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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Gary D. #2302979 07/16/14 09:49 AM
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Gary, as usual, a lot of gist for the mill. Thanks for the insights.

In re: Bach. I frequently remind my students that Bach loved and made use of great dynamic swings throughout his compositions and there is no reason to assume he would do differently with the keyboard works. Even the harpsichord was capable of limited dynamic changes, eg, the two manual harpsichord, and Bach made use of that instrument in the Italian Concerto. Dynamic markings in his own hand.

Bach's largest work, the St. Matthew Passion, ranges from a boy soprano singing solo to two full organs, two full choirs and an orchestra, all playing at once. Most of his organ works are marked with both color and dynamic changes. I haven't examined the scores of his orchestra works, but I can imagine that dynamics are marked there on.

All of this indicates to me that had the modern grand been at Bach's disposal, he would have been in Seventh Heaven and composed his keyboard works accordingly.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2303003 07/16/14 10:59 AM
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Gary,

The electronic instruments are evolving and will continue to do so, if only for economic reasons. I see no reason to resist this on any level. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I just wish the manufacturers of these instruments were half as serious as the people who play them - the technology is at hand to vastly accelerate the quality of electronic instruments but I do not sense that the manufacturers are in a big rush to do so.

The problems I encounter between electronic to acoustic instruments is that the change in tonal color frequently disorients students - they have been practicing on their electronic instruments and then when they take a lesson on my acoustic piano the key-weighting and vastly 'larger' sound throws them off a bit - but we do, after all, get through the lesson.

The other problem I encounter with intermediate to advanced students is illustrating subtleties in pedaling and various mechanisms of the hand-arm to achieve sonorities and colors. Electronic pedals tend to be starkly On or Off, without shadings, but if touch sensitive results have been improved at the keyboard, is the technology so different that it cannot also be installed for the pedal as well? They could also employ more subtle shadings in the piano to pianissimo range. I don't see why these matters could not be addressed now.

But this issue is not one-sided: too many acoustic pianos have excessively heavy weighting that is also poorly regulated, with key weight dramatically varying from one key to the next, additionally, the voicing of the hammers is frequently without consistency (one brilliant, the next muffled). Playing an even scale becomes virtually impossible on such instruments, and this is too common. There are countless piano tuners who will 'knock off' a tuning in 30 minutes, but so very few knowledgable and sophisticated technicians where voicing and other matters are concerned.

Playing Mozart or Haydn just ain't no fun on a piano with a sluggish action.

Another point, the 19th century instruments I have had access to demonstrate shallower key depth, and one I prefer over contemporary instruments.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Jonathan Baker #2303018 07/16/14 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Baker


The problems I encounter between electronic to acoustic instruments is that the change in tonal color frequently disorients students - they have been practicing on their electronic instruments and then when they take a lesson on my acoustic piano the key-weighting and vastly 'larger' sound throws them off a bit - but we do, after all, get through the lesson.

The other problem I encounter with intermediate to advanced students is illustrating subtleties in pedaling and various mechanisms of the hand-arm to achieve sonorities and colors. Electronic pedals tend to be starkly On or Off, without shadings, but if touch sensitive results have been improved at the keyboard, is the technology so different that it cannot also be installed for the pedal as well? I don't see why not - so what is holding them up?

Another point, the 19th century instruments I have had access to demonstrate shallower key depth, and one I prefer over contemporary instruments.

There's nothing holding DP manufacturers up in terms of pedal simulation - it's probably down to cost: the three pedals on my DP give me precise gradations (- actually, a lot more controllable than all but the best regulated acoustics). But mine is a top-tier DP, but which is still much cheaper than basic acoustic grands.

Its tonal gradations too can be controlled to the nth degree like a good acoustic grand's, and its responsiveness to the touch is unparalleled among DPs, and as good as that for well-regulated grands. For instance, it's much better than that of an old 85-key C.Bechstein grand (c1900) on which I give monthly mini-recitals for colleagues. The Bechstein also has shallower key depth, which makes it easy to play rapid filigree passages and glissandi, though I'm not sure I'd want such a piano as my home practice instrument.

