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#3188695 01/26/22 12:23 PM
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Hi all, really appreciate the help y'all have given to this here digital piano player. I've been reading up a bit on silent options for grands, and looking for a general sanity check:

1. Maybe the best option is to forego the silent and get/keep a separate DP for silent play. I already have a good DP now, but if I upgrade to an acoustic grand, I don't think I can justify having 2 pianos, particularly a hefty hybrid taking up even more space. I'll also be spending 90%+ of my time on silent, so in that case I'd heavily prefer to be sitting at the real grand.

2. I see the factory-installed Yamaha SH and Kawai ATX series as the gold standard. They have built in hammer sensors, come pre-installed and pre-regulated, and the Yamaha in particular claims to have a system that negates regulation adjustments needed to make action work with the hammer stop rail. For me, this is essentially all the benefits of a full AvantGrand/Novus hybrid mated to a higher end action/keylength.

3. There are other "factory installed" options...some have manually-levered stop rails, some claim to be "installable on any make/model", etc. Most are under-key sensor strips rather than hammer sensors, and most seem to be optical non-contact. It seems some are installed at the dealer, in which case it requires stripping the action out of a brand new piano and re-regulating every key? I presume some of these systems are essentially white-label aftermarket solutions (Bechstein Vario, Schimmel Twintone?) Is there any consensus on which are better than others?

4. Then, there are aftermarket retrofits that anyone can have installed. Probably the least appealing to me because I assume installer/technician skill comes into play, and requires immediately gutting a brand new piano to have installed. But I'd love to hear if this concern is unfounded.

Is there anything grossly wrong or missing from the above that I can be thinking about more?


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You didn't mention that the key/action noise in silent mode is more noticeable than you might expect. So if your goal is to let the family sleep while you use the silent feature, they might find the action noise and key sounds to be more annoying than you would hope for. It's true that digitals also can have noticeable key noise, so it depends why you're interested in the silent feature. Acoustics also tend to generate more pedal noise because of the entire trapwork moving rather than the simpler and quieter electronic pedals on a digital piano.

After debating the silent option for myself, I decided the noise coming from the piano in silent mode was more annoying than the actual sound of the piano when not in silent mode, even for songs I hadn't learned yet. Our bedroom is adjacent to my piano room, so I didn't feel that my wife would find the action noise any less annoying than the unsilenced piano. So that, together with what I felt was a disproportional increase in cost, led me to keep my cheap digital and buy a regular acoustic.


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Just keep in mind that in most SH/ATX systems let-off must be much farther from a string than in a normal piano (it affects both silent and acoustic modes). There are exceptions if you can afford them (https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical_instruments/pianos/silent_piano/sh2/specs.html#product-tabs, search for "quick escape mechanism" which is only available for C5X, C6X and C7X).

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Originally Posted by MarkL
... led me to keep my cheap digital and buy a regular acoustic.

Yeah, that was my idea too. Only I found that I play on acoustic 99% of the time, just can't justify playing on my MP11SE even though it has a pretty nice action. My wife had to accept it (probably seeing it as an inevitable evil smile ). Still keep my MP11SE in case I want to use it as a synthesizer.

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Yamaha's SH2 is listed as an option for Bösendorfer's Vienna Concert models...can be ordered for 170VC, 185VC, 214VC, 230VC or 280VC. In that case, it is the same system adapted to fit the Bösendorfer and installed in Vienna.

Of the aftermarket systems, their "universal" brackets are one weakness. The optical sensors are a improvement over the tab/spring sensors, but have their limitations as well. Certain types of playing (of the more highly technical variety) will defeat the sensors placed under the keys, but for the vast majority of playing, they are quite good. The other issue I find with the aftermarket silent systems is that their sound engines are more dated by comparison than those offered by Yamaha & Kawai. However, you can work around this by using a DAW, or even some apps, that will offer you better piano sounds as well as other tones.

Schimmel's TwinTone system is getting up in years, and I don't know what updates have been made, but it was not a "white label" option when introduced. I think AdSilent is supplying several European manufacturers, and AdSilent systems are also available in the US, along side Genio, QRS and PianoDisc silent systems. We like QRS' customer service. We like AdSilent's brackets. We're waiting to see the updated systems from Genio, but the previous grand system was really nice except for one issue...the small electronic servos that operated the stop rail could cause service headaches. Having clearance for all of the silent systems is a challenge.

If you like and are willing to afford the options available, an acoustic hybrid is nice. However, keeping your digital option as a separate instrument is still functionally and financially advantageous for many situations.


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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
Yamaha's SH2 is listed as an option for Bösendorfer's Vienna Concert models...can be ordered for 170VC, 185VC, 214VC, 230VC or 280VC. In that case, it is the same system adapted to fit the Bösendorfer and installed in Vienna.

Looks like all Bösendorfer models come with quick escape mechanism, unlike Yamaha where it's only available for the top line. Both options (with and without it) are called SH2, which is misleading.

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Originally Posted by MarkL
You didn't mention that the key/action noise in silent mode is more noticeable than you might expect. So if your goal is to let the family sleep while you use the silent feature, they might find the action noise and key sounds to be more annoying than you would hope for. It's true that digitals also can have noticeable key noise, so it depends why you're interested in the silent feature. Acoustics also tend to generate more pedal noise because of the entire trapwork moving rather than the simpler and quieter electronic pedals on a digital piano.


I already have a hybrid, so currently deal with the trapwork of the full action smile Maybe a silenced grand will be even louder? But certainly not as loud as unsilenced (most of my playing is 4am-6am while the family is asleep).


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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
Yamaha's SH2 is listed as an option for Bösendorfer's Vienna Concert models...can be ordered for 170VC, 185VC, 214VC, 230VC or 280VC. In that case, it is the same system adapted to fit the Bösendorfer and installed in Vienna.

I do see Bosendorfer/Yamaha as the best "cost isn't an issue" option. Pretty much a full "AvantGrand" solution built into the acoustic grand you want, no retrofit issues. It does cost more than 2x the actual price of getting a full hybrid AvantGrand of course, but you pay for that tight integration.

Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
Of the aftermarket systems, their "universal" brackets are one weakness. The optical sensors are a improvement over the tab/spring sensors, but have their limitations as well. Certain types of playing (of the more highly technical variety) will defeat the sensors placed under the keys, but for the vast majority of playing, they are quite good. The other issue I find with the aftermarket silent systems is that their sound engines are more dated by comparison than those offered by Yamaha & Kawai. However, you can work around this by using a DAW, or even some apps, that will offer you better piano sounds as well as other tones.

Good to know this. I suspect when you saw "certain types of playing," you mean essentially cases where the key-sensor is misaligned with the actual hammer position, and a loud note sounds when there should be none at all--same thing as a Yamaha NU1X? I've played on one of these extensively, and can trigger the phenomenon at will. It doesn't bother me TOO much because in the end, it's the same failure mode, just manifesting differently. Might be annoying if recording MIDI though, which is why I would lean towards the Yamaha SH/Kawai ATX factory options, these use hammer sensors and don't seem be fooled in the same way.

Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
AdSilent systems are also available in the US, along side Genio, QRS and PianoDisc silent systems. We like QRS' customer service. We like AdSilent's brackets. We're waiting to see the updated systems from Genio, but the previous grand system was really nice except for one issue...the small electronic servos that operated the stop rail could cause service headaches. Having clearance for all of the silent systems is a challenge.

Thanks, good to know the general universe of options and I'll do my research here. But the more I look into it, the more unpalatable it seems to me to buy a C. Bechstein and then let the shop immediately gut it to install some aftermarket system that immediately requires a full regulation...

Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
keeping your digital option as a separate instrument is still functionally and financially advantageous for many situations.
If life didn't need compromises, then this would certainly be the better option (but if life didn't need compromises, I wouldn't need a silent option at all). Family first smile


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I believe M&H can install any PianoDisk as special order on any grand they build/sell.

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The new Kawai 'Aures' models do not have any change in the touch from silent mode to normal piano mode, and the letoff is adjusted normally. The stop rail mechanism has been improved to allow the action to be regulated normally.

The optical sensors work extremely well, and the variety of sounds available are very fun for some players - since the digital sounds can be played audibly (there are transducers on the soundboard) along with the piano sound. Mixing strings or voices with the piano sound is kind of fun.

