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Topic: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy

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  1. #1

    Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy

    When I first got Gigasampler and tried the Gigapiano, I really liked it. Lately however I\'ve grown to hate the darned thing. Not only the Gigapiano, but all the pianos that use the sustain pedal dimension. The problem I have is that everytime I use this type of piano, my pedaling sounds sloppy. I\'ll record a track and it will sound sloppy as anything, but if I play it back on my Yamaha piano card it sounds fine. After much head scratching and analysing I\'ve come to the following conclusion:

    When you play a real piano like my Steinway baby grand, the damper is periodically damping strings that are already sounding. The dimension programmed damper sound is on for the note duration and can\'t be damped or undamped once it is sounding. As a result, the ringing \"box\" sound is overdone and sounds sloppy.

    I also believe that while a single note sample of all the strings resonating sympathetically sounds great, an actual played part recreates this effect over and over again leading to a muddy sloppy sound.

    Does anyone else feel this way or hear it like I do? When I first heard these pianos, I thought they where wonderful, but now I can\'t stand any of them. Is it just me? Are the Trachman pianos still available without the sustain dimention? For now I am back to my Yamaha digital piano sound, and I don\'t particularly like that either.

    Lately I\'ve been wishing that I could trigger some kind of subtle reverb that was gated from the sustain pedal controller. Maybe that would sound ok.

    According to a review in Keyboard magazine this month, the \"Holy Grail\" piano uses an extra layer for the sustain pedal ambience, kind of like what Sonic Implants did with their piano SoundFont. Does this work any better?

    Laurence Kingston

  2. #2

    Re: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Lately I\'ve been wishing that I could trigger some kind of subtle reverb that was gated from the sustain pedal controller. Maybe that would sound ok. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I\'ve played around with triggering reverb using the sustain pedal.. I have an RV-70 from boss, but the darn thing doesn\'t quite handle real time information.. it\'s really sloppy.. Hmm.. maybe gigastudio NFX1 can handle better realtime info... I\'ll try this when I get a chance.


  3. #3

    Re: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy

    My current approach to the sustain pedal aspect of my sampled pianos is as follows:

    To obtain the samples of sustain pedal ambience, I press the sustain pedal, play a note then damp the string(s) just for that note (by hand) about half second after I play the note. Having then edited out the first half second or so after the note strike from this sample, I am left with the resonating string sounds for that note but without the note\'s string(s) sound itself since I had damped it/them. I do this for all 88 notes, although less notes combined with a little sample transposition sounds ok as well.

    I layer these \'resonating strings ambience\' samples with the normal piano note samples, but modulate the amplitude/volume of the ambience samples with the sustain pedal controller, i.e. with the sustain pedal controller off, the volume of the ambience layer is zero and, with the sustain pedal on, the volume of the ambience samples is boosted (for the currently depressed notes). This approach allows me to add the resonating string effect only when the sustain pedal is depressed, and cuts it off when the pedal is released, (although the main notes\' samples still carry on playing as long as you hold the keys down).

    Because the ambience samples are layered with the normal notes\' samples throughout the duration of the notes (albeit only audible when the sustain pedal is down), the natural decay of the ambience samples (approximately) follows the decay of the notes samples thus sounding fairly natural as long as the overall level of the ambience layer is not set too loud. A disadvantage is the reduction in polyphony due the the extra simultaneously playing (but not necessarily sounding!) layer.

    For my pianos, I only use one \'ambience\' layer and do not think it is necessary to have a different one for each dynamic.

    My pianos have (typically) 3 or 4 normal layers at various dynamics (p, mp, mf, f) with low-pass filtering to aid smoothness between dynamic level transitions, one resonating strings ambience layer, and one release layer.

    I would welcome any other thoughts on this subject.

    Nicholas

  4. #4

    Re: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy


    =========================================
    everytime I use this type of piano, my pedaling sounds sloppy.
    .....Does anyone else feel this way or hear it like I do?
    =========================================

    Yes indeed, this bothered me tremendously when I first tried to program the gigasampler (and also some other soft-synths) for proper pedaling. So far, I have not found a single soft-synth which properly recreates all the effect for all permutations of the order for the key press/release & pedal press/release.
    The basic problem with the gigasampler is that the decision as to which sample to use (pedal-up or pedal-down) is made based on the state of the pedal at the time the key is pressed, and does not change later if the pedal state changes.

    I have had some e-mail exchanges with Jim Van Buskirk of Nemesys about this, and I have offered to help them achieve the proper behavior in a future software upgrade. He indicated an interest in pursuing this, but deferred any followup (quite understandably) until the panic of getting the Gigastudio released had subsided.

    ============================================
    Are the Trachman pianos still available without the sustain dimention?
    ============================================

    I have included in my new 8-layer set 3 patches which can be selected:
    1. dual pedal multi- includes both pedal-up/down dimensions
    2. Pedal-up only (for those who want to eliminate the pedal-down effects completely)
    3. Pedal-down only (for those who would otherwise add lots of reverb)

    I found that it was the incorrect change of state which bothered me more than the extra resonance itself. Including the single-state patch mappings as well seemed the best thing to do for now.

    ===========================================
    the \"Holy Grail\" piano uses an extra layer for the sustain pedal ambience, kind of like what Sonic Implants did with their piano SoundFont. Does this work any better?
    ===========================================

    I use this approach myself for the \"Reality\" soft-synth versions of my pianos. It does not work well with the Gigasampler because it takes up too much of the limited available polyphony. It may work better for the Gigastudio, but I can\'t say yet.


    ============================================
    I press the sustain pedal, play a note then damp the string(s) just for that note (by hand) about half second after I play the note.
    ..................................................
    For my pianos, I only use one \'ambience\' layer and do not think it is necessary to have a different one for each dynamic.
    ============================================

    I created \"sustain resonance\" layers in a conceptually similar, though technically different, manner by subtracting out the recorded single note sample from the recorded resonant sample using WAV editing programs. This requires accurate phase matching of all samples, but avoids the issues you face when manually damping the strings. My experiments with this technique indicated that more than one resonance layer should really be used over the full dynamic range of the piano. However, for the moment I have this approached shelved because of the polyphony limitations it has.

    In my opinion, the correct modeling requires changes to the sampler software to properly transition between the dimensions when the key/pedal state changes subsequent to the initiation of the sample playback. I have suggested to Nemesys that a time-controlled cross-fade between the dimensions should be included to allow the sample to change from the resonant sample to the single note sample when the pedal is released after a keypress, but while the key is still held down. This properly simulates the effect of the dampers coming down on the non-key-held strings. Similarly, the samples should transition controllably from the single note pedal-up sample to the resonant pedal-down sample when the pedal is pressed subsequent to the keypress. This properly simulates the buildup of the sympathetic resonances when the dampers are lifted even after a key has been pressed. On top of this, I would also layer the recorded damper-lift sounds for added nuance, if you want to use even more of the polyphony for this subtle effect.

    One issue for any of these approaches is that all of the sample layers must be phase-matched for the crossfading and multilayer mixing to work effectively. I have taken great care in the phasing of my samples so that I am prepared to make use of the ability if it becomes available in the software in the future.

    This is one of my pet peeves with all of the soft-synths I have used to date.

    Regards,

    Warren Trachtman

  5. #5

    Re: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy


    P.S. :
    I forgot to mention another reason the superimposed separate \"resonant layer\" effect does not work well with the Gigasampler. For this to operate realistically, you need the ability to trigger the resonant sample layer upon pedal-press/release, independent of any keypress. The \"Reality\" soft-synth has this ability, which is why I was able to use this approach with that software. The closest I was able to come with the Gigasampler was by envelope modulating this layer based on the pedal state. I found the transitions with this technique too abrupt, very annoying, and not satisfactory. If the software were updated to include envelope controllable rise-decay time triggered by the pedal state, this approach may become acceptable with the Gigasampler/Gigastudio.

    Regards,

    Warren Trachtman
    http://www.wstco.com

  6. #6

    Re: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy

    Hi Warren, here is an experiment I am going to try with respect to the damper-lift nuance:

    I have already recorded the damper-lift sound (while no notes are sounding). I will assign this sample to be played by a midi note outside the normal piano range (e.g. midi note number 1, where middle C is note number 60). In addition to using the sustain pedal midi controller as normal, I will pass these midi messages through the \'Input Transformer\' facility of Cubase such that depressing the pedal results in playing the aforementioned midi note to trigger the damper-lift sound. I may also transform the sustain controller off message into the midi note off message for that note and use this to play a release-triggered sample of the dampers returning to the strings.

    What do you think?

    Nicholas

    p.s. With GigaStudio, polyphony should not be a problem for the layered strings resonance sounds mentioned in the previous post. Warren, might you implement it on your sampled Steinways?


  7. #7

    Re: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy

    I\'m glad it\'s not just me!

    I\'ll have to look into the Trachman pianos again. I bought an early SoundFont version, and didn\'t like that as much as the one I had put together myself from a Prosonus sample CD. I understand that Warren has redone the entire thing though and the demo sounds great.

    If the Nemesys reverb plugin could have both it\'s input and output gateable from the sustain pedal controller, I believe we could get pretty close to the sound we are all looking for without going through a lot of extra polyphony or muddying the sound.

    Laurence Kingston

  8. #8

    Re: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy

    I\'ve tried triggering NFX1 through sustain pedal... cool.. but there is a slight delay.. it\'s not that tight.. Oh well... at least I had fun playing with this.

  9. #9

    Re: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy

    How?

  10. #10

    Re: Piano sustain dimension makes pedaling sound sloppy

    Edit the NFX1 Reverb, right click in the Effect level slider and select \'Configure automation. Select your MIDI port, channel and choose controller 64 (sustain pedal). if sustain pedal is pressed, the value is 127 if not, 0. This could be extreme... I wrote a simple program to make the level around 64 or so... I think HUBI midi cable can do this simple transformation too. Check the HUBI loopback documentation on how to do this.

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