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Topic: Best Piano VST ???

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  1. #1
    Senior Member musicmad's Avatar
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    Best Piano VST ???

    Hi

    I'm writing a solo piano album and I'm looking for a quality piano plugin. I know there's a few on the market. Ivory, Garritan Steinway, Pianoteq etc. But EastWests Quantum Leap Pianos seems to be the one everyones talking about. I know it's all down to personal choice, but could anyone share their experiances with any of the above VSTs?


    Thanks.
    Music.. the many characters of how God speaks to us all

  2. #2

    Re: Best Piano VST ???

    Wow! This is one quiet place, these days!!!

    Anyhow, some think this issue is "worn out"!

    I don't. Here's the drill......

    1. "Best" piano vst means "Best for WHAT PURPOSE"? a. Live performance? b. Making a recording where the piano is IN A MIX? c. Making a solo classical-type recording? d. Making a new wave-type recording? e. Making a solo jazz-type recording?

    If (a) "live" playing .... then it really is a bit subjective... cause there are so many variables... your speakers or headphones, your venue, your preferred type of piano sound, the immediacy of the response you get hitting the keys (that's what makes pianoteq seem realistic to play), etc., etc....

    If (b) to (e) it's actually a lot simpler .... I can only comment with any authority on (c), and with less authority on the others. Recorded classical piano material is typically miked at least a metre (several feet) outside the open lid of the Steinway (or Bos or Faz or Yammy). Small condensor omni mics (not cards) are almost universally used by classical piano types, although ribbons are coming back.... So you have a pretty distinctive sound right off the bat, and that's what you're looking for in the sample. "Feel" or immediacy of touch or response is not central here, although it sure is nice to have it if you can get it!!! But the TONE of the instrument, and the ROOM acoustics captured in the sampling process is really key.

    So... with that lengthy premise, there are probably only 2 or 3 pianos that fit the bill for classical piano RECORDED type of sound that is half-way like the "real thing." (The test is: if you put a well-done sampled piano recording next to a recording of the "real thing" played live, can you tell the difference?)

    Those samples are the following, in no particular order:

    Black Grand, "ambient" sample .... EWQL Steinway --- "player mode" sample .... PMI Bos "wet" sample ....

    Garritan Steinway .... with the qualification that you have to be VERY picky about the material you play and the settings to get a totally "realistic" approximation of a typical DENON or ANALEKTA type recorded piano sound.

    I can't speak for 2 others, Imperfect Samples Walnut Steinway, and Vienna Symp's latest super expensive Bos sample. I've heard the demos, but nothing at this point that sounds like it immediately passes the TEST here.... that is... is the result indistinguishable from a typical classical piano recording?

    Now a few short words on the Black, the PMI and the EWQL Steinway. Each is very different. The BOS "wet" is only 3 layers, and it is unbelievably reverberent. But it's still actually pretty amazingly close in SOUND to many vintage Bos classical piano recordings.... that is, you'll find quite a few older classical piano recordings made exactly with that sound... super-reverberent, vague, almost churchy, airy recordings. Very narrow range, not high fi at all, but totally believable within that range.

    EWQL Steinway "player" perspective: More layers and more "high fi" sound. A little more picky to make it totally realistic-sounding than the Bos, but much more credible if you want the kind of detail that you get in the more modern classical piano sound. The other perspectives (I forget what they're called, I think, "close" and "room") are NOT appropriate for the classical piano RECORDED sound. They just don't sound at all like a typical classical piano recording.

    The Black Grand ambient.... fewer layers than the EWQL, less hi fi, but totally realistic approximation of what a mid 60s classical piano recording often sounds like. Interestingly, the ambient sample was achieved with mere Rode condensor mics! No Schoeps or Senns! Easy to use, but potentially not quite as impressive as EWQL.

    Alicia Keys, Vintage D, and all the other "usual suspects" you can read about here are NOT for the classical piano-type recorded sound. Sure, you can use them for classical, but it's pretty clear that the miking is NOT done with the classical sound in mind. Vintage is close, but the bass is too colored. (Great treb, however.) They are new age, pop, jazz, or live gigging-type samples.... often close miked (which immediately makes them non-classical in tone) and often compressed to make the sound work in a club situation, or at home through loudspeakers.

    JG

  3. #3

    Re: Best Piano VST ???

    Quote Originally Posted by musicmad View Post
    Hi

    I'm writing a solo piano album and I'm looking for a quality piano plugin. I know there's a few on the market. Ivory, Garritan Steinway, Pianoteq etc. But EastWests Quantum Leap Pianos seems to be the one everyones talking about. I know it's all down to personal choice, but could anyone share their experiances with any of the above VSTs?


    Thanks.
    I am using Pianoteq, and it's really cool. I have been using it for years now.

