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Posted By: Keith D Kerman Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/20/19 09:57 PM
We have recorded Enrique Granados' The Maiden and the Nightingale from Goyescas 3 times on 3 different semi concert grands.
Same music. Same pianist. Same location ( we literally put tape on the floor to make sure ). Same piano technician. Same recording engineer. Same recording gear. Same gear set up.

I will reveal the brand or brands and model or models of pianos some time in the near future! Enjoy! I am very much looking forward to people's responses smile


Posted By: PianoWorksATL Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/20/19 10:14 PM
I'll play. I greatly prefer 1 & 3 over 2. Between 1 & 3, l like the differences they present, but if forced to choose, 1 is my favorite of the recordings.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/20/19 10:25 PM
Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
I'll play. I greatly prefer 1 & 3 over 2. Between 1 & 3, l like the differences they present, but if forced to choose, 1 is my favorite of the recordings.

Thanks for playing!
Posted By: MarkL Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/20/19 11:15 PM
I can't hear enough difference to consistently choose one over the other. This kind of test is interesting, there was a test comparing old violins vs new violins done some years ago that turned up that no one could tell a stradivarius from a new quality made instrument, including the person who owned the stradivarius. The players were blindfolded and the majority picked a new instrument. It would be interesting to do the same thing with different age and brand pianos.
Posted By: jshelton Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 12:29 AM
I prefer number 2 for it's clarity but would happily trade my Yamaha for any of them.
Posted By: Dave Ferris Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 12:37 AM
Listening with Neumann KH120s , a (new) Cranesong Solaris Quantum DAC and Senn HD650s into the Cranesong -- They're all very good but I prefer #1. It seems to have that extra bit of dark tone and richness that I like. But #3 is very good too and so is #2. In that order.

Since you said Semi- concert, is #1 a rebuilt NY Steinway C ? I heard one on your site not long ago that had a gorgeous tone. Are we including 7' models ?
Posted By: Furtwangler Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 12:39 AM
I agree with Dave and Sam

#1
#3
#2

I can't wait to find out which is which.

They all sound good.
Posted By: noyes Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 12:58 AM
Love the idea of the post, very interesting!

Also can't wait to find out the answer.
Posted By: dynamobt Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 01:19 AM
I agree.
#1
#3
#2
Posted By: Karl Watson Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 02:18 AM
Keith:

I prefer No. 3

Karl Watson
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 03:08 AM
I like 2 slightly better than 3 and find 1 to be indistinct and clumsy sounding.

But hearing this piece makes me remember how simply wonderful my wife can play it. I may have to set her to task if she is willing so I can hear it on my concert grand.
Posted By: Lady Bird Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 04:37 AM
I would also say no2 is best.It is difficult to judge with recordings though.
Posted By: Lady Bird Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 04:41 AM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
I like 2 slightly better than 3 and find 1 to be indistinct and clumsy sounding.

But hearing this piece makes me remember how simply wonderful my wife can play it. I may have to set her to task if she is willing so I can hear it on my concert grand.

This sounds so romantic.You will have ask nicely.Do not forget -at least one red rose for your wife !
Posted By: WhoDwaldi Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 04:45 AM
I like no. 2, too.

No. 3 is similar to two, but too tart sounding.

No. 1 could use a tad of brightening--not too much.

Nobody up for brand speculation? Bosendorfer, Shigeru Kawai, Fazioli, Steinway, or Yamaha?
Posted By: outo Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 04:47 AM
I had time to only listen to the beginning, but my first impression is that I would prefer nr 1.
Posted By: redfish1901 Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:29 AM
Since I don't mind getting this all wrong:

1: Steingraeber, 2: Estonia, 3. Steinway.

