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In case it's of interest to this conversation, see pages 14-15 of the 2014 NAMM report for some sales figures on acoustic and digital pianos in the US for 2004-2013. It seems to be download-only.

https://www.namm.org/files/ihdp-vie...5B2CE27A075D3956F/2014MusicUSA_final.pdf




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

Don't think this is the case at all. It is easier to carry on the status quo and make new models with small improvements and add this or that feature enticing you to upgrade and spend more money every few years. That is how they stay in business. That is what Casio has done this year. They revamped their line of pianos without any major upgrades and added a color touchscreen and introduced one new model CGP 700. They made a bigger splash in 2013 with the PX5S which turned a lot more heads.

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Originally Posted by David Farley
In case it's of interest to this conversation, see pages 14-15 of the 2014 NAMM report for some sales figures on acoustic and digital pianos in the US for 2004-2013. It seems to be download-only.

https://www.namm.org/files/ihdp-vie...5B2CE27A075D3956F/2014MusicUSA_final.pdf


David - Thank you kindly for posting this ... what a fascinating set of stats and related info covering the size and recent growth/shrinkage of various music product segments. Some of these figures are quite surprising (at least to me)! Much appreciated - OneWatt

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Originally Posted by Pedro_Henrique

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


I guess most upright acoustics can't take that easily either. not that I care much for XX century piano repertoire...


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Originally Posted by ando
What I believe Dewster is suggesting is that the problem is not inherently technical - it's profit driven and convenience driven.

Exactly. We have $60 color touch tablets with 1.2GHz quad core processors and 8GB of memory. But people keep insisting that there's some kind of technological or price or OS limitation that AFAIKS doesn't exist. Maybe in 20 years or so we might start thinking seriously about putting a man on the moon.

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Pertinent US Market figures:

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Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by ando
What I believe Dewster is suggesting is that the problem is not inherently technical - it's profit driven and convenience driven.

Exactly. We have $60 color touch tablets with 1.2GHz quad core processors and 8GB of memory. But people keep insisting that there's some kind of technological or price or OS limitation that AFAIKS doesn't exist. Maybe in 20 years or so we might start thinking seriously about putting a man on the moon.


Not exactly, Dew. As suggested before, the tech we want is only available to us in high end tablets that sell for $500-$1000. Now that's not what those components cost, but that is what the market says they are worth. Even the current tablets are not quite there yet to deliver loopless-unstretched-multi-layer-multi-gigabyte piano sample libraries at high polyphony, low latency, and high sample rate. Now strip a bunch of iOS functionality that we don't need and maybe the A8X processor with 2GB of RAM and a 16gb of fast storage will do the trick. But the design must be tablet like in that it needs to be silent/fanless and reliable. No DP manufacturer wants to use a spinning drive that they need to warranty, so if they use SSD or flash memory or what have you, it has to be reliable. Tag on an Avant Grand type action, furniture quality case, high end amp and speaker system, pedals, etc. What does this digital piano cost? Who can build it for us?

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Originally Posted by jimb100
What most here seem to want (and are disappointed they can't get), is $5000 worth of technology in a $1000 digital piano.

There is some truth to that, though they would probably say that the $5000 pianos don't really have $5000 worth of technology in them. ;-) Really though, of all the companies to complain about, when it comes to value, I'm kind of astonished that any of this is targeted at Casio, who probably gives you more value per dollar and a wider range of relatively low cost options than anyone else.

Originally Posted by galaxy4t
They revamped their line of pianos without any major upgrades and added a color touchscreen and introduced one new model CGP 700. They made a bigger splash in 2013 with the PX5S which turned a lot more heads.

They haven't shipped the first unit yet, it's a little early to pronounce how many heads are or aren't turned. For all we know, once the new models ship, they may significantly outsell the current models, who knows?

The PX5S also caught extra attention largely because it represented a whole different direction for them... not so much as a piano, but in its non-piano capabilities, as an all-around stage board, far beyond what they had offered before. As a piano, even the PX-5S wasn't all that different from the PX-x50 models that preceded it.

Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
As suggested before, the tech we want is only available to us in high end tablets that sell for $500-$1000. Now that's not what those components cost, but that is what the market says they are worth.

