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Topic: Piano listening test

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  1. #1

    Piano listening test

    Hi,

    Surely not another \'listening exercise\', you\'re probably thinking! I\'m afraid so. However, before getting to the point, I\'ll mention a short anecdote:

    Here\'s something that I clearly remember from about 6 years ago:
    I went to try a good selection of the then top few sampled solo string libraries.
    When playing each individual note in isolation, there were some nice \'realistic\' sounding samples.
    However, when trying to play a legato phrase with those samples, the \'realism\' immediately vanished.
    It was the transitions between the notes in a musical phrase that gave the game away.
    Similarly for solo brass and wind instruments.
    This is partly why I use a fair amount of physically modeled instruments these days if I want to get realistic and expressive legato.

    Turning the attention to sampled pianos, however, it is not so much the transitions between notes that is of concern, but other factors.
    I have heard some poor quality recordings of real acoustic pianos, but nevertheless the pianos still sound like recordings of real pianos rather than sampled ones.
    Maybe it is the sympathetic strings resonance aspect, usually missing from sampled pianos, that gives the game away, or maybe several other factors as well.

    So, I have made a piano \'listening exercise\'!

    In this listening exercise, I have deliberately included some rather poor quality recordings of real and sampled pianos.
    Can you identify which excerpts are played on the real pianos and which on the sampled ones?
    What are the factors that say \'real\' rather than \'sampled/fake\' when it comes to pianos despite the recorded sound quality?
    In this exercise I have included 19 mp3s (total size being less than 5 MB).
    Please try to listen to all 19 excerpts if you can (or least as many of these excerpts as you can be bothered with), and respond saying which you think contain real and which contain sampled pianos.
    Please attempt to express what it is that makes the piano in each particular excerpt sound real or sampled.
    Also, with the ones you think are sampled, have a guess at roughly when (i.e which year) they were initially available to buy?
    The 128 kbps mp3 files are:
    http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano01.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano02.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano03.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano04.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano05.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano06.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano07.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano08.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano09.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano10.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano11.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano12.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano13.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano14.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano15.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano16.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano17.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano18.mp3 http://www.btinternet.com/~veridical.sounds/piano19.mp3

    Best regards
    Nicholas
    p.s. Thanks to Michiel Post for suggesting I make a piano listening exercise.
    p.p.s. It took me eight solid hours to put this lot of excerpts together today, so I hope quite a few of you will be kind enough to have a go and respond.
    p.p.p.s. Remember that this \'exercise\' is meant to be interesting and fun, so please don\'t regard it as some sort of test (such that your ego won\'t forgive you if you get the answers wrong!).


  2. #2

    Re: Piano listening test

    Oy Nicholas, give us a rest!
    You\'re not serious about picking what year the sampled pianos were released are you! Not even your average wholesaler could remember those details!

    FWIW, here\'s one opinion (nobody laugh now..)

    1. real. partly the room ambience and partly the tuning spread. (No one would record a sampled piano for posterity with that much variation from note to note, surely!)

    2. Sampled - Sounds a little too \'clean\', and you hear that C5 with identical timbre a few times in a row.

    3. Real - uneven hammer sounds, you can hear a couple of sustain pedal moves (yeah, I know they could be fake). Also seems to have a realistic room ambience.

    4. Real - as for 3

    5. Real - but what a crappy sound! Just seems to have a lot of range tonally.

    6. Sampled - mainly because you hear a nasally timbre on the same notes repeatedly.

    7. Could go either way.

    8. Real - has a really nice mellow undertone to it which you don\'t get out of most sampled Pianos (Haven\'t heard the Malmsjo tho)

    9. Keep your kids of the piano!!! It\'s sooo distracting when the perfomance is bizarre. Could be either.

    10. Sampled? Hard to tell. Just a slight tendency for the same overtones to repeat on a couple of low notes.

    11. Sampled? Has a slightly metallic texture in the mid range which sounds like a lot of eq.

    12. Why must these pieces be so disjointed! Sampled? Seems like the attacks are similar at certain velocities, as if there was compression applied (of course, you could do that with a real performance I suppose).

    13. Sampled. Has that Roland SA hard mid range.

    14. Sampled. Sounds like a few bass notes share the same sample and you hear the harmonics pitched up and down.

    15. Hard. Nice sound. Maybe sampled. Not a lot of natural ambience, nice resonance one the opening chords, very even tone and tuning, there\'s a repeated F5 at the end which sounds identical when it\'s loud or soft.

    16. With all that stick smacking you want to say real, don\'t you? My gut says probably real, but the C4 sounds the same each time so...?

    17. Real. Bit of a tuning spread and the two times you hear E4 the beats are slightly different.

    18. Woah! Guessing real here. Great big sound. Most samplers would cark it trying to cop with the polyphony required for that first big run down.

    19. Sampled, but recorded in the room. Just seems to have that \'loud notes turned down\' vibe on some of the softer chords, which is so indicative of earlier sampled pianos.

  3. #3

    Re: Piano listening test

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Chadwick:
    Oy Nicholas, give us a rest!
    You\'re not serious about picking what year the sampled pianos were released are you! Not even your average wholesaler could remember those details!