  4. #4

    Re: Best Piano VST ???

    Quote Originally Posted by kate123 View Post
    I am using Pianoteq, and it's really cool. I have been using it for years now.
    Pianteq: made to be played, it's extremely sensitive and responsive to touch.

    But NOT made to be "listened to." Meaning if you cut a solo album with it, almost all listeners to your album would know right away that it's not a "real" piano.

    "Black Grand" ambient sample (to cite only one example): if you cut a solo piano album with it, even the best ears would never know it's a sampled piano on that album.

    Ironically, some of the much more expensive Steinway samples, while equipped with more "bass", with room ambience effects, with many layers of velocity sampling, etc., etc., still don't sound as realistic in that "fool the listener" sense.

    They end up sounding, on most musical source material (because your source material IS important to the end-result) very colored, and in some pretty obvious ways, just not like the real thing.

    Surprising, but true.

    JG

  5. #5

    Re: Best Piano VST ???

    If by the Black Grand you mean Sampletekk's Black Grand sample set then I agree its a great sounding piano sample. Their White Grand and Seven Seas are also very good. These all work on a variety of sampler formats.

    Sampletekk have just released a new sample set based on the Black Grand except it also now includes sympathetic resonance samples and a variety of custom reverb impulses. This one also comes with the Kontakt player plugin.

    http://www.sampletekk.com/proddetail...LIVER-039-KONT

  6. #6

    Re: Best Piano VST ???

    Interesting, doesn't sound like the instrument as been re-sampled. So how do they simulate the additional layers?

    JG

  7. #7

    Re: Best Piano VST ???

    I am little worry because "where is missing layers from original Black" original was very pleasant for live playing and . . . I play many years in live band with this "Incredible 48 samples/note" ( same read on sampletekk promotion)
    PG

  8. #8

    Re: Best Piano VST ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Prosilicium View Post
    I am little worry because "where is missing layers from original Black" original was very pleasant for live playing and . . . I play many years in live band with this "Incredible 48 samples/note" ( same read on sampletekk promotion)
    PG
    In one sense, you don't have to worry. Black Grand is, for most musical contexts, the most realistic "copy" of a Steinway B on the market, ie the most realistic distant miked Steinway out there. All the expensive, and I mean EXPENSIVE, samples are targetted and heavily marketed for a very small market, which market does NOT consist of artists whose sole purpose is to give a totally realistic recorded piano sound.

    The action is with LIVE piano sounds that AREN'T "classical" or "real" or anything close to "real". Good stuff, Alicia, EWQL pianos, Vienna Bos (499 US bucks????), Vintage D, etc., etc., but not the old-fashioned "realism" of a solo classical or jazz piano. Just totally NOT THERE.

    So stick with the cheapo, original Black Grand..... still the "fool 'em all" best copy of a real Steinway D out there.

    And I'm waiting for better... btw.. 'cause I KNOW better can be accomplished.

    JG

    PS I should say that I actually started miking my OWN piano to get a handle on the kind of sound I would like to get out of a piano sample.... here's my own miking of my own piano....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxGdncwv1N4

    I think you and I and everyone wants this kind of realism out of a "fake" piano!!! And it CAN be done. Rest assured.

  9. #9

    Re: Best Piano VST ???

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGrant View Post
    Pianteq: made to be played, it's extremely sensitive and responsive to touch.

    But NOT made to be "listened to." Meaning if you cut a solo album with it, almost all listeners to your album would know right away that it's not a "real" piano.
    Personal experience tells me otherwise. In fact, I would challenge that no normal listener will realize it's not a real piano. That's quite a bold and assuming statement to make without anything to prove it, don't you think?

    Anyways, lots of great options out there. I use a mix of sampled and modeled, and love many libraries. Personally, my favorites have been some of the libraries that don't get mentioned in the "best" category often, such as Alicia's Keys and others. It all comes down to the style of music and the feel of the instrument to you, and the specific sound you're going for. There is no such thing as 'best', and nobody will ever agree on what is most "realistic".

    Brent

  10. #10

    Re: Best Piano VST ???

    Quote Originally Posted by koolkeys View Post
    Personal experience tells me otherwise. In fact, I would challenge that no normal listener will realize it's not a real piano. That's quite a bold and assuming statement to make without anything to prove it, don't you think?

    Anyways, lots of great options out there. I use a mix of sampled and modeled, and love many libraries. Personally, my favorites have been some of the libraries that don't get mentioned in the "best" category often, such as Alicia's Keys and others. It all comes down to the style of music and the feel of the instrument to you, and the specific sound you're going for. There is no such thing as 'best', and nobody will ever agree on what is most "realistic".

    Brent

    re: the black - how long does it take to load? and is it cpu intensive?
    thanks

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