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#17724 - 11/15/07 11:33 AM Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet
justification Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 32
Loc: Utah
Maybe I should ask this on the Technicians forum, but seeing pictures of ctc's and pbaos new pianos got me wondering how the flooring changes the acoustics and size of the piano to get.
I know that Hardwood will reflect more sound, and all concert halls have well designed acoustic panels, hardwood stages and other items designed for the best sound.
But how does the flooring (or other acoustic factors) where the piano sits affect which piano to buy for a home?
Should the lid of a (roughly 6 foot) grand open toward a wall for sound reflection, or to an open foyer to spread the sound through out the whole house?
Estonia 168 Hidden Beauty

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#17725 - 11/15/07 06:24 PM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet
Craigen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/05
Posts: 1815
Loc: West Coast
Sometimes hard surfaces can bring out the worst in piano sound. Start with the bare floor and then try putting an area rug underneath it. See which sounds best. I would face the lid out to the open foyer.
Piano Technician, member Piano Technicians Guild.

#17726 - 11/15/07 11:31 PM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1108
Loc: El Cajon, California
A wood floor is best. You may wind up putting a lot of area rugs down before you get the room to work for you, but at least you'll be able to dial it in the way you like it. A fixed carpet and pad will take too much life out of most pianos in most rooms.

#17727 - 11/15/07 11:51 PM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet
Prospero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 305
My experience has been that wood flooring increases volume, and carpeting decreases volume. Thicker carpets seem to decrease the volume more than thinner ones. Speaking generally, the setup in your room can have an enormous impact on both volume and tone. People have written about this extensively on a variety of posts--you might use the search function to find them. You also might check out the recent posts on decibel levels. At least one poster there experienced extremely high decibel levels with his large grand on hardwood floors, and he will have to take various steps to correct that.

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#17728 - 11/16/07 12:25 PM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet
romanticpianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/07
Posts: 45
Loc: Maryland/Wash DC
There are many variables that would affect the answer to your question, including the kind of piano do you have, the size of the room, the presence of other sound-absorbing items in the room (eg, paintings on the wall, upholstered furniture), and the voicing of the piano (eg, loud and bright or softer and more mellow).

I agree with Craigen not to open the lid into a wall. I had placed my grand with the tail into a corner, and it was extremely loud. Moving it parallel to the wall, opening into the foyer, and placing a rug with sound absorbing padding under the piano has helped reduce the volume of noise.

#17729 - 11/17/07 04:05 AM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet
Jethro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/07
Posts: 236
This is an interesting topic and one I'm challenged with in my recently completed new home.

I live in an elevated home near the Gulf of Mexico. It's cement block construction on cement block stilts. I have an advantech pressed wood subfloor, and on top of that hardiboard and ceramic tile. My walls are drywall and ceilings are 9.4 feet high.

I recently took purchase of a Kawai RX-2 and it is placed along a wall on a room about 13 by 24 (dining room + living room) that leads into a family room that is open to the kitchen.

Lots of echo and reverb, way too much for my taste and at the moment I have yet to hear the beautiful sounds I want to hear from my new piano. I expected this as I already knew the room would need acoustical treatment after the piano purchase. I'm going to see if there is an inexpensive way to actually measure the acoustical characteristics of my room as some home theatre engineers can do. It might take some research but I'm sure the tools are out there. I'll add rugs, acoustical panels, drapery, tapestries, and upholstered furniture as needed from a decorative stand point as well as acoustical treatment.

I designed my home to accept a grand piano and basically converted my living room into my music room. The family room suffices as a living room as well and in typical Florda design it opens to the kitchen and lanai so there's plenty of room to stretch out.

The piano room acoustics is already proving to be a challenge as the sound carries into the family room which actually accounts for much of the reverb. All the hard surfaces and empty floors really accentuate the echo in the room. I'm sure I can dampen it down, but it will take some work as the room is pretty alive.

Here's a question for all you experts out there. Will a small area rug (say 5X7 feet) have the same dampening effect when placed next to rather than underneath the piano? Is it better to keep the area under the piano bare if you have tile and dampen the perimeter of the immediate piano area or the opposite ( rug under the piano and keep the perimeter floor area of the piano alive?)

What other techniques have people out there used to dampen a very live room?
Kawai RX-2

#17730 - 11/17/07 08:58 AM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1108
Loc: El Cajon, California
Originally posted by jethro:
What other techniques have people out there used to dampen a very live room? [/b]
You could start by dumping out a laundry hamper under the piano. Seriously, you can take anything that is sound absorbing and put it directly under the soundboard. I've heard of a tech throwing his winter coat under a particularly strident piano just to get through a tuning. This will dampen much of the sound coming off the bottom of the soundboard.

Area rugs are great because you can put them directly underneath or on one side or several feet away. Wall treatments are a lot more hassle so do as much as you can with floor treatments first. You may be surprised how much the sound will change when you make changes in the room. My piano went dead one Christmas when a big Christmas tree was placed in the room about 15 feet away. It was just too deadening when added to the rugs and furniture.

Go ahead and experiment.

#1281157 - 10/05/09 11:44 AM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet [Re: Steve Ramirez]
ESA1178 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/20/07
Posts: 10
Loc: San Francisco
I currently have a thick carpet where my new piano is going.
The carpet sits on underlay and concrete, since my house is on a slab. I have recently installed Pergo in other rooms and am considering doing the same where the piano would be. Has anyone got a piano on Pergo or any other laminate? And how does that sound with a Baby Grand?


#1281167 - 10/05/09 11:58 AM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet [Re: ESA1178]
Paul in FWB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 96
Loc: Fort Walton Beach, FL
I moved into my first slab house in November with a 6'2" Steinway grand. The living room floor has Pergo on it.

I didn't feel that the room was too "live" for the piano.

I later sold the Steinway because we needed the money and bought a Kawai upright. I have it about 4-and-a-half inches from the wall. Now it does seem a little "live" to me - maybe because it's echoing back directly at me (while the grand dispersed sound more broadly)? The Pergo is not in the best shape and we're going to look at replacing it with genuine hardwood when we can afford it.

If you like the Pergo, I'd say go with it. If you find it is too "live," you can always get an attractive rug to place under the piano.

Proud Owner of a Kawai Rosina (SI-16)

#1281279 - 10/05/09 02:49 PM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet [Re: Paul in FWB]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4683
Loc: San Francisco
justification, grands usually sound better when they project at an angle down the long axis of a room. This also prevents the formation of standing waves - when sound being projected collides with sound being reflected.

There are two ways to approach reducing loudness, voicing the piano and voicing the room. Voicing the piano usually means voicing the hammers. Voicing is it's own skill. Not all techs have it. For voicing the room, the operative words are soft and irregular. So area rugs, wall hangings, cloth furniture, bookcases with books in them. What you're trying to do is to break up and absorb sound. (The new online edition of Piano Buyer - icon on the right side of page - has an article about grands and rooms here.)

Devices such as acoustic foam and bass traps might be thought of as including elements of piano and room voicing. The foam, such as that sold by Edwards String Covers in their Sound Reduction Kits, is fitted under the soundboard and could also be obtained and cut by your tech. Some foam attenuates the treble more than the bass. I don't know if this is true for the foam sold by Edwards. If the bass register needs more attenuation, bass traps will do that. The traps are usually most effective when mounted in corners.

Your situation, including your aesthetic preferences, will determine which options are best for you.

If your piano should initially sound unbearably loud, just get yourself a set of musicians ear plugs, so that you can continue to play while you're deciding which options you want to pursue. Hearos plugs are reviewed here

#2161947 - 10/04/13 11:51 PM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet [Re: justification]
E. Christensen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/13
Posts: 38
For those with carpet, it is possible to install a wood flooring area just under where the piano may go. There are also panels that one can get for the walls and ceilings that can help with the acoustics. In my experience this is a very technical endeavor and the physics of acoustics is very difficult to tweak in the home without a significant budget.

#2161983 - 10/05/13 03:23 AM Re: Acoustics... Hardwood vs Carpet [Re: E. Christensen]
Corvus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/13
Posts: 171
I played almost all the 6-foot and larger grands in the three large piano stores in a large city last month. The pianos in the store with a thin carpet sounded better to me than the those at the other two stores, one of which had a hardwood flor, and the other I think linoleum. They were all large rooms.


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