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The Truth about many "Audiophile" Piano Recordings

AlephAlpha001

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Really interesting thread, I enjoy very much reading through the thread.

BTW, is someone here familiar with the acoustics of the Troy Saving Bank Music Hall in Troy, NY?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_Savings_Bank_Music_Hall

The DORIAN Recordings digitally recorded many of their amazing (IMO) CDs there including Antonin Kubalek's piano performances of Brahms (two CDs I have; DOR-90141 and DOR-90159);
Wow. I can dimly recall reading CD liner notes in the early 1990s and learning about the Troy venue. Then bumped into a Troy-born refugee from Upstate NY who had fled all the way to East Asia to trade in DRAMs. I babbled on about the venue and his good fortune to have grown up in Troy. His response back when: ‘Troy is a dump.’

Can’t for the life of me recall which recording it was though.

Some very distinguished folk have recorded there:

 
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mSpot

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BTW, is someone here familiar with the acoustics of the Troy Saving Bank Music Hall in Troy, NY?
It is not famous to the general public, but it is known in the music industry as a recording venue. I recently noticed that Hilary Hahn's first Bach album was recorded there.

Screenshot 2022-07-26 010005.png
 
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pablolie

pablolie

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Not being a classical music person I'm short for much (or any) experience on the subject.
Is there really a lot of recordings being done in the manner you state above?
I have posted a few. Vikingur Olafsson, Helene Grimaud, also pointed out Yuja Wang - their recordings are more balanced than some legendary superstars. We also discussed the purity of the Bill Evans recordings as in the incredible "Waltz for Debby". Herbie Hancock also has great stuff, like the Joni Mitchell songs album. I actually don't really enjoy Glenn Gould nor Igo Pogorelich. But that strays away from the original topic - my main point was to bring to attention the potential flaws of 30ft piano recordings.
 
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pablolie

pablolie

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I don't think that's the case, the star is always the star and will take the center focus no matter if it's live or recorded.
I disagree - I can't fully enjoy the performance of the star if it's a completely artificial construct, and a complete orchestra is reduced while the piano becomes a monster instrument spanning the entire stage.
 
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goat76

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I disagree - I can't fully enjoy the performance of the star if it's a completely artificial construct, and a complete orchestra is reduced while the piano becomes a monster instrument spanning the entire stage.
I completely understand that your preferences are more of an ensemble recording approach than a hyper-realistic recording where the goal can be "bigger than life". I like both approaches depending on how good I find the particular recording to be, and as long as there are other aspects I find even more important like a convincing room sound to the recording, I'm usually fine either way.

While we listen to reproduced ordinary stereo recordings something really important is missing, and that is the visual clues. When we can't see the musician's performance in a live setting, the "cocktails effects" kick in and makes us able to focus on a particular musician and his/her instrument or voice. A substitute for that missing visual clues can sometimes be a more hyper-realistic recording approach, like simple stereo and panning effects that make things pop out more, even if that put the listeners in Keith Jarret's lap. :)

As I said, I also like the ensemble approach, but sometimes those recordings can sound a bit too distant. Microphones simply don't pick up the sounds as we hear them and without visual clues, the recordings can often sound somewhat bland. Stereo reproduction can do many different things, I think it would be boring if everything was recorded the same way.

And... I don't think it's common that Keith Jarret or others like him are telling the studio engineer how much space the piano should have on the recordings. It's more likely the person in the studio who recognize Jarret as the main musician in the band, and therefore makes that instrument the main attraction on the record.
 

posvibes

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What I have grown to dislike intensely over the last couple of years is the very close miking of rickety piano's whereby the furriness of the hammers add an almost fuzzy guitar effect. It doesn't even seemed to be a "prepared" piano, the wooden hammer keys sounds loose, they rattle woodenly and the music is usually a non-descript minimalism of vapid sentimentality. Spotify seems to have a plethora of like sounding music, pianos, recordings and artists that play this style?

Or perhaps its just me.
 