There is still the thumping noise when playing in silent mode, so that is an issue for some people. It's similar to playing a digital piano with headphones, though.


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My wife, who is a decent player but bashful, quite often plays our N3 using headphones. It is quite surprising how much key and pedal noise there is if you are in the same room. I've found it fun, although challenging, to try and work out what she is playing from the assortment of clicks that she produces.

For myself, I am not allowed to play with headphones as whenever I do I start to hum the melody. It's a thing I tend to do anyway but it's generally inaudible when the sound is on (at least, I think it is) Apparantly the mechanical sounds of the piano plus my humming make for a deeply unedifying experience.


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Originally Posted by Jean Claude
My wife, who is a decent player but bashful, quite often plays our N3 using headphones. It is quite surprising how much key and pedal noise there is if you are in the same room. I've found it fun, although challenging, to try and work out what she is playing from the assortment of clicks that she produces.

For myself, I am not allowed to play with headphones as whenever I do I start to hum the melody. It's a thing I tend to do anyway but it's generally inaudible when the sound is on (at least, I think it is) Apparantly the mechanical sounds of the piano plus my humming make for a deeply unedifying experience.

My wife, who is French, cannot stand the key and pedal noise from the piano so I never play in silent mode. I have a DYUS5, a Disklavier version of the acoustic YUS5. My wife would rather hear whatever I am trying to play, no matter how badly I play it. Every once in a while she yells out “Good chéri!” That motivates me to keep practicing.

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Originally Posted by KawaiDon
The new Kawai 'Aures' models do not have any change in the touch from silent mode to normal piano mode

That's a very misleading statement. Unless you have a quick escape mechanism (or similar) the touch will not change when switching from normal to silent mode or back (stop rail should be above let-off level anyway). What about touch difference when compared to a regular acoustic piano? Is _that_ different? Can you regulate let-off to 1/16" on a new Aures in acoustic mode?

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Originally Posted by Jean Claude
It is quite surprising how much key and pedal noise there is if you are in the same room.

Yes, an acoustic piano definitely is thumpy! I went from one of the quietest DPs out there (MP11) to one of the loudest (NV-10), and there's no way it would be "silent" in the same room as others. But my normal playing is 4-6am, and the piano is on the other side of the house from the bedrooms, so thankfully I don't have to be too concerned about action noise.

Originally Posted by Jean Claude
For myself, I am not allowed to play with headphones as whenever I do I start to hum the melody.

I imagine Glenn Gould would also not be as highly esteemed if he released albums of his vocals rather than piano playing smile


Originally Posted by Victor66
That's a very misleading statement.

Maybe we can just ask the (what seems to be reasonable) question directly without sounding too confrontational?

Originally Posted by Victor66
Can you regulate let-off to 1/16" on a new Aures in acoustic mode?

I'm under the impression that whatever the regulation on an ATX4/Aures system, it's probably very similar to what's on my NV-10, which has identical sensing hardware. But I probably don't have enough experience on an acoustic to tell the difference between a silent regulation and plain old variability.


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by Victor66
That's a very misleading statement.

Maybe we can just ask the (what seems to be reasonable) question directly without sounding too confrontational?

It's not the first time when KawaiDon makes this statement with the same objections from other people. Why repeat it again and again? Yes, what he says is technically true. No, it doesn't clarify anything and doesn't answer the question "real acoustic vs silent".

I will take my words back if KawaiDon says that new Aures has the same touch as well-regulated non-Aures piano and can prove it.

Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by Victor66
Can you regulate let-off to 1/16" on a new Aures in acoustic mode?

I'm under the impression that whatever the regulation on an ATX4/Aures system, it's probably very similar to what's on my NV-10, which has identical sensing hardware. But I probably don't have enough experience on an acoustic to tell the difference between a silent regulation and plain old variability.

Let-off is the distance to a string when jack escapes and it directly affects soft playing. When you put a stop rail you can't regulate it as close as without it (unless you have a special mechanism which changes action geometry. that's what Yamaha is doing in C[567]X). I believe it's not that important for sensors as they can be adjusted programmatically. That is not to say that silent instruments are in any way useless, they have their place and for many they are a very good option. But you need to understand what you are loosing, and such statement just muddies the waters. Meanwhile Yamaha also doesn't explicitly distinguish "SH2 with quick escape" vs "SH2 without it", you need to look at specs.

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Originally Posted by Gombessa
I imagine Glenn Gould would also not be as highly esteemed if he released albums of his vocals rather than piano playing smile

He did. He released albums with his vocalizing, his piano playing, and his squeaky chair. I can do without all three.

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Originally Posted by Victor66
Let-off is the distance to a string when jack escapes and it directly affects soft playing. When you put a stop rail you can't regulate it as close as without it (unless you have a special mechanism which changes action geometry. that's what Yamaha is doing in C[567]X). I believe it's not that important for sensors as they can be adjusted programmatically. That is not to say that silent instruments are in any way useless, they have their place and for many they are a very good option. But you need to understand what you are loosing, and such statement just muddies the waters. Meanwhile Yamaha also doesn't explicitly distinguish "SH2 with quick escape" vs "SH2 without it", you need to look at specs.

I have been thinking about this issue too. I have a Kawai K300 ATX3 silent piano. The factory set let-off is larger than that of a normal K300, but I have seen a video of a tech who set it to normal in a K300 ATX3. There is no fundamental reason why the let-off has to be different in a silent piano as far as I am aware, but depending on the construction things can become quite tight and I think factory settings are 'conservative' so that after use and slight changes, the hammers still don't touch the strings. But if you want you can have it regulated with a smaller let-off, at the risk that after a while some hammers start reaching the strings and you'd need to adjust regulation again.

There is some foam on the stop bar to absorb the shock of the hammer shank hitting the bar. I guess the thickness of this foam is the limit to the let-off distance, because when the shank reaches the foam, let-off should have (just) taken place. And when the foam is completely compressed, the hammer should (just) not touch the string.

I am not a tech, just curious about these things.

Another thing to think about in terms of silent systems is if the hammer shanks will be able to handle the impact of the stop bar. I never had heard or thought of this before, but a forum member (Gamma1734) had many shanks affected by this in his K200 ATX3. He occasionally plays very loudly, but still.... In my own piano I don't notice any shank damage, but I don't play very loudly.

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Originally Posted by pianogabe
There is some foam on the stop bar to absorb the shock of the hammer shank hitting the bar. I guess the thickness of this foam is the limit to the let-off distance, because when the shank reaches the foam, let-off should have (just) taken place. And when the foam is completely compressed, the hammer should (just) not touch the string.

I believe it's the reason. Hammer can't be stopped on a short distance or shank will break due to deceleration force, especially when it's applied to a shank with a heavy hammer at the end of it. Certainly not on 1/16". So you have a breaking distance (foam, felt or whatever else), and it should still be some distance from a string when the hammer is finally stopped. Can't go around physics. Yamaha changes let-off for a silent mode, but that will change an aftertouch and make let-off higher on a key, so it's not without problems too. Does it all matter? I guess it depends on what is played and at what level. I spent 7 years in my youth playing classical music on a mediocre upright, which was probably much worse than K300 ATX3. Didn't bother me. But when there is a choice one needs to know tradeoffs.

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Originally Posted by Victor66
Originally Posted by KawaiDon
The new Kawai 'Aures' models do not have any change in the touch from silent mode to normal piano mode

That's a very misleading statement. Unless you have a quick escape mechanism (or similar) the touch will not change when switching from normal to silent mode or back (stop rail should be above let-off level anyway). What about touch difference when compared to a regular acoustic piano? Is _that_ different? Can you regulate let-off to 1/16" on a new Aures in acoustic mode?

The letoff specification for production Kawai pianos is 2mm (treble) to 3mm (bass). This is not changed for the new Aures system. So there is nothing misleading - the Aures pianos play exactly the same as the normal acoustic piano - that was the whole point of the new design.


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Originally Posted by KawaiDon
The letoff specification for production Kawai pianos is 2mm (treble) to 3mm (bass). This is not changed for the new Aures system. So there is nothing misleading - the Aures pianos play exactly the same as the normal acoustic piano - that was the whole point of the new design.

Can you tell us what in the design changed to make this possible in the ATX4 but not ATX3?

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