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I'd like to se
Originally Posted by Doritos Flavoured
Originally Posted by Pedro_Henrique

I don't feel like it is a solid instrument to classical piano and heavy repertoire


this guy shows no sweat:

[video:youtube]PEV9LeW_RRQ[/video]

Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
That video reveals a few things.
A) a good musician/player can make music on most anything
B) the action on the PX-350 is functional enough for virtuosic repertoire
C) the Casio piano sample in the PX-350 ain't half bad, there is variety in the timbre layer to layer

Which brings us back to the topic of the day.
Does the keyboard buying public at large care if a keyboard uses custom DSP, ARM, FPGA, whatever. Can they hear a difference when the samples are looped or not? Whether the sound is sampled or modeled? If we built a better keyboard, could we bring it to market at a competitive price, and could we sell enough of them to be profitable?


I'd like to see Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Scriabin... If it can take all the bang of Prokofiev, then, I'm sold.


"But its got a crap keyboard action Dave ... no amount of great sounds help that."
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Well, all the old recordings I've heard on YouTube played by Rachmaninoff and his ilk sound like crap to me, even compared to the Casio in the video above. It may be partly because the recordings weren't very good, and that standards of musicianship have gone up and/or fashions of interpretation have changed, but I think also it's that the pianos back then weren't very good compared to what we expect today, i.e. a finely regulated Steinway concert grand (other brands are available). Perhaps that illustrates that it's not that sensible to have such high standards of instrument as your point of reference.


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Originally Posted by Doritos Flavoured
Originally Posted by EssBrace
I'm not sure. All sounds a bit dead, like the sound is coming out of a vacuum. No resonances, no life. And no sustain.


you, sir, are an audiophile, not a music lover


I am a music lover. But music, however well played, gives me very little pleasure unless it sounds good. So yes, I am also an audiophile. And frankly, I think I'd be much happier with my lot in life if I wasn't. And I'd certainly be richer. If anyone knows how to have the critical part of an ear surgically removed please let me know!

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There's a difference between a person discerning that the instrument sounds artificial or lacking richness, and simply wanting superb hi-fi reproduction. The first is part of being musical and the second is a bit of an obsession for people with plenty of money - often worrying about gold plated speaker leads, obscure valves and things of that sort. I would say EssBrace's comment fits more into the first sort, and so is on the side of the angels.


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Originally Posted by lolatu
Well, all the old recordings I've heard on YouTube played by Rachmaninoff and his ilk sound like crap to me, even compared to the Casio in the video above. It may be partly because the recordings weren't very good, and that standards of musicianship have gone up and/or fashions of interpretation have changed, but I think also it's that the pianos back then weren't very good compared to what we expect today, i.e. a finely regulated Steinway concert grand (other brands are available). Perhaps that illustrates that it's not that sensible to have such high standards of instrument as your point of reference.


The question is if the key action can take it. Even some clavinovas here at university couldn't take Bartok and especially Prokofiev.


"But its got a crap keyboard action Dave ... no amount of great sounds help that."
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Originally Posted by Pedro_Henrique
Originally Posted by lolatu
Well, all the old recordings I've heard on YouTube played by Rachmaninoff and his ilk sound like crap to me, even compared to the Casio in the video above. It may be partly because the recordings weren't very good, and that standards of musicianship have gone up and/or fashions of interpretation have changed, but I think also it's that the pianos back then weren't very good compared to what we expect today, i.e. a finely regulated Steinway concert grand (other brands are available). Perhaps that illustrates that it's not that sensible to have such high standards of instrument as your point of reference.


The question is if the key action can take it. Even some clavinovas here at university couldn't take Bartok and especially Prokofiev.


So,e clavinovas also have a very weak action... Even the topmodel CVP609 did not have great action, atleast not to my taste..


The triple sensors are what allows keyboards to react much better to fast action, and thats what all the good Privias have..

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It's quite true that bringing a product to market is entirely more difficult than sniping from the peanut gallery. But while I haven't, and don't desire, to market a DP (too much work, too different from what I want to do with my life), DP companies do so all the time - each new model isn't the Everest climb it necessarily would be for a couple of individuals entering the market cold. Given these obvious asymmetries, I don't understand the "put up or shut up" response. In comparison, even the dumbest sports fans can have all the opinions they want about how the game should be played and no one suggests they actually suit-up and hit the field if they're so smart. No one tells movie critics to stop with the bellyaching and just go make movies already.

