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#1257613 - 08/28/09 01:09 AM Piano too darn loud!  
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Ok, I've turned the piano every which way and even added mounds of blankets and pillows below, but its still just too loud. I get a headache after a few minutes of playing! Only if I close the top completely including folding the lip flat is when it seems to reach a quiet volume.

As you can see the room isnt small. So my question is, is this volume coming from the walls, the ceiling, the non padded parts of the floor, or just the piano itself? It is possible with a lot of effort to play quietly, but at a normal playing pressure its almost painfully loud, even when closed.

Any tips?

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#1257617 - 08/28/09 01:16 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: Zooplibob]  
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The hardwood floors are not helping your situation!
The piano isn't the smallest so the volume is hard.
How about a big thick rug under the piano and the lid on the small stick?
Is the whole piano or only the treble hurting your ears?


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#1257623 - 08/28/09 01:34 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: Zooplibob]  
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Is that a BB or an AA?

First, don't play with the lid up... I never do. Have your technician voice the piano down, which will help a lot. If it's still too loud, consider wearing ear plugs. No, I'm not kidding; I use ear plugs myself because I often have to play for hours in small rooms. This year, we took sound pressure levels of grand pianos in the practice rooms and the suckers peaked at a little over 100 dB which is enough to damage your hearing.

If all else fails, try this company: http://edwardsstringcovers.com/

They make sound damping material that can be placed over the cast-iron frame and/ or under the piano between the beams.

#1257629 - 08/28/09 01:59 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: beethoven986]  
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Start with musicians ear plugs. Perhaps something like Hearos.

Pianos can be voiced, rooms can be voiced. You might want to start with casters, which would partially decouple the piano from the floor. Here.

For the room, think soft and irregular. Sofas, chairs, bookcases, decorative cloth on the walls. No need to completely cover any surface. Just breaking up the sound waves - diffusing, if you like - should help a lot.

For the piano, please be cautious about voicing down your piano. Voicing is its own skill. You don't want a tech learning on your piano. Voicing is best done a little at a time.

IMO the way that grands cause sound to envelop the player is one of the most important reasons for owning one. If you don't play with the lid raised, you're missing out on one of the primary reasons for owning a grand. Someone - CC2andChopinLover, I think - had a CC in his piano room. Along with lots of other stuff.

Patience and persistence.



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#1257637 - 08/28/09 02:32 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: FogVilleLad]  
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A carpet or rug makes a big difference. The bigger the better, the fluffier and more padding underneath the better. Of course under the piano is important, but every square foot of hard floor it covers makes a difference. I moved from a room with a large floor rug to a carpeted room with thick carpet wall to wall, same size room and there was a huge difference. FogVilleLad must mean caster CUPS, of which there are lots of varieties.

The most spectacular are made of very thick neoprene -- wet suit material -- and are expensive, a few hundred dollars. Some others are just wood or plastic which will make little difference, even with felt, since the weight compresses it so it will still transfer vibrations. If your hard wood floor is directly on concrete, cups won't make as much of a difference as they will if the wood floor is in some way free of the concrete.

Beethoven's suggestion of putting something under the piano between the beams would still allow you to open the lid and get the full spectrum of frequencies.


Added: I always thought an inexpensive way to get some of the insulation like the neoprene cups would be to use wood or plastic cups and just get some neoprene from an old wet suit or just a small sheet from ebay and cut circles out of it to put between the caster cup and the floor. I haven't tried it but I'm sure it would work, especially if the neoprene layer is thick enough (maybe several circles of 1/4 inch neoprene).

Last edited by charleslang; 08/28/09 02:57 AM.

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#1257643 - 08/28/09 02:46 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: charleslang]  
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charleslang, yes, he is;-)


#1257653 - 08/28/09 03:37 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: FogVilleLad]  
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The dirty little secret of the piano industry is that most grand pianos today are designed and built to make a huge volume -- easy enough to fill a concert venue. Your piano is doing what it was built to do.

