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I recently bought a pair of JBL 305PMKII 5" monitors for my personal use with my Yamaha P515. I'm not completely satisfied with the sound out of these. Anyone have a better recommendation?

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I use a pair of Adam Audio T7V. I like them very much.

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Do you use them along with the onboard speakers or just alone?

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The onboard speakers stink. I only use the monitors.
Originally Posted by danno858
Do you use them along with the onboard speakers or just alone?
BTW ... I have an old Clav, not a P515.

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Hello,

@danno858, For my piano setup, I also bought those same JBLs. I found them to be unpleasant and swiftly returned them.

After further testing and comparing of options, I chose to use fine Wharfedale bookshelf-type speakers (the same type I was already fond of for my music listening and TV watching), paired with restored '90s Onkyo amplifiers. I am over the 🌛 with the results.

Most often monitors are discussed and chosen here on this forum, but I'd encourage you to consider HiFi gear as a great option as well.

Cheers and happy experimenting,

HZ

PS To get a real bodied piano sound, I expanded my setup to two restored Onkyos and six Wharfedales, placed so as to resemble an upright piano's sound production. I love it.

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Thanks everyone for your comments. I am only using these for my personal enjoyment - not trying to mix or record professionally. So what is better for this purpose? Monitors or stereo speakers (hi-fi)? I just want a fuller, richer piano sound so I feel like it's coming from an acoustic. I actually don't mind the on-board speakers - at least in my living room which has 20 foot ceiling in half the room but I thought i might get a little improvement with monitors or speakers. The area where I have the piano only has 9 ft ceiling. The acoustics are pretty nice in this room

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@danno858: The question: Monitors or stereo speakers: Which is better for this purpose?
The answer: Whichever sounds best to you.

For everyone here who prefers one ... there's someone else who prefers the other. And neither opinion should matter to you.

What **does** matter? Your own opinion.

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Originally Posted by danno858
I recently bought a pair of JBL 305PMKII 5" monitors for my personal use with my Yamaha P515. I'm not completely satisfied with the sound out of these. Anyone have a better recommendation?

What's wrong with the sound ?

Have you turned up the volume to match an acoustic piano ?


. Charles
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The sound to me is muddy on the monitors - and they don't really add anything to the richness, IMO. I've tried all the different settings and volumes and I've come to the conclusion that these particular monitors don't seem to add anything to the sound. Perhaps they are just too small.....5" - maybe I should have gotten bigger ones? To me the sound of the piano on these is not very realistic through these. As MacMacMac says - it might just be my own subjective preference...

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Could you describe:

. . . (a) How the monitors are connected to the P-515 ?

. . . (b) What the physical layout is like --
. . . . . . how big is the room,
. . . . . . where are the monitors and the piano located,
. . . . . . how are they pointed,
. . . . . . how are your volume levels set (on P515 and JBL 305's),
. . . . . . how far are they from your head, when you're playing,
. . . . . . are you using monitors alone,
. . . . . . or are the P-515 speakers also playing ?

"Muddy" and "richness" are both subjective(*). Based on specs alone (always dangerous!), JBL 305's should sound substantially better than the built-in speakers, and they do, _for some people_:

. . . I wonder whether it's just "personal preference",
. . . or if something might be changed, to improve your opinion of them.

(*) To me, "muddy" implies distortion and intermodulation; "richness" has to do with mid-bass frequency response. But they may mean something else to you.

Thanks --


. Charles
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The monitors are connected to the aux out L-R on the DP, using unbalanced cables. I have the piano about a foot from the wall. It is an open floorplan dining/living room. Half of the room has a 20 foot ceiling - the other half has a normal 9 ft ceiling - this is the half where the piano lives. I don't like using just the monitors alone because it doesn't sound sharp/clear enough that way. They do add some heft to the sound when I use them in conjunction with the on-board speakers. I don't like the sound using just the monitors alone. I have the volume about 80% on the monitors and the volume slider on the piano about 3/4 of the way to the right. I would say the monitors are no more than 3 feet away from my ears. The room has nice acoustics - i get a natural reverb that makes it sound like i'm in a recital room so I have the piano room environment set to "off" - I play classical piano music mostly

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Modern digital pianos model all manner of string and cabinet resonances and partials and imperfections into their sound, to try to simulate an acoustic as close as current tech allows.

In an acoustic all these plus the piano tone reaches your ears via a combination of direct and reverberant sounds, be it muddy or clear depending on room acoustics, it is natural sounding.

By design a monitor’s job is to provide a flat, direct sound for mixing, or cutting through noise in live performance. In a digital piano it also means serving the piano tone and imperfections directly into your ears, your acoustically treated room is not going to matter much in this case.

This is not an easy problem to solve. My setup is similar to HZPiano’s - without as many speakers - 2 quad 11Ls behind me nearer the corners of my room, to complement the internal piano speakers (Roland Lx706). It is by no means perfect, but it reduces the direct to reverberant sound ratio and is definitely much more immersive.

Another alternative is a different piano altogether, one with a sweeter sound and with less complex piano tones, such as the Korg Kronos or Nord Stage 3.

The one that got me thinking is a HomePod style speaker, because it fires in all directions. But unfortunately it does not have aux in. Maybe one day I’ll remove my mounted Dipole surrounds from my home theatre and test it out.

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Originally Posted by danno858
The monitors are connected to the aux out L-R on the DP, using unbalanced cables. I have the piano about a foot from the wall. It is an open floorplan dining/living room. Half of the room has a 20 foot ceiling - the other half has a normal 9 ft ceiling - this is the half where the piano lives.

All fine.

Quote
I don't like using just the monitors alone because it doesn't sound sharp/clear enough that way. They do add some heft to the sound when I use them in conjunction with the on-board speakers. I don't like the sound using just the monitors alone.

Are the monitors pointed at your ears, when you're playing? Or are they beside you, pointed out into the room ?

"Near-field monitors" (what you have) are designed to point _at the listener_. Their tweeters are directional, and they have a rather narrow "sweet spot". If they're pointed out into the room, and not at your ears, you're not hearing them as they're designed to be heard.

Quote
I have the volume about 80% on the monitors and the volume slider on the piano about 3/4 of the way to the right.

That sounds fine. If the monitors are 3' away, and pointed at your ears, you should be hearing more "monitor sound" than "piano sound". If the monitors aren't louder than the P-515, either:

. . . they're pointed wrong, or

. . . something is funny about the "Aux Out" level on the P-515.

Or there's some adjustment on the monitors that's mis-set -- I'll see if I can get a copy of the manual. (see "PS" at end)

Quote
I would say the monitors are no more than 3 feet away from my ears. The room has nice acoustics - i get a natural reverb that makes it sound like I'm in a recital room so I have the piano room environment set to "off" - I play classical piano music mostly

That's a nice arrangement -- you don't have to _simulate_ a studio, you actually have one.

Early in my DP life, I borrowed a Yamaha Stagepas 300 (a small PA system, 300 watts, two 8"-woofer speakers), and plugged it into my PX-350:

. . . the difference between that, and the built-in speakers on the PX-350,
. . . was huge -- all in favor of the Stagepas.

The P-515 has 40 watts of output power, and a compromised woofer enclosure. The pair of JBL 305's has 160 watts, and a much-less-compromised enclosure:

. . . they _should_ sound better.

PS -- try changing the "sensitivity" switches from where they are, to the other position:

. . . If the speakers play louder, that might have been a problem.

If you haven't done much playing on acoustic pianos, it's easy to forget how _loud_ they are.

Thanks for working this through, with us. You may end up returning the JBL's, but you'll have a pretty good idea _why_ you're doing it.


. Charles
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Thanks. I’ll try changing some of the sensitivity switches and positioning around my ears. Maybe I’m just going deaf. I haven’t been playing on an acoustic much over the last several years. Although I did for most of my life

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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
The P-515 has 40 watts of output power, and a compromised woofer enclosure. The pair of JBL 305's has 160 watts, and a much-less-compromised enclosure:

May I chime as someone who is happy with the built-in amplification of the P-515: You are just comparing amplification power. The P-515 amplifier output is more than enough for the average living room, you are usually not running into its power limit.

Quote
. . . they _should_ sound better.

There is still room for improvement in a P-515, but for a substantial upgrade you are going to spend more than on the P-515 itself: way into four digits. These low-budget monitors JBL 305 are just not that good. Sound-wise they are worse than what you get from the P-515 itself. For a louder experience without compromising on fidelity, I would go for Yamaha HS8 matched pair, which cost three times as much as a JBL pair for reason. However for "better sound" the sky is the limit.


Yamaha P-515

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