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Topic: Replicating a classical recording

I've been working on getting as close to a classical style piano recording sound as possible with Pianoteq, and I think it's working quite well.

The most common way to record classical piano is with a pair of omni mics back a good distance from the piano. Other mics can be used to taste, but it's this spaced pair as mains which seems to be most common, and is probably my favorite. Most of the presets in Pianoteq sound either very close or fairly close -- many people justifiably love the sound of a close recorded piano, but I've been interested in replicating the sound of a really great classical piano recording.

I've used the Grotrian for these examples, but it works equally well with the Model B and others. The first is a simple minuet in the two-part baroque dance style which I wrote for piano students. The second is a piece, also for piano students, based on Scriabin's "mystic" scale. Both of these are at the intermediate level -- if anyone wants a copy let me know, these will be included in a piano method book I'm finishing up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igw3jIF … e=youtu.be

https://youtu.be/bg3caD8-1y4

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

Very nice, compositions and sound.

Are you using the same mic setup (Omni spaced pair) as the Bluethner Model One?

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

This is a custom mic setup. I used a spaced pair as far back as I could possibly get, then I added a secondary pair at a more moderate distance (low in the mix for clarity) with the speed of sound maxed out so the distance between mic pairs didn't sound too crazy.

And glad you enjoyed it.

Last edited by NathanShirley (01-09-2017 17:11)

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

Interesting...I wonder if there's any difference in the tone between maxing the speed of sound, and removing the distance effects between the microphone.   The latter should just affect the microphones, but the former may affect the intra-piano tone generation as well.

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

There are different schools of thought regarding time shifting different microphone tracks to correct for mic distance in classical recordings. Many engineers don't do it except for extreme cases (like an opera singer very far from an orchestra in a pit). It seems to cause more problems than it solves generally.

In Pianoteq the mic interface is pretty fascinating, especially being able to perfectly auto correct for distance, change speed of sound, etc. I only started adjusting the speed of sound when I didn't like the effect I was getting by removing the distance/time effect... it sounded too neutral and artificial for my taste. Without adjusting the speed of sound the time delay was understandably ridiculous. So I was pretty happy with this balance.

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

Cool.  Something more for me to play with.  My "Holy Grail" has been trying to get such a perfect "Player" microphone set-up so as to trick my ears into not knowing where my piano was set playing straight acoustic or straight Pianoteq as I am at the keyboard.  Things are definitely much closer than they were a year ago!

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

Right, kind of the opposite of what I was going for here. I suppose for your optimal "player" sound, getting your speakers to radiate sound like a soundboard might be key... not that it would be easy! If you solve it I'd like to know. I've been working on designs of a wooden box, like a piano case, to house a speaker system which would reflect sound out and off an angled lid. But I think a soundboard of some sort would be ideal.

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

Yes, very difficult.  A piano is like an 88-element speaker, but it's even worse, as you pointed out.  Buying transducers and adding them to my piano so it would be like a home-built Yamaha Transacoustic would be really close, but I don't have the heart to do that to my 132 year-old Steinway...  ;-)

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

I have enjoyed, immensely, your Minuet and its miking, NathanShirley.  They along with your observations are both striking and educational —in my opinion.  Recently, I myself was struggling with my trying to imagine some way to arrive at a truly classical piano recording sound via Pianoteq.  Have you considered a possible D4 post from your classical miking technique to the Pianoteq FXP Corner, because your observations are certainly insightful?

Last edited by Amen Ptah Ra (07-09-2017 17:31)

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

Thanks, glad you enjoyed this. I uploaded a D4 version just now, along with a Grotrian FXP.

One thing I should point out -- good reverb is very important. With Pianoteq's built-in reverb, I've found a very light reverb can work nicely on most instruments, but when you're trying to get a strong concert hall reverb, it isn't easy to get a realistic sound. With this distant mic preset, it sounds a bit odd without concert hall-esque reverb, so in the above examples I've used Valhalla Room rather than the built-in reverb.

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Re: Replicating a classical recording

It looks like version 6 has improved the realism of the mic system quite a bit, which means my distant mic preset is now way too extreme (as it should be!). I'll have to play around with this and see if I can get a nice balance for version 6.

EDIT:

Here's an attempt to recreate it in version 6, also comparing 4 pianos:

https://youtu.be/ABUZhJCNONY

Last edited by NathanShirley (07-09-2017 06:07)