Ah, the middle C region. A return to an old subject in piano sampling:
I hate to look this astonishing gift horse in the mouth, but I'm having trouble getting soft and medium velocity strikes around middle C to sound the way I want. To my ears, middle C to the F or G above it are a little soft in amplitude, but bright in timbre, partly because I hear more metal than wood. (I play what could be loosely termed rock\country\alt\songwriting piano, and this middle C region is where I spend a lot of time.)
I just have to really hit these notes hard to get much sound out of them, and then the sound is great, but of course bright.
I've tried applying LP filters to each of these keys and raising the velocity curve, but the sound gets more muffled than I want. An LFO on the filter with a fast rate and very little variation on the frequency helps, too, and that may be, with more expermentation, what leads me to find the sound I want there, but the tone is still somehow without body (or much volume) at low velocities.
Is this just a problem I'm having with my system (some bad midi response on the keys because I've played so much in that region), or is it my imagination, or does anyone hear what I'm hearing? Or have you found mics, eq and filter settings, etc that give you a good sound around middle C?
Again, I do appreciate how generous Tascam has been in releasing this instrument. It's for the most part astonishing. Which makes me want the middle C area to sound as good as the rest of it. Or is it just me? Has my hearing just gotten whooly from playing around with this piano too much over the past few days?
I use an Oberheim MC3000, and a couple of KS88's. The Oberheim has 48 programmable velocity curves, but on the DEF versions of Piano's I don't feel or hear any difference. Only on the 16 velocity layered pianos there's a small difference.
I really liked the CVP, but have decided to use the Clinton Upright for jammin', and the Yamaha C7 for jazz and classical, both from Vintaudio.
I always tweak pianos in the Scope enviroment and found these 2 to respond to my tweaks better than other pianos. I always have a problem with chords in the middle C area being too loud too bright too soft, etc. Since I do my left hand comps there, I want the right hand solo chops to be above the comps, and this is where I always run into trouble. The Vintaudio pianos just seem to have the left hand chords glued together when four voices are used. They have the right volume and only needed more dynamics. That's where the mid/side EQ, and PolyEQ from Scope come into play. Somehow the PolyEQ makes the space between the velocity layers wider and more noticable, and the DAS Dynamic Parametric mid/side EQ just makes it sound like your head is inside the piano with yours ears above the harp.
Tweaking the mic models for distance, and deleting the pedal up impulses and replacing them with ambience algo's from my PCM91 make these 2 sound incredibly real. I can re create this on all pianos, but these 2 are my choices. CVP almost won the day though, but it's upper octaves just don't mix with the comp area to suit my tastes.
The hardware reverbs really make the day with anything acoustic. Even my acoustic guitars w/ the 91 and Gigapulse sound incredible. Wavelore's Zither sounds like it's in the Grand Ole' Opry in Nashville. But that's what well recorded instruments do. If the sound isn't captured when recorded, effects will only enhance that error.
(I'm using an M-Audio Prokeys 88 with the midi program PianoTuner to set velocity. I don't think velocity response is the problem, though, with the CVPiano.)
I'm now getting a better midrange sound by doing what may seem obvious:
1. On the General tab, after choosing Individual regions and Stereo pairs, clicking on the notes from middle C to the G above it, and then selecting just the lowest velocity samples (by clicking on the leftmost yellow beam), changing the following (I at least think these are all changes to the default settings.)
Raise the volume of just these lowest samples all the way to 0.0.
Set the Controller to Velocity.
For both the Velocity curve and the Release curve, choose nonlinear.
Set Velocity range to Medium. (May be the default.)
The soft velocities should now respond much better to soft strikes.
2. On the Amp tab, on the Amp envelope, increasing the Decay.
3. Increasing the Release on the same envelope. (Still under 1 second.)
4. Just on these notes, again, putting a Low pass filter with a high setting. Made sure it responds to velocity and assigned it to the mod wheel so I can experiment with settings.
(5. Back on the Amp tab, extending the Attack on the Amp envelope may give you a better result, too, if under Amp Evelope Modulation you aslo set Attack to Velocity,choose Invert, and then under Attack, move the slider to Low. However, this setting seems to also cause the higher velocites, the ones you haven't selected, to respond in the reverse order to velocity, so that hard strikes that call these samples have a longer attack. You will have to edit these sample's settings to that their attack portion responds in the same way to velocity.)
The result is much better. I'm also playing around with the Filter envelope's Sustain, but I get a little lost. My understanding is that the Sustain is the level the Filter drops to after the Decay portion of the envelope. That would mean that after the Decay (you must remember to set a decay, or the Sustain does nothing), a high Filter Sustain level would mean that the filter is more evident. Instead, what seems to happen is that a low Sustain level on the Filter envelope causes the filter to cut off more of the sound, while a higher setting reduces the amount of filtering. (A setting of 100 seems to eliminate the filter entirely. Am I just midunderstanding a standard filter envelope setting?)
I hope some of these suggestions lead to further experiments. I'd at least appreciate other suggestions or corrections.
If you do choose to increase the attack (setting all of the layers to attack to velocity), you will almost certainly want to increase the Preattack portion of the Amp envelope also, possibly to as much as 50. This setting lets you eliminate some of the attack transients on soft velocities without having too long a ramp from silence to full volume. This small change makes a huge difference in the timbre of the soft notes. Spend some time experimenting with different combinations of Preattack and Attack settings.
No Need 4 To Be Quite Brotha' Man Jake,
I am glad to see that someone else here is never satified with what someone else considers a finished product.
Gigastudio 3 was too deep for most players, as they would rather you make, and they play. But I have been forced to tweak everything I buy to make it better. There are always ways to satisfy yourself.
It is more enjoyable during a performance that way.
I recently made a great horn section combination in GS3 using the unkown libraries that are well recorded and cheap. Actually it's Muse, Screaming Trumpet, and First Call Horns. I am looking into adding Chris Hein Horns next week, as he has done a vast number of performance articulations that will vary from what I currently use. But I have added the controls and CC's I want to use when gigging. All of this can be tweaked to play the way I want at a gig, or in the studio where multiple passes are common. Live , it's a different story. that's why normal keyswitches, and placement of the seperate zones, as well as which samples you will really use, and get rid of the loops, as I prefer to play that myself.
So if anyone claims that this library or that library is perfect, is questionable. They all need to be tweaked for personal taste, or they are of little value IMO>
I still like CVPiano, and I'm surprised we haven't heard more discussion of various edits. If you take off one of the convolutions, there's no huge cpu hit. I tend to take off pedal down convolution, now. The change in timbre was too strong--too sudden a low wash of sound, something that usually builds gradually--and the pedal up sounds are great with just their own convolution.The sound, once you edit for your controller and preferences, is great, and the interface lets you edit fairly straightforwardly.
The interface can be confusing. Tascam does things slightly differently from what is conventional, and this threw me off at first. The Scale knob on the General tab of the Edit section, for example, is a conventional Velocity to Amp Ratio setting, but usually turning this control to the left reduces the spread of amplitudes so the soft strikes are louder and the hard strikes not so loud in comparison. But in CVPiano, and I guess Giga in general, turning the knob to the right performs this midi compression. (As you'll see from my post at LearningGiga, I don't understand the math there. How does increasing the number reduce the volume scale?)
Doesn't help that the default setting has the soft notes too soft, and the "Special" velocity curve dips the velocity of low strikes so low. (Preset velocity curves in general seem like a bad idea when there's no ability to draw the curves--don't most people use the presets to get within range of what they want and then tweak them slightly to get the response they need?) Anyway, raising the low strike layer's volume manually and using the Scale knob gives me the best variety of timbres and avoids big velocity leaps.
But the instrument does provide Giga's QuickEdit interface, which includes controls that you might not know existed if you didn't come from a hardware sampler or VSampler or a later version of Giga--preattack freqs and hold times for the filter and amp envelope, though they're not called hold times. I like having the ability to control three stages with Filter to env without having to create the modulation routing myself, but I don't like having hardwired choices (Low, med, and high). A conventional knob for each stage would have been fine. More generally, a mod matrix is needed in GVI\QuickEdit--have the essential controls already wired up, but the others readilly assignable in a tabbed matrix that would use up very little screen space. Strange that both Kontakt and Giga lack this old sampler interface that VSampler had five years ago. Wusik and others now use it--it's just the cleanest way to assign controls without pages upon pages of scrolling. That's why it was created, I assume--to avoid a clumsy interface. I would think it would be more straightforward for programmng and interface design, too--programmers could create any wiring they wanted without having to worry about screen space.
Regardless, this piano is a very generous gift. My first thought was that it was an attempt to spark more interest in GVI among both users and developers, but Tascam seems to have released CVPiano quietly.