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Topic: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

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  1. #1

    Question Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    I bought Authorized Steinway Basic because while Pianoteq's playability and lushness is amazing, I don't think the tone is quite there yet.

    AS's tone does sound more authentic than Pianoteq's. But the sustain... UGH!!! Unnaturally weak decay. The notes are sustaining, no doubt, but at an unrealistically lower volume compared to the attack. For example, if I play a slow, soft arpeggio over several octaves, AS loses body, whereas real pianos and Pianoteq maintain fullness/lushness. Does the Pro version have this shortfall?

    Also, when I play notes staccato and then quickly depress the damper pedal, I should catch some sustain. But I don't. Does the Pro version allow this?

    Another issue is the velocity curve. At least in Basic, it's crude, and there doesn't seem to be a way to adjust it so that I can depress keys very slowly and not produce a sound. Does the Pro version allow this?

    Finally, I'm not getting proportional sustain even though I'm using an appropriate pedal that works as it should on both my digital piano and with Pianoteq. Garritan's website says the Basic version allows for half-pedaling. So is that a misprint?

    FWIW, I'm on a Macbook Pro, Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53 Ghz, 4GB RAM, OSX 10.6.2, Pro Tools LE 8.0.3pr. I notice these problems in stand-alone mode, so it's not a Pro Tools issue. I also upgraded to version 1.035, so it's not a Leopard issue.

  2. #2

    Re: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    Sorry to hear you haven't yet been happy with Basic. A suggestion I have may sound odd, but I believe can be quite helpful. Make sure you're amplifying the piano up to the level of a real piano, if possible. The piano has an incredible dynamic range, and in every respect I could I replicated the behavior of the piano - which includes dynamic range, faithful tonal evolution both horizontally across the keyboard and from ppp to fff. I've found it's extremely helpful to play the piano at the sound level of a real piano in order to get the sensation of playing a real piano. The Steinway isn't using compression either explicitly, or implicitly though use of squashed dynamic layers. Also I'd suggest the neutral velocity curve, since on most keyboards it results in accurate dynamic evolution.

    The sustain of the notes is essentially exactly the same as what you would have experienced playing the real Steinway D on stage in the Troy Music Hall. Being sample-based, the accuracy of the sustain (relative to real life) is actually fairly hard to do unfaithfully. Basic doesn't tamper with the piano's natural sustain. What you hear is what we recorded. I think it may be possible that you're not accustomed to playing a piano in concert preparation state (personally I've only played a piano in concert ready shape during this recording session and the later Steinway B sessions). The piano was tuned constantly throughout every day by one of Steinway's best technicians (I've got no reservations about the technical shape the piano was in). As a result of this concert state the unisons were intentionally always in tune. My understanding is that concert shape without tending only lasts a day at best (realistically it's probably more like a few hours), so most players including myself rarely play a piano in this condition. I mentioned the in tune, beat-less unisons because they go out fairly quickly without tending, and when that happens you get a longer sustain in addition of course to the appearance of slight beats in the tone. Again we didn't do anything unnatural to the sustain in Basic. I think it's quite reasonable for you not to like the way it sounds, but at the same time I believe it is faithful and accurate to the piano (for better or worse... and I feel it's for the better). Getting the Pro version won't change this for you at all.

    [edit: did you mean the notes' sustain with regard to sustain pedal depressed? Fyi make sure you turn on the sustain resonance effect- I tend to use around 25].

    >Also, when I play notes staccato and then quickly depress the damper pedal, I should
    >catch some sustain. But I don't. Does the Pro version allow this?

    Both versions have this problem presently. I'm addressing it and hope to have it satisfactorily fixed in the next update.

    >Another issue is the velocity curve. At least in Basic, it's crude, and there doesn't seem
    >to be a way to adjust it so that I can depress keys very slowly and not produce a sound.
    >Does the Pro version allow this?

    You can silently depress a key by playing with a velocity of 1.

    >Finally, I'm not getting proportional sustain even though I'm using an appropriate pedal
    >that works as it should on both my digital piano and with Pianoteq. Garritan's website
    >says the Basic version allows for half-pedaling. So is that a misprint?

    The proportional pedaling is part of the sustain pedal issue I'm addressing, mentioned just above. At the moment, proportional pedaling affects the sustain resonance decay correctly, but the main note doesn't get the increased damping it needs to accurately emulate the half-pedal.

    Best wishes
    jeff

  3. #3

    Re: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    Wow, thanks for the thorough reply.

    I've gotten a bit used to the sustain. It's somewhere in between my digital piano's internal sound and what I'm used to on live grands and Pianoteq.

    The minimal velocity thing was cured by selecting a different preset on my digital piano.

    As far as half pedaling goes, I think AS is treating each increment as a new "on." I.e., when I turn up the mechanical noise, I hear what sound like new damper releases along the way. Hope that helps.

