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#1988287 - 11/18/12 08:22 PM Quietening a piano
Markjitsu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 4
Hi, anyone tried this using foam/insulation?
Any success?
Thanks in advance!
(it's an upright overstrung btw)

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#1988308 - 11/18/12 09:30 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Do you mean spray foam?!?

I've used pillows tucked between the beams both on uprights and grands, and it reduces the sound substantially. You may not like the tone though as much, but it's a cheap trade off.
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Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1988454 - 11/19/12 09:37 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: scepticalforumguy]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10452
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Go to www.edwardsstringcovers.com

They have a great foam insulating product that works quite well.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1988466 - 11/19/12 09:59 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Markjitsu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 4
Thanks guys!
Any chance you could post a photo of the positioning of pillows etc?
Thanks again!

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#1988482 - 11/19/12 10:26 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7148
Loc: torrance, CA
Pillows are pretty drastic in muffling the tone. The positioning would depend on how many backposts you have and how far apart they are.

It might be good to start with something more moderate. If you have an area rug (synethtic, not wool) that you can spare, hang it on the wall behind your piano. If it's long enough to go down the wall and under the piano as well, that's even better. If that doesn't quiet enough, you can attach the rug directly to the back of the piano using velcro.

Acoostic foam is available pretty cheaply at places like eBay in precut sheets and by roll. You could get a roll and cut panels to fill the spaces between the posts, but it's a lot of effort and some expense if it turns out that you don't get the result you want.

Before you do anything though, you should assess the surfaces of the room to see if they can absorb enough sound to serve a piano. Hardwood floors don't help. Smooth ston and ceramic flooring is worse. Big expanses of bare glass are awful.
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#1988507 - 11/19/12 11:36 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10452
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Quilts or comforters are worth a try.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1988688 - 11/19/12 08:25 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1912
Loc: Philadelphia area
Cheaper yet, get ear plugs for everyone in the house.

Or +1 to Steve. I've heard the custom fit product from Edwards String Covers works.

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#1988873 - 11/20/12 09:13 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Dave B]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7148
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Dave B
Cheaper yet, get ear plugs for everyone in the house.

Or +1 to Steve. I've heard the custom fit product from Edwards String Covers works.


You've heard the products working or you've heard from others in your trade that they work?

All that Edwards offers for a vertical piano are thick baffles of acoustic foam that have an egg crate pattern to the inside and a smooth surface to the outside, in other words standard acoustic foam. They cut the baffles to order. It's custom work so not cheap. If the OP wants to hold down the cost, he can buy 3" egg crate acoustic foam from any number of sources and cut panels himself to fit the back of his piano.

The thing is though that most people like the sound of a piano when they acquire it. It's their space and the piano's placement in that space that's the culprit in most cases. Muffling the natural sound of a piano is not attacking the problem at its source. It stifles the piano's sound at its source and compresses its entire dynamic range.

Treating the room surfaces will allow the piano to perform as it was intended to perform (assuming that the piano is in good working condition).
_________________________
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The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1989030 - 11/20/12 05:24 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
KurtZ Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 852
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
turandot's 100 percent correct.

Why is the full symphony not too loud at 103 db but your upright is at 90db? Why can I sit 10 feet away from a full concert grand in a recital and not have my ears bothered? Why is the distortion from a solid state circuit considered noise and distortion from a tube amp considered musical? I know at least a few here know the answer. The ratio of even and odd order harmonics is the answer. Could you enjoy a full tablespoon of chile powder right out of the spoon? No, sir. Not I either. But spread it out over a pot of beans, onion, tomatoes and ground beef? Yeah Howdy! Pass me a beer! Your rooms are doing the same thing. They're throwing the ratio of good sounds to bad sounds out of whack. The rooms is adding that second tablespoon of chile powder that makes you go, "yuck! I hate chile! The predominance of harsh tones caused by nearby, flat surfaces bothers your ear causing a reaction that feels like too loud. So you come here and say, "My piano's too loud" what do I do?

On the other Hand:

My wife can't hear her show. My kids can't sleep. My neighbor can't enjoy her canasta game. These are volume problems and will not be cured or helped by putting lids down, taping eggcrate to the wall, or stacking all the rugs in Turkey under the piano. Just because you made a noticeable change to the sonic signature of the room doesn't mean you did one ding-dong thing to keep the sound out of other spaces.

Real Problem number one: My piano sounds like caca.
Real Problem number two: My piano intrudes on others.

Until you know the which is the real problem at hand, all advice proffered here is specious and near useless.

Don't wreck a good piano trying to fix a crappy room. It'll still be a crappy room and you'll be trading one flavor of crappy for another. On the other hand, real soundproofing is really expensive. I added about $10,000 to the cost of a re-model making a room in which I could play the piano while my kids sleep 20 feet away. Most of the other solutions for the piano itself, practice rails, string covers and foam against the soundboard are all more than a little detrimental to the sound of the piano. The latest, greatest, newest generation of the more than sufficient Privia is about $600. If I didn't have my double walled, double doored, double windowed, testosterone-sanctuary, I'd probably take the Privia before I played a piano through a felt curtain or one that had no sustain and no tone.

Kurt
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#1989046 - 11/20/12 06:20 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Markjitsu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 4
Thankyou all for your input!
I'll make a few things clearer:
I'm well aware that foam etc all over the piano will ruin the sound - it's not a long term solution - I intend to build a sound booth in the near future - this is just a temporary measure, so I can play a bit more without worrying about the neighbours!
Thanks again smile

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#1989070 - 11/20/12 07:40 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
Turandot and Kurt make excellent points... the ideal solution is to put the right piano in the right room.

If you don't have a recital hall, you can add rugs, curtains, panels, etc. etc., and turn your living room into something that looks like a recording studio.

You could change your piano. Most of the time that's even less practical than treating the room.

Or you could just spend under $100 on some eBay acoustic foam like Turandot suggested and put them behind the upright. Your living room wouldn't look any different. You wouldn't have to vacuum that rug or dust those curtains. You would get a tonal change, but I believe the trade off is more than fair. Use just the right amount of foam; by the time you kill the sustain it's already too quiet. If it sounds fine to you but a visitor complains that it's too quiet, well, maybe their hearing is gone.

