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mmathew #3113785 05/05/21 01:59 AM
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My guessing is 1 digital and 2 acoustic. 2 has string resonance that sounds more natural to me

mmathew #3113823 05/05/21 05:30 AM
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Nobody willing to guess which my recording is, acoustic or digital? I feel rejected. cool

If anyone will indeed guess, then please state why that one has come to the conclusion (s)he came to.


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Originally Posted by TheodorN
Nobody willing to guess which my recording is, acoustic or digital? I feel rejected. cool

If anyone will indeed guess, then please state why that one has come to the conclusion (s)he came to.

I can't say. Could be either way. I don't hear any mechanical noises but I suppose it's possible to get a rather "clean" recording from an acoustic upright.

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Originally Posted by TheodorN

Oops I missed this. I am guessing this is a digital recording. It was very clean, and many "too bright" spots which I guessed to come from a VST. I am no expert at acoustics and have only played them to when I went to try DPs, so I may be wrong.

If the recording (acoustic or digital, leaving out live performances) is EQed, and uniformly "mellowed" - my conviction is that I personally won't be able to tell the difference. I listen to a lot of classical piano music on CD and Amazon. After a long time, although the music was different, the recordings sounded the same and appeared to be of the same quality.

I expanded on that thought and started this thread to learn more...

Last edited by mmathew; 05/05/21 06:41 AM.

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mmathew #3113839 05/05/21 06:41 AM
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It's this one

https://www.toontrack.com/product/ezkeys-upright-piano/

rendered in Reaper. Threw it a bit out of tune, raised the reverb, and normalized to -2.5db. Won't keep people waiting for days.

Maybe fair to mention this is not my playing, it's from a MIDI I found. I can't play anywhere near this level.

Good catch, mmathew. I assumed this one was easy, maybe it wasn't. The EZKeys Upright Piano is less than one gigabyte in size.

Let me add, I will not even try to guess the other recordings from propianist, just don't have the ears for it.

Last edited by TheodorN; 05/05/21 06:46 AM.

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mmathew #3113857 05/05/21 07:56 AM
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TheodorN,
I knew it was digital yesterday when I heard it, but didn't want to rain on the parade by giving away the answer immediately before anyone else had a time to listen.
Kihar,
Piano 1 definitely has natural sounding string resonances all the way through it as well... if you were observing that 2 does, therefore implying maybe 1 does not. They both do.

mmathew #3113865 05/05/21 08:19 AM
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I have seen a couple of recent posts from @mwf in other threads, so I don't mean any offense at all - maybe he/she is just too busy... but I don't want this thread to go down forgotten; I believe there is something to be learnt and understood as far as audio recordings go....

Because we have not received any response from @mwf - in a fun way let's call bluff :-) and have the results from @propianist?

What say, folks?


A man must love a thing very much if he practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practice it without any hope of doing it well. Such a man must love the toils of the work more than any other man can love the rewards of it.
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mmathew #3113884 05/05/21 09:23 AM
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I gotta know right now!
(You don't need to think on it.)

mmathew #3113925 05/05/21 10:32 AM
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I was curious to wait and find out whether mwf would reply, but now I'm more curious to wait and find out whether MacMacMac's head will explode soon if he doesn't get the answer...

mmathew #3113957 05/05/21 12:23 PM
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I've no idea really to be honest, to me number 2 sounded really gorgeous though, probably that one is the acoustic, but could be a very high quality vst indeed, number 1 also probably is an acoustic, people should just ignore me, my sense of humour in UK is more dry, you shouldn't take me seriously, sorry to mess anyone around.

mmathew #3113961 05/05/21 12:35 PM
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My guess: 1 digital and 2 acoustic. But will we ever get an answer?


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Originally Posted by Animisha
But will we ever get an answer?

It's a well-documented fact, Animisha, that the answer is always... 42. smile


"I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel; a free man at the start of a long journey, whose conclusion is uncertain." -- Morgan Freeman's character, "Red", in The Shawshank Redemption
mmathew #3114033 05/05/21 04:08 PM
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Would be fun to know the answer, though I'm in no hurry myself, since I'm not good at guessing stuff like this. If it were glaringly synthetically sounding, maybe I would be able to tell. Won't reveal which VSTi that could apply to, but I'll give you a hint - the first letter is Pianoteq. eek


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mmathew #3114791 05/07/21 02:33 PM
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Piano 1 (slower tempo playing) was a digital multi-sample of an upright piano, recorded in mono (stereo effect achieved by panning keys). This total multi-sample library is only 64 MB in size (as uncompressed linear WAV files 16 bit 44.1kHz) - tiny by modern standards, but apparently realistic sounding enough to fool many listeners here to believe it was an actual acoustic they were hearing.

