Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems

Posted by: Tubbie0075

Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/02/13 12:32 AM

Hi all,

This seems to be to closest related forum to get some tips about piano room acoustics.

I bought a house and will be moving in late March. The best place for me (and everyone else) is to put the piano in one of the bedrooms. Here are the details:

Piano: Kawai RX2 grand piano, 5'10"
Required floor space for the piano and stool: 2m x 2.5m
Room size: 3.07m x 2.92m
Room surroundings: fully carpeted floor on top of a wooden floor, 1 window, 1 door, 4 walls.

I anticipate that because of the very small room size, the sound will be bouncing off the walls and ceiling like mad. I searched for some tips on the internet and the answers seem to be sound absorption foams, bass traps, furniture (not much room left for furniture), try different positions for the piano etc. I don't know how effective these will be.

Anyone have tips other than those mentioned above? Also, does anyone know any acoustic consultants in Melbourne Australia that provide services to domestic rather than industrial/commercial?

Thanks in advance!
Posted by: BDB

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/02/13 12:58 AM

I think you are worrying for nothing. Just wait and see how it sounds in your room. It will probably be fine.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/02/13 04:01 AM

I agree with BDB. If your piano was enclosed in a room with a marble floor, walls, and ceiling, you'd have something to worry about, perhaps. But, your room as you described it should not be a problem. Take comfort in the fact that hundreds of thousands of conservatory students practice in jail-like practice rooms without issue... all over the world!
Posted by: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/02/13 06:30 AM

Hmmm... perhaps I am worrying about nothing. Ok, piano room tick. Next, the kitchen!
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/02/13 08:42 AM

Tubbie,

Marshall Day Acoustics is in Melbourne, and their reputation is well known.

I'd suggest you install the piano and furnish the room as you normally would. Try it and see how it sounds. Then afterward, you may need sound-absorbing treatments on the walls and ceiling. Marshall Day may be able to point you in the right direction for product choices. They also may be able to assist in calculating out the required area of treatment and it's optimum placement. They are professional consultants and will expect to charge a fee for their services (how much are lawyers per hour in your area?)

You're never going to get concert hall acoustics in a space like you've described, and actually the room is so small that the piano is easily going to produce enough loudness that it may be overpowering. You may find that you will have to play with the lid closed or on the short stick most of the time to control loudness.

No foam. Foam just killed 250 people in Brazil.

Hope I've helped,
Chris S.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/02/13 08:48 AM

If it is a personal space, you will probably not worry to see acoustical foam on (some) walls (are not some foams certified non flammable ?).

This may be the less expensive solution.

Aint a reason because students play in small rooms with the ears full of aggressive tone and pianos that always sound harsh, to have the same situation at home.
Small places are not always horrible, but if for instance you can avoid paralleled walls, the instrument will speak better. I have a customer with a 192 Grotrian Steinweg in a small romm, but the roof is in slant just there , as his ceiling. NO need to damp the piano, the tone is very clean and neat.

He just installed a thick tissue behind his seat, (important so not top get too much from behind him) and some in front of the windows.
The piano was easy to voice

Shells full of books seem to be very efficient as well.

Posted by: Olek

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/02/13 09:14 AM

Here is an elegant acoustical solution : books and inclined ceiling wink :

[img]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-OIxW6...h331/2013-01-12[/img]
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/02/13 06:32 PM

Isaac,

You're really not helping.

Originally Posted By: Olek
If it is a personal space, you will probably not worry to see acoustical foam on (some) walls (are not some foams certified non flammable ?).

I think the safest approach for the original poster is to consult an acoustician who can steer him towards the products that are acoustically effective, but aren't dangerous. There are a lot of charlatans selling lots of "acoustical" products out there. And there's so much misinformation and inflated claims. (Kind of like vibration-isolating piano caster cups. Lots of inflated claims and misinformation.)

Originally Posted By: Olek
This may be the less expensive solution.

