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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
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The latter.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: anotherscott] #2750991
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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".


Life is too short to be playing bad music.

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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
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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 | Nord Piano 3 | Dexibell Vivo P7
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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752766
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Is this so hard for a piano? If so, then why is it that my old laptop could run VSTs (using your grandmother's 5400 RPM drive) without problems?

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752774
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How hard for the piano ? This depends of the piano makers and if he want a 0 latency piano. Yamaha has developped for the Montage and the Genos a chip which can stream samples through a ONFI interface. The job is done and it just has to be ported to orher instruments.

For other makers, we have the Kronos : a PC like architecture, then Korg has used a Linux architecture. But I suppose the latency to be higher.

The flash latency can be avoided with a read ahead implementation : it should not be difficult to do. But I have to admit some Flash (Nand ? Nor?) have a very low latency. I have seen on eBay, iofusion cards are sold 1€/1GB... more expensive than SATA SSD but not too much if we use few GB.


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Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: Frédéric L] #2752791
07/20/18 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Is this so hard for a piano? If so, then why is it that my old laptop could run VSTs (using your grandmother's 5400 RPM drive) without problems?

Same issue as before. The problem isn't that a hard drive (or NAND flash) is not fast enough, it's that there has typically been no mechanism by which a keyboard can swap data between storage and RAM in real time (it basically has required a computer running a streaming-capable version of Linux, Windows, or OSX). Kurzweil seems to have figured out another way to do it in the Forte, but their approach is patented (Flashplay), so whatever they're doing, no other piano maker can do it exactly like that, either. (Nor do we know whether Flashplay can actually be implemented in something much less expensive.) And now it looks like we can add Yamaha to the list of problem solvers (see below). But regardless (and getting back to what we were talking about in the other thread), you just can't toss cheap NAND flash into an existing design, any more than you can just toss a 5400 RPM drive into an existing design, because again, speed isn't the big concern here.

Originally Posted by Frédéric L
Yamaha has developped for the Montage and the Genos a chip which can stream samples through a ONFI interface. The job is done and it just has to be ported to orher instruments.

Thanks for the pointer about the Montage, which I had never looked into in detail. Interesting info at:
http://orgaforum.ro/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?8964

Some of that info is above my pay grade, but they seem to have found another way to skin this cat. This is a new approach for Yamaha, since the previous way they handled larger (and customizable) data sets was through NOR flash, which, again, is very expensive (and is what Nord uses). Check the 1 GB flash card for the Yamaha MOXF, Motif XF, and Tyros 4, it sells for $270. For ONE gigabyte. Or $150 for half a gig. (So on the same card, the extra half gig adds $120.)

As for "it just has to be ported to other instruments," I'm sure it can be, but I would not assume that such other instruments would necessarily be inexpensive. Because again (getting back to the earlier thread referenced elsewhere, and what I just said to MMM), it's not a matter of just tossing cheap NAND flash into a low-cost design, there's a lot of other stuff going on in there to make it work, as you can see from that link.

Originally Posted by Frédéric L
The flash latency can be avoided with a read ahead implementation : it should not be difficult to do. But I have to admit some Flash (Nand ? Nor?) have a very low latency. I have seen on eBay, iofusion cards are sold 1€/1GB... more expensive than SATA SSD but not too much if we use few GB.

NOR flash is basically equivalent to RAM, having effectively zero latency. But it is also quite expensive. Nothing like 1€/1GB. As for a read-ahead implementation for NAND, you are again now talking about needing a mechanism (hardware and OS) by which data can be swapped from storage to RAM in real-time.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752794
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« As for "it just has to be ported to other instruments," I'm sure it can be, but I would not assume that such other instruments would necessarily be inexpensive. ». The ONFI interface of the Montage chip (SWP70) is made for NAND flash : not too expensive I suppose. The Motif used on older chip.

Last edited by Frédéric L; 07/20/18 12:04 PM.

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Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: Frédéric L] #2752796
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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
« As for "it just has to be ported to other instruments," I'm sure it can be, but I would not assume that such other instruments would necessarily be inexpensive. ». The ONFI interface of the Montage chip (SWP70) is made for NAND flash : not too expensive I suppose. The Motif used on older chip.

Yes, the NAND makes it more cost effective than the previous NOR approach. But again (referencing that link), there's a whole bunch of other stuff in there too, making it work. Maybe it can make for a much cheaper, high GB piano, maybe it can't. I'm just saying, I don't know, and I don't think any of us has enough knowledge to assume it will necessarily be so.

BTW, does anyone know what the boot time is on a Montage?

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752812
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Or what the boot time on a Kronos2 is?

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2752826
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Originally Posted by xorbe
Or what the boot time on a Kronos2 is?

Boot time is about 90 sec on my Kronos 2. Can be longer if you have lots of really huge samples to preload.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: ando] #2753110
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Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by xorbe
Or what the boot time on a Kronos2 is?

Boot time is about 90 sec on my Kronos 2. Can be longer if you have lots of really huge samples to preload.

Mine is about 1:45 and I don't think I have anything loading but the stock sample set. I think it's faster than the original Kronos, though.

Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2753131
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According to https://yamahamusicians.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9156 the Montage boot in 16 seconds. However it is has quite more function than a digital piano.


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Re: 1GB NP4 vs 2GB NS3 wrt Nord Piano Library [Re: xorbe] #2753217
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Aren't we supposed to be musicians here? Why are we making instrument choices based on the technology inside instead of sound and playability?

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