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Topic: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

  1. #1

    Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

    Pipe dream:

    Yes, this is probably impossible to achieve, but...Over time, I\'ve noticed that what I miss when playing a sampled piano, as opposed to a real piano, is the way the notes seem to swell up and almost surround you (well, me). I\'m speaking of a piano as we experience it while playing in a quiet room.

    Somehow, even with the excellent libraries we now have, I miss this sensation--the notes come from a specific place inside the piano, naturally enough, but as they develop, they tend to stay in that place. They change in timbre, but not in location, which of course isn\'t what a piano note does, since the vibrating air moves up and around the player and the room. The sound of the strike comes from a different location from the sound of the note as it\'s vibrating the floor and the soundboard, and those allow the vibration to move out and slowly dispere, vibrating the air below and all along the front of the piano. Can this effect be duplicated by positioning so many mics at increments away from the piano that we end up with as many, or more mic placements as there are velocity layers, so the note and the harmonics are traced through space? Each \"mic layer\" after the strike layer would have to be triggered with a slightly longer attack as they move out away from the piano? And would each velocity layer need its own set of set of mic layers, or I am wrong in imagining that a piano wire struck at forte strike would move notes faster though the air than a p. strike?

    Have I been avoiding getting any work done today for so long that I have nothing better to do than ask more from the already swamped developers of piano libraries? Or have more than a few people already experimented with this idea, since we already have ambient and close micings? If I had a piano here at home, and ten mics, I\'d try this on a few notes to see if there was any appreciable change in the experience of hearing the samples. Or would 5 or 6 omnidirectional mics be enough to track the sound?

    Sorry if this idea sounds makes me sound as though I\'ve stayed up too late. I have...

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

    The aural phenomenon you\'re describing won\'t be solved by the method you propose. You would actually get a strange, unpredictable sound as the phase and timing anomalies combined in playback (unless your playback system were spaced exactly as the collection microphones.

    If you want a \"sitting at the piano\" experience, that\'s a binaural recording...for instance a dummy head located at exactly the point of playback. At present, you won\'t get a more \"natural\" experience than that, although it won\'t have the \"fooled you\" effect outside of headphones. It will just be a very realistic perspective stereo \"snapshot.\"

    But in the various types of end uses, that\'s not generally the most useful perspective. For one thing, since music is generally performed for a listener, it\'s not the perspective anyone but the piano player hears! A \"wraparound\" piano sound like that is quite difficult to mix into an impression you\'re hearing a piano in an audience, for instance. You can manipulate volume and EQ, but you can\'t really change the ratio of sustain to strike, or the balance of wood to wire in the sound. So when you, in essence, turn it down and narrow it up, you get something that sounds even MORE untrue, because now the sound isn\'t even \"at one\" with itself.

    We also \"hear\" via certain tactile cues that make the experience of playing an acoustic instrument in acoustic space different than playing back a sample electronically.

  3. #3

    Re: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

    Bingo Bruce!

    Okay, who\'s gonna sample a piano in 5.1??? :-)

    Idea: attach a throne shaker under your keyboard (doesn\'t take much volume) to get a little tactile vibe in your fingers. Cheers, Kev

  4. #4

    Re: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers


    when it comes to Piano Developers, the man to ask here is Kip McGinnis. He spent a solid year with an incredible amount of time creating the Bardstownaudio Borsendorfer Imperial Grand Piano.
    If it is possible or not possible, he\'ll tell you directly.

    Alan Russell

  5. #5

    Re: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

    Hi Jake
    Franz from vrsound.com did it with binaural recording! I use it for my live gigs. Inspiring!

    I also like Frankys YAMAHA C7, players position!

  6. #6

    Re: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

    yeah I just checked out the vintaudio demos...very nice!

  7. #7

    Re: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

    Hi Jake,
    This idea of yours was tested by several companies. One of them (Kawai) did just waht you proposed. They sample recorded their Kawai grand piano with more than 10 microphones and made an experimental set-up for phase-alligned playback of all these samples. In order to record all of the tracks they selected a anechoic room in which they also reproduced the recordings. The result was not what you would expect. The problem with multi-microphone recordings is that you will have a sweet spot that works very well. In the case of 2 microphones you can have a sweet spot of several meters when you space the stereo speakers wide enough. When you use 4 speakers you get a sweet spot that is smaller than the stereo one (the exact size depends on your speaker set-up). When you use more microphones and speakers the sweet spot is getting smaller and smaller. In the case of 10 microphones the sweet spot is so small you will never really be able to use it. Moving you head inches is enough to break the phase allignment between the simultaneous audio channels. And this ruins the 3D illusion. It does soound vary spacial; it even sounds so spacial you get the weird feeling the piano has grown to be as large as the room. But a close reproduction of the original sound field is not achieved this way.

    I recorded the GRANDIOSO piano series (Bösendorfer290, Steinway D and Yamaha C7) with two microphone sets; one close and one ambient. You can combine these upon playback to create a 4 speaker setup; the close mic\'s go to the front speakers and the ambient mic\'s to the rear speaker set. This works very well. The extra microphones give you a sense of space, while keeping the focus on the dry microphones. So the piano is still in front of you but a feeling of the room in which I recorded the piano is given by the rear speakers.

    This is also just a basic solution with limitations.

    I think the revolution in this field will come from real-time convolution reverbs like the one implemented in GigaPulse. Here you can have the Implulse Response of the room encoded. It will be like having the freedom to place the original microphones anywhere you want after the recording. You can select several instances of GigaPulse and make as many microphone positions as you like. (Shortage of CPU power may force you to use more PC\'s for this).

    I experimented with Altiverb and the Sony Sampling reverb and they offer perfect solutions for surround playback of samples, without having more than one or two microphone perspectives recorded in the samples. Simply having the Impulse Response of the room is enough. You can balance the position and room characteristics in real-time and this gives you more options than with the two microphone sets that I recorded in the GRANDIOSO piano series. The real-time convolution engine will calculate a 3D space for you based on the actual room that you used during the recording. GigaPulse even lets you select other microphones and positions. This sounds even more promising.

  8. #8

    Re: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

    In the same vein you can load up all 3 perspectives from our Vintaudio Ultimate Yamaha C7 Grand Piano Library and create yourself a kind of 5.1 Surround sound. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Place the Player Perspective in the rear Stereo speakers, the close Miked Perspective has the center and the Ambient perspective has the forward stereo and you got yourself a surround 5.1 piano [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] hehehe.

    To get the real feel you\'d have to sit at the rear position of the speakers.
    I\'ll test it out, anyone interested in a 5.1 encoded demo of this ?


  9. #9

    Re: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

    Oh yeah. Let\'s hear it.

  10. #10

    Re: Pipe dream for a piano sample: mic layers like velocity layers

    Now, if only someone would sample trills and the \'tremolo effect\'.

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