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Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1583850 12/25/10 02:23 PM
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This is a DP forum, so the statement -- "digital pianos suck" is going to draw a strong reaction. It's a flame. That said, I'll actually concur with the statement that "digital pianos suck", but only with a few caveats and reservations.

First, what makes digital pianos suck is the distance that has developed between digital pianos and software pianos. This distance widens every year.

Whether musicians love and need their digital piano or not, it is hard to witness the decision of digital piano manufacturers to build pianos costing several thousand dollars using 128MB or so of vintage ROM memory.

Second, the concept and potential of digital pianos does NOT suck. In fact, already useful, digital pianos have incredible untapped potential.

Many choose a digital, due to neighbors, economic realities, and space constraints of the modern household. You can take a DP where you need to go, or store it (this becomes harder with a software piano computer along). It can play more than one sound or even piano sample. It remains in tune. You can even play in different rooms, change ambiance, and alter tone.

It is only a matter of time until an designer builds a software driven 8GB digital piano with a replaceable hard drive running something like a Kontakt-compatible sampler. Then, the manufacturer will concentrate on designing piano actions. (I am not as sold on modeling as some, at this point).

At some future point, an enterprising engineer (probably recently out of college and incredulous at vintage design approach used by his bosses at his new job) at a DP manufacturer is going to turn the presumed "safe haven" of toy romplers into a disastrous place to have remained complacent and grow old.

So, the concept of digital pianos is alive. But the lack of innovation and improvement in DP hardware sucks; it's disappointing.




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Re: digital pianos suck!
Scooby Hoo #1583860 12/25/10 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Scooby Hoo
At some future point, an enterprising engineer (probably recently out of college and incredulous at vintage design approach used by his bosses at his new job) at a DP manufacturer is going to turn the presumed "safe haven" of toy romplers into a disastrous place to have remained complacent and grow old.

I'm not so sure that would be allowed. This is 100% pure conjecture, but it's difficult to not speculate that manufacturers are somehow conspiring to keep DPs in the technological backwaters.

Re: digital pianos suck!
Scooby Hoo #1583862 12/25/10 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Scooby Hoo

Second, the concept and potential of digital pianos does NOT suck. In fact, already useful, digital pianos have incredible untapped potential.


I think you're on to something here, Scooby. As I said earlier, digital pianos themselves don't suck. They are very viable instruments. While the actions on many may not be an exact replication of a grand piano action, I still wouldn't say they suck. Most of the complaints I have read here are regarding the turtle pace of the development in sound. This falls to marketing. It's a part of that "planned obsolescence" we heard about earlier.

Make no mistake, this is a conscious decision on the part of the engineers. Any big digital piano company out there has the potential to load their models with top quality samples and a boat load of memory, but they don't. Why don't they? Because they will effectively eliminate their potential for growth. Sure their sales will initially skyrocket, but where do they go from there? It's all about the long run. If they keep producing these incremental upgrades, they will keep the sales flowing at an even pace, which is conducive to sustainability. It's smart business for them, but unfortunately we pay the price.

Edit: What Dewster said above is what I feel to be correct. It's called "milking the cash cow". Keeping the carrot on a stick so we keep chasing it. We keep throwing money at them and that's exactly what they want. If they give us the best DP they are capable of, we'll all buy it and be happy with it for years and years and years. But, it's all about repeat business. That's what they want and need to keep their business alive. I feel like a high percentage of Roland, Yamaha and Casio's sales rely on repeat business (upgrading). Without that, they'd cease to exist. Give us the best of the best and they won't see our repeat business for a veryyyy long time. This is not what they want to have happen.

Last edited by LesCharles73; 12/25/10 03:04 PM.

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Re: digital pianos suck!
LesCharles73 #1583882 12/25/10 03:53 PM
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It seems that in the late 1990's, the improvements that began to take shape year after year were less noticeable. I hesitate to say this, but I think perhaps my Korg SG Rack sounds as good as my P95.

I think the major improvement has come with portability, which of course comes with the sacrifice of realism. However, practicality and convenience is something that can not be overlooked.

It is important for people to be able to play 4am without bothering others, as well as having a 25 pounder to put it ones car.


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Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1583938 12/25/10 05:53 PM
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some of you are missing completely my point.
Looks like everything always must be said clearly and literally because 95% of people won't get it.

Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1583943 12/25/10 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by offnote
some of you are missing completely my point.
Looks like everything always must be said clearly and literally because 95% of people won't get it.

... and which point is that?



Your last statement was less than clear ....

Originally Posted by offnote
Originally Posted by gingko2
Being a better pianist is the upgrade I want.


ane there is a problem, because you cannot buy or that...




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Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1583950 12/25/10 06:33 PM
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Make no mistake, this is a conscious decision on the part of the engineers.
Engineers don't make those decisions. It's marketing.

