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Topic: Recording a studio piano with wall

  1. #1

    Recording a studio piano with wall

    (Part of this is from another post in the Reverb\Convolution forum for Frankie, but he doesn't seem to be home. Working on his Steinway library, I trust.)

    Has anyone done samples of a studio piano that takes into account the wall behind the piano? What I notice, listening to my parents' less than wonderful, but rich sounding piano, is how much the wall spreads out the sound--I think the distance between the player and the wall (and piano\wall) is wide enough that the vibrations bounce off the wall and spread just enough to seem to surround the player, not isolated like single sampled notes, and not so widely dispersed as a room verb. The notes to the left of the keyboard thus spread both to the left and past the center; notes near middle C spread aurally almost to the end of the piano; notes to the right spread to the right and to the left, past the center.

    I've tried reproducing this effect by creating very small room sizes and verb delays with various programs, but without any luck. I realize that part of the richness I'm seeking is of course the rainbow's end of overtones\sympathetic vibrations, but I do wonder if just getting the reverb off the wall will incease my sense of sitting at a piano.

    Something else that comes to mind: has anyone experimented with different materials for the wall behind an studio piano? The wall behind my parents' piano is just regulation plaster over drywall. The entire wall vibrates a little, of course, though it seems to bounce off a lot more vibrations than it absorbs. What would happen with a thickish sheet of cedar, so there's a large equivalent of a guitar soundboard to resonate? (I guess I'm describing a soft form of plate verb, in a sense, although it could also be thought of as just an extension of the sound board.)

  2. #2

    Re: Recording a studio piano with wall

    For what it's worth:

    Tried to duplicate the sound again, using a tool I forgot I had--the free PSP PianoVerb. With this plugin I'm getting much closer to the result I want. Sounds much more like I'm sitting at home playing a good studio piano, though I'm basically taking a grand sample and doing bad things to it:

    In PianoVerb, I set the Decay time very low, to 3%, since the wall would be right behind the piano and me.
    I set the mix to 97%, since not much volume is lost sitting that close to the piano, with the piano against the wall.
    I set the damping low, too, to 3%, since the wall seems to bounce most of the sound off.
    Haven't played with the detuning much.

    Good results using the Soft Jazz Piano from Plugsounds. Doesn't sound like a chorused\flanged piano or have a just a doubled note. I suspect the PianoVerb prevents this. (I'm using tall, floor standing 3-way stereo speakers with 10'' woofer cones, which may help.)

    I don't know what the sound would be like using one of the grands designed for Giga. (Don't have Giga 3, so I can't use the plug in with one directly.)

    What I can't do is try to duplicate the sound of a larger cedar\rosewood\etc wall behind the piano. I could use Absorption to duplicate that quality of the wood, but not its resonance.

    A pipe dream: would it be possible to create a program that modelled the resonant properties of an object\wall\soundboard? Impossible? (It would have to take into consideration the density of the molecules, of the fiber, the shape, size, and thickness of the object\wall\soundboard, to imitate how it reflected off or absorbed or vibrated to different pitches. Nice to have: an entire wall\room\hall could be made more resonant. A new way of doing verb would be needed, though, or at least one would have to have a separate verb for each type of surface?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Recording a studio piano with wall

    That's basically what Giga 3.0 does. If you wanted, you could actually impulse the very wall you like, and see how that goes. I suspect it's wall + room.

  4. #4

    Re: Recording a studio piano with wall

    So I do have to break down and get Giga 3.

    But wouldn't the verb sample only capture the verb of the specific sound I made? (As opposed to how the wall would react to each note?)

    (A mistake in the earlier post-- I was using the Plugsounds Jazz Grand piano, which seems to have two or maybe three velocity layers, while the Small Jazz Grand has one. What a shame that there aren't more velocity layers in the Plugsound module and less note stretching in the bass register. Great recordings of the individual notes.)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Recording a studio piano with wall

    It would be a bit more complicated than that, depending upon how "accurately" you really wanted to model the wall. You could spend $1000 for an impulse hammer and actually "excite" the wall.

    However, since you can "seal" a speaker on the other side of the wall, you could conceivably excite the wall by putting a big speaker in the opposite room, closing the doors, playing sweeps, and mic'ing the wall.

    You might get all the results you want from the soundboard models that are available, though. Those really do make a difference in that intimacy of sound that you get from playing live.

  6. #6

    Re: Recording a studio piano with wall

    Hi Jake, I just saw your post, I'm going to try and get impulses from the 2 Uprights in the library, before Christmas, but for now I'm busy programming the Giga 3 version of the Yamaha.

    Adding the impulse of a wall you know and impulses from the piano itself should yield very interesting results, not a bad idea at all.


  7. #7

    Re: Recording a studio piano with wall

    Hi Franky,

    I've just answered to your PM (sorry for the late... I'm not yet used to see my Northernsounds' PM)


  8. #8

    Thumbs up Re: Recording a studio piano with wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Franky
    for now I'm busy programming the Giga 3 version of the Yamaha.
    Yummy !

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