Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ???

Posted by: musicmad

Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 12:38 PM

Hi

Just needed some advice here on what opinions other pianists have concerning modelled vs sampled pianos ? I understand it's down to personal preference, but out of these two different types of technologies which is favored most with regard to realism ?

Thanks.
Posted by: 36251

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 12:46 PM

There should be a toll (a payment) for asking the same question which has been answered ad nauseam on this site.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 12:51 PM

Realistic sound = sampled

Realistic response = modeled
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 12:55 PM

Greatest "realism" will depend on what parameter you are evaluating.

I would say that the best sampled instruments are more realistic in tone than the models, but the best models are more realistic in velocity/dynamic response than the samples.

Some people talk about the more realistic decays of the models, but I think that's only true if you're comparing to looped samples, not to the unlooped samples you can more commonly find in software pianos. That is, it's not an advantage of modeling per se, it's an advantage of not needing to loop. But of course, in hardware pianos, almost all samples are looped.

edit: what voxpops said. ;-) I seem to be a few beats behind today!
Posted by: Karnevil

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 12:59 PM

What voxpops and anthonerscott said is right on the money. At the end of the day there are differing opinions on this subject, and I would advice you to test out modelled vs sampled DPs for youself.
Personally, I would go for a HQ sampled piano (MP10, AvantGrand etc..)
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 01:17 PM

Originally Posted By: 36251
There should be a toll (a payment) for asking the same question which has been answered ad nauseam on this site.


bingo, was his name. g o o o g l e it.

p.s.
if we removed answers redundancy from this forum it would be not mmuch left thumb
Posted by: alekkh

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 01:32 PM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Originally Posted By: 36251
There should be a toll (a payment) for asking the same question which has been answered ad nauseam on this site.


bingo, was his name. g o o o g l e it.

p.s.
if we removed answers redundancy from this forum it would be not mmuch left thumb


Yet, there's no real harm in asking some questions over and over. And over. The world moves forward. The answers change.

Two days ago I would say that sampled is always better. As of PianoTeq 4 that just came out, I'd say modeled becomes a real challenger and actually competes with some low-end sampled pianos.


Posted by: 36251

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 01:33 PM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Originally Posted By: 36251
There should be a toll (a payment) for asking the same question which has been answered ad nauseam on this site.


bingo, was his name. g o o o g l e it.

p.s.
if we removed answers redundancy from this forum it would be not mmuch left thumb
I agree but this subject wasn't even given a respite to regroup - geez.

I really not annoyed but I do have fun, making fun of certain topics and this one is really fun.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 01:37 PM

Originally Posted By: alekkh
Two days ago I would say that sampled is always better. As of PianoTeq 4 that just came out, I'd say modeled becomes a real challenger and actually competes with some low-end sampled pianos.


That implies that you feel that PT4 is better than the V piano. I don't think that's true, and I would be surprised if you did either based on other things you have said. The V is the best modeled piano out there, so until something improves on it, I would say that modeled pianos have not progressed.

To the original poster, based on my playing of PT (I haven't tried the V IRL) I don't find it to have a more realistic response than a good sampled software piano. So I would say to voxpops' comment, that my opinion is

Realistic sound = sampled
Realistic response = they are the same

Though I don't like onboard sampled engines for either sound or response. Their main problem in terms of response is that for the most part their sustain is too short. You can play with the pedal mashed and it doesn't sound muddy. Unrealistic.
Posted by: bfb

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 01:39 PM

Originally Posted By: 36251
There should be a toll (a payment) for asking the same question which has been answered ad nauseam on this site.


Ha. you took the words out of my mouth.

All newcomers (and this should have included me because i was probably as guilty as anyone else back...in-- the--beginning) should have to query the EXISTING VAST DATABASE of ENDLESS THREADS about these subjects. And, we should elect officers to occasionally bring them back out of the vault for a new round of digital food fights.

my comments- all in fun!
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 01:43 PM

Originally Posted By: bfb
All newcomers (and this should have included me because i was probably as guilty as anyone else back...in-- the--beginning) should have to query the EXISTING VAST DATABASE of ENDLESS THREADS about these subjects.


Very true. The only problem is that the forum search engine is pretty bad. Specifically, if you search a particular term it brings up every post that mentions it, rather than every thread that contains the term. So if you search something, you will get pages of posts from the same thread, which may not actually be on topic. You can do a whole search and look through pages of results and it's all from like the last two weeks or something.

I find the search engine here pretty useless most of the time--though I haven't put a lot of time into it, so it may be user error.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 02:01 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
I find the search engine here pretty useless most of the time--though I haven't put a lot of time into it, so it may be user error.

Sadly, I agree. Although some people seem to be able to do a better job of using it than me.
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 02:26 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
I find the search engine here pretty useless most of the time--though I haven't put a lot of time into it, so it may be user error.

Sadly, I agree. Although some people seem to be able to do a better job of using it than me.


don't need to use build in search engine at all - far better results are directly in google, e.g. just one thread in the results etc. not too mention many google options to customize your search.
Posted by: Melodialworks Music

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 02:46 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Realistic sound = sampled

Realistic response = modeled


Exactly. So when are the brainiacs going to figure out that the answer is a combination of the two technologies. V-Piano with samples could be quite compelling. I'm still hopeful, but not going to hold my breath . . .
Posted by: dmd

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 03:14 PM

I will not get into "better or best".

However, I have now utilized various sampled piano sounds along with the Pianoteq modeled sound and have always needed the sampled sound somewhere in the mix but with Pianoteq 4 that era (for me) may have ended.

From what I am finding in Pianoteq 4, there are a few (2 or 3) blues and jazz sounds that I can utilize by themselves and they sound very good to me.

I have also found that layering my CA63 sound with the Pianoteq sound gives me a level of control that is fantastic. I can combine a soft blues sound from Pianoteq with the concert grand sound of my CA63 and generate just enough bite to give me exactly what I want.

For the moment, I feel like I have arrived at Piano Sound heaven. Note that I said ... for the moment ... I know how these things change over time but this new Pianoteq product is very, very good.
Posted by: Melodialworks Music

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 03:24 PM

Originally Posted By: dmd
I will not get into "better or best".


Actually you just did!

Originally Posted By: dmd


I have also found that layering my CA63 sound with the Pianoteq sound gives me a level of control that is fantastic. I can combine a soft blues sound from Pianoteq with the concert grand sound of my CA63 and generate just enough bite to give me exactly what I want.


Samples + modelling = "exactly what I want"!
Posted by: PrinceAl

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 03:27 PM

Personally, I don't have an issue sampled libraries, as long as they're top notch with multiple layers and run off of a good computer.

I'm not a formal pianist, I'd probably say keyboardist if i had to sell myself short, but I've played on a grand piano, and its still a completely different experience.

But for recordings, I prefer using sampled libraries.
Posted by: alekkh

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 03:31 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Originally Posted By: alekkh
Two days ago I would say that sampled is always better. As of PianoTeq 4 that just came out, I'd say modeled becomes a real challenger and actually competes with some low-end sampled pianos.


That implies that you feel that PT4 is better than the V piano.


What a strange logic.

V-Piano is not a part of the discussion.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 03:38 PM

I still don't understand what is meant by realistic response. And "playability".
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Realistic sound = sampled
Realistic response = modeled
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 03:52 PM

Originally Posted By: alekkh
What a strange logic.

V-Piano is not a part of the discussion.


I guess for me modeled = { V piano, PT} and sampled = { sampled VST's, onboard sounds}.

You said that with PT4, now modeled competes with sampled, but if we compare the best from each set above, nothing changed in the comparison (which I think is what this thead is about...best vs best).

But from your reaction, it sounds like you were thinking low end only, which means onboard DP sounds and PT. I can see that PT4 would change that comparison.

But who cares about low end stuff? smile
Posted by: spanishbuddha

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 03:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Melodialworks Music
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Realistic sound = sampled

Realistic response = modeled


Exactly. So when are the brainiacs going to figure out that the answer is a combination of the two technologies. V-Piano with samples could be quite compelling. I'm still hopeful, but not going to hold my breath . . .


I thought that's what the SN Rolands were, other than v-piano?
Posted by: bfb

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 03:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Melodialworks Music
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Realistic sound = sampled

Realistic response = modeled


Exactly. So when are the brainiacs going to figure out that the answer is a combination of the two technologies. V-Piano with samples could be quite compelling. I'm still hopeful, but not going to hold my breath . . .


isn't that essentially what Roland Supernatural is? piano samples plus modelled effects from the v-piano?
Posted by: musicmad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 04:00 PM

Even after researching the creation process of Pianoteq 4 I'm still confused about how they got there sounds from a piano ? They confirm Pianoteq 4 introduces the "grand piano D4" and that a Steinway D from Hamburg was used as reference for its main characteristics and have been used for feeding the physical mode.

So what is the Grand Piano D4 ? If they got the sound from a Steinway D ?
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 04:31 PM

Originally Posted By: musicmad

So what is the Grand Piano D4 ? If they got the sound from a Steinway D ?


gush, they didn't get sound from Steinway D - the algorithmic model was shaped to imitated that sound, nothing more.


And back to topic - sampled pianos are gonna die sooner or later,
modeled is the way to go. IMO V-piano and pianoteq are best piano simulation out there. (comparing to real grand of course)
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 05:27 PM

Rash prediction. What makes you think sampling will fade away? Samples reproduce actual recorded piano sounds, and they do so quite well. Modeling struggles to produce a sham imitation, with a LONG way to go before matching up against a sampled library.

And, to say that V-piano and Pianoteq are the best piano simulations ... is just silly. The V does a good job. Pianoteq is abysmally bad. You've chosen one good and one bad, and called them both "best".
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 05:45 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Rash prediction. What makes you think sampling will fade away? Samples reproduce actual recorded piano sounds, and they do so quite well. Modeling struggles to produce a sham imitation, with a LONG way to go before matching up against a sampled library.

And, to say that V-piano and Pianoteq are the best piano simulations ... is just silly. The V does a good job. Pianoteq is abysmally bad. You've chosen one good and one bad, and called them both "best".


too many wrong arguments in your post or lack of to even consider to response... sick

modeled piano struggling??? ha, ha, ha all i can say.
What kinda of ears have you used for comparison? laugh
Pianoteq and V-piano beats all sampled pianos already.
Posted by: Hideki Matsui

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 06:31 PM

Originally Posted By: bfb
Originally Posted By: Melodialworks Music
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Realistic sound = sampled

Realistic response = modeled


Exactly. So when are the brainiacs going to figure out that the answer is a combination of the two technologies. V-Piano with samples could be quite compelling. I'm still hopeful, but not going to hold my breath . . .


isn't that essentially what Roland Supernatural is? piano samples plus modelled effects from the v-piano?


Sampled attacks and everything else is modeled.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 06:47 PM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Pianoteq and V-piano beats all sampled pianos already.


This coming from someone who claimed to be on the brink of buying an AvantGrand just three or four days ago...and yet now you seem to have formed such an unequivocal conclusion about matters.

I question your motivation for being here to be honest.....
Posted by: Melodialworks Music

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 06:48 PM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark

Pianoteq and V-piano beats all sampled pianos already.


That is ABSOLUTELY untrue.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 06:51 PM

Suggestion:

When at the zoo, don't feed the monkeys.

Same applies to the aquarium.
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 07:00 PM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Pianoteq and V-piano beats all sampled pianos already.


This coming from someone who claimed to be on the brink of buying an AvantGrand just three or four days ago...and yet now you seem to have formed such an unequivocal conclusion about matters.

I question your motivation for being here to be honest.....


and I question your logical reasoning. I was thinking about avantgrand because of the real grand action and grand piano cabinet. Sound I'd get through software piano. I ended up buying a real acoustic grand instead. It is free country and
I can have my own opinion - V-piano and pianoteq beat all sampled pianos IMO (and many other musicians to be accurate)

Posted by: 36251

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 07:05 PM

Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 07:19 PM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Pianoteq and V-piano beats all sampled pianos already.
Which sampled pianos have you sampled? I know of many sampled piano that put Pianoteq to shame. All of the Galaxy and Ivory products do a much better job. They sound like pianos because they are recorded from pianos. Have you tried them, or are you just talking smack?

Even the native sounds of a low-end Yamaha (say P155) sounds marginally better than Pianoteq.

But the PC-based libraries are in a class by themselves.
Posted by: musicmad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 07:31 PM

Thanks guys for all the feedback, but i think voxpops made it quite clear.

Realistic sound = sampled

Realistic response = modeled
Posted by: mitzysman

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 08:46 PM

I pretty much agree with Voxpops - but I think the long term solution is a combination of both. Modeling can add characteristics that you can't record and reproduce with samples.
Posted by: alekkh

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 09:09 PM

That hybrid technology was available since the beginning of digital pianos in RealPiano and Promega I/II by GEM.

Now, in Yamaha CP1.

Somehow they were good but clearly not winners of the market.


Not sure sampled+modeled has proven more promising than anything else.
Posted by: Gomer

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 09:55 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Suggestion:

When at the zoo, don't feed the monkeys.

Same applies to the aquarium.

I like to feed the monkeys in the morning so that they can fling poo later in the day.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 10:01 PM

Originally Posted By: alekkh
That hybrid technology was available since the beginning of digital pianos in RealPiano and Promega I/II by GEM.

Now, in Yamaha CP1.

Somehow they were good but clearly not winners of the market.


Not sure sampled+modeled has proven more promising than anything else.

Those GEMS had a really nice quality to them - not "dead" like so many sampled offerings. Sure they needed further development, but they were on the right track. Similarly, I think Roland is getting close with SN. I can't speak for the Yamaha system, having only played the latest CPs briefly, but I do think the hybrid approach is currently the one with the most promise.
Posted by: alekkh

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 11:25 PM

The trouble is - the same promise was already there 10 years ago.


Personally I am sure pure modeling one day will have it solved. Nobody will be sure anymore if they are listening to a real grand or a model. The same as with today's video effects in movies. The reason we aren't as good about modeling sounds as we are about modeling video - tens of millions $ per weekend are not likely in return. So, serious investors don't bother. Modeling piano is more like a hobby, even for Roland or Pianoteq.
Posted by: erichlof

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/19/12 11:46 PM

+1 for Hybrid Technology - for now....

This is the immediate solution, or dare I say "Band-Aid" for the true piano emulation problem. Even 127 Velocity layers of sampled recordings is not enough. As Imperfect Samples and Sampletekk's huge Yamaha C7 (big one) can attest, it still sounds like unrelated snapshots or a collage of slides, when what you really want is a seamless, organic motion picture! smile

It is the interaction BETWEEN notes and rich soundboard resonance that gives pianos souls. Modelling gives us this quality, but sticking with the movie analogy, it is not in HD yet, it is still 460 pixels.

So what can we do? well.. Stick the snapshots at the beginning of the sound and then somehow seamlessly transition into Pianoteq's beautiful and fantastically complex sympathetic string and soundboard resonance mathematics.

The samples+modelling paradigm will be a "Crutch" that we can lean on for the next 10 years or so. But to truly re-create the piano experience, detail by detail, will require algorithms that make Pianoteq's look like 1st grade addition. And, yes, the samples will have to be abandoned eventually, because they are just that...samples. Even if you have 64,000 per key, it is not enough. It will do nothing for the resonance and soul of the piano.

The answer lies within modelling algorithms and mathematical synthesis done on heavy-duty future processors and soundcards.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 02:46 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
I can have my own opinion - V-piano and pianoteq beat all sampled pianos IMO (and many other musicians to be accurate)


I think for the most part those musicians are ill informed or being paid by Roland or PT. It doesn't take a lot of effort to try both and find that the V and especially PianoTeq are much less realistic and beautiful to listen to than a quality sampled piano.
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 03:08 AM

Sampled pianos already use modelling to add stuff like sympathetic resonance. Synthogy calls it:

Quote:

Harmonic Resonance Modeling for the most realistic Sympathetic String Resonance possible


Since modelled pianos all seem to use some kind of base tone as well that stays the same no matter the preset, I really don't see why this "samples are just a snapshot" argument comes up so often. Listen to those Pianoteq D4 preset comparisons:

http://www.pianoteq.com/d4_in_action?s=d4_presets

They all have the same base tone with just slight variation in equalization, softness, reverb etc. but the general sound stays the same.

Roland admitted to the same thing, they had to use some kind of base tone in the V-Piano that remains no matter what. This isn't really suprising. In synthesis, there is always some kind of base tone involved, usually in the form of oscillators. All that you call "modelling" is what follows after that to mold the sound into something more interesting.

And whoever claims that P4 sounds better than any sampled piano, I do hope you're kidding. I really do. You must have an unbelievable grudge against sampled pianos to claim such a thing. Pianoteq 4 is certainly an improvement over 3, but listen to these demos, then listen to some Ivory II demos, then listen to some real piano recording. One sounds like a toy, two sound like the real deal. Surely you can figure out which is which. If not then you have lost either objectivity or hearing.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 03:22 AM

Excellent post, Gigantoad.

Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
Since modelled pianos all seem to use some kind of base tone as well that stays the same no matter the preset, I really don't see why this "samples are just a snapshot" argument comes up so often.


I think it's the perpetuation of some marketing, honestly. The best sampled pianos use recordings to pin down the piano sound at a few velocity points and then interpolate between to get a sound for each of the 127 velocities. Pure modeled pianos just make up a sound for each velocity, but in both cases for a given velocity the sound is fixed. There's no reason to think one sounds more dead than the other.

For that matter, talk of PT being more "playable" is the perpetuation of marketing as well, I think. Back in the day sampled libraries didn't have partial pedaling or repedaling, and they didn't have nuances like sympathetic resonance and release samples. That got labeled playability. Somehow PT persuaded people that the lack of those items is inherent in having a sampled base sound (timbre). But it's not. PT and sampled libraries both must program in these features explicitly. Modeling refers only to the generation of the underlying timbre. In short, I do not believe that sampled pianos are more playable. None that I have played are more playable or natural-responding than Galaxy, for example. Even if you can find some way in which a sampled piano does not behave right, it just means the sampled piano maker didn't think to add programming for that case. It has nothing to do with the engine that generates the timbre.

Attempts to model piano are similar to attempts to have computers speak and make it sound natural. Scientists have been working on this since computers were in their infancy, and they have improved a lot over time. But it still doesn't sound right. Making an algorithm generate a sound (from scratch) that is generated by a nontrivial process in real life is hard. I expect that modeled pianos will sound better than sampled pianos when modeled voices sound better and more natural than recorded human voices. That day is far off and it may never come.

Modeled pianos can be very tweakable, and the technology is really cool, but that doesn't mean in their current state they compare with serious sampled libraries.
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 03:47 AM

Originally Posted By: alekkh
The reason we aren't as good about modeling sounds as we are about modeling video - tens of millions $ per weekend are not likely in return.


not good comparison because our eyes are far more easily fooled then ears, that's the reason.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 03:58 AM

Hmmm. That doesn't sound generally true to me. I don't see eyes being more easily fooled than ears in general. Hard things to compare, but I think eyes are relatively difficult to fool. My wife can't tell the difference between a recording of a cheapo keyboard, a nice digital, a VST, and an acoustic. She can tell very easily that the robot in Terminator 1 is stop-motion and fake.

I think alekkh is right. Modeled sound could progress much faster if

1. There was a ton more money behind it.

2. There was a compelling need for it. Hollywood only uses computer special effects where it's too expensive or difficult/impossible to do with real life stuff. Otherwise they use real life stuff.

I don't see a ton of money flowing to piano sounds any time soon, and the need to move away from sampled technology doesn't strike me as very compelling. That's why there are only two fully modeled pianos in the world and they aren't as good as they could be.
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 04:09 AM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Hmmm. That doesn't sound generally true to me. I don't see eyes being more easily fooled than ears in general. Hard things to compare, but I think eyes are relatively difficult to fool.


you got to be kidding, I suggest go back to high school physics.
This is well known fact, as you know you can fool you eyes simply
by sorting fast pages of a book hence we have a movies today.
Try this with ears where some fellows can distinguish fraction of half tone differences.



p.s.
My bad BTW getting into arguments which piano sound is better. It's very subjective plus people are very intolerant of others having drastically different opinions. I know what I know and what I hear and you know what you hear (or not) - all is an illusion anyway. Also FYI The reason I think sampled pianos will go away is the same as with vinyls faded away.
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 04:31 AM

Eyes are certainly hard to fool, especially when we see simulated things that we are used to seeing everyday like faces. It took the 3D industry very long to create believable 3D faces with correct animations. On the other hand, sound engineers have used all kinds of materials to simulate sounds in movies for decades, like horse galloping simulated with coconuts.

Granted, as gvfarns has pointed out, simulating voices is very hard as well because we're so used to how they sound and we can make out even the smallest inconsistency. Maybe that comparison fairer in terms of piano modelling.

There is another aspect which I would call "habit". When you listen to something or watch something long enough, you will get used to it. We can observe this phenomenon when people buy new TV's. The colors might be completely off but after just a few days they will get used to it. At some point they might even be convinced that their TV has the most realistic colors on the market. Only when their sets are properly color-calibrated will they realise, slowly, how very wrong the colors were before.

I think the same thing is happening with Pianoteq. There is a minority, most prominent in the PQ forum obviously, with the impression that Pianoteq 3 was the holy grail in term of piano sound reproduction sounding much more like a real piano than anything else. Now comes Pianoteq 4 and pretty much everyone over their calls it a major upgrade (which it is imo). Doesn't that show that PT3 was not anywhere near as good as they thought? And now the circle of denial starts again.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 05:39 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Also FYI The reason I think sampled pianos will go away is the same as with vinyls faded away.



Wrong again. Many shops are giving over more floor space to vinyl records now - there is a real resurgence in interest in vinyl (I'm talking new releases, not second hand records). There may be lots of reasons for this but I can tell you one may be that they simply sound better.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 05:40 AM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Excellent post, Gigantoad.


+1
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 05:41 AM

Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
Eyes are certainly hard to fool, especially when we see simulated things that we are used to seeing everyday like faces.




check this one out and try this with ears...



or this, which direction the girl is spinning? because it can be either way...

Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 05:46 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Also FYI The reason I think sampled pianos will go away is the same as with vinyls faded away.


Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 05:53 AM

Oh no, a return to vinyl because it sounds better.

When CDs were introduced many folks thought they sounded sterile. The reason was, the vinyl LPs were mastered from tapes with their inherent tape hiss. When that hiss was not present we missed it and things sounded sterile. (Also some folks just have an aversion to anything digital, it has be analogue to be good.)

I guess now's the time for a discussion for those extremely expensive audio cables, you know, the cables that cost more per meter than most of us make in a week. smile
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I guess now's the time for a discussion for those extremely expensive audio cables, you know, the cables that cost more per meter than most of us make in a week. smile


Now is not that time!
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:25 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
Eyes are certainly hard to fool, especially when we see simulated things that we are used to seeing everyday like faces.


check this one out and try this with ears...


http://listverse.com/2008/02/29/top-10-incredible-sound-illusions/

Either way, optical illusions are no proof that our eyes are easily fooled. They merely exploit certain ways how our brain processes images. Using this to back your argument is actually pretty dumb because neither images nor sound are usually aimed at creating such illusions. When you watch a movie you will never be tricked in such ways, but you will very easily notice if that 3D face isn't entirely realistic compared to that of a real actor.
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:49 AM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I guess now's the time for a discussion for those extremely expensive audio cables, you know, the cables that cost more per meter than most of us make in a week. smile


Now is not that time!


