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Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Aural Reject » Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:04 am

The Elf wrote:We managed to scrape through - I had tricks to prevent the clicks!

I always find a good cough covers a multitude of sins....
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:10 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
...But the rush to 'go digital' was because the improvement in sound quality over the typical 1/4-inch analogue tape recorders of the day was massive. Yes, the noise floor was lower and dynamic range greater, but the more significant benefits were zero wow & flutter -- so piano and organ recordings were finally tolerable! ...
Generational losses affected every aspect, but I wouldn't have said analog recorded piano and organ music had been intolerable. Poor W&F was more the problem in poorly maintained pro, or cheap consumer, gear. By the 80's even top amateur cassette decks had close to inaudible W & F. It didn't need to be 0% to be inaudible. This misunderstanding perhaps goes hand in hand with the idea that some people have (literally) perfect pitch. Nobody has that.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:39 am

Perhaps I exaggerated slightly for effect...

At the BBC we were obviously using top notch tape recorders all maintained to within a micron of their bearings... ;)

...but the sense of solidity and stability in musical sources like pianos and organs, when we first switched to digital recorders, was definitely noticed and appreciated by all of us recording engineers and the programme producers.

I doubt the public would ever have noticed or cared -- and as you say W&F on any decent machine was pretty low in the 80s -- but we all appreciated and preferred the micro-pitch stability when we did those A/B comparisons.

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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:09 pm

Did you do it with rigour and check each parameter separately? Eg: tape dropout is always there to some degree and increases with frequency. It can easily be mistaken for flutter.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:30 pm

Erm... let me think.... :headbang:
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Nov 15, 2019 10:21 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:It's always 'only me'... :lol:

I've picked up so many mastering 'faux pas' over the years that have apparently slipped by some of the most famous, experienced and professional of mastering engineers.... It does make me wonder sometimes...

It's not just mastering - I still remember receiving an audio interface for an SOS review some years ago and noticing its distinct lack of bottom end, which I subsequently measured at -3dB @ 45Hz.

I informed the manufacturers and they said I must have made a mistake, as this particular unit had already been shipped to two other magazines and received favourable reviews that had been published, and around 300 units had already been sold to end users with no complaints. However, they said they would check, just to humour me.

I got a phone call the next day to inform me that the production line had been halted, and that all 300 shipped units were being recalled to have various coupling capacitors increased in value :headbang:


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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:45 pm

:-) Good spot Martin. It's exactly that kind of careful thoroughness from reviewers that has given SOS the uniquely well deserved reputation it enjoys. When I read some reviews in our competitors' magazines I sometimes wonder if their reviewers even unpacked the product and plugged it in!
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby James Perrett » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:40 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I doubt the public would ever have noticed or cared -- and as you say W&F on any decent machine was pretty low in the 80s -- but we all appreciated and preferred the micro-pitch stability when we did those A/B comparisons.

As a listener in my teens or early 20's I heard an obvious difference between live and recorded material on radio which was mainly down to sharper transients. These differences became less noticeable with the advent of digital recording.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Arpangel » Sat Nov 16, 2019 9:47 am

Tim Gillett wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:By the 80's even top amateur cassette decks had close to inaudible W & F. It didn't need to be 0% to be inaudible. This misunderstanding perhaps goes hand in hand with the idea that some people have (literally) perfect pitch. Nobody has that.

I have to disagree with you there, that's simply not the case. Wow and flutter on cassette tape was always an issue, and still is regarding things like piano and organ.
I had high end decks from Tascam, JVC, Nakamichi, and Denon, and none of them had wow and flutter that wasn't obviously noticeable. Although the best of the bunch was Denon.
I have organ recordings made from the 60's onwards that sound very good indeed, made on reel-to-reel machines, even when played on vinyl. Good top notch analogue is fine, as long as it's well maintained, and you're using a good high end turntable for records.
But I was surprised at how much of an improvement I noticed overal regarding wow and flutter when I used a Technics SL1210 turntable, the direct drive, and tremendous torque really did improve speed stability, like going from analogue to digital in this respect.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby The Elf » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:17 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote::-) Good spot Martin. It's exactly that kind of careful thoroughness from reviewers that has given SOS the uniquely well deserved reputation it enjoys. When I read some reviews in our competitors' magazines I sometimes wonder if their reviewers even unpacked the product and plugged it in!
I can recall one review I did for SOS where I can be very sure the previous magazine's reviewer never even powered the device up!
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:24 pm

Re Arpangel post. " Obviously audible w & f " even on top, well maintained machines may have been your experience. But my general impression is that other weaknesses in cassette recordings would usually outstrip w & f. Poor signal to noise and print through come to mind. Loss of highs after multiple plays esp. with Type 1 formulations. Tape dropout. Dolby tracking problems so bad that many gave up on Dolby and put up with the noise and distortion. Not issues for you?
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:44 pm

Using mobile here in Sydney so limited posting ability. Arpangel, do you still have any such cassette recordings with said w & f? Tim.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:20 pm

The Elf wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote::-) Good spot Martin. It's exactly that kind of careful thoroughness from reviewers that has given SOS the uniquely well deserved reputation it enjoys. When I read some reviews in our competitors' magazines I sometimes wonder if their reviewers even unpacked the product and plugged it in!
I can recall one review I did for SOS where I can be very sure the previous magazine's reviewer never even powered the device up!

