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how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? #2709695
01/29/18 05:26 AM
01/29/18 05:26 AM
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madshi Offline OP
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Considering getting a Yamaha N1. But then, the N1X is likely to come "soon" (maybe within the next year). So I'm wondering what I would give up by going for N1 instead of waiting for N1X...

Did anybody have a chance to compare N3 vs N3X, or NU1 vs NU1X? How much of an improvement does the "X" really bring?

From what I've read so far, speakers are only slightly tweaked, action is the same. So the only important advantage seems to be new (better?) piano sounds. But how much better, really?

(Unfortunately my local shop only has the N3X and NU1X, nothing else (no N1 or N2), so I can't really directly compare myself.)

Thanks!

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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709698
01/29/18 05:43 AM
01/29/18 05:43 AM
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The N3X really should have been labeled, N3.1. The improvements are minor. There are a few more voices and an XLR connection.

A remote control for your car radio is an improvement on the level we see with the 'X' series. smile


website | mp3 files | Yamaha AvantGrand N3 | Roland RD 2000 | Sennheiser HD 598 headphones
Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709700
01/29/18 05:52 AM
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I don't care about XLR. I'm mainly worried about not having the new voices,because from what I've read, users seem to be saying that external VST instruments don't work too well because due to Line-in being stereo, only, it doesn't sound as good as the internal voices when played through the internal speakers. So basically that means that I'd probably stick to the built-in voices - at least for pure classical piano playing.

Are you saying that the new voices are only a minor (if any) improvement over the old ones?

(Will use speakers, only, no headphones, if that makes any difference.)

Thank you!

Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709706
01/29/18 06:23 AM
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Couldn't they have given the new voices as firmware updates to the N1/N2/N3? The real value (and vast expense) of those pianos is in the hardware: keyboard, amp & speakers and cabinet. Whereas the software is nothing that special compared to other much cheaper DPs currently available. You'd think they could take care of the software side with free downloads.


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709707
01/29/18 06:28 AM
01/29/18 06:28 AM
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It's a bit more than that, the entire sound engine is much essentially from the clp575/585 rather than a decade old one. That means CFX samples rather than the older CFIIIS ones, binaural sampling for headphones, considerably better resonance handling (physically modelled rather than the fudgey sampled method), bosendorfer samples (though hardly anyone seems to like those).

Obviously if you're running a VST off it then that is all entirely irrelevant but it is a little more than 'few more voices and XLR'

Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709710
01/29/18 06:40 AM
01/29/18 06:40 AM
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Builtin sounds are, rightly or wrongly, one of the main marketing points for a piano. I can't see any manufacturer ever offering significant new voices as free upgrades for older instruments; it would hugely impact sales. Just look at the number of N1/N2/N3 users here considering upgrades to N1X/N2X/N3X, or in some cases already having done so. A lot of people would also start to buy used older models and upgrade the sounds on them.


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709712
01/29/18 06:44 AM
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So how much of an improvement do the new samples and better resonance handling bring? Is it a noticeable improvement, or only a very small one?

If it's a noticeable improvement, I'd rather wait for the N1X, to be honest.

Thank you guys!

Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: karvala] #2709735
01/29/18 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by karvala
Builtin sounds are, rightly or wrongly, one of the main marketing points for a piano. I can't see any manufacturer ever offering significant new voices as free upgrades for older instruments; it would hugely impact sales. Just look at the number of N1/N2/N3 users here considering upgrades to N1X/N2X/N3X, or in some cases already having done so. A lot of people would also start to buy used older models and upgrade the sounds on them.


The price of these hybrid instruments and, one would hope, the quality and durability of their hardware make them once in a lifetime purchases - like a well chosen real piano would be. It would be a gesture of goodwill to the customer to standardise software instrument upgrades. Not to mention the kindness to the environment.

Last edited by toddy; 01/29/18 08:48 AM.

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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709736
01/29/18 08:58 AM
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Unfortunately, some development like VRM need increase of CPU capability, better samples, more memory if the number of levels changes. Etc.

An easier improvement path would be to use external sound module (unfortunately, we expected a Vixano Synthogy Ivory module which was only announced... then nothing!).

Nord has an interesting concept with downloadable sample contents. But I suppose each piano hardware module are more or less equal across their set of synthesizers.