In the end, for DPs, you get what you pay for - much more so than for acoustics, where regulation can make a huge difference to the performance.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2303022 07/16/14 11:41 AM
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Ben,

What brand do you have, and how much did it cost? I will look it up to get more acquainted with it.

An older Bechstein I have never played does not give me a point of comparison, but I am familiar with the new Bechsteins 234 and 282, or for that matter the Bosendorfers 225, 280 to 290. Their quality control is remarkably consistent (unlike Steinway) and a good reference point for comparison.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Jonathan Baker #2303027 07/16/14 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Baker
The electronic instruments are evolving and will continue to do so,

Most people on the forums have no historical context for the on-going development of electronic instruments (all types). There seems to be a major leap forward roughly every 10 - 12 years. In the late '40s and early '50s, magnetic tone wheels were used to generate tones and vacuum tubes and filters to approximate the sounds of various musical instruments. By the early '60s, tube oscillators were quite sophisticated and then along came transistors. By the mid '70s, real piano sound and action were achieved, well, at least according to the sales divisions various electronics manufacturing firms. In the mid to late '80s, integrated circuits were developed, and the switch from analogue tone generation to FM tone generation in process. Then by the late '90s digital tone generation was well under way. Today, I think most electronic keyboards are using recorded samples of grand pianos which are manipulated through key action to achieve an even greater piano likeness.

By the late 1990s, when I purchased my first Yamaha Clavinova, it was touted as the true manifestation of piano sound and keyboard action. It pales, of course, in comparison to the most modern of the electronic instruments of today. My most recent Clavinova, purchased in 2011, still takes a rather great suspension of reality when being played, especially together with a piano in a two-piano work.

I wonder what the next major improvement/development will be. Certainly, the action of the keyboards still need major work; the ability to generate significantly larger dynamic ranges is necessary (the piano's range being well over 140 db). In Belgium, Netherlands and Germany, electronic organ makers are now using separate speakers for individual tone groups, so that there is spacial spread of the sound, making the electronic organ sound much more life-like. They've also added "chiff" which emulates the sound of the pipe when wind first enters the pipe. Perhaps our keyboard makers will add "action noise" to emulate more fully the piano sound! All in all, the next few decades should prove most interesting.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
John v.d.Brook #2303032 07/16/14 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
...
Perhaps our keyboard makers will add "action noise" to emulate more fully the piano sound! All in all, the next few decades should prove most interesting.

Simulated action noise(s) are standard fare on most mid to upper level DP's.

Last edited by spanishbuddha; 07/16/14 12:15 PM.
Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Jonathan Baker #2303033 07/16/14 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Baker
Ben,

What brand do you have, and how much did it cost? I will look it up to get more acquainted with it.

It's a Roland V-Piano - simply a big and heavy black slab with no speakers, and a separate dedicated pedal unit, which I bought for the equivalent of $4500 in 2010. It took a lot of putting aside prejudices for me, a die-hard acoustic classical pianist, to even think of trying it out. But once I started playing, I was convinced.

But its big brother, the V-Piano Grand with dedicated speakers housed within a grand cabinet, is the version that Roland aimed directly at the classical fraternity, introducing it to the world in a series of classical concerts around the world in 2011.

Here is one of them: http://youtu.be/NfOOJYT5MCg

(The original V-Piano basically has the same piano sounds, minus two of the Grand's thirty factory presets. Neither of them have anything but piano sounds - they really are just piano 'substitutes' - therefore, are no use for those wanting to play around with funny sounds.....).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
spanishbuddha #2303042 07/16/14 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
...
Perhaps our keyboard makers will add "action noise" to emulate more fully the piano sound! All in all, the next few decades should prove most interesting.

Simulated action noise(s) are standard fare on most mid to upper level DP's.

Interesting. Totally missed that "noise" last time I played on a new model. Anyway, you've just given me an idea.

