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Piano, Effects Processing ???

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Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:12 pm

Hi

Regarding effects processing tools such as Compressors, Limiters and Normalization, is it necessary to add any of these effects to a solo piano recording if intended for retail? I'm sure this depends on many factors and is widely debatable amongst others, namely personal choice.

Or would just a clean i high quality input recording be all that's necessary?

Garritans CFX Concert Grand
Logic Pro,
Soundtracks piano.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby The Elf » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:24 pm

Compare your recording to a commercial piano recording that you like. Does your recording compare well? If not, why not? Once you've figured out why then use the tools you have to get from what you have to closer to what you want to hear.

Once your recording compares favourably, even if it's not 100% the same (the final steps are all about personal taste), then you're there.

That's really all there is to it!
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:42 pm

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:Regarding effects processing tools such as Compressors, Limiters and Normalization, is it necessary to add any of these effects to a solo piano recording if intended for retail?

Compressors and limiters are necessary if the dynamic range of the recording exceeds the dynamic expectations of the clients. None of us know what kind of dynamic range your music has, or what your clients might expect.

Loudness normalisation is relevant if your retail sales are via a streaming setvice, but peak normalisation is more appropriate for CD sales. Apply as necessary...

Or would just a clean i high quality input recording be all that's necessary?

If it sounds great, it is great. Many commercial acoustic piano recordings are completely unprocessed because they need no processing. Others require some help. It all depends, as you say...
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Thu Jan 21, 2021 4:00 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Many commercial acoustic piano recordings are completely unprocessed because they need no processing. Others require some help. It all depends, as you say...

That's good to here, as i felt a little inapt about adding processing to the piano thus potentially deducting much of it's natural tonal character? The Yamaha CFX Concert Grand recorded at Abbey Road Studios comes with a Classic Perspective using Close / Ambient MIC positions.

Neumann M49 and KM184 mics were placed at each end and MID field of the piano, the natural acoustics of AR1 were also recorded with the CFX creating a natural ambient reverb environment.
This classic perspective of the piano delivers an exceptionally warm ambient clean recording that would sound perfect just as it is..
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Jan 21, 2021 4:14 am

The technology/recording techniques used at source when creating the piano library are irrelevant when auditioning something you've created using them.

Of course they will help, probably a lot, but judge the recording on its own merits not those of the talented folks who created the samples you're using.

It's all about the peformance of the piece at the artist's end and the manner in which the audio file is produced.

Compression is fine if used sympathetically but if the piano piece has a wide dymanic range be very careful about any compression you add, as overdoing it can seriously impact the integrity of a good performance.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Thu Jan 21, 2021 5:37 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:The technology/recording techniques used at source when creating the piano library are irrelevant when auditioning something you've created using them.

Of course they will help, probably a lot, but judge the recording on its own merits not those of the talented folks who created the samples you're using.

It's all about the peformance of the piece at the artist's end and the manner in which the audio file is produced.

Compression is fine if used sympathetically but if the piano piece has a wide dymanic range be very careful about any compression you add, as overdoing it can seriously impact the integrity of a good performance.

A nicely rendered response, I'll keep all that in mind. However if needing to add compression at some point? Is there a standard ratio setting that some go by? Or a general rule as to how much should be applied to attenuate for the dynamics?
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Jan 21, 2021 5:53 am

DigitalMusicProduction wrote: Is there a standard ratio setting that some go by? Or a general rule as to how much should be applied to attenuate for the dynamics?

It's all dependent on the ear; there are no hard and fast rules. Piano sounds are subjective and dynamics are more important to some genres than others. If the effect is obvious, it's probably too much, Less is more!
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby CS70 » Thu Jan 21, 2021 9:35 am

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:A nicely rendered response, I'll keep all that in mind. However if needing to add compression at some point? Is there a standard ratio setting that some go by? Or a general rule as to how much should be applied to attenuate for the dynamics?

