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#2300192 - 07/09/14 09:58 AM Headphone selection & volume level...
Ben Boule Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/20/14
Posts: 114
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
I'm just curious if anyone has any knowledge of this.

I have been having trouble getting tension in my hands when playing my CN24.. I'm working with my teacher on this which is helping (I need to improve my technique), but I'm also pretty aware of how much the volume level on the digital piano affects this.

I bought Sony MDR-7506 headphones.. these have an impedance of 63 Ohm.. this turns out to mean they don't play very loud on a lot of devices. For example if I use them with my iPhone I have to turn the volume up to 3/4 or more and I would still have trouble listening to say Classical Piano recordings which have a lot of dynamic range. They are even worse on my Macbook Pro, it just can't drive them. Background here is higher impedance headphones require more amplification, it sounds like most devices these days are built assuming you are using small headphones which are typically 16 Ohm or less. I would have expected a device like a digital piano to have a more powerful amplifier considering it has a 1/4" jack and seems to assume you will be using larger headphones.

I am now using them on the CN24 and turning the volume on the CN24 up to about 8 out of 10. I started with 5, but what I think is happening is the headphones don't play very loud, so I end up hitting the keys harder and harder trying get a loud enough sound, which ends up contributing to me tensing up my hands/forearms.

Has anyone encountered this? I don't have trouble when I do not use headphones or when I use an acoustic (lessons), but the whole point of using a digital piano is I need to play almost all the time with headphones. Is there answer that I should just set my volume to a high level on the piano? Try different headphones, etc.. ? I did just order a portable headphone amplifier, I may try that and see if it allows me to play without turning the volume on the piano up so loud. The volume level on the piano also seems to affect the amount of dynamic range when playing piano vs forte too.

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#2300223 - 07/09/14 11:42 AM Re: Headphone selection & volume level... [Re: Ben Boule]
bennevis Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 7085
The impedance and sensitivity both contribute to the volume you get from headphones. And it does make a difference to the quality of the sound (and therefore responsiveness), as well as the (perceived) dynamic range.

When I play Kawai or Yamaha DPs, I find I have to set the volume control at a higher level than I do on my Roland V-Piano, when using my headphones. Often at the maximum volume, when using the store's provided headphones, and even then still not loud enough to come close to what a real piano would sound when played with the same force.

I've never used any Sony headphones, but all the ones I have - AKG K271 MkII, Grado SR325is and Klipsch Image X10i (earphones) have impedance of 55 ohm or lower, and sensitivity of 95 SPL/V or higher. And they all work fine with my MacBook Pro and my iPod Touch and iPod Classic.

It sounds like if your Mac can't successfully drive your Sony, you'll need to get a headphone amplifier, or else change your headphones. Do it soon, before you injure yourself........
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

#2300239 - 07/09/14 12:34 PM Re: Headphone selection & volume level... [Re: Ben Boule]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2692
Loc: UK
I think you need to set the speaker volume and also the headphone volume, so that as best you can and recall, it matches the volume of an acoustic for a given key strike velocity. Now play GENTLY without tension. When using speakers I wear musicians earplugs a lot of the time, and for the headphones I will turn the volume down a touch, or else that way tinnitus and deafness lies IMHO. This does help develop a light touch, with no hitting the keys unless the dynamics and piece calls for it, and even then hitting is not the way. Do you have a teacher?

#2300303 - 07/09/14 03:25 PM Re: Headphone selection & volume level... [Re: Ben Boule]
lolatu Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 863
Loc: UK
I have the same headphones and although I'm no expert, they seem very loud to me. Certainly a lot louder than my old Sennheisers. On the CA95, 1/4 of the way up on the volume slider is more than sufficient, so I have to turn the volume down when switching from speakers. Though different models will have different power levels in their headphone amps.
Kawai CA95 / Steinberg UR22 / Sony MDR-7506 / Pianoteq Stage / Galaxy Vintage D
In the loft: Roland FP3 / Tannoy Reveal Active / K&M 18810

#2300324 - 07/09/14 04:02 PM Re: Headphone selection & volume level... [Re: Ben Boule]
Ben Boule Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/20/14
Posts: 114
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
It does sound like different models might have different power outputs. When searching this forum I could have sworn I saw something about a separate headphone volume on the CN34, the CN24 doesn't not seem to have that, so certainly there could be some difference. edit: I just checked the manuals.. it looks like the CN34 and other higher end models have a setting for higher impedance headphones that would solve this.

I do have a teacher, I mentioned that in the first post.. this volume issue is a smaller part of a larger problem. I'm working a lot on trying to relax my hands/arms at the moment.

Edited by Ben Boule (07/09/14 04:06 PM)

#2300355 - 07/09/14 05:10 PM Re: Headphone selection & volume level... [Re: Ben Boule]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2406
Loc: Sydney, Australia
There is nothing "bad" about having the volume control on a DP set to max. If it's loud enough on 8/10 (or 10/10) then you don't have a problem.

Middle-aged Jeremy Clarkson acolyte

#2301072 - 07/11/14 11:06 AM Re: Headphone selection & volume level... [Re: Ben Boule]
Ben Boule Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/20/14
Posts: 114
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
OK, once I got the headphone amp in hand I've decided you are right Greg.. no need to use it with my CN24, the CN24 is plenty powerful on it's own. However it sure is great with my iPhone or my PC for listening to music.

Edited by Ben Boule (07/11/14 11:06 AM)


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