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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been researching because I wanted to have a digital piano.
The first question that surely will come to your mind is "Why digital, why not accoustic"?
Well, there are some advantages with digital pianos, the first one (I hate) is the possibility of headphones, as where I live I wouldn´t be able to freely practice... neighbours...
The other main thing is that a decent upright is very very expensive for my budget, and I don't want a potato piano, I really don't want it.
It seems that I'm too demanding in matter of sound... so I started my research on the affordable digital (stage pianos) and the result was a TREMENDOUS disappontment!! Those "pianos" (if you can call them so) are toys in matter of sound!! You can't make any nuances in those instruments, the color doesn't change at all, the dynamics are ridiculously poor... the only good thing I've found is the hammer action on some models, pretty much like the real thing (because they actually have the real thing inside, mechanically speaking)
So, I understood the budget would be higher than expected (finally unaffordable)
The digital piano wasn´t an option either.
And just for morbid curiosity I started to pay attention and listened to the top notch grand digitals such as this beauty:
and I found that this stunning digital grand was awful as well as the cheaper ones!!!
I couldn't understand why someone would pay a fortune for that!
I continued my research and I found that the basic problem of these instrunments (devices) is the polyphony, even the extremely expensive ones have less tahn 300 notes of polyphony.
That's what make those pianos uncapable to reproduce the extreme resonances taht occur inside the real piano, which are extremely complex to calculate for a convincing emulation.
If you listen to that Yamaha N3, you´ll perceive only the clean notes that each key triggers, but nothing else is there, nothing else at all!
So when I understood the core of the problem I found a solution, the VST pianos. You can add any polyphony you want and the older notes you play will never be killed by new notes.
I installed Fazioli by Imperfect Samples.
The result was better, the color now changed properly, and the dynamics were much better... but it still wasn´t completely satisfactory. Something was missing there.
Even with the symphatetic resonances, I found the mass of the sound was really poor, specially while stressing the instrument with extreme performances.
I started to learn about the cosntruction of the virtual instruments and i really got amazed about the infinite flexibility of those instruments. You can really do whatever you want in matter of customization.
First of all, I colored the dynamics of my piano with some enrichment process that were managed by the velocity parameter (the force you play with). That made a very obscure pianissimos and very open and stressed fortissimos.
And I added four systems of resonators (symphatetic) that are triggered when the damper pedal is down in combination with stressful performances.
The result is this:
Now I really can express my emotions in my digital piano :)
I hope you like my story, and my piano!
 

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Interesting story, though I have to admit some of the technical stuff went a little over my head. I've played one of those Yamaha grands too and, like you, was distinctly underwhelmed by it. The Fazioli does sound great and you play it very well. My personal preference would always be for an acoustic (are you sure you could only get a "potato piano" - good phrase, that - for your budget?) but I have to admit I struck lucky with my upright, a 1925 Bechstein which I bought far too cheaply from a music shop which didn't know its true value. Happy musicmaking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi! Thanks for your reply :)
I'm so glad that you've found a piano that makes you happy!
Well, I wasn't that lucky, and here the upright (a decent one) is TOO expensive and you´ll have to choose a very very good one in order it to be good enough for concerts and delicate nuances. You know most upright don't...
Well what I did was to buy this digital piano (for 420$):
Musical instrument Piano Keyboard Musical instrument accessory Rectangle


Then my father and me built a wooden cabinet and insert it like this:

Musical instrument Piano Keyboard Musical instrument accessory Rectangle


Of course there is much more than that, hidden inside, this is only a schematic. It has also a computer inside, a Steinberg sound card, big speakers and all powered by big gel batteries, so you can play anywhere for hours regardless the power source.

And the result is this upright, the piano you heard in youtube:

Musical instrument Plant Piano Property Furniture


The sound that you heard in my post is the Fazioli Grand by Imperfect Samples. It has also available a Schimmel Braunschweig Upright, a Brasted Upright, a Bosendorfer Imperial by Synthogy, and other pianos like those.
Now I have several pianos in my piano :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
try Yamaha P-115 & P-215
I tried those :)
BTW, did you mean Yamaha P-255?
Anyways, if you compare them (or any digital piano, even the top notch ones) to the Fazioli I've posted, you'll see what I'm talking about.
The lack of deep resonances in digital pianos is so noticeable. The problem is always the lack of polyphony. They cannot sustain the immense amount of overlapped notes that a TRUE piano resonance involves. Only with a software piano you can hold the extreme resonances at about 2500 notes of poly, while the most expensive digital piano only holds 256 notes max, which means nothing regarding true resonance.
 