When you play forte you are easily producing 89 dB(A) which is very close to the limits causing pain and hearing loss. This means that your piano will often be hearable by your neighbors or even as far as four appartments away in an appartment or condominium. Keeping the lid closed, hanging a heavy quilt over the piano, fitting proprietary foam insulation under the soundboard between the joints, using contact sound insulating casters under the feet, placing your piano on a thick Morroccan Berber rug, etc. are all actions you can take to reduce the sound production of your grand piano.

Perhaps the most lasting investment you can make in your enjoyment of your piano is to take lessons from a gifted teacher and learn how to play piannissimo so you can also reduce the volume on demand yourself. It will do wonders for your technique in general too.

#1257686 - 08/28/09 06:32 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: theJourney]  
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Your piano looks like it's at a sleepover! grin

#1257725 - 08/28/09 08:21 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: theJourney]  
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Originally Posted by theJourney
The dirty little secret of the piano industry is that most grand pianos today are designed and built to make a huge volume -- easy enough to fill a concert venue. Your piano is doing what it was built to do.


Where did you get this idea? Why would makers design pianos that would sound too loud in home environments?

If it's true, why do relatively few people have trouble with their piano being too loud?

I have a BB in a much smaller room. I play with the lid down and hinge folded back. Loudness is not a problem.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/28/09 08:23 AM.
#1257733 - 08/28/09 08:33 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: FogVilleLad]  
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Originally Posted by FogVilleLad
... rooms can be voiced...


Will my piano technician needle the walls? grin

#1257736 - 08/28/09 08:37 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: Zooplibob]  
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Originally Posted by Zooplibob
Any tips?


Do away with these pillows. Rather, a nice big plushy rug will be better. You could also fill the room with approx. 1000 books on various shelves. Do you have a library that you could move into the piano room? Potentially, you could hang some nice wall rugs on the walls if that is an option. They swallow the sound. Other than that, there are special acoustic devices that swallow sound and that can be placed in corners, but I assume they're expensive.
By the by, I love the quality casters on the M & H.

#1257737 - 08/28/09 08:38 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Where did you get this idea? Why would makers design pianos that would sound too loud in home environments?

If it's true, why do relatively few people have trouble with their piano being too loud?

I have a BB in a much smaller room. I play with the lid down and hinge folded back. Loudness is not a problem.


Why have it all closed up? Are you saying your BB was designed and built to be played this way? Does it best show off its tone closed up like that?

It would depend on where you live and who you know to say that relatively few people have trouble with their piano being too loud. In the compact cities of Europe it is a huge problem and a big reason behind the success of uprights with silent systems built in. "Trouble" in this case means that you can't play a piano ever or maybe only one hour per day at a time approved by your neighbors.

Unfortunately, many people don't realize they "have trouble with" the volume of their music making until it is too late...
Quote

One of the more prevalent music injuries is rarely talked about: hearing loss. Players and educators of school bands and orchestras are most at risk of hearing loss. In a recent study on the effect of sound levels on 53 music educators, it was established that 68 percent of them showed signs of noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears.

"It's important that people recognize the possibility of this happening," said Douglas Owens, a professor of music at the University of Southern Maine and one of the lead researchers of the study.

"It's difficult to state that being involved in a band or orchestra will lead to noise-induced hearing loss," Owens said. "However, we do know that overexposure to sounds above 85 decibels is hazardous and could lead to hearing loss."

The 85-decibel threshold is one that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says should trigger the wearing of protective gear in a work environment to avoid hearing loss. But in band classrooms, it's not unusual for sound levels to rise to 115 decibels, Owens said.

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=312659
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...1/topic/020093/Number/0/site_id/1#import

#1257740 - 08/28/09 08:43 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: SeilerFan]  
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You may need the help of a professional or at least some professional sound absorbing products. Read the Piano Buyer article How to make a Piano Room Sound Grand.


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#1257742 - 08/28/09 08:45 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: Steve Cohen]  
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Also, let's not title threads "Piano to Darn Loud", when it is the room, the tech and/or the player at fault.



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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
#1257743 - 08/28/09 08:45 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: ChasT]  
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Originally Posted by ChasT
Your piano looks like it's at a sleepover! grin


His piano is welcome to sleep over at my house anytime.


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#1257745 - 08/28/09 08:47 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: theJourney]  
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Zooplibob I agree, modern pianos really are too loud though you seem to have designed your room to accentuate that property.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1257750 - 08/28/09 08:53 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: Steve Cohen]  
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Vocing by a skilled technician/tuner/voicer can make a tremendous difference. I have witnessed the transformation of one particular Steinway and the difference was nothing short of magical! The piano went from deafening loud and piercing to heavenly without sounding muffled or lack-of-power, all in a span of 40 minutes of the voicer's time! Have to see it to believe it! smile

#1257752 - 08/28/09 08:54 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: theJourney]  
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Originally Posted by theJourney

Quote

"It's difficult to state that being involved in a band or orchestra will lead to noise-induced hearing loss," Owens said....



I especially pity the musicians in an orchestra that sit in front of the trombones and trumpets.

#1257771 - 08/28/09 09:21 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: SeilerFan]  
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Thanks for the tips. I never really got a clear answer from my question though about the cause. Is it the walls, the floor, the ceiling, or the piano itself? The floor is all padded up under the piano as you can see, so I don't thing adding a rug under it would do much.

Seems like the best recourse is a revoicing. It is very bright sounding anyway, so it could kill 2 birds with 1 stone perhaps. The loudness is uniform across the entire keyboard but especially painful in the mid/upper registers.

Also it is most definitely the piano thats too loud. The room, tech, and player hardly make a peep when the piano isnt being played -- I checked myself.

#1257792 - 08/28/09 09:40 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: Zooplibob]  
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The floor is all padded up under the piano as you can see, so I don't thing adding a rug under it would do much.

Under the piano will have an effect. You need a large thick area rug. It will have a huge effect.

Last edited by curry; 08/28/09 09:42 AM.

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#1257800 - 08/28/09 09:49 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: theJourney]  
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Originally Posted by theJourney
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Where did you get this idea? Why would makers design pianos that would sound too loud in home environments?

If it's true, why do relatively few people have trouble with their piano being too loud?

I have a BB in a much smaller room. I play with the lid down and hinge folded back. Loudness is not a problem.


Why have it all closed up? Are you saying your BB was designed and built to be played this way? Does it best show off its tone closed up like that?



It isn't all closed up because the lid hinge is folded back. This is the way many(probably most) people play grands in their homes. The loss in tone compared to having it on full stick is minimal IMO and the quality of tone still much better than on a smaller grand.

I would guess that all apartment dwellers, not just in Europe, have to consider the effect their playing has on their neighbors. The choice between vertical and grand probably depends more on the size of the room than thinking a grand is louder than a vertical, which certainly isn't necessarily the case.

#1257814 - 08/28/09 09:56 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: Zooplibob]  
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Originally Posted by Zooplibob
Thanks for the tips. I never really got a clear answer from my question though about the cause. Is it the walls, the floor, the ceiling, or the piano itself? The floor is all padded up under the piano as you can see, so I don't thing adding a rug under it would do much.

Seems like the best recourse is a revoicing. It is very bright sounding anyway, so it could kill 2 birds with 1 stone perhaps. The loudness is uniform across the entire keyboard but especially painful in the mid/upper registers.

Also it is most definitely the piano thats too loud. The room, tech, and player hardly make a peep when the piano isnt being played -- I checken myself.


If you think the piano is loud, imagine what your housemates or neighbors think.

The root cause is simple: pianos produce very high sound decidels (dB(A)). That is what they do, and that is what yours does. No mystery here. They don't call it a piano forte for nothing.

The contributory cause is also simple: your lid is wide open spreading a lot of sound waves into the air which are bouncing chaotically over all the other bare flat surfaces in your home and depending on your floor construction your hardwood floors are turning into yet another soundboard by transmitting contact sound from the piano legs into the floor and possibly into your walls. As organ players are fond of saying: "You are playing the building."

Another contributory cause includes the way you play.

The last thing I would want is for some tech to start fooling around (potentially irreversibly) with my brand new piano before getting things settled, experimented and exhausting all other paths first.



#1257817 - 08/28/09 09:58 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: theJourney]  
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Originally Posted by theJourney
Unfortunately, many people don't realize they "have trouble with" the volume of their music making until it is too late...
Quote

One of the more prevalent music injuries is rarely talked about: hearing loss. Players and educators of school bands and orchestras are most at risk of hearing loss. In a recent study on the effect of sound levels on 53 music educators, it was established that 68 percent of them showed signs of noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears.

"It's important that people recognize the possibility of this happening," said Douglas Owens, a professor of music at the University of Southern Maine and one of the lead researchers of the study.

"It's difficult to state that being involved in a band or orchestra will lead to noise-induced hearing loss," Owens said. "However, we do know that overexposure to sounds above 85 decibels is hazardous and could lead to hearing loss."

The 85-decibel threshold is one that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says should trigger the wearing of protective gear in a work environment to avoid hearing loss. But in band classrooms, it's not unusual for sound levels to rise to 115 decibels, Owens said.

/020093/Number/0/site_id/1#import


But the article talks about the sound in the middle of a band which is so much louder than any piano. I have gone to band rehearsals and did find the sound level deafening, but why compare it to a piano?

If so many people find the sound of their piano too loud, why are there so few complaints about it at PW?

#1257823 - 08/28/09 10:00 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by theJourney
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Where did you get this idea? Why would makers design pianos that would sound too loud in home environments?

If it's true, why do relatively few people have trouble with their piano being too loud?

I have a BB in a much smaller room. I play with the lid down and hinge folded back. Loudness is not a problem.


Why have it all closed up? Are you saying your BB was designed and built to be played this way? Does it best show off its tone closed up like that?



It isn't all closed up because the lid hinge is folded back. This is the way many(probably most) people play grands in their homes. The loss in tone compared to having it on full stick is minimal IMO and the quality of tone still much better than on a smaller grand.

I would guess that all apartment dwellers, not just in Europe, have to consider the effect their playing has on their neighbors. The choice between vertical and grand probably depends more on the size of the room than thinking a grand is louder than a vertical, which certainly isn't necessarily the case.


Agreed. I play my grand exactly the way you do. I thought you meant with the music desk folded back outside on a completely closed piano hinge which is quieter yet but sounds terrible and makes playing with bifocals even more challenging.

Having said that, the moments when I throw caution to the wind and am playing at half stick, it is much more rewarding -- for me -- and the tone of the piano is improved.

The best action we took were adding the thick Berber carpets and the sound insulating casters that reduced the role of the hard wood floor.

#1257826 - 08/28/09 10:07 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: theJourney]  
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Originally Posted by theJourney

The root cause is simple: pianos produce very high sound decidels (dB(A)). That is what they do, and that is what yours does. No mystery here. They don't call it a piano forte for nothing.

Well, when the name pianoforte sprang up, instruments weren't really "forte" as in absolute loudness. They were in fact rather soft. The name pianoforte refers to the contrast that the player could make on these instruments as opposed to the limitations of the harpsichord that was eventually replaced by the pianoforte. True, modern instruments with their metal plates and higher tension have more power than those 200 years ago.

#1257829 - 08/28/09 10:09 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: theJourney]  
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while you are working on your room's acoustics and looking for a rug, , you can stuff cheap polyester pillows up into the frame directly beneath the soundboard... actually touching it. This really works for reducing volume but seriously affects the sound and tone of the piano. (the soundboard does not resonate properly). another thing you can do is semipermanently engage the dampening pedal by placing a small little lego in the back little slot underneath the pedal mechanism. THis is not good for the piano in the long run because the hammers will receive uneven wear.. but great for a soft soft practice in the short term.

these suggestions are both great for cranky babies when one wants to practice during naptime or night time. . (thank goodness those days are over).


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
#1257830 - 08/28/09 10:09 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: Zooplibob]  
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Originally Posted by Zooplibob
Also it is most definitely the piano thats too loud. The room, tech, and player hardly make a peep when the piano isnt being played -- I checked myself.


Yeah, that is usually the case: A piano is silent when it's not played.

#1257831 - 08/28/09 10:09 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: theJourney]  
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Your room has numerous hard surfaces so it's not surprising the piano sounds loud. Also, the instrument is in a corner which magnifies the sound. Hanging soft materials on the walls such as decorative rugs as well as carpet or rugs beneath the piano should help a lot. I don't think re-voicing will help that much considering the placement against the bare walls and hard floor.

#1257842 - 08/28/09 10:23 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
...
The 85-decibel threshold is one that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says should trigger the wearing of protective gear in a work environment to avoid hearing loss. But in band classrooms, it's not unusual for sound levels to rise to 115 decibels, Owens said.

But the article talks about the sound in the middle of a band which is so much louder than any piano. I have gone to band rehearsals and did find the sound level deafening, but why compare it to a piano?

If so many people find the sound of their piano too loud, why are there so few complaints about it at PW?


Extrapolation challenged, he?
It is actually not true that a band is incomparably louder than a piano. Just like it is not true that two pianos are twice as loud as one. That's not how the physics or the measurement scale works.

A grand piano at FF can produce up to 109 dB(A) at peak, easily 89 dB(A) on average and sustained periods of 96 dB(A). That people are not aware of the danger of these sound levels until too late is the same reason lawn mowers, farmers, machinery operators, ipod listeners, disco goers, etc. experience hearing loss. They don't realize it until it is too late.

However, just because a piano is loud objectively as measured in dB(A) does not mean that it is experienced as (too) loud subjectively. Some people find any piano playing, no matter how soft, terribly annoying while others, including pianists and the kind of enthusiasts that might tend to hang out here, can't get enough at any volume.

That a US-biased forum heavily skewed towards advising first time buyers, kvetching fellow dealers and satisfying unbridled geek hunger does not spend a lot of time on this issue does not mean that there is not an issue. I and other posters have brought it up in the past, witness the other link supplied.

From the NSG (Dutch Association on Noise Hinder) ww.nsg.nl:
"Almost all acoustic musical instruments have been designed to be heard clearly by a large audience. When they are played normally they thus often sound very loud. In a large room filled with people, such as a concert hall, that is functional and pleasurable. However, for small rooms of a normal home most musical instruments actually produce too high of a sound level. Measured in decibels the sound levels are equivalent to living directly on a a busy freeway 80 dB(A) or to a drill bore 3 feet from your head. 110 db(A)"

#1257845 - 08/28/09 10:27 AM Re: Piano too darn loud! [Re: SeilerFan]  
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theJourney  Offline
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Originally Posted by SeilerFan
Well, when the name pianoforte sprang up, instruments weren't really "forte" as in absolute loudness. They were in fact rather soft. The name pianoforte refers to the contrast that the player could make on these instruments as opposed to the limitations of the harpsichord that was eventually replaced by the pianoforte. True, modern instruments with their metal plates and higher tension have more power than those 200 years ago.


Excellent point. The instruments that were being played at home in people's parlours at the time the literature was being written up until about a century ago were much, much quieter.

We are in effect trying to play music at times that was meant to be shared in an intimate space with an intimate sounding cembalo or fortepiano on a space-age marvel that would do just fine that you very much performing in the Concertgebouw.

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