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#1828887 - 01/21/12 08:50 AM The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs  
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To me most DPs of today sound fantastic. I absolutely love the sound of my new DP. However, are we DP owners biased when listening to DP sounds (our own in particular)? What do you think?


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#1828894 - 01/21/12 09:12 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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Yes we are biased. Once you have spent a lot of money on something there is an incentive to feel that you made the right choice. When I try to be more objective I have to conclude that digital pianos are just toys in comparison to the real thing.

#1828910 - 01/21/12 10:23 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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I spent a lot of money on a Clavinova ... and I think the sound stinks. So I use piano libraries instead. The $2500 I spent on the piano has not convinced me that it (or any) digital sounds good. Rather, I'm convinced that no digital sounds at all like a piano (save for the AG and other high-priced units that I've never tried).

#1828911 - 01/21/12 10:31 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: MacMacMac]  
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which model of clavinova u are using?

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#1828920 - 01/21/12 10:51 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: MacMacMac]  
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I'm convinced that no digital sounds at all like a piano (save for the AG and other high-priced units that I've never tried).


It's fascinating how polarized people are about the AG. It's fair to say it sounds 99% like the $100,000 9-foot grand it emulates. Digital fans find it crazy to not plunk down a mere $12-15K to get very close to that $100,000 sound, and with a real grand action to boot!

Acoustic fans are totally turned off by that other 1%. They hear it as a RECORDING of a fancy piano, which of course is technically what it is. They find that sound unacceptable.

There are, indeed, certain imperfections in the sound of an acoustic that cannot be digitalized. Whether those minor mysteries are irrelevant (as is true for most AG fans) or the very soul of a piano sound (as is true for those turned off by the AG) is a matter of subjectivity and not science.

#1828932 - 01/21/12 11:20 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: jivemutha]  
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Acoustic piano players do, it's true, tend to look down on digitals. When one compares a good acoustic to a bad digital, that's not a hard call to make. A bad acoustic to a good digital? Different story.

But I'm more bemused by the fact that THE most scathing attacks on AGs come from owners of other DPs, especially Rolands. The reverse is also true -- more than one troll thread attacking Rolands has popped up here.

I'll be leaving the world of DPs for the acoustic world in about 90 minutes. Maybe I'll be able to send back messages from the other side. wink


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#1828937 - 01/21/12 11:36 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: jivemutha]  
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Originally Posted by jivemutha
It's fascinating how polarized people are about the AG. It's fair to say it sounds 99% like the $100,000 9-foot grand it emulates.

IMO 99% is too fair.

Originally Posted by jivemutha
There are, indeed, certain imperfections in the sound of an acoustic that cannot be digitalized. Whether those minor mysteries are irrelevant (as is true for most AG fans) or the very soul of a piano sound (as is true for those turned off by the AG) is a matter of subjectivity and not science.

It's not a mystery as to what is wrong with the AG sound. They chopped off the decays and replaced them with short, overprocessed loops. And the sympathetic resonance could be improved. At this price point, and particularly with the way Yamaha markets it, expectations tend to run higher than normal. It's probably fine for a lot of folks and a lot of situations, but you can't use it for serious solo recording.

My main issue with the AG sound is that Yamaha overpromises and underdelivers.

#1828962 - 01/21/12 12:18 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: ClsscLib]  
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
. . .I'm more bemused by the fact that THE most scathing attacks on AGs come from owners of other DPs, especially Rolands.


As there are a skillion threads about AGs, I'm not sure how I can readily find these comments. Can you (or anyone else) summarize the gist of Roland owners criticisms of the AG?

#1828969 - 01/21/12 12:29 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: MacMacMac]  
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I spent a lot of money on a Clavinova ... and I think the sound stinks. So I use piano libraries instead. The $2500 I spent on the piano has not convinced me that it (or any) digital sounds good. Rather, I'm convinced that no digital sounds at all like a piano (save for the AG and other high-priced units that I've never tried).


On the contrary I am convinced that every digital piano that I have heard sounds like a piano (not necessarily one that I like or would want to own) but very few play like one.

Having a realistic piano action and 'realistic' samples and/or modelling is not enough. The way the two interract is everything and the best and most responsive of the current DPs really do get it right and are very good musical instruments in their own right, but not direct substitutes for an excellently constructed and prepared acoustic grand.

#1828970 - 01/21/12 12:29 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: dewster]  
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Originally Posted by dewster
IMO 99% is too fair.

