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Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

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Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:01 am

I love playing a real piano in the big band. Grand piano is the best if the venues has it!
But alas, I must turn to my electric keyboard in the locations where people want the band.

I use a Yamaha piano (MX88 synth) with a nice Motif style grand piano sound. Sounds good recorded and through my studio monitors.

I decided to get a powered PA monitor to use instead of a small amp. So I am looking into that.

But, it occurs to me that one of the things that I don't like is how the piano 'action' does not match my real Grand piano (Estonia parlor grand).

Now I know that the MX88 sounds can be edited extensively with the PC.

So I would like to know if it is possible to match the action of the MX88 to my grand piano? That would be very cool!!


I mean I work hard on my technique to be expressive. But I would like that to translate to the synth. I find that the loudness of the notes relative to my touch is much much different - different feel. How do I match this??

Thanks!!
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby ef37a » Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:53 am

Not going to be much help DC but let me see if I have the problem understood?

You like the SOUND the MX88 delivers but want the dynamics of the keyboard to match more closely those of a real piano*? I don't really have a stuffing clue but I would think this is a limitation of the synth's keyboard?

Have you tried Modartt's Pianoteq? I think there is a considerable amount of control in that.

*Again, no idea but I suspect every good player of real pianos would say "Yeah! Don't we all!"

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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby IAA » Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:15 am

"Yeah! Don't we all!"

...yeah, don’t we all :D

I think if the mx88 is a graded hammer action key bed and you have some ability to vary the velocity curve you can make it just about ok. I use a Kronos 88 and whilst it’s one of the best non escapement keybeds, it’s still not like my acoustics. That said, short of a Yamaha diskclavier Grand, I’d say it’s probably the best for now and I just compensate through practice.

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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby Guido3 » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:30 am

IAA wrote:I think if the mx88 is a graded hammer action key bed and you have some ability to vary the velocity curve you can make it just about ok. I use a Kronos 88 and whilst it’s one of the best non escapement keybeds, it’s still not like my acoustics. That said, short of a Yamaha diskclavier Grand, I’d say it’s probably the best for now and I just compensate through practice.

Ian

I agree with Ian. Practice with what you’ve got. Sure, there are better keybeds out there (Kawai VPC-1 is probably the best I have tried) but this is £1k+ for just a keyboard controller. If your budget doesn’t stretch to that, the Roland A88 is fairly decent too.
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby ef37a » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:31 am

Ah! See Ian, I though DC was talking about the way the 88 controls the dynamics of the sound more than the "feel" of the action?

But again, just the ramblings of an old valve amp jockey...

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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:08 pm

IAA wrote:I think if the mx88 is a graded hammer action key bed and you have some ability to vary the velocity curve you can make it just about ok.

Yes, I'd like to try to do that - vary the velocity curve - and am looking for how to do that.
The key board is GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) which makes the weight of the keys heavier in the bass and gradually increasing to the top like a 'real' piano. It is definitely light compared to my Estonia grand piano with Renner action. Would love to change that, but that seems a bridge too far.

But when I play the MX88 the dynamics of how notes stick out dynamically (especially when soloing) feels compressed, and also too pokey, at the same time. I feel that I can't play it soft enough by hitting it lightly, and at the same time, the notes are too loud when hitting it hard. Hope that makes sense. Trying to find where that adjustment is for this MX88 synth. And, how to try and match it to my Estonia rather than just twiddle knows willy nilly.
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby fruitcake » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:07 pm

Big caveat here. I haven’t tried this. But I found this device online.

https://larsee.com/blog/tag/midimixfix.html

It appears to give you deeper control of the velocity curve. Might be of interest. My old Fatar is very limited in velocity adjustment. I’d be interested to see if this device could add more expression.
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby IAA » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:55 pm

Yes, I'd like to try to do that - vary the velocity curve - and am looking for how to do that.

If you haven’t tried the velocity curves, I’d give that a go first before more delicate midi hacking. It’s in the utility menu I’d guess and if you dig around you’ll likely see a setting where you can work through them. I personally have never found a setting better than average, but that’s just me - must be just an average guy :bouncy:

One thing I do find is messing with the pianos release settings can help with the fluency and compensates for some of the loss of the feel. On the Kronos for example I decrease the release setting of the samples just a little and it avoids me over pedalling too much (as I might do on the Grand) on quicker passages - if that makes sense. Anyway I think the key is practice as much on the Yamaha as the Grand and I’m sure you’ll crack it. Which you prefer of course is another matter!

I always remember my gig days with a Pianet T - the Kronos feels like a Steinway in comparison!

