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Wondering if there might a hint of any consensus on who among the major DP brands does technical support writing best, worst, mediocre? A lot of organizational planning, step-wise logic, and creative design, along with pristine writing skills goes towards making a new buyer's experience hassle-free. A good manual ought to be comprehensive but not bogged down with trivial detail and it should be easy to find instructions/illustrations quickly. Clear elaboration on esoteric terms, cutting through technical jargon with explanatory text and/or illustrations can be life-savers.

In researching my upcoming DP purchase I've been perusing manuals from Yamaha, Roland, and Casio. Generally speaking all of them look to be pretty good, although Casio's did seem somewhat more tangled or awkward with some explanations. Yamaha appeared to go into the greater depth of description, but quite dry, whereas Roland seemed a little more colloquial, approachable?

Maybe posters here have an experience or two with the good, bad and ugly of DP manufacturers' User Guides and Manuals? I also wonder if anyone has a Gold Standard in manuals from whatever consumer product. Mine is my Arien snowblower, who would've thought? Now, American company, and made in America as far as know, and the manual just feels like a strong American writer.

Last edited by bob@pei; 05/15/22 06:45 AM.
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Kawai is best in class IMHE! (in my humble experience)

For now, i’ll leave details of my experiences for later, as needed, otherwise, ‘nuff said,

Last edited by drewr; 05/15/22 10:23 AM.

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I know that I should actually read the manual, or read it more hahaha. Although, I think that yamaha and korg manuals are pretty good. And yamaha - I think - has fairly good service manuals too, whenever available, aside from the owners manual.

But - yes - I know what you mean about manuals, and tech data sheets etc. Not just for digital piano products - but for lots of products in general. Very poorly written instructions, and poorly conveyed examples is a life story for lots of manuals out there. It is nice to see that at least some manuals out there are very nicely written.

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PS. I had a 30-plus years career in tech support of networked computers that began in 1982. Concerning manuals, the sweetspot occurred for me between 1993 and 2015 while providing 24-7-365 support mainly by telephone for literally hundreds of different lan/wan connectivity boxes. Prior to 2001, the vast majority of those boxes were designed/manufactured in America - many in house at the suburban Pittsburgh HQ where i was employed, wherein i read a lot of well-written OMs. For this impromptu poll, one of my favorite genre of manuals was produced by a Canadian manufacturer, in Ontario, for a line of local and remote Layer 2 Bridges for interconnecting Ethernet and Token Ring networks.


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Today many electronic devices are manufactured in China. And many have translations in European languages including English, French & German.

Besides the OM, the pages on their websites in English may not be grammatically correct or you find words & phrases not commonly used. Like non-native speakers who used Google translate to get a page from Chinese to English. No proofreading afterwards to make sure the text is acceptable to the English-speakers.

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I believe that Kawai James, a user here who is a rep for Kawai, is actually responsible for some of the English manuals for their DPs.


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To me, many manuals look like a quick rewrite the software design document. (Most of my experience is with Roland.) So I was pleasantly surprised by a relatively new company, ASM. Their manual for the Hydrasynth reads as though it was written by a musician but still manages to give a detailed description of the operation and user interface.


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
I believe that Kawai James, a user here who is a rep for Kawai, is actually responsible for some of the English manuals for their DPs.

Yes, I used to write the English digital piano manuals. I still assist with some o/m-related tasks, however I have less direct hands-on involvement in their creation these days.

Kind regards,
James
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@SoundThumb wrote:
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To me, many manuals look like a quick rewrite the software design document. (Most of my experience is with Roland.) So I was pleasantly surprised by a relatively new company, ASM. Their manual for the Hydrasynth reads as though it was written by a musician but still manages to give a detailed description of the operation and user interface.

This. Curious, I checked out this manual and the text has a friendly, narrative style, with no loss of technical rigor. Explanations are many and clear and logical. I found a few good passages where instructions went beyond the steps of "how" to explain the "why" behind them.

Refreshing. Not that the big DP players' manuals are bad. But, always room to tweak to improve.

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I've only had experience with the Casio Priva PX model's owners/user manuals, and they seem to be well organized, legible and understandable. However, I do have to read them more than once when I'm trying to figure something out... smile

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A pertinent real-time situation has “coincidentally” arrived that is helping spur me towards elaborating on a few details of experience i had been saving for later. See the OP original post [s] from a new owner operator of a Yamaha DP who would like some help with how-to? questions that might/could/should/shouldn’t be expected to be adequately covered in a manual; to include saving a performance in midi and then convert to audio afterwards, as well as how to diy-build accessories that are available as standard accessories from the OM original manufacturer.

The Yamaha O/O M has sections that mention some of the multi-track recording functions/features for midi or audio. It also directs the owner/operator to the RM- reference manual - for more information on how to re-record sections of an already recorded song and use the Song Creator feature. Since this RM looks like it might be help with advanced features - like using multi-track functions - it may help to consult this IR. Note: Yamaha refers to tracks as channels. The RM PDF i use has a ToC listing 10 sections plus an Index with Section 4 covering the recording/editing of channels/tracks, Songs and such, and Section 5, which begins on page 58, covers the operation of the built-in Audio recorder/player. As it turns out, page 58 reveals this is a 1-page section in which is explained - “ This function is fully explained in the Owner’s Manual. Refer to the corresponding chapter in the Owner’s Man-ual”



As an admitted old-schooler who long worked from some manuals that were written well enough to allow me to figure out how to operate numerous different electronic gadgets without having the gadget in my hands, i understand that each passing day today is another day removed from that old school paper trail way of the world increasingly being replaced by virtual/electronic operating instructions.

For instance, a well-written owner/operator manual for a snowblower
is already in evidence; might as well add traditional coffee maker, charcoal barbecue grill, light switch and the like to the mix ….i mean, its not like we’re talking about operating a cisco router/firewall/content filter, or power grid, or voting system ….. what could go wrong using/operating a snowblower? If it has no network interface - wired or wireless, a lot less potentially can go wrong BUT at a minimum, one must remember Murphy’s Law; an old schooler like me remembers many of the countless derivative ways of what can go wrong/astray between a given owner/operator and a gadget that has at least some electronic circuitry ….. and it may also help anyone trying to help any owner/operator wanting to operate a feature/function that is or might be supported byknowing when or how to try reading between the lines.

I suspect some snowblowers have electronic ignition but ive not yet heard of a snowblower with a wired/wireless/ip interface, but i have heard there are coffee pots …. and refrigerators and televisions and automobiles/cars that are bluetooth-enabled, for your conveniences, operated remotely …, like home light switches controlled by listening devices attached to the Internet, which means, theoretically, they can be owned/operated by any thumb-twiddling expert in the world with one or more smart devices strapped to their body or hanging from their neck.

As far as what passes today for O/O manuals, particularly for the latest models of DPs packed with more and more software features, they really are becoming more a matter of novices attempting to configure & operate an ip router/firewall/content filter and less a matter of turn-it-on-and-go (tioag). If DP O/Os were mostly into tioag, why are there so many spending $3000 and more on higher end models which they intend to supplement with external monitors and PC/Mac/VI systems. And, the DGX670 is a perfect example that the low-end/under $1000 range is no longer a safe haven for truly simple owning/operating; it includes over 500 voices including many articulated-voices, over 200 backing tracks/rhythms, many simple features, many more advanced features, all which includes an O/O manual that weighs in under a hundred pages after eliminating the 20-plus pages of obligatory/filler/safety info. The simple math is enough to tell me a 100 page manual for that kind of DP is what it is …. it is yet another YMMV DP experience, in which a given owner with a given DP and a given manual is either smart enough to figure out enough on their own to be happy/content, or not 🙂

Last edited by drewr; 05/16/22 12:10 PM.

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And, the DGX670 is a perfect example that the low-end/under $1000 range is no longer a safe haven for truly simple owning/operating; it includes over 500 voices including many articulated-voices, over 200 backing tracks/rhythms, many simple features, many more advanced features, all which includes an O/O manual that weighs in under a hundred pages after eliminating the 20-plus pages of obligatory/filler/safety info. The simple math is enough to tell me a 100 page manual for that kind of DP is what it is …. it is yet another YMMV DP experience

Well done essay on the ins/outs, up/down of operating manuals. I find your angle on this very instructive. You make an especially cogent point above that the expanding universe of features and functions in even the lower end DPs reveal the limitations of conventional manuals. Thank goodness for online forums where one can broadcast questions and harvest answers from fellow users, sometimes whose descriptions are over and above what any corporate manual could offer.

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In case you did not know, Casio has it’s own forums.

https://www.casiomusicforums.com/


Yamaha too

https://yamahamusicians.com/forum/


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