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Here’s two YouTube links to Tiffany Poon and Anna Zassimova playing Debussy’s Pagodes from his work Estampes. Both world class pianists are performing on Steinway concert grands. Obviously style, interpretation, performance hall acoustics, piano prep etc all play an important role. But I detect something else that accounts for the marked difference between the two videos. It seems to me that the acoustic engineer in Zassimova’s recording has stepped in to a degree that has altered the pianist’s wonderful performance to a point of interference. They have become part of the artistic expression. It reminds me of the Bosendorfer commercial also on YouTube announcing the release of their VC line. Like Zassimova’s Steinway no piano could ever produce the heavily manipulated sound they presented. This of course takes nothing away from the impressive Bosendorfer and Steinway sound. We all accept the fact that Bosendorfer was making a commercial but it’s interesting to think about at what point does the acoustic engineer overstep their role in recording a performance.

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How can you tell the first one has a lot of engineering? It just sounds like the hall is super resonant to me (which is quite likely, given the church-like space).

Last edited by ranjit; 09/18/21 03:50 PM.
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I listen to a lot of well recorded piano in high res on pretty good system. I don't hear the issue. I think it is just a better recording that captured more of the bass. You might say one is more the sound of the hall and the other a more direct mic'd piano.

I prefer the latter.


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Sanfranci, I'm not hearing the manipulation of the recording that you are picking up on. I give a lot of credit for the round tone to Zassimova not over playing the instrument. We do have to keep in mind that there is a level of manipulation that happens every time an accoustic piano is recorded. Also, I think the great difference between the rooms present different challenges to the recording engineers.


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Is the piano in the first video a Steinway D ?
It looked smaller to my eyes. Maybe because of the camera angles.

Is Ms. Poon playing a Steinway D ?

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Originally Posted by Hakki
Is the piano in the first video a Steinway D ?
It looked smaller to my eyes. Maybe because of the camera angles.

Is Ms. Poon playing a Steinway D ?
Tiffany Poon is playing a Steinway B, afaik.

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If you have 10 minutes to spare, check out the walkthrough video for a Spitfire virtual piano below. In a nutshell, you can have mics placed at the piano (close), 3 meters away (mid), 10 meters away (room), and at the end of the hall (surround). In production it is commonplace to combine all of these mic perspectives into a desired mix (hence mixing), and the signal proportions may vary depending on preference. Straight mixing of the mics probably doesn't qualify as manipulation, but if you delve into distance compensation, that probably would count as manipulation.

(Distance compensation is also discussed in the video. Basically mics placed at a distance from the piano has a delay according to the speed of sound - distance compensation means removing these microseconds of delay, thus creating a hyperreal effect).


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Mrs. Zassimova plays a Hamburg C and Mrs. Poon plays a New York D.

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Originally Posted by drewhpianoman
I listen to a lot of well recorded piano in high res on pretty good system.
Every one of those recordings had some form of post-processing manipulation in the final mastering process.

That's a good thing. Some of the raw, amateur, unmastered recordings published online are cringeworthy.

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Seems like a definition for the "manipulation" might be helpful. I think of things like compression, adding echo or reverb, delay, time shifting, over dubbing etc. manipulation. Mic placement and some EQ are not what I would consider manipulation but standard recording techniques to get a high quality recorded sound. Current DSD recordings are real time recordings without the possibility of post processing for instance. So not much in the way of manipulation.

Of course we could always talk about splicing, which brings up the subject of Glenn Gould but probably that is too controversial for a friendly forum like this smile.


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Seems like a definition for the "manipulation" might be helpful. I think of things like compression, adding echo or reverb, delay, time shifting, over dubbing etc. manipulation. Mic placement and some EQ are not what I would consider manipulation but standard recording techniques to get a high quality recorded sound. Current DSD recordings are real time recordings without the possibility of post processing for instance. So not much in the way of manipulation.

Of course we could always talk about splicing, which brings up the subject of Glenn Gould but probably that is too controversial for a friendly forum like this smile.


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I've seen this around, I thought it was funny yet shrewd

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Quote
Current DSD recordings are real time recordings without the possibility of post processing for instance. So not much in the way of manipulation.
Sony sells a mastering platform for DSD, and some DSD content was captured with hi-res PCM and then converted to DSD for release.

I certainly consider equalization to be post-processing.

I master digital recordings that I record live (any mixing is in the analog domain of the real time performance) as a hobby. I limit the mastering to:

-filtering out DC offset

-applying a noise reduction filter

-fading out the noise floor at the end of the recording so it does not audibly fall off a cliff at the end

-trimming the lead in

-setting the digital level and checking with an anti-clipping filter (which checks for digital clipping, does not modify the file)

-dithering down to the release format with noise shaping

-rechecking with an anti-clipping filter as a precaution

I don't use equalization-- the listener can use equalization to adjust for their speaker, ears, and room if they want. I also do not do compression. You would certainly want the steps I listed other than dithering down to lower format done for a DSD recording, the noise reduction step especially if a MIC was used.

A professionally mastered recording will have whatever post-processing makes it sound best for the targeted uses. That's the mastering engineer's job. With high-res content, the mastering engineer assumes a high-fidelity playback system, and is freed of the burden of having to try to make it sound as best as possible on everything from boom boxes and car stereos to audiophile systems. That is actually the biggest benefit of high-res formats over Redbook.

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I think you're hearing the difference between a piano recorded with a professional mic/amp setup, vs. one recorded with a cell phone. Tiffany's performance seems like part of the vlogs she does, and this sounds like other recordings she has done of herself in a practice room and at home. Likely just her cell phone or at most a portable mic. That and the vastly different room acoustics are probably what accounts for most of the difference in sound.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 09/20/21 01:43 PM.

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cygnusdei,That is bizarre, yet I suppose the sounds are sometimes manipulated.Actually we are thinking of buying some recording equipment because, recording from a phone the result is sometimes crude.It seems to depend on so much to get a good result with some pieces.Where you place the phone, if the piece has a great deal going on for example,the texture of the music,or lots of very high notes or deap bass notes.

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Let's not tell Sanfrancisco about how we would splice different takes of an orchestra performance into a single "recording". In the 1960s.

Sometimes it was so obvious that you could tell when the splice happened.

Last edited by redfish1901; 09/21/21 12:26 AM.
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Everyone who thinks they are "audiophile" should read this article from 1987:

https://www.nytimes.com/1987/04/12/arts/sound-cd-s-challenge-the-engineers.html

Last edited by redfish1901; 09/21/21 12:40 AM.

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