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I have a Yamaha PSR 270 keyboard (bought a decade ago). I had doubts about its sound quality even when I started learning piano some 8 or 9 months ago; recently I heard the recordings on this forum in the Alfred's thread, and I thought my piano sounds a whole lot different from those. Is it a natural difference between a digital keyboard and an actual acoustic? My piano doesn't have the sharp something in it that others' recordings have got. They sound like real pianos, while mine has a different sound. Is it because it's digital, or because it's too old? Have you guys ever felt it yourself?
Loc: Virginia, USA
Well first off the biggest difference are the keys! In a semi-weighted board its hard to play with any kind of dynamics or expression. Another thing is that after a decade, the samples in the board are pretty dated. While no digital piano is a perfect clone of an acoustic piano the gap has closed greatly in the years since your board was designed. Go to a store and try out various digital pianos. Even the cheaper models such as the Casio PX-135 will sound a lot better than your PSR 270.
A long long time ago, I can still remember How that music used to make me smile....
I havn't heard the PSR270, but it is sold as a "portable keyboard", not a "digital piano". This could make a big difference. I advice you to go in a piano shop and test digital and acoustic pianos in order to make you know the difference between these. Note that digital pianos could have different amplification (from 2x6W to 2x90W), this could make a big difference.
The thing is, I'm using this decade old piano because the place I live in has no piano shops. I understand my limitations, so I'm using what I have to learn whatever I can in my current circumstances. The sound quality doesn't bother me much - as long as I'm learning something. Thanks for telling me, though. When I do get an opportunity to visit a shop sometime in the future, I'll check out the different sound qualities and try to find some piano that sounds better. Until then, I'll just have to be content with what I've got. It's good enough, if not the best.
Are you using headphones or an external amplified speaker system? You will get much better sound; the speakers in a digital piano or keyboard are never that wonderful to begin with.
But yes, the sound of a 10 year old digital instrument will not compete with the sound of something modern. This is mostly because of the available memory and processing power of the instrument. In the past 10 years they have managed to store a lot more information in flash drives, and the migration of this technology into digital pianos and keyboards has been slow.
I'm not using headphones or anything. Would that help with the sound quality, you mean?
I agree, in the last decade there has been tremendous advancement in every aspect of technology, and in music instruments too. I feel like time has been slower for me, in a figurative way, and I'm stuck in the past whereas other people have moved ahead of me, and now I live in a different world than the others- time travel, lol. Time obviously is relative.
With all the different ways you can modify the piano sounds on a DP, even individual notes on some models do you think each brand still had it's own sound or is it just the 'out the box' sound that differs?
So with enough adjustment a Roland could be made to sound like a Kawai etc?
Loc: Mountain Time, USA
@ Maths -
You've received some excellent replies above, but I see from your answers a few things that weren't immediately obvious to us that are key for us to consider:
- You don't have easy access to a music store to compare with new keyboards.
- You're sticking with your current keyboard anyhow, since that's what you've got to work with.
- You're ok with the headphone suggestion.
- You wish your keyboard sounded more "sharp."
I'm assuming by "sharp" you mean "bright" (not "sharp" like sharp vs. flat notes). So, I would simply add the suggestion that you find the "treble" or the "EQ" function control on the PSR270 and increase it. And that when shopping for headphones, consider earbuds - which are a lot cheaper anyhow - because they tend to accentuate the treble, rather than more expensive full-size headphones that typically provide more bass in the frequency range.
The PSR270 has a lot of fun features that, although certainly dated by today's comparisons, should give you lots of music-playing enjoyment given your description of what you're looking for.
Get some music books, check out a lot of free content on YouTube for beginner pianists, and have some fun learning and enjoying music with your keyboard!
Loc: Mountain Time, USA
Originally Posted By Maths
Yes, OneWatt, you're right, by sharp I meant bright. By the way, I can't find the EQ function on my piano. I checked out all the functions but can't find this one; what does EQ stand for, though?
Also, my manual says that I should use stereo headphones with the piano- can I still use earbuds? Also, how are stereo headphones different from normal headphones? (Forgive my newbie-ness ...