Oh, for the love of god, please don't start up that debate again... eek
Posted by: alekkh

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 07:27 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Originally Posted By: alekkh
The reason we aren't as good about modeling sounds as we are about modeling video - tens of millions $ per weekend are not likely in return.


not good comparison because our eyes are far more easily fooled then ears, that's the reason.


piano_shark - now you are in trouble. No number of images or animations posted will save you. That's a statement that demands a scientific proof. Which research has shown that? Only credible sources will count.


I think you wouldn't find one. Because your are comparing apples with carrots.
Posted by: musicmad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 07:47 AM

OP here

Again thanks to all for your contributed opinions it's been a long an debated discussion. However the outcome of my choice is to go with a Sampled Library, that being Galaxy 2, Galaxy Vintage D and the amazing sound from Imperfect Samples.

I think going with these library's after certain FXs have been applied in the creation process, Tone, Resonance, Articulation, Convolution Reverb etc, and of course a good Master, i would hope after post production the recorded Material should be at a standard acceptable for retail.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 07:51 AM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
The best sampled pianos use recordings to pin down the piano sound at a few velocity points and then interpolate between to get a sound for each of the 127 velocities. Pure modeled pianos just make up a sound for each velocity, but in both cases for a given velocity the sound is fixed.


A modeled piano can create 127 distinct sounds for those 127 velocities, each containing numerous parameters that are gradually and smoothly varied from steps 1 through 127. Unless a sampled piano includes 127 sampled velocity layers, the equivalent interpolations will be "bumpier" -- i.e. cannot be entirely smoothly gradated from point 1 to 127 because the underlying sound being manipulated has distinct shifts at various points (even though they may try to minimize the audible effects with layer blending). Also samples cannot be modified in all the same ways, because post-processing doesn't have access to all the same elements. For example, if you want to manipulate just the third harmonic of the tone in a particular way over time as velocity changes, you can easily extract and manipulate that in a model, not really in a sample.

I think these are the kinds of things that allow the dynamic gradations of a model to generally feel more sophisticated and more seamless than the velocity gradations in sample based instruments, which I think by nature are more coarse and primitive at their core.

Also, AFAIK, no sample based instruments provide for more than 127 variations. The Pianoteq model provides for more (and the VAX77 controller can trigger them).

OTOH, there are qualities that modeling hasn't successfully captured this far, such that a sample at a given velocity can sound more authentic than a model at the same velocity. So I think that's why we come to the perspective that, at least as a generality, the sampled sound is more accurate, but the playing transitions from one velocity to another is smoother in models. So each can be seen as more realistic than the other in some aspect.
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 08:13 AM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
[quote=gvfarns]The best sampled pianos use
OTOH, there are qualities that modeling hasn't successfully captured this far, such that a sample at a given velocity can sound more authentic than a model at the same velocity. So I think that's why we come to the perspective that, at least as a generality, the sampled sound is more accurate, but the playing transitions from one velocity to another is smoother in models. So each can be seen as more realistic than the other in some aspect.


The slight issue is that those transitions are perhaps noticed by some, but not by many. I would hazard a guess that most people do not hear the difference between 127 velocity levels and 18 as long as the latter has smooth layer blending going on. On the other hand, if the sound as a whole sounds as unconvincing as Pianoteq, then that is much more noticable.
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 08:43 AM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
The best sampled pianos use recordings to pin down the piano sound at a few velocity points and then interpolate between to get a sound for each of the 127 velocities. Pure modeled pianos just make up a sound for each velocity, but in both cases for a given velocity the sound is fixed.


A modeled piano can create 127 distinct sounds for those 127 velocities, each containing numerous parameters that are gradually and smoothly varied from steps 1 through 127. Unless a sampled piano includes 127 sampled velocity layers, the equivalent interpolations will be "bumpier" -- i.e. cannot be entirely smoothly gradated from point 1 to 127 because the underlying sound being manipulated has distinct shifts at various points (even though they may try to minimize the audible effects with layer blending). Also samples cannot be modified in all the same ways, because post-processing doesn't have access to all the same elements. For example, if you want to manipulate just the third harmonic of the tone in a particular way over time as velocity changes, you can easily extract and manipulate that in a model, not really in a sample.

I think these are the kinds of things that allow the dynamic gradations of a model to generally feel more sophisticated and more seamless than the velocity gradations in sample based instruments, which I think by nature are more coarse and primitive at their core.

Also, AFAIK, no sample based instruments provide for more than 127 variations. The Pianoteq model provides for more (and the VAX77 controller can trigger them).

OTOH, there are qualities that modeling hasn't successfully captured this far, such that a sample at a given velocity can sound more authentic than a model at the same velocity. So I think that's why we come to the perspective that, at least as a generality, the sampled sound is more accurate, but the playing transitions from one velocity to another is smoother in models. So each can be seen as more realistic than the other in some aspect.



exactly - playability, dynamics and control are much more important for serious player then just simply "nice sound".
Most of defending here sampled piano are kids raised on digital
instruments to start with so no wonder the low expectation...
Yamaha and other companies know that that's why still selling sampled pianos for masses.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 09:19 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Most of defending here sampled piano are kids raised on digital
instruments to start with so no wonder the low expectation...

On what do you base this assertion? Before you state these unequivocal, simplistic remarks, please be sure of your facts.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 09:38 AM

I hate to see these topics digress into generalities about the nature of sampling and the nature of modeling.

I'm guessing that few here have any clear idea of how modeling works, so it's not useful to build conclusions upon unsubstantiated premises. Likewise for sampling.

It would be meaningful if the discussion were to focus on the products in each of these categories.

I don't find much meaning, though, in statements about the methods and technologies, given that these are semi-secret/proprietary, and given that few here have any means to dig beyond a first-level understanding. (You just can't get that from a vendor's press releases, advertising copy, or web page self-aggrandizement.)
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 09:43 AM

Originally Posted By: voxpops

On what do you base this assertion? Before you state these unequivocal, simplistic remarks, please be sure of your facts.


Isn't it obvious by now? He has absolutely no clue what he's talking about. After posting silly facepalm images and defending an irrelevant point about optical illusions and how such phenomenon are not possible in the audio domain, he is now resorting to generalized and insulting statements about the type of people who use sampled pianos. Not much more needs to be said I think.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 09:52 AM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
I hate to see these topics digress into generalities about the nature of sampling and the nature of modeling.

Did you happen to take a glance at the Subject of this thread? ;-)
Posted by: piano_shark

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 10:19 AM

ok, I'm outta here, good luck with your samples.
Posted by: 36251

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 10:26 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
exactly - playability, dynamics and control are much more important for serious player then just simply "nice sound".
Here's a big fat Raspberry! I'm just a jazz schump and not as serious as you obviously are. By the way, I think you just put down the sound of a modeled piano with your assumption that samples have a "nice sound."

I would get a cold - detached feeling if I only could play a piano that might have control but sounds like Mr. Roboto. But to each his own.

I haven't counted but it appears that you are in a minority here who thinks Modeling at it's current form doesn't hold a candle to a real piano that's been recorded and made playable by people who can't own a concert grand piano.

It also appears that it's your clan that keeps having to defend your precious expensive V every chance you get.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 10:56 AM

Once again, a thread on this subject has descended into vitriol spewing ultra-partisanship. I don't get it.

I think it's great that manufacturers are experimenting and developing the science of modeling. Have they perfected it? No. But given the snail's pace of change in electronic instrument technology this past twenty years, we're lucky it's taking place at all.

In the meantime, we have access to a slew of sampled offerings - either through the power of VSTs or the convenience of hardware. Do they provide a flawless substitute for the real thing? Not quite. But are they viable? Undoubtedly.

The internal combustion engine has been around well over a century. It's polluting and inefficient. The new technologies involving batteries and fuel cells are likely going to be much saner alternatives for an overpopulated planet. Can they do everything the oil-based engine can do? No, not yet. But should we welcome their development? Absolutely.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 11:00 AM

Does it help to have 127 velocity samples, rather than 10 or 20?

Disregarding velocity as it pertains to timbre, for just a moment ... If the total dynamic (loudness) range is, say, 50 dB, then 127 velocity levels produces about 0.4 dB change per step. Given that it's difficult to hear the difference between two sounds that are 1 dB apart even under the best conditions, does having 0.4 dB steps help? I don't think so.

Bringing velocity-dependent timbre back into the picture: I think likewise about the velocity samples number. I think 3, 4, or 5 isn't enough. But isn't ten enough? Surely twenty must be enough. But 127? Can anyone distinguish that many timbre gradations?

I think this is vendor specsmanship. It takes real work to sample more levels when building a sampled library. But it takes little effort to give a modeled piano more levels, up to the limit of MIDI granularity. The result is a "superior" spec that might attract a buyer's attention, but offers no real improvement.

I don't think we need 127 levels of loudness. Fifty would be plenty.
And I don't think we need 127 velocity layers, either.

I wonder about the work done to "improve" either of those. Isn't that a cheap way to avoid the hard work of making real improvements?
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
A modeled piano can create 127 distinct sounds for those 127 velocities, each containing numerous parameters that are gradually and smoothly varied from steps 1 through 127. Unless a sampled piano includes 127 sampled velocity layers, the equivalent interpolations will be "bumpier" -- i.e. cannot be entirely smoothly gradated from point 1 to 127 because the underlying sound being manipulated has distinct shifts at various points (even though they may try to minimize the audible effects with layer blending).
Posted by: Vectistim

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 11:16 AM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
For example, if you want to manipulate just the third harmonic of the tone in a particular way over time as velocity changes, you can easily extract and manipulate that in a model, not really in a sample.

Isn't that what Mr Fourier is for with his transforms?
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 12:16 PM

Whatever the pros & cons of sampling v modelling, what matters in the end is the music-making, not the technology behind them. Don't know about any of you people, but I buy a DP based on how it responds to my (inept or otherwise grin) attempts at getting it to produce lovely (when appropriate), soothing (when appropriate), expressive (always appropriate) music; or conversely, ugly, menacing, aggressive sounds (when appropriate). If it doesn't respond as I expect it to, I don't buy it. End of. grin wink cry
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 12:17 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Does it help to have 127 velocity samples, rather than 10 or 20?

I am not claiming that it is necessarily ideal to have 127 velocity samples. I was just saying that I think that would be the only way to capture the same detail of velocity transitions that could be accomplished with modeling. Whether that should be the goal, or whether there are other problems with doing that, or whether it is worth the effort and expense, are all other questions.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
If the total dynamic (loudness) range is, say, 50 dB, then 127 velocity levels produces about 0.4 dB change per step. Given that it's difficult to hear the difference between two sounds that are 1 dB apart even under the best conditions, does having 0.4 dB steps help? I don't think so.

To create a truly smooth gradation between 50 audio points, I think you should be unable to hear the difference between any two adjacent points (but it's fine to be able to hear the difference between any point and another that is two points away). So yes, based on your numbers, that would be what would be required.

It's the same with visual colors. I'm sure you've seen an illustration of a color spectrum where you can easily see the change from one end to the other, yet you cannot see the difference between any pixel and the one right next to it. The result is a smooth gradation. If you could actually see a change from one pixel to the next with the naked eye, the "stairstepping" would get in the way of a the illusion of a seamless transition from color to color. So I think the smallest programmed change over time/distance should fall below the threshold of perception.

Also, note that the ease with which you can hear a 1 dB difference is variable. It is easier to detect at some volume levels and some frequencies than at others. At some frequencies and volume levels, even a smaller than 1 dB change can be easily detectable, at least by some people. Here is an interesting page, where you can test your ability to hear volume differences of smaller than 1 dB.

http://www.audiocheck.net/blindtests_index.php

Also, sometimes people can hear that something sounds "different" even if it's not exactly registering to them as "louder." This is used to explain why people will generally think that the louder of two otherwise identical sound sources sounds better even if the volume difference isn't enough for them to tell you that they think it is louder. A meter shows that it's louder, but subjectively, a person may simply think it sounds "better." Or someone may simply be able to tell that two things sound "different" even if it's so close that they can't tell you which is "louder." It is still affecting their perception of the sound, even if it isn't being expressed in the words you expect.

Getting back to the idea of using 127 steps for 50 db of range at .4 dB per step, there's another problem there, in that you assume that evenly spacing them that way will yield a realistic playing response, which I'm not sure is the case. You might need a specific amount of velocity change to create a smaller audible change in some areas and a larger audible change elsewhere in the overall velocity range.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Bringing velocity-dependent timbre back into the picture: I think likewise about the velocity samples number. I think 3, 4, or 5 isn't enough. But isn't ten enough? Surely twenty must be enough. But 127? Can anyone distinguish that many timbre gradations?

I don't know what the number is, but I suspect it is a lot more than you think. Think of a simple low pass filter adjustment on a synth... imagine how coarse its operation would sound if it had only ten or twenty positions! And that only adjusts one parameter of the sound's timbre (essentially "brightness"), and in a piano tone, it is more than simple brightness and volume that varies with velocity... there is the behavior of hammer attack and subsequent decay, and how those harmonics vary over time.

I'm not saying you need the "infinite" variation of a real piano to create a convincing piano sound, I'm just saying that I think we are capable of hearing a lot more differences than you suggest.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 12:57 PM

A very well thought-through post, anotherscott.

Given that DP manufacturers try to get concert pianists to endorse or at least validate their products, there may well be people out there with the kind of experienced ears that can detect these minute changes. I've seen it stated that 127 steps is still too crude a number for such refined players. This is one of the reasons why digital recording has gone beyond 44.1khz (CD quality), even though the quantization at that level is "inaudible". The closer we get to a completely analog curve, the better, imo.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 01:09 PM

I am personally inclined to view claims that layer transitions in VST's are audible with skepticism simply because I can't hear them. I have reasonably good ears and I've played a good bit with several VST's and I can't decipher one layer from another in any reasonable one. Certainly they are not something that bothers me either in playing or listening.

On the other hand, when the timbre is off (fake, or whatever), I hear it right away and it bothers me a lot. That's why sampled pianos are better. It's as simple as that for me.

Should they have more timrbal layers and velocity steps? Sure, why not? I just got a new computer that is supposed to be a lot faster than my other computer. Can I tell the difference without a stopwatch and processor-intensive program? No. But that doesn't mean I don't want computers to keep getting faster.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 01:16 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
I am personally inclined to view claims that layer transitions in VST's are audible with skepticism simply because I can't hear them. I have reasonably good ears and I've played a good bit with several VST's and I can't decipher one layer from another in any reasonable one. Certainly they are not something that bothers me either in playing or listening.

It's not purely a question of hearing. A concert pianist is almost subconsciously trying to give extremely subtle nuances of expression to a piece. If s/he perceives (either through hearing, touch, or a combination of all the senses) that the instrument is not responding with this almost infinite precision, s/he will become frustrated.

Quote:
On the other hand, when the timbre is off (fake, or whatever), I hear it right away and it bothers me a lot. That's why sampled pianos are better. It's as simple as that for me.

Although tone perception is very subjective, I agree with you. We seem to have an almost innate ability to detect the tonal signature of a real acoustic instrument, and for some reason we find a recreation displeasing. That's why more work needs to be done on piano models.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 01:20 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Although tone perception is very subjective, I agree with you. We seem to have an almost innate ability to detect the tonal signature of a real acoustic instrument, and for some reason we find a recreation displeasing. That's why more work needs to be done on piano models.


Maybe we could say that current modeled pianos are stuck in the piano version of the uncanny valley.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 03:22 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
To create a truly smooth gradation between 50 audio points, I think you should be unable to hear the difference between any two adjacent points (but it's fine to be able to hear the difference between any point and another that is two points away). So yes, based on your numbers, that would be what would be required.
But there are two questions here. What can the piano do? And what can the performer do?

Can any performer exert such a fine level of control? I suspect only the greatest masters can do so, and I'm not even certain of that. Regardless, that level of talent won't be playing a digital piano, eh?

More to the point ... I don't notice ANY shortage of dynamic control or of timbral control with a library having a mere ten sampling layers.

If Galaxy wanted to offer me a twenty (or 127) layer version, I'd have to ask them why they're not working on other, more important improvements.

Again, I think the Pianoteq's claim of 127 is just specsmanship. The samplers cannot match that, so the speccie-techie buyer will glaze over at the thought, without regard to its irrelevance.
Quote:
... you assume that evenly spacing them that way will yield a realistic playing response, which I'm not sure is the case. You might need a specific amount of velocity change to create a smaller audible change in some areas and a larger audible change elsewhere in the overall velocity range.
I considered that point, but I dismissed it. Granted that some ranges might tolerate larger steps. But if you put larger steps in some places, you have to put even smaller steps elsewhere. I have no doubt that 0.4 dB is overkill, so a still smaller increment has no merit.
Quote:
I'm not saying you need the "infinite" variation of a real piano to create a convincing piano sound, I'm just saying that I think we are capable of hearing a lot more differences than you suggest.
You make a conjecture here, but where is the justification? I don't mean to contrary. I just can't reach that same conclusion without some basis.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 05:03 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Can any performer exert such a fine level of control? I suspect only the greatest masters can do so, and I'm not even certain of that.

It has nothing at all to do with control, it has to do with how realistic it seems to play. You don't need to be able to reliably duplicate a specific velocity to be able to benefit from its presence. You may not be able to drive at exactly 52 miles per hour on demand, but if every time you accelerated from 51, the car lurched to 53 because it was incapable of 52, you would notice it.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
More to the point ... I don't notice ANY shortage of dynamic control or of timbral control with a library having a mere ten sampling layers.

Heck, I've enjoyed playing a single-layer P95. ;-) But are you saying that your 10-layer piano gives you an experience that is as completely satisfying as an acoustic piano? Even if that's the case, people have different experiences and demands... the fact that you don't notice any short-coming in a given system doesn't mean that no one will. Maybe more layers would be better, maybe it wouldn't. But unless someone gave you a 20-layer version of the same piano to play, it seems to me that the difference (or lack of one) is somewhat unknown.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
If Galaxy wanted to offer me a twenty (or 127) layer version, I'd have to ask them why they're not working on other, more important improvements.

Again, without hearing the results, that might be a premature question. (As an aside, what improvements do you think would make a bigger difference?)

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Again, I think the Pianoteq's claim of 127 is just specsmanship. The samplers cannot match that, so the speccie-techie buyer will glaze over at the thought, without regard to its irrelevance.

Pianoteq and a VAX77 gives you 14,000 velocity layers! (I don't know if it matters, though have read numerous reports of people who love playing the combination, for whatever reason.)

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
I considered that point, but I dismissed it. Granted that some ranges might tolerate larger steps. But if you put larger steps in some places, you have to put even smaller steps elsewhere. I have no doubt that 0.4 dB is overkill, so a still smaller increment has no merit.

You almost got my point there, but it sounds like you just missed it. Yes, if you make the steps larger in some areas, they have to become smaller somewhere else. The issue, though, isn't how inaudible the small steps become as you suggest there... it's how audible the large ones might then have to be. If, for example, you need to "stretch out" the velocity mapping toward the center of the range to make it feel natural to play, then you might have to compensate by having single-velocity-unit differences be far greater (i.e. more audible) in areas that are farther from the center. I don't know if it's important... but like you, I simply thought it was an issue worth considering, I just don't agree with your reason for dismissing it, because I think you looked at the wrong side of the equation.


Originally Posted By: MacMacMac

Quote:
I'm not saying you need the "infinite" variation of a real piano to create a convincing piano sound, I'm just saying that I think we are capable of hearing a lot more differences than you suggest.
You make a conjecture hear, but where is the justification? I don't mean to contrary. I just can't reach that same conclusion without some basis.

Well for one thing, I think I provided reasonable evidence that 10 steps of timbral difference can easily be nowhere near enough to represent the limits of the differences we can hear with my low pass filter example... and that didn't even include the variables of a sound that changes over time. From my perspective, my post was full of facts, and it was yours that was full of conjecture!

There are an infinite number of velocities the human hand is capable of between generating an acoustic piano's quietest and loudest notes. On a scope, each would be different, but at some point, differences would not be audible. MIDI gives us an upper limit of 127 tones that can be generated (except in special circumstances, like the Pianoteq/VAX77 combination). Simple volume level manipulation gives us those 127 tones even out of a single layered sample, but that doesn't capture all the ways an actual piano differs as volume is increased. How many layers will capture it with complete authenticity, without modeling (even assuming a blend can be done absolutely perfectly, which is questionable in itself)? I am not suggesting that I know the answer to what that number is; I'm just saying that I don't see any evidence that that magic number is ten or whatever. Maybe, if everything else is done right, even fewer would be enough. Or maybe the sound of ten can be surpassed by the sound of more. I'm not saying I have the answers, but I don't see the justification for your dismissing of some of the possibilities.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 05:42 PM

Human beings have a surprising range of perception, even if they don't know it, or don't notice it consciously! Advertisers have known the effects of subliminal messaging (such as the classic inserted message frame in a commercial that is not perceived consciously) for a long time. Concert pianists and some lesser players will be able to feel that something is not quite right without necessarily being able to put their finger on exactly what is wrong. This is why it's important, for authenticity, to approach as close as is reasonably practicable to an analog curve - i.e. with as many steps as is feasible, so as to reduce the apparent "sound posterization" effect of jumping from one level to the next, rather than grading smoothly.

Anotherscott is right about this, imo.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:12 PM

There are limits after which we don't feel, see, hear, whatever, any improvement in resolution. It's the job of the marketing guys to convince us otherwise.

I do find it amusing that many here with such strong opinions have such a quiet profile. Guys, at some point you have to stop comparing lenses and start taking pictures. smile
Posted by: The Monkeys

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:17 PM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
I find the search engine here pretty useless most of the time--though I haven't put a lot of time into it, so it may be user error.

Sadly, I agree. Although some people seem to be able to do a better job of using it than me.


don't need to use build in search engine at all - far better results are directly in google, e.g. just one thread in the results etc. not too mention many google options to customize your search.


An example is to enter following in the Google search box
site:http://www.pianoworld.com Sampled vs Modelled

The site:http://www.pianoworld.com part tells google you only want to search the content of piano world.
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:21 PM

it's a bit of a misconception that a sampled piano with 10 velocity layers ends up having 10 timbres. It ends up with 127 timbres in reality. Each velocity will sound unique because the samples are blended steplessly. By adding more samples, all you do is give a more realistic reprensation of how these in between steps are supposed to sound like.

I'm thinking of a circle with 10 points that still looks pretty angular. If we add more points, it gradually starts to look rounder and rounder. But does it really need a high number of points in order to look round? When does adding more points become a waste of resources instead of an aesthetic benefit? Consider that the points wouldn't produce angles but form a curve in between similar to the blending in sampled pianos, you wouldn't need many points at all.

I'm pretty convinced that 20 to 30 samples are that point where adding more just doesn't make sense. These changes in timbre would be so minor compared to the already changing timbre achieved with the blending that it would just be a waste of resources.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:27 PM

I agree that there will be a point at which the steps are no longer noticeable, but just be aware that specialists in any field are trained to a very high level of awareness, and attuned to tiny differences. What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized. It depends on your target market (and the cost-benefit ratio of the technology employed) as to the cutoff point.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:30 PM

What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized.