And it's true that prices have come down, but IMO that's more due to slave labor, modern manufacturing processes, and Moore's law. Color touch screens have become so inexpensive they are likely cheaper to put on a product than an ancient 2 line LCD (I researched LCDs lately). Processors and Flash are entering the ludicrously inexpensive category with no bottom in sight. I appreciate any and all improvements to DPs, as well as any and all price reductions, but if these new Casios have the same keys as before and essentially the same sample set, but with sympathetic resonance effects and $200 added to the bottom line, I suppose I'm having a hard time finding reasons to shout that from the rooftoops. Though lord knows DPs need sympathetic resonance.

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Originally Posted by Bachus
The triple sensors are what allows keyboards to react much better to fast action

Triple sensors actually have to do with repetition, rather than speed... and it has more to do with quiet repetition, rather than fast repetition. For example, the opening to Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man" is not any more playable on a triple sensor piano than a dual sensor, because either way, to get that volume out of the notes, you need to raise the key above the higher trigger point before each strike. But quieter same note repetitions will benefit from the third sensor (as would trills).

The other thing a triple sensor lets you do us restrike a note (pedal up) without silencing it first.

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Originally Posted by anotherscott
the opening to Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man" is not any more playable on a triple sensor piano than a dual sensor, because either way, to get that volume out of the notes, you need to raise the key above the higher trigger point before each strike.


I just listened to the intro you're talking about and I wondered how on earth he did that. Then I looked at the same passage from a 2006 live concert: he's whamming the key with two hands. That's the way to do it!


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Originally Posted by dewster
I don't understand the "put up or shut up" response. In comparison, even the dumbest sports fans can have all the opinions they want about how the game should be played and no one suggests they actually suit-up and hit the field if they're so smart. No one tells movie critics to stop with the bellyaching and just go make movies already.

LOL... Good point, people are free to say whatever stupid things they want. ;-) I think the reason you get more pushback is that the Monday morning quarterbacks and movie reviewers are clearly offering opinions, whereas you present your ideas as facts. You essentially insist that these things are technically feasible, when no one has done anything even close. So it makes you seem more like the guy who says we can run our cars on water than the guy who thinks Inside Out wasn't really so great or that the manager really should have pulled the pitcher in the eighth inning.

If you or any tech-oriented guy here thinks it's trivial to build a piano playback system built around a $10 processor, $5 worth of flash, and little else, and wants to give it a shot, I'd simplify Elmer Fudd's challenge... forget about licensing sounds, sourcing an action, and all the rest. I'd be content to see a box that simply generates a multi-gigabyte piano sound, no keys, just a box with a "MIDI In" and "audio out" to be driven by the controller of my choice. Just for a proof of concept, there are plenty of free/public domain piano samples that could be used as the sound source for a prototype, see

http://bigcatinstruments.blogspot.com/2014/08/bigcat-piano-collection-version-2.html

and

http://bedroomproducersblog.com/2010/07/01/free-sample-shootout-3-acoustic-electric-and-toy-pianos/

If someone here can make a dirt cheap box that can trigger large piano samples, reliably and without noticeable latency, sure, use kickstarter or whatever to raise what would be needed to get some better samples if need be, and put it into production. I'm highly skeptical, but would love to be proven wrong!

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Originally Posted by anotherscott
If someone here can make a dirt cheap box that can trigger large piano samples, reliably and without noticeable latency, sure, use kickstarter or whatever to raise what would be needed to get some better samples if need be, and put it into production. I'm highly skeptical, but would love to be proven wrong!

Some people are working on an open Linux Sampler here. Info on this page says it can apparently can run on an ARM board with the Salamander Grand Piano pack. The Raspberry Pi 2 is really old and slow, I'd probably pick a budget touchscreen tablet like this as the computing platform, or maybe the one of the Odroid boards if more horsepower were necessary.

But modern processors really aren't my "thing" - they strike me as entirely too complex for what they do, which makes diving all the way down to assembly nasty pick and shovel work. And caching seems idiotic, particularly for RTOS work. Anyway, I'm more drawn to controller design. You have to pick your battles in life, mine unfortunately isn't sampler software development.

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Originally Posted by dewster
Some people are working on an open Linux Sampler here.

Interesting... they have been working on it since 2002!

Originally Posted by dewster
it can apparently can run on an ARM board with the Salamander Grand Piano pack.

I wonder how well, though. He only says it "performs a lot better than on the RPi1 and when using ALSA directly I barely get any underruns with a slightly higher buffer setting." Sounds more like it "almost" works, no? Underruns are likely to cause audible glitches, and "barely any" is not none, especially when even to get it to that level of acceptability, he had to go to a higher buffer setting (which I read as greater latency). He also talks about this after discussing running "not all too elaborate" (i.e. presumably far less resource intensive) synth patches with "acceptable" latencies of "probably" below 10 ms. I think this falls more into the category of "amazing that it works at all" rather than something approaching an actual usable device.

