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Topic: steinway piano distortions - real or me?

  1. #1

    steinway piano distortions - real or me?

    Hi everyone, I've enjoying using personal orchestra on my songs for a few months now, but I've noticed something strange when I play the steinway piano. There are strange little crackles on some of the notes of the ff samples on the left hand channel. The notes in question are D#1,E1,G1,G#1,C#2,D2,G#2,G#3,A3. I have a pc, winxp, 3ghz 1gb ram and cubase sx2. I tried flipping the stereo channels around in sx to check that it wasn't my headphones and they seem to be ok and anyway no other plugin that I have has this problem. I updated my Kontackt player last night, but this doeasn't seem to have fixed this problem - which becomes very noticeable if you play in certain keys.

    Am I stupid? Have I missed something ? please help - I am working on a project that I need this for

    Best wishes


  2. #2

    Re: steinway piano distortions - real or me?

    Have you checked the db meter in the player (not SX) to make sure its not clipping at the player level? There are no artifacts in the samples that I'm aware of. Also, make sure you aren't overdoing the CPU. Check and make sure multiprocessing is turned off in the options panel (Advanced Options) in SX.

  3. #3

    Re: steinway piano distortions - real or me?

    Are you using an M-audio soundcard as well?

    I too have the same problem with the piano samples of those notes. I'm using M-audio (firewire410).

    This was discussed before, and it was blamed on the M-audio sounds being too "bright".

  4. #4

    Re: steinway piano distortions - real or me?

    Just to muddy the waters further (!), I too have an M-Audio Firewire410 in my system and the piano sounds fine - no distortion that I can discern. By the way, I like the 410 a lot. Wish it had been around 15 years ago, it would have saved me the cost of many pieces of hardware that I put in my racks over the years.


  5. #5

    Re: steinway piano distortions - real or me?

    I haven't tried those particular notes, but I sometimes notice a slight, slight distortion when playing at the higher velocities. But for me it happens to be my CPU. I have only a P4 1.8 GHz. I noticed that it's a little high in the midrange frequencies, and it seemed to be those that were distorting. I don't have GPO open now, and I'm not going to wait ten minuites for it to load, so this is just what I rember from last using the GPO piano last Tuesday.
    Please let me know if I'm the one going crazy.
    (and it's not my speakers...they're totally flat)


  6. #6

    Re: steinway piano distortions - real or me?

    Well I certainly detect a distortion at g#3 and g3. I reset my bit depth from 24 to 16 bit and its still there. I am using an RME HDSP Cardbus with Multiface on my Dell Inspiron 9100 2.8ghz, 1.2g RAM.
    My workspace is ACID 5.0. Just bought the GPO and have found what appear to be loop point clicks in some of the solo samples as well, but in reading the forum just now, it seems like a tough gig to chase down the exact cause.
    Will report back dutifully as I resolve issues. Please respond soon if you've any advice.
    Last edited by nutrapuppy; 01-11-2006 at 02:29 AM. Reason: typo

  7. #7

    Re: steinway piano distortions - real or me?- mp3 EXAMPLE

    Here is a really clear example of the distortion I am hearing.
    D3, G3, G#3 are very obviously distorting on the left channel only.


    My signal path is balanced, direct out of the Multiface into another pair of inputs.
    Very clean, plenty of headroom.


  8. #8

    Re: steinway piano distortions - real or me?

    I guess I was the one that first brought up the notion that the MAudio converters played some kind of role in this, although what I originally said was that D/A converters that are brighter than other ones can accentuate the higher frequencies/overtones of the notes in general, giving them a more brittle character. I didn't (and still don't) go as far as to say they were distortion, or at least distortion in the digital or sample sense.

    It is not to say that you're completely imagining this, though. I know exactly what you are referring to, as I get the same kind of distortion from a few different piano libraries, as well as the Scarbee RSP 73 library. I didn't hear the distortion on your sample (I have a Lynx L22 card going to a pair of Event 20/20s), but in my case, after a lot of poking, digging, etc., I traced the cause of my distortion to, of all things, cabinet or speaker resonance in the speaker enclosure. In the case of the Rhodes sample, if I hit the A key below middle C, and hold it, the resonance/distortion starts, and slowly dies down as the note decays. Doesn't happen on the other notes, just a few around that one. As for the Steinway, it happens about an octave up, or maybe a little less. To confirm my findings, I borrowed a friend's pair of Alesis Mk I powered speakers. They exhibited less resonance/distortion (I had to turn up the gain more to hear it), but that resonance occurred at different frequencies, about 5 notes up the keyboard on average.

    I'm in the process of testing different monitor speaker sets to see if they behave better than the ones I've used so far. You could test your situation in the same way by taking the recording and listening to it on different sets of speakers to see if it is consistent.

    "Welcome to Rivendell, Mr. Anderson."

  9. #9

    Re: steinway piano distortions - real or me?

    Its not in my monitors, its in the sample or the Kontakt player. I can swap the channels and the problem swaps as well. Incidentally, I am also using Event 20/20bas monitors. I always check my mixes on multiple playback systems and they are fairly accurate. Er, at least, after having them this long, I know what to expect from them.
    I am surprised you do not hear that coming out of your system. I have an RME multiface and I can easily hear the problem. It jumps out at me. I was not really looking for a problem. Its just really obvious.
    I can even hear it through my stock Dell laptop soundcard, through my mixer to the Events, or through headphones.
    Its there. Its not my playback system. I am willing to accept that I have some wrong setting somewhere, but as it is so reproduceable and I am not the only person noticing it...well, perhaps I will reluctantly go with the theory that it is an accurate sample of a Steinway that buzzes rattles on some notes due to sympathetic vibration. Sounds real enough, but if it were my recording session and that Steinway got rolled in, I would break out the ol' duct tape.

  10. #10

    Re: steinway piano distortions - real or me?

    Quote Originally Posted by nutrapuppy
    Its not in my monitors, its in the sample or the Kontakt player....
    Yeah, it's difficult to nail certain problems down if for no other reason, the word distortion means lots of things to different people. Digital clipping is one thing and has a particular kind of sound. Cabinet resonance is different, but it's still distortion. When I said that I didn't hear the distortion on the sample MP3 file, I was really looking for distortion of the digital or clipping kind, which are the most likely kinds of distortion that a sample player would produce. I can attest to the fact that the samples are accurate, 'cuz I have a Steinway B in the living room and you can get stuff that sounds like non-musical resonance when you really reef on the keys. Especially on a piano that's voiced for a concert hall (harder hammers), which most likely describes the piano used for GPO. Depends on what you're used to, I suppose. I remember somebody telling me that the samples on my Yamaha P-90 (my midi controller) were not accurate because of the strange ringing overtone of the upper keys after the key was released. They had mistaken the release samples on the upper keys (the upper keys don't have dampers on the strings on a regular piano, so they will continue to sound after the key is released) for some kind of flaw.

    In my case, I think it's probably a build issue with one of the speakers (the right one is way more problematic than the left). Like you said, though, if you swap channels, or playback on multiple systems, and the problem migrates it's way through, then it is definitely being imprinted onto the digital recording by the sample player.

    "Welcome to Rivendell, Mr. Anderson."

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