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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2097931
06/07/13 02:42 PM
06/07/13 02:42 PM
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I used to use monitors and a multi-band EQ.

I would say the EQ cannot always overcome the tone bias and deficiencies on 'speakers'.

The advice given about testing speakers at home with the target keyboard is sound. Testing in a store against some other source is pointless.

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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: ColinH] #2097940
06/07/13 02:59 PM
06/07/13 02:59 PM
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Many thanks for all the replies.
Apparently it is not an easy question to answer. Many variables have to be considered.
The ideal way to go would be through trial and error but realistically I cannot compare speakers, amps, monitors, mixers, EQs...

So far reading your comments and other forums the option of the HS50M (or the new HS5 :)) seems to be safer.
I prefer to hear any lacks of my piano samples than hear a coloured sound without detail which can hide mistakes in my playing. And I can always connect some EQ to tweak the sound.

What I see is that with monitors you can go from flat to coloured. But with speakers you cannot go from coloured to flat.

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: spanishbuddha] #2097943
06/07/13 03:03 PM
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Im new to using studio monitors, but IMO I still think an EQ is a good tool (on-board, external, or both) when using monitors. You will most likely be disappointed if you go straight from the keyboard to the speakers. Most decent monitors have some manual frequency filters built in that you can adjust which is good. However, you might need to adjust more depending on your taste, size of room, volume, etc. In this case, an EQ can be helpful when a DP does not have an EQ function such as CP33.


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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2097953
06/07/13 03:19 PM
06/07/13 03:19 PM
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I have to disagree with this:
Quote
I have thought on putting them under the keyboard at mid height and pointing to the wall trying to emulate an upright piano.
Aiming speakers at the wall will not emulate a piano. Doing that will just muffle the tone.

Sure, an acoustic piano will project some of its sound away from you (ex: toward the wall). But it also projects sound toward you ... and some in all other directions.

But you can't ask a speaker to do that. If you aim it at the wall, you'll get little or no direct sound, only wall-reflected sound.

I'd recommend placing the speakers at the same height as your ears, aimed directly at you.

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Charles Cohen] #2097995
06/07/13 05:01 PM
06/07/13 05:01 PM
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Macy Offline
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
How can this be???
Originally Posted by Macy
All "monitors" sound exactly alike. It doesn't matter how big they are, or what they cost, or what company makes them. They all produce exactly the same sound. That is why they get to be called "monitors" by their manufacturers.
If they all sounded exactly alike, then everyone would buy the cheapest one.
Why buy a more expensive model that sounds exactly the same?? smile


PMFJI --

Macy was being sarcastic, there.

His _real_ point was in his second paragraph -- "If you don't believe this . . . " -- which has a good suggestion for what to do, and for how the world _really_ is.

. Charles

PS -- apologies to Macy, if I got this wrong.

Of course that is right.

There really are reasons that certain speakers may be better suited for use in a studio (and logically called monitors), and certainly stage speakers should be far more rugged and forgiving of overloads (just one example) than home speakers. But thinking that a marketing label like "monitor" has an intrinsic guarantee of a particular frequency response or dispersion or any other particular sound quality is a fantasy.


Macy

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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2098881
06/08/13 09:27 PM
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This topic comes up quite a bit. I keep hearing of monitors being purchased. But has anyone recently purchased passive speakers for their DP? Unless I am missing something, some postings, there is no talk of any specific passive speakers. I know some have older speakers that are being recycled. Is there anything on the market now that seems to being working for anyone?


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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2099111
06/09/13 03:27 AM
06/09/13 03:27 AM
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It sounds to me like we're using the word "monitor" to mean "mixing monitor", which is a small powered speaker designed to go on top of a recording console or otherwise be listened to nearfield. This type of monitor was designed for a specific function that doesn't necessarily translate over to amplifying digital piano. That function is, to do an excellent job of revealing what's in the mix, so that the engineer can set the relative levels of all the voices and instruments correctly.

A mixing monitor does not need to be flat; it can have a midrange emphasis, and that may even help the recording engineer. The Yahama NS10M is FAR from flat, but it's a very useful tool. Nor does a mixing monitor need extended low end; the low end EQ can be fixed in the mastering process, but a mixing monitor does need to get the decay of the bass instruments right, so that the engineer can easily differentiate between the bass and the kick. Sealed boxes are generally better than vented boxes in this department, but sealed boxes don't go as deep as comparable vented boxes, so they may sound thin in comparison. That's okay for a tool in the recording engineer's toolkit, but it may not be the best bang-for-the-buck choice for amplifying digital piano.

