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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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