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Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Congratulations! Fantastic purchase and piano. Were you able to compare any of the finalists at the same showroom in the same acoustic?

Literally no, but I was lucky to find some specific cases. I was able to listen to the new Fazioli F278 next to a new Steinway D. Both were clearly superior instruments, and it was nice to hear them side by side. At a distance, across time and in different rooms makes it harder to remember.

Secondly, at another venue, they had both a new Bosendorfer 280 as well as an older Steinway D. That is not a completely fair comparison, since older instruments (to my ears at least) have less "oomph". That does not detract from the quality of the sound but next to each other, it is audible to me.

That's also why I asked this question earlier on the forum:
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...t-concert-halls-buy-new.html#Post3129268

However, the imperfect comparisons still gave me some good ways to do an A-B, which is never a true A-B anyway. I have noted that playing on the same instrument on 2 different days already gives different impressions. And I suspect any piano seller would go broke trying to get all top instruments in one room, let alone that I would not longer be able to pay for it given all the transport involved ;-)


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Originally Posted by Ppianissimo
Originally Posted by Withindale
Thank you for an excellent review.

Would you kind enough to summarise why you chose the Bosendorfer 280 VC. Was it an easy decision in the end?

Happy to - but it is also partly an intuitive choice:
1. I liked the instrument, I wanted to play it a lot more
2. The 280VC has a lovely tone - Bosendorfer warmth in particular in the bass up until the alto
3. It had perfect mechanics, very strong connection of any key movement with sound
4. It can go brutally loud if you want it to and is very controlled in pp
5. It does not growl - the advantage of not growling is that the tone is still transparent, although I would classify the Bosendorfer as in between the D and the F278 on that front: it is not as glass-like transparent as the Fazioli, but it is much more easy to hear all notes than on the Steinway.
6. It was in the right price range


If I had found an F278 of a few years old with a little bit more volume, I might have selected that instrument due to its clarity of tone. And I was also partial to the D. However, within those constraints it is impossible to make a wrong choice - which makes it so hard to make the choice actually. At the end of the road (as I wrote) it is completely subjective and no longer objective differences. They are all truly fantastical instruments that I would enjoy for life.

Belated thanks for that summary. If I may say so, a model of how to choose an instrument.

I listened to this to get an idea of a Bosendorfer 280 VC. Beatrice Berrut added an interesting note about her attachment to Liszt, her father produced the video, and the tuner is given due credit:



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What a wonderful summary. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

Congratulations on your new piano!!

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Osho


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Originally Posted by ikkiyikki
Also, what exactly is "growl" anyway? It's an adjective that seems to be used solely when describing Steinways and Mason & Hamlins but I can't say I hear any qualitative difference between the bass sound of American vs European/Asian grands. Just hoping it's not simply loudness or a cliche that becomes comfortable to repeat because everyone else says it too.

Some other answers above already gave good answers. Let me add my own subjective impression. Growl to me seems to be the phenomenon where you hit a series of notes in the bass (not just a single note - this is a good topic for debate, some descriptions above also hear it in a single string that is struck), and the notes that you excite in the soundboard are not just the fundamental, but a wild and impressive set of overtones at a relatively low register. This creates an almost-shaking sensation that is truly impressive. You could compare it to the bass drum used in a symphony orchestra - unlike timpany it does not have a single observable fundamental but a resonance that shakes you. On a grand piano, it is not that bad - the fundamental is still audible but the growl will drown it out somewhat.

In other instruments, say a Fazioli, the bass notes won't muddy the sound as much. But the instrument will also not impress as much soundwise either. The instrument will reproduce exactly as you intend it. But it also means you hear exactly what happens in the base - your technique better be up to snuff. IF you want to make a lot of noise, the instrument will of course allow it but you have to be carefully building up the various notes - orchestrate it rather than just hit a series of notes and hope the instrument takes over. So on these instruments you need to be much more precise and want to get immaculate. Sound-wise it also comes close to the straightstrung instruments of the past - something for a future post.

All impressions above subjective of course. I am still hoping at some stage to find a good objective set of measurements of something as simple as volume in a number of top-tier instruments. If someone can offer some good academic papers on the topics, I would be curious. The closest I came was this:
https://research.tue.nl/en/publications/operational-transfer-path-analysis-of-a-piano

Which is a very interesting paper, but of course on a single instrument rather than multiple.


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Thank you for the link to that interesting paper.

Here is a direct link to the text:
https://pure.tue.nl/ws/portalfiles/...perationalTransferPathAnalysis_Piano.pdf

Who would have expected the contributions to the total sound of the high treble from the inner rim, outer rim, frame and lid EACH to be as much as, or more than, the contribution of the soundboard? See figure 5 on page 12.

About their model, the authors ask if is there any other component that is contributing to the piano sound production that has not been accounted for? Not maybe for their purposes, but the legs affect the growl you discuss. To my knowledge there is no paper about this but I will summarise the empirical evidence for you when I have a moment.

You mention measurements of volume. What would you use them for, if they were available?


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Here is a note about acoustic isolation grand piano legs.

The legs affect the acoustic properties of a grand piano. Vibrations from the frame go down the legs to the floor.

At a PTG meeting some years ago the speaker asked a pianist to play something. The speaker then raised the back leg from the floor and asked the pianist to play it again. There was a marked change in sound. Bill McKaig's post aside the speaker repeated the exercise several times with the same result.

Five years ago Max Townshend, an audio engineer, designed isolators to go under the castors to decouple the piano from the floor. The aim was to absorb the vibrations coming down the legs to prevent them being transmitted through floor into the building structure and and the room below.

There was an unexpected change in the sound of the piano. Mark Schwarzentruber, a professional pianist, has described the effects on several brands of piano such as Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Kawai and Steinway. There was greater clarity of sound across the board. Link: https://reader.exacteditions.com/issues/92773/page/84

Wave mechanics tells us some of energy in a wave reaching a boundary is transmitted and some is reflected. The castor is such a boundary so some of the vibrations going down the leg will be reflected back into the piano.

There is another boundary between the rim and the soundboard. Some of the vibrations reflected from the leg will reach this boundary and go into the soundboard. Most of them will be out of step with the string vibrations due the time taken to make the return trip to the castor.

This journey time is of the order of a millisecond, less than the few milliseconds the hammers are in contact with the strings after the pianist strikes the keys. This means the energy reflected from the legs affects the initial attack as well as the decaying sound.

When you remove the reflections the sound clarifies and muddiness in the bass disappears along with the other effects Mark Schwarzentruber described. My 1905 Ibach sounded like one of the older pianos in his list and I wanted to achieve the same result without using isolators.

Stopping vibrations going down the legs removes the reflections, and also prevents energy loss to the floor. An air gap between the piano and each leg is a simple way to do this. Unscrewing the leg and Inserting felt pads (punchings) proved sufficient.

Subsequently I learnt Richard Dain had asked Steingraeber to introduce an equivalent form of acoustic isolation into the pianos they supplied Hurstwood Farm. I have no idea what they have done but the tonal pattern sounded similar to the Ibach. The bass was clear and the treble correspondingly lively.

The bass strings on the Phoenix-Steingraeber are stainless steel wound, they sounded purer than the copper wound strings on the Ibach. The effect of acoustic isolation on the Ibach bass was move overtones. I suspect the elimination of the reflections has the greatest effect in the bass.

The elimination of energy loss through the legs appears to reduce the decay of treble notes and overtones generally. The middle registers are lively too and the killer octaves no longer on tranquilisers.


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There are also Piattino caster cups, that are not as sophisticated as Townshend, but are much more affordable.

Last edited by VladK; 09/19/21 02:14 PM.

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Originally Posted by VladK
There are also Piattino caster cups, that are not as sophisticated as Townshend, but are much more affordable.

Piattino cups certainly look good and, by all accounts, do a good job in protecting the neighbours from the sound of the piano. That is their purpose.

To make the point let me say that many grand pianos have a serious weakness in their design, the legs drain energy from the frame. This applies, to name a few, to Fazioli, Kawai and Steinway as well as older Bosendorfers and Ibachs.

This loss of energy means higher partials and treble notes decay more rapidly than they might. One result appears to be the killer octave problem. To make matters worse some of the energy is relected back from the legs muddying the bass in the way the OP mentioned.

A solution for pianos with screw in legs is to insert spacers between the underside of the frame and the top of the leg. This transforms the sound of the piano instantly. Felt punchings do the job for next to nothing. Improving the sound of the piano is their purpose.

Last edited by Withindale; 09/19/21 05:18 PM.

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Originally Posted by Ppianissimo
Growl to me seems to be the phenomenon where you hit a series of notes in the bass (not just a single note - this is a good topic for debate, some descriptions above also hear it in a single string that is struck), and the notes that you excite in the soundboard are not just the fundamental, but a wild and impressive set of overtones at a relatively low register. This creates an almost-shaking sensation that is truly impressive...

In other instruments, say a Fazioli, the bass notes won't muddy the sound as much. But the instrument will also not impress as much soundwise either. The instrument will reproduce exactly as you intend it. But it also means you hear exactly what happens in the base - your technique better be up to snuff.

The OP's comments echo two schools of thought in piano design, exemplified by Fazioli and Bosendorfer.

Fazioli, as discussed in another thread, say their aim is to acoustically isolate the soundboard. They have constructed an inert rim and frame to do that as best they can. The strings, they say are designed minimize "acoustic non-uniformities" between notes ... and allow a natural flow from the clear depth of bass notes ...".

In contrast, Bosendorfer say their "carefully spun strings are a substantial element of the warm and sonorous Bösendorfer bass.... When a note is played, the integrated spruce components become acoustically active, forming a complete resonating body".

The legs also affect the bass as Mark Swarzentruber discovered when testing the Townshend piano isolators. With the isolators under the legs of an an old Bosendorfer, "a transformation occurred, the muddiness cleared and the bass gained transparency".... "in further trials on Steinway, Fazioli and Kawai pianos,the result was the same each time ...". However, Richard Dain got there first ten years beforehand when arranged for Steingraeber to acoustically isolate the legs from the body of Phoenix Steingraeber pianos.

Thus we can see there are three levels of acoustic isolation in pianos today:

1. Soundboard from rim, e.g. Fazioli, producing a clearly distinct bass notes.

2. Body from legs, e.g, Phoenix Steingraeber, producing a clear, resonant bass.

3. None, e,g. most other pianos, producing a loud, somewhat muddied bass, due to "incoherent" reflections from the legs.

Mark Swarzentruber's isolators removed the reflections from the legs, and so the muddiness. In addition the Phoenix Steingraenber method of isolating the body from the legs adds overtones to the bass by eliminating loss of high frequency energy down the legs. The tests on my Ibach, which are equivalent to the Phoenix Steingraeber method, confirm these results.

Here are rwo recordings to give you an idea of the difference in sound of Steinway Ds with and without isolators. Mark Swarzentruber recorded the piece with isolators at the Henry Wood Hall in London but these were removed for the public performance. I found it helpful to switch between recordings to hear differences in each passage.





Last edited by Withindale; 09/20/21 04:58 PM.

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Thanks and congratulations! Enjoy your new piano!

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A note about Fazioli bass notes. While there is level 1 isolation (soundboard from rim) there is , according to Mark Swarzentruber's report that the result was the same, no level 2 isolation (body from legs). This would suggest there is some muddiness in the bass.


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A further point for the record is level 2 isolation (body from legs) can be varied between its practical upper and lower limits by changing the filter. For piano sound level 2 is preferable to level 3 (castors from floor). The extent of level 3 isolation, of the piano from the floor and the building, achieved by level 2 isolation remains to be tested


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Originally Posted by Withindale
Here are rwo recordings to give you an idea of the difference in sound of Steinway Ds with and without isolators. Mark Swarzentruber recorded the piece with isolators at the Henry Wood Hall in London but these were removed for the public performance. I found it helpful to switch between recordings to hear differences in each passage.




I don't hear any muddiness in the first recording. I hear a recording with a lot of room sound of a nice piano. In the second I hear a close mic'd recording with no room sound. The microphones were placed inside the piano above the sound board, relatively isolated from the legs. I'm not sure how this comparison shows anything relevant to a discussion of isolating the legs.


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Withindale, I am in agreement with Steve. Too many things are different. You would do well to have the same piano in the same acoustic space in the same exact spot, same pianist, same piece played as much alike as is possible, same microphone and associated equipment at the same settings, etc. The only thing that should change is the piano with and without the acoustic isolation.

I would also add that I have never thought of the plate or the rim as acoustically inert, or anything close to that.

Last edited by WilliamTruitt; 09/21/21 10:24 AM.

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Originally Posted by WilliamTruitt
I would also add that I have never thought of the plate or the rim as acoustically inert, or anything close to that.

Neither would I, I might have typed "inert" but it was getting late.

Here is what Fazioli say in their Design Concepts:

9. OPTIMISATION OF THE BOND BETWEEN SOUNDBOARD AND CASE
The functional vibrating part of the piano is restricted to two components: the strings and the soundboard.

Instrument design must aim to maintain the musical vibrations within the limits of these two systems. As long as vibration energy bounces back and forth between the strings and the soundboard, the sound can spread and endure. If this energy flows out beyond the limits of the soundboard and propagates through the rims, fundamentally it is lost.

In fact, the mass and rigidity of the case are such that it has very limited mobility: exactly the opposite of what is desirable in the soundboard.

Ideally, the bonding of soundboard and rims should impede any transfer of vibrations from one to the other. Fazioli research aims to maximize this acoustic isolation, employing constantly evolving build techniques, involving not only soundboard and case but also the cast-iron frame and all other acoustically passive instrument components.


My bold. For no transfer of vibrations between soundboard and rims to occur the rims would have to be "inert" but, of course, that can never happen in practice.


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Fair enough. I do not disagree with what they are saying at all, and that is how I have long understood it.

That said, their rim designs are fundamentally similar to those of Steinway, much more alike than different. Both rims are constructed of maple and mahogany (in the case of the German Steinways). The soundboards will meet the same boundary conditions that are characteristic of Maple.

Energy bleeds out into the rim from the soundboard, high mass and great stiffness serve as limiting factors as to how much goes off into the case. Some of that energy goes back into the soundboard, but it brings colorations introduced by the rim materials. One might consider that a coloration or a distortion, or both. In a sense it is a degrade of the original signal which may rob the tone of clarity. But it is so much part of the sound of a piano that we don't think otherwise.

I think the most fruitful research may lie in finding better woods or composites that have higher mass and stiffness than maple, and use them as terminations, top of belly rail, top of rim, etc. The rest of the rim can be maple or whatever. The material is Panzerholz. It has high internal damping uniformly across the frequency spectrum. They make tank armor and high end loudspeakers out of it.

https://www.lessloss.com/page.html?id=80


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Quote
I hear a recording with a lot of room sound of a nice piano. In the second I hear a close mic'd recording with no room sound. The microphones were placed inside the piano above the sound board

We hear different things. As it happens I know nothing about microphones and recording, so my subconscious filtered that out and listened for difference between the sound of notes.

A direct A:B comparison would be ideal but I do not know of one.

The simplest and most direct way of hearing the difference is to try it yourself. Just pop 3-4 felt washer, or a couple of lollipop sticks, between the top of each leg and the underside of the frame. Then play some notes.


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Originally Posted by Ppianissimo
Where you hit a series of notes in the bass ... the tones you excite ... are not just the fundamental, but a wild and impressive set of overtones at a relatively low register. This creates an almost-shaking sensation that is truly impressive.

In other instruments, say a Fazioli, the bass notes won't muddy the sound as much. But the instrument will also not impress as much soundwise either. The instrument will reproduce exactly as you intend it.

If someone can offer some good academic papers on the topics, I would be curious. The closest I came was this:
https://research.tue.nl/en/publications/operational-transfer-path-analysis-of-a-piano

There is no academic paper, as far as I knew, about the muddying of the sound the OP perceives. Likewise there is no paper about eliminating it by acoustically isolating the legs from the body. All we have are some observations and an educated guess about what happens.

When Leon McCawley strikes chords on his piano (in the video above) shock waves go along the strings to the bridge and into the soundboard. At the same time corresponding shock waves go into the frame. The vibrations in the frame combine with the vibrations in the soundboard to create the sound of the initial attack. Other vibrations from the frame find their way down the legs. At the castors some of these vibrations pass into the floor, but the rest of are reflected back up the leg into the frame. These reflected vibrations muddy the sound.

When Mark Swarzentruber strikes chords on his piano (also above) the sequence of events is the same except that Max Townshend's isolators absorb all the vibrations coming down the legs. This means there are no reflected vibrations to muddy the sound in the bass and other registers.

Leon McCawley's technician can go one better, by inserting felt punchings between the legs and the body. The air gap between the punchings will prevent vibrations from going down the legs. This will conserve acoustic energy across the board and enliven the treble as well as the bass. However the technician may have to adjust the voicing of some hammers not least in the treble.

It would be useful to do a spectral volume analysis of Leon McCauley's piano and others, with and without acoustic insulation. An academic paper describing the results would be very interesting. I think this would be a good basis for the research into rim and bridge termination materials William proposes.

PS This post is intended to end the hijacking of the OP's thread and bring it back on track !!!

Last edited by Withindale; 09/21/21 05:40 PM.

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As I posted something else in error, watch this space.

Last edited by Withindale; 09/25/21 08:53 AM.

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Originally Posted by Ppianissimo
All impressions above subjective of course. I am still hoping at some stage to find a good objective set of measurements of something as simple as volume in a number of top-tier instruments. If someone can offer some good academic papers on the topics (the qualitative differences between the bass sound of grand pianos), I would be curious.

The closest I came was this Analysis of a Bosendorfer 280VC piano sound

This study, funded by the European Commission, shows that the lid, frame and rims make a significant contribution to the sound of a Bosendorfer VC280 played by CEUS. The soundboard is the predominant contributor except in the high treble where the lid takes over.

OVERALL SOUND

[Linked Image]
The 88-sequence consists of single notes played sequentially, the 12-sequence of 7 notes played together.

These charts (in dB) show the relative contributions of the elements in the analysis. Averages can be misleading as we listen notes and chords.

The exception is when the OP and others are hitting as many bass notes as possible as hard a possible to create the most thunderous roar they can get from their instruments.


C3 SOUND

[Linked Image]

It is more instructive to look at the sounds of individual notes the researchers simulated from their measurements, such as C3 in this plot. As expected rhe highest levels of sound pressure are from the soundboard at 130-132 Hz.

INCORRECT CONCLUSION

More interesting is the significant peak in sound pressure from the outer rim (purple triangle), inner rim (blue dots) and frame (green square) at 131-132 Hz. This peak supports Bosendorfer's claim about the rim and the resonance case contributing to the tone of the piano. It is beyond me how the researchers reached the daft conclusion that they do not, for instance when you strike C3 while playing:

Bosendorfer claims that the rims play a role in the sound production as part of their ”resonance case principle”. The main idea is to construct the rims using spruce, the wood used widely in the construction of soundboard. This will result in a complete resonating body consisting of the soundboard and rim that is responsible for the sound production. However, from the analysis performed in this study, their contributions appear to only be influential from 1661Hz (key 73) onwards.

Another point of interest is at 124 Hz. There you will see the frame and the lid are the main contributors. These are examples of sound which could be heard as "muddying" the sound from the strings but we do not whether the plot relates to the attack or a later state.

INCOMPLETE MODEL

The researchers have taken a step beyond previous work by modelling the piano as a "coupled system" involving strings, soundboard, inner rim, outer rim, frame, lid and surrounding air. This omits the legs and the floor. Therefore it appears academics have been unaware of their effect on sound that Wally Brooks demonstrated to members of the PTG some years ago:

Originally Posted by Bill McKaig,RPT
A number of years ago I was in a voicing class with Wally Brooks when this subject came up. He had a pianist play the piano and he walked over the the tail of the piano and picked it up. There was a noticeable change in the sound. There was nothing subtle about it. He lifted it several times so that there was no doubt. I won't argue if it sounded better or worse, but it did change the sound.

SUGGESTIONS

My suggestions to the OP are to give up his quest for (probably non-existent) academic papers exploring the loudness of different pianos, try spectral analysis software with waterfall plots, and visit Hurstwood Farm to try out Phoenix Steingraeber pianos with acoustic isolation. Even better, if the 280 VC does not have acoustic isolation, try isolating the 280 VCs legs with lollipop sticks to hear the difference in the bass and other registers.


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Happy birthday, Sam!
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Book Recommendations
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Novus 5 no "fading effect" after release
by Usheraname - 01/18/22 02:38 AM
Digital pianos - starting time
by JosefPirkl - 01/18/22 01:30 AM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
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