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1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library #2750963
07/12/18 12:37 PM
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What is the actual technical impact of 1GB for the Nord Piano Library on the Nord Piano 4, versus the 2GB on the Nord Stage 3? Does it affect the quality of a single library, or is it about having multiple libraries loaded simultaneously?

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Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2750971
07/12/18 01:15 PM
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The latter.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: anotherscott] #2750991
07/12/18 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
The latter.
Thanks! Just unnecessarily pining for a new gadget after some years. My RD-700NX is 8 year old tech, but having read up on the RD-2000, it's not the one. So little has changed in general for all brands, it seems.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2751323
07/13/18 09:44 PM
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All the samples are the same, regardless of Nord instrument. There might be better actions, or better reproduction, but the source files are identical.

I recently bumped up to a Nord Stage 3 Compact with 2 GB of piano memory. That lets me load more than a few XL samples. Of course, the action is pure organ, but I drive it with my trusty Nord Piano 2. For the most part, the L samples are more than adequate -- except when you're doing something "special".


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Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2751969
07/16/18 06:53 PM
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After realizing that 2TB ssds have been on sale recently as low as $250 shipped, I kind of lost interest in Nord when they charge $1300 for an extra 1GB / unlocked features, it seems like a stone age product. Maybe next year will bring something more interesting from someone. I also wandered through the Nord online library ... did I miss something? The non-piano samples seem low quality.

What I wanted to do was buy something different for myself, and park the 700NX at my dad's house for a while. Then me and my brother have something to play when visiting dad. Sort of some open ended window shopping. Maybe something generic like a DGX-660 would fit the bill for a "family gathering" dp, hah.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2751976
07/16/18 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by xorbe
After realizing that 2TB ssds have been on sale recently as low as $250 shipped, I kind of lost interest in Nord when they charge $1300 for an extra 1GB / unlocked features,.

This is basically like saying, "After learning that a gallon of tap water costs under a penny, I've lost interest in driving, when they charge over $3 for a gallon of gas." The fact that SSDs and the stuff Nord puts in a keyboard are both measured in megabytes dosn't mean they are any more similar than water and gasoline which are bot measured in gallons.

However, I agree that the (non piano) sample library is not as high quality as many other boards, it simply doesn't have the same kind of architecture for those sounds, not supporting things like multiple velocity levels or alternate articulations. You just kind of have to accept, that's not what Nord does, and if that's what you need, this isn't the board for you. Unless maybe it's part of a complementary pair.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2751986
07/16/18 07:59 PM
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High end cpu engineer here, sorry but flash ram is flash ram, water vs gas where did you cook up a comparison like that, lol. Of course that price bump includes more knobs and sliders and after touch and the unlocked feature set which is really the where premium is, not the memory. Anyway.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2751995
07/16/18 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by xorbe
High end cpu engineer here, sorry but flash ram is flash ram, water vs gas where did you cook up a comparison like that, lol. Of course that price bump includes more knobs and sliders and after touch and the unlocked feature set which is really the where premium is, not the memory. Anyway.


We had a recent friendly debate around flash memory last month that you will enjoy. Feel free to start here:

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...mple-memory-is-in-there.html#Post2749965

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2751997
07/16/18 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by xorbe
High end cpu engineer here, sorry but flash ram is flash ram

Absolutely not.

Get a basic overview about NAND flash vs. NOR flash at https://www.micron.com/~/media/documents/products/product-flyer/nor_nand_flash_guide.pdf

(And there are actually even sub-categories, different kinds of NAND flash and different kinds of NOR.)

