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#2129077 - 08/06/13 05:47 PM Platform Beneath Piano in Concert Hall
Nikolai Vukovic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/09
Posts: 30
Loc: Malta
Dear friends,

I kindly ask you for your opinion regarding whether or not to leave a Bösendorfer grand piano of a concert hall on a platform.

The concert hall is in an L-shape, seats 100 on either side, floor is marble, seats lie flat (not sloping) and the piano lies in the corner of the 'L' just to give you an idea.

The piano has been lying on a hollow but carpetted wooden platform to help the audience view the performer but the management and myself have long been discussing whether this platform is hindering the sound of the piano. Lately, the platform has been removed to enable a two piano concert and the Bösendorfer was left to sit on the bare marble flooring. The sound is definitely louder and I feel it is more brilliant.

The options are the following:
1. leave the platform with the carpetting on
2. leave the platform without the carpetting (i.e. bare wood)
3. coat the platform with another material
4. remove the platform completely

Here is a photo of the hall and piano


Your opinion is highly appreciated,


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#2129091 - 08/06/13 06:08 PM Re: Platform Beneath Piano in Concert Hall [Re: Nikolai Vukovic]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1510
Loc: Michigan
At least make sure there is direct structural contact from the area of the piano's casters (wheels) to the floor of the building. (It should not be on boards that are only supported at the edge of the platform structure, for example.) Also remove the carpet.

About 5-10% of the pianos sound output goes into the structure of the piano while most of it goes into the soundboard. For small rooms, this doesn't matter. In larger halls, it can make a noticeable difference. This is also noticed where pianos are on a 3-wheeled spider trolley. Making direct contact to the floor will improve the "presence" of the piano in the hall.

Sometimes there is a noticeable improvement in the touch response, as well.

Additional options could include putting the piano directly on the floor and then using a large mirror or a video camera and screen to show the audience the pianist's hands.

Edited by kpembrook (08/06/13 06:10 PM)
Keith Akins, RPT
Editor, Piano Technicians Journal
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#2129102 - 08/06/13 06:18 PM Re: Platform Beneath Piano in Concert Hall [Re: kpembrook]
Nikolai Vukovic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/09
Posts: 30
Loc: Malta
Many thanks. The wheels of the piano are directly in contact with the carpet but the platform beneath the wheels of the piano does not have any direct link to the ground either. To make things worse, the edges of the platform do not touch the ground directly either - the platform has its own wheels.

There are three things hindering then: the lack of a direct link from the piano wheels onto the ground, the carpet and the wheels of the platform, I understand.

#2129171 - 08/06/13 08:55 PM Re: Platform Beneath Piano in Concert Hall [Re: Nikolai Vukovic]
Chris Storch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 299

Are there any acoustical consultants on the island? Your best bet is to locate someone that knows about room acoustics.

Just my gut feeling based on what you've written, and the photo you linked to:

The platform is a good height already based on the audience sightlines. A bit higher might be even better.

All of the audience members appear to have a sightline to the top lid, so that means they're getting sound from the reflection off the top lid.

Not all audience members have a sightline to the floor under the piano. That means that the sound reflection off the floor is somewhat attenuated by the audience absorption. Audience members in the back rows will never have the full experience of the sound the piano can produce.

If you remove the platform to try and take advantage of the hard, reflective, marble floor, you will lower the piano and make the sightlines of the audience members to the performer worse. Therefore, the previous two items I've describe will also be worse. I wouldn't do that. (If you can't see the sound source, your acoustical experience is just naturally going to be worse.)

The platform has carpet on it. I'd at least recommend removing it, and sealing the floor with several coats of finish.

The platform has wheels and doesn't touch the floor. This implies that it's lightweight to be able to move it around, (but I can't be sure of this). Both of these facts are working against acoustical projection of the instrument. The wheels mean there's a huge impedance mismatch between the platform and the marble floor. All the sound energy that makes its way into the platform is dissipated in its structure and/or absorbed by the carpet. So while the platform looks to be at just about the right height, it sounds as if it's constructed in entirely the wrong way.

From the description of it, the platform sounds like it should be rebuilt. A new platform should have the following features: mounted directly on the floor with as much surface area contact as possible, lots of structural bracing to make it as heavy and as rigid as possible, thick planks for the wood that makes up the top surface, constructed with either a hard softwood or a soft hardwood, sealed with several layers of floor finish.

Oh, and no carpet. Ugh. Dreadful.

E-mail me off list if you'd like to converse further.
Chris Storch
Acoustician / Piano Technician

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#2129306 - 08/07/13 06:51 AM Re: Platform Beneath Piano in Concert Hall [Re: Nikolai Vukovic]
Nikolai Vukovic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/09
Posts: 30
Loc: Malta
Thanks a lot Chris. I think you are right on all counts. I have already been in touch with the management (who have been linked directly to this topic) and they are considering all your suggestions. I was initially in favour of removing the platform completely but you totally convinced me that the gain would be counteracted by the worsening of the sightline. Yes, the reconstruction of the platform is a must now.

Thanks for your detailed reply. I will get in touch with you directly if the theatre needs more information. This is the secondary hall to Malta's National Theatre.

Thank you Keith for adding more ideas to the pool.

#2129358 - 08/07/13 10:38 AM Re: Platform Beneath Piano in Concert Hall [Re: Nikolai Vukovic]
Olek Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 9230
Loc: France
You may wish top use that excellent material on the walls Nikolai:

(Sorry, private joke , could not refrain !)
Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!


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