MonsterCable? wink
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:37 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
I agree that there will be a point at which the steps are no longer noticeable, but just be aware that specialists in any field are trained to a very high level of awareness, and attuned to tiny differences. What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized. It depends on your target market (and the cost-benefit ratio of the technology employed) as to the cutoff point.


Sure, but I don't see software pianos being a product tailored to these extrordinary people, whoever they might be.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized.

MonsterCable? wink

Nice try! But not a good analogy. Some things have no proven benefit, or make no discernible difference. However, in the area we're discussing, I think we can all agree that 2 velocity layers is inadequate (even with layer-blending). On the other hand 200 (for example) may be beyond anyone's ability to detect. So that must mean that somewhere in between those numbers will be the point at which the average person ceases to be able to hear a difference. However, not everyone will conform to the average. Those who have trained their ears may be able to detect changes way beyond where the ordinary person notices things.

As a related analogy, performers go to extraordinary lengths to play instruments that meet their demanding standards, even though audiences would be completely unaware of the subtle difference between such devices.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 06:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I agree that there will be a point at which the steps are no longer noticeable, but just be aware that specialists in any field are trained to a very high level of awareness, and attuned to tiny differences. What is good enough for you or me, may not be for someone more specialized. It depends on your target market (and the cost-benefit ratio of the technology employed) as to the cutoff point.


Sure, but I don't see software pianos being a product tailored to these extrordinary people, whoever they might be.

I agree - at the moment. However people have speculated as to whether at some point in the future, a classical concert might be performed on just such a piano. Obviously, it won't be unless the technology matches the pianist's expectations. Even for private practice purposes, professionals will require there to be no detectable difference that could possibly affect technique. So to suggest that we've gone as far as we need in terms of development may be premature.
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 07:05 PM

I doubt digitals will ever fully replace acoustics. This would mean that all instruments in an orchestra would need to be digital too, why else would the pianist be the only digital guy? I really don't see that happening.

The only reason we even have digital pianos is because of money and space issues. Nobody is seriously asking for a digital violin, and I mean one where the sound is generated entirely digital. Since neither money nor space is usually an issue for serious concerts (and that's the only place where you would find such incredibly demanding performers), I don't think we will ever see such a development.

Unless in some distant future they will have a digital instrument that will actually top the sound of an acoustic with some alien technology that we cannot imagine yet. At that point performers might be willing to let go of acousics in favor of even more expressive possibilities.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 07:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
I doubt digitals will ever fully replace acoustics. This would mean that all instruments in an orchestra would need to be digital too, why else would the pianist be the only digital guy? I really don't see that happening.

The only reason we even have digital pianos is because of money and space issues. Nobody is seriously asking for a digital violin, and I mean one where the sound is generated entirely digital. Since neither money nor space is usually an issue for serious concerts (and that's the only place where you would find such incredibly demanding performers), I don't think we will ever see such a development.

Unless in some distant future they will have a digital instrument that will actually top the sound of an acoustic with some alien technology that we cannot imagine yet. At that point performers might be willing to let go of acousics in favor of even more expressive possibilities.

I agree with this, although I might not be quite as emphatic about the future - we never manage to predict it accurately!

One thing to bear in mind is that recording artists - even some classical and jazz pianists - may be more willing to embrace this kind of technology if it can rival the real thing.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/20/12 07:21 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott

It has nothing at all to do with control, it has to do with how realistic it seems to play. You don't need to be able to reliably duplicate a specific velocity to be able to benefit from its presence. You may not be able to drive at exactly 52 miles per hour on demand, but if every time you accelerated from 51, the car lurched to 53 because it was incapable of 52, you would notice it.

A sampled piano with even 1 level can play MIDI velocities 51, 52, 53 (in any shape you want) monotonically increasing loudness for each step. It doesn't have to lurch any more than a modeled piano would.

Besides that your example doesn't apply to playing a piano. On a piano the sound does not glide continuously from velocity level 51 to 52 to 53 as you would in car. You discretely have to strike a key (or keys) in a sequence from 51 to 52 to 53. Each strike has its own attack and decay. Therefore it lurches with the attack of each separate note by definition. And besides lets see you repeatedly strike 3 keys in succession with velocity levels 51, 52, 53 on purpose while playing normally. If you do it, it will be completely by accident. You can't control the pressure of your fingers that exactly. So your playing is going to "lurch" anyway for these reasons.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 07:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Macy
A sampled piano with even 1 level can play MIDI velocities 51, 52, 53 (in any shape you want) monotonically increasing loudness for each step. It doesn't have to lurch any more than a modeled piano would.

You seem to have misunderstood me two ways, maybe I wasn't clear, or the natural imprecision of my car analogy made things worse instead of better. I'll try to clarify.

To answer MMM's assertion, "Can any performer exert such a fine level of control?", I was making the point that you don't need to be able to have fine enough control to produce a velocity on demand to benefit from its existence. To use your example here, it is indeed valuable that there is a MIDI velocity of 52 between 51 and 53. You may not be able to reproduce 52 on demand, but if you were playing something in that velocity range, and every time you happened to hit on 52, it refused to play it, but instead substituted 51 or 53, you could conceivably notice that a slight an unevenness of response in that range, compared to the smoothness of response of a real acoustic piano.

Or to make the point even more clear, let's say that you didn't have fine enough control to ever produce anything between 50 and 55 on demand, and you used that argument to eliminate MIDI velocities 51, 52, 53, and 54. Now you'd hear a jump between 50 and 55, and that would almost certainly be audible to many people as they played up and down through that general velocity region. The point, again, simply, is that the value of a velocity point's existence is not predicated on the player's ability to produce that velocity at will.

To the other issue you allude to: As you say, the normal behavior, even for a single layer sample, is to "increase loudness for each step." If this was, in fact, the only way a piano's sound changed with velocity, there would be no reason for more than one layer. But also, as velocity increases, the timbre of the note changes, as does the the shape in which the sound falls off immediately after the hammer attack. If you record a real piano striking a single note very hard, you cannot make that sound like the same piano playing the same note very softly merely by lowering its volume, or even by lowering the volume and closing down on an EQ filter. This is why (at least in lieu of more sophisticated modeling) multiple sample layers helps. You're right that the volume changes exist in MIDI pianos no matter what, it is these other changes that require more than just simple processing to achieve additional realisim.

How many sample layers would be required to reproduce those transitions as perfectly as they occur on a real piano? I don't know. (You would need 127 of them to do what a model can do, but that doesn't mean you necessarily need 127 of them.)

When dewster ran his DPBSD test on the up-to-8-layer Korg Kronos, he heard 6 distinct points where the timbre shifted as he gradually increased velocity on middle C. On a real piano, you would not be able to hear any. The more "data points" exist along the continuum, the smoother the transitions can be. I don't know if that difference--although clearly audible--really is crucial to making a digital piano feel more real to play, but I am not willing to say it makes no difference, either.

Originally Posted By: Macy
And besides lets see you repeatedly strike 3 keys in succession with velocity levels 51, 52, 53 on purpose while playing normally. If you do it, it will be completely by accident. You can't control the pressure of your fingers that exactly. So your playing is going to "lurch" anyway for these reasons.

Right, but the fact that all those velocities are represented--even if you can't hit each one on purpose--helps make it natural sounding. Again, to exaggerate the difference, if every one of those hits were rounded to 50 or 54, it would not sound as natural as a bunch of smaller variations around 52.

In fact, since our fingers are capable of an infinite number of possible velocities between even 51 and 52, some rounding is already taking place. The question is how much rounding is permissible before someone can recognize that, gee, for some reason, this just doesn't seem to feel as natural as playing a real piano. If your argument is that nobody would ever be able to tell if 52 were missing (i.e. if the only options were 51 and 53), then by logical extension, we have no need for 127 velocity levels... we could eliminate every second one and have just 63 velocity levels (say, all the odd numbers) and no one would be able to tell the difference in how the boards played. It would be an interesting experiment, but I would not assume to know the answer without some actual experimentation.
Posted by: alekkh

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 08:32 AM

Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
I doubt digitals will ever fully replace acoustics. This would mean that all instruments in an orchestra would need to be digital too.


Giagnotad, even much smarter people have done this mistake.

"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will."
--Albert Einstein
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 01:04 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops


Given that DP manufacturers try to get concert pianists to endorse or at least validate their products, there may well be people out there with the kind of experienced ears that can detect these minute changes. I've seen it stated that 127 steps is still too crude a number for such refined players. This is one of the reasons why digital recording has gone beyond 44.1khz (CD quality), even though the quantization at that level is "inaudible". The closer we get to a completely analog curve, the better, imo.


Maybe it's just that I'm from a different planet to (seemingly) just about every other person posting here, but isn't the proof of the pudding in the eating? In other words, if you can't hear the seams when you play with varying dynamics (no matter how many different steps), why worry about it?

We all know that CDs record in binary digital code, and therefore by definition, what you hear from a CD recording has something missing compared to hearing the live performance. In fact, a LP vinyl record has more information stored in its grooves than a CD ever could, just as a photo taken on transparency (slide) film compared to a digital photo, no matter how many pixels in the latter. But I'd far rather listen to a CD than an LP of the same performance (my huge LP collection has been gathering dust for decades, as I gradually replace them with the same performances on CD when the record company reissues them), simply because even disregarding the crackle & pop and low rumble of the LP, the CD sound is that bit clearer and cleaner, and I can't detect any missing information inherent in the digital format. (But the sound from a MP3/iPod is a different matter....).

As for digital pianos, it seems to me that sampling v modelling is redundant if you can't hear the difference in behavior between the two when you play, i.e. the way the sound changes depending on how hard you strike the keys etc (leaving aside the interaction of resonances and sympathetic 'string vibrations' for the moment). For me, I can easily detect the restricted dynamic range of all sampled DPs at ff: there's a ceiling beyond which you can't go. (And I should add that I'm no Russian bear when it comes to hard-hitting pianism - for that, listen to someone like Andrei Gavrilov or Grigory Sokolov). The sound gets 'stuck' at that particular timbre and volume no matter how much harder you hit the key, which is of course not how acoustics behave - even small uprights. But if you don't ever hit the keys that hard in the music you play, you'll never notice there's a ceiling there. And the same applies to the timbral change as you change dynamics - if you don't hear the steps, does it matter whether there're 10 or 256 steps? Modelling technology provides stepless change in timbre and volume, amoung other things, but if the pianist can't hear these attributes, are they really relevant to him?
Posted by: Glenn NK

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 01:21 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis

. . . just as a photo taken on transparency (slide) film compared to a digital photo, no matter how many pixels in the latter.


The new DSLRs are revealing flaws in lenses that were not apparent when using film. It's often suggested in photography circles that 8 MP pretty well spelled the end of film for resolution supremacy - the latest Nikon FF body is 36 MP.

No wonder film is done.

The sad thing about CD technology is that it could have been so much better.
Posted by: imyself

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 02:16 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Whatever the pros & cons of sampling v modelling, what matters in the end is the music-making, not the technology behind them. Don't know about any of you people, but I buy a DP based on how it responds to my (inept or otherwise grin) attempts at getting it to produce lovely (when appropriate), soothing (when appropriate), expressive (always appropriate) music; or conversely, ugly, menacing, aggressive sounds (when appropriate). If it doesn't respond as I expect it to, I don't buy it. End of. grin wink cry


thumb smile
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 03:36 PM

I've seen it stated that the moon is made of cheese. But I'm doubtful.
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I've seen it stated that 127 steps is still too crude a number for such refined players.


Bennevis: I'm with you on this. If you can't tell the difference, there is no difference. Machines can't tell you how a piano feels and sounds. But your fingers and ears can.
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Maybe it's just that I'm from a different planet to (seemingly) just about every other person posting here, but isn't the proof of the pudding in the eating? In other words, if you can't hear the seams when you play with varying dynamics (no matter how many different steps), why worry about it?
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 03:45 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
I've seen it stated that the moon is made of cheese. But I'm doubtful.
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I've seen it stated that 127 steps is still too crude a number for such refined players.


Bennevis: I'm with you on this. If you can't tell the difference, there is no difference. Machines can't tell you how a piano feels and sounds. But your fingers and ears can.
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Maybe it's just that I'm from a different planet to (seemingly) just about every other person posting here, but isn't the proof of the pudding in the eating? In other words, if you can't hear the seams when you play with varying dynamics (no matter how many different steps), why worry about it?

I think you underestimate the powers of human perception, especially when trained and honed.

But I agree that once we no longer perceive a difference then it doesn't matter. However, 127 steps is perhaps not much set against an infinity of possible gradations. Do you remember what computer monitors looked like when they could only resolve 256 colors? Why did anyone bother to increase it to 16 million if it was unnecessary, as it requires far more powerful graphics capability?
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 05:07 PM

Because 256 colors aren't nearly enough to reproduce an image.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 05:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
Because 256 colors aren't nearly enough to reproduce an image.

Then human perception can distinguish way more than 127 steps.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 05:19 PM



I just thought I'd throw this into the fray. smile
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 05:20 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
Because 256 colors aren't nearly enough to reproduce an image.

Then human perception can distinguish way more than 127 steps.


Depends on what kind of steps, I'd say. Steps of volume? Steps of ever so slightly different timbre in a piano? Possibly, but I doubt it.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 05:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
Because 256 colors aren't nearly enough to reproduce an image.

Then human perception can distinguish way more than 127 steps.


Depends on what kind of steps, I'd say. Steps of volume? Steps of ever so slightly different timbre in a piano? Possibly, but I doubt it.

I think the visual analogy is useful here. In TV production, 256 gray-scale steps are the norm. Because that is way too coarse for cinematic fidelity, a new logarithmic scale is being introduced. A picture made up of an inadequate number of steps is still a recognizable representation of its subject matter, but strikes the viewer as less than real - although you wouldn't be able to pinpoint any specific inaccuracy.

In sound, I would hazard a guess that, while we may not be able to discern exactly what is missing when music reproduction is limited to 127 steps of timbre or volume, we will know that it is not sourced from a real (acoustic) instrument. I suspect that we are able to discern sound differences in the thousands of steps at least, even if we cannot locate any one error or missing piece of information.

Whether this has any bearing on velocity layers, I don't know for sure, but would suggest that if we really want true digital substitutes for acoustic instruments, we will need to go beyond the technologies designed over thirty years ago.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 06:02 PM

Just to be complete, I would like to note that even if people can tell the difference between one timbre among 127 and the adjacent one, it doesn't mean that people can tell the missing timbres between those 127 have been left out when hearing a piece.

I guess we could do an experiment where we took imperfect samples extreme and rendered a MIDI, then did the same using a version of the same product with fewer levels. I would be interested to see. Actually better would be to record and render a MIDI using the VAX77 and PianoTeq and then render it again using standard MIDI (from the same file, if possible) and see if we can tell (blindfolded) which is which.

I am confident that I can not perceive these issues because software pianos sound and play beautifully to me, even though they have only 13-20 timbre levels and 127 volume levels.

To be clear, I would love for MIDI to be replaced by HD MIDI or something with more volume levels, and I have no problem with sampled pianos including yet more timbre levels either. I'm superstitious that way.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 07:11 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
To answer MMM's assertion, "Can any performer exert such a fine level of control?", I was making the point that you don't need to be able to have fine enough control to produce a velocity on demand to benefit from its existence.

I think what you are overlooking is that it is not enough that different velocities produce different loudness/timbre combinations. The difference in loudness/timbre must matter to the listener or the player. If they don't matter, then they aren't necessary to the design of the digital piano. Take the simplest case of the same two notes played in succession on an acoustic piano. Suppose my intention if to play them as the same sounds. But I'm physically unable to always play them at the same velocity. Sometimes they are randomly the same but sometimes not. Sometimes one is slightly louder with a slightly different timbre than other. But they are always so close that I don't care, and the listener doesn't care if they are exactly the same. So what difference does it make whether those two velocities are replaced by a single velocity on the digital piano? No one cared on the acoustic piano whether they were exactly the same or not within the players ability to produce them. Only when the difference in loudness/timbre becomes significant enough because of the players ability, that the player or listener cared that they were different on the acoustic piano, is it necessary for them to be different on a digital piano. It seems to me that we reach an acceptable point with 127 levels.

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Or to make the point even more clear, let's say that you didn't have fine enough control to ever produce anything between 50 and 55 on demand, and you used that argument to eliminate MIDI velocities 51, 52, 53, and 54. Now you'd hear a jump between 50 and 55, and that would almost certainly be audible to many people as they played up and down through that general velocity region. The point, again, simply, is that [i]the value of a velocity point's existence is not predicated on the player's ability to produce that velocity at will.

Nope, the logic doesn't work. Sure you can hear a jump between 50 and 55, and perhaps between 51 and 52, when played as 50 and 55, or when played as 51 and 52. But you can't hear the difference if I tell you I will play 50 and 55, but really play 50 twice instead. The ability to control what is played is fundamental to the listeners ability to discern and characterize differences.

Perhaps you are hung up on the idea that an acoustic piano can play more volume/timbre variations than a digital piano? Of course it can. Will there therefore be a larger number of distinct random volume/timbre combinations played because of the player's inability to play exactly the same velocities repeatedly? Sure, because the MIDI standard limits each note (ignoring sympathetic resonances, etc) to 127 unique loudness/timbre combinations (regardless of whether they are created by 127 separate samples or loudness/timbre interpolation), whereas an acoustic piano has an analog velocity input. But the key word above is RANDOM. The player has limited control over the actual velocities he plays. At some point, his ability to control the repeatability of the input velocity reaches a velocity resolution limit, and a random velocity component is added to his input. That random velocity can be considered the input velocity noise. So each performance will be measurably different based on the velocity noise, whether playing an acoustic piano or a digital piano. That velocity noise will excite more loudness/timbre combinations on the acoustic piano because it is continuously varying analog velocity noise, whereas it will become digitized velocity noise on the digital piano.

But that simply means each performance of the same piece will be RANDOMLY different than every other performance even though it is otherwise performed perfectly (ignoring all other playing variables than velocity noise). Now the payoff question? Who cares? Does the player feel betrayed by his acoustic piano because it produces even more randomness to his performance than the digital piano? Can anyone even detect these random performance variations when he plays the same piece 100 times otherwise perfectly? Once again, if the result of this randomness doesn't matter on the acoustic piano, it doesn't matter on the digital piano either.

What you seem to be missing, or ignoring, is that while the resolution of the digital piano, in volume and timbre, needs to be better than the players ability to reproducibly play with precision, it only needs to be better, not infinitely better.

I'm an engineer, that amongst other things, spent many years designing analog to digital converters, so let me try describing this in a slightly more technical sense. If an application requires data at a particular noise level, then the A/D converter is designed to have enough effective bits of resolution to provide that noise level. Once the effective bit resolution of the A/D converter significantly exceeds the noise level of the input signal, the input noise is limiting and there is no need to design a better, more expensive A/D converter. A digital piano, whether it is modeled or sampled, is basically an analog to digital conversion of an acoustic piano. In this case, the repeatability of the velocity produced by the player is the input noise level to the A/D converter.

Once the piano's resolution significantly exceeds the players ability to reproducibly play something, then the natural variations in his ability to reproducibly play (the "input noise" in a technical sense) dominates, and there is no longer any benefit to increasing the resolution of the instrument. In this case, the noise level that determines the necessary resolution of this A/D converter is the ability of human to reproducibly play music at a performance level that the performer (or others) no longer find the variations significant. That's when you can stop adding more velocity resolution. It seems to me that 127 levels is sufficient.

I've written my own software to analyze digital pianos. It captures time domain waveforms for all 88 keys at all 127 levels, and plots the audio output of each note vs key velocity, and the audio output vs each note at a specified key velocity in a number of different ways. It produces various kinds of time domain and frequency analysis for studying the layer interpolation and layer transitions. I've studied a number of pianos, and I would sum it all up by saying you probably wouldn't intuitively believe how much you can't hear. In other words, the defects in the samples and/or their playing implementation is pretty poor in some cases, and has to rise to a considerable level before it becomes audibly significant (which it sometimes certainly does). But that persuades me that the simple lack of more than 127 levels is not a significant issue.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 07:20 PM

Macy, if a player can never access the spaces between the discrete steps, his playing will always be rounded to the next whole number. That means that the playing will always sound that little bit more robotic - the steps create a sameness. This, I think, is the nub of the problem. It is why you can't reproduce a truly acoustic experience with digitals as they stand - it is always a (somewhat crude) approximation.

Sameness - in the sense of monotony - is not what the sensitive player is after. A piano piece needs to live and breathe.
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 07:29 PM

I rather think that the acoustic experience can't be reproduced authentically because of how the sound is delivered through the strings and soundboard as opposed to directional speakers and has very little to do with lacking velocity levels in DP's.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 07:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Gigantoad
I rather think that the acoustic experience can't be reproduced authentically because of how the sound is delivered through the strings and soundboard as opposed to directional speakers and has very little to do with lacking velocity levels in DP's.

I think you're right about the sound delivery problem. But to me it's the totality of the experience. Advances need to continue to be made across the board (no pun intended). I don't think you can say we've achieved the holy grail in any one particular area, yet.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 07:43 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
I think the visual analogy is useful here. In TV production, 256 gray-scale steps are the norm. Because that is way too coarse for cinematic fidelity, a new logarithmic scale is being introduced. A picture made up of an inadequate number of steps is still a recognizable representation of its subject matter, but strikes the viewer as less than real - although you wouldn't be able to pinpoint any specific inaccuracy.

Not so. Professional digital video since Day 1 has been 10-bit based, with 876 steps from black to reference white. The steps have never been linear. They are a result of an optoelectronic transfer function that utilizes a 0.45 exponent power function. Consumer digital video is 8-bit based with 219 steps from black to reference white, and again is based on the same non-linear opto-electronic transfer function. It's actually quite difficult for the average person to discern the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit digital video, even using test patterns.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 07:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Macy
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I think the visual analogy is useful here. In TV production, 256 gray-scale steps are the norm. Because that is way too coarse for cinematic fidelity, a new logarithmic scale is being introduced. A picture made up of an inadequate number of steps is still a recognizable representation of its subject matter, but strikes the viewer as less than real - although you wouldn't be able to pinpoint any specific inaccuracy.

Not so. Professional digital video since Day 1 has been 10-bit based, with 876 steps from black to reference white. The steps have never been linear. They are a result of an optoelectronic transfer function that utilizes a 0.45 exponent power function. Consumer digital video is 8-bit based with 219 steps from black to reference white, and again is based on the same non-linear opto-electronic transfer function. It's actually quite difficult for the average person to discern the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit digital video, even using test patterns.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe 10-bit has to be downgraded to 8-bit for delivery at the moment.

My apologies if I got the wrong gray scale number - I was going from memory.

The problem is, that as video and cinema become ever closer, the engineers are having to develop more sophisticated scales for increasing the apparent color resolution. If all were rosy, and 8-bit was fine, there would have been no need for 10-bit - or these new advances.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 07:57 PM

For those of us who DON'T suffer synesthesia, please explain how visual acuity relates to auditory acuity.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 08:01 PM

Wow, Macy, way to get technical. Time to start up your own DPBSD. Well, we can always use another dewster here on the forums (I hope neither of you mind the comparison).
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 08:11 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Macy, if a player can never access the spaces between the discrete steps, his playing will always be rounded to the next whole number. That means that the playing will always sound that little bit more robotic - the steps create a sameness. This, I think, is the nub of the problem. It is why you can't reproduce a truly acoustic experience with digitals as they stand - it is always a (somewhat crude) approximation.

