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#697902 - 07/31/07 07:38 PM How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
MrsG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/07
Posts: 22
What I mean is termed "Digital Convergence." The point where we say, forget about acoustic pianos, digital pianos are just as good. How close are we to that?

For instance, I have read about the new Kawai MP8 and other Kawai models that are more traditional in their piano looks (such as the CA71) that feature wooden keys and piano action, for instance... it seems like digital pianos are coming very close to being as playable and possibly as enjoyable as acoustic pianos.

What do you think? I have been looking for an acoustic piano since November, but it is to the point that I am about to abandon my search for an acoustic piano and head over to digital piano land.

The reasons for my frustration...
1) I can't seem to afford a proper new acoustic piano.
2) Lack of new acoustic pianos to try in my area.
3) Frustration at the poor selection of used acoustic pianos.
4) Realization that I won't be able to afford to maintain an acoustic piano properly over its lifetime.

Your thoughts??

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#697903 - 07/31/07 07:53 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21665
Loc: Oakland
They each have their pluses and minuses. There just comes a point when they do not do the same things.

Digital plusses:
1. Smaller and lighter.
2. Lower initial cost. Lower recurring maintenance.
3. More sounds.

Acoustic plusses:
1. Greater longevity.
2. More easily repaired.
3. More resonant, such as resonance between individual notes.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#697904 - 07/31/07 09:05 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3876
Piano maintainance over 50 years is going to be cheaper than buying a new digital every 5 years. Digitals are not going to replace pianos anytime soon. I think everyone should own one, learn to play it, then buy a real piano.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#697905 - 07/31/07 09:24 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
I think people are kidding themselves if they think digitals will not soon be able to emulate nearly perfectly everything an acoustic can do, in smaller, cheaper package that never needs to be tuned and always sounds like a 9' concert grand.

Considering the price and snobbery associated with acoustics, I'm all for the change.

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#697906 - 07/31/07 09:45 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Tony V Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 354
Interesting topic.

Digital pianos are really getting more accurate and accurate to an acoustic.

My question: Will acoustic pianos also be improving, therefore offsetting the progress of digital piano advancement to a broke-even state? Won't digital pianos always be one step below an acoustic?

Of course, honestly, I don't know anything about acoustic pianos. Can someone clarify for me whether companies are improving piano sound and action? Or are all acoustic pianos the same in sound (in respect to the individual brand of course)? o_0

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#697907 - 07/31/07 10:07 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
DigitalPianoMan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/07
Posts: 33
Loc: NYC
Maybe we already have the technology but just don't want to hurt sales of pianos. Who knows...

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#697908 - 07/31/07 11:42 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
WhiteBear Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/18/07
Posts: 161
Loc: Ontario, Canada
 Quote:
I think people are kidding themselves if they think digitals will not soon be able to emulate nearly perfectly everything an acoustic can do, in smaller, cheaper package that never needs to be tuned and always sounds like a 9' concert grand.

Considering the price and snobbery associated with acoustics, I'm all for the change.
I second this opinion in a wink.

Longevity of the acoustic pianos may probably the last myth for the piano industry to cling for.

If needed (and there was some good discussion of whether it is needed at this point in a different forum: Another piano forum discussion ) what would prohibit to make digitals with appropriate replaceable parts??

My subjective perception that we are at the point where DPs are about to outcompete uprights.

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#697909 - 07/31/07 11:49 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
WhiteBear Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/18/07
Posts: 161
Loc: Ontario, Canada
 Quote:
Maybe we already have the technology but just don't want to hurt sales of pianos. Who knows...
Fortunately, we have Roland which has no vested interests in acoustic piano sales \:D

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#697910 - 08/01/07 12:22 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1529
We are talking about virtual reality. Current digital pianos are far from simulating the acoustic reality and response of a Steinway grand. It may never happen, probably not in our lifetime. Current speaker technology alone does not permit equality in the foreseeable future.
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#697911 - 08/01/07 12:30 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Tony V Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 354
How about this?

http://www.steinwaylyngdorf.com/

Speakers are pretty refined nowadays. There is software that can emulate real piano sound. I bet if you combined the two, blindfolded the skeptics, played a song on piano and then on software + high-end speakers, then I bet you can fool many people.

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#697912 - 08/01/07 12:34 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1529
Not impressed. Current speaker technology is not sophisticated enough to produce waveforms with the same acoustical properties[/b] as a real piano.
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#697913 - 08/01/07 12:52 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Tony V Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 354
Can you go more in depth about acoustical properties? And can you also explain what are the flaws of speaker technology?

I'm not trying to start anything here. I admit that I don't know much if anything on this subject and would love to hear what you have to say on the technical limitations of speaker technology.

As far as I know, everything is just sound waves and I am under the impression that we have the technology to emulate these sound wave patterns. I'm also under the impression that we might be capable of great sound projection seeing we have great sound systems in our movie theaters and such.

Also, I'd like to hear your opinion on this:
http://kawaius.com/main_links/digital/new_cp/cp207.html

Is that a step towards acoustic properties for digitals?

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#697914 - 08/01/07 01:29 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
crusadar Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/07
Posts: 670
Loc: Middle England
It would be interesting to find out if there are statistics which show how many people who, like me, returned to, or started, playing piano because digital pianos were now available and if there were still only acoustics around probably wouldn't have bothered. Someone in Piano retailing would have an idea if they sell more digitals than acoustics, to newbies or experienced pianists. Perhaps the average pianist, who plays just for their own amusement, is quite happy with something that sounds close enough to the real thing. As far as digital piano technology goes I fear we may be suffering from planned obsolesance, similar to the personal computer industry, the technology is there but it is released little by little in order to get us to constantly buy the latest models.

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#697915 - 08/01/07 02:06 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21665
Loc: Oakland
If you cannot hear or feel the difference between an acoustic piano and a digital piano, then either will do. For those of us who can, they are two different instruments, and there is nothing wrong with that.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#697916 - 08/01/07 03:44 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Pumucky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/04/06
Posts: 30
Loc: UK
Somebody pointed out somewhere in this forum that DPs should be considered as instruments in their own right; similar to electric guitars. The point was that they shouldn't be "compared" to acoustics but rather evaluated for what you could do with them as instruments.

I think that's an interesting thought.

However, many of us look at DPs as replacements for acoustic pianos. If we were not looking to, at least, emulate the sound and feel of an acoustics we would be considering synthesizers. So, in theory, the ideal DP should be indistinguishable from an acoustic from the player’s and the listener’s perspective.

Having said this, I can’t help wondering what would the acoustic piano feel and sound like if inventors and manufacturers had had a different set of technologies at hand. Would they have preferred a good amp-speaker set to a wooden soundboard? Is the former actually better at reproducing sound waves without altering them?
Obviously, now the soundboard is an integral part of the instrument and has an essential role in shaping the actual sound of the instrument: nobody sees it as an extraneous element that is only there in order to magnify the vibrations of the strings (this is an oversimplification, though).

Just thinking aloud…
_________________________
And do they do.