They are as cheap as they are because of volume. As I've said before, instrument companies can't build computers as cheaply as computer companies can, and the specialty instrument market can't survive on the lower profit margins of commodity/high volume products. Apple has (I believe) the highest profit margin in their industry, but it is still not high enough to support the lower volumes and multi-tiered distribution channel of musical instruments.

BTW, a lot of related stuff was also discussed in the thread at
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1976552/1.html

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Originally Posted by galaxy4t
But again, maybe they just aren't as smart as some posters here.

Don't think this is the case at all. It is easier to carry on the status quo and make new models with small improvements and add this or that feature enticing you to upgrade and spend more money every few years. That is how they stay in business. That is what Casio has done this year. They revamped their line of pianos without any major upgrades and added a color touchscreen and introduced one new model CGP 700. They made a bigger splash in 2013 with the PX5S which turned a lot more heads.


So I take it you don't believe in capitalism? Competitive advantage means nothing to you?

How is this market so different from all other markets? 5-6 major players and none of them care about making advances that would significantly increase their market share? Especially when some claim it would be so easy to do.

Sorry, doesn't add up.


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I think it does. To increase market xhare suddenly would result in chaos amongst the competition. Theyd be forced to fight back or go under. Short term, us lot would be happy. Long term, the choice we have now would disappear. Maybe this forum would, too, as a result.


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Originally Posted by peterws
I think it does. To increase market xhare suddenly would result in chaos amongst the competition. Theyd be forced to fight back or go under. Short term, us lot would be happy. Long term, the choice we have now would disappear. Maybe this forum would, too, as a result.

Really?

Any company that DOESN'T want to increase market share, isn't likely to last, long-term.

If they could, they all would, and squash their competition like a bug. Depending on your perspective, though, fortunately / unfortunately, it's rather unusual for one company to be in such a position.

That doesn't mean I don't buy the notion of reduced choice, were it to happen.

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Yes, there is self regulation by the manufacturers. A very significant improvement of the sort Dewster is talking about would be like declaring war. There might only be one survivor and we'd be stuck, in the long term, with a monopoly. There may also be an unofficial oligopoly with some tacit agreements going on.

And surely it means something that, at the low end of the market (Williams pianos and so on) they are not only dealing in generic, cheaply manufactured products, but the technology is also lagging way behind even today's 'mediocre' standards (from the big manufacturers eg Yamaha). An example of this is low polyphony - still stuck at 32 or 64 voices. If it were that easy, they'd be matching Roland & Kawai in all aspects except the prestige of the brand name.


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Originally Posted by toddy
Yes, there is self regulation by the manufacturers. A very significant improvement of the sort Dewster is talking about would be like declaring war. There might only be one survivor and we'd be stuck, in the long term, with a monopoly. There may also be an unofficial oligopoly with some tacit agreements going on.

And surely it means something that, at the low end of the market (Williams pianos and so on) they are not only dealing in generic, cheaply manufactured products, but the technology is also lagging way behind even today's 'mediocre' standards (from the big manufacturers eg Yamaha). An example of this is low polyphony - still stuck at 32 or 64 voices. If it were that easy, they'd be matching Roland & Kawai in all aspects except the prestige of the brand name.

I think it's a difficult market segment for any one current company to dominate. Any that would try, would have to have several coalescing factors - huge cash reserves, huge R&D, be able to compete at all levels, perhaps have a finger in the acoustic pie.

Thing is, compared with other tech industries, there's a whole deal of rather subjective, far from empirical factors. Musicians are a funny bunch, full of feelings, nuances, and preferences. Once we drive out all that nonsense, it will be very much easier for a huge conglomerate to dominate.

But seriously - there's not that huge a market to dominate. It's all a bit fringe - the real issue, is a very small proportion of a rather underwhelming demographic that whinge from the sidelines with this amibitious notion that either they know, or can do better.

With something like mobile / cell phones, it's easier - even for a new upstart, to do big things - look at the Oneplus One (and soon to be Two) smartphone - design a very impressive spec, build it with decent components and build quality, attract a software / OS partner - and a slightly unusual marketing strategy, and you can enter the fray - and compete with the big boys / flagships. But even then, and this is apparent in plenty of other areas, many people stick with the brands or models they know.

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Originally Posted by Lester Burnham
Any that would try, would have to have several coalescing factors - huge cash reserves, huge R&D, be able to compete at all levels, perhaps have a finger in the acoustic pie.


Sounds familiar. Actually, it looked for a moment in the mid 1980's as if they were going to do it with digital music technology across the board - they had a comprehensive range of very successful electronic intruments and devices that covered most bases at the time: DX7 (synths) et al, RX11 (drum boxes), KX88 (controller), CX5 (computer), SPX90 plus all the acoustic instruments and studio gear. Everyone and every studio was using these things.

But Roland and Korg fought back, and new companies like Alesis came along who changed the game. And then software took over, with Steinberg and others.


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Digital piano manufacturers will never be able to keep up with the advancements in general computer/smartphone/tablet technology. It's crazy to think so with numbers of 120,000 sold per year across all manufacturers.

Piano is a DYING industry. Make no mistake about it -- population continues to increase and yet piano purchases/learners keep going down in real numbers so it's not even keeping up with population growth. The best piano manufacturers can hope for is for sales to putter about and eek out low volumes+high margins in order to barely survive.

Because at the rate VR technology is advancing (say 50 years from now), you will be able generate music just from your thoughts and motions. At that point, playing physical musical instruments will be reduced to curiosities done by historic re-enactors.

In the near future (before the onset of VR and direct-neural computing), the best we can hope for is an approach like the Kawai VPC1. Kawai focuses on the one thing we can't get from mass-consumer technology -- the physical keyboard action. We are free to use any combination of bleeding-edge touchscreens, computing hardware, digital instruments and speakers/headsets to our delight. No need to complain that the sound chips inside the VPC1 are so far behind because there are no such chips in there.

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Originally Posted by Doritos Flavoured
Originally Posted by Pedro_Henrique

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


I guess most upright acoustics can't take that easily either. not that I care much for XX century piano repertoire...


I don't like it neither, but my teachers point it very clearly: "Or you play it well and and get approved, or we'll see each other another semester."

I think any good digital piano should take all of that banging from the XX century repertoire. I know a lot of students who may need this, me included. But Ok, I see I have to spend more money here and already thinking of the options. I believe a good upright can take the XX century banging. For me, the uprights offers difficulty when playing light XVIII repertoire, since most of them haven't a fast key mechanism.The XVIII repertoire. The thing is, Digital Pianos aren't supposed to be only for the gigging musicians, or popular musicians. They should feel as solid and as secure to the concert pianist. I must add, I'm anxious to play kawai's DPs with RM3 or GF actions and see how it feels.


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Originally Posted by toddy
And surely it means something that, at the low end of the market (Williams pianos and so on) they are not only dealing in generic, cheaply manufactured products, but the technology is also lagging way behind even today's 'mediocre' standards (from the big manufacturers eg Yamaha). An example of this is low polyphony - still stuck at 32 or 64 voices. If it were that easy, they'd be matching Roland & Kawai in all aspects except the prestige of the brand name.

Williams probably puts as little investment in software development as they can get by with and run it on the cheapest hardware they can find. They're like one of those adaptations you find in nature, where a mimicked outward appearance confers a survival advantage. As such, I think one would almost expect them to be quite far from state-of-the-art.

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Originally Posted by anotherscott
Really though, of all the companies to complain about, when it comes to value, I'm kind of astonished that any of this is targeted at Casio, who probably gives you more value per dollar and a wider range of relatively low cost options than anyone else.

I guess it's the "so near yet so far" thing that's tantalizing me. They were going hot and heavy, behaving rather mavericky, I half expected the next thing they'd pull out of their hat would be a fully sampled DP. Instead we get a color touch screen and a price hike. I haven't played with one, but I'm not convinced a touchscreen is all that necessary on something that isn't a synth or a workstation.

I guess I'm one of those who doesn't get all that excited about the synthy direction Casio is going in. Probably a blast to work on in the lab, but to me it's a diversion that's likely sapping their attention and resources, delaying them from making a better DP.

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The PX-560 has the PX-5S synth. You do edit it with the new screen.
The PX-5S by comparison is difficult to edit due to screen size.
The PX-560 is an example of CASIO listening to their customers, they've added almost everything their users asked for in a PX-5S revision.