Taking acoustics advice from a piano technicians chat forum is only less expensive until the given advice doesn't work. Remedial acoustics is very expensive. I suggest the original poster make a quick phone call to an acoustician, pay them a few dollars, and see if they might be able to help. (Kind of like when piano technicians on this forum say..."you should have a qualified piano technician inspect your piano to determine it's value. I can't evaluate it sight unseen from the internet.")

Originally Posted By: Olek
Aint a reason because students play in small rooms with the ears full of aggressive tone and pianos that always sound harsh, to have the same situation at home.

I agree. Every room should be taken on a case-by-case basis. I think the best person to help the original poster would be an acoustician. (Kind of like when piano technicians on this forum say..."you should have a qualified piano technician inspect your piano to determine it's value".)

Originally Posted By: Olek
Small places are not always horrible, but if for instance you can avoid paralleled walls, the instrument will speak better.

This piece of advice always makes me laugh. Isaac, how do you suppose the original poster is going to make his walls out-of-parallel? They're already built!


Originally Posted By: Olek
I have a customer with a 192 Grotrian Steinweg in a small romm, but the roof is in slant just there , as his ceiling. NO need to damp the piano, the tone is very clean and neat.

He just installed a thick tissue behind his seat, (important so not top get too much from behind him) and some in front of the windows.
The piano was easy to voice.

One anecdotal situation does not make a trend. Nor can it be used to presume a level of acoustics consulting competence.

Originally Posted By: Olek
Shells full of books seem to be very efficient as well.

Efficient at what?
Book shelves can be an effective way to scatter sound. It depends on how they are built and what they hold. They also can be a means of absorbing sound. It depends on how they are built, and what they hold. Scattering sound and absorbing sound are two different phenomena. Which do you mean?

I stand by my reply to the original poster: call an acoustician.

Chris S.


Posted by: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/03/13 05:59 AM

Thanks all.

Marshall Day seems like a commercial-oriented company. Their website shows that they were appointed as the acoustic consultants for the refurbishment of the Hammer Hall. If I ask them to consult for my tiny music room they might laugh their teeth off!

Anyway, there is a long list of names in the website. I might just move in, try a few things myself and if it doesn't work, then call them for some pointers.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/03/13 06:14 AM

Well I don't know the cost of a visit, but it must be somewhat possible. SOme may also provide minimum answers with pics and a sketch.

The solutions are rarely cheap.

I just stated of experiments that seem to work, thye did not "shape" the acoustics of the room, but provided a place wich is not too much reverberant

Of course a professional will have better ideas supposedly, than install book of shelves (while if you read books you must store them somewhere) heavy cloth behing your seat (that one is simple and it makes a real difference on the room I have seen it)

of course the ceiling cannot be made slanted but there are certainly materials that allow to avoid static waves using the ceiling (could a false ceiling be installed with a slant with some efficiency ?)
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/03/13 11:02 AM

Originally Posted By: Tubbie0075
Thanks all.

Marshall Day seems like a commercial-oriented company. Their website shows that they were appointed as the acoustic consultants for the refurbishment of the Hammer Hall. If I ask them to consult for my tiny music room they might laugh their teeth off!

Tubbie,

When you're at the point where you might call them for some pointers, just explain that you've got a piano room in a residential setting, and ask them directly if the size of your job is something they're interested in. If they're not interested, ask if they know someone who would be able to help out. They may refer you to another acoustician, or they may point you directly to a product representative who could help out. They may even refer you to consultants who design home theaters. Who knows? One of the consultants may want to moonlight for you for a few bucks just because it's interesting to them. It's a minute-long phone call and costs nothing. I get them all the time.

Originally Posted By: Tubbie0075
Anyway, there is a long list of names in the website. I might just move in, try a few things myself and if it doesn't work, then call them for some pointers.

That sounds like a perfectly reasonable approach.

Good Luck. And enjoy your new place.
Try not to take any wooden nickels.

