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Sadly, I don't enjoy playing my August Förster (170 cm) grand piano. Tones sound harsh and music blasts into my face instead of being 'in front of me'. I feel like I can insufficiently distance myself from the music, making it harder to control the instrument. I find myself compensating by playing softer and constantly holding down the left pedal.

I was able to improve the situation by placing a thick carpet under the piano (the floor is hardwood) and, most of all, by moving the piano further from the corner. But it's still not nearly enough.

The main difficulty is that all possible solutions are practically and/or financially costly. Moreover, I have no idea which one(s) will work. Several options:

  • Hire a company to do acoustic treatment
  • Replace my grand piano with an upright piano
  • Rotate the piano 180 degrees

To give you an idea of the current layout, I've created a sketch of the living room. The rectangle above the piano is a cupboard. The narrow strip on the bottom is the window (i.e. an area that should remain relatively open). Best case, the roughly 2.5 x 2.5 m bottom-right square is all the space I have available.

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  • I'd say it's just a shame to stuff a grand piano in such a small room. Nov 25 '21 at 19:14
  • Not ideal for sure. To be clear: it is connected to the larger space. But acoustically it might be similar to a small room.
    – Daan
    Nov 25 '21 at 19:35
  • Do you have the option of hanging some (preferably thick) tapestries on the surrounding walls? Also, have you talked to a technician about whether voicing your piano down is appropriate? Oh, and do you keep the lid closed?
    – Aaron
    Nov 25 '21 at 19:53
  • Tapestries from top to bottom would be tough. The east wall (using the image orientation) is unavailable. For north, I have the top half of the wall; for south the bottom half. The lid is closed except the front part. Closing it fully is impractical with sheet music. I will certainly talk with a technician about how feasible (and desirable) voicing down the piano is.
    – Daan
    Nov 25 '21 at 20:15
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    Unfortunately, I think that is possibly the worst spot in that room to place any musical instrument. Maybe rotating it 180 would help? Nov 26 '21 at 2:29
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That set-up is concentrating the sound into the S.E. corner. Any instrument stuck in a corner is going to make that happen.

There's apparently no door in the room! Its location would help answers, maybe. But turning the piano through 180° would be a good, free start. It also would mean the player could have eye contact with any listeners, not a bad thing!

It's the reverberation from three walls (plus ceiling and floor, but they're there anyway in the room), that's causing the extra volume, so an amount of sound-absorbent material anywhere there will help. As you say, carpet is a start. Followed by hanging something - anything - on the walls, particularly higher, although lower won't go amiss.

Sound absorbing material that is stiff is available to go inside the lid, even a thick, stiff carpet, maybe supported by laths just under the lid - that shouldn't interfere with the strings or mechanism.

The possibility of placing it further into the room needs consideration, too, although it's probably mainly used for other purposes, and that's not an feasible. Failing everything else, there's always the option of ear defenders or noise-cancelling headphones. Replacing with a studio piano won't solve the problem if thet's going to be in that same location.

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Perhaps sound diffusers may help? I think the piano would sound better near the top wall, though that may not be possible.

The problem is (as you seem to note) the reverb off the walls.

https://www.acousticfields.com/sound-diffusion-in-small-rooms/

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  • Thanks. This kind of thing really asks for an expert. I’m just having trouble finding a company that knows about acoustics and pianos. It’s usually one or the other.
    – Daan
    Nov 25 '21 at 22:19
  • What do mean by “the piano would sound better near the top wall”?
    – Daan
    Nov 25 '21 at 22:20
  • I meant the wall on the top of your diagram; I don't know the direction exactly. It many not be possible depending on doors and the rest of the furniture.
    – ttw
    Nov 26 '21 at 0:07
  • Ah ok. Wouldn’t it sound better with the keyboard at the east side?
    – Daan
    Nov 26 '21 at 0:14

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