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#1989075 - 11/20/12 08:01 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: gnuboi]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: gnuboi
Turandot and Kurt make excellent points... the ideal solution is to put the right piano in the right room.
But it's not correct to think that adjusting the room's acoutics or piano's placement will always work.

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#1989108 - 11/20/12 09:16 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: pianoloverus]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7148
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: gnuboi
Turandot and Kurt make excellent points... the ideal solution is to put the right piano in the right room.
But it's not correct to think that adjusting the room's acoutics or piano's placement will always work.



Look, no one has intimated that any one thing will be a satisfactory solution to the OP's ears, but you have to start somewhere. Assessing the properties of the room's surfaces is where I'd start. I don't like stuffing things into piano cavities. That's my taste based on experience.

If you have other sugesstions than the ones given, make them. If you're just here to be argumentative, go play solitaire.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1989191 - 11/21/12 12:55 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: pianoloverus]
KurtZ Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 852
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: gnuboi
Turandot and Kurt make excellent points... the ideal solution is to put the right piano in the right room.
But it's not correct to think that adjusting the room's acoutics or piano's placement will always work.


Will always work to do what? Bake cookies? Speaking in unreferenced gibberish does nothing to help to OP. When did I ever claim that something always works for anything?

Kurt
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#1989199 - 11/21/12 01:44 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: gnuboi]
KurtZ Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 852
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Originally Posted By: gnuboi
Turandot and Kurt make excellent points... the ideal solution is to put the right piano in the right room.

If you don't have a recital hall, you can add rugs, curtains, panels, etc. etc., and turn your living room into something that looks like a recording studio.

You could change your piano. Most of the time that's even less practical than treating the room.

Or you could just spend under $100 on some eBay acoustic foam like Turandot suggested and put them behind the upright. Your living room wouldn't look any different. You wouldn't have to vacuum that rug or dust those curtains. You would get a tonal change, but I believe the trade off is more than fair. Use just the right amount of foam; by the time you kill the sustain it's already too quiet. If it sounds fine to you but a visitor complains that it's too quiet, well, maybe their hearing is gone.



You're repeating the nonsense that I'm trying to fight. But by all means encourage the OP to waste "under a hundred" on useless measures for his actual problem. If the foam is just resting back there and not wrecking the decor or the sound then it's also not doing any good. If a piece of foam is actually going to reduce the db spl sufficiently to keep the neighbors off his back, it's going to have to be in there between the posts enough to actually impede the soundboard. If it isn't touching the soundboard, foam by itself isn't dense enough to attenuate any but the highest frequencies which are not what's causing the OP his problems with the neighbors.

I didn't recommend the OP live in a recording studio nor a recital hall. I made the point that what MANY people call too loud is actually rotten acoustics; that people routinely listen to pianos louder than uprights without feeling that they were too loud. I'll be clear. I didn't recommend ANYTHING to anyone EXCEPT that they understand their problem before spending money on any product whatsoever. I tried to add enough background and detail to support my position. A detail you've omitted. If you can't explain the how and why, you're just another repeater of conventional wisdom offering the OP a band-aid when his problem is a bacterial infection.

Have a good thanksgiving

Kurt
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#1989228 - 11/21/12 04:49 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I remember not all that long ago having a pissing contest with someone here who stated that loud pianos are not an issue. I rarely see posts where the issue is a too quiet piano. Why is that?

When I owned my Yamaha C3 I crawled under the piano and stuffed\wedged many towels in the soundboard. I also placed strips of felt between the lid and the body (thus outlining the shape of the piano). I placed the music rack on top of a closed lid to further quiet down the piano.

Fortunately at that time we lived in a free standing house.

Decades ago when I owned a Yamaha U1D upright I tacked carpet tiles on the soundboard (on the outer backside) and tacked carpet tiles and empty eggshell containers on the inside lid ... everywhere.

I also made my own felt drop down mute which was positioned between the hammers and the strings.

Pianos are loud, I have tinnitus, and my solution is listed in my signature. I now practice with headphones at a very quite level. When I play jobs on an acoustic piano, I wear earplugs.

One more thing, a friend of mine who is a piano technician used a solution of fabric softener and isopropyl alcohol which he applied to the hammers of my C3 (probably after needling them). That quieted down the piano but the effect only lasted for about six months.

Pianos are loud.
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#1989247 - 11/21/12 07:09 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Dave Horne]
Dara Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/09
Posts: 1028
Loc: west coast island, canada
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne

Pianos are loud.


Pianos are silent...

and until someone,
plays upon them,
from soft touch to loud thundering
they remain silent.

.... people tend to be loud


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#1989254 - 11/21/12 07:26 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Dara]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
... people tend to be loud

and yet some profiles are silent. smile
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AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1989258 - 11/21/12 07:43 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
acortot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 459
Loc: Italy
yet another thread which begs for an older-style lower tension piano for the home..

Chopin Played on a grand piano which even though 2.05-2.10 m in length had a moderate volume, good for the home.

Most modern grands are built with the purpose of filling concert halls!
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An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario

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#1989323 - 11/21/12 10:17 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Dave Horne]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7148
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne


Decades ago when I owned a Yamaha U1D upright I tacked carpet tiles on the soundboard (on the outer backside) and tacked carpet tiles and empty eggshell containers on the inside lid ... everywhere.

One more thing, a friend of mine who is a piano technician used a solution of fabric softener and isopropyl alcohol which he applied to the hammers of my C3 (probably after needling them).


These would seem to be measures taken out of frustration.


Even though the OP has not mentioned what piano he is working with, I think it's safe to assume that he is not frustrated with his piano and likes its tone. One does not build a sound booth to enshrine a piano one really doesn't like (at least I hope not).

Since he only wants a temporary solution, I hope that the OP would not resort to damaging the profile of his hammers with fabric softener and alcohol or compromising his soundboard by putting tacks in it.

Edwards claims that by sandwiching a grand piano with their 3" foam -- top cover over the strings and bottom panels to cover the soundboard cavities -- you can achieve a 50% reduction in sound. They make no specific claims for treating vertical pianos with foam panels between the backposts.

