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Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
#2779938 11/10/18 09:23 PM
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I hope this is the correct place for this inquiry.

I have a 5’8” grand in a room that’s about 15x24x8. The room is acoustically very ‘live.’ It’s all hard surfaces, wood floor that’s glued to concrete slab, a wall of French doors, no drapes, not a lot of furniture. This is visually appealing, but not great acoustically. Unfortunately, due to extreme allergy reasons, addition of a rug or drapes isn’t a good idea.

I prefer to play with the lid on the half stick. The full stick is too loud. There doesn’t seem to be a big difference between the half stick and closed.

This room really needs a rug but my allergies make that a bad idea. I have purchased a piece of high density upholstery foam, with a plan to put it up underneath the piano. So it won’t show, but would hopefully help with some of the (significant) echo / loudness problems I have. I thought this might have an effect similar to a rug under the piano.

I am wondering if the foam should be in contact with the soundboard, or just within the underneath rim but not up against the soundboard. I’ll do my best to make it consistent, though I expect this to be a difficult project for me. It’s a M&H, so there’s the tension resonator to contend with.

The design of the room limits my ability to put in acoustic panels on the walls or ceiling. I may be able to put some up on the ceiling but it will be an expensive thing to do, and visually not wonderful due to the 8’ ceiling. So, I’m trying the foam option first.

Any suggestions?


MH1963

'63 Mason & Hamlin Model A

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Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2779952 11/10/18 10:57 PM
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Hi 63' M&H,

Just a few quick things. Suppressing sound right at the source is always more effective than trying to dampen it after it's traveled some distance. A layer of dense foam underneath would seem not a bad idea. I don't know how important air circulation to the soundboard is, some cutouts at the edges might be a mitigation. I would think one certainly doesn't want to actually touch it with anything. Creatively installing some metal rods or bars across the underside of the piano so the foam can just "lay" there might work. Something many people don't realize is they think sound gets "soaked up" by porous material when it is density that blocks it best. i.e. solid wood better than foam, concrete better than wood. A layer of highly dense cellulose say inch or two thick glued to the upside of your foam would much improve it's sound dampening properties I should think.

Do take care of such a nice instrument of course. I'm assuming you know suppressing the underside of the soundboard will change the color of the piano's sound, but you are trying to solve an idiosyncratic problem in a compromised situation. Best of luck on your kinda unique problem.

Karl


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Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2779964 11/11/18 02:02 AM
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It's difficult to see that a brand new rug would contain proteins to which you could be allergic...…

Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2779970 11/11/18 03:04 AM
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I do not recommend cutting off the bottom of the soundboard from air circulation. Differences in humidity from top to bottom can have serious consequences.

I recommend making sure that your piano is well tuned, regulated, and voiced before you decide on a further plan of action.


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Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2780033 11/11/18 10:18 AM
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thanks for the feedback. I will start on this today.

David, you are right that a new rug would be unlikely to have components that would be allergens. The problem is that rugs hold dust, and vacuuming can’t get it all. My breathing has improved a lot since we removed all carpet and drapes. House seems cleaner in general, too. So I’ll do a rug if I have to, it’s just not my first choice.

The foam is green high density foam. If you press on it, it gives, but it isn’t very soft. It’s a 5” thick piece, and I can stand on it and it compresses to about 1” then fully springs back. I got it this thick, so I can carve it up as needed to fit. (Electric knife works nicely for this.)

Since this is an experiment, and I don’t want to do anything permanent, my plan is to use command hooks (they don’t damage surfaces) on the interior of the rim, and use a wire or thin piece of wood between them to support the foam. This should keep it from being visible and it won’t touch the soundboard (thanks, BDB). I doubt that I could fit the foam tight enough to prevent air circulation if I tried, but I will make it a point to leave some gaps for that. The foam doesn’t absorb moisture, I put water on it and it beaded up.

The piano is regularly tuned, and was voiced a couple of years ago, I think some regulation work is in order, though my RPT tweaks it a bit when he tunes it, so it’s improved over time.


