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I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed #2576259
10/05/16 08:31 AM
10/05/16 08:31 AM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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On a real grand piano action, the hammer is not hard-linked to the key. This is also the case with Kawai wooden actions, so you can transmit key-hammer momentum without fully pressing keys. However, on a grand piano the hammer movement isn't obstructed by anything until it hits the string. Even if you reach let-off point which feels as a slight resistance in the keys, that won't affect the momentum of the hammer because the escapement happens in the key part (whippen and jack). Unfortunately this is not the case with Kawai actions where the escapement simulation is a notch in the hammer's way. It slows down the hammer movement which is especially critical if the hammer is moving by inertia. So, you're throwing the hammer with a certain momentum but the escapement notch will slow it down. And if you haven't pressed the key fully, you'll notice it as a lower velocity than what you expected.

In other words, Kawai's escapement (maybe other brands too, but here it's most obvious by the simple wooden mechanism) is there just for the sake of emulating escapement feel in the keys but in fact it makes things worse in regards to actual velocity precision and momentum preservation. It misses the point IMO. Besides, I am not sure if we need escapement emulation at all. It's there on the piano as a workaround not as something desired.

Here's a nice animation of a grand piano action:
[Linked Image]
The escapement (let-off) is the moment when the jack (L-shaped part) disengages hammer. You feel that in your fingers through the jack-whippen-capstan-key but the hammer is not affected.

And here's the Kawai action:
[Linked Image]
Notice the small white plastic hook (part of the hammer) going through the grey rubber notch (escapement simulation).

I've tested the Kawai key action sample in a music store to confirm this. I've also double checked on CA67 throwing the keys without reaching the bottom.

I am not saying it makes wooden Kawai actions with escapement bad. They are great actions, however in some particular situations there's a flaw. I'd prefer not having escapement simulation if it will lead to side effects.


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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576273
10/05/16 09:33 AM
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You say the problem is it slows down the hammer, but why does that matter in a digital piano?

What matters is that the produced sound matches the force the player put into it, if the hammer moves slightly slower than the real thing it is just a matter of slightly adjusting the velocity curve in the software so that the player still hears the sound that matches the velocity of the real hammer.

Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: Pocomoto] #2576275
10/05/16 09:43 AM
10/05/16 09:43 AM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Pocomoto
You say the problem is it slows down the hammer, but why does that matter in a digital piano?

What matters is that the produced sound matches the force the player put into it, if the hammer moves slightly slower than the real thing it is just a matter of slightly adjusting the velocity curve in the software so that the player still hears the sound that matches the velocity of the real hammer.


It matters in a digital piano because the velocity value is detected by pressure sensors the hammer strikes at the end of its movement (after the escapement). And it can't be fixed with a touch curve because the resistance would differ depending on whether you press the key fully or not. If you press it fully, you are manually overcoming the resistance with your fingers and applying the final momentum to the hammer. If you're not pressing the keys fully though, the hammer will continue its movement by inertia and will have to overcome the escapement pressure losing some of its momentum. I am not sure what's that loss, maybe it's marginal. But in any case it shows that the escapement isn't there to help but rather to emulate a real piano workaround. Which actually worsens the dynamics IMO. Once again, that might be only slightly noticeable if at all, but the very idea of this flawed escapement implementation is something that disappoints me smile IMO wink


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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576277
10/05/16 09:50 AM
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But if you don't fully press the keys you hear no sound, so why that matters is beyond me?

If the detected velocity value is 100 but should have been 108, than it is simply a matter of adjusting the software to produce the 108 sound and the issue is fixed.

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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: Pocomoto] #2576298
10/05/16 10:44 AM
10/05/16 10:44 AM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Pocomoto
But if you don't fully press the keys you hear no sound, so why that matters is beyond me?


No, that's not true. When you don't press the keys fully, you do hear sound on a real piano and that also holds true for Kawai GF, although not that pronounced. It's a very important feature of real grand (or upright) pianos to be able to throw the hammer without the need to press the key to the bottom. It allows for quick playing with less effort.

