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#298219 - 04/24/06 02:47 PM Nordiska Live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
Got a chance this past weekend to help put together a Saturday afternoon concert with a pair of Nordiska's... a 185 and 165. And the opportunity to record the event. When I got my house back after the musicians party adjourned on Sunday, I found a little time to pull some pictures out of my camera and a little audio off my tape deck.

Here's a shot of PW member "Steve the Ragtimer" sitting at the model 185 with the lid up. The model 165 is in front of it with the lid off. The stereo mics you see were used strictly for recording.



It'll take me a while to get all the performance's processed but here's a few which illustrate the comparative sound of these 2 excellent pianos. First is my wife Sue playing the closest thing to Viking ragtime we could come up with on the 185:
Peter Gink MP3

Which is a piece of music I stumbled across in an antique shop:

Peter Gink JPG

And then there's our good friend and accomplished stride player Paul Asaro playing Caravan on the 165:

Caravan MP3

As well as a little Jimmy P on the 185 complete with foot stomping:

Blueberry Rhyme MP3

As you might have guessed, Paul's one of my favorite stride players. Better known for the years he spent playing in the Jelly Roll Morton show on Broadway and in his current capacity as the piano player for Leon Redbone. And did I mention that he liked the Nordiska 215 back at my house so much he's thinking of taking me up on my offer to record his next CD on it?

Hopefully I'll get some more of the concert recordings together by this weekend. More to follow.

Howard

( keywords: audio_Nordiska165 audio_Nordiska185 )

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#298220 - 04/24/06 03:04 PM Re: Nordiska Live
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
hv,

The Nordiskas sound just fine---and I suspect that that's due in no small part to your skill as a recording engineer.

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#298221 - 04/24/06 03:13 PM Re: Nordiska Live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
Well that's very nice of you but in truth in this case I havn't had a chance to do much yet. Really didn't do any processing other than snip out the performances recorded with average but decent quality mics and the rest is the pianos and the players. The pianos certainly seemed to bring out the best in them.

Howard

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#298222 - 04/24/06 03:29 PM Re: Nordiska Live
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
In that case, those pianos really sound good!

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#298223 - 04/24/06 04:51 PM Re: Nordiska Live
George K Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 999
Loc: The Midwest
I know the guy that prepped those pianos. He is a magician.
_________________________

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#298224 - 04/24/06 04:52 PM Re: Nordiska Live
tenuki Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/06
Posts: 669
Loc: Seattle, Wa
George, you know any magicians in Seattle?
_________________________
Only the humble improve.

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#298225 - 04/24/06 05:29 PM Re: Nordiska Live
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2349
Loc: Portland, Oregon
hv, nice sounding pianos! I think I prefer the sound of the 185 over the 165...enjoyed the playing as well. \:\)


GP

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#298226 - 04/24/06 06:49 PM Re: Nordiska Live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
I agree. But I got the idea that Paul might have preferred the 165. He seems to like quieter sounding pianos. He made a comment about how much he liked the 165 on his way over to play Caravan... I must have clipped it on the fade in. And when he came over the house he played my 215 for a while with the lid down and music stand up, then totally closed the lid before playing it for about another hour.

Howard

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#298227 - 04/24/06 07:25 PM Re: Nordiska Live
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2349
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Maybe my preference has to do with the way it was recorded?

GP

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#298228 - 04/24/06 07:33 PM Re: Nordiska Live
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
The Peter Gink piece is sweet! Lots of fun. Sue does a great job.

As a piano tuner, I have fairly well-formed opinions about sound. No one asked, but I'll offer some...

I hear a big difference in the bass of the 185. Listen to the descending bass of the Gink piece from about 1:03 to 1:08. The character of the tone changes; I can hear the break between plain wire and wound strings (I think).

At 1:25 and 1:30, where the melody appears in the bass, this has the sound of a too-short, too-thick bass string to me. The harmonics are unpleasant (and inharmonic).

From 1:44 to the end, the melody in the treble sounds too bright for my taste: "pingy", too many high harmonics (and here comes that bass again).

In "Caravan", you can hear the difference in the bass in the opening seconds. Particularly compare the bass from 0:25 to 0:38 with the 165's sound; it's much richer. But I only like this part of the piano at low volume; from 2:24 to 4:28 at louder levels, it sounds like a loudspeaker that is distorting. Too much energy on a too-small soundboard (or too stiff).

There's a lot of variation in the treble, too. From 0:53 to 0:54, the treble melody is tinny sounding to me; the same thing an octave lower (0:54 to 0:56) is much sweeter to my ear.

Of course, this is all like salt in your soup; everyone may like a different amount (or not even like soup!). I like Nordiskas, and I think they're great value for the money.

But there are some excellent ears on this forum; I'd like to hear comments from others.

Nicely tuned, by the way!

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#298229 - 04/24/06 07:40 PM Re: Nordiska Live
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
Gosh Cy,

With an ear as sharp as yours (that violinist should have put 3% more rosin on the last 7" of his bow!) I hope you can enjoy the music! \:D

I can't - no working sound system on my computer at the moment... \:\(
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

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#298230 - 04/25/06 09:47 AM Re: Nordiska Live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
Hi, Cy. Nice piece of listening. Since the mics I used are somewhat uncolored, I think the tonal transitions you're hearing are pretty much the piano. They are directional mics in x-y pattern, however, which leaves a slight presence dip in the middle of the keyboard. Here's a contrasting studio recording of the same piece played on my 7-foot model 215:

Peter Gink Nordiska 215

Besides being a larger piano, I used a mid-side technique with an omni to try and capture the middle of the keyboard a little more naturally. So, what do you think? I've learned that piano tuners are the best persons to ask.

Howard

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#298231 - 04/25/06 03:21 PM Re: Nordiska Live
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
let's hope that Cy comes back on this one. I'm definitely learning from it.

Is the Peter Gink a musical pun on Edvard Grieg's music for Peer Gynt?

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#298232 - 04/25/06 05:20 PM Re: Nordiska Live
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Ah, now that's more like it. See what another foot can do for you? I've been eager to hear this piano. The larger the piano, the easier it is to design it well. Like electronics, smaller is harder to pull off.

0:06 Listen to that lowest bass chord! Big Piano Alert!

0:20-0:22 and 0:27-0:28 The descending bass figure is evenly voiced all the way down. It doesn't sound like a singer who is changing his mouth from an "ah" to "ee" to "oh" like the 185 did there.

1:46-1:48 Just because you're making my head swell up with kind words, I'll show off and point out that the bass octave is out of tune here.

1:52-2:04 The treble is sweet, a singing tone. You can tell that the piano has more to give: in other words, it could be played louder without distorting (I believe it was played louder on the 185 recording).

An interesting comparison for me would be to hear all the notes in order, about two notes a second, staccato with no pedal, mezzoforte, to hear the transitions from one octave to the next.

I'd love to hear a side-by-side with a Steinway B! And comments from others about these, especially you non-tuners. It's often difficult to talk about tone color with pianists. "Bright"? "Dark"? "Moody"? It gets to be like vintage wine at some point ("Impertinent, but promising...")...

By the way, I prefer close miking like this when comparing pianos. Nice recordings!

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#298233 - 04/25/06 06:16 PM Re: Nordiska Live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
Thanks for your comments. Cy. The 185 was recorded in a room packed to capacity which tends to result in a special level of performance.

The smaller pianos are certainly remarkable sounding for what they are. But size definitely matters. In my book the 215 is equally remarkable considering it's a mere 7-footer.

Howard

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#298234 - 04/25/06 07:08 PM Re: Nordiska Live
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2349
Loc: Portland, Oregon
I agree with CY, and I much prefer the sound of this one over the live recording. Nice playing as well!

GP

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#298235 - 04/26/06 06:43 AM Re: Nordiska Live
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3217
Loc: Midwest U.S.
Thanks, HV, for posting the recordings. I particularly enjoyed listening to the type of music. It must be quite fun to have people around who can perform that type of music live.

Listening to the 165, my own thoughts were that a pianist doing a particular type of music might prefer its tonality for a given type of music, for historic "authenticity" of sound. Its sound is very much like an old Chickering square grand that was used for a recent ragtime/stride album recording. When I listened to that one a few weeks ago, I had the sense that it captured a sound that few modern grands can generate that was authentic to the music, a thought that also struck me listening to the 165. I might tend to think that Asaro liked the 165 for this reason--its tonality is in the range of what one might think of as "honky tonk" (but which is really more reminiscent of a lot of uprights from 1880-1900) and which isn't easy to come by on a modern grand. It suits the music well. (I'd be curious to hear something common and classical on the same instruments to get a better idea how much to attribute to piano tonal palette and to player).

Tonally, I prefer the sound with each step up in size, but the 215 to my ears starts truly getting interesting. It sounds much less stressed--the tone is much less percussive which seems to let it be more singingly, liquidly musical.

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#298236 - 04/26/06 07:23 AM Re: Nordiska Live
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
I agree with you, ChickGrand, that the sound of the 165 suits the music. But honky-tonk-sounding pianos are literally a dime a dozen. I don't think that's what anyone should get for spending $9,000 on a new piano.

These are good examples of why the general recommendation is to pick grands larger than somewhere around 5'5", because the design challenges are harder in the smaller sizes.

The Gink piece cracks me up, though: "PDQ Joplin"...

