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Haydn digital vs. acoustic

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by tpascale, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. tpascale

    tpascale Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I recorded Haydn's Sonata in F Hob XVI:23 twice - acoustically and digitally. For late night playing and for recordings I have a Yamaha Grantouch piano with an acoustic action but no strings - the hammers hit a felt rail and the sound is produced digitally from optical sensors that pick up the hammer speed. But recently I got a pair of AT4040 microphones and went about recording my main piano - a Steinway B. I was pretty disappointed with the results. The Steinway has a beautiful tone which was not captured at all; rather it ended up sounding like a tinny upright or spinet. I don't have a pre-amp - maybe this is the problem - the mikes are plugged directly into a Presonus Firebox sound module.

    Anyway, I have uploaded the 3 movements of this charming little Haydn Sonata recorded on the Grantouch. For comparison I also included the 1st movement of the Steinway recording (which in addition to the poorer sound quality I think I played too fast anyway), and would welcome any advice on how to get a better result recording the Steinway.

    Thanks,

    Tom P.

    Haydn - Sonata in F major, Hob XVI Nr. 23 - I: Allegro

    Haydn - Sonata in F major, Hob XVI Nr. 23 - II: Adagio

    Haydn - Sonata in F major, Hob XVI Nr. 23 - III: Presto
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    hmmm - I only have time to listen to the two 1st movements, but I think I prefer the acoustic version. I started with the digital version, which I could definitely tell that it is digital, and then went to the other version. At first, I also thought your grand sounded a little bit tinny. But that's because it is so much different than the digital. If I 'forget' about the digital recording and concentrate on only the acoustic version, then I think it sounds fine. Plus, I just like knowing that it's played on an acoustic piano, anyway.

    Sorry I can't really help you as far as you wanting to improve the sound, but I just thought you'd like to know that the 'grand' version is good. There are others around here who know more about mics and that stuff so maybe one of them can be more helpful.

    And btw - your playing is wonderful!
     
  3. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Tom, I envy you a lot! It's really wonderful that you own a Steinway B and at the same time a good digital for a night practice!
    I've just listened to the first movement on the digital and on the Steinway and I definitely prefer the sound of the digital, even though I've always disliked any sound on a digital piano so far. (Can you tell me the name of this digital? It's really much better than others!)
    Apart from this I know how beautiful a Steinway B sounds because I practice on a Steinway B made in Hamburg (The owner of this and a tuner who tuned this grand insist that this is a C, but I myself measured it recently and found its length is that of B). Because of that I agree with you that this recording failed to capture the Steinway sound. I'm absolutely ignorant of recording skills and have only a handy recorder called Zoom H4, so I can't give you any meaningful advice, but isn' there any possibility to connect your mics to Edirol? (I've read in your bio that you started recording with an Edirol.) A Zoom H4 has such a posibility and a pianist on the site (musicusblau) makes his recording with Zoom and Neuman mics together and gets always very good results.
    (Btw is it a New York Steinway? And do you have no problem with opening the grand yourself? The lid is so heavy that I always have problem to open it myself. But for recordings I must do it alone and my poor right arm must have a rest before starting to play :wink: )
    Anyway your playing is great as Monica already said!
     
  4. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Of course, great playing !

    What is the tone before you start to play on your Steinway recording ? I think that the AT 4040 is very good and that the preamp should not be the main cause of this thin sound. I tried to improve your recording by means of EQ but did not achieve a much significant result. Nonetheless better that the original recording ?
    Where did you place the microphones ?
     
  5. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    The Steinway recording is not bad...we are all amateurs (with a few exceptions) so we won't have access to $100,000 recording studios.

    I think your playing and technique liven the recordings. Give yourself some credit on a good job. :D
     
  6. tpascale

    tpascale Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Hyenal - I must be doing something wrong because your Zoom H4 recordings produces a much purer sound without all this fuss. (And the playing is great too.)

    The digital recording comes from a 10yr old Yamaha Grantouch GT2. The Steinway was purchased in NY about 12 years ago (but recently refitted with Hamburg hammers which are free of the lacquer used in NY and produce a truer tone). Both recordings use sound modules connected to a computer: an Edirol UA-25 with the GT2, and a Presonus Firebox for the Steinway. Both are comparable in cost and quality. The only difference is that the audio cables connect directly from the Edirol to the GT2 audio outputs, whereas for the Steinway they connect to microphones. For the Steinway recording, I tried various placements and ended up with the mikes suspended just a few inches above the strings / soundboard. In order to record at sufficient volume, I had to set switches on both the Firebox and the mikes for a +10 db boost. I suspect all this boosting leads to distortion, and perhaps these AT4040 mikes were meant for use with a higher quality preamp, as opposed to the built-in preamp function on a $200 sound module.
     
  7. tpascale

    tpascale Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Didier - thanks for trying a hand at improving the recording. I just downloaded the enhanced file and compared it to the original and I think it's a big improvement. So what exactly did you do ? I'd like to try it out on the other movements too.
     
  8. Didier

    Didier Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I only did some equalization. In white the original recording, in red the equalized one:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Tom, it was GT2! I wrote down this name.
    I listened to the other movements, too, and I must say this is a really enchanting sonata. Haydn wrote too many sonatas to absorb all of them at once (at least for me), therefore to discover a beautiful one among them is always a great joy!
    Good luck to find a right method for recording on the Steinway. I'd like to enjoy this beautiful sonata and performance from real Steinway sound :D
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I listened to the acoustic version first. Indeed, sounds rather like a fortepiano or even one of these rare tangent pianos. Not inappropriate for Haydn, but you gotta like that sound - personally I hate the sound of all these old keyboard contraptions, expect for a big sonorous harpsichord. That this sounds a mite metallic is IMO because you are far too close on the strings.

    The digital version is much mellower and nicer of tone, but admittedly less personal, more generalized. Near-perfect playing as always, it's is evident that you feel at home recording here but not on the Steinway yet. I can't give you any recording tips being in a much different situation. But some people here can help you to get the great Steinway sound.
     
  11. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I am not sure if you intend to re-record these or not, but in the meantime I have put them up. Please check all links. Also, should we delete the additional attachment?
     
  12. tpascale

    tpascale Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I probably won't re-record the sonata. By the time I resolve the recording issue I'll have moved on to something else anyway - so thanks for posting this version, and of course go ahead and delete the extra attachment.
     

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