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MMD > Archives > December 1999 > 1999.12.08 > 08Prev  Next


Too Loud, Too Soft, Too Deaf
By Mike Carey

Having mainly been a lurker (and one who has been enjoying the MMD
for a long time), I would like to put in my 2 cents worth about piano
volume.

I am an installer of both PianoDisc and Pianomation.  I have installed
both systems in everything from (yes, this is correct) 4' 7" Kimball
LaPetite grand pianos up to 7' Steinways, as well as verticals of
several brands.  I have installed over 300 systems over the years.

The main complaint (or maybe request-to-correct) is that "the piano
plays too loud".  Nearly all of the installations I have done have gone
into homes.  The customer wants a nice SOFT background music source --
they are not really looking for a concert from the piano.

Some customers entertain: they use the piano for background music, as
opposed to hiring a piano player.  Some customers prefer to have soft
piano music when they come home from work, and want to relax with a
glass of wine while unwinding from a hard day.

The main point here is that they want a quiet player piano.  They
usually don't turn the piano up loud, they want background music.

A lot of the houses these pianos go into have great acoustics: high
ceilings, hard floors (such as hardwood, tile, or marble), and large
rooms.  These houses would be GREAT to allow the piano to "play it's
heart out", but what is usually heard from the customer is, "How soft
can you turn it down?"

One thing I always check when I am completing an installation is just
how soft a piano will play.  I have had pianos that in which player
action plays so soft you can hear more action noise than sound from
the piano.

This does not mean that these player systems can't also crank out a
great "concert".  I have several music disks I use for testing that
really give the player a work-out.  Some music is from the
manufacturers themselves; some music I have downloaded from the 'Net.

(My current favorite is "Concerto In F" by George Gershwin.  It has a
solo piano part on MIDI channel 1, and a lot going on on channels 2-16.
It _really_ pushes the piano, especially on repetition.)

I realize that most of the people buying these systems want background
music, not concerts.  I will do the installations, testing the piano
from one extreme to the other, knowing that it probably will never get
the workout it deserves.  But ... give the customer what they want,
right?

I did have one customer that complained the player was too soft.
When I went to their home, I figured out that:

1.  The piano was on one end of the (big) house, and they spent most
of their time on the other end of the house

2.  The piano had the lid on a short lid prop, because the chandelier
over the piano wouldn't allow the lid to be opened all the way.

3.  They were both hard-of-hearing.

They had the piano turned most of the way up, and the playing had
beaten the hammers to the point of being like rocks!  I told them
they needed to raise the chandelier so they could raise the lid all
the way.  This was a rare occurrence; most of the service calls are
for "too loud".

I know that if some of the customers knew just how much they could
get out of their piano and the player system, they would enjoy them
even more.  But, they want "lounge music", not concerts.

Mike Carey

 [ I see solenoid players in hotel lobbies, where the passersby don't
 [ care and the hotel staff hates the sound.  The management should
 [ just use Muzak; the loudspeaker has a volume control knob, too.
 [ -- Robbie


(Message sent Thu 9 Dec 1999, 01:45:25 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  Deaf, Loud, Soft, Too

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