Piano World Home Page
I've searched, but I can't find another thread which covers this. I propose we discuss concrete features which should be common on digitial/hybrid pianos, but are not. If we are lucky, an R&D person will read the thread and pick up on one or two of our ideas. Here's my opener. Please feel free to mention other features that should be available (on at least some models) but are not.

MORE APPROPRIATE ACTIONS FOR STUDENTS & CONCERT PIANISTS
Listening to musicians and watching videos I have discovered that manufacturers have slightly missed the mark with hybrid pianos - at least in terms of ideal practice instruments for classical piano students and junior concert pianists. It must be tempting to make one size fits all, and capture the largest mass market possible, but a "grand piano action" or "upright piano action" that plays well in a hotel, theatre or jazz club does not necessarily prepare fingers adequately for the rigors of a classical piano recital or even a high grade ABRSM examination.

I have just been watching a video by a young pianist who has purchased a Yamaha N-3X hybrid piano. It's a marvellous instrument with a grand piano shell that does most of what she needs, but every time a concert looms, she is scrambling to find a grand piano to perfect her fingering and expression. I know she still loves her N-3X, but it must be frustrating. Considering that the N-3X typically sells for €18k-€19k, there was every opportunity for Yamaha to put whatever action necessary into that piano, and tweak it adequately. So, either she is an unconventional classical pianist or Yamaha has slightly failed in this niche market. I'm sure I'd love to own & play that piano, but I gave up playing classical music many years ago.
I'm not an advanced player, and have a hybrid, but am not convinced the problem, if there is a problem is so much in the key action. It's in the tone, an acoustic has many multifaceted layers of tonal capability that most hybrids with their electronic samples just don't have. When I have a lesson on my teachers grand, after getting the fingering, timing, dynamics, etc., right, the performance polishing is all about bringing out and blending layers of tonal 'colours' or sounds. I cannot do that on my hybrid and its nothing to do with the action.
Posted By: peterws Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/13/21 08:26 PM
Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
I'm not an advanced player, and have a hybrid, but am not convinced the problem, if there is a problem is so much in the key action. It's in the tone, an acoustic has many multifaceted layers of tonal capability that most hybrids with their electronic samples just don't have. When I have a lesson on my teachers grand, after getting the fingering, timing, dynamics, etc., right, the performance polishing is all about bringing out and blending layers of tonal 'colours' or sounds. I cannot do that on my hybrid and its nothing to do with the action.

I would agree, but with reservations. Would just any grand piano meet with her expectations? I would think not; there are some hammer horror stories out there on all types of piano. But, conversely, Russian pianists deliberately learn on some rough stuff.
Pianoteq has a mixture of multifaceted all-sorts, and some pretty rough stuff to boot.
This should meet anyones expectations . . . .
Posted By: ambrozy Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/13/21 09:43 PM
Hybrids with acoustic actions, have acoustic actions, so they needs to be regulated like acoustic pianos and feel can be changed by changing regulation parameters (blow distance, letoff, drop keydip, jack alignment, or even reweighting).
Someone here was posting his playing on opened kawai novus, and from that video alone was clearly visible that factory regulation is just plain wrong, most likely on purpose so advertised features like fake dampers are easily perceptible even for not so good musician which is ridiculous, because when you regulate the action in real piano, You do everything you can to make the dampers work as they should and interfere with the feel of the action as less as possible!
Posted By: Tyr Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/14/21 04:14 AM
Blaaaah. Just play it. First World Problems....
Posted By: Gombessa Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/14/21 04:47 PM
Originally Posted by Tyr
Blaaaah. Just play it. First World Problems....

This whole place is a first world problem smile
Posted By: WTF Bach Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/14/21 08:57 PM
The main roads to true innovation are:

1) half a Tera SSD onboard, ready to upload third party VST.

2) hyper fast chips able to run a true physical model piano (but this will take some time, I assume).
Posted By: Peddler100 Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/15/21 11:26 AM
Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by Tyr
Blaaaah. Just play it. First World Problems....

This whole place is a first world problem smile

+1
Posted By: josh_sounds Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/17/21 03:28 AM
Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by Tyr
Blaaaah. Just play it. First World Problems....