Any big digital piano company out there has the potential to load their models with top quality samples and a boat load of memory, but they don't.
True. But that's not a conspiracy. It's simply a reflection of market demand.

Perhaps ... For every one of us who dreams about a piano with a top notch sampler built in, there are many, many more people who just don't care. That's conjecture, since we have no access to their market research. But this line of reasoning applies to many product lines. You make whatever it is that more people will buy. You don't make whatever it is that few people will buy.

Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1583979 12/25/10 07:25 PM
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Add one more design point here: most people just play the presets. They don't care about having the absolute best sounds or having thousands of sounds and an upgradeable library. In fact, having too many sounds is counterproductive. This why romplers continue to be quite popular.

Earlier today I watched an interview with the principal developer of the Yamaha CP1. In the final segment of this lengthy interview Kunimoto mentioned that most customers do not edit the presets.

This is a very interesting insight that shows all the discussion about having thousands of sounds and modifying sound parameters as the ultimate goal exists only in the minds of purist forum members, not as the goal of most keyboardists. Actual customers want to make music.

Kunimoto interview


Re: digital pianos suck!
MacMacMac #1584009 12/25/10 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Make no mistake, this is a conscious decision on the part of the engineers.
Engineers don't make those decisions. It's marketing.


True. I used the wrong verbiage. But you see what I'm getting at.

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Any big digital piano company out there has the potential to load their models with top quality samples and a boat load of memory, but they don't.
True. But that's not a conspiracy. It's simply a reflection of market demand.


I think Dewster is our resident conspiracy theorist wink.

Honestly, I'm in the "don't care" category. I play synth/workstations and true piano is about 25% of what I play. My K2600X, while I always aspire for something more, is good enough for me. I can't begin to tap its capabilities, and no amount of gigabytes and sampling layers is gonna make me sound better. Right now, my sound is limited by my capability as a pianist, not necessarily my keyboard's capability to facilitate my demands.

I do agree with Dewster that it wouldn't take that much money to replicate a very nice piano sound. Much nicer than we're all used to with our stage pianos. We already know that $999 in hardware can feel pretty close to the real thing. Add another $999 for the equivalent of a MacBook in computing power and you've really got something there. Sure, R&D costs money, but after something like this was produced, it wouldn't take very long to pay that off. The problem still lies in expansion. How do they convince you to upgrade when they've already peaked and used all their resources? I know they are holding back, but respectfully, I don't think it has anything to do with market demand.

If a digital piano was available with a great action and the power of a MacBook for $2,000, I think most buyers would hold out for it. But, they'd keep it.

Let's take Roland for example, with their RD line. Sure they could have started right out with the RD700GXF (or whatever it is), but instead they incrementally improved, starting at the RD700. How many of those original owners have been chasing the upgrades? Probably a lot. And this is where they make their money. Had they introduced the RD700GXF back when the original RD700 was introduced, they wouldn't have made all this money on enticing all these users to upgrade. When a digital piano has the physical capability of lasting a decade or more, you have to be pretty innovative in how you're going to keep making money on your current clientele. Roland and Yamaha have certainly figured out how to do that.

Of course, this is all my opinion and perception on what the market and manufacturers are doing. While stating it all as "fact", I realize that what is really going on may be very different. While still in the 'don't care' category myself, I offer the above information as a point of discussion, but no more and no less.


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Re: digital pianos suck!
LesCharles73 #1584137 12/26/10 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by LesCharles73
I think I'll go with pure acoustic too. I'll sound so much better when I show up at my friend's house for a jam sess... Oh wait...

wink


Oh yes, the good old days ... and then you discover that your piano is almost a half step lower. smile


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Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1584174 12/26/10 07:56 AM
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Haha, funny and interesting discussion. This is the revival of the a thousand times mentioned dewstonian conspiracy theory.

I don't think that something like this exists. The big mass of buyers just don't asks for such a gigabyte monster. And, as someone else mentioned, does this really improve the sound of your live playing?

Let's have a look at other products: computers, digital cameras, mp3 players, videocams, TVs, ... They all make huge steps forward every year, simply because there is a demand for it, and they have competitors.

Something like a milking cow can only exist if you a) have no comptetitors or b) your competitors are miles away from you. Both is not true in the small market of DP music instruments.

If this big memory thing would be so eas and there wpuld be a demand for it, why don't any of the competitors just build it, for example a chinese newcomer (giga-williams)?


<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>
Re: digital pianos suck!
mucci #1584217 12/26/10 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by mucci
The big mass of buyers just don't asks for such a gigabyte monster.

Very few ask for the V-Piano, or the C-30 digital harpsichord, but Roland makes these niche instruments nonetheless.

Originally Posted by mucci
... does this really improve the sound of your live playing?

I honestly can't believe anyone here is arguing against better sound, particularly if it is entirely possible and wouldn't add much to the overall price of an already expensive DP, and particularly since DP sound inexplicably hasn't improved much in the last decade. I'd trade our NX in a second for a decently made DP with an uploadable 4GB sample set.

Originally Posted by mucci
Something like a milking cow can only exist if you a) have no comptetitors or b) your competitors are miles away from you.

There are antitrust laws in place worldwide that try to protect market mechanisms, laws that wouldn't be needed if that kind of thing never happened. The world's largest LCD manufacturers were recently caught colluding to keep prices high.

I'm not saying or implying that anyone is necessarily breaking any laws, just that it's easy to not move forward in an industry if your competitors aren't either, and if your customers aren't complaining too much.

Re: digital pianos suck!
dewster #1584246 12/26/10 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by mucci
The big mass of buyers just don't asks for such a gigabyte monster.

Very few ask for the V-Piano, or the C-30 digital harpsichord, but Roland makes these niche instruments nonetheless.

V-Piano was clearly a dissapointment for Roland. C-30 - honestly I have no idea, must be a hobby of a very influential engineer or marketing "expert". wink
Originally Posted by dewster

Originally Posted by mucci
... does this really improve the sound of your live playing?

I honestly can't believe anyone here is arguing against better sounds


No I don't, I also like better and more realistic sound. I also know that it doesn't matter in our church what DP or sophisticated VSTi sound you take. It sounds quite similar when playing live (and singing). I think the same applies to many beginners that never heard a real acoustic piano. Here we are again, what's the real demand of better sound (i'm not talking about us enthusiasts). dewster, did you ever had a chance to talk to a real big brand DP engineer? Maybe that would help to get some insight into this somehow mysterious phenomen.


<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>
Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1584250 12/26/10 10:13 AM
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Oh, and BTW: the keyboard is by far more important in a DP than it's internal sound.


<~ don't test forever - play and enjoy! ~>
Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1584259 12/26/10 10:27 AM
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I have to add this. I owned a GranTouch for about 12 years which was my main practice instrument. I never got tired or annoyed from its sample set. It wasn't a perfect sample set but it didn't get in the way of me playing.

By the way, it was only 30 megs in size.


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Re: digital pianos suck!
mucci #1584265 12/26/10 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mucci
Very few ask for the V-Piano, or the C-30 digital harpsichord, but Roland makes these niche instruments nonetheless.

V-Piano was clearly a dissapointment for Roland. C-30 - honestly I have no idea, must be a hobby of a very influential engineer or marketing "expert"
No, they both have their own specialized set of customers.

You're thinking that the V-Piano is a failure because thousands of units are not being sold like a RD-300GX. Synth manufacturers are aware of the economy of scale when developing an instrument. They have different sales expectations than customers. Korg knew this when they developed the OASYS. They announced at the beginning that the OASYS would have a limited production because their intention was only to produce more of them if there was strong demand.

The V-Piano is successful whether you believe it or not. They just are not sold every day or month at a given store. Guitar Center, for example, isn't going to waste valuable floor space on a V-Piano with a $7,000 price tag unless they know that they can sell one occasionally and earn more profit in a single sale than they collect from the sale of many software instrument packages. They put on their sales floor items that sell and which return a good profit. Everything else is sold from their website.

As for the C-30, it has a niche market. Some buyers are hobbyists, but the majority are schools and churches.

Last edited by ClassicalMastery; 12/26/10 07:16 PM.
Re: digital pianos suck!
mucci #1584280 12/26/10 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by mucci
Oh, and BTW: the keyboard is by far more important in a DP than it's internal sound.

Perhaps you should wander around NAMM with a "KICK ME" sign on your back. When I shell out $2-4k I fully expect the best keys and best sound.

I know it's not exactly apples to apples, but a $100 acoustic guitar is capable of meeting all of my fairly reasonable expectations for a musical instrument - i.e. playability and sound. A plastic box full of plastic keys and $50 worth of electronics could do the same if they brought it fully up-to-date.

Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1584321 12/26/10 12:41 PM
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Thanks, I can live with that offense... wink
But it's still true in my eyes.


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Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1584444 12/26/10 04:29 PM
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I'm sorry about the nasty gram mucci.

Even you spent some time supplementing the sound of your Kawai via external means, trying to get something better. Like many of us, you ended up falling back to the internal sounds. All the more reason to make them as good as they can, or at least somewhere near as nice as a decent PC sampler from five years ago.

Re: digital pianos suck!
offnote #1584479 12/26/10 05:04 PM
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dewster, I would be interested to know the opinions of your piano playing wife. As a teacher, I expect her preference will be for keyboard action realism over non-looped piano sounds.

What does she think of her new Christmas present, by the way? wink

Cheers,
James
x


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