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View Full Version : Again, why do my headphones sound WAY better than speakers?



Noel
09-03-2004, 08:36 PM
I had a nice answer to this from someone, regarding phase effects or something, but I have a nice new stereo amp, and yamaha monitors, and it always mystifies me why Giga sounds 10x better thru my sony phones than through my brand new amp/mixer/speakers. What is odd is that mp3s played of these same giga samples sound great through these speakers. It just sounds rather thin and empty by comp to headphones, which sound marvelous. I am playing the Steinway B from EW. Moreover, when I play my Roland A90ex through my amp/mixer/speakers it sounds fine, BETTER than the Steinway GIga. It's the complete opposite when I play through headphones--Giga sounds 10x better than Roland. Any more ideas, or am I doomed to a life of giga through phones?

Noel

Bruce A. Richardson
09-03-2004, 08:56 PM
Impedance mismatch between your audio card and the amp?

Hard to say. Sounds like an output level/impedance thing to me, though. Although, if it's the same audio outs that are playing the mp3, that's not it. In that case, could it just be a very reduced level coming out of Giga in comparison to your mp3 player?

This just doesn't seem to make sense.

Noel
09-03-2004, 10:50 PM
Bruce, I'm afraid I don't understand how to evaluate for this possibility you bring up. Here is what I have going:

Delta Audiophile (from the spec sheet, the only reference to ohms):

"Input Impedance: 10k ohms minimum."

Alesis Multimix 12 FXD:

"1/4 in. Outputs
Main Mix, Ctrl Room, Aux 3/4, Ext Aux Send Level: +4dBu nominal, +20dBu maximum
Headphone Output: 75 ohm output impedance
>105mW into 75 ohms, > 40mW into 600ohms"

Samson Servo 120 Stereo amp:

"Output Power (typical all channels driven):
4 Ω, 1 kHz, 1% THD, 83 W
4 Ω, 1 kHz, .034% THD, 60 W
8 Ω, 1 kHz, 1% THD, 57.5 W
8 Ω, 1 kHz, <.019% THD, 52 W" and . . .

"Headphone Output Level: 240 mW at 8 Ω (1 kHz)
Input Impedance: >10 k Ω balanced/> 10 k Ω unbalanced"

****I'm plugging my headphones into the Alesis Mixer

Speakers:

Yamaha S8M Studio Monitor
Impedance: 6 Ohms
Power Rating: Noise 25W Program 50W Max 100W

Given this info, do you see an issue that might be causing my problem?

Noel

sullivang
09-04-2004, 06:18 AM
When you listen to the MP3's, are you in the same physical position that you are in when you are *playing* the Steinway?

Other than that, I would have put the blame on a phasing problem with the Steinway, but as Bruce said, it doesn't quite make sense that MP3's would sound good through the speakers if that were the case.

I certainly think that the Gigapiano (1) sounds quite terrible when played purely mono through headphones. It sounds better when played normally (stereo) through loudspeakers, but nowhere near as good as it does through headphones. I have heard that this phasing problem exists on other pianos for Gigasampler too, but I'm not sure about that particular Steinway you are using.
Despite the apparent discrepancy between MP3 and listening directly to Gigastudio, perhaps do some more testing to eliminate phasing issues.

One thing to try might be to record the Roland playing a passage, and then simply play the recording back using Gigastudio. See if it sounds the same. :)

Greg.

Larry Negro
09-04-2004, 08:58 AM
The phones sound better because of the physics of accoustics. The phones against your ears create a sealed "tuned" pace, like a speaker cabinet is tuned........plus you are getting true "binaural reproduction with no interference from ambient space. The left ear hears what was in the left source space and the right as well.

When you listen through speakers, you are not really listening to a "closed" system of just the the speakers and their tuned cabinets (like the phones), because you have to add the tuning of all the ambient space and positioning in the room (very complex physical modeling). Speaker manufactureers try to "engineer out" all this extra baggage when designing speakers to get as close to that ide of having the speakers against your ears as possible, but its all compromise at best.