Because a mixing monitor is designed for nearfield use, the designer places a very low priority on its off-axis response. But in most rooms, most of the sound that reaches most listeners originates in the speakers' off-axis response. The big mastering, or main, monitors in the studio are designed to get not only the on-axis sound right, but also the off-axis sound, so that they fully reveal what the mix really sounds like, which facilitates final tweaking. The mastering process is too late to fix the relative of levels of bass and kick, but it is not too late to EQ the recording so that it sounds balanced. One of my day jobs is designing custom main monitors, and one of the studios honored in Mix Magazine's "Class of 2013" feature in the current (June 2013) issue uses a pair of mains that I designed.

Now some "monitor" speakers are aimed more at the home studio market, and are voiced more like minature mains, and those are more likely to work well for amplifying digital piano. But still the emphasis is on the on-axis sound, and the off-axis sound is usually compromised as a result (virtually everything in speaker design involves tradeoffs).

In order to do a decent job of replicating the "feel" of a real piano, in my opinion getting the reveberant field right is critical. So is the dynamic contrast. So is the rich harmonic interplay and inner detail. I also design home audio speakers, and piano is easy to reproduce, but really really hard to reproduce well.

Sorry I can't finish this ramble with a list of speakers to consider. But I mainly just wanted to point out that the job of a "monitor" may well be very different from what you're looking for.

Specs won't tell you how it sounds, but your ears will. Here is what I suggest: Audition with a high quality recording that you are very familiar with. When you've found a speaker or two that sounds good, turn the volume up a bit louder than normal, and walk out the room. Listen through the open doorway with no line-of-sight to the speakers. From out there, all you can possibly hear is the reverberant field. Does it still sound natural? If so, that means the speaker is getting the reverberant field right, and imo that bodes extremely well for amplifying digital piano.


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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2099135
06/09/13 05:38 AM
06/09/13 05:38 AM
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Best post so far on this issue. Thanks a lot for the information.


Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2099169
06/09/13 08:20 AM
06/09/13 08:20 AM
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I"d like to add to Duke LeJeune. But from a completely different point of view.

Basically, what it all comes down to is cost. I can guarantee you that you spend enough money. You can have audio reproduction that is impressive. It has nothing to do with monitors versus passive. Yes, passive studio monitors do exist. They aren't popular though. Basically, cheaper is cheaper for a reason.
You can also spend alot of money and still have junk. You need to be smart. You need to listen for yourself. You need the right combination from beginning to end.

I use studio monitors because I live in an apartment. I want decent audio. I don't want my neighbors complaining. I want the audio right on top of me. Not next door.

One secret is that power is not for playing loud. It is for playing soft, accurately. You need headroom on the amp. Otherwise soft leaves wimpy bass and no dynamic range.


Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2099189
06/09/13 09:08 AM
06/09/13 09:08 AM
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To try to further clarify some of the loose terminology on this thread, there is no inherent distinction between "monitors" and "passive speakers."

The opposite of a "passive" speaker is an "active" (self-powered) speaker.

Monitors are available in both passive and active variations. (As are PA speakers.)

To add to the confusion, in the PA world, the word "monitor" refers to a speaker that allows the player/singer to hear himself (as opposed to the speakers that are directed toward the audience), but that's not what we're talking about here.

In the recording world, the word "monitor" most often refers to something designed to reproduce sound as accurately as possible. (Which is not to say that all speakers with this name achieve that objective equally well.) The term is often used to distinguish them from "hifi" speakers which are often not designed for accuracy, but instead designed to make things "sound good." So if your ears happen to enjoy music that is very bright, or more subdued, or with thumping bass, or whatever, you can probably find a brand/model of hifi speaker that, to your ears, seems to make everything sound "better," and you'll enjoy listening to music more through that speaker than through something that provides something more faithful to what is actually on the recording. At least that's what the manufacturers of these speakers are counting on, so you'll pick their brand in the showroom. The goal of many of these speakers is not so much accuracy, but rather to impress. No speakers are completely neutral, but for monitors, unlike many hifi speakers, at least that is more often the goal.

