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  1. Henri
  2. CP88-CP73 Stage Piano
  3. Sunday, 06 September 2020
I tried the CP88 a few months ago and felt the tone was really bright. I didn't realize I should use the EQ, but did set the tone to 0. It also could've been the Yamaha active speaker that was connected to the instrument.
My question is: is there a way to set up a mellow, lovely, solo concert grand piano on the CP88?
The bright tone in there is made to cut through the mix. At least, that's what everyone believes. But my ears are really sensitive to high frequencies, and I didn't find my last experience that enjoyable.
Otherwise, this might be the perfect stage piano for me. The action and user interface seemed almost perfect!
Responses (8)
Bad Mister
Yamaha
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
My question is: is there a way to set up a mellow, lovely, solo concert grand piano on the CP88?
The bright tone in there is made to cut through the mix. At least, that's what everyone believes. But my ears are really sensitive to high frequencies, and I didn't find my last experience that enjoyable.
The CP88 is programmed with great detail, care and science. If you, admittedly, have ears “really sensitive to high frequencies” you might list yourself as a poor judge when it comes to determining what a sound system is reproducing and what the piano is actually recreating. Both are contributing greatly to what you are hearing/experiencing. You may want to bring along a person who does not have that problem with sensitivity to high frequencies. If that is what you are describing. You might also try bringing headphones that *you* trust — to eliminate poorly placed speakers... speakers can only perform as good as those who set them up allow them to perform.

When it is said that a piano “cuts through the mix”, they are mostly referring to the character of the overall tone of the piano — and this goes beyond your standard simple EQ-fix. It is in the overall character of the piano sample set. For example, a sample set where the microphones where placed several feet from the piano takes on a more ambient quality (you feel the sense of distance and room sound). It is very difficult to change this sense of distance to make it sound like a close-miked piano. However, a close-miked piano wave set can be made to sound more distant by artful use of standard effect processing. The sense of room ambience and distance from the microphone influences the character of the piano sound. And EQ is not the sole fix for this sense of distance - in fact, it doesn’t really change the overall perception by itself. Picking the wrong wave character and then trying to fix it with the wrong tool can only make it worse.

You can’t turn a Bosendorfer Imperial Grand into a C7 or vice versa with EQ alone... you can’t turn a U1, Upright Grand into a CFX, using EQ... the character of the waveforms are not interchangeable via simple EQ!

Being really sensitive to high frequencies might make what is actually a mellow solo concert grand piano sound too bright. Either way, the CP88 pianos are sampled and programmed to deliver an even response that the performer can generally adjust — it is programmed in the middle using technology that is designed to give useable results. Middle - means all frequencies are provided so you can move in either direction.

The sound system, and the settings of the particular sound system, can greatly influence what you hear.
*Where* you stand can greatly influence what you hear.
If you are in the “sweet spot” of the speaker system — then you are in a good position to make a determination. But if you cannot see the tweeter, you cannot properly hear a tweeter. If you are off axis, expect the sound to be different. We used to have students walk completely around an active speaker... they all *know* where to position themselves to listen to speakers, but there was never a student that didn’t have an “Aha-moment” about sound when they actually did this exercise.

Just how much can the sound system, it’s placement, and the position of the player, influence the result: Profoundly.
EQing something when you are even a little off-axis - you’ll discover is a waste of your time and effort!

And if you do have ears that are “really sensitive to high frequencies”, I recommend taking a sound person with you or someone you trust to give you an honest opinion about how it actually sounds. Overcompensating for one’s own hearing can be an issue — but only when you are unaware of your own sensitivity to a particular frequency range — knowing this you can avoid any issues when you’re gigging... you may require one set of monitors for yourself, separate from the house system.

