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Topic: Need for more pianos...???

  1. #1

    Need for more pianos...???

    I found this Malmsjo Grand that I\'m thinking about sampling, but since there\'s a lot of pianos out there (including another Malmsjo...) I\'m thinking about doing something with this that makes it a bit different.
    First it\'s the recording, what I\'m thinking about is to record it analog, straight down to a 2\" tape. Why? Well, most other pianos are sampled straight to HD, and as I said, I wanna do something different.
    I\'m planning 8 velocity layers, (separate up/down pedal)
    Soooo, questions:

    1. Do we need more pianos...????
    2. If yes, any suggestions on how to record/design this one?

    Per Larsson
    Bigga Giggas

  2. #2

    Re: Need for more pianos...???

    Good initiative!
    Take your time in planning this sampled piano.
    Take the very best Grand available (GOS was made with very, very good instruments and first class players).
    The physical environment of the piano and placement of mics have a lot of importance, considering the fact of dry/wet results. Maybe 2 basic sampled could be done. If only one, than I prefer the dry one for obvious reasons of a large variety of mix usage and styles...
    I think the most important thing is the playability using whatever midi controller. Nowadays any keyboard controller has the possibility of sensivity control. But in the basic sampled piano the more the layers (up/down pedal) the more the results. You should make a study about how to compartiment the all range midi 0-127. My feeling is that the low-mid range is most important, because I think as a pianist that expression goes very subtil in these levels.
    In other words I believe that we have more layers (nuances) between 0 and 64 than between 65 and 127.
    Of course the realease triggers are fundamental for realism but what about harmonics/sympathetics sound when sustain pedal is on? We know about the beauty of soft musical passages with all theses harmonics floating is space, but how to produce this wonderfull sound of the piano in slow moods for example? To me fast hard music is not difficult to get with sampled pianos but the hard work will be in the slow motions and in low-mid range of dynamics.
    Very important: 88 samples please! with no loops (has to be said?, sorry!).
    So, since my english is not extended I invite you to guess all what I tried to say and to go on with this theme.
    It´s curious but in the past days I thought that great efforts could be done for the production of a most real piano sound (for ears and hands!) but anyway some examples are on the stage like Steinway B, Malsmjö, the new Bardstown, Michiel Post´s and the well know and bundled GigaPiano...

    Richard Krull

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Ojai, California

    Re: Need for more pianos...???


    I have the Malmsjo and use it occassionally when I need that sort of warm, highly resonant, victorian sound. I also own several other piano sample CDs and Ill tell you what, in my opinion is missing (at least from what Ive heard).

    I find that there is generally too much resonance and too many overtones in all the samples I use. Its fine for solo piano or maybe a duet. But when I try mixing a highly resonant sample in with arrangements that are complex, the waters get overly muddied.

    So what I would like to see is a piano (preferably a medium size Steinway) thats not miked so close that you hear mechanical action, but neither too far away where you get alot of the room. Intimate, simple and pure. Warm round lows but not ringing or growley. Sparkling highs but mellow, not metalic.

    Its very difficult to find a real grand that sounds like what Im trying to describe let alone a sample. Ill spend alot for it as soon as I hear it

  4. #4

    Re: Need for more pianos...???

    YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!...finally someone wants to sample on analog tape....BRILLIANT...i aplaude you on your wondrous proposition!!!! I can\'t urge you enough to continue with that idea...mmm...nice warm analog piano...BEAUTIFUL...


  5. #5

    Re: Need for more pianos...???

    Hi Worra!

    Great to hear of your plans to do something \"a bit different\".

    As you know, there are many opinions on how to record a piano. If you want indeed something different: in my pratical experience, using 2\" tape vs. DAT or direct to HD recording, use of tube vs. non-tube mike and pre-amp are all pretty unrelevant.

    What counts much more is the instruments sound in the first place, and thus also the accoustics of the recording hall/room. Mike placement and configuration are next on the list.

    Last Xmas I had the pleasure of playing a real Malmsjo accoustic grand at the Swedish Embassy in New at the annual Lucia festivities. The instrument was properly tuned, and the room accoustics were quite ok. I can confirm that the Malmsjo has a very warm and slightly reverbrant sound character. As noted by many other\'s, it\'s probably not the first choice for rock/pop oriented pieces as it\'s attack is not very pronounced. But for other types of music, it can provide lots of flavour.

    To be honest, I think that the existing \"The Malmsjo Grand\" Giga CDROM can be improved upon, as it somehow has a slightly coloured tone compared to the real thing. In this perspective, I believe there\'s definitely some sense in another attempt to sample this wonderful instrument.

    My humble recommendations:
    - Take a large and at the same time dry recording location.
    - Forger close miking, in particular the \'standard\' piano miking set-up leading to the middle keyboard range lacking \'life\'.
    - Make sure you cover lots of different pedal down notes with inherent resonances. It\'s mainly these that give this piano it\'s character.
    - Miking: try a combination of omni and figure of eight mounted as close as possible, positioned at least one meter from the piano with the lid of course wide open.

