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Does anyone have experience with "silent" pianos and knows whether or not there is a properly silent, i.e. neighbor-friendly, piano on the market?

Background: for practicing without disturbing the neighbors (I live in an apartment with neighbors downstairs), I bought a Yamaha Silent Piano in the mid 90s. This was a good compromise between being able to play a real piano keyboard and not making too much noise. Unfortunately, it's not really that silent as the hammers hitting the barrier that keeps them from hitting the strings makes kind of a pounding noise. So it produces a noise which is not there if not in silent mode... It's definitely audible in the flat downstairs and it disturbs the neighbors to some degree. Now since some time has passed, I'd imagine that the silent technology might have improved since the 90s, and/or there are other piano makers which have a better silent system.

Another option is of course not to use an acoustic piano altogether and use a stage piano, for example. I have a P80 from Yamaha and while it serves its purpose well, the feel of the the keys is just not realistic enough. The digital sound is OK, though.

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I would suggest you practice with a MIDI keyboard that has weighted keys and a pair of headphones. If you want great sound, invest in Synthogy's Ivory library and add just a touch of reverb. It'll sound great and nobody else will hear it. –  Grey Aug 20 at 16:03
    
Can you afford to buy a "practice cube" ? They pretty much kill sound from any instrument -- even a trumpet :-) –  Carl Witthoft Aug 20 at 16:59
    
@CarlWitthoft That would be nice of course. Too much space, too costly. I'm just an amateur, so I guess this is a bit over the top ;-) –  Wolfgang Sep 14 at 10:27

4 Answers 4

It looks like nowadays the Yamaha Silent Pianos actually hits a sensor instead of a barrier that runs to some kind of digital piano embedded in the system, which plays through headphones. The rod connecting the hammer to the action is stopped by a padded knob. Sounds like it would be "more silent" than the original. I'd still give it a try in a store if you can.

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical-instruments/keyboards/silentpianos/

If not, Roland produces some pretty good digital pianos that get as close to the real deal as you get. I heard one in concert at my local piano store, and it was a pretty neat invention. Totally silent if you put headphones in, of course!

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You're right, I should check this out myself at the store. The "hammer shank stopper" shown on the website doesn't look much different from what my current piano uses... –  Wolfgang Sep 14 at 10:26

Try to work out what is transmitting the clatter of your keys to your neighbour's apartment. It's unlikely that sounds that quiet would transmit through the air, then through a floor, to be loud enough to disturb -- otherwise you wouldn't be able to have a private conversation in your own home.

More likely, the clattering is being carried through the body of the silent piano, through its legs and into the floor, making your neighbour's ceiling a soundboard.

If this is the case, try to cushion the connection between the piano and the floor. Put some pads of thick carpet under its feet.


Your alternative of using an electronic piano also has merit. If the P80 isn't realistic enough for you, maybe a newer electronic piano will be an improvement. Go to a piano shop and try some out.

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That's probably the case: the piano stands on rubber on wooden floor... Too bad it's so heavy... :-) –  Wolfgang Sep 14 at 10:17

If your interfere a particular person, try to figure his timetable. Maybe sometimes he is away and you can play without problems, or maybe you are unlucky enough to play often in some time that is particularly bad for him. Or discuss the time table with him, if it is still possible to talk.

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I'm not having actual trouble with my neighbors. It's more that I'm restricting myself not to play too late to keep the peace. :-) It would be nice if I just wouldn't need to worry about it and could be more flexible and spontaneous. –  Wolfgang Sep 14 at 10:30

Kawai has a similar thing like the Yamaha Silent Piano: Kawai ATX (Kawai AnyTime)!

http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/k_series-00/ATX/atx_main.html

Some features (48” K-300 Professional Upright Piano ):

  • Digital sound that can be heard through the award-winning Soundboard Speaker System or privately through headphones
  • Harmonic Imaging XL Sound Technology / 88-Key Piano Sampling (sound design used in Kawai’s award-winning CA95 digital piano)
  • 27 Digital Sounds: 9 Pianos, 3 Electric Pianos, 2 Organs, and more
  • Digital Features: 256-Note Polyphony, Virtual Technician, Metronome, Dual-Sound Layering, Drum Rhythms, 23 Customizable Effects, Two-Track USB Recorder (MP3 and WAV)

I have this piano at home, and I really like it!

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