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Recording Integrity--Piano and Organ


ProfD

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Do you feel today's ROMpler, electromechanical emulator, clonewheel , DP, etc., is good enough to record piano or organ heavy songs?

 

Whenever I hear those songs featuring M1 piano and D50 organ, including Jimmy Smith's B3 solo on "Bad", I immediately feel... :sick::laugh:

 

Fast-forward to present, sampled and modelled piano and organ have gotten 'better' but there is still a difference.

 

Personally, I would NOT use my Motif for piano or organ on a recording. Electric pianos don't count. :D

 

Let us know if for your projects, style of music, etc., whether or not facsimile or real deal even matters. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I would defer to B3er on this but Tony Monaco, for example, has recorded with Hammond Suzuki's clonewheels and there is some live Tower of Power stuff out there with Roger Smith playing the daylights out of a B3p. I have done some recording with my xk3 and compared the organ sound to some of my earlier C3 stuff and allowing for the fact that recording technology has gotten better over the years, I can't tell the difference. Pianos are another story but I have certainly heard and played some digitals that are better sounding than some acoustics.

What differences there are these days I think may be put down more to recording technique than actual instrument differences. That said, if anybody would like to give me a slightly used Yamaha grand I will certainly take it.

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I think it depends on the style of music, the context, and how much of a purist one is. I think it's fairly obvious to say that if I were recording solo jazz piano, I'd want the real thing, but if I were recording pop/rock music, a DP could be acceptable and maybe even be easier to mix.
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IMO...

If the Leslie is real then a good clone is good enough.

 

Some digital pianos sound pretty good but but I find the spread between real and fake to be greater with piano than I do with organ. (Probably because I am a piano man by education) With piano the entire soundboard is an instrument. You may play one note but you generate some harmonic frequencies from the soundboard and piano wires from the other 87 notes.

 

But generally if you are playing some sort of pop/vocal music both are good enough. The sonic nuances of what the keyboard player is doing is generally not the listening focal point of the song.

 

What is really important is whether you get paid.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Personally, I would NOT use my Motif for piano or organ on a recording. Electric pianos don't count. :D

 

IMO, the piano's sound board is intricate and unique. Preamps and amps can impart a lovely electric character, but acoustic character is peerless. Leslie imparts both an electric and an acoustic character.

 

Recreating acoustic or electric character with a digital synth is rough. I wouldn't try to do it if I had a choice. But who has $10K worth of mic and signal chain lying around? Sometimes, you have to use what you have.

 

Music > Sound.

 

Jerry

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I would use my Electro 3 for B3 / EP in a heartbeat, no gripes. Then again, I'm just a student without access to Leslies and knowledge of piano recording. A tube preamp would do a lot about that (just look at the "guess Rhodes / Nord Stage" thread).

 

Piano - we aren't there yet. I don't have that many options, so I use my DP. I believe modelling is the way forward; it turned out to be the thing in organ, so why not in piano? However, there's still much to be done before a realistic piano sound can be derived from an electronic device. Until then, I rely on my DP and people who know how to mic a piano (and have mics!).

When in doubt, superimpose pentatonics.
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I don't think we're there yet for a solo piano recording, an organ record, or anything that is completely naked and exposed. In a mix, I think we've been there for years though. I'll say this: I think that nowadays, the way digital pianos or clonewheel keyboards feel/play has eclipsed sonic quality as the biggest difference/downside. There is just no way that plastic keys and silicon chips can interact with the player and provide the the type of feedback that you will get with a soundboard, vibrating strings, etc. on a real acoustic. This is a much bigger issue for the keyboardist in 2009 than sheer sound quality. And it effects the way the player is able to perform. In piano-centric genres like jazz and classical, where dynamics, touch, feel, and nuance are mission-critical, this is the reason why there is probably still no subsitute for a "real" instrument. Of course, 10-15 years ago (or even 5 years ago to a degree), the sound wasn't even close, but now, not so much.

--Sean H.

 

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg TR76, Novation X-Station 61, Casio PX-320

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I was just listening to a live multitrack recording from a gig my band did in April, and my faux-B3 setup (VB3 on a laptop) sounded surprisingly convincing. It's funny, because as I'm playing, sometimes it feels really believable, and sometimes completely fake. But so far, the response I get from the audience (and my wife would definitely not hesitate for a moment to tell me if stuff sounds cheesy), my bandmates and now from listening to recorded stuff tells me that for B3, it's really almost there.

 

I don't do acoustic piano live, so can't help there. Electric pianos are getting close, I use Mr Tramp for wurlitzer through an amp sim, and feel like it's pretty convincing, but I still haven't found a Rhodes that convinces me more than my 73. In fact, I have a keyboard heavy gig saturday, with a good long setup time, and I'm pretty seriously considering taking my Rhodes.

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I was just listening to a live multitrack recording from a gig my band did in April, and my faux-B3 setup (VB3 on a laptop) sounded surprisingly convincing. It's funny, because as I'm playing, sometimes it feels really believable, and sometimes completely fake. But so far, the response I get from the audience (and my wife would definitely not hesitate for a moment to tell me if stuff sounds cheesy), my bandmates and now from listening to recorded stuff tells me that for B3, it's really almost there.

