4

I want to rebuild a digital piano so that it looks more like stylish furniture—maybe something like the Yamaha Modus H01. This is more of a fun project with the goal of developing some wood working skills and maybe also audio/speaker design.

How much of digital piano’s audio quality is built into the cabinet? Can I just deconstruct the existing piano and reassemble the parts in a different layout? Is there any benefit to researching speaker design principles and cabinet resonance?

I’ve got a Casio Privia PX-850 as the donor piano.

3

Worth looking at speaker design. I daresay the speakers and how they're mounted isn't particularly hi-fi orientated, so the opportunity to improve their mounting and cabinets, to make it sound better - I'd go for bigger speakers, maybe woofers and horns, with a crossover, and maybe a more powerful amp/pre-amp for a much better quality of sound straight away.

That's because when I use a 'proper' amp. and speakers with my 'boards, the sound is much, much improved. Not only the volume, which isn't that important in a front room, but the clarity and quality.

1
  • 1
    A lot of these things have downward-facing speakers. That Casio appears to, my stylistically similar Yamaha Clavinova does. I can only guess that it's to give some 'room' to the sound rather than throw it straight at your face. The expensive stuff, the ones that look more like small baby grands, often have a lot of resonant wood in the cabinet, really using the resonance to help out the sound. These smaller ones don't, but that down-facing probably works as a fair old EQ curve. As part of the construction testing, I'd see what it sounds like pointing right at your face & compensate accordingly
    – Tetsujin
    May 5 at 16:00
2

Not that it's a job I'd like to tackle myself, but you should be pretty safe with that type of design. Almost none of the sound quality will be dependant on the actual case construction, pretty much entirely the speakers. The lower modesty board/baffle might impart some resonance - you can test for that by knocking on it & seeing how much it 'sings'.

Your new design needs to match that resonance, if any.

Pic of piano design, for ref…

enter image description here

2

Speaker cabinet does effect the sound. If it didn't, we'd have speaker elements in thin frames instead of the bulky boxes. If you're using the speaker elements from the old piano, a good starting point would be copying the dimensions of the space around the element. But, if you're already making the effort to build a new cabinet, it could make sense to find a plan for DIY active monitors and build them into the design. Speaker design is an art in itself, and could be a bit too much to learn just for a single project. Piano sound has huge transients, so a more powerful amplifier than what's built in most digital pianos makes sense.

If you're more adventurous, building a piano-like sound board could work. I have only an anecdote to back this: I was involved in a play where we had a piano on stage. The prop was a real piano with the harp and most of keyboard mechanism removed so that it could be carried by two people, and we had small active speakers inside it so that the keyboardist in the pit could play through them in the scenes where it was played. It sounded much more like real piano than the same keyboard through PA or the speakers outside piano cabinet. Of course, a big part of the illusion was that sound came from the piano prop and the actor was playing it, but I believe that the sound board added something that was missing from the keyboard's output.

2
  • since this is a digital piano, does it make sense to split the project and just build the amp/speaker cabinet first? run it from the piano line out until I get a sound I like?
    – michael
    May 6 at 11:26
  • Sounds like a good plan to me, especially if you're doing something experimental
    – ojs
    May 6 at 11:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.