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Layering Identical Pianos

Postby wtibbit » 11 Oct 2021, 21:13

I just received my new Piano 5 and have been trying various combinations of pianos, layered together. While doing that I accidentally layered two identical pianos with identical settings (EQ, etc...). I was surprised to hear the sound of the "double" piano, compared to the "single" piano, was extremely different in character. I expected a noticeable different in volume, but the perceived volume level seemed softer, rather than louder. The sound of the layered pianos might be described as "out of phase", similar to the sound of a guitar with out-of-phase pickups. I tried the same configuration using a different piano - two Silver Grands, rather that two White Grands - and heard the same results. The same was true of all the pianos I tried. This didn't happen when I layered two different pianos, for example a White and Silver layered together, as I frequently used with my Stage 3. It then occurred to me to try layering two of the same pianos on the Stage 3, a configuration I had never tried on that instrument, and it behaves just like the Piano 5. I think that only the Stage and Piano products can be configured with two identical pianos layered. Have any of you other forum members noticed this with your keyboards that are capable of layering two identical pianos?
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Layering Identical Pianos


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Re: Layering Identical Pianos

Postby WannitBBBad » 11 Oct 2021, 21:22

Yes, mapping identical pianos to both panels has the same effect on all of the Stage series. Setting Layer Detune at 1 on the Stage 3 is nice for creating a little separation between identical pianos without sounding like a honky tonk piano and more like two pianos not perfectly in tune to each other. For layering different pianos, a combination I really like is Grand Lady D with BlueSwede upright slightly behind it in the mix. Take care.
Last edited by WannitBBBad on 11 Oct 2021, 23:50, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Layering Identical Pianos

Postby cphollis » 12 Oct 2021, 00:36

The "two exact copies of the same piano sound" is unpleasant to my ears most of the time. Even the smallest difference in tone, effects, octave, etc. makes all the difference.
I think I have gear issues ....

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Re: Layering Identical Pianos

Postby Hlaalu » 12 Oct 2021, 09:13

What could be the technical explanation why two identical pianos layered sound actually thinner than a single sample - for the less sound engineering savvy chaps like me?
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Re: Layering Identical Pianos

Postby Klondyke77 » 12 Oct 2021, 10:07

Hlaalu wrote:What could be the technical explanation why two identical pianos layered sound actually thinner than a single sample - for the less sound engineering savvy chaps like me?


I don't know the exact technical term in english, but I would call it "Phase shifting" or "Out of phase".
Can only assume: While processing both layers of piano there is a slight time difference since there is no phase coupling happening.
Anyway the result is cancellation of frequencies over time which is heard as "thinner" sound.
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Re: Layering Identical Pianos

Postby Hlaalu » 12 Oct 2021, 10:26

Yeah I imagined something along those lines, but the question is why are the phases so off that the cancellation can be heard? I would have imagined any timing differences in how the CPU handles the samples must be so infinitesimal that no artifact whatsoever could ever reach and impact the final output. But if that's the case, then maybe electric and electronic instruments aren't that soulless after all. :)

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Re: Layering Identical Pianos

Postby Mr_-G- » 12 Oct 2021, 12:11

Hlaalu wrote:What could be the technical explanation why two identical pianos layered sound actually thinner than a single sample - for the less sound engineering savvy chaps like me?

"Phase cancellation" or "wave interference"

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... emystified
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_interference

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Re: Layering Identical Pianos

Postby WannitBBBad » 12 Oct 2021, 14:56

Hlaalu wrote:Yeah I imagined something along those lines, but the question is why are the phases so off that the cancellation can be heard? I would have imagined any timing differences in how the CPU handles the samples must be so infinitesimal that no artifact whatsoever could ever reach and impact the final output. But if that's the case, then maybe electric and electronic instruments aren't that soulless after all. :)

True, it would take a bit of delay to actually cause significant phase cancellation, but what we're hearing is enough of a phase shift to make an identical piano combination sound bad. In the simple sine wave example, you can see that a defined time delay (yellow section in the example below) will affect each frequency a little differently when comparing where the amplitude would be with one wave versus the delayed wave. When applied to a complex piano wave, it gets ugly.
Frequency-Hertz-Hz-second-wave example.jpg
Frequency-Hertz-Hz-second-wave example.jpg (64.62 KiB) Viewed 519 times
Last edited by WannitBBBad on 12 Oct 2021, 20:54, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Layering Identical Pianos

Postby Hlaalu » 12 Oct 2021, 17:33

That's very interesting, thanks. I guess doing this on purpose (provided the offset is each time slightly different) could be the round robin of the poors. :D
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Re: Layering Identical Pianos

Postby CountFosco » 12 Oct 2021, 19:53

I guess it's the higher frequency harmonics which have more chance of being randomly in or out of phase: some will add, some will cancel, some will something in between. So the result will be that the harmonic content of the combined sound is quite different to the single piano. I suppose this effect will be more noticeable when you combine two versions of the exact same harmonic train, as opposed to the two quite different harmonic trains from different piano samples.
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