No worries - all good questions.
"EQ" is short for frequency "equalizer" which is basically a function to balance the treble and the bass of audio sound, like turning those knobs on a stereo system on a car radio.
As for "stereo" headphones, in this day and age it would be hard to find headphones that were NOT stereo (because they'd be mono, meaning that the identical sounds would come from both the left and the right side, which was how popular music was recorded back before the early 1960s). So, ANY headphones you buy today are going to be stereo.
As for "earbuds" vs. "headphones" ... earbuds are just tiny little headphones that go inside the ear, rather than those larger clunky-looking cups that go over the ear on the outside. Because they're smaller, they tend to emphasize a bit more of the higher brilliant tones (treble) rather than the lower tones (bass). Always be careful - especially with in-the-ear earbuds - not to turn your volume up too high so you avoid hurting your hearing!
I took a quick look at the PSR270 owner's manual, and I can make this easy for you...
There doesn't appear to be any "EQ" or treble/bass control, so just don't worry about it.
There is a #2 Piano sound called "Bright Piano" and so if you are looking for a brighter sound, I would select this voice, rather than the #1 Piano default.
If you're not sure how to do this, read through the manual to see how to select voices, which you'll want to learn anyhow just to have fun with the possibilities.
While the PSR270 apparently does not offer features for you to personalized or shape the tones of the sound (what you might have meant by "sharpening" up the sound), there's still plenty there for you to start learning to play a keyboard and make some music.
You said you weren't ready to shop for another keyboard, and that's ok because you can certainly have lots of fun with the one you have.
If you get to a point where you are considering shopping for a new keyboard that might have more features or different, more modern sound qualities, I'm sure there are plenty of folks here who can help.
Enjoy! - OneWatt
PS - If you really want to get adventurous, there are two "DSP" features I see in the owner's manual (#76 and #77) that are described as EQ features. At some point you may want to play around with these to see if you can make some adjustments to the tone, but I wouldn't be surprised if it might be more trouble and effort than it's worth. You might get more satisfaction out of learning more about how to play the music you enjoy. But perhaps some rainy afternoon you can do a little more exploration in the manual and see what's possible in those "DSP" knobs.
Edited by OneWatt (Today at11:01 AM) Edit Reason: Added a "PS" note
You definitely want stereo headphones. Some super cheap headphones might not be stereo - I have a pair or two that came with a cell phone.
An EQ setting could help you get better tone from the on-board speakers, but I would try the stock setting when you put on the headphones. The sound quality of the keyboard is incredibly influenced by the size, shape, and quality of the speakers, as well as the shape and materials of the speaker enclosure (which in this case is the plastic keyboard body, and whatever cavity they could find to stuff tiny paper speakers into).
There are plenty of Yamaha keyboards out there that sound horrible when you turn them on and play them, and sound brilliant when you hear them through a good set of speakers or a set of headphones.
Right now my favorite headphones are the Skull Candy Ink'd earbuds. They are like $18. I am not saying they are 'good' headphones - for music they are 'junk' if you are comparing them to $100+ headphones. But they seem to cover up some of the imperfections of a digitally manipulated piano sample, have enough bass to make the low notes powerful, and enough highs to make the high notes seem to sparkle. In reality they are too bright with too much bass but for some reason they provide the best piano playing experience through headphones out of everything I've tried (which now includes $260 headphones).
If you decide you want to buy headphones, there are Sennheisers out there for $20-$40 (at SamAsh.com, eg) that would probably be a decent option for you with this keyboard.
I tried the bright piano voice, and it is actually brighter, so the sound is better now However, I'll still try and buy the headphones whenever I get the opportunity to- this way others won't be disturbed when I'm playing the piano, haha.
I'll also look into the DSP features next time I'm playing. I can't buy a newer keyboard at this point, but I do look forward to that future when I would be able to buy one; that might take a year and a half, I guess. Until then, well, I can daydream about it...
Thanks for the suggestions! This forum is really full of so many helpful and knowledgable people, and I'm glad to be a part of it.