Our complaints about wanting tablet type hardware, uncompressed-unlooped-unstretched piano samples (in a $999 keyboard???) rarely if ever come up in the PX-5S user community. They asked for other things like expression pedal support, bigger screen/touch screen, etc. Much of this is in the new PX-560 which bodes well for the PX-5S being as popular as the first. Just one reason your whining (which is always expected) is meeting a ??? on this particular thread. You're pissing and moaning about a product we want that does not yet exist from a company that is having success in the low end of the market. crazy

You've seen the NAMM figures. Predict for us, Dewster. Who is going to build what we're asking for, when will it come, and what will it cost. You already know or can take a very good educated guess.





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Originally Posted by toddy
Yes, there is self regulation by the manufacturers. A very significant improvement of the sort Dewster is talking about would be like declaring war. There might only be one survivor and we'd be stuck, in the long term, with a monopoly. There may also be an unofficial oligopoly with some tacit agreements going on.

Honestly, this strikes me as silly tin-foil-hat stuff. Nevertheless, I'll try to address it logically. ;-)

First, even IF some new DP were to be so unequivocally better than anything else out there, and drive every other manufacturer out of the DP business, it would hardly matter to any of these companies. Look at Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Nord, Casio, Kurzweil/YC... every one of these companies could get entirely out of the DP market, and it would hardly matter to them, because dedicated (or even nearly-dedicated) DPs are a tiny percentage of what any of these companies make. (The only exception might be Kawai, who, without the DP market, would primarily be an acoustic piano maker and little else... though even they are diverse enough to offer things like the VPC soundless controller and the MP7 multifunction stage keyboard.)

Second, people buy models based on many criteria, not just how they sound. They want furniture, or they don't want furniture. They want lots of other features, or they don't want other features at all. They want heavy actions, or they want light actions. There are tons of ways manufacturers differentiate their offerings. Piano sound quality is not the one deciding factor in the market. Even if people agreed on what sounded better, which they don't. Which brings me to...

Third, people don't even agree on what makes a better sounding DP (or for that matter, which acoustic piano sounds better than another). Korg already offers multi-gigabyte, unlooped, unstretched piano in the Kronos... not everyone agrees that it's head and shoulders above other companies' offerings. Heck, lots of people prefer the piano sounds of other models, even cheaper ones. So it's not like the first company to come out with a cheap multi-gig piano is suddenly automatically going to own the market. Or to look at another aspect of this, Dewster flips out when he hears looping... I bet 90% of the people who buy a DP (especially a cheap one) don't know what looping is, and wouldn't be able to hear it even if you explained it. Simply, most people's ears are not that critical, and even those with critical ears don't always agree about what sounds best.

Will there be an multi-gig sampled piano under $1k? At some point, sure. Will it immediately knock every other under $1k piano out of the market? Probably not... people won't agree that it sounds best overall, or sufficiently better to make up for something else someone prefers about some other model, whether it's other sounds, cosmetics, feel of the action, portability, speaker quality, auto-accompaniment, or whatever else. And once the technology reaches that point, other manufacturers will shortly start to offer comparably sized samples anyway. And you know, if they don't, and can't compete some other way, they will get out of the market, and hardly notice.

Some random tangential thoughts:

Every company wants to succeed, everyone wants the home run product. I remember the old days... first everyone had to have a Yamaha DX7, then it was an Ensoniq Mirage, then a Roland D50, then a Korg M1. Nobody holds back over fear that their product will sell too well and send the competition scrambling.

The Kronos really was game changing capability at its price, and it's done very well... but Yamaha still sells tons of Motifs. Kurzweil continued to sell many keyboards with the once revolutionary "triple strike" piano for many years beyond when anyone would have called it state of the art. There are lots of reasons people buy the boards they do. The occasional technological leap in some respect or another doesn't cause the competition to close up shop.

Today, there are people who say nothing in the current market can touch Roland's SuperNatural piano. Yet not only do competitors continue to sell well, many people choose a non-Roland because they don't think the SN piano sounds best. In software pianos, people don't agree that the biggest ones are always the best. There's no magic formula for how to make the best sounding DP that will satisfy everyone, including throwing tons of gigabytes of space at it.

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