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Latency of an Acoustic Piano
#1761935 09/29/11 08:24 PM
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gvfarns Offline OP
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As I've been thinking about and trying software pianos the issue of latency has come up. As I searched around about it, I found an post on gear slutz that implied that the latency on an acoustic piano is actually larger than that of a digital piano, even one running a software piano at customary speeds.

However, I have to think that latency would measured from the time the key bottoms out, so the only latency in an acoustic would be from flexing materials in the action and of course the time it takes the sound to reach the ear (not the actual time it takes to swing the hammer up). Is that right?

* Can it be true (as some posters there contend) that our digital pianos may actually have too little latency to provide an experience that is faithful to that of playing an acoustic? It sometimes seems like digitals produce sound quicker and more crisply than acoustics, but it could be my mind playing tricks on me.

* Does anyone more resourceful than I am have an estimate of what an acoustic piano latency might be?

* What's the right way to compare latency between a digital and acoustic piano?

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1761997 09/29/11 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by gvfarns
* What's the right way to compare latency between a digital and acoustic piano?

1a. Ideally find the specific piano they sampled.
1b. Otherwise grab the closest equivalent.
2. Devise a variable weighted lever that can press piano keys.
3. Take movies of the lever playing both the real piano and the DP.
4. Analyze said movies for timing between lever position and sound generation.

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
dewster #1762071 09/30/11 02:49 AM
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Try a mechanical pipe organ latency wink

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762078 09/30/11 03:39 AM
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I don't think it makes much sense to measure this. The point is whether you can feel 'connected' to the keys & sound. On acoustics, you learn to control exactly the 'latency' there is by adapting to your instrument. A well-regulated action also equalizes the 'latencies' of all keys.

If it is possible to 'control' the latency of your digital setup so that you get connection between action and sound there is no problem. If it is just too long, or unpredictable (can happen in a software setup), you loose connection. But only the player's feel is a safe measure I would say (pace dewster).


Shigeru Kawai SK-2, etc.
Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
Talaf #1762257 09/30/11 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Talaf
Try a mechanical pipe organ latency wink

Ha! Much of which I imagine is the distance from the pipes to your ears? I wonder if high latencies like that are actually easier to play through, as you could concentrate more on playing and tune out the sound to some degree? Medium latencies might actually mess with your head more.

Some DPs allow you some control over latency. The RD-700NX has an adjustment called "Velocity Delay Sensitivity" that "sets the interval from the time the key is played to when the sound is produced. As the value is decreased, the timing of the sound is delayed more when more force is used to play the keys. As the value is increased, the timing of the sound is delayed more when less force is used to play the keys."

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762278 09/30/11 11:31 AM
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I think gvfarns wants to "really" know what the latency of a real AP is...

My MP-10 has a setting for this as well and I would be curious what the "typical" latency is in those big beasts. 1ms? 2ms?


Nord Grand, Kawai MP11 (v1), iMac 2017, Yamaha HS8's, Sennheiser 650, Focusrite 2i4, Pianoteq 6.4.0, Steinway Model A, Mason and Hamlin Model AA, Piano Marvel: 3C
Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
dewster #1762307 09/30/11 12:26 PM
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Yeah, and there's also some "time" before the bigger pipes start to sound. They have to fill with sufficient air pressure. There's also some mechanical delay.

In the end I think the brain adapts. The "connection" factor is more important. If you do connect with the instrument the brain will compensate appropriately.

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762310 09/30/11 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by gvfarns

* What's the right way to compare latency between a digital and acoustic piano?


A typical grand piano has a "latancy" of up to 5mS. This is the time it takes for the hammer to fly into the strings after being released by the escapement. But the hammer velocity depends on how hard to press the key. So latency gets smaller if you play louder

There is also the time of flight of the sound from the strings and soundboard to your ears which is about 1mS per foot of distance. But a piano is large and different parts of it are different distances. Much of the sound is reflected off walls and ceiling but the first "attack" phase of each note would be within five feet of your ears. So I'd say the latency is 10mS or less for an acoustic piano

All this said, 10mSis to short to notice. This of talking with a person who is 10 feet away from you. You can't notice any lag.


How to measure? I would place a microphone are the same place as your ears. The mic will pick up the sound of the note. Place another microphone close to your hands an inch away from the keys. This mic will record the thumps as the key bottom out.

Then on your computer look at the waveforms and measure the time from "thump" to the note. This should work for both acoustic and digital pianos.

Yes the digital piano can be very low latency. I just checked and noticed I have 64 sample buffer. that means, I think about 2mS. I change it to 128 and don't notice any difference


BTW you can learn to play with huge latency. For example try a delay pedal on an electric guitar, or even a spring reverb. The delay is seconds long.

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762322 09/30/11 12:42 PM
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For the listener, 10 msec is too short to notice. The listener doesn't know when the performer presses a key, so there's no clear relationship between performer-key-strike and listener-hears-sound.

But the for the performer, things are different. Sure, the pianist expects sound so take a few msec to travel from acoustic-strings (or DP-speakers) to his ears. But that's quite short. Additional latency of, say, 10 msec (caused by the MIDI-to-computer-to-sound-card-to-speakers) is quite intolerable. He feels his finger striking a key, so if the sound is delayed things turn ugly. Very.

I had that problem with my laptop's sound card. Latency was around 12 msec and it was horrible. So I bought an external sound module. It produces 3 msec latency. This is unnoticeable.

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
MacMacMac #1762479 09/30/11 05:57 PM
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MacMacMac, was that 12 ms total or just the soundcard part? The reason I ask is that Kontakt reports "processing latency" and "output latency" and the total is the sum of the two. The sample buffer only contributes to one of those if I understand correctly. 12 ms doesn't sound all that long to me if it's total latency. Just wondering.

Actually, I don't really know what the deal is with 'processing' and 'output' latency. Can anyone help me out?

On the main question, it sounds like however you measure it, latency on an acoustic is probably under 10 ms, which is pretty much not noticeable, so there's no need to compensate by adding a little latency to our digitals. Am I reading the consensus correctly?

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762536 09/30/11 07:53 PM
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That was just the computer's processing delay (using the built-in sound card and the ASIO4All interface).

That delay is adjustable in the ASIO4All control panel. But set it too low and you get clicks and dropouts. I couldn't get any better than 12 msec, and even then I'd get a rare click here and there.

But with the USB outboard sound card and its customized ASIO driver, I can set the ASIO to just 3 msec. I cannot hear any latency. No clicks, no pops.

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762627 09/30/11 11:42 PM
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I think we did latency to death somewhere here. smile

Again, though, here's some very thorough information on the latency of an acoustic piano: http://www.speech.kth.se/music/5_lectures/askenflt/measure.html

Note that some MIDI adaptors introduce appreciable latency. Most folks only seem to consider the latency of the audio path. IMHO this is a mistake.

Ah - here's an earlier thread which discusses latency:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1509928/Buying%20first%20DP.html

Greg.

Last edited by sullivang; 09/30/11 11:46 PM.
Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
sullivang #1762632 09/30/11 11:47 PM
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Wow, that's a very informative site in general. Thanks for the link.

I'm a little annoyed with the search capability here. When you search for something way too many results come up from the last little while. If there was a good thread on latency a while ago I certainly didn't see it when I searched around.

Edit: great thread. Thanks for pointing it out!

Last edited by gvfarns; 09/30/11 11:53 PM.
Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762635 09/30/11 11:56 PM
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You're welcome. ;^) I was wondering whether you had seen my edit. The problem with edits is that they don't cause the post to show up as a new post. (mind you, I don't know of any forum that behaves any differently)

Greg.

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762862 10/01/11 12:52 PM
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I am mostly playing for myself with headphones together with a VST + ASIO4ALL drivers, but seem to get a cracklsnap every once in a while so I was wondering if upgrading that sound card would improve the situation?

I am using Privia PX130 as controller and it only has USB out, but I guess that's not a problem. Windows 7 as os and Cubase + Ivory.

So, I'm thinking about upgrading the sound card, but don't know should I get an external USB audio card (which one) or buy an internal one? Presonus AudioBox?


Casio Privia PX-130 + VST = quite close to the real thing.
Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762871 10/01/11 01:18 PM
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I bought the Presonus AudioBox because it was the least expensive. But it works flawlessly.

If you're asking about a possible internal card, then I presume you have a desktop computer, not a laptop?

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
MacMacMac #1762876 10/01/11 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I bought the Presonus AudioBox because it was the least expensive. But it works flawlessly.

If you're asking about a possible internal card, then I presume you have a desktop computer, not a laptop?


I have both, but I would like to make do only with the laptop as my desktop PC is mostly for HTPC purposes.

So I guess I can just hook the Privia PX130 to the laptop via USB and then have that AudioBox also hooked via USB, and live happily ever after (until wanting to upgrade)?

Last edited by Pianisti; 10/01/11 01:26 PM.

Casio Privia PX-130 + VST = quite close to the real thing.
Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
gvfarns #1762879 10/01/11 01:29 PM
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Yes, I think so. That's what I do with my Behringer. Nice thing about USB is it's so easy to move around from computer to computer or into a laptop. USB audio interfaces are a good thing.

Re: Latency of an Acoustic Piano
Pianisti #1762933 10/01/11 03:40 PM
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I like your signature:
Casio Privia PX-130 + VST = quite close to the real thing

I would phrase it as:
any-make any-expensive-model = lame piano imitation
any-make any-cheap-model = very lame, please kill me
but ...
any-make any-model + VST = close to the real thing


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