The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
What's up with classical piano recordings these days?
Old 14th October 2008
  #61
Lives for gear
 
boojum's Avatar
Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
Was listening the Murray Parahia playing three Bach partitas, a new Sony CD. Wonderful piano sound, recorded in Germany, with the same producer as most of his other very fine sounding CD's.

However, inside the clear disk clamp plate, a photo of the piano shows three close mics, a pseudo ORTF pair up high, and a third side address mic which might be stereo, low down on the same stand, knee height, presumably picking up floor reflections and some low radiation from the underside of the soundboard.

So, some of the mystery has been exposed. I am sure, as Plush indicates, there will be distant mics in the hall mixed with this.
All you really know is where the mics were in this photo. If the engineer was doing some serious mojo he would not let it get photographed. That's giving away the store.
Old 14th October 2008
  #62
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
Patching is fine, I would prefer to hear a note perfect recording than a smudged performance full of bloopers.
Agreed - but too much patching does spoil the performance.

That's why I wrote what I did.

1,000+ edits are pushing it I think.

I think, on average, we had less than 100 edits per CD on the last ones I did - "Gaspard de la Nuit" was a bit hair-raising as it's almost impossible to play, but think all four CDs came in at under 100 edits per CD.
Old 14th October 2008
  #63
Lives for gear
 
Yannick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
Patching is fine, I would prefer to hear a note perfect recording than a smudged performance full of bloopers. I do a LOT of classical editing, particularly solo piano. The musicians I work with are so consistent between takes that I can match up waveforms exactly during the editing. This does NOT wreck a performance, and its a myth that too much editing destroys recordings. When the musicians are certain of what they are doing there is no problem.
I agree 100%.
I also do mostly piano (solo) recordings and I have a masters in piano myself.
In 15 years the pianists that play better on the first take and that I've come accross are , well, none.

Everyone of them, when they notice I know what I'm doing, gets more relaxed and can get more into playing and taking risks and letting themselves go. It's always surprising to see how much stress the mic brings, or an audience.

The difference with live recordings is that the pianist needs to surpass himself and it is also a different concentration. That does not means the entire concert is up to a level that is to his/her liking.

Doing extra takes either brings correct notes (and you can still use the second take for the freshness) or it brings more music/musical choices.

My piano teacher records this way, almost every take is flawless, but he can make a "imaginary" version for CD, one which he would never -inspirationally- be able to play live. Until that magical concert of course, but how often does everything get perfect live: piano, tuning, hall, audience, is there a recording team, chair, traffic noise, HVAC noise, lights etc etc
Old 14th October 2008
  #64
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
My piano teacher records this way, almost every take is flawless,
Interchange from my first CD recording back in 1984 -

Producer, after about 15 takes of one passage -

"Please, we really do not need another take of this section, let's move on!"

Pianist, in a matter of fact voice -

"Yes, that last take was perfect". Pause. "This next one will be better".

And it was!
Old 15th October 2008
  #65
Lives for gear
 
Yannick's Avatar
 

I know the feeling heh

Or the violin concerto recording where at the end of the third day with 1h30 of session time left, I asked to do one more complete take of the first movement we did on day 1. Sound and performance of both the orchestra and soloist was much better.

One more take can sometimes make a drastic improvement.

But am I going to take the last take, with almost no patches ?
No, I will seach for the very best material and edit.
Old 15th October 2008
  #66
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
I will seach for the very best material and edit.
It depends on how you define patching.

Taking the best from several takes and editing together is one thing.

Making lots of recordings of small bits is another and too much of the second can destroy the passion of a performance.
Old 15th October 2008
  #67
Lives for gear
 
Yannick's Avatar
 

Well, small bits don't work - only in emergencies. For those fingerbreakers.
Any musician needs time to get into the music, when the fragments get too short during recording trouble is happening, and trouble is going to happen during editing

About the classical piano recording: I have the impression these days there is a search for closeness but with too much reverb. That is also when trouble starts to happen ...

We always go for the one mic approach, not close miking, but definately not distant either. Sometimes we do go a bit closer, when the music (or traffic) needs it, but we put a room pair to compensate.

And of course, many new Steinways are really bad compared to the older ones. This is more obvious in a recording, less during a live concert. Actually I wonder why this is ?
Old 16th October 2008
  #68
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianHanke View Post
The issue that I've observed, especially apparent in the clips I posted, is that modern recordings sound distant, but in an odd way. What are the techniques used to get this particular far-away-yet-very-present-yet-awash-in-reverb-yet-strangely-crisp sound?
The 'awash with reverb yet present' sound is most likely easily explained (in life as in recording).

It might be useful to view this question from an auditory masking perspective.

I would guess that the recordings you refer to were made with 'vintage' large diaphragm condenser microphones (or large geometry ribbons), whose pickup patterns become highly directional with rising frequency.

What this means is that the spectral balance between the indirect (reverb) sound & direct sound is not equal.

Specifically, this means that the indirect sound is (as a sum) less bright than the direct sound.

This difference in spectral content allows the direct sound to more easily mask the indirect sound because of the 'brightness advantage', which helps to achieve a more natural balance (regardless of distance).

The 'modern' small diaphragm condenser mics, in their misguided pursuit of 'ideal' uniform pickup pattern completely fail to address this (auditory masking relationship) and the result is that the balance between direct & indirect sound is not condusive to the 'clarity' or 'depth' we hear in life.

Which is why these 'ideal' microphones tend to be used much closer than a natural listening distance, in order to offset the poor spectral relationship between direct & indirect sound by simply reducing the level of the indirect sound to the point where it does not mask the direct.

This question is further confused by the marketing departments of microphone companies who trumpet 'flat response' without mention of whether this is on or off-axis, even worse they do not even themselves understand the necessity of proper spectral balance between direct & indirect sound and how this affects the masking relationship.

While the directional characteristics of the vintage/LDC microphone are entirely accidental and as such are less than ideal, the advantage is nonetheless effective.

Andy
Old 16th October 2008
  #69
Gear Addict
 

Fascinating ~ thanks for the insights!

Quote:
Originally Posted by andy_simpson View Post
The 'awash with reverb yet present' sound is most likely easily explained (in life as in recording).

It might be useful to view this question from an auditory masking perspective.

I would guess that the recordings you refer to were made with 'vintage' large diaphragm condenser microphones (or large geometry ribbons), whose pickup patterns become highly directional with rising frequency.

What this means is that the spectral balance between the indirect (reverb) sound & direct sound is not equal.

Specifically, this means that the indirect sound is (as a sum) less bright than the direct sound.

This difference in spectral content allows the direct sound to more easily mask the indirect sound because of the 'brightness advantage', which helps to achieve a more natural balance (regardless of distance).

The 'modern' small diaphragm condenser mics, in their misguided pursuit of 'ideal' uniform pickup pattern completely fail to address this (auditory masking relationship) and the result is that the balance between direct & indirect sound is not condusive to the 'clarity' or 'depth' we hear in life.

Which is why these 'ideal' microphones tend to be used much closer than a natural listening distance, in order to offset the poor spectral relationship between direct & indirect sound by simply reducing the level of the indirect sound to the point where it does not mask the direct.

This question is further confused by the marketing departments of microphone companies who trumpet 'flat response' without mention of whether this is on or off-axis, even worse they do not even themselves understand the necessity of proper spectral balance between direct & indirect sound and how this affects the masking relationship.

While the directional characteristics of the vintage/LDC microphone are entirely accidental and as such are less than ideal, the advantage is nonetheless effective.

Andy
Old 16th October 2008
  #70
Lives for gear
 

While I'd be careful drawing to much conclusions from what Andy wrote, the mechansim is of course there and true.

On top of this comes the radiation pattern of speakers, which can have great variation as well just like mics.

In contrast to the two-dimensional world of transmission links as amplifiers and converters (when AD and DA is used together they effectively together form a transmission link since they receive and leave an analog electrical signal) microphones and speakers have to encode and decode a signal in more than two dimensions.

There are no universal truths about that part. Different techniques depending on the goal.

Of course for the reasons mentioned above, making music for headphones and speakers are two very different things.. even though many recordings work fine in both.


BTW Andy, I listened to your files, some interesting thing going on there.



/Peter
Old 16th October 2008
  #71
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andy_simpson View Post
This difference in spectral content allows the direct sound to more easily mask the indirect sound because of the 'brightness advantage', which helps to achieve a more natural balance (regardless of distance).
This is probably why I am enjoying listening to my M150's and marvel at their "reach". I also have just purchased some 40mm APE balls for the 4006's and these work very well to sound more like the M150's, where the capsule is also on a 40mm ball.
Old 17th October 2008
  #72
Lives for gear
 
mljung's Avatar
I like the sphere sdc omnis too.
And Andy this was very interesting thoughts you shared. Got me thinking...
Old 17th October 2008
  #73
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
While I'd be careful drawing to much conclusions from what Andy wrote, the mechansim is of course there and true.
Indeed - I would not draw conclusions as much as see if the perspective allows us to see patterns where only chaos was previously apparent.

Quote:
On top of this comes the radiation pattern of speakers, which can have great variation as well just like mics.
Indeed, while the effects are less significant here the question is well worth considering.

However, this question really depends on the particular listening environment, where near-field listening & acoustic treatment would reduce the significance of the effect greatly.

Quote:
In contrast to the two-dimensional world of transmission links as amplifiers and converters (when AD and DA is used together they effectively together form a transmission link since they receive and leave an analog electrical signal) microphones and speakers have to encode and decode a signal in more than two dimensions.
I would say that it is not the microphones & speakers that must 'encode & decode' but the masking functions of the ear, but that the ear can only do this if the spectral & loudness balances are correct.

Quote:
BTW Andy, I listened to your files, some interesting thing going on there.
Those files show the result of taking the perspective of auditory masking into account in the design of a microphone (aside from the mechanical performance improvements).

It should also be noted that these effects can be seen in life as in recording.

For example, a rich & deep reverb can be analysed to show spectral decay proportions which provide ideal masking (& self-masking) relationships. In other words, as the reverb decays, it masks itself to produce the sense of depth.

Also, for example, in the sound of a nylon stringed acoustic guitar we see excellent spectral decay characteristics in the nylon string signatures, where even rapid & dense passages retain clarity and provide a sense of 'depth' (that is not related to spatial imaging), where each note masks the previous notes, who retain their masking precedence as they decay towards the threshold of hearing.

Andy
Old 17th October 2008
  #74
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
This is probably why I am enjoying listening to my M150's and marvel at their "reach". I also have just purchased some 40mm APE balls for the 4006's and these work very well to sound more like the M150's, where the capsule is also on a 40mm ball.
Yes, the old neumann line (m49/50, u47 etc) is what I was thinking of.

It was in the search for explanation of the 'depth' performance of these old designs that lead me originally to the auditory masking ideas I employ in my microphone designs.

According to this criteria, it is not so surprising to see that the 'modern measurement' designs fall short of the old designs.

Andy
Old 2nd December 2008
  #75
Lives for gear
 

Thought I'd revive this thread as I was assisting Simon Eadon (who recorded the Hamelin CDs that people have been talking about here) this weekend and am doing so again on sessions a few times in the next few weeks. Very cool experience all round, but he was kind enough to show me the Hamelin session photos and gear sheets.

I'm sure he wouldn't mind me mentioning it here as he is very much NOT a 'trade secrets' guy, and told me as much.

The Hamelin CDs were recorded using a pair of Schoeps MK2S, 9" apart and angled slightly outward and pointing down to the piano, 66" high going in from the 'far' end of the piano (opposite the player) about 40" out from the piano's back leg. He used an 01V96 with the onboard pres/converters at 24/44.1.

Refreshing lack of gear snobbery.

Nothing else was added or taken away and the 'sound' is the magnificent acoustic of (the very quiet) Henry Wood Hall.

Anyway, thumbsupthumbsup for Simon.
Old 2nd December 2008
  #76
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
thumbsup indeed!

Great player, great piano, great room, great technique.

Great result!

David, please enjoy your experience with one of the best.
Old 2nd December 2008
  #77
Lives for gear
 
Gaston69's Avatar
Hello David,

Simon's approach looks the way I recorded the piano as well, just 2 mics no more...

Gaston
Old 2nd December 2008
  #78
Gear Addict
 

Can you cite the specific disc(s) this recording technique was used on? He has a big catalog, after all.

Do you know if the lid was removed or present? And, shall we assume the instrument was still oriented as it would be in performance situation?

Thanks for the info. Sounds like a fun experience!
Old 2nd December 2008
  #79
Lives for gear
 

Off the top of my head (as I own them) the last Haydn sonatas disc and the Albeniz one (both Hamelin), which I saw the photos of. Lid was fully open and oriented as in a normal performance situation. Absolutely no trickery at all, and beautiful in its simplicity. Apparently this technique was the standard way at Decca and Simon basically inherited it from them - I saw shots of probably 20 piano sessions and they all use this technique.