Having spent years professionally working with sound, EQ, and others... I’ve learned that when judging sound, for example, creating a headphone mix for recording musicians in the Recording Studio... that most important is listening closely to what they say makes them comfortable versus what would sound good in the context of the other instruments. The headphone mix EQ is always different than reality... the player’s comfort is of primary importance in this instance — but this is why you give them a separate mix... it has nothing to do with what sounds good in context. It’s EQ for a particular use case. This explains why each musician wants a little more of themselves — it’s how they are used to hearing themselves in relation to everyone else. (But it doesn’t actually make a good overall mix... it’s only good for the perspective of that musician — most never understand that no one else agrees — in fact, each of them want it slightly tipped toward hearing themselves best).

It takes doing it a whole lot, to EQ a piano that will cut through a band, particularly in the absence of said band. Without the rest of the instrumentation sounding, you can only guess at which frequency ranges need to be boosted or attenuated. It’s like trying to shift your weight to compensate for the anomalies of hill without actually skiing... you can only guess. Regardless, the piano that does actually cut through the mix may sound “too bright” when played sans the band it is supposed to be cutting through!

This is why most piano players who pick their favorite piano sound when no other musicians are playing, are surprised it doesn’t cut through the band when used in context. It is both literally and figuratively true : you cannot EQ in a vacuum.

So to answer the question. yes there is... in general, the CFX and the Imperial are your ‘suitable for solo piano’ pianos...
Are you listening in stereo or are you using just one ear (er, I mean, mono)... again huge influence on listener’s perception about presence and placement. Volume? Try to raise the volume level to match the level an acoustic piano were it in the room you are in... if too soft the experience is not satisfying, if made too loud the experience becomes science fiction. When judging sound (picking a solo concert piano) try to create the illusion that the acoustic piano is actually there - try to recreate/match that volume level. This helps eliminate negative contribution by the speakers. Can the speakers do this? (some loud speakers only sound good when very loud... be aware of this). Today’s powered loudspeakers often come with a ‘Loudness Contour’ function (basically, to restore the fullness and presence when you need to play at lower volumes).

Walking up and just playing a CP88 in a store is not a scientific test (rest assured Yamaha test facilities are state-of-the-art). And hundreds of man-hours are spent with every detail... This doesn’t mean everyone will *like* the results, and nothing is perfect. “Liking it”, that’s subjective and it is quite okay not to like it — but rest assured the result is not arbitrary or frivolous, so that is where the confidence in my position comes from... I know the care and feeding that go into this kind of thing. So much so that when I hear someone say it’s too much this or too little that, I have a sense of ‘that does not sound right’ — there must be an external cause.

Choosing a piano for solo concert...
How? with care (choosing the wave character) that suits what you want to accomplish, positioning (speaker type and placement), EQ (adjust for room acoustic deficiencies) and patience. And sometimes, with a little help from your friends.
Hope that helps.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Henri-

Two related things to consider:

First, the tone controls on the CP88/73 don’t work like guitar tone controls. Turning the control all the way counterclockwise (to “0”) doesn’t just roll off high frequencies. It seems to create more of a mid-focused sound.

Second, many people who think they are sensitive to “high” frequencies are actually reacting to upper-mid frequencies (2-5 kHz range). This is where our ears are the most sensitive.

So if you are bothered by what sounds to you like too much highs coming from the CP, my suggestion would be to turn the tone knob the other way - clockwise - which will bring in both more lows and highs above the upper-mid range, and then play around with the excellent mid and mid frequency selector knobs in the EQ section to find and cut the frequency that’s really bothering you.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Hi. I have the same perception, that it is very difficult to find a good solo grand piano tone on the CP88. My home studio is carefully structured with damping material, and I have a high end speaker system (Genelec studio monitors). I also have some other stage pianos CP5, CP4 and a RD-2000. Everyone of this pianos works fine in the room after small tone adjustments. But not the CP88 that has a thinner sound overall. I read Bad Misters text and gave it another chance with positioning the speakers around a bit and also try to move the piano and speakers closer to a wall and in the middle of the room for example. And yes, my experience after that, it became a lot better. But in comparatively to the other pianos the CP88 sounds still thinner. Especially in comparison to the CP4. It has a much ``warmer´´ tone, and I feel it depends on for example. the excellent effect MSC Damper resonance, which is adjustable compared with CP88´s on/off switch without any major noticeable effect (in `my´ ears). The CP4 have also some other useful parameters such as Velocity Sensitvity deep and offset, which the CP88 also lacks. Increasing/decreasing of this parameters, makes that you not need to tweak the eq so hard to find a acceptable solo grand piano tone. The CP88 have not this functions at all and it is a bit strange, that it is removed in a successor model (CP88). I hope it comes at least a adjustable damper resonance function in a future CP88 OS update. Yamaha has promised some updates but it is quite a long time ago since the last one now. Thanks one more time to Bad Mister for your support here in the forum.
Best regards// Stefan.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
The CP4 and CP88 use different engines for the pianos (acoustic and electric). The CP88 uses AWM2 - sample based technology. The CP4 used SCM (Spectral Component Modeling) which creates a modeled piano vs. sampled. Modeled doesn't always mean "better" - but certainly with modeled instruments you get more control over how the model responds. This can be perceived positively.

Certainly whatever the difference is between the CP4 can be attributed in a large part to the difference in engines for the piano (and electric piano) sounds. The other sounds of the CP4 use sample based technology "the same" as the CP88.

Because the CP88 doesn't use modeled pianos - it cannot have the options the CP4 had. Incidentally, the RD2000 (at least for the 1st bank of pianos) uses modeled pianos as well.

That's not to say there isn't something that would benefit some if there was a more aggressive EQ available. Thankfully, an EQ can be added externally.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I dunno man, I do love my CP88, but I just wish it had the CFX sound of the CP4 inside. There is absolutely no comparison between the two, absolutely NO COMPARISON! Still hoping for an update, it's about time now Yamaha.. Also the Acoustic Bass lacks in comparison to the CP4's one.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Some speculation of why the latest CP does not have SCM used in the CP4: http://sandsoftwaresound.net/spectral-component-modeling/
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Thanks for the link about SCM. Very interesting text. Yamaha wants to develop the system (of course), and the Open flash memory is a superb way to go, with a smart way for system updates. It´s grateful for us users. Yamaha chooses AWM2 sampling instead of SCM, and maybe can not offer them both depending on cost reasons. That´s fine for me. But, if you choose a new variant, you must examine full out, what did the previous model so popular acoustically. In CP88, you have a very limited way to adjust the AP´s. A Tone control, a damper resonance on/off switch, a reverb effect and the EQ. All the other effects are less suitable or unusable for AP´s, but excellent for EP´s. The EP´s by the way, are very good and easy tweakable into good results. The EP´s are for me best in class. How can there be such a difference between the AP´s and EP´s sound quality (expressiveness)? There are more and more discussions on forums, the CP88 seems overall to be meant for band stage use, and felt less suitable for solo piano playing. It´s a disappointment, because the predecessors did both missions well. Hoping for an update with at least a adjustable damper resonance effect and a improved EQ in more steps. In the best of worlds, a function which can be compared with CP4`s velocity sensitivity. I don´t know if it is possible or not, but it´s free for wishes. Currently I have get back to the CP4, with hope on CP88 AP improvements in future updates. I´m not happy about that, because the keyboard feeling, workflow and EP´s sound quality on the CP88, are the best I ever have experienced. And yes, I know sound quality is very subjective. (but it does not help me, if the neighbour think it sounds good) :)
Best regards// Stefan.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
One unfortunately reality is that, for whatever reason, Yamaha has a history of developing great technology only to abandon it in follow-on products. There are many examples across the various high-end synthesizer products.

... so keep your "vintage" gear - it's likely the only keyboard that will feature what makes that particular generation special.
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