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Topic: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

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  1. #1

    Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    I\'ve noticed when using various piano sample libraries that in passages where the piano part is pretty busy in the high register (say sixteenth notes) the hammer sound is becoming too intrusive (sounds a bit like someone firing a machine gun cannon in the distance).

    At the moment, I\'m rendering out the high register piano part separately from the rest of the piano part, and using EQ to try and minimise it (working on the basis that the hammer sound should be sufficiently far away from the sound of the strings vibrating in the high register that I can EQ out the hammer without affecting anything else).

    Are there any better solutions people are using?

    Steve

  2. #2

    Re: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    Part of it could simply be how the notes were recorded. But you should be able to make the situation at least somewhat better.

    If the library is editable (as most are), then you could try simply reducing the gain / level of the high register samples. Getting the level \"right\" on those notes can be a little tricky, so it\'s possible the designer simply set them too loud for your taste.

    The EQ idea seems like a good one to me. If you\'re creating distance, try cutting low frequencies, and \"maybe\" very high frequencies as well. Cutting the lows should help get rid of some of the \"thunk.\" Cutting the highs will make the notes more subtle in a mix.

    Taking the EQ idea a little further, you could actually export the samples to a wave editor, tweak the EQ there, and then reassign them in the main library. That way, you wouldn\'t have to print separate tracks for every song that uses those notes.

    Hope some of this will help.

  3. #3

    Re: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    Good stuff thanks for the tips. I guess the bulk processing is where a product like Wavelab comes into it\'s own. I\'ve held off investing in a pure wave editor up till now on the basis that the wave editing in Cubase SX has given me what I need, but I should look at Wavelab in more detail now I think.

    Thanks again for the advice.

    Steve

  4. #4

    Re: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    The hammer hit itself has a lot of low end, particularly if it is close miced. Try cutting below 150Hz or so on the high notes with too much hammer noise.

    Hans

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    The ArtVista piano is actually one of the least thunky!!

  6. #6

    Re: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    Originally posted by Bruce A. Richardson:
    The ArtVista piano is actually one of the least thunky!!
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Yup agreed totally, it\'s one of the reasons I picked it to use on the part. No disrespect intended to the Malmsjo piano which is a favourite of mine, and thanks for the extra tip Hans.

    Steve

  7. #7

    Re: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    yuo may also be able to use a step filter/quick filter to randomize (in kontakt) the attacks, to make them less \"machine gun\"

    or slightly offset the attack to minimize the \"clunk\"

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    Hi Steve,

    Everybody\'s on the money with the EQ tips.

    If you\'re dealing with a non-protected library, you can batch export the waveforms, do your EQ work, then batch replace and you\'re good to go.

    You\'re right in thinking you want a dedicated wave editor for this job. You need the batch capability, and the automation of being able to put the exact same file names into a different folder structure for the replacement process.

    I would use a shelf, and experiment with the cutoff frequency before you batch out the waveforms. You could do it while playing, just play the offending range and creep the shelf upwards until the \"thunk\" is gone. Then a/b the EQ in and out, and see if you\'ve dramatically affected the timbre. If not, that\'s a good setting. If the notes \"thin out\" too much, you\'ll have to back down a bit, so that you don\'t create a \"break\" in the overall timbral range of the instrument. That\'s the danger.

    If you can\'t get the thunk out without shifting the timbre too much, you will have to do some non-batch work, and create a \"transition octave\" where you gradually back the shelf down note by note until you\'ve covered your tracks.

    Sometimes the \"thunk\" is caused by pitch shifting, when a key turns out to be a dog and a neighbor sample is pitched up or down to fill in the bad sample. If a note \"thunked\" anyway, pitching the sound makes it a lot worse, since the thunk now moves chromatically instead of remaining constant...calling attention to itself.

    EQ helps with this, too.

    This is one of the biggest reasons I am so adamantly opposed to content copy protection in sample libraries. I have done this exact task on at least three sampled pianos...where the high-end thunk is too prevalent. The good news is that the highpass shelf DOES work very well, as long as you\'ve been careful not to cut into the timbre too much. It doesn\'t completely disappear in some cases, but you can get an improvement.

    For sure, use the very best EQ you have for this task. I like the Waves Linear phase EQ, and you could probably even use the demo (if you haven\'t already used up the free 14-days at another time) to get this job done.

  9. #9

    Re: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    Thanks for all the tips........

    Hans : As it happens the particular case I need to use this sort of technique is the Art Vista Malmsjo grand, which has just the right tone for what I\'m after. Great sounding piano, just need to do this little tweak in the particular context I\'m using it.

    Bruce : Thanks for all the details. That\'s hugely helpful. I have the Waves LinEQ as it happens so that\'s a great solution.

    Steve

  10. #10

    Re: Reducing the Hammer Content of Piano Samples

    Steve,

    Before you take on a larger editing job, you could simply try and lower the average velocity for the midi-track so that fewer of the notes would be triggered within the loudest layer. But you would also have to increase the mix level at the same time.

    Or, try the opposite, if you feel the hammer noise level is disproportional to the level of the string tone.

    Good luck,
    Hans

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