Old 2nd December 2008
  #80
Gear Addict
 

Interesting: thanks.

Anyone know about the Scriabin recordings? That could be the excuse to pick up (yet another) collection of the sonatas.
Old 2nd December 2008
  #81
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Recording David View Post
The Hamelin CDs were recorded using a pair of Schoeps MK2S, 9" apart and angled slightly outward and pointing down to the piano, 66" high going in from the 'far' end of the piano (opposite the player) about 40" out from the piano's back leg. He used an 01V96 with the onboard pres/converters at 24/44.1.

Refreshing lack of gear snobbery.

Nothing else was added or taken away and the 'sound' is the magnificent acoustic of (the very quiet) Henry Wood Hall.
Two mics is what I normally use.

I normally go a similar spacing distance (about 20cm).

The positioning is interesting as a piano tends to get duller as you go towards the tail - so this positioning seems likely to tame a slightly bright piano and/or compensate for the treble lift in the Schoeps MK2S - OR - he chose the Schoeps MK2S because that was the best position for the mics on that piano in that hall.

Personally I tend to bring the mics further round towards the front - similar height, though - and I normally start off at about 2-metres distance.

But the wonderful thing about recording piano is that every one is different and the final position will change with piano, hall and repertoire.

But I'm really looking forward to using my new Nagra VI in anger on my next piano recording. heh
Old 2nd December 2008
  #82
Lives for gear
 
Larry Elliott's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by VukOnCrack View Post
Can you cite the specific disc(s) this recording technique was used on? He has a big catalog, after all.
The session I attended in Dec 2006 were
CHARLES-VALENTIN ALKAN [1813-1888] CDA67569
Troisième recueil de chants Op 65* Etude alla Barbera

LEOPOLD GODOWSKY [1870-1938] CDA67626
Three waltz paraphrases after Strauss

These have ended up on different CD’s

Larry Elliott
Old 2nd December 2008
  #83
Lives for gear
 
Chucho's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaston69 View Post
As promissed yesterday.

I just got back from the recording gig and couldn't wait to post a little audio sample in order to get some feedback from you guys.

Because I have recorded this in a Onno setup with DPA4060 and my brand-new Painpot recorded on a Korg MR-1000 24 bit 44.1khz.

The Mic stand was approx 80cm from the piano and on a height of 160cm, distance between the DPA4060 = 38cm.

Piano = Yamaha

Recorded in live concert, small church in Paris France

Let me know if you like what you hear.

Gaston
What is it ?
I love that piece, and the recording.
Old 3rd December 2008
  #84
Lives for gear
 
sonare's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Recording David View Post
Thought I'd revive this thread as I was assisting Simon Eadon (who recorded the Hamelin CDs that people have been talking about here) this weekend and am doing so again on sessions a few times in the next few weeks. Very cool experience all round, but he was kind enough to show me the Hamelin session photos and gear sheets.

I'm sure he wouldn't mind me mentioning it here as he is very much NOT a 'trade secrets' guy, and told me as much.

The Hamelin CDs were recorded using a pair of Schoeps MK2S, 9" apart and angled slightly outward and pointing down to the piano, 66" high going in from the 'far' end of the piano (opposite the player) about 40" out from the piano's back leg. He used an 01V96 with the onboard pres/converters at 24/44.1.

Refreshing lack of gear snobbery.

Nothing else was added or taken away and the 'sound' is the magnificent acoustic of (the very quiet) Henry Wood Hall.

Anyway, thumbsupthumbsup for Simon.
Int he past Simon was kind enough to email me some snaps of his setups-- were there any from this? I tried to get in touch with him when I was in London last summer but he seemed to have "signed off"-- I assumed he retired.

I really don't know if more than a few dozen would be sold, but he is one of the last "Decca accolytes" who saw it all from the Ring to today, and a wonderful history with anecdotes, measurements, and pictures is waiting to be written. Perhaps an on-line book? I would gladly pop 20 quid!

I will be recording Hamlin in March at a festival here-- I am looking forward to it!

Please say hello to Simon (and as he is ID'd in a "the Ring Resounding" photograph) Eaton.

Rich
Old 3rd December 2008
  #85
Lives for gear
 
Gaston69's Avatar
Hi Chucho,

What would you like to know?

Gaston
Old 3rd December 2008
  #86
Lives for gear
 
mljung's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Recording David View Post
Off the top of my head (as I own them) the last Haydn sonatas disc and the Albeniz one (both Hamelin), which I saw the photos of. Lid was fully open and oriented as in a normal performance situation. Absolutely no trickery at all, and beautiful in its simplicity. Apparently this technique was the standard way at Decca and Simon basically inherited it from them - I saw shots of probably 20 piano sessions and they all use this technique.


One thought that can't escape my mind is that if you record like this there will be a lot of sound radiated from the lid in the left direction [if I understand your description correct]. Are there no such issues [extra reverb from the left etc.] or does it just work anyhow..?

I haven't heard the recordings, but I have loved almost every recording I have ever heard that was made in the Henry Wood Hall. heh

I would love to see those photos...

Best
Mads
Old 3rd December 2008
  #87
Lives for gear
 
Gaston69's Avatar
Hi Recording David,

As I said Simon's approach is the same way I recorded the piano and it was Onno Scholtze who teached me to do so. By the way here is a copy of an email I got from Schoeps regarding the Schoeps MK2S.

Regards,

Gaston

Dear Mr. Matthijsse,

you exactly see the main problem when constructing a capsule. The ideal transducer would be an omni with very small diaphragm but such a capsule will show a lot of noise. A big diaphragm will show much less noise but its frequency responce will highly depend on the angle of the incoming sound. SCHOEPS uses a 13mm active diameter of the diaphragm which turned out to be the best balance between noise and linearity.

In 1995 Onno Scholtze helped us with the fine tuning of a new capsule. The result is the MK2H capsule in our Colette series. Onno Scholtze has some of these capsules but they are not extra modified. You find them in our catalogue and on our website ( SCHOEPS omnis ).


We hope this helps you further. Please do not hesitate to mail again in case of further questions.

With kind regards


Bernhard Vollmer

Head of Quality Control & Customer Care
Phone +49-721-9432021
Mail [email protected]
_________________________________________________________

SCHOEPS Mikrofone GmbH, Spitalstr. 20, DE 76227 Karlsruhe
Amtsgericht Mannheim, HRB Nr. 102442, Geschäftsführer: Ulrich Schoeps
SCHOEPS Microphones www.schoepsclassics.com


---------------------------

Dear Ulrich Schoeps,

I would like to get some information on small diaphragms microphones. My friend Onno Scholtze explained and demonstrated me that the smaller the diaphragms of a microphone the higher the resonance frequency is which results in more depth in the stereo panorama etc. Therefore he had specially made by you a pair of modified Schoeps microphones. However he uses also DPA 4060 as there diaphragms are even smaller however they have one side effect which is noise.
Now my question is do you offer/make microphones that have the benefits of being:
small diaphragm such like for example DPA4060 less noise or as quiet as the Schoeps microphones.What I want is a very very small microphone in a AB setup for recording classical music.

Met vriendelijke groet / Best Regards, Gaston Matthijsse
Old 3rd December 2008
  #88
Gear Addict
 

David, thanks for your insights into this. I wasn't familiar with Hamelin's Haydn disc, but I just checked it out now. It's quite unlike the Hamelin that I uploaded for comparison purposes at the beginning of this thread! It sounds very real, and I think the simplicity of the recording setup is the major reason behind that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Recording David View Post
Off the top of my head (as I own them) the last Haydn sonatas disc and the Albeniz one (both Hamelin), which I saw the photos of. Lid was fully open and oriented as in a normal performance situation. Absolutely no trickery at all, and beautiful in its simplicity. Apparently this technique was the standard way at Decca and Simon basically inherited it from them - I saw shots of probably 20 piano sessions and they all use this technique.
Old 3rd December 2008
  #89
Lives for gear
 
Larry Elliott's Avatar
Simon has given permission for me to post these two pics from the December 2006 session I attended.

The mic by Marc was solely for talkback.

Larry
Attached Thumbnails
What's up with classical piano recordings these days?-img_0131.jpg   What's up with classical piano recordings these days?-img_0132.jpg  
Old 4th December 2008
  #90
Gear Addict
 

Nice - thanks a lot!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Elliott View Post
Simon has given permission for me to post these two pics from the December 2006 session I attended.

The mic by Marc was solely for talkback.

Larry
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump