Piano World Home Page

Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano

Posted By: Alfort

Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 05:44 PM

Hello. I'm the happy owner of a Yamaha CP33 after being many years with a fantastic Yamaha CLP-130.

Now I'm looking for some speaker system to play at home (in a small room) and the main doubt I have is if to buy a pair of monitors or a set of speakers and an amplifier.

I know that monitors give a flat sound and are very good to get all the details of the sounds, but this does not necessarily mean that they sound better/more comfortable for playing piano. Also they have to be placed in a specific position because they are very directional.

Here in the UK I can have a pair of Yamaha HS50M for £240 or for a similar budget an amplifier and a set of speakers like the Cambridge Audio S30.

I guess that I would have more freedom to place these passive speakers and maybe the sound would be more 'natural'. I have thought on putting them under the keyboard at mid height and pointing to the wall trying to emulate an upright piano.

Any experience on this?

Thanks
Posted By: peterws

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 06:32 PM

Go stereo whatever else you decide to do. A stereo amp and speakers; perhaps one which will take more than one stereo input should you decide to get a software piano too . . .
Posted By: gvfarns

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 07:06 PM

Yeah, speakers for a piano are a really hard question. Usually we don't have very good definitive answers. There are too many options are we are mostly players, not HiFi buffs. I've had several studio monitors in my day and I wasn't all that impressed with any of them. My next speaker experiment will be with an amp and Hi Fi. Unfortunately again it's hard to know which are best for the purpose.

Speaker placement and room acoustics are also a pretty complicated subject. There's a pretty clear setup for optimal mixing (two monitors at points of an equilateral triangle not next to the wall with lots of acoustic foam around the room and in the corners) but for optimal playing it may not be the same. In my experience a small amount of change in speaker positioning makes a big difference so you are going to have to try lots of stuff. In my experience:

1. Bigger rooms are better than smaller
2. Away from the wall is better
3. Speakers not to close to the head are better

I would be surprised if facing them away from you worked out, but I'm not an expert. Some of my findings may not even generalize to your space and speakers.
Posted By: willf

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 07:25 PM

Originally Posted by Alfort

Here in the UK I can have a pair of Yamaha HS50M for £240 or for a similar budget an amplifier and a set of speakers like the Cambridge Audio S30.

Thanks


The HS50M are superb but if your piano has any weaknesses it will expose them! Where can you get them for £240? I would like another pair.
Posted By: Amateur Jerry

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 07:47 PM

Hi,

I am a big fan of Definitive Technology. I have the smallest set of their studio monitor series (SM-45). It made a huge difference on my Kawai CA-63. One of the reasons I picked them is they are rated down to 35hz which is about D1. I don't hear much rolloff on the 5 remaining keys below that. I have never played a piece that had any notes that low anyway.

Many other stereo bookshelf speakers don't go that low, therefore you would probably need to add a sub. All I use is an amp and the speakers. I don't raise the piano slider above 2 and it sounds great.

Amateur Jerry
Posted By: Hammertime

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 07:51 PM

As a newbie I too would be interested in a bit more 'clarity' around the whole monitors vs speakers debate
Posted By: Kbeaumont

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 08:15 PM

Stereo speakers don't necessarily have a flat frequency response nor would you really want it. When you hear a speaker and say "wow it has a great bass" it usually because the bass in those speakers are accentuated relative to the mids. The engineers design the speakers to sound good in a home with whatever music you listening too. That music is mixed an mastered to sound good on a wide variety of speakers. Whether it be boom box, auto, home theater or headphones. The producer uses studio monitors that are designed to output a flat, "true" sound. The mids in monitors can be jarring to some because the human ear is sensitive to vocal range sounds (mids). So if the sound is mixed to sound good on those, they in theory will sound the best that they can get on any speaker. For example if you mixed on those speakers with great bass, when you play it through another speaker, you would wonder why the didn't turn up the bass player. So you want a perfectly flat monitor, or as flat as you can get.


Many studio monitors can really point out all the flaws in a digital pianos samples especially the octaves around middle C.

Now if the piano has very good samples, you may like what you hear. If not you might want an equalizer.
Posted By: Alfort

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 08:41 PM

This is actually a good point that if the samples of the digital piano have some deficiency you are going to notice them.
In any case I have already played with my headphones and I am very happy with the sound. Just a funny behaviour after G3 where suddenly the keys have a much longer decay...