MH1963

'63 Mason & Hamlin Model A

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Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2780554 11/13/18 03:24 AM
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I suggest you invest in a room ioniser. Just don't position it next to a light coloured wall as some attracted particles that wizz past the ioniser will darken the wall as I found out!

Ian


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2016 Blüthner Model A
Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2780596 11/13/18 10:07 AM
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Hi MH1963,

Let us know what you find with the foam installation. If the blocks don't work, consider the following:
- repositioning (even just rotating) the piano: there might be "hot spots" in your room that reverberate certain frequencies quite well.
- acoustic panels and sound reflectors: the conflict of visual aesthetics vs aural aesthetics is an interesting one, but perhaps you can find some middle ground here. A strategically-placed bookcase, with a design language in keeping with my living room, cut down unwanted echo very noticeably.
- caster cups and insulators: if you can't have a rug beneath the piano, caster cups with woolen discs (for example) beneath them can help isolate the piano from the room itself.
- voicing the piano to the room: this will change the tone and color of your piano, but it might make certain parts of the compass more well-suited for the room.

Please do heed BDB's advice and ensure air circulation around the soundboard is maintained. Improper circulation will have deleterious effects on the board. Heed also his advice to have the piano in ship-shape before serious room adjustments.

Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2780615 11/13/18 12:04 PM
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If no panels, wall hangings/fabric/ then your only option would be new carpet, Hepa filter vacuum and Hepa air purifier.




Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2780628 11/13/18 12:45 PM
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I would suggest cutting a piano shaped mat from some sort of heavy rubber proper acoustic material and placing that on the floor directly under the piano. If that isn't enough you might play with the piano closed (as it you consider that closed is similar to your preferred half stick position) and place a similar mat on the top - that will allow you to put your cup of coffee on the piano wile playing as well :-)

The better your damping material is and the closer it is positioned to the sound source the better it will work. I presume you aren't going to start gluing it to the inside of your piano or the soundboard itself though ....

Last edited by gwing; 11/13/18 12:47 PM.
Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2780868 11/14/18 11:22 AM
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Results.... I did this a couple of days ago but wanted to play the piano a bit before reporting.

Overall, I think the results are good.

- The piano is less loud. From another room, it just sounds like it’s further away.

- Sitting at the piano, I don’t hear a very big difference in volume. I have it on the half stick.

- I don’t hear a significant difference in tone. I am sure that there probably is some difference, but my hearing may not be finely tuned enough to notice it much.

- I do notice more of the ‘klunk’ noise when the keys bottom out. It’s been there all along but I guess with sound from the strings partly blocked, it’s more noticeable. I discussed this a while back with my RPT and he didn’t think it was any louder than the norm. I think it’s now just a larger proportion of the sound I hear.

- I was expecting the sound to seem muffled or garbled. I don’t notice much of this, just a few keys that I don’t think sound quite right. I have tweaked the foam and think it’s improving but I think I need more time.

- I can walk through the room or the next room in high heels and there is a lot less of the ‘vacant house echo.’ This is a big help. Certain parts of the room still have a big echo but it’s better.

So, I’d say that yes, this was a success. I plan to also work with some of the suggestions above - the bookcase and the casters are the first things. I may reposition it slightly, but I think it’s in the right position, I have adjusted it in the past. I’m due for a tuning and it will be interesting to see what my RPT says.

So, here’s what I did. Photos once I figure out how.

1 Started with a 6’ x 18” x 5” piece high density foam. It was $88 at Jo-Ann’s, using a coupon.
2 I closed the lid and laid a large piece of paper on top, and traced the edge to get the shape right
3 I sketched a line 4” inside the outline (1” for the lid overlap and 3” for the rim)
4 Sketched on the paper the layout of the supporting beams and the tension resonator. This is harder than it sounds and took a while.
5 Made pattern pieces from newspaper. There are five. I added 1” all the way around, so that the compression of the foam would hold it in place
6 Laid the pattern pieces on the foam and cut out. (Cuisinart Electric knife. Worked great)
7 Tried to put the pieces up under the piano and realized that the extra inch was completely unnecessary and pulled it out and cut it off
8 Tried it again and cut off some more. This foam does not slide at all, so getting it into the right place requires some effort.
9 Pulled it out again and carved out areas for the tension resonator
10 Put it back in again to make sure that the bottom level of the foam did not extend below the bottom of the rim or the bottom of the support beams, so that the foam would not be visible. This took quite a few tries.
11 Removed each piece and cut a chunk out to ensure air circulation.

