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Topic: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

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  1. #1

    Smile Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    Can anyone help? I've just purchased Garritan Authorised Steinway (Basic), in the hope that it would sound better on my system than Synthogy Ivory - but I'm facing the same problem: it sounds dull, as though the soft pedal is on all the time. It seems to have lost the HF sparkle and bite that appears to be there on the Quicktime 'taster' clips on the Garritan website. Is there something I've missed? (I don't think messing around with eq settings and Exciter plugins is the answer). I'm using a Technics P-30 digital piano, into an M-Audio FastTrack Pro soundcard (24-bit), into a Mac i-book G4, running Logic Pro 8 with audio preferences set at 24-bit.

    I know Garritan specify G5 Intel Mac as minimum for Aria - but I'm only running the Steinway, not the full orchestra - presumably the processor speed issue would be about glitches, not the ability to capture & reproduce the full frequency range including harmonics/overtones etc that determine timbre. The closest I've got to an acceptable, non-muffled tone is the Ivory Bosendorfer Imperial, but that's a bit too Beethoven for my liking, for accompanying vocals. All suggestions welcome!

  2. #2

    Re: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    In the past when I've had problems like that, I traced it back to a sample rate problem. Something in the system thinks the sample rate is X while something else thinks it's Y. Same thing for buffer sizes. I'm not sure how to check that in your config, but that would be my suggestion. Also, I would start the debug process by running the app standalone outside of your DAW.

    Lastly, check that you have the latest midi and ASIO drivers, and use the ASIO driver for your sound card (rather than ASIO4All, for example). This helps on the PC side, to be honest I'm not a MAC guy.

  3. #3

    Re: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    Another possibility could be that you're not using the complete dynamic range of these piano libraries because of the velocity settings on your P30 controller. If it is not possible to change the velocity response you can do this in the Garritan Steinway and Ivory GUI. Optimizing the relationship between key strike force and the corresponding MIDI velocity values that are generated is a very important part of getting piano sample libs with a larger number of sampled velocity layers to work satisfactorily. The velocity response can vary drastically between different keyboards. You can check if your keyboard correctly sends all velocity values from 0 - 127 using a software MIDI monitor. I once had a controller that, because of a defect, I could not get above velocity 110 even with "elephant-style" playing.

    Also, your EQing idea is not that bad imo. I use EQ on sample-based pianos all the time. A ~6 dB cut below 300-500 Hz (low shelving eq) can certainly make a piano sparkle more.

  4. #4
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    Re: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    If both pianos are sounding dull, then definitely check to see if your controller's velocity goes all the way to 127. Download MidiOx and do a capture while you play. It should go all the way up to 127 on the highest velocities. I had this same issue with a Studiologic SL 990-XP controller that would go above 110. Even the replacement keyboard wouldn't go over 122. They sent me a replacement control board that finally fixed the issue.

    Jim

  5. #5

    Re: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    Many thanks all. MidiOx is PC, but I've found another utility called Midi Monitor which I assume is giving accurate readings. Yes, it does seem to be the P30: even banging notes as hard as I can, I can't get a velocity reading above about 112 or so. Mostly, playing normal ffff it's about 90. I guess this means Steinway is interpreting this as needing the damped tone of mp, yes?

    Re rjdekker's post: I can't see much that can be done in the Steinway GUI. The velocity curve seems to have two alternative shapes, but I've tried them and they don't seem to do anything noticeable.

    Sample rate is something I hadn't thought of. I've tried 512 and 1024, & the results seem identical to me, so I guess it's the piano.

    Strange, though - its own local control through headphones is fine. The Technics inbuilt piano samples don't seem to be affected.

    thanks

  6. #6

    Re: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    Those are not sample rates, those numbers reflect buffer settings.
    Composer, Logic Certified Trainer, Level 2,
    author of "Going Pro with Logic Pro 9."

    www.jayasher.com

  7. #7

    Re: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    Is there a velocity curve utility in Logic? (there is in my DAW - Ableton Live)

    Greg.

  8. #8
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    Re: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    Issue is definitely your P30 controller. The Steinway GUI won't expand the velocity values unfortunately.

    It may be time to think about purchasing a better controller. The limited velocity output means that you don't have as many velocity values to work with even using velocity curves in other programs. The fewer velocity values, the less control.

    Jim

  9. #9

    Re: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    Thanks again - this is a really helpful forum! Yes, I agree there's no point in looking for workarounds if the data isn't there to start with. Pro tem, I'm now using the P30's own samples, since it's the best I can get (ie sending the recorded midi track back into the P30, so the track plays the piano, then sending audio out from the P30 back into Logic - thus re-recording the track as audio, having had the opportunity in midi to edit & clean up my playing). Meanwhile, I guess I'll have to go shopping & take my i-book along to check velocity levels before purchasing....

    Cheers everyone.

  10. #10

    Re: Why do all my piano samples sound dull?

    You may want to do some more research. I think we had a discussion here awhile back where someone gave a link to software that allowed velocity remapping. 112 distributed across 128 possible velocities is a lot better than 112 max.

    Ernie

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