Coming back to the subject... and what would happen if I go for the monitors and I put them under the keyboard? Is it so important to have this triangle at the height of your ears (and to have to use some stands)? If they are positioned in another way is the sound not going to be reflected the same as a normal piano?

Willf, I have found the HS50M with a good price at:
http://www.gear4music.com/Recording-and-Computers/Yamaha-HS50M-Active-Studio-Monitor-Single/6JH
Posted By: Marko in Boston

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 08:48 PM

Originally Posted by Alfort


FYI, This is Yamaha's new version of that monitor, the HS5.
http://www.gear4music.com/Recording-and-Computers/Yamaha-HS5-Active-Studio-Monitor/QSS
Posted By: dmd

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 08:50 PM

Originally Posted by Kbeaumont
Stereo speakers don't necessarily have a flat frequency response nor would you really want it. When you hear a speaker and say "wow it has a great bass" it usually because the bass in those speakers are accentuated relative to the mids. The engineers design the speakers to sound good in a home with whatever music you listening too. That music is mixed an mastered to sound good on a wide variety of speakers. Whether it be boom box, auto, home theater or headphones. The producer uses studio monitors that are designed to output a flat, "true" sound. The mids in monitors can be jarring to some because the human ear is sensitive to vocal range sounds (mids). So if the sound is mixed to sound good on those, they in theory will sound the best that they can get on any speaker. For example if you mixed on those speakers with great bass, when you play it through another speaker, you would wonder why the didn't turn up the bass player. So you want a perfectly flat monitor, or as flat as you can get.


Many studio monitors can really point out all the flaws in a digital pianos samples especially the octaves around middle C.

Now if the piano has very good samples, you may like what you hear. If not you might want an equalizer.



S0 ... my interpretation of what you just said ...

Do not purchase speakers.

Purchase Monitors.

Correct ?

Posted By: Exalted Wombat

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 09:03 PM

"Monitor" is a name sometimes given to speakers designed for critical listening while recording. They may be large or small, with an amplifier in the box or requiring an external amplifier. They may have a wide "sweet spot" for listening, or a narrow one. In the cheaper price range, "monitor" is largely a marketing term.

Do you have a hi-fi system? How does the piano sound through it?

Piano is a very dynamic sound. It has a strong percussive attack and a wide frequency range.

It is easier and cheaper to make a good large speaker than a good small one.

Don't buy speakers without hearing them first.
Posted By: peterws

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/06/13 09:14 PM

I bought a pair of computer speakers for my piano. 5W per channel; it was well powerful enough. Then the crackling began, and - back they went! (Amazon have a good return policy)
Posted By: Macy

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 12:24 AM

Quote
I know that monitors give a flat sound and are very good to get all the details of the sounds


All "monitors" sound exactly alike. It doesn't matter how big they are, or what they cost, or what company makes them. They all produce exactly the same sound. That is why they get to be called "monitors" by their manufacturers.

Of course if you don't believe that, then you should probably forget about whether something is called a "monitor" or not, and try out a bunch of quality speakers and "monitors" in a variety of price ranges from a variety of manufacturers until you find something that sounds good to your ears with your piano (or something equivalent) in a retail shop. Then ask to take home several models and try them out on your piano in various places in your room at the sound levels you want to use, and then make a final decision. No reputable retailer would try to sell you quality speakers without letting you try their store demo pair at home first.

Unfortunately, you will probably find out that generally the more you pay in $50-$1000 range for speakers from any particular manufacturer, the better they will sound. i.e. in general you really do get what you pay for. But at some price point (wildly different for different people), price vs perceived sound quality is no longer monotonic.






Posted By: Allan W.

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 12:30 AM

I use large floorstanding home theater speakers with my software piano sounds and I'm quite happy with them. I don't think there's a reason to use monitors over floorstanding, except you might need to buy an extra stereo power amplifier for them. It might cost around $50 for an OK amplifier.
Posted By: gvfarns

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 12:41 AM

I'm not saying monitors are necessarily the way to go, but they do have one advantage: Monitors often have balanced inputs. This precludes most cases of ground loops if your piano or audio interface has balanced outs. Very convenient. I'm sure there are amps with balanced inputs but they don't seem to be common.

When I first got started with software pianos I hooked my speakers up to my audio interface at the time (which did NOT have balanced outs) but electrical noise from the computer traveled down the USB cable and then through the audio cable. The latter turned into annoying hums and other noises when I moved my mouse and did other things on the computer. When I changed to a different audio interface and made the analog connection balanced everything was perfect and silent.