The entire project took about 3 hours. The actual work time was a lot less, but the electric knife got hot and I had to stop quite a few times to let it cool. There was also a fair amount of waste, since I had to trim the pieces several times. I think I could have managed with a 5’ piece.

No support is needed. The foam doesn’t slide and it holds itself up with no problem. I could yank it out in under a minute, zero damage. Putting it back in would take about 10 minutes, since the foam does not slide at all and so getting it into the right position requires some wrestling, since the sides of the support beams are not smooth.

It feels like there are a couple of inches between the top of the foam and the bottom of the soundboard, and there are several openings large enough to put my hand through. It’s completely invisible unless you crouch down and look up at the bottom of the piano.

So far so good. Looking forward to my RPT visit and see what he thinks. Stay tuned. smile

A huge thank you to all of you have responded with suggestions. It’s all been very helpful.


Last edited by MH1963; 11/14/18 11:28 AM.

MH1963

'63 Mason & Hamlin Model A

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Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2780947 11/14/18 02:53 PM
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I wasn’t able to figure out how to include the photos in this thread, but there are photos in the photo gallery.
The thread title is MH1963-Noise Reduction. (#2780942)

The last photo is the end result.


MH1963

'63 Mason & Hamlin Model A

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Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2781229 11/15/18 09:32 AM
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If that last photo shows the foam installed on the underside of the piano, I'd wager that you'd need to provide much more air circulation. I'm interested in knowing what your RPT says.

Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2781337 11/15/18 02:53 PM
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You’re right, I was missing a photo, which I just added. Circled areas are where the air circulation holes are.

I could probably cut out another couple of ‘corner notches’ before it reached the point where the foam can’t hold itself up.

My RPT is due in about 10 days.


MH1963

'63 Mason & Hamlin Model A

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Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2781717 11/16/18 06:00 PM
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The foam works great. I have been recommending this to customers for the past 15 years that live in apartments.
-chris


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Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2795686 12/27/18 08:41 AM
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My RPT came for his regularly scheduled appointment. We discussed the foam installation and he thought it looked fine, no issues. He brought with him an article from the Larry Fine book from a couple of years ago. The article was about different ways to ‘voice a room’ and use of foam under the piano was one of them. So, I feel much better about that now.

In addition to the foam that I added, the tech softened the hammers and it really sounds a lot better. I think I will still need a rug but the foam and the voicing both helped a lot.


MH1963

'63 Mason & Hamlin Model A

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Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2796720 12/30/18 11:03 AM
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You can purchase portable acoustic foam panels from acoustic foam suppliers and try them using floor stands. As for rugs I suggest a nice circular rug to fit under the piano that has piano keys on it. One of the acoustic foam web sites has a form that you can use to sketch out the room layout, ceiling height, windows and you can consult with an acoustic engineer .
A HEPA vacuum and a high quality room air cleaner sized for the piano room are worth the investment.

Re: Reducing the amount of sound / echo - acoustic issues
MH1963 #2797249 12/31/18 10:41 PM
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Thanks, I will look into the foam panels. I have a place where I think I can put a large one. I think it will look like a decorative element if covered with a piece of (thin) fabric. The fabric won’t have any effect on its own, but it will disguise the commercial look of the acoustic panel, while allowing the panel to still absorb the sound.

There are lots of rugs on sale now, so I should not have an issue there. Our vacuum has a HEPA filter, but I hadn’t thought about an air cleaner for the room. I’ll look into that. Used to have one in the bedroom, it conked out but it was surprisingly effective for a small unit, and I should replace it.

All in all, I am pleased with the progress on this.


MH1963

'63 Mason & Hamlin Model A

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