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#255456 - 10/02/06 07:58 PM A new way to record your piano
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1252
Loc: Orange County, CA
Since questions come up fairly often about how to record the piano sound, I thought I would pass on to everyone that Kawai is making a new product specifically for recording the piano. Here is a link to some information:

http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/digital/Special/pr-1.html

I made a sample recording at the office last Friday, and uploaded it to the Piano World server - it can be downloaded here:

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/Brahms.Sonata_3.II.mp3

If anyone has questions about this new product, I'll be glad to answer them.
_________________________
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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#255457 - 10/02/06 08:14 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1300
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
How much?
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Yamaha G7 - Roland FP7

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#255458 - 10/02/06 08:24 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1252
Loc: Orange County, CA
In the range of $1,500.

I just listened to the streamed version of the file - hmmm, lots of funny noises thrown in that weren't in the original. Maybe I'll convert t mp3 and upload it again.
_________________________
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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#255459 - 10/02/06 09:52 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
bkkmd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/06
Posts: 304
Loc: Bangkok, Thailand
I don't see it mention but I wish it would have a hard drive or something similar so after recording, I can play back to make sure that the recording is ok before transferring it to CD or recording various pieces at different time and compiling them on the same CD later.

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#255460 - 10/02/06 09:55 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17852
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I had a similar question as bkkmd... when you record, does it automatically go straight to the CD? Or can you decide after the piece is done whether to save it or not? This is not at all an academic question for me, because I will try maybe 10 or 15 takes at a time (sometimes more!) before getting one that I'm satisfied with. I'd be running through CDs like crazy if every time I pushed the red dot it went to CD!
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#255461 - 10/02/06 10:14 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1252
Loc: Orange County, CA
Well, all I can say to this is CDs are cheap. I recorded it 2 times, re-played a couple of passages, then moved the files to my computer to paste things together.

So no, there is no hard drive.

You can, however, plug the outputs directly into a computer and record that way if you prefer. There are 1/4" and XLR outs on the back. This still gives the benefit of the custom microphones, EQ and reverb built into the unit.
_________________________
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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#255462 - 10/02/06 10:21 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17852
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Is there a cable that has XLR or 1/4" connections on one end and a USB on the other? Is it easy to hook it up to the computer?

When you say that you can record on the computer, say, using Audacity, would the sound quality be worse than going straight to the CD on the PR-1? In other words, do you lose something by jury-rigging to have the convenience of recording on the computer (and thus be able to play a zillion takes without saving any of them)?

And, let's say I hooked it up to the computer so I could do my zillion takes and finally get one I'm happy with. Would I then be able to send it back to the PR-1 unit to burn to CD or would I need to do that on the PC?

I listened to the recording you posted, incidentally, and it sounded very nice. I didn't hear any "funny noises," and I was impressed particularly by the fidelity of the low bass notes.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#255463 - 10/02/06 11:18 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1252
Loc: Orange County, CA
Monica,

No, USB is a digital connection, so one would need a sampling device to convert sound to USB. I don't think there is a digital audio output from the PR-1. You would need to plug the cables into the audio input of the computer - most computers have a stereo line input (although laptops often do not).

I think the fidelity is best to simply record onto the CD, then transfer it to the computer. Since it records a normal audio CD you can record for 70 minutes on one cheap little CD-R. You can stop and start as much as you want, and play back the recorded tracks to see how you like them. There are also inputs into the PR-1, so yes you can also record audio from an external source, but that's not a very convenient way to do it.
_________________________
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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#255464 - 10/02/06 11:52 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
LisztAddict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
Here is another recording made with the PR-1 system.
http://savefile.com/files/107994

The piano was a new RX-2. There was thin carpet under the piano.

Don - can this system record to a CD-RW? If it can, that certainly is a big help for those who wants to do multiple takes.

