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A new way to record your piano #255456
10/02/06 07:58 PM
10/02/06 07:58 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,393
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline OP
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Since questions come up fairly often about how to record the piano sound, I thought I would pass on to everyone that Kawai is making a new product specifically for recording the piano. Here is a link to some information:

http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/digital/Special/pr-1.html

I made a sample recording at the office last Friday, and uploaded it to the Piano World server - it can be downloaded here:

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Brahms.Sonata_3.II.mp3

If anyone has questions about this new product, I'll be glad to answer them.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
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Piano accessories and music gift items, digital piano dolly, music theme party goods
Re: A new way to record your piano #255457
10/02/06 08:14 PM
10/02/06 08:14 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,408
SouthWest Michigan
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Roger Ransom Online content
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How much?


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Re: A new way to record your piano #255458
10/02/06 08:24 PM
10/02/06 08:24 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,393
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline OP
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In the range of $1,500.

I just listened to the streamed version of the file - hmmm, lots of funny noises thrown in that weren't in the original. Maybe I'll convert t mp3 and upload it again.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: A new way to record your piano #255459
10/02/06 09:52 PM
10/02/06 09:52 PM
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Posts: 304
Bangkok, Thailand
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I don't see it mention but I wish it would have a hard drive or something similar so after recording, I can play back to make sure that the recording is ok before transferring it to CD or recording various pieces at different time and compiling them on the same CD later.

Re: A new way to record your piano #255460
10/02/06 09:55 PM
10/02/06 09:55 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,351
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

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I had a similar question as bkkmd... when you record, does it automatically go straight to the CD? Or can you decide after the piece is done whether to save it or not? This is not at all an academic question for me, because I will try maybe 10 or 15 takes at a time (sometimes more!) before getting one that I'm satisfied with. I'd be running through CDs like crazy if every time I pushed the red dot it went to CD!

Re: A new way to record your piano #255461
10/02/06 10:14 PM
10/02/06 10:14 PM
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Posts: 1,393
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline OP
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Well, all I can say to this is CDs are cheap. I recorded it 2 times, re-played a couple of passages, then moved the files to my computer to paste things together.

So no, there is no hard drive.

You can, however, plug the outputs directly into a computer and record that way if you prefer. There are 1/4" and XLR outs on the back. This still gives the benefit of the custom microphones, EQ and reverb built into the unit.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: A new way to record your piano #255462
10/02/06 10:21 PM
10/02/06 10:21 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,351
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

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Is there a cable that has XLR or 1/4" connections on one end and a USB on the other? Is it easy to hook it up to the computer?

When you say that you can record on the computer, say, using Audacity, would the sound quality be worse than going straight to the CD on the PR-1? In other words, do you lose something by jury-rigging to have the convenience of recording on the computer (and thus be able to play a zillion takes without saving any of them)?

And, let's say I hooked it up to the computer so I could do my zillion takes and finally get one I'm happy with. Would I then be able to send it back to the PR-1 unit to burn to CD or would I need to do that on the PC?

I listened to the recording you posted, incidentally, and it sounded very nice. I didn't hear any "funny noises," and I was impressed particularly by the fidelity of the low bass notes.

Re: A new way to record your piano #255463
10/02/06 11:18 PM
10/02/06 11:18 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,393
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline OP
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KawaiDon  Offline OP
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Monica,

No, USB is a digital connection, so one would need a sampling device to convert sound to USB. I don't think there is a digital audio output from the PR-1. You would need to plug the cables into the audio input of the computer - most computers have a stereo line input (although laptops often do not).

I think the fidelity is best to simply record onto the CD, then transfer it to the computer. Since it records a normal audio CD you can record for 70 minutes on one cheap little CD-R. You can stop and start as much as you want, and play back the recorded tracks to see how you like them. There are also inputs into the PR-1, so yes you can also record audio from an external source, but that's not a very convenient way to do it.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: A new way to record your piano #255464
10/02/06 11:52 PM
10/02/06 11:52 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 2,941
Florida
LisztAddict Offline
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Florida
Here is another recording made with the PR-1 system.
http://savefile.com/files/107994

The piano was a new RX-2. There was thin carpet under the piano.

Don - can this system record to a CD-RW? If it can, that certainly is a big help for those who wants to do multiple takes.

