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Topic: my initial impression

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  1. #1

    my initial impression

    I just loaded up Garritan Professional last night & played it for a couple hours & have some observations to share. For starters, I am a professional pianist & I compose/record at home on my Kawai RX-7 grand... so yes, I am comparing this library to such, perhaps this is unfair as I have been spoiled by such a fine instrument, & I haven't played samples for years. I decided to have a sample system so I could play a wonderful sounding instrument when I travelled, vacationed, & when my tinnitus flares up from too much time at my rX-7.

    By the way, I installed it on my new Dell Optiplex 330, XPSP2, 2.4 core2 Duo, 2GB ram, two 7200rpm drives, Echo MiaMidi soundcard, Yamaha P-140 piano. Runs flawlessly in 24 bit w/o the release samples, occasional staggers when release samples are loaded. Just a tiny bit of latency, which I can live with.

    Anyways, I play pretty mellow, original stuff, nothing too complicated, I suppose some might call it "New Age"... whatever!

    My previous experience with data streaming samples was, well, never really impressed by the 'playability'. The samples were great, but the layers jumped out obviously to me & my computer could never handle the music reliably. this was 4+ years ago. now I'm back!

    I found the sound in the Garritan Steinway to pose some concerns to me. I primarily played the "under the lid perspective" as that was closest to the sound I seek. I can handle the very slight noise floor, no problems there. The three things that jumped out at me were:

    1) the two octaves below middle C... very dark, almost muddy (sorry).... I'm guessing the piano was voiced this way. I really had to wail on these areas to get any sort of balls/clarity from the sound. Felt like this area of the piano was unnatural & distracting. (see my post below regarding the controller)

    2) high upper registers... unnaturally loud & bright, perhaps not to a fault, but I had to really pay extra attention to this when playing up there. Couldn't get the soft tone I was looking for. (again, see my post below regarding the controller)

    3) melody range... some notes truly lacking natural sustain, very "un-Steinway D-like". They really sound 'pinched off'. I found myself playing around some of these notes. Mind you, I like spaced music with lots of natural sustain.

    The sample layer transitions were better than the libraries I played four + years ago, but still caught my attention pretty frequently. The more I played, I was able to adapt, but found myself playing with less dynamics & expression than normal... something I was really hoping I wouldn't have to do. I guess I had higher hopes for more 'evolution' in this department during my hiatus form vitual pianos.

    I messed around with the velocity curves (wish there were more) and didn't find any relief there.

    Shortly into my playing session I shut off the onboard reverb & routed to my favorite Lexicon patch, which I preferred.

    It doesn't appear as though there is any editing I can do to attend to the issues I have, please instruct if I have missed anything!

    I did get the chance to play Ivory rather extensively at NAMM & plan to purchase it with hopes of finding an instrument that suits my taste a little better. I was so impressed with the Garritan samples at the site that I jumped that way first... but I can't get the instrument to play/sound like what I heard there...

    I'll hit it again tonight though, not giving up yet : )
    www.joebongiorno.com
    Piano Haven Recording Studio, Seattle, WA

  2. #2

    Re: my initial impression

    Hi Joe,

    As a fellow pianist, I think perhaps the first thing I'd suggest
    is spending a bit more time with the Steinway D to get comfortable
    with it.

    I should mention I am, like you, very fond of Kawai grands. But
    even switching from a real Kawai RX-7 to a real Steinway D --
    that would be something of a sea change for me. They're very
    different instruments, natively.

    An additional thought I had whilst reading your comments on
    upper and lower registers was that perhaps you might be able to
    make some adjustment in keyboard controller scaling that would
    bring that more to your liking. It's been a while since I set up
    mine, but I seem to recall the opposite problem on my ancient
    Roland board... the low end blowing my head off and having to
    work too hard on the top... and tinkering the velocity setups got
    that right.

    All the best,



    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com

  3. #3
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    Re: my initial impression

    It's possible it could be a keyboard scaling issue. I pretty much have the opposite where the top end or the keyboard is bright enough although the bottom is fine. I usually have to add a little high eq for the sound I'm looking for with the 'Under The Lid' perspective.

    Make sure you play with the other perspectives as they may be mellower in the top end.

    Jim

  4. #4

    Re: my initial impression

    Quote Originally Posted by pianojoe View Post
    I messed around with the velocity curves (wish there were more) and didn't find any relief there.
    Try this: http://www.trombettworks.com/velocity.php

  5. #5

    Re: my initial impression

    thanks for the tips & advice guys... The more I play it & get accustomed to it, the more I enjoy it. I hope to solve the problem with some areas so that playing more naturally is possible. I have a friend bringing over his kawai MP9000 this weekend to test it out. That curve software looks very interesting & I may try it. More soon!
    www.joebongiorno.com
    Piano Haven Recording Studio, Seattle, WA

  6. #6

    Re: my initial impression

    just played it though a Kawai MP9500.... WOW, a world of difference! The 'trouble' zones are much more balanced, not so far as to say perfect, but not distracting now, I'm very pleased. Not sure why I can't get balanced response from my Yamaha P-140...??

    It seems as though the sample layer transitions that bug me in spots can be somewhat 'hidden' by using & raising the the sustain & sympathetic resonance.

    All said, I have changed my impression from above, & am really enjoying the library. My only gripe would still be the sustain issue, but I'm a piano player & I need at least one gripe. : )
    www.joebongiorno.com
    Piano Haven Recording Studio, Seattle, WA

  7. #7

    Re: my initial impression

    Quote Originally Posted by pianojoe View Post
    I have changed my impression from above, & am really enjoying the library.
    Welcome to the club!

  8. #8

    Re: my initial impression

    Quote Originally Posted by pianojoe View Post
    My only gripe would still be the sustain issue, but I'm a piano player & I need at least one gripe. : )
    I noticed that the more ambient perspectives have more sustain than the Under Lid Perspective. If you add some ambience to the Under Lid then the sustains would be more natural. Alternatively, I tried layering the Under Lid with the Stage Perspective which has more sustain (as I perceive it). Have a listen here:

    http://www.box.net/shared/y408nvfq8c

  9. #9

    Re: my initial impression

    wow, that track sounds great! How'd you layer the two perspectives???

    My sustain issue is more with the higher velocities than the lower...
    www.joebongiorno.com
    Piano Haven Recording Studio, Seattle, WA

  10. #10

    Re: my initial impression

    I couldn't layer it "live".. I had to do it in Sonar. I rendered one track each using Under Lid and Stage perspectives, and mixed them 50-50.

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