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My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
#3051855 12/02/20 02:48 AM
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In my opinion, those who look for external speakers or monitors are missing the point of builtin speakers.

In the DPs where speakers are located beneath the unit (pretty much every DP), the goal is to direct the sound "through" the cabinet and the body of the instrument so it sounds close to how acoustic pianos manifest sound. Acoustics do not direct the sound "into" your ears because they do not have "ear-level" sound production although that might look like to be the case given the position of strings in an upright piano.

In DPs where the sound is muffled, the problem can be attributed to the characteristics of the speaker itself, and not its placement.
I have a Korg C1 and the speaker is located beneath the unit, with the front toward the player and not downwards. I don't find the sound muffled at all and quite on the contrary I enjoy the "though the instrument" illusion of sound production. The quality is not equal to studio monitors, but that's besides the point. They are powerful enough (50 watts) that need not be located "ear-level" to feel the sound naturally as if coming from the instrument itself.

In short, monitors may produce the most natural sound as far as the sound itself is concerned, however the acoustics and projection of sound becomes more synthetic and unnatural compared to builtin speakers in a console DP.

Just my 2 cents.

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Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051863 12/02/20 04:02 AM
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Has anyone seen my can opener? I've got some worms that need releasing. 🍿

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051864 12/02/20 04:12 AM
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I kind of agree. If you want to mimic the sound of a real acoustic, then studio monitors are not the way to go. That's why I prefer keyboard ampllifiers for digital pianos.
I use the Roland CM30 cubes for my MP11SE and they sound better than studio monitors for playing piano sounds. My CA58, however, which is a cabinet piano, definitely sounds much much better when playing piano...

It's different for workstations where you use lots of other sounds and do music production, but for just piano, I don't like the sound of studio monitors either...

Last edited by ChrisGoesPiano; 12/02/20 04:14 AM.

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21st century...
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Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
OU812 #3051882 12/02/20 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by OU812
Has anyone seen my can opener? I've got some worms that need releasing. 🍿

Oh this can got over pressurised and has already released its worms... Here they are...

There are only a handful of top spec cabinet digitals that have successfully succeeded in making the experience great despite the cabinet being in the way of the sound. Top CLP models currently seem to have the best amplification (the *85 versions are pretty good). When you go down to what most want to pay eg CLP *45, then the inbuilt systems are awful.

I tested the ES8 with its sound bar against a bunch of mid range cabinets, and the ES8 just sounds better than cabinet models. If you add a couple of Focal Alpha 50's to the ES8, it's going to sound pretty decent, even against second tier digitals like the CA79 and CLP 775.

What you're lacking is the phrase 'decent monitors'. Focal Alpha 50's are very good value for digitals and sound better than the 65's despite being cheaper. Getting suitable monitors for digitals is difficult, as there are so many types and so little comparative relevant advice ie, from people who have tried lots of different monitors on their digital piano .

To get better than the Focal Alpha 50's, you need to go much more expensive eg Neumann KH120's or Adam A7X. So many monitors people do buy and report on here are not going to be a match for headphones or approach that quality.

So yes, I agree that top cabinets are better than monitors a bit, but below that, cabinet digitals are underwhelming.

So if you think that the Roland LX7 sounds great, a V-piano with KRKs sounds miles better, and it's older tech.

Last edited by Doug M.; 12/02/20 05:49 AM.

Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7SE; Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051886 12/02/20 06:13 AM
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So we’re saying that cabinet-speakers create a more realistic sound-field but monitors provide better sound quality?

If so, why not simply stick monitors into the cabinet; hence, having the best of both worlds co-exist in harmony instead of wallowing in distorted perspectives that are neither perpendicular nor quadraphonic?

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
Pete14 #3051894 12/02/20 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Pete14
So we’re saying that cabinet-speakers create a more realistic sound-field but monitors provide better sound quality?

If so, why not simply stick monitors into the cabinet; hence, having the best of both worlds co-exist in harmony instead of wallowing in distorted perspectives that are neither perpendicular nor quadraphonic?

Some monitors are so flat (neutral) as they are designed for studio mixing, not for digital Pianos. High quality monitors have better quality sound, but the flat neutral character from some monitors is a separate attribute to the sound quality.

Ideally, what you want is high quality sound with a sound signature that suits digital Pianos.

I'm not agreeing that cabinet digital Pianos ubiquitously create a better sound field than all monitors. I'm saying that top spec cabinets that have bespoke speaker placement do; whereas, mid range cabinet digitals only have better sound compared to poor quality monitors or unsuitablely flat sounding monitors..

The issue with monitors IMO is that people buy the wrong tool for the job, and form an opinion on what they experience.


Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7SE; Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051903 12/02/20 07:25 AM
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IMHO the main problem with most DP cabinets (low/middle range) is that tweeters are badly positioned to the rear of the instrument, facing up, instead of facing the player... This issue is aggravated by the low quality of these so-called "tweeters", totally inadequate for their supposed purpose. Another problem is that the cheap middle-range speakers (usually facing the floor) are not able to reproduce decently frequencies under the 150Hz.

The result is a very boxy, mid-rangey sound, more suited for organs and electric pianos.

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
Doug M. #3051904 12/02/20 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug M.
So many monitors people do buy and report on here are not going to be a match for headphones or approach that quality.

The advice to anyone should be to not invest in monitors before you've got (at least) one decent set of cans.

IMO: The problem of cabinet vs monitor is one of incompatible fundamental perspectives. Do you want the best experience of playing the instrument, or the best experience of the instrument being played?

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
Pete14 #3051906 12/02/20 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Pete14
[...]If so, why not simply stick monitors into the cabinet; hence, having the best of both worlds co-exist in harmony instead of wallowing in distorted perspectives that are neither perpendicular nor quadraphonic?
Because monitor speakers are much more expensive than those low quality $10 cardboard speakers you have inside your typical low/middle-range DP.

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
Svennig #3051909 12/02/20 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Svennig
[...]Do you want the best experience of playing the instrument, or the best experience of the instrument being played?
Sadly, unless you consider the very top-range cabinet-style DPs, IMHO you'll get neither of them...

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051916 12/02/20 07:57 AM
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I have to agree with magicpiano. Console pianos generally have cheap speakers.
And they're mounted in a location not suited for projecting sound properly.
And they're not mounted in a proper speaker enclosure.

Short story: They stink. Monitors do a much better job.

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051917 12/02/20 08:05 AM
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I have a proposition:

Why not get rid of speakers/monitors altogether and simply stick a tapered soundboard made of solid spruce?

Oh wait, it’s the money; isn’t it?


This is what happens when ‘bottom-line’ type are in charge and it’s all about “how many more pennies can we make on the dollar?” (I’m looking at you, Tim Cook)!

Believe it or not, corporations can sometimes manage to make money without compromising. The best example that comes to mind is the artist formerly known as Steve Jobs.

Jobs, a creative type first and then an entrepreneur, was able to do this. Granted, you paid a premium for his Mac Pro, but it was worth every penny; if only to humiliate your Windows-PC neighbor. His machine, by comparison, a cheap toy-like plastic thing.

For me, simply staring at the original Mac Pro inspired and got the juices flowing. What a work of art, that machine. It seemed like something made from unobtainium!

Once again, screw you, Tim Cook!

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051921 12/02/20 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
In my opinion, those who look for external speakers or monitors are missing the point of builtin speakers.

In the DPs where speakers are located beneath the unit (pretty much every DP), the goal is to direct the sound "through" the cabinet and the body of the instrument so it sounds close to how acoustic pianos manifest sound. Acoustics do not direct the sound "into" your ears because they do not have "ear-level" sound production although that might look like to be the case given the position of strings in an upright piano.

In DPs where the sound is muffled, the problem can be attributed to the characteristics of the speaker itself, and not its placement.
I have a Korg C1 and the speaker is located beneath the unit, with the front toward the player and not downwards. I don't find the sound muffled at all and quite on the contrary I enjoy the "though the instrument" illusion of sound production. The quality is not equal to studio monitors, but that's besides the point. They are powerful enough (50 watts) that need not be located "ear-level" to feel the sound naturally as if coming from the instrument itself.

In short, monitors may produce the most natural sound as far as the sound itself is concerned, however the acoustics and projection of sound becomes more synthetic and unnatural compared to builtin speakers in a console DP.

Just my 2 cents.

i have to totally agree on this one. I own a p515, and have a old p155. Prior to that i bought a cp33 with external monitors. I hated the experience. I missed the vibrations, and not to mention, it is so much cleaner looking without all the wires and such. I ended upselling the cp33.
I will continue to stick to internal speakers and internal tone generator.

I look forward to the p515 update, i may upgrade to it, simply for the reasons stated.


Yamaha P155, Yamaha P515
Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
Svennig #3051952 12/02/20 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Svennig
Originally Posted by Doug M.
So many monitors people do buy and report on here are not going to be a match for headphones or approach that quality.

The advice to anyone should be to not invest in monitors before you've got (at least) one decent set of cans.

IMO: The problem of cabinet vs monitor is one of incompatible fundamental perspectives. Do you want the best experience of playing the instrument, or the best experience of the instrument being played?

To me the former experience matters the most, and I believe it's the same for anyone who doesn't want to just create sound, but also put her soul into the instrument. And as far as this kind of experience goes, no digital instrument can truly shine, simply because it's digital and virtual. However, the closer feel can be achieved by mimicking at least the sound projection to some degree, and this is where monitors or otherwise external speakers fail to deliver, because they give the sense of a "detached" sound source.