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#697917 - 08/01/07 06:17 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
DigitalPianoMan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/07
Posts: 33
Loc: NYC
 Quote:
Originally posted by WhiteBear:
 Quote:
Maybe we already have the technology but just don't want to hurt sales of pianos. Who knows...
Fortunately, we have Roland which has no vested interests in acoustic piano sales \:D [/b]
Touché lol


The speakers that could replicate an acoustic piano exactly would probably cost so much that it'd be less expensive to buy a grand piano (or 2 for that matter). I really like the idea of digitals being their own instrument but mainly so that I don't feel bad for not owning a "real" piano

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#697918 - 08/01/07 06:58 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
ZeroZero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/07
Posts: 225
Loc: UK
I have just bought a RP 700 gem. I must say I am pleased with it. On the minus side the bass is a little too heavy (not too bad though) but I assume that a real piano could be this way. Also I can't get a really ppp sound out of it.
On the plus sign I will never have to tune it, worry about central heating, the tone is excellent, and unlike other digitals there is a blend between velociy layering where I cannot detect a change. I do find I can sensitivity from the instrument - though perhaps not the full range - ppp - fff of the piano maybe just pp-ff
On the whole I am delighted

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#697919 - 08/01/07 10:36 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Digitals ALREADY have acoustic pianos beat in
regards to: purchase price (grand piano-like
sound and touch for less than 1/10
the price of an acoustic grand piano);
maintenance (no tuning or maintenance
of any kind needed, ever--this compares
with $150.00 tunings at least twice
a year for an acoustic, and other
repairs); durability and reliability
(a digital should last indefinitely without
maintenance or repair of any kind--
my neighbor now owns my first digital,
a Korg C-800 console that I bought
new in 1989; it is still in perfect
condition and has never needed any
kind of maintenance or repair);
features (digitals have volume control
and a headphone jack so that you can play
them anytime, anywhere; they also have
things like instant record and playback,
computer connectivity, etc.);
enjoyment (digitals are more fun to
play than acoustic pianos); and so
forth.

The sound and touch of digitals is of
course not exactly the same as an
acoustic, but it is close enough for
all practical purposes.

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#697920 - 08/01/07 10:54 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
4sCompany Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/12/07
Posts: 18
Loc: San Francisco
What Gyro said.

I was looking at spending 10k on an acoustic piano, looked for 6 months. I love the acoustic instrument and one day, when circustance change (larger home), I have an acoustic in my home with a DP. But I recently came to realize with 3 piano players in the house a digital would be better. See my post on the CA91 I just bought. I imagine if you blind folded an average piano hack like me, it'd be challenging to tell the difference btwn an acoustic and CA91, at least initially. Good topic!
_________________________
Kawai CA91

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#697921 - 08/01/07 11:08 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Jon J. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/17/02
Posts: 17
Loc: Michigan
Good discussion here!! Per my understanding, it takes an acoustic instrument to generate the sounds for the digitals. As the electronic/mechanical technology improves for accurately reproducing these sampled sounds, the lines of "distinction" between the two will undoubtly blurr. But we all know the answer here. It is marketing. Since no one piano will satisfy all players equally - the industry gives a choice. Hooray for that!!

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#697922 - 08/01/07 11:16 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
Pianos are actually being fully modeled with technology like Pianoteq. It's a bit disappointing they haven't put this technology in more mobile stage instruments.

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#697923 - 08/01/07 11:39 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
 Quote:
Originally posted by redcoat:
It would be interesting to find out if there are statistics which show how many people who, like me, returned to, or started, playing piano because digital pianos were now available and if there were still only acoustics around probably wouldn't have bothered. Someone in Piano retailing would have an idea if they sell more digitals than acoustics, to newbies or experienced pianists. Perhaps the average pianist, who plays just for their own amusement, is quite happy with something that sounds close enough to the real thing. As far as digital piano technology goes I fear we may be suffering from planned obsolesance, similar to the personal computer industry, the technology is there but it is released little by little in order to get us to constantly buy the latest models. [/b]
I think that this is an excellent point. Being able to mess about on a keyboard with headphones on at 1 in the morning without worrying about family, housemates or neighbors, low purchase price and maintenance costs, portability, little space taken up in the house, fun of playing around with other voices. I know digitals initially got me playing again!

I wasn't satisfied after a while though and did buy an acoustic, and I intend to keep buying digitals as new, improved ones come out as digital has benefits for practicing over acoustic.

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#697924 - 08/01/07 01:02 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
ge_lw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 10
I'm a PhD candidate on electronics. I’d like to say some technical stuff.

What we hear are analog sound waves. In theory, sound recorded on analog tapes ALWAYS contains more details than digitally recorded sound, because sampling and representing each sample’s amplitude by finite bits, 16/24/32, introduce distortion. However, as sampling rate and bit-width increase, distortion can be undetectable by human ears. Therefore, in practice, DPs will replace acoustics bit by bit, just like digital camera replaces film camera. But high end acoustic and film camera will always exist.

Digital recording can achieve high fidelity, as long as the memory is sufficient. The bottleneck is more at the playback. It is like this: the speaker generates sound by vibrating a surface at certain amplitude and frequency. Even if a versatile speaker can generate each individual note accurately, when multiple notes sound simultaneously, the vibrations of different frequencies and amplitudes on the same surface will interfere with each other. The notes will not be ‘pure’ any more. Possible solution is using 88 speakers, one for each key. In fact, strings of acoustic do interfere with each other. But the interference is hard to emulate.

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#697925 - 08/01/07 02:05 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
At the end of the day, when playing a digital you'll always be listening to the sound of a recorded piano and that sound will not have the richness of an acoustic.

You can increase the satisfaction of a digital by listening thru studio-quality headphones, such as Sennheiser's HD-580's or their newer 600's, and by buying third party samples or pianoteq's modelled piano (which to my ears sounds synthetic when chords are sustained), but you'll still be listening to recorded sounds.

Digitals do allow you to expand your piano universe. I currently play Art Vista's sampled Steinway B. Proaudiovault sells a sampled, company authorized Bluther Model One and Gary Garritan will soon release a company authorized Steinway D. The Garritan Steinway will included samples which can be triggered by an una corda (soft) pedal.

Playing any of these requires connecting your 'board to a computer. It's not complicated, but it's something to consider.

If you're considering a digital because of frustration re finding an acoustic that's within your budget, it might be worthwhile to make a piano shopping trip to a city which has a number of dealers.

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#697926 - 08/01/07 05:18 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Tony V Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 354
Great explanation, ge_lw. That is exactly what I wanted to find out.

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#697927 - 08/01/07 11:05 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
For the record, if I had the means, I probably always will prefer to have an acoustic concert grand than even the finest digital.

It's an emotional thing.

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#697928 - 08/01/07 11:26 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
WhiteBear Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/18/07
Posts: 161
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Reaper978,
I second your sentiments very much.
While I (wrongly or not) largely dismiss uprights considering current advances of DPs, there is a lot of sentimental value and charm in grands plus the sound!!
So far, I did not have a chance to test a DP imitating/approximating grands fully satisfactory to me.

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#697929 - 08/02/07 12:08 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Stephen Hazel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 734
Loc: Seattle-ish, WA
this is the digital forum, so I've got to root for digital. That's why i'm in this forum \:D

We all know the answers.
you want pure piano sound? You'll always need an acoustic.
you want more than that? You'll always need a synth.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I like synths better.
Pianos are beautiful.
But a piano isn't enough for me.

