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Topic: Piano suggestions for live playing on a mono system (in a church)

  1. #1

    Piano suggestions for live playing on a mono system (in a church)

    I'm frustrated with the Kurzweil SP88 that they have at the church where I play as part of of a band (Bass, Ac Guitar, Kit, Keyboards, Vocals). The piano sound is quite brittle and the Hammond and Rhodes sounds aren't much chop either.

    Sometimes I take a keyboard in from the home studio (Roland VR-760), but while it has much better B3 and Rhodes, it doesn't have that great a piano either, and also I'm getting sick of lugging gear in my "old age". So I'm thinking instead of chucking my MacbookPro and Apogee Duet in a backpack and running a decent Piano sound as a plugin.

    While I've seen various recommendations here for Piano virtual instruments for recording or for playing enjoyment from the player's perspective, I'm wondering if anyone had suggestions for Piano instruments I could look into that would work well for live playing on a mono PA (PA summed to a centrally mounted pair of monitors). And it has to work OK on a laptop (2.66Ghz i7, 8GB RAM, 7200rpm 500GB Drive).

    Thanks for any help.


  2. #2

    Re: Piano suggestions for live playing on a mono system (in a church)

    Two possibilities come to mind, however I have not tried either in your setting:

    1. Pianoteq, which has a monophonic option.
    2. The K-Sounds "Signature" (sampled Yamaha C7), which has been "edited for mono compatibility", apparently.


  3. #3

    Re: Piano suggestions for live playing on a mono system (in a church)

    I've played Ivory in churches for a couple years now I think, and I've been extremely happy. I sum to mono inside my vst host (plogue bidule) and send that to the house. Ivory itself does have a stereo width setting which I've been thinking about using instead to see if I get a "better mono".

    One thing is key for me though - I typically bring my own small amp to monitor myself - apart from any monitoring system the church has. This does two very important things. First, it means I can *always* hear myself, no matter what the sound guys are doing in the monitors. That used to be a big struggle for me until I started bringing my own small monitor. I keep it very close to my head (I sit) and at as low of a volume as possible. Another very important thing it does for me - my amp sounds *much* better than any church monitor, and together with the sound bouncing back at me from the house, I get a pleasing sense of depth from the piano even though it's not stereo. From where I sit, the house give the sound body and presense, and my little amp gives it clarity and brightness that I'd never get from a wedge monitor that had guitar/drums/bass/vocals in it too, and was eq'd by the sound guys. Even though no one else experiences the sound as I do, I find it keeps me happy and motivated to play well.

    This morning I played Ivory in a really huge church where no onstage amps or monitors are allowed. It's all in ear monitoring, which rocks, but my piano doesn't surround me like I'm used to so I wasn't quite as happy with the sound. This made me think I should try Ivory's stereo width setting for mono instead of plogue's. Next time I play there I'll give it a shot.

    I don't know if Ivory will run well on your setup. I used to use a laptop pc, 2ghz core 2 dueo, 7200rpm, and it crackled sometimes. I now use a dedicated rack pc with the same specs, and it's 100% butter - never pops. I play Garritan strad & cello and pristine space along with it and everything is handled just fine.

    About moving to vst for sound production, no matter what you do it's going to be more difficult than just using a regular stage piano with onboard sounds, and you're going to be constantly refining and optimizing your setup. However, I'd personally never go back because of all the subtleties I get from Ivory. It really comes out on occaisions where I play solo piano (for communions and such). The soft ppp levels of Ivory are indispensable in that context.

    Hope that helps a little.

  4. #4

    Re: Piano suggestions for live playing on a mono system (in a church)

    Switch to a synagogue. They'll have a stereo system.... Sorry, I couldn't resist. Good luck in your quest.

  5. #5

    Re: Piano suggestions for live playing on a mono system (in a church)

    FWIW I have ended up going with Pianoteq 3 Play. I run it inside Apple's Mainstage. Audio out going through an Apogee Duet. Its a really good sound (great Hammond from Apple's EVB3 also). Much better than the built in sounds on the Kurzweil I have to use there (in fact, better piano sounds than my home hardware also).

    Core i7 CPU in the Macbook Pro is handling it fine. And of course it loads very fast.

    Thanks for the recommendations. Maybe one day I'll try the sample pianos but this will do nicely for now.

    EricH: Yes I use an dedicated amp for the keyboard. Have always preferred that - and it lets me just have the vocals in the foldback.

  6. #6

    Re: Piano suggestions for live playing on a mono system (in a church)


    For smaller gigs I play my Yamaha P120 through either a single Roland KC 500 amp or the smaller (much lighter!) KC150. In either case I use a single lead going from the L/R output on the P120 into the amp. I then set the speakers on the piano to about half volume which provides a good monitor with the amp directed away from me. If there is a large p.a on site I'll go through that and that can give a great sound but I'm not sure what advantage stereo would bring (with my objective of getting as near to the sound of a good acoustic piano as possible)... I'm not so aware of the sound distinctly panning left>right when sat at a grand with the lid up, for example.

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