Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately

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abk456

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Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« on: 10 Sep 2021, 10:11 am »
I wonder whether views about this might be interesting. What instrument is the most difficult to reproduce accurately? For mine I think that a system that can make a piano sound like a piano has to be pretty good. Other views?

JLM

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #1 on: 10 Sep 2021, 11:19 am »
Agreed

Craig B

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #2 on: 10 Sep 2021, 11:51 am »
For the 50 years I've been in this hobby, the consensus has been piano.

lokie

Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #3 on: 10 Sep 2021, 11:58 am »
Agreed... Piano is arbiter of a hifi system.
But, the kick drum from a system doesn't even come close to the real thing.

DannyBadorine

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #4 on: 10 Sep 2021, 01:47 pm »
Agreed... Piano is arbiter of a hifi system.
But, the kick drum from a system doesn't even come close to the real thing.

Totally agreed.  For discussions sake, have you ever listened to a kick drum from the drummers position then from the other side of it?  It's a completely different sound, right?  Then, if you listen near the port hole on the front of the kick drum head it sounds different there too.  Then, if you listen from 10' away it's different again.  So, which sound would you prefer to be on the recording?

JakeJ

Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #5 on: 10 Sep 2021, 02:26 pm »
Great topic!

Agree with the consensus and would add female vocals as hard for a system to reproduce properly.  And the term "properly" is subjective in this case.

As to how I want the system to reproduce a recording, it's that position in the front (or near) to the stage.  Obviously this doesn't work for all recording venues, ie. studios.  Then there are close multi-miked recordings that sound like all instruments and vocals are right in your face.  We rely on the engineer to to get the best recording possible but in the end they all have thier biases about how to make a recording and they are all a bit different.

Craig B

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #6 on: 10 Sep 2021, 02:27 pm »
Agreed... Piano is arbiter of a hifi system.
But, the kick drum from a system doesn't even come close to the real thing.

I agree, though I've heard one recording that comes close, if not in the physical impact you feel in your solar plexus, at least in providing a slight sense of the sudden and almost violent motion of the air. It's Kris McKay's recording of "Wish You Were Here," the opening track of a Pink Floyd tribute album called "A Pink Floyd Tribute: Echoes of Pink." On my system it sounds like a real kick drum being struck in the next room.

Big Red Machine

Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #7 on: 10 Sep 2021, 03:03 pm »
Totally agreed.  For discussions sake, have you ever listened to a kick drum from the drummers position then from the other side of it?  It's a completely different sound, right?  Then, if you listen near the port hole on the front of the kick drum head it sounds different there too.  Then, if you listen from 10' away it's different again.  So, which sound would you prefer to be on the recording?

Agreed. The bass drum is tuned to make the presentation on the resonant head to the "public" side. So, yes, it sounds quite a bit different out there versus sitting behind the drum on the batter side. So, do we want folks to hear the batter side or the resonant side?

Having owned a baby grand and knowing what they sound like and being a drummer, I am always yearning for the tone, especially tom heads to come through.

ArthurDent

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #8 on: 10 Sep 2021, 03:04 pm »
Greetings & Welcome to AC abk456   :thumb:

kmmd

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #9 on: 10 Sep 2021, 03:31 pm »
I agree with the piano being the most difficult.  Here’s another question, does analog (phono) or digital do it better?

Chewbacca

Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #10 on: 10 Sep 2021, 03:32 pm »
At least for vinyl and stylus tracking, Peter Ledermann believes a muted trumpet is the most difficult waveform to reproduce. This is due to it being one of the most spiked waveforms that can be recorded instrumentally. Of course cannons or the like can do this to a greater extreme, but instrumentally, a muted trumped gets the closest.

DannyBadorine

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #11 on: 10 Sep 2021, 05:14 pm »
Agreed. The bass drum is tuned to make the presentation on the resonant head to the "public" side. So, yes, it sounds quite a bit different out there versus sitting behind the drum on the batter side. So, do we want folks to hear the batter side or the resonant side?

Having owned a baby grand and knowing what they sound like and being a drummer, I am always yearning for the tone, especially tom heads to come through.

It's all subjective as someone mentioned above.  What is heard on recordings is usually from a microphone near the hole, a microphone outside of the front head and then some microphones in the room (including some of the microphones on the other drums).  So, it becomes a combination of the real thing.  The last several years have also seen a lot of "drum replacement" in recordings (and live for that matter) where they stack a kick drum sound on top of (or replacing) the original kick drum sound.  You will hear this in more "produced" albums.  But that goes to show how much the engineer, mixer and producer have to say about the end result of what something sounds like.  You can have any home stereo that you want to design but that won't fix a badly mixed record or a poor sounding kick drum.  We could even go down the rabbit hole of drum makers and drum tech's because it is as vast and interesting as our stereos.  If the drum doesn't sound good to begin with then it will only get worse after that.
It's rare to hear the beater side of the kick drum since it has less of the body of the kick drum. 
I agree that a piano is probably the most difficult since it's a percussion instrument, has notes and a vast array of harmonic overtones.  But a good piano recording is just so beautiful. 

What are some good recordings where you like the sound of the kick drum and/or piano?  I'm interested to hear from everybody on this.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #12 on: 10 Sep 2021, 05:16 pm »
I have to agree with Piano but horns like the Trumpet and Sax are right up there with the piano.

The most realistic piano tone I have heard was from a Marantz NA11s1 DAC in my system.  The Marantz Ruby KI Integrated amp that I heard in a shop also produced a very natural piano.   Ken Ishiwata of Marantz knew what he was doing.  He loved a fabulous midrange.

DannyBadorine

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #13 on: 10 Sep 2021, 05:16 pm »
I agree with the piano being the most difficult.  Here’s another question, does analog (phono) or digital do it better?

I think it's important to consider if the recording has ever been in the digital domain also.  Was it recorded to tape and stayed analog until it was put on the record?  Or was it recorded to digital then a record was made?  That isn't always easy info to find out.
My opinion is that analog usually sounds better in every way, but digital has certainly come a long way to getting closer.

FullRangeMan

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #14 on: 10 Sep 2021, 05:45 pm »
Hi,
The Starting Block Circle is really for people to introduce themselves.
This question/thread is best posted in the Music Circle, so I wll move it there for you now.

kmmd

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Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #15 on: 10 Sep 2021, 07:12 pm »
I think it's important to consider if the recording has ever been in the digital domain also.  Was it recorded to tape and stayed analog until it was put on the record?  Or was it recorded to digital then a record was made?  That isn't always easy info to find out.
My opinion is that analog usually sounds better in every way, but digital has certainly come a long way to getting closer.

Danny, you make excellent points regarding the original recording.  I’ve been digital, but I’ve wanted to go analog for some time.  I’ll be trading in my other VAC preamp for a turntable/cartridge combo.  My phono pre will be a Luxman.  It should be fun.

Get well soon Larry.

Chewbacca

Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #16 on: 10 Sep 2021, 07:35 pm »
I think it's important to consider if the recording has ever been in the digital domain also.  Was it recorded to tape and stayed analog until it was put on the record?  Or was it recorded to digital then a record was made?  That isn't always easy info to find out.
My opinion is that analog usually sounds better in every way, but digital has certainly come a long way to getting closer.

This was always my opinion as well. Two systems, all things being equal (best of the best), one being analog, and one being digital: The analog one will reproduce the analog recording better, and the digital will reproduce the digital signal better.

Currently in my system, even digitally recorded material sounds better on my analog rig. BUT, we'll see if that's still the case when I receive my new DAC.

Recently I've re-watched all the Peter Ledermann Soundsmith videos, and he quoted a find from an Ortofon engineer, that a stylus can track and accurately reproduce a sound from groove displacement as small as .005 microns, or 50 hydrocarbon molecules, and can be "easily heard". This was with an "average" stylus. So better stylus for instance he believes it will be about 20 molecules will be easily heard, and of course smaller could be heard as well, but not "easily".... If you then take that and assume this is a "step" or cut of sound in a digital domain of a 24bit/48khz recording, it would be somewhere around 100 TIMES the resolution of the 24bit stream.... something that simply blows my mind... vinyl should not work :lol: at least as well as it does.

But if this was recorded using a digital signal, of course it wouldn't be the case, as you'd have the "steps" of the recording in the record groove itself. And again, back to "all things being equal" it then SHOULD sound better on a digital system IMO.

Wayner

Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #17 on: 10 Sep 2021, 07:58 pm »
The problem is no one knows how to record the piano. They do not know how to record a cymbal crash either.

Especially, in stereo.

BobM

Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #18 on: 10 Sep 2021, 08:20 pm »
There's always the perspective to consider. For most instruments it just one mike. For a piano you have close miking the soundboard, then the ambient room miking. and is it right to have a classical concert perspective or is it better to have the presentation be from the perspective of the person playing it, which means left hand (bass notes) is from the left speaker and the right (tinkly) keys are coming from the right speaker.

Personally, as a piano player I want full left and right as if I'm sitting on the bench. I know most well know pianists want this too, but in a classical concert the piano is just another instrument and it usually sits in a very monophonic place in the mix.

Early B.

Re: Most difficult instrument to reproduce accurately
« Reply #19 on: 10 Sep 2021, 08:24 pm »
When I evaluate my system, I listen to a solo upright bass. Difficult to reproduce its subtleties because you need a pitch-black background and the ability to retrieve nuanced bass detail. In a live performance, an upright bass often sounds boomy and monotone, but that's not how it actually sounds.