So suppose a player on an acoustic piano hits velocity 50.0 the first time they play a piece, and 50.6 the next time they play the same piece, and those get captured to MIDI using a silent acoustic piano or Disklavier-like piano, but they are rounded off to 50 and 51 respectively in the MIDI files.

If you play back the second MIDI file with the rounded value on a Yamaha acoustic piano with a Disklavier mechanical system, do you expect it to make the Yamaha acoustic piano sound all digital, while the first file sounds acoustic on the same piano?
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 08:45 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: Macy
Not so. Professional digital video since Day 1 has been 10-bit based, with 876 steps from black to reference white. The steps have never been linear. They are a result of an optoelectronic transfer function that utilizes a 0.45 exponent power function. Consumer digital video is 8-bit based with 219 steps from black to reference white, and again is based on the same non-linear opto-electronic transfer function. It's actually quite difficult for the average person to discern the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit digital video, even using test patterns.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe 10-bit has to be downgraded to 8-bit for delivery at the moment.

If you mean converted to 8-bit for delivery to consumers, then yes. That's what I said. Consumer video is 8-bit. But professional digital video is 10-bit, and film-to-video conversion (telecine) is normally now captured as 10-bit.

Originally Posted By: voxpops
The problem is, that as video and cinema become ever closer, the engineers are having to develop more sophisticated scales for increasing the apparent color resolution. If all were rosy, and 8-bit was fine, there would have been no need for 10-bit - or these new advances.

The main reason for 10-bit video is that it allows digital processing to be done to the images with less degradation, rather than because 10-bit is noticeably better than 8-bit for viewing purposes. In fact, 12-bits can also be used for the same reason. Digital video projection in commercial theaters uses somewhat different technical standards than consumer video sources, so the film-transfers have to undergo additional processing for that and other reasons. (Digital cinema performance standards are actually less demanding than the performance of the best front-projection home theater systems.)
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 08:52 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Wow, Macy, way to get technical. Time to start up your own DPBSD. Well, we can always use another dewster here on the forums (I hope neither of you mind the comparison).

Sorry, I normally try to steer away from getting technical. But some ideas are just easier to express (not necessarily easier to understand) if you don't limit yourself.

Dewster seems to be doing just fine without any help. I'd never have time to play piano (or my other interests) if I tried to do what he does on the forum.
Posted by: 36251

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 08:53 PM

All I can say is "wow" to how much time people are investing in this topic. How about some practicing.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 09:00 PM

During the day my toddler won't let me play without sitting on my lap to pound some notes out herself. Lately at night my youngest has been sleeping in my piano room. Mother's out of town so she can't take them away. So no practicing for me this weekend.

But I can forum all you want!
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 09:29 PM

Macy, I can't agree with some of your arguments. The velocity resolution is very relevant if you have ever tried to do complex mix-downs. When you are trying to get different instruments to sit in the mix so that they are prominent enough and balanced, sometimes you can spend a great deal of time editing MIDI velocities up or down by one value. I have literally had the problem where 52 is not enough and 53 is too much. Yes, there is a subjective judgement on my behalf on what sounds right (others may not care about what I care about), but the fact that I'm frustrated by the lack of values in between the 127 quantised steps is enough proof for me to say that the current MIDI standard is not up to the task of high definition applications. Put simply: I can hear the quantisations.

By contrast, whenever I've been in an analog studio, I've never felt constrained in finding the right amount of adjustability (obviously only talking volume in that situation). Whether you are talking volume or timbre, the problem is the same. People are buying into an assumption that people can't hear or feel the difference in levels, but these ideas haven't been tested thoroughly. Therefore it's just as valid for me to argue that MIDI needs more resolution as it is for any of you cynics to argue that humans can't hear or feel the difference.

I predict that in the future sometime, this problem will be addressed. I don't expect the wider audio world to adopt it, but if you are putting all this effort into trying to emulate a fine instrument like the piano, sooner or later the bottleneck has to be addressed. Resolution is a clear bottleneck.

Regarding another point you made: randomness is a part of music. DPs reduce that variable. It leads to listener fatigue. There is a sameness and flatness about the way DPs respond. four notes of 52, 52, 52, 52 is not as interesting as four notes slightly either side of 52. I have no doubt that the quantisation is responsible for that lack of interest factor. Even if I played a single line melody with no chords, to leave out the sympathetic vibrations element, there is a sameness about the tone that you don't get on an acoustic piano. I can play an acoustic piano all afternoon and not tire of its sound. DPs leave me cold after a short time. They don't respond dynamically enough for me. They don't even encourage you as a player to be more dynamic because you won't be rewarded for the effort.

You make some complex sounding statements of a mathematical nature, but none of it addresses the human perception aspect. Unless you are prepared to model human physiology and express it in terms of bits and resolution, none of your arguments about what human can perceive are persuasive - simply because you start with untested axioms about what can be perceived and how many bits are needed to "fool" the listener.

The inventors of audio compression, are a perfect example. They used scant data to decide which frequencies could be perceived directionally by humans. They based their compression ratios on assumptions about the limits of human perception. Then later, it turns out that many people can and do hear how "lossy" some of these formats are. I think some of your arguments are somewhat in the same direction. There are a lot of factors, not just hearing, which need to be considered. As a player, there is a very dynamic feedback between muscular effort and sound. They need to be highly concordant with each other. If there is any kind of mismatch between sound and physical effort/feedback from the action, the result is a less than complete experience. 127 levels is manifestly inadequate for me. It frustrates me on a regular basis in the work I do. I'd like to see MIDI at least double in resolution. Preferably quadruple. I think I would be happy with 51.0, 51.25, 51.5, 51.75, 52.0. But 51, 52, 53 - that's not even close for my purposes.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/21/12 10:13 PM

I suspect that anything replacing MIDI will have thousands or millions of levels and a much higher possible resolution in the temporal direction. It's just going to be quite an effort to get people to move over, especially without a clear, unified standard to move to. Professionals are loath to change. MIDI came out in, what, the '80s? And still going strong.

I am not aware of 127 being an issue in my playing, but I can easily imagine cases where it would be limiting.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 01:05 AM

I am in total agreement with ando - I think he expressed it much better and more fully than me.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 03:51 AM

Originally Posted By: ando
Macy, I can't agree with some of your arguments.

No problem but lets examine what you think I said that you are now disagreeing about.

Originally Posted By: ando
The velocity resolution is very relevant if you have ever tried to do complex mix-downs. When you are trying to get different instruments to sit in the mix so that they are prominent enough and balanced, sometimes you can spend a great deal of time editing MIDI velocities up or down by one value. I have literally had the problem where 52 is not enough and 53 is too much. Yes, there is a subjective judgement on my behalf on what sounds right (others may not care about what I care about), but the fact that I'm frustrated by the lack of values in between the 127 quantised steps is enough proof for me to say that the current MIDI standard is not up to the task of high definition applications. Put simply: I can hear the quantisations.

By contrast, whenever I've been in an analog studio, I've never felt constrained in finding the right amount of adjustability (obviously only talking volume in that situation). Whether you are talking volume or timbre, the problem is the same. People are buying into an assumption that people can't hear or feel the difference in levels, but these ideas haven't been tested thoroughly. Therefore it's just as valid for me to argue that MIDI needs more resolution as it is for any of you cynics to argue that humans can't hear or feel the difference.

I never made the argument that you can't hear the MIDI quantization. In fact I said in the very beginning "Sure you can hear a jump between 50 and 55, and perhaps between 51 and 52". So thanks for calling me a cynic. I don't mind people disagreeing with me when they actually disagree with something I said. But since I never said that, you are arguing with your own misrepresentation of what I said, and I do object to that.

The issue that I responded to had nothing to do with whether or not one can hear the quantization step size. The issue I responded to was whether the quantization step difference in volume/timbre was significant compared to the effect of velocity noise caused by the limit of a players ability to repeatedly produce the same exact velocities when playing a piece.

And of course only that single variable was being discussed, not additional differential or integral non-linearity issues, or non-monotonicity - which can be present in sampled or modeled pianos. I mention those issues because they are very relevant to the particular application you are talking about. For instance, on a specific piano you might raise the MIDI velocity by 1 step on a single note at a layer transition, and it may have the same relative effect as raising or lowering the note amplitude by half dozen or more MIDI steps within a layer. Hence, when you think you are making a slight 1 step correction it might be many times larger than expected (and even in the wrong direction) when made near a layer boundary. I know that because I have made those measurements many times. They are not caused by the quantization step size but rather by poor product development.

Anyway, none of my remarks were directed toward using MIDI to mix instruments, or to fix a recorded performance in post. All of my remarks were quite clearly, I believe, directed to real-time live piano playing. Using MIDI to mix instruments, rather than using audio, and the subsequent change in timbre associated with changing MIDI values when you do that, is another issue. I'm sure there are many MIDI extensions beyond quantization that could be made for that purpose.


Originally Posted By: ando
Regarding another point you made: randomness is a part of music. DPs reduce that variable. It leads to listener fatigue. There is a sameness and flatness about the way DPs respond. four notes of 52, 52, 52, 52 is not as interesting as four notes slightly either side of 52. I have no doubt that the quantisation is responsible for that lack of interest factor.

Here we do disagree. The velocity noise while playing is considerably greater than the MIDI quantization size. You don't have to believe me. Just try it. Record a piece, and then record it again. Compare the MIDI values note by note between the recordings. Are all the note velocities between the two recordings the same or within 1 MIDI step of each other? If not, the problem you speak of doesn't exist, at least not for the reason that the MIDI quantization is too large. (It can easily exist for other reasons, not enough sampling layers, not enough dynamic range, etc.)

Originally Posted By: ando
You make some complex sounding statements of a mathematical nature, but none of it addresses the human perception aspect. Unless you are prepared to model human physiology and express it in terms of bits and resolution, none of your arguments about what human can perceive are persuasive - simply because you start with untested axioms about what can be perceived and how many bits are needed to "fool" the listener.

Now you are completely misrepresenting what I said. I didn't make any mathematical statements at all. Nor did I make any argument at all about what humans can hear or not hear. I didn't start with any axioms about what can be perceived or how many bits are needed to fool anyone. That's totally wrong.

I said that it seems to me that 127 levels is sufficient, and not a significant issue, because the random velocity noise of the player is greater than the MIDI quantization size. That's it. It has nothing to do with what quantization levels you can hear in audio. If you don't understand that, then you don't understand what I was saying at all.

Originally Posted By: ando
As a player, there is a very dynamic feedback between muscular effort and sound. They need to be highly concordant with each other. If there is any kind of mismatch between sound and physical effort/feedback from the action, the result is a less than complete experience. 127 levels is manifestly inadequate for me.

Well, I can't play the same piece of music twice and get the same MIDI values for every corresponding pair of notes in the two recordings, but if you can, then I would agree you need more than 127 MIDI levels.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 04:37 AM

Originally Posted By: 36251
All I can say is "wow" to how much time people are investing in this topic. How about some practicing.


with a big smile on my face ... +1
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 05:09 AM

Macy, you build a rod for your own back with your own assumptions on player precision. In this case, the idea of "velocity noise" of the player. It is predicated on the idea that the player cannot reliably determine the end result of attempts to play at a specific dynamic levels.

You actually have things quite backwards, what is important is that the player feels the sound that is produced accurately matches whatever movement was actually performed. It's not about what the player attempted to do before the action was started, it's about the physical reality of what happened. You see, when you play from note to note, you are continuously adjusting your dynamics in real time based on the bio feedback (sensations of effort) coming through your hands and what sound you hear. It's not about any single note, it's about how the ability to continuously adjust your dynamics and reach the desired effect. Having only 127 steps is problematic because the player will often want to very subtly adjust their dynamic range but find that they aren't able to impart precise enough control over it.

Lets consider the case of a slow diminuendo or crescendo. The player wants to be able to start at one level, and continuously adjust their touch over a specified period and finish at a certain dynamic level. I can tell you from experience that I always find this situation exposes the limitations of the 127 step quantisation. You state it as axiomatic that I will have too much "noise" in my technique to be able to control my dim/cresc to a degree that MIDI can't represent decently. I believe in that circumstance I have a smaller amount of "player noise" than you believe exists. I never feel like that limitation is present on an acoustic instrument. Furthermore, you think you can prove that by a crude test as to whether a player can hit a note 4 times and achieve the same velocity reading. That's not how musicians play. They hear the first note, then they compensate on the second note, then the 3rd note and so on. Hearing the minute difference is critical is being able to adjust properly. You need to hear it in order for it to be fed back into the bio-mechanics of the player. It needs a high degree of resolution. I can't prove it because of the limits of MIDI, but I believe I could perform very precise dynamics if the resolution were there. It would actually drastically reduce the "noise" factor in itself. You suggest that the level of player noise as being inherently in the person. I'm telling you it's actually a reflection of the poor resolution of MIDI. The player loses confidence in minute dynamic control because there is no reward for that effort. I believe the level of player velocity noise is far lower if the resolution is there. One becomes aware of the control one has if they experience it. I could try to prove it by recording something on a real piano and representing it as a waveform. You would see the amplitudes moving under conscious control in a far more precise way than your player noise theory suggests. I'm sure I could find thousands of classical piano recordings which would demonstrate extremely high player velocity resolution, and low noise.

It feeds into the other point I made about mixing etc because once you become aware of the steps being limiting, you will notice it everywhere. Anywhere you use MIDI, you will eventually find a situation where you wish it were more precise and graduated. That part of it isn't player noise related in terms of the innervation of one's own muscles on a keyboard, but it's part of a larger picture because many people edit their recordings via MIDI editors or they may program the whole thing and use a PC based sampled piano and not perform it at all. In that case, your argument about player noise goes right out the door. We aren't able to even program the precision we want to hear! I know that for a fact from my studio work.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 06:48 AM

Originally Posted By: ando
That's not how musicians play. They hear the first note, then they compensate on the second note, then the 3rd note and so on. Hearing the minute difference is critical is being able to adjust properly. You need to hear it in order for it to be fed back into the bio-mechanics of the player. It needs a high degree of resolution. I can't prove it because of the limits of MIDI, but I believe I could perform very precise dynamics if the resolution were there. It would actually drastically reduce the "noise" factor in itself. You suggest that the level of player noise as being inherently in the person. I'm telling you it's actually a reflection of the poor resolution of MIDI. The player loses confidence in minute dynamic control because there is no reward for that effort.

This strikes me as similar to discussing the physics of speaker wire with "audiophiles". I don't understand how you can assert that you can play and adjust your key velocities in real time to a repeatable precision that exceeds by a factor of 2 or 4 MIDI quantization (suggested in your last posting), but you are unwilling to do a simple test to prove to yourself that you could even play within the precision of the current MIDI quantization because MIDI limits your confidence. That strikes me as reasoning similar to audiophiles that won't participate in double blind tests.

Play a rapid run of 8 notes, a simple scale with each note velocity exactly 1 midi step above the other. Or play the 8 notes each 2 MIDI steps larger than the previous note. What's limiting you from doing it with that precision repeatedly if you are sure you could do 1/2 or 1/4 MIDI steps if only those MIDI steps were smaller?

I don't think we are going to get any further with this discussion, so I'm going to respectfully (and I mean that sincerely) check out. I was an audiophile for years back in the 60's and 70's, designing my own amplifiers and speakers (my thesis was related to speaker design), and I was never able to close the gap between the "technical audiophiles" and the "subjective audiophiles". There's really no where to go when an audiophile asserts he can hear things that can't be measured or explained by physics or contradicts physics, and doesn't want to participate in tests to demonstrate his claims of hearing acuity. Nevertheless, some of those guys remain my good friends today. So in the same spirit, I'll check out now and go play my piano. Thanks for the interesting discussion and best wishes.
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 08:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Macy
Originally Posted By: ando
That's not how musicians play. They hear the first note, then they compensate on the second note, then the 3rd note and so on. Hearing the minute difference is critical is being able to adjust properly. You need to hear it in order for it to be fed back into the bio-mechanics of the player. It needs a high degree of resolution. I can't prove it because of the limits of MIDI, but I believe I could perform very precise dynamics if the resolution were there. It would actually drastically reduce the "noise" factor in itself. You suggest that the level of player noise as being inherently in the person. I'm telling you it's actually a reflection of the poor resolution of MIDI. The player loses confidence in minute dynamic control because there is no reward for that effort.

This strikes me as similar to discussing the physics of speaker wire with "audiophiles". I don't understand how you can assert that you can play and adjust your key velocities in real time to a repeatable precision that exceeds by a factor of 2 or 4 MIDI quantization (suggested in your last posting), but you are unwilling to do a simple test to prove to yourself that you could even play within the precision of the current MIDI quantization because MIDI limits your confidence. That strikes me as reasoning similar to audiophiles that won't participate in double blind tests.


I never said I was unwilling to do a test. I don't know how it would be administered though. You also completely miss the point with your test. The quantisation levels of MIDI prevent musically meaningful gradations in dynamics. You are looking at numerical values, but that's not how musicians play. You sound more like an experimental physicist than a musician, which is why you design experiments to prove what you already believe.

Quote:
Play a rapid run of 8 notes, a simple scale with each note velocity exactly 1 midi step above the other. Or play the 8 notes each 2 MIDI steps larger than the previous note. What's limiting you from doing it with that precision repeatedly if you are sure you could do 1/2 or 1/4 MIDI steps if only those MIDI steps were smaller?


Again, staggering failure to comprehend. No musician plays to realise digitised numerical values on a 0-127 scale. A musician plays with dynamics to contrast one note to the next. Each note is compared to the last, they aren't separate events. Resolution is very important to realise that goal. Also, my entire thesis is that rough quantisation prevents musical feedback, so targeting whole MIDI numbers is completely useless proposition designed to obscure my point and support yours with no actual scientific merit behind it. The problem with quantisation is that you can't tell how close to the edge of the next number you are. You could return a reading of 52,53,52,53, yet have played as precisely and somebody else who returned 53,53,53,53. That's what quantisation does, it misrepresents some data points more than others. Only a high resolution test would actually prove what people can do.

What would be useful is to see if there is a difference between a gradual crescendo on a standard MIDI device vs a high definition MIDI device. I am certain the high-def one will be better. How do I know? Because I've got a real piano and it responds far better to fine dynamics. I can do a genuine crescendo on my real piano. On my DP, it sounds rougher and less authentic. If you can suggest a way I can subject my hypothesis to testing, I'm all ears. I don't see how I can do it because I only have normal MIDI. The best I can think of is to record a real piano and analyse the waveform. Not sure what standards I'd use to numerically represent the velocities though.

Finally, your comparison of my argument to speaker cables is absurd and designed to offend. I'm not so much offended as I am disappointed at the breakdown of your logical thinking. I haven't shied away from testing, if a valid test were proposed. I even suggested a test myself. Your test is pseudo science. It's limited by its own flawed technology. The idea of testing a player's dynamic sensitivity with a low sensitivity device like MIDI is glaringly illogical. The instrument needs to surpass the capability of the performer to give meaningful information as to where the player's natural limit lies. I actually will do your test at some stage. If I manage to do what you say is impossible, how would I prove that I haven't forged the data though?

It has been an interesting discussion, to be sure. But you have actually made no effort to test whether what I'm saying might be possible. All you have done is state your opinion and designed a test which actually supports what I've said every bit as much as it supports your statements. You need to falsify my argument to actually persuade me. If you are going to paint yourself as the scientist and me as the speaker-cable peddling snake-oil salesman, you'd better make sure I can't falsify your claims.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 08:50 AM

Originally Posted By: Macy
It seems to me that we reach an acceptable point with 127 levels.
...
That's when you can stop adding more velocity resolution. It seems to me that 127 levels is sufficient.
...
that persuades me that the simple lack of more than 127 levels is not a significant issue.

In that response to my post, Macy, three times, as you see, you went back to 127 values as being sufficient, when I never claimed it was not (it was not something I was addressing at all), so I'm not sure you got my point. But your post was interesting nonetheless. ;-)

To get back to the actual point of my post, though, if you are claiming--as you appear to be--that MIDI volume/timbre for velocity x is unimportant if you can't reliably hit x on demand, then why do you think even 127 values are needed? Why not drop all the even number velocities and have only 63 steps, unless someone can reliably hit a value and not be so much as one unit off? Heck, I don't think I can reliably get within 5 of my intended value i.e. my attempt to generate 52 might easily yield a 47 or a 57. Does that mean that there is no reason to bother with values 48 through 56? In that case, 13 MIDI values would cover everything, right? Is it your position that 13 values is indeed enough, if you can't reliably hit numbers with the range I suggested? I think that that would lead to jumpy sounding expressivity... because even though I may not be able to get "that close" on demand, my gradual crescendo from below to above that range will certainly hit a velocity or two within that range. So I think it is clear that there is value to having those velocities, do you agree? If you do, how would you square that with the premise that a velocity that can not be duplicated on demand is extraneous? Or do you think that 13 values would actually be enough, if that's as close as someone could reliably get on demand?
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 01:21 PM

Originally Posted By: ando
Lets consider the case of a slow diminuendo or crescendo. The player wants to be able to start at one level, and continuously adjust their touch over a specified period and finish at a certain dynamic level. I can tell you from experience that I always find this situation exposes the limitations of the 127 step quantisation.
...
I never feel like that limitation is present on an acoustic instrument.

OTOH, this issue is not necessarily a result of 127 being too few velocity levels; I think it could also be a flaw in how the keyboard is mapping your velocity to the various values it is capable of outputting.
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 01:21 PM

Thanks anotherscott, you explained some things about the gradual crescendo thing that I didn't go into. And I really think you can't underestimate the effect on the player if the sound doesn't match precisely what was physically performed. The player faces a continuous dilemma of how to gradate the sound. It becomes more of a coping strategy rather than an innate sensitivity. Under the Macy's scenario, the best a player could hope for is to learn to play in a quantised way with 127 levels (thereby being able to reliably hit certain numerical values) If you've ever had a classical piano lesson with a fussy teacher, they ask for dynamic sensitivity an order of magnitude greater than that!
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 01:28 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: ando
Lets consider the case of a slow diminuendo or crescendo. The player wants to be able to start at one level, and continuously adjust their touch over a specified period and finish at a certain dynamic level. I can tell you from experience that I always find this situation exposes the limitations of the 127 step quantisation.
...
I never feel like that limitation is present on an acoustic instrument.

OTOH, this issue is not necessarily a result of 127 being too few velocity levels; I think it could also be a flaw in how the keyboard is mapping your velocity to the various values it is capable of outputting.


That compounds the problem, yes. And I have tried remapping the curve to try and get more control. No matter what I did, I found I was still bothered by the stepping I could hear. Not just when I played myself, but even in a sequenced crescendo. I often find myself wanting the values in between. Look, it's not the end of the world, but it does affect me. It's not just a question of the action itself being the factor. My AP has a silent system in it and a MIDI sensor array so I can use the same piano for everything if I wish. I think high end DPs will opt for more levels in the future. It's part of the natural progression towards realism (albeit glacial).
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 02:11 PM

Would it be possible for us to hear the 'stepping'?
Posted by: dmd

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 03:11 PM

Good night Mrs. Robinson ... wherever you are.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 04:03 PM

Actually it's, Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 05:34 PM

Good morning!

