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There has been a lot of interest in a different conversation about this topic. To avoid hijacking that thread, let's start the discussion on this one.

Questions:
- how much latency is too much latency for piano?
- how much latency is too little latency?
- is too much/little because we are "used" to one setup (e.g. acoustic) of for actual physiological/musical reasons?
- the computer can only report part of the latency, anybody has measured it?

Many papers regarding this topic have been mentioned, particularly:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7603558_Touch_and_temporal_behavior_of_grand_piano_actions
https://www.researchgate.net/public...nal_Percussionists_and_Amateur_Musicians
https://asa.scitation.org/doi/10.1121/1.1376133

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Regarding the "too little" latency some Kawai instruments can artificially increase it, as we started discussing in that other thread:

Quote
So CA99 / NV10 /NV5 (Only in Piano sound), we have "Hammer delay" for pianissimo :
(Page 60 of manual)
https://www.kawai.co.uk/service/ca99_79_e.pdf

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I was able to capture audio from the piano and audio from the VST, and examine the delay. The result: about 2.5 msec.

This does not include the delay inside the piano from keypress to audio output.
It just shows that the VST does not introduce much more delay compared to the piano itself.

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I'm not sure if you want to discuss the refs you give, or get answers to your questions.
I suppose the latter.

I don't think you can put hard numbers on it, there is always some situation/task/music where lower latency proves better.

Also what is acceptable for someone is unacceptable for others.

I don't think there is "too little latency", 0 is probably ultimately the best.

It is true that also on real pianos there is a delay between moment you press a key and moment you hear the sound. I just say that there it would also be better to have less latency. It is just probably that nobody considered that , or maybe they did and the trade-off was what we have today.

Yes you can get used to it. Check with organ players, the latency may be so large that they are playing several notes ahead in fast pieces. But you need a lot of skill and training for it I think and you need to get used to it. So lower is still better

>the computer can only report part of the latency, anybody has measured it?
For audio, the computer does report total latency including sound card, DA converter times and analog circuit times. At least, on mac, it does report these values so that the computer can compensate and report on these. You could also include the speakers and consider acoustical delays in theory (not standard on mac FAIK).

So it is possible to do all this dor DPs just as well.


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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I was able to capture audio from the piano and audio from the VST, and examine the delay. The result: about 2.5 msec.

This does not include the delay inside the piano from keypress to audio output.
It just shows that the VST does not introduce much more delay compared to the piano itself.

That's too quick. Suppose goal is 4 ms total latency, then 2.5 is a big chunk of that budget already, and maybe too much.


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Originally Posted by wouter79
I'm not sure if you want to discuss the refs you give, or get answers to your questions.
I suppose the latter.

I don't "want" anything, other than discussing and learning. Those questions were only kickstarters.


Originally Posted by wouter79
I don't think there is "too little latency", 0 is probably ultimately the best.

That is what I would have said too, however given the fact than on acoustic loud means only "early", part of the discussion of the third link is also about a possible way to emphasize: in addition to loudness, also timing. Whether or not it's voluntarily made, it's happening and I find it quite interesting and not disturbing in recordings.

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I don't understand what you mean. How is that too quick? The goal is 0, right?
Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I was able to capture audio from the piano and audio from the VST, and examine the delay. The result: about 2.5 msec.

This does not include the delay inside the piano from keypress to audio output.
It just shows that the VST does not introduce much more delay compared to the piano itself.
That's too quick. Suppose goal is 4 ms total latency, then 2.5 is a big chunk of that budget already, and maybe too much.

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The goal is surely to have the Piano sound the note before you press the key?










grin

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Originally Posted by OU812
The goal is surely to have the Piano sound the note before you press the key?

I will think about this answer each notes I will delay by hesitation... I don’t think I will forget it soon ! wink

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Who will be the first one to call his piano dealer because his new acoustic piano that just got delivered has too much latency?

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Hi,

Real Piano behaviour :

In PPP, Key Bottom is after Hammer String
In FFF, Key Bottom is before Hammer String
Staccato : same time

Grobal latency 20/30ms between key finger and Hammer string :

see :
http://www.speech.kth.se/music/5_lectures/askenflt/measure.html

Last edited by owfrappier; 01/19/21 06:49 PM.

O.F : Real GRAND Piano Schimmel / Roland HP 603 with Pianoteq 7.4.2 or Gar. CFX lite/ and perhaps soon an N1X or GC1/C1X SH2-TA2....

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Originally Posted by owfrappier
Hi,

Real Piano behaviour :

In PPP, Key Bottom is after Hammer String
In FFF, Key Bottom is before Hammer String
Staccato : same time

Grobal latency 20/30ms between key finger and Hammer string :

see :
http://www.speech.kth.se/music/5_lectures/askenflt/measure.html

Exactly. Yet nobody says a thing about it. Whereas on digital (computer based) pianos latencies of 10ms often sound barely acceptable? Why? Some hypotheses have floated around, some reasonable speculations yes, but I have not seen a compelling answer yet!

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Originally Posted by OU812
The goal is surely to have the Piano sound the note before you press the key?
grin

How did you know of my invention?

I’m working on a special helmet that relays your intentions to the piano in advance, so the note does not ‘sound’ before you press a key (as per your system), but instead the piano anticipates your intentions and accommodates accordingly. This allows for calculations and other machinations to begin in advance; therefore, reducing the latency to 0.

For example, if your intention is to play fff, the piano will summon/cue the corresponding samples/notes, resonance(s), timbre, etc. in advance; therefore, eliminating the need for real-time processing, and, by extension, reducing the latency to 0.

You’re welcome, but I’m still suing you for imitating my invention.

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Most people that complain will be experiencing delays of half a second or more.

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There's confusion about latency in digital pianos and VSTs ...
Originally Posted by Del Vento
Whereas on digital (computer based) pianos latencies of 10ms often sound barely acceptable? Why? Some hypotheses have floated around, some reasonable speculations yes, but I have not seen a compelling answer yet!

The piano senses a key stroke.
It generates sound. How much latency is there between the key stroke and the sound?
It generates MIDI data. How much latency is there between the key stroke and the data transmission?
The MIDI data travels over a MIDI cable. It takes 1 msec.
... or ...
The MIDI data travels over USB. How long does that take?
The PC captures the MIDI data. How long does that take?
The VST captures the MIDI data. How long does that take?
The VST conjures up digital sound signal. How long does that take?
The VST sends the digital sound data to an audio interface ... inside the PC or perhaps one attached via USB. How long does that take?
The signal becomes sound in a sound system. No latency to speak of (down in the microseconds).
The sound travels to our ears. We ignore that in our computation because we expect to suffer that transit time in a digital piano just as much as we expect it in an acoustic.
Every step involves some time delay.

When people quote latency figures they often (or usually?) refer to the delays in the PC-to-audio-interface chain. That's only one piece of the latency. They generally omit the rest. Hence the confusion.

I've made measurements of the time DIFFERENCE between the sound signal coming from the piano and that coming from an audio interface driven by a VST.
My assumptions are ...
1. That the piano's in-built latency is "normal". (It's never bothered me.)
2. Any additional latency beyond that amount is potentially bad. My 2.5 msec measurement gives satisfactory results. My 13 msec result on an older computer was not acceptable.

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Originally Posted by owfrappier
Hi,

Real Piano behaviour :

In PPP, Key Bottom is after Hammer String
In FFF, Key Bottom is before Hammer String
Staccato : same time

Grobal latency 20/30ms between key finger and Hammer string :

see :
http://www.speech.kth.se/music/5_lectures/askenflt/measure.html
This was interesting. 20-30 ms for an acoustic piano. I play mostly on an acoustic but decided to experiment with a synth. I set the attack time to 0 for a saw waveform. Then began to vary the delay time between the key down and start of attack. From 0 to 40 ms delay, it seemed instantaneous. At 40 ms, it seemed like maybe I detected a delay. At 50 ms, I was sure there was some delay, but still not unpleasant. By 75 ms, the delay was clear and by 100 ms the delay was annoying. My conclusion: if you are used to playing an AP, any DP combination with 30-40 ms of latency will probably sound just fine. Curious what others have found.


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First, we need to define what exact latency we are talking about. In following, by latency I mean 'from midi event to when the sound is heard'. That is different than from when the key starts traveling down to when the sound is heard.

Originally Posted by Del Vento
- how much latency is too much latency for piano?
For me, it is 10ms. Anything more and it gets annoying. Anything more than 20ms is unplayable.
Originally Posted by Del Vento
- how much latency is too little latency?
Negative... it will freak me out and will never make me want to touch that possessed piano again!

Originally Posted by Del Vento
- is too much/little because we are "used" to one setup (e.g. acoustic) of for actual physiological/musical reasons?
I don't think it is because we are 'used' to a setup. Even before playing acoustic pianos, I was sensitive to DP latencies. It is simple because the brain expects a connection between when it thinks the hammer will hit the string to when the sound is heard by the ears.

If somebody beats a drum that you have never seen, your brain will still expect the sound to come at a certain time. If it comes later, it will be 'confused'.

Originally Posted by Del Vento
- the computer can only report part of the latency, anybody has measured it?

Yes, there have been reports of latency measurements, both in DP forum and in other forums. There is even a data-base of latency measurements here - though the measurement there is for RTL (Round Trip Latency) - which is different than what we need in DP as we do not have any analog inputs.

Osho

Last edited by Osho; 01/19/21 09:56 PM.

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Originally Posted by Del Vento
Originally Posted by owfrappier
Hi,

Real Piano behaviour :

In PPP, Key Bottom is after Hammer String
In FFF, Key Bottom is before Hammer String
Staccato : same time

Grobal latency 20/30ms between key finger and Hammer string :

see :
http://www.speech.kth.se/music/5_lectures/askenflt/measure.html

Exactly. Yet nobody says a thing about it. Whereas on digital (computer based) pianos latencies of 10ms often sound barely acceptable? Why? Some hypotheses have floated around, some reasonable speculations yes, but I have not seen a compelling answer yet!

