Sony High Res 100 Series Mics Record 108-Key Piano
Recently Sony’s new Hi Res Series Studio Microphones were used to record the premier of Australian composer Alan Griffiths’ new album Rare View. The performance was closely followed by a rendition of Gigue Sonata in A minor, a unique piece by Bach which has never been performed in public on a piano. All of these events were brought together on The Beleura, the world’s first nine-octave, 108-key grand piano, built by Stuart & Sons in Tumut, NSW.
Sony Australia product manager David Green explained, “Most concert grand pianos have 88 keys but this is the first known piano ever to be built with an amazing 108 keys. This means it boasts a gigantic nine octave range which was unheard of on the piano until now. Due to the incredible range and the immense cacophony of harmonics and high frequency overtones it takes a unique kind of microphone to fully record its range and beauty – which is where the Sony High Res 100 Series mics came in.”
The recording took place at a concert held at the historic Beleura House, a venue that was fittingly and formally owned by composer John Tallis. In 2014 house curator Antony Knight commissioned a 102 note Stuart & Sons piano to be installed in the house’s new pavilion. Four years later The Beleura, named after the house itself, was delivered and commissioned.
Green continued, “To celebrate this great occasion, as part of the concert Alan Griffiths, the well-known modern day classical composer held the premier recital of his latest album ‘Rare View’ at Beleura House. The original album was recorded entirely in the Hi Res recording format using the new Sony Hi Res Series studio microphones as was the performance which also featured premier musicians including Nicolas Young on piano, George Young on Cello and Dominic Prywana on violin.”
The firsts didn’t stop there as for the very first time another totally unique piece of music composed for an instrument that didn’t exist at the time of composing and that was separated from it by 270 years, was performed to an audience on The Beleura.
Gigue Sonata in A minor was penned by JS Bach in 1728. Bach, one of the great pillars of western music, was an exceptional musician and master of church and cathedral organs and it was for these instruments with their extended lower register that he wrote the piece that was played on The Beleura at Beleura House and, which until that magnificent instrument was created, could not be performed on a Piano Forte.
The use of Sony High Res Series mics to record this historic event was no accident. In fact it was Wayne Stuart, proprietor and head designer of the 108 note piano, who explained that The Beleura could only be recorded in the Hi Res format due the incredibly high frequencies developed by the soundscape of the instrument which weighed in at 644kgs and boasted 218 strings spanning the 108 notes.
Green explained, “For the last 30 years we have come to expect CD quality as the premium. However, with the introduction of Hi Res playback devices, speakers and headphones, for the first time in the history of music recording the microphone is actually the weak link with most commercial microphones rolling off at 20kHz whilst the Sony Hi Res mics will recognise and pick up Ultra High frequencies up to 50kHz.”
It was then the responsibility of industry expert Craig Field from Underwood Studios to record the performance with the Sony Hi Res Series microphones in Hi Resolution audio, enabling the entire frequency spectrum of The Beleura to be faithfully reproduced.
Green continued, “If there were ever a format that had to be heard to be believed then High Res Audio is it, as it is a relatively new format for appreciating music holistically. With its extended frequency response the listener is now not only able to hear with their ears, but also experience and sense these high frequencies through their bodies.”
The ultra-high frequencies associated with any acoustic instrument or voice are frequencies so high that humans can’t detect them with their ears alone and instead have to also be sensed through skin, bones and even hair. When theses frequencies are put into the soundscape they augment the overall experience. Due to their unique design, the Sony High Res 100 Series microphones can capture the entire augmented experience perfectly.
Green concluded, “The Beleura House concert was an unparalleled success. By using Sony High Res Series mics the holistic sound of The Beleura piano was beautifully and accurately reproduced including all of the ultra hi frequencies that are normally lost with a CD quality recording. Listeners to the recording of the concert are now able to appreciate the incredible sound of this amazing instrument exactly how the musician heard it at the time of the performance.”