Does silent system compromise upright action?

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pilgrim
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Does silent system compromise upright action?

Post by pilgrim » 17 Aug 2009, 01:43

I've been doing research on silent systems, and I keep hearing conflicting information. I'd appreciate feedback from those of you who have actual experience with these pianos. (Please specify piano and system.)

Here's what I've heard:

Some claim that the system affects the action for both silent and acoustic modes. The result is heavier action, less control, more difficult (if not impossible) to play softly. True?

Others claim that this only affects silent mode and that otherwise the piano is no different than a normal acoustic.

I've also heard that these systems have less affect on grands than uprights.

I've also heard that Yamaha's system -- available in Yamaha, Kemble, and Schimmel (?) -- is so well designed (compared to others) that it hardly affects the action. Problem is that we don't like Yamaha or Kemble, and it is very unlikely we'll find a Schimmel with a silent system to try.

Finally, I've heard that factory-installed is always better than a retrofit and that most of the German manufacturers can now install a system in the factory (most use Korg, I think). I know that Grotrian can do this, but I don't know anything about how they do it or what technology they use. Schimmel does it -- probably Yamaha, or so I've heard.

Thanks!

PianoGuy
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Re: Does silent system compromise upright action?

Post by PianoGuy » 17 Aug 2009, 08:17

pilgrim wrote: I've also heard that Yamaha's system -- available in Yamaha, Kemble, and Schimmel (?) -- is so well designed (compared to others) that it hardly affects the action. Problem is that we don't like Yamaha or Kemble, and it is very unlikely we'll find a Schimmel with a silent system to try.

Finally, I've heard that factory-installed is always better than a retrofit and that most of the German manufacturers can now install a system in the factory (most use Korg, I think). I know that Grotrian can do this, but I don't know anything about how they do it or what technology they use. Schimmel does it -- probably Yamaha, or so I've heard.

Thanks!
Yamaha's system is certainly used by Yamaha, Kemble, Schimmel (assuming they're still making pianos) and Seiler. Korg is a division of Yamaha, although I've never seen a Korg branded silent system in the flesh. The old BPMC factory which made Bentley, Knight, Welmar, Woodchester and others used a Technics unit, and Kawai use their own system. Factory fitted systems are usually better than aftermarket systems, but the end result of retro-fits is only as good as the fitter. Factory fitted retro-fits that I've seen have all been fine. The other major manufacturer of silent systems is PianoDisc, which are invariably aftermarket items. There is also the UK-designed Gabor system which is rather less well known.

If you contact someone truly expert in fitting PianoDisc systems, you should end up with a nicely integrated unit. This will enable you to buy any piano you like and have the benefit of silent play. The only firm that I know I can recommend for the job would be Caradine Pianos in Suffolk, but I'm sure there are other technicians around who are capable. The trouble with retro-fits is that some dealers who carry out the modification will expect you to have bought the piano from them, so finding a dealer with both the piano you like and the capability of fitting a PianoDisc system can be difficult. Caradine's are primarily restorers and do technical work to customers' pianos so this problem wouldn't arise.

On upright pianos with any silent system, whether factory fitted or aftermarket, there is the need to adjust the set-off distance (the point at which the action's escapement lets go of the hammer) in order for the blocking mechanism which prevents the hammers from striking the strings in silent mode to work properly. This is a fixed adjustment and a compromise, and its effects are always present in acoustic or silent mode, although if anything actually less noticeable in Silent mode, so you may well notice a slight difference if you bought an acoustic piano and had it converted at a later date. This can indeed The hammer blocking bar also makes the treble strings more difficult for a tuner to access with his muting wedge, and consequently they take a bit longer to tune in the treble. Some partially sighted or blind tuners don't get on with them for this reason, as well as some sighted tuners who simply regard them as a bit of a pain in the ass. Grand pianos suffer from neither affliction.

Ask yourself the question why do you want a silent piano. They are rather expensive, and for some people choosing the best piano they can afford plus something like a Yamaha P-series digital which is small enough to be stored under the bed or behind the sofa for occasional headphone playing is a better option. With a silent piano, the piano won't become obsolete as quickly as the Digital system will and it's hard to integrate new electronics into an existing silent piano, meaning that in a few years you will have a nice acoustic instrument with a redundant bit of electrickery inside the same cabinet. to be fair, the reliability of the Yamaha systems which I have encountered has been superb, the only issue being failing LEDs in the sensor mechanism which are relatively cheap to replace, but the audio quality of digital systems is constantly improving, so a 10 year old silent piano sounds very lacklustre compared to a recent one.
PG

The opinion above is purely that of PianoGuy and is simply the opinion of one person ....

If you're buying a piano, try as many as you can and buy the one you like, not a similar one of the same type.

markymark
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Re: Does silent system compromise upright action?

