Is my reviewing useful? : LUSENET : To Hear Ourselves As Others Hear Us : One Thread

There have been over 200 'hits' of my review of that DAT recorder, but of course I don't know *who* has been reading it. I'd appreciate knowing if it's actually been useful to you. If so, would you drop me a quick word? Thanks!

-- James Boyk (, September 23, 1999


Dear Professor Boyk,

I'm one of the people who looked at the review of the recording setup. The rig did appear to be a considerable improvement on CD- quality digital recording inasmuch as it delivered approximately 19 EFFECTIVE bits. I found the review valuable because it is one of the few in which the author recognizes the difference between PROMISED 24- bit performance and actual lesser capability, and explained what tell- tale signs to look for, viz. the dynamic range (in dB) divided by 6 gives approximately the number of effective bits.

However, the industry has moved on since then, as you remarked when we talked last week. It appears that there are some cheaper hard disk recorders with A/D-D/A delivering about 17.5 bits and I shall probably end up getting one of these.

I am an amateur pianist looking for information about what rig to get for practice purposes so as to further pursue the ideas in your book. I would ideally get recording quality enough to (i) distinguish among different attacks (e.g. to learn to eliminate attacks with excessive key speed and "crack" on the keybed); (ii) hear notes that stand out (e.g. a note after a long sustain should be softer so as to maintain continuity -- but it's not easy to hear how much softer, so I want the recorder to help me); (iii) clearly distinguish soft voices in a fugal passage despite the presence of louder voices; (iv) and it would be really nice if in addition to these essentials, I could also get one purely aesthetic benefit in the form of the recording's revealing the type of piano -- I have a Boesendorfer 225 with a stunningly beautiful sound and would ideally like to hear it recorded.

So thanks again for your book, its humor, its methodology, the recommendations of hardware, the DAT system and hard disk recording suggestions.

-- Peter G. Moll (, August 12, 2002.

Must say at once how gratifying your comments are. I'm very glad you find my techniques worth your time.

This response will be a bit clunky, I'm afraid. Taking things in order: "Yes, we have no bananas"; that is, yes, there are no 24-bit converters in the world. There aren't any that even claim such performance, no matter what the price. (And there may never be such things, because the task is so difficult.)

Re hard-disk recorders, the Masterlink is acceptable, especially if you install a quieter (and while you're at it, bigger) hard drive. I can supply instructions for installing a bigger drive--we've done so with success--but will take no responsibility for the success of the operation.

Where did you learn the idea that the first note after a relatively long note should be a bit softer? It's absolutely correct, but I know only two people who teach this! (And it's important that it applies only to one note.)

Regarding what you want and need from a recording system, I emphasize that very simple equipment will do a lot for you! If you have anything workable at all, please start right away; don't delay!

Your criteria for recording gear really apply to the entire recording & playback system. When you say about your Boesendorfer that you'd "ideally like to hear it recorded," I think you really mean that you'd like to hear it recorded ideally. It can certainly be done far better than 99.5% of commercial recordings, but doing so is a matter beyond the scope of this forum (because such quality is simply not necessary for the work of the book).

As for hearing the character of attacks, the integrity of voices at different dynamics, etc., any reasonable system will do these things for you. The microphone will be very important to do them optimally; but even a decent "cheapie" will do OK. (I'm a bit concerned--pardon me for saying so--that worrying about the equipment may be actually interfering with practicing. Please don't fall into that trap.) For instance, the Sony TC-D5M cassette recorder with one of the book's recommended mikes will give you all you need for this work. It won't give you all you want in terms of ultimate beauty, but that, as mentioned above, is beyond the scope of our forum.

You've written to me off-group about your experiences with the book's techniques, and I hope you'll post to the forum in detail about them. Please start a new topic for this.

-- James Boyk (, August 16, 2002.

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