Someday if I ever get rich, I'll cram an acoustic into the livingroom (somehow!).
But my first love will always be the synth.
_________________________
...Steve
http://PianoCheetah.com - writing my own piano practice program ...yeah, I'm crazy like that

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#697930 - 08/02/07 12:16 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
ge_lw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 10
Different people perceive the same sound differently. The ultimate DP should be as this:

An individual strikes each key of a desired acoustic at different velocity, duration, etc. Record the corresponding electric signals his/her ears transmit to the brain through nerves. This profile defines the acoustic perceptual space of that individual. Based on this profile, adjust a DP, so that the DP arouses the same nerve signals when it is played at the same velocity/duration as on the acoustic. After the profile extraction and the DP adjustment, the DP will be the same as the acoustic for that individual.

The reason why some people like a DP while others don’t is because they have different acoustic perceptual profiles. DP should be adjusted to correct the profile difference.

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#697931 - 08/02/07 07:19 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1529
 Quote:
Originally posted by ge_lw:
I'm a PhD candidate on electronics. I’d like to say some technical stuff.

What we hear are analog sound waves. In theory, sound recorded on analog tapes ALWAYS contains more details than digitally recorded sound, because sampling and representing each sample’s amplitude by finite bits, 16/24/32, introduce distortion. However, as sampling rate and bit-width increase, distortion can be undetectable by human ears. Therefore, in practice, DPs will replace acoustics bit by bit, just like digital camera replaces film camera. But high end acoustic and film camera will always exist.

Digital recording can achieve high fidelity, as long as the memory is sufficient. The bottleneck is more at the playback. It is like this: the speaker generates sound by vibrating a surface at certain amplitude and frequency. Even if a versatile speaker can generate each individual note accurately, when multiple notes sound simultaneously, the vibrations of different frequencies and amplitudes on the same surface will interfere with each other. The notes will not be ‘pure’ any more. Possible solution is using 88 speakers, one for each key. In fact, strings of acoustic do interfere with each other. But the interference is hard to emulate. [/b]
That's right.

Now tell us the differences between how an acoustic piano projects it sound waves and how electronic speakers directionally project their sound waves. We will need a large number of computer controlled speakers to simulate the acoustics of a grand piano. It's not economically practical for home users in our lifetime.

How will they accurately manage to produce the hundreds of millions of combinations of potential sympathetic vibrations that modulate the waveforms when different combinations of notes are played together on a real piano? And factor in that the varying dynamic levels of every note within a group of notes (vertical or linear) produces different waveforms. Millions of possible interactions occur. As Mr. Spock would say these digital pianos are like trying "to construct a mnemonic circuit using stone knives and bearskins." It's like trying to get a robot to have feelings. It's way off in the distant future. we'll all be gone by that century.
It's not economically practical in our lifetimes.

Digital pianos are sort of like photographs, they capture a note in still life, it's very artificial, there is no felt hammer hitting strings strung across a metal bridge and a wooden sound board, AND the notes do not interact with each other the way they do in the acoustic world.
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#697932 - 08/02/07 10:16 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
WhiteBear Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/18/07
Posts: 161
Loc: Ontario, Canada
 Quote:
Digital pianos are sort of like photographs, they capture a note in still life, it's very artificial, there is no felt hammer hitting strings strung across a metal bridge and a wooden sound board, AND the notes do not interact with each other the way they do in the acoustic world.
Nice analogy, let's develop it further from a slightly different perspective:
Sure silver photography offers greater resolution, dynamic range, colour reproduction, etc
No silicon detector arrays are there yet to "beat" it.
Yet, when was the last time you have used it instead of a digital camera?
Why? First of all - simplicity of use, price of the pictures and largely because digital cameras reproduced the image "pretty much good enough" for our eyes for 4x6, 5X7 and recently even larger picture sizes. (Note, not perfect but just sufficient for >99% consumers out there)

Surely, the sound of digital is not the same (and never will be the same) as of a nicely engineered acoustic piano.
Yet, what matters of all this rich and beautiful sound, generated near magically inside a resonator of a musical instrument, is only its tiny part which reaches our ears. The ears are definitely a pretty sophisticated sensing device but still one that is abiding by basic physical principles and having its clear limitations in terms of frequency and amplitude resolution.
So, very importantly, the goal of sound reproduction (similar to photography) is greatly simplified to deliver "good enough for our ears".
That is obviously why high quality headphones capture more and more ardent funs despite being just puny silly coils.
Furthermore, take the surround sound: by superimposing all the sound components right, we may hear the richnesses of the sound not attainable even by "putting you head inside the grand" \:\) (pardon my rude analogy).

Now returning again to the digital photography: about 10 years ago, several megapixel arrays seemed hardly a reality for consumer electronic. Yet here we are!
Now, there is NOTHING limiting superb sound reproduction by digital technology from physical, engineering and, I am sure with some time, also from financial perspectives.
32, 64, 128, etc mass produced tiny coils and diaphragms are not that costly after all! (Think about those ten million pixels, they are not produced by manual labour no matter how cheap it can be in some part of the World \:\( )

All in all, I am personally convinced that DPs will put upright acoustic pianos into oblivion.
Grands would hopefully remain nice niche musical instrument (similar to silver photography nowadays). I would certainly love to see grands around (after all some magic should remain in our robotic technological age) and one day possibly having one alongside with our DP.

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#697933 - 08/02/07 01:14 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
Another analogy that I like is photograph (digital piano), vs painting (acoustic).

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#697934 - 08/02/07 01:43 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1230
Loc: Cape Cod
 Quote:
Originally posted by rintincop:
Digital pianos are sort of like photographs, they capture a note in still life, it's very artificial, there is no felt hammer hitting strings strung across a metal bridge and a wooden sound board, AND the notes do not interact with each other the way they do in the acoustic world. [/b]
I like the analogy too. For slightly different reasons. Film photos and digital photos are both recordings. Neither one can compete with being there with the real thing. Same for movies and/or videos. In fact, if they can't get the sound right, they won't stand a chance for that either. That's why we have the concept of the willing suspension of disbelief.

No matter how adequate sound systems might get on basic specs like clean, flat, and natural frequency, dynamic, and/or impulse response, there's still no way existing sound systems can duplicate what you hear when you listen to a real piano. Just listen to how the sound changes as you walk into a room where a piano is being played. Or even when you sit down and turn your head ever so slightly. Then throw on a recording and do the same thing. The best you can hope for is to get a similar effect from one fixed location in the room. And that won't even happen. Because the sound from a grand piano sources from so many locations, starting with its array of 88 notes (composed of many double and triple strings), it's sound board with its gigantic surface area (compared to that of speakers), not to mention the cabinet and lid which dwarf most speaker systems. Certainly a puny little 2-speaker sound system isn't going to emulate that with any accuracy.