Yes, there may indeed be audible differences between each of the 127 steps - perhaps even VERY audible differences sometimes, say, due to chaos. (e.g, striking a string that is already in vibration, or playing a synth with a very wildly varying sound). I think what Macy is saying that he feels that 127 steps is simply enough (possibly more than enough) to capture the velocity signal from a person. The reason it is enough is that we are simply not able to strike the key with enough precision to warrant more steps, and we're simply reproducing our natural noise if we add more steps.

There's a problem though. If there can be a noticable difference between any two steps, is it fair to completely discard all the possible steps in between? Possibly not, and if it were an issue, the solution to that problem is simply to add randomness to the MIDI signal, so that the intermediate steps are in fact invoked as well. This process is called Dithering This would create a new velocity signal that uses higher precision to store the values.

Greg.
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 06:00 PM

Originally Posted By: sullivang


There's a problem though. If there can be a noticable difference between any two steps, is it fair to completely discard all the possible steps in between? Possibly not, and if it were an issue, the solution to that problem is simply to add randomness to the MIDI signal, so that the intermediate steps are in fact invoked as well. This process is called Dithering This would create a new velocity signal that uses higher precision to store the values.

Greg.


It might make things sound more interesting, but it doesn't address my concerns. I am actively challenging the idea that human beings can't exert more control than the 127 offers. I don't accept that the amount of human error is larger than these steps. ie. it doesn't capture the velocity signal of the player - certainly not all players. I think the folks that designed MIDI foreclosed on that too early. It was done at a time when computers were very slow and it made sense to not over tax them. I don't think they studied human perception terribly deeply when they concluded what we are capable of.

Dithering introduces randomness, but IMO that's not what's needed. That would not assist in the player connection problem. In fact it would worsen it because your velocity would be even less accurate to your physical effort than it is now, some of the time. That means you can't make continuous comparative judgments and adjustments. Dithering would only make it sound more interesting for the listener who doesn't have to perform the music.

I'd rather go with the higher resolution model. It will do what dithering does anyway. The players who can't perceive the difference won't be affected. The players who can will enjoy a greater sense of physical control over the sound. The MIDI programmer will be able to create more sensitive renderings of their musical. The mixdown engineer will have access to the in-between values that he sometimes wishes he had. Everybody wins! I don't favour a standard with 64,000 values, mind you. That creates complication we don't need. I think quadrupling the resolution would be the right amount.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 06:09 PM

Originally Posted By: ando

I am actively challenging the idea that human beings can't exert more control than the 127 offers. I don't accept that the amount of human error is larger than these steps. ie. it doesn't capture the velocity signal of the player - certainly not all players.


That's fine, however the way to prove this is by doing the experiment that Macy asked you to do.

Greg.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 07:25 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
To get back to the actual point of my post, though, if you are claiming--as you appear to be--that MIDI volume/timbre for velocity x is unimportant if you can't reliably hit x on demand, then why do you think even 127 values are needed? Why not drop all the even number velocities and have only 63 steps, unless someone can reliably hit a value and not be so much as one unit off? Heck, I don't think I can reliably get within 5 of my intended value i.e. my attempt to generate 52 might easily yield a 47 or a 57. Does that mean that there is no reason to bother with values 48 through 56? In that case, 13 MIDI values would cover everything, right? Is it your position that 13 values is indeed enough, if you can't reliably hit numbers with the range I suggested? I think that that would lead to jumpy sounding expressivity... because even though I may not be able to get "that close" on demand, my gradual crescendo from below to above that range will certainly hit a velocity or two within that range. So I think it is clear that there is value to having those velocities, do you agree? If you do, how would you square that with the premise that a velocity that can not be duplicated on demand is extraneous? Or do you think that 13 values would actually be enough, if that's as close as someone could reliably get on demand?

I was going to quit posting on this subject because I truly felt like my discussion with Ando couldn't progress any further. But I think your comments indicate that you want to understand what I'm talking about. If you do understand what I am saying and want to argue about whether I'm right or wrong, that's great. We will both probably learn something, and I may be wrong or I may be overlooking something important. It's when someone doesn't understand what I'm saying, but wants to argue about it, there becomes no point in further discussion.

So I'll respond to your comment, but first let me restate what I am saying again so we don't start with some false assumptions.

The point I have been trying to make is that I don't believe a player can repeatedly play the same piece of music with the same velocities from one repetition of the piece to another. I know I can't do it, because I've tested myself. I can't even rapidly play a simple sequence of 5 ascending notes with 5 fingers and get the same velocities every time, no matter how hard I try. But I know there are much, much better piano players than me. So perhaps there are players that can do it for such a simple example. (It's extraordinarily easy in a minute or two to test one's self to find out if you can do that simple example or not.)

I tried the example once again on myself a few minutes ago. I did 12 trials of playing F,G,A,B,C in succession using 5 fingers. (The test took less time to do than typing this paragraph!) If I throw out the 2 worst trials the peak to peak velocity deviation in the remaining 10 trials was never less than 10 MIDI levels for a particular note, and never less than 9 MIDI levels in a single run of 5 notes. And those were the best cases!

But that simple example not withstanding, I can't imagine anyone physically playing exactly the same velocities within actual music repeatedly from one iteration to another. I think that assumption is so logical, and common sense, that if anyone wants to dispute it they would have to provide some evidence to show they can do it. And again, that isn't hard to do. Just record the same piece twice and do a note by note comparison of the MIDI values to prove you can do it or not. Again, I can't even do it for the trivial 5 note example above. But if you believe I'm wrong, and believe some piano players will play the same piece of music with exactly the same MIDI velocities every time, then you can dismiss the rest of my point. Otherwise, please continue.

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
To get back to the actual point of my post, though, if you are claiming--as you appear to be--that MIDI volume/timbre for velocity x is unimportant if you can't reliably hit x on demand, then why do you think even 127 values are needed? Why not drop all the even number velocities and have only 63 steps, unless someone can reliably hit a value and not be so much as one unit off? .... If you do, how would you square that with the premise that a velocity that can not be duplicated on demand is extraneous? Or do you think that 13 values would actually be enough, if that's as close as someone could reliably get on demand?

Let me be clear about what I am NOT saying because it seems to be the key misunderstanding that is causing all kinds of trouble in understanding my point. I'm not saying a player tries to play certain MIDI velocities for certain notes. It makes ZERO difference that a player can't hit specific target velocities on demand. Of course no player is even thinking about MIDI velocities while they play. The only thing that is important to my thesis is that a player does not play the same piece with exactly the same MIDI velocities every time. There is a natural physical randomness to the actual MIDI velocities that are played, no matter how hard a player tries to play the piece exactly the same each time. That is all that matters to my point, the velocity randomness, not an inability to play any specific velocity on demand. Playing a specific velocity on demand has nothing to do anything. So I haven't suggested throwing out any MIDI steps, or doing anything else based on the inability to play any specific velocities on demand.

The velocity randomness is the same thing as a velocity noise component applied to whatever is played. If you play a piece 10 times, each individual note in the piece will randomly vary over some velocity range during those 10 repetitions. The playing of the piece will not be exactly the same each time, no matter how hard the player might try. It will sound a little different in timbre/loudness each time because of the velocity noise component. The larger the velocity noise component the more the actual sound of the piece will vary from one playing to another.

What does this have to do with MIDI quantization? MIDI quantization is another velocity noise component. Every velocity struck is rounded off to the nearest MIDI value. The timbre/loudness will be a little different than what it might have been if there were an infinite number of timbre/loudness steps. But there aren't. There are currently only 127 MIDI velocities, so there is MIDI velocity quantization noise added to whatever piece is played. It's another random velocity noise component.

So what happens when a player tries to play a piece of music? Regardless of what the player attempts to play there are 2 components of velocity noise added to the playing which varies the timbre/loudness of each note in a random way. There is the MIDI velocity quantization noise, and the player's random velocity noise that results from the player simply not being able to play with exactly the same physical velocities each time they play the piece. There are technical methods to analyze what happens when two noise components are added to a signal. It's more complex than one might expect, so I won't discuss it mathematically. But common sense should tell you that if one component of the noise is significantly bigger than the other, then making the smaller component of the noise even smaller doesn't improve things much at all. If the random timbre/loudness variations from the player's velocity noise are significantly bigger (louder/greater timbre variations) than the MIDI quantization noise effects on loudness and timbre, it doesn't do much good to keep making the MIDI quantization effects smaller and smaller. How can one argue that they need smaller MIDI quantization steps in order to properly adjust one's playing on a note by note basis, if whatever adjustment one tries to make for the next note is also subject to a player's random velocity component that may add or subtract several times the MIDI quantization velocity to the adjustment they are trying to make?

So if you have followed me this far, I'm not trying to prove that 127 MIDI steps is enough quantization for playing a digital piano realistically. I haven't predicted what the best possible player's velocity noise might be, but from my own testing of myself I suspect it is considerably greater than the current MIDI quantization. And I didn't state how much smaller the MIDI quantization should be than the player's velocity noise to make it insignificant. What I attempted to do was present a model of how to think about the MIDI quantization issue relative to playing a digital piano live. In my world, it's easier to think about such topics when you have a useful model that provides technical tools to analyze a situation, rather than just saying I need 2x or 4x or 100x better quantization because I know it will help me play better. My own experience, from testing myself and playing, and perhaps most importantly from capturing and analyzing the detailed audio output vs MIDI velocities of typical high-quality digital piano software, which is without any question a much bigger issue than MIDI quantization - which I mentioned just briefly earlier - 127 MIDI levels seems reasonable. That is no proof, it is just a opinion. And in previous posts I expressed it as "it seems to me that we reach an acceptable point with 127 levels", "it seems to me that 127 levels is sufficient", "it persuades me that simple lack of more than 127 level is not a significant issue". Those statements are just an opinion ("it seems to me"). I'm tried to present a model for how to think about the issue, not provide data to try to prove anything.

(Finally, I'm not talking about using MIDI to mix instruments or about editing recordings in post production or stuff like that. So please save those arguments for another discussion - there are many other issues there that are just as serious as MIDI quantization.)
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 07:32 PM

Isn't this all a moot point? If pianos can only measure and generate 127 levels, who will produce a piano library that can respond to more than 127 levels? No one.

So the questions become:
- Do enough people want resolution greater than 1 part in 127?
OR
- Can marketing induce enough people to think they want it?

- If so, can a keyboard be produced to suit?
- If so, is there sufficient market to justify manufacturing such?
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 07:48 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Isn't this all a moot point? If pianos can only measure and generate 127 levels, who will produce a piano library that can respond to more than 127 levels? No one.

In fact, if you look at the actual sample's audio output with only 127 levels, which sometimes includes massive non-monotonic behavior, i.e. you increase the velocity by 1 step and the audio output level drops to the same level as a velocity 5 or 6 velocity steps lower, or simply massive non-linearity i.e. you increase the velocity by 1 step and the audio increases by the equivalent of 5 or 6 velocity steps, why would one think the manufacturers would do any better with twice the MIDI levels?
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 08:02 PM

This recent part of the discussion misses the point entirely. If you are trying to play a demanding or emotive work, there is absolutely no desire on the part of the player to play with robotic precision, such that they can hit notes with identical velocity. What they want is feedback from the instrument. They want to feel that the response from the instrument matches their input as closely as possible. For the most advanced/sensitive musicians, I would suggest, 127 steps represents only a small fraction of their range of expressive possibilities, and therefore the feedback from an instrument limited in this way frustrates them. There is a reason that Roland went beyond this limitation in the V-Piano. It may also be true of the AvantGrand.

This is different from, say, those trying to produce (modern) dance music, where exact repetition is a desired quality. 127 steps is probably more than adequate for this genre.
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 08:19 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
This recent part of the discussion misses the point entirely. If you are trying to play a demanding or emotive work, there is absolutely no desire on the part of the player to play with robotic precision, such that they can hit notes with identical velocity. What they want is feedback from the instrument. They want to feel that the response from the instrument matches their input as closely as possible. For the most advanced/sensitive musicians, I would suggest, 127 steps represents only a small fraction of their range of expressive possibilities, and therefore the feedback from an instrument limited in this way frustrates them. There is a reason that Roland went beyond this limitation in the V-Piano. It may also be true of the AvantGrand.

This is different from, say, those trying to produce (modern) dance music, where exact repetition is a desired quality. 127 steps is probably more than adequate for this genre.


Nailed it. thumb
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 08:27 PM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
Originally Posted By: ando

I am actively challenging the idea that human beings can't exert more control than the 127 offers. I don't accept that the amount of human error is larger than these steps. ie. it doesn't capture the velocity signal of the player - certainly not all players.


That's fine, however the way to prove this is by doing the experiment that Macy asked you to do.

Greg.


I will do that test and let you know the results. I have one caveat though: I don't believe it tests what Macy think it tests. My hypothesis is that the lack of player feedback prevents good player control. I have thought of a good way to get round this though: If I use my acoustic piano, which also has a MIDI sensor array in it, then I attempt to play a series of notes at the same dynamic, I can use the feedback from the acoustic mechanism and real strings to moderate my movements, but the MIDI array can out output values on the quantised 127 step scale. If what I am saying is correct, I should be able to get more consistent MIDI values when playing through my AP than if I do the same test with my DP, which can only feedback 127 step audio to me. How does that sound? It should directly compare the influence of continuous data vs quantised data.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 08:28 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
This recent part of the discussion misses the point entirely. If you are trying to play a demanding or emotive work, there is absolutely no desire on the part of the player to play with robotic precision, such that they can hit notes with identical velocity. What they want is feedback from the instrument. They want to feel that the response from the instrument matches their input as closely as possible.

I never said anyone SHOULD play with robotic precision, or hit the notes with identical velocity every time. I said I believe they CAN'T play with robotic precision and hit the notes with identical velocity every time. Are you deliberating twisting what I said, or is just not clear to you when you read what I wrote?

So, after you get the feedback (audio/tactile whatever) what are going to do with the feedback that requires you to have twice the current MIDI resolution? Are you going to take that feedback and play the next note 1/2 MIDI step louder than you would have before you got the feedback? If so, how do plan to do that if you can't reliably play the note without the extra 1/2 step? How do you add an extra 1/2 step of velocity unless you can also reliably play it without the extra 1/2 step of velocity?
Posted by: dmd

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 08:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Actually it's, Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.



grin

You are right ... LOL

I didn't think I had it right, but I just had to throw that in.

Don't ask me why. It just seemed necessary.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 08:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Macy
Originally Posted By: voxpops
This recent part of the discussion misses the point entirely. If you are trying to play a demanding or emotive work, there is absolutely no desire on the part of the player to play with robotic precision, such that they can hit notes with identical velocity. What they want is feedback from the instrument. They want to feel that the response from the instrument matches their input as closely as possible.

I never said anyone SHOULD play with robotic precision, or hit the notes with identical velocity every time. I said I believe they CAN'T play with robotic precision and hit the notes with identical velocity every time. Are you deliberating twisting what I said, or is just not clear to you when you read what I wrote?

If you read what I said, it doesn't quote you as saying one thing or another. I don't dispute that they can't play with robotic precision, it's the rounding of the MIDI values that forces them to play like that. And they can sense it.

Quote:
So, after you get the feedback (audio/tactile whatever) what are going to do with the feedback that requires you to have twice the current MIDI resolution? Are you going to take that feedback and play the next note 1/2 MIDI step louder than you would have before you got the feedback? If so, how do plan to do that if you can't reliably play the note without the extra 1/2 step? How do you add an extra 1/2 step of velocity unless you can also reliably play it without the extra 1/2 step of velocity?


This is what misses the point. You're putting it in terms of an engineer not an artist. An artist couldn't care less about whole steps or half steps, they want the continuum of expression that means they are (as near as makes no odds) one with their instrument. When you listen to the master performers you can hear and sense that degree of unity. And at this point in time, digitals can't provide these artists with a tool that is at that level of refinement. I am told that a Hammond organ, with its nine drawbars can generate 253,000,000 variations of tone. The human body is infinitely more expressive than that - a ballet dancer limited to just 127 muscle positions would have a very hard time performing Swan Lake. Maybe that's not the best analogy, but it will suffice as I try to suggest that the more digital technology can free itself from coarse limitations, the more it will be capable of assisting the artist.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 09:28 PM

How is this relevant?
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I am told that a Hammond organ, with its nine drawbars can generate 253,000,000 variations of tone.
If an artist plays 5 tones per second he'd have to play continuously for 38 hours to play them all! But how is 253,000,00 relevant, anyway?

I doubt this:
Originally Posted By: voxpops
... they want the continuum of expression ...
No one can want, have, or use such a continuum. Our senses won't detect anything smaller than some minimally-noticeable increment. Just how small is that increment? It depends on the mode of expression. Regardless, anything smaller cannot be sensed, and cannot be wanted.

I also doubt this:
Originally Posted By: voxpops
The human body is infinitely more expressive than that ...
Nothing human is infinite.

This seems reasonable:
Originally Posted By: voxpops
A ballet dancer limited to just 127 muscle positions would have a very hard time performing Swan Lake.
But that only means that 127 increments is not enough for ballet. Perhaps it requires 1,000? Or 10,000? I don't know how many, but there's a limit beyond which no further gain is meaningful.

As I sit here at my desk, I might choose to walk to the kitchen for some coffee. Doing so, my body mass will successively occupy a large (infinite) range of points in space between here and the kitchen. (Rest assured that my body movements will not be the envy of that ballerina. smile ) But do I sense all of those many points? Half of them? One-millionth of them? Would the ballerina?

Anyway, what relationship is there between what a ballerina needs and what a pianist needs?

Finally ... if your point is that you need finer resolution than what you can get from a digital piano, I have no quibble. (I don't need it, but perhaps you do.)

But you're unable to say just what level of granularity is needed. And you cannot support the notion that such granularity must be infinite (or infinitesimal).
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 09:46 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Nothing human is infinite.
...
As I sit here at my desk, I might choose to walk to the kitchen for some coffee. Doing so, my body mass will successively occupy a large (infinite) range of points in space between here and the kitchen.


Which is it?
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 10:09 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
How is this relevant?
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I am told that a Hammond organ, with its nine drawbars can generate 253,000,000 variations of tone.
If an artist plays 5 tones per second he'd have to play continuously for 38 hours to play them all! But how is 253,000,00 relevant, anyway?
It's not! It was just a link between 127 and the infinity of muscle movement. Don't spend the 38 hours, it's not worth it! wink

Quote:
I doubt this:
Originally Posted By: voxpops
... they want the continuum of expression ...
No one can want, have, or use such a continuum. Our senses won't detect anything smaller than some minimally-noticeable increment. Just how small is that increment? It depends on the mode of expression. Regardless, anything smaller cannot be sensed, and cannot be wanted.
I believe that great artists do indeed want a level of expression that is, to all intents and purposes, unlimited. It is unachievable, but it is part of the quest.

Quote:
Anyway, what relationship is there between what a ballerina needs and what a pianist needs?

They both need to be able to coax the maximum of expression from their respective instruments - one is a body, and the other is a piano, but they are both extensions of the artist and their desire to create/perform.

Quote:
Finally ... if your point is that you need finer resolution than what you can get from a digital piano, I have no quibble. (I don't need it, but perhaps you do.)

I was referring to people way beyond my performance level (up in the stratosphere by comparison). I can sense the limited response of digital pianos, and I prefer to play an acoustic when available (the audiences I play to usually prefer the results, too), but this is performance at a very low level compared to the great classical and jazz performers.

Quote:

But you're unable to say just what level of granularity is needed. And you cannot support the notion that such granularity must be infinite (or infinitesimal).

No way was I asking for infinite granularity. My argument is that the current level of granularity is too coarse to allow great performers to use digitals (of any kind) for performing serious works. Maybe 1000 levels would be sufficient, but I really don't know. You presumably would be happy for things to stay as they are. But I don't think you'll convert any major classical performers to your way of thinking.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 10:20 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Nothing human is infinite.
...
As I sit here at my desk, I might choose to walk to the kitchen for some coffee. Doing so, my body mass will successively occupy a large (infinite) range of points in space between here and the kitchen.
Which is it?
It's BOTH. I can occupy an infinite number of positions. Physics allows that.

But I cannot be aware of every one of those positions. So if things were different -- if there were granularity (rather than continuum), I would not know it or sense it.

And that's the point. There exists much more than I (or anyone) can sense. Anything smaller than what can be sensed can be treated as non-existent.

Earlier on I posted that the point is really moot (with respect to pianos). If you need the finer granularity, and yet no piano can offer it, then that's the end of it.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 10:25 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Nothing human is infinite.
...
As I sit here at my desk, I might choose to walk to the kitchen for some coffee. Doing so, my body mass will successively occupy a large (infinite) range of points in space between here and the kitchen.
Which is it?
It's BOTH. I can occupy an infinite number of positions. Physics allows that.

But I cannot be aware of every one of those positions. So if things were different -- if there were granularity (rather than continuum), I would not know it or sense it.

You'd be very aware of it if there were only 127 positions between you and the kitchen. You could enter a robot dance contest!
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 10:29 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
It's BOTH. I can occupy an infinite number of positions. Physics allows that.


Zeno made his name with this conundrum. smile
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 10:37 PM

Not to go too far afield, but ... M-Theory suggests that the number of positions MIGHT not be infinite, and that there may be a minimum non-zero distance (using alternate ten- or eleven-dimensional geometries of the Calabi-Yau form). But this minimum distance is on the order of 10 to the -33 cm. I don't think even voxpops see that a problem or limitation.
Posted by: vegasE

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 10:40 PM

I have been following this thread but after 5 pages it only now starts to get interesting.

So Mac*3....which is it?

Ballet or the robot dance?
And of course, a vid or it didn't happen.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 10:41 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
You'd be very aware of it if there were only 127 positions between you and the kitchen.
Maybe yes, maybe no. You might not be aware of just how close I am to the kitchen! smile

Quote:
You could enter a robot dance contest!
That describes me perfectly, first thing in the morning when I've not yet had my first coffee. smile Under those circumstances, I couldn't tell the difference between 2 steps or 127 steps or 1000 steps.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 10:48 PM

I think this one got carried away a little into argument for argument's sake. The original (well, kind of) question is whether 127 is too few levels for playing.

I think it's been accepted that 127 can be too few for recording and studio work. Also that more than 127 won't hurt anything.

Is it too few for piano playing? We can't really test without a piano that can do 127 and more than 127. I think both sides accept that it might be or it might not. Whether your gut tells you it might be enough or whether it says it might not, it's really just a gut feeling because we can't distinguish this limitation from other limitations in our pianos or software.

Unfortunately the available hardware and software doesn't allow the hypothesis to be examined any more closely. I'd love to know, but I don't see it happening. The rest is just arguments about semantics, isn't it?
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 10:50 PM

That's actually an interesting theory, which would suggest that the world is more akin to a digital representation than we might like to think. As with the "spin" of a quantum particle it is either one way or another, but never anything in between - rather like the zeros and ones of computing. And that would also suggest that the driving force is mathematics. Trouble is if you try to imagine what's between the minimum spaces you get tied in mental knots.

(this relates to the posts prior to the last two!)
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 11:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Macy
It makes ZERO difference that a player can't hit specific target velocities on demand.

