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RH3 Keybed vs real acoustic keys - Slightly OT

 
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DeltaJockey
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:43 am    Post subject: RH3 Keybed vs real acoustic keys - Slightly OT Reply with quote

This topic could have just as much relevance to any weighted key action, but my Kronos keybed is my most used weighted action and favourite.
This is more of an observation and a question.

I was playing my acoustic piano, and focusing on it's incredible tactile response under my fingers, and wondered what else could be done to improve an RH3 (or any good action), for realism and playing satisfaction.
We always talk about graded weighting, its balance profile and the amount of weight pressure feedback to provide the hammer realism, as "the thing" to emulate but there is so much more.

The weighted attribute of digital actions is very good, but the whole keybed experience is not really like a real piano, certainly from my experience, and I know acoustic pianos all feel different, but I was focusing on the common elements to all that may be missing in the RH3.

I wondered if anyone had ever produced a keybed using the same haptic sensors as in trackpads, mice etc. Playing the RH3 feels so 2 dimensional compared to my real piano, and the feedback though the fingers of the hammers striking the strings, is to me what's missing. The thump at the bottom of the keystroke on weighted electronic keybeds doesn't come close, but could with a bit of design.
The sensors could be programmed to switch on or off, and even provide different profiles for voicing, like hammer hardness.
I know there are folks who have retrofitted old piano action assemblies to play MIDI. The problem with some of the latest dual purpose silent acoustic pianos is they stop the hammers hitting the strings altogether, so I don't count them.
Apart from the expense, an RH3 with haptic transducers programmed with hammer impact would be quite satisfying to play from a pianists point of view Smile
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19naia
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a bit of illusion involved in the sense of key response on acoustic pianos. Strings are often doing the response rather than the keys.

The strings are just a whole other world apart from tone generators or samples
The strings are the key to key response in acoustic pianos and that just cannot happen on a synth.
It can improve in synths but it would have to be keys doing a lot more than velocity switching and aftertouch.
Some pianos can have subtle to noticeable dfferences in string response over the same key hit at the same velocity every time. Aside from the finger not being able to match exact velocity everytime, there can be varied wobble in the key that transfers to the hammers in some pianos. And that slight wobble changes the strike characteristics.
Also where the string is in vibration cycle when the hammer comes down on it again. Is the wave up or in trough along the string where and when the hammer comes down on it again?
8 to 16 velocity switches and samples for sympathetic resonances is great, but does not account for string vibration shape where the hammer comes down to vibrate it again.
Or wobble in the hammer action transfering to the sound response of the key.
Or does SGX do that and i did not notice?

It seems possible to create algorithms that simulate string vibration shape before it is struck again. But i am not sure how difficult it would be or how easy to get it into a synth engine for application for emulation of piano playing.
Also with getting hammer action wobble to translate into synth parameters that govern which samples play or how they play.
A lot of little things add up to make the hammered string characteristics of a real piano. Things that don’t really make or break the music being played, but would be appreciated by people who play and have ears tuned to take in fine details of the sound itself.
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DeltaJockey
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

19naia wrote:
Things that don’t really make or break the music being played, but would be appreciated by people who play and have ears tuned to take in fine details of the sound itself.



Yep that's me. The whole piano playing experience is about this tactile and sound feedback. I agree with all that you said. In fact the string interactions were something separate I was meaning to post as a topic at some point, as again, I find the Kronos pianos to still be in my opinion some of the best available, however the thing that I notice when people talk about the quality of a piano library, is often the quality and realism of the samples themselves, and not the overall stereo spaciality. This probably makes sense, as I notice a lot of musicians use them in mono for live performance.

Even though the multisamples are stereo recordings, I find most multisampled pianos heavy on the left right panning, and seem very sterile when it comes to the complex stereo field which envelopes the acoustic piano player. Given that the average grand uses the overlappng harp, I find its panning to be less than defined, and much more indistinct other than the hammer sounds from left to right. The other attribute I thought of mimicking with my Kronos, was the vibration of the strings down through the pedals. I suppose it's technically possible for all of this, but considering the end application of digital instruments is often to make a recording, as you mentioned before, the tactile and playing experience doesn't detract from the final product in the music....it's the quality of the library which affects this most.
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Poseidon
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many people forget it -

If you are not able to connect personnaly with your music (and an instrument), there is no key action mechanism to make music sound great or be enjoyable to play.
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19naia
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poseidon wrote:
Many people forget it -

If you are not able to connect personnaly with your music (and an instrument), there is no key action mechanism to make music sound great or be enjoyable to play.


With a technical maze like Kronos, it is easy to get wrapped up in trying to understand it.
I recall before i started to learn to play music, i used to have constant sense of magic of music. Then i started to learn to play and grasp the logic of music theory.
Soon i lost the sense of magic that drew me to music, as i got absorbed in learning about music, rationally.
I was still able to have magical experiences with music but only after playing myself out of my mind and just going through the motions like a dance.
Dance or body exercise is easier for me to simply feel and not think about.
No technical devices to take my mind outside and away from the groove.
Just me and my internal focus.

Now i have a renewed sense of magic in music and even music theory taken beyond the instrments and into the magical mysteries of the universe where sound and life are made possible.
It is all magic to me now, just being alive or existance at all, is a mind boggling miracle that can’t be topped.
Nothing wrong with spending life looking for adventure in discovering sound and music. Life leads to the search for magical expericnces, the search for magic leads to music, and search for music leads to sound and search for sound leads to things like pianos and synthesizers.
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Bachus
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe its important to note that the Kronos RH3 is not one of those 88 keys keybeds that tries to mimic a piano keybed..

It aims to give a pleasant playing experience for piano, dp, organs, strings.. all kind of instruments, and therefor is a trade-off between these.. but this is also where the Kronos shines, there aren’t many keybeds that offer a better allround experience then the kronos..

If you want an action close to a grand piano, you would be best suited with a kawai Novus 10, or a yamaha avantgrand..

Or in a more mobile form, the kawai mp11, vpc1, dexibell s9 and Roland RD2000/fp90..
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DeltaJockey
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks Bachus,


I am aware the RH3 is designed as a compromise, and I did mention that I apply this to any weighted boards I have tried.
It's been sometime since I tried an MP11, but I remember it's weighted action being nicely balanced for piano, more so than the RH3,
but I was sort of getting at common traits missing in all digital piano keybeds that would make them closer to the mechanical/vibration feedback you get from real strings at the end of the keys and pedals. This is not a criticism of RH3, but a thought bubble on using further technology to create realism. To me the weighting of the RH3 is fine, so too the Kawai MP11, and many Yamaha's, but they all lack that extra detail I'm talking about.
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kronoSphere
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

what is missing and will always be missing in an electronic musical instrument is simply AIR. There is no air coming out of a speaker. Software engineering tries to overcome this lack of air. It's very difficult.
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pete.m
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

19naia - just wanted to thank you for those two posts of yours. You went somewhere way deeper than the original query, and got straight to the heart of some important stuff. Thanks for your insight...
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Moonglow



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the things I enjoy about playing a digital piano with built in speakers is the vibration you feel through your fingers. Seems to enhance the playing experience and finger-to-ear connection.
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DeltaJockey
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moonglow wrote:
One of the things I enjoy about playing a digital piano with built in speakers is the vibration you feel through your fingers. Seems to enhance the playing experience and finger-to-ear connection.


Yes I guess for just playing, I can see that could enhance the experience a bit. Smile
I played a Roland virtual grand a while back, and considering the price of it, was quite disappointed with the realism from those speakers sitting under the lid. When setup with good monitors correctly, the Kronos pianos were way ahead in my view.


Thank you all for your comments.

I sense that I haven't quite conveyed my logic properly here though. The general tone seems to be....why am I expecting the experience on the digital keyboard to be that of a real acoustic?
I fully understand why there are shortcomings. It was more about from my own impressions, what could be done with further technology to take it one step closer. I am amused by digital piano manufacturers terms, such as 'an experience just like a real acoustic', I know it's advertising, but it is clearly not "just like."

On the quality of samples, I had been playing around with the Iowa State University Steinway on my Kronos. It's a pity they are only 3 layers, as I find the general stereo ambience of this piano to be quite satisfying, and to me it plays best with no effects whatsoever, and sounds closer to an acoustic in the room than many others. I think in the quest to get top quality piano libraries, many recordings seem to be quite sterile to perfect the samples, whereas leaving in all the interplay between harmonics and timber personality is very appealing to me. Perhaps it's just down to personal taste, but for this reason I've always favoured sampled libraries rather than modeling pianos.

Anyway,

that's my own thoughts, as always, many will have differing thoughts Smile
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EXer
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:11 pm    Post subject: Re: RH3 Keybed vs real acoustic keys - Slightly OT Reply with quote

DeltaJockey wrote:
Playing the RH3 feels so 2 dimensional compared to my real piano, and the feedback though the fingers of the hammers striking the strings, is to me what's missing.


You CANNOT be missing the feedback of the hammers striking the strings simply because on an acoustic piano there is NO feedback of the hammers striking the strings!

As you may know, the piano action involves an "escapement mechanism": the hammer "escapes" from its connection with the key before hitting the strings.
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DeltaJockey
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry I think you are breaking my terms down into something too simple.

Perhaps my wording was also not specific enough. Yes I am aware of the escapement, but that does not mean I won't feel the feedback though the whole action into the keybed. Sure all actions are designed with variation, and there are many components to buffer the impact, but the simple fact is that I can feel the result of the hammers hitting the strings, even if that is not directly through the hammer shanks.

The action itself has a complex transfer function, and this can be felt through the motion of the key range. Where as digital weighted keybeds have relatively simple motion in comparison, and this to me is felt in a more simplistic linear transfer function of its travel.
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Zeroesque
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the reality is that we've had about 20 years now where the experience of playing a decent digital piano -- with decent monitoring -- compares favorably with that of your average acoustic piano. I think the Kronos took this to a previously unheard-of level inside of a workstation.

Most acoustics are out of tune, have regulation issues, sluggish keys, etc. Heck, most pianos are consoles and uprights that don't even have a mediocre grand's action. None of this is all that great for your development as a musician. However, tuning, stability and consistency is where a digital shines, not to mention that the samples are normally of a world-class grand.

Is it still nice to have that sensory feel of sitting at a real piano in a room? Most definitely. Does that overcome the problems that most pianos have in their current shape? Not usually.

Is the experience of playing a Kronos better than that of the well-set-up concert grands that it's trying to emulate? Probably not. Is it better than the vast majority of pianos that you'll come across outside of a concert stage or big-boy recording studio? I'd argue yes.
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