Last edited by CyberGene; 10/05/16 10:46 AM.

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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576302
10/05/16 10:56 AM
10/05/16 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
It's a very important feature of real grand (or upright) pianos to be able to throw the hammer without the need to press the key to the bottom. It allows for quick playing with less effort.

That is sometimes called leggiero.


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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: JoeT] #2576306
10/05/16 11:02 AM
10/05/16 11:02 AM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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Originally Posted by JoeT
Originally Posted by CyberGene
It's a very important feature of real grand (or upright) pianos to be able to throw the hammer without the need to press the key to the bottom. It allows for quick playing with less effort.

That is sometimes called leggiero.


Thank you. It's a shame but I didn't know that term until now. However, thanks to you, I found a wonderful thread on this forums about leggiero:
Leggiero

Last edited by CyberGene; 10/05/16 11:04 AM.

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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576316
10/05/16 11:41 AM
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Graham Fitch explains how to play leggiero in this movie at 6.45:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxPGkjgxCVQ

I could somewhat produce this sound following his guidelines, but I don't consider that not fully pressing the keys, because you have to go past the escapement (at least on the Kawai) to produce any sound. Also he doesn't describe it as not fully pressing the keys. I think its more like not fully pushing them in the felt.

Since friction is very good on GFII, keys return very fast so I really see no issue here.


Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576323
10/05/16 12:17 PM
10/05/16 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Besides, I am not sure if we need escapement emulation at all. It's there on the piano as a workaround not as something desired.


I've heard this thought expressed before and I"m not sure I really get it (and perhaps it's my own ignorance speaking here). With a digital piano, you're either trying to completely emulate the exact response of the physical object (warts and all), or you're trying to achieve some kind of platonic ideal. I haven't heard any kind of argument against escapement (or let-off simulation) that can't also be applied to string resonance, damper noise (loom of strings), hammer stiffness or even the concept of graded or weighted keys. They're all either common/varying characteristics of acoustic pianos that players either work around or use to their benefit, or they're all mechanical limitations necessitated by the current state of manufacturing.

Would master piano makers centuries ago have variable key weighting due to different number or diameter of strings, or differing hammer sizes if they didn't need to in order to achieve the acoustics they desired? Would they have undamped certain keys in the upper registers? Would they have the "loom of strings" effect from the damper pedal lifting simultaneously off all the strings? Would they have a noticeable letoff point where escapement happens?

It sounds to me like you either take the instrument for what it is, or you throw out everything that is the consequence of physical limitation just go with synth weighting (or zero-resistance touch sensing). Otherwise, who the final arbiter with regard to determining what is a desirable/realistic feature to strive for reproduction and what is a bug/limitation that can be cast aside at a whim? It certainly can't be the "usefulness" of the attribute because many pianists use escapement just as many use graded weighting to inform the dynamics of their playing...

Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: Gombessa] #2576326
10/05/16 12:27 PM
10/05/16 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Besides, I am not sure if we need escapement emulation at all. It's there on the piano as a workaround not as something desired.


I've heard this thought expressed before and I"m not sure I really get it (and perhaps it's my own ignorance speaking here). With a digital piano, you're either trying to completely emulate the exact response of the physical object (warts and all), or you're trying to achieve some kind of platonic ideal. I haven't heard any kind of argument against escapement (or let-off simulation) that can't also be applied to string resonance, damper noise (loom of strings), hammer stiffness or even the concept of graded or weighted keys. They're all either common/varying characteristics of acoustic pianos that players either work around or use to their benefit, or they're all mechanical limitations necessitated by the current state of manufacturing.

My opinion on this: Before you go with mediocre emulation of non-features, leave them out.

Having a properly modeled damper noise: Fine. Having an annoying unrealistic hiss sample instead: Nope.

Simulation with a proper escapement mechanism: fine, with rubber notches: not so great.


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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576328
10/05/16 12:37 PM
10/05/16 12:37 PM
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On an acoustic piano the escapement has a necessary function, and an unfortunate side effect.

