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Topic: Studio Grand 88 user review!

  1. #1

    Studio Grand 88 user review!

    Let\'s get right down to it fellow plastic ticklers... This is no budget cheapy! At $80 from House of samples, I figured I could easily afford the loss. NO LOSS to report. This Malmsjo sample from Bigga Giggas sounds fantastic!

    I play only solo piano, simple melodies, lots of sustain (that\'s right, PEDAL DOWN!). The instrument really needs to sing, sustain & have depth to please me. This Malmsjo is all of the above & it sounds nothing like the Artvista. This piano is considerably brighter, designed to cut thru a mix. Being a Yamaha lover & ever so patiently awaiting a WORLD CLASS Yamaha sample, this is the closest I\'ve come to that dream. Without the \"bell like\" attack of a Yamaha C7 being struck, it still has a little sizzle, very pleasing. Don\'t get me wrong though, I\'d still say the sound leans closer in style to the European pianos such as a Bos or Schimmel, than that of the high tension Japanese pianos. This instrument is impeccably recorded from top to bottom. Pretty close mic\'d, but not to the \"unnatural\" point.Very accurate but tight stereo spread... Almost no discernable hammer thunks! The TRUE 8 layers, that\'s right, no filtered layers, are without flaw & the piano is unbelievably realistic when played dynamically. It does not get muddy or cluttered when you crescendo. It opens up with clarity & power. There is a depth & openness that sucks you in. Many other samples get misproportionately loud or sound compressed when jumping to the next sample layer. Not this one... Just shut your eyes & turn it up! The bass is tight, clear & powerful, something most Giga samples I\'ve played lack, or need serious EQ help to obtain. This piano has amazing sustain. I\'m not sure how this will affect the sound when plugged into a mix, someone else will have to report on that. I\'m happy as a clam! Each sample is 25 seconds according to Bigga Gigas. I noticed that when I held a note down indefinitely (well over 25 seconds), that the sample never shut off, meaning the polyphony meter stayed a \'2\' as long as I or the pedal held the note. Having 96 voices, I\'m not likely to max it out, but when I intentionally did, clicks galore. My other piano sample libraries automatically shut off the sample when it ends. This one doesn\'t. I\'m no Giga tech, so I\'ll leave that open for comment.

    Without being overly critical, there are some \"character spots\" too. In the melody range, there are a few notes that don\'t sustain as well as others, occasionally giving a slight \"pinched-off\" kind of effect. Sometimes the brightness in the melody octave turns a bit \"ringy\" too, obviously the result of a \"non-percussive\" attack. Keep in mind this is in solo use with sparse playing & considerable sustain. The high,high keys seam to be just a touch loud, proportionally... though I\'ve had no trouble aclimating my playing to this. The quietest sample layer seemed a little thin in a couple spots, though often the case in an instrument voiced this way. No matter what the sample, size, or cost, we will all find character spots such as these in every library. None of these, in my opinoin, even approached being a \"flaw\"

    I get nothing but joy from playing this sample & thanks its makers for attempting to drive the price of these libraries down, so that we may all own more!

    I speak for many Gigga\'ers when I plea: SOMEONE SAMPLE A ME YAMAHA!!! (Worra, Michiel, Kip) [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  2. #2

    Re: Studio Grand 88 user review!

    Hi pianojoe!

    Thanks for sharing your impressions of the Studio Grand... Do you have a demo where we can listen to some points you adress in your review?

    Thanks, Hansi

  3. #3

    Re: Studio Grand 88 user review!

    Hey Joe...(sounds like a song, doesn\'t it...)

    Thanks for using our piano and glad that you liked it!

  4. #4

    Re: Studio Grand 88 user review!

    Just a curious question pianojoe or maybe Worra can answer me on this one, if the samples are 25 seconds each and each note was sampled that gives me 88 x 8 x 25 seconds which is way over WIN98\'s max file size which is 2 gigs, this would make the piano gig 4 gigs in size how is this possible ?

    Are the pedal up and down gigs seperate ?
    or all notes sampled or only the white keys ?

    Just curious, and a bit intrigued [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    Vintaudio Prod.

  5. #5

    Re: Studio Grand 88 user review!

    Just got this piano as well and loving it.

    I do miss the release layer effect but enjoy having 8 well sampled layers and transitions on pedal up and down. Besides all the dimensions are taken so no room for trigger release (3 bits velocity, 1 bit stereo, 1 bit pedal = 5 bits). I would maybe encourage a 4 layer soft version with triggers and a 4 layer hard version with triggers but this is probably what is helping price point.

    I agree with above post - a great piano if you like the Yamaha like tonality.

    WRT to size and sample length: from the documentation and inspection within the Giga Editor I see that one note sample is used for 2 keys - so you have 44 notes sampled. Additionally, the samples are looped after about 15 seconds which saves space as well - I can\'t imagine going into the loop portion all that often if ever.

    The actual file is about 1.5+ gigs.

    At this price point, I give it a major thumbs up.


  6. #6

    Re: Studio Grand 88 user review!

    Sorry about slip up above - I meant \"I agree with post above in terms of European sound\". I did not mean Yamaha - although this piano does have incredible clarity.


  7. #7

    Re: Studio Grand 88 user review!

    Thanks for your kind words.
    I\'d like to add some comments.

    25 seconds samples must be some kind of misunderstanding.
    In the documentation it says \"about 15 seconds\". Most of the samples are around 12-15 seconds, some are shorter, but that\'s when the natural decay is shorter.
    The samples are looped to emulate a natural envelope, but you probably never, ever reach the looppionts in normal playing
    All full notes are sampled, that is, all the white keys.
    And no, there are no releasesamples.

    Now, why on earth didn\'t I sample all notes, full decay (no loopes) and releasesamples?

    The goal with these samples, was to make a piano that playes as natural as a sampled piano can do.
    For me, the key to natural sound and playing was to use as many velocity layers as possible.
    I also had to keep within the 2Gb boundry since windows can\'t handle files bigger then that.

    If I was to sample all the notes, the resulting file would be +2Gb and wouldn\'t work in Windows.

    Releasekeys had to go, since there where no dimensions left. Maybe Giga 3.0 will provide us with more dimensions.

    For size reason, I also had to skip full envelope samples, but I don\'t think that there\'s that many playing situations where you let a tone go on for more then 10-15 seconds. A piano note can sustain for around 1.5 minutes (some bass notes on the Grand I used sustained for about 2 minutes...). I suspect that you in 99.99% of all piano playing let a note ring for less then 10 seconds, so in those cases you play unlooped samples.

    I actually recorded 12 velocity layers per note (12 with pedal up and 12 pedal down!). This is probably impossible \"by hand\", so I used a specially developed software to be able to sample in 2 Db steps.
    I then picked samples from the pool, carefully comparing them with eachother, both within the velocity layer, and on a single note, so it would sound as natural and balanced as possible.

  8. #8

    Re: Studio Grand 88 user review!

    I have spent the last week or so with the Studio 88.
    On the positive side it is an immaculate piano. The layer switching is excellent. It plays beautifully. It has just enough air and ambience and the stereo spread is perfect.

    It is way to mid rangy eq wise. I am sure that its an accurate recording of that piano but it is not a good sounding piano in a recording. Between my partner and myself we own just about every piano lib. He goes for the darker more classical sounding ones.

    But it a track. A completed master ready to be mixed, my yamaha S90 sounds significantly better than the studio 88. Its warmer, rounder yet still more brilliant in the upper registeres.
    Yes the S90. With its built in noise, terrible velocity switching, short samples etc.

    I have tried all manner of eq to make the Studio 88 work. To the point of avalon, waves, sony oxford etc. I was never able to make this piano have enough bottom and sheen without the blaring midrange.

    I think its a case of an excellent set of samples, perfectly crafted with a serious level of programming/editing genius BUT of a piano that I simply do not like.


    My quest for a fully realized studio yamaha continues. (I know its not a yamaha in the studio 88 set but damn this is a poor recording piano)

    I am forever a fan of bigga giggas and I am sorry to post a negative review. I know that there are a few guys who really want a studio grand in a similair vein as I do. They should check out the demos very closely as the harsh midrange of this set did not show clearly in the demos.

    sorry [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img]

  9. #9

    Re: Studio Grand 88 user review!

    Strange that you say mid-rangy: the demos to me sounded a little bright. Most of the piano samples I hear don\'t have enough midrange (and the middle C area has always been the trouble area for piano samples.)

    When you say too mid-rangy, do you mean that you find the midrange too loud? Too bright?

  10. #10

    Re: Studio Grand 88 user review!

    Hi Ed.

    Sorry you don\'t like the Studio 88, however, I don\'t think you should feel sorry for saying this. As you state, that \"it is an immaculate piano. The layer switching is excellent. It plays beautifully. It has just enough air and ambience and the stereo spread is perfect.\" so I wouldn\'t exactly call it a bad review.
    You don\'t like the sound of it, and that\'s an opinion that is hard to discuss since it\'s personal. I also welcome all opinions, good AND bad, about our products, as long as they are constructive!

    What you seek is, as you also say, the sound of a Yamaha, and the Grand on the Studio Grand isn\'t a Yamaha, it\'s a Malmsjo, and those two grands sound quite different compared to eachother. It\'s like going for a telecaster sound using a big Gibson hollowbody.
    You might be glad to hear, that I\'ve actually got a studio booked to record a Yamaha, so sometime this spring......
    I\'m interested in hearing your opinion on how such a piano would sound, so please contact me at per@biggagiggas.com
    I\'m also interested to discuss the Studio Grand. Maybe we can come up with a patch that makes the piano sound more of what you want!

    About the demos, all the mp3 demos are made with absolutly no eq what so ever. The only thing added is a bit of room, (as stated on our homepage), so what you hear is what you get.

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