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Topic: Why do pianos sound so clean?  (Read 1566 times)

Offline mjames

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Why do pianos sound so clean?
on: August 01, 2014, 07:04:06 PM
I started playing not too long and I'm one of those people who started playing after listening to studio recordings. I started learning piano on an electronic one so the first time I touched a real one I was surprised. They sound err, rougher than recordings and I thought not might have something to do with the condition it was in, but I still managed to get my hands on some pretty high quality ones and they still sound err ROUGH. Do studios edit the music to the point where it gives it the super clean sound or are the pianos just really...err polished?  Personally I like the roughness. Are modern piano recordings heavily edited?

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Why do pianos sound so clean?
Reply #1 on: August 01, 2014, 07:16:25 PM
Are modern piano recordings heavily edited?

Indeed, but so were piano rolls. It has been done since the dawn of recording history.

Many modern performances just sound a bit to clinical to my ears. They sound as sterilised as a surgeon's theatre. Perhaps older recordings are a bit more honest and therefore more pleasing.

However, when you have the like of Hamelin or Schiff playing, you are going to get the midi effect.

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Offline hotchpotch

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Re: Why do pianos sound so clean?
Reply #2 on: August 01, 2014, 07:55:33 PM
Obviously (and rightly) ivory cannot be used these days, but I find there is an enormous difference playing on ivory keys.  There is a 'life' and softness to the touch that seems to 'connect' far more than the modern keys.  Maybe it's just my imagination but I always play with far more feeling and enjoyment on ivory keys.

Does anyone have any opinions?

Offline quantum

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Re: Why do pianos sound so clean?
Reply #3 on: August 02, 2014, 01:38:00 AM
Tuning might also have something to do with it.  Most pianos are not always perfectly in tune.  One does not really need a perfect tuning to have a piano that sounds reasonably in tune.  The presence of slightly imperfect tuning gives the sound more life, more uniqueness. 

Samples in digital pianos are shopped to perfection leading to a somewhat sterile sound.  Recording studios likely have a tuner on standby to correct the smallest imperfections. If not, some things can still be corrected in post. 
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Offline Bob

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Re: Why do pianos sound so clean?
Reply #4 on: August 02, 2014, 02:14:30 AM
Yeah, I was thinking tuning, the instrument itself, your touch, etc. 
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Offline flashyfingers

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Re: Why do pianos sound so clean?
Reply #5 on: August 02, 2014, 03:58:15 AM
DRY piano sound can be very rough, and unpleasant to the ear. Especially if you hear the mechanism itself, and the pedal is used to even out the pitch difference between each key...sometimes the sustain mechanism is the most important part on a grand piano. It is more complex than one might think. Or even more complex than we could ever imagine. Also, the pianos are usually put into a "perfect" space, where the bass to highs ratio is 2 to 1 or something like that, would be perfect for a tinny sounding piano. https://roommodes.com or in general, the bigger the space, the more different sounds you will be able to acquire with all your fancy equipment for capturing room and piano.

And, of course, the listening position. The mics in the recording studio are basically the ears. The mics are placed on the "sweet spot" of the piano. The piano player may feel more vibration, but we do not get to experience as much space. Music has can have the most effect on listeners, when heard in the optimal environment (where one can experience sound and space, make music as dimensional as possible). As a performer, you do not get to do this, it helps to have those engineers and extra ears! This is why recordings are so great.
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Offline j_menz

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Re: Why do pianos sound so clean?
Reply #6 on: August 03, 2014, 12:05:22 AM
Perhaps older recordings are a bit more honest and therefore more pleasing.

Not necessarily. I have a recording of Richter doing the Beethoven 3 that sounds like it's been strained through broken glass.  All the sound recordists fault, as even the audience coughs are affected.
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Offline flashyfingers

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Re: Why do pianos sound so clean?
Reply #7 on: August 03, 2014, 01:13:17 AM
Not necessarily. I have a recording of Richter doing the Beethoven 3 that sounds like it's been strained through broken glass.  All the sound recordists fault, as even the audience coughs are affected.

Mmmmm, Richter!!
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Offline Bob

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Re: Why do pianos sound so clean?
Reply #8 on: August 03, 2014, 04:26:01 AM
Can you post some sound clips?  I want to hear the difference in recordings.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."
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