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#2142035 - 08/31/13 11:57 PM Tone and Technology
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Hi all...so here's a thought that might generate some discussion.

1) Lots of people have very strong opinions regarding the make, model, voicing, and overall tone of the piano. When asked, they will tell you that the sound of piano is extremely important.

2) Many of those same people do a lot of listening online, using Pandora, Spotify, or YouTube - services which all render music at a relatively low quality level. Two or three decades ago, audiophiles would spend thousands of dollars on equipment so that they could play their vinyl or CD collections back with the best sound possible. Nowadays, people seem content with tinny laptop speakers or cheap earbuds.

I find a lot of cognitive dissonance in that. Discuss. laugh
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2142039 - 09/01/13 12:04 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3621
Loc: Bay Area, CA
I think there are two things mixed up in point (2): Maybe they should be separated into (2) and (3)?

2) On the one hand, we have the limits of Pandora's, or whoever's, digital encoding. I suppose it's possible to stream CD quality, but I don't think these folks do. They use some kind of compression which the listener may or may not detect.

3) This is different from limitations from bad laptop speakers and headphones. People do seem more content with bad speakers, but it's perfectly possible to stream digital music to good speakers. When you do that, you're only under the limitations of the encoding/compression.


-Jason
_________________________
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#2142040 - 09/01/13 12:04 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1166
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Well, we are all willing to make compromises when it's electronic, because it's not quite real? But NO compromises when it's live because it's little to obvious, and we are more present at the time?

And you have to admit, Kreisler, that sound quality in ear buds and MP3 players has improved dramatically in the last 30 years. What comes out of one's ear buds now is vastly superior to what might have come out of one's high-end, audiophile "hi-fi" in the 1960s.

BTW, do you play the Kreisleriana? Just curious...
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
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#2142043 - 09/01/13 12:13 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: laguna_greg]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
BTW, do you play the Kreisleriana? Just curious...


Yep. smile
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2142061 - 09/01/13 12:43 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
gooddog Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4669
Loc: Seattle area, WA
I grew up with mono L.P. recordings and for years, I thought what I was hearing sounded pretty good. Then stereo replaced mono and I thought what I was hearing sounded pretty good. I listened to C.D.'s and was amazed at the improved clarity and I thought what I was hearing sounded pretty good. Then I replaced my harsh sounding old Baldwin Acrosonic with a Steinway "O" and I thought what I was hearing sounded pretty good. Then I heard my teacher play his 9 foot Steinway in a tiny studio and my knees turned to jelly and I felt like I had entered Wonderland. Since then, I am painfully aware of the limits of lower quality pianos, speakers, compression of recordings and bad room acoustics. Since my aural awakening, my technician tells me I have "expensive ears" because I am no longer satisfied with my Steinway "O" but I can't afford a D.

For some of us, it's a matter of what we're been exposed to. For others, well, I'm convinced that some people just can't hear the difference.
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Deborah

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#2142087 - 09/01/13 02:18 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: laguna_greg]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4491
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg


And you have to admit, Kreisler, that sound quality in ear buds and MP3 players has improved dramatically in the last 30 years. What comes out of one's ear buds now is vastly superior to what might have come out of one's high-end, audiophile "hi-fi" in the 1960s.



Yes, but there are vastly superior ways to listen to music. Mp3 is one of the worst ways you can listen to music - if you're going to do that, do it with FLAC or something else lossless!
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2142125 - 09/01/13 05:25 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4392
My home hi-fi equipment is pretty old, but is still truly 'hi-fi', and I'm constantly amazed at what the younger generation tolerates these days in terms of poor sound. The same applies to imaging - seemingly, anything goes in terms of out-of-focus, blurry, wonky photographs and videos, taken on cell phones (don't anyone use real cameras anymore?).

My laptop is connected to my hi-fi via a simple lead costing $10, and the sound I get from good live streams (as from BBC Radio 3, which is in HD sound) is pretty good. But very few YouTube recordings are up to scratch. When on the go, and listening to my iPod, I use the best earphones around (Klipsch Image X10i).

I was amazed that one or two people here who were commenting on the recent VCC were listening to the pianists via their computer speakers. Frankly, I can hear lots more detail from (shellac) 1930 recordings, transferred to CD, on my hi-fi than any modern recording via any built-in computer speakers.





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#2142129 - 09/01/13 05:36 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
Michael Sayers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 723
Loc: Stockholms län, Sverige
I believe analogue throughout is best. Especially as with the very expensive pressing of the first Desmar Nyiregyhazi LP - six months of test pressings went into it before factory production began - if one has for instance the separate stylus for each side of the groove, contemporary cd quality can hardly hold a candle to it!

But if not much effort goes into an LP then its advantage over present day CDs is much reduced.


M.

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#2142157 - 09/01/13 08:03 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3246
Originally Posted By: Kreisler

1) Lots of people have very strong opinions regarding the make, model, voicing, and overall tone of the piano. When asked, they will tell you that the sound of piano is extremely important.


Yes I am one of those people smile

Originally Posted By: Kreisler

2a) Many of those same people do a lot of listening online, using Pandora, Spotify, or YouTube.


Yes, I'm also one of those people.

Originally Posted By: Kreisler

2b) services which all render music at a relatively low quality level.


Yes, make that very low quality level in many cases... But the good thing is that the interpretation usually is still intelligible. And for old recordings, the quality was not high to start with and youtube does not lower it THAT much smile

So the reason for listening to this crap quality is mostly that it's not so easy to find better recordings. It would take a lot of time, visiting a library or ordering CDs online, etc. Time I prefer to spend on the bench working on my own performances.


Originally Posted By: Kreisler

Two or three decades ago, audiophiles would spend thousands of dollars on equipment so that they could play their vinyl or CD collections back with the best sound possible.


Yes, count me in smile

Originally Posted By: Kreisler

Nowadays, people seem content with tinny laptop speakers or cheap earbuds.

Not here but yes I see this with many people. What puzzles me even more is that they are listening in the public transport, in the car, while working etc. I can't see how you can enjoy music in such noisy environments, and while doing something else that needs your concentration.

I have very good Sennheiser headphones that I usually listen with. Not that that helps with most online recordings but at least I have a balanced sound with good bass, if the recording at least has that.

And also notice that even top end speakers suffer from particularly poor room acoustics and are also limited in frequency range much more than headphones. I have audiophile speakers and amps but the (much cheaper) headphone outperforms them hands down.
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#2142197 - 09/01/13 10:13 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
wower Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
As a "card-carrying" audiophile proved in dollars spent I do see the question posed between the two contrasting points. I guess firstly I'll state my opinion that the audio chain does make a difference, though like many hobbies, one which presents diminishing returns as one moves up. (For those interested I'm running a pair of Audeze Orthodynamics out of a custom transformer coupled Japanese tube amp for rock/hiphop/electronic and for classical: Stax 507s into a tubed extremely hot running New York Woo Audio amp sourced from a top-shelf Marantz SACD all with custom cabling and power conditioning etc. As an apartment dweller, I'm sure my neighbours are happy with my choice of hobbies.)

It's been a very insightful hobby as it's given me an excellent perspective on sonic quality and characteristics in all facets of life and the vocabulary to back it. Certainly playing the D major chord in person on a Yamaha upright and a Steinway A sounds very different to my ear with the Steinway presenting much more complexity and density of tone one could just fall into playing Bach etc. However, my observations in the hobby are that often people stretch credibility in the miraculous differences claimed when I know the differences truly get smaller and smaller.

How I deal with this is to basically let it all pass in one ear and out the other with polite respect. I know what can be substantiated, what can be tested and what sounds reasonable in regards to my experience and am therefore drawn toward articles I can trust and people I can learn from.

Simply put, I have better things to do in life than jump into a flame war about the subtle differences of Steinways on YT. I, myself, have been in audio Nirvana the last couple of years and haven't considered upgrading - normally a chronic condition among audiophiles - and have instead spent the money on buying music and books to read while listening.
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#2142250 - 09/01/13 12:41 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: gooddog]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: gooddog
I grew up with mono L.P. recordings and for years, I thought what I was hearing sounded pretty good. Then stereo replaced mono and I thought what I was hearing sounded pretty good. I listened to C.D.'s and was amazed at the improved clarity and I thought what I was hearing sounded pretty good. Then I replaced my harsh sounding old Baldwin Acrosonic with a Steinway "O" and I thought what I was hearing sounded pretty good. Then I heard my teacher play his 9 foot Steinway in a tiny studio and my knees turned to jelly and I felt like I had entered Wonderland. Since then, I am painfully aware of the limits of lower quality pianos, speakers, compression of recordings and bad room acoustics. Since my aural awakening, my technician tells me I have "expensive ears" because I am no longer satisfied with my Steinway "O" but I can't afford a D.