Then we do agree to at least some extent, that "the value of a velocity point's existence is not predicated on the player's ability to produce that velocity at will." But I am not differentiating between being able to hit velocity x on demand, and being able to hit the same velocity twice in a row, which I think is the distinction you are making. The way I see it, either way, we're talking about the value of providing a velocity response point that is beyond the player's motor ability to reliably reproduce.

I guess my question, then, is, whether or not you think there is value in providing velocities that are within the "margin of noise." That is, if your attempts to repeat a note at the same velocity can regularly result in velocities that are 9 or 10 units off from one another, is it or is it not worthwhile to have all those in-between velocities available in the first place? I think you and MMM have suggested that, if they are beyond your ability to exercise control over (i.e. your attempt to generate one will as likely generate one of the others anyway), their existence is moot; whereas I am suggesting that they are still valuable, and would clearly make their presence known as you crescendo'd through the range.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/22/12 11:47 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
We can't really test without a piano that can do 127 and more than 127. I think both sides accept that it might be or it might not. Whether your gut tells you it might be enough or whether it says it might not, it's really just a gut feeling because we can't distinguish this limitation from other limitations in our pianos or software.

Unfortunately the available hardware and software doesn't allow the hypothesis to be examined any more closely.


Someone could play a VAX77 and Pianoteq with its 14,000 point resolution, or with 127 point resolution, and see if they could reliably tell which one they were playing, that might at least provide a clue...

As for unprovable gut feelings, my own is that the reduced expressivity of digital pianos compared to acoustics is at least as much a result of imperfection in translating our finger motions to the 127 points as it is to the limitation of there being only 127 points.

As an aside, in my experience, some acoustic pianos exhibit noticeably more timbral change at different velocities than others do. Though even pianos with lesser dynamic tonal variation still undeniably feel like real, acoustic instruments!
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 03:51 AM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
We can't really test without a piano that can do 127 and more than 127.


It is very easy to test with with less than 127, though. Just quantise the MIDI signal to whatever degree you want. Just perhaps, we may not even notice a difference with a 6 bit quantisation (63 steps). If we reach a point where we do notice a difference, introducing dithering to that signal may restore the overall experience to approximately what it was at a higher number of steps. I.e - there may be a point where the quantisation of our (human) random noise becomes audible, yet, we are in fact capturing the intended velocity with enough precision. Dithering allows the intermediate steps to be randomly invoked, hopefully in a fashion as if the velocity were being captured with higher precision at the outset.

If the goal is to reproduce any given performance very accurately, then that changes everything. In this case, the velocity "noise" may not be noise at all, if it causes audible differences. It doesn't matter if the performer can't reliably reproduce that same performance at will - we want to capture that performance as accurately as possible.

Greg.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 04:41 AM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: Macy
It makes ZERO difference that a player can't hit specific target velocities on demand.

Then we do agree to at least some extent, that "the value of a velocity point's existence is not predicated on the player's ability to produce that velocity at will." But I am not differentiating between being able to hit velocity x on demand, and being able to hit the same velocity twice in a row, which I think is the distinction you are making. The way I see it, either way, we're talking about the value of providing a velocity response point that is beyond the player's motor ability to reliably reproduce.

Yes, I agree that we are talking about the value of providing velocity quantization that I think is beyond a players motor ability to reliably produce. For the purposes of my model, it is only important that the player can't hit the same set of velocities every time the play the same piece of music, so I'm not concerned whether there is any distinction between that and hitting a specified target velocity.

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
I guess my question, then, is, whether or not you think there is value in providing velocities that are within the "margin of noise." That is, if your attempts to repeat a note at the same velocity can regularly result in velocities that are 9 or 10 units off from one another, is it or is it not worthwhile to have all those in-between velocities available in the first place? I think you and MMM have suggested that, if they are beyond your ability to exercise control over (i.e. your attempt to generate one will as likely generate one of the others anyway), their existence is moot; whereas I am suggesting that they are still valuable, and would clearly make their presence known as you crescendo'd through the range.

First, let me say thank you for taking the time to understand what I was saying and then considering the merits and issues of that model. I'm reminded of a college professor that once told me that unless you can understand the other person's argument so well that you could switch places and present their argument (without having to believe its merits), you have no business arguing with them in the first place. Hence the first step before arguing with someone is to fully understand what they saying. Unless of course, you are arguing with your wife, which is futile anyway. But I digress ...

To return to your question - yes, I think it is important to provide velocities that are "within the player's margin of noise". But the question ultimately becomes how many velocities within the player's noise margin (i.e. how small should the quantization step size be)? The reasoning is easily understood by considering the MIDI velocity quantization as a second velocity noise source. The player's noise and the quantization noise combine (but not simply additively, we need a little math to combine them) to produce the total velocity noise while playing, i.e. the total uncertainty and randomness of the velocities actually produced. The more MIDI velocity values provided within the player's noise margin (i.e. the smaller the quantization step size) the less quantization "noise" and therefore the less total velocity noise. However, there are non-linear diminishing returns. The player's velocity noise will begin to dominate at some point and then making the quantization step size smaller (more levels) doesn't help much more.

An equivalent way of looking at the quantization noise is to simply realize that the player is producing an analog key velocity with analog velocity noise (due to motor abilities) and the sum of those elements is being digitized with a quantization error set by the MIDI quantization step size. So we want to reduce the quantization step size until their are multiple quantization steps within the player's noise and the player's noise is dominant. We want to set a digital noise floor that is below the player's analog noise floor, but as the quantization becomes smaller the digital noise floor will be essentially hidden below the analog velocity noise. We have a wealth of analytical (mathematical) tools that we can apply to understanding the digitization characteristics of analog velocity "signals" just as we would apply those tools to designing digitization for analog audio or video signals.

So that's a long way of saying - No you can't eliminate all MIDI values that fall within the player's noise "margin".
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 04:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Macy

So that's a long way of saying - No you can't eliminate all MIDI values that fall within the player's noise "margin".


We certainly can eliminate all those intermediate values, if those intermediate values produce neglible change in sound in the instrument. If they produce a noticable change in sound, the there are two ways of solving that problem: a) increasing the resolution with which we sample the velocity (i.e - sample the human noise as well as the human velocity proper), or b) introducing dithering, so that those intermediate steps are invoked in a natural way, as if we had sampled the human noise to begin with.

Greg.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 05:06 AM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
We can't really test without a piano that can do 127 and more than 127.


It is very easy to test with with less than 127, though. Just quantise the MIDI signal to whatever degree you want. Just perhaps, we may not even notice a difference with a 6 bit quantisation (63 steps).

You beat me to it.

I was going to suggest taking a MIDI performance file that people agree (ah there's the rub) produces a good result with a particular software piano, and then run that file through a MIDI filter that re-quantizes it to 6-bits instead of 7-bits. We could then record the piano audio from the two examples and post 4 unlabeled audio files, 2 identical files with the 7-bit MIDI and 2 identical files with the 6-bit MIDI, and invite people to a) identify which files are the matching pairs, and b) which files they prefer for piano realism. If people can't identify the matching pairs with statistical significance, we can say that 127 MIDI levels produces no different performance than 63 MIDI levels. But if the group can identify the matching pairs, then we can take the votes of the people that got the matches correct and see whether they thought the 6-bit or 7-bit pairs produced the more realistic piano sound. i.e. we would like to not only know if the pairs were different, but did fewer MIDI levels actually degrade the sound quality.

Maybe someone has time to setup such an experiment. I'm afraid I don't.

Of course, if the group can't statistically identify the matching pairs, we may be in for audiophile A/B testing-like nightmares courtesy of folks that still have some green ink on the rims of their old CDs.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 05:40 AM

@Macy
Yes, good idea. We could start with a standard Pianoteq preset, and if no difference was detected, try increasing the amplitude and/or timbral dynamic range, and re-run the test etc etc. This test won't determine the precision of human velocity though - it will merely determine the precision required to produce undetectable (or unimportant) differences in the output sound, and only for the particular sounds we test with.

Greg.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 05:45 AM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
Originally Posted By: Macy

So that's a long way of saying - No you can't eliminate all MIDI values that fall within the player's noise "margin".


We certainly can eliminate all those intermediate values, if those intermediate values produce neglible change in sound in the instrument.


We can't eliminate ALL the MIDI values within the noise component (my original quoted statement above), only those below a level we consider has negligible effects on the player noise and subsequently on the loudness/timbre.

Originally Posted By: sullivang
If they produce a noticable change in sound, the there are two ways of solving that problem: a) increasing the resolution with which we sample the velocity (i.e - sample the human noise as well as the human velocity proper),

That's what our MIDI keyboard already does. It samples/digitizes the human velocity which includes whatever human noise there is. So I'm not quite sure what else you are saying there? Can you clarify?

Originally Posted By: sullivang
or b) introducing dithering, so that those intermediate steps are invoked in a natural way, as if we had sampled the human noise to begin with.

I'm not sure about using dithering in this manner. When we dither audio or video signals we dither frequencies below the Nyquist sampling rate, but here we are taking discrete samples of singular events (once for each key press or note). For instance, in the limit, when we play a single note we can dither the resulting audio sound over 1000's of samples during the second or so that sound is produced from the single key hit. But we can only apply dither to a single MIDI velocity value for that key hit, which accomplishes nothing but introducing a singular error in that particular MIDI velocity. I'm not sure adding dither noise to a succession of "widely-time-spaced" key hit values does anything more than increase the amplitude of the player noise, which isn't an positive effect. Can you expand on what your thinking is for this case?
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 06:08 AM

@Macy:
Let's assume that after careful testing, it is determined that humans can only reliably strike a key at about 16 different velocities. If we ask them to strike with any more precision than that (say, 32 velocities), we find that they're just as likely to strike at velocity value 1 as they are velocity value 2. They will always strike 1 or 2, but they can't strike either of those two velocities with statistical significance. Same goes for 16 & 17, etc etc. Given this, we decide to quantise the velocity to 4 bits, to make our design as efficient as possible.

So, we now feed this 16 step MIDI signal to our nice Disklavier piano, and see how it sounds. wink We may find that certain tone shades which were sometimes invoked by the player before are simply NEVER produced, and this IS noticable. The player can't produce these tone shades on demand, but they notice that now, they can NEVER produce them, and it bothers them.

To solve this problem, I'm asserting that it is entirely valid to superimpose a random signal (with an amplitude of +/- half a step), so that the player is once again able to produce those intermediate tonal shades, in a random fashion, because they were only ever able to produce them in a random fashion to begin with. The required resolution of this new velocity signal will depend on the characteristics of the instrument. This process of adding random noise is called dithering.

The brute force approach, though, is of course simply to increase the sampling resolution, so that the human noise is in fact sampled as well. (and the required resolution again depends on the characteristics of the instrument)

Greg.
p.s I realise that a 4-bit MIDI velocity can in fact only represent 15 velocities, because velocity 0 (zero) cannot be used - 0 means the same as a Note Off. (and this is why a 7-bit velocity has 127 values rather than 128).
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 10:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Macy
We could then record the piano audio from the two examples and post 4 unlabeled audio files, 2 identical files with the 7-bit MIDI and 2 identical files with the 6-bit MIDI, and invite people to a) identify which files are the matching pairs, and b) which files they prefer for piano realism. If people can't identify the matching pairs with statistical significance, we can say that 127 MIDI levels produces no different performance than 63 MIDI levels. But if the group can identify the matching pairs, then we can take the votes of the people that got the matches correct and see whether they thought the 6-bit or 7-bit pairs produced the more realistic piano sound.


This will tell you only about the listener's experience. It will say nothing about how a performer is affected by the change in quantization. If a performer feels that a piano is somehow not performing as s/he wishes, it will disturb their equilibrium and make it very difficult for them to perform at their best. This is a far more important aspect to this question than the playing back of MIDI files. This is why I said that this argument misses the point. It's not about sound, it's about playability.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 04:41 PM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
@Macy:
Let's assume that after careful testing, it is determined that humans can only reliably strike a key at about 16 different velocities. If we ask them to strike with any more precision than that (say, 32 velocities), we find that they're just as likely to strike at velocity value 1 as they are velocity value 2. They will always strike 1 or 2, but they can't strike either of those two velocities with statistical significance. Same goes for 16 & 17, etc etc. Given this, we decide to quantise the velocity to 4 bits, to make our design as efficient as possible.

So, we now feed this 16 step MIDI signal to our nice Disklavier piano, and see how it sounds. wink We may find that certain tone shades which were sometimes invoked by the player before are simply NEVER produced, and this IS noticable. The player can't produce these tone shades on demand, but they notice that now, they can NEVER produce them, and it bothers them.

To solve this problem, I'm asserting that it is entirely valid to superimpose a random signal (with an amplitude of +/- half a step), so that the player is once again able to produce those intermediate tonal shades, in a random fashion, because they were only ever able to produce them in a random fashion to begin with. The required resolution of this new velocity signal will depend on the characteristics of the instrument. This process of adding random noise is called dithering.

The brute force approach, though, is of course simply to increase the sampling resolution, so that the human noise is in fact sampled as well. (and the required resolution again depends on the characteristics of the instrument)

Greg.
p.s I realise that a 4-bit MIDI velocity can in fact only represent 15 velocities, because velocity 0 (zero) cannot be used - 0 means the same as a Note Off. (and this is why a 7-bit velocity has 127 values rather than 128).

Greg,

Thanks for the further explanation. That isn't what we normally think of as dithering and not what I thought you were describing earlier.

What you are describing here is a case where the MIDI quantization would be more coarse (fewer bits) than the the internal sound generator quantization. i.e. in your example the MIDI interface has 4-bits, while the internal samples or other sound generator mechanism might have 7-bits. So by adding random noise to the MIDI velocity values we randomly excite the additional available sound generator bits. I got it now, but that's not usually how dithering is used, which is why I wasn't sure what you were describing earlier.

Dithering is normally used in audio and video when reducing the bit-depth of signals. In other words, instead of having more bits available for the output (as in your example) we have fewer bits in the output than in the input. To avoid the coarseness (and correlation) of the output quantization error (which leads to "harsh" forms of distortion), dither adds noise but makes the output average out to a higher resolution result than the quantization error would otherwise allow. To put it another way, dither allows us to represent an input value with more resolution than the available output bits would normally allow by averaging the output, at the expense of added random noise. Conversely, in your case, a lower resolution number is being randomly converted to a larger set of output values, not to make the output more accurate, but to make it more "interesting". (Of course that means the "feedback" to the player is less accurate as well, but I will leave that for you to debate with voxpops.)
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 05:15 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
If a performer feels that a piano is somehow not performing as s/he wishes, it will disturb their equilibrium and make it very difficult for them to perform at their best. This is a far more important aspect to this question than the playing back of MIDI files. This is why I said that this argument misses the point. It's not about sound, it's about playability.

Originally Posted By: voxpops
What they want is feedback from the instrument. They want to feel that the response from the instrument matches their input as closely as possible. For the most advanced/sensitive musicians, I would suggest, 127 steps represents only a small fraction of their range of expressive possibilities, and therefore the feedback from an instrument limited in this way frustrates them.

I'm trying to understand why you think you need more MIDI steps for playability.

Please correct me but what I think you are saying is:

1) The player plays a note (or perhaps has played a succession of notes) and has received audio feedback (and maybe tactile feedback) from the note(s) he just played.

2) The player processes the feedback (somehow - consciously or subconsciously) and as a result of that feedback produces some velocity for the next note he plays based on the previous feedback.

3) The 127 MIDI steps are too coarse to allow the player to produce a velocity that results in the sound output he wants to produce in step (2). The errors between the sound output the player wanted to produce in step (2) and the sound output actually produced will "disturb their equilibrium and make it very difficult for them to perform at their best". Therefore, the 127 MIDI steps creates a playability problem.

Is that your reasoning for why 127 MIDI steps creates playability problems?
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 05:41 PM

Macy, this idea has been explained ad nauseum by myself and Vox. It's actually very straightforward. This will affect more skilled players (aurally and technically) than the less skilled because the skilled are much more attuned to the input/output balance. If a person is not a skilled player, they would have no real feeling for how this problem manifests and probably doubt its existence as a result.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 05:43 PM

@Macy:
Thanks! I agree and understand. The process I described is not dithering.

In our case, the human velocity signal is already "dithered" naturally, because of the naturally occurring human noise. So, taking my example, simply quantising the velocity to 15 (16-1) steps is good enough - we don't need to add noise to the velocity signal before we sample it (@4-bits), because we do that naturally.

If the musical instrument we are playing can make audible (interesting/desirable) differences with a step size that is less than our 15 step MIDI velocity, I'm suggesting that simply superimposing a random signal will produce a result that will be indistinguishable to the player and listener. We are synthesizing the non deterministic component of the human velocity.

Perhaps the process I am describing is simply humanization

Quote:

(Of course that means the "feedback" to the player is less accurate as well, but I will leave that for you to debate with voxpops.)


I don't agree with this. The feedback will be just as accurate, because we have sampled the person's desired velocity with sufficient precision. The random part has been added back in, and no-one is any wiser. wink

Greg.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 05:51 PM

Originally Posted By: ando
Macy, this idea has been explained ad nauseum by myself and Vox. It's actually very straightforward. This will affect more skilled players (aurally and technically) than the less skilled because the skilled are much more attuned to the input/output balance. If a person is not a skilled player, they would have no real feeling for how this problem manifests and probably doubt its existence as a result.

OK. So did I describe your reasoning right or wrong?
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 06:28 PM

Originally Posted By: Macy
Please correct me but what I think you are saying is:

1) The player plays a note (or perhaps has played a succession of notes) and has received audio feedback (and maybe tactile feedback) from the note(s) he just played.

2) The player processes the feedback (somehow - consciously or subconsciously) and as a result of that feedback produces some velocity for the next note he plays based on the previous feedback.

3) The 127 MIDI steps are too coarse to allow the player to produce a velocity that results in the sound output he wants to produce in step (2). The errors between the sound output the player wanted to produce in step (2) and the sound output actually produced will "disturb their equilibrium and make it very difficult for them to perform at their best". Therefore, the 127 MIDI steps creates a playability problem.

Is that your reasoning for why 127 MIDI steps creates playability problems?

That's a very good summary of what I'm saying. With my very mediocre playing ability, I'm able to detect a difference in the way a real acoustic responds to the way a digital does. I can play a (well-maintained) grand with a higher degree of sensitivity than a digital. It's certainly something that I notice less with my FP-7F than with other digitals, so it probably has to do with more than just MIDI velocity steps, but it's still there nonetheless.

Now amplify my skill level to that of a concert pianist of world-class stature (I wish!), at the peak of their performing career. Because their whole system is attuned to the way their instrument responds - their livelihood depends on it - they can detect the most subtle changes in tuning and response, and they are notoriously picky. So far, as far as I know, none has chosen a digital to take on stage with them. What is the reason for that? My conjecture - and it is only conjecture - is that the digital instrument cannot respond sufficiently well to meet their needs. I don't say that it's just velocity resolution - in fact it's more likely to be timbre with sampled pianos - but I really think it's time for a leap forward with all aspects of digitals, and that includes refining the whole system, and making full use of today's computing power. The V-Piano is much more responsive than the average sampled device, and that must be down to the fact that the timbre changes across the whole spectrum of available velocity levels. I believe that it makes use of more than 127 internally, but I cannot be sure, and I may be wrong. Either way, even the mighty V is only seen in the hands of concert pianists paid to endorse this product.

My proposition is this: don't hold back any aspect of DP development in the belief that it's currently good enough. While we may or may not ever see digitals being used for Chopin and Rachmaninoff in Carnegie Hall, it would be a wonderful testament to the designers and engineers if they could be.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 06:44 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
With my very mediocre playing ability, I'm able to detect a difference in the way a real acoustic responds to the way a digital does. I can play a (well-maintained) grand with a higher degree of sensitivity than a digital. It's certainly something that I notice less with my FP-7F than with other digitals, so it probably has to do with more than just MIDI velocity steps, but it's still there nonetheless.


I suspect the difference between acoustic and digital is all to do with factors other than the number of MIDI velocities. Or what I should say is that with the current state of the art the MIDI standard is not a significant limiting factor - it's everything else. The difference between a good DP and a bad one can be absolutely night and day - but they are still both using 127 velocities.

When the other DP inadequacies have been successfully addressed, THEN a limiting factor MIGHT be the number of MIDI velocities. I think R&D resources would be better spent by addressing the more obvious DP shortcomings before an overhaul of MIDI specifications needs looking at. Just my thoughts...
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 06:46 PM

+1000 to EssBrace.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 06:54 PM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
In our case, the human velocity signal is already "dithered" naturally, because of the naturally occurring human noise. So, taking my example, simply quantising the velocity to 15 (16-1) steps is good enough - we don't need to add noise to the velocity signal, because we do that naturally.

I guess we have to take this a step at a time for me to understand. Blame it on me for being slow smile

What do you mean by "good enough". Good enough for what? You are quantizing the players analog velocity input. There is always quantizing error (noise) that also contributes to the players noise. Unless you make the quantizing noise significantly less than the human noise it adds additional error to whatever the player was trying to play. (The error is not "dithered" out, there is no averaging of multiple key presses into a single key press.)

Originally Posted By: sullivang
If the musical instrument we are playing can make audible (interesting/desirable) differences with a step size that is less than our 15 step MIDI velocity, I'm suggesting that simply superimposing a random signal will produce a result that will be indistinguishable to the player and listener. We are synthesizing the non determistic component of the human velocity.

What do you mean by "indistinguishable"? Do you mean the signal you created by adding random digital noise to the digitized velocity signal is indistinguishable from digitizing the human signal plus human noise with more MIDI resolution? If so, that isn't true even if the added digital noise is equal to the human noise. The signal you created also includes a much larger quantization error because you reduced the MIDI resolution from 7-bits to 4-bits. You may have "simulated" the human noise part but you increased the quantization noise by using less bits too.

Originally Posted By: sullivang
Quote:

(Of course that means the "feedback" to the player is less accurate as well, but I will leave that for you to debate with voxpops.)

I don't agree with this. The feedback will be just as accurate, because we have sampled the person's desired velocity with sufficient precision. The random part has been added back in, and no-one is any wiser. wink

I'm afraid not. You digitized the analog signal (with the human noise) using less resolution and therefore increased the quantization error too. Then you added your simulated human noise back in again. The result is not the same as digitizing the original analog velocity (with the human noise) using more quantization steps.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 07:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Macy

What do you mean by "good enough". Good enough for what? You are quantizing the players analog velocity input. There is always quantizing error (noise) that also contributes to the players noise. Unless you make the quantizing noise significantly less than the human noise it adds additional error to whatever the player was trying to play. (The error is not "dithered" out, there is no averaging of multiple key presses into a single key press.)


Of course the quantisation adds noise. We simply have to sample with sufficient resolution such that this noise is negligible.

Take an extreme example. Let's say a player plays a MIDI keyboard, and they're absolutely hopeless. After careful statistical analysis, we determine that his attempts at hitting any velocity result in white noise. (a random number 1 to 127) Do we need to sample this white noise in order to reproduce the same impression of that player? Of course not. We do not need to send ANY velocity information to our piano whatsoever, and instead, we can simply send a synthesized white noise signal that is created by generating a random number between 1 & 127. (at whatever resolution we think is appropriate)

If we are in fact interested in the precise detail of any given performance of this strange performer, then of course we then need to sample that white noise with whatever precision we deem necessary.