What Edwards does not mention is that 50% success in suppressing the loud end of the dynamic range will be matched by playing difficulties at the soft end, where a player's normal pianissimo touch will be unlikely to produce a sufficiently audible sound with any consistency.

Grands and verticals are different in the dispersal of their sound and in the player's perception of how loud that sound is. A player who finds loud playing satisfying (and somehow emotionally fulfilling) can be fooled on a long grand piano. His seat at the piano will not give him a true perception of just how loud the thing sounds to other people sharing a tight space. A player seated at a typical tall vertical has a better sense of his loudness But despite that difference, players who like to play loud seldom realize how overbearing the volume of their playing is on those who are forced to hear it. What they will notice is the unpleasantness of piano sound careening around the room boucing off hard surfaces. Changing that pattern by giving the room more sound absorbing properties will help both the loud player and those who are forced to endure his playing on a regular basis.

Recently I watched an interview with Julius-Jeongwon Kim made while he was in London recording Warrenberg's piano concerto transcription of Rachmaninoff's 2nd Symphony with the LSO. Kim commented on how wonderful the acoustics were at the Abbey Road studio where the production was made. That studio is in no way designed to simulate a concert hall. It's just a box. Yet a full orchestra and a concert grand can exist harmoniously in that space without the musicians' hearing of others interfering with their ability to execute their own part in some really loud and powerful material. It can be done, but not by suppressing musical instruments at the source of their sound or building a box within a box.
_________________________
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The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1989344 - 11/21/12 11:13 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: turandot]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
These would seem to be measures taken out of frustration.

No, those measures were taken because the pianos were too loud.

If anyone is interested, the Yamaha U1D was first in a second floor apartment and then in a row home ... neighbors were an issue though the piano in and of itself was loud.

The C3 was a great piano but it also was too loud. My wife couldn't watch TV or talk on the phone if I were practicing the C3. The piano was in our living room, not everyone has a room dedicated for the purpose of making music. There are many reasons why individuals want their instruments a little quieter.

Believe me, if acoustic pianos came with a $50 option and you could dial down the acoustic output to the level of a whisper, everyone would spend a little extra for that add on.

As I've stated many times, the action of a piano comes first for me with the sound a very close second. Some guys like loud pianos ... and some of us have tinnitus (as was already mentioned).

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#1989372 - 11/21/12 12:01 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Dave Horne]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7148
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
These would seem to be measures taken out of frustration.

No, those measures were taken because the pianos were too loud.

If anyone is interested.......


Dave,

Your personal history with acoustic pianos has been documented before here. I'm sympathetic to your tinnitus and don't want to seem cold, but IMO tinnitus isn't a good reason to punish a piano for being what it is by tacking carpet squares to its soundboard. OTOH, your Avant solution seems to make a lot of sense.

Maybe I should have written 'desperation' instead of "frustration", as in a desperate last resort measure.

Anyway, it seems unlikely that the OP has tinnitus, so hopefully measures needed don't become that drastic for him.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1989396 - 11/21/12 12:57 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I carpeted down the U1D before I had the tinnitus. I was 20 or 21 when I bought a brand new full sized Yamaha upright ... over 40 years ago. The tinnitus has only been an issue for the last 20 years.
_________________________
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AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1989400 - 11/21/12 01:07 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21303
Loc: Oakland
Why did you buy a piano that you thought was too loud?
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Semipro Tech

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#1989411 - 11/21/12 01:39 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: BDB]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3521
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: BDB
Why did you buy a piano that you thought was too loud?


They're all too loud!

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#1989413 - 11/21/12 01:40 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21303
Loc: Oakland
If you think that, why buy a piano at all?
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Semipro Tech

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#1989416 - 11/21/12 01:45 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: BDB]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: BDB
Why did you buy a piano that you thought was too loud?


After you live with a piano for years the hammers get harder, the piano gets brighter and louder ... and it doesn't start out real quiet to begin with.

Acoustic pianos are loud. I know there are differences between pianos ... and even within the same model series but there's a lot of acoustic energy being created.

With an upright piano, you are right on top of the sound. The soundboard is vertical and the entire wall (within arm's reach) radiates the sound back to you.

A grand piano has a nice and big soundboard ... and it's loud.

As I wrote earlier in this thread, if there were a $50 option that would dial down the acoustic output of a piano to a whisper, I'd bet that there would be a lot of takers. I certainly would have bought it.

The original poster wants to quiet down his upright for his neighbor's benefit. That was my initial reasoning as well. It's difficult, especially in the US, to practice in an apartment or a row home with an acoustic instrument. I am also sensitive to loud noise ... and this was before the tinnitus.

For some folks, bigger is always better ... and louder is always better. I'd love to practice on a piano with the action of a none footer but I don't have the room ... and it would be even louder than my previous work horse, the C3.

What I have now is a good compromise ... though I'd still like to have the action of a nine footer.
_________________________
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#1989418 - 11/21/12 01:49 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21303
Loc: Oakland
In other words, you bought a piano, you did not take care of it, and now you have decided all pianos are like the piano that you did not take care of.
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#1989422 - 11/21/12 01:56 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: BDB]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: BDB
In other words, you bought a piano, you did not take care of it, and now you have decided all pianos are like the piano that you did not take care of.


Yes, that's exactly what I did. crazy

I'll leave this thread after this message. I spent a small fortune having my pianos tuned, regulated, and voiced. I spent a lot of time and energy making the pianos quiet initially for my neighbors and then for me.

I swear, it's always the silent profiles that make the most noise. wink
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1989427 - 11/21/12 01:59 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: BDB]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3521
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: BDB
In other words, you bought a piano, you did not take care of it, and now you have decided all pianos are like the piano that you did not take care of.


Why don't you take your ignorant anger somewhere else?

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#1989487 - 11/21/12 04:18 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: KurtZ]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: KurtZ
You're repeating the nonsense that I'm trying to fight. But by all means encourage the OP to waste "under a hundred" on useless measures for his actual problem. If the foam is just resting back there and not wrecking the decor or the sound then it's also not doing any good. If a piece of foam is actually going to reduce the db spl sufficiently to keep the neighbors off his back, it's going to have to be in there between the posts enough to actually impede the soundboard. If it isn't touching the soundboard, foam by itself isn't dense enough to attenuate any but the highest frequencies which are not what's causing the OP his problems with the neighbors.

