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Neighbors up and down. The by-product of overpopulation, when houses become harder to find and more expensive to buy, and small crammed flats pop up everywhere.


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I shall be "thankful" for this decent alternative to an upright piano. Hallelujah.
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Originally Posted by Gombessa
For me, it's entirely about not disturbing family. I've got young kids who are doing work, taking naps, etc. I wake up at 4:30am to get a couple hours of practice in few times a week, and that's all the time I have. Doing that isn't possible without headphones.

If I could play and practice during the day without bothering anyone, I'd have an acoustic grand right now.

+1



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I agree ... but there are a few more "if" conditions ...
Originally Posted by Gombessa
If I could play and practice during the day without bothering anyone, I'd have an acoustic grand right now.
If I could afford a fine quality grand piano.
If I had the space for one.
If my arthritis doesn't get worse.

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I use headphones all the time. Not just for piano, for general listening as well. It just helps me enjoy what I am listening to or watching/listening much better. It also helps me enjoy the audio at very low volumes. I suspect I have a very sensitive ear - I don't know, but I'd never take off my clean sounding headphones.

I do love a good audio system from time to time for movies - but that's about it.


A man must love a thing very much if he practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practice it without any hope of doing it well. Such a man must love the toils of the work more than any other man can love the rewards of it.
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I also use headphones nearly all of the time. A very good set of headphones will sound better than most sound systems.

An aside - you can also buy after market headbands and ear cushions when your favorite headphones start displaying wear.


Yamaha AvantGrand N3 | Roland RD 2000 | Sennheiser HD 598 headphones
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
If I could afford a fine quality grand piano.
If I had the space for one.
If my arthritis doesn't get worse.

Please don't let this "reality" thing get in the way of my DREAM! smile


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Here's my take:

- Why are headphones so important? Something more is going on here than just personal playing... not annoying the family or neighbors.

In truth I'm not sure that anything more is going on, but it could also be that headphones are the cheapest way to get good fidelity with a digital piano.

- Why are so many unhappy with what they have?

Headphones are tricky to design and build in a way that both sounds great and is very comfortable to wear. Yep, that sort of contradicts my reply to question no. 1, but headphones often have a region in their frequency response that people eventually find annoying and thus the search begins for something better: in both playback and VSTs.

- Do crappy speakers and amplifiers have anything to do with it?

I'd bet they factor in quite a bit.

- Are headphones exposing crappy pianos?

I'd bet on that too. Most built in sounds and built in speakers are close to garbage in the grand scheme of things. Good VSTs and playback systems are certainly more fun to play than my built in sounds through the built in speakers from my Yamaha P121. In fact I have several VSTs that I'd rather play though my HD598 or HD650s than my digital pianos costing several thousand dollars--which is far more that I have into my piano gear. The computer would bring that a bit closer, but I had the computer before I had the DP so I really didn't factor that in. If I did I'd still be ahead when you include that number of VSTs I have and their quality. Only the very best DPs can really approach what I've got.

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Listening to yourself play piano is different from listening to recorded music. a) You press the key and you are paying very close attention to the sound you made - you want it to be right / good. b) You are just hearing piano, not a whole wash of different instruments mixed together, there is no place for bad sound to hide.

When the headphone frequency response isn't flat because it has resonances at certain frequencies, that is going to change the sound on a note by note basis. When the resonance is at the base frequency / first harmonic of a particular note its going to amplify that note _and_ the ratio to the higher harmonics is going to be off. It will sound louder and 'boxy' and stand out, sound not good, and distract you. That same resonance will also amplify different harmonics of other lower notes, changing the tone of those notes making them stand out too, and possibly making them sound bad.

I was happy listening on Grado SR60 headphones to my Roland FP30, but then I discovered virtual pianos and went off exploring them all in search of different sounds. This lead me to I headphone eq and found out that my Grado headphones had a couple of significant / bad resonances that were changing the tone of the whole piano and making certain notes painful. So I upgraded to Seinnheiser 599s which have a flatter response, ie their resonances are less extreme. Every virtual piano I listened to sounded different. All of a sudden my favorite vst was just OK still, and a couple of vsts I tried to love but just couldn't play because of a few bad notes suddenly sounded really great.

But it doesn't end there, the Seinnheisers are not perfect either. But now I know about eq and I know what to listen for. I put the vst pianos into Mainstage (simple macos DAW) and play a clean piano or even a synth sound while I have open a parametric eq that shows the frequencies in the sound live. Play up the keys of the piano starting low and listen for loud / resonant / bad notes. You can see the frequencies live in the eq and its easy to find the note with its first harmonic at the resonant frequency. The add eq at that frequency until it sounds even with its neighbors. Its easy to do - the resonance just feels bad in your ears and the eq fixes it. When you fix a higher resonance (like C5 - C8) you can also go back and play some lower notes and see how the eq helps balance out the harmonics from those lower notes too - changing their tone to something either different or better. If you are playing Pianoteq you can experiment with the harmonic balance in Pianoteq to get a feel for how getting the harmonic response out of balance changes / breaks the sound of the piano.

With my old headphones I hated Pianoteq and I hated Ravenscroft 275. With improved headphones & eq I no longer hate Pianoteq, and I LOVE the Ravenscroft. Now one step further, once you have a clean balanced sound for your headphones, you can go back over your piano sounds and check if there are resonances you don't like in the actual piano sound itself (ie resonances in the samples from the piano, the mics, or the room). I love the Ravenscroft's rich tone in the middle range but I still hear some resonances that stand out and distract me. Easy - do the same eq procedure just on the Ravenscroft vst itself and smooth out those last issues to get it just how you want it. (Specifically I have an eq cuts at 169Hz E3 and 338Hz E4 for the Ravenscroft. Can anyone else confirm they hear this? I could be mistaken in thinking the problem is in the samples. But for these I don't just hear it in my headphones, I can actually see peaks in the live frequency response graph of the piano in the eq.)

So headphone quality really matters to pianists. There is a lot you can do with parametric eq. Your listening setup is really going to effect how you like to different vsts.


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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I agree ... but there are a few more "if" conditions ...
Originally Posted by Gombessa
If I could play and practice during the day without bothering anyone, I'd have an acoustic grand right now.
If I could afford a fine quality grand piano.
If I had the space for one.
If my arthritis doesn't get worse.
Upright pianos are also acoustic, and they are quite fine substitution for a grand. Talking to the OP of course. :-)


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Thanks a lot all for this interesting thread. It made me realised how important are the headphones and how they change the experience of playing not only in a subtile manner.
I have bought the HPH-150 from Yamaha, which is a world of differences with normal earphones, but I was really far from thinking that the differences could be that huge between headphones.
Another things to dig out in the future.


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Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Boy, the questions posted here about headphones. So so many. Why?

Or more to the point:

- Why are headphones so important? Something more is going on here than just personal playing... not annoying the family or neighbors.
- Why are so many unhappy with what they have?
- Do crappy speakers and amplifiers have anything to do with it?
- Are headphones exposing crappy pianos?

Peace
Bruce in Philly

The problem is many buy headphones having the impression that they will be 1-headphones do-it-all. Unfortunately, it's not.

If you know why you're buying headphones and how you're going to use them, the chances are very limited that you regret your decision.

The only headphones I don't like their output are my Bose QC 35II. But they serve their purpose: wireless and noise cancellation at work. The quality is not as good as my wired ones.

Every pair of headphones you buy have characteristics, they are suitable for certain applications and not other scenarios. So knowing all of these, I'm happy with my choices of headphones so far and I never regret buying them.


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Originally Posted by Abdol
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Boy, the questions posted here about headphones. So so many. Why?

Or more to the point:

- Why are headphones so important? Something more is going on here than just personal playing... not annoying the family or neighbors.
- Why are so many unhappy with what they have?
- Do crappy speakers and amplifiers have anything to do with it?
- Are headphones exposing crappy pianos?

Peace
Bruce in Philly

The problem is many buy headphones having the impression that they will be 1-headphones do-it-all. Unfortunately, it's not.

If you know why you're buying headphones and how you're going to use them, the chances are very limited that you regret your decision.

The only headphones I don't like their output are my Bose QC 35II. But they serve their purpose: wireless and noise cancellation at work. The quality is not as good as my wired ones.

Every pair of headphones you buy have characteristics, they are suitable for certain applications and not other scenarios. So knowing all of these, I'm happy with my choices of headphones so far and I never regret buying them.

Yes, I agree to this! No one do it all headphones exist.
However for piano use we narrow it down to wired ones.
Noise cancellation? It's not mandatory, if we are to keep prices down.
In form factor, I'm not sure anyone would want an open back pair of headphones. My choices are either over-ear, on-ear, or even IEMs.

The most important one is bought it without regrets, because you knew you have made an informed choice.


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I don't know if the following point was mentioned, but having destroyed several headphones over the years, I would now only consider headphones with a detachable cable.

You'll typically only see that feature on more expensive headphones.


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Originally Posted by josh_sounds
Yes, I agree to this! No one do it all headphones exist.

I now know this after spending well into the thousands on headphones. A particular model from Sony showed 14,000+ five star reviews on Amazon. In my search for the ultimate headphone, I thought this model was going to be the ultimate solution. I bought it, and not even 30 seconds into my first track, I threw it down hating it.

Originally Posted by Dave Horne
I don't know if the following point was mentioned, but having destroyed several headphones over the years, I would now only consider headphones with a detachable cable.

Yes! Though now I don't mind headphones with attached wires, but of a good length (3 meters or more) - the detachable ones are the best. Of the detachable ones, I need ones that go in with a "click" and don't come off easily.

My beyerdynamic DT150 has a "hybrid option" - it has a detachable cable - but also supplies a tiny screw which I can use to screw the cable in to the headset.


A man must love a thing very much if he practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practice it without any hope of doing it well. Such a man must love the toils of the work more than any other man can love the rewards of it.
G. K. Chesterton
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