If your speakers sound bad, send them back.
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I cannot remember the antique grande piano offhand. But I was hanging with some pals in a piano store. We’d never heard of any of the makers except Steinway so we were cooing over it. Piano salesman comes over and informed us that said piano was junk. Them he demoed the other pianos. They blew the Steinway into the weeds. So maybe you're hearing it as it is!
I think piano must be pretty difficult to record well. Either it sounds too close or too small and many recordings don’t convey the gravitas of a full sized concert piano in the low registers or the "air" around the notes in the higher registers.
I listen for the timing of the attack and the decay of the note as well as the spatial characteristics of the presentation, which should resemble the size and placement of the instrument. Obviously, if the instrument is mic’d through a PA system, that changes things too.
One of the best recordings I’ve heard (though you may or may not like the music, I do and Cecil McBee plays bass on it) is the original Leo Records (US) pressing of Amina Claudine Meyers "Salutes Bessie Smith" cat.# LR 103. I have not heard the UK pressing, but the audiophile re-do that was around a dozen years ago (and strangely doesn’t show up in Discogs) does not have the mojo even though Kevin Gray cut it if memory serves and I generally find his work terrific. It’s improvisational blues.
I will help you. What are you trying to accomplish with your system?
List your system entirely. Then, describe in detail the problem with the sound.
BTW, your perception of the speakers available in the industry I believe is impoverished. The performance spectrum of audio systems for the home is incredibly large. All the four characteristics you mention can be realized to a great or small degree relatively. One of the most important characteristics of an audio system you missed, resolution/definition. This directly impacts the others. It is quite possible that due to a difficult setup that does not please you, you have overlooked the relationship of a system's resolution in favor of these others.
There is no way for anyone here to appreciate your predicament when they have no idea of your electronics. One glance could reveal a low end rig, in which case you may be expecting too much of a budget rig, or it may reveal an operational incompatibility which could be corrected, i.e. use of a lower powered amp with an inefficient speaker.
If you wish to do more than simply rant, and perhaps rant out of ignorance of establishing fine audio systems, then provide more detailed information so the community can be of assistance. :)
You are correct 99 percent of audio/stereo reproduction is of the play it pretty/as you like it type of sound the key is to find the gear that plays music like the microphone picked it up and those types of components will better serve you in the long run than the tone control, pretty sounding gear that tires with time.
"it takes a lot of luck to have a system in your hands that allows you to recognize a Pleyel from a Steinway"
Interesting but I don't agree with this statement. IMO it comes down to the equipment you use. I will agree that it is hard to get there for most people who typically purchase a standard manufactured product and then try to match it to their speakers, etc. Trial and error is sure a hard way to get the results you mention above.
I have said this hundreds of times, you have to know what makes the sound you are looking for to start off with or know someone who can assist you with this. This is the reason why so many are spending time buying and selling gear and also why you get two different opinions on a piece of equipment. Plus you have people who follow reviews. Good luck with that.
If you want to hear the difference between piano types or violins you need to purchase a source that will allow you to hear that feature. Without that, you probably won't get there any time soon.
John Siau, chief engineer of Benchmark Media wrote:
"Personally, I do not like what warm sounding equipment does to the sound of a piano. Warmth is wonderful on vocals, guitars and certain instruments, but it beats against the stretched overtones of a piano. The overtones in a piano occur at slightly higher than harmonic ratios, and these create beat notes with the exact integer ratios produced by electronic equipment (and speakers). Too much harmonic distortion will make a piano sound out of tune."
Not all Steinway's are made alike. Certainly the company took a dive during WWI and after but Steinway still a reference piano. I have a Fazioli and a Steinway and love the sound of the Fazioli over the Steinway.
As for sound reproduction...you might try a Theta Digital IVa with powered speakers. I personally prefer ATC actives...all the way around. 150a for the front, 100a surrounds, 25a for the rears and the C6 center and C6 sub. The sound is silky smooth when it needs to be and explosive when it needs. I don't hear much color to the sound. jmho
As for headphones...I have MEZE Empyrean's. With a good DAC...even portable...it is the best sound I have ever heard in headphones. Again jmho
So the adjectives I know are: pitch, timbre, dynamics and spatiality. I cannot think of sound characteristics that are not inscribed within these four adjectives.
