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MMD > Archives > November 1998 > 1998.11.03 > 18Prev  Next

Rachmaninoff Audio Recordings vs. Ampico CD
By Andy Taylor

Hi All,  Regarding Wayne's Rachmaninoff CD, I am a bit confused at
the odd reference to the old Victor records that Douglas Henderson has

I honestly don't see how Rachmaninoff's playing could ever be judged by
an old 78-rpm record!  Fact is, the audio quality just isn't there.  It
would never compete with a well regulated _real_ piano, even if the
record is played back on today's Hi-Fi equipment.  It was not until the
early 1950s that audio equipment and records came close to realistic

The whole business of comparing Rachmaninoff's records to his rolls is
like comparing a spinet to a nine foot Baldwin!  It is foolishness to
claim to be able to judge Rachmaninoff's performance by an old record.

Wayne did prove what I have been saying all along:  With the right
music and regulation, the solenoid pianos _can_ be just as capable of
realistic music as a pneumatic piano.

Andy Taylor
Tempola Music Rolls

 [ You're right, Andy -- we really should "compare apples with apples".
 [ The question before us is "How accurately does the new CD of Ampico
 [ rolls represent Rachmaninoff playing the piano?"
 [ We don't have a super Hi-Fi recording of Rachmaninoff for compari-
 [ son, but maybe we can make an acoustic recording of Wayne Stahnke's
 [ piano and compare the results with the existent acoustic recordings
 [ of Rachmaninoff at the piano in 1921.  At least that's comparing
 [ old apples with old apples!  :-)   -- Robbie
 [ Regarding what solenoid pianos can do, the Boesendorfer SE is in
 [ a class by itself.  Wayne designed a "closed loop feedback system"
 [ whereby there is per-note velocity monitoring.  This automatically
 [ produces the correct compensation of the power being sent to the
 [ solenoid in real time so that the solenoid velocity is correctly
 [ controlled through a much wider range than is possible without
 [ feedback.  This is why the Boesendorfer SE has such stunning dynamic
 [ range and can accurately play the quietest passages. Proper
 [ regulation is important even in this piano, but without closed loop
 [ feedback none of the "other" solenoid systems can execute this
 [ performance.  (A Yamaha Disklavier with velocity feedback was
 [ demonstrated at the NAMM show a little over a year ago.  I don't
 [ known if these are being sold yet.  It should  come as no surprise
 [ that this is a "Stahnke influenced" design.)
 [ As a musicologist and engineer, Wayne has brought a stunning amount
 [ of talent and hard work to bear on this project.  He did virtually
 [ everything himself.  He designed the SE (Stahnke Equipped) solenoid
 [ reproducing system.  He perfected (in my opinion) optical roll
 [ archival. He wrote his own computer editing tools to deal with flaws
 [ in the rolls being scanned.  He designed his own Ampico emulator.  He
 [ rigorously studied the other Rachmaninoff works so that he could
 [ make the Ampico emulator work correctly.  He put it all together.
 [ I'm still amazed.  We owe him a debt of gratitude (and increased
 [ CD sales -- buy some now for Christmas presents).  -- Jody

(Message sent Tue 3 Nov 1998, 08:58:50 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Ampico, Audio, CD, Rachmaninoff, Recordings, vs

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