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#255465 - 10/03/06 12:04 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
chopin952 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/06
Posts: 492
Loc: North Carolina
Few questions:
  • Does it have memory for temporarily saving/replaying/retaking a song before writing to CD?
  • Does it support 80 minute CDs?
  • Does it support CD-RW so that one disc can be used instead of starting a CD-R coaster factory?
  • Does it provide phantom power for microphones that need it?
  • What's the sampling rate and sample size of the files written to CD (44.1Khz/16-bit, 48Khz/24-bit)?
  • If it can sample higher than 44.1Khz can it write directly to uncompressed WAV files as ISO9660 instead of CD-XA?
  • Does it have silence finding capabilities? That is, find the next song when rewinding or fast forwarding, or is every recording session simply considered a new "track"?

More questions as I think of them. I am soon purchasing a set of mics, and now I'm looking into the recording devices that are available.
_________________________
-chopin952 (NY S&S B) (On YouTube)

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#255466 - 10/03/06 12:54 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
tootallll Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/03/06
Posts: 88
Loc: Tierra Verde, Florida
oops...
_________________________
"What a blessing, growing old is mandatory, growing up is not"

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#255467 - 10/03/06 04:32 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2450
Loc: Portland, Oregon
KawaiDon, very nice sounding recording, and your playing as well! I am wondering if this system would work on my M&H RBB, with all the Ampico equiptment under there, plus a solenoid system? Can you put the mikes in different spots under the piano, or must they go in only in one place?

Thanks,

GP

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#255468 - 10/03/06 09:35 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1241
Loc: Cape Cod
It is a very pleasing sounding recording and nice playing too. I compared it to the recording in the other thread which was also nice sounding, although cliped in a few spots. But they were different sounding from each other. Yours seemed to be a more distant perspective with less body resonance. Did you velcro the mics to the beams under the soundboard or perhaps put them on the floor instead? Maybe just different reverb settings. Just curious.

From what I can see of the mic capsules, they look a lot like panasonic wm61a electret\'s which are fairly decent. That's what I'd use if I were rolling my own.

The cd recording system looks pretty convenient too and seems to yield rather nice results. It won't compete with high resolution recording but its obviously not intended for recording studios.

Howard

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#255469 - 10/03/06 10:29 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
Greg Wilder Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 36
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I've listened to several recordings made with the PR-1 and have had my suspicions confirmed - that it's possible to do *much* better with your own setup for considerably less money.

As far as I can tell, the only novel thing about this device is that it combines the functions of several (rather low quality) devices in a single unit. If you're a user who wants an ultra-simple solution for home recording, it may be just the ticket...

But the folks in this forum seem genuinely interested in achieving the highest quality whenever possible. For example, people frequently catalog their detailed impressions of subtle differences between models and different makers to help inform potential buyers.

So, here's what I don't understand - after spending large amounts of time and money to find just the *right* piano - after spending years perfecting your ability to perform music - why settle for poor/mediocre (and expensive!) when recording it?
_________________________
www.gregwilder.com

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#255470 - 10/03/06 10:40 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1252
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by chopin952:
Few questions:[list]
[*]Does it have memory for temporarily saving/replaying/retaking a song before writing to CD?
No, it records on the fly. The CD is not finalized until you say so.

[*]Does it support 80 minute CDs?
Yes

[*]Does it support CD-RW so that one disc can be used instead of starting a CD-R coaster factory?
Yes, in fact I believe that's what comes with it.

[*]Does it provide phantom power for microphones that need it?
The PR-1 is intended as a self-contained system, the mics use special cables and are proprietary. They are powered by the PR-1, but no facility is provided for phantom power of the alternate inputs.

[*]What's the sampling rate and sample size of the files written to CD (44.1Khz/16-bit, 48Khz/24-bit)?
Standard CD sampling rate only. All music is stored as standard audio CD tracks.

[*]Does it have silence finding capabilities? . . or is every recording session simply considered a new "track"?
Since it is intended to be sitting right next to the pianist, one can simply stop the recording during the pauses. There is no automatic track changing feature. A foot switch capability is provided which can allow stopping / starting record separately.

