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Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic #2731740 04/25/18 04:29 PM
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Are there any high(er) end digitals that can produce a better sound than a low(er) end acoustic?

Not actions. Not looks. Not feel. Just the resulting sound.

Both are new. Played by the same experienced player.

Thoughts?


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Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731745 04/25/18 04:46 PM
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If by low end acoustic you mean a cheapish upright, then I'd have thought virtually all mid range (and above) DPs produced in the last 10 to 20 years would be better in sound, feel and expression. The acoustic would win out on atmospherics though.

In order to be better in terms of touch or resultant sound than even a mid range DP, you'd have to get an upright of very highest build and design quality or a decent second hand grand, or better.

Last edited by toddy; 04/25/18 04:49 PM.

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Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731747 04/25/18 04:52 PM
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This is a really difficult question to answer. "Better sound" as in, fooling a blindfolded player that they are sitting in front of an acoustic? That's pretty hard for a digital (though I've had to double check on a few high quality silent pianos before).

Sounding better against a mic'd and recorded acoustic to a blindfolded listener? Oftentimes easy for a DP, depending on the piece being played.

But even a cheap dp could "sound better" than an old, worn out ragtime upright, depending on what you want...


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Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731749 04/25/18 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by McBuster
Are there any high(er) end digitals that can produce a better sound than a low(er) end acoustic?

Not actions. Not looks. Not feel. Just the resulting sound.

Both are new. Played by the same experienced player.

Thoughts?

It really depends on personal taste. I find the sound of many cheap low end new uprights so uninspiring (no matter the "fabulous" authentic resonances everybody is so enamored with), that I would indeed prefer even the CA97 I had before, not to speak of the NV10. Maybe that would even be the case with cheap low end new grands, but I can't really tell, since I never played any of those. But I understand that many wouldn't share that opinion. So - a matter of taste.
A quality new upright, or a quality low end new grand, would be a different thing for me though...

Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731754 04/25/18 05:32 PM
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What exactly is a low-end acoustic? Please specify.

Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731761 04/25/18 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by McBuster
Are there any high(er) end digitals that can produce a better sound than a low(er) end acoustic?

Not actions. Not looks. Not feel. Just the resulting sound.

Both are new. Played by the same experienced player.

I can't vouch for the 'experienced player' wink , but I can say that I prefer my digital to the little Yamaha upright that was my childhood piano in my home country, even allowing for the fact that I can play slightly better now than I could then, and the fact that I can't make a direct comparison any more because though that piano is still there in my parents' home, it is now totally unplayable, with many keys sticking or not sounding and of course completely out of tune. It probably hasn't been regulated & tuned since I was a teenager and still living at home, which was about a century ago, give or take a few score years and seven (with apologies to Abe). The cabinet still looks good (no scratches), so it's still a decent piece of furniture. Though I don't know what lives in it now - no-one has lifted the lid since the last piano technician.........

That upright's tone was tinny and 'piercing', and barely changed from pp to ff other than become more strident, whereas with my digital, I can get everything from a true sotto voce (even without using the una corda pedal) to a bombastic and really shattering ffff, which is what you also get when you thump a high-end acoustic grand's keys with your fist with all your might.
(As one does).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731788 04/25/18 07:28 PM
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Perhaps you have a particular use/purpose in mind?

I can envision situations where a crummy upright would be better than the latest high-end DP, and other cases where it's clearly the other way 'round.

Can you elaborate a bit on the situation?

Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: MacMacMac] #2731807 04/25/18 08:52 PM
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Low End Acoustic

Under $15,000us


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Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: OneWatt] #2731809 04/25/18 08:59 PM
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Elaborate

A friend thinks an acoustic will always be better than any digital. I thought I would ask you folks. My opinion is, a high end digital, Kawai CA9x for example, should match or exceed an acoustic under $15,000. Based totally on sound. Don’t read anything more into the question than that.


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Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731810 04/25/18 09:00 PM
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That price limit is going to include some fairly high-end used or mid-level or better new verticals 48” and taller. Those pianos can actually sound better than small grand pianos...and better than most digitals, through speakers.


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Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731811 04/25/18 09:02 PM
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This question has been raised before.

And each time the responses included "I have (or had) a beat up, out-of-tune acoustic, and my pristine digital is better."
Can we reach any meaningful conclusion from that?
I think not ... because I could add that I saw a wrecked Maserati a few years ago. My humble Toyota is better than that wrecked Maserati. How's that for meaningful? (Not.)

I think the question lacks definition. (Which low-end acoustic piano? Which digital piano?)
So I think it's all quite pointless.

EDIT: I see that more posts have been added before I clicked Submit.
So ... If the low-end is an under-$15000 upright ... then no digital can match that.
I once had a used 50" Kawai upright. Built in 1981. Mine in 1996.
When new it would have retailed at around $9000-ish. No digital can match that upright (so long as it's in tune).

Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731814 04/25/18 09:16 PM
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IMO ... most, but not all, acoustics will be better.
Originally Posted by McBuster
A friend thinks an acoustic will always be better than any digital

I've not tried the CA98. But I tried a CA97 about a year ago ...
Originally Posted by McBuster
I thought I would ask you folks. My opinion is, a high end digital, Kawai CA9x for example, should match or exceed an acoustic under $15,000. Based totally on sound. Don’t read anything more into the question than that.
... and an upright sounds better. The CA97 had a boxy sound. I was not impressed.

Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731816 04/25/18 09:18 PM
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Better than most uprights for sure.

