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Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? #1249968 08/15/09 06:16 PM
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jcabraham Offline OP
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There is a thread on another forum to the effect that "digitals are bad, you don't get the sympathetic vibration or something, don't practice on them." Apologies for rough paraphrase. Anyway, has anyone done a blind test between a digital and acoustic? Yamaha digitals sample Yamaha grands, I believe, and with something like Pianoteq you can have a lot of things to compare. I would love to hear something like that.

Jim

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Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: jcabraham] #1249972 08/15/09 06:21 PM
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I think the Yamahas use the CFIIIs concert grand as the basic "grand 1" sample. I know that's true on my clavinova. I've never done a blind test, but my B beats the clav in virtually every area. However, the features the clav offers are nice, like instant recording and different voices to have fun with. I much prefer the B, but wouldn't want to be without either.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: jcabraham] #1250032 08/15/09 08:33 PM
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I have both a Yamaha acoustic grand piano and a digital Clavinova....

The only time people do blind tests is because the differences are subtle like a MP3 at high bitrate versus a CD. The different between a digital piano and an acoustic piano is not that subtle and blind tests are not necessary.

The digital piano like a Clavinova CLP is really good, but not necessarily because they sound or feel just like an acoustic piano. They don't. However, they offer other advantages to an acoustic piano such as the ability to practice at night and other times. They stay in tune regardless of the weather. Also, our grand piano is in the family room, so when my wife is watching TV, I practice on the digital instead. I learn music almost all the way on a digital and then use our acoustic to refine the expression and dynamics. I also learned all etudes to tempo on the digital then move to the acoustic grand, and often I could play a little faster on the acoustic grand (about 5 or 10 higher on the metronome) then on the Clavinova.

Digital are not bad. As long as you take advantage of its strengths, they are very good. The best is to have both, or something like a silent acoustic.

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: 4evrBeginR] #1250164 08/16/09 03:53 AM
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Well - Digital are good in their way and acoustics are good in their own way, e.g.

Digital pianos often feature - headphone capability (allowing practice at night or when it has to be quiet)

- Built in metronome

- Recording features

- Midi capability (for either composing or learning or using external midi devices)

- Low price tag

- No tuning

- light weight and small

The advantages from an acoustic are some of these: - edit- maybe i should have added some more advantages - like it sounds great compared to digital, its touch is usually better than a digital, depending on its condition.

Well.. i know there are quite a few but the real advantage is that.. when you have the real thing... its just an excellent piece of craftsmanship and you love it... and also, it can last for many many many more years than a digital.

you know its like (not exactly) having one of those Chinese dog robots instead of having a real dog, its more of a hassle with the real one since you have to walk it unlike the robot dog... but after a while the robot dog dies... or is out of battery.. However the real dog is up and running laugh and that is how i think of my keyboard - a chinese robot dog, and my piano as a French bulldog laugh.. yep

Last edited by Oblacone; 08/16/09 03:56 AM.
Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: Oblacone] #1250182 08/16/09 05:39 AM
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I really like your robot dog analogy.

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: 4evrBeginR] #1250272 08/16/09 11:07 AM
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haha thanks, i think it really clarifies the difference between acoustic and digital, even a beginner can understand, most people talk about the soud, how there is no sympathetic resonance or no half pedaling.. but i mean if you are new, how will you understand that... the answer is simple ... : Robot Dog...

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: Oblacone] #1250317 08/16/09 01:09 PM
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It depends on your aspirations as a player.

I have both. The digital is excellent for silent practice (apart form the key clackety clack) and is also passable for learning organ rep. The acoustic grand is in a different league for sound and touch - and also for cost.

I use a Yamaha CLP280 and I feel that it is fine for most applications, including students, as the weighted keys work very well indeed and the sound quality is amazing for the price.

As ever, you get what you pay for.


Currently playing 2017 C212 with carbon fibre soundboard, WNG action. Working on Bach, Beethoven, Grieg mainly.
Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: AJB] #1250428 08/16/09 06:04 PM
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I think the problem also is the fact digital span such a huge range. Your CLP-280 / CLP-380 is at the flagship range so with that digital is getting pretty close to an acoustic, then someone take that to mean any digital is fine, and it's not.

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: 4evrBeginR] #1250604 08/17/09 03:12 AM
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So, are we saying that a digital piano that sounds as good as an acoustic costs the same as an acoustic?

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: erutangis] #1250612 08/17/09 04:47 AM
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Where I live (in Japan), a top quality digital which is usable for anything costs about $2,700. A decent quality new acoustic piano would be over $4,000, and probably much more than that. Even in the US, a similar digital is about $3,500, which is cheaper than most new acoustic pianos (although you could probably find something used that's halfway decent if you're careful).

So, at the high-end, there is a little bit of overlap on digital and acoustic pricing. But digitals have some advantages of their own. In my case, certainly, buying an acoustic is simply not possible at any price.

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: Geoffk] #1250712 08/17/09 09:41 AM
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In my view, a high quality digital piano sounds good, and is always in tune, as has been mentioned; however, a digital piano will always sound “electronic” when compared to an acoustic.

I have a keen sense of hearing and can tell, almost 100% of the time, if I’m listening to a real acoustic or a digital. Not that the digital sounds bad, but just a little too pure, or too perfect, if that makes any sense. Music coming out of a high quality stereo speaker sounds fantastic, but it is not a live performance. grin

Just my .02.

Rick


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Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: erutangis] #1250902 08/17/09 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by erutangis
So, are we saying that a digital piano that sounds as good as an acoustic costs the same as an acoustic?


I wouldn't say that, because most digitals are sampled from their own or steinway grands, i think yamaha and kawai digital pianos use their own grands to sample, anyway if you buy a digital to for the price of a real acoustic you are most likely to get this - some special patent speaker system that is super duper mega good and is the best at reproducing sound, - a whole variety of samples, guitar, organ sounds, violin etc. lots of polyphony, all the different types of sound stuff like sympathetic resonance, and probably some feature that allows you to tune your digital to your liking...

but even if it has all that and more, it just won't sound like the real thing, the hammers hitting the strings making them vibrate and slowly fade out. the Digital will just loop that and just make it fade away with the fade effect on their sampling program.

Also playing an acoustic kind of spreads around the room, a digital is usually aimed at you(player) therefore you dont feel the music around you and feeling the lower bass rumble through your body, ... so NO a pricy digital can not be comparable to an acoustic... YET! however i believe that soon enough, after the Yamaha Avant grand has started off well and the Roland V-Piano has too, so its getting closer ... but also a lot more expensive :S

Well let's just hope for the best laugh

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: erutangis] #1250908 08/17/09 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by erutangis
So, are we saying that a digital piano that sounds as good as an acoustic costs the same as an acoustic?


An expensive digital is definitely cheaper than an acoustic if you added all the service costs for the acoustic piano. At a minimum, an acoustic piano would cost $350 to maintain per year for as long as you own it. If you are picky, it could easily cost over $500 per year.

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: 4evrBeginR] #1250954 08/17/09 05:06 PM
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I tried a Clavinova with two different piano sounds recently, trying to find the voice that is supposed to sound like a CFIIIS. I have played lots of CFIIISes, and they are very consistent. Neither piano voice on the Clavinova sounds at all like one to me.

A digital piano is a different instrument from an acoustic piano. One can do the same things on one or the other, and the results will be different. A good artist will recognize and appreciate that.


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Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: BDB] #1250999 08/17/09 06:34 PM
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Comment on last 2 posts -

1) Annual service cost for acoustic piano overstated.

2) Recently had a Yamaha CF-IIIS and it was an incredible piano.

I agree with the last post stating you are not going to get a digital to sound like that.

I find one challenge for digital pianos is not so much getting the attack right, but mostly it's the sustain that they cannot get to match that of a fine piano; that singing and sustaining quality just insn't the same when trying to produce it electronically.


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Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: Nick Mauel] #1251054 08/17/09 08:45 PM
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A digital piano is not the same instrument as an acoustic. They each have their place. A digital is a great instrument for those who need to keep the volume down, want other sounds or need to run it through amplification. They can offer a great tonal pallet but do not offer the touch of an acoustic. When different people play the same acoustic piano, they produce a different tone. Digital is not quite there yet.

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: Nick Mauel] #1251068 08/17/09 09:11 PM
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Also, one thing I believe digitals have against them is the way they are sampled. Most of them that I know of sample every few notes (Roland RD-700gx is one exception), probably don't separately sample pedal up/down, una corda, etc, only sample a few seconds or so then loop to get the sustain/decay, and only sample 3 or so velocity layers, among other things.

I have yet to hear of ANY digital piano that does all of the following:

* Sample every note on the reference acoustic piano
* Separately sample sustain pedal up/down, una corda pedal up/down
* Sample the entire natural sustain for each note, etc, until the sound has at least decayed to the 0 point measured in the audio file
* Sample at least 128 velocity layers (maximum available on MIDI AFAIK) - if possible ranging from 0.1dB measured 1mm under the string at the hammer attack point measured when the hammer has fallen 0.1mm from the string after attack, to approximately 130dB or so about 2 seconds after attack (or whenever the initial loud part of the attack & initial sustain starts to fade), measured twice as far from the piano as the length of the piano, with the lid closed, preferably in fine enough increments so a train audio professional would not hear changes with less than about 2 or 3 steps in velocity change.
* Sample several distances from the piano, like close, far, etc
* Sample from various perspectives, like from front (player), curved side (audience), rear, straight side, etc
* Sample lid closed, short stick, medium stick (whereb applicable), long stick, music desk portion of lid open only, lid removed, etc
* Sample the piano in several different acoustic environments
* Sample a completely different piano for each separate piano voice (for example Rubenstein R-371 for Acoustic Grand, 1950s Baldwin Hamilton for Bright Studio Upright, early 1900s upright piano that hasn't been tuned for several decades for Honky-Tonk piano, etc...)
* sample at 32-bit resolution, 48kHz sample rate, using several microphones that are designed for recording piano and cost upwards of $10k-$50k each

I can understand not doing this for a Casio Privia PX-130, but considering you can get a 1.5TB hard drive around $120 retail (and I would expect a fraction of that if you buy in bulk at wholesale), my understanding that the retail cost of the piano I'm about to mention is I believe somewhere north of $12k, and I think they probably sell tens of thousands or more of these worldwide, I am very surprised the Yamaha CVP-409GP is not sampled this way, at least as far as I know.

But then, there is also the issue of the sound generating system (speaker or soundboard) included with the digital piano....

Last edited by 88Key_PianoPlayer; 08/17/09 09:16 PM.

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Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer] #1251080 08/17/09 09:29 PM
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You forgot to mention the changes in technique and how you hit each note. This goes beyond just sampling. Whoever created the sound could do a few samples and then the rest of the sounds would need to be calculated based on note, velocity and total force.

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: JoeDaBassPlayer] #1251107 08/17/09 10:46 PM
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I have both an acoustic and a Yamaha PF-500. One thing important not to forget is the playback medium. Turning up the built in speakers to a normal piano volume makes it extremely obvious its a digital. Putting in high quality intra-aural earbuds and playing a single note, I think most people would be hard pressed to tell a difference between that and the real thing. However once you start playing, it becomes subtly obvious to people that play or listen to pianos a lot that its digital, probably from the reasons listed above.

Even when I was trying out acoustics, playing one note on most pianos didnt sound that different. But once you played actual music, the differences were completely obvious which ones were good and which ones werent. Since digitals sample one note at a time, I'm guessing this is the same effect in play.

Re: Taste Test: Digital vs. Acoustic? [Re: Zooplibob] #1251122 08/17/09 11:41 PM
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Zooplibob: I also have a Yamaha PF-500. One suggestion is to get a nice subwoofer and put it at a subtle setting under the bass end... with this set up it sounds better than any Clavinova I've encountered in a retail store and has fooled some guests who are surprised to walk in the piano room and see that what I'm playing has no strings. I don't have an acoustic yet but we bought a house that has a room that housed a grand and I'm slowly shopping around. I do want to hear the AvantGrand but unless I feel the "soul" of it like I have on some nice grands, I'll go for the acoustic grand. One thing I'll point out is that I prefer my $2300-ish PF-500 setup over about 90% of the uprights and about 25% of the grands I have played, so I am indeed curious about how I'll feel when I play the AvantGrand.

Last edited by AlphaTerminus; 08/17/09 11:43 PM.

Acoustic: I used to have a Yamaha C6 but I've gone fully Pianoteq so I can play ALL THE PIANOS!
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