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#1992603 - 11/29/12 09:43 PM Room size considerations
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
I know just enough about room acoustics from home theatre design to be dangerous
That being said the lowest bass note your speakers can generate could be limited by the room size
I'm assuming that the same rules apply with pianos or other musical instruments

What would be the minimum room size to properly generate the lowest notes of an 88 key piano?

Or am I just over thinking this?

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#1992643 - 11/30/12 12:37 AM Re: Room size considerations [Re: Schroeder II]
aTallGuyNH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 512
I'm assuming by the phrase "properly generate... notes" you mean in order for the tone to be acceptable on a subjective basis?

I'll confess to having no idea re: a specific answer to the question, but I would venture an opinion that the length of the string will have a whole lot more impact than the size of the room.

So, a concert grand squeezed into a tiny room is still going to have infinitely better tone and resonance than a spinet in a very large room.
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"


#1992707 - 11/30/12 07:16 AM Re: Room size considerations [Re: aTallGuyNH]
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
The length of the string is not the same as the wavelength it generates
Low bass notes can have wave lengths of 30 to 40 feet
This would be in the 30 hz range
What is the lowest note a piano can generate in hz?
Anyone know?

#1992715 - 11/30/12 07:37 AM Re: Room size considerations [Re: Schroeder II]
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
Why am I getting so lazy in my old age?
I looked it up myself.
Lowest freq. of 27.5 hz has a wavelength of 41 ft.
I would assume then if you are in a room that does not have at least a diagonal of that dimension you will not hear the root sound of 27.5, only the harmonics.

Did I do this right?

#1992725 - 11/30/12 08:17 AM Re: Room size considerations [Re: Schroeder II]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2480
Loc: Virginia, USA
Your math is correct but in reality it's not that bad or you wouldn't hear the low notes in my room at all - and they are clear. Hopefully this will help:

Piano Room Size
  • Debussy - Le Petit Nègre, L. 114
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

Kawai K3

#1992730 - 11/30/12 08:27 AM Re: Room size considerations [Re: Andy Platt]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 13146
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Your math is correct but in reality it's not that bad or you wouldn't hear the low notes in my room at all - and they are clear. Hopefully this will help:

Piano Room Size

Interesting article, thanks, Andy!
private piano/voice teacher FT

#1992734 - 11/30/12 08:36 AM Re: Room size considerations [Re: Schroeder II]
malkin Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 3410
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Check the piano forum section--discussions like this roll through there periodically, as well as people seeking help for quieting their piano rooms or adjusting things for the best sound.
Everything in moderation, including moderation. --Oscar Wilde

#1992741 - 11/30/12 08:58 AM Re: Room size considerations [Re: Schroeder II]
Barbareola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/12
Posts: 67
Loc: Germany
Thanks for the link to the article.

Oh wow - I never knew... I never considered a grand or a tall upright for me, because I didn't have the place for it. It never occured to me that the accustics might suck, even if I had enough space because of room size. shocked

Luckily, the piano seller gave us excellent advice and he did inquire about the room size. When he recently visited us to tune the piano, he was more than impressed with the accustics the piano delivers where it stands. But if I had bought one at one of the other shops we tried earlier...
Currently working on: Venetian Gondola song by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

#1992770 - 11/30/12 10:34 AM Re: Room size considerations [Re: Andy Platt]
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
I read the article carefully and I think the author is trying to say the same thing I did.
He indicates that the lowest notes may need an open door to develop
There is a difference between the bass "feel" which is more of a sound pressure level of the total sound including harmonics and the actual lowest frequency generated.
It was an informative link. Thanks for the insight.

#1993234 - 12/01/12 02:24 PM Re: Room size considerations [Re: Schroeder II]
KurtZ Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 1333
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
That Piano Buyer article is exactly the kind of dumbing down of acoustics that make people know enough to be dangerous; I say dangerous because they start to make decisions based on specious information.

I'm going to channel Gnuboi here. We're not building recording studios and even if we were we don't have the luxury of moving walls so all the minutiae about golden ratios is just a bunch of chitter chatter taking up space between the ads.

I'm going to confine myself to dispelling the most egregious of audio myths presented here. "Bass waves need room to develop"

Pure Poppycock. Take about 30 seconds, all of you and consider this: If bass frequencies need x amount of FEET to develop, why can we hear bass frequencies in headphones?

No, really think about it. Are the laws of physics different in headphones than in free air? Do you ears or brains change because you put on some ear-muffs? How about another one? Why can the microphone "hear" the very low frequencies in a bass drum when it's only about 9 inches away? Why can an 8 inch diameter speaker that moves about a half an inch make a bass wave 28 feet long?

It ain't about distance folks, it's about time. How often not how far. If you don't hear bass frequencies in a room, it's because you're in an anti-node (a low pressure area) caused by the comb filtering effect of room modes AND where there's anti-node, there must be a node (high pressure). The frequency must be in the room, it just ain't where your ear is.

One who does what the Friend wants done
will never need a friend.


#1993434 - 12/01/12 11:21 PM Re: Room size considerations [Re: KurtZ]
Schroeder II Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
You raise some very interesting points.
I think the only way to prove that would be with a tone generator that fitered out higher harmonics
But there is also the sound level to consider
Phones can produce low frequencies but only at very low spl
Not sure what the average cutoff frequency is though
Spl is also why you need big speakers for bass to move more air

I want to give a thumbs up that post has made me rethink everything I thought was gospel in sound room layout!

Edited by Schroeder II (12/01/12 11:22 PM)


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