. . . .I am soon purchasing a set of mics, and now I'm looking into the recording devices that are available. [/b]
This is not a device to plug high-end microphones into. It is a total system for recording the piano directly, and is meant to be a simpler option than buying separate mics and mixer and recorder.
_________________________
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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#255471 - 10/03/06 10:44 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1252
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by grandpianoman:
KawaiDon, very nice sounding recording, and your playing as well! I am wondering if this system would work on my M&H RBB, with all the Ampico equiptment under there, plus a solenoid system? Can you put the mikes in different spots under the piano, or must they go in only place?
GP [/b]
Shouldn't be a problem. The mics mount using velcro straps, and can be put pretty much anywhere. The system is intended for close mic'ing up near the soundboard, and experimenting with the position of the 2 mics is a good idea.

The system will record all noises in the piano with excellent fidelity, though. I'm not sure if you would record something from the player or not, but if so I think you would hear the system in action.
_________________________
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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#255472 - 10/03/06 11:00 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1252
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Greg Wilder:
I've listened to several recordings made with the PR-1 and have had my suspicions confirmed - that it's possible to do *much* better with your own setup for considerably less money.
[/b]
Well, Greg, you have expressed an opinion as fact, so that tends to cloud the question and start disagreements. "Better" is a very much relative term, and if this is true for you, then you are correct. For others, it might not be true.

I have done a fair amount of recording of pianos myself, and I am not a fan of the close microphone sound from a piano. I suspect that is what you don't like in the sound of the PR-1. I much prefer a more natural recording setup at a distance from the piano. The problem with this for most people is that their rooms color the sound way too much to get a natural sounding recording. This is where, for some people, a close microphone system like the PR-1 might be "better."

The reason the system is designed this way is that it almost completely eliminates room response from the recording. In my own living room I have experimented with decent microphones and mixer, and the room always overcomes the benefit of the "pro" equipment.

So, as with everything, there are trade-offs. I think the combination of convenience, adjustability of the sound, and eliminating room resonances is enough to make this a good solution.

Lastly, I would really like to hear your suggested equipment which is "considerably" less than $1500. Please give us your recommended list of equipment that totals substantially less than $1500 at list price. It should include 2 microphones, cables, low cost mixer (for basic tone control / EQ), basic reverb, and recorder. If you are going to do your tone control and reverb in a computer, to be fair, you need to include the cost of the computer and software.
_________________________
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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#255473 - 10/03/06 11:09 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1252
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by LisztAddict:
Here is another recording made with the PR-1 system.
http://savefile.com/files/107994

The piano was a new RX-2. There was thin carpet under the piano.
[/b]
Ha - sounds like your fingers are in much better shape than mine! Thanks for posting this.
_________________________
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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#255474 - 10/03/06 11:19 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17852
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
KawaiDon, thanks so much for answering all these questions. I'm really intrigued by this system. I haven't been satisfied with the recordings I've made with a single Samson USB mic and laptop, but I'm also not an audiophile or a techie so would be glad to find something better that was also easy to use.

I was initially hung up on the idea that the system required burning all takes to CD (I would be wasting MANY CDs that way), but I think you offered the right perspective: think of the initial CD just as a recording medium, and once you get a take you're happy with, transfer it to computer, and later on you can mix and match various tracks to compile a final CD of your own.

I'm still a little confused by your answer to one of Chopin952's question, when you said that the files are stored as "standard audio CD files." So they're not mp3 or .wav files? What is the extension?

Also, looking at the photo of the unit, I don't see a way of naming a particular file. How do you tell the computer which one of the gazillion takes on the CD is the one you want to transfer? Or do you have to put a new CD in after every time you hit the stop button?

