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Topic: Need to brighten up the Steinway

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  1. #1

    Need to brighten up the Steinway

    I'm using the full version of the Steinway in my tracks. I record it by itself, then move on to working with the other instruments.

    Of course I have the standard pedal on for the piano, and I've found that the best sound comes from using the "X file" version of the piano, since you can control how much it responds to velocity. Really brings out the contrasts in the highs and lows with slider up to about 60%.

    BUT the piano is sounding "boxy" and dull to me, almost like there's a blanket thrown over it. It's even coming close to sounding like those dull, muted piano sounds on older synths.

    I've started trying to use EQ in the Cubase LE mixer to brighten it up, but not with a remarkable difference. With all the instruments sounding so good "out of the box" I'm surprised this one high-profile instrument isn't sounding as "juicy" to me as the others.

    I'm using the Garritan Ambience reverb, varying amounts for the different parts of the orchestra, but my taste is to not have the swimming "lost in space" effect that one hears so often. I want it believable that we're hearing an orchestra, but not in the Grand Canyon, and with our vantage point fairly close to it.

    I visualize the piano as being closest to the audience, with the orchestra behind it. So the send level for its reverb is modest, definitely there, but not very aggressive. Perhaps more reverb would brighten up the sound more to my liking, but that would throw off my reverb balances.

    Any tips on getting a better sound--crisper, more brassy? Maybe there's something basic I'm over looking.

    rbowser

  2. #2

    Re: Need to brighten up the Steinway

    Rbowser, I'm not sure if I can help or not because I have never used the X-Custom folder instruments.

    Your terminolgy in your post indicates to me that you know what's going on with the mixing portion of the production.

    Many times when people use an EQ, if it is highs that they want.... they tend to think too high, and if it is low end that they want, they tend to think way too low. Forgive me for insinuating that you are one of these people

    Try using a reasonably wide bandwidth and set the frequency to around 5K on the EQ.

    Anything higher won't change the brightness of the piano as much as the frequencies hovering around 3-6K, of course with any EQ be careful to not over do it. You already know that.

    Another thing to try is this...
    highlight all of the midi notes for the piano, and increase all of the velocities considerably. You can make that GPO Steinway really sing.

    Hope this little info helps.
    I would try the velocity thing before EQ though.

    Dan

  3. #3

    Re: Need to brighten up the Steinway

    Thanks for the reply, Dan.

    You're very possibly right, that I have too wide a velocity range in the piano's MIDI tracks. Currently they span from approximately 30 to almost full, around 120. Maybe for my ears, I need to keep the velocity not dipping below 70, or something like that--I'll experiment.

    As long as I maintain some dynamic contrast but with a generally brighter tone, I'll be happy. Definitely want to try limiting the velocities before relying on EQ.

    Appreciate you taking the time to reply.

    rbowser

  4. #4

    Re: Need to brighten up the Steinway

    The GPO Steinway is a very classical-sounding piano. It will blend very well with the rest of the orchestra in the context of a classical arrangement. However, if you are hoping to get a brighter, more pop-like piano sound out of it, you will have to change the velocity response and do some serious EQ. And most likely it still won't be exactly what you want. I would expect that added reverb will only serve to darken it up even more.

    You might want to look at a different piano for your project. There are some free soundfont pianos that might serve your purpose. Dig around over in the Sonar forums, searching for "piano" or "piano soundfont." Jsaras recommended a good one about a month ago, it's definitely brighter than the GPO Steinway.

    Jim

  5. #5

    Re: Need to brighten up the Steinway

    Thanks for the tips, Jim

    That's basically it, I think,--that I'm wanting/needing a more pop-style piano.

    After my earlier post on this topic, I've done more experimenting today, and have come much closer to what I wanted.

    It turns out that playing too much with the velocities wasn't good, because I Do want as full a dynamic range as possible, and so I ended up using some EQ on the piano after all.

    Also, I tweaked the Concert Hall reverb in the Garritan Ambience, boosting the treble in that--added a touch more reverb to the piano and that helped a Lot. I like what it did for the whole mix in fact.

    What I'm working on is a musical with theatre, somewhat in the mold of modern dramatic musicals, so a rather bold in-your-face approach is sounding right, as compared to the more subtle, muted sound of a classical orchestra.

    I'll try other pianos if I decide I need to, but I hope to keep using the Steinway since it is such a good sampled instrument, as are all the great GPO sounds. Just some "unorthodox" adjustments throughout these mixes will feel more like what I'm aiming for.

    Thanks guys!

    rbowser


    Quote Originally Posted by mistahamma
    The GPO Steinway is a very classical-sounding piano. It will blend very well with the rest of the orchestra in the context of a classical arrangement. However, if you are hoping to get a brighter, more pop-like piano sound out of it, you will have to change the velocity response and do some serious EQ. And most likely it still won't be exactly what you want. I would expect that added reverb will only serve to darken it up even more.

    You might want to look at a different piano for your project. There are some free soundfont pianos that might serve your purpose. Dig around over in the Sonar forums, searching for "piano" or "piano soundfont." Jsaras recommended a good one about a month ago, it's definitely brighter than the GPO Steinway.

    Jim

  6. #6

    Re: Need to brighten up the Steinway

    Also, never underestimate the possibilities of using EQ on the reverb.
    You can make major changes to the way certain frequencies (instruments) reverberate. Be careful though, a little goes a long way


    Dan

  7. #7
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: Need to brighten up the Steinway

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser
    Of course I have the standard pedal on for the piano, and I've found that the best sound comes from using the "X file" version of the piano, since you can control how much it responds to velocity. Really brings out the contrasts in the highs and lows with slider up to about 60%.



    I'm using the Garritan Ambience reverb, varying amounts for the different parts of the orchestra, but my taste is to not have the swimming "lost in space" effect that one hears so often. I want it believable that we're hearing an orchestra, but not in the Grand Canyon, and with our vantage point fairly close to it.


    rbowser
    Well, I use the X-Custom Steinway heavily. I set the velocity slider at 100%. But with my sequencer, Sonar, I keep the velocity below 100, as it gets to sound a bit clanky, like swatting a cast iron frying pan if the velocity gets much higher. I use Cakewalk FxReverb or Ambience, but never eq.

    Richard

  8. #8

    Re: Need to brighten up the Steinway

    Quote Originally Posted by DPDAN
    Also, never underestimate the possibilities of using EQ on the reverb.
    You can make major changes to the way certain frequencies (instruments) reverberate. Be careful though, a little goes a long way


    Dan
    Dan, are you able to elaborate please. I can see that Ambience has a couple of EQ knobs - but I'm assuming that affects all the instruments in the player equally(?). Does this just add EQ to the reverb?

    I have been playing around with using an equaliser to improve the overall sound that I'm getting - and with good results. I'm looking to get a fuller and more expansive sound for that big symphony hall type sound. I've given both the top and bottom ends a bit of a boost. The top end has broadened the stereo effect, presumably because the ear picks up stereo better at higher frequencies. And I can now 'feel' the basses - which is rather different to just making them louder with more velocity.

    For symphonic works, I'm tending to think that adjusting EQ is more effective than drowning the sound with reverb.

    Still experimenting - and would be interested to hear what others think.

    Graham

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