On a digital piano the notchy thing (it is NOT an escapement) has no necessary function, and a different unfortunate side effect.

I'd prefer not having escapement at all.
Originally Posted by CyberGene
I'd prefer not having escapement simulation if it will lead to side effects.

Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576329
10/05/16 12:42 PM
10/05/16 12:42 PM
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I like this:
Originally Posted by JoeT
Before you go with mediocre emulation of non-features, leave them out.

Luckily this can be solved:
Quote
Having a properly modeled damper noise: Fine. Having an annoying unrealistic hiss sample instead: Nope.
The hiss level is usually adjustable (on VST pianos), so I just turn it off.

Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: JoeT] #2576333
10/05/16 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeT

My opinion on this: Before you go with mediocre emulation of non-features, leave them out.


I really don't disagree with this, but have two thoughts:

1. We have the benefit of making this determination by the hardships of history. Before things get good, they were pretty bad at the beginning, including the basics of action and tone generation. So I'm willing to forgive this as I fully believe things will get more realistic in the future if they continue to be feature worth including.

2. Whether something is done *well* or correctly seems to me a separate question of whether it *should* be done at all. Escapement simulation is done poorly? DP makers can spend resources to make it better. Escapement is unnecessary and should be taken out? It seems like a different question speaking more towards what we feel a piano should be...


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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576340
10/05/16 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene

It matters in a digital piano because the velocity value is detected by pressure sensors the hammer strikes at the end of its movement


Pretty sure this is not the case, at least in anything above a very low-end model.
Think they have velocity sensors which measure the speed of the action's movement.

Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: Maartin] #2576345
10/05/16 01:19 PM
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From the internal guts I've seen, it seems that most DPs have 2-3 staggered binary pressure pad switches actuated either by the hammer (preferred) or by the key, and the difference in timing between the contacts of the respective switches is used to determine the impetus of the keystrike. Some higher end DPs use optical sensors.


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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576347
10/05/16 01:24 PM
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I agree with the majority in this topic....escapement shouldn't be implemented in a digital the way it is mostly done (gimmick).
The materials in a real grand are different. (leather, cloth, felt) and even the direction of the wingskin is important to either slow down or minimise friction of certain componants interacting.


Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: Maartin] #2576348
10/05/16 01:39 PM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Maartin
Originally Posted by CyberGene

It matters in a digital piano because the velocity value is detected by pressure sensors the hammer strikes at the end of its movement


Pretty sure this is not the case, at least in anything above a very low-end model.
Think they have velocity sensors which measure the speed of the action's movement.


Thanks for the clarification. Anyway, regardless of the actual sensor type, the problem with poor escapement leading to hammer movement being slowed down remains...


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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576356
10/05/16 02:07 PM
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Quote
Anyway, regardless of the actual sensor type, the problem with poor escapement leading to hammer movement being slowed down remains...


??? no it doesn't, the hammer doesn't need to hit a string, it only matters how the movement is translated in a digital sound.

Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: Pocomoto] #2576359
10/05/16 02:18 PM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Pocomoto
Quote
Anyway, regardless of the actual sensor type, the problem with poor escapement leading to hammer movement being slowed down remains...


??? no it doesn't, the hammer doesn't need to hit a string, it only matters how the movement is translated in a digital sound.


The translation is done by measuring hammer speed. And the speed gets affected by the escapement notch. You can somehow calculate how much the escapement notch reduces speed but then the question remains - has the player pressed the key deeper (beyond escapement) or played leggiero (releasing the key before escapement). Because the recalculation should be done only in the latter case. And there's no way to know when the player has released the key. So, the problem remains.


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Re: I think escapement in Kawai GF2 action is flawed [Re: CyberGene] #2576363
10/05/16 02:31 PM
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CyberGene Offline OP
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And more important. The rubber escapement notch on Kawai pianos is known to be inconsistent between keys and to get loose with time. It's just a cheap, prone to wear and mostly unpredictable piece of rubber. It would be really silly to involve software recalculations to compensate for something so vague in nature.

Last edited by CyberGene; 10/05/16 02:32 PM.

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