For some of us, it's a matter of what we're been exposed to. For others, well, I'm convinced that some people just can't hear the difference.

I agree completely and have had the same issues as you have over a long life.
I am an audiophile (massive KEFs, independent amps, 3000 watt Velodyne subwoofer rated at max 1/2 % distortion at full output). BUT, Nothing compares to hearing a well played live, well regulated, well tuned piano. Yes, we can hear the innate quality of a performance or a piano on recordings, both poorly recorded and well recorded. Our brains process the sound to match our memory experiences.
I was practicing slowly today, and wondered if most pianists take time to revel in the sonorities that are capable of being produced by a good piano, and not just spend their time "making music"?

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#2142261 - 09/01/13 01:16 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Mwm]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: Mwm
I was practicing slowly today, and wondered if most pianists take time to revel in the sonorities that are capable of being produced by a good piano, and not just spend their time "making music"?


A friend of mine has a theory that one of the reasons so many Russian and Eastern Europeans get such a wonderful tone is that the pianos in those countries are often in very poor condition. As a result, they have to work very hard to get a good sound. When one practices on an excellent instrument all the time, it can be a little too easy to let the piano do the work for you.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2142267 - 09/01/13 01:33 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Mwm
I was practicing slowly today, and wondered if most pianists take time to revel in the sonorities that are capable of being produced by a good piano, and not just spend their time "making music"?


A friend of mine has a theory that one of the reasons so many Russian and Eastern Europeans get such a wonderful tone is that the pianos in those countries are often in very poor condition. As a result, they have to work very hard to get a good sound. When one practices on an excellent instrument all the time, it can be a little too easy to let the piano do the work for you.

Interesting statement. I'm not sure if I agree. It is the case that one must work much harder to get a decent tone (or even get the notes to speak) on poorly maintained instruments, or instruments that are inherently poor. That has been my experience throughout my life. I feel that an excellent instrument actually requires more care and finesse, not more work, since its range of dynamics, tonal nuance and colour is so much greater than a poor instrument.

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#2142272 - 09/01/13 01:41 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Mwm]
gooddog Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4669
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
A friend of mine has a theory that one of the reasons so many Russian and Eastern Europeans get such a wonderful tone is that the pianos in those countries are often in very poor condition. As a result, they have to work very hard to get a good sound. When one practices on an excellent instrument all the time, it can be a little too easy to let the piano do the work for you.
Originally Posted By: Mwm

Interesting statement. I'm not sure if I agree. It is the case that one must work much harder to get a decent tone (or even get the notes to speak) on poorly maintained instruments, or instruments that are inherently poor. That has been my experience throughout my life. I feel that an excellent instrument actually requires more care and finesse, not more work, since its range of dynamics, tonal nuance and colour is so much greater than a poor instrument.

Thank you Mwm. I was struggling to say what you just said very well.


Edited by gooddog (09/01/13 01:42 PM)
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#2142314 - 09/01/13 03:09 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2048
Loc: Canada
Though the idea of being a "colourist" isn't as prevalent amongst the Russians, which would require fabulous control over a nice instrument. Rather, "Russian" playing evokes thoughts of a singing cantabile, long melodic lines and no harsh sounds....as opposed to "orchestral", "10 kinds of staccato", "varied and colourful playing", and other descriptors for colourists (aka, what many competition pianists try to sound like these days..)
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#2142328 - 09/01/13 03:48 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
Nikolas Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4994
Loc: Europe
I don't know if I agree with the initial statement of the thread. You see I find that a laptop speaker, with a decent quality mp3, appears to be better to the majority of the people (and not the audiophiles).

The ease of use, the readiness and "cleanness" (as well as the digital-ness) of the file is enough for most people I think. Plus, if I may confess that I can't exactly spot the difference between a 196 kbit mp3 from a wav file, even on my high quality equipment, placed on my audio treated project studio...
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#2142429 - 09/01/13 06:58 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1500
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Perhaps it is not so much a matter of inconsistency as individual variation in habit, aural sensitivity and preference over a lifetime. I appear to be fussy about some aspects of piano sound while remaining blissfully oblivious to others. I cannot tell the difference in quality between good mp3 recordings I make in the lounge and professional recordings I buy in the shops. On the other hand, the faint creaking of my previous piano stool in recordings annoyed me to the extent that I bought another one, even though nobody else could hear the noise. When I had the means and opportunity to buy a really superior piano I chose instead to rebuild my old Weinbach because I had grown to love its sound, faults and all. I still listen to all recordings through the same twenty year old old hi-fi with big speakers.
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#2142499 - 09/01/13 09:17 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
neuralfirings Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/13
Posts: 154
I think the mind can transcend poor recordings (of course, there are limits). The mind's ear fills in the gaps and "hears" the tone as it was meant to be. For example, there are recordings of Rubinstein that I enjoy listening to, even though the recording quality is noisy compared to modern standards. I hear the noise of course, but my mind analyze and process the powerful chords and beautiful played melodies. Even the best audio experiences aren't always ideal--think about coughing and other ambient noise during a live music concert. Your mind learns to ignore the noise (and of course, there are limits) and focus on the music.

On the other hand, a bland performance recorded with great recording systems, played with great sound systems will still sound bland. The mind won't be able to fill in the gaps there. That's why it's more important for me to make sure the performance is not bland (good tone, etc) than it is to listen to only highest quality recordings.


Edited by neuralfirings (09/01/13 09:23 PM)
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#2142526 - 09/01/13 10:20 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7424
I remember reading many years ago an article, I think in a stereo magazine, in which the author found it odd that many famous professional classical musicians didn't much care about the sound of their playback equipment. They could afford much better than they had, and they did listen to recordings and broadcasts, but they just weren't very interested in the sound, per se. IIRC, one said something to the effect that he didn't listen to the sound, and, in fact, if it was too good, it was distracting; he was more interested in the music than in the sound.

That has stuck with me, in part because it aligned with my own experience, and being a bit counter-intuitive, it was nice reinforcement to know that some others heard things the same way. For me, thinking back over a lifetime of listening, I can say that listening to a cheap, static-ridden, mono table-top AM radio has been just as effective a vehicle for great musical experiences as anything "better". I think I first read about this kind of thing in Marshall McLuhan, who talked about how media with less density of information were more involving than those that had more "resolution". Our brains and imagination have to do more work when given less to go on, and that will focus more of our attention on the subject, which in turn will make it more "real" and often more meaningful.

When we listen to a real instrument in real space, it's a whole different proposition. For one obvious thing, hearing itself functions differently - spatial and directional focus comes into play in a way that isn't possible when we listen to a recording. And when playing, I am deeply involved in an instantaneous feedback loop where everything I do affects the result, and that doesn't exist when listening to a recording (or even to a live broadcast). And I don't need to project myself into some different space and time where the music is originating - I'm already there.

There's lots more that could be said, but the gist of it, to me, is that there isn't much cognitive dissonance involved in having different standards for pianos and playback equipment - they just aren't very similar in nature.

P.S.: just saw that neuralfirings posted a message while I was typing that had some similar ideas - synchronicity in action!




Edited by wr (09/01/13 10:24 PM)

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#2142530 - 09/01/13 10:25 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
Dwscamel Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/13
Posts: 434
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Mwm
I was practicing slowly today, and wondered if most pianists take time to revel in the sonorities that are capable of being produced by a good piano, and not just spend their time "making music"?


A friend of mine has a theory that one of the reasons so many Russian and Eastern Europeans get such a wonderful tone is that the pianos in those countries are often in very poor condition. As a result, they have to work very hard to get a good sound. When one practices on an excellent instrument all the time, it can be a little too easy to let the piano do the work for you.


I don't know if I can really believe this, but it's an appealing idea, and I mostly buy it: I think that there's value in learning on a poor piano.

We obsess over pianos, recording equipment, and so forth, when our playing would be better served if we primarily obsessed over learning.

Not that you can't go crazy over equipment and so forth (I love piano brand discussions), but if your goal is to become a better pianist, your equipment is far in second place in importance.

As for the OP: I'm happy with my YouTube recordings; it immediately brings me endless interpretations of endlessly-many pieces by endlessly-many musicians. What it lacks in quality it makes up for in convenience and comprehensiveness.

There's a lot of joy to owning physical music. I'm looking to buy CDs and vinyls. And of course I want to buy a new piano.

But I remember that no matter what I have, I need to practice!

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#2142560 - 09/01/13 11:13 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
jmcintyre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/10
Posts: 228
Loc: Wash. DC area
I think convenience and availability have lowered my expectations to some extent. I'm more than happy to take what I can get in sound quality as a trade off for the convenience of being to listen to darned near anything I can think of, whenever I think of it. (An exaggeration, of course, but not by much.)

I also think we are exposed to more noise, literal and figurative, in our lives now than in the analog days, and have learned to tune it out to some extent in order to focus.

That said, I'm also one of those people who go nuts if the pedal squeaks or a certain note makes the hinge buzz. smile
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#2142589 - 09/02/13 12:31 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6077
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Mwm
I was practicing slowly today, and wondered if most pianists take time to revel in the sonorities that are capable of being produced by a good piano, and not just spend their time "making music"?


A friend of mine has a theory that one of the reasons so many Russian and Eastern Europeans get such a wonderful tone is that the pianos in those countries are often in very poor condition. As a result, they have to work very hard to get a good sound. When one practices on an excellent instrument all the time, it can be a little too easy to let the piano do the work for you.


I agree that is can be "one" of the reasons.
On the other hand if one always practices on an excellent instrument and for some reason has a recital (for example a student recital) in a hall with a poor piano one can be in trouble...
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#2142865 - 09/02/13 03:19 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: ChopinAddict]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: Mwm
I was practicing slowly today, and wondered if most pianists take time to revel in the sonorities that are capable of being produced by a good piano, and not just spend their time "making music"?


A friend of mine has a theory that one of the reasons so many Russian and Eastern Europeans get such a wonderful tone is that the pianos in those countries are often in very poor condition. As a result, they have to work very hard to get a good sound. When one practices on an excellent instrument all the time, it can be a little too easy to let the piano do the work for you.


I agree that is can be "one" of the reasons.
On the other hand if one always practices on an excellent instrument and for some reason has a recital (for example a student recital) in a hall with a poor piano one can be in trouble...

It is a sad comment on a pianist's life that the piano on which he/she practices is superior to the recital hall piano.

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#2143318 - 09/03/13 08:35 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: laguna_greg]
the nosy ape Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 681
Loc: Westford, MA
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg

And you have to admit, Kreisler, that sound quality in ear buds and MP3 players has improved dramatically in the last 30 years. What comes out of one's ear buds now is vastly superior to what might have come out of one's high-end, audiophile "hi-fi" in the 1960s.

This could not be further from the truth. Many consider the 60's to be the pinnacle of the audio reproduction art. All "advancements" since then have been to trade off audio fidelity for price and convenience. Large studio headphones have changed very little in the past 50 years but consumers prefer the comfort, convenience, and price of earbuds and such. The vacuum tube, with its highly linear response, is inherently better suited to audio reproduction than the highly non-linear transistor. Of course, vacuum tubes are a real pain to use and use a lot of power, and forget about any portable applications. In theory the CD is superior to the LP, but design of CD players is actually quite tricky and audio engineers took quite some time to get the hang of properly mastering for CD's. So just when CD's started to sound good everything started to go to digitally compressed audio. And so on and so forth.

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#2143357 - 09/03/13 10:09 AM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Mr. Ape is correct - achieving decent linearity with transistor technology is very difficult, but is a natural outcome of a properly biased vacuum tube. As a society, we have come to expect Walmart price and therefore Walmart quality for our life experiences. That too, is a sad comment. If you want to hear a reasonable simulacrum of a live performance, it will cost big bucks, or you could, as some us do, build the equipment yourself ( at least parts of the system).

But, go ahead and enjoy your iPod and earbuds. If that is what you think of as fidelity, then I assume you also play a spinet piano and think it is as good sounding as a M&H CC.

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#2143627 - 09/03/13 07:39 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: the nosy ape]
wower Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
Quote:
The vacuum tube, with its highly linear response, is inherently better suited to audio reproduction than the highly non-linear transistor.


The poster might have been greatly generalizing but the quote contradicts years of my observations of the field (electrical engineering) and I dislike the thought of leading neophytes to the hobby astray. I just wanted to correct this point: With the exception of extreme hypotheticals, all things being equal, good circuit design is a stronger factor than materials used in the resultant sound quality.
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#2143645 - 09/03/13 08:12 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: wower]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: wower
Quote:
The vacuum tube, with its highly linear response, is inherently better suited to audio reproduction than the highly non-linear transistor.


The poster might have been greatly generalizing but the quote contradicts years of my observations of the field (electrical engineering) and I dislike the thought of leading neophytes to the hobby astray. I just wanted to correct this point: With the exception of extreme hypotheticals, all things being equal, good circuit design is a stronger factor than materials used in the resultant sound quality.

Much of what defines a piano's characteristic sound is the inharmonicity of the strings. When the piano sound is simulated without inharmonicity, everything else being unchanged, listeners are immediately aware of a loss of quality in the sound. I wonder if the solid state amplifier, no matter how well designed, (assuming unmeasurable crossover distortion, driven below hard clipping, and almost no noise), is the equivalent of a simulated piano without inharmonicity. I find I have to listen to a solid state amped system at higher volume levels than using a tube amp. My ears need to hear the ambience of the hall ( or it could be tube noise that creates the illusion of the hall).

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#2144613 - 09/05/13 12:56 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3246
I agree that the 60's high end could do some wonderful things

But also that good circuit design is a stronger factor than materials used in the resultant sound quality.

It was never fair to compare headphones with speakers, the latter also have to cope with room acoustics and all kind of reflections. Sso comparing hifi with earbuds makes no sense to me. Compare earbuds with a good hifi headset

IMHO what they understood much better in the 60s, or maybe it was born from necessity, is that the entire recording path and coherence is so important. Today many pro recordings with hundreds of mics, and electronics and software to match it. This allows the recording engineers to apply many tricks, even putting the music together note by note or synthesizing parts, which DEGRADES the final coherence of the sound.

Regarding to the headphone quality, both for speakers and for headphones, I doubt that much significant gain has been made since the 1990's.

So this is all a kind of mixed bag, and depending on where you put the priority you come to very different conclusions.
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#2144628 - 09/05/13 01:30 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: wouter79]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Another issue with recordings, and listening to them, is whether or not they were intended to be heard using headphones (binaural recording), or using speakers. Most recordings, unless they say otherwise, are meant to be heard using speakers - that is to say numerous mics were used and the final editing was done listening to speakers. A binaural recording is an entirely different experience, if done well. You all can listen however you want, but don't think for a second that what you hear is a valid simulacrum of the real experience - but then, most of you already know that (preaching to the choir, sorry!).

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#2144901 - 09/05/13 10:11 PM Re: Tone and Technology [Re: Kreisler]
SBP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/12/12
Posts: 256
Not everybody had a high-end set up back in the day. My dad had a complete Sony/B&O setup (TV, turntable, FM tuner, EQ, speakers, cassette, CD, preamp, Super-Betamax, Laserdisc, etc.) during college, while my mom had a fairly simple tape/vinyl/radio/VHS/TV setup. Neither of them are/were musicians in any right, or listened to classical piano music. They bought what they had based on their needs, standards, and budget/parental wealth. Obviously, my dad was (and still is) an audio/video-phile, and my mom couldn't care less. My dad now uses Harmon/Kardon and/or JBL speakers to listen to his MP3's. My brother listens to vinyls and MP3's on a full=blown Denon/Sony 5.1 surround system. I use a pair of Bose speakers for my computer and stereo (I can hear the audiophiles hissing). My mom just uses her headphones or a Jawbone speaker and is more than happy with that. Audiophiles still spend oodles of $$$ on their equipment, and normal people are fine with the cheap and cheerful. Nothing's changed, really.

I have noticed that pianos have a different sound on the old 78s I inherited from my grandfather (who was an audiophile himself back in the day). But I'd attribute that more to the technology/format (obviously, less dynamic range, more compression, barely anything above 7-8K, weird frequency response on the mic, etc.) than I would to my standards of tone or the quality of older pianos.


Edited by SBP (09/05/13 10:14 PM)
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