I doubt even a Cray running the most advanced convolution program in existence would be able to model that many sound sources in real time. Even if you put an independently wired 88-speaker linear array into an appropriate wooden case to play the output. Didn't someone here say something about a doctoral dissertation? Might I suggest they do it on analysis of a playback system consisting of 4 specially wired Bose PAS's inserted into a grand piano case... that could yield a 96-source array. Add a couple sub-woofers and maybe you could call it a Bose Imperial.

But if you're talking apples to apples... comparing recordings of real pianos with recordings of sampled and/or synthesized pianos, that's a totally different question. My personal opinion is that sampled piano recordings can compete quite effectively with acoustic piano recordings. If only for the practical reason that it's easier to accurately record each individual note and impulse response in a controlled environment. An environment you're not likely to tolerate for a live performance. And you can re-take for perfection till the cows come home. And samples are in fact just recordings anyway.

The only catch is that the performer and audience won't get the same feedback from a sampled piano performance. And the performance may be impacted as a result. But if you throw a tft recording strip into a real grand piano...

Howard

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#697935 - 08/02/07 05:13 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
FogVilleLad Offline
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hv, [/b] definitely agree re comparing recordings of sampled and acoustic pianos. In an earlier thread, someone posted that David Neveu had been surprised to learn that a recording submitted to his site had been done with samples - Ivory, I think.

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#697936 - 08/02/07 05:25 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
FogVilleLad Offline
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Tuan Vo, [/b] acoustics do not all sound alike. Their differences are a source of the now-standard advice on the acoustic forum that people should play as many pianos as they can, until they find one that sings to them.

Most piano stores welcome people playing, especially early in the week when the store is not busy. You could have an enjoyable day by visiting shops and listening to pianos' different personalities.

Including brands such as Knabe, Brodmann, Bohemia, Kawai, and Mason & Hamlin in your auditioning will help you to experience the broad range of tonal palettes available in the acoustic world and how much richer is the sound of an acoustic.

You'll also experience the sound of a piano in a completely different way. Samples gives us an audience perspective. Sitting at the keyboard of an acoustic will give you a player's perspective. (Some years back Vintaudio included a player perspective preset in its C-7 samples.) Could be fun.

You could do a short course re tonal palettes by comparing Art Vista's Virtual Grand - the one I play; it's a sampled Steinway B - Bardstown Audio's Bosendorfer Imperial, and Proaudiovault's company-authorized Bluthner Model One concert grand. Samples are on the sites.

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#697937 - 08/02/07 07:00 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Van Offline
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It's more like NO maintenance for digitals (which for me is a big plus), studio quality recording is a breeze, and no problems switching back and forth with acoustics. I'm running over 8 different high end sampled pianos on the PC from my digital (the entire package for about 1200 bucks, not counting the PC say another 1500). I'd need half a million dollars if I wanted to get the real things \:\)

Do I still want a grand piano, yes, but I think the improvement would be marginal and hard to justify the price difference. I probably will upgrade in the next 5 years, but only because I know digitals are still evolving and a much better one will be out by then.
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#697938 - 08/02/07 07:26 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
FogVilleLad Offline
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sid, [/b] over the last four years, I've had five different sampled pianos and my next buy will be Proaudiovault's Bluthner. Much as I love listening to the samples thru Senn's studio-quality phones, none of the samples provides the richness and complexity of an acoustic.

Upgrading to an acoustic would provide much more than a marginal improvement. Now if the issue is sonic bang for the buck, this Budgeteer agrees with you;-)

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#697939 - 08/02/07 08:44 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
rintincop Offline
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When you strike two notes on a real piano their waveforms modulate each other in complex ways. This does not happen in a digital piano.

From Wiki:

"String resonance occurs on string instruments.

Strings or parts of strings may resonate at their fundamental or overtone frequencies when other strings are sounded. For example, an A string at 440 Hz will cause an E string at 330 Hz to resonate, because they share an overtone of 1320 Hz (3rd overtone of A and 4th overtone of E)."


That was a simple example.

Now consider all the different combinations of notes that get played on a piano and the different dynamic ratios between those notes. The dynamic level of each note, or its vibrating "energy" level, effects the vibration of other strings in different ways. The result is a very large number of different waveform modulations, potentially millions more than chips can process. And every acoustic piano has different characteristics of resonance and will behave in its own unique tonal way. String resonance is only crudely mimicked on digital pianos with an artificial "on or off" sort of approach..
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#697940 - 08/03/07 12:06 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
FogVilleLad Offline
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rintincop,[/b] wonderful post.

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#697941 - 08/03/07 02:56 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
WhiteBear Offline
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 Quote:
String resonance is only crudely mimicked on digital pianos with an artificial "on or off" sort of approach..


Both Kawai and Roland (the very least I know) offer user-adjustable string resonance for quite some time! Actually, that would be one of the most suitable for digital simulation effect, since, as you exemplified nicely, resonances are due to the overtones, which are very straightforward to calculate and emulate with sufficient variations.

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#697942 - 08/03/07 07:58 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
rintincop Offline
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Take a look at real acoustic piano waveforms with an oscilloscope and how they vary on a real piano when different notes are struck simultaneously, it's not straightforward. In reality the variety of sympathetic vibration responses is a very large number. The waveforms that result from sympathetic vibrations are more complex than just calculating mathematical overtones between two notes. The dynamic level, or energy of each note, has an effect on the waveform modulation and piano players usually play far more than two notes at once. Each individual note and its dynamic level have an effect on the overall waveform modulation created by a group of notes. Digital piano makers may call it "string resonance" but its fake. Roland simulates resonance in an artificial way, it's more of a sound effect, it's just a sample sample gets turned on and off when you strike a note. It's a crude simulation and not the same thing as real acoustic resonance. Kawai tries to apply some math programming but it only crudely scratches the surface of the immense number of variations in waveforms that result from the dynamic vibrations of different combinations of notes.
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#697943 - 08/03/07 08:33 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
TimR Offline
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Two observations:

My church has a grand and three uprights. My older model digital is very close to the grand and miles ahead of the best of the uprights. Granted the uprights could be improved with expensive maintenance, this is still my experience most places. I have no trouble moving back and forth to the grand, but moving from the digital to the upright or the upright to the grand takes some adjustment.

Most of the piano listening we do is on CD, through a speaker system. None of us can afford to go to live performances in a concert hall every day. We seem to think digitally recorded piano is acceptable - why not live digital?
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#697944 - 08/03/07 08:36 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
ge_lw Offline
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Posts: 10
Hi, guys,

I’m surprised that my post on technical stuff got heated replies. I’m also amazed by the knowledge of some pianists on electronics. I’m a Chinese. If there is anything offensive in my post, forgive me. That’s my poor English, not my intention.

To be frank, my PhD study has nothing to do with acoustics. My knowledge mainly comes from my wife, who works in Microsoft Research, Asia. The speech engine in Windows Vista is developed by her team. Speech is a sequence of syllables. Music is a sequence of notes. Vista synthesizes speech by concatenating previously recorded syllables, while DP concatenates notes. Following discussion is based on my knowledge of speech, which may not be correct for DP.