Chris S.
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/03/13 11:37 AM

Isaac,

I still don't think you're being very helpful. It seems you're just posting random acoustical concepts that you heard about, or tried once or twice, or saw someone somewhere try at some time. Wooden nickels. How is that helpful to the original poster's questions?

Think of it this way - Having a pair of ears makes you just as much an acoustician as it makes you a piano tuner.

Originally Posted By: Olek
The solutions are rarely cheap.

Insulting.

Some people might say that piano technicians are expensive. "All they really do is turn tuning pins, right? Piano technicians are rarely cheap." See how insulting that statement is?

The question is: will the solutions provided by a professional consultant work for Tubbie, and is that worth it to him? All he has to do is make a call to find out. Neither you nor I can help beyond that, nor can either of us make a judgement about costs.

Offering conjectural solutions sight unseen is just offering wooden nickels.

Yours,
Chris S.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/03/13 12:06 PM

I agree Chris. smile

The piano might not need anything at all. The OP could be worrying for nothing. I've had customers purchase a 1/2" thick rug maybe an 8x4' or 6x4' or something like that and place it under the piano. It worked good enough to cut the sound down to an acceptable level for them. Others are content with it the way it is after delivery. Wait and see what it sounds like and go from there. smile

Posted by: James Carney

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/03/13 02:15 PM

I am occasionally hired for professional acoustic treatment consultations and installations, as I have learned through the years that no amount of voicing and tweaking can compensate for a space with inherent acoustical issues. So I took the time to learn the basics and gained experience making rooms sound better. I also have found that most of my piano clients and venues whom I work for could benefit from acoustic treatment, and often need to reposition the piano within the room for the best results.

There are acoustic treatment solutions available at moderate prices that do not require expert acoustician consultations. High-end recording studios and performance venues that want perfect sound need that expertise for the best results, and usually consult in the planning (pre-construction) phase, but homes and project studios only need coverage that basically breaks up the sound waves while absorbing certain frequencies. In these types of situations it is basically overkill and not necessary to measure room modes (axial, tangential, oblique) to figure out an effective solution. It doesn't have to be rocket science for a piano room within a home.

The OP's room is very small (less than 100SF) and it will probably sound pretty bad if nothing is placed on the walls. The piano will likely sound distorted so the concept is to place material on each of the four walls and possibly the ceiling that will help to scatter, diffuse, and absorb frequencies while eliminating or attenuating flutter echoes and standing waves. Owens-Corning 703 and 705 fiberglass panels work beautifully, and are the main components in many commercially available "room kits." They can be mounted within a simple pine or fancier hardwood frame and covered with burlap or any other material that allows soundwaves to travel unimpeded. They can also be made to be fireproof or at least fire-resistant, and in my opinion they almost always sound better than foam. I've used my share of foam and it works, but fiberglass panels are better, safer, and they can be hung like pictures, using simple hooks and wire. (Foam is often glued to the walls, making if harder to reposition or relocate to a different space.)

The biggest drawback to foam is that it is usually not nearly thick enough for effective bass trapping. The thicker the panels, the more bass they can absorb, which is why effective bass traps need to be at least 6" thick. (A bass trap is a bit of a misnomer - the more effective and the more dialed in the bass traps are in a given room, the more clearly the bass will be heard and felt at all or most frequencies in more places within the room itself. So rooms without bass trapping almost always have either too much bass or too little in certain areas of the room - depending on the frequency - because of standing waves that result in either buildups or phase cancellations.)

For 100SF I would suggest at least one 2' x 4' panel at least 4" thick (deep) on each wall which will help absorb more lower frequencies. 6" thick panels would be even better. And, if these panels can be placed in each corner (forming a triangle) they will be even more effective, as frequencies "build up" in corners. So 8 panels would probably bring a space that size into pretty good shape, possibly good enough for quality recording. A couple of panels suspended from the ceiling would be additional icing on the cake.

If the OP has enough of a budget, more expensive diffusors can be installed along with the panels.

I generally do not like wall-to-wall carpeting under a piano, and prefer real hardwood floors (not laminate material.) Area rugs can help, but getting effective coverage and absorption on the walls is the key to good acoustics. A piano sitting on wall to wall shag carpeting 4" thick will still sound terrible if there is no coverage on the walls.

Another hint: Place the keyboard (and therefore your head when playing) as far away from the walls as possible. Otherwise you will hear too much reflected sound, usually more with one ear than the other. That's never fun...

For those interested in learning about acoustics, I highly recommend visiting www.ethanwiner.com as a start.
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/03/13 04:34 PM

Tubbie,

I'm trying my best here...

Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants: http://www.aaac.org.au/au/aaac/

Chris S.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/04/13 08:25 AM

I just have a good friend whose the job is precisely to make acoustic work for halls, conference places, theaters, etc.

She is never opposed to go and take a few measures, but she know from the start that most of the time there is no easy answer and rarely low cost solutions.

She certainly will not begin to work on a proposal with 80% chances that this will be a loss of time for her, as it is the case even with intelligent people very often (see why lower).

A comfort listening zone can be created, or something similar, but with a powerful instrument and places that are all but designed for them, you will only have a partial sound quality , if compared with a large space.

Sometime it is not "as bad" as it should. For instance in isolated rooms the reverberation time can be worked so the tone is well perceived.

Hopefully the pianist have as much pleasure with his fingers as with his ears (if not some of those Chines pianos could not be sold wink
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/04/13 10:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Olek
I just have a good friend whose the job is precisely to make acoustic work for halls, conference places, theaters, etc.)


So you have a colleague who is an acoustician.

I am one.

Do you have anything else to impart to help the original poster?

Chris S.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/04/13 10:59 AM


Originally Posted By: Chris Storch

Do you have anything else to impart to help the original poster?

The best advice, given the title of this thread, would be to place the instrument and the fix the room if required.
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/04/13 12:17 PM

Oh good. We seem to have come to a conclusion to this thread. Thanks Dan.

(I like the quote that accompanies your signature.)

Chris S.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/04/13 12:28 PM

Then take out the instruments to arrange the room wink

Just to be agreeable to you, CHris, (I am honored wink I must admit I have seen more than one the original professional computation of a concert hall acoustics been done at great cost twice, because the chairs did not enter in the computation, or some similar silly thing.

see Pleyel hall, for instance, but we have examples in 8 theaters on 10

Why is it that musicians and piano tuners Perceive those things more than expert professionals ?

Is not there some diploma ?

(I admit many piano repairs are in the same case, OK ...)

Posted by: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/05/13 03:47 AM

Thank you James, particularly your comments about foams. They seem to be everywhere and I took it that they are a common solution. It's good to know that there are better products out there that doesn't require gluing to the wall.

Unfortunately my worries about the music room has to be put on hold for now. That bloody broker and bank are giving me a headache. I expect no less stress when it comes to home insurance and removalist! I wish there is a forum like this for buying properties.
Posted by: James Carney

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 02/05/13 05:07 PM

Originally Posted By: Tubbie0075
Thank you James, particularly your comments about foams. They seem to be everywhere and I took it that they are a common solution. It's good to know that there are better products out there that doesn't require gluing to the wall.

Unfortunately my worries about the music room has to be put on hold for now. That bloody broker and bank are giving me a headache. I expect no less stress when it comes to home insurance and removalist! I wish there is a forum like this for buying properties.


Glad to help. Acoustic control is a fascinating subject that deserves wider attention and understanding from everyone. It's always a pleasure (and much easier and rewarding) to tune, voice, play, record, and perform on pianos where you don't hear any negative aspects of the room itself. Like microphone placement, it's also an area where experimentation should be encouraged to get differing results.

The advantage of hanging panels is that they can easily be temporarily moved depending on circumstances - sometimes engineers want a wetter, more ambient room sound for tracking (recording) but a drier, tighter sound for mixing.