In the recording world, there are two kinds of monitors... large studio monitors that have full frequency response and generally play quite loud, and "near field" monitors that are smaller and are designed to be listened to in close proximity and away from walls... they will not have the bass response or maximum level capabilities of the full size monitors, but the goal is generally for them to be as accurate as possible within their capabilities, and the idea is also that they should sound about the same regardless of the listening environment, since room reflections are not the issue they are with large speakers. (Of course, a proper studio is acoustically treated to try to minimize room-specific issues as well, even when using large speakers, but that's a whole other topic.) Engineers also have the benefit of knowing they can bring these nearfield monitors from studio to studio (or specify that the same model be available), and not have to worry so much about the sonic characteristics of a particular studio's playback idiosyncrasies, they are always working with a "known quantity."

As for the question about what to get for a piano, I'll leave specific recommendations to others. But just a couple of points to consider... There's no inherent reason for either active or passive speakers to be better than the other, although there is arguably a benefit to knowing that an amp is particularly well matched to a speakers' design, as it presumably is in an active system. Also, a speaker specifically designed to be a professional nearfield monitor will sound its best away from walls, and typical home placement often precludes that, so you may not get all the benefit that you're paying for.

Also, in general, at a given price, there tends to be a trade-off between speakers with a "bigger" sound (louder, more bass) and models with a more accurate sound (i.e. flatter and perhaps more dynamically linear frequency response, less distortion). So budget comes into play here as well. A relatively low-priced monitor, while ostensibly more accurate, may not be so satisfying for piano if it lacks the low end and the volume that you desire, piano being such a demanding instrument to reproduce in frequency response and dynamic range.

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2099260
06/09/13 11:46 AM
06/09/13 11:46 AM
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Anotherschott, very good explanation.
Passive monitor or speaker+ amplifier or ative monitor(speaker) can be use for DP. It´s important the frequency range ,right? Which is the good frequency range for DP?

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Duke LeJeune] #2099383
06/09/13 03:57 PM
06/09/13 03:57 PM
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Hallo, Duke,

I am very interested to hear Your opinion about this:

These speakers were suggested earlier by Dewster to build home made boxes with them?

Would they be able to bring the quality of built in speaker systems in most current DPs to the next level?

Speaker kits

Thx.

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: anotherscott] #2099396
06/09/13 04:13 PM
06/09/13 04:13 PM
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Hi, Scott, Your last advice contradicts somewhat the opinion of others: You are saying that smaller near-field monitors (with diameters around 5") were not very appropriate because of the lacking bass. (I complement my Genelec 8020 sometimes with a 12" sub as well, which seems a little bit of an overkill).

Others were saying that smaller near fields would offer the best choice for the particular placement which is indeed very close to listener's ears.

I was speculating, that the pronounced punctual sound source with directional monitors could make the narrowing effects with sampled pianos' sound image worse. There could the use of multiple boxes or at least of lesser directional boxes be possibly helpful.

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Temperament] #2099418
06/09/13 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Temperament
Hi, Scott, Your last advice contradicts somewhat the opinion of others: You are saying that smaller near-field monitors (with diameters around 5") were not very appropriate because of the lacking bass.

I didn't talk about different sizes of near-field monitors, I talked about them as an entire product category. And I didn't say they were inappropriate. But yes, there's a trade-off in that, all else being equal, the smaller you go, the less bass you have.

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2099524
06/09/13 05:35 PM
06/09/13 05:35 PM
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Here is a picture of my setup. I think it sounds pretty good with software DP like Ivory, especially when the volume is cranked up to grand piano levels. The speakers were $500 for the pair. Giant speakers tend to have good low-end. I have an EQ in order to turn down the bass frequencies a bit. I have a subwoofer but I don't use it. The floorstanding speakers are propped up on a block of concrete to raise the tweeters to around ear level. edit: this is because I'm sitting so close to the speakers. I think in normal home theater applications this wouldn't be absolutely necessary.

http://i.imgur.com/ZbAWonn.jpg

And the benefit is having a really nice sounding home theater system in my bedroom, since my computer can play into these speakers.

Last edited by Allan W.; 06/09/13 08:07 PM.

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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2099666
06/09/13 06:43 PM
06/09/13 06:43 PM
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Looks fun. Make and model of the speakers and receiver?

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Alfort] #2099731
06/09/13 07:43 PM
06/09/13 07:43 PM
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I don't think those speakers are big enough. ... smile


Ron
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Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Temperament] #2100139
06/10/13 07:55 AM
06/10/13 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Temperament
Hallo, Duke,

I am very interested to hear your opinion about this:

These speakers were suggested earlier by Dewster to build home made boxes with them?

