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Digital piano volume
#2833158 03/30/19 07:43 PM
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With acoustic pianos you have no volume control, you just have to learn the control to get from ppp to fff. Playing ppp without not making noise at all can be hard.

But with a digital piano you have a volume control, you can either cheat and make it easy for yourself by turning the volume down, or you can make it hard by turning the volume up.

My guess is that turning the volume down too far can be bad for learning regulation. But how do you determine what is appropriate. I suppose those who have acoustic pianos have a reference point they can use as to judge what is sensible. But without one how do you judge?

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Re: Digital piano volume
KevinM #2833161 03/30/19 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinM

My guess is that turning the volume down too far can be bad for learning regulation. But how do you determine what is appropriate. I suppose those who have acoustic pianos have a reference point they can use as to judge what is sensible. But without one how do you judge?

An acoustic is actually a lot louder than people who've never played one realise.

Why not visit a piano showroom and play a few pianos there to get some idea of how loud real ones sound? That was what I did to set up the volume on my digital. I only changed the setting when I changed headphones. (My digital has no speakers).


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Re: Digital piano volume
KevinM #2833163 03/30/19 08:07 PM
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I presume that when you write "... those who have acoustic pianos have a reference point they can use as to judge what is sensible..." you mean that a player of an acoustic piano would know how to set the volume on a digital. Is that what you mean?

Keep in mind that most (classical) music for piano often has a relatively wide dynamic range, so the volume would have to be set at an "average" to accommodate the pianissimos and the fortes at both ends of the volume spectrum. If one were playing a piece with limited dynamic range, my assumption is that one would adjust the volume to what sounds "natural" within the space where the digital is being played.

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Re: Digital piano volume
KevinM #2833165 03/30/19 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
With acoustic pianos you have no volume control, you just have to learn the control to get from ppp to fff. Playing ppp without not making noise at all can be hard.

But with a digital piano you have a volume control, you can either cheat and make it easy for yourself by turning the volume down, or you can make it hard by turning the volume up.

My guess is that turning the volume down too far can be bad for learning regulation. But how do you determine what is appropriate. I suppose those who have acoustic pianos have a reference point they can use as to judge what is sensible. But without one how do you judge?

Something I've been trying recently to learn better control at pp I saw in this old post by JoeT. For me, it has really helped.


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Re: Digital piano volume
BruceD #2833167 03/30/19 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
I presume that when you write "... those who have acoustic pianos have a reference point they can use as to judge what is sensible..." you mean that a player of an acoustic piano would know how to set the volume on a digital. Is that what you mean?


That someone with both and even better in the same room can play on both their acoustic and digital piano and compare loudness for the same force used to play the key. They can change the volume of the digital to match the acoustic at least to some degree.

Re: Digital piano volume
KevinM #2833168 03/30/19 08:33 PM
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I started this discussion because I needed to turn the volume down when playing without headphones. Suddenly pp was a lot easier and I could still get a properly loud sound out of the piano when needed. I have complaints to prove it.

But I quickly guessed this would not be a good answer to my lack of regulation. I need the control in my fingers.

Re: Digital piano volume
KevinM #2833179 03/30/19 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
I started this discussion because I needed to turn the volume down when playing without headphones. Suddenly pp was a lot easier and I could still get a properly loud sound out of the piano when needed. I have complaints to prove it.

But I quickly guessed this would not be a good answer to my lack of regulation. I need the control in my fingers.

That's right.

Lots of students who only ever play digitals never develop finger control because they keep fiddling with the volume control to suit themselves. That's like a football player moving the goalposts to suit the distance he's trying to score from.

Use headphones if you need to avoid disturbing others, but keep the volume at the same realistic level, whether you're using the speakers or headphones.


"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."
Re: Digital piano volume
Tyrone Slothrop #2833259 03/31/19 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Something I've been trying recently to learn better control at pp I saw in this old post by JoeT. For me, it has really helped.


That was the same advice that my teacher gave me and since then I set the volume on my DP near the maximum and never changed it anymore. I find more difficult to play consistently piano than forte (maybe just a beginner's problem) and in this way I am forced to develop a very light touch.

Re: Digital piano volume
bennevis #2833262 03/31/19 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Use headphones if you need to avoid disturbing others, but keep the volume at the same realistic level, whether you're using the speakers or headphones.

One should note that this does not mean that when switching from speakers to headphones, you are not allowed to adjust the volume control. Depending on which headphones you use, for a certain volume through speakers, if you switch to headphones with the same volume knob/slider setting, the volume in the headphones may be higher or lower (even when switching between different headphones models the volume you hear differs).
So you should have one volume setting for playing with speakers, and another setting for playing with headphones, both set so that you perceive them as equally loud. And then you just adjust between these two settings when switching from speakers to headphones and back.
If you are lucky, those two different settings happen to be the same for your DP+headphones combo, so you don't have to adjust anything when switching, but that is rarely the case. Also some DPs actually remember two different volume settings, one for speakers and one for headphones. With such a model you only need to make the adjustment once.