The bottom line is that all of the room conditions affect EQ, time shift, phase and other variables in the speaker environment, so you could never get the purity of sound reproduction in speakers that you do in headphones.......because there is no ambient space between your ears and the phones to affect the sound. This all translates to two distinct sounds of phones and speakers. (Its always tempting to mix through headphones because of this great advantage in sound realism but..........not really a good idea.)

Hope this helps a little

Larry

sullivang
09-04-2004, 02:31 PM
Also, absolute phase can make a huge difference to the way low notes sound sometimes. I've never experimented with absolute phase with acoustic pianos, but for electric pianos, it's amazing how the sound can change simply by flipping the phase. (yes, of *both* channels)

Greg.

Jake Johnson
09-04-2004, 04:26 PM
Something I do that will not help you in recording\mixing pianos but may give you much more enjoyment in playing at home: I found an old set of tall Panasonic stereo speakers (vintage 1985 or so) at a flea market for $50. Three cones, with 10" woofers (not as large as the cones on a good dedicated keyboard amp, but close). These are not studio monitors, just the usual stereo speakers, at one time state-of-the-art. These sit behind my keyboard, one on each end, turned slightly to face me. They sound great for pianos. I imagine a more recently made set would sound even better.

Not to be trusted for mixes, as I say, because they color the sound, but for just playing and composing, they sound great, making the pianos sound much fuller and richer than my studio monitors. Helps that they sit on the wooden floor, too, so the sound seems to come from slighty below me, like the sound of a piano when you play, and are against the wall, so the bass response is good. May come closer to your headphone experience. (Obviously, try the best and biggest speakers you can find--I was lucky to find these big CS-CG7001 Panasonics for almost nothing.)

My monitors sit on top of these, and my amp has a switch that lets me switch between the two sets of speakers.

(Anyone else using big stereo speakers this way? Well worth experimenting with for piano sounds.)

Jake Johnson
09-04-2004, 04:29 PM
(Oops--they're model CS-G7001 Pioneers.)

Noel
09-04-2004, 05:11 PM
Thank you all for the information. I did go back and recheck wires and found one problem there. I also changed the phase (in the audiophile driver) and it does sound a bit better. I think there may be some issues with the piano sample itself. And I'm beginning to think my monitors are not too good. I will post another question on speakers and would appreciate the comments from any who do respond.

Thanks,
Noel

sullivang
09-04-2004, 05:39 PM
I also changed the phase (in the audiophile driver) and it does sound a bit better.
Ah ha. ;^) Now, I wonder whether you are listening to it with the "right" phase, or not, now. :) (I realise you're not saying this was the whole problem, though)

I once did a simple mod to a soundcard - the mod happened to reverse the phase of the signal. (in both channels) I spent days trying to figure out why it sounded so different - I was concentrating on frequency response, but the only problem was the phase. I was totally floored when I happened to invert the signal in a soundfile editor and then try it again - it sounded perfect again.

Greg.

Noel
09-04-2004, 06:55 PM
I tried flipping both channel phase 180 degrees and it seems better.

Do you think my 6 ohm 12 y/o Yamaha S8M monitors are ok with this samson servo 120? I think I need a pair of new tympanic membranes, and a new cochlea wouldn't hurt either. Seriously though, take a look at the specs i posted on these parts and do you think the speakers are matching my amp ok? What is weird is that the Roland A90 piano sounds virtually the same thru phones or speakers, but definitely not so with this East West Steinway thru Giga 3. I have the white grand 24 bit OTW so that should tell me something as well.

Noel

sullivang
09-04-2004, 07:04 PM
Can't comment on the speakers & amps.

The Steinway may sound different through headphones because it may have a wider stereo image than the Roland. So, the Roland, whilst it does not sound as impressive through headphones, does at least have a relatively consistent sound, regardless of whether it's played through headphones or speakers.

Just by the way, how does the Steinway sound when played mono through headphones? (pan both channels to centre)

Greg.

JonFairhurst
09-04-2004, 08:32 PM
Noel,

The Samson Servo 120 is a bit weak for full range speakers. I use the same amp for my high-end only. If the problem is a lack of transients on loud attacks - especially at the low-end, this might be the culprit.

Can you describe what you mean by "better" and "worse" in more detail? Is it that the giga stuff lacks punch? Does it lack bass? Treble? Does it sound distorted? Is it the stereo spread and imaging? Is it too muddy? Too brittle?

