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Old 22nd April 2011, 04:41 AM   #1
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Default Best speaker to reproduce piano sound?

Is there a particular speaker type or powered monitor or diy system (preferable) that is especially good to reproduce piano keyboard (grand piano especially) sound? I'm talking for home environment, not large venue. Portability is not important.
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Old 22nd April 2011, 04:58 AM   #2
TerryO is offline TerryO  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sprinter View Post
Is there a particular speaker type or powered monitor or diy system (preferable) that is especially good to reproduce piano keyboard (grand piano especially) sound? I'm talking for home environment, not large venue. Portability is not important.
Horns.
Altec VOTT or equivalent. Ask Cal Weldon, he knows about them.

Best Regards,
TerryO
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Old 22nd April 2011, 06:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by TerryO View Post
Horns.
Altec VOTT or equivalent. Ask Cal Weldon, he knows about them.

Best Regards,
TerryO
Thanks Terry. These things I know less about than just about anything...What is it about them that would make them especially good for piano reproduction? Btw, I'm actually talking about using them with a digital piano keyboard, not recorded music. However, the same standards may apply anyway. These things just look like they would sound great. Are they known to be flat response or colored? It doesn't really matter to me as long as it sounds as close to an acoustic grand piano as possible. Probably a very tall order, but that's me...
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Old 22nd April 2011, 07:51 AM   #4
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You're wanting decent quality PA speakers, that's all, there's nothing special about pianos - it's really just wide range audio.

Horn's basically improve efficiency, but at the cost of size and weight.
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Old 22nd April 2011, 09:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Nigel Goodwin View Post
You're wanting decent quality PA speakers, that's all, there's nothing special about pianos - it's really just wide range audio.

Horn's basically improve efficiency, but at the cost of size and weight.
This is kind of what I figured, but I wondered if there were any particular speakers that keyboardists flock to for the piano pieces. If a person is very particular about their sound, piano is one acoustic instrument with a very recognizable sound and probably the single most widely used keyboard sound. Everybody knows what a large grand piano should sound like and so you want to replicate that as well as possible. It sounds big, full and "real". There are a few really good sampled piano vsti's out there and they beg for speakers to match. I'm guessing it's not that easy to make a speaker that does that really well.

I've only just started to look into this, so I don't really know. I'll be visiting a few good local music stores too, but this is where the speaker experts are for sure. Realistically, I probably will end up with just what you said for budget reasons if nothing else, but I like to start at the top and then work down to meet my budget...
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Old 22nd April 2011, 11:20 AM   #6
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Well, it is hard to beat an esl or mag type planar driver when done right.

Parts express has some very good project speakers aswell.

There was one in particular that I was going to suggest but it is not on their website anymore as I think the woofer from dayton was discontinued.

Although I am not a box speaker type of person I was very impressed by the spec's of this one and it was featured in one of their flyers and I still have it some where.
It was finished in piano black lacquar.

I believe it was a three way system with a 10" woofer in a small volume box and the guy that designed it I think was a pianist and they were designed to be used as nearfield monitors and had an incredibly flat resopnse down to 30 hz I will look for it later and try to get it posted.

I have a friend (Mavric) that had built the tractix from PE is very happy with them aswell and has even used them side by side with his DIY esl's that he has documented the construction of, In these threads.

I am also impressed with the Zalph audio designs using the dayton aluminium cone drivers as he has measured them to have a very low THD for a cone type speaker and are very high quality drivers for the price even though the have gone up with the price of gas aswell.

There are quite a few very good designs on the PE website that even me, a diehard ESL fan, would not mind giving a second look.

Regards. jer
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Old 22nd April 2011, 12:18 PM   #7
dewardh is offline dewardh  United States
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As great as or perhaps greater than speaker issues are microphone placement (where and how many) and the delivery system (16 bits isn't enough to capture/deliver the dynamic range of a concert grand, so piano is always limited and compressed if separately mic'ed). Once past those problems all the old familiar speaker issues apply . . . smooth and extended (if you can hear it) frequency response, and particularly uniform dispersion and a flat power response (which favors omni and dipoles, since "baffle step" (the change in radiation pattern) is often significantly more audible when playing solo piano recordings).

If you were just talking "stage piano" I'd agree about horns/pa speakers . . . that's what you hear them through in performance. For reproducing a concert grand not so much . . . broad and uniform dispersion seems to carry the day . . .
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Old 22nd April 2011, 05:59 PM   #8
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If you want too try something that is not to complicated and get great sound, take a look at this thread,

Planar speaker - first try

He also has a youtube of them in action here,

Planar speaker - first try

The very first time I heard a realistic sounding piano was on a set of cravers AMAZING RIBBON speakers. jer

Last edited by geraldfryjr; 22nd April 2011 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 22nd April 2011, 06:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerryO View Post
Horns.
Altec VOTT or equivalent.
A man after my heart.

Make sure the horns are damped.
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Old 22nd April 2011, 06:41 PM   #10
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I kind of wonder about 40 hz bass on planar speakers. I check out speakers with piano sources, specifically Serkin "Three Beethoven Sonatas" and a low brow Peter Nero album, "Young and Warm and Wonderful" that has top octave Steinway grand solo on a cut. Also better mikes than the Serkin (1974 vs 1958). Currently I'm using Peavey SP2-XT speakers at $300 ea used, after rejecting the SP5's at the store because the bass was wimpy. These are a horn plus a 15" woofer. It is a copy of the classic Altec-Lansing design, which is never for sale here in the middle. JBL is supposed to be the next most original, but they don't sell here either, nor do they have much of a spec brochure. You might audition JBL on the coast. Mackie and Yamaha also make copies. You will find Peavey in musician stores, not hi-fi boutiques, and take your own CD, they won't have a good one. Lot of noise about PA sound on this board, look at the distortion levels of the SP2 spec at 1 W (which fills my living room except for hard sforzando hits) and 10W and 100W PA levels. Before my SP2's I owned Peavey T300 high frequency projectors, which don't have enough bass. I'm running the SP2's on stands behind and above my Steinway at the end of a 14Wx12HX25L living/dining room, which is the classic Wein concert hall shape. Yes, you can build your own speakers, but this requires a lot of anechoic testing with a great mike to get just right. Neumann and Schope mikes are about $3000 each. I'm powering with a 50 year old tube Dynakit ST70 this week, but also use CS800s PA amp and transistor dynakit ST120 amp with djoffe bias mod. the transistor amps sound better but have more parts and require debug right now.
If you're putting on stage shows and like portability, try a Peavey KB300 with built in amp.
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Last edited by indianajo; 22nd April 2011 at 06:50 PM.
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