1. Single Note
A sound signal s(t) = A * sin(F * t + P) has 3 parameters: amplitude, frequency, and phase. As WhiteBear says, ‘human ears have limitations in terms of frequency and amplitude resolution’. By increasing the sampling frequency (44.1kHz to 192kHz) and bit-width (16 to 24, 32), the amplitude/frequency information of a sound can be accurately captured. The difficulty lies in capturing phase, which carries spatial/directional information. The problem is that MIC array is fixed, but head moves during the play. However, head moves in limited space (within 2 meters from seat, 180 degree rotation). Again, by discretizing the space into regions of different angles, I guess it can be solved. As to rintincop’s worry on dynamic richness, it can be solved by layers. If 4 layers are not enough, let's say 64, 128 layers?

2. Multiple Notes
Next, I suggest solution to rintincop’s worry on ‘hundreds of millions of combinations of notes’. Just like speech is not a sequence of random syllables, music is NOT a sequence of random notes. Here, note includes not only the pitch, but also amplitude, energy, spectrum, etc. By recording the most popular 1000 scores played over the world (enough?), we get repeated patterns of note combination. The total possible combinations are huge, but by recording the most frequently appeared 10% combinations, we may cover 70% of the combinations in the 1000 scores. If the 10% selected combinations are still huge, we can decompose note into lower-level states and study the state combinations (like decomposing molecules into basic atoms). Statistic models, model classification/clustering, etc. are powerful tools to find regularity in disorder. They’ve been successfully used in fields like speech processing and DNA analysis.
As to the 30% non-recorded combinations, how to handle the resonances? As rintincop says, striking one string causes vibrations in the other 87 strings. These vibrations further influence each other. We can measure the intensity of the 87 vibrations caused by 1 string. Altogether we get an 88 by 88 matrix to describe the correlations between any two strings. The easier two strings resonate, the higher the correlation coefficient between them. Of course we need one matrix for each layer. With these matrix, we can calculate the string interaction. After a few iterations, the calculation will converge. Similar method has been used to estimate electric signal interference between wires.

It is a pity that Bill Gates plays Xbox, not the piano. Otherwise he will introduce Moore’s law into digital instruments: in 18 months, price drops by 50% and layers (samples, functions, etc.) double.

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#697945 - 08/03/07 10:32 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Pumucky Offline
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I think we have to admit that any string resonance technology has to be a simplification of what happens on an acoustic instrument.

However, perhaps the question lays on whether that simplification is able to capture enough details so that it can not be distinguished by – let’s be ambitious – the above-average ear from the real thing.

On one side we have the number of strings able to resonate. Unless you are using the pedal, only those strings for which you are still holding the key would be able to resonate. I suppose this simplifies things a little bit.

In addition to this, we have the fact that when the string vibrates (in this case due to resonance) the amplitude of the “non-fundamental” (I just made this word up) harmonics go down very quickly as you move away from this fundamental. This means that only a few (I don’t know how many) of the harmonics will be heard and, more importantly, be able to create resonances in other strings.
If we consider that string resonance starts at a very low amplitude compared to the vibration that caused this resonance, then I think we can see that only a few of the harmonics “around” the fundamental (for each string) would be loud enough to be heard or, even less, to create further resonances.

Whether the aspects of the resonance interplay that are “relevant” to our ears can still be properly captured by current technology, I don’t know. However, I’ve always been an advocate of the “blindfolded test”: if you can’t tell the difference, then there’s no difference.
If believe that, as time goes by, more and more people are starting to have problems to really spot the differences. In many cases I’m not able to spot the DP, but then again, I’m not a good benchmark ;-)

Cheers,
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#697946 - 08/03/07 11:06 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
99gnome Offline
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Registered: 08/02/07
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Loc: Germany, Cologne
I think the ear probably is way overrated: in times when many many people consume mp3s via ipod or even at home (where you can easily spot the difference between 128kbit mp3 and CD), people get so much used to artificial sound (that lacks information), the difference between real and digital piano is barely audible. Go on, make the test: on many recordings of pop music, you hear the cheap keyboards on which piano parts are played. But ask your friends not playing piano what they hear - most of won't even be able to tell the difference between keyboard and stage or real piano. So, in a nutshell, digitals are already very good!
On the other hand, a real upright or grand, that vibrates, makes mechanical noises - it is somehow like a living being. Digital simply cannot capture this. The look is different, watching the hammers hit the strings - it is sheer joy to me and you cannot transfer this to a digital piano. So - digitals can never beat real pianos - live!

\:\)

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#697947 - 08/03/07 12:24 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
ge_lw Offline
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Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 10
 Quote:
Originally posted by Pumucky:

Unless you are using the pedal, only those strings for which you are still holding the key would be able to resonate.
[/b]
Pumucky, thank you for your information. I know nothing about piano. That really simplifies the calculation greatly.

I think vibration caused by striking is NOT fundamentally different from vibration caused by resonance. Energy is just transmitted either by hammer or the common harmonics. So there is no need to analyze the spectrum and harmonics. We just need the correlation like "a striking on string X with (level=53, duration=2s, ...) causes vibration on string Y, which is equivalent to a striking on string Y with (level=3, duration=0.5s, ...)". The correlation table is huge. But based on human ear's resolution, many items in the table will be merged (clustered) and some features (level, duration, etc.) are added or removed. Once the simplified table is obtained, resonance can be calculated accurately. The technology is mature and older than I.

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#697948 - 08/03/07 02:18 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
ge_lw Offline
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Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 10
 Quote:
Originally posted by rintincop:

Digital pianos are sort of like photographs, they capture a note in still life, it's very artificial [/b]
Hi, rintincop
Like you, I really love acoustics. But I never have chance to put hands on a grand. \:\( Still, I can imagine the expressiveness of a grand.

Here, I want to further discuss with you on sound (not action). Assume Mozart stroke piano keys 1 million times in his lifetime, which is amazing but still not covering all the notes a grand can generate. Assume an acoustic has a serious 'bug' that it can only generates that 1M kinds of notes, will Mozart notice it? No. So, expressiveness and richness are not decided by individual note, but the note quantity.

You say a still photo is artificial. Yes, a video is more lively. But video is obtained by taking 30 still photos every second. Again, quantity matters. So, it is meaningless to discuss the liveliness and smooth transition on a single photo. We only care whether a photo is accurate or blurred.

Similarly, you cannot attribute the lack of emotions of DP to digital recording. For sound recording, as long as the amplitude, frequency, and phase are accurate, the recording is of high fidelity. This is already achieved. If a DP accurately records all the notes you strike in your lifetime on an acoustic and always picks up the correct note based on your strike force, holding time, etc., will you still complain about the lack of emotions? I believe as the layers and samples increase, DP will express more subtleties.

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#697949 - 08/03/07 02:59 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
theJourney Offline
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I like to remember that: video is nothing more than still images that are displayed faster than the the bit rate of your consciousness (see book The User Illusion for more on this).

I think this is a key concept: is the sound from the digital piano good enough to give the brain+ears of the listener the illusion that he is playing either an acoustic or something that is just as good?

Whether or not it duplicates the acoustic is irrelevant. Just as for almost all listeners whether they are listening to just the limited data contained on a CD versus an LP doesn't matter and isn't noticeable; in fact, the CD has benefits for most people over the LP, just as the digital piano is starting to have benefits over the acoustic for many people.

