-mu's older 0202. The M's also are spec'd with ADC converters which at that time were usually only spec'd on much more expensive cards.

When I got the M, I first checked its quality by listening to CD's. My 'phones were Sennheiser's HD 580's. Those 'phones are known for their flat response and broad dynamic range. The difference between the old card and the 1212M was striking. Both bass and treble were richer. From memory only, I think that the difference was most noticeable in the treble.

In any case the results that you're achieving are limited by your soundcard. I don't know about your speakers.

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#696043 - 10/28/08 03:52 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
FogVilleLad:[/b]
As you pointed out, the first recordings that I posted to the thread were made with the computer using an external audio interface unit, an E-MU 0202.

The more recent one was with an upgraded unit, a PreSonus Firebox, which has better specs.

Although you can always purchase more expensive equipment, both these audio units give very good performance. Each represents a significant performance improvement over the typical generic sound card. Personally, the only difference I was able to perceive when I upgraded from the E-MU to the PreSonus was better noise performance on the left channel, and to notice it I had to turn the volume way up. I was using Sennheiser HD-465 headphones. I noticed no difference in frequency response between the two units.

In the case of the Akoustik Piano recordings, no audio interface unit was used. Those recordings were compiled directly by the software, which represents an advantage. So you’d expect the virtual system to sound better just for that reason. But despite that advantage, I am unimpressed by the difference between the virtual system and the resident sounds of my instrument. Yes, the virtual system has slightly better tone, but hardly enough to pay $300 for, and certainly not enough to justify the trouble setting up such a system. A previous poster (dettch) admitted that they were so close he was uncertain which was better. At first he thought the virtual system sounded better, but later decided that no, the CLP-230 sounded better.

The whole purpose of my submission to this thread was to offer actual experimental data demonstrating the comparison of a virtual system to the native sounds of a typical instrument. This was the original question of the thread. So the idea is not to trade specs, but to evaluate the data. You still haven’t reported what you thought about the recordings.

Specs are of course informative, and as a retired engineer I feel I can appreciate them. But beyond a certain point they can represent diminishing returns. For example, can you tell the difference between a recording done on equipment having a dynamic range of 100 dB and equipment having 110 dB? I can’t. Besides, the dynamic range of my piano is certainly a lot less than either of those figures. And, as far as harmonic, intermodulation, and phase distortion are concerned, I don't have time to look up the specs on the audio units that I used, but my understanding is that they both meet high standards. I suspect that they are beyond the point where anyone can notice. But of course, I could be out of date on this. Technology improves so fast. Perhaps your E-mu 1212M gives better performance? If so I would really appreciated an MP3 file of an actual recording that you did.

In the event that you feel skeptical about my recordings, I offer a MIDI file earlier in the thread representing myself playing the piece. You are free to sequence it on any virtual system or resident instrument that you choose and compare it to my recordings. I would be very grateful if you obtain better results than me. Of course to evaluate any differences that you come up with I would have to listen to an MP3 file, as I have provided to you for my two systems.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696044 - 10/28/08 04:14 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
FogVilleLad wrote:
In any case the results that you're achieving are limited by your soundcard. I don't know about your speakers.
Of course the speakers are a factor for those who have heard my systems in person, but they are not involved in making the recordings.

My speakers consist of four separate 3-way units, two per stereo channel, each 3 feet high and containing 12 inch woofers, mid range, and tweeters, all with proper crossover networks. People who have heard it admit my piano sounds as good if not better than any acoustic piano. In side-by-side comparisons playing piano or CD recordings of orchestra, my piano audio system sounds noticeably better than my wife's $1000 Bose system. Everyone who had heard the comparison agrees.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696045 - 10/29/08 12:37 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Diane Cornellier Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/28/08
Posts: 4
Loc: New England
Orez Eno,
I want to purchase a new piano. My husband wants me to set up a virtual piano system, with his help. My husband is an engineer and plays piano very little. I play piano at an intermediate level. I am not an engineer but I do have some working experience with audio systems and recording. I consider myself technically savvy enough to know when I am being lied to.

Thank you so much for your very informative and realistic presentation of your virtual piano system. The truth is, I feel many of the techies at this site go overboard with specs and lose site of the most important issue, which is, “What will the instrument sound like when I play it?”

One of the people in this thread has questioned you about your audio card. Well, if he had read your posts carefully he would have seen that when you made the recordings of your virtual system, no sound card was involved. Your software, Akoustik Piano, constructs audio recordings directly. I verified that this is possible with Akoustik Piano software at my local music store. So, if anything was wrong with your sound card it would not have affected the recordings of your virtual system. Indeed, I was told at the music store that one of the advantages of a virtual system is that you can make very high quality recordings without requiring any expensive audio equipment. It’s all done in software!

I also noticed that your recordings made from your instrument (CLP-230) were made using Audacity software. I am familiar with that. In that case, if anything was wrong with your sound card, those recordings would have been affected.

So, if anything was wrong with your sound card the recordings of your virtual system should have sounded a whole lot better than the recordings of your instrument. It was silly for that person to suggest that your experiments were invalid because of poor audio equipment. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

The truth is, your virtual system does not sound much better than your instrument. I downloaded your high quality recordings and listened carefully using studio quality headphones. Both systems, virtual and instrument, sound very close in quality. I especially liked the recording of your performance done on the keyboard of the CLP-230, as opposed to the recording made from the MIDI file. It definitely showed that the CLP-230 allows you to make tonal adjustments that make it almost indistinguishable from an acoustic concert grand. Bravo. You have certainly figured out how to get the most out of your instrument.

Your experiments have given me the ammunition I needed to get my overly technical husband off my back with his insistence that I should set up a virtual system. I asked him to listen to your various recordings and identify the best sounding one. He picked your CLP-230.

Thank you very much. I really want to buy an instrument, either the CLP-330 or 340, and your recordings have convinced my husband to keep his ideas about virtual instruments to himself. Besides, he hardly plays piano anyway. I want a real instrument because I don’t want to have to fiddle with various pieces of equipment every time I want to practice. We have several computers in the house and it seems that whenever I need to use one it is being rebooted, scanned, or updated for some reason. I really don’t want to deal with that. I’d like a piano that I can just go to, turn on, and play.

I agree with you that the demos online of virtual piano system do sound fantastic. But I think they are a trap. The listener is fooled into thinking that the piano will sound exactly like that when they play it themselves. But it is the virtuosity of the pianist that is impressing them more than the tonal quality of the piano. In the end when they get their system setup, they may be disappointed, like you were.

That’s what happened to me when I bought my YPG-625. The music store is well equipped with knowledgeable staff. They connected the audio output to a stage quality audio system and a very talented pianist demonstrated it. Wow! Is sounded absolutely fabulous. My husband wanted me to buy that model because he liked all the technical features. So we bought it. After I had it home for a couple months I realized I had made a mistake. Sure the onboard demos sounded terrific. But my own playing did not sound that great. Plus, I hate the keyboard. It makes terrible clunking sounds. I didn’t notice that in the store because they were playing their amplifier so loud. And all those technical features that my husband said were so great? Well, I never was able to figure out half of them. The manual is too complicated. My husband keeps saying he’ll help me, but he works lots of overtime and never has time. What good are all these features if it takes so much effort to learn how to use them?

Thanks again for all your effort demonstrating that an instrument in the price range of $2,500 can sound so good that it is barely distinguishable from a virtual or even a real acoustic instrument. Virtual instruments may be great for some people, but not for me, and now I am not afraid to say so.

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#696046 - 10/29/08 03:47 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Orez, [/b]was too busy earlier in the week. Just did get the time to listen to your recordings. Listened to the second set.

But first, re your speakers: Based on specs it's an impressive setup. Those woofers are large enough to accurately reproduce the lowest notes that a piano can produce. In my previous, quickly written post I was just attempting to convey that not having listened to the speakers, I couldn't comment on them. Sorry if that was not clear.