Please do not take this as snarky. I am actually sympathetic. But I can't help but note that those four terms are nouns, not adjectives, and therein lies the difficulty.
No system can produce all four of those things perfectly. Depending on what resources you have to work with, you will have to make tradeoffs. What's more, the best reproduction depends on the quality of the recording, too. And tradeoffs are made in recording. Sometimes those tradeoffs will complement the tradeoffs you've made in your system and sometimes they won't.
The actual adjectives people use describe aspects of those four nouns. For example harsh usually means a bit to much amplitude at certain frequencies, an aspect of timbre. People talk about the soundstage and instrument separation which are aspects of spatiality.
So people are actually talking about what you want to talk about.
I have a question: I’ve seen a lot of terms in audiophile jargon: laid back, top end, low end, harsh, soft, smooth, etc.
Not to be snarky but, those aren't adjectives.
I thought the OP's point was a criticism of audiophile terminology.
On that point I totally agree. Who doesn't?
There needs to be a collective effort to better define the
"Terms of the Trade". Otherwise the CJ will continue forever.
My position is that words can never achieve this goal.
On the contrary, words are what put us here.
Here meaning everyone has different spin on the precise meaning
of a term. So the babel continues.
My solution is to get a group of competents together in a studio
and churn out a CD that properly exhibits in sound what a term means.
Now if someone has a better idea how to create a coordinated strategy
of getting the world on the same page I'd love to hear it!
I may have the correct degree of brain damage (I heard that...😣), but I understood what the OP was 'on about'. Noun vs. adjective, the intent and impression is similar enough to comprehend....
"Spatiality/resolution" edge into room acoustics, but another issue for another day...mho, and yours may vary...
The great majority of equipment can render a piano as recognized as a piano. Personally, I'd find it amusing to hear a piano sound like a banjo. I suspect it'd be difficult to tune one to do so.
The tuner of same should be hauled off to detox unless the deed was done for a lark by a paying customer...a whole different scenario. *G*
OK, seriously....IMHO, no speaker has yet to accomplish Perfect Reproduction in an absolute sense. Many of varying sizes, formulations, pricing, et al may and can approach that goal but still fall short of achieving All of the Four Aspects stated by the OP.
Given the plethora of forums and postings by the denizens of AG, and the variations of commentary and responses garnered....
..No One has either. Regardless of equipment, ICs', format played, room characteristics, power supply....
The Quest continues for some....others find a level of solace they can enjoy and stop, accepting the deal they've made with the chimera....;)
Will Perfect Repro ever be achieved?
No. Even if the measuring devices swear in their absolutist way '...we're here, listen to It...', no.
Remember the old computer comment:
Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair.
Even if we were presented with perfection, we likely wouldn't recognise it as such, so used to imperfection, things fraught with flaw.
daros71, sorry you got hosed. 'Net sales can be like that. If you've no recourse to solution, send the seller an unmarked box of dog waste.
Yes, rude. But some suspect you of being AKA 'Mr. K'; not a pretty status for one complaining of speakers....🤔
(Delete this if one must....I haven't attacked anyone in specific nor even in general; a tasteless suggestion, perhaps but one born of ennui...)
What a great answer by @replicnt6 !
Regarding being serious I think a lot of manufacturers take this very seriously. A lot of us who buys gear also take it seriously, maybe a bit too much sometimes. We know a lot of people don't. It is perfectly ok. If you mean that high end hifi doesn't sound good I disagree. You can hear a lot of things from the recordings.
Most of you guys can't read. But then we already knew that.
The OP isn't complaining about his system.
Indeed he says nothing about his system at all.
Nor is his system relevant to his post.
OP is saying we are using the wrong terminology to describe sound. An over-complex terminology. A terminology that does not describe the sound of the music.
