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AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs #2735748
05/11/18 01:26 PM
05/11/18 01:26 PM
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jfl Offline OP
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There are many threads which include this topic, but hoping to get some specific feedback from people with first hand experience only please.

As the subject states, I'd like to hear if anyone has had satisfactory results using any of the AvantGrands (and only Avantgrands please) as a MIDI controller and feeding the output of their audio device back into the AG's line input for playback through the internal amplification/speaker system.

I'm especially interested in N3X owners as the N3X has a noise gate shutoff and I have received a private email from someone well known to this forum who I feel is an expert on the subject stating that the noise gate on the 'old' N3 cuts off normal note decay when using VSTs and feeding back into the AG internal sound system and is thus unusable with VSTs without routing the sound to an external sound system.

What I'm looking for:

What model AG are you using
What VSTs are you using
Any additional hardware (external audio device, mixers, unusual cabling)
How does the playing experience compare with sending the PC/audio device to studio monitors

Again, I'd like to limit this thread to the AvantGrands (there are other threads on the NV10 which has a very different sound system) and am really only interested in hearing from people who have set this up and are using it successfully.

My current assumption is that the AGs, including N3X, don't work well in this context and I'm hoping to have this assumption disproved.

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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2735812
05/11/18 06:32 PM
05/11/18 06:32 PM
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Frédéric L Offline
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The last time I have tried a N3 in a shop (with a piano note recorded on my iPhone), I didn’t found such a noise gate. The sound did decay normally without being cut off suddenly.

The piano note was recorded from a virtual piano.

Last edited by Frédéric L; 05/11/18 06:33 PM.

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: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2735835
05/11/18 08:30 PM
05/11/18 08:30 PM
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bSharp(C)yclist Offline
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I can't say I've noticed any sort of noise gate issue with the N2. I've used PT and Garritan CFX lite with it, both headphones and the speakers. Unfortunately, I can't compare it against using monitors as I don't have them. No special hardware, just audio out from the Surface Pro 4 into the Line In.

To me it sounds fine, but more often than not I just use the internal sound of the Yamaha. It's good enough for me. If there is anything you'd like me to try or test, just let me know.


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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2735847
05/11/18 10:52 PM
05/11/18 10:52 PM
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jfl Offline OP
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Thanks bSharp(C)yclist. It may be that Yamaha modified their firmware to tone down the noise gate in more recent firmware revisions so that notes don't get 'strangled', as it was described to me. (And they've helpfully provided a noise gate shutoff in the 'x' series, which completely takes away that issue.)

It sounds like the stereo line in to multi channel amp gets resolved somehow, as I assume all of the speakers are working with this setup. That's the part I was most concerned with. If the audio quality of externally input sound sources is as good as those generated internally then I have my answer: it works.

How do you shut off the internal piano sounds when you do this?

Also, how do the non-piano VSTs on Pianoteq sound with the N2 (fortepianos, harpsichords, etc.)?

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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2735921
05/12/18 09:10 AM
05/12/18 09:10 AM
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Hi jfl. You can use Local Control to turn off the internal piano sounds. Hold down the function button and then press C7.

The non piano VSTs in PT sound fine to me, although I uncovered an issue with my N2 last night! I had the internal piano sounds off and was using one of the harpsichord voices in PT. Every now and then I'd hear a note duplicated. I thought at first it was PT. I turned of PT and then used the harpsichord voice on the N2, same issue. Although it's hard to duplicate, it happens intermittently.

So I turned PT back on and looked at the Midi tab and the events. Sure enough, notes are being duplicated form time to time. However, I only hear it when using a harpsichord voice (either in PT or the N2). If I use regular piano sounds, I can't hear the duplication, even when the midi tab shows a note duplicated. The duplicated note will have a low velocity value (15 or below). Not sure why that is. 99% of the time I'm using Voice 1 on the N2, and if I use PT, I'm using one of the Steinway Model B settings.

Not sure what would cause the note duplication. I'll call the Yamaha tech that I know on Monday. Seems like a defect to me, but maybe it can easily be fixed. Perhaps if I complain loud enough I can get a free N3X smile


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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: bSharp(C)yclist] #2735951
05/12/18 12:10 PM
05/12/18 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I had the internal piano sounds off and was using one of the harpsichord voices in PT. Every now and then I'd hear a note duplicated. I thought at first it was PT. I turned of PT and then used the harpsichord voice on the N2, same issue. Although it's hard to duplicate, it happens intermittently.


Hi bSharp,

Not to hijack the thread, but the NV10 (which has a similar authentic acoustic action to the AG) does this as well in certain circumstances. I think it has to do with the rebound of the hammer passing the hammer sensors a second time. And it only happens in certain cases (namely, tones that lack dynamics, which I assume includes harpsichord), and only at a fairly particular, low velocity setting (I'd say at about p playing).

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
If I use regular piano sounds, I can't hear the duplication, even when the midi tab shows a note duplicated. The duplicated note will have a low velocity value (15 or below). Not sure why that is. 99% of the time I'm using Voice 1 on the N2, and if I use PT, I'm using one of the Steinway Model B settings.


My guess is that the key sensor is detecting a single keypress and muting the repeated notes on the piano tones. I assume you're not getting a note-on MIDI message with velocity 15?


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2735967
05/12/18 01:17 PM
05/12/18 01:17 PM
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Hi Gombessa,

Thanks for the info. Interesting to know something similar happens with the NV10. I guess Yamaha will tell me it's a feature then ;0

As for your question, I get two midi messages when playing a single note, one higher (p, mf, etc - whatever I'm playing), but the duplicate one is a generally low velocity. I can however duplicate single midi messages with velocities lower than 15, and it has no corresponding duplicate note or midi message.

After playing some more with it, perhaps the problem is really me and my playing? I can duplicate this with B2 and using my thumb. I play the note with light force and watch the key. I can see it bounce up every so slightly and go back down, producing the duplicated note I think. Maybe I just need to play louder, or firmer. When playing with lots of force, there doesn't seem to be any duplicated notes.

So perhaps there isn't a problem at all smile


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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2735970
05/12/18 01:33 PM
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Duplicated notes are not caused by your playing. You are not defective. The piano is.

Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2735989
05/12/18 02:55 PM
05/12/18 02:55 PM
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I submitted a support ticket to Yamaha. I'm pretty sure they will tell me it's a feature ;0 Thankfully I don't hear the duplicated notes when using voice 1 or a regular piano sample within Pianoteq.


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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: MacMacMac] #2735995
05/12/18 03:22 PM
05/12/18 03:22 PM
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jfl Offline OP
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I'll be very interested in how the MIDI note activation duplication issue gets resolved (or doesn't) on both the N2 and the NV10. Odd that it only shows up on the PT harpsichord, but it may have something to do with the fixed volume on those instruments. I typically use the excellent RealSamples libraries under Kontakt for period keyboard instruments but thought I'd ask about PT as you have it. I have a large collection of VSTs, including many fixed volume instruments and I don't recall ever having this experience using a MIDI keyboard with any of them (though mine has a much cruder sensor system than any of the hybrids).

I agree that you shouldn't have to modify your technique to avoid duplicated note. I suppose it's possible that if the piano key is actually bouncing slightly on the release perhaps it is activating the sensor a second time. That doesn't seem quite right to me though and I don't know why that wouldn't happen with the PT grand pianos (and Garritan CFX) as well.

Sounds like Gombessa occasionally gets this with the native NV10 sounds and B#C only gets it with the N2 when used as a MIDI controller, if I'm reading these responses correctly. Perhaps it requires a velocity curve tweak.

Thanks again to both of you for spending the time with this.

Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2735998
05/12/18 03:40 PM
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Hi jfl, to clarify I do hear the duplicated note issue when I use voice 5 on the N2, which is the harpsichord voice. I set PT's volume to 0 and watch the midi events. I see 2 notes, and with the harpsichord voice on the N2, I'll hear it twice. If I use any of the other 4 voices, I don't hear it, even when seeing the duplicated note in Pianoteq.

And then in PT, when a duplicated note is sent, I'll hear it twice within the harpsichord setting of PT, but not with the Steinway Model B. Perhaps it's actually being played, I just can't hear it.

Last edited by bSharp(C)yclist; 05/12/18 03:47 PM.

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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736002
05/12/18 04:56 PM
05/12/18 04:56 PM
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I believe jfl is right: the second note is playing on the harpsichord and not on the piano voice because the harpsichord plays all the notes loud, regardless of velocity, so the second note is noticeable. At velocity 15 the piano is probably inaudible.
This kind of behavior is due to an incorrect regulation of the action and is called "bobbling".

Bobbling hammers


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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736012
05/12/18 05:44 PM
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This only happens on the NV10 if I set touch sensitivity to "off" which plays no dynamics. You only get an f-ff note as soon as you press a key.

I'm pretty sure I know why it happens in the nv10. In this mode the note sounds as you soon as you press the key down to the letoff. The only way to sense this reliably is to listen for the "middle" optical sensor to get tripped (you could use the top sensor too, but then it would trigger a note as soon as you touch the key and you wouldn't be able to play repetitive notes without fully releasing the key). So if there is a hammer rebound that passes the middle sensor position on the way up (which does nothing in normal mode because the bottom sensor needs to be struck too), the piano had no way of knowing you didn't intend to restrike the key. I described this a few weeks back in the big NV10 thread.

The weird thing is that it also happens on the N2. Yamaha supposedly uses a continuous optical sensor on the keys, so it should KNOW if you restruck the key or if it is a rebound without a preceding keypress.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736022
05/12/18 06:53 PM
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Thanks for the info, Erard.

I turned off the dynamics on the N2, and now I can hear the double note at times, regardless of voice. Each note in that case has a velocity of 64. Maybe they forgot to put the optical sensors in ;0


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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: bSharp(C)yclist] #2736025
05/12/18 07:24 PM
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Damn. So I might be keeping my MIDI rig around for harpsichords (and pipe organs?) even after I get my N2X or NV10 later this year. I'm not sure I understand why a plain vanilla MIDI controller is immune to this problem, unless this is unique to hybrid actions and their sensors. The NV10 is brand new and I can't see why it would require regulation. Not sure how many years the N2's been played.

Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736032
05/12/18 08:22 PM
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It's mainly a function of how hybrid (acoustic grand) actions work. The hammers move on their own, so they're not always in the same place in relation to the keys, or rather the keys don't always act as a backstop against hammer position.

This doesn't impact normal piano tones/dynamics, which very accurately measures the key/hammer positions (you will never get this repeated note unless the hammer actually would have hit a string on a real grand). It's really more of a question of whether the sensing system that works well for a grand is also sufficient for other types of instruments/settings (dynamics-off playing doesn't care if the hammer hits the string, so you have to measure something else).


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: Gombessa] #2736160
05/13/18 12:08 PM
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For clarity, I've spent a little time and have a bit more detail on the NV10 side (post here).

bSharp, quick question for you on the N2 - does your harpsichord tone with without dynamics? I've often heard this described of the instrument, but when I plonked on one, I could definitely get it to play louder and softer by striking the keys differently.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736183
05/13/18 12:59 PM
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I don't have an AvantGrand but this winter was just about to buy a local N3 until moving logistics got in the way.

Anyways, at the time I envisioned a few VI scenarios that you might enjoy today:

1. Simply try connecting laptop to the line-in of AvantGrand. There are complaints that the AvantGrand stereo line-in sounds mediocre, maybe because Yamaha has some customized multichannel samples running through all the speakers. Try line-in as it might sound great in your room.

If line-in sounds lousy, try adjusting the VI options including room schemes, mics, ect. Then try to physically [move] the piano around a bit (closer/further from walls and corners, even a few cm matter). Add or remove a rug, open/close window curtains, etc. Those easy changes can have a huge impact on acoustics.

2. Try running multichannel with close mics to Line-in of N3 and ambient mics to pair of studio monitors behind N3. PianoTeq outputs multi-channel. Garritan CFX only outputs stereo but you can just run say 2 instances on your laptop at the same time (first instance with only close stereo mics, second instance with only ambient mics)

3. Open up the N3 and hardwire a better multi-channel line-in. Would need to see what is there before deciding strategy. Yamaha probably sourced the amps and traditional crossovers from their "consumer audio division" with 1990s engineering which could be retapped here.

A cheap (<$100) and elegant solution might be to disconnect all the internal N3 speaker wires and electrically isolate them carefully. Then run the VI through cheap Chinese multi-channel amps with digital x-over solution for each individual driver. Buy a cheap Behringer mic at the player's head position and using free RewEQ software adjust the gain, x-over points, and time align. You get a dedicated amp and crossover for each driver, tuned to your room. You have to decide how to assign each driver to each VI mic but that is pretty easy (e.g. left & right is obvious). In the year 2000, this was tough for the home-gamer but is not so difficult today.

This would probably take a few dozen hours to sort out. Also you need to make sure your new scheme will not damage the Yamaha internals. Of course you could wire a scheme that runs either the Yamaha internal sounds OR the external VI.

And if you are not both experienced and comfortable with 230v electrics, then you risk damage, fire, shock, death, or worse. . .

Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: Gombessa] #2736196
05/13/18 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Gombessa
For clarity, I've spent a little time and have a bit more detail on the NV10 side (post here).

bSharp, quick question for you on the N2 - does your harpsichord tone with without dynamics? I've often heard this described of the instrument, but when I plonked on one, I could definitely get it to play louder and softer by striking the keys differently.


No, I can't make the harpsichord voice sound softer or louder. It's all the same, although you'll see different midi velocities being sent to Pianoteq. Thankfully, it's a sound I can do without smile


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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: newer player] #2736229
05/13/18 04:59 PM
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Damage, fire, shock, death, or worse?
Tell us ... just what could be worse? smile
Originally Posted by newer player
And if you are not both experienced and comfortable with 230v electrics, then you risk damage, fire, shock, death, or worse. . .


Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736231
05/13/18 05:04 PM
05/13/18 05:04 PM
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@MacMacMac : deprivation of heaven, straight to h e l l. smile

H e l l is replaced automagically by « heck » here. grin

Last edited by Frédéric L; 05/13/18 05:40 PM.

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: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: bSharp(C)yclist] #2736269
05/13/18 09:27 PM
05/13/18 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Thankfully, it's a sound I can do without smile


Not me. Not sure what sort of music you all play, but there's nothing like playing baroque music (not just Bach) on a *good* harpsichord sample library. I have nearly all the ones from real samples (http://www.realsamples.de/epages/17831984.sf/en_US/?ObjectPath=/Shops/17831984/Categories) and think they're fantastic for that repertoire (granted the action of the keyboard is obviously not authentic, for that one needs a Roland digital harpsichord). The harpsichord sounds on both the AGs and NV10 are, pretty horrible and they're not even emulating any particular type of harpsichord which can have a very beautiful and varied tone. (Full disclosure: I have conversed with the guy behind RealSamples, a sound engineer in Germany who travels around sampling historic instruments in private collections and museums, but didn't know him before I made my first purchase from him, have no financial interest in his business whatsoever and pay full asking price for all instruments.) I also have several others by SonicCouture, Spitfire Audio, and of course Pianoteq (who's free historic instruments are actually not bad at all and fun to play with).

Point being, ability to use all sorts of VSTs not just modern pianos, is very important to me. If the problem is just with fixed volume instruments then a separate controller for those may not be too bad as the superiority of the hybrid action is a bit of a moot point. I suppose I really need to try it out personally before buying. It's not just whether you can do it, but how good it is. I'm expecting that the sound of a VST like Garritan CFX fed back into the hybrid audio system will surpass the internal sound engine in all ways. If it's not as good, then something's not right. I view the internal piano sounds as a convenience, not a replacement for external sound engines. If one of the two (NV10/N2X) supported this better than the other, I'd have to have a really good think about that.

Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: MacMacMac] #2736281
05/13/18 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Damage, fire, shock, death, or worse?
Tell us ... just what could be worse? smile


hehehe

Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736316
05/14/18 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist

No, I can't make the harpsichord voice sound softer or louder. It's all the same, although you'll see different midi velocities being sent to Pianoteq. Thankfully, it's a sound I can do without smile


Ah, fwiw on the NV10 the harpsichord does have dynamics...though like you I've never used it, I selected it just to try for this smile

Originally Posted by jfl

Point being, ability to use all sorts of VSTs not just modern pianos, is very important to me. If the problem is just with fixed volume instruments then a separate controller for those may not be too bad as the superiority of the hybrid action is a bit of a moot point. I suppose I really need to try it out personally before buying. It's not just whether you can do it, but how good it is. I'm expecting that the sound of a VST like Garritan CFX fed back into the hybrid audio system will surpass the internal sound engine in all ways.


I only tested briefly, but IIRC Garritan specifically has some noise in its samples that is audible at lower dynamics (there's a lot of discussion on this point). When I tried piping it into the NV10, I recall being able to hear this noise more easily than through headphones, and of course such noise doesn't exist in the built-in piano sounds. It was distracting enough for me to be a factor against using Garritan through the DP's speakers, since the native output was crystal clear in comparison. Other VSTs seem to be less noisy than Garritan in this regard, if it matters.

The AGs--at least the N3/N3X--also have the additional factor of comparing to their true 4-channel positional output, which I can't really speak to (I've not heard that the NV10 does this, despite the "multichannel sampling" for its Pianist mode).


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736317
05/14/18 07:53 AM
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I get rid of noise with Garritan with a very smooth lowpass filter at 16kHz. (Reaper). With only Garritan CFX, set an EQ at 8000Hz, and the upper band at -10dB.


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: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736345
05/14/18 11:19 AM
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Gombessa, aside from the noise, did the CFX sound full, rounded, and as convincing (or perhaps better) as the on-board sound? In other words, if it were not for the noise would you see yourself playing the VST -by default- instead of the Shigeru sample?

Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736365
05/14/18 12:13 PM
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I took the fall board off yesterday and watched the hammer when trying to replicate the duplicate note issue. You can see the hammer rebound, but it's very minimal. In fact, it isn't any different than playing a note quickly in rapid succession. When playing in rapid succession and barely lifting the key up, I see a bunch of midi on events. The off events don't come until after lifting up the key fully. When the duplicate note issue happens when playing softly, there are two on events followed by 2 off events. So how does the piano tell the difference? Maybe it's confusing the soft rebound with trying to play in rapid succession?

You can see a crappy video below.

https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aq5RA8FZygcygvx8-wcFyecjGAEz2Q


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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: Pete14] #2736379
05/14/18 01:12 PM
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Gombessa Offline
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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I took the fall board off yesterday and watched the hammer when trying to replicate the duplicate note issue. You can see the hammer rebound, but it's very minimal. In fact, it isn't any different than playing a note quickly in rapid succession. When playing in rapid succession and barely lifting the key up, I see a bunch of midi on events. The off events don't come until after lifting up the key fully. When the duplicate note issue happens when playing softly, there are two on events followed by 2 off events. So how does the piano tell the difference? Maybe it's confusing the soft rebound with trying to play in rapid succession?

You can see a crappy video below.

https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aq5RA8FZygcygvx8-wcFyecjGAEz2Q


The sequential note-on messages are normal. Without the key being raised fully, the note-offs that accompany each note-on are queued up until the key is actually released.

I hesitate to say your AG issue is the same as what I'm seeing, but the fact that it also happens with zero-touch-curve notes is really coincidental. Once difference is you're seeing variable low-velocity values, whereas on the NV10 they're always velocity 1. Not sure if this is a software filtering difference...

Originally Posted by Pete14
Gombessa, aside from the noise, did the CFX sound full, rounded, and as convincing (or perhaps better) as the on-board sound? In other words, if it were not for the noise would you see yourself playing the VST -by default- instead of the Shigeru sample?


At the risk of further derailing the AG thread, I'm not sure. It's a bit more complicated than that. The CFX is certainly fuller, and I feel it has much more fidelity and "meat" behind it, especially in the lower registers, and the naturally recorded ambiance is unbeatable. But the SK-EX in the NV-10 has a really good resonance engine that I don't hear in the CFX. Just striking a note results in a subtle multi-timbral ringing that survives the original note decay, and the way the NV10 speakers are set up might help accentuate that as well. Plus, I have some desires for effortless switching between headphones and speakers, and you can't do that on the NV10 without physically pulling the phones plug in and out. So I didn't spend too much time trying to get it to work perfectly, I was just happy running CFX through headphones and switching to the onboard sounds whenever I needed the speakers.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: jfl] #2736402
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The Yamaha tech left a voicemail for me this morning. The will get back to me with more info, or schedule a time to come out and take a look/troubleshoot. I'll keep you up to date with info as it comes.


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Re: AvantGrand internal sound system with VSTs [Re: bSharp(C)yclist] #2736665
05/14/18 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
The Yamaha tech left a voicemail for me this morning. The will get back to me with more info, or schedule a time to come out and take a look/troubleshoot. I'll keep you up to date with info as it comes.


Thanks for your persistence on this. I'm really interested in what you find out. From the video, I can't see that tiny rebound causing an additional midi sound on, but maybe it is.

But what I'm hearing is that both of you are saying that both the N2 and NV10 will work well running the audio device output back into the line in when used with conventional piano software (I'm assuming Pteq and CFX lite would be fairly representative of modeled/sampled VSTs).

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