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Originally Posted by dbauer1080
So now I'm ambivalent about recording, though others have suggested it. I get the whole notion of simplification, yet also know my recollection of sound might be tainted by getting caught up in playing the instrument. Still going to stew on that concept.
I think you should try recording a few pianos and then listen to the recordings at the dealer. Then you can judge if the recording is good enough to reasonably accurately remind you of the piano's sound. I think most people find it hard to remember a piano's sound even a short while after playing it. If you play many pianos, that only becomes harder. After you've whittled your list down to a few top pianos, play each of them again at length.

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Unfortunatly, we cannot assume a new piano will be free of the defects I outlined.

Most pianos made have poorly shaped V-bars. The problems this causes do not really manifest for many years in most cases. Long after the warranty expires. But the treble tone from day one is better and cleaner with a truly V-shaped V-bar. And if they go way too far on case hardening the treble tone will be full of strange noises. My tests from examples I produced in the late 1970's have shown no case hardening is needed. I still service several of them and none of them have even broken a single treble string in all these years of use. No string buzzes. Perfect.

Most pianos have hammers far too heavy for good treble tone and fast, stable and durable action.

The reason I suggest trying all pianos with the tops completely closed is this reduces room acoustics from influencing your experience.


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Thanks pianolover I might at least give it a try. I'm actually going to check out the process on my piano at home, to see what I need to do - mic placement etc. If I go through with it was contemplating getting a Zoom H4. I have 2 Neumann KM 184's but that could get complicated playing multiple pianos in a dealer. Will have to figure how to perch the device - maybe a boom stand and have the device near the tail of the piano. I've seen a couple Youtubes where people have had decent success. As someone mentioned previously, I would want to make sure I don't even think about the recording while I'm doing the evaluations. I've done a bunch of recording at home so hopefully not a performance issue.

Thanks for the advice Ed. I would have never thought about keeping the lid down. And I'll to read your previous technique thread and make a copy to bring with me.


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Originally Posted by dbauer1080
...I would like to be as methodical as possible for any objective elements, and leave the emotional and gestalt to run free and uninhibited when I sit down to play as I know that is going to be the final determinant.

To this end, I would leave the objective aspects (including the room effects) to someone who can remain objective: a piano tech that you hire to inspect the piano. But as for the rest of the aspects, you have the right approach -- emotions rule the choice.

If you find all these pianos dizzyingly enticing, then you have an easy task: pick the objectively best one!

What might be great is if you can play these pianos at different periods: say, a few weeks or months apart..and see if they still move you they way they did the first time.

I can say -- although only from personal experience -- that the "one that got away" made itself known to me almost immediately when I played it. Every other piano I'd played in my search was subject to my inadequate "analysis", review of recordings, and all sorts of stuff that shouldn't be part of the deal. Basically asking myself "can I see myself with this piano?" and if you have to ask that, it's not the right one. It might not be immediate, but I wager that a piano you'll love will reveal itself to you in relatively short order.

Please don't leave this to analysis/recording/notes, they won't be of much value to you if you get it home and it doesn't please.

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mcontraveos - did you make recordings of your piano sampling? If so was it actually a detriment to your decision-making? I dread the "one that got away" scenario, trying to prevent that. Still ambivalent about recording. Hate to interfere with the process of trying to connect with these pianos, just trying to make sure that if it has any value that I capture that value while I have a chance.


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I've been down this choice road a few times. High end large pianos. I think the analytics are irrelevant. Sorry. When you sit down to play a really good piano, you just know. Most will be acceptable but only the occasional one will move you. Listen to that emotion and act on that, not a spreadsheet or recording or anyone else's opinion.

Try not to brand obsess. Pianos are more similar than they are different within a size and quality band.

They all sound different at home. Build a good relationship with the dealer and tech. The tech is super important for getting your piano perfect. You will quickly forget the ones you didn't buy. (Except for the one you foolishly let get away. In my case: a used Fazioli CG I owned briefly and sold with a studio like a twerp).

By far the biggest influence on how any piano sounds is....you. By far!


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Originally Posted by dbauer1080
I have 2 Neumann KM 184's but that could get complicated playing multiple pianos in a dealer.

Not necessarily. This pair of microphones matches the pianos you are trying, so use it.

Thanks to tax money, European broadcasting studios have had the luxury of spending a lot of money and even more hours on experimenting with microphone set ups, a cardioid condenser pair being one of those in focus.

The Dutch have come up with the NOS set up which is a pair of matched cardioid condensers on a stereo bar with a point angle of 90° and the capsules 30cm apart (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOS_stereo_technique). This gives incredibly consistent results with quite some variations on the mics' position.

I use this as a "quick and dirty" set up where the whole system fits into backpack. This includes a stereo bar, a camera tripod, an audio interface and a laptop for recording. Setting this up take me less than 5 minutes.

The minimized version is a DR44WL with XLR inputs and any kind of mini tripod and setting this up takes less than 2 minutes.

If you got Neumanns, then don't go for any mobile phone recording. If the dealer has a problem with that, then you should politely tell him that either this is the way you are choosing your piano or he will lose your business, even if you can't promise buying from him.

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Originally Posted by mcontraveos
I can say -- although only from personal experience -- that the "one that got away" made itself known to me almost immediately when I played it.

Originally Posted by AJB
When you sit down to play a really good piano, you just know. Most will be acceptable but only the occasional one will move you

This, so many times over. What mcontraveros and AJB both describe is *exactly* what happened to me. Sat down, started to play. On the very first chord, I just had to immediately stop, pause, breathe in, and close my eyes for a second. I just knew this one was special, there were no ifs, and or buts about it. Nothing else struck me the same way before, and nothing has since. And I just stopped by a shop this week to play a brand new Fazioli CG they just prepped (playing with fire, given I'm waiting for my own piano to be delivered!!). The Fazioli was amazing, but nope, it still wasn't the one.


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You can use a basic tripod. For example like this.



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AJB good points - I get the feeling I'll know - and I'm sure they'll all have their own strengths. Part of this exercise I guess is knowing once I play them what my preferences are - I'm pretty sure I know but haven't been faced with these choices before.

OE1FEU - I'll look into that stereo bar. Just wondering how to negotiate a laptop, interface, mics and stands through 5 pianos in a store. Will let you know if I go down that road. That would be the best fidelity(I have a decent Presonus interface with good converters) but just weighing whether it will distract me too much.

Gombessa - I also sense this will happen to me - hopefully. I have much anticipation laying my hands on all these. Have been looking around for a 214VC without success as yet. Talked to a tech in Atlanta who raves about them.

Thanks Sidokar for the tip. Lots to decide before next week.

I'll let ya'll know how things shape up.


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Originally Posted by dbauer1080
OE1FEU - I'll look into that stereo bar. Just wondering how to negotiate a laptop, interface, mics and stands through 5 pianos in a store. Will let you know if I go down that road. That would be the best fidelity(I have a decent Presonus interface with good converters) but just weighing whether it will distract me too much.

This is as Quick&Dirty as it gets without a significant loss to quality as compared to an audio interface; can easily be carried from piano to piano without hassle within seconds.


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There are really short XLR cables <30cm for wiring and no need to even fixate the recorder to the tripod, just make sure that the mics are screwed tightly to the stereo bar. For obvious reasons I haven't bothered to pull the plugs from t audio interface, so it's illustration only.

The Tascan DR44WL has a slightly reduced dynamic range in comparison to my Yamaha preamps due to the tiny onboard SMB discrete parts in its built-in preamps. In this context that should be irrelevant.

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Those are all top notch pianos so the differences might be difficult. Bring your most difficult/challenging repertoire and take notes as soon as you finish. Note the strong points and the weak for each. That will help you quickly sort what pianos make the cut and which ones don’t.

I myself would be pleased playing anything on your list, so you just can’t loose. Best Wishes!


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Originally Posted by j&j
Those are all top notch pianos so the differences might be difficult. Bring your most difficult/challenging repertoire and take notes as soon as you finish. Note the strong points and the weak for each. That will help you quickly sort what pianos make the cut and which ones don’t.

I myself would be pleased playing anything on your list, so you just can’t loose. Best Wishes!

I agree that these are all excellent pianos. I’m not sure that I’d plan to play things that are the most challenging things in your repertoire. I would want to play things that would allow me to focus on the things you want to evaluate from the touch and tone, rather than focusing on playing (and getting through difficult passages). Perhaps a little bit of the ‘pushing yourself’/‘pushing the instrument’ makes sense, but I’d spend most of my time with things that were more or less in my comfort zone.

