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I'm listening to a classic album- Herbie Hancock's 'Takin' Off'.

I noticed that many albums of this period have a piano sound that is a bit dull, although Hancock's performances are brilliant. The piano track is dark, lacking treble. I think it's an EQ/arranging strategy to create a piano track lacking upper mids. Why? It creates a subordinate backdrop for the instruments that are soloing. The sax and trumpet stand out more because the piano is NOT bright. And when the piano solos, it's tone is suddenly much brighter- it becomes the lead instrument. A brighter track will almost always sound more prominent in the mix. If you turn down the brightness of a subordinate instrument, like a piano, you might have to sacrifice an accurate representation of that instrument. In other words, the track could sound a bit dull and if the levels of the low-mid frequencies are too prominent, the track could sound 'muddy'.  So, you have to do a balancing act- clear and bright vs dull and dark.


This is a BIG issue for me, because I often like background parts to be as prominent as the foreground soloing instruments. Sometimes I would like a strumming background guitar to sound delicious, not dull. It's possible to micro-manage EQ-ing, so that a short gap in the solo can allow a short boost in the background instrument's brightness. Most DAWs can allow you to draw an EQ envelope from the beginning of a track or clip to its end, so you can vary the EQ parameters along the timeline.  ...Something to think about.

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This may be a bit off subject but I am micing and recording just a grand piano. My latest problem is that I finally got the mix to something that I can sort of live with but when I bounce the track from a WAV file to an MP3 so that I can put it on my web site, I lose a lot of  everything I strived to achieve in the way of capturing the natural tone of the piano.


Are you guys using recording setups (DAWs) ? Would you know anything about this area? Are there different ways to bounce recordings where you can keep more of the .WAV file? I am using ProTools 8.0.5


I just have one tune (ballad) posted on my site If you would like to give a listen.




Dan- What do you want in the recording that is missing? How is it lacking? Adjust the original wav to compensate.

Ray- I was just talking in general terms. I have a record player somewhere- back in my closet. Haven't used it for years. No, I don't know much about the whole re-mastering process.

Hi Doug,

I feel that the recording lacks the richness of the piano that I somewhat captured in the wav file before boucing to an MP3. It seems "tinney". Well, I am very new at this. Your post caught my attention because you were talking about EQ. I use two mics to record the piano, one on the bass end and the other on the treble end. On the bass end I used a low pass filter and then on the treble end I used a high pass filter. I will experiment further. But I think your idea to adjust the WAV file to compensate is a good one. I'll just have to continue to experiment until I find the right combonation of things that will produce a good MP3.



Dan Pincus


Hi Geroge,


That is great to know!. I just use iTunes to convert a song in the itunes library to MP3. If you really feel that the ProTools upgrade improves things substantially I will definately look into that this afternoon. That could really solve a big headache.



Dan Pincus

That's true- the original vinyl could've sounded better. I recently got Led Zeppelin's II, and it just doesn't sound as good as the vinyl. Re-mastered by Jimmy Page. I don't know- the upper mids sound harsh. The dark piano tracks I reference are from various Rudy Van Gelder studios- re-masters. So go figure. Are you still spinning 33's? :)  ...I wish I could. On a positive note, I've heard many great recordings that were mastered for CD's after the vinyl age of recording. CD's can sound really great. I'll look into the uploading of 44/16 bit wav files to soundcloud. Good idea. Hopefully MP3 players will shift to 44/16 wav files as their capacities increase. If I REALLY like a recording, I do upload it to my iPod as a high quality wav file. I don't see why this shouldn't become the norm, as technology makes it more possible...
Sure, I realize that. I don't like some traditions, like a dull muted background piano. I was just bringing up that point- today's mixing engineer has to decide just how subordinate a background part should be in the mix, how unobtrusive it should be. It's a question of aesthetics. There have been so many approaches to recording and so many different techniques, that there aren't any set rules, and there's a lot to be said for a composition and arrangement, which brings us back to the main subject of this forum.

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