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Why triple sensors are more important than what they say #2682950 10/17/17 05:47 PM
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CyberGene Online Content OP
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You can often hear triple sensors facilitate fast key repetition which is an advanced technique rarely encountered in piano repertoire.

Well, not only! It has occurred to me only recently but in fact triple sensors facilitate something that appears in so many piano pieces: playing mellow pianissimo trills.

Imagine having to play repeatedly two adjacent keys. The faster the trill, the shorter the duration for each keystroke is. And if you need to press the keys fully, this means longer path. Long path / short duration = high velocity, hence loud and rough trills. Not your mellow Chopin! There are basically two solutions to shorten the key travel path:

1. Play trills near the top, not pressing the keys fully. This is possible on an acoustic piano because hammers are detached from keys and you can throw them without pressing the key fully. It's called leggiero. But it's difficult and a few pianists master it. And most of the digital pianos do not support it anyway because the hammer is hard-linked to the key and requires you to press the key fully to the bottom to produce sound.

2. Playing the trill near the bottom, not releasing the keys fully. It's easier than 1 because you have the bottom to let you know when you have to release. But it's possible only on grand pianos thanks to the escapement lever. And also on digital pianos with triple sensor!

Yes, triple sensor is very important! I realized my trills have become much quicker and at the same time softer and well defined ever after I got my ES7 but I didn't know exactly why until very recently. I thought it was just my technique that was getting better. But I play less than before, how come? Then I started analyzing myself and I discovered I had started playing trills near the bottom, which is something that was not possible with my previous digital pianos. Hooray! smile

Well, yes, most digital pianos nowadays have triple sensors, even the cheapest ones but there are still ones without. Don't let people tell you it's something advanced you won't need because most classical music have trills and not all of them should be machine gun loud!

Last edited by CyberGene; 10/17/17 06:02 PM.

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Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: CyberGene] #2682964 10/17/17 06:54 PM
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1. I agree, triple sensors are more than just for fast key repetition.

2. I see incredible pianists do thing I cannot even being to approach on uprights (which require a fuller key return) and on old 2-sensor digitals, so in both the acoustic and digital worlds it seesm to be something that you need to work around.

3. Something that's been crossing my mind - why 3 sensors actuated by a single rubber cap? You have to ensure exacting precision to match the middle sensor strike with the position of the "letoff simulation" notch,(something Kawai didn't get quite perfect on the GF1 and improved for GF2, it seems). Cost and engineering complexity aside, are there any downsides to making the "letoff simulation" less of a simulation and more of a real element of the action by having it trip the third sensor? That would preserve an accurate velocity between the middle and bottom sensors, and also ensure that you can always trigger a note from the letoff notch, because the notch itself would actually be a trigger.


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Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: CyberGene] #2682965 10/17/17 06:59 PM
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Interesting.... have you tried Korg's RH3 key action? It's dual sensor and is still used on the Kronos, and some other models like the SV-1. I never had a problem playing extremely fast trills with two adjacent keys with the RH3 key action. Perhaps the older dual-sensor keys you were playing on in the past were not quite as good as Korg's RH3. And not all triple-sensor key actions are created equal either - try your triple-sensor fast trills among several different key actions the next time you're at your favorite retailer and see if you still think they're all capable of accomplishing what you wish.


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Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: CyberGene] #2682967 10/17/17 07:02 PM
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It's not just the triple sensors. It's the software that interprets the data.

I have a SF10 Baldwin at home. When I press a key about 2/3 of the way down, I feel a slight additional resistance. At that point, if I play with additional weight, I can achieve controlled pianissimos.

What happens between the sensors is important, and won't be the same just because 'it's a three sensor keyboard'. I would expect that each product development team will come up with different keyboard 'feel'.

Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: PianoManChuck] #2682972 10/17/17 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoManChuck
Interesting.... have you tried Korg's RH3 key action? It's dual sensor and is still used on the Kronos, and some other models like the SV-1. I never had a problem playing extremely fast trills with two adjacent keys with the RH3 key action. Perhaps the older dual-sensor keys you were playing on in the past were not quite as good as Korg's RH3.

Exactly. I have a Kronos and can play exactly as I want with its RH3 action. Same with my 1990 MIDIboard (even though totally different with its capacitive elastomeric hammers). Of course, all manufacturers want you to believe in and buy their latest superlative technology.

Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: PianoManChuck] #2682998 10/17/17 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
You can often hear triple sensors facilitate fast key repetition which is an advanced technique rarely encountered in piano repertoire.

Well, not only! It has occurred to me only recently but in fact triple sensors facilitate something that appears in so many piano pieces: playing mellow pianissimo trills.

Yes, I've posted about this in the past. In fact, the third sensor has very little to do with fast key repetition. If you can play the intro to Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man" at all, you can do it with two sensors, because at fortissimo, each strike of the key is from a high enough point that the third sensor makes no difference. *Soft* repetition is where you see the difference, including trills. Also, if you're playing a passage without use of the sustain pedal, the third sensor allows you to restrike a key without silencing it first, something you simply can't do on a 2-sensor board.

Originally Posted by PianoManChuck
Interesting.... have you tried Korg's RH3 key action? It's dual sensor and is still used on the Kronos, and some other models like the SV-1. I never had a problem playing extremely fast trills with two adjacent keys with the RH3 key action.

So picking up from what I said above, don't compare fast loud trills, compare *quiet* ones. But you are quite right about not all 3-sensor boards being equally adept at handling these things.

Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: PianoManChuck] #2683066 10/18/17 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoManChuck
I never had a problem playing extremely fast trills with two adjacent keys with the RH3 key action.

As anotherscott pointed out it's not just about extremely fast trills but extremely fast quiet trills. And there's simple physics behind that: If you have to press the key all the way down and you have limited time to do that, the long travel makes the velocity high using the formula path = velocity X time.

The triple sensor actions solve that by allowing the trills to be played near the bottom without any of the keys being released fully, thus effectively shortening the path part in the equation above and as a result also the velocity.

Last edited by CyberGene; 10/18/17 04:29 AM.

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Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: CyberGene] #2683091 10/18/17 07:32 AM
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Well, I would suggest a piece like the Chopin double thirds etude is possible on an upright in good order (not necessarily an expensive one). However, very hard as sotto voce, unless you play the left hand very loud.

When I tried the GFII and PHA, it was instantly obvious this piece was much easier on the keyboards than uprights in the shop. As I was in the early learning phase, the thirds were less prone to be uneven too on the keyboards.

I was surprised that the GFII action wasn't as excellent for repeated notes as it was for trills.

Perhaps this thread explains it.

Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: CyberGene] #2683142 10/18/17 12:23 PM
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I'd agree, but marketing wise it's probably easier to refer to fast repetition wink

Originally Posted by CyberGene

1. Play trills near the top, not pressing the keys fully. This is possible on an acoustic piano because hammers are detached from keys and you can throw them without pressing the key fully. It's called leggiero. But it's difficult and a few pianists master it. And most of the digital pianos do not support it anyway because the hammer is hard-linked to the key and requires you to press the key fully to the bottom to produce sound.


I don't rate myself as a particularly good pianist in the grand scheme of things, I passed ABRSM grade 7 as a teenager and was at the level but never took 8 because uni arrived, I've then only recently picked it back up having not played for a good decade. However I would not describe that technique as particularly any more difficult than many other parts of playing. It's very much a necessity of playing softly and quickly on some pianos (generally those with greater overall 'inertia' in the action, i.e. grands, but I also find I do this on GF2), if you don't it's going to sound a complete thumpy mess! I think people may just not realise they're doing it.

Also most DPs do not have hard linked hammers. A few of the cheaper ones perhaps but the vast majority are not. Perhaps a larger difference is that in an acoustic there are actually three parts that can separate: the keystick, the wippen/jack etc combination and the hammer. The keystick and the wippen rarely disconnect, even in a grand, the bit that does disconnect is the hammer. I'm not sure that matters to the technique itself though, the critical element of it is not pressing down the whole way, whether this is possible and necessary or not is largely down to the ratio of the inertia to the acceleration (i.e. the static upweight) shoving it back. In a 'lighter' actioned upright or DP you have to press all/most of the way else the hammer/key won't make it.

Quote
2. Playing the trill near the bottom, not releasing the keys fully. It's easier than 1 because you have the bottom to let you know when you have to release. But it's possible only on grand pianos thanks to the escapement lever. And also on digital pianos with triple sensor!


This seems to be a very oft repeated myth and I can only assume it comes from the number of poorly regulated old uprights around. A properly set up upright should have little problem repeating with fairly minimal key release. My families old upright can repeat from less key release than GF2.

Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: CyberGene] #2683169 10/18/17 02:55 PM
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"More important than they say?" Who is "they?" Piano companies marketing triple sensors make them seem like a very big deal indeed.

Personally I don't detect much difference when I play a triple and double sensor piano. Maybe I don't play enough quiet trills. There are lots of other differences between actions that make trills easier or harder. Certainly triple sensors are a good thing, but they are neither underappreciated nor a necessity in my opinion.

Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: Bambers] #2683171 10/18/17 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by gvfarns
"More important than they say?" Who is "they?"


Not the companies. It's people who on forums like this one recommend pianos to other people and would say something like "well, Piano A compared to Piano B doesn't have triple sensor action but that's not something important anyway".

Originally Posted by Bambers
Originally Posted by CyberGene

1. Play trills near the top, not pressing the keys fully. This is possible on an acoustic piano because hammers are detached from keys and you can throw them without pressing the key fully. It's called leggiero. But it's difficult and a few pianists master it. And most of the digital pianos do not support it anyway because the hammer is hard-linked to the key and requires you to press the key fully to the bottom to produce sound.


I don't rate myself as a particularly good pianist in the grand scheme of things, I passed ABRSM grade 7 as a teenager and was at the level but never took 8 because uni arrived, I've then only recently picked it back up having not played for a good decade. However I would not describe that technique as particularly any more difficult than many other parts of playing. It's very much a necessity of playing softly and quickly on some pianos (generally those with greater overall 'inertia' in the action, i.e. grands, but I also find I do this on GF2), if you don't it's going to sound a complete thumpy mess! I think people may just not realise they're doing it.


Well, the key here is not just to be able to do it, but also do it well. Maybe everyone does it to some degree on acoustic pianos (or even digital pianos, although on my ES7 it's rather impossible) but I've been researching this technique for some time, and so was watching how real pianists use it in live concerts and it is very rare seeing someone do it really well. I was particularly fascinated by Seong-Jin Cho, the winner of Chopin International Competition 2015, whom I had the pleasure to listen to live two times. I believe he is aware of this particular strength he possesses and was able to even exaggerate on how quick and quiet he can play, probably as to show off his astonishing abilities. That was something we also discussed with my mother in law who was there and she's a qualified piano teacher and she noticed it even though I didn't mention it to her specifically.

Originally Posted by Bambers
Also most DPs do not have hard linked hammers. A few of the cheaper ones perhaps but the vast majority are not.

By hard linked I don't mean it's welded. Those are separate moving parts. However the hammer won't hit the sensors unless key is also pressed fully. That's what I mean. I've tested many digital pianos about this particular feature and it's only the wooden actions of Kawai that have this although not to the degree this is available in a grand piano but you would still be able to play without pressing fully.

Last edited by CyberGene; 10/18/17 03:40 PM.

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Re: Why triple sensors are more important than what they say [Re: CyberGene] #2683175 10/18/17 03:51 PM
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I still have serious trouble getting quiet trills on my Kawai CS-11. Could be just me, I've only played for a few years, but I can do a lot better on an actual grand piano. Part of it might be because the touch is lighter on a grand with sustain pedal down. But still, getting pp trill on the GF II is a hit-and-miss still for me. Some notes sound pp, others will be silent (causing the trill to become more like a morse code), and if I do it with more force, it becomes louder than I would want.

Last edited by jokke; 10/18/17 03:53 PM. Reason: clarified the ending

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