No general rules, as you imagine. Think about the destination.. not sure what you mean "for retail", do you mean background music in shops? In that case, I imagine you will not want huge variations in level between notes, chords and sections.

If you want something rather flat and dull and not attracting much attention, fast attack and long release are what you need - the compressor will grab the transients early and try to pull everything together all the time, the instantaneous level will be nearer to the average, and our brain processes that stuff like background.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Thu Jan 21, 2021 7:12 pm

Not that I've spent much time with Effects Processing tools such as a Compressor, but i assume without having much knowledge regarding ratio settings, i imagine presets may help to determine the right type of compression needing to be applied when dealing with various dynamic ranges?
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby desmond » Thu Jan 21, 2021 7:16 pm

Not really, no. Honestly - if you don't know how to hear compression, and how the various parameters interact and so on and how and when to use it, you are best off not adding any imo.

By all means you can experiment, but if you aren't sure by listening what's good and what isn't, it might not be that beneficial.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby RichardT » Thu Jan 21, 2021 8:09 pm

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:Not that I've spent much time with Effects Processing tools such as a Compressor, but i assume without having much knowledge regarding ratio settings, i imagine presets may help to determine the right type of compression needing to be applied when dealing with various dynamic ranges?


As Desmond says, no, you can’t rely on presets to get what you want. I’m afraid there aren’t very many shortcuts when it comes to producing music.

You can’t for sure shortcut the listening and analysing part - you need to identify what the music needs and work out the right remedies. The only way to learn how to do this is through practice and study.

There’s a theme in your posts - you’re looking for out of the box solutions that don’t involve using your own judgement - but there aren’t any. Have you thought about working with somebody else who has production skills so you can concentrate on the music?
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby The Elf » Thu Jan 21, 2021 8:41 pm

As above ^^^

You do seem to be looking for a magic wand, and the truth is that there simply isn't one. I'm not saying this to be cruel, but trying to save you the heartache of discovering it for yourself the long and hard way.

The best 'out of the box' solution is an engineer who can do these things for you.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Thu Jan 21, 2021 9:50 pm

I'm still at the confusing stage of mastering the intricacies of music production,

Thank you all for your support, helpful.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby CS70 » Thu Jan 21, 2021 9:51 pm

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:Not that I've spent much time with Effects Processing tools such as a Compressor, but i assume without having much knowledge regarding ratio settings, i imagine presets may help to determine the right type of compression needing to be applied when dealing with various dynamic ranges?

Joining the choir: no. For one, presets will have no idea what's the level for your signal (which is how you set your threshold), nor what tempo is your music (which is how you set your attack and release) nor the dynamic range (which is how you set the compression ratio).

Repeat with me: I don't need a compressor.

Really, you don't.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby The Elf » Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:13 pm

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:I'm still at the confusing stage of mastering the intricacies of music production
Then keep it simple, simple, simple.

Listen to tone. Are there any frequencies your ear doesn't like? Cut them. Are there any frequencies you'd like to hear more of? Boost them. Do the minimum you have to. Cut rather than boost - narrow cuts, wide boosts. Are the frequencies you're trying to boost not there? Try a different piano.

Listen to dynamics. Is every note getting through as it should? If not then compression *may* be needed - or is it the performance? A solo piano really shouldn't need compression.

Listen to the ambience. Too dry? More/longer reverb (and other parameters we needn't go into here). Too wet? Back off the reverb amount/time, and maybe increase pre-delay.

None of the above will a preset be able to achieve for you. Listen, react, listen, react, listen... repeat until you're happy.

Just don't go running away with the idea that a sampled piano, no matter what its pedigree, or who's endorsing it, will sit naked and exposed, sounding like the finest concert grand played in a fine-sounding hall. The reality is that a sampled piano doesn't tell the whole story - it's an illusion. In a mix you'll not tell the difference, but solo you're always going to hear the compromises.
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