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: toddy] #2709742
01/29/18 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by toddy

The price of these hybrid instruments and, one would hope, the quality and durability of their hardware make them once in a lifetime purchases - like a well chosen real piano would be. It would be a gesture of goodwill to the customer to standardise software instrument upgrades. Not to mention the kindness to the environment.


That would be great; I share your sentiment. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that Yamaha's shareholders do.


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709744
01/29/18 09:40 AM
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+1 on this.

I definitely view my hybrid purchase as a 'lifetime acquisition' (I'm 63, so my estimated lifetime may be less than some of yours).This is due to cost and also difficulty of trading up something like this in my rural location.

I will be waiting for the N2X because I had issues with the N2, though it was very close to meeting my minimal standard for a grand piano alternative. I'm going to try the Kawai NV10 when it's available in my area, but will be surprised if I find it to be 'the one'.

I totally agree that hybrids should be built with an option for upgradeable (at a cost) sample libraries. Yamaha could charge whatever they want for the upgrades and it would be a significant selling point. I suspect that there aren't going to be many upgrades from existing N2 owners to N2X, but I imagine 100% of existing N2 owners would be interested in paying for a sample upgrade. The current model where sample libraries are permanent when purchased needs to change. People will upgrade DPs as technology improves and they desire something better, but there's no reason for sample libraries to be locked in with today's technology. Replacing a hybrid piano to get an improvement in the software should not be acceptable.

Unfortunately, while there's a Kawai resource (James) on this forum, I haven't seen any evidence of Yamaha representation. I'm don't think there's any way to influence Yamaha's development as individuals and I'm not aware of any vendor petition mechanism. I've been getting a lot of emails from Yamaha related to NAMM product announcements. I sent them back a note about my disappointment that the N2X wasn't announced. I don't imagine I'll get a response, but it made me feel just a little better.

Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: Frédéric L] #2709747
01/29/18 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
Unfortunately, some development like VRM need increase of CPU capability, better samples, more memory if the number of levels changes. Etc.

An easier improvement path would be to use external sound module (unfortunately, we expected a Vixano Synthogy Ivory module which was only announced... then nothing!).

Nord has an interesting concept with downloadable sample contents. But I suppose each piano hardware module are more or less equal across their set of synthesizers.

You might as well use a computer running VST in that case - which is fine as far as I'm concerned. I like messing around with these things, like one or two others on this site. But with a hybrid of that sort, you're paying for convenience and elegance. (though the Novus 10 looks more beautiful imo smile )

Would it be so difficult to retrofit the CPU and memory? Where there's will there's a way


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: karvala] #2709748
01/29/18 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by karvala
Originally Posted by toddy

The price of these hybrid instruments and, one would hope, the quality and durability of their hardware make them once in a lifetime purchases - like a well chosen real piano would be. It would be a gesture of goodwill to the customer to standardise software instrument upgrades. Not to mention the kindness to the environment.


That would be great; I share your sentiment. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that Yamaha's shareholders do.




I don't think any company's shareholders do. Nobody builds a product to last anymore. You don't make money that way. Planned Obsolescence.


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709762
01/29/18 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by madshi
So how much of an improvement do the new samples and better resonance handling bring? Is it a noticeable improvement, or only a very small one?


A trickier question to answer I'm afraid. Yamaha obviously have demos online which will give you an idea of the sample tones and the resonances to an extent, otherwise I'd suggest you find some to try at a shop if you can. If you use headphones you can get a reasonably fair comparison between NU1X/N3X which both have the newer engine and an N1/N2 which don't.

Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: toddy] #2709765
01/29/18 10:38 AM
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Quote
Would it be so difficult to retrofit the CPU and memory? Where there's will there's a way

Yes it would be. wink

When I was purchasing my PC pieces by pieces, I had to check the compatibility between CPU and the motherboard which has to have the right socket (and perhaps the right chipset). A PC is not as upgradable as we can think. Also, Yamaha products often use dedicated sound generator DSP (search SWP51 CPU). Then it is not a simple PC inside.

It would be easier to have something like a PCMCIA card which does all the computation and which could be changed rather than a motherboard where multiple chips have to be replaced in order to upgrade. Yamaha did something like this with its S90 synthesizer and their plugin cards. Unfortunately, they don’t follow this concept anymore.

Note : when the N3XX will be out, it will perhaps have a LCD touch screen... it would imply that Yamaha would have to develop two version (no display, LCD display), if we want to make the N3X retrofittable.

Last edited by Frédéric L; 01/29/18 10:44 AM.

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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709769
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Perhaps it's because the N3 already had great projection through its unique (at the time) multi-point sampling technology, but it could be because I wasn't putting too much emphasis on built-in sounds when I play-tested, but when testing an N3X against and N2/N3, the new tones really didn't jump out at me much, either (I used speakers and not headphones for the most part).

About the only that was really noticeable were the more "synthetic" tests. Silently holding down a chord and triggering string resonances, etc.


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709826
01/29/18 01:22 PM
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I have checked the delay between two CPU sockets : 2 years ! Then, we can’t really count on a PC architecture to make a digital piano evolutive. At every DP generation, the socket and then the motherboard has to be changed.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPU_socket

Last edited by Frédéric L; 01/29/18 01:23 PM.

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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709838
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Ok, but would you really need to keep changing the CPU or even the memory? A CPU of a high grade i5 or i7, 8 or 16GB of RAM plus a couple of terabytes of memory would give enough computer power for anything they wanted to implement in terms of samples and modelling technology. Those broad specifications were cheaply available around 10 years ago, so it would give scope for several system updates, including more ambitious sample sets. Presumably, RISC design would last even longer, and go further.

I know it's not that simple at all, but some kind of open ended, future proof computer could be at the heart of a top end instrument like this, perhaps.


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709848
01/29/18 02:26 PM
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One difference between a Yamaha architecture and a PC is the use of dedicated chip which work synchronously with the sampling rate. (At each sample, the CPU start calculating the next one). This enable a near 0 latency (some people are very picky about it : I had a teacher who can’t bear my piano using VST). Then Yamaha has good reason not to use mainstream high grade CPU.

One issue of the i3/i5/i7 is the need of a fan : noise and it may break faster than the remaining of the piano. Perhaps a lower grade, but fanless CPU would be better.

But all of this doesn’t prevent the installation of spare memory for samples (only the cost prevent it), or a expansion port (just for addon memory). Some examples exist : Yamaha Motif Or Montage permit the addition of samples. Nord piano is famous about such a thing.

Note: I suppose Yamaha to not be interested in promoting other piano brands, then it is normal to have something limited with two of their most renowned piano. Nord is more free to propose Steinway, Fazioli, Yamaha.... sounds. Its flash memory has an obvious interest. While a N3X with flash memory, it is less evident.

Last edited by Frédéric L; 01/29/18 02:37 PM.

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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709961
01/29/18 11:52 PM
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Even if it was technically feasible to develop a digital piano hardware that can be user upgradable, there is no reason why Yamaha or any other DP manufacturer will invest in R&D engineering cost to do so. It makes no business sense. First of all, there is no competitor offering such systems. Second, it will reduce their chances of selling a newer model. Third, it will take R&D engineering budget from developing capabilities for which people will pay them money to upgrade their business model.

I, like many others in the thread, would love an upgradable DP - I would really prefer not to have to bother with VSTs - but it will not happen unless a newcomer introduces such a capability in the market first and takes significant business away from Yamaha/Kawai/Roland etc.

Thanks,
Osho


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709966
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If you use headphones a lot, then it's a big deal, at least it is for me when I tested out the binaural capable 'X' models. This is basically borrowing technology from current Disklavier CX-SH. The last generation's non-binaural headphone sounds like listening to a stereo CD recording and not like playing a live piano.

Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: Osho] #2709993
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Originally Posted by Osho
Even if it was technically feasible to develop a digital piano hardware that can be user upgradable, there is no reason why Yamaha or any other DP manufacturer will invest in R&D engineering cost to do so. It makes no business sense. First of all, there is no competitor offering such systems. Second, it will reduce their chances of selling a newer model. Third, it will take R&D engineering budget from developing capabilities for which people will pay them money to upgrade their business model.

I, like many others in the thread, would love an upgradable DP - I would really prefer not to have to bother with VSTs - but it will not happen unless a newcomer introduces such a capability in the market first and takes significant business away from Yamaha/Kawai/Roland etc.

Thanks,
Osho




Maybe so, but that's taking a dim view of business potential. This is basically to say that it makes no business sense to make anything at all of enduring value. (I would love them to admit as much in their marketing brochures!)