I'm a big fan of balanced connections.
Posted By: iceporky

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 02:12 AM

They say there's no difference between a monitor and a speaker. See thread:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/608527-monitors-vs-speakers.html
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 02:29 PM

How can this be???
Originally Posted by Macy
All "monitors" sound exactly alike. It doesn't matter how big they are, or what they cost, or what company makes them. They all produce exactly the same sound. That is why they get to be called "monitors" by their manufacturers.
If they all sounded exactly alike, then everyone would buy the cheapest one.
Why buy a more expensive model that sounds exactly the same?? smile
Posted By: Charles Cohen

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 03:13 PM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
How can this be???
Originally Posted by Macy
All "monitors" sound exactly alike. It doesn't matter how big they are, or what they cost, or what company makes them. They all produce exactly the same sound. That is why they get to be called "monitors" by their manufacturers.
If they all sounded exactly alike, then everyone would buy the cheapest one.
Why buy a more expensive model that sounds exactly the same?? smile


PMFJI --

Macy was being sarcastic, there.

His _real_ point was in his second paragraph -- "If you don't believe this . . . " -- which has a good suggestion for what to do, and for how the world _really_ is.

. Charles

PS -- apologies to Macy, if I got this wrong.
Posted By: Michael Martinez

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 03:52 PM

As someone else said, I'm not a Hi-Fi buff. At home I've got my synths going through a mixer, into a digital 8-track, and out to a pair of Behringer MS-16s (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00181T20O/ref=oh_details_o07_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)

Between the speakers and my headphones, I can get a close approximation to the type of mix I'm looking for. The sound coming from the speakers works fine for my needs, but may not be the quality you're looking for.
Posted By: ColinH

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 03:59 PM

Hi,

It depends what you want to achieve and what your budget is / funds available are. Its easy to commit a lot of cash on upgrades, so my advice would be try to think longer term.

I have a CP33 (an upgrade from a P85 in 2009 when I started learning) and found that the HS10 sub with the HS50s provided quite a realistic sound, with a little bass boost / top cut from a Xenyx 802 mixer. However it didn't stop there as I then went on to install a software piano on the PC and ended up running Garritan Basic Authorised Steinway to get the "best" sound possible at acceptable cost.

When I bought a Kawai K-6 vertical earlier this year I initially missed the "Steinway" tone I had, but the Kawai is close enough in tone, and the touch / dynamics much better.

I've since learned that an acoustic plus a good digital delivers the best of both worlds, but its been expensive, so be aware.
Posted By: spanishbuddha

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 06:42 PM

I used to use monitors and a multi-band EQ.

I would say the EQ cannot always overcome the tone bias and deficiencies on 'speakers'.

The advice given about testing speakers at home with the target keyboard is sound. Testing in a store against some other source is pointless.
Posted By: Alfort

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 06:59 PM

Many thanks for all the replies.
Apparently it is not an easy question to answer. Many variables have to be considered.
The ideal way to go would be through trial and error but realistically I cannot compare speakers, amps, monitors, mixers, EQs...

So far reading your comments and other forums the option of the HS50M (or the new HS5 :)) seems to be safer.
I prefer to hear any lacks of my piano samples than hear a coloured sound without detail which can hide mistakes in my playing. And I can always connect some EQ to tweak the sound.

What I see is that with monitors you can go from flat to coloured. But with speakers you cannot go from coloured to flat.
Posted By: Marko in Boston

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 07:03 PM


Im new to using studio monitors, but IMO I still think an EQ is a good tool (on-board, external, or both) when using monitors. You will most likely be disappointed if you go straight from the keyboard to the speakers. Most decent monitors have some manual frequency filters built in that you can adjust which is good. However, you might need to adjust more depending on your taste, size of room, volume, etc. In this case, an EQ can be helpful when a DP does not have an EQ function such as CP33.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 07:19 PM

I have to disagree with this:
Quote
I have thought on putting them under the keyboard at mid height and pointing to the wall trying to emulate an upright piano.
Aiming speakers at the wall will not emulate a piano. Doing that will just muffle the tone.

Sure, an acoustic piano will project some of its sound away from you (ex: toward the wall). But it also projects sound toward you ... and some in all other directions.

But you can't ask a speaker to do that. If you aim it at the wall, you'll get little or no direct sound, only wall-reflected sound.