 

See, there's a good example of what I was talking about. If you take everything else out of the equation, the sound quality itself is just about there. In a recording, you can hardly tell the difference between your average acoustic and some of the giga-libraries out there, or even some of the newer digital pianos. And while they still may not match the sound of a real Steinway, in perfect condition, tuned, in an exceptional acoustic environment, let's face it 99.9% of the pianos that we come across don't match that ideal either. So the real shortcomings only become apparent for us: the players! Nothing comes close to the way a real instrument (the good ones at least) can "speak to you" and interact. A lot of us agree that playing on such an instrument can drastically improve performance. So, in this regard at least, acoustics can still sound "way better" than their digital counterparts, if only a result of how much better the player is performing. Just out of my own curiousity, New&Improv, would you say that you generally had better, more inspired performaces on the nights that you felt good about your sound than the nights when it just felt fake?

--Sean H.

 

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg TR76, Novation X-Station 61, Casio PX-320

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A sampled piano or organ is better than a crappy version of the real deal.

 

Also, the production budget might not allow for the luxury of renting a well-tuned piano or well-oiled B3.

 

Of course, the right muso can make the difference negligible too.

 

In piano-centric genres like jazz and classical, where dynamics, touch, feel, and nuance are mission-critical, this is the reason why there is probably still no subsitute for a "real" instrument.

When the DX7 first came out, I remember seeing it perched atop the grand piano. That fad went away quickly.

 

Nowadays, I see the heavyweights using a grand piano for the main course with a side of ROMpler. Best of both worlds. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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For acoustic piano I opt for one of my soft synth pianos. Even though I have a Yamaha C2 MIDI Grand it would need to be tuned, mics properly set, etc. The room it is in is far from ideal. Just a big hassle. The other option is a studio but that means $$$s + the pressure of the studio,

 

On the other hand it's so easy to mic the B3+Leslie. I like hearing the Leslie in mono and most Leslie sims suck in mono. If you put a halfway decent mic in the vicinity of a real Leslie, it sounds good.

 

Busch.

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You guys proximity mic your leslies in the studio? I don't typically worry about studio stuff. I just play and let whoever is the studio man worry about that because I figure they know more about it than I do.

 

Live I have the sound guys mic both rotars and then mix the two channels out front.

 

If I am messing around the house recording stuff I usually do it the with 2 mics the way I do it live just cause that I how I have always done it.

 

Thanks

 

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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It depends on the situation. For jazz, a piano is required.

 

For the reggae and funk band, I could use a digital piano because there's not a lot of real piano playing. If we ever use a real recording studio again, it will be one with a B3 and Leslie. But I think I'm done spending money to record, so we'll see...

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Situational as others said, and also in the context of what else is being recorded.

 

Most of my Virtual Instruments are superior to the quality I would get out of miking a real instrument in my apartment, which I am not allowed to acoustically treat.

 

Ten years ago, no way. Technology has moved along since then. We have all sorts of expressive hybrid instruments now that combine modeling and sampling.

 

But for the core instruments such as piano and organ, I feel in particular that a digital instrument is likely to get better results for MOST of us, since miking a piano (for instance) is very time-consuming and difficult to get right (the best way is to use a web of mics, but the specific technique is under a non-disclosure so I can't share it here).

 

Also, many or most of us do not have regular access to the real thing. This is less true of recording artists who are being directly funded by major labels, which I guess is more the context of the question than those of us with semi-pro home studios.

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Of course I prefer to record with a real piano.

But the scale of my projects (=budget considerations) don't allow me to. So I have to settle for awful ROMpler pianos. I don't think the general public will notice the difference.

 

The difference is for me - I feel I can do a better take (more emotion, more dynamic precision,etc) with a real piano.

 

 

How about this - I had to record piano parts on an unweighted keyboard last week. It sucked, I couldn't get the feel right.

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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As just about everybody said, it's a matter of mere convenience.

 

Philosophically speaking, we should first ask ourselves why we're imitating acoustic instruments with electronic instruments; it's what electronic instruments do worse. Instead, they would excel in making creative new sounds.

 

Ideally speaking, I suggest the Marino Reality Test: Record your part with the sampled/modeled instrument, and listen to it in context. If *you* couldn't honestly tell yourself that it's a synth, then it's good enough *for that context*.

 

Practically speaking... I still never found a sampled piano which would pass the above test in exposed and/or delicate playing situations (Jazz solo or trio, classical music). Music with heavy rhythm sections, where the piano would have been compressed anyway, you can get away with a (good) sample.

 

In conclusion, I try to avoid like the pest to record a sampled piano in exposed and/or very expressive parts. Sometimes it's unavoidable because of budget or other practical concerns... but I just hate those moments.

 

 

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The problem is, whatever our preference, not many of us here have ready access to a well set-up, high grade grand piano. I have the grand piano I learned on - it has sentimental attachment but I wouldn't record with it (even if it were convenient to do so, as it lives in my dad's lounge) - I would take the feel, sound and convenience of my RD over it any day of the week.

 

Of course, if you're a highly-paid professional going into a top end studio, you're not going to pick any DP over a nicely set up Steinway D. Just pointing out that while it's great to mix here with such guys (whom I both respect and envy at the same time!), most of us just aren't in that situation.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Considering the price we pay for KBs, we can afford to spend a few hours in a nice studio equipped with a well-tuned piano and organ in great shape. ;)

 

Those tracks can be dumped into the various home recording set-ups. Technology affords us the best of both worlds.

 

In this discussion, I'm not advocating a particular approach. Budgetary constraints led me to provide another perspective. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I record where I am asked. The worst was when I was asked to play an organ track using some some Alesis keyboard ran straight into the consol. That really sucked but I got paid.

 

If I would have known what I was getting into I would have brought an organ or atleast the XB-2 and Leslie 860 I gigged out with at the time. But it was one of those request that came up while I was there. I had been brought in to play piano.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I was just listening to a live multitrack recording from a gig my band did in April, and my faux-B3 setup (VB3 on a laptop) sounded surprisingly convincing.

 

The live venue will add a lot of the acoustic reverberation and spatial cues that are missing from a leslie sim running direct into the board. The trouble with most of our digital solutions is not the content of the sound but the context in my opinion.

 

With direct in and in-the-box mixing, we can do all the spatial and processing tricks, but it's like buying flowers to warm up a hospital room. You can still smell the antiseptic.

 

Jerry

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In my band's first album i played both a real Rhodes and my new (then) Nord Electro 2. No one could tell the difference - included myself. Now i use my Nord Stage and various VST's for recordings without thinking too much
Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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An acoustic piano is a REAL piano. But there are pianos, and then there are PIANOS. For some pianos in studios, I'd prefer a reliable DP.

Of course, I would be appalled and leave a studio charging a hefty hourly rate with a real piano that begged me to play the Motif instead. :laugh::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Of course, I would be appalled and leave a studio charging a hefty hourly rate with a real piano that begged me to play the Motif instead. :laugh::cool:
But it happens. This Monday, I'm on another person's session and their studio piano sucks. So I expect to haul my keyboard, just so I know I can make music on it. For my own studio projects, I don't worry about it, since I use a studio with my piano.
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I always record using sampled/modeled pianos, for solo, or in mixes.

I recorded my baby a few years ago, and was disappointed with the thinness of the sound.

Granted I didn't have decent pres or mics, but I did at least have a matched pair.

 

For rhodes, I'll use the Rhodes/Clav expansion card in my Roland, and for organs, B4/B4II get the nod.

 

Live I just use my S80 pianos & EPs, and organs from the Vintage Keys exp on the Roland.

Good enough for me.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

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But it happens. This Monday, I'm on another person's session and their studio piano sucks. So I expect to haul my keyboard, just so I know I can make music on it.

That is one of those circumstances where it is ultimately in both parties' best interest to use an instrument that works for the musician. :thu::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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But it happens. This Monday, I'm on another person's session and their studio piano sucks. So I expect to haul my keyboard, just so I know I can make music on it.

That is one of those circumstances where it is ultimately in both parties' best interest to use an instrument that works for the musician. :thu::cool:

Well, yes, one would think...

 

At least it's a quartet, so I can pretend I'm not there. ;)

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A few times a month I'm at my friend's studio recording with Ivory. Most of the time it is within a track so not a big deal. One time though I remember having to improvise a solo stride/2nd line type piece for some source materiel for a movie that went on for almost a minute. I was scuffling (in my mind) to make it happen, especially on his old Yamaha P200 controller. We listened back and it was surprisingly cool. Ideally I'd like to have had my Yamaha Gran Touch or at least a CP300/RD700GX to trigger.

 

Well maintained pianos in studios are hard to find, even in this town. Most of the studios are geared at rock-pop-RnB so with the exception of a handful of higher end places, most jazz and classical guys that I know opt to rent either one of Jim Wilson's tricked out C7s or maybe one Pierre's Faziolis. A lot of guys rent Steinways from Pro Piano also. They usually have a nice selection of Bs, maybe a pair of Ds and usually at least one Hamburg.

 

On the home recording front I took a few "giant steps" towards my quest. I purchased the 24" iMac 2.93 and a pair of DPA 4011s SDC cardioids. The Mac is still sitting in the box waiting for my friend to come over and install Logic and show me the basic OS has I've always used a PC.

 

I'm still on the fence between this barely used Crane Song Spider and the new, much talked about Metric Halo ULN-8. I'm kinda leaning towards the ULN-8 after hearing about how powerful this thing is. I don't know if it could be called the Prism Orpheus killer like some over on Gearslutz are referring to it,but from what I read it's a MF nonetheless. Possibly an industry changing piece.

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

 

2005 NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515

 

 

 

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