  4. #4

    Re: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hurchalla View Post
    The sustain of the notes is essentially exactly the same ...
    Great piano lore, Jeff. Thanks.

    I never realized that ideal tuning was quite so evanescent.

  5. #5

    Lightbulb Re: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    I use the Garritan Steinway when playing live in several bands.

    The "huge dynamic range" is a problem on stage as the piano just won't cut through. To tackle this problem I use upward compression. Traditional compression doesn't work very well on pianos (at least in my hands) giving unpleasant artifacts. It primarily affects the attack portion of the sound giving an unmusical, dull result. Upward compression leaves the attack portion of the sound intact, increasing the volume of softer sounds.

    One (pleasant) side-effect is that compression makes the sustain of the sound significantly louder, which could be a potential solution to your sustain issues.

    I've tried several compressors capable of performing upward compression (very few available) and got the best results with the Kjaerhus Audio GUP-1 VST plugin. Download the demo if you wish to try, dial-up the upward compression preset, start with the MIX at 40:60 and play around with the threshold (TH = -28 dB). With the release parameter the effect on the sustain of the sound can be altered. In principle, the above is possible with any compressor but this one just works well for me. When applying to much compression, however, the bottom 2-3 (?) velocity layers tend to get rather hissy.

    I hope this is of any help to people with dynamic range or sustain issues....

    Rob

  6. #6

    Re: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hurchalla View Post

    I mentioned the in tune, beat-less unisons because they go out fairly quickly without tending, and when that happens you get a longer sustain in addition of course to the appearance of slight beats in the tone.
    Jeff,

    Really? detuned unisons = longer sustain?

    So, beatless unisons = shorter sustain?

    I think it's the other way around.

    Jun

  7. #7

    Re: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    I read this somewhere just minutes after posting the above:

    "...seems like when I NAIL a unison in the high treble the note can become lower in volume and sustain and less interesting in content. I was in a class given by Don Manino once ("The Sound of Your Tuning") where he suggested and demonstrated SLIGHTLY detuning one of the strings of the unison up there to attempt to increase the sustain. There were two same-model pianos in the room and he did a direct A-B comparison. I was sold. Sustain was noticeably increased with the detuned unison. And it had a little "shimmer" to it - not really an objectionable beat, just a "shimmer", maybe a slow vibrato or slow-rolling beat, though the length of the sustain wasn't long enough to make the slow-rolling "shimmer"/vibrato/beat at all unmusical."

    So, Jeff is right after all!

  8. #8

    Re: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    By the way, they call it the Weinreich phenomenon.

    I learn something new everyday.

  9. #9

    Re: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    After 3 months, I have to say that Basic is beginning to impress me more and more. After adjusting the velocity curve on my keyboard, Basic's dynamic range is wide enough for most popular music, except really exposed solo work. It doesn't bark at the highest velocities, nor whisper at the lowest, but I imagine that's what Pro is for.

    At $100 it's pretty incredible value. Thanks, you guys. When I get faster machine I'll definitely be in the market for an upgrade to Pro.

  10. #10

    Re: Very disappointed in Basic version. Should I get Pro?

    Quote Originally Posted by jscomposer View Post
    I bought Authorized Steinway Basic because while Pianoteq's playability and lushness is amazing, I don't think the tone is quite there yet.

    AS's tone does sound more authentic than Pianoteq's. But the sustain... UGH!!! Unnaturally weak decay. The notes are sustaining, no doubt, but at an unrealistically lower volume compared to the attack. For example, if I play a slow, soft arpeggio over several octaves, AS loses body, whereas real pianos and Pianoteq maintain fullness/lushness. Does the Pro version have this shortfall?

    Also, when I play notes staccato and then quickly depress the damper pedal, I should catch some sustain. But I don't. Does the Pro version allow this?

    Another issue is the velocity curve. At least in Basic, it's crude, and there doesn't seem to be a way to adjust it so that I can depress keys very slowly and not produce a sound. Does the Pro version allow this?

    Finally, I'm not getting proportional sustain even though I'm using an appropriate pedal that works as it should on both my digital piano and with Pianoteq. Garritan's website says the Basic version allows for half-pedaling. So is that a misprint?

    FWIW, I'm on a Macbook Pro, Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53 Ghz, 4GB RAM, OSX 10.6.2, Pro Tools LE 8.0.3pr. I notice these problems in stand-alone mode, so it's not a Pro Tools issue. I also upgraded to version 1.035, so it's not a Leopard issue.
    Back when I was in high school we had two grands in the hall, a Steinway D and a Yamaha S6 and well, Jeff is right, this is exactly what the Steinway D sounds like. I remember finding that the D sounded rather dead/muted compared to the S6; you had to really coax it to get volume out of it (and even then you wouldn't get much) whereas the Yamaha was much, much more responsive.

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