2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Petrof Pianos
Petrof Pianos
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
Who's Online Now
41 members (EVC2017, DSC, beeboss, Aare Havanese, chung_chang, Digitalguy, 36251, Animisha, 6 invisible), 356 guests, and 323 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 2 1 2
Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
#3011020 08/07/20 01:21 AM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
M
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
Please excuse the imposition, as this isn't a piano question so much as a psychoacoustic or audio technology question.

I recently purchased an album of solo jazz piano recordings, which is the premier release from a new label called Octave Records, owned by high-end audio equipment maker PS Audio. In two of the twelve tracks, I notice some brief distortion in a number of spots, but I've discovered that not all listeners can hear it. It sounds like clipping to me, and creates a slight "crackle" sound, not very different from the static-like surface noise you sometimes hear from LPs.

So I thought it would be interesting to obtain feedback from our pianist community, which undoubtedly includes some of the most critical piano listeners. If you are interested in participating in this study, just have a listen (the sample tracks are only about 30 seconds, so it won't take much of your time) and post back here to let me know whether or not the distortion issue is audible to you.

Sample tracks are at https://www.psaudio.com/products/out-of-thin-air/ and you will find them if you scroll about half way down the page. It is best to listen with headphones at a reasonably loud volume.

The track with the most issues is the first one, Classical September. When I listen to it, I hear distortion at times 0:19, 0:23, 0:26 and 0:27.

The only other track with distortion I hear, is Self-Quarantine, at time 0:13. The other tracks all sound clean.

Thanks very much in advance, for your assistance with my study in psychoacoustics!


First love: Kawai GX-6
Yamaha Motif XF8
Tektronix MSO4104
(ad int) Petrof Pianos
Petrof Pianos
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3011030 08/07/20 03:08 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 679
P
pwl Offline
Silver Subscriber
500 Post Club Member
Offline
Silver Subscriber
500 Post Club Member
P
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 679
FWIW, I don't hear a problem.

Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
pwl #3011084 08/07/20 08:17 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 4,690
H
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
H
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 4,690
Originally Posted by pwl
FWIW, I don't hear a problem.

+1

Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3011091 08/07/20 08:43 AM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 221
V
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
V
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 221
I do hear the distortion, but it's hard to say where it is coming from. It could just be in the conversion, since the original file is DSD and I'm sure the streaming samples are not a super high bit rate.

Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3011169 08/07/20 12:59 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,583
Bronze Subscriber
2000 Post Club Member
Offline
Bronze Subscriber
2000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,583
Marianne,
I listened using my Acoustic Research AR4xa speakers and could not hear any distortion at all.
Ian


I'm all keyed up
2016 Blüthner Model A
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3011524 08/08/20 12:12 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 824
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 824
Originally Posted by MarianneØ
Please excuse the imposition, as this isn't a piano question so much as a psychoacoustic or audio technology question.

I recently purchased an album of solo jazz piano recordings, which is the premier release from a new label called Octave Records, owned by high-end audio equipment maker PS Audio. In two of the twelve tracks, I notice some brief distortion in a number of spots, but I've discovered that not all listeners can hear it. It sounds like clipping to me, and creates a slight "crackle" sound, not very different from the static-like surface noise you sometimes hear from LPs.
===============================SNIP==========
So I thought it would be interesting to obtain feedback from our pianist community, which undoubtedly includes some of the most critical piano listeners. If you are interested in participating in this study, just have a listen (the sample tracks are only about 30 seconds, so it won't take much of your time) and post back here to let me know whether or not the distortion issue is audible to you.
=================SNIP======================
The track with the most issues is the first one, Classical September. When I listen to it, I hear distortion at times 0:19, 0:23, 0:26 and 0:27.
================SNIP=======================
I did hear multiple somethings on the right channel between 0:23 and 0:27, somethings like a click. This can happen when over-driving a digital recording past 0db. It's hard for me to imagine how the engineers involved with a "premier release" from a high-end maker would have let something like that go. There are plenty of tools to help with that sort of thing.

Beyond that, I am not at all a fan of the sound on the recording. The playing is wonderful, but the piano, itself, is not. Beyond that, I find the balance between what must have been mics inside the piano with those used to get some "room" into the recording too heavily biased towards the very close up sound. Even as a performer, I'm further back (at the keyboard) from where those mics were listening.

FWIW - for comparison's sake,here are two recordings by Matt Herskowitz. The piano is a great one; the pianist equally so, and, to my ears, the recording is "like being at the keyboard".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUpfagdPZJk

...and this one, in a style more similar to what OP has posted:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WL7unbLLdck


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
I Make Music that Lifts People Up & Brings Them Together
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
Seeker #3011762 08/08/20 11:31 PM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
M
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
Thanks to all responders, for your time and input. It does appear that there are significant differences from person to person, in the way we hear. So far, only 35-40% of listeners have reported that they can hear the distortion.

A special thank you to Andrew, for your detailed comments and suggested reference recordings. After listening to them, I decided to purchase Matt's "Mirror Image" CD.

On the distorted tracks, I have done quite a bit of technical analysis, starting with the original DSD files that I purchased. I tested my DSD->PCM converter by manually editing a test pulse into the .DSF file, one at 75% of full scale and another at 50%. With the converter's output attenuation set appropriately, it passes the test pulses without distortion, yet the music peaks are still limited to a much lower level (3.5dB below the 50% test pulse).

I do not know if the single-rate DSD files I received are bit-for-bit the same as the master tracks, but if they are, there may be no recourse. On the other hand, if they were down-sampled from the masters, perhaps the masters are clean and the distribution DSD files could be redone.

There are two noteworthy features of the tracks that have distortion: Their peak level only reaches -3dB (Classical September track) or -2dB (Self-Quarantine track), while the other tracks exceed -1dB and none of them have distortion. Secondly, looking at a long section on a scope shows that all of the peaks reach almost exactly the same voltage, which is statistically impossible for piano recordings. Peak values should have a random distribution. It certainly appears that something in the signal chain was limiting the peaks.

I have submitted my analysis to the PS Audio CEO and he forwarded it to the mastering engineer, but I have received no replies. I have to wonder if both of them are in the 60-65% population that can't hear the distortion.


First love: Kawai GX-6
Yamaha Motif XF8
Tektronix MSO4104
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3011797 08/09/20 04:49 AM
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 448
O
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
O
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 448
Psychoacoustics is a b**ch.

You shouldn't automatically assume that the recording is faulty and other people have bad ears, when there are some elements in the chain that cannot be reproduced by others. Your amplifier may not be linear, the membrane of your listening device my create misrepresentations and distortions. Your own ears may not do what they are supposed to do at certain frequencies in certain dynamic ranges and the assumption that your hearing is flawless and that 60-65% of the population have bad hearing is a far stretch at best.

A Fourier analysis of the original recording before any mix down (and you won't get that from the producers anyway) may lead you to possible clues of what element in the recording chain may not be flawless and if there isn't any, you'll need to start tracking down possible flaws in the reproduction chain on your side.

I agree with others who say that this is a badly prepared and recorded piano, which makes the whole discussion pretty pointless anyway.

Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
OE1FEU #3011809 08/09/20 06:25 AM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
M
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Psychoacoustics is a b**ch.

You shouldn't automatically assume that the recording is faulty and other people have bad ears, when there are some elements in the chain that cannot be reproduced by others. Your amplifier may not be linear, the membrane of your listening device my create misrepresentations and distortions. Your own ears may not do what they are supposed to do at certain frequencies in certain dynamic ranges and the assumption that your hearing is flawless and that 60-65% of the population have bad hearing is a far stretch at best.

A Fourier analysis of the original recording before any mix down (and you won't get that from the producers anyway) may lead you to possible clues of what element in the recording chain may not be flawless and if there isn't any, you'll need to start tracking down possible flaws in the reproduction chain on your side.

I'm not automatically assuming anything. Enough testing has been performed, that I know the issue isn't the reproduction chain. I didn't say anyone had "bad ears" or that my hearing is flawless, only that many people do not notice the distortion. It is quite possible that they can hear other things, which I cannot. I consider it quite unfair on your part, that you are accusing me of making such assumptions.

I do not believe there exists a multi-track pre-mix recording. As I understand the process, they only record the mixed stereo channels, i.e., it's direct to master, then the DSD files delivered to customers are exact copies of the masters. I was hoping that there were more generations involved, so that a better quality master might exist, but that is probably not the case.

