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Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. #2848899
05/16/19 03:59 PM
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Below is a link to a very easy to understand video on speaker design. The point of it is that measurements don't always describe what you hear, and that use of plain old trust in your ears is what counts.

So in the vid, Paul describes how the BBC engineers ignored their instruments and developed a BBC standard that put a purposeful dip in the frequency response of speakers so that they sounded better. Said another way, these guys were some of the first audiophiles.

So when you pour over say a component's frequency response curve and then pass judgement.... well.... I doubt you can predict the sound. These BBC engineers couldn't do that either... and they developed a specification based on science, then tweaked by ear.

Another issue, as I promote, is that the sound quality from our wonderful keyboards is highly dependent on the amps and speakers they are played through... a huge issue. Spending more usually produced emotional dividends... more truth (high fidelity), more enjoyment.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

https://youtu.be/CM_wAT4rBKg

Last edited by Bruce In Philly; 05/16/19 04:04 PM.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2848917
05/16/19 04:36 PM
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Well, of course, I have to take the opposite point of view!

Warning, this video is more than an hour long, but anyone interested in high quality audio should watch (and also read his book).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrpUDuUtxPM

Some takeaways:
- Never evaluate speakers in stereo. Evaluate one speaker because it will reveal flaws more clearly.
- Never evaluate two speakers at a time. Evaluate 3 or more, since two might have the same flaws.
- in large (350 listeners), double blind tests, speakers that measure well (flat frequency response, smooth directivity) are preferred by all groups.
- This correlation is so strong that one can *predict* listener preference of an unknown speaker from measurements.
- sighted tests fail even the best listeners
- salespeople have the worst hearing

Some of my observations:
- Audiophile reviewers generally are older men. Hearing loss is more common for men (too many rock concerts? hobbies that damage hearing?), and hearing (especially high frequency) degrades as we age. I would never trust a review by a 50+ year old who can't hear past 12KHz.
- phase doesn't impact sound preference very much. A flat frequency response matter a lot more.

Last edited by redfish1901; 05/16/19 04:45 PM.
Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2848925
05/16/19 05:07 PM
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If you read microphone reviews and look at their frequency plots, you may notice that many of them have a slight boost in the higher frequencies. Not all, but many. I've always thought this is why headphones and speakers sound better with a dip in those frequencies.

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2848935
05/16/19 05:50 PM
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Short version:

Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
...The point of it is that measurements don't always describe what you hear, and that use of plain old trust in your ears is what counts....


Originally Posted by redfish1901
- in large (350 listeners), double blind tests, speakers that measure well (flat frequency response, smooth directivity) are preferred by all groups.
- This correlation is so strong that one can *predict* listener preference of an unknown speaker from measurements.


These are opposite statements. Only one of them is from a published research.

Olive, SE 2004: A Multiple Regression Model for Predicting Loudspeaker Preference Using Objective Measurements Part 1 and 2:
http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=12794
http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=12847

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: redfish1901] #2848949
05/16/19 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by redfish1901
Short version:

Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
...The point of it is that measurements don't always describe what you hear, and that use of plain old trust in your ears is what counts....


Originally Posted by redfish1901
- in large (350 listeners), double blind tests, speakers that measure well (flat frequency response, smooth directivity) are preferred by all groups.
- This correlation is so strong that one can *predict* listener preference of an unknown speaker from measurements.


These are opposite statements. Only one of them is from a published research.

Olive, SE 2004: A Multiple Regression Model for Predicting Loudspeaker Preference Using Objective Measurements Part 1 and 2:
http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=12794
http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=12847

There's a quote in the abstract of the second paper which states "The premise of the CU model is that the sound power response of the loudspeaker should be flat, which we show is negatively correlated with preference rating". That statement seems to imply a flat response sounds worse than a non-flat response.

I love myself some low distortion, fast transient response, and flat, extended FR. But there are bassheads, trebleheads, Harman response curve heads (for headphones) and everything in between. There are people who like cuts in higher frequency simply to reduce sibilance and fatigue, and then there are even people who like low frequency distortion. How you like to listen to your sound is a personal preference. As the word "like" implies.

