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Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
jeffcat #3027950 09/22/20 04:45 PM
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What is the point of having a piano if it is never played piano?


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Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
jeffcat #3027952 09/22/20 04:57 PM
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When the composer writes ppp or sotto voce, I expect exactly that from the pianist.


"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: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
pianoloverus #3027955 09/22/20 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by beeboss
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
]If people in the audience really had trouble hearing the piano, they wouldn't go to concerts.

I particularly remember seeing Angela Hewitt from the top back of the Festival hall (in London, it is around 2700 seats), she was playing Bach. What a waste of money and effort, I would have rather been listening to the CD.
I still like to go to solo piano concerts but in a large venue would only sit in the front stalls from where the details of the music are apparent. (The choir is good in the RFH). Maybe that is just me though.
I have attended around 100 recitals at Carnegie Hall which seats 2820. I almost always sit in the upper balcony. I have never had a problem hearing the music even for the most intimate pieces. Of course, that doesn't mean things might be different in the hall you mention, but assuming your hearing is OK, if you couldn't hear the piano I think that's the fault of the pianist and not the piano.

An upper balcony seat is usually very good for a concert because the sound is mostly traveling unimpeded through the air. Seats at the very back of the floor will put an audience of sound-absorbing humans between the listener and the instruments.

I think is is challenging for a performer to play a faint whisper in a large hall, having to choose a dynamic that will be heard throughout without being too loud for some.


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Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
jeffcat #3028013 09/22/20 07:48 PM
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What a great thread! I just posted a thread this week on hearing loss from playing the piano and asked for recommendations on hearing aids. I've played mostly grands for 30+ years, some in small college studios, in a condo and just recently noticed hearing wasn't balanced when I listen to music or play the piano. (Horrible!) I had minor hearing loss in my 30's, and it's now at the "severe" level. I've noticed on some days that anything I play forte or louder hurts my ears and causes them to ring-hyperacusis. I had Kawai, August Forster and Steinway and always wish they were more muted. I wear musician's ear plugs now

OTOH, I also ran 20 years with my "walkman" (I'm dating myself) at high volume, which I believe is the major cause of my hearing loss.


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Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
Sweelinck #3028022 09/22/20 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
An upper balcony seat is usually very good for a concert because the sound is mostly traveling unimpeded through the air. Seats at the very back of the floor will put an audience of sound-absorbing humans between the listener and the instruments.

I think is is challenging for a performer to play a faint whisper in a large hall, having to choose a dynamic that will be heard throughout without being too loud for some.
I have also sat near the rear of the orchestra in Carnegie Hall and have had no problem hearing the music. Again, people wouldn't buy those seats if they had any problem hearing the music or felt it was too soft in that location.

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
chasingrainbows #3028023 09/22/20 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
What a great thread! I just posted a thread this week on hearing loss from playing the piano and asked for recommendations on hearing aids. I've played mostly grands for 30+ years, some in small college studios, in a condo and just recently noticed hearing wasn't balanced when I listen to music or play the piano. (Horrible!) I had minor hearing loss in my 30's, and it's now at the "severe" level. I've noticed on some days that anything I play forte or louder hurts my ears and causes them to ring-hyperacusis. I had Kawai, August Forster and Steinway and always wish they were more muted. I wear musician's ear plugs now

OTOH, I also ran 20 years with my "walkman" (I'm dating myself) at high volume, which I believe is the major cause of my hearing loss.

@ chasingrainbows, Hearing loss is also often caused by an autoimmune response whereby the Stereocilia hairs in your ears are destroyed.

You can try a whole food plant based diet for a few months, see if that helps. Animal protein is a main trigger for common autoimmune because it is treated by the body similar to a virus, causing persistent low level inflammation.

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
Sweelinck #3028110 09/23/20 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
An upper balcony seat is usually very good for a concert because the sound is mostly traveling unimpeded through the air.

Sorry but this is not true at all. I mean you may like sitting at the back but your reasoning for why you do is wrong. At the back of the hall you are hearing mostly reflected sound. As a sound engineer I can tell you that the best balance between direct and reflected sound is usually in the front 10 rows. They usually put those microphones some way up in the air and often mix in some spot mics as well to achieve a pleasing balance. Pianos are usually recorded closer than that. Of course the ear is good at adjusting to low levels or overly reverberant sound and when you pay your money you can sit where you like. It is lucky for you if you enjoy sitting in the cheap seats.

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
trigalg693 #3028119 09/23/20 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
Originally Posted by jeffcat
Has anyone attempted stuffing acoustic foam into pianos ?

For the purposes of keeping the neighbors happy, I've stuffed blankets and blocked off the bottom with cardboard boxes, it dropped maybe like 6dB which was noticeable. The tone was affected a bit, but I could live with it.

Yep, that's about what I got on my upright too - opening the lid changes volume about as much in my experience.
If the room is too small for the piano I think this actually benefits the sound.

My 125cm piano goes up to the high 80s if you really bang it. Regular playing is between 70 and 80 - which can be perceived as loud but probably won't damage a typical players hearing.

