Hard question, and one that used to lead to heated exchanges.
I agree, MAG is a super realistic piano. I like it a lot. Great ambience. Equally good, if you\'re prepared to fiddle with it, is the Steinway B, at least from a classical perspective. My own Chopin Ballade #3 at http://www.mp3.com/grantplayschopin
gives some idea of HOW good a tweeked Steinway B sample can sound. I\'ll apologize here and now for anything that might be lacking musically in my rendering. And I can\'t tell you HOW I tweeked the instrument, because it was a while back when I did it, and I forget what I did (which is easy to do with GS\'s editing feature.
The KIND of music you want to put the piano to the test with is pretty critical. Warren Trachtman\'s Steinway Model C is, I think, unbeatable in jazz. And it\'s ALSO super realistic and very distinctive in its sound. Much brighter than the MAG, because that\'s the kind of piano it is.
Caviat: I\'m sure others have different views. And that\'s great. That\'s the way it should be.
p.s. if you\'re into BACH (piano) and you can afford to wait a while to get into the site--even with a high speed connection-- I\'ve produced all of Bach\'s Well-tempered Clavier (Book 1) with GS. Hey, I know it\'s not for most folks, but each piece requires something quite different from the sampled piano. It\'s the one site at mp3 I actually get paid for (peanuts for the work involved.) For those who are interested it\'s at http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/42/john_lewis_grant.html
Again, if the stuff sounds crappy, feel free to tell me. I\'m my own worst critic.
I forgot to mention, Gary Lloyd has ALSO done Chopin\'s Ballade #3 using the MAG and his work is just fabulous. It can be found under the demos at Hans\' MAG site. You\'ll find the url for Hans\' site in the messages mentioned above. Try this http://www.artvista.net/demos.htm
[This message has been edited by JG (edited 05-25-2001).]
Just a couple more comments on Malmsjo vs. Steinway B vs. Trachtman, etc. John Grant is absolutely right -- this all depends on what kind of music you play and what type of piano sound appeals most to you.
I also own the Steinway B, and like it very much, but to my ears the highest velocity samples have a tinny, honky-tonk sound. I listened to John Grant\'s recording of the Chopin Ballade (beautifully played!) and the Steinway B sounds great. Definitely brighter than the Malmsjo, with a very nice richness, but it sure sounds like he limited the velocity to eliminate the highest velocity samples. This may be the \"tweaking\" he referred to.
I also wanted to say that I almost always use the Malmsjo \"Rock\" samples -- these are the same as the basic Malmsjo samples, only EQ\'d to be brighter. I like them better than the basic samples, which are just a little too muted and lifeless for my taste. In sequences, I\'ve also cloned the piano track and used both the Steinway B (with velocity scaled down) and Malmsjo together. That way you can get the best of both worlds: the mid-rangy fullness of the Malmsjo plus the brightness and richness of the Steinway B.
Again, these are all just my opinions, and there will certainly be many who disagree. If you haven\'t been there yet, the web site http://www.purgatorycreek.com/ has a \"digital piano shootout\" which features MP3 files of most of the GS pianos, including Steinway B, Trachtman, Malmsjo, et. al. These MP3\'s will give you an excellent idea of what the various pianos sound like.
Yes, the high-end of the Steinway B IS bright. And DITTO about combining piano samples.
To take the issue a step further, the sound depends also on the particular piece, the range, the tempo, the nature and quality of the sequencing sequencing (if sequenced), whether mp3 128 output or a standard wave output is the end result (the latter being much superior to the former, but requiring a very different approach to tweeking), etc etc.
Bottom line: comparisons between samples are real hard to make!
My favorite is still the Truan Boesendorfer, which I think is magnificent. A big bold piano that\'s very intimate. The bass thunders, the attack transients are nicely voiced for classical music, and the tone is quite different from most others, rich and warm and not mettalic. Also it feels less processed than many, nicely mic\'ed without phasing issues and great transitions, both between notes and velocities. For my taste, I haven\'t found a better combination of great instrument plus great sampling.
With some filter tweaking, this is a beautiful piano that has a great broad range of voices.
As others have said, piano choice is really a personal thing, and we all hear and play quite differently. Anyway, I have loved this Boesendorfer for years now, it\'s my favorite sample ever.