Also, by the way, some of the most legendary microphones in history have non-flat frequency responses:
https://en-de.neumann.com/u-87-ai#technical-data
https://pro.sony/ue_US/product-resources/brochures/brochure-c-800g
https://www.shure.com/en-US/products/microphones/sm57
(if you search for specifications or brochures you'll find the frequency response plots)

These non-flat responses serve to flatter different singers, different instruments, or different rooms. On top of that, mixers often add EQ for further flattery.

I am an objectivist and I believe measurements can tell us quite a lot about the sound of our gear. But that doesn't change the fact that people - both musicians and listeners - have preferences.

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2848989
05/16/19 08:00 PM
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Truth be told! Instruments don't listen to my speakers. But my ears do.
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
... measurements don't always describe what you hear, and that use of plain old trust in your ears is what counts.
I don't care what the instruments report. I only hear what my ears report.

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Philosobyte] #2849134
05/17/19 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Philosobyte


I love myself some low distortion, fast transient response, and flat, extended FR. But there are bassheads, trebleheads, Harman response curve heads (for headphones) and everything in between. There are people who like cuts in higher frequency simply to reduce sibilance and fatigue, and then there are even people who like low frequency distortion. How you like to listen to your sound is a personal preference. As the word "like" implies.



Very well put!


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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849137
05/17/19 07:41 AM
05/17/19 07:41 AM
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This entire topic, in my humble opinion, wrongly assumes digital pianos are only standard audio products: stereo sound source which you should be able to connect to your choice of audiophile transport, DAC, preamp, amp, speakers, cables, interconnects. And one would prefer flat curve or V-shaped curve, etc. Which is OK when you build an audio system for enjoying music. However, IMO, it has nothing to do with piano playing. When you sit at a Steinway, you can't change to Harman curve or V-shaped sound. It's an acoustic instrument which sounds like it sounds. It radiates sound from the entire soundboard, not just stereo. Which is why premium digital pianos come with multichannel sampling and elaborate reproduction systems.

I mean, I understand the desire for audiophiles to also intrude the digital piano world with their obsessions but it's just not applicable here.

P.S. My response is based on the presence of this thread in the digital piano forum. If it is only about audiophile talk unrelated to digital pianos, then maybe it should be labeled as offtopic. And frankly, there are so many audiophile forums on the Internet I don't see any sense in polluting the digital piano forum with that.

Last edited by CyberGene; 05/17/19 07:44 AM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849147
05/17/19 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
This entire topic, in my humble opinion, wrongly assumes digital pianos are only standard audio products: stereo sound source which you should be able to connect to your choice of audiophile transport, DAC, preamp, amp, speakers, cables, interconnects. And one would prefer flat curve or V-shaped curve, etc. Which is OK when you build an audio system for enjoying music. However, IMO, it has nothing to do with piano playing. When you sit at a Steinway, you can't change to Harman curve or V-shaped sound. It's an acoustic instrument which sounds like it sounds. It radiates sound from the entire soundboard, not just stereo. Which is why premium digital pianos come with multichannel sampling and elaborate reproduction systems.

I mean, I understand the desire for audiophiles to also intrude the digital piano world with their obsessions but it's just not applicable here.

P.S. My response is based on the presence of this thread in the digital piano forum. If it is only about audiophile talk unrelated to digital pianos, then maybe it should be labeled as offtopic. And frankly, there are so many audiophile forums on the Internet I don't see any sense in polluting the digital piano forum with that.

True, you can't EQ the sound of a real piano. But you can choose which piano to play wink
Some pianos have thunderous bass and treble sweetness (Bosendorfer), huge dynamics (Mason & Hamlin), warmth even in high notes (Steinway), clarity (Bechstein/Yamaha/Ravenscroft), etc. Of course these are generalizations/stereotypes and each piano sounds different, even among the same manufacturer, but you get the idea.
You can also voice the pianos to sound differently.

Last edited by Philosobyte; 05/17/19 07:59 AM.
Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849153
05/17/19 08:35 AM
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You can EQ a real piano... Placement, lid, pedals.... You do have some control. But the piano designer/builder... oh they spent a career eq'ing them.