Waxx

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What I have grown to dislike intensely over the last couple of years is the very close miking of rickety piano's whereby the furriness of the hammers add an almost fuzzy guitar effect. It doesn't even seemed to be a "prepared" piano, the wooden hammer keys sounds loose, they rattle woodenly and the music is usually a non-descript minimalism of vapid sentimentality. Spotify seems to have a plethora of like sounding music, pianos, recordings and artists that play this style?

Or perhaps its just me.
I got the same, i know how a piano sounds in a room, l had a long relationship with a (amateur) pianiste, who had a Bosendorfer Emperial Grand in her rather big (14x8x3m) living room that (by accident) had good acoustics. And since then i can't enjoy those very close miced recordings as it sounds fake to me. I'm used to hear the piano in a room as i heared her playing live for hours like that.

And I also assisted in some recordings of classical (grand) piano in big concert halls, which doesn't help neighter. There we used the combination of room mics (+90% of the sound) and close micing (to fill in the sound) that were parallel compressed to give more body to the recording. That looks like the best method to me. At least for classical and most jazz recordings. Because some music styles ask for an other sound, so an other way of recording the piano.
 

Byrdsmaniac

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It is not famous to the general public, but it is known in the music industry as a recording venue. I recently noticed that Hilary Hahn's first Bach album was recorded there.

View attachment 220558
I saw Hilary Hahn in recital with Corey Smythe at the Troy Music Hall in 2014. It was one of the most transcendent concerts I have ever attended. The hall has superb acoustics. My wife and I saw Box Scaggs there in 2018. That kind of music also sounded really good.
 

telemike

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Robin L

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Lots of useful info. I would use an omni pair of Neuman 130s spaced slightly wider than 45 cm, about a foot higher than the keyboard for my best recordings. No hole in the middle.
 

AlephAlpha001

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Has anyone heard Dick Hyman -- An Evening at the Cookery? Apparently he walked into a gig with a cassette recorder on June 17, 1973 and recorded himself. An example of how not to record piano -- but still wow.
 

dualazmak

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I have been really fascinated with this video recording of Andras Schiff playing Bach Overture and Suites in French Style in B Minor BWV831. The recording quality is also amazing, but I do not see microphone(s) at least in the video image. Can anyone here guess or know the recording technology, engineering (and microphone settings) in this world-music-heritage (IMO) performance and recording?
 
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goat76

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I have been really fascinated with this video recording of Andras Schiff playing Bach Overture and Suites in French Style in B Minor BWV831. The recording quality is also amazing, but I do not see microphone(s) at least in the video image. Can any one here guess or know the recording technology, engineering (and microphone settings) in this world-music-heritage (IMO) performance and recording?

I have spotted at least two microphones in the ceiling, there are probably more microphones outside the camera angles.

Piano Recording.png
 

Waxx

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This is indeed typically done with room mics hanging from the ceiling, sometimes with close mics when there is a big orchestra also (when they are to loud), but a piano should sound like the public hears it is the general concensus in the classical world. And for piano that is from a disctance with the soundboard set open. That is why distance mic'ing is often the most important part, if not the only part, of a recording. It also depends on the acoustics of the venue and how diciplined the public is off course...
 

LeftCoastTim

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Here is a potato quality video of a 15 year old kid playing the piano. I will take this over any "audiophile" piano recording any day of the year. Cheers.

 

Robin L

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that is a shadow, when you look at the video fully you will see there is no microphone there.

View attachment 222751
Like I said, it's hard to see. I'm not seeing it on this video grab but do see it in the screen grab with the overhead photos of suspended microphones. Whatever is going on involved microphones much closer to the strings than the overhead pickup.
 

Waxx

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Like I said, it's hard to see. I'm not seeing it on this video grab but do see it in the screen grab with the overhead photos of suspended microphones. Whatever is going on involved microphones much closer to the strings than the overhead pickup.
I think it's not, and I assisted in quiet a few classical piano recordings in my younger years (that's how i learned to appreciate classical music as a punk). But if you can point the microphone that proofs me wrong, do it. But the sound is very typical for a room recording in a good acoustic setting and with cardioid capsules on schoeps cmc microphones from a distance. Close miced would have at least a bit of very subtile mechanical sounds in it, this has absolutly not.
 
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