Would they be able to bring the quality of built in speaker systems in most current DPs to the next level?

Speaker kits

Thx.

Hello Temperament,

I don't know enough about what sort of speakers are already in current DPs to say for sure the "fullrange" (more precisely "wideband") drivers in the post you linked to would be a significant improvement. I can tell you that the little bamboo-cone Tang Band would be my choice in that size category (4" diameter). If you decide to go that route, Tang Band makes a very similar speaker in a round frame whose specs look marginally better to me, same price:

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=264-914

The marginal superiority of the round-frame version stems from its slightly more powerful magnet, at least according to the spec sheet.

Are you considering building your own pair of external speakers, based on the little bamboo-cone Tang Band? Would you consider using two such drivers per speaker box, if I could convince you that it would be a worthwhile improvement? There is an unorthodox speaker design that I think would work better for DP than most conventional approaches, but you'd have to go with two drivers per box.

Last edited by Duke LeJeune; 06/10/13 07:57 AM.

Owner & designer, AudioKinesis
Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Duke LeJeune] #2100457
06/10/13 04:36 PM
06/10/13 04:36 PM
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Thank You very much, Duke,

I take Your kindly advice. It is actually my 17 ys old son, whom I will to motivate to do this for me (and for himself) during his summer holidays from school. He has showed some interest already and has technical skills - much more then I, being interested more in theoretical aspects).

What You are suggesting (4 speakers), seems intuitively very plausible: an instrument body has much bigger dimensions and to emulate this by a sound sources which are pinning down a rectangle surface by its 4 corners is qualititively more than the line between a pair of speakers.

Will be a most exciting adventure for us anyway, I expect... How important the amp and the proper choice/preparation of the boxes would be, or this design potential is more secondary to the type and number of speakers?

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano [Re: Temperament] #2100661
06/10/13 10:30 PM
06/10/13 10:30 PM
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Princeton, Texas
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Duke LeJeune Offline
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Originally Posted by Temperament
It is actually my 17 ys old son, whom I will to motivate to do this for me (and for himself) during his summer holidays from school. He has showed some interest already and has technical skills - much more then I, being interested more in theoretical aspects).

I see that you are in Hungary - and your English is at least as good as mine! Hopefully the project will appeal to your son's technical side and your theoretical side.

Originally Posted by Temperament
What You are suggesting (4 speakers), seems intuitively very plausible: an instrument body has much bigger dimensions and to emulate this by a sound sources which are pinning down a rectangle surface by its 4 corners is qualititively more than the line between a pair of speakers.

What I suggest is two speaker enclosures (left and right channel), each with two Tang Band 4" bamboo-cone fullrange drivers. Where it gets interesting is, the configuration: Bipolar. One driver facing forward, one facing backwards. When done right, this configuration interacts with the room more like an actual acoustic instrument does, and also works with the ear/brain system better than conventional monopole speakers. I say "when done right", because how to do it right isn't obvious, and took me a while to figure out. I will go into the theory at another time.

Originally Posted by Temperament
How important the amp and the proper choice/preparation of the boxes would be, or this design potential is more secondary to the type and number of speakers?

There is more variation between speakers, as far as sound quality goes, than there is between amplifiers. So in that sense, speakers are more important than amps, in my opinion. You will have the choice of wiring the speakers to present a 4-ohm load, or a 16-ohm load. Most modern solid state amps are happy with a 4-ohm load, but some tube amps are quite happy with a 16-ohm load.

I will come up with a recommended enclosure design (which you can of course modify if you wish). If you think the members of this forum might be interested in your project, we could do it as a separate thread, and that would make the enclosure design available to anyone who wants to try it.

Now just so you know, any speaker system that only uses two 4" full-range drivers will have its inherent limitations. It won't go very loud, or very deep. It will do some things better than a comparable-cost 2-way (woofer + tweeter) speaker, and some things not as well. But if I was going to manufacture a small speaker based on a 4" fullrange driver, what I'm going to design for you is how I would do it. Fullrange drivers are great for DIY because, no crossover required. And crossover design is the hard part of speaker design.

Last edited by Duke LeJeune; 06/11/13 03:06 AM.

Owner & designer, AudioKinesis
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