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Hi,

Recently saw a review of NV10 by Stu Merriam, where he said that if you keep the volume too low, you will experience the action as very heavy.

This surprised me a bit. The argument should transfer to all actions? Tried it a bit on my VPC-1 at home.

Volume did not affect the experience at all for me, but changing the veolocity curve did (or just a different VST), as you would expect. The easier it is get the "hard" sounding timbre, the lighter the action feels. Just as a different intonation on a grand will make the action feel easier.

So - is the argument Stu made something specific to the NV10? Or do some people experience that volume is related to feel of action (and not only timbre, as you would expect)

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I have the same experience with my Korg piano if playing with low volume.


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It's an illusion. You tend to smack the keys harder on low volume because it feels unresponsive if you play like on high volumes.


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It's the problem with all digital pianos. Sooner or later, your fingers will suffer for it. Acoustics are much louder and, of course, you're sat directly in front on one.


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It’s not an illusion. It’s the way our brains work. Turn up the volume to the level of a fine concert grand. This will encourage you to utilize the mp to mf range.

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It is definitely true. After not having practiced on an acoustic in a long time and then finally taking lessons on my teacher's grand again, I remembered I had to recalibrate my playing.

Beyond piano specifics, it also has to do with the way our hearing system perceives volume at different frequencies -- the bass in particular (equal loudness contours). While upper midrange frequencies scale consistently with volume, at low volumes (say, 60dB) you need a LOT more bass to perceive the same tonal balance as you would at 80dB (contrary to popular belief, the high frequencies need not change much).

The net effect is that when practicing at low volumes on a digital it is very easy to overcompensate for a perceived lack of bass by playing harder than would be necessary on an acoustic.. I'm not sure how many digital piano manufacturers, if any, account for equal loudness contours, but that would be one thing they could take advantage of to give them an edge over a VST.

This is exacerbated by the fact that many digital piano speakers don't have enough low frequency output in the first place, though it's less of an issue if you're using fairly neutral headphones or have your sound system well calibrated. And sheer volumes aside, the changing tonal balance is also likely to change the perceived the timbre of the attack as well.

I'm young, but I consider it paramount to protect my hearing, so I'm willing to give up some of that accuracy and do most of practice at lower volumes. But I do try to spend at least a few minutes a day practicing at grand-like SPLs so I can be aware and recalibrate myself.

Last edited by napilopez; 10/17/21 11:39 AM.
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Try to practice at a fairly decent volume on a digital piano. Low volumes are good enough for "silent" practice, or if you have enough experience to know what the corresponding sensation would be on a grand piano, but otherwise don't turn the volume all the way down on a digital. It doesn't have to be at 0% -- I personally try to keep it at around 30-60% of the max volume (during the daytime).

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Interesting. As I said, I did not experience this effect (subjectively). I do however experience a large effect from changing the velocity curve (and adjusting the volume to compensate). Lighter velocity curve makes the keyboard seem light to me, regardless of how low the volume is.

But with ragrds to napilopez comment, I guess its good advice to students then, especially younger who only play on digital, not to practice with the volume to low.

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When you turn down the volume on a DP, you compress the audible dynamic range.

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Some thoughts from Phil Best (don't share with your audiologist... cool )



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Hello,

Related:

Originally Posted by HZPiano
Hello,

This has puzzled me for quite some time before reaching (very) satisfactory results at last (just before reaching my wit's end, to be honest).

This turned out to be my ideal recipe:

a. Starting at the rear end of the chain (eventually working frontward), there's your amp's volume to consider (I use HiFi amplifiers with good bookshelf-type speakers. But this can also mean active monitors--being an amp+speaker(s) combined, or your piano--also being an amp+speakers combined).

b. Step a. turned out to be dependant on the audio interface. First I had a USB-powered Behringer UMC204HD with a pretty weak line out signal. I had to put my amps at 50% of their volume dial. Then I briefly had a USB-powered PreSonus 26c with a stronger signal, so the amps could go a little lower. With my current PreSonus 68c (with its own power supply and a really decent line out level) the amps are now at 25--30%.

c. I always keep the audio interface's driver settings and hardware dials at full (100% or 0dB), which in decent gear should mean the original, non-attenuated signal.

d. Then.
-> I place my smartphone on two stacked stools behind the piano, resembling the player's head position.
-> I start and reset an SPL (Sound Pressure Level) measuring app.
-> From the computer (so not from the controller/piano keyboard), I play C2 (i.e. the second-lowest C, where the lowest C is numbered C1) at the highest velocity (127). This of course using the VSTi that is to be set.
-> I aim that to have a peak SPL reading of 77dB on the smartphone.
-> I adjust the output volume slider(s) in the VSTi (in my case, UVI Workstation running Modern U) until I get that 77dB reading.
-> Important! To prevent clipping distortions, do not set those sliders above -6dB (note that to be minus 6dB). If -6dB doesn't give you that 77dB SPL, turn up your amp's volume dial instead.

This works wonderfully in getting a very realistic sound and action feeling while playing this/a VSTi through my piano setup, with a maximum level that still stays below a threshold that may introduce hearing damage.

Note: After you have realized this chain of settings, then you can move to the next challenge: adjusting velocity- and gain curves to match your preferences in dynamic range and behavior within that dynamic range. Ideally, you try to reach an optimal setting in your VSTi first, resorting to non-default settings on your controller/piano only if absolutely necessary.

Cheers and happy fine-tuning,

HZ

PS I solely play through speakers. This recipe is for that. It may apply to headphone use as well, however be very careful with your levels in that case: headphones can be damaging quite easily!

Originally Posted by HZPiano
Hello,

Addendum outside the edit time window:
-> When placing your smartphone in step d., have the microphone point straight ahead towards the piano/speaker setup, as would your nose sitting at the piano with your head level (no tilt) and centered (not turned left or right).

Cheers and happy fine-tuning,

HZ

From this thread:

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3134681/vst-volume-computer-vs-piano.html

Yes, in my experience this is absolutely essential in getting a good feeling, action perception included.

Cheers and happy fine-tuning,

HZ


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