Also, what headphones are you using?

-JF

Jake Johnson
09-04-2004, 09:12 PM
Noel:

How did you go about changing the phasing in the audiophile? (I checked my Audiophile Control Panel, and couldn't find a way to do it.)

Noel
09-04-2004, 11:15 PM
Noel,

The Samson Servo 120 is a bit weak for full range speakers. I use the same amp for my high-end only. If the problem is a lack of transients on loud attacks - especially at the low-end, this might be the culprit.

Can you describe what you mean by "better" and "worse" in more detail? Is it that the giga stuff lacks punch? Does it lack bass? Treble? Does it sound distorted? Is it the stereo spread and imaging? Is it too muddy? Too brittle?

Also, what headphones are you using?

-JF

Jon, what do you mean by full range speakers? How do use an amp for high end only? Man I'm a newbie . . .

I have Sony MDR-7506 stereo monitor headphones (~$99 10y ago). I will try to do a better description: when I play through my speakers . . .

1. it sounds weak--lacks punch
2. the sustain drops off fast (versus with phones the sustain is full and natural decay)
3. there is a certain very slightly phaser-like effect in some of the notes--quite artificial. I don't hear this thru the phones.
4. there is a lack of "depth" or fullness that is present with my phones
5. on the EQ issue--yes, I think this is part of the problem. I found the EQ controls in GS3 and it does def sound better.

Here's a clue too maybe: the Giga 2 sounds AWEFUL through my speakers! Just bizarre! I need professional help I think!

Jon, or anyone listening, maybe I should lose my samson amp (sheesh just bought it a couple months back to replace an old pioneer stereo receiver i played through) and buy a set of powered studio monitors. This was I can be more assured the amp/speakers are matched better. What do you think about that?

Noel

Noel
09-04-2004, 11:21 PM
Noel:

How did you go about changing the phasing in the audiophile? (I checked my Audiophile Control Panel, and couldn't find a way to do it.)

Jake, it's at the bottom of the hardware tab and says this:

Input Channel Phase +180 degrees
In 1 In 2 (where you can check a box for either or both 1 or 2)

I assume this is changing phasing, but then again, I don't know too much . . .

Also, it's in the beta driver for GSIF 2 support, and is
driver version 5.10.00.0047x5
panel version 1.03.20 -2.3.02

Noel
09-04-2004, 11:25 PM
Can't comment on the speakers & amps.

The Steinway may sound different through headphones because it may have a wider stereo image than the Roland. So, the Roland, whilst it does not sound as impressive through headphones, does at least have a relatively consistent sound, regardless of whether it's played through headphones or speakers.

Just by the way, how does the Steinway sound when played mono through headphones? (pan both channels to centre)

Greg.

It sounds alot like how the steinway sounds thru my speakers. Bad! When I select Pos/W and go full 100% sep and centered panning (ie, i guess that means full stereo) it sounds exactly the same as when I choose Mono mode, with L at full left, R at full right. Should they sound exactly the same? This is with my headphones--there seems to be virtually no difference between stereo mode, and mono mode with full left and full right.

sullivang
09-05-2004, 12:09 AM
Oh boy. Maybe I have something set up wrong. On my controller, I have left at 0, and right at 0. My mixer is pan pot is centered. Am I supposed to set up my controller so that left is hard left, right is hard right?!
Noel,
I don't know whether you have anything wrong or not, but you can make an instrument mono in Gigastudio itself by moving both the left and right pan sliders to centre position, in the Giga DSP Station Inputs screen.

Greg

JonFairhurst
09-05-2004, 12:35 AM
Noel,

Everybody was a newbie once! :)

I run my system in a bi-amped configuration. Normally you run the signal into one amplifier, then to the speakers. The speakers have a passive crossover inside (big inductors and capacitors) that splits the signal into high and low signals. The high goes to the tweeter, and the low to the woofer. If you have a 3-way, 4-way or more speaker, it will have a more complex crossover inside.

In a bi-amped system you run the signal into an electronic crossover that splits the signals into high and low. The high goes to a (smaller) amplifier that drives only the tweeters. The low goes to a (bigger) amplifier that drives only the woofer.