OP is coming from a somewhat different place than the rest of us. We are aiming to describe the sound of the system, not of the music.
That's why he doesn't get where we are coming from.
However, I think he has a good point. It relates to our obsession with the system, rather than with the music.
For instance, if Miller had a Steinway, he would try to make it sound 'better' by standing it on Townshend pads, or on springs. That would be wrong. As OP says, a Steinway sounds like a Steinway. Or perhaps more accurately, a 9 foot concert Steinway in piano black sounds like a 9 foot concert Steinway in piano black. etc.
I see a lot of Yamaha grands now- like their woodwind cousins a bit brighter in tone than other makes but intonation usually more accurate maybe at the expense of 'tone'. My less PC friend always says 'velly reliable and always uses Yam. We had a monster of an Estonia at school in the main hall and a Bechstein that was crammed with crisp packets underneath...
There's a Yamioli near me (half Fazioli) owned by a certain jazz pianist.
Our piano tuner always deliberately tunes to give the sound a brightness
Terminology is wonderful, in the studio every producer, engineer and musician must communicate with terminology that is meant to relate a feeling in the sound. Very rarely will a musician say I need 605hz taken down 3.5 db but it does happen sometimes.
Pianos are very hard to record because of phasing (a term not on your list) when you have a lid on the piano there are phasing issues by definition, when you have 2+ mics out you have phasing issues by definition. Creative people come up with new terms so an engineer can turn that feeling into technical manipulation of the signal.
I am a professional pianist and I feel that piano is one of the hardest instruments to really reproduce. Maybe I'm biased because its my instrument but I think because of its enormous range and complexity of interacting overtones, not just with sympathetic vibrations or the strings but interactions with the soundboard and cabinet, it's really hard to get it right. That being said, I feel that 9 times out of 10, it's the recording that gets it wrong, not the speakers or the electronics. Bad mic placement, bad EQ, bad mic choice all contribute to pianos not sounding like pianos. One of the micing techniques that has become en-vogue is to put two ribbon mics less than an inch away from the strings. Who listens to a piano like that with their ear inside the lid inches away from the strings! I'm sure speakers and electronics can contribute to the timbre of a piano from being off, but there are a whole slew of bad things that can happen before that sound reproduction gets to the hi-fi.
X @ replicnt6, what a shame for making such a mistake! Ahhhh .... Can I try the subjectivity game? For me they are adjectives! Joke. Shame.
Let’s get back to the sound ... Obviously there is no system that can perfectly reproduce the sound of a piano. The same happens with color reproduction in print. Perfect color reproduction is not possible. Despite this, in this sector they do everything possible to get as close as possible to the ideal result. Measure everything possible and agree on certain standards. Converting RGB to CMYK is already a huge problem, because the CMYK space doesn’t have its own light, so it relies on an auxiliary light. More or less the problem of space when playing an instrument on a speaker that has its own space. A similar problem is faced by those who produce a Fazioli who have to grasp a lot of objective aspects, and then, right at the end, there is a small space for the "character" which is part of the differences between a great Yamaha, Steinway, Fazioli and so on. But in this area it seems they don’t want to define any stadard. It would be easy to agree even on multiple stadards. Imagine defining 128 recording standards, using different microphones, media and recording approaches in order to have the masters of something like a "history of audio recording" in controlled environments. You can do a lot of things with something like this. It is also possible to use this material to train neuronal networks in order to improve the digitization of old recordings. Now imagine you have a Steinway Spirio (it can mechanically record itself almost perfectly so you have the same live performance at your disposal as many times as you want), 128 recordings of the same Stainway and the most neutral amplification possible, and a new pair of Speakers in one space that matches the size of the recording space. Now you can start comparing the original with the master recordings played on the new speakers and learn a lot. If you want to agree on standards in an industry, you can raise millions so you can really do something like this with multiple music instruments. In other sectors they always do. In the meantime I have a pair of $ 10,000 speakers that sound much, much, much worse, from every point of view, than my father’s 1986 Bose 505, worth $ 300 driven by a cheap denon. It does not make any sense. P.S. Yes i sent them even back to the manufacturer and they come back almost identical.