    I got best results with a combination of Sennheiser RF condenser\'s MKH20 and MKH80, or BK 4006 series and Sennheiser MKH80.
    The all-Sennheiser couple will give you an extremly low noise floor and almost total lack of unwanted colouring. The BK omni provides a touch more brightness at the expense of higher noise.

    When these mike\'s outputs are provided as separate samples, it gives the user an excellent opportunity to adjust the stereo image and overall colour for optimally blending into the final mix.

    By the way, I recently installed Steinberg\'s latest VST instrument \"The Grand\".
    At the risk of being lynched in this forum, I dare to say that this one makes all other sampled piano\'s I\'ve heard obsolete!
    - Rare combination of warmth and crispyness
    - excellent playability due to re-pedalling, hammer and string release
    - recorded partly in an anechoic chamber

    IMO, it needs considerable skill and effort to improve on The Grand, and I applaud any attempt to do so!

    Cheers, Robert.

  6. #6

    Re: Need for more pianos...???

    Hi Robert-
    In regards to the Grand, could you explain what the \"string release\" and the \"hammer release\" are? I think I understand repedaling - I believe you mean that the sound switches between damped and undamped every time you press and release the sustain pedal (while still holding a note with your finger). The \"string release\" seems it must be the same as the gigasampler pianos\' release samples that captures some of the short lived sound resulting when a string is damped, but I\'d be interested to know more. The hammer release I totally don\'t understand though. I\'d think that every piano sample that\'s ever been created contains the hammer release, since for any note you sample, the hammer disengages shortly into the attack portion of the sample. Maybe I can try to address some of these things for gigasamples if I understand them. Thanks!

  7. #7

    Re: Need for more pianos...???

    Hi Jeff!

    Regarding some Steinberg The Grand\'s advanced options:

    \"True String Release\":
    At key release, instead of the sampler\'s envelope just going into it\'s release phase, the sound of the felt damper falling on the string that is still vibrating is added.

    \"True Hammer elease\":
    The low, woody sound of the hammer returning to its initial position after key release.

    Both are very subtile, and hardly noticeable in a mix. When playing The Grand though, I clearly notice the difference when disabling these features. Together with \"True Sustain Resonance\" and \"Re-Pedalling\", it actually makes the playing experience much more like the real thing. This is the main difference with other standard commercial sample libraries.

    It\'s like the spices in a fine dish: you might not notice them individually, but together they can make something great.

    Apart from striking a successful balance between \"warmth\", \"wood\" and \"crispyness\", the Grand\'s playing experience is it\'s strong point.

    When combining carefull, extensive sampling, use of a samplers more advanced features and of course the right programming, you should be able to come pretty close to the real thing. The petty is that usually shortcuts are taken, even in expensive libraries.

    My tip is therefore simply to check out The Grand!

    Cheers, Robert

  8. #8

    Re: Need for more pianos...???

    Ah.. now I understand. Thanks!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Need for more pianos...???

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by J.P. Schwinghamer:
    YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!...finally someone wants to sample on analog tape....BRILLIANT...i aplaude you on your wondrous proposition!!!! I can\'t urge you enough to continue with that idea...mmm...nice warm analog piano...BEAUTIFUL

    Really? I feel just the opposite. I made my living spinning analog tape for a lot of years, and I say good riddance. The piano, room, mics, and preamps and are so much more important than the storage medium.

    Sampling to analog tape will simply introduce a lot more noise--not to mention a generation loss on sounds which will end up played back digitally, anyway. It just doesn\'t make sense. Consider that an eight-note chord will have eight times the amount of hiss. You could use noise reduction on the recordings, but by the time you do that, what\'s the point, really?

    On top of that, piano is one of the most noise-sensitive things one could record, especially in a sampling session where even the loud strikes will decay past pianissimo and into the noise floor of the room. Noise is already a major stumbling block for piano recordings. Why add a whole layer?

    As has already been suggested here, I would recommend recording this piano in the very quietest, largest, best diffused and absorbed studio available. That will ensure more warmth than analog tape could ever provide.

  10. #10

    Re: Need for more pianos...???


    I still don\'t have clarity on the amount of available resources in a Gig file, so excuse what may be a dumb question (if there were a real manual that properly described the relationships and anticipated uses for the various parts of a file...)

    String release, hammer release, pedal-up, pedal down, sample release, velocity-
    Haven\'t we run out of available options in the Giga metastructure a couple of concepts ago?

    I totally agree that these are part of a \'total experience\' GIG file, but it seems to me that GigaStudio does not yet have enough places to hold all the necessary artifacts.

    Additionally, it might be difficult to sample the instrument to obtain these artifacts individually-to get the hammer release without the string sounding, etc.



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