Regarding your phones, the Sony 7506s are a nice choice. They're a bit aggressive on the highs, but not terribly far from flat. I was wondering if you were using Grados or some other headphones that really color the sound, compared to studio monitors. You aren't.

I think the amp is likely the problem. It may have a bad internal component and/or be out of spec. The Sampson is a nice, fan free amplifier, but it's no powerhouse. You might look into a used Haffler on eBay. They have fanless models that give a pretty good bang for the buck. I'm running a Haffler on my low-end. I'd like more power, but it drives my big JBLs just fine at normal listening levels.

-JF

Noel
09-05-2004, 12:47 AM
Jon, do you think there is a good argument to be made for some powered speakers, something like mackies or alesis for my lil studio? I'm still not sure my amp's off because everything else sounds great through it, including my Roland. And I must say the Steinway is improving as I keep making changes here and there. One very odd finding: it seems to sound the best if I reverse teh stereo field. (maybe that's cause I changed teh phase in the delta driver?!) Anyway, I'd like it to be pretty simple and effective, even if I have to spend some dollars on some good active monitors, with the idea that the manufacturer would be better at matching amp and speakers than I am mixing and trying to match. What say you on these ramblings?

Again, much obliged for the help along the way. I picked the steinway from listening to purgatorie's mp3's. Recordings made with it sound fine on these speakers to (!)

Noel
09-05-2004, 12:50 AM
Noel,



I think the amp is likely the problem. It may have a bad internal component and/or be out of spec. The Sampson is a nice, fan free amplifier, but it's no powerhouse.
-JF

If I have a bad component, would the other sounds I'm running thru it still sound ok? I guess it's possible it would only show up on certain stresses to it. The fanless thing was definitely teh reason, PLUS it has a shutoff to the speakers, which is nice since my mixer won't allow me to play it's onboard FX AND shut off the mainouts. Again, do you think my speakers could be the issue? I was reading up on matching amps/speakers and it seems like a pretty important factor. Though these seem to be matched ok for power rating at least. Again, I guess there is some argument for higher ohm speakers with this low ouput amp.

sullivang
09-05-2004, 01:10 AM
Noel,
If the recordings of Gigastudio playing the Steinway still sound fine, and different to how it sounds when you are playing it live, then try playing the recording itself using Gigastudio. (either using Distributed Wave, or creating a
very simple GIG) See whether this sounds the same as when you play the
recording normally, or whether it sounds the same as when you play it live.

When you play the recording, is it using the same audio interface? The same audio ports on that audio interface?

Greg.

Theodor
09-05-2004, 01:37 AM
Maybe your new speakers are too "Honest" which means their frequency responce is very Flat . ( all bands boosted the same more or less ) while your headphones might be boosting more of the Mid range or the End and bottom . Like Mics, many headphones boost certain frequencies on their own in order to give Presence to what you are recording or listening .
Good monitor speakers are the ones that boost nothing.

Try playing around by boosting the Bass and Treble from your soundcard so the general output is more boosted. I think that gives you sound closer to headphones.

- At least for listening to music, i believe Headphones are not that good because the two L and R headphones tend to mess up and confuse your brain that is struggling to understand why the left ear is listening to something that the right ear is not . In nature you don't get that anywhere.
Maybe in 100 years the descendants of todays Sampler Headphone Musicians will have advanced DNA and headphone listening will be something natural .. Doh :D

sullivang
09-05-2004, 01:44 AM
Theodor,
My understanding is that Noel thinks the Steinway sounds fine through the speakers, even, but only when he plays a pre-made recording of it. When he plays it live, it doesn't sound as good. If this is the case, then I think we need to get to the bottom of this problem before we look at headphones, amps, and speakers!

Greg.

Theodor
09-05-2004, 02:53 AM
Oh , oops i get carried away sometimes :)

sullivang
09-05-2004, 03:07 AM
Oh , oops i get carried away sometimes :)
No sweat. I was sort of hoping that discrepancy between live & recorded had disappeared but apparently it hasn't. ;)

Greg.