I'd recommend placing the speakers at the same height as your ears, aimed directly at you.
Posted By: Macy

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/07/13 09:01 PM

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
How can this be???
Originally Posted by Macy
All "monitors" sound exactly alike. It doesn't matter how big they are, or what they cost, or what company makes them. They all produce exactly the same sound. That is why they get to be called "monitors" by their manufacturers.
If they all sounded exactly alike, then everyone would buy the cheapest one.
Why buy a more expensive model that sounds exactly the same?? smile


PMFJI --

Macy was being sarcastic, there.

His _real_ point was in his second paragraph -- "If you don't believe this . . . " -- which has a good suggestion for what to do, and for how the world _really_ is.

. Charles

PS -- apologies to Macy, if I got this wrong.

Of course that is right.

There really are reasons that certain speakers may be better suited for use in a studio (and logically called monitors), and certainly stage speakers should be far more rugged and forgiving of overloads (just one example) than home speakers. But thinking that a marketing label like "monitor" has an intrinsic guarantee of a particular frequency response or dispersion or any other particular sound quality is a fantasy.
Posted By: scorpio

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 01:27 AM

This topic comes up quite a bit. I keep hearing of monitors being purchased. But has anyone recently purchased passive speakers for their DP? Unless I am missing something, some postings, there is no talk of any specific passive speakers. I know some have older speakers that are being recycled. Is there anything on the market now that seems to being working for anyone?
Posted By: Duke LeJeune

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 07:27 AM

It sounds to me like we're using the word "monitor" to mean "mixing monitor", which is a small powered speaker designed to go on top of a recording console or otherwise be listened to nearfield. This type of monitor was designed for a specific function that doesn't necessarily translate over to amplifying digital piano. That function is, to do an excellent job of revealing what's in the mix, so that the engineer can set the relative levels of all the voices and instruments correctly.

A mixing monitor does not need to be flat; it can have a midrange emphasis, and that may even help the recording engineer. The Yahama NS10M is FAR from flat, but it's a very useful tool. Nor does a mixing monitor need extended low end; the low end EQ can be fixed in the mastering process, but a mixing monitor does need to get the decay of the bass instruments right, so that the engineer can easily differentiate between the bass and the kick. Sealed boxes are generally better than vented boxes in this department, but sealed boxes don't go as deep as comparable vented boxes, so they may sound thin in comparison. That's okay for a tool in the recording engineer's toolkit, but it may not be the best bang-for-the-buck choice for amplifying digital piano.

Because a mixing monitor is designed for nearfield use, the designer places a very low priority on its off-axis response. But in most rooms, most of the sound that reaches most listeners originates in the speakers' off-axis response. The big mastering, or main, monitors in the studio are designed to get not only the on-axis sound right, but also the off-axis sound, so that they fully reveal what the mix really sounds like, which facilitates final tweaking. The mastering process is too late to fix the relative of levels of bass and kick, but it is not too late to EQ the recording so that it sounds balanced. One of my day jobs is designing custom main monitors, and one of the studios honored in Mix Magazine's "Class of 2013" feature in the current (June 2013) issue uses a pair of mains that I designed.

Now some "monitor" speakers are aimed more at the home studio market, and are voiced more like minature mains, and those are more likely to work well for amplifying digital piano. But still the emphasis is on the on-axis sound, and the off-axis sound is usually compromised as a result (virtually everything in speaker design involves tradeoffs).

In order to do a decent job of replicating the "feel" of a real piano, in my opinion getting the reveberant field right is critical. So is the dynamic contrast. So is the rich harmonic interplay and inner detail. I also design home audio speakers, and piano is easy to reproduce, but really really hard to reproduce well.

Sorry I can't finish this ramble with a list of speakers to consider. But I mainly just wanted to point out that the job of a "monitor" may well be very different from what you're looking for.

Specs won't tell you how it sounds, but your ears will. Here is what I suggest: Audition with a high quality recording that you are very familiar with. When you've found a speaker or two that sounds good, turn the volume up a bit louder than normal, and walk out the room. Listen through the open doorway with no line-of-sight to the speakers. From out there, all you can possibly hear is the reverberant field. Does it still sound natural? If so, that means the speaker is getting the reverberant field right, and imo that bodes extremely well for amplifying digital piano.
Posted By: mabraman

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 09:38 AM

Best post so far on this issue. Thanks a lot for the information.
Posted By: rnaple

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 12:20 PM

I"d like to add to Duke LeJeune. But from a completely different point of view.

Basically, what it all comes down to is cost. I can guarantee you that you spend enough money. You can have audio reproduction that is impressive. It has nothing to do with monitors versus passive. Yes, passive studio monitors do exist. They aren't popular though. Basically, cheaper is cheaper for a reason.
You can also spend alot of money and still have junk. You need to be smart. You need to listen for yourself. You need the right combination from beginning to end.

I use studio monitors because I live in an apartment. I want decent audio. I don't want my neighbors complaining. I want the audio right on top of me. Not next door.

One secret is that power is not for playing loud. It is for playing soft, accurately. You need headroom on the amp. Otherwise soft leaves wimpy bass and no dynamic range.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 01:08 PM

To try to further clarify some of the loose terminology on this thread, there is no inherent distinction between "monitors" and "passive speakers."

The opposite of a "passive" speaker is an "active" (self-powered) speaker.

Monitors are available in both passive and active variations. (As are PA speakers.)

To add to the confusion, in the PA world, the word "monitor" refers to a speaker that allows the player/singer to hear himself (as opposed to the speakers that are directed toward the audience), but that's not what we're talking about here.

In the recording world, the word "monitor" most often refers to something designed to reproduce sound as accurately as possible. (Which is not to say that all speakers with this name achieve that objective equally well.) The term is often used to distinguish them from "hifi" speakers which are often not designed for accuracy, but instead designed to make things "sound good." So if your ears happen to enjoy music that is very bright, or more subdued, or with thumping bass, or whatever, you can probably find a brand/model of hifi speaker that, to your ears, seems to make everything sound "better," and you'll enjoy listening to music more through that speaker than through something that provides something more faithful to what is actually on the recording. At least that's what the manufacturers of these speakers are counting on, so you'll pick their brand in the showroom. The goal of many of these speakers is not so much accuracy, but rather to impress. No speakers are completely neutral, but for monitors, unlike many hifi speakers, at least that is more often the goal.

In the recording world, there are two kinds of monitors... large studio monitors that have full frequency response and generally play quite loud, and "near field" monitors that are smaller and are designed to be listened to in close proximity and away from walls... they will not have the bass response or maximum level capabilities of the full size monitors, but the goal is generally for them to be as accurate as possible within their capabilities, and the idea is also that they should sound about the same regardless of the listening environment, since room reflections are not the issue they are with large speakers. (Of course, a proper studio is acoustically treated to try to minimize room-specific issues as well, even when using large speakers, but that's a whole other topic.) Engineers also have the benefit of knowing they can bring these nearfield monitors from studio to studio (or specify that the same model be available), and not have to worry so much about the sonic characteristics of a particular studio's playback idiosyncrasies, they are always working with a "known quantity."

As for the question about what to get for a piano, I'll leave specific recommendations to others. But just a couple of points to consider... There's no inherent reason for either active or passive speakers to be better than the other, although there is arguably a benefit to knowing that an amp is particularly well matched to a speakers' design, as it presumably is in an active system. Also, a speaker specifically designed to be a professional nearfield monitor will sound its best away from walls, and typical home placement often precludes that, so you may not get all the benefit that you're paying for.

Also, in general, at a given price, there tends to be a trade-off between speakers with a "bigger" sound (louder, more bass) and models with a more accurate sound (i.e. flatter and perhaps more dynamically linear frequency response, less distortion). So budget comes into play here as well. A relatively low-priced monitor, while ostensibly more accurate, may not be so satisfying for piano if it lacks the low end and the volume that you desire, piano being such a demanding instrument to reproduce in frequency response and dynamic range.
Posted By: cabi

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 03:46 PM

Anotherschott, very good explanation.
Passive monitor or speaker+ amplifier or ative monitor(speaker) can be use for DP. It´s important the frequency range ,right? Which is the good frequency range for DP?
Posted By: Temperament

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 07:57 PM

Hallo, Duke,

I am very interested to hear Your opinion about this:

These speakers were suggested earlier by Dewster to build home made boxes with them?

Would they be able to bring the quality of built in speaker systems in most current DPs to the next level?

Speaker kits

Thx.
Posted By: Temperament

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 08:13 PM

Hi, Scott, Your last advice contradicts somewhat the opinion of others: You are saying that smaller near-field monitors (with diameters around 5") were not very appropriate because of the lacking bass. (I complement my Genelec 8020 sometimes with a 12" sub as well, which seems a little bit of an overkill).