They all sound gorgeous. Beautifully voiced. Bravo.
Posted By: RMdP74 Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 07:17 AM
In order of preference: #1, #3 and then #2.
Posted By: Chrispy Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 07:47 AM
1 was also my favorite. 2&3 were pretty equal. Wish I could have heard in person. Who knows what was lost by YouTube compression.
Posted By: Hakki Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 08:09 AM
1. Steingraber
2. ??
3. Steinway
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 11:24 AM
I liked 2, then 1 and 3. But as some others stated, all three sounded fine and I would happily accept any of the three.
Posted By: WimPiano Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 12:28 PM
#1, #2, #3
I prefer the bass of the #2 over the #1. In general I like the clarity of #2, the warmth of #1, the #3 had a sharper, brighter tone. I think I could like #3 in isolation but probably for other repertoire than #1 and #2.
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 01:59 PM
I can't hear much difference but maybe that's because I'm just listening on my laprtop's speakers. I hope I could hear a difference listening in your showroom.
Posted By: j&j Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 02:23 PM
They all sound great. My taste says:
#3
#1
#2
Posted By: iLaw Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 02:54 PM
Right now, I'd have to say 3, 1, 2. But I think 1 is the most intriguing and potential-filled of the three, and with a little work to brighten it up a bit would almost certainly go to the top of my list.

I really want to know what they are!

Larry.
Posted By: Sanfrancisco Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 04:06 PM
This is a great study which illustrates not only how varied 3 different quality piano's scalings can be but also how different our aural preferences are. I like the definition of 2 best. It's like fine wines, there is no "best" piano in the world. I am interested in how we are conditioned to prefer certain sounds. I met a Polish professional pianist who for all of her developing years played "European" pianos. When she first played a NYS&S years later she immediately fell in love with the lush sound. I went exactly in the opposite direction.
Posted By: jarobi Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 04:25 PM
I could be happy with any of the three, but my choices are:

#2
#1
#3
Posted By: KurtZ Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 04:49 PM
Originally Posted by MarkL
I can't hear enough difference to consistently choose one over the other. This kind of test is interesting, there was a test comparing old violins vs new violins done some years ago that turned up that no one could tell a stradivarius from a new quality made instrument, including the person who owned the stradivarius. The players were blindfolded and the majority picked a new instrument. It would be interesting to do the same thing with different age and brand pianos.



They did something similar with 'cellos. Same player, same pieces, behind a screen playing for an illustrious panel of 'cellists and concertmasters. The panel couldn't reliably pick old from new and the "winner" was a Moes-and Moes, a contemporary maker in Germany. I guess it wasn't the coal dust in the air or whatever voo-doo they're ascribing this week to the work of Antonio S.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:07 PM
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
I like 2 slightly better than 3 and find 1 to be indistinct and clumsy sounding.

But hearing this piece makes me remember how simply wonderful my wife can play it. I may have to set her to task if she is willing so I can hear it on my concert grand.


Thanks for your opinion! It is really charming how much you like your wife's playing.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:08 PM
Originally Posted by MarkL
I can't hear enough difference to consistently choose one over the other. This kind of test is interesting, there was a test comparing old violins vs new violins done some years ago that turned up that no one could tell a stradivarius from a new quality made instrument, including the person who owned the stradivarius. The players were blindfolded and the majority picked a new instrument. It would be interesting to do the same thing with different age and brand pianos.


Great point! Thanks for contributing.
Posted By: noyes Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:19 PM
I would also like to ask, can most of you determine how much you like a piano within the first 10 to 15 seconds of listening to it, or as the more you listen your preference may change? And what is your piano background?

Here are my answers to my own questions:

I am a beginner player. I have been a music lover all my life but just recently started taking piano lessons several months ago. Within the first few seconds I obtain a rough ballpark impression whether I "like" or "dislike" the sound, but then unable to get a further more accurate assessment, or a ranking. When I first listened to the three soundtracks I liked 1 the most. A few minutes in I thought 3 was also good. Then I started over and listened once again this time 2 sounded not bad either. At this point I have no answer, my "rankings" continue to change like weather.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:36 PM
Originally Posted by Dave Ferris
Listening with Neumann KH120s , a (new) Cranesong Solaris Quantum DAC and Senn HD650s into the Cranesong -- They're all very good but I prefer #1. It seems to have that extra bit of dark tone and richness that I like. But #3 is very good too and so is #2. In that order.

Since you said Semi- concert, is #1 a rebuilt NY Steinway C ? I heard one on your site not long ago that had a gorgeous tone. Are we including 7' models ?


Thanks for the feedback Dave! I consider a piano a semi concert grand at the 6'10"- 8' size give or take. I also appreciate that you are listening on great equipment which makes a huge difference.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:36 PM
Originally Posted by jshelton
I prefer number 2 for it's clarity but would happily trade my Yamaha for any of them.


Thanks for the comment!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:37 PM
Originally Posted by Furtwangler
I agree with Dave and Sam

#1
#3
#2

I can't wait to find out which is which.

They all sound good.


Thanks for the post!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:38 PM
Originally Posted by noyes
Love the idea of the post, very interesting!

Also can't wait to find out the answer.


I am really glad you find it interesting. This is quite fun for me as well.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:38 PM
Originally Posted by dynamobt
I agree.
#1
#3
#2


Thanks for the feedback!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:39 PM
Originally Posted by Karl Watson
Keith:

I prefer No. 3

Karl Watson


Very interesting smile Thanks for the response!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:39 PM
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
I would also say no2 is best.It is difficult to judge with recordings though.


Thank you! Yes, it certainly can be.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:40 PM
Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
I like no. 2, too.

No. 3 is similar to two, but too tart sounding.

No. 1 could use a tad of brightening--not too much.

Nobody up for brand speculation? Bosendorfer, Shigeru Kawai, Fazioli, Steinway, or Yamaha?


Thank you for the feedback and some later posters are beginning to speculate on brand a bit.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:41 PM
Originally Posted by outo
I had time to only listen to the beginning, but my first impression is that I would prefer nr 1.


I hope you get a bit more time to listen more thoroughly to each and see if that impression holds.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:43 PM
Originally Posted by redfish1901
Since I don't mind getting this all wrong:

1: Steingraeber, 2: Estonia, 3. Steinway.

They all sound gorgeous. Beautifully voiced. Bravo.


Thank you for your response! Thanks also for the guesses. They may or may not be completely or partially correct smile
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:43 PM
Originally Posted by RMdP74
In order of preference: #1, #3 and then #2.

Thanks for the response!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:44 PM
Originally Posted by squidbot
1 was also my favorite. 2&3 were pretty equal. Wish I could have heard in person. Who knows what was lost by YouTube compression.


Thanks for the response and good point about YouTube compression.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:45 PM
Originally Posted by Hakki
1. Steingraber
2. ??
3. Steinway


Any preferences?
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:45 PM
Originally Posted by NobleHouse
I liked 2, then 1 and 3. But as some others stated, all three sounded fine and I would happily accept any of the three.


Thanks for your comment!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:45 PM
Originally Posted by WimPiano
#1, #2, #3
I prefer the bass of the #2 over the #1. In general I like the clarity of #2, the warmth of #1, the #3 had a sharper, brighter tone. I think I could like #3 in isolation but probably for other repertoire than #1 and #2.


Very interesting. Thank you!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:46 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I can't hear much difference but maybe that's because I'm just listening on my laprtop's speakers. I hope I could hear a difference listening in your showroom.


Listen with some headphones on your laptop. You should hear some difference.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:46 PM
Originally Posted by j&j
They all sound great. My taste says:
#3
#1
#2


Thank you for your response!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:48 PM
Originally Posted by iLaw
Right now, I'd have to say 3, 1, 2. But I think 1 is the most intriguing and potential-filled of the three, and with a little work to brighten it up a bit would almost certainly go to the top of my list.

I really want to know what they are!

Larry.



Thank you for your response. I can't wait to reveal but this part is awfully fun!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:49 PM
Originally Posted by Sanfrancisco
This is a great study which illustrates not only how varied 3 different quality piano's scalings can be but also how different our aural preferences are. I like the definition of 2 best. It's like fine wines, there is no "best" piano in the world. I am interested in how we are conditioned to prefer certain sounds. I met a Polish professional pianist who for all of her developing years played "European" pianos. When she first played a NYS&S years later she immediately fell in love with the lush sound. I went exactly in the opposite direction.




Very interesting and thank you for responding.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 05:49 PM
Originally Posted by jarobi
I could be happy with any of the three, but my choices are:

#2
#1
#3


Thank you for your response!
Posted By: Carey Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 06:31 PM

They all sound quite wonderful - but ultimately #2 has a clear but complex sound that really appeals to me.

#2
#3
#1

The pianist is excellent. I hope you'll be able to reveal his/her name.
Posted By: Hakki Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 07:03 PM
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Originally Posted by Hakki
1. Steingraber
2. ??
3. Steinway


Any preferences?
.

No. 2 or 3.
The recording technique of no.1 sounded different so I could not make a direct comparison.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 07:13 PM
Recording technique was identical for each piano.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 07:21 PM
Originally Posted by noyes
I would also like to ask, can most of you determine how much you like a piano within the first 10 to 15 seconds of listening to it, or as the more you listen your preference may change? And what is your piano background?

Here are my answers to my own questions:

I am a beginner player. I have been a music lover all my life but just recently started taking piano lessons several months ago. Within the first few seconds I obtain a rough ballpark impression whether I "like" or "dislike" the sound, but then unable to get a further more accurate assessment, or a ranking. When I first listened to the three soundtracks I liked 1 the most. A few minutes in I thought 3 was also good. Then I started over and listened once again this time 2 sounded not bad either. At this point I have no answer, my "rankings" continue to change like weather.



It is not at all necessary to like one more than the other. Listening and noticing differences and similarities is fine as is noticing your own changing taste or even awareness of what is going on with different pianos.
Posted By: Lady Bird Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 08:36 PM
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
I like 2 slightly better than 3 and find 1 to be indistinct and clumsy sounding.

But hearing this piece makes me remember how simply wonderful my wife can play it. I may have to set her to task if she is willing so I can hear it on my concert grand.


Thanks for your opinion! It is really charming how much you like your wife's playing.

I Agee !
All 3 did sound very similar today ,but I guess I will still go with no 2
Posted By: outo Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 08:56 PM
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Originally Posted by outo
I had time to only listen to the beginning, but my first impression is that I would prefer nr 1.


I hope you get a bit more time to listen more thoroughly to each and see if that impression holds.


There are some harsh overtones in 2 and 3. Don't know if those could be diminished with more work? I listened with a hifi-system.
Posted By: NobleHouse Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/21/19 11:10 PM
So when do we get the "reveal"?
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 11:53 AM
Originally Posted by NobleHouse
So when do we get the "reveal"?


Soon!
Posted By: violarules Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 12:30 PM
I believe that PianoCraft carries the new Baldwin line, and that they might have the new Baldwin 7' in stock. I wonder if one of them is that piano....

Wouldn't be surprised if #1 is the rebuilt Steinway C, though.
Posted By: WimPiano Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 01:02 PM
I don't think the #1 is a Steinway. It reminds me more of Steingraeber but a touch warmer, even thought about Bechstein but the treble seems different.
Anyway, it's mere speculation although I would be very suprised if #1 turned out to be Yamaha.
Posted By: lluiscl Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 01:19 PM
My taste/opinion:

#3 Steingraeber 212
#1 Estonia 225 (dull hammers but overtones...)
#2 Steinway B rebuilt, perhaps new Baldwin? (not the best tuning...)
Posted By: DiarmuidD Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 01:27 PM
Great thread Keith, thanks for going to all the work of arranging these recordings and posting this. All of the pianos sound lovely, I particularly like the tenor and bass in No.3. Also the pianist plays beautifully in all three recordings.
Posted By: RogerRL Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 03:09 PM
Originally Posted by noyes
I would also like to ask, can most of you determine how much you like a piano within the first 10 to 15 seconds of listening to it, or as the more you listen your preference may change? And what is your piano background?


Don't take the responses in this thread too seriously. The gold standard of audio testing is the ABX test. Which is, you are given two sound sources A and B, of different instruments, amplifiers, whatever is being tested. Then you are given the X recording. X is either A or B, but you don't know which. Your only job is to say if X is also A or B.

*Everyone* falls apart on this. You can go to forums and read books worth of people opining about different amplifiers, tubes, and so on, yet they utterly fail at ABX. Same with things most people would agree make real effects, such as compression levels (mp3 vs whatever). Even when people do notice differences, it is variable, and will get different results on different days. I'm not saying people would confuse a xylophone with a trumpet, but we are profoundly affected by brand, expectations, and so on. As other's have pointed out, a significant # of string players swear by Amati, Strad, and so on, but absolutely cannot pick them out when listening blind. Suddenly, just not knowing the name makes all those amazing and obvious qualities just vanish! Heck, wine experts failed at distinguishing red from white wine (there are nuances to that test that are worth knowing if you are seriously testing wines, but still, shocking result).

And then, of course, this is not blind at all. we all get to read the responses. I see some people say 1 is warm, 3 is bright. So, what am I going to hear? I'm going to be strongly biased in that direction, unless I'm a contrarian, in which case I might go with the opposite.

I'm not bashing the thread, it's fun, but it ain't telling us much about pianos or the aural skills of the listeners. It may be you have the best ears here, or the worst. Who knows?

Anyway, my guess is it is the same piano, 3 different players. Not because I believe that, but I don't not believe it either, and I know we *want* to hear differences, and claim to hear profound differences, even when there is none. I recognize OP said "3 different" pianos, but meh, misdirection is the heart and soul of experimentation.
Posted By: WimPiano Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 03:19 PM
Originally Posted by RogerRL
I'm not saying people would confuse a xylophone with a trumpet

LOL

Originally Posted by RogerRL
but we are profoundly affected by brand, expectations, and so on.

Agreed
Posted By: Steve Chandler Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 03:21 PM
This is fun! I'm listening to about a minute at a time of each of the three. First off let me say they all sound like wonderful instruments, but I do hear differences between them. I also think I hear subtle differences in the performance based on how the piano responds to the pianist.
#1 has the roundest tone, perhaps the hammers are just a bit softer, but it seems getting sparkle out of the high end takes just a bit more effort, but getting a lush warm lyrical sound is what this piano specializes in. If I had to guess this sounds a bit like an Estonia to me.
#2 is less warm (but still gorgeous) like a recording engineer EQ'd some of the low mids out (I'm not saying they did, but that's how I would describe the timbre). This sounds more like a concert voicing (designed to project into a large space) except that the instrument was left with plenty of subtlety. It wouldn't surprise me if this was a Steinway.
#3 is between the two. One might say best of both worlds, except that it's not as good at lush or sparkle as the other two.

Kudos to the pianist for a fine performance, I really hard a difference in the filigree at the end between #1 and #2. What I didn't hear were some real thundering fortissimos. It seemed #2 and #3 could really jump out of the box if called upon, #1 less so, but given six months of 2 hours a day of practice #1 could become the best of the bunch.

Those are my thoughts and guesses. If I had to state a preference #2, then #1 then #3.
Posted By: noyes Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 05:27 PM
Originally Posted by RogerRL
Originally Posted by noyes
I would also like to ask, can most of you determine how much you like a piano within the first 10 to 15 seconds of listening to it, or as the more you listen your preference may change? And what is your piano background?


Don't take the responses in this thread too seriously. The gold standard of audio testing is the ABX test. Which is, you are given two sound sources A and B, of different instruments, amplifiers, whatever is being tested. Then you are given the X recording. X is either A or B, but you don't know which. Your only job is to say if X is also A or B.

*Everyone* falls apart on this. You can go to forums and read books worth of people opining about different amplifiers, tubes, and so on, yet they utterly fail at ABX. Same with things most people would agree make real effects, such as compression levels (mp3 vs whatever). Even when people do notice differences, it is variable, and will get different results on different days. I'm not saying people would confuse a xylophone with a trumpet, but we are profoundly affected by brand, expectations, and so on. As other's have pointed out, a significant # of string players swear by Amati, Strad, and so on, but absolutely cannot pick them out when listening blind. Suddenly, just not knowing the name makes all those amazing and obvious qualities just vanish! Heck, wine experts failed at distinguishing red from white wine (there are nuances to that test that are worth knowing if you are seriously testing wines, but still, shocking result).

And then, of course, this is not blind at all. we all get to read the responses. I see some people say 1 is warm, 3 is bright. So, what am I going to hear? I'm going to be strongly biased in that direction, unless I'm a contrarian, in which case I might go with the opposite.

I'm not bashing the thread, it's fun, but it ain't telling us much about pianos or the aural skills of the listeners. It may be you have the best ears here, or the worst. Who knows?

Anyway, my guess is it is the same piano, 3 different players. Not because I believe that, but I don't not believe it either, and I know we *want* to hear differences, and claim to hear profound differences, even when there is none. I recognize OP said "3 different" pianos, but meh, misdirection is the heart and soul of experimentation.


RogerRL, thanks for sharing these thoughts. By the way the xylophone to trumpet comparison is the funniest thing I've read in a while.

Some years ago someone posted a number of (8 or 10) recordings of Si Mi Chiamano Mimi, sang by different sopranos while all names removed. I replied with comments on each and a ranking of personal preference, turned out my top two picks (which I had a harder time discerning) were two different recordings of the same soprano Freni. Of course it is much easier to recognize a vocal voice than piano sound, but still I was glad I passed some kind of ABCDEXX test and wasn't one of those wine experts when making opera comments.

Speaking of pianos, the interesting thing is I find my preferences always change. Not that I can't hear the difference, I still feel I hear the same sound every time, but this time I like A, next time I may like B. Even within a same 4~5 minutes recording, I may not like the sound in the beginning but half way into it I start to like it. This is particularly frustrating when purchasing a piano. People always say "there's no right or wrong, just pick the one you like the most." Heck, that's the whole point, I wish I knew which one I like the most!
Posted By: Twindad Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 06:25 PM
This was an interesting experiment. I agree with Roger's post, but it doesn't take away from the fun, as long as you recognize the biases that you (we all!) bring to the table.

I thought they all sounded beautiful in different ways - to me the differences in tone were quire apparent when going back and forth between them. I'm of the camp that my preferences change as much as the weather. I dearly love my C. Bechstein, but sometimes I wish I had access to the creme-brulee-like richness of a Steinway. Vive la diference!

I won't even hazard a guess as to the makes or models....but in the spirit of going a different route, let me pose another alternative....they are all the same make and model, just different pianos!

One things is clear....the playing was lovely, and the pianos were set up beautifully. Kudos to performer and technician!
Posted By: cmb13 Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/22/19 07:40 PM
Agree, and I wonder if the order were different, whether we would experience them differently. Regardless, I'd go with 1/3 or 3/1 then 2. But I'm sure they're all excellent.
Posted By: oldMH Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/23/19 03:10 PM
The limits of youtube audio probably erase/mask 90% of the audible differences (and 100% of the tactile differences!). Not my choice of music to demonstrate differences.

That being said all sound ok for mid-sized pianos.

#1 is the most substantial sounding piano and has more depth in the sound. A wild guess would be a Steinway or perhaps European instrument.

#2 is thinner, lighter and brighter. Some would say feminine or delicate. Nice sound. Maybe a Yamaha or other Asian piano.

#3 is not so pleasant. Rather muddy and definitely shallower. Baldwin? Kawai?
Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/23/19 03:28 PM
I have seen enough recording studio work to have learned that a piano that doesn't sound/feel that great can be recorded to sound quite good. The super sensitive microphones, wide choice of added reverb, dynamic compression and frequency EQ allow for a multitude of "adulterants" to the original sound.

So as much fun as this is, it ain't real!
Posted By: PianoWorksATL Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/23/19 03:50 PM
If you are able to listen to the recordings with better equipment, then finer distinctions are possible. Additionally, YouTube's compression really is very mild unless you're data stream is limited - they focus more on video compression. Music played on the radio or streamed from services are the big offenders of badly compressed audio. I have a fast connection, a modest Bravo Audio headphone amp and a very nice set of AKG K712 cans for critical listening. I have a reasonably good quality external computer speaker system from Bose for general listening.

I've come back and listened to these a second time, and my preferences are still the same order, 1, 3, 2...but I found more about 2 that I did like this time, and found that it was only a few aspects of the tone that bothered me while appreciating more of the whole. They are far closer for me the second time around, but the more gradual tonal change of recording one is probably why I prefer it more than any other aspect of the tone. 2 appeals to me in the different registers more, but less so in how the tone changes at greater dynamic levels.

It's fun to talk about even if the words used are rarely exact enough.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/23/19 04:34 PM
Thanks again all for participating! I will say that there have been some impressively insightful comments and observations.

I especially appreciate those who recognized the quality of the playing.

I am waiting on the videos for the recordings to be done and then I will link them.
Posted By: Roy123 Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/23/19 08:51 PM
I think it is fair so say that all pianos are in fine shape, with excellent voicing and tuning. So, I think we should give kudos to Keith for that. I think that 1 and 3 sound a bit better than 2, but honestly, who wouldn't be more than thrilled to own a piano that sounded as good as any of them.
There is something about the attack portion of piano 1's sound that I tend to associate with Steinway, but boy could I be wrong. I also suspect that if a different brand of hammers was installed in any of the 3 pianos, then the subtle differences in their sound could be changed quite substantially for the better or worse.
Posted By: AaronSF Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/24/19 05:52 PM
I'd choose 3, then 1, then 2.

To my ears 3 has the best balance of brightness and subtlety, 1 is a tad too brilliant for me, and 2 is too much of a sameness throughout the range, too "mellow" if you will.

But really, these are very personal discriminations I'm making. I think all these pianos sound terrific.
Posted By: patH Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/24/19 10:22 PM
From favorite to lesser favorite, I'd say 3, 2, 1.
With 1, I liked the treble better than the bass; with 2, it was the other way round.
3 seems to be the best package.

But: I only listened to the first three minutes of each recording.
And I'd probably fail the ABX test.
Posted By: BruceD Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/24/19 10:33 PM
I simply could not choose. Perhaps I was just so engrossed and charmed by the performance(s) that any discrepancies that might have been there were not discernible to these aging ears.

Exquisite playing!

However, the listening exercise which I followed with the score has tempted me to work on this. I'll never play it as well as the pianist in these (this) recording(s).

Regards,
Posted By: Chernobieff Piano Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 12:12 AM
From a musician appreciation perspective nice recordings and performance. From a technicians view I heard the same voicing problems in all three, the forte blows don't maintain the same character as the soft blows, and the tenor section often had hammers/strings out of phase, and the registers are not in balance with each other.
But, none of that took away from the enjoyable music!
Thank you for the hard work in putting this all together!
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 03:53 AM
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
From a technicians view I heard the same voicing problems in all three, the forte blows don't maintain the same character as the soft blows,


Thanks for your opinion. I consider it a voicing problem ( maybe the most serious as it severely limits the expression available to a pianist ) when forte and soft blows have the same character.
Posted By: redfish1901 Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 05:06 AM
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman

Thanks for your opinion. I consider it a voicing problem ( maybe the most serious as it severely limits the expression available to a pianist ) when forte and soft blows have the same character.


As a new piano owner, I didn't know there was not actually consensus about this. For what it's worth, I am on the same camp as Keith. "Color" for me is when the note is struck hard, the tone character _changes_, not just get louder. Hopefully in a pleasant way smile

I've been re-listening to the 2015 Chopin Competition, and the Steinway and the Yamaha has clearly more "color". The Kawai sounded very nice, but it lacked that "color". I want the piano to be big and angry in ff, and soft and gentle in pp, and a broad range in between.

Each to his/her own, I guess.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 06:10 AM
I only listened on my laptop, but FWIW, I could hear subtle differences in the character of each piano, and also even changes within the same recordings at different dynamic levels and parts of the piece. I say "character," but not "quality," because they all sounded nice, as did the playing.
Posted By: Retsacnal Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 06:16 AM
Originally Posted by violarules
I believe that PianoCraft carries the new Baldwin line, and that they might have the new Baldwin 7' in stock. I wonder if one of them is that piano...

I was going to joke about "which one is the SF-10?"
But this would be an interesting turn of events too! wink
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 11:40 AM
Originally Posted by redfish1901
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Thanks for your opinion. I consider it a voicing problem ( maybe the most serious as it severely limits the expression available to a pianist ) when forte and soft blows have the same character.
As a new piano owner, I didn't know there was not actually consensus about this. For what it's worth, I am on the same camp as Keith. "Color" for me is when the note is struck hard, the tone character _changes_, not just get louder. Hopefully in a pleasant way smile
I've been re-listening to the 2015 Chopin Competition, and the Steinway and the Yamaha has clearly more "color". The Kawai sounded very nice, but it lacked that "color". I want the piano to be big and angry in ff, and soft and gentle in pp, and a broad range in between.
That's why it irks me when the teacher at a masterclass says "you need a different color there". Don't they really just mean a different dynamic since the dynamic change is what changes the color?
Posted By: WimPiano Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 12:50 PM
Not only dynamic I guess but also the amount of pedal or the usage of the soft pedal..
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 01:50 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by redfish1901
Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Thanks for your opinion. I consider it a voicing problem ( maybe the most serious as it severely limits the expression available to a pianist ) when forte and soft blows have the same character.
As a new piano owner, I didn't know there was not actually consensus about this. For what it's worth, I am on the same camp as Keith. "Color" for me is when the note is struck hard, the tone character _changes_, not just get louder. Hopefully in a pleasant way smile
I've been re-listening to the 2015 Chopin Competition, and the Steinway and the Yamaha has clearly more "color". The Kawai sounded very nice, but it lacked that "color". I want the piano to be big and angry in ff, and soft and gentle in pp, and a broad range in between.
That's why it irks me when the teacher at a masterclass says "you need a different color there". Don't they really just mean a different dynamic since the dynamic change is what changes the color?


They mean a color change which may or may not include a dynamic change. The most obvious example of this would be same dynamic but with or without the shift ( una corda ) pedal. And the color change asked for may include a dynamic change as well as perhaps a different type of attack, balance among notes, release, pedaling etc.
Posted By: iLaw Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 02:22 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus

That's why it irks me when the teacher at a masterclass says "you need a different color there". Don't they really just mean a different dynamic since the dynamic change is what changes the color?


I'm with the teacher on this issue. I understand that the dynamic change drives the tonal change, but it's often the tonal change that I'm really after; I truly want the "different color." If it's a different dynamic that gets me there, then so be it.

Larry.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 02:48 PM
The reveal http://forum.pianoworld.com//ubbthreads.php/topics/2831184.html#Post2831184
Posted By: WhoDwaldi Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 02:52 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
That's why it irks me when the teacher at a masterclass says "you need a different color there". Don't they really just mean a different dynamic since the dynamic change is what changes the color?


A loaded issue. 😁 I would agree with what pianoloverus is getting at. And there's all the fleshy fingertips stuff. I like John Browing's explanation that the finger angle that places the pads of the fingers on the keys produces a slower (softer) tone that doesn't veer into harshness.




Posted By: redfish1901 Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 04:34 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
That's why it irks me when the teacher at a masterclass says "you need a different color there". Don't they really just mean a different dynamic since the dynamic change is what changes the color?


I think a teacher would never say "play louder-faster", or "play louder-slower". They would rather say "play with anger", "play with anger and grief", "play majestically". Because emotion is what makes music, and every pianist would approach it differently. To me, "play with different color", means play with different emotion--change dynamics, phrasing, tempo, etc.
Posted By: BruceD Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 05:26 PM
Just accounting for first choices:

#1 = 9 votes
#2 = 9 votes
#3 = 6 votes

Regards,
Posted By: dhull100 Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/25/19 10:15 PM
#2
#3
#1
Now to go see the reveal!
Posted By: GC13 Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/26/19 01:53 AM
My choice is:

#1 - I believe that's a Steinway> Like DaveFerris, I'm thinking maybe a model C.

#3 -

#2 -

I'm curious to see what the verdict is so I'm jumping over to the other thread now. I just didn't want to cheat. ;-)
Posted By: Tararex Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/29/19 07:44 AM
#1 nice, soft and sultry. No clue as to the make.
#2 ladylike & rubber bands. I am going to guess an
Estonia, only because every one I have ever heard sounded of rubber band reverb.
#3 my favorite. Complex and clear. Bechstein ?
Posted By: Ralphiano Re: Semi Concert Grand Blind Test - 03/29/19 02:48 PM
My order of preference is: 3 best, 1, then 2.
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