Jake Johnson
09-05-2004, 12:30 PM
Could you tell us a little more about the two sounds differ?

Could it be your midi keyboard has settings you've forgotten? (Effects being turned on, an odd velocity setting, a performance setting? My Yamaha S-80 lets me use onboard effects to process sounds on my computer. Nice when I want them. A source of confusion, still, when I forget the effects are there. )

Have you tried plugging the amp directly into your soundcard, taking the mixer out of the chain?

Are you plugging into the preamped inputs on the mixer?

Is there anying else whatsoever in the chain?

Are the cables\wires attached to the correct ins and outs on all componets?
(Monitors, mixer, soundcard.) Sounds like a problem there, possibly. The same problem we all face more often than we might like to admit, I suspect.

Can you substiture other components in the chain to isolate the problem? You might try using your stereo's amp and then speakers for a brief test to see where the problem is.

Hope these suggestions help.

Noel
09-05-2004, 12:33 PM
Thanks, I will try some better troubleshooting, like isolating components. Great suggestions . . .

Noel

Noel
09-05-2004, 04:53 PM
Bypassed the Alesis mixer--no change.
No FX from midi controller.
Double-checked all wiring, and it appears to be as it should in terms of L R. I'm guessing the best place to start might be some new monitors, designed for personal enjoyment versus mixing purposes.

I did some reading up on my monitors. I guess they are notorius for making stuff sound as flat as possible. The infamous (depending on your agenda) Yamaha S8M Studio Monitor.

sullivang
09-05-2004, 07:22 PM
I'm guessing the best place to start might be some new monitors, designed for personal enjoyment versus mixing purposes.
If you genuinely can hear an appreciable difference when you are playing live, vs playing a recording of the same performance, I think you should investigate that very carefully, especially since you say that the recording sounds fine. But, perhaps it's just a psycho-acoustic type of thing. I've noticed this a bit when listening to recordings - for some reason it just sounds a bit different. Perhaps it's because when we are listening to a recording, our brains process the sound a bit differently, because we're not anticipating what's about to happen in the same way as we do when we are performing. I don't know. :)

Re: the absolute phase flipping, I don't want to make too big a deal about that. When I encountered the problem, I was listening to a particular sound. (single notes, of a relatively low frequency.) Once you have sorted out your other issues, you may want to flip the phase back to default - I think there's a greater chance of the default settings being correct, despite the fact that you currently prefer the non default setting for the Steinway. I'm pretty sure that a positive digital audio signal is supposed to cause the speaker cone to move outwards (towards the listener), so perhaps you could even test for this somehow. (Google for absolute phase - there's info out there)

Greg.

Noel
09-06-2004, 12:18 AM
If you genuinely can hear an appreciable difference when you are playing live, vs playing a recording of the same performance, I think you should investigate that very carefully, especially since you say that the recording sounds fine. But, perhaps it's just a psycho-acoustic type of thing. I've noticed this a bit when listening to recordings - for some reason it just sounds a bit different. Perhaps it's because when we are listening to a recording, our brains process the sound a bit differently, because we're not anticipating what's about to happen in the same way as we do when we are performing. I don't know. :)

Re: the absolute phase flipping, I don't want to make too big a deal about that. When I encountered the problem, I was listening to a particular sound. (single notes, of a relatively low frequency.) Once you have sorted out your other issues, you may want to flip the phase back to default - I think there's a greater chance of the default settings being correct, despite the fact that you currently prefer the non default setting for the Steinway. I'm pretty sure that a positive digital audio signal is supposed to cause the speaker cone to move outwards (towards the listener), so perhaps you could even test for this somehow. (Google for absolute phase - there's info out there)

Greg.

I did revert back to default phase. I'm not hearing much difference today.

I am very tempted to purchase a set of powered monitors even if only to make clear my amp/speakers aren't an issue. I don't like doing that and then returning the items, but I sure don't want buy more gear if it isn't the issue and I would definitely seek to return equipment that didn't make an appreciable improvement. I read another article last night that stated speakers can actually improve with age. Even so, are the non-flat, listening-type speakers really going to add more than EQ might?