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Originally Posted by Sgisela
Originally Posted by j&j
Those are all top notch pianos so the differences might be difficult. Bring your most difficult/challenging repertoire and take notes as soon as you finish. Note the strong points and the weak for each. That will help you quickly sort what pianos make the cut and which ones don’t.

I myself would be pleased playing anything on your list, so you just can’t loose. Best Wishes!

I agree that these are all excellent pianos. I’m not sure that I’d plan to play things that are the most challenging things in your repertoire. I would want to play things that would allow me to focus on the things you want to evaluate from the touch and tone, rather than focusing on playing (and getting through difficult passages). Perhaps a little bit of the ‘pushing yourself’/‘pushing the instrument’ makes sense, but I’d spend most of my time with things that were more or less in my comfort zone.
I agree with this for exactly the same reason that was mentioned. By playing mostly comfort zone material I think one can focus more on the pianos tone and touch. I don't think anyone of the piano the OP is considering will be somehow deficient in their actions so as to prevent the OP from playing material at the top of his skill level.

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Originally Posted by dbauer1080
mcontraveos - did you make recordings of your piano sampling? If so was it actually a detriment to your decision-making? I dread the "one that got away" scenario, trying to prevent that. Still ambivalent about recording. Hate to interfere with the process of trying to connect with these pianos, just trying to make sure that if it has any value that I capture that value while I have a chance.

I did, but it ended up being useless. I never even listened to the recording because I knew that the piano wasn't anywhere close to the one that got away!

What you don't want to do (only for the sake of your dignity and time) is think about how you can "work" with a piano: i.e., "well, if we did [xyz] to it, it might have that character I'm looking for..."
That will surely lead to dissatisfaction at the price levels you're talking about.

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Originally Posted by mcontraveos
Originally Posted by dbauer1080
mcontraveos - did you make recordings of your piano sampling? If so was it actually a detriment to your decision-making? I dread the "one that got away" scenario, trying to prevent that. Still ambivalent about recording. Hate to interfere with the process of trying to connect with these pianos, just trying to make sure that if it has any value that I capture that value while I have a chance.

I did, but it ended up being useless. I never even listened to the recording because I knew that the piano wasn't anywhere close to the one that got away!

What you don't want to do (only for the sake of your dignity and time) is think about how you can "work" with a piano: i.e., "well, if we did [xyz] to it, it might have that character I'm looking for..."
That will surely lead to dissatisfaction at the price levels you're talking about.



thumb IMO, when you play the one that shouldn’t get away, you’ll feel it—— and you’ll pull out your checkbook so it doesn’t escape


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There's lots of excellent advice in these posts. One important thing that I don't think was mentioned is a seamless, preferably inaudible, transition from the long bridge to the bass bridge.

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Dbauer, best of luck to you in your recording endeavors. I honestly have no idea how common it is to record the pianos being auditioned; maybe it's because my ears definitely aren't "golden" and I absolutely can't tell one versus another when not in person.

I just fear that it's easy to end up spending all your time dealing with the recording setup and making it "fit" in the right spaces in the shops, than you will be able to playing and thinking about the actual pianos. And when the salesperson says "oh here's another to try" you'll have to lug the recorder around to set it up again, and won't really A/B between the various options.

And in the end, will what you hear in the recordings matter at all? Is that your ultimate goal with the piano (or is it more important to hear it live from the bench)?


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
I just fear that it's easy to end up spending all your time dealing with the recording setup and making it "fit" in the right spaces in the shops, than you will be able to playing and thinking about the actual pianos. And when the salesperson says "oh here's another to try" you'll have to lug the recorder around to set it up again, and won't really A/B between the various options.

OP has more than just decent microphones. Standardizing a recording set up as described by me is easy and moving it from one piano to another is as easy as opening a lunch box for an apple. What he does with it isn't really relevant. Having the recording never is a bad thing and once you have started recorded your own playing in whatever sitting will give you a good idea of what the piano sounds like in defined positions.

His living room may be larger than the dealer's show room, which is why it is important to listen to a neutral perspective different from just listening to what come out of the piano when you sit at the keyboard.

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