But it isn't necessarily so. As you mention, the Nord business model includes change and upgrading. Presumably, this is one reason why it's so expensive - country of origin and small scale operation being others. So a 'long life' hybrid piano would be expensive, but the USP, which would be heavily marketed, would be that the piano will grow and improve through the years. What you are buying now is the best you can get, but it will still be cutting edge technology in years to come. State of the art in a decade hence, yet also an enduring piece of furniture.

It is possible that you are right, though, and people are so used to built in obsolescene, and the throw away economy that we really do prefer to chuck stuff out every 10 years and get a shiny new one. Grim.


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Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709996
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There are two things about Nord which is not comparable with Yamaha AG : 1/ competition : the advantage of Nord may make some people choose it instead of Roland or Yamaha. In the other way, Yamaha had no competitors when they designed AG. Now, they have Kawai, but I don’t think this would make them copy Nord. 2/ as I said, the flexibility is interesting because Nord will not limit to Yamaha/Bösendorfer. If an AG is shipped with flash, but the only pianos are from Yamaha/Bösendorfer, the advantage is very reduced. I don’t think Yamaha will propose Steinway sounds for obvious reasons.

I don’t think there are upgrades about Nord pianos : the 1GB flash can’t be changed. You can only change the samples according to your needs. Something like VRM can’t be added.


Yamaha CLP150, Bechstein Digital Grand, Garritan CFX, Ivory II pianos, Galaxy pianos, EWQL Pianos, Native-Instrument The Definitive Piano Collection, Soniccouture Hammersmith, Truekeys, Pianoteq
Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2709998
01/30/18 05:25 AM
01/30/18 05:25 AM
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Posts: 35
Sydney, Australia
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parnassus Offline
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Joined: May 2016
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Sydney, Australia
I work in the concert and stage lighting field developing products of comparable value to digital pianos. For comparison, our products retail from $250-$40,000.
If digital piano manufacturers are anything like the company I work for, the most probable reasons that DP manufacturers don't put high end upgradable components in their pianos are:
1) planned obsolescence, and
2) product margins.

I was surprised to find out that manufacturers in the lighting industry tend to want at least 100% markup on R&D and material costs.
Dealers also demand 100% markup, so $2500 in hardware costs will likely retail for $10,000 by the time they make it to the consumer.
These are real numbers by the way, which is why I'm not telling you who I work for. Of course, margins do vary from product to product.

Even with these markups, several major lighting companies closed shop last year, or got out of the lighting market altogether!
As a consumer though, I would pay many thousands extra for an upgradeable piano but I'm sure most consumers would baulk at the extra costs involved.

Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: madshi] #2710001
01/30/18 05:40 AM
01/30/18 05:40 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 6,789
North Carolina
MacMacMac Offline
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MacMacMac  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 6,789
North Carolina
You make some good points, parnassus. I wonder how many people think that $10 worth of components in the factory can result in a product retailing for $200.
It's because there are many activities (and people) that must be paid for.
So ... you're not just buying a piano. You're paying for ...
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Supply chain operations
  • Vendor qualification
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Quality assurance
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Transportation
  • Inventory costs
  • Sales commissions
  • Warranty claims
  • Waste disposal
  • Bookkeeping
  • Taxes

And lots more. Competition is what holds those margins DOWN TO "ONLY" 100%.

Re: how much better is N3X than N3, NU1X than NU3? [Re: MacMacMac] #2710005
01/30/18 06:48 AM
01/30/18 06:48 AM
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,595
Portugal
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toddy Online content
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toddy  Online Content
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Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,595
Portugal
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
You make some good points, parnassus. I wonder how many people think that $10 worth of components in the factory can result in a product retailing for $200.
It's because there are many activities (and people) that must be paid for.
So ... you're not just buying a piano. You're paying for ...
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Supply chain operations
  • Vendor qualification
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Quality assurance
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Transportation
  • Inventory costs
  • Sales commissions
  • Warranty claims
  • Waste disposal
  • Bookkeeping
  • Taxes

And lots more. Competition is what holds those margins DOWN TO "ONLY" 100%.

In the light of that, it's amazing - well nigh miraculous - that anyone has ever made and sold anything of enduring value. But it has happened, nevertheless.

Last edited by toddy; 01/30/18 08:48 AM. Reason: Grammar error

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