(You can probably tell from these questions that I really don't know anything about recording music!)
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#255475 - 10/03/06 11:41 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1241
Loc: Cape Cod
Don:

The Kawai recording system certainly has its points: ease, simplicity, and nice results. But on just recording quality, a system consisting of just these 2 pieces could match or exceed at less cost:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PMD660/
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AT825/

But it would take a bit more recording skill. And you wouldn't get finished audio CDs with just this. Similarily, a setup consisting of the next 2 would be capable of state of the art recording quality at about the same $1500 price:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HDP2/
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/NT4/

It's all in the trade-offs and there's a lot to be said for the Kawai recording system which can empower almost anyone to create audio CDs they can play in any player. Even if you have to factor in the additional cost of a computer to upload mp3s... all of us here obviously already have one .

Howard

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#255476 - 10/03/06 11:42 AM Re: A new way to record your piano
Greg Wilder Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 36
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
 Quote:
Originally posted by KawaiDon:
Well, Greg, you have expressed an opinion as fact...[/b]
I most certainly did not. I said that after listening to samples my suspicions had been confirmed. I was simply expressing a strong opinion.

 Quote:
Originally posted by KawaiDon:
The problem with this for most people is that their rooms color the sound way too much to get a natural sounding recording.[/b]
Close micing is one apporach - but the other possibility is to make simple adjustments within the room to overcome these issues. I've posted information regarding this elsewhere on the forum.

 Quote:
Originally posted by KawaiDon:
The reason the system is designed this way is that it almost completely eliminates room response from the recording.[/b]
I understand, but it doesn't change the fact that the final result lies somewhere between poor and mediocre.

 Quote:
Originally posted by KawaiDon:
I think the combination of convenience, adjustability of the sound, and eliminating room resonances is enough to make this a good solution.[/b]
As well you should given that you represent the company producing the product. And I'm sure there are many folks who will agree with you.

 Quote:
Originally posted by KawaiDon:
Please give us your recommended list of equipment that totals substantially less than $1500 at list price. It should include 2 microphones, cables, low cost mixer (for basic tone control / EQ), basic reverb, and recorder. If you are going to do your tone control and reverb in a computer, to be fair, you need to include the cost of the computer and software. [/b]
A recent topic on this forum investigated this very question. It is amazing the results people are getting with equipment costing under $1,000. But to answer you directly, here's a low cost setup I would consider:

$400 - Systemax AMD Sempron PC
$100 - M-Audio Fast Track USB Audio Interface
$ 75 - Tapco or Behringer Mixer with 2 Mic Pres
$450 - Rode NT5-S (pair)
$ 25 - 2 Mic Cables

These are list prices for new equipment. And the best part is that this setup offers true control over the sound and recording process with the possibility of component upgrades in the future. And you can even check your email or post to Piano World between takes! ;\)
_________________________
www.gregwilder.com

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#255477 - 10/03/06 02:12 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
chopin952 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/20/06
Posts: 492
Loc: North Carolina
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica Kern:
I'm still a little confused by your answer to one of Chopin952's question, when you said that the files are stored as "standard audio CD files." So they're not mp3 or .wav files? What is the extension?[/b]
Sounds like it records directly to CD audio tracks. That is, there is no PC file system with individual files, instead it creates CD tracks typical of any audio CD that would play with a typical CD player. Pretty convenient if you want to record something and pop into your car CD player as you drive to work the next day. You then have to use Windows Media Player or other software to extract the audio tracks into .WMA files and convert them to .WAV or .MP3 if you so desired.

-chopin952
_________________________
-chopin952 (NY S&S B) (On YouTube)

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#255478 - 10/03/06 02:35 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
Greg Wilder Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 36
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Follow-Up:

Kawai is aiming to fill a gap in the market - and FWIW I hope they are successful. I'm sure that many Piano World readers will purchase the PR-1 and cherish the results they achieve.

But in the interest of serving the users of this *public* forum, I think that the inherent imitations of a product like this should be made clear. The quality of the people and postings on this forum deserve at least that much.
_________________________
www.gregwilder.com

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#255479 - 10/03/06 02:40 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
jollyroger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/23/05
Posts: 849
Loc: Houston, TX
One word of caution here Monica, before you seriously consider purchasing. If you opt to make many recordings to the CD and then transfer to your PC, this is fine. But depending on how much recording you do, prepare to become a regular at Comp USA.