What we need is one that slowly drifts out of tune; plus it should be equipped with a humidity gauge so "out of tuneness" will be responsive to the environment. Further, there should be a "retune" button which can only be pressed once a year. This will replicate the piano experience. Or, a clever manufacturer could provide "tunings" by hooking the instrument to the internet, and you pay a "tuning fee" to them. This will really make an impression!


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
John v.d.Brook #2303046 07/16/14 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
...
Perhaps our keyboard makers will add "action noise" to emulate more fully the piano sound! All in all, the next few decades should prove most interesting.

Simulated action noise(s) are standard fare on most mid to upper level DP's.

Interesting. Totally missed that "noise" last time I played on a new model. Anyway, you've just given me an idea.

What we need is one that slowly drifts out of tune; plus it should be equipped with a humidity gauge so "out of tuneness" will be responsive to the environment. Further, there should be a "retune" button which can only be pressed once a year. This will replicate the piano experience. Or, a clever manufacturer could provide "tunings" by hooking the instrument to the internet, and you pay a "tuning fee" to them. This will really make an impression!

Ha ha, yes we have discussed that very thing on the DP forum. The mid to upper level DP's also allow you to tune individual notes, (also loudness on some), and some people claim that by making small out of tune adjustments, they are able to avoid some of the sterility associated with the sound of many DP's. They do come with many of the standard historical tuning temperaments anyway.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
spanishbuddha #2303056 07/16/14 01:01 PM
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That is really droll. [Linked Image] Thanks for sharing that info!


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
John v.d.Brook #2303094 07/16/14 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
What we need is one that slowly drifts out of tune; plus it should be equipped with a humidity gauge so "out of tuneness" will be responsive to the environment. Further, there should be a "retune" button which can only be pressed once a year.


I like it! When you press retune, it automatically deducts $200 from your credit card.


gotta go practice
Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
John v.d.Brook #2303097 07/16/14 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook

What we need is one that slowly drifts out of tune; plus it should be equipped with a humidity gauge so "out of tuneness" will be responsive to the environment. Further, there should be a "retune" button which can only be pressed once a year. This will replicate the piano experience. Or, a clever manufacturer could provide "tunings" by hooking the instrument to the internet, and you pay a "tuning fee" to them. This will really make an impression!

What you missed: the sound does not cut off on some keys when you lift them, because the damper is not dropping.

The keys start to have increasing lot motion, which will be uneven in different registers.

Half pedal effects are not quite working because the dampers are not all working perfectly evenly.

And so on. laugh

Seriously, acoustic pianos are uneven by nature. The very best are so well tuned and regulated that this is no longer a factor, but for most of us the reality is that usually we are between the last session with a technician and waiting for the next session.

Some pianists are not bothered by the slight bit of out-of-tuneness that happens between tunings. It has always driven my nuts, still does, and I have never fully enjoyed practicing on an instrument that was not tuned very recently.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
John v.d.Brook #2303101 07/16/14 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Gary, as usual, a lot of gist for the mill. Thanks for the insights.

In re: Bach. I frequently remind my students that Bach loved and made use of great dynamic swings throughout his compositions and there is no reason to assume he would do differently with the keyboard works. Even the harpsichord was capable of limited dynamic changes, eg, the two manual harpsichord, and Bach made use of that instrument in the Italian Concerto. Dynamic markings in his own hand.

But that kind of change is a block dynamic change. It's not so much different from hitting a button to change sounds/registers.

I was listening to Trevor Pinnock last night, and one of the things that struck me was that the harpsichord was clearly tuned to non-EQ, but the strings were much closer to our modern EQ idea, which is pretty much the only way it can be in things that continually modulate.
Quote

Bach's largest work, the St. Matthew Passion, ranges from a boy soprano singing solo to two full organs, two full choirs and an orchestra, all playing at once. Most of his organ works are marked with both color and dynamic changes. I haven't examined the scores of his orchestra works, but I can imagine that dynamics are marked there on.

Regardless how carefully marked strings and winds always play with subtle dynamics because they are available - or very huge dynamic contrasts, when that is effective.
Quote

All of this indicates to me that had the modern grand been at Bach's disposal, he would have been in Seventh Heaven and composed his keyboard works accordingly.