What Nord does requires NOR flash, its functionality is as different from NAND flash as RAM is different from a hard drive (RAM and hard drive being another example of things that are functionally quite different and not interchangeable despite both being measured in the same units, like water and gasoline, or sugar and flour if you prefer). Then check your engineering sources and look at the price difference between a gigabyte of NOR flash and a gigabyte of NAND flash. It is analogous to comparing a gigabyte of RAM vs. a gigabyte of hard drive storage.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752622
07/19/18 01:35 PM
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To me that was a poor design choice on their part. There's a reason the rest of the computational industry went in a different direction than that (the storage hierarchy of faster and smaller, to slower and larger). I've crossed Nord off my shopping list. We've had Casio and Yamaha and Roland already. Will probably try a Korg of some type next.

Last edited by xorbe; 07/19/18 01:35 PM.
Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752628
07/19/18 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by xorbe
I've crossed Nord off my shopping list. We've had Casio and Yamaha and Roland already. Will probably try a Korg of some type next.


Crossed them off your list due to what? How they played and sounded to you? Because that's the only reason to cross anything off your list. If you're making arbitrary decisions based purely on technical specs you are in for disappointment.

I played Korg Grandstage the other day, wanting to like it. Hoping to love it. Intending to buy it. Despite a 60GB SSD in the thing and multi-gigabyte samples of several different pianos It really wasn't very good for me. The Nord (which I bought) was, to my ears, night and day better. The lowly Yamaha CP40 outplayed it too and had an intrinsically more pleasing sound to my ears, despite its creaky old specs.

Do yourself a big favour and just stop comparing specs; it bears no relationship whatsoever to what you may or may not like.


Roland RD-1000 | Yamaha CLP 645 | Broadwood Barless 7' 6"
Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752638
07/19/18 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by xorbe
To me that was a poor design choice on their part.

Every choice has its advantages and disadvantages. When Nord began this approach in 2005 (albeit with a mere 128 mb), the technological landscape was a bit different, but even today, few other boards can do what Nord does, and those boards have their own tradeoffs. For example, Kronos is one of the few other boards that allows you to add new, large sample sets... but the alternative technology they chose means it takes over two minutes to boot.

Originally Posted by xorbe
There's a reason the rest of the computational industry went in a different direction than that (the storage hierarchy of faster and smaller, to slower and larger).

The selection of NOR vs. NAND is not based on size or speed, it's mostly based on whether you want the flash to act as RAM (the processor accesses it directly) or you want the flash to act like disk storage (data must be copied into RAM before anything can be done wth it). The latter also requires additional hardware (MMU) and software (OS) infrastructure to handle all the data shuffling. That's why Korg's solution was basically to use a PC motherboard running Linux.

Originally Posted by xorbe
I've crossed Nord off my shopping list. .

What Essbrace said.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: EssBrace] #2752652
07/19/18 05:15 PM
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Bravo, Ess-meister.
Originally Posted by EssBrace
Crossed them off your list due to what? How they played and sounded to you? Because that's the only reason to cross anything off your list. If you're making arbitrary decisions based purely on technical specs you are in for disappointment.
I wouldn't care if they put circus-performing squirrels inside the piano ... if that made the piano perform better.
Results are what counts, not specs.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752656
07/19/18 05:32 PM
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@anotherscott : the MMU is required when you want to use logical addresses different than physical addresses. I suppose you mean DMA (Direct Memory Access), which permits a device (the Flash memory interface) to access directly the memory, then the CPU does have to handle each byte transfer.

I did remember that the original 8086 and some 680xx don’t have MMU but where able to use a disk but not as efficiently than nowadays CPUs.

Last edited by Frédéric L; 07/19/18 05:42 PM.

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Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752662
07/19/18 06:11 PM
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typo alert, Frédéric L
> then the CPU does *not* have to handle each byte transfer.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: Frédéric L] #2752667
07/19/18 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
I did remember that the original 8086 and some 680xx don’t have MMU but where able to use a disk but not as efficiently than nowadays CPUs.

Models without MMU could not do virtual memory. The 68000 could not do it at all, the 68020 could so it with an optional external MMU, and the MMU was built in on the 68030 and up. In the Intel world, the 80286 was the first with built in MMU. In order to stream a piano (that is, play a piano sample that is bigger than what can fit into available RAM), my understanding is that you need an MMU to handle the low-level real-time swapping of data between storage and RAM.