This whole place is a first world problem smile
patiently waiting on @MacMacMac's banter :P
Posted By: EVC2017 Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/17/21 09:19 AM
Originally Posted by josh_sounds
patiently waiting on @MacMacMac's banter :P

Very unlikely. It seems Mac, along with others, moved to anoter forum for good. I even doubt he and these others look at PW these days, to PW's loss. frown
Posted By: Gamma1734 Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/17/21 09:43 AM
I have a hybrid and in fact the action is not good. It's lightyears away from something I could use if I were to study piano professionally. I talked with a technician about that. The problem *all* hybrids have, is that the force of the hammer normally "releases" in the string, but when played silently the force has to go somewhere else (logically) and actually gets released in the axis of the key. This decreases the playability continually with every playing. Only after a couple of months after buying it new almost 40 axis had to be replaced, and the technician said he has never seen something like that before. I do play loud sometimes, but sorry, if Rach wants me to play ffff I have to do it. I still think it's the best action I ever had, and indeed I would be quite happy, if not for that purely physical problem. The technician said it even gets *worse* for the K300 or even K500 because since the keys are even longer, the force which the axis has to cover is obviously even higher. They get dented and then say bye bye to your repetitions. The repetitions are literally dead. Just hitting an octave quickly 2 times I can see that the midi values of the second octave are much lower than the first one although I play perfectly at the same volume. The action is just screwed up, and that for 6k$, yay!
Originally Posted by Gamma1734
... released in the axis of the key. This decreases the playability continually with every playing. Only after a couple of months after buying it new almost 40 axis had to be replaced....!
I am wondering what this means, 'axis'? Can you use correct piano key action terminology to help me? No problems with my hybrid action after 9+ years.

I agree that the action on my hybrid is not on a par with many better digital or good acoustic actions. But that is why I like it! If I can play and express myself on my hybrid I can play and express myself on almost any action. Except maybe doing piano on a synth which takes further practice.
Posted By: pianogabe Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/17/21 07:02 PM
Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
I am wondering what this means, 'axis'? Can you use correct piano key action terminology to help me? No problems with my hybrid action after 9+ years.

Gamma1734 has a silent piano, i.e. a 'true' hybrid smile , not a digital piano with 'acoustic' action, which most describe as a hybrid piano. I guess your piano (NU1?) will not suffer because it doesn't have to catch the hammer shank just before the hammer head hits the string.

Gamma1734's message is quite a shock to me. Still have to decide what my coping strategy will be. Complete denial or complete exclusion of Rachmaninoff in my (future) repertoire. I have the same type of piano, but then one size larger. The K300, which theoretically apparently is worse in this aspect.

My K300 ATX3 is about 1.5 years old. I quickly checked and can't see any obvious dents or bent shanks. But I play rather softly because my finger joints can't handle large forces. And I am an early intermediate player, so no Rachmaninoff. Nevertheless it is really worrying what Gamma1734 reports. I often wondered how these shanks deal with the stress of having to stop the movement (there is a heavy hammer on top with a lot of inertia). It seems to me this is fundamental in the design of all silent pianos. But if it is problematic may perhaps depend on shank thickness, type of wood, width and dampening material of the stop bar etc.
Posted By: Marc345 Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/18/21 01:53 AM
Originally Posted by anotherpianoplayer
I have just been watching a video by a young pianist who has purchased a Yamaha N-3X hybrid piano.

Can you link that video if possible?

Apart from that, I agree. Even formally they don't even try to imitate the real good stuff like the concert grands (probably because full mechanics on display attract more customers than an action that actually resembles the playability of one of the finest instruments...). Old topic: pivot lengths. The AvantGrand series does not really shine in that respect. The LX-706 seems to make some progress and for only 3k€ it matches the Novus pivots. However, I wouldn't want to repair that thing because like most keyboards they made the contact rubbers as inaccessible as possible - despite the fact that they put that action into a huge upright form factor......... wtf. Just think about it: disassemble the entire keyboard and half of the piano, then reassemble it, just to discover that it's still not working properly.... rinse, repeat. Holy cow, what a design flaw. And they are ALL doing it (to some extent). That tells you what type of consumer they address: just throw it away when your guarantee runs out.

Another point: have you ever seen a guaranteed tolerance for key response precision? By any manufacturer? At all? ie. how uniform must the velocity response (MIDI data) be in order to be considered "functional"? Noone cares. Noone measures it. Poeple just complain if it becomes too obvious. Now think about people starting to learn the piano on a badly regulated instrument and mistrain their ears playstyle... the more I get into these things, the more I despise the whole DP industry. I'm currently thinking about using a simple non-hammer MIDI controller for playing, cost me 339€. Simply because I'm refusing to "upgrade" to something of which I can't even be sure that it's actually better and easily repairable.
Posted By: pianogabe Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/18/21 09:03 AM
Originally Posted by Gamma1734
I have a hybrid and in fact the action is not good. It's lightyears away from something I could use if I were to study piano professionally. I talked with a technician about that. The problem *all* hybrids have, is that the force of the hammer normally "releases" in the string, but when played silently the force has to go somewhere else (logically) and actually gets released in the axis of the key. This decreases the playability continually with every playing. Only after a couple of months after buying it new almost 40 axis had to be replaced, and the technician said he has never seen something like that before.

