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Least objectionable digital piano
Old 3 weeks ago
  #31
Once upon a time when we had nothing better to compare them with, you could get by with a Roland JV or XV, or a Motif ES instrument.

They have a good sound, and for a lot of pop piano, church music, and some jazz, are ok. Will do the gig.

Reproduction systems - speakers and headphones have improved quite a bit in the last two decades, and every time I improve my speakers, the issues with these older sampled pianos becomes more audible and objectionable. I have owned and still own some of the following - Roland XV2020, Yamaha EX5, Yamaha ES Rack, and a Yamaha CP33 stage piano.

In today's world, the best all round sounds of piano type are on the Nords. And you will find them pretty much everywhere and easy to rent.

Their keybeds are not perfect, cos these are sourced from Fatar, but apart from this Nords are excellent portable instruments, well made with a lot of effort and consistency in the instrument design.

Nords give you the potential for the best variety of piano tones. Acoustic grands of many types from their free well stocked online library of piano samples, Uprights, Electromechanical Pianos _ Rhodes Wurlitzer, and also excellent Organs in their Stage keyboards if you really need it all.

On top of this Nord makes really good synthesizer sounds and sounds based on samples of other non piano instruments for pads, a bit of horns, and retro synth emulations.

You cannot go wrong with a Nord.

Yamaha makes decent portable pianos but in recent times, they force you into their own "interpretation" of piano sounds, using their influence to advertise their new CFX and Bosendorfer acquisition on everyone - these are the main options on their keyboards, but not everyone likes these sounds...for all kinds of music. So Yamaha is a bit of a hit and miss when it comes to acoustic pianos on their digital keyboards. Yamaha tends to have this rather spiky tone with poor dynamics, so you get the bright but have to alter teh velocity curve to easily get into the soft tones, and you do not get much of this in Yamaha's, so not as expressive as the Nords, which give you a much more dynamic range of tones from loud to soft. (more like a Piano Forte - the Nords are)..

As much as I should love Yamaha, being a long time Yamaha fan boy from the days of their dominance with the Motif, Nord is the current leader in portable professional quality keyboards. If I was buying now - it would be a Nord Piano or Nord Stage or the new Nord Grand. They are not cheap, but in the current market - in spite of their price - IMHO - still the best value for money.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #32
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kodebode View Post
i.e you narrow down/reduce the stereo width of sampled pianos?
Always.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #33
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standup's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kodebode View Post
i.e you narrow down/reduce the stereo width of sampled pianos?
I always look askance at samples and instruments that are panned full width hard right/hard left. Maybe if it was a solo instrument in a very sparse arrangement I might leave it that way.

But personally I usually change the panning to 7 and 9 o’clock, so there’s a bit of width, but the instrument isn’t 17’ wide. Or 7 and 11 o’clock
Old 3 weeks ago
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by standup View Post
I always look askance at samples and instruments that are panned full width hard right/hard left. Maybe if it was a solo instrument in a very sparse arrangement I might leave it that way.

But personally I usually change the panning to 7 and 9 o’clock, so there’s a bit of width, but the instrument isn’t 17’ wide. Or 7 and 11 o’clock

I always look askance at people who use the word "askance", including myself. "Why?" you ask, because there's a chance of your view being askew for more than a few. I'd rather take my chances doing the dances and fancy romances to what's true rather than what's new.

Anyway, I look askance at all "stereo" instruments other than maybe drums, but I have lately been viewing the drumkit, at least for my own music, as a mono instrument. The reason being that I don't see a whole lot of benefit to stereo kit or other instruments. It's easier and thus better for me to mix with a single mono instrument rather than a bunch of disjointed tracks. So I tend to start with kit and bounce (saves tape tracks as well) to mono. I think it's true that if something doesn't sound good in mono, it's probably won't in stereo, and few these days are listening to music in the "correct" position, so I think stereo field is overrated, and the world would not suffer one bit if music were confined to mono. Euphony over realism and effects all day for me. Maybe I am just stereo deaf though, which makes sense because I have never been adept at picking out things in the stereo field, and never really cared much.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #35
About a thousand years ago, I was a pianist and I needed something to gig around with/practice on (in an apartment), and record.

I tried every digital piano I could get my hands on at the time. Some had more convincing sound, others had better action.

In the end, I settled on a Yamaha P80 as being the best compromise. Action was a little heavy/sluggish, but overall the sound was quite good from low to high. Some pianos sound good in one register, but awful in another. The Yammy only had one slightly-wonky half octave.

If you need MIDI controller function, this thing is not for you - it only has the very basics. The other preset sounds are not so good (the Rhodes is OK). Doesn't even have any speakers (which is a plus IMO - less weight, and usually the built-in speakers on a digital piano sound awful anyway). You have the option of historical tunings, which was cool for me - fun to play Bach in Werkmeister or Mean Tone.

Still not sorry for my purchase - and it's approaching 20 years old. The P80 is discontinued, but whatever their current stage piano is, I'm sure it will be even better.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #36
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by standup View Post
If you had a project that needed a decent-sounding piano, but had to use a digital piano, what would you pick?

I have a Casio Privia. Sounds like a piano, but there must be better ones out there. Is the piano plugi in Pro Tools any better?

I may have to borrow or rent something.
That's a really good question because I'd rather record on an absolute piece of junk "real piano" than any simulation.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
That's a really good question because I'd rather record on an absolute piece of junk "real piano" than any simulation.
that's utterly ridiculous. You'd rather play an out of tune piece of junk rather than a v-piano? good luck with that. Piano is one of those instruments that can be sampled extremely realistically, and I bet you a million dollars you couldn't tell in a blind test, especially in a mix
Old 3 weeks ago
  #38
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RedBaaron's Avatar
I dunnoh about the PT plugin, but I've sued the Steinway preset in NI Orchestra, the one in Presonus's add-on, and the Combinator patch in Reason, and they all sounded completely realistic to me. Just a matter of fine-tuning the individual note's velocity and note length/sustain.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #39
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420 View Post
that's utterly ridiculous. You'd rather play an out of tune piece of junk rather than a v-piano? good luck with that. Piano is one of those instruments that can be sampled extremely realistically, and I bet you a million dollars you couldn't tell in a blind test, especially in a mix
Maybe the OP will be interested in the one you're talking about. He's asking for the "least objectionable".
Old 3 weeks ago
  #40
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Funny question. Implies that all digital pianos are objectionable. When I started out I would have loved any of the modern digital pianos. They simply didn’t exist. And then one day they did. People are spoiled for choice nowadays and spend more time choosing then playing. I had my Rhodes back then. When I wanted the sound of a Hammond had to get one. Nowadays you have a Nord strapped to your back doing the job of those two beasts AND an acoustic piano AND a Clavinet AND a synth AND orchestral instruments and you’re good. So - exactly where is the objection?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #41
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I'm a terrible piano player, want to get better, I am very happy with the Yamaha CP33. It's a bit bright but it's such a gorgeous thing really. Not too expensive second hand (they are discontinued.) Keyboard feels very good.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #42
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ABBA's Avatar
 

Yamaha P155. I prefer it over the very nice CP33.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
I'm a terrible piano player, want to get better, I am very happy with the Yamaha CP33. It's a bit bright but it's such a gorgeous thing really. Not too expensive second hand (they are discontinued.) Keyboard feels very good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ABBA View Post
Yamaha P155. I prefer it over the very nice CP33.
I've owned a Yamaha CP33 for about 5 years now, bought new, and while I loved the sound, it was a struggle to get it to sound anywhere near what I hear on records, there was always something plastic about the sound.

Tried everything, playing it live through a high quality set of speakers, with speaker correction.

Equalisation.

Tried all the options on the keyboard.

Every time I recorded it, something was just not right, passable but not completely happy with it.

In the mix, effects did help make the sound more bearable, but never anything like the sampled pianos and newer digital pianos.

A few days ago, I had a breakthrough.

Critical listening, really listening to the piano solo, through a well tuned speaker system, I realised what was wrong.

The touch sensitivity of the default piano touch sensitivity setting, does not and will never produce anything like the sound of a real piano. Why? IMHO and I stand strongly by this, which you can test for yourself, Yamaha made a huge mistake in the mapping of sampling layers at the default touch sensitivity(DTS).

At the DTS, playing really soft is almost impossible, with ease, so your softest touch is kinda like semi loud already, and you cannot really go softer with ease, so the piano sounds klunky, cos in most of your playing even at soft velocities, you are already halfway up the true velocity curve of the original samples. End result a very un-natural sound, unless you are recording just piano chords for something like rock or pop, but playing anything like solo piano, just ends up sounding weird cos the dynamics of the audio have been mangled.

Our challenge as end users is we trust the manufacturer - Yamaha - thinking oh they make lots of pianos, they must have got it right, it must be me and I need to change something in my environment to get it to sound right.

But in this case they got the CP33 default touch sensitivity - absolutely wrong. Sad, and sad it took me so long to accept this.

The beauty of the piano sound comes from the dynamics, the natural blend of piano and forte.

Solution.

On the CP33, Use the Hard Velocity setting, instead of the default, and increase your volume.

I.e on the TOUCH - use Hard, instead of the default Medium setting.

And all of a sudden you now have a decent piano sound, that has dynamic range. Will play soft and also play loud, and sound so much more like a real piano.

The CP33 sound even with the aforementioned tweak, is not the most percussive piano sound, but at least with the aforementioned change, you have something that is easier to use in a solo piano setting, definitely more responsive and easier to communicate different emotions in your playing.

Otherwise, everything you play sounds like Russian classical music - no soft underbelly..

This also resolves the perception that the piano is bright, cos you can now access the warmer softer tones..., which the default Touch setting made difficult to use.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #44
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
thanks, I will give that a listen
Old 3 weeks ago
  #45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I don't know if yours is one, but many Nords have loud, clacky keyboards. Only matters, though, if the player also sings.
My keybed noise definitely comes through when I’m playing and singing if I’m not extra careful, sometimes if makes the whole thing sound more physical, but I’ll often go back and track the vocal separately if I find it distracting. I probably just need a proper grand :D
.. and a rhodes
Old 3 weeks ago
  #46
Gear Addict
 

I do find it interesting that Nord has worked hard to INCORPORATE pedal noise as a prominent feature.

FWIW, the new Nord Grand has a different keybed as the primary differentiation with the Nord Piano 4.

Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
My keybed noise definitely comes through when I’m playing and singing if I’m not extra careful, sometimes if makes the whole thing sound more physical, but I’ll often go back and track the vocal separately if I find it distracting. I probably just need a proper grand :D
.. and a rhodes
Old 4 days ago
  #47
Gear Head
 
mvrh's Avatar
I would look at a Kawai MP11SE. Or VPC1 as a controller for Garritan CFX, Ravencroft 275 or Pianoteq piano VST's. With those, you have the best piano key action combined with GOOD acoustic piano sounds.
Old 4 days ago
  #48
Note - audio and sound is somewhat subjective like beauty. Note I used the word potential.

It also depends on what piano sound you are looking for.

1. SAMPLED INSTRUMENTS on PC/MAC

Based on potential, the deeply sampled pianos with multiple microphones from ProductionVoices, Ravenscroft and Garritan (and a few others like Vienna Symphonic Libraries) - I obviously cannot list them all, have a potential to produce truly excellent sound that may exceed the sound quality from alternative approaches.

2. DIGITAL PIANO
For a digital piano, in a cabinet, I would suggest taking a good look at the Kawai CA78 or Roland LX-17. The Kawai has a more stentorian tone, while the Roland is brighter in tone..

3. PORTABLE STAGE PIANO

There are only three options all from Nord - the Nord Stage, Nord Piano, and the Nord Grand. For piano sounds, all of them are excellent, as portable stage pianos. Great sound and playability.


Or you get 1+2 or 1+3
Old 4 days ago
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
on a recent project where the band was tracked live in a space that did not have a workable piano, we sent the MIDI from the session to one of those Disklavier outfits. They send the MIDI to their real piano, and record it with microphones and send you back the .wavs. The guy we used gave us 4 mics with our choice of positions.

you could even edit your MIDI before sending it off if you wanted to.

FWIW, plenty of digital pianos and piano libraries sound perfectly fine in a mix. As long as you don't A/B it directly with the real thing.
That's cool. I have never worked that way. Nice to know about that option.
Old 4 days ago
  #50
Gear Maniac
 
standup's Avatar
So here I am, the OP, back for an update.

We'll be doing this session in a big room with a Steinway B in a big room with a high ceiling, live, upright bass drums and piano. Maybe guitar if the guitar player can get off work.

My question was a "what if", if we had to do this recording in my basement with a digital piano

But we don't.

The most valuable information, to me, was the idea of sending he MIDI files to a joint that had a Yamaha Disklavier, and they could record acoustic piano parts in a real room and send them to me. I've filed that away for future use.

But for now it looks like we can play live as a band in a studio with and I'm pretty happy that's working out.
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