Piano 2 (faster tempo playing) was a live acoustic recording of a Steinway D concert grand at Gateway Studios in Surrey, UK. Recording is just a single mono microphone, originally 24 bit 96kHz recording, then downsampled to 16 bit 44.1kHz for this. There's audible player noise present, so this example should have been easy to identify.

The only two people who got each answer correct were... Kihar and Animisha. Well done you!

I think what this vaguely proves, it seems to me, is that it's borderline impossible to tell 100% certain whether you're hearing a digital piano or an acoustic piano from just a random unfamiliar recording played over speakers.

Sonic fidelity of the audio and mic positioning have such a big influence on the sound you're hearing - and are probably the biggest unknown and variable quantity with adverse effects on piano timbre realism - far more or greater extent probably than any digital sampling related artefacts that might spoil the illusion.

You might be fooled into believing you're hearing an acoustic piano track most probably if the audiophile recording fidelity sounds lifelike and realistic (even in spite of tiny digital sampling artefacts that might be barely audible) because you can "hear" the authentic instrument timbre being played coming through in the recording.

Conversely, the illusion of realistic piano timbre can be quickly destroyed by a poor recording of an acoustic instrument. Even if it was acoustic, you might dismiss it as "fake" or a bad sounding digital perhaps, just because it was unpleasant to listen to.

Poor sonic fidelity often so swamps the listening experience, that it becomes really hard or impossible to look past that enough to solely focus on isolating those digital artefacts (or lack thereof) to make an informed judgment. Many digital VSTs suffer from poor sonic fidelity EVEN IF they are 88 note sampled with 30 second sustain sample and lack noticeable digital artefacts, but essentially they just sound so bad and give "digital samples" a poor reputation. eg. anyone remember Native Akoustik?!

Obviously sometimes you can spot a digital if their digital artefacts are very obviously bad and noticeable, or if you are very familiar with the digital tone or restricted dynamic range of a certain particular brand or model series within a brand, eg. Yamaha or Roland, or one specific VST you own and use every day, you might just about be able to hear it and recognize it.

Conclusion - if it's hard for even experienced pianists and digital piano enthusiasts to tell digital vs acoustic sounds apart in a recording, then the untrained ear of the general public should be easily fooled.

However one unanimous truth remains - sit down and play the keyboard live for yourself - 1st person experience - and you can instantly recognise a digital vs acoustic instrument under your own fingers from the way it BEHAVES and sounds in real life... rather than hearing how it sounds disembodied from the playing experience, reproduced artificially through loudspeakers or headphones.

mmathew #3114823 05/07/21 04:26 PM
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@propianist: I think that the DIGITAL PIANOs world and the Piano VSTs world are 2 totally different animals. AFAIK actually it doesn't exist a DP that (with its internal piano engine) sounds like a real acoustic Steinway D/Yamaha CFX/Kawai SK-EX in such a way that could fool expert ears. But you can find some VST libraries very nice and realistic to the listener.

Anyway, your tiny 64MB VST upright sounds realistic, but how it is to play? In all the tiny VSTs I tried I can hear sudden jumps from a layer to the next one when I play... So, they might sound good to the listener but in most cases they are horrible for the player.

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I got it right in my head.. Thought number 2 was the acoustic like i said, number 1 was not as good so makes sense it was a digital yeah.

mwf #3115041 05/08/21 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by mwf
I got it right in my head.. Thought number 2 was the acoustic like i said, number 1 was not as good so makes sense it was a digital yeah.
To me, at least in that small excerpt, both sounded like an acoustic recording, with the 1st recognizable as a (very nice) upright (you can easily distinguish by the bass octaves, weaker on an upright), the 2nd as a grand, but the 2nd with better audio quality in the recording.

Usually I can easily distinguish a digital piano (internal engine) recording from an acoustic one, but with some good VSTs it is much harder. Internal DP engines are easily recognizable because many little details in the high frequencies are cut off or very short in duration and the "beating" effects are very poor, inexistent or too short and regular (because the loops).
P.S.: the "beating" effect is one of the audible characteristics in real piano tones that occurs mainly due to the coupling of slightly detuned strings of a single note.

mmathew #3115082 05/08/21 08:21 AM
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I thought number 1 was a crappy acoustic.
It turned out to be a crappy digital. frown

I thought number 2 was a sterile digital. No air. No resonance. Dead.
It turned out to be a perfectly good acoustic that sounded lifeless because of the recording conditions.
As Mr. Pro said:
Quote
... the illusion of realistic piano timbre can be quickly destroyed by a poor recording of an acoustic instrument."

This is paramount:
Quote
... sit down and play the keyboard live for yourself - 1st person experience - and you can instantly recognize a digital vs acoustic instrument under
your own fingers from the way it BEHAVES and sounds in real life ... rather than hearing how it sounds disembodied from the playing experience,
reproduced artificially through loudspeakers or headphones.

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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I thought number 1 was a crappy acoustic.
It turned out to be a crappy digital. frown
Why do you think it's a crappy acoustic? I think the original acoustic from which it was recorded the 1st piano sound had to be a very nice upright: not too much percussive and unusually rich sounding (for an upright) upper range

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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I thought number 1 was a crappy acoustic.
It turned out to be a crappy digital. frown
You do see the sheer contradiction / dumb irony of your statement, don't you?!

.. it turned out to be a "crappy" digital which sounded so realistic that YOU THOUGHT IT WAS REALLY AN ACOUSTIC PIANO !!! By your own statement!!!
Therefore, as a digital replication of the real thing, it is surely ANYTHING BUT "crappy"... in fact, it did its job of fooling the listener's ear absolutely perfectly! That's exactly what a digital piano emulation is hopefully designed to do.

Your term "crappy" may of course refer to it being recorded mono, or perhaps that piano hadn't been tuned for years - a character upright as sometimes people desire for certain boogie woogie / ragtime style - fair enough... but as far as the core issue under debate - acoustic instrument vs digital replication - the proof is in the pudding that you couldn't tell the difference.

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I thought number 2 was a sterile digital. No air. No resonance. Dead.
Okay well, let's write a letter of complaint to Mr. Steinway in Hamburg, Germany, shall we? How much more resonance are you expecting to find elsewhere? Maybe your ears have grown accustomed to playing VSTs with their artificial sympathetic resonance FX turned up to maximum effect, to such a degree that a mere natural amount of resonance sounds lifeless by comparison?

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
It turned out to be a perfectly good acoustic that sounded lifeless because of the recording conditions.
Okay well, let's write a letter of complaint to Gateway Studios, shall we? Perhaps their acoustics suck. Or perhaps the top class Sennheiser MKH80 microphone and Apogee A/D converters and 24 bit 96kHz sampling are partly to blame? (This was recorded over 20 years ago by the way, hence the equipment dating from that era.)

I think you actually just don't like hearing "dead" mono recordings nor a fixed mic perspective colouration. Not to blame you, because I don't like those either(!), but that's actually just natural acoustic behaviour of sound going into a mono microphone. That is what things sound like in the real world. That's physics and acoustics for you. And also that's why this was somewhat of a trick question, for the modern listener used to VSTs. Move the sonic goalposts a little bit away from what you're used to hearing, and the listener is easily fooled.

Originally Posted by magicpiano
To me, at least in that small excerpt, both sounded like an acoustic recording, with the 1st recognizable as a (very nice) upright (you can easily distinguish by the bass octaves, weaker on an upright), the 2nd as a grand, but the 2nd with better audio quality in the recording.
Obviously, yes, a Steinway D concert grand will likely always sound "better audio quality" than a small domestic upright anyway, all things being equal...

But that aside, since you said, "...the 2nd with better audio quality in the recording...", you might be interested to know that the recording chain was EXACTLY the same hardware for both audio examples.

Same microphone (Sennheiser MKH80)
Same mic preamp (DACS MicAmp)
Same A/D converter (Apogee PSX100)
Same linear sampling rate (24 bit 96kHz)
Same down-converting to 16 bit 44.1kHz for the final result you're listening too.

So the only differences you are really hearing are literally the different designs of instruments (different mechanical physics of sound radiation, in different acoustic buildings, etc.) and the fact one was a digital multi-sample note playback performed live from MIDI keyboard, whereas one was acoustically captured live playing.

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