Sound quality?

http://soundcloud.com/alexissongs/sets/cubase-piano-songs-recorded/s-gli2X

Any comments much appreciated - thanks!

Hey, thanks for the constructive criticism, ETB. What would you do differently to make it sound better?

You are referring to the piano part on soundcloud?

Sounds fine here, nice stereo spread.
If you want a comment about the quality, please state the mic’s you used, what sort of plugins on what settings etc etc.
About the comressing on soundcloud, the amount of data stays the same on my soundcloud page, so I think it’snot compressed.

Regards Dylan.

The stream gets compressed, the download remains intact as you uploaded it.
Nice dynamics in your playing. Sounds good to me.

Thanks for your listening and offering your opinion, Sir Dancelot!

I should have clarified, this was a VSTi piano (Yamaha S90ES from HSSE), sorry for the confusion. My piano player has a LOT of dynamics when he plays, even phrase to phrase (I guess I picked two of the songs where the dynamics aren’t as large as some of the others) and I just couldn’t get the loudest bits and softest bits to sound right - I’d either have to strain to hear the soft bits, or I’d be redlining the loud bits.

So I did some compression, while wondering if that was just about a sin on an acoustic piano. I had max 6 dB GR on the loudest parts, and on the softest parts not any at all, I was really trying to not have too much (whether I was successful or not, I think not sometimes). It didn’t really help though … I still find myself turning up the soft bits in the car to hear them, and on top of that I think the performance is somehow less dimensional-sounding for doing that.

(Plus, and I don’t know if this is even rational or not, I wonder if the compression (in combination with the make up gain) is making the performances “bass-heavy” - it seems like a small tendency for the bass notes to ring out a little longer than the treble notes is accentuated by the compression and makeup gain to the point where sometimes all I think I hear is bass hanging around from 4 measures ago!!).
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I think they compress for listening, but keep the original file for downloading:
http://help.soundcloud.com/customer/portal/topics/109407-uploading-transcoding/articles

Sometimes our transcoding system can create audio artifacts, > as we transcode all tracks to 128 kbps mp3 for streaming playback> . Uploading a lossless or high-quality lossy file will usually reduce these to a minimum, but unfortunately there’s not much we can do for the handful of individual tracks that are still affected.

If you choose to make your track downloadable though, the version users can download will be an exact copy of the version you uploaded, without any transcoding.

Thanks again, Dylan. If you have any comments on the above, would love to hear them!

Wow, thanks for that Strophoid. I guess what I learned is I haven’t learned to trust my ears … I was listening so hard and so long I had convinced myself it had lost some definite kind of “sparkle” (what the figgy I mean by that I can’t really say!) with the compression.

Prescription: More DAW hours. Less “sparkle” thoughts!

:smiley:

to be honest, rendering one piano VST, ehm…Not a lot to debat about.
I think it’s up to the player to make the part interesting.
He can determin the dynamics by himself.
In conjunction with other instruments using compression will be more important.

If you don’t want to turn your volume knob in your car then you just want it to sound like on the radio…Lifeless and squashed. (I say this as a bad thing, but it isn’t, I do this all the time. :slight_smile: )
But for a solo piano piece …Well I would stick with the full dynamics.

Regards Dylan.

Nice clean looking waveform and I like the sound. I was wondering how you would be able to get that kind of sound out of a true grand… :slight_smile:

Recording true pianos is a pain. :angry:

Sounds like a piano in a pop/rock mix?
Don’t they normally record this kind of piano pieces in a concert hall?
This is kinda in-yer-face?

Hey, Alexis. Nice to hear some solo piano round here for a change. So with my pianist/listener hats on I’ll try to offer some engineering advice because there’s not a lot wrong with the playing!

Quite a lot of talk about compression going on (as in audio not streaming - stop confusing me guys!). Yes, it does sound very bottom-heavy in places but in others the overall volume really drops too much, particularly in the Chopin. I heard that recently on the radio, as it happens. There’s a lot of dynamic range in the piece - a big powerful introduction followed by those quieter bits - tricky stuff to even out. I don’t think you’re quite there yet but I’m wondering what to suggest.

First off, I’m inclined to agree with whoever it was that said the less compression the better. I presume/hope you’ve recorded the MIDI so have you considered using some MIDI Compressor before anything else? As a pre-compressor compressor I’ve found it quite effective in evening out the sound without actually compressing it. You might even consider tweaking some notes manually - not timing, just velocity, and don’t tell your pianist! (although thinking about it I don’t recall anything in particular in these pieces). Of course, there is a limit to how much you can do before you actually start changing the sound unacceptably as there can be definite transition points where the change from one sample to the next is quite abrupt, so you might want to keep an eye on these.

I think once you’ve wound off the compressors it will sound better - the bass won’t be so overwhelming (although the Chopin needs plenty to sound convincing) and some of the sparkle might come back - it does sound like it needs a bit more in places, just that nice little ‘plink’ you get in the upper octaves in the quiet bits.

In the Blues, things sound pretty good in the intro but again gets a little overwhelming once it gets going. Same story, perhaps.

You might even find that it still needs a bit of tweaking in the EQ and I would look at the low-mids to clarify the bottom end (just my taste) and top end sparkle (ditto) but changing the compressors may sort most of this out. There will be some magic frequencies but I can never remember them. Try a preset.

Looking forward to hearing the results of whatever you decide to do and can you keep both versions up for comparison as people often take the old ones down.

Right, that’s enough. Back to Robert Peston explaining how badly we’re all phuqt…

Cheers,
C

Get a different player, engineer and producer.

While this Yamaha piano has a nice timbre I do find it lacks a lot of detail, and for me therefore it is not well suited for solo piano work. It is however generally quite useful in many pop/rock type mixes I find. :slight_smile:

I reckon the performance is very good and well played but I do think the dynamics are rather compressed compared to how this would actually sound live on a real piano. That of course is a compromise that often needs to be considered and measured when recording of course. The pianoforte is a hugely dynamic instrument and therefore a degree of compression may be necessary at times.

So, two things that would improve this piece for me would be to firstly render with a better sampled piano VSTi - one that really reveals all the nuances you would actually hear in an acoustic piano and secondly I’d allow greater dynamics in this particular performance. :sunglasses:

We need a facepalm smily in this forum! :laughing:
Go to bed, Nate! Go directly to bed without passing the go-go girls nor the bar!

Agree with those who said about preferably not compressing (classical) piano. And with what HowlingUlf said about the type of piano sound - this VSTi not only sounds very close, but is “player-perspective” - low notes on left, high notes on right - not “wrong” but unusual for classical piano pieces.


BTW, there’s a mistake - prominent wrong note - at 0’29" :open_mouth: - E natural instead of E flat in the melody (so C maj chord instead of C min), and more subtle things not right - eg a note missing at 0’12" :frowning:, where there ought to be RH D a third below the F in the melody. And the final chord isn’t as written - LH is too low & RH is too high :unamused:. So the pianist thinks the way Chopin wrote the last chord was wrong?

Of course, none of that is relevant to the quality of the recording per se, and this recording was only put on display for technical feedback. But people will notice errors in familiar classical music - (IMHO) if you decided to actually “publish” classical music recordings, some kinds of performance errors could reflect on you (for apparently not noticing them).

Here’s something to aim for :mrgreen:

Tzvi Erez plays Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 in C Minor
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgpPk4ooo7E

Both Steinberg and Quantum Leap have the Steinway D, Yamaha C7, and Bosendorfer 290 in their dedicated piano VSTi’s for the wide and dramatic sound for solo piano pieces.

Hi - responding to the new great and helpful comments - and thanks again for the earlier ones, Sir Dancelot and Strophoid!

Bane - I followed your piano recording thread some time ago, your final results were very nice, but it was all the work you described in that thread that made me realize there was no way I should try to record our acoustic at home! I’ve thought about getting one of those other VST pianos you mentioned, but this assignment was, “Dad, can you record these nine songs please … uhmm, for tomorrow?”. So, the tools we had on hand were the ones we had to use! (All nighter, nevertheless). Maybe for next time.

Sherz - similarly, thanks for the recommendations on a better VSTi! As far as the compression - I agree with you that it sounds too compressed, especially listening in a quiet room at home. At the same time, I’m always having to turn the volume knob up and down to hear the soft bits in a noisy car. I think maybe I need to decide firmly first and foremost what listening environment this needs to be engineered for? Or …?

Crotchety - thanks loads for the specific hints, especially doing some MIDI editing early on. You even made me think, I wonder if using the VST3 capabilities would help here … isolate some of the lower notes and draw their fade outs to be done a little quicker.

Howling Ulf - Thanks for your comments! Great point, maybe recording with a real concert hall piano VSTi will make it less “in your face” … maybe with some “hall” reverb.

Chase - you the man! Yes, wrong notes abound, but rest assured, I’d never publish it, it’s just a family project. His piano instructor has already spoken to him, probably about the very same things! I’ll have to listen to Mr. Erez’s version, especially to see how the “Left/Right” issue is dealt with.

Thanks again everyone - you folks are great!