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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487602 12/04/15 05:37 PM
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I think you'd have to be absolutely crazy to put anything with midi in a church setting, let alone some sort of software. Churches I've been in go nuts if you change the volume or the EQ of the on the keyboard - it's been the same way for 25 years and a pox on anyone that would change anything. Anything with multiple system or software is just begging for trouble and a furious church council meeting.

In my opinion it would be well worth it to get one of your original ideas that is an all in one suggestion, if it looks like a grand even better because most people won't even notice it's not acoustic any more.

People here are vastly over estimating a general audiences perception of sound. 1/10 church congregation members may (very big MAY) be able to tell the difference between a $500 budget keyboard and a $15,000 one. Running the latest thousand dollar sample library vs using onboard sound is not going to make one iota of difference in a live setting.

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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
maurus #2487619 12/04/15 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by maurus
The V-Piano has no internal speakers.


I did not realize this until now - guess I never looked close enough at one. I can see this going down at the point-of-sale: "Okay, that'll be $7000 for the piano. Now how much do you want to spend on speakers?"

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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487628 12/04/15 06:47 PM
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High end stuff will almost always be used for live performance or for recording, and in both situations you probably don't need or want internal speakers.

Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487631 12/04/15 06:52 PM
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IMO, if different classical players will be playing this piano, then the AG action should be liked by all. Any other action on DP might not be liked by all.


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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487635 12/04/15 07:09 PM
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If it's with a church band, I highly recommend you look at the Kawai MP11 and compare that to the AG. The thing about the MP11 is it's a stage piano, has an excellent action, and is well-designed for stage use. The CA97 or the AG are designed for in-home or acoustic only purposes. While they both have lines out, the MP11 also has XLR out which is great for PA systems. It's also very versatile, and works well as a MIDI controller if you decide to go the software piano route.

Definitely have your pianists check out these 3 models, though, as I think they are all contenders.


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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
Morodiene #2487640 12/04/15 07:30 PM
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No matter how hard I try, or how much I spend, a digital piano is still a 'piano-like object'. Just the simple act of setting the volume control takes practice and requires a new skill for the best pianists. (this last statement is a test for you. if you don't believe me, then you don't know enough.)

If you are looking for a piano for the band, then DPs are perfect. If you have real pianists coming in to play classical-based music, then a DP will eventually sound lacking, and your church will start looking for a real piano. IMHO

Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487662 12/04/15 09:35 PM
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There is a performance venue around the corner from my store that we partner with. We placed a good but moderate priced 5'10" grand (We sell this same piano brand new for a little less than a Yamaha N3) on a raised stage and theater seats for about 260. There are heavy curtains and the back wall and ceiling are so distant as to be no help acoustically, so they use mics and speakers to "help" the sound, especially when mixed with rock guitar, etc. They bring in national & regional acts and the performers love what they have to use. The owner of the venue is overjoyed with the feedback from performer and audience alike.

Not every performer uses the piano, but with shows 4 nights/week and open mic another night, it gets used very frequently. They budget for regular service and keep it covered when not in use. They've done this for 3 years now, and the piano was not new when we put it there. It is very stable and easy to care for because we send a good tech and it is never neglected.

An acoustic piano is never as simple as plugging in a digital, but it takes a lot less convincing for a pianist to be satisfied. As amazing as digitals are and as far as they have come, they are still a simulation, and desired for their practical benefits: portability, connectivity, programmability, and often cost effectiveness. If you aren't bound by those needs, and the environment (temp/humidity) isn't completely unstable, an acoustic piano still wins.

It sounds like from your brief history that the last piano was somewhat doomed to fail. I would rent a good piano for the space and then rent a top-flight stage piano like those mentioned above for the space, each for a week. Have your pianists spend an hour with each and see where the church stands then.

I say this without advocating any brand or model. In this forum, I think the most passionate threads are about what DP's need to do to be more "real" not to be cheaper or have this extra feature. In my experience,the acoustic experience inspires as many performers as the music itself.


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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
PianoMan51 #2487670 12/04/15 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoMan51
. . Just the simple act of setting the volume control takes practice and requires a new skill for the best pianists. (this last statement is a test for you. if you don't believe me, then you don't know enough.)

. . .


Yes, it is a learned skill.