Do you at least agree with me thus far?

Greg.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 07:26 PM

By the way, does anyone around here actually own a VAX77 and PianoTeq? It sort of gets mentioned a lot as a possibility but I haven't heard anyone talking about theirs, so I'm not sure it's possible for us (meaning the people involved in this discussion...I'm really on the periphery, but I still count myself).
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 07:36 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: Macy
Please correct me but what I think you are saying is:

1) The player plays a note (or perhaps has played a succession of notes) and has received audio feedback (and maybe tactile feedback) from the note(s) he just played.

2) The player processes the feedback (somehow - consciously or subconsciously) and as a result of that feedback produces some velocity for the next note he plays based on the previous feedback.

3) The 127 MIDI steps are too coarse to allow the player to produce a velocity that results in the sound output he wants to produce in step (2). The errors between the sound output the player wanted to produce in step (2) and the sound output actually produced will "disturb their equilibrium and make it very difficult for them to perform at their best". Therefore, the 127 MIDI steps creates a playability problem.

Is that your reasoning for why 127 MIDI steps creates playability problems?

That's a very good summary of what I'm saying.


Ok, so we will make you a piano with twice as many MIDI steps, so that it has steps 1/2 the size as now. Then in step (2), from the feedback you received in step (1), you will have to be able to precisely produce a velocity for each note that is within 1/2 of the current 127 MIDI step size that you intend to produce for that note, else you will not get the sound from the piano that you intended to produce. Any errors between what you want to produce and what you really produce in step (2) will be more than a 1/2 step and just as coarse (or more coarse) than what you get with 127 MIDI steps. Any errors, will as described in step (3), disturb your equilibrium and you will have the same playability problems described in step (3).

So do you think you can play from note to note with that precision, consciously, subconsciously, or supernaturally? Otherwise, adding more MIDI steps won't solve that playability problem.

Originally Posted By: voxpops
With my very mediocre playing ability, I'm able to detect a difference in the way a real acoustic responds to the way a digital does. I can play a (well-maintained) grand with a higher degree of sensitivity than a digital. It's certainly something that I notice less with my FP-7F than with other digitals, so it probably has to do with more than just MIDI velocity steps, but it's still there nonetheless.


I think we can all tell the difference between the way an acoustic piano and a digital piano responds. I suspect I can think of a dozen better reasons than only having 127 MIDI steps.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 07:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Macy
Ok, so we will make you a piano with twice as many MIDI steps, so that it has steps 1/2 the size as now. Then in step (2), from the feedback you received in step (1), you will have to be able to precisely produce a velocity for each note that is within 1/2 of the current 127 MIDI step size that you intend to produce for that note, else you will not get the sound from the piano that you intended to produce. Any errors between what you want to produce and what you really produce in step (2) will be more than a 1/2 step and just as coarse (or more coarse) than what you get with 127 MIDI steps. Any errors, will as described in step (3), disturb your equilibrium and you will have the same playability problems described in step (3).

So do you think you can play from note to note with that precision, consciously, subconsciously, or supernaturally? Otherwise, adding more MIDI steps won't solve that playability problem.


Let's take your reasoning and apply it in the opposite direction. That would imply that the fewer the steps available the more likely I am to be able to play accurately, because I am much more likely to be able to strike at a particular velocity and therefore meet my feedback/restrike criteria. I think 10 steps should do it. wink

Again, that is not the way we play. It would suggest that an acoustic with an "infinite" number of steps available would be impossible to play! The feedback would overwhelm the player because they would become unable to strike anything at the desired level.

No, a player almost subconsciously molds his playing to the input he is receiving. The finer the resolution available, the better he is able to play.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 07:57 PM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
Originally Posted By: Macy

What do you mean by "good enough". Good enough for what? You are quantizing the players analog velocity input. There is always quantizing error (noise) that also contributes to the players noise. Unless you make the quantizing noise significantly less than the human noise it adds additional error to whatever the player was trying to play. (The error is not "dithered" out, there is no averaging of multiple key presses into a single key press.)


Of course the quantisation adds noise. We simply have to sample with sufficient resolution such that this noise is negligible.

Ok, well I thought that is about where we are today. I can't see reducing MIDI to 6-bits, let alone 4-bits, because I think it would add too much quantization noise. There are certainly people here that would like to increase it to 8-bits or more, which would be fine too if the virtual/digital piano designers would use the extra resolution advantageously. Right now, I see too many examples of not doing 127 levels very well. But suppose they produce some really good sound generation with 8-bit or 9-bit velocity input, then it might be interesting to see what adding some noise bits as you suggest would do with the current MIDI 127 levels.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 08:05 PM

@Macy:
I was simply giving an extreme example, to try and make my point clearer. I don't know how precise humans are at playing a keyboard and generating a velocity signal. It would require very careful testing with many different playing techniques. The feedback to the player should also be very good - perhaps much stronger than a piano - for example, allowing the player to observe the MIDI velocities displayed by a MIDI monitor. This would then cater for a wide range of instruments.

Greg.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 08:57 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: Macy
Ok, so we will make you a piano with twice as many MIDI steps, so that it has steps 1/2 the size as now. Then in step (2), from the feedback you received in step (1), you will have to be able to precisely produce a velocity for each note that is within 1/2 of the current 127 MIDI step size that you intend to produce for that note, else you will not get the sound from the piano that you intended to produce. Any errors between what you want to produce and what you really produce in step (2) will be more than a 1/2 step and just as coarse (or more coarse) than what you get with 127 MIDI steps. Any errors, will as described in step (3), disturb your equilibrium and you will have the same playability problems described in step (3).

So do you think you can play from note to note with that precision, consciously, subconsciously, or supernaturally? Otherwise, adding more MIDI steps won't solve that playability problem.


Let's take your reasoning and apply it in the opposite direction. That would imply that the fewer the steps available the more likely I am to be able to play accurately, because I am much more likely to be able to strike at a particular velocity and therefore meet my feedback/restrike criteria. I think 10 steps should do it. wink


True the fewer the steps the more likely that you could hit the steps you intend out of the available steps. The problem is that too few steps will sound awful. Try 3 steps for instance. You won't have much expression because you have so few loudness/timbre choices to play for each note. So we increase the steps to give you more choices and your playing can sound better. Do we continue to 10,000 steps just because we could? At some point, the steps get so small we can no longer control our motor skills well enough to reliably play the steps we would like to play, even assuming we can somehow (consciously or sub-consciously) process the feedback from our playing with enough resolution to intend to play in those smaller steps. We simply can't do it.

Even a machine will have some resolution and tolerance limits. Once we reach the limit of what we control we are simply creating additional randomness (noise) to our performance if we add more steps. Is that good? It might be if we are a mechanical machine that only produces 8 steps, but produces them so precisely we never get anything but those 8 steps. Adding another bit or two (16 or 32 steps) with 1 or 2 steps of noise might make the machines playing seem less mechanical.

Do humans need more steps of randomness than what we have now? We have 127 steps. How many of those can the best pianist use reliably and how many become his noise? I don't know. I've never claimed to know that answer. I just know what I can do. Mac3 postulates, I think, that just adding some more steps of velocity input noise to a higher resolution sound generator might improve a performance. I wonder how the best concert pianist would react to that? We are going to add a little randomness to the existing randomness of your playing to improve it? Not real well, I would guess. smile

Originally Posted By: voxpops
[Again, that is not the way we play.

You can't get away with that any more. I asked you how you played, and then described my understanding of your process, and you agreed it was a very good summary of what you were saying. So let's stick to that process.

Originally Posted By: voxpops
[It would suggest that an acoustic with an "infinite" number of steps available would be impossible to play! The feedback would overwhelm the player because they would become unable to strike anything at the desired level.

It suggests no such thing. You can't process the feedback with infinite resolution. You don't blow a mental transistor because your mind or muscle memory can no longer distinguish one small change in volume or timbre from another. You simply process things to the level you are capable, and then use that feedback to drive your motor skills to the level they are capable.

Originally Posted By: voxpops
No, a player almost subconsciously molds his playing to the input he is receiving. The finer the resolution available, the better he is able to play.

No, none of us have infinite feedback sensor resolution or infinite motor skills resolution. Once you abandon that concept I think this entire subject becomes easier to analyze.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 09:31 PM

@Macy,
With respect, after having read your reply to Voxpops, I still don't think you have fully understood what I have been trying to say.

Adding the noise to the MIDI velocity is simply to restore the randomness that the quantisation has removed. For example, in your example where you have quantised the player's velocity to 10000 steps, it may be that the steps which you have thrown away that fall inbetween those 10000 steps are important. There is no way to invoke those intermediate steps any more - they have been stolen away from the instrument. The player cannot play any given one of those intermediate steps on demand, however the player may notice the complete absence of those steps.

There are two issues here:
1. How many steps does it take to sample a human's intended velocity with sufficient accuracy?
2. How many usable/interesting steps is the instrument able to reproduce?

These two issues must be treated seperately.

Greg.
Posted by: dmd

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 10:13 PM

Well, I have been browsing through some of this conversation but will not pretend to be ready to jump in at the level you guys are working at ... but I would like to throw one thought into this.

If you find it to be trivial or not significant I encourage you to just ignore it completely ... lol ... but anyway here is what I think ...

If I am a pianist (of any skill level) and I strike a key and am expecting a particular sound to eminate from that piano ....

No matter how many sampling levels have been provided in that instrument ...

It is entirely possible that the sound I expect is not within the samples and I will be disappointed.

Conclusion: Sampling technology in digital pianos will never result in the same spectrum of tones as an acoustic piano.

On the other hand, I feel intuitively that modeling has no such limitations.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/23/12 11:45 PM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
@Macy,
With respect, after having read your reply to Voxpops, I still don't think you have fully understood what I have been trying to say.

Adding the noise to the MIDI velocity is simply to restore the randomness that the quantisation has removed.

I keep thinking we understand each other, and then I guess we don't.

What randomness did the quantization remove? The quantization won't remove any significant amount of the players randomness if the quantization size is chosen so that the quantization noise is negligible compared to the player's random velocity noise. The quantization needs to be much smaller than the players randomness. I have said that over and over again.

So what randomness are you talking about that is removed by quantization?

Originally Posted By: sullivang
There are two issues here:
1. How many steps does it take to sample a human's intended velocity with sufficient accuracy?

Maybe this is where we are confusing each other. You can never know the player's intended velocity more accurately than the size of the player's velocity noise. If the players noise is +/- 5 current quantization steps than you can never know more accurately than +/-5 current quantization steps and only that if the new quantization size noise is zero (i.e. infinitely small new quantization step size). Any new finite size quantization will add additional inaccuracy to knowing the players intended velocity. So what accuracy do you want? What is sufficient to you?

Originally Posted By: sullivang
2. How many usable/interesting steps is the instrument able to reproduce?

Obviously you would have to have more usable sound generator steps than velocity quantization steps, else you just feed the velocity values to the generator without modification. Beyond that, who's to say if more are interesting or not?
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/24/12 12:12 AM

Originally Posted By: Macy

What randomness did the quantization remove?


Some of the randomness of the player's natural variability, because the quantisation produces a velocity signal that can only take on discrete values. The quantisation removes intermediate steps from the player's performance, which may be important for any given instrument. I am saying that with experiment, we can probably arrive at some sensible minimum resolution that is required to represent a human's velocity signal. This will allow for optimum use of MIDI bandwith, storage of MIDI files, etc. Any more resolution, and we start to capture the signal with more resolution than makes sense. If this signal happens to be fed to an instrument that really does produce noticable tonal shades between steps available in our MIDI velocity, as I've said before, it may well be that simply adding a random peturbation to the signal (amplitude +/- 0.5 steps) will produce a result that feels and sounds the same to the player, as if we had quantised with higher resolution to begin with. We've already sampled with a very high resolution (as far as the human is concerned), yet, the player may notice that the intermediate steps are never ever produced due to this quantisation. Just because a player can't always hit a certain velocity on demand doesn't mean that we can omit it altogether!

Quote:
The quantization won't remove any significant amount of the players randomness if the quantization size is chosen so that the quantization noise is negligible compared to the player's random velocity noise. The quantization needs to be much smaller than the players randomness. I have said that over and over again.


Agreed, but it may well remove enough randomness to be a problem for any given instrument. Take another extreme example - a piano that responds to 10,000 discrete velocities, yet we are feeding it with 127. The player may not notice any problems, except for one very important quirk with this piano - it makes the sound of a chirping bird at velocity 9567, and ONLY that velocity. The player has learnt from experience when playing on a high-res controller, that if he plays at around a certain strength, he can sometimes, but not always, invoke the chirping bird sound. If they now switch to the low-res (127 step) controller, and none of the available 127 steps correspond to the piano's internal velocity of 9567, the bird sound will never be produced, and this is a serious problem.

Quote:
You can never know the player's intended velocity more accurately than the size of the player's velocity noise. If the players noise is +/- 5 quantization steps than you can never know more accurately than +/-5 quantization steps and only that if the quantization noise is zero (i.e. infinitely small step size). Any finite size quantization will add additional inaccuracy to knowing the players intended velocity. So what accuracy do you want? What is sufficient to you?


Let me come back to my very extreme example:

Again, let's say we are designing a MIDI keyboard for a particular player. Upon very careful analysis, using a very high resolution MIDI keyboard, we determine that no matter what velocity this person attempts to play, the resulting velocity is a random number between and 1 and X, X being a very high number (the number of steps of our test bed keyboard). Having performed this prior analysis, we decide that a MIDI keyboard that will be suitable for this player can consist of keys that are simple on/off switches. When the key is pressed, it triggers a random number generator. There is no need to sample this players analog velocity signal with any more than 1 bit (on/off switch), because we know that we can synthesize his random noise to produce an impression that is indistinguishable from his actual noise. The resolution with which we generate this random number will depend on what we want to do with it. If we want to play a piano, and be able to (randomly!) stimulate all possible tone gradations, we may need, say, 1000 different steps. If we want to stimulate a harpsichord, we can reduce the resolution, to, say, 10 steps, because we've determined that the 10 steps are so similar not to warrant any intermediate steps.

Do you agree with this so far? In this case, the answer to your question is that only one bit is required to capture the player's velocity signal with sufficient accuracy, because of our prior analysis of this player. I want enough accuracy to represent what the player is capable of doing determistically.

Anyway, if you can at least agree with this simple example, maybe we can move on, by increasing the precision of the player. It will not be as neat and tidy as this example, but I still think my overall idea has merit.

Quite a few edits in the above - sorry.

Greg.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/24/12 05:31 AM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
Originally Posted By: Macy

What randomness did the quantization remove?


The randomness of the player's natural variability, the extent of which is determined by prior experiment with humans, using statistical analysis. I am saying that with experiment, we can probably arrive at some sensible minimum resolution that is required to represent a human's velocity signal - this signal excludes the natural random variability. This will allow for optimum use of MIDI bandwith, storage of MIDI files, etc. Any more resolution, and we start to capture random human noise, which is not important, because we can easily synthesize it if we want to.

You are trying to violate information theory. You can't remove the player's natural variability (what I call player noise) from your signal by quantization. You can't create a signal that represents only what he intended and excludes his natural random variability. No matter what size quantization you choose, the player variability (what I call player noise) will always trigger the output of more than one quantization level for some intended velocities. That's fundamental. Every quantizer has a threshold level that triggers it to output its next value. So whenever your intended velocity is within an interval the size of the peak to peak noise around the threshold level it will randomly trigger the quantizer to output a different value. As the quantization size is increased, multiple output values are produced less often, but the error between the intended velocity and the larger quantization interval values is bigger, and hence the players variability (the player's noise) is preserved and can not be removed.


Originally Posted By: sullivang
Again, let's say we are designing a MIDI keyboard for a particular player. Upon very careful analysis, using a very high resolution MIDI keyboard, we determine that no matter what velocity this person attempts to play, the resulting velocity is a random number between and 1 and X, X being a very high number (the number of steps of our test bed keyboard). Having performed this prior analysis, we decide that a MIDI keyboard that will be suitable for this player can consist of keys that are simple on/off switches. When the key is pressed, it triggers a random number generator. There is no need to sample this players analog velocity signal with any more than 1 bit (on/off switch), because we know that we can synthesize his random noise to produce an impression that is indistinguishable from his actual noise.


What an interesting example. My first reaction was to simply dismiss it on the grounds that it didn't apply to the piano problem because once the piano keys were replaced with simple switches the player's input to the system was strictly digital, not analog velocity like the real piano situation. And everything we have discussed here centers on how to quantize a players analog input to the system. How much noise there is in the player's analog velocity input, how big should the quantization intervals be for his analog velocity input compared to the noise from the variability of his analog velocity input, etc. So if the players input to the system is strictly a digital on-off input, it doesn't apply to our problem at all. There has to be quantization of a player's analog input, for all these other factors to come into play.

But ...... upon further reflection, I realized the player's input to your hypothetical system is still analog as long as he is pushing the switches to trip them, and thus this interesting example can under that circumstance apply to our situation. So as long as there is an analog input to the switches, and even as simplistic as this concept of enabling a random number generator may be compared to playing a piano, we can still learn a great deal from it.

In this example the players input to the simplified keyboard with just on-off switches is still an analog velocity (force) to trip those switches. Therefore, the switches must have some quantizing threshold velocity (force) value that has to be overcome before they turn on. In other words, the keyboard is still quantizing the players analog input but it only has two output levels, off and on.

So let's go back and see if the original system you described, where the player always creates a random velocity output no matter what velocity he attempts to play, creates the same output in the 1-bit keyboard quantization example. In order for them to be the same, "indistinguishable from his actual noise" in your words, the 1-bit keyboard must always produce a random velocity value every time the player presses a key (switch). But of course, it doesn't. Because if the random velocity of the player is less than the quantization threshold of the 1-bit switch, the random number generator is not enabled at all. It produces nothing, no random numbers at all until the quantization threshold is exceeded.

So the output of the 1-bit keyboard device is very distinguishable, rather than indistinguishable, from the output of the initial piano keyboard device. They are not the same. The initial keyboard with its very high resolution keyboard always produced a random number output, while the 1-bit low resolution keyboard randomly produces nothing at all. So the concept of quantizing an analog input and then adding random noise to the digital output to duplicate the random noise of the analog input signal didn't work because of the analog quantization, as I have been saying. The result is extreme in this case - randomly no output at all, because of your hypothetical example of 1-bit (on-off) input quantization. Its an extreme example of the general case of quantization error (noise) modulating the output, and it's the players input noise (which can not be eliminated by quantization as I discussed above), that creates the quantization error and is hence preserved. So your example illustrates my point at the beginning of this post.

With this, I must bow out of this discussion. We are starting to just go around in circles. It would be fun to continue this conversation sitting in a bar having a few beers. Either there would be a sudden "I get it" moment or eventually we probably wouldn't care any more. But it is consuming too much of my time (and probably yours?), and I'm sure doesn't interest anyone but you and me anymore, to keep rehashing this here. So respectfully, and for no other reasons, I have to let this go now.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/24/12 06:28 AM

@Macy:
In my one-bit keyboard, the switch only has two states - on, and off. The minimum force required to switch it ON is exactly the same as the force required to produce the minimum velocity of the high resolution keyboard. When it switches ON, it triggers the random number generator.

Greg.
Posted by: Macy

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/24/12 06:45 AM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
@Macy:
In my one-bit keyboard, the switch only has two states - on, and off. The minimum force required to switch it ON is exactly the same as the force required to produce the minimum velocity of the high resolution keyboard. When it switches ON, it triggers the random number generator.

Greg.

Greg, I can't keep responding. I got to move on. I understood that in your example, and as I said, that makes the example not apply to the piano problem because there would be no quantization of an analog input signal. So I simply made the example apply by making the switch work more like the piano problem. It does take force to trigger a switch. Therefore, it does have a quantization threshold. And you said the original keyboard had very high resolution, so to make the example have generality, I simply hypothesized a switching threshold somewhere within the velocity range of the player, rather than at the minimum range, which has no generality.

Now it 3:45 am here. I earlier wrote you a PM. Best wishes and good night.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/24/12 07:49 AM

@Macy,
I'm not forcing you to reply, and if you don't, others can step in. I'm learning a lot from you, and I appreciate it.

I agree that my example is very contrived. The player is always able to overcome the switching threshold, yet, once he does, he then produces perhaps a much wider range of forces, at random. Not very realistic, however, it's still a possible behaviour for this strange player. Due to our prior analysis of this player, we have determined that no quantization is required. So, we do not in fact have to sample the noise with any precision at all during a performance - we can synthesize it. If we had not done the prior analysis, then we could simply sample this player with the finest resolution that any given instrument is capable of.

The reason I've been going on about this so much is that I feel that two different issues have been jumbled up in people's minds, and it has led to very vague discussions. The resolution that a player is capable of performing at may be very different to the resolution of the instrument. The main point I'm trying to make is that if we have a MIDI signal that is indeed able to capture a person's velocity with enough precision to represent his ability, this precision (number of steps) may still be insufficient to trigger all available tonal colours in the instrument, because the quantisation has omitted the intermediate steps that the instrument is capable of. (please see my example two posts ago re: the chirping bird piano). I think this is what others have been saying all along. If a player can produce a given tonal colour sometimes, this tonal colour needs to be retained, if the player likes being able to produce it sometimes.

Adding +/- half a step of noise to the output (at the resolution of the instrument, or higher) seems reasonable to me, to ensure that the intermediate steps are invoked at random. The input voltage could have been any of these new output values, so we're unlikely to be doing any serious damage to the signal. For example, if the input voltage can vary in a smooth manner between 1V and 10V, and we quantise to 10 steps, the possible output values will represent 1.5V, 2.5V, ....8.5V, and 9.5V, with the quantization error being +/- 0.5V. So, for step 1 (1.5V), we're really saying that the input signal was anywhere in the range 1V to 2V, and so on. Adding a +/- half a step (+/- 0.5V)random noise signal to the output will hopefully restore the randomness that the quantisation removed.

Unless we're willing to run any tests on humans to determine the required precision to capture there abilities independently of any musical instrument, then we have to assess them with each instrument seperately, because we don't know how precisely a player can play.

Greg.
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/24/12 10:00 AM

Greg, I am not in agreement with your theory for reasons I think I made clear in earlier posts, but as a matter of practicality: If you were going to write randomness in between the current quantised steps, they would fall on predetermined quantised steps of their own, right? You are effectively creating a higher output resolution. For a sampled system, how would you want to implement this? Would you be advocating more samples? More volume levels? More filtering levels? I'd be surprised you would think it's worth doing all that for the sake of some randomness when you could achieve the same thing without randomness and actually use higher resolution MIDI on the input side too - and actually have it accurately coupled to the player. The only reason I can think of for not doing it this way is if you wanted to retain the old MIDI standard for the sake of cost. On a technical level, hi-res beats random "dithering" - or whatever we are calling it now.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/24/12 10:21 AM

@ando:
Let's say we are indeed limited to 127 steps for our MIDI signal. The way I would do it is to test the instrument very carefully, to determine the finest gradation of tonal colour that a) is audible, and b) of interest. Let's say that I discover that there are in fact 511 different tonal shades of interest. (in reality, I may discover that the total number of useful shades is much less than 511, however the smallest step size of interest is equivalent to the step size that results in dividing the velocity signal into 511 equal sized steps). 511 steps can be represented by a 9-bit quantisation.

