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Bösendorfer CEUS - Closer to the ideal hybrid piano


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For those who can afford expensive new technology, the new CEUS computer grand piano from Bösendorfer (see on their Website) is probably a huge step towards the ideal hybrid piano - the sound quality, keyboard action and tradition from a great well-known piano manufacturer, mixed with new exciting digital possibilities.

 

The primary goal of this new Bösendorfer CEUS instrument is to reproduce real time performance (hammers, pedals, etc.) with such a degree of perfection than even this world's best pianists apparently can't hear a difference. According to the reviews, the CEUS completely eclipses all other similar products, including the Yamaha Disklavier and Bösendorfer's earlier attempt at the same goal, the SE290).

 

But personally, what I find interesting are the technical aspects of this. For those interested, read the rare currently available articles about the CEUS like this one here , which also includes a very interesting but quite technical analysis in PDF format.

 

Amongst other things, those technical studies reveal that hammers in a real grand piano can move so rapidly and with such a wide range that in order to reproduce a real-time performance with similar precision, you need much more than the current 128 values offered by MIDI - the CEUS uses a scale of several thousands values for that single physical parameter.

 

And what's even more interesting, in my view, on top of the most recent innovations in digital pianos like modeling and so on : maybe someday we will see new digital pianos using keybeds and a new format that will enable several thousand values instead of the current limitations, for much more control and expression on future digital pianos and synthesizers.

 

Oh well, as a dreamer I just wanted to share a little excitement after reading about this Bösendorfer CEUS, even though I know I'll never be able to afford one. But I'm sure those innovations could be applied to digital pianos and synths in the future to create much better instruments somewhat more affordable than a Bösendorfer. :)

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Yes, we need more than 128 steps for the dynamics. It's a simple matter of math. We have discussed this issue before so I'll spare you. The Nord Ddrum has 999 velocity levels, which is a little better. This Bosie announcement is very good news. I'm glad we are finally beginning to get there.

 

In my view the technology of the control interface has not kept pace with the sound producing technology. The drive to mass marketing has crippled electronic intstruments. People who make music with electronics have no hope of being taken seriously unless the interface resolution is improved.

 

.... um,

 

Thanks for reading my rant. :)

 

Jerry

 

PS: edited for grammar :o

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Originally posted by Tusker:

Yes, we need more than 128 steps for the dynamics. It's a simple matter of math. We have discussed this issue before so I'll spare you.

Feel free to add links to threads if you remember some done here, I'll be glad to read them. I totally agree that on digitals the worse link is always the interface. Even with a scale of 128, most digital actions can't even reproduce all values efficiently, especially from let's say ppp to p. So I guess a larger scale, like 4096 values, would probably help to get more precision in playing.
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and this might be realizable for the common(sic) man soonerthan ezpxected with the announcement that intell expects to do 80 cores within 5yrs..

reminds me of "spaceballs" where they make the jump to "ludicrous speed"

"style is determined not by what you can play but what you cant...." dave brubeck
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Cydonia, this took a little research to understand what's going on. So they have optical sensors on the keys themselves. That would be amazing from the input side. However, apparently it is still "sample" based. I wonder how they manage to do this after making a statement of their sample being better by "a factor of 150"? Either it is powered by some super duper computer or samples that make Ivory seem like an Atari? It's just hard to imagine what's going on here as Ivory samples already consume -- how many gigabytes again? And this one is 150 times better? Is there a cray computer powering this? Or some huge multiprocessor?

 

Some amazing terms though if true. Sampling of "release" and "dampers" (something we been talking about on this forum as missing from current piano offerings).

 

Pretty bold marketing statements here. They do acknowledge that other manufacturers will copy this soon so expect a conversion kit for your Yamaha C3 Grand I suppose.

 

I wonder what they do for speakers and amps too? Too many questions.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Originally posted by Cydonia:

Originally posted by Tusker:

Yes, we need more than 128 steps for the dynamics. It's a simple matter of math. We have discussed this issue before so I'll spare you.

Feel free to add links to threads if you remember some done here, I'll be glad to read them. I totally agree that on digitals the worse link is always the interface. Even with a scale of 128, most digital actions can't even reproduce all values efficiently, especially from let's say ppp to p. So I guess a larger scale, like 4096 values, would probably help to get more precision in playing.
Exactly.

 

Here's the discussion we had. My examples of quantization error and dynamic range are about 3/4s of the way down:

 

http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/18/t/009870.html#000006

 

It is good to hear that manufacturers are raising the bar. I love MIDI for it's convenience and power, but as this announcment shows, it should be improved.