Peace
Bruce in Philly


Peace
Bruce in Philly
Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: CyberGene] #2849175
05/17/19 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
This entire topic, in my humble opinion, wrongly assumes digital pianos are only standard audio products: stereo sound source which you should be able to connect to your choice of audiophile transport, DAC, preamp, amp, speakers, cables, interconnects. And one would prefer flat curve or V-shaped curve, etc. Which is OK when you build an audio system for enjoying music. However, IMO, it has nothing to do with piano playing. When you sit at a Steinway, you can't change to Harman curve or V-shaped sound. It's an acoustic instrument which sounds like it sounds. It radiates sound from the entire soundboard, not just stereo. Which is why premium digital pianos come with multichannel sampling and elaborate reproduction systems.

I mean, I understand the desire for audiophiles to also intrude the digital piano world with their obsessions but it's just not applicable here.

P.S. My response is based on the presence of this thread in the digital piano forum. If it is only about audiophile talk unrelated to digital pianos, then maybe it should be labeled as offtopic. And frankly, there are so many audiophile forums on the Internet I don't see any sense in polluting the digital piano forum with that.

If it were as simple as that there would only be one acoustic piano on the market smile

Acoustic Pianists are every bit as bad as audiophiles when it comes to discussing the relative merits of Hamburg vs New York Steinways, then they (we) go on about voicing the piano. And that is before we start covering the merits of having a rug underneath the piano and tapestries on the walls to change the sound.

And even in the DP world we can discuss the merits of a CFX sample over a Bosendorfer or VST against sampled sound.

The N1X has a mass of parameters you can tune, i think going down to the level of tuning the response to each string individually - certainly far more control than is available in a conventional audiophile hi fi reproduction system.

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849205
05/17/19 10:56 AM
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^ percy64, well, that's true but it's enough that we have the this-vs-that in the acoustic pianos and then this-vs-that in the digital pianos to also add now purely audiophile talk regarding speakers and amps and their utmost importance smile Wondering if there will soon be someone who will post how he replaced capacitors in his digital piano and it's a "night and day" difference now smile

Last edited by CyberGene; 05/17/19 10:57 AM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: CyberGene] #2849226
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
^ percy64, well, that's true but it's enough that we have the this-vs-that in the acoustic pianos and then this-vs-that in the digital pianos to also add now purely audiophile talk regarding speakers and amps and their utmost importance smile Wondering if there will soon be someone who will post how he replaced capacitors in his digital piano and it's a "night and day" difference now smile


When will people on here stop comparing the sound quality of all the different digital pianos, they’re obsessed! :-)


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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: CyberGene] #2849240
05/17/19 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
This entire topic, in my humble opinion, wrongly assumes digital pianos are only standard audio products: stereo sound source which you should be able to connect to your choice of audiophile transport, DAC, preamp, amp, speakers, cables, interconnects. And one would prefer flat curve or V-shaped curve, etc. Which is OK when you build an audio system for enjoying music. However, IMO, it has nothing to do with piano playing. When you sit at a Steinway, you can't change to Harman curve or V-shaped sound. It's an acoustic instrument which sounds like it sounds. It radiates sound from the entire soundboard, not just stereo. Which is why premium digital pianos come with multichannel sampling and elaborate reproduction systems.

I mean, I understand the desire for audiophiles to also intrude the digital piano world with their obsessions but it's just not applicable here.

P.S. My response is based on the presence of this thread in the digital piano forum. If it is only about audiophile talk unrelated to digital pianos, then maybe it should be labeled as offtopic. And frankly, there are so many audiophile forums on the Internet I don't see any sense in polluting the digital piano forum with that.


+1

I really don't understand why such a topic belongs here either. There are plenty of audiophile forums, as you say. No need to infuse this forum with audiophilese as well. Now there are reasonable discussions to be had about the built-in speaker systems in digital or hybrid pianos. They are underwhelming, IMO... using headphones is a night and day difference for me. But discussions which are not directly related to the audio technology inside our DPs don't belong in the DP forum IMHO as well.

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849283
05/17/19 01:43 PM
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+2. This started with a reference to a video on speaker design. But this is Piano World, not Speaker World.

