Are modern pianos too powerful sounding?

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,760
150
63
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#21
That is normally the 3rd pedal, Bruce.
The left pedal on upright pianos sets the hammers closer to the strings instead of shifting the action to only strike two of the three strings as in grand pianos. This doesn’t change tone, but it does change the touch of the piano making it harder to play loud because it lessens the momentum of the strike of the hammers. This is what the fourth pedal does on Stuart & Sons pianos.


 
Likes: NorthStar
Oct 12, 2013
1,777
62
48
Essex UK
#26
Coincidentally today's Times reports that Steinway has launched a new piano, the Lang Lang Black Diamond, "created by the American designer Dakota Jackson in collaboration with pianist Lang Lang.
A limited number of 80 Black Diamond Grand Pianos .................... will be on sale from £240,000 each.along with eight concert sized pianos costing up to £500,000The Macassar ebony piano uses the latest technology to record and play back music."
The report does not elaborate on that technology.
I can't tell from the accompanying photo how many pedals it has.
 

Audiophile Bill

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2015
2,474
819
113
UK
#27
Coincidentally today's Times reports that Steinway has launched a new piano, the Lang Lang Black Diamond, "created by the American designer Dakota Jackson in collaboration with pianist Lang Lang.
A limited number of 80 Black Diamond Grand Pianos .................... will be on sale from £240,000 each.along with eight concert sized pianos costing up to £500,000The Macassar ebony piano uses the latest technology to record and play back music."
The report does not elaborate on that technology.
I can't tell from the accompanying photo how many pedals it has.
Would be surprised to see Steinway release a 3 pedal but maybe they need to keep up with the latest fads so will do....
I say fad because personally I think it is really.
 
May 25, 2010
971
234
43
SF Bay Area
#28
The playback and record technology in the Steinways (Models B - 6'10" and D - 9', which are respectively the size of the 80 Black Diamond and 8 concert grands they are offering) is from their Spirio series. We've seen and heard the playback version of the Model B and will be hearing the record and playback version of the Model B which has just arrived last week in our local Steinway store. These are the standard New York Steinways. The Hamburg Steinways are also available in Models B and D as well as their 7' 5" Model C. The price of the Black Diamond at 240K GBP is about double that of the Model B Spirio R (with the record function). My wife has always liked the Hamburg Steinways better than the New York Steinways, but they are not easily available in the US, while everywhere else in the world the Hamburg Steinways are the ones sold. If we get serious about the Model B Spirio R (record version) we may go to Hamburg to pick out the instrument we want and have it imported to the US. Our US dealer would take care of the importing and the upcharge is relatively nominal.

I don't know about the sonics of the Black Diamond vs. a standard Steinway grand or whether it is solely or primarily an esthetic difference.

I was quite impressed by the playback on the Spirio B that I heard about two months ago. Steinway has been releasing an hour or more of newly recorded music by their artists which are being done on recording model Ds in New York and Hamburg (and soon to be other places). Included are pieces played by Yuja Wang, Lang Lang, and other well known and not so well known Steinway artists. The record and playback mechanisms are much higher resolution than the standard midi record and playback (and very similar to the new Yamaha and Boesendorfer record and playback resolution - including fine gradations of pedalling). Of course with the record mechanism one can record at home and then edit (using an ipad provided by Steinway) the wrong notes, tempo, dynamics, pedalling, etc. of the home performance. The data of their library can be streamed to the ipad and piano or downloaded for playback (on the recording version only).

They plan to have live performances which will be sent out on video and the actual playing done by your piano at home. The live performance concerts will be stored for later playback. They have also bought the Zenph company which has technology to capture the playback of historic performances in high resolution playback, so you can have Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations (1956 recording) on your piano at home (without Gould's infamous vocalizations). They even have some videos of performers like Duke Ellington playing while you hear them playing on your piano.

I believe that for these larger models, close to half of the sales of these instruments have the Spirio mechanism included. The record version is just being released now.

We do have a recording grand, an older Yamaha S400E (predecessor to the CF4 model for piano buffs) which we had a disklavier mechanism installed when we bought it in 1992. This mechanism has been superceded by the higher resolution system in the new Yamahas and Steinways (both use the same or very similar mechanisms developed by the same engineer who first developed it for Boesendorfer). Yamaha doesn't have the number or broad range of artists that Steinway has.

Larry
 
May 25, 2010
971
234
43
SF Bay Area
#30
We had a great experience last night. We typically have a home concert once a year and last night was the first time we had a two piano performance. Here are a couple of pictures.
Our two pianos.JPG JN and CS in concert.JPG

In front is Jon Nakamatsu, winner of the 1997 Van Cliburn competition with his accompanist (and my audiophile friend) Chris Salocks. Jon and Chris played the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto, with Chris playing the piano reduction of the orchestral score. Chris began to accompany Jon 42 years ago, when Jon was nine years old, and worked with Jon helping prepare for the concerto competitions, including the concerto part of the Cliburn competition, where Jon played the Rachmaninoff 3rd concerto and Beethoven 2nd concerto. We had 42 people in our home, attending the concert.

Sitting 10 feet away from Jon playing Rachmaninoff gives you the appreciation of how loud (and how soft) a grand piano can get - no hifi system can come close to the dynamics. Jon is playing our Boesendorfer 225 (7'4") piano which we picked out at the factory in 1985. (You can see from the top shot that it has four extra bass notes, 92 keys all together. Chris is playing our Yamaha S400E (6'1") grand that we bought in 1992 and as mentioned in my earlier post we had added a disklavier mechanism.

Larry
 

Tango

VIP/Donor
Mar 12, 2017
3,001
1,825
113
Bangkok
#31
We had a great experience last night. We typically have a home concert once a year and last night was the first time we had a two piano performance. Here are a couple of pictures.
View attachment 50654 View attachment 50655

In front is Jon Nakamatsu, winner of the 1997 Van Cliburn competition with his accompanist (and my audiophile friend) Chris Salocks. Jon and Chris played the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto, with Chris playing the piano reduction of the orchestral score. Chris began to accompany Jon 42 years ago, when Jon was nine years old, and worked with Jon helping prepare for the concerto competitions, including the concerto part of the Cliburn competition, where Jon played the Rachmaninoff 3rd concerto and Beethoven 2nd concerto. We had 42 people in our home, attending the concert.

Sitting 10 feet away from Jon playing Rachmaninoff gives you the appreciation of how loud (and how soft) a grand piano can get - no hifi system can come close to the dynamics. Jon is playing our Boesendorfer 225 (7'4") piano which we picked out at the factory in 1985. (You can see from the top shot that it has four extra bass notes, 92 keys all together. Chris is playing our Yamaha S400E (6'1") grand that we bought in 1992 and as mentioned in my earlier post we had added a disklavier mechanism.

Larry
Funny. I am listening Horowitz playing Rach3 right now reading your post. I also have a Yamaha disklavier but not on the Grand so that I wouldn't need a stereo system at home. It is so good I texted Bonzo and Gian to tell them yesterday.

Kind regards,
Tang
 
May 25, 2010
971
234
43
SF Bay Area
#32
Funny. I am listening Horowitz playing Rach3 right now reading your post. I also have a Yamaha disklavier but not on the Grand so that I wouldn't need a stereo system at home. It is so good I texted Bonzo and Gian to tell them yesterday.

Kind regards,
Tang
Thanks, Tang. Quite an experience. Jon is actually going to be doing a special event this summer for Steinway, featuring the Horowitz Steinway, a very special instrument set up to Horowitz's very specific needs. It has gone on tour in the years since Horowitz's death and many people have had a chance to play it. My wife got the chance back in 2002 when we were in Salt Lake City attending the Winter Olympics and Steinway brought it as part of an exhibit (including several other pianos, including Van Cliburn's Steinway).

BTW, when Nick Doshi visited me last summer he told me about his adventures with you. Sounded like great fun, but in a different way!
Take care, Larry
 
May 25, 2010
971
234
43
SF Bay Area
#33
Thanks, Tang. Quite an experience. Jon is actually going to be doing a special event this summer for Steinway, featuring the Horowitz Steinway, a very special instrument set up to Horowitz's very specific needs. It has gone on tour in the years since Horowitz's death and many people have had a chance to play it. My wife got the chance back in 2002 when we were in Salt Lake City attending the Winter Olympics and Steinway brought it as part of an exhibit (including several other pianos, including Van Cliburn's Steinway).

BTW, when Nick Doshi visited me last summer he told me about his adventures with you. Sounded like great fun, but in a different way!
Take care, Larry
Correction: Jon Nakamatsu did the special Horowitz Steinway event in the summer of 2018 at Chatauqua, NY. Larry
 
Jun 23, 2015
81
0
6
Brisbane
#34
on the matter of piano sound I wonder if many of you have heard the Stuart piano - I have heard it live quite a few times and quite like the power and clarity it has - not all agree

This recording is the first I have some across that I think accurately represents these qualities if anyone is interested

https://www.stuartandsons.com/news.html

cheers

Phil
 
May 25, 2010
971
234
43
SF Bay Area
#35
I've read about the Stuart pianos, particularly the one with 108 keys, but have never seen or heard one. I think it is priced above all the other top pianos and produced in miniscule quantities, so I don't expect many to show up in concert halls. I thought our Boesendorfer with 92 keys had a lot of keys.

We bought our Boesie in 1985, with my wife picking out the piano at the factory in Vienna. They gave us a nice tour of the main manufacturing facility in Wiener Neustadt a bit south of Vienna where they were building a few hundred grands a year and a much smaller number of uprights. She got a chance to choose from four different 225's (225 cm long or 7'4") which were near completion. We had chosen a dealer in Paris who gave us the best price and arranged for us to visit the Vienna factory and he had the piano trucked to Paris from Vienna and then flown to LA where it was again trucked up to our home in the Bay Area. The US dollar was the strongest it had ever been (and that is still true more than 30 years later) so we got a fantastic deal, paying less than $24K for the piano including shipping to our home. This compared to the US price of close to $60K at the time.
Our piano is considered a half concert piano, and is often found in smaller concert halls. It certainly is the biggest piano we would ever have in our home.

Larry
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
1,337
794
113
#36
on the matter of piano sound I wonder if many of you have heard the Stuart piano - I have heard it live quite a few times and quite like the power and clarity it has - not all agree

This recording is the first I have some across that I think accurately represents these qualities if anyone is interested

https://www.stuartandsons.com/news.html

cheers

Phil
Stuart and Sons pianos are a proud export of my town. Our happy coastal city is a traditional proud steel and mining city and to have a rather marvellous and extraordinary piano produced here is a source of some considerable pride for this piano music loving soul. We also do exceptional wines... win win :)
 

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