And most of all, there's no indication here that it is using a piano sample that is bigger than available RAM, which is the whole foundation of what you are always talking about, i.e. running huge piano sample libraries off cheap flash. The pi has a gig of RAM in it, and the Salamander piano samples include data sets that are much smaller than that, so it sounds like it really isn't at all an example of something even close to what you've been proposing. Maybe if the Pi didn't include all that RAM and was actually doing its thing merely with $5 worth of flash, it would at least have some relevance.

Also, though, from earlier similar discussions, I actually thought that your idea was not to use a general purpose OS (like linux or Windows), because the designs of traditional (non-task-specific) operating systems were such that it would be harder to get acceptable performance out of minimal hardware, no? Too much overhead for unnecessary functions?

Originally Posted by dewster
I'd probably pick a budget touchscreen tablet like this as the computing platform, or maybe the one of the Odroid boards if more horsepower were necessary.

Well, we know Android can't do it. If you root the tablet or use the Odroid board, at least you can get back to Linux. Again, I didn't think you wanted to use Linux, though it does have the advantage of already being designed to be able to stream from a non-random-access storage device, so in that sense, the ability to run fast, full Linux implementations on cheaper and cheaper sets of hardware may be inching us closer to what you envision. Whether even the Odriod board with its 1 gb RAM could stream a multi-gig piano off $5 worth of flash, though, is a leap in assumptions that I'm not willing to take just yet. As the years go by, though, we are getting closer to having cheap hardware that will do what you want. ;-) Building around something like an Odroid board presumably would be more cost-effective than building the hardware and OS from scratch. And I was not aware you could get such capable Linux boards so cheaply, that is interesting.

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I suppose I get all the proof I need when I see the innards of old, low-end DPs. They manage to do decent polyphony with pretty cheesy processors. Given somewhat more addressing space and speed anything's possible. I don't think it requires a huge leap of faith.

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Dewster, I'm not suggesting you can't whine the way a fan does about his team, or a critic does about a movie (although if you make that comparison, you would whine about every team and every movie laugh ). Nor was I asking you to "putuporshutup". I was actually hoping that your described expertise and well known fascination with digital pianos might provide an actual viable roadmap to something better. Unfortunately, that's not the case. frown But that's OK, I'll find someone who does eventually.

I think the problem with your arm chair approach is that although you have ideas and theories, clearly the market has not proved them to be viable to date. And knowing how difficult it is to bring a revolutionary or divergent product to market (for a startup or even for an experienced company) you continue to be in shock and awe that the DP industry is slow to go in the directions you think they should (that WE think they should). But being in the field, you know better than most here already why they are slow to move. I'll start the list with a few things that come to mind, but honestly - I spent most of my life studying music not computer science, programming, electronic engineering, or even business, so you'll have to finish the list for us...

Top 10 reasons why the Digital Piano industry is slow to adopt newer technologies in their mainboard designs:

1. DSP chips still give good cost/performance ratio and all of the manufacturers have tons invested in it already (staff, code, design, manufacturing, etc.)

2. The Digital Piano market is not as big as mobile phones. In fact it's a pretty niche market compared to many other things, so it doesn't drive cutting edge R&D, rather it makes use of advancements proven successful in other areas first.

3. The average user doesn't care how they do it. Music student, parent of music student, gigging musician, etc. wants to sit down and play/practice. For them it doesn't matter in the least what's on the mainboard. It has to have a good action, sound like a piano, and have feature x (metronome, split keyboard mode, whatever). If you build it, can THEY hear the difference and are they willing to pay for it, or is the Casio PX-360 or Yamaha P-115 next to it good enough?

4. VC's, CEOs, CFOs, etc. know #3 is true. So if you brought them a new design that had x,y, and z they'd placate you as you explained why your design is better. But in their minds they are waiting for you to tell them it can be built cheaply enough, sold for more, what volume, etc. etc.

5. The Korg Kronos has an Intel Atom D5xx processor (soldered on an Intel D510MO or D525MW motherboard) or D2500 processor (on an ASRock IMB-140D Plus motherboard) and runs a custom operating system based on the Linux kernel. It is powerful enough to run 9 different sound engines, plus fx, and various other workstation features. The market allows them to sell this for between $3000 and $3700 street price (depending on the keyboard action employed). It doesn't make $$$ sense for them to use this design in a digital piano that has to compete in the $435 to $2500 price range. They could however employ it in a higher end DP console in attractive cabinet. But customers would have to hear and understand why their DP is better to choose it over others. I am certain they would just not sell enough Kronos Digital Pianos to warrant the risk (at least today).

6. The design the Kronos uses gets hot and has slow boot times compared to what we expect from a Digital Piano. Most users who are opting for one over an acoustic accept that they will have to press an on button and use a volume slider if they want a small instrument with a headphone jack at a good price that never needs to be tuned. But no one wants to hear fan noise (one of the first complaints about the Kronos upon its launch), or feel the heat coming off their instrument, or wait beyond x seconds for their DP to boot.

Anyway, you know far more about these things than I do, Dewster. I mean, I think I am on the right track, but maybe some of the more technical stuff or design related things, maybe the business side... you know the answers.

-----
Only slightly off topic, I'd love to see someone prototype a killer DP sound engine running on an ARM or something with high speed flash memory, etc. and market it in a sound module we could hook up to existing keyboards with MIDI.

In the Organ arena, are you familiar with this....

Physical Modeling in a low-end FPGA

HX3 MIDI Expander Module

UHL Instruments


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Originally Posted by dewster
I suppose I get all the proof I need when I see the innards of old, low-end DPs. They manage to do decent polyphony with pretty cheesy processors. Given somewhat more addressing space and speed anything's possible. I don't think it requires a huge leap of faith.


Polyphony has never been the question. The question has been about support for much larger sample sets (to eliminate stretching and looping, over multiple layers) -- gigabytes' worth -- in even an inexpensive piano, using dirt cheap (i.e. "$5 worth of") flash. That is to say, avoiding needing lots of (more expensive) RAM, or lots of (expensive) ROM, or lots of (expensive) NOR flash, or an expensive hard drive/SSD (and for that, likely also the rest of the electronics to support an existing streaming OS like Linux or Windows... though at least that has become a lot cheaper than when this idea first came up).

I guess the nice thing about saying what technology should let you do is, even if you're wrong, if you wait long enough, you'll probably be right. ;-)

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Originally Posted by dewster
Given somewhat more addressing space


What is this, programmable area? (please for give the ignorance)


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Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
Top 10 reasons why the Digital Piano industry is slow to adopt newer technologies in their mainboard designs:

Building on some of what you said there, yes, its a niche market, and that has at least two significant consequences. One is that R&D/fabrication costs have to be amortized over a relatively small number of units. This means that not only can't they spend what Apple spends in, say, developing an improved iPad, but also that whatever R&D/fabrication costs they do incur add proprotionately more to the cost of a DP than these things add to the cost of the next iPhone or whatever. Second, in order to make even that model work, they need to amortize as much of their R&D/fabrication costs as possible over multiple units, over multiple years. They can't toss their tech and basically start from scratch with new tech every couple of years, they would never sell enough of anything to recover their development costs. (Apple probably sells more iPads/iPhones in a day than any keyboard ever made has sold over its entire production life.)

A lot of this kind of stuff was also discussed in the thread at
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1976749/1.html

Honestly, I think we're going to get more piano quality more quickly at lower price points out of improved tablets than we're going to see out of the keyboards themselves. And so the place where the keyboard manufacturers can more easily excel will be in things like action, interface, ergonomics... and if they let us easily integrate the sound from our tablet, really, we can have it all. Let each industry do what it can do best. (Though sure, as certain technologies continue to get cheaper, it will be easier to improve the sounds in the DPs as well.)

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A lot of people having a red hot crack at Dewster here! I'm going to make a statement in his defence.

What I believe Dewster is suggesting is that the problem is not inherently technical - it's profit driven and convenience driven. It's easier for the DP companies to slowly evolve their products and have regular model releases which entice people to upgrade their DP every few years. This could be thought of as a kind of planned obsolescence. This works for corporations because the R&D spending is minimal for every generation of products (Roland V-piano being an obvious exception). I think Dewster is suggesting that there is a very real interest for these corporations in not developing a large sample, full decay piano engine because it would end their lucrative product upgrade/profit cycle.

Nobody seems to have any argument that technical challenges are the reason for not making such a product - that leaves only the profit/R&D-expense angle. But is even that a reason? Their are a number of "premium" products on the market which are priced well beyond the low-spending consumer base - V-piano, Physis, Avant-grand, Anything Nord... It seems people will buy expensive products if the result is worth it. I think Dewster is on the money in the sense that they don't want to do it - but not because it should be able to be done cheaply with the cheap parts that populate the market. It would, and should, be positioned in the higher "premium" market category. But the reason for the reluctance is because their current business model is to offer incremental improvements and encourage regular upgrading of pianos. One of the carrots they dangle is the gradually increasing sample memory - they all do it. Imagine if they made a full-length sampled board plus resonance effects and if it sounded good? If it worked well and was coupled with a great action, how often would people upgrade then? Personally, I doubt I would ever upgrade unless it broke.