Can other people with an ATX (or even other silent pianos) shine their light on this? There are some other people here on the forum that have an Kawai ATX system. Boboulous? Do you see any damage to the hammer shanks? Gamma1734's technician claims to have not seen it before, but he may be a Kawai representative and it would be nice to have some independent observations on this.
Posted By: ambrozy Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/18/21 03:43 PM
Originally Posted by pianogabe
Originally Posted by Gamma1734
I have a hybrid and in fact the action is not good. It's lightyears away from something I could use if I were to study piano professionally. I talked with a technician about that. The problem *all* hybrids have, is that the force of the hammer normally "releases" in the string, but when played silently the force has to go somewhere else (logically) and actually gets released in the axis of the key. This decreases the playability continually with every playing. Only after a couple of months after buying it new almost 40 axis had to be replaced, and the technician said he has never seen something like that before.

Can other people with an ATX (or even other silent pianos) shine their light on this? There are some other people here on the forum that have an Kawai ATX system. Boboulous? Do you see any damage to the hammer shanks? Gamma1734's technician claims to have not seen it before, but he may be a Kawai representative and it would be nice to have some independent observations on this.

Hammer - string energy transfer is highly inefficient, hammer velocity after strucking the string can be very high and grand and upright actions have a special part to deal with it, it's called "backcheck" one of the function of backcheck is dissipating energy from hammer rebound, if backcheck is not well regulated you can feel hammer rebound on the key but even then it is transfered by lower leverage (1:1) than normal (5:1) because main mechanical key - hammer path is disconnected after the time hammer hits the string.

Maybe you all should have at least basic understanding how piano action works before bringing up such topics?
Posted By: pianogabe Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/19/21 06:17 AM
Originally Posted by ambrozy
Maybe you all should have at least basic understanding how piano action works before bringing up such topics?

What makes you think I don't?
Posted By: cygnusdei Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/19/21 08:29 AM
Perhaps put yourself in the manufacturer's shoes. It's likely that whatever innovations/ features/ improvements that people are clamoring for right now are already developed and ready to be deployed. But why are they not in the latest offerings? Because they have to think of DP as long term, lifestyle habit that needs to be cultivated in the consumers. They have to trickle out the new improvements enough so people can justify an upgrade now, but not so much that they put off purchasing a new one for more than 3 years. It's the consumer's buying habit that drives R&D and sustains the whole DP enterprise. You make progress possible.
Posted By: EB5AGV Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/19/21 01:59 PM
Originally Posted by Gamma1734
I have a hybrid and in fact the action is not good. It's lightyears away from something I could use if I were to study piano professionally. I talked with a technician about that. The problem *all* hybrids have, is that the force of the hammer normally "releases" in the string, but when played silently the force has to go somewhere else (logically) and actually gets released in the axis of the key. This decreases the playability continually with every playing. Only after a couple of months after buying it new almost 40 axis had to be replaced, and the technician said he has never seen something like that before. I do play loud sometimes, but sorry, if Rach wants me to play ffff I have to do it. I still think it's the best action I ever had, and indeed I would be quite happy, if not for that purely physical problem. The technician said it even gets *worse* for the K300 or even K500 because since the keys are even longer, the force which the axis has to cover is obviously even higher. They get dented and then say bye bye to your repetitions. The repetitions are literally dead. Just hitting an octave quickly 2 times I can see that the midi values of the second octave are much lower than the first one although I play perfectly at the same volume. The action is just screwed up, and that for 6k$, yay!

Wow, this is worrying... You have just deleted any future idea of buying an hybrid or a silent piano from my mind. Thanks for the first hand experience.

Jose
Posted By: pianogabe Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/19/21 04:10 PM
Note Gamma1734 has a silent piano, not a hybrid. It is a confusing term. Hybrids may not suffer from this problem. And we don't know how general it is for silent pianos.
Posted By: Marc345 Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/19/21 05:30 PM
Originally Posted by cygnusdei
Perhaps put yourself in the manufacturer's shoes. It's likely that whatever innovations/ features/ improvements that people are clamoring for right now are already developed and ready to be deployed. But why are they not in the latest offerings? Because they have to think of DP as long term, lifestyle habit that needs to be cultivated in the consumers. They have to trickle out the new improvements enough so people can justify an upgrade now, but not so much that they put off purchasing a new one for more than 3 years. It's the consumer's buying habit that drives R&D and sustains the whole DP enterprise. You make progress possible.

