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I wonder if headphones preamps can help digital pianos, especially cheap ones, to sound fuller in headphones. Has anyone such an experience?


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Yes they can... but don't use the headphone jacks on the piano... they have a really poor amplifier (generally).

Take whatever Line Outs are on you piano to the headphones amp. I use a really old, little Grado RA1 amp to a pair of Focal headphones. Nice.

But beware, if you use a good amp and headphones, you may start to hear flaws in your piano's sound engine. Danger...... upgrade rocks ahead.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

Last edited by Bruce In Philly; 03/27/21 08:34 PM.

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Not these days, but I had an issue with my headphones and one of my older DPs that was corrected nicely with an inexpensive headphone amp:

http://www.lucidlaboratories.com/headphone-amplifiers


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If the line out of the piano is pro line level (+4dBu) you will benefit from using a headphone amp with that input sensitivity. Using an amp with consumer line level sensitivity will result in dynamic range compression. Using the headphone amp in a tabletop mixer gives you the mixer functions as a bonus. A Behringer AMP-800 is another option.

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Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Yes they can... but don't use the headphone jacks on the piano... they have a really poor amplifier (generally).

Take whatever Line Outs are on you piano to the headphones amp. I use a really old, little Grado RA1 amp to a pair of Focal headphones. Nice.

But beware, if you use a good amp and headphones, you may start to hear flaws in your piano's sound engine. Danger...... upgrade rocks ahead.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

Interesting... hadn't heard that the headphone amp, in general, has a poor amp compared to the presumably hotter output from the line outs.

AFAIK, the output from the line outs are -10 being that this is consumer gear using 1/4" jacks. I imagine the boards with XLR OUTS are running at +4.

You shouldn't need a headphone amp with low ohm headphones. I've heard though that even low ohm headphones can benefit from a good headphone amp. Not sure why.

Last edited by Randyman; 03/28/21 03:32 AM.

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Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Yes they can... but don't use the headphone jacks on the piano... they have a really poor amplifier (generally).

Take whatever Line Outs are on you piano to the headphones amp. I use a really old, little Grado RA1 amp to a pair of Focal headphones. Nice.

But beware, if you use a good amp and headphones, you may start to hear flaws in your piano's sound engine. Danger...... upgrade rocks ahead.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Just be aware of that some pianos don't use the same samples for line out as for the headphone jack.


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Originally Posted by johanibraaten
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Yes they can... but don't use the headphone jacks on the piano... they have a really poor amplifier (generally).

Take whatever Line Outs are on you piano to the headphones amp. I use a really old, little Grado RA1 amp to a pair of Focal headphones. Nice.

But beware, if you use a good amp and headphones, you may start to hear flaws in your piano's sound engine. Danger...... upgrade rocks ahead.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Just be aware of that some pianos don't use the same samples for line out as for the headphone jack.

Really? Can you please name a couple of models?


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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
Originally Posted by johanibraaten
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Yes they can... but don't use the headphone jacks on the piano... they have a really poor amplifier (generally).

Take whatever Line Outs are on you piano to the headphones amp. I use a really old, little Grado RA1 amp to a pair of Focal headphones. Nice.

But beware, if you use a good amp and headphones, you may start to hear flaws in your piano's sound engine. Danger...... upgrade rocks ahead.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Just be aware of that some pianos don't use the same samples for line out as for the headphone jack.

Really? Can you please name a couple of models?

johanibraaten is probably referring to the P515's CFX samples. The headphone outputs when using CFX switch to the Binaural Samples of the CFX.


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Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
I use a really old, little Grado RA1 amp to a pair of Focal headphones. Nice.

Hang on to the RA1 Bruce - these beauties are hard to find!

Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Yes they can... but don't use the headphone jacks on the piano... they have a really poor amplifier (generally).

I'll suggest one exception to this, and only for Yamaha DPs. The CFX sampling on some (or most, these days?) Yamaha DPs when plugging in headphones, switch to the Binaural Samples recorded specially for headphones. But Bruce is still correct in saying the headphone outputs are poorly amplified. So, what I have done is take the headphone out, split it and inserted each channel into two separate line ins of a mixer. The output from the mixer alone is enough to provide an enhanced experience of these special samples. A headphone amplifier also improves the sound, but I have a Presonus amp, which is not really a hi-fi.


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I've got an N1X and always use a very good external headphone amp driven by what Yamaha calls line outs {and which aren't really--they aren't fixed. but vary with the piano volume knob). The sound is, for me, unambiguously better. I thought at first that this was chiefly because better external amps tend to br more powerful, and as such, capable handling peaks and transients better. But things sound better even when I use high end in-ear phones that don't require much power.

Last edited by NormB; 03/28/21 09:37 AM.
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I'll suggest one exception to this, and only for Yamaha DPs. The CFX sampling on some (or most, these days?) Yamaha DPs when plugging in headphones, switch to the Binaural Samples recorded specially for headphones.

On my N1X I just use the better quality line outs into a headphone amp, and stick a phone plug into the headphone jack on the piano. Then I get binaural sound out of the line outs.

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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
Originally Posted by johanibraaten
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Yes they can... but don't use the headphone jacks on the piano... they have a really poor amplifier (generally).

Take whatever Line Outs are on you piano to the headphones amp. I use a really old, little Grado RA1 amp to a pair of Focal headphones. Nice.

But beware, if you use a good amp and headphones, you may start to hear flaws in your piano's sound engine. Danger...... upgrade rocks ahead.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Just be aware of that some pianos don't use the same samples for line out as for the headphone jack.

Really? Can you please name a couple of models?
The Casio's used to do this in a way, same sample but different eq applied to the headphone out. Similar shaping for some Yamaha's, binaural versus stereo.

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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
Originally Posted by johanibraaten
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Yes they can... but don't use the headphone jacks on the piano... they have a really poor amplifier (generally).

Take whatever Line Outs are on you piano to the headphones amp. I use a really old, little Grado RA1 amp to a pair of Focal headphones. Nice.

But beware, if you use a good amp and headphones, you may start to hear flaws in your piano's sound engine. Danger...... upgrade rocks ahead.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Just be aware of that some pianos don't use the same samples for line out as for the headphone jack.

Really? Can you please name a couple of models?

Most recent Yamaha models have different samples for headphones (binaural), but other brands to, like Kawai and Roland, do things with the headphone sound to enhance the experience besides amplification that can be tricky to achieve when amping the line out signal.


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Originally Posted by Randyman
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Yes they can... but don't use the headphone jacks on the piano... they have a really poor amplifier (generally).

Take whatever Line Outs are on you piano to the headphones amp. I use a really old, little Grado RA1 amp to a pair of Focal headphones. Nice.

But beware, if you use a good amp and headphones, you may start to hear flaws in your piano's sound engine. Danger...... upgrade rocks ahead.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

Interesting... hadn't heard that the headphone amp, in general, has a poor amp compared to the presumably hotter output from the line outs.

AFAIK, the output from the line outs are -10 being that this is consumer gear using 1/4" jacks. I imagine the boards with XLR OUTS are running at +4.

You shouldn't need a headphone amp with low ohm headphones. I've heard though that even low ohm headphones can benefit from a good headphone amp. Not sure why.

1/4" TS (unbalanced) and 1/4" TRS (balanced) and XLR are standard connectors for +4dBu. RCA plugs are standard for -10dBV.

Output on some keyboards may be low so that +4dBu is not achieved, and some amateur-oriented keyboards may be designed to output -10dBV over 1/4" TS so that when a home user just naively wires it up to a consumer stereo amp they don't burn out their amp from overspec'ing the voltage input.

Whether the output is +4dBu or -10dBV and whether it is balanced or unbalanced are two independent things, other than I've never seen -10dBV balanced.

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There is a relationship between the level and the balanced option.

+4dBu is a pro level while -10dBu is consumer level.

profesionnal devices are more likely to have balanced outputs. And Consumer devices are surely unbalanced. But some instruments have both balanced and unbalanced outputs : they are likely to be at the same level. My UR22 is +10dBu unbalanced. Then a +XXdBu is not always a synonymous of balanced.

Last edited by Frédéric L; 03/28/21 03:05 PM.

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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
I wonder if headphones preamps can help digital pianos, especially cheap ones, to sound fuller in headphones. Has anyone such an experience?
I purchased a headphone amp for my Roland FP-90, but not a cheap one. I use Rupert Neuve and it does improve the sound, the difference is noticeable but I would say it is not night and day - without, the sound is muffled and boomy to my taste, there is much more clarity with the amp.
I use lines out output on the piano, with TRS connection to the amp the sound is not louder / same volume for me, but clearer, the signal is stronger if using RSA connection on the amplifier.

Notice that headphone ambience won’t work for line out (because it is not a headphone output).


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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
There is a relationship between the level and the balanced option.

+4dBu is a pro level while -10dBu is consumer level.

profesionnal devices are more likely to have balanced outputs. And Consumer devices are surely unbalanced. But some instruments have both balanced and unbalanced outputs : they are likely to be at the same level. My UR22 is +10dBu unbalanced. Then a +XXdBu is not always a synonymous of balanced.
One would expect that, but the overwhelming majority of digital keyboards either have unbalanced +4dBu Line Out and/or headphone line level.

Balanced +4dBu is found on Roland Jupiter-50/80, RD-2000, and I think certain Yamaha and Korg keyboards. Nord stage keyboards, and many from Yamaha, Korg, and Roland support only unbalanced line out. Kawai stage pianos have unbalanced outputs. I think they are +4dBu but Kawai does not publish the spec.

Having only balanced outputs can be a problem if your amp only accepts unbalanced input-- it will work, but you will get about a 6dB attenuation as well as ither issues.

There is no standard for +10dBu that I am aware of. Pro line level is the +4dBu telephony standard. Consumer line level is -10dBV, which standardizes a decibel voltage scale so that 0dB is 1V.

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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
I wonder if headphones preamps can help digital pianos, especially cheap ones, to sound fuller in headphones. Has anyone such an experience?


Depends on your headphones. My HD-650 needs an amp (300Ohms) and I bought one. My MDR-7506 doesn't need one (63Ohms).


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Depends on your headphones. My HD-650 needs an amp (300Ohms) and I bought one. My MDR-7506 doesn't need one (63Ohms).
The headphone output stages on digital keyboards will drive MDR-7506 just fine, but the headphone op-amps in inexpensive tabletop mixers or inexpensive dedicated headphone amps are less noisy than the headphone output stage of some keyboards. A better quality keyboard often has a better quality headphone stage than that of a lower quality keyboard, as one would expect.

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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
I wonder if headphones preamps can help digital pianos, especially cheap ones, to sound fuller in headphones. Has anyone such an experience?

Do you really need pre-amps in your case? If you are tapping the line out or headphones out, then you don't need pre-amps.

Do you just want louder sound? If so, you can route the DP's lineouts into a mixer (BTW you should NOT enable the pre-amps) and connect your headphone thru it. The mixer should give you a lot more volume than the DP. It will offer you a gain adjustment on the input and another volume adjustment on the headphone out.

By "cheap", if you mean < $200, then I can recommend the Yamaha AG03 or AG06 line of mini mixers. The AG03 that I have gives no noticeable noise on the DP lineout input when on max gain and volume. It's amazing how clean the sound is from such cheap little mixer.

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