I didn't recommend the OP live in a recording studio nor a recital hall. I made the point that what MANY people call too loud is actually rotten acoustics; that people routinely listen to pianos louder than uprights without feeling that they were too loud. I'll be clear. I didn't recommend ANYTHING to anyone EXCEPT that they understand their problem before spending money on any product whatsoever. I tried to add enough background and detail to support my position. A detail you've omitted. If you can't explain the how and why, you're just another repeater of conventional wisdom offering the OP a band-aid when his problem is a bacterial infection.

Have a good thanksgiving

Kurt


Um, happy Thanksgiving to you too. But I think you're reading too much into this. I mentioned that you presented rational considerations; but all the rest is my own commentary. I understand where you are coming from but there's room for pragmatic "band-aids".

What to do with acoustic foam is not rocket science. Anyone with it in hand will eventually figure out where it should go. Putting them between the posts or braces has already been mentioned. I really don't think foam should touch the soundboard. Also, acoustic foam is designed to have as consistent frequency response as possible; i.e., a balanced effect on both low, mid, and high frequencies. They have charts for this kind of thing for the stuff they sell on eBay.

But yes... wrong problem. If sound proofing is the goal then you need deflection/reflection and not absorption.


Edited by gnuboi (11/21/12 04:20 PM)

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#1989492 - 11/21/12 04:26 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: turandot]
gnuboi Offline
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Originally Posted By: turandot
What Edwards does not mention is that 50% success in suppressing the loud end of the dynamic range will be matched by playing difficulties at the soft end, where a player's normal pianissimo touch will be unlikely to produce a sufficiently audible sound with any consistency.


I was going to say that the kit doesn't affect the touch, so one's normal playing should still produce sound. But I suppose that if one has sensitive hearing and excellent pp or ppp technique one might think the piano is not working or something.

Originally Posted By: turandot
Grands and verticals are different in the dispersal of their sound and in the player's perception of how loud that sound is. A player who finds loud playing satisfying (and somehow emotionally fulfilling) can be fooled on a long grand piano. His seat at the piano will not give him a true perception of just how loud the thing sounds to other people sharing a tight space. A player seated at a typical tall vertical has a better sense of his loudness But despite that difference, players who like to play loud seldom realize how overbearing the volume of their playing is on those who are forced to hear it. What they will notice is the unpleasantness of piano sound careening around the room boucing off hard surfaces. Changing that pattern by giving the room more sound absorbing properties will help both the loud player and those who are forced to endure his playing on a regular basis.

Recently I watched an interview with Julius-Jeongwon Kim made while he was in London recording Warrenberg's piano concerto transcription of Rachmaninoff's 2nd Symphony with the LSO. Kim commented on how wonderful the acoustics were at the Abbey Road studio where the production was made. That studio is in no way designed to simulate a concert hall. It's just a box. Yet a full orchestra and a concert grand can exist harmoniously in that space without the musicians' hearing of others interfering with their ability to execute their own part in some really loud and powerful material. It can be done, but not by suppressing musical instruments at the source of their sound or building a box within a box.


Makes perfect sense. Thanks.

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#1989561 - 11/21/12 07:21 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Dave B Offline
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My Piano is too Loud! ..... 'Oxymoron'?

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#1989598 - 11/21/12 10:09 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: ando]
BDB Online   content
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Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: BDB
In other words, you bought a piano, you did not take care of it, and now you have decided all pianos are like the piano that you did not take care of.


Why don't you take your ignorant anger somewhere else?


If I can take a piano and keep it sounding reasonably close to the way it sounded when it was new, other people can do it, too. The only ignorance involved is saying that it cannot be done to someone who has done it.

I did not say that anyone can do it, nor that it is easy to find someone who can. There are too few people who do adequate piano work these days. (I am saying this after an afternoon of struggling with a piano that had a lot of bad work done to it.)
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#1989602 - 11/21/12 10:27 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: BDB]
ando Offline
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Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: BDB
In other words, you bought a piano, you did not take care of it, and now you have decided all pianos are like the piano that you did not take care of.


Why don't you take your ignorant anger somewhere else?


If I can take a piano and keep it sounding reasonably close to the way it sounded when it was new, other people can do it, too. The only ignorance involved is saying that it cannot be done to someone who has done it.

I did not say that anyone can do it, nor that it is easy to find someone who can. There are too few people who do adequate piano work these days. (I am saying this after an afternoon of struggling with a piano that had a lot of bad work done to it.)


Nobody is question your skills as a technician, but it's a fact that many people find pianos too loud, especially grand pianos. They are built for power. I recently had a chat with Del Fandrich about this and he was in agreement that there is a real need for a quieter domestic piano design. You are accusing Dave of not maintaining his piano, but he wasn't complaining about a deterioration of his piano, he was saying it was always too loud. A U1 is already on the quiet side of the piano spectrum but it was still too loud. Pianos are powerful beasts and a lot of people are sensitive to the sheer volume they can produce if you work them. It's not a good solution just to try to play softer. A great many people find that pianos are just too powerful for the home, but they still want the tone and touch of an acoustic rather than a digital. Sound suppression becomes one of their few options - along with services like you provide. Is that really so hard to believe?

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#1989609 - 11/21/12 10:52 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
BDB Online   content
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To go further on the topic, pianos are mechanical devices which convert muscular mechanical energy to sound energy. The amount of energy which is converted is going to stay somewhat stable. If you put in so many watts of mechanical energy into a piano, you will always get about the same amount of sound energy into it. That does not change much according to the size of the piano, which is why you can play a 5 foot piano together with a 9 foot piano. It also does not change much with the age of the piano, except that eventually the flexible parts, namely the strings and the felt, can suffer fatigue and become less flexible. That usually reduces the volume of sound.

What people experience as a piano "getting louder" is really changing the waveform of the sound. As the hammer felts get older, the initial strike on the strings produces a much differently shaped waveform if the hammers are not voiced properly. In general, that will have more energy in what we perceive as upper partials, and less energy in what we perceive as lower partials. This can move more energy into the range that we listen to most of the time, and that is the part that we listen to most intently. The piano may actually be getting softer overall, but we think it is louder.