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#697950 - 08/03/07 03:02 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
signa Offline
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Loc: Ohio, USA
very informative, ge_lw! i really think that it's not even necessary for a DP to match an acoustic grand 100% in accuracy. as long as our ear can no longer distiguish any difference from the 2, then the technology will be is good enough. hopefully, we could have such a DP pretty soon.

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#697951 - 08/03/07 03:59 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Monica K. Offline

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Registered: 08/10/05
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 Quote:
Originally posted by 99gnome:
On the other hand, a real upright or grand, that vibrates, makes mechanical noises - it is somehow like a living being. Digital simply cannot capture this. The look is different, watching the hammers hit the strings - it is sheer joy to me and you cannot transfer this to a digital piano. So - digitals can never beat real pianos - live!
\:\) [/b]
Ditto here. I was somewhat surprised to see so many posts comparing the listener's experience of digitals vs. acoustics (i.e., the sound), and much fewer talking about the player's perspective (how it feels). When I play my grand, I feel vibrations in my fingers as the hammer hits the strings. I feel vibrations in my feet when I pedal. I feel vibrations in my.... er, never mind. \:D None of the digitals I have ever tried have captured the sensual experience of playing an acoustic.

I agree with the posters here who say that digitals should be considered a separate instrument, like electric guitars. Not better, not worse: just different, with lots of advantages the acoustic can't beat. But if I could only have one, it would be my acoustic.
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#697952 - 08/03/07 04:09 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
paul milando Offline
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Loc: westfield Indiana
Alot of digitals have built in speakers. You can indeed feel the vibration. With a good subwoofer you can feel it there too!
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#697953 - 08/03/07 04:15 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Monica K. Offline

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You know, Paul, the digitals I've played I haven't felt any vibration, and I've played some good ones (Clavinova, GEM Genesys, etc.). Maybe I just didn't have the volume high enough (as I was trying these out in stores so wasn't cranking it).
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#697954 - 08/03/07 04:20 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Bob Newbie Offline
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AS the beach Boys used to sing I'm gettin those Good Vibrations... \:\)

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#697955 - 08/03/07 05:38 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Clockwiser Offline
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Registered: 04/30/07
Posts: 14
Loc: UK
I think all the effort people put in creating digital pianos that imitates acoustic pianos could be finding ways making concert quality acoustic grand pianos at a much cheaper cost.

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#697956 - 08/03/07 08:59 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
hv Offline
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Loc: Cape Cod
rintincop, better resonance handling is becoming more common in software samplers. For instance, a number of NI-format piano libraries are using scripts to add additional harmonic frequencies into the sound dynamically. The Kawai MP8 is a packaged keyboard does it. If there aren't others doing it too, its only a matter of time.

A more exciting and accurate approach is to use convolution and impulse response techniques. I understand piano manufacturers are starting to use this approach in their design stages. Because it can not only generate all the resonances, it can also let them hear how it would change if they used a different string, sound-board, or case material... before going to the expense of building the experimental piano.

I think Monica's right about digital actions. I don't know a one that tries to emulate the jack-action you feel with a real piano action. Except maybe a real piano outfitted for midi.

Howard

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#697957 - 08/03/07 10:36 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
WhiteBear Offline
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Registered: 07/18/07
Posts: 161
Loc: Ontario, Canada
 Quote:
Ditto here. I was somewhat surprised to see so many posts comparing the listener's experience of digitals vs. acoustics (i.e., the sound), and much fewer talking about the player's perspective (how it feels). When I play my grand, I feel vibrations in my fingers as the hammer hits the strings. I feel vibrations in my feet when I pedal. I feel vibrations in my.... er, never mind. [Big Grin] None of the digitals I have ever tried have captured the sensual experience of playing an acoustic.
We are talking a really new dimension in pianos/DPs at least from a marketing perspective :rolleyes:
(Possibly one of the solution to offer to the thread on stimulating demand for acoustic pianos)

I am a believer in technology, so I can imagine Yamaha ad's lines in few years down the road:
"Clavinova XXX: offering you the sensual feeling of true acoustic vibes and beyond; the instrument to deeply touch your soul and body..." \:D

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#697958 - 08/03/07 11:15 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
gaffster Offline
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Loc: east central florida
ge_lw, - a mathematical model can be used to emulate piano string interaction and any speaker can reproduce an as many notes as there are as long as it has the dynamic (amplitude range) and frequency repsonse to the extent audible by humans. You are right about the emulation of the wave front at any and every pointin space by a pair if speakers is not yet possible. That is how you always detect a live performance vs a recording...

Sound pressure emulation in a 3-d space is a still a non-existant specification as far as musical instruments go (requires something other than todays stereo speakers), however surround sound is getting better


Also another problem of emulation is that every acoustic piano is different because of the loosness of construction and it's environmental interaction.
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#697959 - 08/04/07 01:52 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
ge_lw Offline
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Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 10
 Quote:
Originally posted by hv:

A more exciting and accurate approach is to use convolution and impulse response techniques. I understand piano manufacturers are starting to use this approach in their design stages. Because it can not only generate all the resonances, it can also let them hear how it would change if they used a different string, sound-board, or case material... before going to the expense of building the experimental piano.
[/b]
Howard, it is COOL! I never heard about it before! Thank you for your information!

The impulse response technique has beautiful formulation in maths, but requires building complex acoustic models. Compared with human articulation organ (nose, tongue, lips, teeth...) that has evolved and perfected for millions of years, piano is simply pieces of wood & strings. It is possible to build an acoustic model for a piano with certain accuracy. But I'm still conservative that a mathematically computed, purely artificial sound outperforms the careful recording of a genuine grand. In my point of view, it only gives rough estimation of a prototype piano to the designer. If you're sure today's piano model can reflect the nuance between Yamaha C7 and Steinway, please DO tell me. \:D

I think the impulse response technique is more useful in applications that are less sound quality demanding, like speech synthesis. By smoothly changing the lips and tongues in the model, the transition between syllables is more natural than concatenation-based method. But today's human model only has telephone voice quality. That's why Microsoft uses recording-based, concatenative method.

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#697960 - 08/04/07 08:05 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
FogVilleLad Offline
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ge_lw, proaudiovault recently released a company-authorized sampled Bluthner Model One. Those samples make extensive use of impulses. Their demos will let you audition how this company uses impulses to change the character of the samples. The site is here.

Also, at the bottom of the home page there's a section, Technical Audio Examples.

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#697961 - 08/13/07 03:13 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
paul milando Offline
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Registered: 02/02/06
Posts: 265
Loc: westfield Indiana
Feel the vibe. DIGITAL GRAND PIANO DP-1
Kawai's AWA Grand PRO wooden-key action closely reproduces the
characteristics of Kawai' s acclaimed EX Concert Grand Piano. The
hammer weight is graded from top to bottom to replicate the dynamic
weight curve of the EX Concert Grand Piano. Additionally, the bass
keys are counter-balanced to create a more even static weight curve.
This combination of graded weights and counterbalances gives the
AWA Grand PRO action a remarkably realistic feel throughout the
dynamic ranges.
Moreover, the DP1 has a new key vibration system. Key vibration has been
implemented to give an improved playing experience from the keyboard.
The intensity of the key vibration can
be adjusted and stored for each individual sound.
_________________________
Talking about music is like dancing about art. If the truth will set you free, what do prunes do?

