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Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: anotherscott] #2942188 02/03/20 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by CyberGene
We've discussed that throughout the years, with me being very persistent, but I did a few experiments this weekend that really confirm it: lack of real escapement is what makes digital piano actions inferior, compared to the actions in real grand and upright pianos.

I haven't read these posts thoroughly, but my understanding is that upright pianos don't have escapement either (nor spinets, only grands). And of course, they can still feel like excellent, high quality actions.

Uprights have an escapement mechanism. I assume but don’t know that this is true of spinets. Maybe you are thinking of the repetition lever mechanism?

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Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: pianogabe] #2942190 02/03/20 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by pianogabe
Thank CyberGene for your analysis. I think it may be very relevant. Someone else here on the forum in an other thread suggested that acoustic actions may generally be better for people with arthritis than digital actions are. I was wondering if your analysis may provide an important reason why. I am not sure if it is the holding of key down with full weight, or, perhaps more likely, the bouncing of a relatively heavy weight back into the finger (and hence joints).

This. On a DP more of the energy is absorbed by either the felt or your finger or both. On a piano action the hammer is disconnected from the key until being caught again by the back check.

Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: sleutelbos] #2942195 02/03/20 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by sleutelbos
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by sleutelbos
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Well, at least in theory smile


That is kinda my issue with such analyses. While it is pretty neat to read about such things, the only types of questions that really matter are:

1) Which pieces can you not play on a digital piano because of this?
2) Is finger fatigue force you to shorten your practice session on a DP?
3) Do people listening to recordings of your performances notice the lack of an escapement?

For most people the answers would be 'No', 'No' and 'No'.These discussions remind me of the 'analog vs VA synths' and '48KHz vs 96KHz recordings?' discussions; interesting from an academic POV, but pretty much completely irrelevant to >99% of people.


1) None.
2) No.
3) Yes.


Can you clarify 3) a bit? What music do you play, how do you know your audience notices it and can we maybe hear recordings? Would be quite interesting!


I play all sorts of music. I assume the audience could hear what I can. A lot of Ravel's piano music needs the escapement to play soft and fast at the same time. On an upright (or a piano without a grand action) it's extremely difficult to get the right sound.

Last edited by johnstaf; 02/03/20 01:58 PM.
Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: CyberGene] #2942197 02/03/20 02:03 PM
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I agree, and think some kind of real let-off should be the next step towards realism in dp actions.

Of course the hybrids already have a real action. I like it that Kawai even chose to have the damper pedal truely working like an acoustic, lightening the keys.

Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: U3piano] #2942203 02/03/20 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by U3piano
I agree, and think some kind of real let-off should be the next step towards realism in dp actions.

Of course the hybrids already have a real action. I like it that Kawai even chose to have the damper pedal truely working like an acoustic, lightening the keys.


But do hybrids have the escapement? Do they qualify as digital which is inferior?

Last edited by nicknameTaken; 02/03/20 02:25 PM.
Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: CyberGene] #2942204 02/03/20 02:28 PM
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The point frequently made here is that a hybrid digital piano has the action of an acoustic piano. As such it must, of course, have the escapement mechanisms.
(But I wouldn't call them a hybrid because they've not combined two different things. But that's a different quarrel.)

If the tone generation is digital, then these are digital pianos.

Are they inferior? Render your own opinion.

Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: sleutelbos] #2942205 02/03/20 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by sleutelbos
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Well, at least in theory smile


That is kinda my issue with such analyses. While it is pretty neat to read about such things, the only types of questions that really matter are:

1) Which pieces can you not play on a digital piano because of this?
2) Is finger fatigue force you to shorten your practice session on a DP?
3) Do people listening to recordings of your performances notice the lack of an escapement?

For most people the answers would be 'No', 'No' and 'No'.These discussions remind me of the 'analog vs VA synths' and '48KHz vs 96KHz recordings?' discussions; interesting from an academic POV, but pretty much completely irrelevant to >99% of people.
In my case the answer to (2) is YES. In this period of the year I have much humidity in the room where is my DP. That makes my action pretty heavy, and that notch (fake escapement) makes my keyboard even more heavy, because it adds downweight. If I play 1-2 hour at day, after 1 week I have to avoid playing piano for 1-2 days. Maybe on a good acoustic action I could play for more time before accusing fatigue.
And I guess fast trills are more easy to play on a grand piano, compared with my DP, because I have to fight with the rebounce of the hammer. And I noticed that I have to apply a certain force to keep the keys pressed.
Of course, this doesn't mean you cannot play well on a current (not hybrid) DP, but just that probably it's more tiring.

Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: spanishbuddha] #2942212 02/03/20 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
This. On a DP more of the energy is absorbed by either the felt or your finger or both. On a piano action the hammer is disconnected from the key until being caught again by the back check.

Ah yes, that was you. Thanks again for making me aware of this. It seems very significant to me. I wonder if this has been studied properly.


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Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: johnstaf] #2942215 02/03/20 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I assume the audience could hear what I can.


That assumption may unfortunately be erroneous. There is a pile of literature demonstrating that musicians have a far better musical ear than non-musicians. For example https://pure.au.dk/portal/files/49076979/Wallentin_2010_Learning_and_Individual_Differences_.pdf shows that even when the test is as basic as 'are these two melodies the same or not?' and 'are these two rhythms identical or not' non-musicians perform notably worse.

I dont know if you visit r/piano on reddit, but regularly people will shows vids of themselves butchering pieces far above their skill level. A very common victim is Fantaisie Impromptu. A few weeks ago someone posted a video of himself playing it, and explained that he started learning this piece on his own two years earlier, with zero previous musical experience of any kind. He simply got himself his first piano, started with the first note and brute-forced his way through the piece over the course of well over a thousand hours.

The results were as you'd expect: the piece was far too difficult, and that was obvious right from the very first start of the recording; tempo was all over the place, missing notes, some measures were inexplicably cut or extended by one or two quarter notes, pedaling was a 'fire and forget' approach et cetera. The comment section on reddit was also as you'd expect: the poor guy got ridiculed and lampooned until he deleted the post. On youtube the comment section looked quite different though: Loads of people being incredibly impressed, calling him a prodigy, wandering if they could ever learn to play like that themselves and so forth. Not because they were mocking him, or being disingenuous; they simply did not hear what musicians did hear. And mind you, this was an extreme example.

The dedication and attention you pay to details that are important or even essential to you may frequently simple be, to put it crudely, pearls before swines. smile I am quite confident Coldplay, Macklemore, Armin van Buuren and all those other artists with mass appeal can exclusively use digital pianos in their pop song with none of their fans noticing or caring. I am also pretty sure you can let 'the average listener' listen to this (or use it in a movie) without people suspecting this was anything other than a real grand having been recorded: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBUUeIVmIII

So when we're discussing very specific things like escapement I am simply extremely skeptical that this in particular has such a massive impact on how people perceive music played. Or, in other words: the title of this thread seems to be a bit dramatic. wink

Last edited by sleutelbos; 02/03/20 02:47 PM.
Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: CyberGene] #2942231 02/03/20 03:07 PM
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I just returned from a gig where I played the CFX piano patch on my MODX6 synth keys. Did it work? Sure, I could hear the correct notes I played and they were with different velocity corresponding to my touch. Did anyone care it wasn’t a digital piano with hammer action? Highly doubtful. Escapement?! LOL

That being said, this is a specialized forum where we can feast on our obsessions and that’s what I share: an experiment that corroborated a theory. Whatever conclusions you draw from it, I’m good smile


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Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: nicknameTaken] #2942237 02/03/20 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by nicknameTaken
But do hybrids have the escapement?


Yes, hybrids have escapement. That is why they feel so wonderful to play. The marketing is accurate.

“Employing real wooden keys and hammers, the action of the AvantGrand N1X is not like a grand piano — it is that of a grand piano. The hammers strike the "strings" (sensors) from below, allowing for precise weighting and adjustments to the hammers and escapement note by note. This provides touch that will please even the most demanding pianists. Then, non-contact optical key sensors detect every nuance of the player's timing, velocity, legato, and other musical techniques. The end result is a playing experience virtually indistinguishable from that of sitting at a top-notch concert grand.”

https://usa.yamaha.com/news_events/...th_connectivity_and_app_integration.html




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Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: CyberGene] #2942238 02/03/20 03:22 PM
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Quote

On a digital piano there's no escapement, since there are no strings. The hammer can remain at the stop rail or whatever stops it. However, here's the thing, the actual downweight will never change. Holding the key at the bottom will require more force than on a real piano.

I think you may have just explained the reason for something I’ve noticed, but lacked a correct explanation— digital pianos with actions on the heavier side significantly increase the risk of stress injuries for some pianists, particularly when playing legato with the hands where a key is held down until the next bite in the voice is played. There is no relaxation of tension if it takes more force to hold the key down.


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Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: CyberGene] #2942240 02/03/20 03:32 PM
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I don't know if it has anything to do with escapement, but my hands definitely tire more quickly playing my DP vs my acoustic grand. They both have approximately the same down weight. At 72, my hands are the limiting factor on my playing time and the DP shortens it considerably. It's too bad because the DP is in my bedroom and would be ideal for learning new tunes and composing, but it's not worth the pain.

Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: anotherscott] #2942248 02/03/20 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott

I haven't read these posts thoroughly, but my understanding is that upright pianos don't have escapement either (nor spinets, only grands). And of course, they can still feel like excellent, high quality actions.


You don't need a grand action to have a high quality piano. Grand actions have certain things that can't be reproduced in other actions. This is irrelevant to many people. Some uprights have lovely actions.

Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: CyberGene] #2942257 02/03/20 04:18 PM
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I think this is a highly interesting topic indeed. I believe CyberGene is absolutely right in his analysis. That doesn't mean that regular DP actions are bad just because they lack real escapement. The escapement mechanism is an important function for the reasons CyberGene explains. I don't think it's crucial for most of the time but sometimes it is. The release of key weight when the key rest at the key bottom is such a function and for some techniques it's important for not building up tension. One example could be polyphonic music where it can be fast moving lines or even trills at the same time as long harmonic or melodic lines in the same hand. In such situations it's crucial that you can "rest" at the bottom on the longer notes with as little pressure as possible. According to legendary teacher Hans Leygraf, the no.1 reason for unhealthy tension in forearms is too hard and too long key pressure at the key bottom (although he didn't make any references to the escapement mechanism). Enhanced control over fast repeating notes in another important function of the escapement mechanism. I do however think that it's reasonable to assume that it would be possible to make a DP action with a functional escapement mechanism that is not a full blown acoustic action and I'm a little surprised there isn't one yet. I think it would be possible to make an action that's even better suited for DP:s than the current hybrid actions. The hybrid actions are very bulky and there are some caveats with their implementation in digital instrument. One example is playing sounding notes from the jack which is a useful function/consequence of the escapement mechanism on an acoustic piano (maybe this is possible on the Kawai Novus instruments, I don't know but it isn't on the Yamaha hybrids). This is one thing that actually works better on the "fake" escapement function on regular DP actions.


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Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: Tenor1] #2942278 02/03/20 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Tenor1
Originally Posted by sleutelbos
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Well, at least in theory smile


That is kinda my issue with such analyses. While it is pretty neat to read about such things, the only types of questions that really matter are:

1) Which pieces can you not play on a digital piano because of this?
2) Is finger fatigue force you to shorten your practice session on a DP?
3) Do people listening to recordings of your performances notice the lack of an escapement?

For most people the answers would be 'No', 'No' and 'No'.These discussions remind me of the 'analog vs VA synths' and '48KHz vs 96KHz recordings?' discussions; interesting from an academic POV, but pretty much completely irrelevant to >99% of people.


+1


Irrelevant or not, there's plenty of interest here . . . .


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Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: CyberGene] #2942282 02/03/20 05:31 PM
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I don’t see how playing ‘a heavy’ digital action can potentially cause hand injuries simply due to the lack of real escapement.
There are plenty of opportunities for ‘relaxation of tension’ unless one is playing a piece legato from beginning to end.

Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: Pete14] #2942291 02/03/20 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Pete14
I don’t see how playing ‘a heavy’ digital action can potentially cause hand injuries simply due to the lack of real escapement.
There are plenty of opportunities for ‘relaxation of tension’ unless one is playing a piece legato from beginning to end.

Okay who stole Pete14 account. Pete14 having a comment that is not sarcastic. Pete are you feeling alright LOL


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: CyberGene] #2942294 02/03/20 05:59 PM
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wink

Re: Lack of real escapement is why digital actions are bad [Re: EPW] #2942301 02/03/20 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by EPW
Originally Posted by Pete14
I don’t see how playing ‘a heavy’ digital action can potentially cause hand injuries simply due to the lack of real escapement.
There are plenty of opportunities for ‘relaxation of tension’ unless one is playing a piece legato from beginning to end.

Okay who stole Pete14 account. Pete14 having a comment that is not sarcastic. Pete are you feeling alright LOL


He must've been hacked.


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