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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:22 pm

IAA wrote:
If you haven’t tried the velocity curves, I’d give that a go first before more delicate midi hacking. It’s in the utility menu I’d guess and if you dig around you’ll likely see a setting where you can work through them. comparison!


Thanks for that. I found it in Utility/General/Velocity Curve

You just press the Utility button and dig down.

So it offers: normal/soft/hard/wide/fixed as options for the velocity curve.

I tried them all. I definitely like 'hard'. That feels right to me and matches the Estonia better. Not so loose, not so easy to make a loud note that pokes out.

Soft is even looser and lets the dynamics fly. Wide is even more so, a very slight change results in a very loud pokey out note. Fixed is one, and you can set it.

So hard is good and more like the Renner action. It gets the loud dynamics to fell better - more of an even range with less pokey outs. But still it can't play as soft as I want. The minimum softness is more than my light touch. I'd like to be able to go softer.

Is there any way to use the on board compressor or other effects to extend the light end of the velocity curve to cover more dynamics at the low end?
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:18 pm

IAA wrote:I personally have never found a setting better than average, but that’s just me - must be just an average guy :bouncy:

I guess I'm a hard guy then. :headbang:
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby IAA » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:21 pm

:thumbup:
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby IAA » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:28 pm

Is there any way to use the on board compressor or other effects to extend the light end of the velocity curve to cover more dynamics at the low end?

I’ve known players compress on their boards before sending to FOH or wherever, but compression will average your dynamics, which for me never works whilst I’m playing, I remember playing harder and harder :headbang: to get dynamics when I did try it. On other patches (organs/synths and particularly strings) compression helps when playing live.
If all else fails you could always transcribe your piano parts to the harpsichord patch :bouncy:
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:39 pm

I'm getting used to the hard setting. That helps make the feel much more similar.!

But still comparing the Estonia to the MX88 I am realizing something else now.

The real piano, the sustain pedal is NOT a switch. I am gently damping and undamping. It's felt on metal.

I use a sustain pedal that I have had forever and plugged it into the MX88. It did not come with a pedal.

So I was wondering, are these modern snyths using a sustain pedal input that have a range, not just on/off. I mean do I need to update my old sustain pedal to get more feel?
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby mick.n » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:36 pm

My Yamaha MODX 8 has a "half damper" function .....I use the Yamaha FC 3 pedal.

The MOXF also has this half damper function.
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:13 pm

mick.n wrote:My Yamaha MODX 8 has a "half damper" function .....I use the Yamaha FC 3 pedal.

The MOXF also has this half damper function.

FC3 continous pedal. Yamaha says this will work with my MX88. That’s new to me.

Thanks!
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby mick.n » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:09 pm

Yep, it works on the MX88 (so I have heard)

The pedal takes a bit of getting used to, I have found.
I have a habit of pressing it just that little bit too far. :headbang:
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby ef37a » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:32 pm

mick.n wrote:Yep, it works on the MX88 (so I have heard)

The pedal takes a bit of getting used to, I have found.
I have a habit of pressing it just that little bit too far. :headbang:

SO what happens when you press a bit too far? Sounds like a job for the equivalent of a trigger stop.

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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:16 am

Interesting thread.

After 42 years of being a pianist, I never really thought about this much strangely. Also, perhaps even stranger, I've never owned a piano of my own although I've lived with people who do and played plenty of all types, sometimes in concerts and both with and without an orchestra.

I think I might be in a minority when I say that although a real piano is preferable, I really don't care much about the velocity curves on a synth/electric piano. As long as the keys are half-decently weighted and as long as there is a velocity curve of sorts, I'm good. I think I unconsciously adjust to whatever the curve is and work with that, but to me it's more about the playing than the sound that emerges.

I'd say it's a good thing to learn to play 'with feeling' on both a real piano and a weighted keyboard - you'll probably find your piano playing improves as a result too. Mine certainly did!
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby DC-Choppah » Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:49 am

I was actually hoping there was a way to sample your own grand piano with regards to sound and feel and action and try to get the 'fake' piano to come close.

I know there is so much music tech out there. But fake pianos still are not very good. So much farther to go.

I don't need another EQ plugin, but a portable piano that really is like a piano would be sooooo good.
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Re: Is it possible to match the action of synth piano to a real piano ?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:52 am

DC-Choppah wrote:I was actually hoping there was a way to sample your own grand piano with regards to sound and feel and action and try to get the 'fake' piano to come close.

Well, sound-wise Pianoteq have pretty much nailed it, but in terms of physical things like action and feel that's all down to the construction, which you can't sample.

I guess the best you can hope for is to go try out a bunch of stuff in a big music shop somewhere, find the model that best suits your needs and then use it as a controller to something like Pianoteq in order to get the best of both worlds.
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