I don't believe DMA comes into this at all (i.e. I don't think it is a factor in streaming piano from hard disk or flash dives).

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752748
07/20/18 08:17 AM
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If you wait the MMU to trigger the page loading, your sample will come too late when you need it.

What you can do is to declare a thread which reads ahead samples, and a second thread which sends them to DAC. If you use a circular buffer, the memory is reused while reading the samples. You just need classic inter-thread synchronization to prevent readings to go to fast and erase samples before they are needed. The MMU has no utility.

The DMA is just an optimisation, and can reduce the needed CPU power.

Last edited by Frédéric L; 07/20/18 08:18 AM.

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Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: anotherscott] #2752758
07/20/18 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by Frédéric L
I did remember that the original 8086 and some 680xx don’t have MMU but where able to use a disk but not as efficiently than nowadays CPUs.

Models without MMU could not do virtual memory. The 68000 could not do it at all, the 68020 could so it with an optional external MMU, and the MMU was built in on the 68030 and up. In the Intel world, the 80286 was the first with built in MMU. In order to stream a piano (that is, play a piano sample that is bigger than what can fit into available RAM), my understanding is that you need an MMU to handle the low-level real-time swapping of data between storage and RAM.

I don't believe DMA comes into this at all (i.e. I don't think it is a factor in streaming piano from hard disk or flash dives).


MMU goes way back before the 68000 and the other 'modern' chips you quote. It was present even in early 8bit designs albeit in more primitive form and referred to then as 'bank switching'. You don't actually need a MMU to swap data between storage and RAM though, I actually played around and wrote a virtual memory system under CPM for the old Z80 processor switching data between its floppy drive and RAM, it wasn't fast but it got around the problem of only having 64K of memory (yes that was K not M or G :-) ). Also did the same on 8bit 6502 but in that case switching between RAM banks to get around a 32K memory limit, that one was very limited in the amount of additional RAM I could provide but was lightning fast, essentially instantaneous.

Admittedly Sun at one time used their Multibus for data transfers instead of having separate data and address busses and as a result leveraged their MMU for data transfers, but that isn't a common architecture. DMA is what we use to offload data transfers from the CPU.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: Frédéric L] #2752762
07/20/18 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
If you wait the MMU to trigger the page loading, your sample will come too late when you need it.

.


Well, that would depend on how long the page load takes :-)

If we take something like 5ms as acceptable latency for a virtual piano real time streaming seems very manageable with adequate hardware. The Fusion io card here in my server has a read latency of 68 microseconds i.e. just 0.068ms so there would be no need for any pre-load or waiting pool of sample buffers at all.

Now if we are talking sensible storage devices latency is likely to be much higher, perhaps 0.3ms for a decent SATA connected SSD, but even that would seem to make starting a note playing directly from storage within 1ms or so (plus the latency of the sound card/chip) plausible.

Last edited by gwing; 07/20/18 10:03 AM.
Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: gwing] #2752763
07/20/18 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by gwing
You don't actually need a MMU to swap data between storage and RAM though

Originally Posted by Frédéric L
If you wait the MMU to trigger the page loading, your sample will come too late when you need it.


You folks may be right about not needing an MMU per se, I don't know for sure, but the question would still remain whether or not the processors that exist in most keyboard would have the facility (MMU or otherwise) to do high speed real-time swaps between storage and RAM, and what would have to be done on the OS level to permit it.

As for samples coming too late when you need them, that's always a concern, and is why a chunk of every sample is pre-loaded into RAM before you even start playing. The rest of the system then doesn't have to be instantaneous, it just has to be able to (continuously) retrieve additional audio data at least as quickly as the rate at which the amount of the sound that is already in RAM is being played, i.e. it has to essentially fill the buffer as fast as it is being used.

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