Piano Problem

We have an older-model electronic Yamaha piano. While I had the living-room wall open for various wire run, I decided to run an RCA cable from the piano location to our home-theater receiver, so we could hear the piano output in the home-theater speakers, instead of the built-in ones.

Lo and behold, though, when I plugged it into the headphone jack on the instrument, there was a distinct delay between hitting the key and hearing the sound, which makes it difficult to play. Why would there be any latency? This seems like it would be a problem using headphones with it as well. It seems like the only solution may be hack into the thing, to tap the speaker wires directly, and match the impedance somehow, maybe with transformers.

8 thoughts on “Piano Problem”

  1. I’d do some troubleshooting first before performing surgery on your piano.
    – connect another audio source to your receiver at the receiver, and see if the problem persists. Yes – receiver problem (maybe a theater setting for that input); No – next step
    – connect the same audio source to the other end of the new RCA cables.
    – connect actual headphones to the piano output and listen for a delay.
    My best guess, with no evidence to back it up, is that there is some delay setting or the like in your home theater equipment that is causing this. Happy hunting.

  2. A second to the notion that such delay is likely to be in the receiver.

    There was a fashion for a while to have a CD input in such receivers that was (or could be switched to) “source direct” thus bypassing all of the processing for 2-channel source to 2-speaker output. Worth a try if you have that option.

    As processing for multi-speaker systems has become more common, it’s become more common to have inherent delay in such systems. It doesn’t really matter for playback, and even for OTA TV & radio there is so much delay before the transmitter nowadays that no-one worries about another few dozen milliseconds here or there.

  3. I agree the receiver is the likely culprit…

    The video game Guitar Hero (where you have to “play” in time with notation on the screen) has a microphone on the controller so it can adjust for the tens of ms of audio lag that’s common in home theater equipment. Apparently this is mostly unnoticeable while watching video but on the same scale as best case human reaction time.

  4. Know a buddy with a guitar amp? Try hooking that up and see if you get the delay.

    If the unlikely happens and it is the keyboard, then you might consider buying a new one. They’ve come down in price and increased in quality. I have my eye on a well-rated kawai es110 that runs just over $600. In fact, I just got rid of my acoustic piano as part of the move.

      1. While the receiver is the likely culprit, I wouldn’t be so quick to rule out a buried adjustable output delay setting buried in the Yamaha configuration menus. Yamaha keyboards have beautiful sound, but their menu UI can be some of the most counter intuitive mess I’ve ever seen on anything. It is always an adventure to get ours configured back to normal after one of the cats walks across it and changes settings we never knew existed.

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