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Joined: Jun 2018
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EvaJV Offline OP
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I grew up playing viola, and what I liked most about it was the string resonance and feeling of being physically surrounded by music. Same with an acoustic piano. How can I get a little closer to that with a digital piano?

I have a Roland HP603A, and generally I like the sound and action...but it feels... distant to me. (Kinda wishing I spent the extra and went with a digital piano with soundboard, but it was hard to justify $$-wise then or now.)

Will a subwoofer help? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but can I just do the subwoofer or does a subwoofer require monitors?

Any setup to recommend? I'm not a gearhead and never expect to be. Looking for a straightforward setup that is just enough and not overkill. I was thinking Presonus Eris 4.5 or 5s with a Eris sub8.

Or am I chasing a unicorn and I just need to be more realistic about the digital piano experience? (Fwiw, I would still go digital at this point in my life for headphones, portability, and maintenance).

Last edited by EvaJV; 12/23/21 04:12 PM.
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Originally Posted by EvaJV
Or am I chasing a unicorn and I just need to be more realistic about the digital piano experience?

This, I am afraid.


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Your viola (a wonderful instrument) sat between your chin and chest. Giving an immediacy that no piano can offer. Now there are 9 foot grands that offered me some physical feedback, but I think that this was a rare combination of great piano and great room.

I mean it about the room, and this is also true for speakers. They play sound within a physical space that heavily impacts their sound.

Now, about subwoofers. No, that’s not going to help. Even that great Steinway D has fairly little sound below 70Hz. So a subwoofer might at best add 5% improvement to the sound.

How about a wood soundboard for your digital piano? Well, we’ve heard some satisfied buyers praise them, but I don’t recall anyone say that this was a transformative experience that re-defined the playing experience.

Let me offer a suggestion that doesn’t involve buying new gear, but requires willingness to change and experimentation…. Try placing your piano in different positions in the room. This is what you have to do with a real piano. Find the spot where it sounds best.

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My thoughts for all they're worth.
Whack up your resonances to max (not soundboard or cabinet, they sound awful to me anyway) and de-tune ut somewhat if that's possible. There might be a "condtion" function which would do this..
And then crank up the volume. You cannot turn down an acoustic; why do we do so on digitals and think so lightly of it?


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How about a good headphone? I think it's quite a immersive experience with a headphone, plus no room acoustics problems.

Or maybe a 4 speaker setup? 2 of them behind you, anyone ever tried something like that?

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FWIW --

You have a "supernatural modelling" sound generator, so there are some possible improvements.

If you don't have good headphones, this is a good time to buy a pair.
The HP603 has "3D ambience" for headphones -- try it, see if it helps.

If you're using built-in loudspeakers, set Volume from 3/4 to full-scale. A common cause for "not like an acoustic piano" is that acoustics are _loud_, and people play DP's at lower volume. The hp603 is close to "acoustic piano" level, if the volume is way up.

Turn "String resonance" up to maybe 8 (of 10). Turn "Damper resonance" up, to taste.

. . . Does all that help?


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Thanks for all the suggestions!

Moving the piano is tough--not many places it can go in my space... But I hear the suggestion of thinking about the space and the treatment rather than the gear.

I do have and regularly use headphones (Audio Technica s) but I think there's something about having sound waves hit your body.

I've read--and appreciated--the suggestions before about playing with the volume up. Got that covered.

I don't currently have external speakers set up, so no, I haven't played with non-traditional placement like putting them behind me. I do have a set of old speakers I can play with that aren't ideal but may (or may not) give a sense if it's the right direction.

I haven't touched the settings since I first set it up, so I will definitely play with those.

Thanks for the tips. I'll report back!

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My Acoustic (M&H BB), as most other acoustics, produces little sound below 100Hz. What it does however, is produce large vibrations that I feel in my feet and hands and body at frequencies down to about 60Hz, the resonant frequency of my particular soundboard. I feel them, I don't easily hear them. That is the part of the experience that makes me love this piano.

Whether or not that experience can occur with a Digital Piano, especially if supplemented by a subwoofer for LFE style effects, is not part of my knowledge base.

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You might be interest in this paper.

h https://www.researchgate.net/public...no-quality.pdf?origin=publication_detail

For instance this is the vibration spectrum for A0

And while it is true the fundamental frequency has lower output than the 2nd harmonic, it and the first harmonic are still there.

[Linked Image]

And so I think a subwoofer can add to a more visceral feel. I think as mentioned you would have to be realistic on what you can achieve.

And you don’t need to have other speakers to use a subwoofer. If you have some external speakers, especially if they are a decent size, I would experiment with those first.

And definitely agree about room placement, etc.

Good luck!


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Hi Purdy. Nice graph. It shows the acceleration amplitude of the actual sound board, not the acoustic amplitude measured by a microphone, which, if analyzed using an A-weighted curve, would show a significantly lower amplitude at the fundamental. This acceleration is part of what makes an acoustic piano 'sound' for the player, which is formed by a combination of senses.

When I am tuning the bass notes, I often feel the fundamental and/or 2nd partial, and then my ear to actually hear the sound. It is not useful for tuning purposes, but fun to realize how poorly we hear in that frequency range.

As you say, a subwoofer could add to the simulacrum.

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I built my own cabinet for a digital piano, and getting the "feel" was quite important to me (I also have an acoustic grand). I ended up putting in a subwoofer, mounted right behind the bass end of the keyboard, aimed at where the keys are. It works well for me.


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Originally Posted by prout
Hi Purdy. Nice graph. It shows the acceleration amplitude of the actual sound board, not the acoustic amplitude measured by a microphone,

As you say, a subwoofer could add to the simulacrum.

Yes, I was aware of that having read the paper. Which is why I wrote vibration and visceral.

I’m sorry if that was not clear.


I think that could answer some of the questions from @evajv or at least give some ideas on what to do.

Last edited by Purdy; 12/24/21 04:48 PM.

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Originally Posted by Purdy
Originally Posted by prout
Hi Purdy. Nice graph. It shows the acceleration amplitude of the actual sound board, not the acoustic amplitude measured by a microphone,

As you say, a subwoofer could add to the simulacrum.

Yes, I was aware of that having read the paper. Which is why I wrote vibration and visceral.

I’m sorry if that was not clear.


I think that could answer some of the questions from @evajv or at least give some ideas on what to do.

You were quite clear when you first stated vibration and visceral. I was repeating with emphasis your point and happy you found that reference.


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