I have been experimenting with declipping software, and the result is quite good, although not perfect. That will probably be the final solution, as I'm not expecting any help from the producer at this point.


First love: Kawai GX-6
Yamaha Motif XF8
Tektronix MSO4104
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3011870 08/09/20 11:10 AM
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 448
O
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
O
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 448
Originally Posted by MarianneØ
I do not believe there exists a multi-track pre-mix recording.

That's what it says in their description and that's what we can see in the photo for the surround sound microphone setup.

As to the rest: You're right, I'm wrong.

Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
OE1FEU #3012047 08/09/20 06:30 PM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
M
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by MarianneØ
I do not believe there exists a multi-track pre-mix recording.

That's what it says in their description and that's what we can see in the photo for the surround sound microphone setup.

It's interesting that the description mentions the original recording/mixing was done by Robert Friedrich at Moose Sound, while the editing/mastering was by Gus Skinas, possibly at a different location.

Explicit critical details are still missing. At one extreme, the mixing could all have been done in the analog domain upstream of the recorder, thus only requiring a stereo master recording with no further need for editing. On the other hand, the Sonoma system is certainly multi-track and capable of cross fades in post-processing, so each mic channel could have been recorded on a dedicated track as the first step. We don't know what Gus worked with as his source material, only that it was his responsibility to produce the PCM versions of the tracks.

I did find information on the Sonoma system which indicates it is strictly single-rate DSD at 2.8442Mbit/sec per channel, so no DSD down-conversion was involved.

It's frustrating that my emails have gone unanswered. It would certainly be nice if they could re-do the mixing and mastering to avoid the limiter action that occurred somewhere along the way. Considering that the album is advertised as an "ultimate reference" I believe they owe that to their customers.


First love: Kawai GX-6
Yamaha Motif XF8
Tektronix MSO4104
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3012863 08/12/20 12:13 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 5,789
C
5000 Post Club Member
Offline
5000 Post Club Member
C
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 5,789
Originally Posted by OP
. . . Secondly, looking at a long section on a scope shows that all of the peaks reach almost exactly the same voltage, which is statistically impossible for piano recordings. Peak values should have a random distribution. It certainly appears that something in the signal chain was limiting the peaks. . . .

That's pretty convincing, to me. I was thinking that loading one of the files into Audacity, and expanding the time scale, would reveal any flat-topping. Using an scope is "old technology", but it does the job.

Whether that glitch is _audible_ -- that's a different question.

Thanks --


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
Charles Cohen #3012891 08/12/20 02:34 AM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
M
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
That's pretty convincing, to me. I was thinking that loading one of the files into Audacity, and expanding the time scale, would reveal any flat-topping. Using an scope is "old technology", but it does the job.

Peaks are not clipped to flat tops in most cases. Rather, they appear to have been fast-attack limited.

Scopes are "old technology?" When was the last time you saw an oscilloscope? Today's DSO's are built with similar processing power to PC's, perform all kinds of mathematical analysis including FFT, and collect data orders of magnitude faster.

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Whether that glitch is _audible_ -- that's a different question.

The point of the thread was for you to have a listen to the samples, then answer that question.


First love: Kawai GX-6
Yamaha Motif XF8
Tektronix MSO4104
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3013057 08/12/20 02:14 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,115
E
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
E
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,115
Originally Posted by MarianneØ
Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
That's pretty convincing, to me. I was thinking that loading one of the files into Audacity, and expanding the time scale, would reveal any flat-topping. Using an scope is "old technology", but it does the job.

Peaks are not clipped to flat tops in most cases. Rather, they appear to have been fast-attack limited.

Scopes are "old technology?" When was the last time you saw an oscilloscope? Today's DSO's are built with similar processing power to PC's, perform all kinds of mathematical analysis including FFT, and collect data orders of magnitude faster.

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Whether that glitch is _audible_ -- that's a different question.

The point of the thread was for you to have a listen to the samples, then answer that question.


Editing and dithering, I know, can have unintended secondary characteristics show up in the final render. The issues don't happen on every playback system.

I don't think it's some listeners that hear it and others don't but some systems can play it fine and other systems exhibit a problem.

At each of the time marks you noted, the piano had a very robust sonority.

Still, sounded fine to me.

Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3013132 08/12/20 05:07 PM
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 5,276
L
5000 Post Club Member
Offline
5000 Post Club Member
L
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 5,276
Marianne
You say the purpose was to listen to the thread and then answer the question.
I remember you bought a lovely GX Kawai piano. There were a few issues with it at one time which some suggested may have been your perception of the sound.

Is this interest in psychoaccoustics in some way related to what you perceive in the sound of your new piano ?
Considering that a number of us may remember your thread about your piano ,you may not get much objectivity. I am not saying people are untruthful at all !
They just may perceive things differently based on past experiences.
Memory is another aspect to this test and perhaps taste.

Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3013195 08/12/20 07:27 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 195
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 195
I'm late to the party but I can't hear it. I listened to it with headphones several times.

Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3017215 08/24/20 01:18 AM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
M
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
I created an A/B comparison track which plays repeated samples from two time ranges of the problematic Track 1. It compares a declipped version (A) to the original version (B).

The comparison can be downloaded from
https://cp.sync.com/dl/2da518a50/m3u6skb3-2y6b7hye-4kp3grqw-c6z2grg6

The first 30 seconds consists of five A/B comparisons of samples taken from time range 0:21-0:23. The distortion is audible in the right channel on the B samples.

The last 30 seconds consists of five A/B comparisons of samples taken from time range 0:25-0:27. The distortion is audible in the left channel, in two places.

If you were unable to hear the distortion while playing the original tracks, the comparison track will help isolate the time points for you, as well as providing a clean reference. I am interested to know if having the comparison makes the distortion easier to hear.

I would also like feedback on the quality of the declipping that was used to create the "A" reference samples.

Again, thank you in advance for your participation and feedback.


First love: Kawai GX-6
Yamaha Motif XF8
Tektronix MSO4104
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
Lady Bird #3017216 08/24/20 01:25 AM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
M
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 98
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Marianne
You say the purpose was to listen to the thread and then answer the question.
I remember you bought a lovely GX Kawai piano. There were a few issues with it at one time which some suggested may have been your perception of the sound.

I don't recall reporting any issues with the GX-6, and I've been completely satisfied with it. At the next tuning, there are a few hammers which I will have voiced to even out the middle octave, but I don't consider that a major problem.

Now if it was an SK-6, I might be complaining about the voicing unevenness, but with the GX line I don't expect perfection and am willing to put some of the money saved into voicing.


First love: Kawai GX-6
Yamaha Motif XF8
Tektronix MSO4104
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3017287 08/24/20 09:53 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,527
S
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
S
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,527
I feel like Sargent Schultz from Hogan's Heroes, I hear nothing. I listened to the original recordings and your extracts with and without declipping. Sorry, I'm an old guy (66) who played in bands and has a touch of tinnitus. I like the rich chords that seem to be problematic, but they sound fine with my headphones. In an earlier post you mentioned the levels, -3 dB shouldn't cause any clipping. As one who does some recording and mixing your request for unlimited files will never happen. That's how studios avoid clipping in the first place. I can appreciate Golden Ears, I used to have a pair, but in a way life is simpler now, because I can concentrate on basics like quality of the music and arrangement.


Steve Chandler
composer/amateur pianist

stevechandler-music.com
http://www.soundcloud.com/pantonality
http://www.youtube.com/pantonality
Re: Piano Recording: Need Your Ears!
MarianneØ #3017298 08/24/20 10:42 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 728
P
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 728
I do hear something at the times you mention, but tbh to me they just sound like 'slightly' dissonant chords on the first piece - a bit unpleasant, but 'resolved' afterwards so not a problem. The second is similar, but actually more irritating to my ears at 0.11.


regards
Pete
Page 1 of 2 1 2

Moderated by  Ken Knapp, Piano World 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Pianoteq
PianoTeq Karsten Collection
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Roland Integra 7 , kc600
by dss862 - 09/19/20 04:31 AM
Is Casio PX-S1000 a right choice for me
by lehinsun - 09/19/20 12:02 AM
2 week layoff...
by AmyKaye - 09/18/20 08:53 PM
What's Hot!!
News from the Piano World
3,000,000+!
------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
Forum Statistics
Forums41
Topics201,702
Posts3,004,442
Members98,592
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers


Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


copyright 1997 - 2020 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.4