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Re: [ARSCLIST] Dynamic-frequency Range

see end...
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mike Richter" <mrichter@xxxxxxx>
> Karl Miller wrote:
> > I am concerned with what was available to the "average" listener.
> > 
> > Perhaps I should explain the reasons for my questions. I am writing an
> > essay about pianists who refused to make disc recordings but were willing
> > to make reproducing piano roll recordings. There were problems with
> > available duration for each side, in addition to the obvious limitations
> > of frequency response. I find that rarely is the question of dynamic range
> > mentioned. There is a quote from one pianist who was told the number of
> > amplitude steps available from a particular reproducing piano...I can't
> > remember how many, perhaps just 24 and he replied, well I have 25 dynamic
> > steps in my playing. While shading is probably subject to one's
> > ability to measure it, it seems to me that ultimately that "arguement" was
> > not informed as their dynamic range on discs was signficantly limited,
> > especially in the acoustic era.
> > 
> > Further, some pianists pointed out that they did not like having to make
> > adjustments to their dynamics in particular parts of the frequency range,
> > adjustments that were needed to provide more balance on playback.
> > 
> > In short, I am trying to put into slightly more quantifiable terms, the
> > reasons for their objects.
> > 
> > I am reminded of one pianist who refused to make any disc
> > recordings...yet, if she had, she might have had the backing of Victor
> > and, at least from my perspective, been as well known as some of the
> > artists which had the benefit of the marketing of a record company.
> > 
> > Any thoughts would be welcome.
> > 
> > Karl
> You offer much opportunity for thought and experimentation, but I see 
> little chance that answers will be found otherwise. As a side note, you 
> seem to assume that recording in the acoustic era was seen by the 
> performers as a benefit beyond immediate payment. For some, it may have 
> been, but I'm afraid that most took positions not unlike that of the 
> "Maitre de musique" in the Belgian TV film (mistranslated in English as 
> "The Music Teacher").
> The dynamics of the various forms of piano rolls can be determined from 
> the design of the player or the properties of the recording. Since the 
> typical user would not have a Vorsetzer, the dynamic range was on/off. 
> In fact, you are not looking at dynamic range per se but at its 
> quantization, where the player piano offered a single bit. I believe you 
> want to determine how many bits were available for the more elaborate 
> reproducers, which as I say should be implicit in the design.
> Of course, the frequency range of the reproducing piano was that of the 
> piano itself as covered by the reproducer - nominally, the full range of 
> the instrument.
> Quantization of the acoustic recording is in practice related to the SNR 
> (Signal-to-Noise Ratio), which is closely enough related to dynamic 
> range to serve most purposes. Saturation, blasting and related 
> distortions do come into play and I'm afraid an expert on reproduction 
> of "78"-rpm discs will be needed to deal with those issues, especially 
> when combined with stylus size and shape. (Many a recording from that 
> era which is unlistenable on one setup will be crystalline on another.)
> You may find the little experiment on Hugues Cuenod recordings at
>    http://www.operas-are.us/
> of interest though it deals with voice not primarily piano. If you are 
> not familiar with the Nellie Melba distance tests of 1910, you will find 
> them worth seeking for issues of dynamics when varying the distance from 
> the source (here, a soprano) to the horn. Before the microphone was 
> introduced, the size of the piano limited the acoustic available - for 
> better or for worse.
Since the one thing that had to be avoided was cutting a groove that
actually extended in the space needed for the adjacent groove...how
was this accomplished for acoustic, as well as early electric,

Steven C. Barr

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