First off, it’s a snarky post, get over yourself. Secondly as was said, your adjectives are NOUNS. Thirdly, pianos sound VERY different even in the same size, just like speakers do ... from Steinway B (boring and predictably overused) to Mason and Hamlin DD (rich and ballsy) to Bosie of the same size (clean and precise and sterile) ... or the smaller Baldwin Acrosonic (usually plinky) compared to other smaller pianos. Finally, loudspeakers are in their infancy, piano tech is 150 years old. And it’s MUCH easier to make a sound than to recreate one. When more speakers sound in the same range as the current best in the world, then we will be in the future :) In the end speaker design is always some form of compromise. If you have $100,000 or so, the compromises are minimal. I can’t imagine a better result than my speakers, but time will tell :)
As a professional photographer and print designer I must point out that you are ignoring a lot of information in your reference to color reproduction. Perhaps similar to information you ignore in audio.
Even after all of the above, we still can't control the environment where the end user sees the final colors. If the end user is inside a room with tungsten light the colors will be very different than the 5000K (or 6500K in europe) color proofing booths.
So... Color reproduction is actually an extremely nuanced art that continually proves how color "standards" are merely oversimplified reference points. Change any one component and many adjustments are required to compensate
The same goes for audio. Just because you don't like these speakers with your amp doesn't mean you wouldn't like them with a different amp. You should have the shop you purchased from send you a demo amp so you can hear what the shop thinks they should sound like.
Funny you should mention pianos. A pal gave me his speakers because the internal sub amp quit working. I heard them a lot at his house, especially on acoustic piano, largely on what sounds like a (Oscar Peterson's) Steinway and whatever Gene Harris plays. Do these speakers have pitch, timbre, dynamics and spatiality? Yes, especially spatiality; spatiality out the ying yang! Than being the case, they still do not sound right, so there is a lot more going on than these 4 dynamics.
The powered 8 inch subs in each cabinet face toward the rear at about a 15 degree angle out, with a 6.5 inch midrange above it. This section seems to be a transmission line design. The front faces dead forward, like a regular speaker, and is not supposed to be angled. It has about a three inch mid/tweeter behind a non-removable grill, under the removable grill. A smaller tweeter faces in a way that defies belief, inward at about a 45 degree angle, but with a fat, non-.attached whizzer cone looking surround thing a quarter in or so from the tweeter surface. This squeezes and diverts the sound in a circle from the 45 or so degree angle of the speaker.
Strangely, it has a really redeeming quality: It makes a piano recording spread out as if there were a concert grand in the room. He powered it with Bryston electronics, which I also have, but I have not heard the speakers in my house. They just sit to the sides of my desk, as they have for a couple of years.
Does anyone want to guess the brand and model number?
OH YEAH, they certainly are not super clean and crisp, like my similarly sized, older B&W 803's, but the piano is HUGE! Maybe I'll put some B&W drivers in the cabinets and smear the sound all over the walls? Should I place them in front of my mirrored glass wall?
I play and RECORD lots of electronic instruments and synthesizers. These sounds have "pitch, timbre, dynamics and spatiality"..... none of which are adjectives as you stated. So, I too am at a total loss as to what you are talking about, and what your actual question is. What do you expect from this community??
If you are accustomed to LIVE acoustic music, then no audio system will ever sound as good. But many talented designers & engineer dedicate their lives to creating audio products that do the best we humans can. I've enjoyed many many different audio systems, and I'm sad for you that you don't seem to find joy in recorded music.
Yeah, here I am sitting on this bar stool,
Talking like a damn fool
Got the twelve o'clock news blues
And I've given up hope for the afternoon soaps
And a bottle of cold brew
Is it any wonder I'm not crazy
Is it any wonder I'm sane at all
Well I'm so tired of losing
I've got nothing to do and all day to do it
Well I'd go out cruising, but I've no place
To go and all night to get there
Is it any wonder I'm not a criminal
Is it any wonder I'm not in jail
Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands