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Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? #2747495
06/27/18 12:47 PM
06/27/18 12:47 PM
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In the CA 78/98 description ( http://www.kawai-global.com/product/ca78/ ) it is said:
"Premium audio technologies, Powered by Onkyo
Developed in collaboration with Onkyo, one of Japan’s leading premium audio equipment manufacturers, the CA78 is one of the first Kawai musical instruments to utilise specialist components designed for high-end audio reproduction. With cutting-edge technologies such as 1-bit processing, dual DAC signal conversion, and Onkyo’s DIDRC filtering, the Concert Artist’s optimised power amplifiers reproduce the Shigeru Kawai grand piano sound with stunning clarity, richness, and power, while the high-performance Discrete SpectraModule™ headphone amplifier ensures the finest quality listening experience, even when playing in privacy."

Were these componets used in previous models? If not, does it really make difference with CA 67/97 (I care about speakers sound mostly)?


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Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747500
06/27/18 01:10 PM
06/27/18 01:10 PM
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You realise even when playing through musical equipment amplifiers, the difference between a good 'un and a not so good. It's great, getting on huge. There must be a difference.


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747504
06/27/18 01:40 PM
06/27/18 01:40 PM
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I don't know really. For me, every DP sounds rather cheap over build in speakers. Even the 300W Clavinova.


Kawai Novus NV10
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747534
06/27/18 02:48 PM
06/27/18 02:48 PM
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Yes I am not convinced either. The CA98 uses a Soundboard with a Tranducer bolted to it: This actually provides a pretty good foundation for the lower frequencies. However (!) the Mid-range is handled by 2 small paper cones speakers and the integration between the Soundboard frequencies and the range covered by the 2 small speakers is VERY POOR.
( This can be proved by playing some music through the Line-in connections and you will hear how bad it really is.

Now if you compare this to a good quality (hi-fi) Mid-range speaker, this could possibly be in the order of a 4" or 5" diameter cone. This could possibly be made of Kevlar for example, and would provide a much broader frequency response, which would integrate much better with the Soundboard.

The downside ????? Good quality Mid-range speakers can be very expensive
(Checkout Morrell speakers - they make some very nice drive units).

Bottom line - possibly not enough R&D done and limited speaker quality because of budget constraints ...........

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Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: Tom F Wright] #2747539
06/27/18 03:14 PM
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Reading the official description, you have a nice example of all the marketing superlatives, that you can read on every high range electronic equipement spec.
It sounds very mouthwatering, but, having tested CA98 and CS11, I still think the CS11 has a better sound reproduction.
I dont know why.
In fact, the "onkyo superlative spec" doesn't make the difference if the cabinet has internal resonnance, if the frequency split between soundborad and speaker is imprecise, if the speaker are of medium quality, if, if ... if ....

In audio reproduction, the weakest element can ruin a whole high end chain.


old Yamaha CLP 170, and looking for a new DP !
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: Tom F Wright] #2747557
06/27/18 03:57 PM
06/27/18 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom F Wright
The CA98 uses a Soundboard with a Tranducer bolted to it: This actually provides a pretty good foundation for the lower frequencies. However (!) the Mid-range is handled by 2 small paper cones speakers and the integration between the Soundboard frequencies and the range covered by the 2 small speakers is VERY POOR.

Just wanted to correct some mistakes in that: The CA98's soundboard actually has two transducers. And there are four midrange speakers, not two (plus two tweeters).

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747562
06/27/18 04:12 PM
06/27/18 04:12 PM
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Yes that is correct, should have said "there are 2 mid-range speakers per channel" ...........

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747584
06/27/18 05:24 PM
06/27/18 05:24 PM
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I played the kawai ca98 the other day in Cambridge and it sounded awful to my ears, I was completely put off by the way it sounded, I hated it. Speakers sounded very poor, certainly not anywhere near a high quality sound experience.

