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Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? #1831140 01/24/12 05:48 PM
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Csillag Offline OP
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Hi,

During my last practice session, I noticed that if two headsets are plugged into my DP, I simply can't get proper dynamics; even if I play fortissimo, all I get is a mezzo-forte volume.

The whole playing seems to sound "compressed"; when I hit a key hard, I hear the appropriate sample - but not on the appropriate volume.

If I unplug one of the headsets, the the problem goes away.

Note that my problem is not that two headsets are more silent that one; the problem is that the dynamics is wrong.
Increasing the volume does not help; that makes everything (including piano) louder, but the dynamics is still not right.

Is this normal?
Do all Kawai DPs behave this way?
Do all DPs behave this way?

I thought that this is supposed to work! How do I solve this?

My guess would be that this is simply a problem of amplification; the circuitry in my DP can not supply enough juice for the loader sounds for two headsets simultaneously. Can this be the case?

This is my exact configuration:

DP: Kawai CN-23
Headset 1: Sennheiser HD-201 (nominal impedance: 24 Ω)
Headset 2: Sennheiser HD-202 (nominal impedance: 32 Ω)

Volume settings: 4th dot from the bottom.

* * *

I am aware the the mentioned headphones are no way professional studio headphones; I intend to replace them later with a pair of AKG-K240 (MKII), but for now, I am stuck with them, because of budget reasons. The thing is, instead of doing this upgrade, I can pay for my weekly piano lessons for half a year.

* * *

What do you think about this?

Thank you for your help:

Kristof Csillag

UPDATE: Do you think that simply using higher impedance headphones (like, for example, the aforementioned AKG K240 MK-II), would automatically fix this issue?

Last edited by Csillag; 01/25/12 04:18 AM.
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Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Csillag] #1831391 01/25/12 04:29 AM
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James, I would like to ask for your opinion on this.
Do you think this a real problem with the product, or am I trying to do something it's not designed for?

(I checked the CN-23 manual, but I could not find any restrictions on the impedance of the connected headphones, and the ones I am using are pretty generic types, nothing extreme...)

Do you think I should talk to my Kawai dealer about this?

Thank you:

Kristof

Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Csillag] #1831402 01/25/12 04:57 AM
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Kristof, according to a colleague in the engineering division, connecting two pairs of headphones simultaneously may reduce the maximum output, depending on the instrument's audio hardware.

I don't believe this is a problem, however if you are concerned, by all means, please consult with your dealer.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Kawai James] #1831407 01/25/12 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Kristof, according to a colleague in the engineering division, connecting two pairs of headphones simultaneously may reduce the maximum output, depending on the instrument's audio hardware.

I don't believe this is a problem,


Um ... I don't understand.

As I have already tried to explain, my problem is not lower volume, but distorted dynamics.
(Exactly as you have said, the "maximum output" is lowered - when I try to play louder, I can't.)

Why do you think that this is not a problem? This severely impedes my musical performance, exactly when I am trying to show it to someone else! (Hence the two headphones.)

Quote
however if you are concerned,


I definitely am.

Not necessarily for my current DP, since I am going to upgrade to a CN-33 very soon, but I am afraid that it will show the same symptoms, too.

Could you please check with the engineering division what headphone driver circuitry is used in the various Kawai DP models? (Ideally, the two headphone connectors should have two independent drivers. Or if there is only one driver, it should have sufficient power two drive to headphones properly.)

But if this is not implemented this way, that at the very least, this limitation should be clearly stated in the manual, and even in the specs. (My guess that specifying minimal required impedance of the headphones could fix this issue, but I have not yet verified this, because I don't have access to higher-impendance headphones.)

Quote
by all means, please consult with your dealer.


I will, but eventually, the complaint will end up somewhere in the same engineering division, so I would like to learn about it first.

Thank you for your help:

Kristof

Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Csillag] #1831410 01/25/12 05:24 AM
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Kristof,

I shall try to raise your concerns with my colleagues tomorrow, however I'm afraid I cannot guarantee that I will be able to answer all of your questions.

As recommended previously, if you have any concerns with your instrument, I encourage you to consult with your local dealer. You may also wish to contact Kawai Europe, who are responsible for handling technical support queries in your region.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Kawai James] #1831446 01/25/12 08:12 AM
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I know this isn't going to help you much, but if was me, I'd try out the CN-33 BEFORE I upgraded to it to make sure it doesn't have the same problem. And then, maybe I'd consider upgrading to a different manufacturer.

Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Csillag] #1831453 01/25/12 08:34 AM
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I just tried this on my CN33, using a AKG 240 MkII and a Shure SRH440.

The volume was reduced by about 1/4 I would say. I did not detect a change in tone, but because the volume had reduced, the dynamic level at that existing volume setting was changed. I turned the volume up and it was as before I plugged in the second headphone. Not sure if this is the same thing or not.

Is the 'problem' for you the same in both headphones? Or jacks?

Last edited by spanishbuddha; 01/25/12 08:53 AM.
Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: bman2] #1831456 01/25/12 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by bman2
I know this isn't going to help you much, but if was me, I'd try out the CN-33 BEFORE I upgraded to it to make sure it doesn't have the same problem.


First I would like to gather more information. Then, I should probably try it with higher impedance headphones.

(It would be a perfectly valid technical constraint if the DP could only supply a limited amount of power, and thus only drive two headphones if they have at least a given level of impedance ... IF this was specified in the docs.)

Quote
And then, maybe I'd consider upgrading to a different manufacturer.


While I consider this a real problem, it would require a far more serious reason for me to downgrade to another manufacturer wink

Kristof

Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: spanishbuddha] #1831462 01/25/12 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
I just tried this on my CN33, using a AKG 240 MkII and a Shure SRH440.


The AKG is 55 Ohms, and the Shure one is 44 Ohms - so both are higher impedance than mine. Thus, they suck lesser juice, so they are less likely to have a problem.

Quote
The volume was reduced by about 1/4 I would say. I did not detect a change in tone but because the volume had reduced the dynamic level at that existing volume setting was changed. I turned the volume up and it was as before I plugged in the second headphone. Not sure if this is the same thing or not.


Does not seem to be.

For me, after plugging in the second headphone, and raising the volume (so that piano sounds the same before), when I start to play forte, I can't get near the original forte volume.

Quote
Is the 'problem' for you the say in both headphones? Or jacks?


Yes. Any single headphone in any single jack provides sufficient dynamics.
When both headphones are connected (in whatever order), I can no longer get proper forte volumes.

Kristof

Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Kawai James] #1831484 01/25/12 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
As recommended previously, if you have any concerns with your instrument, I encourage you to consult with your local dealer. You may also wish to contact Kawai Europe, who are responsible for handling technical support queries in your region.


OK, I have contacted Kawai Europe; I will let you know what they answer.

Best wishes:

Kristof

Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Csillag] #1831500 01/25/12 10:11 AM
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I do think that HD201/HD202 combination is more likely than most to make your DP run out of power to the headphone jack. Not only are they fairly low impedence, the HD201 is also pretty darned low in sensitivity (not sure about '202) which means you need higher volume setting for a given loudness than with some other low-impedence cans. You're probably hitting the Kawai with something close to a worst-case scenario.


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Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Brent H] #1831520 01/25/12 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Brent H
I do think that HD201/HD202 combination is more likely than most to make your DP run out of power to the headphone jack. Not only are they fairly low impedance, the HD201 is also pretty darned low in sensitivity (not sure about '202) which means you need higher volume setting for a given loudness


When using only one headphone, I usually use the "4th dot" volume setting. I don't know, is that high? (It's below the middle of the scale.)

Quote
than with some other low-impedance cans. You're probably hitting the Kawai with something close to a worst-case scenario.


Well, that might be true, but when I went to school, they taught me that when designing a circuitry, one should definitely scale it for the worst-case scenario (and then some)... I guess that still holds.

Anyway, I have no problem with accepting technical limits (like, "don't use headphones with impertinences lower that 40 Ohms"), but in this case, these limits should be declared in the specs (or at least in the user manual), so that I can calculate with them, when I design my sound system.

* * *

Anyway, I am waiting for Kawai Europe's answer on this. (I let you know when it arrives.)

Best wishes:

Kristof

Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Csillag] #1831530 01/25/12 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Csillag
Originally Posted by Kawai James
As recommended previously, if you have any concerns with your instrument, I encourage you to consult with your local dealer. You may also wish to contact Kawai Europe, who are responsible for handling technical support queries in your region.


OK, I have contacted Kawai Europe; I will let you know what they answer.

Best wishes:

Kristof


... and they have answered. (Wow, that was fast!)

Basically, they could reproduce my problem with two Audio-Technica TH-380 AV Studio headphones (24 Ohm), on both the CN-23 and the CN-33. They, too, have felt that with this configuration, the brilliance of the fortissimo is just not there, whatever they do with the volume knob.

(They also tried to do the same with two 55 Ohm AGK headphones, and they had no problem that way.)

So, their suggestion was to use a pair of high-impedance headphones instead.

* * *

From a technical point of view, this is sound advice, but I still feel that it's not nice to sell me stuff with hidden limitations, and later (when those limitations surface) telling me to replace my other equipment...

(Although I would be perfectly satisfied if they sent me a pair of replacement headphones, attached to the email smile

James, what do you think about this?

Best wishes:

Kristof

Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Csillag] #1831657 01/25/12 03:15 PM
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I understand your frustration Kristof. But look at it from the bright side and be happy they gave you an answer this quick. That in itself is very good I think!


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Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Csillag] #1831723 01/25/12 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Csillag
James, what do you think about this?


I also suggest that you use a pair of high-impedance headphones.

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Kawai CN-23 and two headphones - not enough juice? [Re: Csillag] #1831830 01/25/12 07:11 PM
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They're apparently using a single driver for both jacks and it's not beefy enough to handle two low impedance phones at the same time. Kind of hard to control for that with all of the various phones out there, though perhaps they will use yours as a test case from now on.


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