You should put yourself into the shoes of a DP salesman. Then you'd recognize that most consumers have no clue. They want it cheap, small and fit nicely in their living room. Or get a bad starter instrument for their kids. They don't care that contact rubber isn't the most reliable dynamics measurement method, which is why optical DPs are still so expensive, why most DPs are small, cheap, and usually thrown away after a few years after warranty runs out, nor have they ever heard the term "pivot". You are mostly out of luck if you look at it from a serious player perspective. DP builders primarily don't care about people lurking in forums like these. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Posted By: Purdyd Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/20/21 02:27 PM
Originally Posted by pianogabe
Note Gamma1734 has a silent piano, not a hybrid. It is a confusing term. Hybrids may not suffer from this problem. And we don't know how general it is for silent pianos.

@gamma talks about the axis of the key which I assume is the balance rail.

@pianogabe talks about the shank hitting the silencing rail

I think those are different things.

@ambrozy mentions that strings don’t absorb much energy drawing into question the statements from the tech working @gammas piano

@ambrozy has a silent piano often called hybrid but not to be confused with hybrids that are purely digital which have no strings.





[video:yahoo]
[/video]
Originally Posted by Purdy
Originally Posted by pianogabe
Note Gamma1734 has a silent piano, not a hybrid. It is a confusing term. Hybrids may not suffer from this problem. And we don't know how general it is for silent pianos.

@gamma talks about the axis of the key which I assume is the balance rail.

@pianogabe talks about the shank hitting the silencing rail

I think those are different things.

@ambrozy mentions that strings don’t absorb much energy drawing into question the statements from the tech working @gammas piano

@ambrozy has a silent piano often called hybrid but not to be confused with hybrids that are purely digital which have no strings.
That doesn't make sense either, to me, I never heard of the balance rail wearing out and having to be replaced. New felts maybe. I think he means the hammer shank by axis but am not sure.
Posted By: pianogabe Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/20/21 03:19 PM
Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
That doesn't make sense either, to me, I never heard of the balance rail wearing out and having to be replaced. New felts maybe. I think he means the hammer shank by axis but am not sure.

I think so too. Like me he is not a native speaker. I believe he meant hammer shank because that is the only thing that comes in direct contact with the stop bar. And mechanically the stop bar is the only thing that is different between a silent piano and a non-silent one.
Posted By: Purdyd Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/20/21 05:50 PM
I could see how axis is a translation for a cylinder and could be the shank.

If he is damaging and denting the hammer shank that would make sense.

And that would be an issue with all silent pianos since rather than impacting the hammer you are impacting the shank in silent mode.

It would of interest to know if this is an issue for others. I assume the stop bar mute rail has felt or something similar on it for the shank to hit.
Originally Posted by Marc345
Originally Posted by cygnusdei
Perhaps put yourself in the manufacturer's shoes. It's likely that whatever innovations/ features/ improvements that people are clamoring for right now are already developed and ready to be deployed. But why are they not in the latest offerings? Because they have to think of DP as long term, lifestyle habit that needs to be cultivated in the consumers. They have to trickle out the new improvements enough so people can justify an upgrade now, but not so much that they put off purchasing a new one for more than 3 years. It's the consumer's buying habit that drives R&D and sustains the whole DP enterprise. You make progress possible.

You should put yourself into the shoes of a DP salesman. Then you'd recognize that most consumers have no clue. They want it cheap, small and fit nicely in their living room. Or get a bad starter instrument for their kids. They don't care that contact rubber isn't the most reliable dynamics measurement method, which is why optical DPs are still so expensive, why most DPs are small, cheap, and usually thrown away after a few years after warranty runs out, nor have they ever heard the term "pivot". You are mostly out of luck if you look at it from a serious player perspective. DP builders primarily don't care about people lurking in forums like these. Correct me if I'm wrong.


I think you'd be right if we were talking about entry level DPs, but once you're talking about DPs which are 1500 to 3000 dollars, reputations depend on finer issues than does it fit into my son's bedroom. And at the mo' we're talking about hybrids which cost much more of course. Nice of you to invite the correction! 😁
Originally Posted by Marc345
Originally Posted by anotherpianoplayer
I have just been watching a video by a young pianist who has purchased a Yamaha N-3X hybrid piano.