Re: A new way to record your piano #255465
10/03/06 12:04 AM
10/03/06 12:04 AM
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Posts: 492
North Carolina
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Few questions:
  • Does it have memory for temporarily saving/replaying/retaking a song before writing to CD?
  • Does it support 80 minute CDs?
  • Does it support CD-RW so that one disc can be used instead of starting a CD-R coaster factory?
  • Does it provide phantom power for microphones that need it?
  • What's the sampling rate and sample size of the files written to CD (44.1Khz/16-bit, 48Khz/24-bit)?
  • If it can sample higher than 44.1Khz can it write directly to uncompressed WAV files as ISO9660 instead of CD-XA?
  • Does it have silence finding capabilities? That is, find the next song when rewinding or fast forwarding, or is every recording session simply considered a new "track"?

More questions as I think of them. I am soon purchasing a set of mics, and now I'm looking into the recording devices that are available.

Re: A new way to record your piano #255466
10/03/06 12:54 AM
10/03/06 12:54 AM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 91
Tierra Verde, Florida
tootallll Offline
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oops...

Re: A new way to record your piano #255467
10/03/06 04:32 AM
10/03/06 04:32 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,726
Portland, Oregon
Grandpianoman Offline
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KawaiDon, very nice sounding recording, and your playing as well! I am wondering if this system would work on my M&H RBB, with all the Ampico equiptment under there, plus a solenoid system? Can you put the mikes in different spots under the piano, or must they go in only in one place?

Thanks,

GP

Re: A new way to record your piano #255468
10/03/06 09:35 AM
10/03/06 09:35 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,242
Cape Cod
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hv Offline
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Cape Cod
It is a very pleasing sounding recording and nice playing too. I compared it to the recording in the other thread which was also nice sounding, although cliped in a few spots. But they were different sounding from each other. Yours seemed to be a more distant perspective with less body resonance. Did you velcro the mics to the beams under the soundboard or perhaps put them on the floor instead? Maybe just different reverb settings. Just curious.

From what I can see of the mic capsules, they look a lot like panasonic wm61a electret\'s which are fairly decent. That's what I'd use if I were rolling my own.

The cd recording system looks pretty convenient too and seems to yield rather nice results. It won't compete with high resolution recording but its obviously not intended for recording studios.

Howard

Re: A new way to record your piano #255469
10/03/06 10:29 AM
10/03/06 10:29 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 36
Philadelphia, PA
Greg Wilder Offline
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Philadelphia, PA
I've listened to several recordings made with the PR-1 and have had my suspicions confirmed - that it's possible to do *much* better with your own setup for considerably less money.

As far as I can tell, the only novel thing about this device is that it combines the functions of several (rather low quality) devices in a single unit. If you're a user who wants an ultra-simple solution for home recording, it may be just the ticket...

But the folks in this forum seem genuinely interested in achieving the highest quality whenever possible. For example, people frequently catalog their detailed impressions of subtle differences between models and different makers to help inform potential buyers.

So, here's what I don't understand - after spending large amounts of time and money to find just the *right* piano - after spending years perfecting your ability to perform music - why settle for poor/mediocre (and expensive!) when recording it?

Re: A new way to record your piano #255470
10/03/06 10:40 AM
10/03/06 10:40 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,393
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline OP
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KawaiDon  Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by chopin952:
Few questions:[list]
[*]Does it have memory for temporarily saving/replaying/retaking a song before writing to CD?
No, it records on the fly. The CD is not finalized until you say so.

[*]Does it support 80 minute CDs?
Yes

[*]Does it support CD-RW so that one disc can be used instead of starting a CD-R coaster factory?
Yes, in fact I believe that's what comes with it.

[*]Does it provide phantom power for microphones that need it?
The PR-1 is intended as a self-contained system, the mics use special cables and are proprietary. They are powered by the PR-1, but no facility is provided for phantom power of the alternate inputs.

[*]What's the sampling rate and sample size of the files written to CD (44.1Khz/16-bit, 48Khz/24-bit)?
Standard CD sampling rate only. All music is stored as standard audio CD tracks.

[*]Does it have silence finding capabilities? . . or is every recording session simply considered a new "track"?
Since it is intended to be sitting right next to the pianist, one can simply stop the recording during the pauses. There is no automatic track changing feature. A foot switch capability is provided which can allow stopping / starting record separately.

. . . .I am soon purchasing a set of mics, and now I'm looking into the recording devices that are available.
This is not a device to plug high-end microphones into. It is a total system for recording the piano directly, and is meant to be a simpler option than buying separate mics and mixer and recorder.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: A new way to record your piano #255471
10/03/06 10:44 AM
10/03/06 10:44 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,393
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline OP
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KawaiDon  Offline OP
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Orange County, CA
Quote
Originally posted by grandpianoman:
KawaiDon, very nice sounding recording, and your playing as well! I am wondering if this system would work on my M&H RBB, with all the Ampico equiptment under there, plus a solenoid system? Can you put the mikes in different spots under the piano, or must they go in only place?
GP
Shouldn't be a problem. The mics mount using velcro straps, and can be put pretty much anywhere. The system is intended for close mic'ing up near the soundboard, and experimenting with the position of the 2 mics is a good idea.

The system will record all noises in the piano with excellent fidelity, though. I'm not sure if you would record something from the player or not, but if so I think you would hear the system in action.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: A new way to record your piano #255472
10/03/06 11:00 AM
10/03/06 11:00 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,393
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline OP
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KawaiDon  Offline OP
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Orange County, CA
Quote
Originally posted by Greg Wilder:
I've listened to several recordings made with the PR-1 and have had my suspicions confirmed - that it's possible to do *much* better with your own setup for considerably less money.
Well, Greg, you have expressed an opinion as fact, so that tends to cloud the question and start disagreements. "Better" is a very much relative term, and if this is true for you, then you are correct. For others, it might not be true.

I have done a fair amount of recording of pianos myself, and I am not a fan of the close microphone sound from a piano. I suspect that is what you don't like in the sound of the PR-1. I much prefer a more natural recording setup at a distance from the piano. The problem with this for most people is that their rooms color the sound way too much to get a natural sounding recording. This is where, for some people, a close microphone system like the PR-1 might be "better."

The reason the system is designed this way is that it almost completely eliminates room response from the recording. In my own living room I have experimented with decent microphones and mixer, and the room always overcomes the benefit of the "pro" equipment.

So, as with everything, there are trade-offs. I think the combination of convenience, adjustability of the sound, and eliminating room resonances is enough to make this a good solution.

Lastly, I would really like to hear your suggested equipment which is "considerably" less than $1500. Please give us your recommended list of equipment that totals substantially less than $1500 at list price. It should include 2 microphones, cables, low cost mixer (for basic tone control / EQ), basic reverb, and recorder. If you are going to do your tone control and reverb in a computer, to be fair, you need to include the cost of the computer and software.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: A new way to record your piano #255473
10/03/06 11:09 AM
10/03/06 11:09 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,393
Orange County, CA
KawaiDon Offline OP
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KawaiDon  Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by LisztAddict:
Here is another recording made with the PR-1 system.
http://savefile.com/files/107994

The piano was a new RX-2. There was thin carpet under the piano.
Ha - sounds like your fingers are in much better shape than mine! Thanks for posting this.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: A new way to record your piano #255474
10/03/06 11:19 AM
10/03/06 11:19 AM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,351
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

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Lexington, Kentucky
KawaiDon, thanks so much for answering all these questions. I'm really intrigued by this system. I haven't been satisfied with the recordings I've made with a single Samson USB mic and laptop, but I'm also not an audiophile or a techie so would be glad to find something better that was also easy to use.

I was initially hung up on the idea that the system required burning all takes to CD (I would be wasting MANY CDs that way), but I think you offered the right perspective: think of the initial CD just as a recording medium, and once you get a take you're happy with, transfer it to computer, and later on you can mix and match various tracks to compile a final CD of your own.

I'm still a little confused by your answer to one of Chopin952's question, when you said that the files are stored as "standard audio CD files." So they're not mp3 or .wav files? What is the extension?

Also, looking at the photo of the unit, I don't see a way of naming a particular file. How do you tell the computer which one of the gazillion takes on the CD is the one you want to transfer? Or do you have to put a new CD in after every time you hit the stop button?

(You can probably tell from these questions that I really don't know anything about recording music!)

Re: A new way to record your piano #255475
10/03/06 11:41 AM
10/03/06 11:41 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,242
Cape Cod
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hv Offline
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Don:

The Kawai recording system certainly has its points: ease, simplicity, and nice results. But on just recording quality, a system consisting of just these 2 pieces could match or exceed at less cost:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PMD660/
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AT825/

But it would take a bit more recording skill. And you wouldn't get finished audio CDs with just this. Similarily, a setup consisting of the next 2 would be capable of state of the art recording quality at about the same $1500 price:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HDP2/
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/NT4/

It's all in the trade-offs and there's a lot to be said for the Kawai recording system which can empower almost anyone to create audio CDs they can play in any player. Even if you have to factor in the additional cost of a computer to upload mp3s... all of us here obviously already have one .

Howard

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