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You're right about the polyphony, which is really about having that genuine mass of struck strings resonating in a real cabinet. I don't think that problem is easy to overcome.

I've had a few digital pianos and they have improved a lot over the years. The one I really wanted was a real piano with built-in digital piano which is engaged by slipping the sostenuto pedal to one side - too expensive though.

I'm satisfied with what I currently have for the price. Like you I run a VST (several actually) to get the sounds I want. The Fazioli, a Steinway from a huge bank of samples, Clavinova's grand piano sound, a sampled Walter piano and a lovely 1973 Rhodes. My main issue is the hammer action, it lacks that feel of a weighted pivot and can sometimes feel a tad "sticky".

The maker is a local builder and I chose it for the price and very robust case and the reasonable action. A lot of the makers of generic digital pianos lie about the sounds they use. They often use a standard midi instrument bank and simply limit access to the keyboard instruments of the bank. In my case they had this spiel about saving all the memory to dedicate it to the piano sound quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Like you I run a VST (several actually) to get the sounds I want. The Fazioli, a Steinway from a huge bank of samples, Clavinova's grand piano sound, a sampled Walter piano and a lovely 1973 Rhodes. My main issue is the hammer action, it lacks that feel of a weighted pivot and can sometimes feel a tad "sticky".
Well, regarding the VST my fazioli has been deeply modified. What you hear in my video is not the original Fazioli.
I've colored it a lot with several techniques, special sampling treatment that work differently according to the velocity level (each note calculated individually).
Plus, I've added five resonators (five independent coworking instruments) based on the Steinway Walnut sample library (by Imperfect samples as well)
These resonators have their specific task based on velocity and based on the key zone, and also based on the polyphony (that causes the piano stress in the real thing)
Actually that piano you hear is an inteconnected group of five pianos working together at the same time, so when you press a key (depending on the way you do it) you can be triggering 20, 60 or 100 notes sometimes (just for one single key).
That makes a richer sound that approaches to the accoustic pressence that occurs in the real thing.
That forced me to use a supercomputer and a super audio card in order to comnpute the extreme amount of polyphony and the intense FX that are calculated note by note.
For example, if you play a note very soft, it will sound clear, clean, alone and intimate.
But if you press it hardly, you'll obtain a reverberation of itself, and a forced (but subtle) symphatetic resonance (even though the dampers are not released). And if you press that same key again, hardly, but with damper pedal down, you'll obtain a strong symphatetic resonance mainly in the strings that are multiples in length, but slightly in all strings also. And subsequentlyu you'll obtain a messy reflection of the sound of all strings.
And all these factors are stronger in lower notes and less noticeable in higher pitch.
If you listen carefully at the Warsaw Concerto I've posted, you'll notice the different behavior of the piano according to the performance, you'll feel the stress on the strong notes (and specially chords) versus the intimacy and closeness of the softer notes.

Regarding the hammer action, you won't believe that I've found a very very natural action in a very cheap piano! I've bought a Ringway Artesia, because of the distant fulcrum of the keys and the free hammered system (it's not sticky at all)
Some of the most important brands are gradded hammer and such, but still sticky... Surprisingly, this Artesia has a very natural and free action. I'm very happy with it.
Very close to the real thing indeed!
 

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Years ago the late Virgil Fox was in Pasadena for an organ concert on his newly acquired Allen organ. I worked for the Allen dealer that was sponsoring the concert; we had moved part of his road organ into the back of the store for him to practice on late one night.

He arrived early at a time when I was playing an organ concert of my own in the performance room of the store. He was up front in one of the practice rooms working on his repertoire on a Wurlitzer spinet organ.

I expressed amazement and his reply was very simple "It matters not what the sound is like, what matters most to me is being able to work on my fingering . . . the repetition of playing the notes without regard to the sound quality.

I think people can achieve the same with digital pianos. For certain nothing replaces the sound of an acoustic piano, but for practice purposes isn't it more about learning and playing the notes as opposed to the sound quality of the instrument?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
For certain nothing replaces the sound of an acoustic piano, but for practice purposes isn't it more about learning and playing the notes as opposed to the sound quality of the instrument?
Well, I think my piano is very close to the real thing. I don't think it is only usable for practising purposes, its sound is capable to perform the direct and subtle moods of the piano concerto requirements (while a digital piano can't)
BTW did you listen at it in the video?
If you listen to it carefully you'll find that a digital piano (note even the top notch ones) can't reproduce the natural resonances as my Fazioli does.
 