And I recall one large distributor telling me that the review hardware sent to one UK magazine and reviewed favourably was returned with its shrink wrap intact!

:headbang: :headbang: :headbang:


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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Arpangel » Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:40 am

Tim Gillett wrote:Re Arpangel post. " Obviously audible w & f " even on top, well maintained machines may have been your experience. But my general impression is that other weaknesses in cassette recordings would usually outstrip w & f. Poor signal to noise and print through come to mind. Loss of highs after multiple plays esp. with Type 1 formulations. Tape dropout. Dolby tracking problems so bad that many gave up on Dolby and put up with the noise and distortion. Not issues for you?

Strangely, noise, print through, didn't bother me that much, as long as they were within reason. The main use I had for cassette was recording albums for listening elsewhere, from a turntable, or CD, or for making compilations.
I stumbled over a JVC KD-11 cassette deck, and despite its low end price, sounded amazing and was my favourite cassette deck.
I'm particularly sensitive to wow and flutter, I used to record a lot of organ music, and it's difficult to believe, but this JVC out-performed high end decks in this respect, and I never had any cause to complain. Denon weren't bad, OK, but the worst I found was Nakamichi, great powerful up-front sound, but not good for critical applications like recording organ, piano etc, Nakamichi were great if you were into rock.
The only cassettes I have now are recordings I made of family members before they died, transferred from my Tascam 32-2B reel-to-reel, and tapes of my own music recorded on my portastudios. I never bothered to keep any of my mix tapes, or CD transfers.
It's quite ironic that I love wow and flutter now, and I'm constantly trying to make my piano recordings sound more distressed, turning down the varispeed on my portastudio.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:58 am

All the brands you mentioned made fine decks, but w & f depended on model and equally condition. Cheap Naks were nothing special. A cheaper good Nak such as the 480 performed well (0.06%) but Nak's Dragon had the lowest w & f of any cassette deck, period (0.04%). Your JVC was 0.15%, over twice as bad as the relatively inexpensive Nak 480. But without maintenance w & f performance deteriorated in all decks. It's the same today.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Arpangel » Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:37 am

Tim Gillett wrote:All the brands you mentioned made fine decks, but w & f depended on model and equally condition. Cheap Naks were nothing special. A cheaper good Nak such as the 480 performed well (0.06%) but Nak's Dragon had the lowest w & f of any cassette deck, period (0.04%). Your JVC was 0.15%, over twice as bad as the relatively inexpensive Nak 480. But without maintenance w & f performance deteriorated in all decks. It's the same today.

I know, I'm as puzzled as anyone, I can remember standing in my local hi-fI shop as I'd just bought a Nakamichi Dragon and brought it back, one of the salesmen was puzzled too, and another just said "look, FFS just give him his money back it sounds awful" that's exactly what he said. We tried alternatives with no success, so I got a top of the range Denon instead and that was OK. I have owned various Nakamichis, an early one was the best, a 600, but it developed a fault and I couldn't be bothered to get it repaired.
That particular Dragon I had obviously wasn't right, and had a major fault, but this was cropping up on them all too regularly.
I used to know lots of happy Nakamichi owners, and they do sound good generally, but honestly, not for what I wanted them for, if they did, I'd orobably still have one, as they are design classics, beautiful things.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Nov 17, 2019 12:04 pm

It only takes one minor fault, one adjustment slightly out, even a tiny piece of cotton accidentally left on a shaft or roller after cleaning can be enough to ruin performance. Its often that simple.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Arpangel » Sun Nov 24, 2019 12:59 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
John Willett wrote:Do you have the original Earthsounds version? or the Classic FM one?

This one: Image

Mine arrived this morning! after being hidden from me by the caretaker for days!
He puts our post in draw, but he put it in a different one this time, I was just about to contact Amazon to ask them where it was!
It's the same one as Hugh has, John is engineer, I didn't know Tony Faulkner was editing too.
Can't wait to hear it!
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Arpangel » Sun Dec 08, 2019 10:40 pm

I just listened to this CD, lots to do, so just got around to it.
First thing that struck me was a lack of ambience, it's very dry.
Also the rendition is strange, the pianists grace notes are way too staccato, they need to be more legato.
Apart from that, the actual recording quality is difficult to judge, as there is so little ambience.
This approach doesn't suit Saties work at all, exactly the opposite in fact.
Sorry to all involved, but that's just my opinion.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:32 pm

To quote the former BBC DG John Birt, I fear you are "tainted by experience". :D

Your expectations and presumptions of the work obviously don't sync with those of the performer and producer. But that's fine -- it's your point of view, formed by your personal experiences.

For what it's worth, my personal opinion is that I really like the intimate setting, which I think suits the works perfectly. And I like the interpretation and performances too -- staccato grace notes and all...

But the bottom line for me, is that it is the most enjoyable of the four CD versions of Satie's works I have available here.

Although those DC offsets are still very distracting... :lol: :bouncy:
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