The sound of a digital piano is only as good as the audio it produces. This post will provide you with tips on how to EQ your digital piano. It will help you achieve the best possible audio quality from your instrument.
If you want to properly EQ a digital piano, adjust 20Hz to 80Hz for power and boom. 80Hz to 180Hz for boom and bass. 180Hz to 300Hz for fullness or muddiness, 4000kHz to 1000kHz for depth. 1000kHz to 5000kHz for definition, clarity, presence, and air.
We’ll start by discussing what equalization is and why it’s important. We’ll then go into detail about each of these tips and help you fully understand how to EQ a digital piano. This will help boost your piano skills for EQ settings.
Use a Room Simulator
Digital pianos tend to sound too bright and harsh when placed in a home environment. You can place the piano within an acoustically treated room. You can also use software such as one from Waves to alleviate this problem by simulating the perfect studio listening space for your digital piano based on its placement.
Adjust Low-Frequency Content
While adding more low-frequency content to a sound will make it seem bassier, too much will cause the audio to muffle and become unclear. To maintain quality while still increasing your instrument’s sonic depth, you can use an equalizer plugin with high cut/boost values. This will reduce the volume of certain frequencies without significantly altering them or affecting other parts of the song.
Turn Off Filters
Digital pianos often come with built-in sound filters that reduce noise and provide other features. While these filters are great for saving space, they can also drastically alter the tone of your piano. That’s because they eliminate certain frequencies. To avoid this problem, it may be best to turn off any active presets on the digital piano. Do that before playing music through it to avoid making too many adjustments later to achieve a positive result.
Tune-Up Your Notes
Digital pianos are often tuned to a set of defaults before they’re shipped from the factory. But these settings can easily be changed by adjusting individual notes via your instrument’s interface. To get more clarity and higher sound quality out of each note, make sure that you tune them up. You can use an equalizer plugin so that none are too high or low in comparison to the others.
Test Different Microphone Positions
The placement of the microphone in relation to your digital piano has a huge impact on how it sounds. By playing different notes and moving the mic around, you’ll be able to find optimal positions for each note. That will give them greater clarity without sounding too harsh or muddled.
Keep the Noise Out of Recordings/Recording at Lower Levels if Possible
Digital pianos are often fairly noisy, especially when you’re not playing them. If your digital piano has a headphone output or other features that allow it to be used without an amp/speakers, try recording yourself at lower volumes. This will make the sound quality of each note is crisper and less harsh in comparison with others.
Use Spring Reverb instead of the Hall or Other Reverbs
Most digital pianos come with a variety of reverb settings. But these can often be too harsh or muddy to use effectively. Instead, try using spring reverbs while recording. This make it sounds more natural and doesn’t take away from other aspects of the sound.
Use Presets to EQ a Piano
Garageband and Logic Pro X include a large number of excellent piano presets. The instruments, dynamics processors, and effects plug-ins are all covered with hundreds, if not thousands of presets in both software. These presets may also be utilized on plugins.
However, if you aren’t using either of these applications, I’ll provide some Channel EQ presets for the piano below. You might utilize these as a guide for whatever DAW you’re using. But I recommend utilizing Fab Filter’s Pro-Q EQ from Plugin Boutique. That’s because you can solo frequency ranges to hear what they sound like alone.
How Do You Make a Digital Piano Sound Like a Grand Piano?
To make a digital piano sound like a grand piano, you need to apply EQing techniques. The main thing is that for a digital piano, the dynamic range needs to be controlled to make it sound more like an acoustic piano.
To achieve this goal, start with playing around with your DAW’s compressor settings first before applying any EQs or other effects. Many people don’t realize how much of a difference compression can have on making things sound good/natural/properly balanced etc. Start by setting the attack time quite low (0-30ms) and then adjust accordingly until you get something that sounds right. I’d recommend leaving the release control alone though as too fast makes everything noisy whilst anything slower than 500 ms also doesn’t work very well if at all.
When you’ve got that right (or as close to perfect as possible), then it’s time for the eq. For this, I’d recommend using EQs with a minimum phase response if at all possible – these are essentially ‘flatter’ and thus can produce more natural results than your average hardware or software equalizer. This isn’t always easy/possible though so even if you don’t have one, don’t worry about it too much unless everything else sounds awful! Here is an example of how my eqing looks on most digital piano samples:
As you can see above, I’m applying just two filters here which should already be improving things quite dramatically over what they were before. The first filter boosts around 60hz by about +12dB and then about -18 or so around 700hz. The second filter is just a notch at 150 Hz to take out some of the lower mids.
You should experiment with these settings until you get it sounding as natural/realistic as possible! Make sure that your attack time on both filters is set very low (0-30ms) though otherwise, things will sound too unnatural/unmusical. If they do, try experimenting with different release times instead. Only move on to adjusting the EQ itself once everything sounds good.
Should You Compress Piano?
It is important to know your instrument. Digital pianos are much easier to compress than acoustic ones, though it can still be done on an acoustic piano if you’re experienced in the process. If you don’t feel confident doing this yourself, take it into a studio that specializes in recording and ask them for their opinion or help.
Pop and country music, on the other hand, rely more on compressing the sound to keep the dynamic range of their piano recordings. A smoother compression is typically preferred if you want to maintain a large amount of the dynamic range in your piano recording.
How Do I Make a Piano Sound Thicker?
To make a digital piano sound thicker, you need to boost the bass frequencies on some of the keys. To do this, turn up high-frequency EQ sections for those specific notes that are too thin sounding. The best place to start is with your low-cut filter and gradually sweep through each note as you play them one at a time.
If there isn’t enough difference between two adjacent notes, try increasing the gain by about +0.25dB or so until they become more distinct from one another in tone quality.
Keep doing this over all the key ranges first and then move onto their mid-range next before finally boosting any remaining higher frequency bands.
Especially if these still seem lacking in presence after applying additional cuts elsewhere around its lower spectrum.
Factors You Should Consider
1. Differences in Pianos
Aside from learning how to EQ a digital piano, there are numerous distinct types of pianos, keyboards, and organs, so how you EQ the keys depends on the sort of instrument you’ve picked.
There are clavinets, organs, ragtime pianos, and organs, to name a few instruments, and how you EQ them depends on both the instrument and the notes you’re playing.
2. Recording Your Own Piano
There are a variety of reasons why the piano sounds different, and it largely depends on how it was recorded. If you recorded the piano in a big space, there will be more reverb, and the sound will have a long-hall or distance feel to it. Smaller rooms have a warmer sound.
Another crucial aspect of recording a piano is microphone placement, and even the type of microphone used will have an impact on the final product. If you’re on a budget, I’d recommend the Audio Technica 2020 or 2035 from Amazon because it’s excellent for everything and doesn’t cost much money.
Where the piano is sitting in the room has an impact on how it sounds. For example, a piano positioned in the middle of the room would sound significantly different from one recorded in the corner of the space. Pianos recorded in the corner tend to have more bass, according to Audio Recording.
3. Solo Piano
It’s ideal to go easy on the EQ if the piano is a solo instrument in the song, since little will be needed to it. If there are any tonal issues with the instrument, they should be dealt with while recording rather than during mixing.
Soundfonts are also preferable because they’re better sounding. However, if you’re utilizing a piano VST like the one I recommend in my piano VST guide or another sort of MIDI instrument, this should not be an issue.
Native Instruments offers great piano and keyboard sounds as part of Komplete 13, which is undoubtedly the finest bundle of instruments and samples available from zZounds.
4. The Effects
When learning how to EQ a digital piano, it might sound similar to a real instrument, but it is distinct in its own way. Reverb, delay, and ambience are three examples of this. The piano may lend itself to reverb in some way. But regardless, I think you’ll be happy with a Premium Reverb like the Eventide SP2016 from Plugin Boutique.
The Bottom Line
I hope you’ve learned a lot about how to EQ a digital piano. And hopefully, now you can make better recordings of your own! Just remember to use a small amount of EQ on the channel strip, and you’ll be good.
Play around with knobs until the sound is what you’re looking for. It’s actually pretty fun! However, don’t overdo it. Apply only as much equalization as you need to create the desired effect.
You don’t want an ear-piercing sound or any other unpleasant noises coming through your speakers when people playback your recording.