Post by markymark » 17 Aug 2009, 15:13

PianoGuy wrote: Ask yourself the question why do you want a silent piano. They are rather expensive, and for some people choosing the best piano they can afford plus something like a Yamaha P-series digital which is small enough to be stored under the bed or behind the sofa for occasional headphone playing is a better option.
This is personally what I opted for and is a much better solution in order that you get the best of both worlds. Realistically, the silent system is not going to be used all that much when compared to the amount of time you'll be using the acoustic piano as is. To be honest, in my opinion, most of the people I know who own acoustics, also own a digital/stage piano as well as is something I seriously encourage others to do.

As mentioned already, one of the downsides to any digital instrument is that the quality of the instruments is always getting better because the technology is always developing and getting better. Digital sampling is becoming more sophisticated and the quality of the piano voices being used in digital pianos today is infinitely better than what was being used in DPs even five years ago. At least with a digital piano/stage piano you can add piano software or sound modules and can be put away or stored easily without taking up floor space - I'm assuming you know that not all digital pianos necessarily have to be furniture digitals such as the Clavinova for example. Editting or adding to the build in samples is not even a consideration for a silent piano.

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athomik
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Re: Does silent system compromise upright action?

Post by athomik » 17 Aug 2009, 15:42

markymark wrote: As mentioned already, one of the downsides to any digital instrument is that the quality of the instruments is always getting better because the technology is always developing and getting better. Digital sampling is becoming more sophisticated and the quality of the piano voices being used in digital pianos today is infinitely better than what was being used in DPs even five years ago. At least with a digital piano/stage piano you can add piano software or sound modules and can be put away or stored easily without taking up floor space - I'm assuming you know that not all digital pianos necessarily have to be furniture digitals such as the Clavinova for example. Editting or adding to the build in samples is not even a consideration for a silent piano.
There is no reason you couldn't add computer piano software or tone modules to most silent pianos (at least the ones with the Yamaha system). Putting them away afterwards might be a bit more tricky. :wink:
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markymark
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Re: Does silent system compromise upright action?

Post by markymark » 17 Aug 2009, 17:00

Well it is the impracticality of it that's the problem.

If you want a synthesisor of workstation, then at least buy a proper one! :wink:

pilgrim
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Does silent system compromise upright action?

Post by pilgrim » 17 Aug 2009, 20:04

So far this confirms my current thoughts... Buy the best acoustic we can and then get a DP (if/when necessary) for silent practice. That way, we don't mess with the regulation of the upright, especially when a silent system adds nothing to the value.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that a piano teacher these days should have both an acoustic and digital. Many students have digital, and they are here to stay.

So what a good inexpensive DP? So far, we like the ES6. Can we do better for less?
Last edited by markymark on 18 Aug 2009, 00:10, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: The part of the thread relating to digital pianos has been moved to the Digital Pianos forum

joe
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Re: Does silent system compromise upright action?

Post by joe » 17 Aug 2009, 22:42

Does silent system compromise upright action? Yes unable to fine regulate piano for optinium performance,had a guy wanting to fit Gabor system to new Steinway model K thats a no no from me. Always have them factory fitted.

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chrisvenables
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Re: Does silent system compromise upright action?

Post by chrisvenables » 20 Aug 2009, 13:21

PianoGuy wrote: the reliability of the Yamaha systems which I have encountered has been superb, the only issue being failing LEDs in the sensor mechanism which are relatively cheap to replace..

Although I believe the Yamaha Silent is the best, it has to be treated with a little more care than a conventional piano.

So buyers should be careful to prevent dust getting in between the keys as, on the electric side, the sensor units seem susceptible to dust. Headphones should be removed from the sockets when not in use as they are front situated - the plugs are just proud of the bottom of the keyboard - as the plugs can easily be knocked, damaging the connection. Care needs to be taken that the tuner/tech doesn't try and regulate the piano anywhere close to the conventional set off spec on a normal piano, as this can result in broken hammer shanks and flanges if played heavily.
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piano heads
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Re: Does silent system compromise upright action?

Post by piano heads » 23 Aug 2009, 13:43

chrisvenables wrote:
PianoGuy wrote: the reliability of the Yamaha systems which I have encountered has been superb, the only issue being failing LEDs in the sensor mechanism which are relatively cheap to replace..

Although I believe the Yamaha Silent is the best, it has to be treated with a little more care than a conventional piano.

So buyers should be careful to prevent dust getting in between the keys as, on the electric side, the sensor units seem susceptible to dust. Headphones should be removed from the sockets when not in use as they are front situated - the plugs are just proud of the bottom of the keyboard - as the plugs can easily be knocked, damaging the connection. Care needs to be taken that the tuner/tech doesn't try and regulate the piano anywhere close to the conventional set off spec on a normal piano, as this can result in broken hammer shanks and flanges if played heavily.
Yes would agree with cv comments or your "piano heads"may end up in the kitchen sink.

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