However, if you opt to record from the XLR outputs on the PR-1 to the Input of your PC/Lpatop's sound card, you may likely not get the same quality. You'll likely need to upgrade your sound card to achieve that which the PR-1 is doing automatically for you.

Simply put, an audio signal needs to be converted into 0's and 1's on a PC. This is known as Audio to Digital Conversion. This conversion process takes place via your PC's sound card. So if you have a standard sound card in your PC, I wouldn't expect the same results as using the PR-1's internal Audio to Digital Converters and recording directly to CD.

I designed and built my own DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) completely around my sound card, which I purchased first. It's by far the most important part of any recording setup where audio is being converted to digital (and visa versa, of course).

KawaiDon,
The PR-1 is a great idea on Kawai's behalf. Simple, yet proprietary. They've managed to design mics that don't yield the inherent "booming" and other ancillary noises (i.e. pedalling) that placing ordinary large diaphragm mics under the piano would. The one thing that would really make this setup the cat's meow for those that want a simple solution to creating nice quality recordings would be for Kawai to include some type of memory buffer to hold up to, say, 15 or 20 minutes of music. Then, allow the user to burn it to CD or re-record over it.

Just my 2 cents. Nevertheless, the PR-1 still remains impressive.

Best regards,
Roger
_________________________
Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.
Estonia 190 - Serial # 6561

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#255480 - 10/03/06 02:53 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1241
Loc: Cape Cod
I wonder what utility software might come with Kawai recording system? I would think that users would want to pull their best tracks off the cd the Kawai burns, copy them to their computers, and then assemble and burn their best takes to different cd from there. Something like the Nero software that is usually bundled with cd burners would do the trick for Win users. Or Toast on Macs. You could use Audacity for any triming or touch-up.

Howard

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#255481 - 10/03/06 03:29 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
LisztAddict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
There are pros and cons with everything. I know for sure I can put together a system that produces higher quality recordings for less than $1500. But the PR-1 is compact and about as simple to operate as a VCR, and the quality is very acceptable. Kind of like comparing a laptop computer to a desktop computer.

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#255482 - 10/03/06 03:49 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
Hakki Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 3023
I have posted these a couple of times but I think it is useful here too.
Here are two examples I recorded using a similar setup as proposed by Greg. (coincidentally the mics are the same)


http://www.sendmefile.com/00465208
http://www.sendmefile.com/00465964
_________________________
Put in one of IMO, I think, to me, for me... or similar to all sentences I post

http://www.youtube.com/user/hakkithepianist

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#255483 - 10/03/06 04:35 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
EP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 404
Loc: Idaho
 Quote:
Similarily, a setup consisting of the next 2 would be capable of state of the art recording quality at about the same $1500 price:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HDP2/
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/NT4/
This is what I use (with an NT2). I was intrigued to see Kawai's development of the PR-1, and admit I am a bit surprised at the enthusiastic response, given the limitations of the system and compared to other solutions at similar cost that have much more flexibility and higher recording quality.
I highly recommend that anyone seriously considering this take a look at the HDP2 and other similar recorders.
Let me hasten to add that I applaud Kawai's interest in providing equipment specifically for recording one's own piano, and no doubt it will meet the needs of many. That said, I think that while it may be simple to use, it looks a bit ungainly and a bit of a compromise in quality, especially for the price.

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#255484 - 10/03/06 06:10 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
Hakki Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 3023
BTW KawaiDon, what is the piano you are playing?
It has a nice and balanced sound.
_________________________
Put in one of IMO, I think, to me, for me... or similar to all sentences I post

http://www.youtube.com/user/hakkithepianist

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#255485 - 10/03/06 08:28 PM Re: A new way to record your piano
KawaiDon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/02
Posts: 1252
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Hakki:
BTW KawaiDon, what is the piano you are playing?
It has a nice and balanced sound. [/b]
A Yamaha C1 . . .

No, just kidding. It is a Shigeru Kawai EX here at Kawai.
_________________________
Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America

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