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So I've been looking/listening to various recordings of upright pianos, and in the majority of them, I feel the piano sounds sort of ummm, I guess how people sort of stereotypically think uprights sound (saloonish).

But many of the pianos look to be decent ones, perhaps the same that you might see in videos from Merriam Music. In their videos, the pianos usually sound very nice. From what I can see, the miking (micing?) of the pianos is not all that different...either mics on the top, or in the back.

So is it that the pianos are simply tuned better in the Merriam videos?

starting at around 11:00



versus

https://youtube.com/clip/UgkxQjbba6RCpDxw67ZSke2ns32tMJeymY9W

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Originally Posted by Jalmusic1
From what I can see, the miking (micing?) of the pianos is not all that different...either mics on the top, or in the back.

In my personal experience, the sound of a typical upright is always "indirect/coming out of a box." You have the piano case between you and the soundboard, and uprights are usually put up against a wall, so the soundboard has to bounce the sound over a short distance and reflect it to the listener. I imagine that's hardly ideal, sonically. In a recent "blind taste test" a user posted here, they had a grand piano with the lid closed, a cover over it, and all kind of books stashed on top. I immediately thought it sounded just like an upright.

The only upright recordings that didn't strike me as sounding like an upright are like the VI Labs Modern U. Which is...mic'd from the back at the soundboard, presumably with the piano situated in the middle of the studio rather than against a wall. Hence, your quote above.

Does anyone make an upright that is designed to be situated more in the middle of a room, to open up the sound?


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by Jalmusic1
From what I can see, the miking (micing?) of the pianos is not all that different...either mics on the top, or in the back.

In my personal experience, the sound of a typical upright is always "indirect/coming out of a box." You have the piano case between you and the soundboard, and uprights are usually put up against a wall, so the soundboard has to bounce the sound over a short distance and reflect it to the listener. I imagine that's hardly ideal, sonically. In a recent "blind taste test" a user posted here, they had a grand piano with the lid closed, a cover over it, and all kind of books stashed on top. I immediately thought it sounded just like an upright.

The only upright recordings that didn't strike me as sounding like an upright are like the VI Labs Modern U. Which is...mic'd from the back at the soundboard, presumably with the piano situated in the middle of the studio rather than against a wall. Hence, your quote above.

Does anyone make an upright that is designed to be situated more in the middle of a room, to open up the sound?

Well the sort of boxiness is a different sort of problem.

In recording my upright piano, I have tried it every which way, against the wall, pulled out into the room, closed up, opened up with the upper front and lower front covers off, etc etc etc. Definitely makes a big difference on the overall sound of the recording. On one hand, opening it up makes it brighter and clearer...but the downside is any sort of saloonishness is that much more apparent!

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Some unisons of the piano in the first video are out of tune.

So yes, in this case, it is mainly the tuning.

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Originally Posted by Jalmusic1
So I've been looking/listening to various recordings of upright pianos, and in the majority of them, I feel the piano sounds sort of ummm, I guess how people sort of stereotypically think uprights sound (saloonish).
It's not possible to know why you don't like the sound of the uprights you listened to. It could be their quality, their tuning, their voicing, the recording technique, and a hundred other factors. Few people would describe the sound of a high quality upright as "saloonish" which in my mind implies a low quality piano that's out of tune and excessively bright.

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Originally Posted by Hakki
Some unisons of the piano in the first video are out of tune.

So yes, in this case, it is mainly the tuning.
I agree but I guess he likes it that way!


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Do these videos sound ‘saloonidh’ to you?






Last edited by dogperson; 06/23/22 08:22 AM.

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Let's recap before things get uglier.
1. OP says he/she feels that RECORDINGS of upright pianos usually sound saloonish. This does not necessarily mean that OP believes uprights sound saloonish in real life.
2. OP finds that the second sample in the OP sounds better than the first one. It is implied that OP finds the first sample to be more typically saloonish than the second one.
3. OP asks whether the aforementioned difference in sound is mainly due to tuning differences.


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The first video in the OP is quite perverse on such a fundamental level. Why anyone would go to all the trouble of demonstrating five different recording techniques, using decent equipment (including a decent piano), then spend even more time on illustrations and editing, only to have the final product ruined from the get-go by such a poor state of tuning, is completely beyond me.


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Originally Posted by Rubens
Let's recap before things get uglier.
1. OP says he/she feels that RECORDINGS of upright pianos usually sound saloonish. This does not necessarily mean that OP believes uprights sound saloonish in real life.
2. OP finds that the second sample in the OP sounds better than the first one. It is implied that OP finds the first sample to be more typically saloonish than the second one.
3. OP asks whether the aforementioned difference in sound is mainly due to tuning differences.

Yes, the OP stated that recordings of uprights often sound saloonish. I do not agree with this statement


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"Saloonish" is probably a loaded statement, and likely means a lot of things (associated with different qualities) to different people. Out of tune? Likely. Poor recording? Likely. Type of music played? Possibly.

Personally, I think part of it may do with the natural reverb in a typical upright (rather than an open soundboard, it's up against the wall, there's typically a front board covering the soundboard, much of the action is in the way), etc. Also, the way an upright strikes and rebounds makes for a different attack than on a gravity-driven grand (some may have seen various efforts to modify the upright strike to get a "cleaner" grand0-like attack tone:
). All of that could be considered "saloonish" depending on what qualities one is looking at.


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I don't find recordings of uprights and grands are necessarily easy to tell apart, certainly not to the point of attributing any particular adjective to the upright sound.


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This really is total nonsense. First we talking about uprights being recorded and then sound "saloonish" There are so many cheaper grands around now so any one can afford a grand. Then it's the sound of an upright now sounds like it's coming out of a box. All the advice about keep the piano a few inches away from the wall is now nothing. I have never been in a "salooooon" so I do not know what those pianos sound like.
Take your choice a digital with an "unreal ambience" sound very standardized, a lower cost grand or a better upright.

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I'll admit I have always had an unfair bias against uprights compared to grands in terms of sound quality. If we control for cost, I have to say I have been proven wrong every time I visited a piano store.


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Originally Posted by Rubens
Let's recap before things get uglier.
1. OP says he/she feels that RECORDINGS of upright pianos usually sound saloonish. This does not necessarily mean that OP believes uprights sound saloonish in real life.
2. OP finds that the second sample in the OP sounds better than the first one. It is implied that OP finds the first sample to be more typically saloonish than the second one.
3. OP asks whether the aforementioned difference in sound is mainly due to tuning differences.

Thank you!

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Rubens
Let's recap before things get uglier.
1. OP says he/she feels that RECORDINGS of upright pianos usually sound saloonish. This does not necessarily mean that OP believes uprights sound saloonish in real life.
2. OP finds that the second sample in the OP sounds better than the first one. It is implied that OP finds the first sample to be more typically saloonish than the second one.
3. OP asks whether the aforementioned difference in sound is mainly due to tuning differences.

Yes, the OP stated that recordings of uprights often sound saloonish. I do not agree with this statement

Recordings that I've been hearing...but then I said there are others that don't, and the pianos look to be the same quality (although I can't be sure, but I don't think the ones that sounded saloonish were old pianos from the old west, they looked like newer pianos).

I then gave an example of both. I was thinking that your average person recording their piano at home probably doesn't have it tuned every day before a session, hence why they tend to sound worse (to my ears) then ones being sold by a store.

Sort of sorry I asked, sorry if people misconstrued, or whatever......

Thanks to all.

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Originally Posted by Jalmusic1
Recordings that I've been hearing...but then I said there are others that don't, and the pianos look to be the same quality (although I can't be sure, but I don't think the ones that sounded saloonish were old pianos from the old west, they looked like newer pianos).
I'm afraid the whole idea that a new upright from Bechstein, Boesnedorfer, Bluthner, Grotrian, Sauter, Steinway, Forster, Schimmel, M&H, Yamaha, Kawai, Petrof, Ronisch, and even the less expensive but top Chinese made uprights, sound saloonish just doesn't hold water. "Saloonish" implies out of tune, overly bright, and an unpleasant tone which is not the case.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Jalmusic1
Recordings that I've been hearing...but then I said there are others that don't, and the pianos look to be the same quality (although I can't be sure, but I don't think the ones that sounded saloonish were old pianos from the old west, they looked like newer pianos).
I'm afraid the whole idea that a new upright from Bechstein, Boesnedorfer, Bluthner, Grotrian, Sauter, Steinway, Forster, Schimmel, M&H, Yamaha, Kawai, Petrof, Ronisch, and even the less expensive but top Chinese made uprights, sound saloonish just doesn't hold water.

Face palm....

Well what if they haven't been tuned well or in a while...this was my simple question.

I was focusing on uprights because that's sort of what I have to have...but I will listen to recordings of grands, and I guess they will sound saloonish, too, if not tuned.

I guess the point of this thread is, what good is a good piano if it's not kept in tune? It sort of makes or breaks the whole deal. Especially if you're spending time recording it, spending money on mics, learning various recording techniques...it's all moot if the instrument isn't tuned (and btw, I can see why most home recordists, and there's millions of them, just use digital, I'm thinking about myself, would be a heck of lot easier).

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