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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In my experience, realistic piano reproduction is exceedingly difficult for any speaker to pull off. Can yours?

If so, tell me about. Please detail signal chain, room characteristics, and speakers. I know this is a highly subjective question, but that's ok. I'm not looking for proof :). Because of course there is no way to provide objective proof. Which, on a side note, is why we still can't rely entirely on measurements when evaluating speakers. We still don't know what measurement correlates to predict how well a speaker can do this.

I've been sitting here listening to old school live jazz piano pieces on Pandora for the last couple of hours and just wondering what speakers are out there that can actually do it. I've listened to quite a few speakers, but very few in the big picture.

The key element I'm looking for is the "sustained ringing" that follows the key stroke when listening to a live piano. It cuts like a knife and it feels like the air is charged.
 

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All one has to do is record the piano on spec lab live and then compare the recording of the same song and if they are the same then not only is the recording well done than your speakers are accurately reproducing the source.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I guess that would go for just about any instrument. Interesting that I've never seen such a thing done.

So spec lab captures all elements of a speaker we hear and by simply looking at that we can determine how speakers rank in accuracy? Does it show timbre too? So you could say exactly how two speakers would sound different from one another?
 

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I've got two pairs of speakers that I feel pull off piano very well. I listen to a lot of two-channel music, mostly jazz and classical. For reference, we have an Essex baby grand piano that my wife and I both play quite a bit as well.

My "small" system front speakers are a pair of Avalon Symbols. These discontinued speakers use a pair of 5.25" ceramic-coated woofers and a 1" "proprietary composite tweeter". They're fairly light speakers, approx. 35 lbs., with a fairly small footprint. I'm driving them with the front channels of a Sunfire Signature Seven 400 x 7 amp, fed by a Denon 4311ci set up as a pre-pro. For music (in both systems, actually) I'm streaming either high-res FLAC or my own FLAC rips through a Logitech Squeezebox Touch connected via Blue Jeans Cable coax cables. My speaker cables are also Blue Jeans, 12 gauge with locking banana plugs at the amp and spades at the speaker.

My primary system in a dedicated theater with acoustic treatments has a pair of Revel Salon2 fronts driven by a McIntosh MC402 400 x 2 stereo amp. Different bird entirely than the Symbols, and much more articulate and detailed in piano reproduction, as you would hope and expect for the price difference. Obviously the room/setup helps as well. I'm using a Marantz AV7701 pre/pro to feed the McIntosh, with the same source as my other system for music.

I bought all of my equipment either used or as dealer/reviewer demos, which helps. Hope this info helps answer your question(s).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've got two pairs of speakers that I feel pull off piano very well. I listen to a lot of two-channel music, mostly jazz and classical. For reference, we have an Essex baby grand piano that my wife and I both play quite a bit as well.

My "small" system front speakers are a pair of Avalon Symbols. These discontinued speakers use a pair of 5.25" ceramic-coated woofers and a 1" "proprietary composite tweeter". They're fairly light speakers, approx. 35 lbs., with a fairly small footprint. I'm driving them with the front channels of a Sunfire Signature Seven 400 x 7 amp, fed by a Denon 4311ci set up as a pre-pro. For music (in both systems, actually) I'm streaming either high-res FLAC or my own FLAC rips through a Logitech Squeezebox Touch connected via Blue Jeans Cable coax cables. My speaker cables are also Blue Jeans, 12 gauge with locking banana plugs at the amp and spades at the speaker.

My primary system in a dedicated theater with acoustic treatments has a pair of Revel Salon2 fronts driven by a McIntosh MC402 400 x 2 stereo amp. Different bird entirely than the Symbols, and much more articulate and detailed in piano reproduction, as you would hope and expect for the price difference. Obviously the room/setup helps as well. I'm using a Marantz AV7701 pre/pro to feed the McIntosh, with the same source as my other system for music.

I bought all of my equipment either used or as dealer/reviewer demos, which helps. Hope this info helps answer your question(s).
Very nice systems!!! I love reading about what other folks are listening to. I know you said they reproduce piano very well, but it sounds like they still fall short in some way. The Salon2's are clearly excellent speakers, if there's something they don't get "just right" can you describe it? And I know it's difficult to describe these things! :) As I said, where I have found speakers to fall short is in the realistic decay of the reverberation that follows the key stroke and reproduction of the harmonics generated when listening to a live piano. 

Thanks
 

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In my experience, realistic piano reproduction is exceedingly difficult for any speaker to pull off. Can yours?

If so, tell me about. Please detail signal chain, room characteristics, and speakers. I know this is a highly subjective question, but that's ok. I'm not looking for proof :). Because of course there is no way to provide objective proof. Which, on a side note, is why we still can't rely entirely on measurements when evaluating speakers. We still don't know what measurement correlates to predict how well a speaker can do this.

I've been sitting here listening to old school live jazz piano pieces on Pandora for the last couple of hours and just wondering what speakers are out there that can actually do it. I've listened to quite a few speakers, but very few in the big picture.

The key element I'm looking for is the "sustained ringing" that follows the key stroke when listening to a live piano. It cuts like a knife and it feels like the air is charged.
I'm sure there are a lot of quality speakers that can reproduce the piano faithfully. My Maggies have no trouble with a piano (or any other instrument or voice), nor did the ML Summits or Ethos I had auditioned (all panel speakers). And since my son was trained in classical piano, he was extremely impressed with the abilities of panel speakers to reproduce the sound accurately. Of course, just because I think this, doesn't mean you will :).

You can read my equipment in my signature, and see (with a magnifying glass) my avatar.
 

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I agree, piano is a true test of speakers. But there is one factor missing from your question - Budget or budget range. My speakers are about a $1000/pr, though I certainly didn't pay that for them, and within limits, they do piano very well, but there are speakers that are almost hyper-realistic. They can play piano with stunning clarity, but they cost 5x to 10x what my speakers do.

So, if you have enough money, and if you have the chance to do several auditions of various speakers with content that typifies what you are trying to hear, then yes, you absolutely can find speaker that excel at piano reproduction. However, that is a long list of qualifications.

Just off the top of my head, I would say you need to be in the roughly $3000/pr up to about $10,000/pr to get what you are looking for. Then of course you need a room with good acoustics, and you need an amp of sufficient clarity and quality to do justice to the speakers and the music.

So, yes, if you have the money, you can get a system that excel at piano music.

Steve/bluewizard
 

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No way; my speakers cannot reproduce a realistic piano instrument sound, just no way, not even close and not even a flute or a violin, just no way Jose. ...Not even a sex, sax I mean.

What they give me is a facsimile, a musical approximation, a mechanical pedal. ...A paradigm of a metaphor.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm sure there are a lot of quality speakers that can reproduce the piano faithfully. My Maggies have no trouble with a piano (or any other instrument or voice), nor did the ML Summits or Ethos I had auditioned (all panel speakers). And since my son was trained in classical piano, he was extremely impressed with the abilities of panel speakers to reproduce the sound accurately. Of course, just because I think this, doesn't mean you will :).

You can read my equipment in my signature, and see (with a magnifying glass) my avatar.
Panel speakers are one of the designs to which I've had very little exposure. I've heard Maggies but never listened to them critically and I could see the potential for them to excel at this.

But overall, my experience has been that most speakers, even "quality" ones, cannot faithfully reproduce the piano....at least to my ears :).

That's the interesting part of this to me though and I figured there would be folks that would think that many speakers can do this. It is such a subjective thing and no right or wrong answer.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I agree, piano is a true test of speakers. But there is one factor missing from your question - Budget or budget range. My speakers are about a $1000/pr, though I certainly didn't pay that for them, and within limits, they do piano very well, but there are speakers that are almost hyper-realistic. They can play piano with stunning clarity, but they cost 5x to 10x what my speakers do.

So, if you have enough money, and if you have the chance to do several auditions of various speakers with content that typifies what you are trying to hear, then yes, you absolutely can find speaker that excel at piano reproduction. However, that is a long list of qualifications.

Just off the top of my head, I would say you need to be in the roughly $3000/pr up to about $10,000/pr to get what you are looking for. Then of course you need a room with good acoustics, and you need an amp of sufficient clarity and quality to do justice to the speakers and the music.

So, yes, if you have the money, you can get a system that excel at piano music.

Steve/bluewizard
I specifically left budget out. The ID companies and DIY folks are squeezing a LOT of value out of their designs and pricing far below traditional brick-and-mortar costs. So almost anything is possible from that side.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
No way; my speakers cannot reproduce a realistic piano instrument sound, just no way, not even close and not even a flute or a violin, just no way Jose. ...Not even a sex, sax I mean.

What they give me is a facsimile, a musical approximation, a mechanical pedal. ...A paradigm of a metaphor.
Yeah, I'm with you there Bob. This is not an easy thing and yours has been my overwhelming impression of piano reproduction. I have heard VERY close from some excellent speakers though.
 

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I think a lot of the problem with hearing piano accurately reproduced lies in the recording chain. Modern multi track recording usually uses one, and usually several mikes placed close to the soundboard, keys, and other parts of the piano. Gating, limiting, compression, artificial reverb and digital sweeting may make a piano more pleasing to the recording producer, but detracts from accurate reproduction. I once recorded some of my wifes relatives singing around a church piano. I used a simple set of crossed cardioid mikes on an ear height stand a few feet away from the piano to pick up the sound of a complete piano (and the girls voices) in a natural acoustic enviroment. The recorder was a simple 2 track Nakamichi ZX-9 cassette recorder with a TDK metal tape inserted. The playback sounded very realistic through Acoustic Research AR-9 speakers fed by a Carver M400 amplifier and Carver C-1 preamp. Although the tone, sustain, resonance, plink etc.. sounded spot on realistic, the full acoustic feel of the piano and voices was just not there. Years later, I replayed the old tape on my new pair of Mirage omnidirectional speakers, and the full acoustic development of the original recording event came back just like I remembered it years ago. Holy Cow Batman! the piano sounded sounded like sitting a couple of table widths away from a guy at a piano bar. The piano and the girls sounded like they were in the room with me. real goosebump stuff.
 
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Discussion Starter #14
I think a lot of the problem with hearing piano accurately reproduced lies in the recording chain. Modern multi track recording usually uses one, and usually several mikes placed close to the soundboard, keys, and other parts of the piano. Gating, limiting, compression, artificial reverb and digital sweeting may make a piano more pleasing to the recording producer, but detracts from accurate reproduction. I once recorded some of my wifes relatives singing around a church piano. I used a simple set of crossed cardioid mikes on an ear height stand a few feet away from the piano to pick up the sound of a complete piano (and the girls voices) in a natural acoustic enviroment. The recorder was a simple 2 track Nakamichi ZX-9 cassette recorder with a TDK metal tape inserted. The playback sounded very realistic through Acoustic Research AR-9 speakers fed by a Carver M400 amplifier and Carver C-1 preamp. Although the tone, sustain, resonance, plink etc.. sounded spot on realistic, the full acoustic feel of the piano and voices was just not there. Years later, I replayed the old tape on my new pair of Mirage omnidirectional speakers, and the full acoustic development of the original recording event came back just like I remembered it years ago. Holy Cow Batman! the piano sounded sounded like sitting a couple of table widths away from a guy at a piano bar. The piano and the girls sounded like they were in the room with me. real goosebump stuff.
That's the other part of it, the room and the speaker's interaction with it. It is a complex issue and is impacted by many factors, including speaker directivity, speaker accuracy, room characteristics and listening levels.
 

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+1 on air motion tweeters! My Goldenear Triton 1s have them (all GE products do), and they're spectacular. It's a fundamentally different technology instead of a conventional design with exotic materials. Which is why I went with them. And yes, they're great with piano music.

But, dude, comparing Piano pieces via Pandora? Those streams top out at 128kbps. I'd be surprised if any kind of music sounded good at that rate. But that's just me.

Enjoy yours.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I have never heard these in person, but I would bet that an ESS-Heil Air-Motion Transformer could do a good job on piano note decay.

http://essspeakersusa.com/
I haven't heard them either, but I would think that too. The very limited directivity of these driver types is a real problem though for real world listening in my experience. Of course, that's simply a preference thing since I don't like having to be locked into very small vertical listening windows. If that doesn't bother you, then they look to be a fantastic driver.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
+1 on air motion tweeters! My Goldenear Triton 1s have them (all GE products do), and they're spectacular. It's a fundamentally different technology instead of a conventional design with exotic materials. Which is why I went with them. And yes, they're great with piano music.

But, dude, comparing Piano pieces via Pandora? Those streams top out at 128kbps. I'd be surprised if any kind of music sounded good at that rate. But that's just me.

Enjoy yours.
Yeah, crazy right? But it's actually 192kbps and it's remarkable how good some of the stuff sounds. I have tons of hi-rez stuff, so I know the difference and my system has the resolution to reveal those differences. The reality is that I'll take a well mic'ed, recorded, and mastered recording at 192kbps over the large amount of poorly mic'ed, recorded, and mastered crap that is being rewrapped in hi-rez buckets and sold as something more than it is.

If you're ignoring content because it's "only" 192 kbps then you're missing out on some really fantastic stuff.
 

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Don't forget the source. AIX records "Audio Calibration Disc/HD Music Sampler" contains several piano recordings that are as good as it gets from a recording standpoint. In fact, AIX is a good place to shop if you are really into "audiophile" grade recordings.

I know that those M2's are a magical loudspeaker if fed a pure signal. :cool:
 

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If you're ignoring content because it's "only" 192 kbps then you're missing out on some really fantastic stuff.
The funny thing is, I knew this was a troll post when I saw it. I just couldn't resist the shiny bauble. Well played, sir.
 

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The funny thing is, I knew this was a troll post when I saw it. I just couldn't resist the shiny bauble. Well played, sir.
Not sure your meaning. Are you suggesting I'm trolling?

I'm curious of the impressions of others in regards to this question since I haven't, nor will I ever, have the chance to hear all of the speakers that are being listened to on this forum. I want to compare others experience to my own limited experience.

One thing I'm sure of though, if you think that all the new "hi-res" recordings being released are actually "hi-res" you're delusional.
 
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