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Limitations of Stage Pianos #2919078 12/02/19 01:35 PM
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I've been considering changing my slab piano for a stage piano so that it provides more flexibility - a wider variety of high quality non-piano sounds and better DAW/Mainstage integration with some assignable controls, but at the same time want to maintain the highest quality action and piano sound.

The CP88 looked great on paper, but when you look/listen more closely the base CFX piano sound is a less sophisticated sound to that on the P515. Not a problem, everybody raves about the MP11SE so I'll switch to Kawai, always liked their actions. But same thing, the base piano sound isn't equivalent to that which you find in the CA78/98 etc.

So is this always going to be the case or do we think the MP11SE successor will acquire Pianist Mode or is that that the limited processing power has to do so many other things on a stage piano that it's not an option ?

I don't know if it's the same the for RD2000 versus say the FP90 but I'm not mad on Roland piano sounds or the action.

There's the Nord Grand which I'm warming to but it seems expensive given it's based on a Kawai plastic action though it plays nicely enough.

I'm beginning to think I'm best of keeping my P515, adding any sounds from the MAC, and potentially getting a small controller if I want some assignable controls.

Other suggestions/thoughts welcome.

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Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919085 12/02/19 02:05 PM
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In Kawai's case, it's just that the current MP series was released before the new sound engine/interface was ready, and such hasn't yet been updated with the latest sound engine. Frankly, I'm curious to see how they'll do so, as nice as the touchscreen is for home, it doesn't seem like it'd be particularly durable or intuitive for fast selections/switchings during live gigs.

Yamaha, OTOH, seems to have made a conscious decision NOT to put a number of piano-specific features into the CP88 in order to prioritize its stage piano/controller functions.

Roland is in the same boat as Kawai, the FP-90 and RD-2000 were released prior to its current "PureAcoustic" engine and so they don't have it.

If you already have a P-515, I wouldn't think you'd get a huge bang for the buck upgrading to anything in a slab format. That's already a fine instrument.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919251 12/03/19 12:04 AM
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There's nothing wrong with a P-515. I don't care for its action, and prefer the RH-III action of the MP7SE or Nord Grand, but that's a very personal thing. If you like the P-515 action, it has nice integration with VSTs where the keyboard functions as a DAC for a VST multiplexing digital audio sent from computer to keyboard and midi sent from keyboard to computer over a single USB cable connection. This is pretty slick. Attach to a computer that has an active VST and the P-515 will behave mostly like it is a built-in sound, rendering the sound, playing it through its speakers, and routing to line and headphone outputs. I wish the P-515 action worked for me. There is alot to like about the instrument, including, but not limited to its attractive price.


Login name is a tribute to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, arguably the historically first great keyboard virtuoso.
Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: Gombessa] #2919436 12/03/19 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Gombessa
In Kawai's case, it's just that the current MP series was released before the new sound engine/interface was ready, and such hasn't yet been updated with the latest sound engine. Frankly, I'm curious to see how they'll do so, as nice as the touchscreen is for home, it doesn't seem like it'd be particularly durable or intuitive for fast selections/switchings during live gigs.


I think what I was trying to say is that Pianist mode on the current Kawai's only works when pretty much everything else is switched off - now that's an understandable (but not ideal) approach for a console piano but less so in a functionally rich stage piano. So either they need to give it more processing power, more than their other pianos, or limit when the highest quality sound can be used, or not add it at all as per Yamaha.

Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: Sweelinck] #2919437 12/03/19 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
There's nothing wrong with a P-515. I don't care for its action, and prefer the RH-III action of the MP7SE or Nord Grand, but that's a very personal thing. If you like the P-515 action, it has nice integration with VSTs where the keyboard functions as a DAC for a VST multiplexing digital audio sent from computer to keyboard and midi sent from keyboard to computer over a single USB cable connection. This is pretty slick. Attach to a computer that has an active VST and the P-515 will behave mostly like it is a built-in sound, rendering the sound, playing it through its speakers, and routing to line and headphone outputs. I wish the P-515 action worked for me. There is alot to like about the instrument, including, but not limited to its attractive price.

I agree it's pretty good in that scenario, but there's no easy way to control the relative volume of the VST nor tweak the VST due to the lack of controls but absolutely agree that it's a great little package.

Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919443 12/03/19 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by dhts

I think what I was trying to say is that Pianist mode on the current Kawai's only works when pretty much everything else is switched off - now that's an understandable (but not ideal) approach for a console piano but less so in a functionally rich stage piano. So either they need to give it more processing power, more than their other pianos, or limit when the highest quality sound can be used, or not add it at all as per Yamaha.


Yep, that's a good point. I guess the current fallback is that Sound Mode still works with layering and all that, but Pianist Mode's focus on solo piano does present shortcomings for stage use.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919557 12/04/19 02:02 AM
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The CP88 looked great on paper, but when you look/listen more closely the base CFX piano sound is a less sophisticated sound to that on the P515. Not a problem, everybody raves about the MP11SE so I'll switch to Kawai.

I found the Bosendorfer Imperial 290 patch on the CP88 to be fairly responsive, better than the CFX patch on the same instrument. The CP88 is pricey for what you get, though. I prefer a Kawai ES8 or MP7SE and they are much cheaper. They have the same piano samples and sound engine as the MP11SE, and an action that I find reasonable. The MP11SE action is nonetheless better, and will offer better translation of practice sessions to an acoustic grand.


Login name is a tribute to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, arguably the historically first great keyboard virtuoso.
Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919612 12/04/19 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by dhts
I've been considering changing my slab piano for a stage piano so that it provides more flexibility - a wider variety of high quality non-piano sounds and better DAW/Mainstage integration with some assignable controls, but at the same time want to maintain the highest quality action and piano sound.

The CP88 looked great on paper, but when you look/listen more closely the base CFX piano sound is a less sophisticated sound to that on the P515. Not a problem, everybody raves about the MP11SE so I'll switch to Kawai, always liked their actions. But same thing, the base piano sound isn't equivalent to that which you find in the CA78/98 etc.

So is this always going to be the case or do we think the MP11SE successor will acquire Pianist Mode or is that that the limited processing power has to do so many other things on a stage piano that it's not an option ?

I don't know if it's the same the for RD2000 versus say the FP90 but I'm not mad on Roland piano sounds or the action.

There's the Nord Grand which I'm warming to but it seems expensive given it's based on a Kawai plastic action though it plays nicely enough.

I'm beginning to think I'm best of keeping my P515, adding any sounds from the MAC, and potentially getting a small controller if I want some assignable controls.

Other suggestions/thoughts welcome.


Hi dhts,

I tried the CP88 and Nord Grand (as well as the RD2000) on Friday 28th Nov.
The CP88 I played after playing the CLP685 i.e., I compared the CP88 with the binaural sampling version of the CFX grand on the CLP685.

Indeed, the CP88 was rather dull compared to the CLP685---binaural sampling is a huge omission on the CP88, no doubt because of it's lack of value for live performance. The Kawai ES8 SK pianos I used for comparison were IMO better than the CP88 CFX and Bosendorfer by quite a margin; whereas, the CLP685 CFX were certainly competitive.


The Nord Grand was rather stunning to look at up close. The piano sound fidelity is quite good on the Nord Grand. The samples (white grand and royal grand) are very nice; however, unfortunately, the Nord Piano samples aren't realistic IMO compared to Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland models. There is something unnatural about the Nord piano samples which isn't unpleasant, just not accurate. That said, if I had to chose between the Nord Grand and the CP88, I'd pick the Nord. The layout of the Nord is better too IMO.


The RD2000 was perhaps the biggest surprise. The action was excellent; the layout was 7/10. From what I was able to get into, that's the pros over with. I had tested the RD800 a few years ago now and found it quite good fun. The RD2000 I expected to be much better or at least an evolution. With regard to piano sound, it was not IMO much of an evolution. Actually, I prefer the V-piano experience to playing piano on the RD2000. My favourite piano on the RD2000 was the V-piano first patch. That said, I didn't feel it sounded like the actual v-piano. IMO, the V-piano itself has a better modeled piano sound in terms of dynamic range than the RD2000 version of the V-piano patches.

The RD2000 modeled piano sounds were very responsive within the dynamic range BUT, the dynamic range seemed hemmed in! That hemmed in quality was also there in the LX708---what's going on I thought. The sound fidelity through headphones on the RD2000 was poor compared to the Yamaha CLP685. Maybe the binaural sampling is what distorted my perception of the other models. Most of the SuperNatural sounds were the same as the RD800, and many of these sampled sounds seemed dated. There are too many dud sounds on the RD2000, and it's hard to find the good ones. I guess if I had more time in a quiet atmosphere, I'd have tested more of the functionality such has having 8 sounds at once, and spent more time on the organs. So there is many aspects of the RD2000 I'm not reflecting in this review which probably deserve merit. However, on basic piano, the instrument didn't meet my expectations prior to testing. Funnily enough, I don't mind the recordings on YouTube e.g., recordings by Yohan Kim. However, the actual experience doesn't match the recordings I've heard. Although I've said all this, I only had 50 minutes on the RD2000, and it was a bit noisy in store. I would like to get it to myself for long enough to explore it.

I thought it might be the headphones, so used the opportunity to ask to test the Sennheiser HD650 headphones they had in store. That didn't help the RD2000 or the LX708 much. Playing the LX708 through speakers helped a bit; however, my favourite part of the LX708 experience was the TRS: I would describe it as a crude but it somehow adds to the experience (in the same way that vibration on my razor blade does, so nothing massive).

IMO, the tone selection on the RD2000 isn't well designed: scrolling through lists of sounds took a while as there are so many sounds on it. Whist the sound bank is uncluttered as an interface, this is actually a bad thing in this case. The MP7SE is much better in the way it has dependent menus e.g., instrument groupings, sound banks, variation banks. Kudos for Kawai! Most of the best sounds on the MP7SE can be found in the first few banks of any instrument grouping, so you don't need to go searching very far.


The RHIII action on the ES8, MP7SE and Nord Grand is on a par IMO with the RD2000 action (or at least near-par). The Nord Grand action is modified though: it is slightly lighter and has a slightly different feel than the ES8 version of the RHIII action.

If I was picking today, I'd take the MP7SE (an upgrade from my MP7) and supplement with VST pianos like Pianoteq and CFX grand if further variety were needed. I don't think the Nord Grand (gorgeous though it is) is value for money. I think Roland and Kawai really need to work on the sound-quality of the output to the headphones to compete with this binaural sampling on the latest Yamaha's. The LX708 was also not competitive with the CLP685 on sound fidelity either: mind you, neither was the CA98 (which I wasn't impressed by). I don't know why I didn't like the CA98, but it was a noisy store (especially near the CA98), so I need to re-test the CA98 on a quiet day and investigate the settings (maybe trying a reset). Therefore, still my fav. cabinet Kawai is the CS11 (as I've not played the Novus NV5 or 10).

IMO, this binaural sampling has shifted the goal posts, and I would like to see it on the stage pianos too.

P.S. maybe you should test the GrandStage and the Dexibell vivo S7.

Kind regards,

Doug.


Last edited by Doug M.; 12/04/19 08:46 AM.

Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7; Past - Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: Doug M.] #2919619 12/04/19 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug M.

If I was picking today, I'd take the MP7SE (an upgrade from my MP7) and supplement with VST pianos like Pianoteq and CFX grand if further variety were needed. I don't think the Nord Grand (gorgeous though it is) is value for money. I think Roland and Kawai really need to work on the sound-quality of the output to the headphones to compete with this binaural sampling on the latest Yamaha's. The LX708 was also not competitive with the CLP685 on sound fidelity either: mind you, neither was the CA98 (which I wasn't impressed by). I don't know why I didn't like the CA98, but it was a noisy store (especially near the CA98), so I need to re-test the CA98 on a quiet day and investigate the settings (maybe trying a reset).
Kind regards,
Doug.


If you can Doug I'd recommend going to gear4music showroom in York. Much less intense and less noisy than anywhere in Manchester from my experience. When I've gone it has been a day trip, but I think it is worthwhile.

Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: KevinM] #2919623 12/04/19 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
Originally Posted by Doug M.

If I was picking today, I'd take the MP7SE (an upgrade from my MP7) and supplement with VST pianos like Pianoteq and CFX grand if further variety were needed. I don't think the Nord Grand (gorgeous though it is) is value for money. I think Roland and Kawai really need to work on the sound-quality of the output to the headphones to compete with this binaural sampling on the latest Yamaha's. The LX708 was also not competitive with the CLP685 on sound fidelity either: mind you, neither was the CA98 (which I wasn't impressed by). I don't know why I didn't like the CA98, but it was a noisy store (especially near the CA98), so I need to re-test the CA98 on a quiet day and investigate the settings (maybe trying a reset).
Kind regards,
Doug.


If you can Doug I'd recommend going to gear4music showroom in York. Much less intense and less noisy than anywhere in Manchester from my experience. When I've gone it has been a day trip, but I think it is worthwhile.


Thanks for the tip, I'll do a day trip too.


Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7; Past - Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919625 12/04/19 09:17 AM
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Doug... good commentary on the RD-2000. I own one. In short, I am very happy with the RD-2000 and I liked it's action over all others... but that is my taste as I came from an RD-600 prior. So... if I could just address a few items
1 - Headphones - the RD-2000's headphone amp is not great... it sounds cheap-transistor hard and frankly, a disappointment. I use an outboard headphone amp and very high quality headphones...this set up sounds fabulous. It is disappointing for me to have to use such a setup.
2 - Modeled piano (V-Piano) - I only use these sounds. I think they sound great. Do they sound like a real acoustic piano? No, but remember we are all now comparing a digital piano sound to the best pianos made. But they really work.... they don't get muddy with big chords and the like. and they are very expressive to me. They don't have great dynamic range and definitely are closed in. For this, I set touch to LIGHT but that changes the timbre as if you are pounding the keys. I contacted Roland and they said you can not change the dynamics alone. So I found ACO 3 which is big and dull sounding, set the board to LIGHT and did some more tweaking. Now I think I have a great piano sound. Unfortunately I had to tweak to get what I wanted. Another point for reference: I thought the modeled sounds in general from this board sounded more usable than the other boards I played.. I played all the major brands except the Nord 4. I found the Yamaha to sound artificial, the Kawai to be... good but odd.... etc. This is just me and something I don't fully understand but accept: these things sound different to different people.
3 - Tweakability - this RD-2000 can be tweaked beyond recognition... a good thing. With some work, I think you can get this thing to be what you want.
4 - Gigajillion sounds - yes it does.... as a geek, I found this appealing. As an amateur at home, I almost never use this stuff... just don't. Although, after a few Pilsner Urquells and with HER out of the house, it can be quite a blast surfing the sound banks.
5 - Action - definitely what I like, I found it to be about the best... my taste
6 - Ease of use. No. I don't even use the knobs as their function changes given the patch and that drives me nuts. If you use the menus, confusing at first, you will see an amazingly huge array of sound possibilities. The electric pianos have digital simulations of tons of classic effects such as space echo, phasers, and classic stomp boxes with all of their knobs and switches simulated in the menus. Cool if you like this stuff. Hard to use and find in the menus (can't use the knobs very well) but they are there and you can make these electric pianos sound like anything! Cool fun for a geek tweaker.

Overall, IMO, you can get the RD-2000 to sound and work like anything you want it to be (remember, I am not a pro but a home hack). It is just difficult and time consuming but it is all in there. The biggest downer for me is not being able to adjust the dynamics alone... if it had this, more of the piano sounds would be usable to me. But it is a very good board IF you put the time into it.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

Last edited by Bruce In Philly; 12/04/19 09:26 AM.

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Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919692 12/04/19 12:38 PM
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Thanks to @Doug M for the extensive and helpful write up and to @KevinM and @Bruce in Philly.

I really liked the action on the CA78/98 but was less taken by the ES8 when I tried it which is why I finished up with the P515. I don't recall whether the MP11SE wasn't on my radar at the time of the purchase, was more than I wanted to spend, or was looking for a piano with onboard speakers.

I'm willing to believe there might be more in the RD2000 but as Doug and Bruce point out it's hard work finding out when you first sit down at it. I've had a couple of goes now on separate visits and get the same results each time.

Other than suffering from upgradeitis I should probably sit tight until the MP12 or whatever turns up which probably means I'll be buying a MP11SE shortly if I can actually find one to play. There's a rumour Gear4Music might have one on demo in York. If anybody knows where in the UK there is one ideally north of Birmingham and south of Preston please let me know.

Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919707 12/04/19 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by dhts

Other than suffering from upgradeitis I should probably sit tight until the MP12 or whatever turns up which probably means I'll be buying a MP11SE shortly if I can actually find one to play. There's a rumour Gear4Music might have one on demo in York. If anybody knows where in the UK there is one ideally north of Birmingham and south of Preston please let me know.


gear4music York have a large range of DP on the showroom floor. When I first went they didn't have the MP11SE in stock or any in the showroom. Their website shows in stock if there is stock in any of their wharehouses (UK, Germany, Sweden) which is somewhat annoying until you know what to check. So I tested all the other DP on my long list. I went back 4 days later when they had them in stock in the UK. You can tell from estimated delivery time if they are in stock in the UK. Still nothing on the showroom floor but they brought one out for me and set it up to test properly.

Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919809 12/04/19 05:04 PM
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The Kawai ES8 SK pianos I used for comparison were IMO better than the CP88 CFX and Bosendorfer by quite a margin; whereas, the CLP685 CFX were certainly competitive.

The Nord Grand was rather stunning to look at up close. The piano sound fidelity is quite good on the Nord Grand. The samples (white grand and royal grand) are very nice; however, unfortunately, the Nord Piano samples aren't realistic IMO compared to Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland models. There is something unnatural about the Nord piano samples which isn't unpleasant, just not accurate. That said, if I had to chose between the Nord Grand and the CP88, I'd pick the Nord. The layout of the Nord is better too IMO.

The Nord Grand has the Kawai RH-3 action that is used in an ES8 or MP7SE, but with a couple of (likely minor) improvements that Nord found and Kawai implemented in the version of the action being supplied to Nord. I’m curious if you detected a difference in playability?


Login name is a tribute to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, arguably the historically first great keyboard virtuoso.
Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: Sweelinck] #2919894 12/04/19 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
The Nord Grand has the Kawai RH-3 action that is used in an ES8 or MP7SE, but with a couple of (likely minor) improvements that Nord found and Kawai implemented in the version of the action being supplied to Nord.


I believe it's more a case of Clavia (the manufacturer of Nord instruments) requesting some modifications to the Kawai action, however these changes are not necessarily objective improvements.

Kind regards,
James
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Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919939 12/04/19 11:56 PM
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I am aware that Clavia is the company name. It was a Kawai employee who described the modifications to the RH-3 for the Nord Grand as improvements.


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Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2919943 12/05/19 12:11 AM
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I see.

It's possible that you may have misinterpreted his explanation.

Again, the modifications that I am aware of may not necessarily be considered as improvements for all players.

Kind regards,
James
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Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: Kawai James] #2920047 12/05/19 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
I see.

It's possible that you may have misinterpreted his explanation.

Again, the modifications that I am aware of may not necessarily be considered as improvements for all players.

Kind regards,
James
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Hi KJ,

I played the Nord Grand and compared it to the ES8 next to it.
The Nord Grand RHIII feels lighter.

Kind regards,

Doug.


Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7; Past - Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: dhts] #2920256 12/05/19 04:32 PM
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IMO, this binaural sampling has shifted the goal posts, and I would like to see it on the stage pianos too.

This will not happen. Even having stereo samples is overkill for stage usage in a band or ensemble. If the manufacturer adds sample memory that could accommodate binaural samples, adding instead additional sounds like sampled synthesizers, vintage keyboards, other acoustic instruments, etc increases its utility as a stage piano, Binaural samples don’t increase utility as a stage instrument.

I’ve seen critiques of the Kawai ES8 or MP7SE as being a bit dated, but my opinion is that they still are ahead of their competitors in the stage and portable piano product spaces, which is why I own an MP7SE. They are a bit on the heavy side for playing out, perhaps the only significant advantage of the Nord Grand. I like Nord products, especially the organs, but Nord pianos have never been my cup of tea.

Regarding Roland user interfaces— I think they are atrocious. Patches are not curated— in some products they just throw over a thousand or thousands of sounds from their library into a keyboard and leave it up to the player to find the good ones. Some sounds are quite dated, small samples that don’t cost them much to throw in. I think some customers adopt the attitude that more is better, but if the sounds are properly curated, less is more.


Login name is a tribute to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, arguably the historically first great keyboard virtuoso.
Re: Limitations of Stage Pianos [Re: Sweelinck] #2920336 12/06/19 02:07 AM
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spanishbuddha Offline
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote

IMO, this binaural sampling has shifted the goal posts, and I would like to see it on the stage pianos too.

This will not happen. Even having stereo samples is overkill for stage usage in a band or ensemble. If the manufacturer adds sample memory that could accommodate binaural samples, adding instead additional sounds like sampled synthesizers, vintage keyboards, other acoustic instruments, etc increases its utility as a stage piano, Binaural samples don’t increase utility as a stage instrument.

Still leaves portable pianos for home use for potential use.

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