I have the feeling than acoustic are more impacted by the acoustic of the room itself than DP.

I have a CA78 and quite happy with it but I did play last week on a new relatively cheap Chinese Grand 6.6ft, just tuned, and honestly I liked it very much ;-).

Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731817 04/25/18 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by McBuster
My opinion is, a high end digital, Kawai CA9x for example, should match or exceed an acoustic under $15,000. Based totally on sound. Don’t read anything more into the question than that.

That's far too much for a low-end acoustic like the one my parents bought new. You'll get a decent new upright for $15000 which will beat almost all digitals for sound quality.

I'm talking a very basic spinet-sized vertical......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731821 04/25/18 10:08 PM
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McBuster, I think generally that you may be underestimating the sonic qualities of acoustic pianos that make them such revered instruments. It's true that $15k trends closer to the budget end of new acoustics, especially when considering that the extreme higher end pianos go for 6-7 figures, but any acoustic in good condition and maintenance will have audio qualities and interactions between the strings, soundboard, cabinet, etc., that are extremely complex and which digitals of any cost struggle (and generally fail) to reproduce. Only when you start handicapping the acoustics (wear, condition/maintenance, etc.) or focusing on specific traits ("clarity of sound," "similarity in tone" to a particular reference instrument, bass reproduction, etc.) can you start teasing out areas where a digital might pull ahead.

With all that said, digitals today are actually quite good, and are more than good enough for a huge number of pianists (likely a majority, but that's just a guess), particularly when weighed against the drawbacks of acoustics (cost, size, weight, tuning/maintenance, loudness, etc.). Even very advanced pianists use digitals regularly today, and not all of them gravitate towards the newest/highest-end digitals either.

So regardless of which is "better," each has its place.


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Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731828 04/25/18 10:42 PM
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Personally, I think the high end digitals sound (and sound alone) better than most of the cheaper uprights and even baby grands. To a point. Here are some of my thoughts on it (Not saying right or wrong, just thoughts and observations)

With a good sample set or modeling, most people are not going to be able to tell if it's digital or acoustic.

Sounding good or not, I think digitals are more prone to sonic anomalies than acoustics depending on room acoustics, positioning, and placement of the listener. Speakers are very directional, vs a vibrating string. As good as the sound may be from a digital, it is going to be at the mercy of physics and what speakers can actually be produce.

That being said, to me, in a good position, digitals sound better than acoustics more consistently than the cheaper acoustics do. Because they are sampled and modeled after the best of the best. And that is what they reproduce. Exactly. Each and every time. Not saying that acoustics are bad, but they have their own variations and anomalies going on. There is a lot of physical stuff going on there, and unfortunately, there is quite often, not enough of the 'right stuff' happening there.

Those are my thoughts on sound in a live situation. In a recording situation, digital is going to win 90% of the time. Digital: plug in. Play. Get great sound. Acoustic: position mics. set levels. have great sounding room. hope cat doesn't meow.

Anyway, there are my thoughts on pure sound.

I do wonder though, without feel, is there any purpose?

Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731845 04/26/18 01:04 AM
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Originally Posted by McBuster
Just the resulting sound. ... Both are new. Played by the same experienced player.

I'd ask in more specific terms:
- Does a sampled Steinway Grand D sound better than an entry level acoustic upright?
- Does a modeled Steinway Grand D sound better than an entry level acoustic upright?

And what happens when the acoustic upright is then mic'd thru speakers to an audience?



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Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: Groove On] #2731857 04/26/18 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Groove On


And what happens when you mic the acoustic thru speakers to an audience?



Back in the sixties/seventies, the organ was king. Pubs had pianos; they were mostly out of tune and you had to shove a mic down the back and hope for the best, since you were in competition from the drummer, and everyone else with mic'd up gear.

It was horrible.

But once in a while you discovered a gem of a piano. Such was the score down The "Queens" at the Northern English town I lived in; the piano was an indeterminate overstrung with neither back nor front, It had long keys and a wonderful tone; a real and rare pleasure to play though there was nowhere to place one's music, or beer, or cigarette.

A portable organ helped enormously, later on. But in those times they were unreliable, as were the leads that connected them! Happy days . . . before the disco revolution.

But regarding modern times; I ve always preferred the smaller upright since it's tone is usually even, and they don't rattle so much, or do your ears in like the bigger ones such as the U series.
Kawai K200 upwards (they all sound very similar) seem very nice for the price; in close proximity to a Steinway upright (lovely condition) they held their own, almost.
A GL10 5 foot grand (it seemed bigger) sounded very nice too with less extraneous noise, but very loud.

I only have this re-appreciation of the acoustic since playing my Roland, and to a lesser degree, Pianoteq through it. Better than all was the sound of my old DGX 630 through those little speakers which served it so well in the small room I used; but those days are over; things have moved onwards but not always upwards!

Just a few thoughts from a rambling ole fart . . . . . !



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Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731869 04/26/18 02:45 AM
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Since you mention 15k USD, relatively recently I have played the Yamaha N3X digital (15-16K USD) and also the Hailun 178 grand piano (15-16KUSD), at different dealers.

N3X had the best sound I've ever heard from a digital. But Hailun sounds waaay better.

After 3-6 months the digital will sound exactly the same. The acoustic would have gone slightly out of tune and will have more "character".

Re: Qstn: Digital Piano Sound vs Acoustic [Re: McBuster] #2731870 04/26/18 02:51 AM
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What I like about digitals is that you can turn them down.
Real pianos are way too loud for me and I'd hate to have to play one.


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