I think a combination of ideal room acoustics, plus decently powered speaker system, and a decent cabinet can project a sound feel to that of an upright piano at least.

In my case, I have a mid-range DP , the Korg C1 and it has a set of speakers located in a special speaker box beneath the unit, facing me, and they are rated 50 watts. The speakers are so powerful that I always set them barely past the half and it still sounds so big to the point of annoying the neighbors.

The room is floored with carpet and so the reverbation is majorly canceled out, however I'm gonna move to a bare new flat with absolutely no flooring (just ceramic tiles) and I won't take any drawers or cabinets etc, so the sound will be totally free to move. I won't have any neighbors either, for the near future however the whole building has only four flats so no big deal anyways.

All I'm saying is that, as a whole the problem of speakers having "detached" sense of sound production, can be mostly solved, by incorporating a front-facing powerful speaker set into the cabinet, preferably with a pair of tweeters, located in a room with appropriate acoustics. On the other hand, you won't get the same sense of sound using even the highest quality monitors, simply because they sound detached and non-resonant. They may deliver more precise sound sure, however that' not enough IMO. Someone pointed out building monitors into the cabinets instead of loudspeakers. That seems doable, however I'm not sure about the resonance element, which is very important in delivering the feel and soul of the piano.


Also, what is a bespoke speaker placement in the context of DPs?

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051972 12/02/20 10:39 AM
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The internal casio speaker of my casio CDP-S100 sound really good. I try in a store a Roland FP-10 and Yamaha P125 and the sound was quite muffled. The kawai ES110 has good sound.
The quite strange fact was about the Roland F140r and Yamaha YDP144, two not slab piano but the sound was quite muffled.
I’m a bit confused about that.

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051974 12/02/20 10:43 AM
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I don't care too much because I like playing with headphones, but I never had a great piano experience with monitors so far.

Could be the untreated room, but somehow I have a feeling floor standing hifi speakers would give me a better experience, but I haven't tried that yet.

In the past I have expirimented with placing my monitors underneath my desk. I think it can be kind of nice, because you don't see the speakers, and the sound seems to come from "somewhere" more like an acoustic, but yes the downside was a muffled sound. I think for something like that to work better you need to add at least some small speakers at ear level as well.

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
U3piano #3051984 12/02/20 10:58 AM
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My question is though, aren't upright pianos' strings also covered by the cover and they still sound good? I mean, it's not just the covering or the cabinet in the way of the sound.

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051993 12/02/20 11:08 AM
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Honestly I agree with this. When I owned a Montage 8 the sound coming out of my 2x Yamaha HS-5 monitors was completely underwhelming ( I tested it in the bedroom and in the living room). Granted my flat's acoustics are sub-optimal with originally pretty abysmal design in regards to acoustics and zero treatment on my part - which is why I don't bring in an AP.
Granted a keyboard with on board speakers which is also portable is GREAT for taking out and playing outside. It's hard to find a model with good enough speakers though, I recently returned a P-515 due to it having a flaw in its speakers (seems to be not only my unit as I cross checked near another new unit in the store). Now I am keyboard-less, mainly playing flute and a bit of my Jupiter 6 LOL.

I do need an actual piano focused instrument ASAP for my own enjoyment and also my students and my eye just caught a Kawai model named ES-920. talked to a local store about 10 minute drive and they said they will have a unit on display next Tuesday, and the speakers from what I read are great and Onkyo made. On top of that the board is 17 Kilos which is 5 less than the 515 (I recall it was VERY heavy)!! on the downside, the ES-920 doesn't look as aesthetically pleasing and professional as the 515 and does have an overall cheap appearance. But honestly for me Function first looks second. Just home the lack of wood in the action will not be hugely missed , last time I played a Kawai DP was ~5 years ago and I don't remember it vividly enough.

Seems like with better speakers, better weight, hopefully not too unreliable bulid quality/keyboard action for what it is I could have a lot of fun with it in my flat or taking out to jam with friends / small gigs.


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Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051997 12/02/20 11:19 AM
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Yamaha did just this on the CLP-990 over twenty years ago.
Originally Posted by meghdad
... as a whole the problem of speakers having "detached" sense of sound production, can be mostly solved, by incorporating a front-facing powerful speaker set into the cabinet, preferably with a pair of tweeters ...
They eliminated that in all subsequent models. They also eliminated a host of other advancements. The 2000s and 2010s were a big back-pedal for Yamaha.

Re: My opinion of builtin speakers vs monitors
meghdad #3051999 12/02/20 11:22 AM
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I would think that medium density fiberboard isn't a great material for sound resonance within a dp. But maybe it's no worse than an acoustic piano's real wood?

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