Keyboardists often complain that their digital/electronic piano sounds harsh, honky, thin, muffled, resonant, tinny, strident, boxy, like a toy/budget instrument, and other kinds of terrible and awful, such as the “ice-pick-in-the-ear effect”. I’ve been frustrated by these issues myself; no one feels inspired playing an instrument that sounds bad!
After a few years of working on understanding the causes of these problems, I’m convinced they can be solved by careful loudspeaker design, especially with attention to directivity control. It is possible to achieve a much more inspiring sound with existing keyboards. However, most off-the-shelf sound systems (e.g. “keyboard” amps, monitors and compact PAs) aren’t up to the task, for reasons described below.
Update: based on my investigations here and elsewhere, I’ve designed a new loudspeaker system to deal with the challenges of turning piano samples into naturalistic live piano sound. Visit taylorsoundlabs.com to purchase or get more info. Continue reading