Not sure, if this is a compelling answer for you - but here is the info from the other thread:

Quote
There is a difference between the latency mentioned in that paper and the latency we talk about in DP world. In that paper, the latency is from finger-key contact to when the sound is heard. In DP world, the latency we typically talk about is from midi event generation to when the sound is heard. My point is that the midi event generation is intended to capture the point referred to as "hammer-string contact" in the paper.

Despite the numbers in that paper, no one has ever reported that they are not satisfied with the latency of their acoustic pianos. You can ask in the "Piano forum" or search in that forum - but that discussion never comes up. On the other hand, there are plenty of people complaining about DP VST latency. The reason is that the brain intuitively expects the sound to come at the hammer-string contact point. In the acoustic world, the only delay is due to the sound travelling through the air - which is about 1ft/msec. So, the effectively latency that the brain hears ends up being 3-4ms.

In DP world, the latency from midi event to sound heard can vary anywhere from 5ms or more. After a certain point (which depends on person to person), it becomes perceivable as being different from what you would expect from an acoustic instrument. For me, it is about 10ms - but it can vary from person to person.

Osho


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'course I've seen all of this discussion from the other thread and the additional one in this thread. None of it is satisfactory to me. Just hypotheses and speculations. Reasonable, yes, but not compelling.

I tried to measure the latency of my digital piano (Yamaha NU1), acoustic piano (inexpensive golden era baby grand) and computer-based piano (Pianoteq controlled with the NU1, leave alone the Pianoteq bashing: in fact I don't use it but it's the only thing I have a demo I understand how to decently use). This is what I did:

1) with external mic, record the sound with the volume for the digital adjusted in such a way that the natural action noise is not too softer than the piano sound (on the acoustic it is what it is)

2) analyze the recording in audacity trying to measure the time it takes from the key bottoming noise to the beginning of the piano sound

3) by accident I also recorded the key release noise on some DP recording, they are completely invisible in the display of the recorded signal, but very clearly audible.

These are my conclusions:

- For all three cases I can hear very slight the delay and it's not annoying, besides for Pianoteq....

- I can artificially slow down the sound (without changing the pitch) and the delay becomes super-evident

- However I cannot measure such a time in the interface: both in the original and in the slowed down version there is no clear point where the noise or the sound "begin", the attack is so "blurred" that I could measure anything between 2ms and 100ms (and that is on the same recording!)

So here I am with something I can hear and measure and see on the screen, yet I cannot quantify. So I wonder how one can say "below x ms it's fine, above it's not". As many have said, the numbers reported by Pianoteq (or other software pianos) are only part of the mix, and I am interested in the full picture.

Has anybody attempted at doing this measurement and achieved any reasonable success?

I know one of you has measured two piano sounds (digital and acoustic) and I could do something similar (NU1 and Pianoteq), but, assuming I am successful, that tells only half of the story: in my case could be Pianoteq is x ms later than NU1 internal sound and that makes it annoying. But is the total 1+x ms or 10+x ms 50+x ms or what? That makes a huge difference.

Last, I really can't believe 50ms would not be unpleasand as SoundThumb wrote: 50ms is a little short than half of a 16th note when playing at quarter_note = 120. So if you are playing at 120 anything that has a succession of a few 16th notes (such as a Czerny or Hanon exercise, something that any intermediate pianist can do, let's leave it aside whether or not it is useful) everything you play comes half a note later, so it'd feel like you are playing on the key release rather than the key press!!!! I had that sensation with Pianoteq at times and it is totally weird!

Last edited by Del Vento; 01/19/21 11:57 PM. Reason: specify microphone
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When the ears don't hear what the fingers should have produced, the mind becomes confused.

My psych professor demonstrated this to the class long ago ...
A pretty young thing was chosen from the front row of the audience.
She was given the "special headphones" ... a pair of sink drain plungers with small speakers inside, fashioned into a headset. (Why did he not use conventional headphones?)
She was also given a hand-held microphone to speak into.
Between mic and headset was a "special amplifier". The latter introduced delay ... nothing more. Perhaps a second or so.

The class could not hear her voice directly, Nor could she. We could only hear her voice over the PA ... which was the same delayed sound she was hearing in the headset.
She was given a short text to read. But she couldn't finish two words because her mind was thrown off. She was not hearing what she was speaking, but instead what she had spoken a second earlier.

It's the same with the piano. We need to hear what our fingers are producing. Delay is confusing. It doesn't take much latency before it becomes intolerable.

My VST introduces a mere 2 msec over what the piano can do on its own. That's quite acceptable.
My old computer introduced 13 msec. That was annoying.
That computer without ASIO and Presonus box introduced around 25 msec latency. It wasn't just annoying. It was unplayable.

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