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Digital pianos are usually a pain. I have a grand, but I can use it only once a week, since where I live now we don't have enough space. So I decided to go for a good action digital and some VSTs. Action was quite easy: for the budget I got a Casio GP-500, very nice hybrid with grand-like action. Goal was to have a good feel like the grand, and so it is.
But after... ho many VSTs I've bought, tryed, sold... countless. Now I'm quite resigned, but I'm practicing with Garritan CFX, Synthogy American D and sometimes the Vienna Imperial. None of those is like playing grand, no way.

I'm curious about your modifications to the IS Fazioli, I will hear to the video later (no audio here :/ )
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi Luca!
Thanks for the message :)
Well, last week my good friend Veronica (that lives far away in the mountains) came to visit me and have a tea, you know girly things XD
At some pint she asked me for the piano I have in my livingroom: I have to say she's a piano player (kinda) she studied about 10 years but she didn't properly practice, so she's not very good at it. Nevertheless she played always acoustic pianos, and never a digital one (because she hates the plastic sound, so she says)
I told her about my piano... nothing at all. Y opened the lid and let her play it.
WOW! This is such an outstanding piano!! _She said
And I told her it was a computer simulation of the real thing, but she refused to believe that no mechanism was inside (because of the noise settings I made for it)
So I opened the back lid and showed the i7 computer, and the old wooden Telefunken speakers (that's part of the magic)
And she got amazed of what (relatively) recent technology can achieve by these days.
She told me that she did listen at digital pianos in a shop, but she noticed the clean behavior and the "lack of strings" inside.
But here are sometning else inside... I can feel some mechanical things inside... _she told me
And I explained her the hammer action and the rest was the sampled noises, as well as the pedal noises were sampled the same way.
But she also told me that the main thing she got amazed was that the notes didn't electronically die after releasing the key, and there was sometning else joining them...
Articulations, I explained her about the secondary sounds that are beibng triggered while releasing and such.
And I also explained her about the things I did on the instrument.
So here I'm answering you as well Luca
Why did I choose Fazioli? Well, because of the intimate and mellow dark notes on lower velocities.
But the main problem with that library was the lack of brilliancy while high vel strokes.
So I made some filters in Kintakt that altered the brilliancy (via EQ + Flanger + Reverb) depending on a velocity envelope plus a polyphony triggering, mapped according to a key zone filter.
The result was a very very obscure low velocities and a strong brilliant high vels (as you can hear in the youtube vid)
The other problem I found in the Fazioli was the lack of symphatetic resonance, so I used a second instrument taken from the Walnut (also by Imperfect Samples) that is triggered by velocity and always parallel to the main Fazioli.
But when I played a concert... something was lacking (compared to a recording of a grand piano concerto, in an actual concerto)
Something else was missing...
I started to listen at grand concertos, and tried to emulate the thing those pianos had behind... that hidden special thing.
So I added something I called "antipathetic resonance". And that's a background effect, dependent on a velocity envelope, that is triggered specially when the piano is too stressed. The sort of a sound that a piano makes when you kick it very strong or when it's being moved and dropped down. An awful messy resonance that is impossible to obscure, no matter how high end the piano is... it's a matter of physics and entropy.
And that has been the hardest part of the instrument's construction, while it had to be subtle enough to avoid a dirty sound, but still resonant to depict the entropy. The challenge was to make the instrument sensitive to the stress.
So the result is what you hear in the video.
About the computer: I had to use a strong i7 with 16 giga of ram, and SSD with a hi end fosucrite audio card. Despite the top notch gear, the complexity of the resonances while the piano is stressed, use the 90% to 95% of the CPU.
Now, you have to take in account that you can only hear a part of the piano in the video (because you hear just the line output), while the old wooden speakers, plus the wooden cabinet made the rest of the magic.
I should make a video recording in a comparison between an accoustic piano and my piano, and record them both by air in the same act. I'll try to make such video as soon as possible.
About the video, some people said that the reverb is too large, well, that's been a final reverb I've added in the mixing, because I found the piano (line out recorded) was too close and lacking of placement (I should record it with an aerial mic). The pianos in real concertos have very long reverb, usually too large, see this
 

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Well.. I should have read this thread earlier.. Like a few hours earlier..

Since I have been thinking of learning to play the piano and knowing nothing about their prices and versions I went to youtube where my research initially started and where I concluded that I could only afford the digital.

So after like a whole day of research and googling I ordered from Amazon the Yamaha p-115 after reading about it here.

Watching on youtube and reading its reviews really convinced me that it will sound very close to the real deal..

And now I read this massive thread where I dont understand all of the technicalities but I can read between the lines and it is not looking any good for me :(

I get that the digital will not be the same as the acoustic but will it be good enough for a beginner as I hoped it will be?

The piano will arrive in a few days but after reading this thread I am really freaking out..

Is it possible to do what you did in order to improve the sound in the yamaha p-115??

Where can I learn more about how you improved the sound? If you could please share that with me I will be ever grateful.. I have to figure out what to do now.. I am just starting a piano jurney and I really want to make it a good one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi! I'm so sorry for my delayed answer! Considering you're in a hurry with your new piano!
First of all, congratulations for your new piano!
I think your piano is a pretty good one, it has very good beds, so you can use it as a pretty good piano controller for a good VST, then you'll get a very natural piano.
That's the best way to use your digital Piano!
Cheers!!
 

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Hi! I'm so sorry for my delayed answer! Considering you're in a hurry with your new piano!
First of all, congratulations for your new piano!
I think your piano is a pretty good one, it has very good beds, so you can use it as a pretty good piano controller for a good VST, then you'll get a very natural piano.
That's the best way to use your digital Piano!
Cheers!!
Hearing you saying that means a lot! It relieved some of my tension! Thank you!

Once the piano arrives I will first use it for some time on its own while I learn about VST and how this is al being done what you wrote above :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You're welcome!
So, just to illustrate (and you still can read above for further information)
By using your Yamaha p-115 as a controller for a VST, you change from this:


into this:


Pay attention at the lower notes, the resonances with damper pedal down (polyphony related) and also the dynamics (how dramatically the timbre changes with velocity).

See you!
 

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Hi, I am glad you are happy with your piano explorations. If you can, post a drier example of your piano. I have to agree with others, the reverb creates a somewhat distant sonic cloud that veils what the piano might really sound like. It would be interesting to know just how long a quality grand can maintain a note. I think 2500 notes would be extraordinary. I have owned a Steinway rebuilt 1915 B for thirty years. If you shout into it with the sustain depressed the string resonance is truly amazing and long lasting. Several iOS panos have string resonance , the Ravenscroft 275 based on a custom built, titanium harped 9' grand, and the Crudebyte Colossus. Both have mechanical noises, velocity adjustment and are capable of sounds better than most digitals.
I know this is a very subjective matter, but to my ears your piano sounds a bit over the top which is why I would love to hear a drier version. I am pretty sure that would work better for my personal tastes. Not trying to rain on your parade, Carol. I love this subject and am eager to hear the unadorned instrument you have created. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Hi there!
Well, fisrt of all, thank you so much for your kind post!
I made a raw improvisation a moment ago, (pretty fast and on the fly) just for you to listen the piano as it is... of course, it is the previous stage, a direct digital recording from Cantabile Performer, so my actual final piano sound is something different while the speakers and the wood are involved in additoional resonances that you won't hear here.
Moreover, it is possible that the high frequencies are overexposed, while the piano has been adjusted to the amplifier and speaker system (which tend to cut high frequencies) So I beg you please adjust your EQ in order to reduce the high frequencies if needed (specially during higher velocity notes)

The video contains two pianos, The Fazioli Grand, and the Braunschweig Upright, both by Imperfect Samples.
I play both depending on my mood. As you can hear, Braunschweig is more mechanical and it is a little bit "in the face" more than the Fazioli, while the upright's mechanical system is closer to the interpreter, and, on the other hand, the grand piano has also more refined mechanics inside.

Well, I hope this makes you a better approach to my piano!

Cheers!!!

 

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And please, please... don't judge my interpretation :( I'm just playing nothing at all, just testing keys...
HI Carol, that was much clearer, thank you! Very nice sounding. For my ears I would EQ up the bass a little, to cut off some of the lowest frequencies, but it is subjective, of course.

This is the piano app I use. See what you think. Best.

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Hi! Thanks for sharing!!
That Ravenscroft seems to be a very nice piano! More suitable (IMO) for jazz or romantic due its behaved pressence, for my personal taste and purposes it sounds a little too clean.
I'm a fan of the extreme mechanical noises and also the irregular feeling and response throughout the keyboard, like the piano were old or damaged (as you might perceive in my piano)
Your piano is a kinda well behaved and pretty beautiful one :)
 
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