Then you add to this that some frequencies carry better than others, some are absorbed by materials better than others, and everything gets confusing. One thing is that what someone playing the piano hears as being loud may not be perceived as loud in a different room or building. It is just hard to say.

One can change the acoustic characteristics of the piano, of the room, of the building, etc., and it the results will be different. How much of a difference it makes just depends. You can try what you want, and see what difference it makes.

As to how loud a piano is, concertos with orchestras have been written for just about every instrument imaginable, and it seems you can hear a lot of instruments just as well as you can hear a piano, so the piano is not that much louder.
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#1989616 - 11/21/12 11:23 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: BDB]
ando Offline
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Originally Posted By: BDB
To go further on the topic, pianos are mechanical devices which convert muscular mechanical energy to sound energy. The amount of energy which is converted is going to stay somewhat stable. If you put in so many watts of mechanical energy into a piano, you will always get about the same amount of sound energy into it. That does not change much according to the size of the piano, which is why you can play a 5 foot piano together with a 9 foot piano. It also does not change much with the age of the piano, except that eventually the flexible parts, namely the strings and the felt, can suffer fatigue and become less flexible. That usually reduces the volume of sound.

What people experience as a piano "getting louder" is really changing the waveform of the sound. As the hammer felts get older, the initial strike on the strings produces a much differently shaped waveform if the hammers are not voiced properly. In general, that will have more energy in what we perceive as upper partials, and less energy in what we perceive as lower partials. This can move more energy into the range that we listen to most of the time, and that is the part that we listen to most intently. The piano may actually be getting softer overall, but we think it is louder.

Then you add to this that some frequencies carry better than others, some are absorbed by materials better than others, and everything gets confusing. One thing is that what someone playing the piano hears as being loud may not be perceived as loud in a different room or building. It is just hard to say.

One can change the acoustic characteristics of the piano, of the room, of the building, etc., and it the results will be different. How much of a difference it makes just depends. You can try what you want, and see what difference it makes.

As to how loud a piano is, concertos with orchestras have been written for just about every instrument imaginable, and it seems you can hear a lot of instruments just as well as you can hear a piano, so the piano is not that much louder.


True of some instruments, not true of others. The size of the orchestra is often matched to the loudness of the soloist. A 9 foot grand will have a decent size orchestra. A guitar will have a chamber orchestra or the guitar will be miked up. Saxophones are very loud instruments - so loud in fact that it is recommended to practice no more than 1 hour per day without ear protection - there you go, another instrument that uses suppression (for the player). I would guess that being a piano tuner, you would have significant hearing damage by now - particularly if you are middle aged or older, maybe you have lost the ability to appreciate just how loud pianos are to somebody with sensitive hearing.

Drummers and percussionists pretty much always use ear protection. There is such a thing as instruments that are too loud. Many violinists use an earplug in their left ear because it cops the brunt of the volume and it's so close. Flautists often do the same.

I think you are far too dismissive of the loudness factor, like you are so defensive of the perfection of the design of the modern piano, you can't take seriously what real people are telling you. You vastly overstate the potential of voicing. It is an important tool but you can't voice a piano down to half volume - not without turning your hammers into fairy-floss at least. But then it sounds terrible.

Why don't you entertain the thought that sensible use of sound suppression can be very useful and important for some people? It needn't rob a piano of all its tone either. On a grand, you can stuff acoustic foam underneath it and still hear the component of the sound coming from above the soundboard. The inverse wave from under the soundboard which is bouncing off the floor isn't so vital to the tone of a grand. Likewise, on an upright you can put acoustic foam behind it, but prop the lid open slightly and get back some of the lost frequencies that way. It really does work. I'm amazed that you can't stretch your mind to accommodate these ideas.

Pianos do great in big halls that can absorb the sound energy they are pumping out, but most homes struggle in some way with the power of the modern piano, hence the endless discussions on how to treat the room and yes, talk of foam suppression. In addition to technician's services, of course.

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#1989625 - 11/22/12 12:30 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: ando]
turandot Offline
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Ando,

I think if you were BDB's client and wanted him to quiet your piano because it was too loud for you, he would not find you crazy. He would probably suggest ways that he felt would work for you even if in his personal opinion your piano was not too loud.

I can't imagine though that he would take a tack hammer and tack carpet squares to your soundboard even if you offered to pay him to do it.

If you want to support Dave Horne here, you have to be all-in -- tacks in the soundboard, egg crates under the lid, fabric softener on the hammers, the whole enchilada.

It's simply not true that all pianos are too loud. And you're completely without reason to say that BDB overstates the potential of voicing. It's you guys who are dismissive of the taste and opinions of others, not BDB.
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#1989644 - 11/22/12 02:05 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
BDB Online   content
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I said that concertos have been written for just about every instrument.

I have tuned for shows with most of the great sax players of the last 20 or so years, and I think that they all can play soft enough that they could practice for hours without hearing loss.

It is hard to say how much my hearing has deteriorated, but I still hear cedar waxwings when they migrate through the area, and I do not understand why so much electronic equipment have volume scales from 1 to 100 when I find them uncomfortable past 25 or less, and often find myself in the range from 1 to 10.

I am a staunch proponent of the built-in sound suppression system in pianos: If it is too loud, play it softer! That method does not distort the piano's sound. I really do not understand people who complain about how loud a piano is. The whole idea of a piano is that it can play at many different volumes. Besides, if you do not like it, you can find a quieter instrument to listen to.
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#1989652 - 11/22/12 02:44 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: BDB]
ando Offline
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Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: BDB
Besides, if you do not like it, you can find a quieter instrument to listen to.


This last comment offers nothing helpful to a person who wants to play the piano. Also, when you disagree with me and totally disregard everything I've said, you are also disagreeing with the likes of Del Fandrich. However I think that if he made the same statements as I did, you would take them a lot more seriously because of his expert status.

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#1989655 - 11/22/12 02:53 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
BDB Online   content
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I do not understand why someone who feels that a piano is too loud would want to play a piano. I was playing a customer's clavichord the other day, and it has its charms.

I disagree with Del Fandrich quite often on this board. Other people do, too, just less publicly.
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#1989656 - 11/22/12 02:56 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: turandot]
ando Offline
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Originally Posted By: turandot


It's simply not true that all pianos are too loud. And you're completely without reason to say that BDB overstates the potential of voicing. It's you guys who are dismissive of the taste and opinions of others, not BDB.


That's a major failure of logic, Mr/Ms Turandot. My paradigm includes all possibilities: Some people find pianos are too loud and need to take action to correct it. Some people find them fine and are perfectly happy with the volume levels. This is all inclusive and doesn't negate anybody's opinions.

Your paradigm says that pianos are either fine, or that all attempts to reduce the volume levels must be confined to suppression on wall surfaces or by voicing, or by player dynamics. You leave out the possibility of acoustic foam suppression altogether - as though it has no place in the equation.

Summary: my argument is inclusive of all variations, yours is exclusive of some.

I'm not a proponent of interfering with the soundboard mechanically, but putting foam baffles beneath the soundboard - either attached to the frame or even sitting on the floor can be a great way of enormously reducing the volume levels. It can potentially remove most of the sound that is directed to the floor. Besides, how is that any different to putting a big thick rug on the floor or having wall hangings and curtains? You are only talking about proximity to the soundboard. What's the difference? The tone is able to be projected two ways from the soundboard, from the back or from the front. Attenuating sound from the back makes plenty of sense to a lot of people - as evidenced by the great many very thick rugs place under grand pianos. I don't understand why you have such a problem with that. Or why you think absorbing sound 3 feet below a piano is fundamentally different from absorbing sound 2 inches below the soundboard. It's all the same stuff.

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#1989657 - 11/22/12 02:58 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: BDB]
ando Offline
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Registered: 11/23/10
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Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: BDB
I do not understand why someone who feels that a piano is too loud would want to play a piano. I was playing a customer's clavichord the other day, and it has its charms.

I disagree with Del Fandrich quite often on this board. Other people do, too, just less publicly.


That is just absurd, BDB! We are happy to play piano because we find solutions to the problem! We do put noise suppression in, or we use the una corda pedal a lot. It's not a case of "love everything about it, or quit".

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#1989707 - 11/22/12 08:46 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
acortot Offline
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Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 459
Loc: Italy
the thing is that pianos mostly are a variation on one design: Steinway

Steinway's technicians from the outset did everything possible to get as much volume possible from their pianos..

this was to fill large halls..

needless to say that the vast majority of people do not put their pianos in concert halls..

but since everything has to be standardized today, seemingly, people don't have a choice and perhaps would be intimidated by one.. or perhaps not.

fact is that you could build a quieter, lighter-framed piano which might even be a little smaller (narrower) and less obtrusive in the home..

the lighter sound would permit to get more sweetness in the tone as well.
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An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario

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#1989726 - 11/22/12 10:30 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: ando]
turandot Offline
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Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7148
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: turandot


It's simply not true that all pianos are too loud. And you're completely without reason to say that BDB overstates the potential of voicing. It's you guys who are dismissive of the taste and opinions of others, not BDB.


That's a major failure of logic, Mr/Ms Turandot. My paradigm includes all possibilities: Some people find pianos are too loud and need to take action to correct it. Some people find them fine and are perfectly happy with the volume levels. This is all inclusive and doesn't negate anybody's opinions.

Your paradigm says that pianos are either fine, or that all attempts to reduce the volume levels must be confined to suppression on wall surfaces or by voicing, or by player dynamics. You leave out the possibility of acoustic foam suppression altogether - as though it has no place in the equation.

Summary: my argument is inclusive of all variations, yours is exclusive of some.

I'm not a proponent of interfering with the soundboard mechanically, but putting foam baffles beneath the soundboard - either attached to the frame or even sitting on the floor can be a great way of enormously reducing the volume levels. It can potentially remove most of the sound that is directed to the floor. Besides, how is that any different to putting a big thick rug on the floor or having wall hangings and curtains? You are only talking about proximity to the soundboard. What's the difference? The tone is able to be projected two ways from the soundboard, from the back or from the front. Attenuating sound from the back makes plenty of sense to a lot of people - as evidenced by the great many very thick rugs place under grand pianos. I don't understand why you have such a problem with that. Or why you think absorbing sound 3 feet below a piano is fundamentally different from absorbing sound 2 inches below the soundboard. It's all the same stuff.


Slow down.

I never wrote that an acoustic foam treatment under a grand or even a foam blanket over the strings was a terrible thing to do. My response was to an OP who wanted to temporarily quiet his vertical. In responding to his question I didn't tell him to avoid acoustic foam at all costs. I simply suggested that if he wanted to use it, he might first assess the sound properties of his space ,and that if he resorted to foam, he might consider buying a roll and cutting it himself to save on cost. I thought cost might be a consideration in that he wanted to know more about stuffing pillows between the backposts. grin

It's true I prefer treating the space to muffling the instrument at its sound source, but I made my reason clear. It allows for better differentiation in dynamics at the quiet end of the dynamic range. No one has to agree with that. It's my opinion based on my own experience and I stated that bluntly.

I can't speak for BDB, for piano technicians, or for people who sell pianos professionally, but to my eyes, Dave's lament doesn't resonate. His strategies to suppress his piano are DIY stuff. He is coping with a defined hearing problem. His brand of choice has consistently been Yamaha, whose pianos are characterized by a distinct percussive attack that a lot of people relate to and others don't. His conclusion based on his experience and his own failed remedies is that all acoustic pianos are too loud. I don't buy it. Apparently you do.

One of the most common problems with pianos is that a lot of people who don't play well like to play loud. There are a lot more pocket Horowitzes out there than pocket Lipattis. That's just life. Another problem is that a lot of people don't take into account when shopping that the showroom space is not the same as their home environment and that a piano that stands out sonically in the showroom may well roar, screech, and boom in their own space. A third problem is that the ability to play softly requires more diligence in practice than the ability to whack the keys. Some people never get there and instead arrive at the conclusion that their instrument is at fault. In the case of this thread, the conclusion has been generalized to the point that all pianos are at fault.