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849452
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I'm not sure why posting about speakers is OT for this forum. Unless you are an "I only use headphones" type of person, it seems to me that speakers are an integral part of the DP esperience.


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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: SoundThumb] #2849466
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Originally Posted by SoundThumb
I'm not sure why posting about speakers is OT for this forum. Unless you are an "I only use headphones" type of person, it seems to me that speakers are an integral part of the DP esperience.


To my mind, speakers are the Achilles heel of digital pianos and I find it hard to believe that any digital piano uses high quality drivers, given the cost structures of digital pianos. I’m prepared to be proven wrong but that’s my gut feeling.

I spent a lot of money to purchase an exceptional pair of audiophile speakers and the system to drive them. I can hear you saying that I should just marry my digital piano to the stereo, except that would mean I would need to put the piano in front of the television or in place of the television, which is awkward in the former, and precludes us from watching films in the latter.

A big part of me feels that I will never be happy unless I buy a high quality acoustic piano, and that it is similar to how I bonded with high quality classical guitars and not electric guitars. There is just something about the sound, and immediacy of acoustic instruments that holds me in thrall.

Last edited by LarryK; 05/18/19 03:05 AM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: LarryK] #2849487
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Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by SoundThumb
I'm not sure why posting about speakers is OT for this forum. Unless you are an "I only use headphones" type of person, it seems to me that speakers are an integral part of the DP esperience.


To my mind, speakers are the Achilles heel of digital pianos and I find it hard to believe that any digital piano uses high quality drivers, given the cost structures of digital pianos. I’m prepared to be proven wrong but that’s my gut feeling.

I spent a lot of money to purchase an exceptional pair of audiophile speakers and the system to drive them. I can hear you saying that I should just marry my digital piano to the stereo, except that would mean I would need to put the piano in front of the television or in place of the television, which is awkward in the former, and precludes us from watching films in the latter.

A big part of me feels that I will never be happy unless I buy a high quality acoustic piano, and that it is similar to how I bonded with high quality classical guitars and not electric guitars. There is just something about the sound, and immediacy of acoustic instruments that holds me in thrall.


I don't think there's any doubt that the internal speakers is where DP's currently fall really short. There is a reason a lot of people in the acoustic forum swear by uprights which are at least 125 cm high (preferrably 130 or 132), or grands which are at the very least 170 cm long. It's about the same thing: Getting a good enough "sound system" in the instrument. That's why I have reverted to mostly using headphones with DP's. The internal speaker systems just don't do it for me. And connecting to monitors (I've done that as well at times) can be cumbersome, and also loses some of the immediacy when playing (where do you place them? How do you make sure you sit exactly in the sweetspot when playing?).

I also share your sentiment about the immediacy of acoustic instruments. No audophile systems or PA systems are remotely close to giving me the feeling I get from hearing or playing acoustic instruments in an intimate acoustic environment.

As I said, I do think it's interesting to discuss how speakers are implemented in DP's. Or discuss choices for connecting DP's to speaker systems. But pure audiophile discussions - "I exchanged my power chord and even my wife noticed it on the phone from Australia" - still seems to me to be OT here. There are countless forums on the internet people can seek out if they are interested in that.

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849528
05/18/19 09:04 AM
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I don't hide it... I am on a bit of a mission to influence/inform, that speakers and amplification are really important to producing/reproducing the sound in our digital instruments. Once you get that, there is another hurdle... that different amps, speakers can have a profound effect on the emotional connection you have with the instrument. Then there is a third hurdle.... that a given amp or speaker can have a profound effect... say a negative effect even though the watts/inches/frequency curves tell you it should be good. Or others here on forums tell you this or that. It is all about the sound that is produced... and for that, you must try out stuff and trust your ears and emotions. A system's specs mean little.

I am about liberating someone to go down the path of trying out something new.... plug into something else... take that old stereo system in your basement, pull it out and plug in your board...try it! Learn for yourself!

Don't accept that metallic sound you hear or attribute to the keyboard's sound generation capability.... "Roland's modeled pianos sound metallic... they are no good". I am willing to bet if they do, it is probably your cheap transistor amplification that is doing that. (BTW, did you ever notice that your keyboard sounds a bit better, less "tinky" after your amplifier warms up?)

I am also convinced that the proliferation of headphone use is a direct symptom of bad amps/speakers... although most don't get that. Sure, headphone use is big because of the privacy issue... but beyond that, I bet it is because of crappy amps/speakers. Headphones can just sound better due to the direct coupling of the eardrum to the speaker driver .... but even headphones are hampered by crappy 50 cent op amp chips in the keyboard.

I guess I can leave one peice of advice... when someone writes a review or comment about how bad or good a particular keyboard or VST sounds, ask them through what amp/speakers they are using to pass this judgement... or in the case of a VST, what digital-to-analog converter they are using. You can't go by a review without this information.

Oh, and since amplifiers/speakers are a so very important, it then becomes a question of "how do they sound?" or "which is better?"... and that is an audiophile question... and should be no different than a simple musician's question. They are the same pursuits... or should be.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

Last edited by Bruce In Philly; 05/18/19 09:11 AM.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: oivavoi] #2849536
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Originally Posted by oivavoi
Originally Posted by LarryK
Originally Posted by SoundThumb
I'm not sure why posting about speakers is OT for this forum. Unless you are an "I only use headphones" type of person, it seems to me that speakers are an integral part of the DP esperience.


To my mind, speakers are the Achilles heel of digital pianos and I find it hard to believe that any digital piano uses high quality drivers, given the cost structures of digital pianos. I’m prepared to be proven wrong but that’s my gut feeling.

I spent a lot of money to purchase an exceptional pair of audiophile speakers and the system to drive them. I can hear you saying that I should just marry my digital piano to the stereo, except that would mean I would need to put the piano in front of the television or in place of the television, which is awkward in the former, and precludes us from watching films in the latter.

A big part of me feels that I will never be happy unless I buy a high quality acoustic piano, and that it is similar to how I bonded with high quality classical guitars and not electric guitars. There is just something about the sound, and immediacy of acoustic instruments that holds me in thrall.


I don't think there's any doubt that the internal speakers is where DP's currently fall really short. There is a reason a lot of people in the acoustic forum swear by uprights which are at least 125 cm high (preferrably 130 or 132), or grands which are at the very least 170 cm long. It's about the same thing: Getting a good enough "sound system" in the instrument. That's why I have reverted to mostly using headphones with DP's. The internal speaker systems just don't do it for me. And connecting to monitors (I've done that as well at times) can be cumbersome, and also loses some of the immediacy when playing (where do you place them? How do you make sure you sit exactly in the sweetspot when playing?).

I also share your sentiment about the immediacy of acoustic instruments. No audophile systems or PA systems are remotely close to giving me the feeling I get from hearing or playing acoustic instruments in an intimate acoustic environment.

As I said, I do think it's interesting to discuss how speakers are implemented in DP's. Or discuss choices for connecting DP's to speaker systems. But pure audiophile discussions - "I exchanged my power chord and even my wife noticed it on the phone from Australia" - still seems to me to be OT here. There are countless forums on the internet people can seek out if they are interested in that.



Yes, to get the best sound from my digital piano when it is connected to my stereo, I need to have the digital piano replace my couch! It’s a non-starter, my wife would never go for that.

I’ve been through a number of stereo upgrades in the last thirty years and I’m not a tweaker. When I change something, I make sure that whatever I change changes the sound dramatically.

Changing from small cheap bookshelf speakers through various floor standers to the carefully constructed and hand built drivers I run now has been a huge change. Going from pretty anemic Class AB amplifiers, through small Class A amps to the massive Class A behemoth I run now has also changed my sound dramatically. The same goes for moving from the DAC inside a CD player to a dedicated separate R2R ladder DAC. I’ve evolved through preamps until I got to one that is incredibly quiet and offers a lot of functionality.

One of my friends said I didn’t believe in half measures but that’s because she hasn’t seen the evolution of my system over decades. I believe in doing the best I can with the limited money I have but I don’t obsess over silly things like power cords.



Last edited by LarryK; 05/18/19 09:25 AM.

Yamaha U1 Silent Piano
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