Others were saying that smaller near fields would offer the best choice for the particular placement which is indeed very close to listener's ears.

I was speculating, that the pronounced punctual sound source with directional monitors could make the narrowing effects with sampled pianos' sound image worse. There could the use of multiple boxes or at least of lesser directional boxes be possibly helpful.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 08:32 PM

Originally Posted by Temperament
Hi, Scott, Your last advice contradicts somewhat the opinion of others: You are saying that smaller near-field monitors (with diameters around 5") were not very appropriate because of the lacking bass.

I didn't talk about different sizes of near-field monitors, I talked about them as an entire product category. And I didn't say they were inappropriate. But yes, there's a trade-off in that, all else being equal, the smaller you go, the less bass you have.
Posted By: Allan W.

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 09:35 PM

Here is a picture of my setup. I think it sounds pretty good with software DP like Ivory, especially when the volume is cranked up to grand piano levels. The speakers were $500 for the pair. Giant speakers tend to have good low-end. I have an EQ in order to turn down the bass frequencies a bit. I have a subwoofer but I don't use it. The floorstanding speakers are propped up on a block of concrete to raise the tweeters to around ear level. edit: this is because I'm sitting so close to the speakers. I think in normal home theater applications this wouldn't be absolutely necessary.

http://i.imgur.com/ZbAWonn.jpg

And the benefit is having a really nice sounding home theater system in my bedroom, since my computer can play into these speakers.
Posted By: gvfarns

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 10:43 PM

Looks fun. Make and model of the speakers and receiver?
Posted By: rnaple

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/09/13 11:43 PM

I don't think those speakers are big enough. ... smile
Posted By: Duke LeJeune

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/10/13 11:55 AM

Originally Posted by Temperament
Hallo, Duke,

I am very interested to hear your opinion about this:

These speakers were suggested earlier by Dewster to build home made boxes with them?

Would they be able to bring the quality of built in speaker systems in most current DPs to the next level?

Speaker kits

Thx.

Hello Temperament,

I don't know enough about what sort of speakers are already in current DPs to say for sure the "fullrange" (more precisely "wideband") drivers in the post you linked to would be a significant improvement. I can tell you that the little bamboo-cone Tang Band would be my choice in that size category (4" diameter). If you decide to go that route, Tang Band makes a very similar speaker in a round frame whose specs look marginally better to me, same price:

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=264-914

The marginal superiority of the round-frame version stems from its slightly more powerful magnet, at least according to the spec sheet.

Are you considering building your own pair of external speakers, based on the little bamboo-cone Tang Band? Would you consider using two such drivers per speaker box, if I could convince you that it would be a worthwhile improvement? There is an unorthodox speaker design that I think would work better for DP than most conventional approaches, but you'd have to go with two drivers per box.
Posted By: Temperament

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/10/13 08:36 PM

Thank You very much, Duke,

I take Your kindly advice. It is actually my 17 ys old son, whom I will to motivate to do this for me (and for himself) during his summer holidays from school. He has showed some interest already and has technical skills - much more then I, being interested more in theoretical aspects).

What You are suggesting (4 speakers), seems intuitively very plausible: an instrument body has much bigger dimensions and to emulate this by a sound sources which are pinning down a rectangle surface by its 4 corners is qualititively more than the line between a pair of speakers.

Will be a most exciting adventure for us anyway, I expect... How important the amp and the proper choice/preparation of the boxes would be, or this design potential is more secondary to the type and number of speakers?
Posted By: Duke LeJeune

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/11/13 02:30 AM

Originally Posted by Temperament
It is actually my 17 ys old son, whom I will to motivate to do this for me (and for himself) during his summer holidays from school. He has showed some interest already and has technical skills - much more then I, being interested more in theoretical aspects).

I see that you are in Hungary - and your English is at least as good as mine! Hopefully the project will appeal to your son's technical side and your theoretical side.

Originally Posted by Temperament
What You are suggesting (4 speakers), seems intuitively very plausible: an instrument body has much bigger dimensions and to emulate this by a sound sources which are pinning down a rectangle surface by its 4 corners is qualititively more than the line between a pair of speakers.

What I suggest is two speaker enclosures (left and right channel), each with two Tang Band 4" bamboo-cone fullrange drivers. Where it gets interesting is, the configuration: Bipolar. One driver facing forward, one facing backwards. When done right, this configuration interacts with the room more like an actual acoustic instrument does, and also works with the ear/brain system better than conventional monopole speakers. I say "when done right", because how to do it right isn't obvious, and took me a while to figure out. I will go into the theory at another time.

Originally Posted by Temperament
How important the amp and the proper choice/preparation of the boxes would be, or this design potential is more secondary to the type and number of speakers?

There is more variation between speakers, as far as sound quality goes, than there is between amplifiers. So in that sense, speakers are more important than amps, in my opinion. You will have the choice of wiring the speakers to present a 4-ohm load, or a 16-ohm load. Most modern solid state amps are happy with a 4-ohm load, but some tube amps are quite happy with a 16-ohm load.

I will come up with a recommended enclosure design (which you can of course modify if you wish). If you think the members of this forum might be interested in your project, we could do it as a separate thread, and that would make the enclosure design available to anyone who wants to try it.

Now just so you know, any speaker system that only uses two 4" full-range drivers will have its inherent limitations. It won't go very loud, or very deep. It will do some things better than a comparable-cost 2-way (woofer + tweeter) speaker, and some things not as well. But if I was going to manufacture a small speaker based on a 4" fullrange driver, what I'm going to design for you is how I would do it. Fullrange drivers are great for DIY because, no crossover required. And crossover design is the hard part of speaker design.
Posted By: Charles Cohen

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/11/13 07:20 AM

Originally Posted by Duke LeJeune
. . .
I will come up with a recommended enclosure design (which you can of course modify if you wish). If you think the members of this forum might be interested in your project, we could do it as a separate thread, and that would make the enclosure design available to anyone who wants to try it.

Now just so you know, any speaker system that only uses two 4" full-range drivers will have its inherent limitations. It won't go very loud, or very deep. It will do some things better than a comparable-cost 2-way (woofer + tweeter) speaker, and some things not as well. But if I was going to manufacture a small speaker based on a 4" fullrange driver, what I'm going to design for you is how I would do it. Fullrange drivers are great for DIY because, no crossover required. And crossover design is the hard part of speaker design.


I'd be very interested in the design. And very interested in its limitations (how loud? how deep?).

I suggest starting a new thread.

. Charles
Posted By: Temperament

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/11/13 07:33 AM

Thank You Duke, giving this support to a project with a very exciting perspective.

As a complete enthusiast layman I cannot imagine, how big it would be as a project, but I am preparing ourselves to start with it (unfortunately, not before about 2-3 weeks time, my son has to finish semester and after then he must undergo a smaller shoulder operation before we can start).

But the result should very exciting either way: if the outcome shows this way we can't achieve a significant sound quality boost, I would regard this as a relevant information about state of the art DP technology - just more so if it should turn out, that there is a large potential for commercial DP development....

I'll open also a new thread for this.

Many thanks.
Posted By: Duke LeJeune

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/12/13 09:07 AM

Originally Posted by Temperament
Thank You Duke, giving this support to a project with a very exciting perspective.

As a complete enthusiast layman I cannot imagine, how big it would be as a project, but I am preparing ourselves to start with it (unfortunately, not before about 2-3 weeks time, my son has to finish semester and after then he must undergo a smaller shoulder operation before we can start).

I certainly wish your son the very best with his shoulder operation!

I don't think this will be a terribly difficult project. You'll need to make two boxes, each roughly 400 mm tall by 270 mm wide by 180 mm deep. Plywood would be great. Each box will have one speaker cut-out on the front, and one on the back. You'll also be installing input terminals (perhaps in a "cup"), and a small port. Fancy joints not needed - butt joints are fine. You'll also be soldering some internal wiring and/or crimping on some connectors.

Originally Posted by Temperament
But the result should very exciting either way: if the outcome shows this way we can't achieve a significant sound quality boost, I would regard this as a relevant information about state of the art DP technology - just more so if it should turn out, that there is a large potential for commercial DP development....

Well, I certainly don't have plans to do this speaker commercially. The most expensive part of manufacturing a speaker is assembling the enclosure, and in order to be competitive, a low-cost speaker enclosure almost has to come from Asia by the container-load. I am in no position to invest that much money into such a venture... but on the other hand the chance to build it yourself and save money may make it attractive to digital piano players.

I promised you some theory. Briefly, we are going to try to approximate the sort of sound field an acoustic instrument (in this case a piano) creates in a room. The key ingredient of that sound field is a well-energized, spectrally correct, fairly diffuse reverberant field. Most small speakers do a decent job with the first-arrival sound, but a lousy job with the reverberant field, whereas acoustic instruments do just as good a job with the reverberant field as with the first-arrival sound. By using a second fullrange driver to send a fullrange signal off the back of the cab, dedicated entirely to the reverberant field, we hope to recreate a bit more of the "feel" of a live instrument.

Here's an article I wrote for an online magazine about the full-scale incarnation of this concept. The intended audience is the high-end home audio world, but most of the principles apply to amplified acoustic piano:

http://www.hifizine.com/2010/06/the-controlled-pattern-offset-bipole-loudspeaker/

My first commercial product embodying these principles received a "Golden Ear Award" from The Absolute Sound magazine, one of the top two high-end audio print magazines in the US.

Originally Posted by Temperament
I'll open also a new thread for this.

Sounds great. When you are ready to begin, shoot me an e-mail, audiokinesis@yahoo.com . I don't always check in here regularly, and I don't want you to start without me!

Also if you have any questions or concerns before you get started, feel free to contact me there as well, or here in this forum if you prefer.

I'd like to outline some of the pro's and con's of small fullrange drivers, in hopes of giving you plenty of relevant information before you start spending money.

To recap, here's the driver I recommend:

http://www.parts-express.com/pedocs/specs/264-914-tang-band-w4-1320sif-specifications.pdf

The main advantages of fullrange drivers are:

1. No crossover. Crossovers are usually the most technically challenging part of a speaker design, and no crossover means great coherence comes automatically.

2. Relatively high bang-for-the-buck in the lower price ranges.

3. As long as they're not pushed too hard, fullrange drivers tend to have very nice midrange.

The main disadvantages are:

1. The conflicting requirements for covering the top and bottom end of the spectrum mean that compromises must be made, and they are usually most apparent at either end of the spectrum (the on-axis curve of this speaker looks good at the top end, but it will be beaming badly in that top octave).

2. Loss of clarity at high sound pressure levels. When the cone has to move far to reproduce bass signals, that degrades the clarity of mid and high frequency signals.

Posted By: Temperament

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/13/13 12:03 PM


Thx. a lot, I'll come back soon, now we have decided to do this definitely...
Posted By: Duke LeJeune

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/14/13 02:19 AM

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
I'd be very interested in the design. And very interested in its limitations (how loud? how deep?).

I suggest starting a new thread.

I accidentally scrolled past your post the other day, sorry Charles.

Excellent questions!

Okay the limiting factor is going to be excursion, rather than thermal power handling, and I think the speaker will start to run into excursion issues around 10-15 watts input. That translates into high-90's SPL. This based on somewhat educated guesswork. It's not going to begin to fill a big room, but might be pretty good for practice in a small room.

On the low end, well 4" fullrange drivers don't go very deep, that's just the nature of the beast. I'm setting my sights on 54 Hz, trying to get close to -6 dB in that region; -3 dB just isn't feasible. I figure -6 dB is subdued but still audible, so that you can tell what you're doing. Why 54 Hz? That's the first overtone of low A, and the ear/brain can fill in the missing fundamental if it can hear the rest of the note.

Asssuming the build will be its own thread, I can recap as needed there.

Originally Posted by Temperament

Thx. a lot, I'll come back soon, now we have decided to do this definitely...

Sounds good. Nothing I've said here is carved in stone, if your target changes, we'll recalibrate and see where that puts us.

The only thing I'm not really willng to do for a project like this is crossover design. To do it right, I'd have to buy the drivers, build the box, measure the drivers in the box, design the crossover, build the crossover, measure refine measure, listen refine listen, until it's good. That's what I do for my day job, rather than as a hobby, so I wouldn't want to put a crossover design out there with my name attached that wasn't refined to my satisfaction, and that could take a couple of days, which is more time than I can spare.
Posted By: imyself

Re: Monitors or passive speakers to enjoy better playing piano - 06/14/13 02:53 AM

Originally Posted by Allan W.
Here is a picture of my setup.
...
http://i.imgur.com/ZbAWonn.jpg

And the benefit is having a really nice sounding home theater system in my bedroom, since my computer can play into these speakers.
if you allow me: whaaooh! thumb wow
© 2019 Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums