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#1999811 - 12/15/12 12:42 PM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: Taylorius]
bennevis Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 8993
Originally Posted By: Taylorius
I went to Harrods a couple of days ago, to try out their Roland LX15 and HP-507. I have looked at them already, but I wanted to check that the muffled sound I experienced in the first store, wasn't random bad luck.I can confirm that these were also muffled, so its safe to say this is how they were designed.

However, I did notice something else interesting. When I play a digital piano in a shop, I tend not to turn it's volume up above half way. However, this time I did turn the volume up to full, and hey presto, the treble and midrange were all there, and it did sound really nice (albeit a bit too loud for comfort, in a shop). However, with the volume back down to half way, it was extreme mufflage again.

This seems odd, I haven't noticed the tone changing so significantly with volume on other makes of piano. However, on the LX15 and HP507, with the volume up to the top, I thought the sound was miles, miles better, and in fact would make them a real temptation, if the sound wasn't so muffled at lower volumes.

Anyone have any ideas why this might be the case? I wonder if anything could be done about it?



If you are going to compare DP sounds, you need to hear them at realistic volumes, i.e. at volume levels equivalent to that of (at least) a small acoustic upright.

Many amplifiers have a button (usually called 'loudness') that boosts treble and bass levels when listening at low volumes because the human ear loses its sensitivity of low and high frequencies much more than at medium (i.e. voice) frequencies. When something sounds 'muffled', what you're not hearing is the high frequencies or the overtones in piano sounds, rather than the mid-range.
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."


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#1999815 - 12/15/12 12:56 PM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: CarloPiano]
MacMacMac Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 5045
Loc: North Carolina
Most any piano can be "fixed" with an external sound system. And they really do need such fixing.

You can add an outboard equalizer and amplifier feeding proper speakers that will outperform the piano's sound character. Even without resorting to computer-based piano libraries you can get better sound, and it need not cost much.

#1999821 - 12/15/12 01:12 PM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: bennevis]
Taylorius Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 44
Hi bennevis

I think you're exactly right - sort of what I was getting at too, actually. The response (or lack thereof) of the ear to quieter frequencies, and the compensation (or lack thereof) by the eq of the amplification system.

This is not an excuse for it however. Roland should have compensated for this bias - other digital piano makers don't seem to suffer from it (at least not nearly so badly). Kawais sound consistent across volumes, as do Yamahas. Even my humble (and ageing) Technics sounds alright.

If it's just a matter of adjusting the eq for different volume levels, it's even more of a shame. I've come to like the LX15, aside from this problem.

Does anyone know if such modern pianos can have their firmware "patched" to allow such modifications? I've never heard of a culture of such hackers, but it would be rather cool.



#1999832 - 12/15/12 01:30 PM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: CarloPiano]
EssBrace Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 3034
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
I don't understand why anyone would want to play at volumes significantly lower than a real acoustic piano. A bit lower yes, but not too much. Without enough volume pianos are just nothing - they need to "move the air" to move the player (and listeners). There's nothing more boring than pianos or indeed any music that's not loud enough. Quiet pianos (ie, much quieter than a real piano) just don't hit the spot at all for me.

Digital pianos turned down just sound like flat little transistor radios. Turn the wick up I say!

And before people rant on about "that's why I buy digital - to control volume" I say nonsense. That's what headphones are for: To listen privately (but at a volume in the same ballpark as a real piano of course!).

Just my thoughts.

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#1999836 - 12/15/12 01:37 PM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: EssBrace]
Taylorius Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 44
Hi Essbrace

I agree with you on volume up to a point. However, some digital pianos, when turned up full, are actually louder than say, an acoustic upright. So there seems to be quite a lot of ground between turning the volume up to 11, and transistor radio territory.

For example I sometimes sing and play - so headphones aren't going to work for me. I like to set the volume to be similar to an acoustic, which on my piano, is a little over halfway.

The volume knob is there for good and useful reasons. However it is a volume knob, not a muffling knob. :-)



#1999846 - 12/15/12 01:59 PM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: EssBrace]
CarloPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 182
@EssBrace, I generally agree with you. My HP-305 was impressive at the store at almost full volume.

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
I don't understand why anyone would want to play at volumes significantly lower than a real acoustic piano. A bit lower yes, but not too much. Without enough volume pianos are just nothing - they need to "move the air" to move the player (and listeners)

I don't want to... but the problem is the neighbours so I usually play at 1/4 of the volume. Anyway I personally think that a full volume DP is less annoying than an acoustic upright due to the lack of vibrations transmitted trough the flour and the walls (I think a new thread should be opened about this).

Regarding headphones, I think one must be careful about long term side effects on health of a continued loud headphones sound. I use 1/3 of the volume while playing on headphones.

Edited by CarloPiano (12/15/12 02:49 PM)
Edit Reason: forgot @Essbrace

#1999934 - 12/15/12 05:12 PM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: CarloPiano]
Wuffski Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 550
Loc: Europe (Northern Spain)
While the sound of the new HP-500 serie is good at high volumes or using headphones, it could be optimized for low volumes by pressing simply 1 button. Test for yourself which brilliance level you want for low volumes on the speaker system, save it with the "backup" function, and then if needed just tip the Brilliance button to have it activated. That´s really so easy, that you should do this even when visiting a shop for test playing - at least the dealer should be able to make this adjustment for you.

Anybody besides me who simply rises the "Brilliance" for happily listening to the HP-500 speaker system even at low volumes?

#1999962 - 12/15/12 06:12 PM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: CarloPiano]
PianoWorksATL Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Marco's suggestion is excellent and easy to do. Hopefully, that will work for you, too. Tweaking the touch response setting may also have a positive effect for you.

I find that quite a few people like a softer, less percussive sound. One person's muffled is another's warm & round, while another person's clear & bright is instead thought of as harsh or sharp. There is no one right way to please.
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#2000109 - 12/16/12 03:30 AM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: PianoWorksATL]
CarloPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 182
I already tried that time ago but in my very humble opinion it does not solve the problem. Tweaking brilliance mitigates a bit the muffleness but it doesn't disappear completely and it brings a few new problems of pianistic connection between touch and sound, at least with brightness at high levels (for instance, fortes and fortissimos may sound harsh while on an acoustic piano or on the DP with brilliance between 0 and 2 doesn't. If you use your DP as a working/practicing tool, this can influence negatively your playing fooling your sense of dynamics). I also don't think it's a good idea changing the touch response settings as the response may become unnatural.

I prefer to use Grand Piano 3 (piano 6 in the HP 30x series) which is brighter by default. Anyway I'm just now giving this a second try. I'll tell you the results of my new experiments. Thanks for the suggestions!

Edited by CarloPiano (12/16/12 03:59 AM)
Edit Reason: Elaborating

#2000284 - 12/16/12 02:24 PM Re: Roland muffled sound [Re: Wuffski]
ap55 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 100
Loc: Germany, Bremen
Marco, as you know there are in fact two problems with the sound of the piano. At lower sound level it sounds not very well either with headphones or with the build in speakers. This is what you addresses in the recommendation.

With the build in speakers the sound is in addition effected (muffled), and this is independent on the loudness. It is caused by resonances of the cavity behind the piano. Due to the fact that the speakers point downwards you have specific wavelength that are attenuated, others not. The cheap wooden soundboard below the keypad (I talk about this 50 cent plate of about 80x160cm) exhibits their own resonance that couple to the air excited in the cavity behind the piano. The resulting near field is simply spoken "incredible" for the players ear. For the far field it seams to be acceptable.

Look at other brands, either the speakers point in addition to the player or you have nice optimized soundboard like on the CA95.

Nevertheless, it is a good piano for the price, but Roland could do better. Competitors can: Casio PX850. I bought HP505 for the price and for the performance on nominal loudness with headphones. So for me it is o.k.

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