I am looking forward the installing the White Grand. If I experience the same issue, with such a prominent diff between headphones and speakers I will def need to get to the bottom of this. I'm assuming the issue IS NOT an issue with Giga per se, as no one here has suggested this that I recall.

Thanks very much for your time and input--I very much appreciate all the insight available.

Cheers

runamuck
09-06-2004, 09:44 AM
Sorry if I'm repeating something: I haven't read all the posts,

Try hooking your monitors up to your stereo system to see how they sound.
Try playing a professional CD of music you like through your recording system.

Are there differences in quality?

Noel
09-06-2004, 04:03 PM
Hi Ojai,

I live in Paradise, CA, up north of Sacramento, and lived in Santa Barbara for about 6 years. I spent a day trip or two in Ojai, to go listen to J Krishnamurti speak back in the days of peace, love and other stuff!

I do play pro CD music through this system all the time and it sounds quite good--no complaints. Perhaps I'm just expecting too much from Giga sampled pianos. On the other hand, thru the headphones they sound delicious, so it's a puzzle. I don't hear others making as much of an issue between their phones and speakers, so I'm still at a loss. I probably need an experienced audiophile, recordophile here to tell me what's up with this setup, if anything.

Noel

sullivang
09-06-2004, 04:56 PM
Noel,
I think I have misunderstood something you said. When you say that "recordings sound fine", you simply mean that CDs sound fine, right? I thought you meant "when I play recordings of me playing the Steinway with Gigasampler, afterwards, they sound fine, despite the fact that when I was playing it, it sounded lousy". If you just mean that CDs sound fine, then, from everything you're saying, I think the problem is going to be the Steinway. That's where my money is. I think it will be a phasing problem with the Steinway itself. This is why I asked you to play the Steinway mono (through headphones) - if that sounds bad, I think that's an indicator of a problem with the Steinway itself. It should not sound terrible when played mono, despite the fact that stereo will of course sound better.

You may get an improvement with new loudspeakers, but I honestly don't think that's where the main problem is going to be. I'm very curious to see how this turns out - interesting problem.

Greg.

sullivang
09-06-2004, 05:04 PM
Also, try placing the speakers further apart. If you can, put them beside you, facing in, like headphones. I bet you this will sound much better. If so, that's indicative of a phasing problem with the Steinway, given that other material sounds fine with the speakers in their existing location. This might be an even simpler test for you to do than playing it in pure mono.

Greg.

Noel
09-06-2004, 11:12 PM
Erns and Greg, I have played mono and it definitely improves the "off" sound I was getting before. Therefore, I would have to say unequivocally mono sounds better than stereo. As for wiring, I rechecked all connections, and they seem to be as they are supposed to be. Audio card>mixer>power amp>speakers, all staying with the correct L & R side. I did fix one connection yesterday that WAS NOT correct.

As for repositioning the speakers, I have a general question again about positioning: on monitors like mine--Yamaha S8Ms, how far are they designed to be from your ears? 8" woofers on these passive monitors. Right now they are almost opposite my ears (ie, to the side, aiming at the side of my head), and are about 3 feet from each ear. Due to the layout of my desk and counter space, I can't really put them in front of me because there isn't much distance between the front edge of my keyboard and the wall behind it. What is a typical way to set up speakers for a mostly piano environment? I am moving my playroom to another vacant bedroom (both twin daughers off to college whoohoo!) so I can set it up any way that makes sense. I was wanting to set up the new room with a corner counter, where an L shaped counter is installed up to the wall, so my PC will live in the corner, and my A90 will live to the left, and other stuff on the right. As the counter would be only 22" in depth (except at the corner, where it is cut on a diagonal), again leaving me not much distance were I to shoot to have my speakers in front of me. I could mount them on separate L shaped small shelves, then I could rotate them slightly as needed. Or would they be too close to my ears, for their size? Seems like it would be more like headphones the closer they are together as I think you've suggested.

Is acoustic dampening a good idea for general listening & playing? I know there are products you can put up on walls etc for that. What's the optimal floor--is carpet a bad thing?

Noel

JonFairhurst
09-07-2004, 12:03 AM
In general the points of your speakers and head should create a perfect triangle - each speaker should be 60 degrees off axis. You can then place them closer or further from the wall to change the bass characteristics. Change the toe-in to affect the image.