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#697962 - 08/13/07 03:56 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
krypt0 Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 173
I have both a digital piano (Yamaha P120) and an acoustic upright (Petrof P125) and to me, there's no comparison between the two. To me, the acoustic is FAR more enjoyable to play. In fact, I rarely play my digital anymore since purchasing the acoustic about a year ago.

Now, why is it I prefer the acoustic more? I've given it a lot of thought and for me, it boils down to three key factors: (1) the acoustic sounds better (much better IMO); (2) the acoustic provides more tactile feedback (which could be considered good or bad I guess, but I consider it good because I believe it gives me better touch and control); (3) the acoustic has much better sustain.

I realize digital pianos have several advantages over acoustics (portability, headphone jacks, different voices, etc.) and that's why I intend to keep my digital around. Personally, however, I don't ever see myself ditching my acoustic to go exclusively digital. I know digitals will continue to improve and evolve, but they'll never be a replacement for a good acoustic upright or grand IMHO. Digitals and acoustics are simply different instruments that provide different experiences and I think it'll always be that way.

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#697963 - 08/14/07 04:21 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
WhiteBear Offline
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Registered: 07/18/07
Posts: 161
Loc: Ontario, Canada
 Quote:
Digitals and acoustics are simply different instruments that provide different experiences and I think it'll always be that way.
I am sure there were exactly the same sentiments when diesel engines started to take over the steamies.
Well, there is always a sentimental value! :rolleyes:

Your assessment of P-120 vs. an upright makes sense, but what about CLP-270, CVP-307, Roland HP-207, Kawai CA-91 vs. uprights??

Just from a purely technological perspective, we are talking about faithful reproduction (and beyond) of the sound of about two hundred strings excited by hammer action in a resonating box.

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#697964 - 08/14/07 07:21 AM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Tony V Offline
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Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 354
I bumped into this:

http://www.pianoteq.com/pianoteq_details.php

What do you all think? It's software that does actual piano string simulation instead of piano-sampled recording response.

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#697965 - 08/14/07 01:08 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Jimmo Offline
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Registered: 07/31/07
Posts: 67
Loc: United Kingdom
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tuan Vo:
I bumped into this:

http://www.pianoteq.com/pianoteq_details.php

What do you all think? It's software that does actual piano string simulation instead of piano-sampled recording response. [/b]
I downloaded the trial - need to play with it for a bit but on first listening, it sounds very nice. I'll have to set up a VST host and try integrating it with my s/w to see what results I get.

Thanks for the link! \:\)
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#697966 - 08/14/07 01:32 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
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Registered: 12/12/06
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Loc: Denver, CO
There have been a couple of threads that have talked about pianoteq. Another one to look at is true pianos.

http://www.truepianos.com/
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#697967 - 08/14/07 01:49 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
digitals are not percussive instruments... they never will be

they're fun, functional and have many options tho.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#697968 - 08/14/07 03:57 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
krypt0 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 173
WhiteBear - I tried out many of the Clavinova digitals (don't remember the model numbers) in the same store where I eventually purchased my Petrof upright and the end result was always the same - I much preferred the sound and feel of the acoustic (not to mention the looks). It wasn't even close. The digitals all felt and sounded synthetic to me. And for what it's worth, I didn't find the Clavinova's to be that much of an improvement over my P120.

I'll keep my digital around for sentimental value ( :rolleyes: ) and for those times when the advantages of the digital might come in handy, but it's the acoustic that I choose to play on every night now.

-krypt0

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#697969 - 08/14/07 04:57 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1529
I don't know of any attempts at virtual reality that have been very successful. Synthetic digital pianos are certainly far from the reality of a real piano.
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#697970 - 08/14/07 05:26 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
krypt0 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 173
 Quote:
Originally posted by rintincop:
I don't know of any attempts at virtual reality that have been very successful.[/b]
I don't know...I think the Aibo comes pretty darn close to reality --> Aibo . Just kidding, of course. \:D

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#697971 - 08/14/07 06:28 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
NoFingerControl Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/12/03
Posts: 17
Loc: San Diego
One thing that is never mentioned, that is definitely a consideration where I live because of the obscenely high utility rates is power consumption of digital pianos. Acoustic pianos cost nothing in terms of electricity. If you play a lot on a digital, at least where I live, if you have a digital and a computer and monitor on, it would probably cost as much over a year--or even a lot more-- as two tunings of an acoustic piano, if you have a digital with really good speakers. Playing through headphones might be a different story, but with a digital piano you are still using someone else's energy besides your own.

Finally..I read on this post that digital pianos, in fact, do wear out, after a period of time for various reasons. With light use maybe it is not a problem, but with heavier use they can and do wear out, as I understand it.

Nothing is all that simple. I remember a VERY long time ago when a music professor for a class I was taking claimed the audience could not tell the difference between a live orchestra rendition and one from an EMU Proteus . I think he needed a different audience. I can definitely tell the difference.

For me, as with some people, I actually prefer the
sound coming at me from the top of an upright than
the way it comes from a grand--of course the action of any vertical piano, except for a Fandrich or something, will never be the same as that of a grand.

I have a CVP which I find unsatisfactory as the sound comes out of the bottom, for the most part. Maybe I do not like this because it is not like an upright. This is a CVP-107 and quite honestly I did not buy it for the sound..which I always thought s'ed big time. And some people hate the action on almost all CVPs.

I just find they are all different instruments, and as far as I know, no digital is close to a 5 '10" grand in reality. I have no idea about these new ones from Italy--that one is being rafllfed off.

My two cents.

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#697972 - 08/14/07 07:55 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Copper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 1053
Loc: Virginia
 Quote:
Originally posted by krypt0:
I have both a digital piano (Yamaha P120) and an acoustic upright (Petrof P125) and to me, there's no comparison between the two. [/b]
I had a P120 and liked it very much, but I traded up for the Yamaha P250 and there is a big difference.

The first difference you notice is that the entire sound system is much better. The bigger amplifier, bigger speakers make the sound much fuller. With the P250 you get a lot more feel of the vibrations from the sound because of the upgraded sound system.

The enhanced sound system is the reason I upgraded from the P120, but the P250 is by no means the top of the line. Like anything else you tend to get what you pay for. The P250 cost about double the P120 and you can pay a lot more for the highest quality digitals.

At some point you aren't really trying to duplicate the sound or feel of an acoustic, but are just trying to get great sound from a digital.
_________________________


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#697973 - 08/14/07 08:50 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
tickler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 376
Loc: Chicagoland
A couple thoughts:

-- After spending the day working on computers and electronics, it's great to come home to an acoustic musical instrument that doesn't require either. No electricity needed. No buttons to push, just keys. No surprises where some wire's loose so it doesn't work.

I like this simplicity, this anti-technology aspect of an acoustic.

-- Whenever people talk about DPs, they always talk about upgrading. Even if I spend lots of money for one today, in 1 year or 5 years, it will be be considered horribly out-of-date and need to be upgraded. On the other hand, if I buy a good quality acoustic piano, I'll never have to upgrade it, just maintain it regularly.

I like never having to replace it, even though this behavior runs counter to the usual trend of replacing goods every few years.


There's a whole host of reasons -- the sound, the touch, the vibrations, the way the I experience playing it -- why I prefer an acoustic, which have already been stated. For people like me, a DP, no matter how good, will never even come close to an acoustic.

Mary
_________________________
Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman. -- Beethoven
1911 Steinway A-II (2007 Rebuild)

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#697974 - 08/14/07 09:57 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Blue80 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/07/07
Posts: 9
For me, a beginner, I had the option of getting an old Stelzner upright grand for free (+ shipping) or getting a new digital - ended up with a Roland FP4. I have no intention of needing to upgrade for 10 years or more.

Factors that swayed me:
Sound - the digital sounds better than the old acoustic, which would need hundreds of dollars of work to possibly make it equivalent. My brother has an older digital Yamaha P200 - the difference in sound to the newer digital is huge. (Plan to add studio monitor speakers at some stage in future as a sound upgrade.) 128 note polyphonic ability will capture nearly anything one could care to play on the 88 keys.

Touch - adjustable on the digital. Talking to a friend who is an accomplished classical pianist - she lamented the difficulties of practicing on a home piano and rocking up to perform on whatever is there and the problems that creates when practice has happened with a certain heaviness of touch which is effectively fixed on a real piano.

Dynamics - the digital has a perfectly good range from very soft to very loud and has support for 3 foot pedals like a real grand.

Size/portability - my daughter can carry her flute anywhere; now we can do nearly the same with the digital piano (15kg).

Family friendliness - can plug in headphones for practice.

Midi - digital means we can use it for midi input to the computer or midi out of other people's pre-recorded material.

Tuning - digital will never need tuning, plus it is adjustable for pitch and temperament.

Fun - the other 300 sounds are great fun to play with! My daughter loves sitting at the piano to play or play around.


The main advantages of the acoustic to me are - looks pretty as furniture, works in a power failure.

In everything else the digital competes with acoustics costing much more.

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#697975 - 08/15/07 03:55 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
RandomThoughts Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/04
Posts: 106
Loc: Canada
Heh, this is the topic that keeps returning. Let's narrow down the criteria, shall we? That keeps things nice and simple.

With current technology:
A quality piano will be miles ahead of any digital. You'll pay for that quality, though. If I could afford a Steinway or Bosendorfer, I'd own one!

At identical -price point-, you'll almost invariably get a better experience out of a digital. I have an inexpensive baby grand (my first piano), for instance, that isn't nearly as nice to play as my P250, despite costing many, many times more.

If you're just learning, I would be hard pressed to recommend investing in an acoustic piano. Get a teacher with a concert grand and get a good digital for home use that you won't have to maintain.

With future technology:
All bets are off. The likelihood is that digital pianos will likely -eventually- be a perfect or superior substitute for various applications. I don't think we're close, though - there just isn't enough motivation, moneywise, to speed it up.

Digital cameras are widely used now for almost all applications - art, journalism, academia. Sure, there are people who insist on using film - but it's more of an ideological process than an end result.

Likewise with many other areas: video, chess, etc.

It just takes sufficient technology to produce a waveform that is indistinguishable to the human ear. It can even accommodate variability if that's what is desired.

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#697976 - 08/15/07 07:34 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
99gnome Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/02/07
Posts: 16
Loc: Germany, Cologne
@tickler: I'm with you all the way. Although, admittedly, I spend way to much time on the computer, the idea of using something without knobs and electricity is truly appealing. (For instance, I just love film grain and sometimes I miss those analogue things here and there when using my digital camera. Which I love ;\) )

But in genreal, looking forward to owning my first digital ever and after owning an acoustic piano for about 15 years: I think the DP may dramatically increase my technique. Why?
One word: headphones. Although I practiced (seldom enough), I was always aware of how annoying this is to my girlfriend in the other room, not to speak of neighbours. And instead of the amount of repetitions of difficult passages needed, I either stopped long before or did not even begin to practice at all. Plus you get a really nice sounding instrument, that might as well leave (inexpensive) uprights behind.

nevertheless, plans for owning a real grand in the very distant future still exist \:\)

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#697977 - 08/15/07 08:40 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Blue80 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/07/07
Posts: 9
Digital audio waveforms have been indistinguishable to ears for decades - ever since CDs replaced vinyl. Even compressed audio waveforms these days are nearly indistinguishable (a used by MP3 players, iPod, etc) to ears.

Compare digital cameras to film and we're not quite there yet. Even expensive pro digital cameras are not quite up to the resolution of film yet - differences are obviously visible with enlargement. Colouration and grain of film can be replicated digitally with some work.

If a composer composed piano music on a piano tuned to a historical temperament, who is going to bother retuning their piano to peform it the way the composer heard it? The difference will be audible.

Acoustic pianos will be preferred for performance for a long time - ideological or audible? Who is doing the blind auditions?

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#697978 - 08/15/07 09:00 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
Tony V Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/14/07
Posts: 354
Hmm. I guess acoustic pianos shall always be top-tier in their own class, while digital pianos should be regarded as the "jack of all trades".

The sound and action of an acoustic piano will always be unsurpassed. Nothing could sound and feel more piano than an actual piano. I've had vegetarian meat that tasted like actual meat, but will never taste as good as real meat. \:D

The digital piano could probably only come so close in simulating a real acoustic, but what it lacks makes it up in other features. You get to use headphones, different voices, sequencing and connectivity to a computer for easy recording. With a digital piano, you can compose and play non-piano music and be a one-man band if you want to do so. If you wanted to compose for an entire orchestra and then make a recording of it, that's what a digital piano is there for.

I dream of owning a grand piano someday, but overall, I think I would be more suited for digitals. Although being a solo performer is cool, I still aspire to make a few compositions (that requires multiple instruments) in my lifetime.


As for potential of the digital, yes I think it is capable of being equal with acoustics someday, but I think the means that it would take to get there would ultimately destroy the initial purpose, which I think are compact size and close-to-realistic sound. Looking at the higher end digital pianos today, you can see that they are looking more like acoustic pianos. Grand-like bodies with soundboards and lids are being implemented and I don't see the point in that. Doing that will only raise the price up to that of a real acoustic piano anyway and only for a marginal increase in acoustic realness. I would think the goal is to try and simulate a real acoustic piano without becoming an acoustic piano itself, right?

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#697979 - 08/16/07 07:16 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
I have hardly seen any comment on the one big difference I find between Digital and Acoustic.

That is ease of playing the digital compared to an acoustic. Huge. Plus you cannot play a digital with feeling or if you do it will not respond. I wonder what the dedicated classical pianists on the subject say?

swingal

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#697980 - 08/16/07 07:51 PM Re: How close are we to digital beating acoustic pianos?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
as to 'ease of playing', my teacher (in category of classical pianists) said it's much easier to play on a grand than a digital, especially for some advanced pieces or etudes.

but i disagree with 'playing with feeling' thing, which could happen on both digital and acoustic. at least i could feel it on my digital absolutely.

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