To allow the player to experience these additional tone shades, we can simply divide each of the 127 steps in to four sub-steps, increasing the "fake" resolution of the output signal. (as you said). The addtional sub-steps are created by using a random number generator that produces 4 values, and we use this to select one of four sub-steps. We're not degrading the original signal, because all these four new values lie within the range of the original step size.

I totally agree - the better way is to simply increase the resolution of the MIDI velocity, and do away with this noise superposition idea. However, if we do this, this does not mean I am admitting that the player can necessarily produce these new intermediate steps in a deterministic fashion, and the overall experience for the player may be very hard to distinguish from using the 127 steps + noise idea.

As to how to create the sound, we simply use the new, higher resolution (511 step) signal to control the soundsource. If it's a Disklavier, the digital signal will somehow control the speed of the hammer. If it's a synth, the velocity will somehow control aspects of the sound - it would depend on the preset and how the synth is designed. All that really matters is that the sound generator somehow generates 511 different tonal shades.

Greg.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/24/12 12:07 PM

Correction to my previous post.

I can now see what Macy was trying to tell me earlier. (sorry Macy!) Adding the random noise does increase the quantization noise, despite the fact that the new output values all lie in the same range as the original input signal. This is an unfortunate tradeoff. It appears that in our example (127 + 4 steps of noise), the original quantization error is +/- half a step. Adding the noise, the new error is +/- 7/8ths of a step.

For very well behaved instruments (such as a fine concert grand), I think that adding this noise could be detrimental, and we simply have to increase the MIDI resolution proper in order to make any worthwile improvement. At the very least, we have to take more care than I thought. If we think we can safely sacrifice the resolution, then no problem.

For instruments that exhibit some more quirkiness, the ability to at least invoke the missing tonal shades may be worth the tradeoff of the loss of velocity resolution.

Greg.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 12:06 AM

I've been absolutely racking my brain about how to determine what resolution we need to use to capture the velocity signal, and I think I can have a crack at defining the problem mathematically.

If a human tries to play a given velocity repeatedly, the resulting output velocities will probably follow some kind of bell curve distribution, centered on the desired velocity. We need to reproduce this curve, however the accuracy with which we need to reproduce it will depend on how strong the feedback is to the player. I.e - it depends on how distinguishable each velocity level actually is.

So, going back to my 1-bit velocity sensor - the reason we only needed one bit is because the player plays with an infinitely wide bell curve. (i.e in a purely random fashion). All we have to do is detect the key press, and then generate a pure random number.

Now, let's say the player is a bit more accurate. The bell curve is still very wide, but it does taper a bit. The centre of the curve is on the target velocity, but the curve gently tapers down each side. To reproduce this curve with sufficient accuracy, we run another experiment, and determine that we can quantise the velocity signal to just four different values, and add white noise peturbation to the four steps, so that all output velocities are still reproduced. The actual output probability distribution curve for any target velocity will be a very coarse step-ladder, but because the curve we are trying to reproduce is so flat, this is ok - it's accurate enough. The reason it's a step ladder is because the white noise produces the same number of occurrences, on average, for all velocities in a given quantisation step. We have to use white noise, because we have no idea what part of the bell curve we're on, for any given input velocity. All we can do is choose the appropriate quantisation step size such that the quantisation + white noise reproduces the input bell curve distribution closely enough such that the player can't tell the difference.

As the player becomes more accurate, the bell curve becomes narrower and narrower, and of course we need to quantise with finer gradations to reproduce this curve.

I may need to do a diagram. wink

Greg.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 03:37 PM

My so-called "1-bit" velocity sensor is, in fact, a zero bit velocity sensor.

A 1-bit sensor would have two possible outputs. (binary number 0, and 1, for example) It would be sensing the two halves of the velocity range. The system would be able generate two MIDI velocities, with the values 1, and 2. (there is no MIDI velocity 0 - that is reserved for a Note-Off).

For a player that plays purely randomly, we don't need two values - we only need one value. We'll get no MIDI event if the player doesn't play a note (or if they play too softly to trigger the note). Whenever they play a note, we'll get a MIDI Note-On event with a velocity of 1. (or any velocity value we feel like, because there is no longer any velocity information at all!)_

If you like, we could formally design our 0-bit sensor, to act like a proper analog to digital converter. It would be sensing one velocity range with a range of 100%. All velocities would be mapped to the centre value (50%, with an error margin of +/- half a step, so the error margin would be +/- 50%!). I.e - the output of this sensor would always be 50% +/- 50%, in similar way to how an analog to digital converter maps the voltages in each range to the centre value. In this case, there is of course no useful information because we already know that if a note is played, the velocity will be in the range we can sense.
In our case of the player that generates purely random velocities, we take this 50% value and generate white noise around it, with an amplitude of +/- 50%.

With only one range to sense, though, there's no need to go to all that trouble. We only need the switch, which is also required for the high resolution normal sensor!). We only need to know when a note is played.

Greg.
Posted by: R_B

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 04:58 PM

Originally Posted By: dmd
Well, I have been browsing through some of this conversation but will not pretend to be ready to jump in at the level you guys are working at ... but I would like to throw one thought into this.

If you find it to be trivial or not significant I encourage you to just ignore it completely ... lol ... but anyway here is what I think ...

If I am a pianist (of any skill level) and I strike a key and am expecting a particular sound to eminate from that piano ....

No matter how many sampling levels have been provided in that instrument ...

It is entirely possible that the sound I expect is not within the samples and I will be disappointed.

Conclusion: Sampling technology in digital pianos will never result in the same spectrum of tones as an acoustic piano.

On the other hand, I feel intuitively that modeling has no such limitations.



Depends how WIDE the achieved spectrum is - and/or how granular your perceptions are within it.

I can imagine very much faster mass storage devices that are also very much larger, "smart" caching and look-ahead. Smart caching includes directory caching.

"Enough" AI in a sample player COULD enable it it anticipate "musically" and have just what you want just when you want it - or even slightly before you want it, just in case you "go there", with several alternate "there" places.

For the near and mid term I thing some hybrid solution offers the best compromise.
Even a "perfect" physical piano is a large wooden box full of compromises, we live with them (-:
Posted by: DazedAndConfused

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 05:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Macy
Originally Posted By: Voxpops
Let's take your reasoning and apply it in the opposite direction. That would imply that the fewer the steps available the more likely I am to be able to play accurately, because I am much more likely to be able to strike at a particular velocity and therefore meet my feedback/restrike criteria. I think 10 steps should do it. wink


True the fewer the steps the more likely that you could hit the steps you intend out of the available steps. The problem is that too few steps will sound awful. Try 3 steps for instance. You won't have much expression because you have so few loudness/timbre choices to play for each note. So we increase the steps to give you more choices and your playing can sound better. Do we continue to 10,000 steps just because we could? At some point, the steps get so small we can no longer control our motor skills well enough to reliably play the steps we would like to play, even assuming we can somehow (consciously or sub-consciously) process the feedback from our playing with enough resolution to intend to play in those smaller steps. We simply can't do it.


But given the feedback we can try ... and always fail to hit it exactly ... and respond to that failure with the next note etc and out of that process of continuous adjustment comes expression and musicality. With insufficient feedback the process stalls. The ability to hit the exact step is unimportant. The motor control to get close enough to what you intended to play and the precise audible feedback that allows a player to respond is everything. 127 steps isn't nearly enough IMO.

Humans might not be very good at describing small differences between sounds but we are much better at detecting when two sounds are absolutely identical which is why I believe that in your cited Disklavier vs Sampled piano test it would be very easy to identify the sampled piano, especially if the first note was still decaying as the second one is triggered.

One would sound like a repeated recording. The other would sound like a piano.
Posted by: R_B

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 08:00 PM

Betamax vs VHS

Any takers ?
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 08:58 PM

Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused

Humans might not be very good at describing small differences between sounds but we are much better at detecting when two sounds are absolutely identical which is why I believe that in your cited Disklavier vs Sampled piano test it would be very easy to identify the sampled piano, especially if the first note was still decaying as the second one is triggered.


The right way to test is to fit a standard 127 step keyboard to the Disklavier, and see if you can tell any difference. wink If you can, the there's no question that 127 steps is insufficient for you - I totally agree. Of course, the keyboard must be identical in every other way to the high resolution keyboard. (so we'd probably just use the high resolution keyboard, and quantise the high resolution MIDI down to 127 steps).

[EDIT:] Just by the way, I've looked at the "Dynamic Range" setting on some Pianoteq presets. The maximum I've found so far is 54dB. If we divide 54dB by 127, we get about 0.5dB. I.e - assuming every velocity step changes by the same amount, each step will be 0.5dB. The minimum change in sound level that can be readily detected by humans is considered to be 1dB. So, in terms of sound level alone (which is only part of the picture), 127 steps seems enough for a piano. (or at least Pianoteq, if a real piano has a higher dynamic range than this for any single note)

Greg.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 10:18 PM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
The minimum change in sound level that can be readily detected by humans is considered to be 1dB.

Not necessarily:
"The minimum change in SPL required to give a detectable change in the loudness sensation (JND in sound level) is roughly constant and of the order of 0.2 - 0.4 dB in the musically relevant range of pitch and loudness."
From The Psychophysics of Loudness by David Worrall of the Australian National University
http://www.avatar.com.au/courses/PPofM/loud/Loud1.html
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 10:34 PM

@voxpops:
Very interesting. I can't remember where I got the 1dB figure from, but here's a page with the results of a few studies:
Human Hearing: Amplitude Sensitivity Part 1

and the author of this page says:
"I tend to use .75 dB to 1 dB when considering minimums."
(some of the referenced studies do report a smaller result, though)

Greg.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 11:02 PM

Greg, I'm no technical expert, but if Mr. Worrall is correct, then those most sensitive to sound changes (which would presumably include pro musicians) would require a minimum of 270 steps to cover a 54dB spectrum and not be able to detect the changes.

Obviously not everyone will be able to detect 0.2dB changes, but that would seem to be a not unreasonable standard to aim for when emulating the dynamics of a piano more accurately.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 11:12 PM

@voxpops:
Agreed. I merely wanted to find a reference to support my 1dB figure.

What I am most certainly not saying, though, is that we would necessarily need to sample the player's velocity with that resolution, because I'm still of the opinion that we could do a very good job of synthesizing a human's natural variability.

Greg.
Posted by: ando

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 11:32 PM

Originally Posted By: sullivang
@voxpops:
Agreed. I merely wanted to find a reference to support my 1dB figure.

What I am most certainly not saying, though, is that we would necessarily need to sample the player's velocity with that resolution, because I'm still of the opinion that we could do a very good job of synthesizing a human's natural variability.

Greg.


I don't like this approach. Let's say you play a note and it comes out on the loud side due to the randomisation in your system. You are aware of the loudness, so the next note, you try to back off a bit, but it goes the other way - that is, the randomiser shunts it lower, so then it's too soft. This example functions as a dynamic expander. The next time it might act as a compressor. You would have no confidence in the result of your next note(s). Your system is biased too much toward a listener who is decoupled from the player. Sure it might make it more interesting for a listener, but I don't believe you can assist the player by adding randomness to their input. All it can do is make no effect, or decouple them from their instrument.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 11:37 PM

Regardless of what the smallest perceptible volume difference is in decibels, remember that, with changing velocity, the piano sound is not merely changing in volume (if that were the case, we'd only have to sample one velocity), it is changing in other ways (timbre, envelope). The fact that it is changing in other ways may make it easier to hear smaller velocity differences than you'd be able to detect if the only difference were volume.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/25/12 11:45 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Regardless of what the smallest perceptible volume difference is in decibels, remember that, with changing velocity, the piano sound is not merely changing in volume (if that were the case, we'd only have to sample one velocity), it is changing in other ways (timbre, envelope). The fact that it is changing in other ways may make it easier to hear smaller velocity differences than you'd be able to detect if the only difference were volume.

Good point.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/26/12 12:00 AM

@anotherscott:
Agreed, and that's precisely why I said that the volume was only part of the picture in my original post! smile

@ando:
I agree with everything you say, however, I think I would able to synthesize it to sufficient accuracy that you simply would be none the wiser. If you can detect the difference with my system, I have failed.

Greg.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/26/12 07:47 PM

My DAW (Ableton Live) has a velocity randomizer effect - it can generate noise centred on each velocity value, and the amplitude of the noise can be adjusted. (i.e +/- 1 step, 3 steps, 45 steps... etc). We could experiment with that, to see whether we notice the difference with different amplitudes of noise, with different instruments. (I can't do any testing at the moment) Haven't found a velocity "quantizer" yet, although that could easily be created with anything that allows per-step velocity mapping.

Suggested test: without the randomizer, train yourself for as long as you like, to try and strike any given velocity repteadly. Use the strongest form of feedback - look at the MIDI velocities on the screen. Then. turn on the randomizer, with a deviation of +/- 1, and see if you can notice any difference in the frequency with with you manage to hit that same velocity repeatedly. If you can notice a difference, then this means that you can't tolerate any less than 127 steps (for this specific test only), and in fact, you may need more than 127 steps. This is an extreme test - if you can't notice the difference this way, you will definitely not notice the difference using a piano sound, IMHO.

Thinking about it, another way to do the test is to do a statistical analysis of the results without the randomizer. If you strike each of the neighbouring velocities (+1 and -1) approximately the same number of times as the target velocity, we could then conclude that 127 steps is aready enough to represent your physical accuracy.

Greg.
Posted by: R_B

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/26/12 10:16 PM

I read the whole thread yesterday, today I reflected on SOME of it.
The poor performer without a clue who can only make a couple of different velocities kept coming to mind (too close to home, perhaps I only make 7).

Then the path from finger strike to hammer strike, the piano's action.
I don't see any of that as "frictionless" and with friction comes stiction, so I wonder how many different velocities a hammer can actually achieve in a physical piano - even if the performer could achieve some arbitrarily HUGE number of different finger strike velocities, whether by skill or by accident.
A really STICKY action might result in some very small number, less "sticky" (on a "well played in" piano) could result in significantly more.
I have NO IDEA where this would scale relative to the MIDI standard of 127, or to 255, 1023, or 2047 (or 7).

This COULD be fairly easily measured, though I don't have the facility for it.

I guess it would be worth knowing though ?
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/28/12 06:14 AM

I had a go at repeatedly striking velocity #64 on an old Yamaha PSR-230 keyboard. (cheap unweighted action). Note that the dynamic range was good - 12 to 127, and I had to play very strongly to reach 127. I was looking at a MIDI monitor throughout the test.

Here is the histogram:
http://i47.tinypic.com/2exufk9.png

127 steps might be more than enough for this particular keyboard and/or myself, in the specific (and very constricted) conditions of this test. Will repeat on a DP keyboard at some stage.

Greg.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/28/12 08:15 AM

I think that difficult velocity control is specifically one of the shortcomings of many unweighted actions, and is one of the reasons they tend to be so poor for piano playing.
Posted by: sullivang

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 04/28/12 07:14 PM

@anotherscott: I'm sure you're right, and as I said, I'll repeat the test on a DP when I can. In the meantime if anyone else would like to do the test and upload the MIDI file, I'll analyze it and upload the histogram.

Note that I wasn't 100% focused for the entire test. It was extremely boring.

Greg.
Posted by: galaksa

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 04:24 AM

Originally Posted By: piano_shark
Originally Posted By: musicmad

So what is the Grand Piano D4 ? If they got the sound from a Steinway D ?


And back to topic - sampled pianos are gonna die sooner or later,
modeled is the way to go. IMO V-piano and pianoteq are best piano simulation out there. (comparing to real grand of course)


V-piano and pianoteq only? There is another physical modeling technology that is worthy of attention. Its DRAKE by Generalmusic. As known Generalmusic is gone as a manufacturer, but their products are still available (Promega, RP & PRP pianos, RP-X module). My first encounter with the DPs was GEM RP-810 and I could not tear myself away from that natural sound. Much later I discovered that the piano was based on physical modeling. Now I have GEM RP-X piano module, it uses only 64MB of samples (50 voices sound list), physical modeling does the rest. I've heard V-piano performance and IMHO my GEM RP-X sounds no worse than a V-piano.
Here is a Fazioli Grand sound from my GEM RP-X:

https://www.box.com/s/41291d01f02d604bdfed

As for the samplers-romplers, all the worthy ones are for laptops only. But laptops tend to become obsolete. While the old familiar hardware friend will please you forever...
Posted by: madAhorn

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 04:36 AM

Wow...that must be the best bargain in piano sounds ever!
$599.00 at musicians friend for that module!
Maybe I will add it to my CP5...

Hmm....

How do the EP's sound?
The piano demo sounded great!

I cannot find it anywhere else online other than Musicians Friend...interesting...
Posted by: Yuri Pavlov

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 04:48 AM

Originally Posted By: galaksa

Here is a Fazioli Grand sound from my GEM RP-X:

https://www.box.com/s/41291d01f02d604bdfed

As for the samplers-romplers, all the worthy ones are for laptops only. But laptops tend to become obsolete. While the old familiar hardware friend will please you forever...


Sound is great!!! Thank you!
But at 2:49 - is it polyphony or playing problem? Repedaling?
3:50-3:53 - repedaling is abscent! It isnt good.
Posted by: galaksa

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 06:39 AM

Originally Posted By: madAhorn
Wow...that must be the best bargain in piano sounds ever!
$599.00 at musicians friend for that module!
Maybe I will add it to my CP5...

How do the EP's sound?
The piano demo sounded great!

I cannot find it anywhere else online other than Musicians Friend...interesting...


I found (bought) it on musicstore.de. Use google & youtube.
Here is EP's:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=654tyDiaEMg
Some people try RP-X and return it cause it sounds too sharp and bright by default. Midi velocity converter is the solution (custom velocity curves). Bear in mind that you can change tons of sound parameters like attack, release, decay, tremolo, vibrato, portamento, 4 reverb parameters, parameteric EQ etc. for each voice from your PC. Also you can merge up to 4 voices in one performance.
Ok, I have to make a thread on RP-X smile.
Posted by: Gigantoad

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 08:34 AM

Originally Posted By: galaksa
[quote=madAhorn]
Ok, I have to make a thread on RP-X smile.


Yep, do that. Sounds interesting, I was under the impression it was mostly based on samples.

Edit: odd, look at this, seems 3 people have returned it. That's an unusually high number, wonder what the reason was.

Edit2: sorry link not working, just search for "RP-X" on Musicstore.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 09:07 AM

I returned my RP-X.

I liked it, it had a better piano sound than what I had been using, but not sufficiently better to bring around and wire up more gear. If it had better EPs, that might have put me over the edge to keeping it. (The EPs are pleasant, but not the most realistic, especially in the "bark").

The stretching is very audible if you listen for it, though honestly, in live playing, you rarely hear that anyway.

I sometimes found the string resonance to be too heavy when playing in mono, and couldn't find a way to reduce the effect.

Overall, I'd rank the RP-X as a bit better than the Yamaha MOX, and not as good as the Nord Bosendorfer, for example.

But as always, these things are subjective...
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 09:16 AM

Originally Posted By: galaksa
V-piano and pianoteq only? There is another physical modeling technology that is worthy of attention. Its DRAKE by Generalmusic.
...
Now I have GEM RP-X piano module, it uses only 64MB of samples (50 voices sound list), physical modeling does the rest.

As you allude to there, the RP-X falls into the category of the Roland FP-4F/RD-300NX/FP-7F/RD-700NX and Yamaha CP1/CP5/CP50 of being hybrid sampling+modeling. The V-Piano, PIanoteq, and forthcoming Physis are strictly modeling, I believe.
Posted by: galaksa

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 10:40 AM

Ok, I've taken a look on Nord Bosendorfer on youtube.
IMHO, it has nothing to do with the original one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhYQtFlbjwM

Just another sampling hardware.
Yep, the RP-X is rather hybrid sampling + modeling.
At least it has no mad price.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 10:57 AM

I have owned the RP-X and the PRP800. If the darn thing hadn't crapped out on me, I'd still be playing the PRP. I would rank the playing experience (sound, not action) alongside Roland's SN. In fact, in some ways it felt more alive. Timbre variation was more limited, but other than that it was more enjoyable to play than any other non-SN DP I've owned. I also loved the EPs. They didn't quite have the authentic nuances, but there was absolutely no layering, stretching or looping going on, which rendered them closer to the original in response than most alternatives.

Funnily enough, I didn't warm to the RP-X as much as the PRP. That may indeed have had something to do with velocity curves, although I think the RP-X was also set up slightly differently to the PRP, soundwise. All that is adjustable as has been pointed out above.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 11:06 AM

Originally Posted By: galaksa
Ok, I've taken a look on Nord Bosendorfer on youtube.
IMHO, it has nothing to do with the original one

That may be, but it's still a good DP sound. Have you seen this thread?

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1530919

It's interesting not just because of the Nord samples and comments, but also that it's being compared with the hybrid sampled/modeled CP5.

Originally Posted By: galaksa
Just another sampling hardware.

Better than most, I'd say. I also like it better than the semi-modeled Roland FP-7F et al.

Originally Posted By: galaksa
At least it has no mad price.

Yeah, Nord is not a budget line! Though I don't think there's anything cheaper than an Electro 3 that has as good a piano and as good of an organ. (Though you'd still have to connect another controller regardless, to have weighted and unweighted actions to play them from.) The sample library and ability to load your own samples is cool too. So while not cheap, I wouldn't necessarily say it's a bad value.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/09/12 02:58 PM

I had a GEM RP-X module.

Got rid of it. It's nothing special and it MUST be pointed out, it is sample-based. To call it modelled is very misleading. There are modelled elements such as string resonance but the base piano tones are completely sampled. It played MUCH too loudly at low velocities and I found the timbral change across all velocities a bit limited. I hated the Fazioli but the Steinway was quite nice and woody and had some subtleties in there, but as I say, it was really nothing special.
Posted by: galaksa

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/10/12 04:06 AM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
I had a GEM RP-X module.
It's nothing special and it MUST be pointed out, it is sample-based. To call it modelled is very misleading. There are modelled elements such as string resonance but the base piano tones are completely sampled.


Ok, we already have found out RP-X is based on a hybrid technology, something like Roland’s SuperNatural and Korg’s SGX-1. But maybe that is the golden mean that we are looking for? Market success of such a technology is the proof.

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
It played MUCH too loudly at low velocities and I found the timbral change across all velocities a bit limited.


There is a good old anecdote:
- Do you like cats?
- No.
- You just don't know how to cook them.

Did You try to play with the programmable parameters? Did You try to dig in to find Your sound?
Well, I just have to start a thread on GEM RP-X module.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Sampled VS Modelled Pianos ??? - 05/10/12 07:18 AM

Although the acoustic piano sounds in the RP-X are based on samples (with modeled elements), and the EPs are pure modeling, I remember reading that the sound generator never actually plays back raw sample data for APs, but uses look-up tables to establish what to generate. (Apologies, I can't recall the source document.) Those with more technical know-how may be able to interpret this in a way that makes sense.

I agree with the thrust of what you're saying, galaksa: the combination of sampling and modeling seems to produce results that satisfy most people in terms of sound and playability.