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Topic: Piano Shootout

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  1. #1

    Piano Shootout

    Hi all. Don't know if this link has been posted previously, my apologies if so. Here you can hear a short midi sequence playing a pretty comprehensive collection of digital pianos.
    At first I thought the piano sequence was weak and it is, but I found it does a great job of demonstrating the strengths & flaws of the instruments.
    Note: 'bout half way down, "The Real Thing - Steinway B", for reference, a real piano, not the same performance as the sequence but this does help when auditioning so many sounds. I was surprised to hear how many popular sets sound artificial, (the chords right after the opening arpeggio in particular). My favorites - August Foerster & Sampletek’s Black Grand.
    In all fairness, it doesn't seems like any tweaking was done form one to the next, they just loaded and played. Sometimes because of the test computer limitations, things like the release samples were eliminated. IMO, manufacturer demos don't expose the weaknesses like demonstrated here. Enjoy
    Rabdaddy

    Piano Shoot-out
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    Rabdaddy Studio website

  2. #2

    Re: Piano Shootout

    Welcome and thanks so much. This is a tremendous resource for us. Nice to have the "real thing" for a comparison.
    JP

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Piano Shootout

    That thing has been around a long time. It has some merit, but you're completely right about the fact that a single sequence gets fed to every contender. It tends to make every one of the pianos sound worse than they sound if you're actually playing them, and making musical decisions based upon what your ears are feeding back.

    It also makes some really great pianos sound worse than some less capable ones, so be sure to take those results with a grain of salt.

  4. #4
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    Re: Piano Shootout

    This is interesting but Bruce makes a very good point in that you can't, fairly, feed the same MIDI file to all pianos as the responses are different.

    One of the great downsides of MIDI and MIDI tweaking is that when you've spent hours tweaking a file to make a clarinet, for example, totally realistic (OK Bruce, just for you....'as realistic as possible'! ) then you decide you want an oboe or even another clarinet, you have to start tweaking all over again! Not everyone's cup of tea!

    Frank

  5. #5

    Re: Piano Shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    It tends to make every one of the pianos sound worse than they sound if you're actually playing them, and making musical decisions based upon what your ears are feeding back.

    It also makes some really great pianos sound worse than some less capable ones, so be sure to take those results with a grain of salt.
    I first happened across this site about 2 years ago. It has been updated to include a few important instruments.
    My reaction was similar to yours, Bruce. After much thought and listening, I'm not so sure. Again, those opening 4-5 chords (after the arpeggio) playing those notes at that velocity, should sound more natural. We all play those notes and those velocities and get that same sound.

    PCaudioLabs DAW - Win XP Home SP2 - Athlon 64 X2 4400+ - 2G - A8V Deluxe Mobo - 80gb EIDE (OS) - 80gb SATA (audio) - 320gb SATA Raid 0 (samples) - Tascam FW1804 - Cubase SX3 - Twin 23" Dell S2309W Displays - Tranzport
    Rabdaddy Studio website

  6. #6

    Re: Piano Shootout

    The midifile used for the demos are, although very well played, very strong played!
    There's a lot of high velocity numbers on that one.
    I think that you can use it for a first comparing, to get a rough idea of how a piano sounds, but to really try it, you should be able to get it under your fingers, and actually play it. Some companies, like us and PMI, has playable demos to download.
    Maybe each company should take the midifile, and generate their own demos, where steps has been taken to make it fit the different pianos?
    Worra
    SampleTekk

    Arf, arf, arf...

  7. #7
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    Re: Piano Shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by Worra
    The midifile used for the demos are, although very well played, very strong played!
    Very high velocity and almost always pedal down.
    Very very few parts exibit soft layers and releases.
    Very interesting anyway, because it shows a very comprensive list of pianos (including stage pianos)

  8. #8

    Re: Piano Shootout

    Jeff,

    The preponderance of high velocities in the midifile used make it difficult for me to use this site as a judge of anything. I wish they'd update the midifile with something more reasonable.

  9. #9
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    Re: Piano Shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by rabdaddy
    My reaction was similar to yours, Bruce. After much thought and listening, I'm not so sure. Again, those opening 4-5 chords (after the arpeggio) playing those notes at that velocity, should sound more natural. We all play those notes and those velocities and get that same sound.
    One problem remain :
    Not every sampled piano are produced to match the "average" 1-127 keyboard strengh.
    Take sampletekk pianos for instance. They have many layers. Not only to provide extra nuance within the average playing zone, but they "extend" this zone to very hard fff (and very soft ppp for TBO). To play it, you have to tune your keyboard strengh/velocity touch harder.
    This means : what sounds right for an average piano at 120-127, sounds right for sampletekk piano at, say, 112-120...

    The first arpeggio can't sound right if the 120-127 zone is filled with "very hard stroke". It gives the feeling of a too harsh piano (which is in fact a "nobody can play this that hard in real life" feeling)

  10. #10

    Re: Piano Shootout

    Partly as an exercise partly as a demonstration and partly because I was that desperate for a gigging piano sound I rough "converted" a Kurzweil ME-1 piano sound to Gigastudio. Unlooped, I think I shrunk it down to every minor third to get it below 64k. Kept the three velocity levels. Just for grins I rendered the Purgatory Creek midifile with it. Now, I've played that piano sample and it's ok, not great. The "Creek" came out a lot better sounding than the real thing. What was interesting about the excercise was learning about bad samples in one channel (can't remember exactly where off the top of my head) on the unit. Pretty shocking. I posted a link to the file on the Motifator forum because some of the guys there were saying that you couldn't properly sample hardware. (The Motif "classic" was the intended target). I leave it for others to decide.

    www.ohernie.com/Sampled-ME1.mp3

    (As mentioned, you can really hear the harder velocities)

    Ernie

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