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Joined: Feb 2020
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Ubu Offline OP
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I've been for sometime reading and searching about monitors.

My issue is that i use both monitors and headphones. The sound on headphones is perfect for my needs. There's enough dynamics, bass, clarity, organic sound, everything. My headphones are akg 701.

When i play on monitors it is quite the opposite. They are good just for the very early stages of practicing new pieces, when i focus mostly in getting the notes on mi fingers. When i have done that and i start focusing on the actual music, everything is so poor and dull. It is like watching tv on an old black and white thing from the 1970s. Then i go to the headphones, and it is colour, hd, etc. My monitors are cheap multimedia Alesis m1 330.

I wonder if i could get the same sound from monitors as i get from headphones.

I know my monitors are the cheapest of the cheapest, so any other ones that I'd get would be an improvement. But how much of an improvement? I don't want just more bass or volume. I want the same organic and living feeling i get on headphones, because it is really musical, it makes me listen to what I'm playing, and improve, and practice in a musical way. Whereas with monitors it is just finger practice, because even if i try to get the musical nuances of the pieces, they just aren't there, the monitors are no capable of that work.

It is posible to get what i want, on monitors?

Btw my vst is pianoteq 5 (yes 5!) and it is perfect for me (on headphones).

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Everyone seems to recommending studio monitors but in my humble opinion, that's exactly what they are, STUDIO monitors, delivering a very flat (and like you mention it, dull) sound.
If the room you play in is not acoustically perfect, you're not going to enjoy your studio monitors very much, even if they are more expensive ones.

I'm by no means an audio specialist, this is just my personal opinion. For a digital piano, again in my personal opinion, there's nothing better than a pair of Roland CM30 cube monitors (don't let the name fool you, they are anything but actual studio monitors). You don't need advanced math to calculate the correct angle in order to place them, just point forward.
I myself find that they really make an acoustic sample sound more natural (and as you mention it, organic) than any studio monitor.

If you're trying to make that perfect recording, then yes, studio monitors are the way to go, but I believe you will need extra studio equipment as well in order to make said recording. For just personal use and/or practicing, don't bother.

Again, my personal opinion. Everyone else here will disagree, but that's just my experience.

Last edited by ChrisGoesPiano; 12/08/21 08:04 AM.

A long time ago, in a musical galaxy far, far away...
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Hello @Ubu,

I've tried (good) monitors with my piano as well, and quickly returned them to sender. As @ChrisGoesPiano comments, monitors just may not be the solution at all.

So my tip is: if you have a HiFi system (amplifier and speakers) that you really enjoy for listening to music, you may find that playing your piano through that, or similar, system works well for you.

After quite a bit of experimentation, I ended up restoring two 30 year old Onkyo receivers and am using those with six good quality 5" type "bookshelf" HiFi speakers: two at ear height on stands, four below the (slab-form) piano. All of this gives a lovely sound quality and immersive, detailed playing experience.

My piano sound comes from a sample-based VSTi.

Cheers and happy experimenting,

HZ

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I think the main problem is those speakers are just too small. I'm sure, there are small speakers with full, rich sound and extension into the bass frequencies. However, moving up to larger speakers will make a noticeable difference from what you have now. The sound won't be exactly like headphones, but I think you should be able to get speakers you are just as happy with as your headphones. I enjoy my Mackie HR624 / 824 studio monitors. Though, I'd go with a spacestation V3 instead if I were buying equipment today. It has universally glowing reviews for use with a DP. I have seen them for less than $500 used.

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Originally Posted by Chantico
I think the main problem is those speakers are just too small.


+1. IMHO, they're also under-powered.

Headphones can deliver full "acoustic-piano sound levels" to your ears. To get that, from loudspeakers, you need amps with around 100 watts, total. (Check the amps on "digital grands" or high-grade uprights like the Kawai CA79).

You might want to check "Fletcher-Munson curve" on Google or Wikipedia, for an explanation of why it's hard to get strong bass, from low-powered loudspeakers.


. Charles
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Ubu Offline OP
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Thanks for all your insights.

Akg 701 are listed as studio headphones. Some times also as hi fi. Allegedly they are on the flat side.

That's the reason i lean towards studio monitors. There must exist some way to reproduce with similar quality via speakers.

Anyway your answers brought me new ideas about the best kind of equipment in order to play piano.

I wish there were music stores nearby with lots of products so i could judge by myself.

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You don't need large speakers or high wattage speakers. You need good speakers! I say good things about Genelec 8020. Others say good things about iloud MTM. Either hifi or monitors can work (they really are not that different) and different people like different things. Your room makes a difference - most rooms have some resonances in the bass and or lower mid. Per note volume adjustment can do wonders for that, or parametric eq. Its all very subjective. Whatever you try out, you might feel differently about it after a few days compared to your first listen. So don't rush to judgement.


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A studio monitor is not dull, it's right: does not over emphasize anything, presents the sound as it is at the source, which is what you should want I guess.

You are comparing a very good, semi pro, can with very cheap monitors, of course sound from the Alesis is very poor in comparison.

To get to the level of your headphones you need to spend 1k upwards with the likes of Genelec, Adam, Dynaudio, Focal etc. plenty of choices in that price range for active nearfield monitors. When you get to that level you will find that the sound can be much better that your headphones.

HiFi, I don't know, is it convenient for you ? Or do you have to run long cables turn on a distant switch etc ?

My advice for you is stay with your headphones or take the plunge into monitors really good. Less that that you will be wasting your money with little satisfaction in return . . .

My 2c, enjoy.

C.

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Originally Posted by marklings
A studio monitor is not dull, it's right: does not over emphasize anything, presents the sound as it is at the source, which is what you should want I guess.

You are comparing a very good, semi pro, can with very cheap monitors, of course sound from the Alesis is very poor in comparison.

To get to the level of your headphones you need to spend 1k upwards with the likes of Genelec, Adam, Dynaudio, Focal etc. plenty of choices in that price range for active nearfield monitors. When you get to that level you will find that the sound can be much better that your headphones.

HiFi, I don't know, is it convenient for you ? Or do you have to run long cables turn on a distant switch etc ?

My advice for you is stay with your headphones or take the plunge into monitors really good. Less that that you will be wasting your money with little satisfaction in return . . .

My 2c, enjoy.

C.
Read this. Forget the rest.

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Let me re-write your concerns about monitors: Your current setup does not engage you emotionally in the music.

Recommendation: Spend money. Sorry, but that is how it works. Do you want to hear your playing or engage? As marklings noted, there are some good product out there and like anything else, bigger, more money equals better. It just is. Go to a Guitar Center or Sam Ash and try out some of their monitors. Go ahead and try their most expensive. If they can't hook up the monitor to a keyboard, then bring a USB stick with some of your favorite recordings.

If you have an old HI FI stereo in your basement... pull it out and hook it up... just give it try... you may be surprised.

Good luck, report back.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

Last edited by Bruce In Philly; 12/09/21 10:07 AM.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

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