So I think many of you guys have a point that it's not such a cheap/easy proposition, but it's a proposition nevertheless. I think it could sell well enough to pay for its own development, and then some. What it wouldn't be good for is the corporations' bottom line over the next 10 years of incremental model improvements - i.e. lost future sales. In short, I'm suggesting the unprofitability/recouping costs issue is not about today's sales, it's about future sales. It would sell now - people on this board are always talking about wanting slower decay, no looping, better samples. I'd buy it. But I wouldn't buy it again in 5 years time. I'm a demonstration of my own point.

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A lot of people having a red hot crack at Dewster here!

You are mistaken that anyone is taking a crack at Dewster. We actually have the exact same desires. To see compelling advancement in the technology used and the sound produced by digital pianos. The only place we disagree (and I'm not sure you can even call it a disagreement) is why it isn't happening. He knows full well why it's not happening, perhaps better than most.

Quote
Nobody seems to have any argument that technical challenges are the reason for not making such a product - that leaves only the profit/R&D-expense angle.

You'll have to read more closely, there are in fact technological challenges...
1. The need to deal with heat in quiet fanless designs (no one wants a noisy digital piano)
2. The need for a musical instrument to have "instant on" or ultra short boot time
3. The need for very large storage to eliminate Dewster's (actually, our shared) pet peeve which is to eliminate stretching and looping, over multiple layers.
These are advances, as scott points out, that are happening in the highest, most active, most profitable part of the tech sector which is mobile - tablets and phones. That type of tech is expensive. High spec'd Apple and Android tablets and phones fetch $500-$1000 dollars and are just now starting to perform well enough to run something like Korg Module. The next thing we are going to ask for is is no stretching, no looping, high polyphony, low latency, and high frequency rates like 96k. These are technical challenges.

Quote
Thre are a number of "premium" products on the market which are priced well beyond the low-spending consumer base - V-piano, Physis, Avant-grand, Anything Nord...

None of the manufacturers you are mentioning employ much of the tech we are asking for. In fact, Dewster is entirely right that they are charging too much for the level of tech they are delivering. Nord can't even boast a premium piano action - They use TP-40 and TP-100 Fatar actions. Avant-Grand is expensive because of the piano action. Nord this year has 1gb of RAM for piano samples which is hardly an advancement - although it is dedicated flash RAM. VPiano and Physis use marketing to sell modeling at higher price points.

Quote
So I think many of you guys have a point that it's not such a cheap/easy proposition, but it's a proposition nevertheless.

Exactly, we need some disruption. Which I believe CASIO has done pretty well with the Privia line - even if it's price point related (offering better features at better value). So, who is going to be the first to build the high tech top of the line premium piano-action controller + tight integration with a next generation tablet? When will Modartt bring Pianoteq to iOS? What startup is going to build the box we are asking for in a little module like the HX3 Organ Expander? The Muse Receptor is the right idea, but it's just a stock PC in a rack mountable case. It runs hot, requires a fan, uses spinning hard drives, and off the shelf RAM, is excessively expensive and is closed to 164 plugins that they have agreements with. Of which 13 are pianos, of which 8 are acoustic pianos, of which 3 are different versions of Ivory. This is why some gig with a MacBook Pro or PC equivalent, but it's not slick enough or reliable enough and only one controller by Kawai has made a decent effort at a digital-piano action dedicated controller that you would want in your living room. Speakers not included. wink

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What most here seem to want (and are disappointed they can't get), is $5000 worth of technology in a $1000 digital piano.

And if they could get it, they would still complain that it doesn't sound as good as a $75,000 acoustic grand piano.

For Casio's target market in the $1000 and under price point, they make a very satisfactory product that provides what the target market wants - a good piano sound with a good piano action.

Why doesn't Roland or Yamaha speed the course of development? Pretty simple, the market for $5000-$10,000 digital pianos isn't that big. Plus, in that price range, what you get today is not all that far from what would be the ideal, digital piano. Spending lots of money to get to that point more quickly doesn't seem to make sense.

Some here think they are smarter and know more about running a digital piano business than the people running Roland, Yamaha, Casio, et al.

But I suspect that if the people running these companies could gain a competitive advantage and still make money, they would rush to do it. It speaks volumes that none of them do.

But again, maybe they just aren't as smart as some posters here.


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