Re: Digital piano volume
Darth #2833265 03/31/19 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Something I've been trying recently to learn better control at pp I saw in this old post by JoeT. For me, it has really helped.


That was the same advice that my teacher gave me and since then I set the volume on my DP near the maximum and never changed it anymore. I find more difficult to play consistently piano than forte (maybe just a beginner's problem) and in this way I am forced to develop a very light touch.

For refernece, I'm quoting fromJoeT's advice from that other thread that Tyrone linked to:
Originally Posted by JoeT
Try using headphones and set the piano volume to the maximum. If it feels too loud, go easier on the keys.

With all due respect, but that is bad advice that is dangerous, and possibly even harmful.

Now, I agree that setting the piano volume too low is a typical mistake and should be avoided. I too recommend to set the volume to something comparable to an acoustic piano.

However, simply setting the volume to max and "if it is too loud, go easier on the keys" is bad advice, because it does not take into account that DPs and headphones differ from each other. It may be the correct advice for the DP/headphones JoeT was using, but for another combination it may not be appropriate. At worst, maxing the volume can even permanently damage your hearing (something that everyone should avoid, but musicians especially).

As I wrote in my previous post, it really depends on the combination of the headphones amplification circuit that is built into the DP and the headphones used.
A cheap amp in the DP combined with high end (high Ohm) headphones may indeed require you to max the volume (and even that may not be enough, so you may need an external amp).
But with a good amp and low/medium Ohm headphones, you really don't want to max the volume. If you did that e.g. with my piano/headphones (NV10/HD599), then already mf force would sound like f/ff, and I can promise you, playing with ff force would literally damage your hearing.

Be careful with your ears, folks!

Instead of just "max it, and if it is too loud, go easier on the keys", find the volume setting where mf force sounds like mf, f force sounds like f and ff force sounds like ff.
Don't know how that is supposed to sound? Do what bennevis suggested: Go somewhere where you can try an acoustic (a shop maybe) and find out.

Last edited by JoBert; 03/31/19 06:24 AM.
Re: Digital piano volume
KevinM #2833274 03/31/19 06:54 AM
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+1 for JoBert

Re: Digital piano volume
JoBert #2833276 03/31/19 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by JoBert
Instead of just "max it, and if it is too loud, go easier on the keys", find the volume setting where mf force sounds like mf, f force sounds like f and ff force sounds like ff.

I feel you have perhaps missed the point of the JoeT advice (and of Darth's teacher). To train a lighter touch, he is advising finding the volume setting where mf velocity sounds like f, f velocity sounds like ff, and ff velocity sounds unacceptably loud. But the theory here is that you will not play with ff force as we are the ones playing, not someone else. Our reflexes will train very quickly to avoid playing heavily on the keys so as to not make too loud a noise.

You would be right, JoBert, if after making an fff noise, I didn't, through sheer reflex, learn to cut it out. But I have to tell you loud noises startle me and after about 30 mins, I was already playing with less velocity. The net result of turning up the volume then is not greater sound pressure to my ear drums, but lower velocity in my fingers.


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
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Re: Digital piano volume
Tyrone Slothrop #2833278 03/31/19 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by JoBert
Instead of just "max it, and if it is too loud, go easier on the keys", find the volume setting where mf force sounds like mf, f force sounds like f and ff force sounds like ff.

I feel you have perhaps missed the point of the JoeT advice (and of Darth's teacher). To train a lighter touch, he is advising finding the volume setting where mf velocity sounds like f, f velocity sounds like ff, and ff velocity sounds unacceptably loud. But the theory here is that you will not play with ff force as we are the ones playing, not someone else. Our reflexes will train very quickly to avoid playing heavily on the keys so as to not make too loud a noise.

You would be right, JoBert, if after making an fff noise, I didn't, through sheer reflex, learn to cut it out. But I have to tell you loud noises startle me and after about 30 mins, I was already playing with less velocity.

Well, that's not how I understood his advice. But even if that were his meaning, I would still not agree. I don't think that deliberately setting the volume higher than an acoustic, to train pp playing, is the correct approach. I see no benefit in it.

Re: Digital piano volume
JoBert #2833279 03/31/19 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by JoBert
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I feel you have perhaps missed the point of the JoeT advice (and of Darth's teacher). To train a lighter touch, he is advising finding the volume setting where mf velocity sounds like f, f velocity sounds like ff, and ff velocity sounds unacceptably loud. But the theory here is that you will not play with ff force as we are the ones playing, not someone else. Our reflexes will train very quickly to avoid playing heavily on the keys so as to not make too loud a noise.

