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Piano Sound Reproduction

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

In my experience it seems getting a truly accurate tonality and decay of a simple piano is one of the most if not the most difficult instrument to reproduce.  Assuming you would agree.....why is this?  I am mainly an IEM user but I find this to almost always be the case.  There is often scratchiness or mild distortion when striking the notes.

 

I suppose this could also be due to the instrument being mic'd improperly or the recording but, like I say....it seems overly prevalent with slow piano music.

 

Is it my imagination?

post #2 of 22

Classical piano has very big dynamic peaks on the impact of the notes. It is a percussion instrument after all. This makes it subject to clipping and distortion if it isn't miked or recorded properly.

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

Interesting.....I want to know more.   So are you saying it is often wrongly mic'd or recorded and has nothing to do with the output source (IEM or headphone)?  Actually it sounds sort of like you are agreeing that it IS a difficult intrument to gauge.

post #4 of 22

Sharp transient peaks can make headphones distort... or mikes... or it can clip on the original recording. Hard to say where it occurs without looking at a specific example. Most likely it's the headphones though.

post #5 of 22

If you google 'recording a piano' you will find that there is nearly universal agreement it is the hardest instrument to record .

There is no 'correct' way of doing it, only compromises .

Is it a solo-piece, a piano-concert with a full orchestra and so forth ..

post #6 of 22
The only trouble with a piano is that it doesn't fit in a guitar case.

w
post #7 of 22

Does anyone else here get annoyed when they hear a perfectly good acoustic recording with all instruments in their place, but then they record the piano from the players POV and mix/master it across the entire soundstage as if the keyboard were 50 feet wide ? Forget recording the piano, I've heard some very odd choices regarding the mixing and mastering of the piano in relation to the rest of the ensemble. 

post #8 of 22
Actually, now that I've thought about it a little, the harpsichord is as difficult or more difficult to record as the piano. There are all kinds of thumps and bumps that are basically noise mixed in with the delicate sound of the instrument itself. Inevitably, they mike too close and it sounds like rocks in a box mixed into the music. I haven't found a good solo harpsichord recording yet.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Actually, now that I've thought about it a little, the harpsichord is as difficult or more difficult to record as the piano. There are all kinds of thumps and bumps that are basically noise mixed in with the delicate sound of the instrument itself. Inevitably, they mike too close and it sounds like rocks in a box mixed into the music. I haven't found a good solo harpsichord recording yet.

...and everything in between - HIP recordings of fortepianos have many of the dynamics issues of a piano to contend with, along with many of the clicks and clacks and thumps of a harpsichord! Now, I don't really mind these extra noises so much, and certainly don't think they make solo harpsichord or fortepiano recordings any poorer, but I can see how it would turn people off. A lot of hpd recordings are indeed miked too closely, making the thing sound even buzzier and tinnier than the real deal.

post #10 of 22

Does anybody have some sample clips that highlight the challenges of piano recordings and perhaps show some "where it went wrongs"?

 

 How would it be any more difficult that miking a drum kit? I would have thought drums would be much more dynamic than just about anything else. Not having a real piano makes it a bit difficult for me to appreciate the problem.

 

Cheers

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Its an odd instrument where (as mentioned above) its initial sound is from a percussive nature but it can have a really long decay and then throw the reverb aspect or whatever else the pedals do and I could see it being a recording reproduction nightmare to be done correctly.

Simple distortion upon initial note impact is most common problem I hear.
post #12 of 22

Also, some harpsichords don't even have dampers which make a harmonic resonant mess between the strings. 

A Clavichord (precursor to the harpsichord and pianoforte) is also probably hard to record since their strings are struck, not plucked yet are so quite that and audience must simply wave their paper pamphlet instead of clapping. They also have no dampers for their strings. 

post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyro View Post

Simple distortion upon initial note impact is most common problem I hear.

That's most likely clipping, either from too hot levels when recording or overdriving somewhere in the playback chain.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ab initio View Post
 

Does anybody have some sample clips that highlight the challenges of piano recordings and perhaps show some "where it went wrongs"?

 

 How would it be any more difficult that miking a drum kit? I would have thought drums would be much more dynamic than just about anything else. Not having a real piano makes it a bit difficult for me to appreciate the problem.

 

Cheers


Recorded drum kits very rarely sound like the actual drum kit. It's just less noticeable because people seem more willing to accept a wide variety of drum sounds. I'm probably biased (and wrong) because I player drums, but different drums and cymbals sound very different to me whereas different pianos seem to vary less.

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraken2109 View Post
 


Recorded drum kits very rarely sound like the actual drum kit. It's just less noticeable because people seem more willing to accept a wide variety of drum sounds. I'm probably biased (and wrong) because I player drums, but different drums and cymbals sound very different to me whereas different pianos seem to vary less.

Every instrument player will probably say the same thing about his or her own instrument not sounding the same on a recording, as opposed to someone who does not play any instrument. As a piano player I happen to know there is a major sonic difference between a Steinway and a Yamaha. Professional tuners even temper the weight of the keys and the hardness of the felt hammers to change the tone between harsh/bright and soft/mellow. 

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