I don't know if anybody has mentioned it, but you may want to make a CD of yourself playing the piano from Giga. Play it back on your monitors, the headphones, your TV, your neighbor's stereo and the high-buck monitors at the music store. This will help give you some more comparisons to better understand how much is due to the monitors and how much is due to Giga, the samples and the effects you use. You are using a bit of reverb aren't you? Dry pianos can sound really dull. The NFX reverb (let alone GigaPulse) can really add some body to your sound.

-JF

mts
09-07-2004, 12:11 AM
It sounds to me that your speaker placement is now the biggest problem. You can't have speakers pointed at your ears like a giant pair of headphones... there will be frequencies cancelling each other out and doubling in level - probably the worst possible scenario for monitoring. If the Steinway you've been talking about is using true 'stereo' samples, the left and right mics will have been picking up a lot of the same sound. The Roland has probably used mono samples that have been 'panned' to stereo and then a little reverb added to give a stereo width. Your speakers should be facing you in a triangle configuration... no more than a 60 degree angle. As for acoustic treatments, I've been setting up temporary recording spaces for years and probably the best thing I ever bought was a pair of Primacoustic 'Freeports'... movable sound absorption. If you're going to set up 'permanently' in a corner, you'd be better off with a fixed solution (London Series from Primacoustic).

http://www.primacoustic.com/freeport.htm

Good Luck! mts

Bruce A. Richardson
09-07-2004, 08:54 AM
Wherever you do a studio setup, your best bet is to emulate a recording studio control room to the best of your ability. Speakers should be positioned as mentioned here already: Equilateral triangle between your head and the two speakers, with the speakers firing at ear level.

A corner setup is usually less than ideal, at least not without some treatment.

For general "bedroom" sonic treatment, you want absorption behind the speakers and on the wraparound walls as far back as the mix position. You also need absorption on the ceiling to the area immediately behind the mix position. Behind the mix position, you'll want mostly diffusion. This has the effect of "opening up" the space behind you, since the diffusion will give the acoustic effect of raising the ceiling and pushing the walls out.

Even if you must economize on treatments, try to eliminate any ping-pong echoes by spreading out the treatments so that a bare area on one wall is absorbed by a treated area on the opposite wall. You don't have to be absolutely anal about it, but the idea is that no sound should have opportunity to just bounce back and forth between parallel walls.

Definitely the mix position of two speakers placed like gigantic headphones will be unrealistic, and will not give you the intended stereo image.

sullivang
09-07-2004, 10:12 AM
I beg to differ that placing the speakers to the side will cause phasing nasties. But, I do agree that one should not mix like this. :) (the reason I suggested this was just as an experiment, although I see that Noel was already doing this, so if that does turn out to be the problem, I'll have to eat my words)

Greg.
p.s I had written a couple of other replies which I have now deleted.

sullivang
09-07-2004, 10:23 AM
I've just tried the Gigapiano (1) with the speakers to my side - sounds *excellent*. FWIW.

I guess the low frequencies may cancel, though, with the speakers to the side, due to the fact that the wavelength is so long. Overall the Gigapiano did sound good though - can't turn it up too loud at the moment though - will try again tomorrow.

Greg.

sullivang
09-07-2004, 08:01 PM
If there's a base cancellation, it doesn't seem to be severe. I'm using bookshelf speakers which don't have a lot of base anyway. Simply moving the speakers
away from the walls will reduce the base for a start - I'm having to do this in order to place them directly beside me. I have a seperate subwoofer, but of course it would be cheating if I used that for this test.

Whilst I agree and understand that this idea of placing the speakers beside one isn't generally advisable, for sheer listening pleasure, it does seem to work quite well in my setting, after a short bit of testing.

Greg.

Noel
09-07-2004, 10:30 PM
Thank you all for these comments.

From your comments, I'm thinking . . .

1. It would be generally wise to do the triangled configuration.
2. I should keep the speakers at ear level
3. Some well placed (not sure how that would be) sound controls like primacoustic products would be a definite plus. How many do I need for a 12 x 11 foot carpeted room? How does the sound change (to the listener) when you play in this dampened room, versus a room with fully reflective parallel walls? Is it enough to just put one of those smallish Freeports in one direction, one in another? How noticable is this issue of dampening the room? Will it make my pianos sound as nice as thru the headphones now?
4. Moving the speaker cabinets away from the wall (by how much? Inches? Feet?) will increase the amount of bass intensity arriving into your ears(?)

Anyway, I would really like to put the speakers about 2 feet to my right, 2 feet to my left in a triangle config. This means they will be about 2 feet or so from my ears. Is that too close? If so, I need to rethink how to set the room up. Is it better to put my keyboard on a stand in the middle of the room, and sit 6 feet away from the speakers for the most natural, real piano-like sound? I ask this now because I have a contractor getting ready to do a counter top fabrication & installation for me, and now you have me thinking it may not be smart to put speakers and midi controller right up against the same wall at near point-blank range. When they say "near-field", do they mean 2 feet away? 6 feet?

Many thanks again and I hope others are benefiting from this discussion of audio room fundamentals.

Greg, how far away are your book shelf speakers from your ears?

Noel

sullivang
09-07-2004, 10:41 PM
Noel,
My bookshelf speakers are each about 3ft away from my ears. Please be aware that I don't do any mixing/production, though. If I were going to get into that, I'd invest in proper nearfield monitors (and would ditch the subby) and I'd be following all the other advice here as well.

Greg.

Jake Johnson
09-07-2004, 10:43 PM
Glad to hear the sound is getting better. I got a little lost in your description of your setup, though: when you say bookshelf speakers, are you talking about your monitors, or about your stereo's speakers that you've hooked up to test the piano sound?

In any case, if your amp lets you choose attach two sets of speakers\monitors, I do suggest you try finding some tall floor speakers for your own enjoyment. Again, these are not for mixing. But these speakers, with big woofers, and big midrange cones, will give you surprising results for piano playing and create a very different experience from monitors aimed at one's ears (as they should be for mixing).

Noel
09-07-2004, 10:59 PM
Glad to hear the sound is getting better. I got a little lost in your description of your setup, though: when you say bookshelf speakers, are you talking about your monitors, or about your stereo's speakers that you've hooked up to test the piano sound?

In any case, if your amp lets you choose attach two sets of speakers\monitors, I do suggest you try finding some tall floor speakers for your own enjoyment. Again, these are not for mixing. But these speakers, with big woofers, and big midrange cones, will give you surprising results for piano playing and create a very different experience from monitors aimed at one's ears (as they should be for mixing).

Jake that sounds positive. Any particular models or brands? About how much for speakers that will help me get the most pleasant sounding results? I wonder if the amp I have could handle those. [see specs above]

mts
09-07-2004, 11:31 PM
As you are setting up a new space for recording, you're better off getting your current speakers properly placed and a little acoustic treatment before buying floor standing speakers. Bass is the most difficult signal to control because of the wavelengths of low frequencies (the lowest note on a piano has a wavelength of 10' 3-1/4"). Your best advice would be to get a hold of a book on setting up a home studio. There are plenty available (anything by Paul White is a good bet) and they always talk about the dos and don'ts of speaker placement and room acoustics.

sullivang
09-07-2004, 11:34 PM
Just to share my own experience with tall hi-fi speakers for piano playing, I've tried this. It didn't work out for me, because they were situated too close to me (slightly in front, and to the side). It was a "big" sound, but it lacked treble & crispness. The attacks lost their edge, too. I considered going to the trouble of rolling the MIDI controller out into the middle of the room each time I wanted to play it (where it really did sound great), but I decided instead to try smaller speakers mounted at ear level. I much prefer the smaller bookshelf speakers, in combination with a subwoofer.

I actually tried some Altec-Lansing multimedia speakers (which have a matching sub) - these were actually very good, but I found them lacking in mid-range. That was when I switched to hi-fi bookshelf speakers with another (larger) subwoofer, and that's been great. I do get vibrations from the bookshelf speakers if I crank up the volume to even moderately loud levels, though, especially when playing very pure mellow electric piano sounds, which are very demanding on the midrange.

I usually use headphones, however. (which I know are not to be used for mixing)

Greg.