It's not a mystery as to what is wrong with the AG sound. They chopped off the decays and replaced them with short, overprocessed loops. And the sympathetic resonance could be improved. At this price point, and particularly with the way Yamaha markets it, expectations tend to run higher than normal. It's probably fine for a lot of folks and a lot of situations, but you can't use it for serious solo recording.

My main issue with the AG sound is that Yamaha overpromises and underdelivers.


First, I confess I'm on the same basic side of the fence as you are, dewster, though clearly you have a much better grasp of the technical differences separating AG sound from the real thing than I do.

Let's say you're right. Let's call it arbitrarily 89% instead of 99%, OK? If someone (clearly not you or me) isn't bothered by that "11%" separating the AG sound from the YIIS 9-foot grand, then doesn't it make for a good choice for that person? It would save them at least $85,000!

That said, I admit I'd much rather the sound of a real U3 than the almost-real sound of a 9-foot grand, as produced by the AG. Yet, I consider those who hear it differently kind of lucky!

#1828972 - 01/21/12 12:30 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: jivemutha]  
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Two varieties: Sampled sound of AGs said to be inherently inferior to modelled sound of Roland V-Pianos; and second, that using a Roland (or other keyboard) to drive certain computer pianos produces better sound than the sound from AG speakers.

Whether this might reflect the sort of "selection bias" mentioned by an earlier poster on this thread I'll leave to you to consider.


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#1828983 - 01/21/12 12:46 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: ClsscLib]  
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Sampled sound of AGs said to be inherently inferior to modelled sound of Roland V-Pianos. . .


Thank you.

Are you referring to the technical details regarding the sampling (which would sail over my head) or to the acoustic pianos that are being sampled? If, by chance, it's the latter, it begs the question, what monster acoustic piano is the Roland sampling?

#1828989 - 01/21/12 12:56 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: jivemutha]  
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Originally Posted by jivemutha
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Sampled sound of AGs said to be inherently inferior to modelled sound of Roland V-Pianos. . .


Thank you.

Are you referring to the technical details regarding the sampling (which would sail over my head) or to the acoustic pianos that are being sampled? If, by chance, it's the latter, it begs the question, what monster acoustic piano is the Roland sampling?


Both, I think, but more the former than the latter. Roland V-Pianos, as I understand them, do not rely on sampling at all -- but I'll let a Roland defender with more knowledge them mine address that point.


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#1828992 - 01/21/12 12:58 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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I don't think we are biased in favor of our digitals. If anything, I think I'm biased against it. Whatever instrument I play frequently (whether acoustic or digital) I start to find all the flaws with it and I really notice them when I play.

The upright I play most frequently almost can't play pianissimo at all, the key depth is very shallow, and it has a terribly harsh tone and keeps a tune for about 5 minutes (it's an older Yamaha). The grand I play most often isn't very responsive and its tone is very closed and ill (it's an older Kawai RX3). My digital has a too-heavy action that makes me tired and the onboard sounds sound synthesized (Kawai MP8).

The only thing I haven't found a problem with is my current sound generator, Vintage D. I've found problems with every set of speakers and headphones I've used, but the tone itself is almost perfect for my taste if you look past the limitations of the speakers or headphones.

I've played pianos with actions that truly satisfied (acoustics) but not regularly. I am beginning to wonder if I would change my opinion about them if I played them more frequently. Eventually I'll get to that greener grass on the other side of the fence! smile

Last edited by gvfarns; 01/21/12 01:06 PM.
#1828999 - 01/21/12 01:07 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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Well I guess if I really expensive acoustic piano cost $2,500 and weighed 50 pounds there's a lot more folks hereabouts would be suffering from "grass is greener" syndrome. If you fall out of love with that Steinway you bought last month that weighs a metric boatload and cost most than your car...well, you don't usually end up switching to a different brand very soon.


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#1829004 - 01/21/12 01:16 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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That's a very good point, Brent. The cheap-and-easily-replaced aspect of digitals kind of drives our ability to want to upgrade all the time.

My parents bought a yucky little spinet for $200 at least 35 years ago (they have pictures of me in front of it as a newborn) and said they would just keep it for a year or two until they could buy a nicer piano. Guess what's still sitting in their living room after having 7 kids learn to play on it?

Last edited by gvfarns; 01/21/12 01:17 PM.
#1829035 - 01/21/12 02:08 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: steve1991]  
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Originally Posted by steve1991
which model of clavinova u are using?

#1829047 - 01/21/12 02:29 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Brent H]  
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Originally Posted by Brent H
Well I guess if I really expensive acoustic piano cost $2,500 and weighed 50 pounds there's a lot more folks hereabouts would be suffering from "grass is greener" syndrome.

Sign me up for one of those!

And if DPs had sound generators more on par with VSTs there would be even less suffering here.

#1829106 - 01/21/12 03:40 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: beeboss]  
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#1829118 - 01/21/12 03:49 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Dave Ferris]  
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Originally Posted by Dave Ferris
All the digitals do sound and feel like toys after that.


Question, Dave: What is your impression of the sound of AvantGrands in that regard? Toy? Sort of toy? OK? Not OK?

#1829300 - 01/21/12 09:34 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: ClsscLib]  
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Originally Posted by jivemutha
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Sampled sound of AGs said to be inherently inferior to modelled sound of Roland V-Pianos. . .


Thank you.

Are you referring to the technical details regarding the sampling (which would sail over my head) or to the acoustic pianos that are being sampled? If, by chance, it's the latter, it begs the question, what monster acoustic piano is the Roland sampling?


Both, I think, but more the former than the latter. Roland V-Pianos, as I understand them, do not rely on sampling at all -- but I'll let a Roland defender with more knowledge them mine address that point.



Roland V-Pianos have a horrible synthetic mid/ upper mid range ...they are not the poster child for DP technology.


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#1829399 - 01/22/12 12:29 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: jivemutha]  
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#1829422 - 01/22/12 01:30 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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It stinks that we live in the year 2012 and our DP's still "sound like toys" in comparison to acoustic grands. Yet, there are computers who beat every champion on Jeopardy and the iPad 3 is coming out soon.

Why are we pianists/keyboardists left behind on the technological curve?

#1829424 - 01/22/12 01:43 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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Two different comparisons, two different comments:

In comparison to the iPad 3, DP's lag behind because demand and competition are so much lower, so there's little money and motivation to push innovation. DP manufacturers have very modest teams of engineers designing and building the next generation gear with very limited resources. Nothing like Apple has working on the iPad.

In comparison with Watson, for far, far less than the cost of that supercomputer you can get nearly the best speakers money can buy and hook up a high end VST to your DP in a way that definitely does not sound like a toy. So in that sense, DP's are not behind. After all, your desktop computer cannot beat a Jeopardy champ. Why would you expect your home DP to compare with a world class acoustic piano?

Last edited by gvfarns; 01/22/12 01:51 AM.
#1829527 - 01/22/12 07:42 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Dave Ferris]  
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Originally Posted by Dave Ferris
Originally Posted by jivemutha
Originally Posted by Dave Ferris
All the digitals do sound and feel like toys after that.


Question, Dave: What is your impression of the sound of AvantGrands in that regard? Toy? Sort of toy? OK? Not OK?


No, AGs definitely don't fall under that category for me.


May I ask you to critically criticize the sound? Compare it to the world class grand it's supposed to copy?

Thank you for the input...


Just to add here instead of another post. I was into audiophile stuff back when digital came out. Yes, it's all there. Yes it "sounds great". I still can't admit that digital has come up to the level of the old really high end audio. I'm talking using Scheffield Labs, mastered, and direct disc albums. Really great sources. With really great audio. It had a fullness to it that I still haven't quite found in digital. It really really sounded realistic. You could feel it. It would fool people. It was that good. At first, the digital was awful in comparison. Was empty. There but not there. Now it is better. More data. They keep saying you can't tell the difference. I say you can. Just hard to put your finger on it. It's more in the feeling the sound.
I do think digital can become much better. Will they do it? I'm doubting it. They can get away with this. So they will.
I say...In comparison to the real thing...the (digital) Emperor still has no clothes.

EDIT: What I have? It's good. Has a bunch of adjustments on it. Makes it good enough. Still playing with it alot.

Last edited by rnaple; 01/22/12 07:57 AM. Reason: Added blabbering of an old fool.

Ron
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#1829562 - 01/22/12 09:41 AM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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I think the Kawai CA93 is moving in the right direction, it's the first digital I've played that gives back more than your ears can hear, providing you can unplug and let the transducer on the sound board do it's job! I will be very pleased if Kawai someday realizes what they have and actually market it with the same passion that they do for the grands and K's, but it must be played like them to appreciate it.... This hybred approach can indeed give the Emperor a greatly improved wardrobe of expression.


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#1829772 - 01/22/12 04:38 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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I thought I should add to be fair. Compared to mainstream audio. Digital is a huge step better. I had gotten to where I couldn't listen to anything but an excellent source. My audio showed all it's faults.
I do also think they can do a whole lot with digital. Creating more data points for the audio waves. Things like that. I don't know what they have done on the high end. I just know what I've heard. Haven't yet.
Yes, that CA93 sounds interesting as does an AG. Haven't played with either yet. The key thought is knowing what can be done.



Ron
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#1829789 - 01/22/12 05:13 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
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rnaple, I find your posts a little confusing...maybe you can clarify or at least let me know if I got it right. The first post seems to be talking about digital audio technology in general vs something like an LP, correct? In the second post you are saying that digital pianos are better than CD's, right?

That makes sense because at least software pianos (not clear which you use, from your sig) use 24 bit signals that a lot of golden eared people say really does approach indistinguishable from the analog source. Personally my only problem with 16/44 CD's is the squashed dynamic range of modern mixing methods.

Indeed modern software pianos also sample at a lot of velocity levels (the new Ivory American Grand uses up to 20, apparently, verses a typical 3 or 4 in a DP) and then use a blending algorithm to mix them, as you suggest. I expect the trend toward more levels to continue for a while at least. Kind of like the megahertz war...all things equal more samples is better, though there are decreasing returns as you approach the theoretical limit of 127 and other things matter more than the number of levels far before that point.

Last edited by gvfarns; 01/22/12 05:45 PM.
#1829854 - 01/22/12 06:58 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: gvfarns]  
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Originally Posted by gvfarns
rnaple, I think your posts are a little confusing...maybe you can clarify. The first post seems to be talking about digital audio technology in general vs something like an LP, correct? In the second post you are saying that digital pianos are better than CD's, right?

That makes sense because at least software pianos (not clear which you use, from your sig) use 24 bit signals that a lot of golden eared people say really does approach indistinguishable from the analog source. Personally my only problem with 16/44 CD's is the squashed dynamic range of modern mixing methods.

Indeed modern software pianos also sample at a lot of velocity levels (the new Ivory American Grand uses up to 20, apparently, verses a typical 3 or 4 in a DP) and then use a blending algorithm to mix them, as you suggest. I expect the trend toward more levels to continue for a while at least. Kind of like the megahertz war...all things equal more samples is better, though there are decreasing returns as you approach the theoretical limit of 127 and other things matter more than the number of levels far before that point.


I appreciate your input. My knowledge of audio lately is limited. I have Ivory II Grand Pianos. I do think it's really good. Extremely happy with it in comparison and price of DP's. I admit, I ain't gonna go out and buy a high end tube amp and pre amp, along with a pair of Klipschorns. I do agree that I think my Ivory is better than CD's, and DP's that I've heard. Not as good as the real thing.
I didn't compare digital to LP's in general. My old analog LP's were very special. High end audio sources. Expensive...thirty bucks a piece in the early eighties. Even though my audio would fool anyone thinking it's real. I must confess...live was and is better. I can't admit that my Ivory is better than my old analog audio. Again...don't have a system to run it on that I had. It was impressive....and expensive.
I just wish in general. They would get off the soap box of saying this is it. When digital in general hasn't gotten there yet.
I've heard the recording guys complaining about the compression. They gotta do what they get paid for.
I appreciate your input. I'm learning about today's audio. In and out of DP's. I have had exquisite. I know it can be done. It can be done much cheaper in digital.


Last edited by rnaple; 01/22/12 07:00 PM. Reason: Added blabbering of an old fool.

Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon
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#1829860 - 01/22/12 07:07 PM Re: The Emperor's New Clothes and the sound of DPs [Re: Amaruk]  
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 213
kurtie Offline
Full Member
kurtie  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 213
From my (little) experience with my DP and AP:

1. I always use software pianos with my DP, they are far better than sounds built-in DP. To be fair, my DP is a generation behind, but anyway software pianos seem to be several generations ahead DPs sound-wise.

2. No matter how good a software piano is, I prefer to play the AP. For me, the AP sounds better. The speakers (or headphones) juts sound as a recording, while the acoustic sounds like a live instrument, the sound completely fills the room and comes from all directions, it simply cannot be compared to the speakers, I don't know how to explain it. I play a key on my little 45" studio upright and is 'wow', and I play a key on the DP and is 'meh'. I have acceptable speakers (not top notch, but they are not crap) and comparatively a much better headphones, so don't blame them.

3. I've not tried some AvantGrand, CA93 or other DP with some kind of 'digital soundboard', so cannot tell about that, but those DPs look very promising. My intuition tells me that this is the right track for DPs (at least for the DPs that try to imitate a piano as accurately as possible), but they have some way to go yet.

Regards,
Kurt.-

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