What we do know is that composers always tend to be forward-looking. That may be less true for people like Brahms and Rachmaninov, but if we think of people like Beethoven, Berlioz, so many others it's obvious that composers like to experiment with whatever is new.

I still think the number one use for DPs that mimic accoustics is in all performance situations where the choice is a very good DP or some horrible piece of firewood that is out of tune, unregulated, and so on.

And we've all played on such acoustics, swearing to ourselves the whole time.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Jonathan Baker #2303112 07/16/14 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Baker
Gary,

The electronic instruments are evolving and will continue to do so, if only for economic reasons. I see no reason to resist this on any level. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I just wish the manufacturers of these instruments were half as serious as the people who play them - the technology is at hand to vastly accelerate the quality of electronic instruments but I do not sense that the manufacturers are in a big rush to do so.

I suspect it is a balance of demand for the really important improvements that we are hoping for and what the average person is willing to pay for.

I became serious about DPs before most people simply because a series of events forced me in that direction. My Yamaha grand was destroyed in a fire, and I simply did not have the money to even THINK about replacing it. I was suddenly going back to practicing on an old Kawai upright, lent to me by a friend. It was a workhorse, but I loathed every moment I played the thing. The action was very heavy, sluggish, and I could get almost zero dynamic control on it. The pins were solid as a rock, so it would hold a tune forever, but there were so many wild strings that it sounded out of tune even when it had just been tuned.

There is nothing like being stuck with an awful acoustic to make most DPs suddenly seem a WHOLE bunch nicer. wink
Quote

The problems I encounter between electronic to acoustic instruments is that the change in tonal color frequently disorients students - they have been practicing on their electronic instruments and then when they take a lesson on my acoustic piano the key-weighting and vastly 'larger' sound throws them off a bit - but we do, after all, get through the lesson.

There we have a true potential problem. I'm not sure how subconscious the adjustment is for those of who started on acoustics and play them with complete ease. I've spent a LOT of time playing DPs for a couple decades now. There are some things they won't do for me, and I simply know what those things are. I miss them.

But I have also not played everything out there. I tend not to check things out for the same reason I don't go around testing grands. I have no money to buy what I would like. My experience tells me that no DP will do what a fine grand will do, but my experience is also very incomplete. So I tend to listen most to people who HAVE to perform on DPs, for any reason.

I see these people as problem solvers, trying to bridge the gap.

I see moving back and forth as a 21st century necessity, so those players who can navigate back and forth have an edge in simply making money.
Quote

The other problem I encounter with intermediate to advanced students is illustrating subtleties in pedaling and various mechanisms of the hand-arm to achieve sonorities and colors. Electronic pedals tend to be starkly On or Off, without shadings, but if touch sensitive results have been improved at the keyboard, is the technology so different that it cannot also be installed for the pedal as well? They could also employ more subtle shadings in the piano to pianissimo range. I don't see why these matters could not be addressed now.

I think they are being addressed, but you have to play a LOT of DPs to fully experience what is currently the cutting edge.
Quote

But this issue is not one-sided: too many acoustic pianos have excessively heavy weighting that is also poorly regulated, with key weight dramatically varying from one key to the next, additionally, the voicing of the hammers is frequently without consistency (one brilliant, the next muffled). Playing an even scale becomes virtually impossible on such instruments, and this is too common. There are countless piano tuners who will 'knock off' a tuning in 30 minutes, but so very few knowledgable and sophisticated technicians where voicing and other matters are concerned.

The pianos played on at home by my students are usually horrible. So I tend to rate DPs against that. Granted, it's a very low standard, but for me it is valid. Paradoxically we face a similar problem in that we are both in areas where the cost of living is VERY high and where privacy is rare, so people in more rural areas will not fully understand what we are up against. *I* am up against it myself, with neighbors on both sides and above me. Trying to get quiet time is nearly impossible. For many years the bulk of my practice HAD to have been on a DP, with earphones. The years where I had the space and privacy had really come to an end before my grand was turned into charcoal.

I don't like this reality, but for me it is reality.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
John v.d.Brook #2303231 07/17/14 01:27 AM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
. . .
I wonder what the next major improvement/development will be. Certainly, the action of the keyboards still need major work; the ability to generate significantly larger dynamic ranges is necessary (the piano's range being well over 140 db). . . .


140 dB? A source for that? 0 dB is (roughly) the lower limit of audibility, and 140 dB will give permanent hearing damage in a short time.

. . . Real pianos aren't that soft, or that loud.

Pianoteq (and I assume, current sampled software pianos) lets the player vary the dynamic range (from ppp to FFF) from a highly-compressed 0 db to an extremely wide 100 dB.

There are unsolved problems in acoustic-piano simulation, but "dynamic range" isn't one of them.

. Charles

PS -- this is an interesting example of a belief that _was_ true "once upon a time", but isn't true now. But the memory lingers on.



. Charles
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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Gary D. #2303259 07/17/14 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Paradoxically we face a similar problem in that we are both in areas where the cost of living is VERY high and where privacy is rare, so people in more rural areas will not fully understand what we are up against. *I* am up against it myself, with neighbors on both sides and above me.


I can relate to this. That is certainly our reality as well.

I just wanted to chime in that this thread gave me a real pause as I am a parent of a child who is starting on a low-end Casio DP.

She's probably not exactly the next Schubert grin or next anything but now that she has her DP, she spends hours on it with her manuscript notebook and a pencil as she fiercely writes down her "composition." Obviously, it's not the most ideal instrument to practice on but it's definitely a big improvement over the paper keyboard I started on.

I don't know where her musical education is going but if we'd need to upgrade, we could afford something like a grand v-piano or N2/3 if we really tried so a decent acoustic grand piano itself is within our reach but we won't be able to afford a house that can accommodate it. I'm really hoping that technology would continue to improve and soon, parents won't have to feel guilty about not being able to afford a grand piano.

Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2303287 07/17/14 07:06 AM
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Handy guide for loudness levels:
http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

Musical instruments are at the bottom.


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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
malkin #2303340 07/17/14 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Handy guide for loudness levels:
http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

Musical instruments are at the bottom.


Thank you!

Using that, "whisper-quiet library" (close to "concert hall"?) is at 30 dB, and piano maximum is around 100 dB:

. . . So piano dynamic range is about 70 dB.

. CHarles


. Charles
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Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
Charles Cohen #2303372 07/17/14 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Originally Posted by malkin
Handy guide for loudness levels:
http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

Musical instruments are at the bottom.


Thank you!

Using that, "whisper-quiet library" (close to "concert hall"?) is at 30 dB, and piano maximum is around 100 dB:

. . . So piano dynamic range is about 70 dB.

. CHarles

With all due respect, Charles, a musical instrument's dynamic range is not dependent upon the environment it's played in (unless it's a vacuum, ha ha). However, our ability to perceive that range is very much dependent upon that environment. The two are often confused.

As for that list, take a very close look at it. There is an obvious incongruity which calls into question the validity the data presented. The author of that list contends that a 'cello is almost 8X louder than a piano(111db vs 103db)! Anyone who has accompanied a 'cellist knows how very difficult it is to play under the 'cello. If anything, the piano is 8X louder than a 'cello. I would say it's probably even a greater difference. Interestingly, the author does point out that symphonic orchestra peak is 137db, and again from experience, we know that with a full orchestra, you can still hear the piano. What does that suggest about the peak power of the piano?


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Piano teachers do not accept digital piano
bigsmile #2303411 07/17/14 02:25 PM
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Lists like that are only meant as a general guide, especially as relevant to hearing conservation. There are a few different metering scales that are used for different purposes (dBA, dBC, etc. ) which is another source of confusion.

A roughly accurate sound level meter is available as an ipad app for anyone interested in measuring.

Since the dB scale is logarithmic, it doesn't make sense to say something has a dynamic range of 20dB, because the between 0-20dB is not as great a difference as 20-40dB or from 40-80dB.

I never really liked audiology, but it was required.


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