    FWIW, here\'s one opinion (nobody laugh now..)

    1. real. partly the room ambience and partly the tuning spread. (No one would record a sampled piano for posterity with that much variation from note to note, surely!)

    2. Sampled - Sounds a little too \'clean\', and you hear that C5 with identical timbre a few times in a row.

    3. Real - uneven hammer sounds, you can hear a couple of sustain pedal moves (yeah, I know they could be fake). Also seems to have a realistic room ambience.

    4. Real - as for 3

    5. Real - but what a crappy sound! Just seems to have a lot of range tonally.

    6. Sampled - mainly because you hear a nasally timbre on the same notes repeatedly.

    7. Could go either way.

    8. Real - has a really nice mellow undertone to it which you don\'t get out of most sampled Pianos (Haven\'t heard the Malmsjo tho)

    9. Keep your kids of the piano!!! It\'s sooo distracting when the perfomance is bizarre. Could be either.

    10. Sampled? Hard to tell. Just a slight tendency for the same overtones to repeat on a couple of low notes.

    11. Sampled? Has a slightly metallic texture in the mid range which sounds like a lot of eq.

    12. Why must these pieces be so disjointed! Sampled? Seems like the attacks are similar at certain velocities, as if there was compression applied (of course, you could do that with a real performance I suppose).

    13. Sampled. Has that Roland SA hard mid range.

    14. Sampled. Sounds like a few bass notes share the same sample and you hear the harmonics pitched up and down.

    15. Hard. Nice sound. Maybe sampled. Not a lot of natural ambience, nice resonance one the opening chords, very even tone and tuning, there\'s a repeated F5 at the end which sounds identical when it\'s loud or soft.

    16. With all that stick smacking you want to say real, don\'t you? My gut says probably real, but the C4 sounds the same each time so...?

    17. Real. Bit of a tuning spread and the two times you hear E4 the beats are slightly different.

    18. Woah! Guessing real here. Great big sound. Most samplers would cark it trying to cop with the polyphony required for that first big run down.

    19. Sampled, but recorded in the room. Just seems to have that \'loud notes turned down\' vibe on some of the softer chords, which is so indicative of earlier sampled pianos.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Hi Chadwick,

    Many thanks again for taking the time to respond with such good detail. You certainly are a good listener.

    If Michiel Post hadn\'t put the idea in my head, I probably wouldn\'t have done this piano listening exercise. However, I\'m glad he did suggest it, because I think it\'s a very interesting one.

    I see what you mean about guessing the year that each of the sampled pianos was released. Maybe just guess the rough era, e.g. early/mid/late 1980s/1990s/2000s?

    Thanks again for getting the ball rolling on this exercise, and also for your enthusiasm which helps keep this forum very much \'alive and kicking\'! (Do you know if anyone else has contributed nearly as many posts to these forums as yourself?)

    Best regards
    Nicholas


  4. #4

    Re: Piano listening test

    \"Oy Nicholas, give us a rest!\"

    I think he just likes seeing his name in the most recent topic subjects! Actually, a more relevant question is, why are you doing this? And do you plan on publishing the results of all these tests/surveys?

  5. #5

    Re: Piano listening test

    Why is it that you did not include any Gershwin? Some Vaugn Williams would have been nice too.

  6. #6

    Re: Piano listening test

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Munsie:
    \"Oy Nicholas, give us a rest!\"

    I think he just likes seeing his name in the most recent topic subjects! Actually, a more relevant question is, why are you doing this? And do you plan on publishing the results of all these tests/surveys?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Hi Munsie,

    After I get a reasonable number of responses, I always post the real answers (as can be observed for my earlier \'listening exercises\'). If I do not get a reasonable number of responses, I probably will still eventually post the real answers for those that kindly responded appropriately.

    I am doing all these \'listening exercises\' as a fun and interactive way of learning interesting things about sampling and recording. If I myself did not find these threads interesting, I wouldn\'t bother investing many hours of my time preparing the mp3 excerpts.

    However, I\'m afraid I can\'t please all the people all of the time. I\'m not forcing anyone to read the threads I have initiated, and I\'m not forcing anyone to have a go at the exercises. If you are not interested, then don\'t bother to read the \'listening exercise\' threads started by \'nicholash\'.

    Best regards
    Nicholas

  7. #7

    Re: Piano listening test

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by esperlad:
    Why is it that you did not include any Gershwin? Some Vaugn Williams would have been nice too.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Hi esperlad,

    Some guesses at the answers would be nice too!

    Best regards
    Nicholas

  8. #8

    Re: Piano listening test

    :::> Nicolash

    I\'m still alive.

  9. #9

    Re: Piano listening test

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by noenoeil:
    :::> Nicolash

    I\'m still alive.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Thank goodness noenoeil!
    I know from experience that egos can be a dangerous thing!

    Best regards
    Nicholas



  10. #10

    Re: Piano listening test

    (Do you know if anyone else has contributed nearly as many posts to these forums as yourself?)


    Blame my constant lurking on the fact that the advertising industry in my part of the world has been in the doldrums for a few months

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