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Cash Registers, Computers, Pianos
#2403072 03/27/15 08:11 AM
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Here's a thought ...

Long ago, far away, I worked for an American company that made "Electronic Cash Registers". Components included the power supply, mother board, memory, keyboard, printer, display and cash drawer.

In essence, a complete computer with a cash drawer attached.

Engineering was having a hard time staying current with the constant barrage of cheaper Japanese designs. China wasn't on the scene quite yet. Plus, we had constant issues designing our own circuits.

As Operations Mgr, I suggested partnering with an upstart company, Apple, let them make the guts and let us do what we did best. Stay ahead of the Customer's new feature demands and marketing.

Yeah, sure.

Engineering's Prima Donnas would never allow that. Eventually, due to our continual product problems in the field and our small engineering staff, Bankruptcy became our new friend.

DPiano companies are similar.

Components include the power supply, mother board, keyboard and display. Amplifiers and speakers additional.

Imagine if an agreement with a company like PianoTeq could be struck. Use their internals to generate the core Sound. Use a tiny NetPC for the core processing. Then turn to Bose or Harmon Kardan for Amps and Speakers.

Then, do what DPiano folks do best. Keyboards, enclosures, marketing, hype.

Even major car manufacturers with their vast engineering talent have turned to outside companies for their radios, amps and speakers and GPS units.

Oh. And like the original IBM PC, make the internals Open to the outside world.

Imagine ...


Jon ...

Kawai CA67
A Tired, Retired, Dreamer ...
Re: Cash Registers, Computers, Pianos
McBuster #2403253 03/27/15 04:27 PM
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The question is, would it be any cheaper than what is already available...
Roland for example, competes with Pianoteq, Yamaha, Viscount/Physis Piano, and others who have various patents regarding modeling acoustic instruments and analog circuitry). Rolands V-Piano Grand puts their code on a PCB with whatever chips they sourced, amp, speakers, action, casing, etc. All sourced by Roland and assembled to make a complete hardware instrument. If that's out of your price range, you can look at the Physis Piano. They've sourced all their parts and have a compete instrument for sale as well, Physis Piano. Much cheaper than the V-Piano Grand. They also have an attractive stand, sound bar, pedals and seat to mach.

Alternatively people are of course using the Kawai VPC-1 with laptop and Pianoteq then sourcing their own amp/speakers and maybe even building a case rather than a stand. We've seen it all here on the forum. If someone partnered with Pianoteq, could they build an instrument, market, and sell it for any less than we are doing on our own?

In the organ world GSi, developer of the VB3 organ model, has partnered with hardware maker Crumar to make a very good organ playing experience. But the result of their work is far from inexpensive.

I suppose if they knew people were willing to pay, anything is possible. I'm sure Modart/Pianoteq have discussed viability of an instrument on several occasions already.

Re: Cash Registers, Computers, Pianos
McBuster #2403285 03/27/15 06:09 PM
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There is a poignant difference in your analogy.

I remember going back some years, there being a local company that specialised in cash registers, too - before everything became more integrated and they became embedded devices with off-the shelf auxilliary hardware, that integrated into much larger ePOS systems.

The difference is with some of the major digital pianos, though, is some at least are large companies with other arms - look at Casio: sell an awful lot of watches, from tough plastic ones, to reasonably expensive, clever, but nicely finished ones. There's other consumer electronics they sell.

Yamaha make other instruments, and are a reasonable name in acoustic pianos, plus have other aspects (unrelated to music) to their business.

Some of the smaller "no-name" brands, may well struggle - but how much business are they doing already? If they're not really adding anything, how, realistically can they hope to prevail.

Anyway - musical instruments are much more of an art thing - perhaps a pretentious thing, than something more rudimentary and purely purposeful like a cash register. There's always people prepared to pay more for some elusive, special extra they think will make all the difference for them.

Re: Cash Registers, Computers, Pianos
McBuster #2403350 03/27/15 10:08 PM
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There are other things that some synth/DP manufacturers do well:
1. Custom chips (or FPGAs) optimized for audio, sample-fetching, etc.
2. Hardware that's more robust than a PC, that boots up very quickly, with lightning-fast performance.
3. Software - including everything from scanner software and velocity maps to a slick UI, cool DSP tools, etc.
4. Sound design - including everything from recording and processing samples to creating presets that emulate specific sounds from albums. It also includes (or should include) many many hours spent matching the response of individual presets to the specific hardware action used in each model.

There is some overlap between the two worlds, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Of course I always like to see small companies partnering and assisting one another. And I'd love to see the dazzling capabilities of PianoTeq paired with the hardware know-how of a DP manufacturer.

One cool thing that happens all the time is there are engineers leaving hardware companies to work with software companies and vice versa. Most companies now benefit from the resulting exchange of ideas.

When I was at Kurzweil R&D, the other engineers came from a variety of backgrounds - some were hardware veterans, others had worked for software companies, some were self-taught, others studied at places like the MIT media lab.

Due to the teeny, tiny scale of the keyboard market compared to computers and hand-held gadgets, the progress might at times seem slow... but it is happening behind the scenes.

Last edited by Dave Weiser; 03/27/15 10:09 PM.

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