Can you link that video if possible?

Apart from that, I agree. Even formally they don't even try to imitate the real good stuff like the concert grands (probably because full mechanics on display attract more customers than an action that actually resembles the playability of one of the finest instruments...). Old topic: pivot lengths. The AvantGrand series does not really shine in that respect. The LX-706 seems to make some progress and for only 3k€ it matches the Novus pivots. However, I wouldn't want to repair that thing because like most keyboards they made the contact rubbers as inaccessible as possible - despite the fact that they put that action into a huge upright form factor......... wtf. Just think about it: disassemble the entire keyboard and half of the piano, then reassemble it, just to discover that it's still not working properly.... rinse, repeat. Holy cow, what a design flaw. And they are ALL doing it (to some extent). That tells you what type of consumer they address: just throw it away when your guarantee runs out.

Another point: have you ever seen a guaranteed tolerance for key response precision? By any manufacturer? At all? ie. how uniform must the velocity response (MIDI data) be in order to be considered "functional"? Noone cares. Noone measures it. Poeple just complain if it becomes too obvious. Now think about people starting to learn the piano on a badly regulated instrument and mistrain their ears playstyle... the more I get into these things, the more I despise the whole DP industry. I'm currently thinking about using a simple non-hammer MIDI controller for playing, cost me 339€. Simply because I'm refusing to "upgrade" to something of which I can't even be sure that it's actually better and easily repairable.


Sure I can. I'm glad I posted this thread, even if I'm the least qualified here to discuss these things. Many interesting posts have emerged. But guys, please feel free to move on to other topics of missing innovation in DPs and Hybrids if you want to.

Posted By: Marc345 Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 11/27/21 03:58 PM
Originally Posted by anotherpianoplayer
I think you'd be right if we were talking about entry level DPs, but once you're talking about DPs which are 1500 to 3000 dollars, reputations depend on finer issues than does it fit into my son's bedroom.

Is that a fact or do you just make an assumption? I don't see any benefit of the N3X besides fitting nicely into a living room for decorative purposes. At least not any benefit that would fit the additional price tag of 10k€ over the N1X. Also, the above video confirms my position: she finds out about the (minor) downsides after a year, not before. heck, she even complains about the light touch..... one should think before buying a 17k€ instrument, she'd at least be aware of how the keys feel. But no.
Originally Posted by Marc345
Originally Posted by anotherpianoplayer
I think you'd be right if we were talking about entry level DPs, but once you're talking about DPs which are 1500 to 3000 dollars, reputations depend on finer issues than does it fit into my son's bedroom.

Is that a fact or do you just make an assumption? I don't see any benefit of the N3X besides fitting nicely into a living room for decorative purposes. At least not any benefit that would fit the additional price tag of 10k€ over the N1X. Also, the above video confirms my position: she finds out about the (minor) downsides after a year, not before. heck, she even complains about the light touch..... one should think before buying a 17k€ instrument, she'd at least be aware of how the keys feel. But no.

I think you're being a bit hard on her, and unless you have tested N3X thoroughly, your comment comparing the two instruments is invalid. She said that she doesn't regret buying the N3X, but that it doesn't do everything she'd like it to do. (Excuse my paraphrasing.)

My original point was that Yamaha had the opportunity to build the ideal practice (and creative?) hybrid piano for professional classical pianists, and seems to have fallen slightly short, mainly due to the action being too light. I have not tried this piano, however, so I can't confirm what she says, but I suspect that Yamaha is trying to sell a populist instrument with the glamour and price tag of something more exclusive. I'm a big fan of Yamaha, so I hope I am wrong. The N3X is just an example - the problem isn't just Yamaha. This could be an area where all the manufacturers are falling unnecessarily short. They have the technology to produce great professional hybrid practice instruments, with ideal actions at the very least, but they always stop slightly short it seems.
Posted By: Zanoni Re: DPs & Hybrids - Innovation Required - 12/05/21 02:35 PM
Originally Posted by anotherpianoplayer
My original point was that Yamaha had the opportunity to build the ideal practice (and creative?) hybrid piano for professional classical pianists, and seems to have fallen slightly short, mainly due to the action being too light.

Of course this is all very subjective; but I find the AvantGrand actions not light at all. My AvantGrand N2's action is more on the heavy then on the light side of the spectrum. Other AvantGrand users confirmed this. The Kawai Novus NV10 (S) seems to feel lighter then the AvantGrands. But again, this is all very subjective.
© Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums