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Topic: Sampled Pianos: The Challenges of Getting Closer to the "Real Thing"

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  1. #1

    Sampled Pianos: The Challenges of Getting Closer to the "Real Thing"

    Hi Folks-

    I haven't posted on this forum for a long time - work, life, etc left me busier than I would have preferred for my music hobby. Recently, after a few months of research, including excellent posts here, I purchased the Roland FP-7F keyboard. Coming from a 14 year old Yamaha P-200, the tactile difference of Roland's GHIII bed is night and day! Although I bought the Roland as a more reliable MIDI controller for piano (Yamaha's MIDI sensitivity has always been "off" except with other Yamaha instruments) I was greatly disappointed in its piano samples. Since I play mostly Elton John style pop, I actually prefer the P-200's synthy piano-esque sound over Roland's attempt which sounds particularly terrible and without any character - especially in the middle octaves.

    So, I recently did a round-up of all the sampled pianos I've owned over the years. I then listened to samples of those that I haven't purchased and, basically I came to the following conclusion: either a piano sample set/VST sound has a clear definition to the point that it's painfully thin (especially around middle C) and comes off almost "synthy" or; is drowning in overtones to the point that there's no definition whatsoever.

    My go-to virtual piano has been the ArtVista VGP2. It comes the closest to sounding like a "real piano" for my needs, but lacks the number of sample layers required to really give it expression - it sounds like I'm playing with hammer hands. Also, the VGP has that beautiful Steinway sound, but is a Steinway B with a lot of character - sometimes, too much depending on the material.

    Recently, I had a chance to listen to Do's version (remake) of Bryan Adams' "Heaven". The piano is so clear and clean, but still has character. I'm pretty sure it's the real thing. Will we ever get to this quality of piano in a sample/VST? Is it just impossible to sample all permutations of overtones, sympathetic resonance that emanate from the sound board, piano cavity by sampling one note at a time? I'm a big fan at the idea of physical modeling, but those I've heard have far to go - they sound like circa 1992 Roland keyboards to me.

    Until I purchased Mr T's Sax and Trumpet a few months ago, I would have thought a realistic wind instrument would have been even more difficult than a mechanically input device like a piano. Yet, they pulled it off.

    Finally, I understand that piano samples are very subjective. Still, when one A-Bs a virtual piano library with a real recording, the difference is glaring. If anyone has any suggestions, I gratefully appreciate your advice. I own the following... Art Vista VGP 1 and 2; Art Vista Malmsjo; VintAudio C7; Galaxy SII; PMI Emperor; PMI Old Lady; PMI B290 and Komplete 8 (with several piano libraries).

  2. #2

    Re: Sampled Pianos: The Challenges of Getting Closer to the "Real Thing"

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Jarzynka View Post
    I play mostly Elton John style pop, I actually prefer the P-200's synthy piano-esque sound ...

    The ArtVista VGP2 ... comes the closest to sounding like a "real piano" for my needs, but lacks the number of sample layers required ...

    The VGP has that beautiful Steinway sound, but is a Steinway B with a lot of character - sometimes, too much ...

    I own Art Vista VGP 1 and 2; Art Vista Malmsjo; VintAudio C7; Galaxy SII; PMI Emperor; PMI Old Lady; PMI B290 and Komplete 8 (with several piano libraries).
    I've never heard of any of those, except for the Galaxy ... and my Galaxy collection is (I think) newer than the SII. So I've not heard any of the above.

    I like to use Galaxy Vintage D (Steinway), which is a bit warmer than most, and the Ivory Italian Grand (Fazioli), and sometimes the Galaxy Vienna Grand (Bosendorfer). I don't know if any of those have the sound you like. Unfortunately neither Galaxy nor Ivory offer a demo. But there is a thread over at PianoWorld.com in which people are rendering sample Chopin MIDI files through a variety of piano libraries. It might be useful to go there and have a listen.

    http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1863587/Let's render some Chopin.html

    They're showing these:

    PIANOS
    Roland FP7F "Grand Piano 1" voice
    Roland V-Piano

    LIBRARIES
    Galaxy Vintage D
    Ivory German D
    Ivory Hume Upright
    Ivory Italian Grand
    Ivory Steinway
    Cinesamples PianoInblue
    Pianoteq C3

  3. #3

    Thumbs up Re: Sampled Pianos: The Challenges of Getting Closer to the "Real Thing"

    Thank you! This is a very interesting page and it's great to listen to different libraries and sound modules playing the same MIDI files. Most appreciated!

  4. #4

    Re: Sampled Pianos: The Challenges of Getting Closer to the "Real Thing"

    I would have thought a realistic wind instrument would have been even more difficult than a mechanically input device like a piano. Yet, they pulled it off.
    jimmight

  5. #5

    Re: Sampled Pianos: The Challenges of Getting Closer to the "Real Thing"

    Galaxy,Native,Synthogy,Garritan are all very good pianos and can be very realistic if they are properly adjusted.
    Attention to the velocity curve,a piano can be very bad if it is set incorrectly.
    The pianos that I have all cited have sympathetic resonance,more orless efficient.
    This is a very important also for the realistic illusion.
    The last time piano that may well surpass them is the pianoPianoteq.
    He did notsample but the latest version is really convincing (before it sounded a little synthesizer).
    Definitely try the demo: http://www.pianoteq.com/

    (translated by Google)

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