It's also much less fatiguing to the ears to practice, compose, and rehearse in a room with adequate acoustic control. Good luck!
Posted by: warlock214

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 03/07/13 04:13 PM

My room is about a 100sq ft. also. I just found the material to use for this DIY Project. There will be 8 total acoustic panels. The cost will be around $175 or so not more than $200 for sure.
Posted by: Tubbie0075

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 06/09/13 08:45 PM

Just an update, I moved the piano into this small bedroom and now made it my music room. Initially it did sounded too loud for my ears. The piano removalist suggested to put some cushions to soften the soundboard from underneath (between the ribs). I tried that and it did work. However, the dynamics weren't even across the keyboard range so I removed the cushions. Now I am used to the sound level it doesn't bother me anymore. Luckily there is not much echo in the room.

I also bought a dehumidifier unit for the room and a hygrometer to check humidity. When it is above 60, I turn it on until humidity drops to between 40 and 50. My piano hasn't stay in tuned for this long ever! So I think it works.

I also have a small bookshelf and my computer in the room. So you can say that the room has become my "man cave". The wall is a bit naked. I hope to get some paintings or photos up there sometimes soon. I would take a picture of the room and post it here but I don't know how to share photos in the forum. Can anyone show me?
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 06/09/13 09:43 PM

Tubbie,

Good to hear that things turned out okay for you.

To include an image in your posting, the image has to be uploaded already on the internet elsewhere. (Such as a photo sharing site like Picasa for Facebook etc.) All you can do here is insert a pointer to that location.

The written instructions are located in the FAQ section:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/faq.html
Posted by: Olek

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 06/10/13 02:18 AM

I guess I should take pics of the cases where the family is reading books, lot of books (I promise it is common among my customers)

Then a full wall of shelves or more than a wall sometime, is covered with Books.

Heavy, irregular surface.

Always helping the tone.

On the contrary, where the books are within closed or glass covered furniture, I have flutters and reverberation.

I will take pics for sure. Musicians , despite the use of screens and displays of today, have generally tons of paper scores.

Just wanted to point the benefit they could have, from a not commonly envisaged point of view.
Posted by: Chris Storch

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 06/10/13 05:39 AM

Isaac,

You just can't seem to stop, can you? As another poster once wrote...

Originally Posted By: Olek
Why don't you refrain, on subjects you do not master ?

Your participation would be more constructive after that.

You seem to be willing to help, but then, when you do not know just avoid embarrassing readers.

It is very disagreable...
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 06/10/13 05:55 AM

Originally Posted By: Chris Storch
Isaac,

You just can't seem to stop, can you? As another poster once wrote...

Originally Posted By: Olek
Why don't you refrain, on subjects you do not master ?

Your participation would be more constructive after that.

You seem to be willing to help, but then, when you do not know just avoid embarrassing readers.

It is very disagreable...

Isn't putting books and music scores on a "naked" wall a reasonable suggestion?

... but I see there is some history ...
Posted by: Olek

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 06/10/13 06:51 AM

I have no Idea why Chris Storch seem to feel attacked each time I try to say something . it is really to easy to have you warming...

What I say have nothing to do with you or your respectable profession.

I love you Chris, as much as other posters !!!

BTW you did gave valid and useful information once, on the "relative" efficiency of shock adsorbers installed under the piano casters.

Can't you simply give a simple basic answer, some basic concepts, on the questions that arise with a strong piano in a somewhat small room ?.

That way we would have some elements to think, and the original poster as well.



While at the same time we often say that a professional have to be involved, the reason why can be explained, as the basics of the problems.

In small rooms it must be easier to install absorbing goodies on the walls before the piano is installed, be if for the dust.






Posted by: Maximillyan

Re: Piano Room Acoustic - Anticipated Problems - 06/10/13 07:43 AM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Take comfort in the fact that hundreds of thousands of conservatory students practice in jail-like practice rooms without issue... all over the world!

It does not matter where the play. Important as it do