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New poster here, so greetings to all.

I am so frustrated with the difference in quality between listening to my digital piano through headphones (great) and speakers (dull) that I am seriously contemplating re-doing the whole power supply + amps + speakers rig inside, with no regard to cost and warranty. Has anyone achieved this satisfactorily?

The Accused is a Roland LX 706. It is my third Roland and I like its sound engine and keyboard touch, which I believe are more or less state of the art. (I prefer modeling over sampling, and my organ is also a physically modeled "Physis" Viscount). In good Sennheiser phones (HD 660S), the LX 706 is a perfect silent practice companion to the Hamburg "O", and to be honest I very rarely use the amplification. But when I do, usually to impress my wife reading nearby, I am always shocked with the disconnect : as if I had been playing a totally different instrument, and the new one is awful.

My first suspect is the power supply. A tiny AC adaptor rated 20 W powers the whole unit into 12V. This looks pathetic : the PC I am typing this on has a 650 W supply ! Compared to a competent hifi system, I cannot imagine this enough to power decent amps and decent speakers. Good drivers (speakers) are not efficient and require power. Most Class "D" amps (highly efficient) are terrible, and the few that are good are very expensive. Roland could not afford to spend too much money on amplification. So I have to believe that the gear inside the 706 is minimum grade and susceptible to much improvement. I am particularly interested in Dutch N-Core class "D" amps, and any top of the line drivers like Focal with the same dimensions as those in use.

I have some experience with organ work, but in that case it is mostly external amps and speakers, to distribute the sound around a room and recreate spatial reverberation. In a piano it is expected to conserve the illusion that the sound emanates from one precisely located soundboard, so my intention would be to
keep everything inside the (elegant) cabinetry. Of all the software controls on the piano, only those dealing with the automatic headphones/speakers switching and volume will certainly require attention.

I would be delighted for any suggestions and comments.


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FWIW (because you may know more, and have more experience, than I do) --

A basic question:

. . . What do you hear in the headphones, that you don't hear through
. . . the loudspeakers?

The LX-706 claims 10" woofers, with 25 watts per channel, which (if they're properly baffled) should give you enough bass.

The easiest/cheapest way to cure "inadequate bass" would be to add a subwoofer, which could be reasonably inconspicuous.

The easiest way to cure an inadequate power supply would be to replace the Roland PS with something that was adequate to support the _peak power_ you expect the amps to deliver -- something around 100 watts continuous, with adequate wiring. That's something like 10 amps at 12 volts -- and I have a recommendation:

. . . Samlex SEC 1223 (23 amps) or SEC 1212 (12 amps).

They're popular among ham radio operators, with good regulation under load. I have a well-used SEC 1223; the 1212 should be similar. Use 12-gauge wire or larger, for your peak current. You might have to change the LX-706 power connector.

I assume you've tried to adjust EQ -- if not, now would be a good time. Is the LX-706 using different EQ between speakers and headphones? That can make a great difference in how it sounds, and may be happening "under the covers" without you knowing about it.

If a subwoofer and new PS don't help, I suspect that you can add outboard loudspeakers (powered monitors) easier, and cheaper, than you can re-engineer the internal electronics. (My EV ZXA1 uses Class D amps, and they're fine. But it's "pro-grade", not "consumer grade".) With few exceptions, people here have found that -- with a subwoofer -- 5" + tweeter monitors are adequate for piano. (Given a large budget and space, I'd opt for a pair of ZXA1's or other 8"-woofer speakers).

I know that you want to dig into the LX-706, and keep things looking "stock". But you haven't specified exactly what's wrong, and without knowing that, it'll be hard to make them better. So try the simple add-ons first --

. . . It will be difficult to sell the LX-706 after it's been modified.


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Changing the power supply doesn't help unless you make the piano consume more power.

It doesn't force-feed power into the piano. The piano draws power from it.

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If the sound engine is tuned/ eq-ed specifically for the included equipment, Then what you get from intercepting the output would be objectively Divergent from the designer's intent.

They sell you a system end to end. That's its 1-and-Only VALIDATED reference configuration.

You may prefer a different sound using different equipment, that's your right, but the system is not made for it.

Last edited by jeffcat; 08/29/20 01:48 PM.
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To Clothearedni :

You are right. But my point is that better speakers need more power from the amps, and better amps need more power from the supply.


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Originally Posted by Vikendios
To Clothearedni :

You are right. But my point is that better speakers need more power from the amps, and better amps need more power from the supply.

ONLY if the new drivers are to play louder, if they're playing at roughly the same volume, it does not need additional power.

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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Originally Posted by Vikendios
To Clothearedni :

You are right. But my point is that better speakers need more power from the amps, and better amps need more power from the supply.

ONLY if the new drivers are to play louder, if they're playing at roughly the same volume, it does not need additional power.

I have to disagree. Some drivers are "high efficiency" and need very little power, and you will find them on consumer grade products, particularly of the portable / battery powered kind, and P/A systems. But many high end drivers available to DIY audiophiles (by B+W, Focal, etc...) are of very low efficiency, and need substantial amps to power them at loudness levels comparable to a good acoustic piano.


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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Changing the power supply doesn't help unless you make the piano consume more power.

It doesn't force-feed power into the piano. The piano draws power from it.

And if it draws too much power from it on initial switch on, it'd be expensive. I did that when i ran a PSR 630 from a car battery playing outside.


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Just get some studio monitors of satistactory sound quality.

Changing the power supply will not upgrade the sound quality unless it currently is clipping. If it isn't, then the power supply is doing its job and satisying the power requirements. Most likely the speaker drivers are what would need upgrading. But upgraded drivers will not be matched for efficiency, so you would need to voice the resulting audio system by adjusting some of the individual amplifier gains manually, which may require installing your own trim pots on individual channels if there are none internally.


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I now realize that I may have misled some respondents by focusing on the power supply. What I wanted to say is that the feeble power supply was a clue that the whole amplification system (ie drivers, crossovers and amps) was "entry level", as "audiophile" systems generally require much more power.

Yes, selecting new drivers would be the key to my upgrading project. In many places there is a cottage industry of top grade DIY speaker building, where great advice can be found. In Europe hifisound.de is a respected source for the best products such as Accuton drivers or the acclaimed Hypex ncore class D amps (which, by the way come with their own power supplies). These are all OEM people, but if Roland was using their gear, the amplification would cost as much as the rest of the piano.

I will certainly try good studio monitors if I can find a way to hide them.


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On power supplies:

Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Changing the power supply doesn't help unless you make the piano consume more power.

It doesn't force-feed power into the piano. The piano draws power from it.

You're assuming that the Roland power brick is able to satisfy the piano's demand, at peak volume.

If it can't do that, its output voltage will drop, and the piano's amps will be running at reduced voltage, and assorted Bad Things -- "flat-topping" distortion, and others -- may happen.

I am not suggesting that Roland made such a design error. But when the peak power demand is near 100 watts, it's easy to specify a too-small DC socket, or too-thin 12-volt wiring. That would matter when the DP was played loud, but not at other times.

As I read Roland's specs and write-ups, I wonder if the difference between headphones and speakers is caused by the "Acoustic Projection" system. Roland is very vague about what that does, but it's _different_ for headphones, and loudspeakers.

An interesting experiment:

. . . Rent / borrow / buy a pair of good monitor speakers (Yamaha or JBL
. . . 8" or 10" woofer systems),

. . . Run them off the headphones output,

. . . Run them off the "Line Out",

and see if they sound different

The problem has not been diagnosed. If the headphone signal is being "enhanced" by some DSP magic, and the loudspeaker signal is not, no amount of improvement to an already-decent amp/speaker system will make them sound the same.


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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Just get some studio monitors of satistactory sound quality..

You can try that, it will be an improvement. I have a pair of Neumann KH120s on the desk in my small office /bedroom. I've hooked my Yamaha CP4 up to them before and it sounds ok but not great. I primarily use the KH120s for listening to music on.

However even with my Pro Audio grade RCF TT08-A & TT22-A speakers and a studio grade di/pre JMK Audio JM-110 and JM-130, along with a Soundcraft Delta 200 8 channel mixer, with the pres and circuitry highly modded by Jim Williams at Audio Upgrades, the sound of all my digital pianos in the last 12 years- Two Nords, Yamaha CP300, CP5, CP4 - still don't sound as good ( more harsh not as smooth, as you say, more of a disconnect ) as a quality pair of phones. Right now I use the Senn HD650s.

The best digital piano experience (solo playing at home, not in a live band context) with speakers - internal or external- I've had to date is the Yamaha AvantGrand N3X. It was the least compromise I've played and heard. The closest to a grand.

You can spend a ton of dough chasing something that I don't think a discerning pianist with good ears, especially someone with a good Steinway, will ever be really content with. IMO of course. smile

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Originally Posted by Dave Ferris
... the Yamaha AvantGrand N3X. It was the least compromise I've played and heard. The closest to a grand.

I wanted to add another thought but jeez they don't give you much time here. wink

For clarity, I experienced "The closest player connection" to a grand with the N3X.

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An interesting experiment:

. . . Rent / borrow / buy a pair of good monitor speakers (Yamaha or JBL
. . . 8" or 10" woofer systems),

. . . Run them off the headphones output,

. . . Run them off the "Line Out",

and see if they sound different

Clever idea! I have learned from
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paaJDKM1l3k
that normally all the headphones output has is an extra mini amp to power the phones. I doubt they try to enhance the signal beyond what is provided to line-out. Will see.


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I have a rig that I am very happy with.

See my link with pictures: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2915938/my-updated-rig-added-more-speakers.html

I am an audio geek (audiophile) and have been buying and building wonderful home systems for myself for 45 years. I care about music delivery. A high fidelity sound system is the transport for emotional engagement. Our pianos require great reproduction to deliver the wonderful sounds in them. (Professional PA for gigs is a whole different animal.)

When I got back into piano playing, I purchased a Roland RD 2000 and needed speaker amplification. The challenge I had was whether to buy studio monitors or go a more hi-fi route. I chose the hi-fi route. Why? Honestly I could not hear hi quality monitors .. I wanted to audition them myself. I was willing to throw some big bucks but Guitar Center / Sam Ash did not have a great higher-end selection and had awful demonstration systems. I did go to NYC into one of those stores (can't remember which) and found a sales guy who was a real producer (at least was in his home country). He had a collection of tunes he liked to use for demos and I finally got some quality time and attention. I learned that all of these powered monitors sound so very different from one another... similar to the differences in home audio systems. I thought I would love the Focal monitors as I own some Focal home stereo stuff and love it but nope... I did not like their monitors. Anywho, I was ready to shell out some bigger bucks and the store did not carry the higher-end models anyway.

So... a recommendation: Hook up your home stereo equipment, or the stuff in your basement, and give it a go. At a minimum, it will help you formulate an answer. One thing my rig, noted above, does is present a B I G S O U N D where the sound comes from over and under the keyboard.

I love it.

Peace
Bruce in Philly


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Quote
However even with my Pro Audio grade RCF TT08-A & TT22-A speakers and a studio grade di/pre JMK Audio JM-110 and JM-130, along with a Soundcraft Delta 200 8 channel mixer, with the pres and circuitry highly modded by Jim Williams at Audio Upgrades, the sound of all my digital pianos in the last 12 years- Two Nords, Yamaha CP300, CP5, CP4 - still don't sound as good ( more harsh not as smooth, as you say, more of a disconnect ) as a quality pair of phones. Right now I use the Senn HD650s.
Any fixed audio quality point is much cheaper to achieve with headphones than with speakers that fill a room ibstead of just fill your ear canals. You could buy speakers that match the quality of the HD650's, but at a high cost.

The point I was making (which I thought was clear in my posting) was not concerned with matching the sound quality of the headphones or the sound the piano sends to the headphones, but that a DIY project to replace the drivers and/or amps in the piano probably will not result in a sound system as well voiced as a pair of studio monitors you can buy. Might be able to compensate using a virtual piano technician feature if the piano has one.

Hiding monitors might be a challenge, but might be able to rest them on on their sides top of the piano without them being an eyesore.


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When I read your post this morning, my initial reaction was "Please, please don't do this!" but I began to understand your reasons.

Digital pianos' built-in amp & speakers remind me of stock car stereos, even "premium" ones. They can go on and on about their 10,000-watt, 10-speaker premium sound system and charge a fortune for it but in the end, we're still getting overpriced junk.

Are you unhappy about every aspect of the sound or does it just not sound as full as you'd like? For example, if the mids and highs are satisfactory, you may want see what you can do to improve the bass first. The mids and highs of the 10-speaker sound system in my new car sounds OK but the bass is horrible because the subwoofers are just screwed to the underside of the deck without "boxes". Before ripping out the whole system, I decided to build 2 insulated enclosures for the subs and used deadening materials to eliminate the rattles. The bass improved enough that I didn't need to install an aftermarket sound system. Are the back of the woofers in your LX706 enclosed or open?

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Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
I have a rig that I am very happy with.

Our pianos require great reproduction to deliver the wonderful sounds in them. (Professional PA for gigs is a whole different animal.)

I appreciate your comments.

I believe that until recently the signal quality of digital pianos was frankly not refined enough for ultra high fidelity amplification to matter that much. Roland's and Yamaha's have a long history of portable and cheap. You can even argue that the whole history of amplified guitar and keyboard music embraced low fidelity and made a virtue of distorsion. Organs, who pionneered electronic sound earlier than pianos, and even historical pipe organs all the way back to Bach were never refined high fidelity instruments, as say, a flute or a violin. They were and are often difficult to tune, many stops in fact designed to be out of tune or dissonant. Filling a church or an arena with sound from a big Allen is not an audiophile project, and the evident scorn of classic concert or opera lovers for amplification is telling.

Accepting that the sound engine technology has progressed to the point where the signal is worthy of the best treatment, it is nevertheless difficult to express exactly what I do not like in the amplification of my digital piano. Of course I have played around with equalisation, but in the end I think that tampering with the signal is never the ultimate solutrion. It is better to focus on the simplest sound and its "quality" which is of course extremely subjective. It is like choosing speakers in a good hifi listening room : I always request Gould's Goldbergs and everything neutral where the system cannot cheat.

By the way my main hifi system uses the same B+W 805 as you do : I regard them as the best, with an added REL subwoofer. I do a lot of classical listening over IDAGIO streaming with the Bluesound Node 2i. But these speakers require heavy power amps. The system is installed in a large music room and cannot be easily moved to the little study where I practice on the digital, so I am currently not exploring the hi-fi route you have successfully implemented.

The alternative of "professional PA for gigs", I have briefly explored. I hooked a loaned Behringer K900 to the line out : awful. Admittedly it is a built to low cost box, and the Roland gear may be better. But my impression was that the affair was projecting (mediocre) sound away from me and I was completely dispossessed of my playing.

I am now looking at studio monitors, particularly the respected Adam's at Thomann.

Originally Posted by Sweelinck
You can spend a ton of dough chasing something that I don't think a discerning pianist with good ears... will ever be really content with. IMO of course. smile

Thank you for the words of wisdom. I think you are right, and there is also a big psychological dimension to it. Headphones deliver right into your brain with an intimacy that speakers will never achieve. This sensual sensation compensates for the lack (in digitals) of the physical resonance that our body experiences in dealing with an acoustic.

Still thinking...


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If you can't move your stereo to your keyboard, move you keyboard to your stereo. Just temporary of course. Put the keyboard in the sweetspot and play. The value here is it will give you a kind of reference for what sound is in your keyboard. A data point. I like doing stuff like this as it just cool and it will fill your head with information.... it is learning. Nothing compares to comparing.

Peace
Bruce in Philly


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Adding extra external amplification and speakers to the mix (and leaving the DP alone) can provide clear benefits. Just last week I was preparing a fairly high end (Bryston) preamp and amp for sale. They'd been stored, so I thought it best to run them for a while. So why not from the line out from my Yamaha N1X? Even when stuck on the floor next to a wall next to the N1X and even with fairly basic speakers attached there was a significant improvement in the overall sound. {This was using both the internal speakers and the external temporary setup.}

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