You would be right, JoBert, if after making an fff noise, I didn't, through sheer reflex, learn to cut it out. But I have to tell you loud noises startle me and after about 30 mins, I was already playing with less velocity.

Well, that's not how I understood his advice. But even if that were his meaning, I would still not agree. I don't think that deliberately setting the volume higher than an acoustic, to train pp playing, is the correct approach. I see no benefit in it.

The benefit is that reflex and avoidance of "discomfort" (higher sound pressure levels) is a better trainer sometimes then even the most persistent advice. Because even if I have the intention of playing with lower velocity (i.e., a lighter touch), after 5 mins, I've forgotten because there are only so many things I can focus my attention on when I am playing. But if playing with a heavier touch is unacceptably loud, then I am not going to "forget" to play lighter. Because playing heavier, I will be instantly reminded even if in the middle of a passage which normally would take all my attention. I will immediately make a correction just to spare myself the loud sounds.

I view this sort of auto-correction effect as something we do all the time. For example, I wear multi-focal contact lenses. The outside edges are for viewing at closer distances and the center is for viewing longer distances. So why aren't I constantly using the wrong part of the contact lenses at the wrong distance? Well, perhaps that happened for the first 24 hours, but since then, without thinking about it, I automatically adjust how I look through the lenses just so I can see better. My interest in seeing better, is enough to cause me to automatically adjust, without any conscious thought, how I look through my contact lenses.


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Re: Digital piano volume
JoBert #2833281 03/31/19 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by JoBert
Originally Posted by bennevis
Use headphones if you need to avoid disturbing others, but keep the volume at the same realistic level, whether you're using the speakers or headphones.

One should note that this does not mean that when switching from speakers to headphones, you are not allowed to adjust the volume control. Depending on which headphones you use, for a certain volume through speakers, if you switch to headphones with the same volume knob/slider setting, the volume in the headphones may be higher or lower (even when switching between different headphones models the volume you hear differs).
So you should have one volume setting for playing with speakers, and another setting for playing with headphones, both set so that you perceive them as equally loud. And then you just adjust between these two settings when switching from speakers to headphones and back.

Yes, that's exactly what I meant, if you use speakers and headphones at different times. That's why I said: keep the volume at the same realistic level - not "volume control".

Similarly, if you also use different pairs of external speakers or different headphones at different times - adjust the volume control to get the same volume on each of them, and note down the level on your volume control so that you can set it instantly next time.

The whole point is that you want your digital to play like an acoustic (as much as possible), and you want to play it like an acoustic. With my digital, after I've switched it on and put my headphones on, I instantly forget I'm playing something whose sound is entirely computer-generated, not from hammers (with direct linkage to my fingers) hitting strings, and I'm totally focused on the music, and how I want to play it.


"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."
Re: Digital piano volume
KevinM #2833284 03/31/19 08:16 AM
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Could this be where using a Midi might help. You can see the results produced in the midi output from playing notes.

For me getting to a decent showroom is not trivial (though I have only looked for places with digital and acoustics) and then honestly I don't think my memory of loudness would not be reliable.

Is there perhaps a way of taking advantage of the digital technology and using that to help in setting the volume?

Kevin

Re: Digital piano volume
KevinM #2833299 03/31/19 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
Could this be where using a Midi might help. You can see the results produced in the midi output from playing notes.

For me getting to a decent showroom is not trivial (though I have only looked for places with digital and acoustics) and then honestly I don't think my memory of loudness would not be reliable.

Is there perhaps a way of taking advantage of the digital technology and using that to help in setting the volume?

Kevin

You mean if MIDI can help to find out the "correct" volume that is comparable to an acoustic?
I don't see how it would help. The MIDI values only tell you which force (or velocity) you used to press the keys. They still don't tell you how loud (or quiet) that should sound.

Re: Digital piano volume
Tyrone Slothrop #2833307 03/31/19 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by JoBert
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I feel you have perhaps missed the point of the JoeT advice (and of Darth's teacher). To train a lighter touch, he is advising finding the volume setting where mf velocity sounds like f, f velocity sounds like ff, and ff velocity sounds unacceptably loud. But the theory here is that you will not play with ff force as we are the ones playing, not someone else. Our reflexes will train very quickly to avoid playing heavily on the keys so as to not make too loud a noise.

You would be right, JoBert, if after making an fff noise, I didn't, through sheer reflex, learn to cut it out. But I have to tell you loud noises startle me and after about 30 mins, I was already playing with less velocity.

Well, that's not how I understood his advice. But even if that were his meaning, I would still not agree. I don't think that deliberately setting the volume higher than an acoustic, to train pp playing, is the correct approach. I see no benefit in it.

The benefit is that reflex and avoidance of "discomfort" (higher sound pressure levels) is a better trainer sometimes then even the most persistent advice. Because even if I have the intention of playing with lower velocity (i.e., a lighter touch), after 5 mins, I've forgotten because there are only so many things I can focus my attention on when I am playing. But if playing with a heavier touch is unacceptably loud, then I am not going to "forget" to play lighter. Because playing heavier, I will be instantly reminded even if in the middle of a passage which normally would take all my attention. I will immediately make a correction just to spare myself the loud sounds.

I view this sort of auto-correction effect as something we do all the time. For example, I wear multi-focal contact lenses. The outside edges are for viewing at closer distances and the center is for viewing longer distances. So why aren't I constantly using the wrong part of the contact lenses at the wrong distance? Well, perhaps that happened for the first 24 hours, but since then, without thinking about it, I automatically adjust how I look through the lenses just so I can see better. My interest in seeing better, is enough to cause me to automatically adjust, without any conscious thought, how I look through my contact lenses.

Well, saying "if you have a section that is so problematic for you that with all the other stuff going on you forget to pay attention to the dynamics, then you could set the volume to be louder than an acoustic, so that if you inadvertently play too strongly, the exaggerated volume will remind you to play quieter" is a whole lot different than saying "set the piano volume to the maximum. If it feels too loud, go easier on the keys". The latter is much too easy to be misunderstood as advice to generally play the piano with max volume (and if you can't bear that, your technique is faulty). And if you understand it that way and follow the advice accordingly, you may endanger your hearing.

And TBH (and I don't want to come over as overly negative), I have my doubt that even the first interpretation is good advice. If used regularly, it would train you to use the wrong force/velocity for a given dynamic. You would play everything that is supposed to be p with the force for pp (because otherwise it would be mf) and so on.

I still think that the best advice is to figure out the perceived volume of an average acoustic, then set your DP to something comparable (as well as that is possible) and don't touch the volume setting again (well, unless switching to/from headphones, as discussed above).

But OP's problem is that he doesn't know which volume to select. Unfortunately, other than the suggestions already given, I have no other ideas.

Re: Digital piano volume
JoBert #2833308 03/31/19 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by JoBert
Originally Posted by KevinM
Could this be where using a Midi might help. You can see the results produced in the midi output from playing notes.

For me getting to a decent showroom is not trivial (though I have only looked for places with digital and acoustics) and then honestly I don't think my memory of loudness would not be reliable.

Is there perhaps a way of taking advantage of the digital technology and using that to help in setting the volume?

Kevin

You mean if MIDI can help to find out the "correct" volume that is comparable to an acoustic?
I don't see how it would help. The MIDI values only tell you which force (or velocity) you used to press the keys. They still don't tell you how loud (or quiet) that should sound.


I was more thinking as a way of recognising the minimum velocity/force required to make a sound. Often but nearly solely with the left hand when I am trying to play as quietly as possibly I can play the note and no sound comes out at all. This is more common when playing a complex (for me) piece and the volume of the support is just one of the things I am keeping track of.

But the question remains, when I play such a piece and I do hit the keys hard enough to produce a noise it is too loud. Is this just because the sound is turned up too high or more likely that I lack the required regulation. We should be able to check this with confidence by looking at the midi velocities I produce, if I am aiming for pp and the midi velocities I produce would be considered reasonable for a pp level but I am hearing the sound as too loud then that would suggest the volume is up too high.

Honestly this is just speculation and I have no midi experience at all.

Re: Digital piano volume
JoBert #2833309 03/31/19 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by JoBert
Well, saying "if you have a section that is so problematic for you that with all the other stuff going on you forget to pay attention to the dynamics, then you could set the volume to be louder than an acoustic, so that if you inadvertently play too strongly, the exaggerated volume will remind you to play quieter" is a whole lot different than saying "set the piano volume to the maximum. If it feels too loud, go easier on the keys". The latter is much too easy to be misunderstood as advice to generally play the piano with max volume (and if you can't bear that, your technique is faulty). And if you understand it that way and follow the advice accordingly, you may endanger your hearing.

And TBH (and I don't want to come over as overly negative), I have my doubt that even the first interpretation is good advice. If used regularly, it would train you to use the wrong force/velocity for a given dynamic. You would play everything that is supposed to be p with the force for pp (because otherwise it would be mf) and so on.

I still think that the best advice is to figure out the perceived volume of an average acoustic, then set your DP to something comparable (as well as that is possible) and don't touch the volume setting again (well, unless switching to/from headphones, as discussed above).

But OP's problem is that he doesn't know which volume to select. Unfortunately, other than the suggestions already given, I have no other ideas.

This is probably just one of those "different strokes for different folks" issue, but like Darth, I do find it harder to control pp than ff. So if such a "trick" allows me to train myself to have a light touch with control, that's a net plus, like learning to balance on a unicycle, and even if I have to readjust to the regular touch of an acoustic, once I learned control with a very light touch, can Ondine be that far off? (j/k! laugh )


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
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