There are plenty of pianos on the market that play more quietly than others. There are variables in static and dynamic touch weight, hammer profile, stringing and string tension, scale designs, sounbdoard design, etc. to allow a player real choices if the player is not hooked by the cheap thrills of a booming lower bass and/or a lyrical singing treble. It just goes too far to say that all pianos are too loud and must be suppressed.

I will grant you that there are pianos which are more difficult to manage in a home environment than others, but not that all pianos are intrinsically too loud. That's like saying that the Cholula is just too hot for you, so all hot chili sauces are simply too hot.

Let's face it. Some people use power to offset their own slipshod playing. The growling bass that sells certain grands will mask certain deficiencies of the player, as will the long sustain, and the unbalanced scale. A lot of pianos feature the big bass, the singing treble, and pure boredom in the midrange where counter-melodies reside. Resonance, grand length,long sustain, and bestial tendencies all sell, but there's much more to a piano than that. How many players play to the full capabilities of their instrument? How many tap the full range of possibilities in its dynamic range? Many people theorize that they have outgrown their piano when they are nowhere near to matching its capabilities. That's just life too. Need an excuse to upgrade? "It's not good enough for me anymore" will work. The sales pro will readily confirm that for you even if your playing is dreadful.

I'm sympathetic to Dave's problems. It's obvious from the playing samples in his tag that he plays his instrument with talent and sensitivity. Maybe the problem is that he's been brand-centric and heavy on DIY solutions that could do more damage than good. Whatever, I don't have a dog in the race here. To each his own as long as each is willing to allow others the same privilege.
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#1989733 - 11/22/12 10:57 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: turandot]
ando Offline
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Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3521
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: turandot
To each his own as long as each is willing to allow others the same privilege.

I'm quite confident that if you read my posts again, you will see that this was never in doubt from my side. It was BDB who was had his knickers in a twist at the presentation of another opinion. Suggesting people give up piano if they think it's to loud...? Please!

I do think that you slightly overstate the idea that somebody with virtuosic technique will be untroubled by volume in a home environment. If you take the example of a person preparing for a recital in a large hall. They would ideally like to use a similar amount of muscular effort in preparing their pieces at home as they will use in the performance venue. In a large space, the power is diffused by a very large volume of air, and by many absorbent surfaces, including the audience. At home, the scale is much smaller, but the piano hasn't been scaled down with it - certainly not to the correct degree. That's why it's harder to achieve a happy balance at home. I for one, have never felt overwhelmed by the volume of a concert piano in a hall - as a listener or a player. I've played a 9ft Steinway in a hall that seats 600 people. A large powerful piano is magnificent in such a venue where you can use all the power without it shaking your brain into oblivion. But in confined spaces, like modest living rooms, most pianos are very powerful - too powerful for my taste. I prefer to use whatever means are at my disposal to get them into a dynamic range that suits me and that happens to match how I feel if I play in a large hall. Just using a lighter touch doesn't accomplish everything because you may end up with too mellow a tone for the piece of music. There is a real trade off between tone and volume. Some pieces need to push the tone of the piano into a brighter, more strident region. If you are holding back so it doesn't get too loud, you may be sacrificing the tone you want. Using foam behind a soundboard an allow you to push harder and use a brighter tone without pushing to uncomfortable volumes.

Now you can question my skills in not wanting to adjust my whole technique to feel comfortable playing very lightly on the keyboard (I already have a very soft touch in general), by all means question my skills! But I still don't see why somebody shouldn't make use of very useful stuff like acoustic foam to assist in replicating the dynamic range of a larger hall. It just makes sense to me. I think a lot of people end up treating this problem from the other end too: that is, by building a very large purpose built music room, or purchasing a large house so they can accommodate a nice big piano. But as I said, people can do as they will. The only thing I'm protesting is remarks of the type from BDB - as though it's sacrilege to subjectively feel that a piano is too powerful them.

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#1989742 - 11/22/12 11:33 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: ando]
turandot Offline
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Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7148
Loc: torrance, CA
Ando,

Thank you for slowing down.

First of all, I never presumed that you were some ham-fisted hack who couldn't harness his instrument. I was posting to the way things are, including what seems to sell well in the piano marketplace. Actually,I have been one to comment on this forum that many complain that their piano is too loud in their home, whereas virtually no one comes here looking for suggestions on how to make his piano louder.

Second, I can't speak for BDB, but as a layman, I winced at some of the techniques that Dave mentioned. I don't think Dave's posted strategies indicated that he was sharing his problem with a competent piano technician. This might be a reason for someone to assume that he was not taking care of his piano properly. I don't know that, but it's a possibility.

Third, I really don't have a problem with foam. I've used it behind a loud 50" vertical that I had for a while in a smallish room with hardwood floors and lots of glass. The best result for me was using self-stick foam squares set in a checkerboard pattern on the wall behind the piano. I found it more satisfying than stuffing the cavities between the posts with foam. However, that's just one person's experience with one piano in one room and subject to one's personal taste. so I didn't try to sell that idea to the OP here.

Fourth, as I mentioned twice, my general preference has to do with letting the instrument breathe rather than suppressing it at its sound source. I feel that suppression at the source compresses the dynaic range all the way across. It's not a limiter like you find on some recording equipment where only the over-the-top signals are affected. Still, I'm not trying to sell that idea to others either. I'm content to satisfy my own taste and objectives.

With that in mind, I'll eject myself from this topic and let you and BDB resolve whatever needs to be resolved. Have an enjoyable and rewarding holiday weekend.
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#1989749 - 11/22/12 11:42 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: turandot]
ando Offline
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Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3521
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: turandot


With that in mind, I'll eject myself from this topic and let you and BDB resolve whatever needs to be resolved. Have an enjoyable and rewarding holiday weekend.


I'm not sure BDB and I are going to get to that point, but I've enjoyed our chat, Turandot - you never fail to offer some interesting ideas. Happy holidays to you! (we don't have thanksgiving in Australia)

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#1989770 - 11/22/12 12:47 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
crogersrx Offline
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Posts: 712
Loc: San Francisco, CA
I wouldn't try spray foam insulation. But, I recently moved from a 3500 sq ft place in Houston TX to a 1000 sq ft place in San Francisco, and I came up with a good way to quiet the piano that has worked well for me, and the neighbors never complain about noise.

