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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
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
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
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1968
Loc: Philadelphia area
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21510
Loc: Oakland
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3572
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21510
Loc: Oakland
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3572
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
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
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7182
Loc: torrance, CA
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.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1989644 - 11/22/12 02:05 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: Markjitsu]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21510
Loc: Oakland
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3572
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21510
Loc: Oakland
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3572
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3572
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
Full Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 477
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.
_________________________
rhythm must be inborn - Alfred Cortot

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
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7182
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.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1989733 - 11/22/12 10:57 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: turandot]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3572
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
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7182
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.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1989749 - 11/22/12 11:42 AM Re: Quietening a piano [Re: turandot]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3572
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
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/25/08
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 Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19329
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: 3572
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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