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In the Forum: Playback Listening
In the Thread: Audio Shopping vs. Piano Shopping.
Post Subject: Enough, but not too muchPosted by Lbjefferies7 on: 8/11/2012
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Yes, the "default" sound of most US made pianos is more "forward" than not.  Mason & Hamlin and Chickering can be brilliant, but are usually "loud."  Same is generally true for German Steinways.  For mellow presentations, the usual suspects aside from proper Steinway A (the 6'4") and O models are the wonderful but maintenance-intensive Bosendorfer, Ibach, possibly Steingraeber, pre-Samick ownership Seiler 186, and Bluthner.  Of all these, probably the "darkest" sounding that I have heard is probably the Ibach.  

Bosendorfers are a pain because the nature of their construction requires tuning far more often than others.  Their rims are made of massive pieces of spruce all glued together and cut out instead of having bent laminations of maple, beech, etc.  The early-2000s Seiler 186 is one of my favorites.  Its craftsmanship and fit & finish are simply the best and are very progressive in engineering terms.  Very balanced sound and an unusually serious bass.  Whatever it means, I am always reminded of Beethoven when I hear one.  It may not be quite gloomy enough, but everything about them is brilliant and very different from the "typical" Steinway sound.

"Glowing" is a wonderful quality, indeed and is affected by many many factors.  Proper voicing or even changing the hammers (Renner Blue or Blue Points are very are Ronsen) can embellish "glow."  You are right...playing a single note (even softly) should "ignite" a piano.  The hammer should strike with no or very little initial "pop," then grow and bloom only to evenly diminish...preferably after quite a long time.  It is a shame that Mason & Hamlins are likely too forward, because 1920s Model BBs are really wonderful for just this reason.  It would be interesting to see if one could be made to be darker, but I have my doubts.  A good test in addition to playing a single note is to hold down the sustain pedal and shout at the soundboard like a wounded-in-ass Mexican soccer commentator and listen to how the piano reacts both in volume and breadth of tones.

Duo-Art?  A faaaaar less painful option is available and with much better sustain pedal control...  Though the size of the decently-playing music library is lacking, and more than half jazz.


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