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747603
06/27/18 06:37 PM
06/27/18 06:37 PM
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Every industry has its marketing, and the ads range from lots of fluff (at best) to loads of bullcrap (at worst).
Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
"Premium audio technologies, Powered by Onkyo
Developed in collaboration with Onkyo, one of Japan’s leading premium audio equipment manufacturers, the CA78 is one of the first Kawai musical instruments to utilise specialist components designed for high-end audio reproduction. With cutting-edge technologies such as 1-bit processing, dual DAC signal conversion, and Onkyo’s DIDRC filtering, the Concert Artist’s optimised power amplifiers reproduce the Shigeru Kawai grand piano sound with stunning clarity, richness, and power, while the high-performance Discrete SpectraModule™ headphone amplifier ensures the finest quality listening experience, even when playing in privacy."
Exactly how does an Onkyo amplifier differ from a Schnaggle amplifier?
And how is 1-bit processing, which has been with us for decades, justify the term "cutting-edge"? (That seems more appropriate for a Ginsu knife than for a piano.) smile
Dual DAC signal conversion! Wowee! (Oh wait, every piano has that.)
DIDRC filtering? Yippee!
Optimised power amps too!

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747604
06/27/18 06:51 PM
06/27/18 06:51 PM
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I had the opportunity when I tested out the CA98 to also play the CA78 and CA67 which were all in the same room of the store.

In my opinion, the CA78 sounded the best of the three, it was a distinct improvement over the CA67. The CA98 was awful. I will caveat that this was literally fresh out of the box that morning and it was the first one the store had gotten, and it didn't have the EQ update. I haven't tried since then, but I'd like to.



Currently learning: Beethoven "Easy" Sonata Op 49 No 2, JS Bach WTC Prelude No 2 in C minor
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747617
06/27/18 07:44 PM
06/27/18 07:44 PM
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Hamamatsu, Japan
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Hello PianoStartsAt33,

Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
Were these componets used in previous models?


No. As the website explains, the CA98/CA78 and NV10 are the first Kawai instruments to use this Onkyo-designed hardware.

Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
If not, does it really make difference with CA 67/97 (I care about speakers sound mostly)?


Yes. It's actually rather expensive to redesign hardware and add new features, so there has to be an improvement in quality in order to justify the cost.

Kind regards,
James
x


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Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: JoBert] #2747618
06/27/18 07:48 PM
06/27/18 07:48 PM
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Hamamatsu, Japan
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Originally Posted by JoBert
Originally Posted by Tom F Wright
The CA98 uses a Soundboard with a Tranducer bolted to it: This actually provides a pretty good foundation for the lower frequencies. However (!) the Mid-range is handled by 2 small paper cones speakers and the integration between the Soundboard frequencies and the range covered by the 2 small speakers is VERY POOR.

Just wanted to correct some mistakes in that: The CA98's soundboard actually has two transducers. And there are four midrange speakers, not two (plus two tweeters).


"Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: mwf] #2747619
06/27/18 07:52 PM
06/27/18 07:52 PM
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Hamamatsu, Japan
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Originally Posted by mwf
I played the kawai ca98 the other day in Cambridge and it sounded awful to my ears, I was completely put off by the way it sounded, I hated it. Speakers sounded very poor, certainly not anywhere near a high quality sound experience.


I'm sorry to hear that. I have to wonder if the CA98 was actually working/configured correctly.
Do you recall the name of the dealer that you visited?

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747641
06/27/18 09:10 PM
06/27/18 09:10 PM
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Hamamatsu, Japan
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Hello Mac,

Please allow me to respond to your post.

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Exactly how does an Onkyo amplifier differ from a Schnaggle amplifier?


I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the Schnaggle brand.

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
And how is 1-bit processing, which has been with us for decades, justify the term "cutting-edge"?


It's true that 1-bit DSD audio became commercially available with the introduction of the SACD in 1999, however even higher resolution double and quad-rate DSD formats (DSD128 and DSD256 - as implemented in the latest Kawai models) are relatively recent additions. Certainly, I'm not aware of any digital pianos that incorporate 1-bit processing, which I would suggest makes the technology cutting-edge for this industry.

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Dual DAC signal conversion! Wowee! (Oh wait, every piano has that.)


I believe using dual DACs to convert two mono streams (instead of a single DAC to convert one stereo stream) is an accepted practise in audiophile circles.
I previously had a very nice link that explained the benefits of dualDACs, but am unable to locate the website at the moment.

May I ask if you can provide an example of another digital piano that incorporates dual DACs, please?

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
DIDRC filtering? Yippee!


There are quite a lot of resources explaining DIDRC, however perhaps the most detailed is this website from Onkyo:
http://www.intl.onkyo.com/promotion/hi-fi/moreabout/index.html

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Optimised power amps too!


I believe using premium quality components, and redesigning the amplifier circuits for maximum power and efficiency is an important improvement.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747660
06/27/18 10:46 PM
06/27/18 10:46 PM
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I have to agree with the two posts above regarding the CA78 vs CA98. I played them side by side at England Piano here in Atlanta and to my ears the CA78 was actually better sounding. Maybe something wasn't set properly on the CA98, but that is just my opinion.

I did see on a YouTube video that Onkyo also designed the headphone preamp on these models. They sound great to me through headphones. I'm actually planning on buying a CA78 in the very near future. My question is: Rosewood or Black??


Marcus Valdes
Fayetteville, GA
Kawai RX-5, Kawai CA78
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: mivaldes] #2747671
06/27/18 11:28 PM
06/27/18 11:28 PM
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Black looks cool!


Let's help each other... laugh
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: Kawai James] #2747710
06/28/18 04:28 AM
06/28/18 04:28 AM
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KJ ... Perhaps I should have suffixed my earlier post with my central (and oft-repeated) point:
It aint the talk, the market-speak, or the claims that matter. It's the sound.

I don't much care about who makes it, or whether it has DACs, tracks, or Sugar Smacks.
It's the sound that counts.
Originally Posted by Kawai James
Hello Mac,
Please allow me to respond to your post.
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Exactly how does an Onkyo amplifier differ from a Schnaggle amplifier?
I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the Schnaggle brand.

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: MacMacMac] #2747715
06/28/18 04:45 AM
06/28/18 04:45 AM
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Hello Mac,

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
It's the sound that counts.


Agreed.

I'm confident that the Onkyo engineers responsible for implementing their technology in Kawai's latest DPs do too. wink

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747719
06/28/18 05:08 AM
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One thing to bear in mind about the CA98, or any Kawai with the soundboard transducer(s), is the positioning of the piano.

Bad interactions between the soundboard and the piano's environment can have a drastic effect on the sound in my experience. Kawai has some awareness of this because there are controls on the piano to change between preset EQ settings depending upon the physical relationship that exists between piano and adjacent walls. That is the 'Wall EQ' setting but other adjustments (of which there are very many on current Kawai pianos) may be necessary to get a pleasing result.


Roland RD-1000 | Nord Piano 3 | Dexibell Vivo P7
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: EssBrace] #2747733
06/28/18 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by EssBrace
One thing to bear in mind about the CA98, or any Kawai with the soundboard transducer(s), is the positioning of the piano.

Bad interactions between the soundboard and the piano's environment can have a drastic effect on the sound in my experience. Kawai has some awareness of this because there are controls on the piano to change between preset EQ settings depending upon the physical relationship that exists between piano and adjacent walls. That is the 'Wall EQ' setting but other adjustments (of which there are very many on current Kawai pianos) may be necessary to get a pleasing result.


Walls, walls.... the problem of all uprights, no matter acoustic or digital.
From this point, digitals with grand piano cabinets should sound better. Do they?

Last edited by PianoStartsAt33; 06/28/18 06:33 AM.

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Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747747
06/28/18 07:42 AM
06/28/18 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33

Walls, walls.... the problem of all uprights, no matter acoustic or digital.
From this point, digitals with grand piano cabinets should sound better. Do they?


Should they? Placing a speaker back against a wall means it doesn't have to have as strong a bass response as it would need in free space or, alternatively, a keyboard with the usual pitiful small speakers on board can manage somewhat better. The grand piano cabinet model likely will sound better, but probably because it is more expensive and has a better sound system inside it rather than because it is further away from a wall :-)

Last edited by gwing; 06/28/18 07:43 AM.
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747806
06/28/18 11:59 AM
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Yes the proximity to the wall WILL affect the sound from the CA98 Soundboard !!!

However the "boxy sound" you get on this model comes from the 4 small upward-facing paper cone speakers.
These supply the mid-range frequencies and by and large, are mostly unaffected by the proximity of any wall...............