I have one comment / thought on "harsh" pianos causing hearing problems from my point of view as a biologist:

The ear is not at all like a microphone although there is the membrane like a mic, this is where the similarity ends.
Your inner ear is like a physical spectrum analyzer - there is a strong correspondence between frequency and the place where the sound is actually transduced. So if the piano is very loud at the mentioned 8kHz, then the average volume may still be fine but the specific "8kHz cell area" is being pounded a lot more than the other places. I think it's plausible that that could be a cause of hearing damage but then, I'm a biologist not an otologist.

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
jeffcat #3028133 09/23/20 08:12 AM
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I had recently my piano voiced. Hammers needled etc.

This changed a lot to the sound, to the point where I can now have the lid open where I previously had to use ear plugs when open, and so I usually had the lid closed.

So people complaining about the loudness may actually need their piano voiced or treated.

I never liked the earplugs. I have the good ones but they still take away important details from the playing, something similar to practicing with the lid open versus closed.


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Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
jeffcat #3028154 09/23/20 09:42 AM
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I've jammed the soft pedal on and stuck felt under the back end of the keys to get rid of the resultant lost motion on one of my uprights. Very satisfactory!

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
wouter79 #3028157 09/23/20 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by wouter79
I had recently my piano voiced. Hammers needled etc.

This changed a lot to the sound, to the point where I can now have the lid open where I previously had to use ear plugs when open, and so I usually had the lid closed.

So people complaining about the loudness may actually need their piano voiced or treated.

I never liked the earplugs. I have the good ones but they still take away important details from the playing, something similar to practicing with the lid open versus closed.

Exactly. People need to realize pianos get louder the more they play and create string cuts.
The woman who wrote a book, (forgot the name of it) in search of the sound for her Steingraeber? she played in a piano store. After getting one, it didn't sound the same, used a number of techs to replicate sound but didn't quite achieve it. Even if she got one with same sound, it will change over time slowly. Shaping and voicing hammers will do much for the sound obviously. Deep string cuts makes it harder to tune. Creating undesirable harmonics.
Consider the wear on tuning pins having it tuned under those conditions making it harder for the tuner.

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
chopin_r_us #3028160 09/23/20 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
I've jammed the soft pedal on and stuck felt under the back end of the keys to get rid of the resultant lost motion on one of my uprights. Very satisfactory!

Bro, you don't need to do that ghetto stuff, the upright piano can be regulated to that _soft pedal depressed_ hammer blow distance if that's how you like it.

Last edited by jeffcat; 09/23/20 10:00 AM.
Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
wouter79 #3028164 09/23/20 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by wouter79
I had recently my piano voiced. Hammers needled etc.

This changed a lot to the sound, to the point where I can now have the lid open where I previously had to use ear plugs when open, and so I usually had the lid closed.

So people complaining about the loudness may actually need their piano voiced or treated.

I never liked the earplugs. I have the good ones but they still take away important details from the playing, something similar to practicing with the lid open versus closed.

Measure it, I guarantee you , it's still pushing 80+, 90db.

The ear has a non-linear psychoacoustic response. So, the voicing can mellow the sound, making it more acceptable (less perceptually stinging), even if the loudness is actually the same.

Last edited by jeffcat; 09/23/20 10:13 AM.
Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
jeffcat #3028213 09/23/20 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
I've jammed the soft pedal on and stuck felt under the back end of the keys to get rid of the resultant lost motion on one of my uprights. Very satisfactory!

Bro, you don't need to do that ghetto stuff, the upright piano can be regulated to that _soft pedal depressed_ hammer blow distance if that's how you like it.
No not to that extend. I wanted something close to what Chopin would recognise.

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
chopin_r_us #3028247 09/23/20 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
No not to that extend. I wanted something close to what Chopin would recognise.

What is the limitation ? You should be able to buy taller capstans if that's too short, but I don't think the gap is that large where it'd be necessary. Is the hammer blow even closer than the maximum point of the depressed soft pedal ?

Last edited by jeffcat; 09/23/20 01:43 PM.
Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
jeffcat #3028259 09/23/20 02:23 PM
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Point is I've got a tight 8mm key dip and it only took 10mins to do.

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
beeboss #3028260 09/23/20 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by beeboss
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
]If people in the audience really had trouble hearing the piano, they wouldn't go to concerts.

I particularly remember seeing Angela Hewitt from the top back of the Festival hall (in London, it is around 2700 seats), she was playing Bach. What a waste of money and effort, I would have rather been listening to the CD.
I still like to go to solo piano concerts but in a large venue would only sit in the front stalls from where the details of the music are apparent. (The choir is good in the RFH). Maybe that is just me though.

You are right. I am afraid that the Royal Festival Hall is hopeless for piano recitals - unless one sits very near the front (which is expensive!).

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
chopin_r_us #3028267 09/23/20 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Point is I've got a tight 8mm key dip and it only took 10mins to do.

Could you elaborate a bit on what you did? Sounds interesting but I don‘t have a clue of what you mean with those felts...


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Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
jeffcat #3028271 09/23/20 03:11 PM
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Other than a Steinway (well at least my friends Steinway) when you push the soft pedal down as well as bringing the hammers closer it creates lost motion. To get rid of that you take the action out and under the end of the keys (in the piano) you'll find a strip of felt. Just add what's require to lose the lost motion,[img]https://ibb.co/GJrYbPs[/img]

Re: Are pianos fundmentally too loud ?
jeffcat #3028309 09/23/20 05:04 PM
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Okay, that probably only works for grand pianos? Or does it also work for upright?


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