In your recordings, there is a difference in the timbre of the instruments, but I can't detect quality differences.

I, too, saw early recommendations for Akoustic. At that time I was actively looking for a new software piano and had been continually auditioning them via downloaded demos. After auditioning Akoustic several times, I decided that it just wasn't good enough. Subsequently posts on NorthernSounds and N.I.'s own forum seemed to support that opinion.

Please don't allow one bad experience to sour you on all software pianos.

In an earlier post you mentioned that adjustments can be made, but that such experiments are artificial. This really caught my attention. I'm not certain that your "adjustments" and what I'd call "tweaks" are identical, and am offering the following in case it may be helpful. Recently propianist posted his tweaks to the Galaxy II Steinway D. (The tweaks are here. ) I'd sort of liked that Steinway, but wasn't rushing to buy it. After hearing the result of propianist's tweaks, I did buy it. (Should be delivered today.) It's possible that someone has figured out how to improve Akoustic. Can't hurt to check N.I.'s forum.

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#696047 - 10/29/08 09:00 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
FogVilleLad wrote:[/b]
But first, re your speakers: Based on specs it's an impressive setup. Those woofers are large enough to accurately reproduce the lowest notes that a piano can produce.
I did expect some people to question my speakers because I did make comparison tests with friends and family in the room, and a poor speaker system could certainly mask any objective comparisons. But as you can see, I am pushing a lot of speaker cone area, which I agree is good for the lower registers. But I also find a lot of difference in the tonal quality of the upper registers when comparing my speaker system to my wife’s Bose. I believe a lot of this is a result of phase distortion in the Bose system. Phase distortion is caused by unequal amounts of phase shift of the audio signal over different frequency ranges, and it is never reported in the technical specs. An amplifier/speaker system can have the absolute best harmonic distortion performance, but if it also has phase distortion it can affect the realism of the sound. It’s a personal theory of mine that the best realism is achieved with the least phase distortion. Some people disagree and prefer the mellow sound of an old tube amplifier, which typically possess very high phase distortion. Phase distortion was inherent in those old amps due to the necessary use of large impedance matching speaker transformers, which are highly inductive and cause different phase shifts of current versus voltage over different frequency ranges. I remember the first time I heard a transformerless, solid-state power amplifier and I could perceive a world of difference. I suspect that the noticeable difference between my speakers and the Bose system, is caused by the unequal phase relationship between the audio signal and the actual sound produced in the room. There’s an old theory in audiophile circles that to get the most realistic sound you need to push a lot of speaker cone area. Despite the impressive performance of the Bose system for its small physical size, it can’t compete against real, life size speaker cones.

I don’t run the volume on my system excessively high. I set it for what you would expect from any acoustic in a similar size room. But even at that normal setting, it’s amazing how you can feel the low notes in the floor. Also, occasionally I detect resonances in various objects in the room, like my wife’s china trinkets, with certain notes in the upper registers. Once I was hearing a disturbing sound and it was the lid of one of her teapots in the china cabinet across the room. It took me a long time to locate it. Once I found it I simply lifted the lid, rotate it about 45 degrees, and set it down again. The resonance went away. That’s the same experience that anyone with an acoustic piano would report.

 Quote:
FogVilleLad wrote:[/b]
Please don't allow one bad experience to sour you on all software pianos.
Well, I have to be honest here. Although people here argue about the relative merits of Ivory versus Akoustik Piano versus something else, I think I have proved that the improvement that I can realize at the current time with any system is marginal at best. So I think I am done with virtual piano experinents for a while. Of course I will remain open to suggestions. That is part of my motivation for submitting all this work in this thread. Perhaps someone will sequence my MIDI file, or perhaps submit a beginner’s level piece of their own that demonstrates a significant difference between a particular instrument and a software system. If I do see one posted I will certainly give it a listen. But it would have to be significantly better for me to spend more time fooling around with my computer. And one thing is for sure. I’m done with listening to virtuoso demos. I now realize that my perception of them may have been more related to their impressive playing skills than to the real tonal differences between instruments.

 Quote:
FogVilleLad wrote:[/b]
I'm not certain that your "adjustments" and what I'd call "tweaks" are identical, …
We are probably in full agreement on this one. As I demonstrated earlier in the thread, I felt it was important to make some recordings that demonstrated my own particular favorite “tweaks” on my CLP-230. I felt that the generic MIDI file failed to bring out the best tone from the instrument. I feel confident that my slight adjustments added genuine realism to the sound, as opposed to creating an artificial sound that may be pleasing but not a realistic recreation of an acoustic piano. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?

I welcome anyone else having the Akoustik Piano system to render my MIDI file with their own favorite set of tweaks and to prove that my recordings could have sounded a lot better. And thanks for the tip about checking N.I.’s forum for such information. I will certainly do that.

 Quote:
FogVilleLad wrote:[/b]
In your recordings, there is a difference in the timbre of the instruments, but I can't detect quality differences.
Thank you for reporting that. Your observations correspond to mine.

Timbre of course is a personal, subjective thing and I wouldn’t criticize anyone for preferring a particular tone. Just read the book “Grand Obsession” by Perri Knize. But I admit that I am not as obsessed about one particular tone as she is. Although I have a preference for a more mellow rather than bright sound, I can accept a very wide range. Just visit any acoustic piano store and you will experience a much wider variation in timbre between all the different models than what you hear here in my various recordings. That doesn’t make any of those acoustic pianos bad. They’re just different. I think the same can be said about virtual pianos.

I'm sure many who are interested in such things will continue to experiment with different virtual systems, and I don't criticize that. Such activity is needed to make progress in the state of the art. But myself I prefer to recognize that at this point in time the tonal quality improvement that I can gain by setting up a virtual system is marginal at best. For that reason I'd rather focus on practicing to play piano using the instrument that I've got. If I should be so lucky as to progress to a point that I can take better advantage of freatures like dynamic sampling, I'll probably simply upgrade my piano.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696048 - 10/30/08 06:35 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
jscomposer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 537
Loc: The Boogie Down
In my humble opinion, it's not worth it. I don't think piano software sounds any more realistic than the built-in sounds of most good digital pianos. It's just a different "artificial." Another reason to avoid software is for the sake of feel. Digital pianos are designed with action and sound generation that complement one another. That connection is lost on piano software, and replaced with crude MIDI. (Though unfortunately, I suspect many DP's are now cheaping out and using simple MIDI to trigger their internal sounds.) So digital pianos definitely feel more responsive and realistic than MIDI triggered software.
_________________________
Joshua Seth plays Joshua Seth

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#696049 - 10/30/08 08:04 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
ere Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/05
Posts: 109
Loc: UK
Absolutely, 100% worth it for me. I have Roland FP4, and my fav soft piano is Pianoteq 2.3 (Erard).

What soft gives me and inbuilt does not:
1. Firm, tight base notes without "boominess".
2. String resonances (damper/sympathetic etc)
3. Damper pedal that gathers notes, not just creates echo.
4. Much finer touch control/nuances/expressiveness - MUCH finer.
5. Legato
6. Crisp clear decaying notes, no boring looping sounds when holding a note/ damper. Much better decay overall (even on staccato, markato etc)
7. Sparkling highs
8. Cant enjoy inbuilt sound after experiencing good soft. Simply can't!
I am grade 8, so YMMV.

Difficult to set up? The midi cable is always connected to the computer, soft piano/DAW is in start up folder - simply turn the computer on, turn the piano on - play. as simple as that.
Havn't tried the new Yamaha range of clps, but am confident that my "soft+keys" combined instrument is better than most(all?) top range pianos that were available 4 months ago(through headphones).

When choosing a keyboard, I was only looking for feel, as software (whether inbuilt or not) and computer chips become obsolete at a fast rate. My advice- get best feeling keyboard you can afford (chances are its inbuilt sounds will be ok too) then plan to get an ASIO sound card and a soft piano.

One problem with sonatina in this thread and Propianist's Ala Turca is that the pieces are essentially harpsichord pieces - limited dynamics, pedaling, etc. Also fast music (eg ala turca) tends to disguise the shortcomings of DP - no wonder casios in Costcos play Revolutionary etudes;) Slow Chopin, Rach, Debussy etc - that's what separates the men from the boys (good pianos from bad ones).
_________________________
My gear: Roland FP4 digi-piano, M-audio A192 sound card , Sennheiser HD580 phones , Synthogy Ivory+ Italian Grand , soft-piano Pianoteq (highly recommended)

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#696050 - 10/30/08 11:44 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
Diane Cornellier:
I’m happy that my submissions have helped you decide on an instrument that you feel most comfortable with. After all, helping others is what PianoWorld.com is all about, and a large part of helping others is giving advice that fits their needs.

As a retired engineer myself, I can easily relate to your husband wanting to steer you in the direction of a virtual system. He probably says things like, “You already have a keyboard and a computer (you say you have several). Why go out and spend over two thousand dollars on a new instrument when you can get by with a software program for a couple hundred dollars?”

It does seem to make strong economic sense, and I wouldn’t criticize anyone for going in that direction, especially if they are budget constrained. But there are other things to consider, as your post uncovers. You don’t sound like a person who is particularly interested in dealing with an overabundance of technical issues. Your comments about the drudgery of maintaining a computer system are legitimate. The time spent maintaining the computer does penalize your practice time to some degree.

I lost a lot of time just experimenting with the configuration and the exact way to run the Akoustik Piano software. For example, I found out the hard way that I cannot just turn my system on, wait a reasonable time for boot up to complete (including automatically launching Akoustik Piano software), and then play. I have to first allow my computer to completely boot up, and then manually launch the Akoustik Piano software. If I launch the Akoustik Piano software too soon, it doesn’t recognize its drivers and sometimes freezes. Even after launching the software, user interaction is required to select a particular instrument simulation. You’d think the software would be smart enough to remember your last preference, but it doesn’t.

I was also disappointed at how fragile the stability of the Akoustik Piano software is. For example, I have to disable the network connection to the computer, otherwise the Akoustik Piano software misbehaves after about 15 minutes of playing. This sounds like a simple thing to do, but it took me a long time to figure out a way around the problem. This represents time that would have been better spent practicing piano.

Also, when I turn my system off I have to be sure to exit the Akoustik Piano program before shutting down, otherwise my entire system freezes and I can’t even shut it off except by pulling the power plug, which is a very dangerous thing to do on any computer system. If I am unlucky and I happen to pull the plug during a critical operation, like perhaps a write to disk, my system might be completely ruined. It could “Blue Screen” the next time I turn it on, forcing me to rebuild the entire system from the ground up. That exact scenario has happened to me several times in the past when using unstable software. That is one hell of a price to pay for the simple act of forgetting to exit the software before shutting down.

Perhaps I was expecting too much, but over the years I have gotten used to using a single computer to do several things at once. So I was expecting to be able to be able to do things like read email or browse the web while the Akoustik Piano software was running. I even purchased a very high end computer so that I would be sure I had enough CPU power to do all these things at once. I imagined being able to practice for an hour or so, then perhaps take a break reading the news or visiting PianoWorld.com, and then return to my practice work. But, as I said above, Akoustik Piano is not stable unless I disable my network connection, which prevents me from going on the web. I can’t even run other software, like perhaps my Finale music editor while Akoustik Piano is running. I had visions that I might be able to practice piano for a while, then perhaps take a break by fooling around in the editor with a composition project, then practice a bit more, and so on. But in the end I discovered that I can’t do that. If I run Finale, Akoustik Piano freezes, often times freezing the entire system and requiring that I pull the power plug to regain control. So I have learned the hard way that in order to use Akoustik Piano, I must dedicate my computer completely to that task. Not only was this a disappointment, but I admit losing considerable valuable time discovering all of these limitations. Again, this was valuable practice time lost.

So although it may seem attractive at first to upgrade your instrument by attaching a computer and running virtual piano software with an inexpensive keyboard, there are a lot of unexpected consequences. That’s fine for those who already know about these limitations and aren’t bothered about them, or for those who don’t mind losing a lot of time over them, but I was very disappointed at the amount of time I lost just trying to figure out how to use Akoustik Piano.

Perhaps the biggest disappointed to me was when my wife would enter the room and I would ask her, “What piano do you think I am running right now? The Clavinova or the Akoustik Piano?” She would listen and then say, “I can’t tell.” Talk about being deflated. After all that work, she can’t even tell the difference between the two systems. What a waste!

Diane Cornellier wrote:
I asked him to listen to your various recordings and identify the best sounding one. He picked your CLP-230.

I’m glad that worked out in your favor, but you have to admit, you were lucky on that one. I find that sound experiments can turn out differently for different people, especially for people who are relatively unfamiliar with what they are listening to. I think most experienced pianists would have picked the Akoustik Piano because they have a certain expectation of what a real acoustic piano sounds like, and Akoustik Piano does sound slighter better in that regard. But your husband, since he doesn’t play much himself, is reacting solely to what he thinks is a more pleasant sound. And I wouldn’t criticize him for that. But it also points out that the differences were not significant enough for him to immediately realize which one sounded more like a real acoustic piano. As I said above, my wife can’t tell either.

The last thing to consider, and you mentioned this in your post, is the physical feel of an instrument. However, I would add to that the feel of the pedals as well. It was a big disappointment for me to learn the hard way that Akoustik Piano did not support partial (half) pedaling. It’s my fault of course for not checking before buying. But you have to admit, for a piece of software that’s supposed to be so much better than any electronic instrument, for a program that brags so much about how it sounds so much like famous acoustic pianos, like a Bosendorfer, it was unexpected to see that it didn’t support half pedaling. After all, isn’t that an important characteristic of a real acoustic piano like a Bosendorfer?

I can relate to your feelings about the keyboard of the YPG-625. I report the same with mine. But the difference between you and me is that you obviously wanted to do some serious piano practice work on the instrument, whereas I bought it as an extra instrument just to play popular music with automatic accompaniment. The fact is, I rarely use the 625 for serious piano work. For that I definitely prefer the CLP-230. The 625 is a great instrument for what I want to do on it, and I would still recommend it even to serious piano students who are budget constrained, but assuming you have the funds to purchase a $2,000 instrument, I can appreciate that you are disappointed with your 625. Having learned from this experience, I hope that you take considerable time trying out various other instruments before buying. I have tried the CLP-330 myself. I spent considerable time with it at my local dealer using my own studio headphones. I feel the tone is marginally better than my CLP-230. The keyboard and pedal characteristics seem exactly like my CLP-230. I noticed it has the new feature called “Damper Resonance”. Here is what they say about that at the Yamaha website:

String Resonance samples provide the rich tones produced when one hammered string causes related strings to ring out in harmony. Using these comprehensive gradations, CLP300 Series models can realistically reproduce the complex sounds of a grand piano.

The new CLP-330 also supports “USB to Device”. If I understand that feature correctly, it would allow you to share MIDI files between your two instruments (assuming you kept your 625) by swapping USB flash drives between them, thus without having to use networked controlling computers at each instrument. But from what you have said about the technical features of your 625, you may not be interested in this.

I wish you luck with your next instrument.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696051 - 10/30/08 01:41 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Orez,[/b] this has been a most interesting exchange.

For the first time, I want to audition recent models of DP's. It's been several years since I've even listened to them.

Listening to your recordings also has me thinking more about the relationship between length of playing experience and third party samples. (Mafagafu mentioned this, above.) Yesterday I set up the stereo version of Galaxy II's Steinway D - a surround sound version is also included in the package - and immediately began to explore the timbral differences available from its multi-layer samples and its una corda samples. It's an amazing instrument. Tho my technique remains poor, I do really enjoy exploring tonal possibilities. When I can access them, it's a pleasure.

Sorry to learn about the practical problem with interacting with Akoustic.

BTW the dynamic range of E-mu's M series is c.120. Hope you'll have a chance to audition them in a shop.

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#696052 - 10/30/08 01:43 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
jscomposer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 537
Loc: The Boogie Down
 Quote:
Originally posted by ere:
Absolutely, 100% worth it for me. I have Roland FP4, and my fav soft piano is Pianoteq 2.3 (Erard).

What soft gives me and inbuilt does not:
1. Firm, tight base notes without "boominess".
2. String resonances (damper/sympathetic etc)
3. Damper pedal that gathers notes, not just creates echo.
4. Much finer touch control/nuances/expressiveness - MUCH finer.
5. Legato
6. Crisp clear decaying notes, no boring looping sounds when holding a note/ damper. Much better decay overall (even on staccato, markato etc)
7. Sparkling highs
8. Cant enjoy inbuilt sound after experiencing good soft. Simply can't![/b]
I get all that on my Yamaha P80, which is still holding up after 7 years. One of the reasons I haven't upgraded in all this time is that the decay on the P80 sounds natural, whereas the decay on most newer DP's sounds looped. After listening to the samples on Pianoteq's website, I'd still say that it doesn't sound any closer to a real piano. It's sounds awesome, don't get me wrong. But it's just a different awesome. If you think their samples are shit, could you perhaps post some clips of your own playing? Feel free to add any effects you think may enhance realism, just let us know what you're using and what your settings are.

Also, can you do THIS with it?
_________________________
Joshua Seth plays Joshua Seth

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#696053 - 10/30/08 02:08 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
ere wrote:[/b]
One problem with sonatina in this thread and Propianist's Ala Turca is that the pieces are essentially harpsichord pieces - limited dynamics, pedaling, etc. Also fast music (eg ala turca) tends to disguise the shortcomings of DP - no wonder casios in Costcos play Revolutionary etudes;) Slow Chopin, Rach, Debussy etc - that's what separates the men from the boys (good pianos from bad ones).
Well, this is exactly my point, and that is why I feel I was ill advised to set up a virtual system, and that is why I regret it. I am a beginning pianist, and a senior retiree. What kind of music do you think I can play? Chopin? Rachmaninoff? And, Debussy? Really? Debussy? You got to be kidding. And what chance to you think I have at my age of ever being able to play such music? I can tell you with confidence, “Absolutely none!”

If that is what separates the men from the boys, then I have no claim to being a man. I am not offended by this. I’m just honest and realistic. Piano for me is a retirement hobby, and piano for many is not a profession. If you can play such music I envy you.

But what exactly do mediocre players like myself have to gain by going through all the trouble and expense of setting up a virtual system if I cannot play the music that you say demonstrates its superior tonal quality? Honestly? Why buy something that I can never realize?

Now if you were to sequence my MIDI file on your system and post a link to a representative MP3 file, or if you were to submit a similar piece of your own, and if that piece demonstrated a significant tonal improvement, then I’d be impressed, and you would be justified in advising a person like me to upgrade to the same system.

Of course I don’t expect you to be impressed with my simple Clementi practice sonatina, which after all is just regarded as a practice piece. But the major conclusion of this thread is that the usual online demos of virtual piano systems exhibit such virtuosic pieces that the listener is more drawn in by the music than by the actual tonal quality of it. If you want to prove to me that a particular instrument is better than another, then demonstrate it with a simple piece, a piece that is not so beautiful and expressive that it fills my brain with overwhelming emotions that mask the fact that there is no real difference between the instruments at all, or at least very little.

Naturally, I am happy for you that your system is working well. And I appreciate your honest advice about your soundcard and about Synthogy Ivory+ Italian Grand. Thanks for reporting your preference for Pianoteq, but until I hear that particular software sequencing a simple piece, like my MIDI file or similar, and until I am impressed with the difference in tonal quality compared to my current instrument, I won’t by purchasing it. Sorry, I’ve been fooled once already.

I appreciate that your instrument is a large factor in the expressiveness of your playing, if indeed you say it is. But in all honesty I have to admit that my virtual system adds nothing to mine. So far I lack the playing skills to take advantage of it.

In the upcoming PianoWorld recital I will be submitting Yann Tiersen’s piece: “Comptine d’un autre ete: l’apres-midi”. This piece represents the absolute height of my musical career so far. I am very proud of myself for learning this piece, although I am afraid I may not be able to play is as well as others who have submitted it in earlier recitals. It is also a more expressive piece than a Clementi Sonatina. So perhaps it will demonstrate some difference between my instrument and my virtual system? I am currently working on the recording. I am recording it simultaneously using the record features of both my CLP-230 and my Akoustik Piano virtual system. I still do not have a complete performance completed to my satisfaction, but I think I am close. When I’m done I will be able to compare the result of the very same performance sequenced on both systems. I will also be able to “tweak” the Akoustik Piano sound, as well as choose the particular instrument simulation that makes the piece sound best. I will then compare it to the one sequenced on my CLP-230. I will submit the version that I think sounds best.

So you see, I’m still willing to give the virtual system a chance. But I have to admit, I am reaching the end of my patience with it.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696054 - 10/30/08 03:09 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
dettch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Idaho
Will the Piano World Recital be posted under the category of "Member Recordings"??

Bob

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#696055 - 10/30/08 06:23 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
dettch wrote:[/b]
Will the Piano World Recital be posted under the category of "Member Recordings"??
I sent you email on this.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696056 - 10/30/08 06:56 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
ere Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/05
Posts: 109
Loc: UK
Orez Eno,
Hey the "men against boys" phrase was aimed purely at pianos (as a metaphor for "good agains bad"), nothing at all to do with people.

Slow Chopin etc were suggested by me as an example of expressive "not harpsichord" music. "An", not "the" - there is plenty of expressive music for ANY level of playing. Did you think harpsichord had exclusive rights to easy music? ;\)
For your level (you're all right, you can play!) may I suggest you try "First Loss" (easier) and "Traumerei" (bit harder) by R Schumann.

Otherwise, this is not my argument - I have no experience with AKoustic. I only shared my comparison of what i have, in context of my fallible, biased human memory of other DPs that i've tested few months back (when I bought the Roland).

Jscomposer,

I am currently away from home, so no recordings from me for now.

But, I dont believe in recordings for purposes such as these- piano is an artistic instrument. From players perspective, better sounding piano is the one that converts more of your expression into audible music. To test a piano, one needs to play it. Like i said elswhere, download demo of pianoteq v2.3, select Erard preset and play (I think I only changed "lid" settings, everything else was left stock)- you will answer your own questions.

Don't rely on a demo - you can never know what expression was put into it and what fraction of that expression was rendered by the soft piano.
_________________________
My gear: Roland FP4 digi-piano, M-audio A192 sound card , Sennheiser HD580 phones , Synthogy Ivory+ Italian Grand , soft-piano Pianoteq (highly recommended)

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#696057 - 10/30/08 09:43 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
ere wrote:[/b]
Hey the "men against boys" phrase was aimed purely at pianos (as a metaphor for "good agains bad"), nothing at all to do with people.

No offense was taken. I don’t think such language is offensive at all, even when applied to people. I think in such terms in my own life all the time. I’ve seen quite a few good players. I like to call them the “Big Boys”. They play very impressively. Although I know where I stand, I am not depressed about my current playing level. I feel I have made more progress in the last three months than in all the previous time combined. Since I am retired I am able to devote considerable time to my playing. I’m very excited about the future. But I won’t be calling myself one of the “Big Boys” any time soon. There are too many superb players around for that, and I don’t feel I have enough years left on this earth to catch up to them. So I’m just going along at whatever pace I can accomplish. Thank you very much for your kind words about my playing.
 Quote:
ere wrote:[/b]
there is plenty of expressive music for ANY level of playing.
Actually I have already been working with some expressive pieces, like my first submission to Recital #10, which was called “Dark Eyes”. I did pretty good on that one considering my limited experience at the time. But I also feel that at my level the real majority of my practice still needs to be devoted to traditional skill building pieces, like the Clementi Opus 36. Although a few of the pieces contain some expression, I consider it rather limited. Most tend to sound a bit pounding. But I feel that by playing them my dexterity is improving. So I will continue to concentrate on them for a while.

When I submitted in Recital #11, the piece was less expressive. Also, because I had to practice the piece so much there was little time left to consider sequencing it using Akoustik Piano. I had some problems getting a good MP3 file from Akoustik Piano, so I gave up quickly and submitted the piece recorded from the CLP-230.

Of course the piece I am currently working on for Recital #12 is more expressive. Since last recital I have resolved the technical problem of getting an MP3 file from Akoustik Piano. That is why this time I will consider using it. I will give a careful listen to the final MP3 file from each system and submit the one that I feel sounds better. At this point I’m not sure which one it will be.

Although some expressive pieces are within my capability, they are not as expressive as the famous pieces that you referred to earlier. To me that just makes sense. You're talking about some of history's most beautiful and expressive pieces ever. I’m excited about working on whatever expressive pieces are within my capability, but I’m not expecting them to be good enough to demonstrate much difference between my virtual system and my instrument. Let’s see how this submission works out.

One thing is for sure, my Akoustik Piano software is not convenient to use. It’s stability is very fragile and whenever I want to use the system for other types of work I have to switch cables around, otherwise I get poor noise performance. Right now I find the whole thing more of a bother that penalizes my practice time.

Thanks for the repertoire suggestion. I honestly think “Traumerei” is more than I can handle right now, but I’ll keep it in mind. I’m not familiar with "First Loss", but I’ll look into it.

I agree that to properly assess a system you need to play it yourself. But for now I’ll have to put consideration of other software aside until I complete my recital submission.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696058 - 10/30/08 10:11 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
jscomposer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 537
Loc: The Boogie Down
 Quote:
Originally posted by ere:

Jscomposer,

I am currently away from home, so no recordings from me for now.

But, I dont believe in recordings for purposes such as these- piano is an artistic instrument. From players perspective, better sounding piano is the one that converts more of your expression into audible music. To test a piano, one needs to play it. Like i said elswhere, download demo of pianoteq v2.3, select Erard preset and play (I think I only changed "lid" settings, everything else was left stock)- you will answer your own questions.

Don't rely on a demo - you can never know what expression was put into it and what fraction of that expression was rendered by the soft piano.
Thanks for pointing me to their trial version. I haven't gotten it to sound or respond quite how I want yet, but it's pretty damn nice so far. I'd like a little more power in the lower registers. I also think it tends to sound a little too nice, meaning when I bang on it, it doesn't sound like I'm banging on it.
_________________________
Joshua Seth plays Joshua Seth

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#696059 - 10/31/08 02:33 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
jscomposer:[/b]
Both Akoustik Piano software and my CLP-230 pass the jscomposer test.

My YPG-625 fails the jscomposer test.

Thanks for letting me know about this. I will now try it on every keyboard I play.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696060 - 11/01/08 11:49 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
I have completed my submission to the PianoWorld.com recital #12. Below are three recordings of exactly the same performance of myself playing Yann Tiersen’s Comptine d’un autre ete: l’apres midi. The filenames are Comptime01, Comptime02, and Comptime03.

One mp3 file was recorded from the headphone output of my Yamaha Clavinova CLP-230 using a PreSonus Firebox external audio interface unit and Audacity software.

One mp3 file was compiled directly in software (no audio interface/card) using Akoustik Piano’s Bosendorfer 290 with Overtones

One mp3 file was compiled directly in software (no audio interface/card) using Akoustik Piano’s Concert Grand D, which is a unique Native Instruments creation which fuses the KONTAKT 2 sampling engine with high resolution samples from a Steinway Model D.

I have not identified which file represents which recording. Can you tell which one is which?

Recording 1

Recording 2

Recording 3

All recordings are high quality (sampling rate - 96K) and will not stream. You’ll have to download them if you want to listen to them.

If there is as much difference between the native sounds of a typical instrument and a virtual piano system as people here at PianoWorld.com claim, then it should be easy for anyone to identify which recording was made on the CLP-230.

To my ear these recordings prove that the native sounds of a Yamaha CLP-230 are just as good as the sounds of Akoustik Piano virtual piano. So for me, there is no advantage to setting up a virtual piano system. The native sounds of my instrument are just as good. But of course, maybe your ears are better than mine, in which case you might profit by setting up a virtual piano system.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696061 - 11/02/08 01:44 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
jscomposer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 537
Loc: The Boogie Down
Orez Eno:

Well, it's not easy to tell which is which, but they DO all sound different! More importantly, they all sound like a piano. But just for shits and giggles, my guess is that Comptime01 is the Yamaha, Comptime02 is the Steinway, and Comptime03 is the Bosendorfer.

My advice? After poking around, I think it's safe to say that the CLP-230 is a high quality digital piano. I'd say stick with it until you're well into more complicated stuff and can truly reap the benefits of a powerhouse computer-based piano. Even then, you may still prefer the sound and feel of your DP.

I do think the future is in modeling (like Pianoteq). But it's got a ways to go before eclipsing digital pianos. An interesting alternative is GEM's technology, which if I'm not mistaken is a combination of sampling and modeling.

But I must ask, if you're already using both the Yamaha and Akoustik Piano, what's the dilemma?
_________________________
Joshua Seth plays Joshua Seth

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#696062 - 11/02/08 04:26 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Richard Stark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 278
Loc: Hälsingland, Sweden
Hello Orez Eno!

Thanks for this excellent thread!

Changed my mind again... ;\)
I think the CLP-230 is the second one.


Peace,

/Richard

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#696063 - 11/02/08 09:26 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
jscomposer wrote:[/b]
But I must ask, if you're already using both the Yamaha and Akoustik Piano, what's the dilemma?
Excellent point, and I want to be sure to make the most of it. The dilemma is the uneasy feeling that anyone gets whenever they try some highly praised product only to wonder why everyone else is so excited about it. It makes one wonder, “Am I missing something?” or, “Am I doing something wrong?”

It’s the same feeling that one gets after spending $50,000 for a Harley Davidson only to get passed on the highway by a $700 Suzuki 500cc trail bike going 100 mph. It makes you think, “Maybe I don’t really know how to drive a motorcycle?” It’s the same feeling one gets when they finally get to take the school’s hottest chick to the prom, only to find out she’s cold. It makes you think, “Maybe I’m gay?”

I have to admit, after setting up this system I spent considerable effort and expense trying to figure out why I wasn’t experiencing what I was led to believe I should. Indeed, although I wanted to post my experience here at PianoWorld.com, the place where I received the advice to set up a virtual system in the first place, I had this nagging feeling that I was doing something wrong. It takes a certain amount of courage and strength of conviction to stand up and give an opinion that is so diametrically opposite to that held by everyone else.

I have been puzzled over this issue for about six months. Every time I saw a new thread started on the subject of virtual systems, everyone was giving such rave reviews that I admit being afraid to join in. Plus the main theme of many of those threads revolved around comparing technical issues, like sampling rates and the size of the sampled libraries. But this thread, started by Geof175, posed the question, “Can anyone really tell the difference?” So I thought, this is the ideal place to post my results.

My dilemma has now been solved. It looks as if I am not the only one who cannot tell the difference between a virtual system and the resident sounds of an instrument, even a mid range instrument like the CLP-230, an instrument that doesn’t even have dynamic sampling. The guesses given so far by jscomposer and Miracle have been wrong.

Miracle gave two guesses, which I believe were:

1st guess, Recording 1 is the CLP-230

2nd guess: Recording 2 is the CLP-230

I hope I got that right Miracle? Because you edited your entry, I have to go by memory, which at my age doesn’t work too well.

So, by elimination, you now know that Recording 3 is the CLP-230.

Knowing that, and knowing that jscomposer’s guesses were wrong, by elimination you now know that Recording #1 is Akoustik Piano Concert Grand D, and Recording #2 is Akoustik Piano Bosendorfer 290 with overtones.

Amazing isn’t it?

For the PianoWorld.com recital #12 I have submitted recording #1, Akoustik Piano’s Concert Grand D, because I feel it sounds ever-so-slightly better than the resident sound of the CLP-230.

Conclusion
I have returned the cables of my system to the configuration that I prefer for most of my work. That configuration allows me to use my computer for a variety of tasks without having to swap cables. I can run my music editor (Finale) and play its output on the CLP-230, I can browse the web, and I can practice piano, all without swapping cables. My HiFi amplifier/speaker system is connected to the line out of my instrument, and the headphone output of the instrument is connected to the audio input of the external audio interface. Everything works fine and I get excellent quality sound and recordings.

If I want to use the virtual system I have to connect the HiFi/speaker system to the OUTPUT of the external audio interface unit, in which case I get noise pickup. To eliminate noise pickup I must remove the cable between the INPUT of the external audio interface unit and the headphone output of the CLP-230. I’m not surprised by this. Also, it would be nice if I could run the virtual piano and the CLP-230 to different auxiliary channels of my HiFi set. That would make it convenient to switch between the two. But to do that requires that I run two cables to the HiFi, one from the instrument and one from the OUTPUT of the external audio interface. Doing that causes noise pickup problems, which again does not surprise me. In any audio installation, running cross cables between different divices always causes noise problems. All of this is very inconvenient.

Oh, and don’t forget that in order to fire up Akoustik Piano I have to first reboot my computer and disable its connection to the network. This is necessary because the Akoustik Piano software is unstable and does not run well with other applicaions.

If it turned out that the Akoustik Piano software was stable and allowed me to perform other tasks, I would simply leave the system connected in that configuration. But that is not the case. When I run Akoustik Piano I cannot run Finale or browse the web. Indeed, the Akoustik Piano software is so unstable that if I have been running other applications, I have to actually reboot my system before launching Akoustik Piano, otherwise it either doesn't find its drivers, or it freezes the entire system. Again, all of this is very inconvenient.

Lastly, I was expecting that the quality of the recordings obtained from Akoustik Piano would be far superior to those recorded from an audio signal using Audacity for the reason that Akoustik Piano compiles the sound file directly in software. There is no sound card involved. But it turns out that I cannot perceive any difference in quality. I suppose that means that the quality of recordings made from audio using today's audio interface units, like my PreSonus Firebox, are very good to begin with.

Sorry, Akoustic Piano goes into the junk heap of other useless pieces of software that in my estimation do not meet the minimum requirements for stability and ease of use that any piece of software should meet.

I do not recommend it.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696064 - 11/02/08 04:00 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Richard Stark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 278
Loc: Hälsingland, Sweden
I thought the last one was too good to be the CLP-230. And still I was practicing for over an hour on my CLP-230 yesterday. ;\)


Peace.

/Richard

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#696065 - 11/02/08 04:00 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Richard Stark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 278
Loc: Hälsingland, Sweden
---

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#696066 - 11/02/08 04:19 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
Miracle wrote:[/b]
I thought the last one was too good to be the CLP-230. And still I was practicing for over an hour on my CLP-230 yesterday.
I select Piano Voice #2, Brilliance = Mellow, Reverb = Room, and Effect = None.

I believe I also played with the depth of the reverb effect using the special function for that purpose. If I remember correctly, I reduced the effect slightly, but I'm not sure. I did that 3 years ago. For me to check what I did I would have to get the manual out again. Yuk!

I must admit that I would be very disappointed with the instrument if it had only Piano Voice #1, which sounds artificial to me.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696067 - 11/02/08 04:23 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
jscomposer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 537
Loc: The Boogie Down
 Quote:
Originally posted by Orez Eno:
the CLP-230, an instrument that doesn’t even have dynamic sampling.
I'm pretty sure it does. Yamaha and most DP manufacturers sample real piano notes at varying velocities to capture the difference in character. Most I believe have 3-4 samples per note.

I've sent messages to people on my MySpace page to get their opinions on an A-B comparison I recorded. I started a new thread to hopefully encourage others to step up and post their own A-B comparisons.

In your case, I prefer versions 1 and 3. Version 2, the Bosendorfer, sounds tinny and artificial. The other 2 have their own degrees of artificialness, but not as bad as the Bosendorfer. I'd give a slight edge to the Steinway sample.

But you should really experiment. It sounded like you were playing each piano completely dry and stock. They'd all sound better with a little more space (reverb). I also think that while mellow acoustic pianos can sound beautiful, "mellow" digital pianos and software pianos just sound dull.
_________________________
Joshua Seth plays Joshua Seth

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#696068 - 11/02/08 05:39 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Richard Stark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 278
Loc: Hälsingland, Sweden
 Quote:
Originally posted by jscomposer:
[QUOTE]...I'm pretty sure it does... [/b]
It does in fact not. The CLP-230 uses filters that changes the timbre of the sample slightly depending on the velocity. The CLP-240 uses dynamic sampling.

Peace.

/Richard

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#696069 - 11/02/08 05:46 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Richard Stark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 278
Loc: Hälsingland, Sweden
 Quote:
Originally posted by Orez Eno:
[QUOTE] I select Piano Voice #2, Brilliance = Mellow, Reverb = Room, and Effect = None.
... [/b]
I seldom use piano2 because I use to like piano1 better. I will try your settings though. \:\)
I have a friend who is a very good pianist and he also select piano2 whenever he plays my CLP-230.


Peace.

/Richard

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#696070 - 11/02/08 06:00 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
dettch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/08
Posts: 55
Loc: Idaho
I listened to each of the three and made my judgment without looking at the other posts.I have no idea which is the 230 but my impressions were quite strong in terms of which I LIKED best(#1 being the one I liked best):

1. Recording #3 which at first I thought was a bit too "covered" but I lost that impression quickly.

2. Recording #2 which was quite good.

3. I thought recording #1 was thin with sound being somewhat "broken up"....clearly the poorest sound of the three.

Bob

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#696071 - 11/02/08 06:28 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
jscomposer:[/b]
I wish my CLP-230 did have dynamic sampling, but it does not. Here is a link:

CLP-230

The CLP-240 has 3 level dynamic sampling. Here is a link:

CLP-240

Just check the “Tone Generation” section under “Voices”. On the 230 there is no mention of dynamic sampling. On the 240 there is.

But I have tried Akoustik Piano software, which has 16 levels of dynamic sampling, and I have noticed no improvement in the dynamic expressiveness of my playing when comparing that to my CLP-230. So, I now realize that the feature is mostly exaggerated. Now don’t get me wrong. I’d be happy to have the feature. I suspect that as my playing ability improves and I am able to consistently play more expressive pieces, I will notice a difference. But at my current level, with the piece I am submitting to Recital #12, I notice no difference. So, I don’t feel any depravation for not having dynamic sampling at this time.

 Quote:
jscomposer wrote:[/b]
In your case, I prefer versions 1 and 3. Version 2, the Bosendorfer, sounds tinny and artificial.
I have the same preference as you, but I do not think it is due to any artificialness in the sound of the Bosendorfer. I think that is just the way it is. I have come to this conclusion in the last six months, when after being generally disappointed with Akoustik Piano software, I have visited many acoustic piano stores and played many models. Because I am used to the sound of my CLP-230, my first reaction to many acoustic models is that they sound artificial. But of course, that’s silly. They are real pianos and that is just the way they sound. I also practice 9 hours a week on a Baldwin concert grand piano and it has some tonal properties that are recognizably different from my CLP-230. Yet, some acoustic models that I play do sound very close if not indistinguishable from my CLP-230.

I think we all need to be careful when comparing piano sounds when we use the word artificial. After all, these are recorded sounds. In today’s systems, the sound reproduction quality is generally so good that when you hear something that you think is artificial, chances are you are hearing an instrument whose tonal quality you simply do not prefer. Yes, I know the sampling rate affects these recordings. But my recordings demonstrate that the sampling rates on typical instruments are so high to begin with that no detectible artificialness is introduced.

I have experimented quite a bit with my instrument and I do like the settings that I have selected for Recording #3. I’m not surprised to hear you say it could use a little more reverb. As I said in the last post, I actually reduced the amount of reverb effect Yamaha was applying by changing the reverb depth function. I thought Yamaha’s generic amount was a little too much. To your ear it doesn’t have enough. You even think there is none. But I assure you, there is some reverb. It’s just very slight. And, that’s the way I happen to like it.

One of the things I like about the CLP-230 is that by using its “Function” feature, you can change many of the characteristics, like reverb depth, and the instrument remembers it. So, I don’t have to readjust such things every time I turn on my instrument. In contrast, on my YPG-625 I cannot to this. On that instrument I have to save my favorite instrument characteristics as a style, and then load that style every time I use the instrument. It doesn’t come up automatically with my favorite style. But I only use that instrument for playing automatic accompaniment with a variety of instruments, not for serious piano practice. So I haven’t bothered to set up a particular style for its grand piano voice. Hence, when I first turn the instrument on, I immediately notice Yamaha’s use of a little excessive reverb on the grand piano voice. I suspect that most people prefer that, and that is why Yamaha does these things. But I prefer a little less.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696072 - 11/02/08 06:42 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
 Quote:
Miracle wrote:[/b]
The CLP-230 uses filters that changes the timbre of the sample slightly depending on the velocity.
Ah-hah! I didn't know that. Perhaps that is why my CLP-230 sounds as good as it does, and why I notice little difference when I switch to Akoustik Piano, which does have dynamic sampling. So, you could say that I have been enjoying a form of dynamic sampling (of sorts) all along. So I should be more careful when I say that dynamic sampling is an exaggerated feature.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696073 - 11/02/08 09:32 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by Orez Eno: Eternal:[/b]
Good news. I have the MIDI file. Here it is.

MIDI file for Orez Eno playing Clementi

I recorded a new performance on my YPG-625, which unlike my CLP-230, does support exporting saved performances in MIDI format.
It took me a while, but I finally rendered your MIDI using my Ivory setup.

I selected Bosendorfer as the piano:
http://www.box.net/shared/i9hmj7oojp

Certainly no marked improvement over your files.

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#696074 - 11/03/08 03:51 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Orez Eno Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 179
Loc: New England
Eternal:[/b]
Thank you very much for supplying my performance of Clementi Sonatina 1.1 Opus 36 sequenced on your ivory system.

The most notable difference for me is how the dynamic level versus key velocity is different. On your Ivory version the dynamics are more exaggerated, demonstrating my unequal keying, which is typical of a beginner. Perhaps I am quick to notice that because I originally played the performance. I suspect that that characteristic is adjustable in Ivory, as it is in Akoustik Piano. Besides, I most probably would have automatically compensated for the difference if I had been actually playing the piece on your system, as one does almost automatically when playing on a different instrument.

The hammer sounds of your Ivory recording are about the same as on my Akoustik Piano recording. The CLP-230 has much less hammer sound, if any.

Timbre wise I think your Ivory is closer to my CLP-230 than to the Akoustik Piano recording. I don’t think that means that the Ivory is better or worse than Akoustik Piano. The truth is, I find the tone of all three systems, Akoustik Piano, Ivory, and CLP-230 to be very good. I have no complaints about any of them.

Your recording demonstrates that the Ivory Bosendorfer sounds quite different than the Akoustik Piano Boserndorfer.

Thank you very much for this recording. It demonstrates to me that for my own playing, there is very little noticeable difference in tonal quality between all systems.
_________________________
Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

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#696075 - 12/25/08 01:31 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
drfonta Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/08
Posts: 26
Loc: US Forces Korea
Hello,

I'm new here and new to Digital Pianos. I recently bought a YDP-140 and have the output run through a mixer. I decided to try out Art Vista Virtual Grand Piano. I loaded it up and played a few sequences. I actually like the sound of my Yamaha better than any of the samples I could find from the software. Much cleaner and brighter IMHO, especially in the middle keys area. Now I'm not an experienced pianist at all and have strictly played synths and such to fill out my recording projects over the years, so I may be way off base, but I wanted to run this by some of you experienced folks. (I'm 42 and decided to learn how to play, with both hands this time :-). I saw Billy Joel last month and I'm hooked, my kids etc blah blah blah...) Anyway, any comments would be greatly appreciated! Also, Merry Christmas!

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#696076 - 12/25/08 07:47 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
jscomposer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 537
Loc: The Boogie Down
 Quote:
Originally posted by drfonta:
Hello,

I'm new here and new to Digital Pianos. I recently bought a YDP-140 and have the output run through a mixer. I decided to try out Art Vista Virtual Grand Piano. I loaded it up and played a few sequences. I actually like the sound of my Yamaha better than any of the samples I could find from the software. Much cleaner and brighter IMHO, especially in the middle keys area. Now I'm not an experienced pianist at all and have strictly played synths and such to fill out my recording projects over the years, so I may be way off base, but I wanted to run this by some of you experienced folks. (I'm 42 and decided to learn how to play, with both hands this time :-). I saw Billy Joel last month and I'm hooked, my kids etc blah blah blah...) Anyway, any comments would be greatly appreciated! Also, Merry Christmas! [/b]
I came to the same conclusion about Pianoteq versus my Yamaha. In fact, non-pianists who heard a recording I did to compare the two came to the same conclusion as well. Unfortunately, the newer Yamaha's I've tried don't sound anywhere near as good as the older Yamaha's. It's as though everyone has been moving towards a weak, bland sound, with restricted dynamic and tonal range. I think as more and more people are starting off on digitals and have no real experience with acoustics, the industry is taking liberties in redefining authenticity, with the goal of allowing weekend warriors to sound good... at the expense of accomplished pianists.

Merry Christmas
_________________________
Joshua Seth plays Joshua Seth

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#696077 - 12/25/08 09:29 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
drfonta Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/08
Posts: 26
Loc: US Forces Korea
jscomposer, thanks for your reply. I love the prelude in D minor! I already know this will become an addiction for me!

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#696078 - 12/29/08 07:54 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
TIMP Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/29/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Illinois
What about the idea of using a dedicated hardware such as Muse Research's Receptor that runs VST instruments software rather than using a computer. I haven't tried it but it looks like a reliable and low latency solution.

Has anyone used it here? It would seem to be the best of dedicated hardware along with large sample ROM capacity.

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#696079 - 12/29/08 08:11 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
TIMP Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/29/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Illinois
I have a Yamaha Motif XS8 keyboard and I don't really like the Concert Grand Piano sound at all. It has harsh bell-like harmonic sounds at C4 to C5 range. It actually makes my headphones sound like they're ringing. And, the lower notes sound realistic, but they can have a terrible sound when playing notes an octave apart.

I had been using only an old Roland M-GS64 Sound Expansion module from the 1990's. It's grand piano voice (number 1) is smooth and balanced with no harsh harmonics. It has none of the ringing sounds using my same headphones.

I think this module used the samples from the SR-JV series piano expansion cards. I imagine you'd get a similar sound from an expanded Roland XV series tone module. I've heard that the XV-5080 has the best sound of them all.

I've also read that 1990's Roland pianos are less bright and more like a Steinway sound than Yamaha sampled pianos. My limited experience with Roland and Yamaha gear seems to confirm this.

The Motif Yamaha is very harsh to my ears. Sometimes I think it's too ralistic in the sense that it carries the annoying harmonics that you don't want to hear, such as when I sound tweo simultaneous notes like A1 and A2. There is a subtle buzzing sound. My Roland seems to give the realism, but with the annoying harmonics stripped away. In that sense it's less realistic, but in a needed way. Bad harmonics seem more forgiven in a live piano, yet one is less likely to forgive odd harmonic sounds in a MIDI piano.

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#696080 - 12/29/08 08:23 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by TIMP:
What about the idea of using a dedicated hardware such as Muse Research's Receptor that runs VST instruments software rather than using a computer. I haven't tried it but it looks like a reliable and low latency solution.

Has anyone used it here? It would seem to be the best of dedicated hardware along with large sample ROM capacity. [/b]
The Receptor _is_ a computer. It's simply a PC that has drivers optimized for low latency. Probably running some flavor of Linux? Most likely not anything different than anyone can put together themselves if they had the time and the desire. The advantage is they've done all the grunt work for you, you just plug it up and make music vs spending hours tinkering with a PC (in theory anyway).

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#696081 - 12/29/08 10:18 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Glenn NK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 457
Loc: Victoria BC
This is a very interesting thread - thanks to Orez Eno for starting it.

I haven't had time to read all the posts thoroughly - which I will do in time.

Like Orez I'm retired, but unlike him, I started lessons in 1946, and have played at the piano continuously since then. I started with my mother's old upright (she was a piano teacher), then purchased my own upright in 1972, followed by a Yamaha G2E in 1977. While still owning the Yamaha, I acquired a Technics digital which was replaced by a Roland KR377, followed by a Roland KR-7. I sold the Yamaha a few years ago due to space and noise issues.

I've played every digital piano I could get my hands on, and always use the same headphones (which eliminates one major variation in sound perception). Some digitals are great, some are terrible; this based not only on the direct sound of playing one note (which is useful), but also on the response of the instrument in the reality of playing something useful.

After a few years on the latest Roland, it finally dawned on me that something was missing - good quality sound. Interestingly, what sounds "good" can be subjective and somewhat influenced by one's experience; if one has never played a good grand piano, one will never realize that part of "reality" is hammer noise which is most noticeable in the upper registers. Some digitals may have this, some may not.

What I think truly separates the men from the boys (to use a previous statement) is sympathetic resonance. SR

Sympathetic resonance (for those that aren't familiar with the term) is the vibration of strings that haven't been struck. On an acoustic piano (with the dampers up), non-struck strings vibrate "in sympathy" with struck strings because they are physically connected through the bridge.

For a sampled sound (digital or sample software), sympathetic resonance is extremely difficult to achieve because it has to be generated electronically, and it is only realistic if the non-struck strings are vibrating at the appropriate frequencies. This is extremely complex.

A test to see if your piano is achieving SR is to hold down a note silently, and separately strike the notes a fifth and an octave below. The silent note should sound the fundamentals or partials of the struck notes. Very few digital pianos do this realistically - in fact I haven't played one that does.

I've listened to the demos of many software sample libraries, and SR doesn't be too realistic to me. (I keep SR in mind by going to the shop of a piano restorer friend and playing a selection of six to ten grands - a good exercise).

I'm not going to expound on what is "best" because there is no one correct answer to a subjective topic.

What I have learned is that pianists soon adapt to any piano, and with time, whatever the piano is they have, it becomes "normal". This was best demonstrated to me by a piano salesmen when he said, "play it all you want - the more you play it, the more it becomes your piano". He was right - I bought it.

What I will do is suggest that anyone looking at a purchase, refer to the following site:

http://www.purgatorycreek.com/

There are dozens of digital piano samples and some mp3 files generated by samples. All of them utilize the same midi file, so the playing field is level.

I have downloaded a number of mp3 files to do a comparative assessment.

If one has a wave editor (Audacity will work and it's free - I use Goldwave), I'd suggest loading up a few different mp3's and listening.

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#696082 - 01/06/09 12:20 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Horwinkle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/08
Posts: 1011
 Quote:
Originally posted by Orez Eno:
Comparison of Akoutik Piano Software Piano to Clavinova CLP-230[/b]
The following recordings are the results of sequencing the MIDI file that I posted earlier in the thread on my Clavinova CLP-230, as well as on my Akoustik Piano virtual (software) piano system.[/b]
I've only just read your earlier post from 9 weeks ago. (Yes, I'm slow. But I've only just begun to be interested in the software piano, and I'm looking at Pianoteq and True Pianos.)

Anyway, I like the sound of your CLP-230 way better than the Akoustik. If makes me wonder if I should even bother going the software route. I have a CLP-240. So, your demo suggests that my
DP will sound better than the Akoustik software.

Still, I'm willing to give Pianoteq and True Pianos a go. I just can't seem to solve the latency issue. (I play, but I don't record, so latency is a problem.)

Please reply if you know of any solutions.

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#696083 - 01/06/09 03:37 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound
Glenn NK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 457
Loc: Victoria BC
Hmmmm, latency. I learned tonight that latency may be a red herring. I'll explain.

I've been fighting "clicks" when playing live or playing a midi file in real time while using Pianoteq.

I was under impression that the latency should be 5 ms or less, or a pianist would detect the lag time between hitting the key and hearing the note (latency).

I tried many suggestions provided by others on an audio forum to no avail until "Mac" suggested trying a higher latency - in the order of 20 ms or so.

I though he was nuts, but I had nothing to lose, so I set the ASIO latency to 20 ms, fully believing it would throw me off. I started playing in 1946, and have been at it continuously since then, so if the latency was bad, it would bother me - I'm too old a dog to learn new tricks.

I could not detect a difference even in fast note passages - but the "clicks" disappeared. I had a latency problem, but because it was set too small. ;\)

So much for latency over 10 ms as a problem. It can be in audio applications while multi-tracking, but as Mac explained it "much is made of latency by people who learned the term because of the computer".

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#1291141 - 10/21/09 09:53 AM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound [Re: ere]
Auggiedoggy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/06/09
Posts: 39
Loc: Ottawa, Ontario
Good day,

Which sound cards would you recommend? I'm looking at coming up with a good computer configuration to MIDI with my Yamaha P-60. Besides the sound card are there other considerations for a good configuration? I'm newbie to this type of thing so use simple words! smile

Thanks.

p.s. Is Pianoteq still your s/w of choice?

Rob
_________________________
Yamaha CP-300, P-85, NP-30

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#1291474 - 10/21/09 07:28 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound [Re: Orez Eno]
sorka Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/26/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Merced, CA
Originally Posted By: Orez Eno


The computer is a DELL XPS with 3GHz dual core processor that cost me $1900. The external audio interface unit is a $130 EMU 0202 (to record the CLP-230).


But this is simply more computer than you need. I run Pianoteq on a $300 notebook and the 1.6 GHz processor is more than fast enough to keep even with a polyphonic count. $300 notebook + $300 computer gets you much better sounding piano than all but the highest end digitals costing $10K+.

The way to justify it is if you're willing to go through a PC get get great sound, then the keyboard you buy only has to be judged on weight, feel, hammer action, etc.

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#1291479 - 10/21/09 07:31 PM Re: Piano Soft vs DP Internal sound [Re: sorka]
sorka Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/26/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Merced, CA
To solve the latency issue, most PCs will need to have asio4all installed. See http://www.asio4all.com/ for details.

When I first installed Pianoteq, this was the issue. After installing asio4all, the latency was gone to the extent that I could turn the volume up on the onboard processor and there was no difference in time between the onboard speakers and the bookshelf speakers coming out of the notebook.

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