I recently came across Pianoteq in MacLife magazine. Tonight I downloaded it and tried it out. My keyboard skills suffer poorly now compared to what I could do, say, 10-20 years ago. I began playing the piano at age 5, the organ at age 4; and I was most active composing music for keyboard throughout my teenage years. Today, I rarely turn on the synthesizer, but for a number of reasons, including time commitments, and the "feel/sound/authenticity" of the synthesizer compared to the old-fashioned piano. Pianoteq promises the most realistic synthesized sound. Instead of samples, it uses algorithms that virtually "shape" piano sound. I still have more testing to do, but it did sound good. Getting pedal sounds out of it was especially cool. I may also admit that perhaps my synthesizer keyboard isn't the best match, and perhaps, something like Pianoteq and a new master keyboard would be in order. Since 1992, when I graduated from high school, I've been playing a Yamaha SY99, 76-key synthesizer. At the time, it was high-end, costing around $4K. It's giant and heavy. But it lacks the full 88 keys, and the keys are not "weighted" piano-style keys. Instead, they are aftertouch, velocity-sensitive, plastic synth keys. These aren't necessarily bad; I play much more quickly with this style of keyboard. But I think to get the most authentic piano sound, you need authentic piano touch. This tradeoff: electronic vs. physical, reminds me of ideas I had posted on my other blog about books versus reading online. To me, * the piano, and its physical, mechanical action, has a personality * the piano doesn't require electricity * the piano has that... sound And yet, * the electronic keyboard has memory (sequencer) * the electronic keyboard can change sounds (and mimic different acoustic spaces) * the computer can play the electronic keyboard So, there are advantages to adding electricity, in that you can playback what you recorded, notate it, and mix it up a in the digital domain. The tradeoff as been the sound quality and the feel. I think with a new tool like Pianoteq, when coupled with a more physical-action minded keyboard, the answer may be all the more compelling.