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#298237 - 04/26/06 09:23 AM Re: Nordiska Live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
I haven't heard Paul's Chickering square grand recording yet, though I read Jack Rummel's review. I'll be seeing Paul again soon enough and next time I'll not neglect to hit him up for a copy.

Did a little more work on the recordings last night and noticed some low frequency interaction between the portable platform stage and the PA that was being picked up in the recording mics. Some of the two-footed bouncing while pedaling really came through in spots like a marching drum. Sorry about that. The adventure of live concert recording.

And lest I slight my good friend and PW's own "Steve the Ragtimer", here he is playing his own composition on the 185:

Belly Rub Rag

Howard

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#298238 - 04/26/06 09:42 AM Re: Nordiska Live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
 Quote:
Originally posted by FogVilleLad:
Is the Peter Gink a musical pun on Edvard Grieg's music for Peer Gynt? [/b]
Yes, it was apparently a popular pastime back in 1918 to engage in a practice known as "Ragging the Classics." The better known Russian Rag (based on Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# minor) was also published by the same composer in 1918. My original post includes a link to a JPG of the Peter Gink cover art which reads, "Adopted from Peer Gynt Suite 1... (Apologies to Grieg)".

Howard

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#298239 - 04/26/06 10:17 AM Re: Nordiska Live
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3217
Loc: Midwest U.S.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Cy Shuster:
I agree with you, ChickGrand, that the sound of the 165 suits the music. But honky-tonk-sounding pianos are literally a dime a dozen. I don't think that's what anyone should get for spending $9,000 on a new piano...[/b]
I would agree, but if that's the sound one prefers for a particular type of music, then something you and I might prefer might not be acceptable. (Personally, I'd rather hear the same music on an Overs 225.)

I'm curious how much one has to spend for the Nordiska 215 to start getting into the realm of what I consider a more versatile tone (if the recordings are any real indicator--never a good bet). I'm not in the market, but just curious how much a Chinese 7-footer with acceptable tone costs compared to the more common sub-sixes we see in much larger numbers. The smaller Chinese models sound much like the smaller (mostly defunct) American models with their own various awkward compromises of scale that were also "a dime a dozen".

Someone said above that the 215 might be mistaken for a larger piano. I think that overstated the case. It sounds like a decent 7-footer, but not something more. I doubt if many of us living with 9-footers would think it sounded like more than what it is--decent enough to be interesting and have some potential--for the price.

Personally, I've had the same reaction to the major Japanese lines over the years, disliking intensely the tonality of the smaller sizes and finding they get better at the 7ish range (but don't get what I'd call exceptional, but rather just a good "average"--which is entirely appropriate, given their price relative to the price of those that are truly "exceptional").

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#298240 - 04/26/06 01:51 PM Re: Nordiska Live
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
hv,

Sorry I missed the info contained on the JPG. Did click the link, but when the image came up, I realized that I'd clicked an image link rather than the MP3 that I'd intended to, and bounced right back to your post, to get the MP3.

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#298241 - 04/27/06 09:45 AM Re: Nordiska Live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
 Quote:
Originally posted by ChickGrand:
Someone said above that the 215 might be mistaken for a larger piano. I think that overstated the case. It sounds like a decent 7-footer, but not something more. I doubt if many of us living with 9-footers would think it sounded like more than what it is--decent enough to be interesting and have some potential--for the price.[/b]
Reminds me of an interesting story I heard which illustrates just how subjective the relative merits of living with a 9-footer can be. I was involved with a conference about 10 or 15 years ago at a place called Westfields down in Chantilly, VA and brought the wife in to play one of the most gorgeous Bosendorfer Imperials I've ever seen. Set near the railing on the 2nd story of a 3-story circular atrium about 35 yards across. Sorry, no recording. When talking with one of the managers I enquired how he came to have such an instrument. The rest of the place being populated mostly with Sojuns. Said it was special ordered from Bosendorfer by Dudley Moore who, shortly after getting it, decided it was just too much for his living room. And promptly sold it at auction. Mid $60's, btw.

Howard

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#298242 - 04/27/06 10:38 AM Re: Nordiska Live
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3217
Loc: Midwest U.S.
I think Moore would have been better served by taking the time to work on his pianissimo skills and keeping the broader dynamic range of the Imperial. A 9-footer is not too much for a home, but it well may be too much for a player who can't adapt his skills.

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#298243 - 04/27/06 11:45 AM Re: Nordiska Live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
Ha, ha. Occupational hazard. Being so busy playing with orchestras all over the world that maybe he had no time to practice? But he seemed none the worse for it in a broadcast I remember seeing of him doing a Hollywood Bowl performance with the LA Philharmonic.

Howard

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