And so it IS NOT a matter of placement affecting the sound 😭

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747824
06/28/18 12:56 PM
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Yes, boxy is the word I'd use. I haven't tried the CA98. It was not available at the time. I tried the CA97. It was "boxy" sounding. That was a great disappointment.

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2747865
06/28/18 03:29 PM
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In fact, the distance from the wall of a speaker (or a soundborad) will only affect the bass response
If close to a wall, there will be more bass, "virtually" : this will not be good bass because there will be a "boom" in certain frequencies only, not a better amplification on the whole range of bass frequencies.
I think Wall EQ setting on the CA98 is simply a special filter that try to lower certain frequency boom, that's all.

That is very different with the "boxy" sound we are talking about : this boxy effect is a kind of lack of precision, a lack of treeble, as if the speaker was in a paper box, as if our ears were full of cotton.
Definitely not a placement problem in the room.
Sometimes, we can have this effect on medium quality speakers if the volume is too low. with a high volume, the sound gets better.
I think maybe the CA98 sounds better with higher volume

Last edited by olivier du nord; 06/28/18 03:30 PM.

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Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: olivier du nord] #2747867
06/28/18 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by olivier du nord
I think maybe the CA98 sounds better with higher volume

That's an interesting point. I always thought that my CA97 sounded much better at "proper" acoustic piano volume. For me that was with volume control at least at 70-75% and Touch "Light".

All in all, I've long since had the impression that the sound of the CA98 (and the CA97 before it) is very much a question of personal taste. There have always been the very happy and satisfied owners of the CA98/CA97 here on the forum, who liked its sound very much (me included), but on the other hand there have also always been the critics who don't like it at all.

I'm personally baffled how one can describe the sound as "coming out of a paper box" or "as if one had cotton in one's ears", as for me it doesn't sound like that at all. But I'm certain that those who say so really feel that way and are equally baffled that I don't hear it.

It just goes to show that anyone who considers this piano (or the CS11 or whatever it's successor will be) should indeed test it himself, to see which side his personal impression falls on.

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: PianoStartsAt33] #2748204
06/30/18 03:22 AM
06/30/18 03:22 AM
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I had a brief play on both CA78 and CA98 and much preferred the 78 whose sound I found much clearer.

That might be self reinforcing prejudice though as to me the idea of using a soundboard as a speaker makes no sense. A piano is a musical instrument and uses a soundboard to amplify sounds so that soundboard is an integral part of the instrument and responsible for some of its colour.

However to reproduce an recorded sound the sound system should be as uncoloured as possible and to do this the most desirable characteristics of a loudspeaker cone are that it should be both rigid and light, entirely the opposite of a thick heavy wooden sound board!

Maybe if the piano samples were recorded in a very sterile manner directly from the strings and somehow didn't include the soundboard resonance from the originating piano we might want to apply some digital processing, or a fake soundboard, to bring back some piano like characteristics to the sound even if they weren't faithful to the originating instrument. Personally I would call such samples bad samples though and the answer not an extra soundboard but better samples :-)

That all said though the final product has to stand on its merit, and it doesn't matter how it is achieved or what technology it uses, the acid test is how well it sounds and plays.

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: gwing] #2748214
06/30/18 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by gwing
That might be self reinforcing prejudice though as to me the idea of using a soundboard as a speaker makes no sense. A piano is a musical instrument and uses a soundboard to amplify sounds so that soundboard is an integral part of the instrument and responsible for some of its colour.

However to reproduce an recorded sound the sound system should be as uncoloured as possible and to do this the most desirable characteristics of a loudspeaker cone are that it should be both rigid and light, entirely the opposite of a thick heavy wooden sound board!

This sounds reasonable at first glance, but then on the other hand, there's the new Kawai Aures line (announced at Musikmesse 2018, to be released later this year) which is essentially an acoustic piano with a silent system that can be played via headphones like a normal silent system, but where the digital sound engine can also be played without headphones, solely through transducers on the acoustic soundboard (no normal speakers at all, if I understood the announcement correctly). So you actually have three modes: Acoustic via soundboard, digital via soundboard (these two can also be mixed!) and digital via headphones.

Now, if a soundboard were so totally unsuitable as a speaker, why would the Kawai engineers and product developers (and their Onkyo colleagues), who I believe are certainly not total noobs in the area of sound engineering and who would certainly also have thought about these issues that you described, develop such a system, if it is indeed as unsuitable as you say?

Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: JoBert] #2748216
06/30/18 04:54 AM
06/30/18 04:54 AM
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Originally Posted by JoBert
Now, if a soundboard were so totally unsuitable as a speaker, why would the Kawai engineers and product developers (and their Onkyo colleagues), who I believe are certainly not total noobs in the area of sound engineering and who would certainly also have thought about these issues that you described, develop such a system, if it is indeed as unsuitable as you say?


Because the soundboard does look unsuitable for the job of turning signals into sound waves, for all the reasons gwing outlines. As a transducer, it must restrict the frequency range because (compared to speaker cones) the board is stiff and unyielding.

The suspicion therefore is that it's a gimmick or (in the case of the silent piano) a cost cutting measure. But as you say, both Kawai and Onkyo are serious and respected companies in their respective areas. It would be very interesting to hear how this Aures piano sounds using only the soundboard as amplification/transducer.


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Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: JoBert] #2748218
06/30/18 05:12 AM
06/30/18 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by JoBert
[quote=gwing]on the other hand, there's the new Kawai Aures line (announced at Musikmesse 2018, to be released later this year) which is essentially an acoustic piano with a silent system that can be played via headphones like a normal silent system, but where the digital sound engine can also be played without headphones, solely through transducers on the acoustic soundboard (no normal speakers at all, if I understood the announcement correctly). So you actually have three modes: Acoustic via soundboard, digital via soundboard (these two can also be mixed!) and digital via headphones.



I can see potential in that design. Using the acoustics soundboard instead of speakers removes some components and potentially makes the complete package cheaper to manufacture. If the soundboard adds colouration compared to an ideal speaker material that perhaps isn't an insurmountable problem in a piano that only has to reproduce its internal samples rather than neutrally replaying a wide range of music. In theory the colouration introduced by a soundboard could be compensated for by modifying the samples themselves - actually I'm pretty sure smart manufacturers already do that to compensate for the small and cheap speakers typically fitted to a DP.

It will be interesting to see how it performs at the end of the day. With sufficient engineering and development I'm sure it can be done - I just don't think that using a big heavy lump of wood as a speaker material makes it any easier :-) (and I'd be very surprised if it can manage without at least a couple of small speakers to reproduce the high notes adequately)

Last edited by gwing; 06/30/18 05:15 AM.
Re: Kawai & Onkyo - does it really soun better now? [Re: gwing] #2748222
06/30/18 05:51 AM
06/30/18 05:51 AM
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I think this makes perfect sense.
Originally Posted by gwing
... the idea of using a soundboard as a speaker makes no sense.
... to reproduce an recorded sound the sound system should be as uncoloured as possible and to do this the most desirable characteristics of a loudspeaker cone are that it should be both rigid and light, entirely the opposite of a thick heavy wooden sound board!
To put it more plainly: If the recording takes the sound PRODUCED BY the soundboard of an acoustic piano, but captured IN THE AIR by a microphone, then reproducing it though a soundboard is entirely unnatural. The recording is of air-carried sound waves, and should be played through with a mechanism (a speaker) that reproduces that original sound.

Could the recorded sound be filtered, processed, or otherwise altered to mimic the vibration of strings? And then applied through transducers to 88 distinct points on the CA soundboard? Perhaps that's possible. But surely that's not what's being done in these digital pianos.

Even if this were possible, it seems to me that the original recording would need 88 microphones, one positioned at the bridge termination point of each string. I guess that's what gwing is saying here:
Originally Posted by gwing
Maybe if the piano samples were recorded in a very sterile manner directly from the strings and somehow didn't include the soundboard resonance from the originating piano we might want to apply some digital processing, or a fake soundboard, to bring back some piano like characteristics ...

Here gwing makes another good point:
Originally Posted by gwing
... the final product has to stand on its merit, and it doesn't matter how it is achieved or what technology it uses, the acid test is how well it sounds and plays.

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