 

Jerry

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Originally posted by Jazzwee:

I wonder how they manage to do this after making a statement of their sample being better by "a factor of 150"? Either it is powered by some super duper computer or samples that make Ivory seem like an Atari?

Jazzwee, yep there are still many obscure things. Another interesting but unexplained fact is that the acoustic piano part apparently doesn't need tuning anymore... :eek: Unless I misunderstood. Like if the computer auto adjust it with the humidity percentage or something.

 

But I'm sure a company like Bösendorfer wouldn't exaggerate on the quality facts. It's probably a quite advanced technology. It reminds me of the Kurzweil 250 or the Fairlight CMI début (first ads). But this time the price is probably even more stratospheric than a Synclavier.

 

Oh well. I'll keep dreaming that a few by-products from this innovation will be implemented in digital pianos and stay in the "affordable range". Like a velocity range of 4096 values, or new keybeds that kind of emulates the effect of struck strings towards the fingers. After all, a pianist playing an acoustic relies a lot on that simple vibration to make sure he/she is playing the right way for a particular passage. Or that I win the lottery and buy a real grand... :)

 

Tusker, I have to agree about the quantization problem you mention. Very interesting thread to read as well, that I obviously missed back then.

 

Tom, if you read this at work, I'll tell your boss you need a longer tasks list. :)

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Cydonia -- Price -- that was not mentioned anywhere. That could give us an indication of what is actually included here (i.e. if there is a Cray computer with cooling units stored inside the piano) :D

 

On the tuning, I read that. I think they meant the computer part. Tuning the acoustic part is like normal and I remember reading that it specifically said that.

 

Apparently there's some little computer display on the fallboard.

 

Now since I can't even think of affording a Bosendorfer Grand, with this CEUS, will it start approaching Rolls Royce prices? :D

 

Anyway it is fun speculating as this could be some cheap add on for an upright in a few years.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Originally posted by Jazzwee:

Cydonia, this took a little research to understand what's going on. So they have optical sensors on the keys themselves. That would be amazing from the input side. However, apparently it is still "sample" based. I wonder how they manage to do this after making a statement of their sample being better by "a factor of 150"? Either it is powered by some super duper computer or samples that make Ivory seem like an Atari? It's just hard to imagine what's going on here as Ivory samples already consume -- how many gigabytes again? And this one is 150 times better? Is there a cray computer powering this? Or some huge multiprocessor?

 

Some amazing terms though if true. Sampling of "release" and "dampers" (something we been talking about on this forum as missing from current piano offerings).

 

Pretty bold marketing statements here. They do acknowledge that other manufacturers will copy this soon so expect a conversion kit for your Yamaha C3 Grand I suppose.

 

I wonder what they do for speakers and amps too? Too many questions.

I don't think it's sample-based at all. It's an acoustic piano. This is very much like the Yamaha Disklavier technology. My Yamaha MIDI Grand has LED senors as well. They are using the term sampling to mean something different than it is commonly used.

 

Busch.

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Originally posted by burningbusch:

I don't think it's sample-based at all. It's an acoustic piano. This is very much like the Yamaha Disklavier technology. My Yamaha MIDI Grand has LED senors as well. They are using the term sampling to mean something different than it is commonly used.

 

Busch.

That's what I thought too, but I read all the stuff on their web page, and I'm still not clear on exactly what it is. They don't do a very succinct job of describing it.
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So what fires the strings. The keys don't move (at least I read that somewhere in there).

 

How about on your Yamaha MIDI Grand, Busch, what causes the hammers to hit the strings?

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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I heard the original Bosendorfer system when I was at USC in the early 90s, and it was amazing. I remember it would not only record velocity with very high resolution, but it recorded how far the key was depressed. So a player could play a chord, very slowly let up off the keys, and the notes would be gradually damped. They had recordings from Keith Jarrett done on the system.

 

There was a project done a few years ago that also used the Bosendorfer system, I believe. An advanced version of a player piano roll was combined with historic audio recordings, and they were able to make new recordings of Rachmaninoff. The piano rolls were converted to the Bosendorfer system, using the recordings as a guide to translating the data. The resulting CD is called "A Window in Time" and is highly recommended.

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If you google, you'll see that last July at the Montreux jazz festival there was a live performance with the CEUS reproducing a couple of Rachmaninoff pieces and then the computer piano with a pianist on another instrument for some four-hands piano music. I guess we all missed it. :)

 

About how it works, if you read the technical PDF file, you'll see that they're talking about solenoids. Probably the CEUS uses similar electromagnetic devices to control the hammers and make them strike the strings.

 

Here's a pic of the CEUS "interface". A real cutie, I must say. :)

 

http://www.boesendorfer.com/_english_version/products/ceus/images/ceus_big.jpg

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Here's some info on Yamaha's Disklavier Mark IV system:

 

Yamaha's Exclusive High-Performance Grayscale Hammer Sensor

The world's first continual-detection optical hammer sensor continuously traces the hammer position from the time a key is pressed until it's released. This outperforms the previous two-point detection sensors of earlier Disklaviers and the simpler "Key ON/OFF" sensors used on many other systems. With the grayscale key sensor, the Mark IV monitors every motion of the key and hammer even rapidly repeated notes with meticulous precision and the softest touch.

 

Servo Control for Precision Playback Performance

Under the command of specially developed LSI microprocessors, the servo control system continuously monitors the movement of each key, precisely recreating every detail of the original performance. This allows for a slow return of the keys and delicate pianissimo, things that were previously unattainable.

-------------

 

Yamaha Disklaviers come from the factory. They cannot be rertofitted into an existing piano which is different than Bosendorfer and some of the other systems available. Bosendorder is a great company. I wish them luck in keeping up with Yamaha (Japanese) when it comes to robotic type innovations.

 

Busch.

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Well, that article is pretty ridiculous, with obsurd claims like

 

At the moment, THE CEUS COMPUTER PIANO IS THE ONLY COMPUTER CONTROLLED GRAND PIANO WORLDWIDE CAPABLE OF EMOTIONALLY AUTHENTIC RECORDING AND REPRODUCTION OF PIANO PIECES

 

which is obviously and clearly way overstated.

 

Concerning more than 127 velocity values, that will be a good thing (it's already possible with MIDI, only most devices don't support the extension). However, ROMPler digital pianos today don't do a very good job of covering even the 127 step range, especially at the bottom. Adding more values won't help.

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BTW, guys, to handle more samples you only need more storage, not more CPU power. You need more CPU power and more storage-to-CPU throughput to play more samples at one time (e.g., more polyphony). But you wouldn't need more CPU if you had 1000 samples per note rather than say 16.
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  • 8 months later...

Finally,

 

A clearer picture about that famous Bösendorfer CEUS stage piano.

 

http://www.bosendorfer.com/boesendorfer_en/uploads/web/BSD_ceusmaster_001.jpg

 

Includes :

 

- Real concert grand piano action

 

- MIDI, USB, SPDIF & XLR outputs + headphones jack

 

- 80 GB of 32-bit, 96kHz Bösendorfer Imperial Grand non-looped samples

 

- Hammers velocity measured within 0.000001 sec., 5 mm in front of the string --> 0.14 m/sec (ppp) to 11 m/sec (FFF) :cool:

 

Go on their site for all the specs.

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Who cares about a middle pedal man? My Steinway has no middle pedal. So does this baby have Renner action? And I wonder what the hammers slap against?

 

I wonder if this is better than putting a Midi strip on a grand action on a real grand?

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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The last bit of info about price was 25000 Euro$... Hope it changed for less since then. :)

 

I doubt they use Renner, since they mention an English action... Maybe a Broadwood as Beethoven preferred? :grin:

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Help me understand what the interest is in this thing outside of a very few touring pros who want and could afford it.

 

This is Bose first attempt at a DP and could in fact sound lame. I've got the piano sample libraries it's based on, the VSL, and I'm not overly excited about it.

 

It likely weighs over 100 lbs, possibly a lot more. In a road case it's most certainly a two person job to move the thing and set it up. It costs a fortune. If you don't plan on touring with it, what you're going to set it up in your home? For that amount of money you could have a 6' 1" Yamaha Disklavier grand piano. A real acoustic grand that you can silence and use as a MIDI controller, and you can record and playback performances of the acoustic piano.

 

Busch.

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Something missing here for me:

 

Are you all saying that human ears can hear 1/10 db or 1/40 db differences in sound intensity? I thought that normal ears can hear about a 1 db sound level change. Hard to believe!

 

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Changes in sound intensity on the grand piano are accompanied by compelling changes in inharmonicity and decay time. The human ear is easily tricked when it comes to SPL alone.

 

Jerry

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Well, you gotta admit it's darn cute. :love:

 

I don't know, it looks like a casket with an attached keyboard.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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I didn't see a wire to the pedals.... Are they for show?

 

I'm with Dave Horne... you can bury me in it if you wish.

Jimmy

 

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho

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