I wrote:

Quote
Cover unused controls (everything but the "on/off" switch) with a piece of plastic.


I included the volume control in the "do not touch!" category. I figure that "How loud should the piano be?" is the sound man's decision, not the pianist's decision. You set the DP's volume control to give proper sound levels through headphones and/or monitor speaker, and then you _leave it alone_.

One thing that surprised me about the Avant Grands is that they don't include much (or any?) sound-tweaking capability. No EQ, for example.

They're designed to behave like an acoustic piano -- it sounds like what it sounds like -- and require no skill beyond "turn it on, sit down and play". They are as far from "stage piano" as they can get. I assume their target market likes them that way.

800 people is a big crowd. There's probably several kilowatts going through the PA system when the band is going full tilt. Using an acoustic piano in that setting is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Mic's will help, but as the OP says, mic'ing a live piano, in a high-SPL environment, isn't easy. Mic'ing it so it sounds as good as a good DP is really hard.

Going to a DP is a trade-off. You reduce maintenance costs, and you gain more control over the balance of the sound. You lose some of the subtlety, and richness, of an acoustic instrument.

I wonder what the church's players will say. It'll be an interesting meeting -- anywhere from "I won't play on an electric piano!" to "We're getting rid of that lousy piano? Great!" is possible.

I play percussion in a chant band. I recently bought a Korg WaveDrum (a percussion synthesizer), and tried it out at our last gig. I knew that several people were biased against electronic instruments. But the general reaction was very favorable. It's not as subtle as a bunch of acoustic percussion, but it does the job I wanted it to do, very nicely. And it's a lot smaller than the acoustic instruments I'd need to replace it.

I also brought my doumbek. There are some things for which there's no substitute.


. Charles
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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
Scott Hamlin #2487717 12/05/15 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Scott Hamlin
Originally Posted by maurus
The V-Piano has no internal speakers.


I did not realize this until now - guess I never looked close enough at one.

They make a model with speakers, it is the V-Piano Grand.

Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487729 12/05/15 03:42 AM
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Originally Posted by faulhorn
1. The space is too large for an acoustic piano (can seat 800) so the sound for its intended purposes will always be through the house PA. The piano will also be playing alongside a band often so another reason that we need amplification.


In my first reply I wasn't aware of this - in such a large setting I'd go with what Sam Bennett (PianoWorksATL) and Morodiene have said. Either set up an acoustic well, with the help of professional service, or look for the best STAGE solution you can get, here the MP11 is as good as it gets.

And to repeat: With respect to sound quality for the audience, the amplification chain/PA system is a hugely important factor. The best digital or mic'ed sound can be destroyed by a bad PA. Perhaps you need to invest on that side of the equation.

Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487737 12/05/15 04:21 AM
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Originally Posted by faulhorn
1. The space is too large for an acoustic piano (can seat 800) so the sound for its intended purposes will always be through the house PA. The piano will also be playing alongside a band often so another reason that we need amplification.

There are concert halls with three times that seating capacity that don't need amplification for a grand piano. But they have proper acoustics...

Quote
I do wonder how the Kawai CA97 action compares to the Roland V or AvantGrand. And how each of the three's sound come across in a PA system.

If the question is "how near is the feel to that of a real grand?", then I would say that Kawai is nearer than Roland, but of course the AvantGrand action wins because it is a grand action.

I haven't played the new Casio "Grand Hybrid" models: the action has received some positive comments from classical pianists, so these models might be worth looking at.

As to the question of playing the digital pianos own internal sound through the PA system, I think the Yamaha might be at a disadvantage. The Yamaha sounds are made for the speakers of the AvantGrands and there's no way of tweaking them, whereas with Roland and Kawai it's possible to edit the internal sounds in quite a lot of detail. If you are playing the digital pianos own sounds through external loudspeakers, I would think that Roland would fare best, followed by Kawai.

But if you are always using loudspeakers then you are better off with third-party sounds anyway.


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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487771 12/05/15 09:16 AM
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I think the issue with Pianoteq in this scenario (even if you love its sound, which not everyone does) is that it isn't a simple turn-it-on-and-play scenario. I'm not talking about tweaking the sound... it's easy enough to leave it always on one sound (one sound is all you get on an acoustic piano anyway)... but the computer has to be always be wired up and running, and always in a stable state, and I'm not sure you can count on that, especially in what is essentially a public venue.

Assuming the decision has been made to go digital, I think the OP is probably on the right track looking for something with good speakers even though it will be going through a PA most of the time... I think that makes it more satisfying for a player who is otherwise used to an acoustic.

It's true that the sound quality through the PA can be a big variable, but honestly, that's an issue with an acoustic as well, and I really believe that the vast majority of the audience listening through the PA is not going to be able to tell the difference between a mic'd acoustic and a good quality digital, or even if they sense a difference, will care. So from a sonic perspective, I'd only worry about it being as satisfying as possible for the players. The audience will almost certainly be very happy with any half-decent solution.

Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
anotherscott #2487794 12/05/15 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
I think the issue with Pianoteq in this scenario (even if you love its sound, which not everyone does) is that it isn't a simple turn-it-on-and-play scenario. I'm not talking about tweaking the sound... it's easy enough to leave it always on one sound (one sound is all you get on an acoustic piano anyway)... but the computer has to be always be wired up and running, and always in a stable state, and I'm not sure you can count on that, especially in what is essentially a public venue.

If you use a good quality laptop running a UNIX-based system (Mac or Linux) on a solid state drive, and make sure that this computer is only used for the piano, stability is no problem. You can set it up so that on startup it automatically runs Pianoteq and loads the chosen piano sound. The computer keyboard should be protected with a lockable cover to make sure that only authorised persons have access to the controls.


Steinway A grand (1919), Richard Lipp grand (1913), Yamaha P2 upright (1983), Casio PX-150 digital (2013)
Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487829 12/05/15 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by faulhorn
Presuming cost is not an issue for the moment, what digital pianos should we consider for the finest in touch and tone ? However, the piano sound will be ported to house speakers rather than out of the piano itself so the quality of the speakers in the piano actually does not matter as much as long as there are speakers.

At this point, I'm aware of the Yamaha Avant Grand series and the Roland V Piano Grand. These cost the most but I realize that cost does not always correlate with quality.

Context: This is for a church with some fine classical pianists. Someone had donated a lower quality grand some years back. The church has spend thousands trying to fix it and keep it in tune. Once bitten twice shy. So they are convinced that digital piano is the way to go - but want the best in touch and tone within the realm of a digital piano.

Thank you in advance for any help.


Thanks,
Faulhorn





As an owner of a V-Grand, I can comment here. I don't recommend the V-Grand simply because I own one and like it, because it is quite expensive and really, choosing ANY musical instrument is really a personal matter. To me, the one really important thing that I will make a blanket statement on is "try before you buy" (if at all possible).

In a forum such as this, there are a lot of opinions, some based in fact, and some based purely on hearsay. To the reader of these posts, especially without really knowing the posters, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to sort out which is which.

When the new Roland LX-17 was being discussed, somebody posted that, considering the improvements to the engine and the lower cost, those who already owned the V-Piano or V-Grand might become angry at Roland for having done that. This is a perfect example of the silliness that goes on here.

When the V-Piano and V-Grand were being heavily discussed, there were quite a few opinions being expressed, especially about the V-Grand, by people who had never played, much less seen one in person. I find it odd that anyone would make authoritative comments or strong opinions without the experience on which to base such comments.

Both of these are fine instruments, and as with any instrument, not everybody will like or want one. But for those who do, it is a good thing these are available. I have no regrets buying the V-Grand, and because it is a quality instrument, I am not at all concerned about what is coming in the future. I feel settled in my choice and am not at all involved in all the churn about trading up, down, or sideways as some here seem to often be. To me, that alone was worth it. Buying what is right for you will give you that satisfaction, regardless of which digital piano you choose.

So, my advice is simple. Go to dealers where the various DPs are on display and try them, or bring along somebody who is a skilled player and have that person try them. A digital piano is not an acoustic, and no amount of pretending or posturing can change that any more than we can turn water into gold.

If the digital piano is suitable according to the buyer's own requirements and on its own merits as a digital piano, then it is worth buying. If the only thing that will satisfy a particular person is an acoustic piano, then getting a digital piano and trying to pretend it is an acoustic in disguise will only result in disappointment. Some digital pianos will exhibit certain attributes shared with a acoustic piano more readily than other digital pianos, and that aspect is worth consideration.

Your requirements seem quite clear. For you, it may be worthwhile to visit other churches (plural on purpose - to get more than one perspective and building type/playing situation in which the piano is being used) to find out what digital pianos they have and what they might do differently after having had that digital piano for a while.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 12/05/15 12:16 PM.

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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
MRC #2487886 12/05/15 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MRC
Originally Posted by anotherscott
I think the issue with Pianoteq in this scenario (even if you love its sound, which not everyone does) is that it isn't a simple turn-it-on-and-play scenario. I'm not talking about tweaking the sound... it's easy enough to leave it always on one sound (one sound is all you get on an acoustic piano anyway)... but the computer has to be always be wired up and running, and always in a stable state, and I'm not sure you can count on that, especially in what is essentially a public venue.

If you use a good quality laptop running a UNIX-based system (Mac or Linux) on a solid state drive, and make sure that this computer is only used for the piano, stability is no problem. You can set it up so that on startup it automatically runs Pianoteq and loads the chosen piano sound. The computer keyboard should be protected with a lockable cover to make sure that only authorised persons have access to the controls.

I don't think stability is the issue, it's just you have several classical pianists who probably don't know anything about using VSTs who would have to learn. This could be disastrous.


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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
Morodiene #2487907 12/05/15 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by MRC
Originally Posted by anotherscott
I think the issue with Pianoteq in this scenario (even if you love its sound, which not everyone does) is that it isn't a simple turn-it-on-and-play scenario. I'm not talking about tweaking the sound... it's easy enough to leave it always on one sound (one sound is all you get on an acoustic piano anyway)... but the computer has to be always be wired up and running, and always in a stable state, and I'm not sure you can count on that, especially in what is essentially a public venue.

If you use a good quality laptop running a UNIX-based system (Mac or Linux) on a solid state drive, and make sure that this computer is only used for the piano, stability is no problem. You can set it up so that on startup it automatically runs Pianoteq and loads the chosen piano sound. The computer keyboard should be protected with a lockable cover to make sure that only authorised persons have access to the controls.

I don't think stability is the issue, it's just you have several classical pianists who probably don't know anything about using VSTs who would have to learn. This could be disastrous.


They don't have to learn anything. The piano/computer setup is left on a fixed setting and all a classical pianist has to do is push the ON button and play.


Steinway A grand (1919), Richard Lipp grand (1913), Yamaha P2 upright (1983), Casio PX-150 digital (2013)
Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
MRC #2487916 12/05/15 04:32 PM
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MRC, to how many institutions (churches, music schools, etc. with changing players and performance situations, sometimes solo and sometimes bands/groups) can you point where this 'solution' has been chosen?

Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
faulhorn #2487922 12/05/15 04:53 PM
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Many churches have been recording sermons/services for many years already, and many of these have been switching to doing video recordings of these same events. A computer is often involved.

Also, the whole "worship" thing has seemingly become a huge business. You can see that "big box" stores such as Sweetwater and Guitar Center have really gotten onto the bandwagon. From what I have seen, there usually seems to be some sort of in-house expert on these things in congregations. So this stuff is rapidly becoming commonplace.

There were a few years that my wife and I attended church and I played lead guitar in their bands (what they called "worship team", but "band" to me). There always seemed to be at least somebody involved with this aspect of church life who was always pushing the church to "get with the times", so to speak. Though there were also those who resisted this (typical of any group of people, not just churches), the "forward thinkers" often seemed to eventually win out, bringing in computers, in-ear monitors, more complicated sound systems, and all manner of new stuff. The rapidity of these changes are probably constrained by the size of the congregation, the size of the weekly take, and the overall budget.

My point is that, increasingly, the possibility that a given congregation could embrace and support a computer-based music system is becoming more and more commonplace.

It would be possible that if a given congregation is not ready for this, they could plan and prepare for it, and elect to do something a bit less permanent in the interim (i.e. compromise with those who do not want to see new technology being incorporated).

However, one thing about using computers for the music system is the occasional maintenance of the computer to keep it running clean, backups, and the updates to the software involved to maintain ongoing support. If a church decides to go this route, it would be a good idea to have only a very few people responsible for maintaining the system, and except for installing updates, it would probably be a good idea to keep it off the internet and focused on being used for the music system. Those who will use the computer will need to be trained, and be given very specific instructions to do only those things needed to use it for their specific purpose (i.e. boot the system and click an icon to load the software). Whoever sets up the system would do so with this end in mind - make it extremely easy to use and as foolproof as possible for the end user.

Tony



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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
TonyB #2487931 12/05/15 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by TonyB
Those who will use the computer will need to be trained, and be given very specific instructions to do only those things needed to use it for their specific purpose (i.e. boot the system and click an icon to load the software). Whoever sets up the system would do so with this end in mind - make it extremely easy to use and as foolproof as possible for the end user.

Tony



I play in my church band as well, and I'm almost ready to try using software instruments. I work pretty well with this kind of stuff, and even I'm hesitant.

Have you ever worked with someone who knows nothing about computers? Even turning it on can be a source of frustration for them. I know many awesome pianists who can't even type and send emails - and they're not old by any means!

So unless someone was there for all rehearsals and services to make sure everything was on and ready to go, I think it could be a problem. And as a previous poster pointed out, the congregation probably wouldn't even be able to tell the difference in quality. I think it's best to find a DP that has decent enough sounds and an excellent feel. One could always upgrade to software in the future once the adjustment to digital pianos has been made and if the comfort level with the additional setup/startup is there for the pianists.


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Re: Best Digital Piano - Touch & Tone? (Cost no object)
Morodiene #2487941 12/05/15 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by TonyB
Those who will use the computer will need to be trained, and be given very specific instructions to do only those things needed to use it for their specific purpose (i.e. boot the system and click an icon to load the software). Whoever sets up the system would do so with this end in mind - make it extremely easy to use and as foolproof as possible for the end user.

Tony



I play in my church band as well, and I'm almost ready to try using software instruments. I work pretty well with this kind of stuff, and even I'm hesitant.

Have you ever worked with someone who knows nothing about computers? Even turning it on can be a source of frustration for them. I know many awesome pianists who can't even type and send emails - and they're not old by any means!

So unless someone was there for all rehearsals and services to make sure everything was on and ready to go, I think it could be a problem. And as a previous poster pointed out, the congregation probably wouldn't even be able to tell the difference in quality. I think it's best to find a DP that has decent enough sounds and an excellent feel. One could always upgrade to software in the future once the adjustment to digital pianos has been made and if the comfort level with the additional setup/startup is there for the pianists.


Yes, I have. I am posting from firsthand experience. I have trained people on new sound equipment as well as using the computer. In the situations I was in, somebody who knows the equipment MUST be on hand for rehearsals as well as the situations in which the "performance" is being done (i.e. services, funerals etc). There is a responsibility on the part of those who introduce the equipment to make sure it is useful. Usually, there will be two or three people who know the equipment and can share in these duties so one person is not stuck doing it all.

I am not arguing for or against using a computer. I personally wouldn't want to have to mess about with a computer to be able to use my DP, but I have seen where there are people who seem to favor that approach. The only thing I intended in posting was to say that I have "been there, done that" and it is doable. However, there is a big responsibility on those who wish to go that route to insure that the equipment is properly taken care of and properly run. I thought I had made that clear in my post. That often will require one of those who know the equipment to be present EVERY time it is used.

Just to be clear, when I was involved in the church music, I really was not at all interested in making it all complicated. I always felt that making things all complicated tended to be more of a distraction than anything else. Personally, I don't want big amplification systems and all that stuff. In church, it isn't a performance, but instead simply to lead people singing. People often find ways to justify it anyway, saying it is for "the Lord" or whatever. I never bought into that. That argument always seemed like the joke about the husband who buys a fine fishing tackle setup for his wife's birthday, knowing she has no interest in it (but he does).

In other words, the people who wanted big, complicated sound and computer systems for the service always seemed to be interested in that themselves and they wanted to play. The congregation really couldn't care less. In my experience (and this was very consistent), all the congregation cared about was that they could hear what was going on. I would think that most any decent digital piano would satisfy most congregations these days.

However, if the people decide that a computer setup is the direction they want to go, then I was there to help. It has been some years since I was involved in church, but my experiences still stand. I wouldn't post about something like this if I had no personal experience with it.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 12/05/15 06:34 PM.

Roland V-Grand
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