I bought some sheets of 1" styrofoam and cut it out to fit the inner rim size of the piano. It ends up sitting atop the strut arms of the plate and not touching any part of the soundboard or strings. Then, atop that is a 1/2" wool felt pad, actually a high-end carpet pad, with no chemeical treatments in it, that I cut to sit atop the styrofoam. The idea here is to establish a platform to dampen sound and keep the wool, the better sound damper, from touching the strings. The styrofoam platform does minor dampening and keeps the layer of wool off the strings. The wool effectively dampens the decibles by over 50% without making the sound really muffled. I also have a thick cotton/canvas padded cover for the piano which I just push back from the music deck area when I play. I have another wool cutout for the bottom of the piano that attaches by some Velcro fasteners, but then the piano sounds a bit muffled, and since the neighbors don't complain about the sound without the bottom felt on, I mostly leave it off.

Let me know if you'd like some pics of the setup and I can try to post some. UPS packing stores sell sheets of styrofoam, though I recycled mine from the packing of a desk. The wool I got from a high end carpet store. It was about $75 per sq yard, and conveniently came at about the exact width of the inner rim measurement of the grand piano. The piano cover, on the other hand, might be pricey. I bought mine from an auction for $100, but I think the original price was around $400.

I should also mention that I have a thick wool rug underneath the piano with a rug pad of the same 1/2" wool rug pad as I used IN the piano underneath the rug. This is both decorative, and for sound insulation for the downstairs neighbors.


Edited by crogersrx (11/22/12 12:49 PM)
_________________________
Cary Rogers, PharmD
San Francisco, CA
1887 Knabe 6'4" (Rebuilt)

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#1989782 - 11/22/12 01:06 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
I think some people who feel their pianos are too loud have some problem with their technique that's the real culprit. To be able to play pp without producing ghost(non sounding) notes is not an elementary technique that is usually mastered by beginners/intermediates.

I have a Mason BB in a carpeted room only 12' by 18' by 8'(it does open up into other rooms so I'd guess the effective space is around 50% larger), and I can play it very softly without ghost notes. But I've only been able to avoid ghost notes in the last six months when I made a simple but basic change in my technique.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/22/12 01:12 PM)

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#1989787 - 11/22/12 01:14 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...Hi, anyone tried this using foam/insulation? Any success?...(it's an upright)..."

Markjitsu, you might have some luck reducing the sound you hear in the music room with foam, if it's too loud that way. I wouldn't put it right on the piano, but a few inches behind the soundboard. Uncoupling the piano from the floor (with acoustic casters, some thick carpet with foam padding, or an isolation platform) to keep from disturbing your neighbors might have some limited success.

You could start your research with the link below. There are many others; it's a big subject. You might see what Auralex and Piattino (brand names) have to say. I think you would find it less expensive and more satisfactory to buy a DP to play at the times when you can't play your AP, rather than building a soundproof piano booth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundproofing

"...It was BDB who was had his knickers in a twist..."

It is lucky that you are on different continents, Ando, so that you won't hire him to work on your piano through error. Personally, I think he and I might get along, though living across the Bay from each other is a little too far to hire him to work on my piano--- the commute would be expensive--- and anyway I already have a guy who does a fine job. What he says makes sense to me, though.

I don't know about whose knickers; BDB seems a bit more dispassionate and matter-of-fact, and is certainly very experienced and skilled. If you really want to see some people doing the cha-cha, nail some foam to their soundboard and step back so they can admire what you've done. Anyway, beating up on BDB is certainly not going to help your problems.

It's possible to take the help of the whole variety of suggestions. Between (1) selecting a piano that's right for your music room, (2) caring for it--- including regular tuning and regulation, and judicious voicing if and as needed, (3) finding the right position for it in the room, so that it sounds its best, (4) furnishing and/or treating the room to bring out its best acoustic properties while minimizing its faults, (5) increasing your skill as a performer, to get the best out of your instrument and its acoustic space, and (6) addressing tinnitus, if you have it, to conserve your hearing and avoid making your problem worse [that gets a separate six-point list of its own].

No room is perfect for every piano; no piano is perfect for every player; no player is perfect (because no human being is perfect); no showroom is perfect for every shopper. There's an infinite list of delinquencies, but do the best you can, try to enjoy your piano, have a happy holiday and a great next year, no matter where you are.

Just a suggestion.
_________________________
Clef


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#1989798 - 11/22/12 01:31 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3521
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Jeff, I've already addressed my sound issues using acoustic foam. It works perfectly - hence my defence of it as a valid option. I'm aware of every aspect you raised there - nothing was left unexplored, qualified techs included. The ultimate solution was the foam - and no, it wasn't stuck to the soundboard! BDB might seem dispassionate, but he is also highly dismissive. If you find that an admirable trait, well...

The "skill" component is not a factor. As I said above, if you play softer you might get the dynamic level that's comfortable, but there are tonal reasons why you might want to "dig in" a little more. To use the range of tone that the piano has, I found it better to insulate the back of the soundboard so I was getting sound primarily from the front. This allowed me to use the full tonal range of my piano without blasting my ears.

Aside from the precise placement, your comments about the use of acoustic foam seem to be perfectly aligned with mine.

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#1990466 - 11/24/12 07:48 PM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Markjitsu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 4
Crogersrx, I'd love to see some photos - thanks!
Thanks everyone for all their advice!
Well, everyone who's actually aiming to be helpful anyway...

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#1999789 - 12/15/12 11:51 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
Thrill Science Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 513
Loc: California
I just received my Edwards String Cover, and it works great. Thanks to some posters in this thread for suggesting them!

It's the same color felt as the felt in the piano, it's made well (it should be for the price) and it takes the edge off a large piano in a small room. It will make it more comfortable for me to practice for hours without getting audio fatigue. I like the sound with it in, and gives me more tonal options than I had before, it's quick to remove, or fold a portion of it over to get a different sound.

Also, with all the cats in the house, it will keep hair out of the piano, and protect it a bit if they crawl inside before I can stop them. (I keep the top closed when I'm not playing, but if I step away for a moment, they're quick to get in.)

_________________________
Robert Swirsky
Thrill Science, Inc.

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