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Topic: If you could have only one ...

  1. #1

    If you could have only one ...

    I am aware that questions similar to the following has been asked in abundance in this forum, but my requirements and budget are a wee bit different so here goes:
    I have made up my mind to purchase GigaSampler LE, and now I\'m trying to figure out which piano to go with it. Unlike most people here it seems, I\'m on an extremely tight budget (student) and can\'t afford to pick up a copy of every high quality sampled piano and make up my mind. When I buy one, that\'s going to be the one I\'m stuck with for the next couple of years!
    The MP3 samples out there are inadequate when it comes to forming an opinion, as the sound quality is either too poor or the piece played is too fast paced and complex. The piano I\'m looking for has to sit well in a sparse mix together with a small number of acoustic instruments, most often any combination of classic acoustic guitar, flute, violin, cello and female vocals (all real, no samples). Although I\'m not necessarily looking for the most authentic sounding one, it has to be able to stand on it\'s own considering there\'s little in the instrumentation to hide behind. The material I\'ll be using the piano for is for the most part fairly slow with notes often sustaining for a considerable period of time. Neither is it very complex material, so each note (and sample) counts. Additionally, a piano that sounds good played soft for be preferrable to one sounding better played hard.
    Bruce A. Richardson\'s excellent article in ProRec helped a long way but I\'m still not quite sure. So if you\'re not all completely fed up with this topic already, I\'d appriciate any help!
    And while I\'m at it, are there any native GS
    patches of violin or flute priced in the range of most GS pianos? From what I\'ve seen, it seems that once you leave the ivory prices triple or quadruple.

    Odie Hestnes

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  4. #4

    Re: If you could have only one ...

    OK, I\'ll beat this dead horse. 8^) I can\'t speak on any of the Steinway samples since I don\'t have them. If I were to do it again I might save the money on the gigapiano. It has its merits and I do fire it up from time to time (and I\'ll even admit to occasionally enjoying it) but it does have it\'s imperfections that to me make it not the great instrument that GS is capable of. The biggest one (though not the only) is the abrupt transition to the forte strike samples which I find jarring. Bruce is enamored of the release triggered samples. I can appreciate what they\'re trying to do here and it probably could work, but for my tastes its just not captured believably. Fortunately you can turn it off.

    For me the biggest selling points of the Boesendorfer were that a Boesy doesn\'t have the metallic tone that you find in Yamahas and Steinways (not that these sound similar, but neither is my favorite piano. I\'m sure I\'ll like Steinways more when I\'m a better pianist...) and the biggest one was that it was sampled at 4 different velocities. This is huge for me, you just can\'t get a graceful tone transition from a mf or fp sample to a ff one, and if you\'re doing an arpeggio that\'s on the velocity \'border\' the tone has to be close if the strike velocity is close. The tonal evolution on the Boesy sample is the best I\'ve heard in a sampled piano (admittedly I haven\'t hear them all, but I\'ve heard a lot).

    In Bruce\'s review he mentioned that the Boesy sounded compressed, that is, there isn\'t the huge dynamic range (change in loudness) between the soft strikes and ff ones that you\'d get in a real concert grand. I agree here, it does seem like some small amount of \'normalization\' (or maybe it was compression) was applied to the soft samples. I actually find this useful; it makes it pretty easy to sit the Boesy in a mix. Also the Boesy sample is quite clear and \'in your face\' like your head is under the lid, so I usually play a filtered version of this piano where the filter opens with higher velocity. This means that its sort of dark and muffled when you play at pp, and it\'s really easy to get the mf lead voice to rise over the accompanyment. And it\'s just the fact that the softer strikes have additional energy that lets them take filtration well, and the filtration greatly increases the dynamic range of the piano (since the loud strikes are just as loud, but the softer strikes have their higher frequency energy progressively filtered out, they are softer and muted)

    John mentioned he felt the Boesy sounded a bit \'boxy\' so it\'s not his favorite. In my experience a boxy sound is the result of improper equalization. It could be due to the EQ curve of the chosen mic, or the phasing or reflections of their placement, or processing by the guy who did the samples, or it could be in John\'s environment, be it speakers or speaker placement and standing waves in his room.

    FWIW I\'ve got good parametric EQ on my mixer which I sometimes apply (perhaps to undo some of the above?) but more often than not I just prefer it flat (and I think it sounds great dry too). Speakers will never sound like strings in front of you, but the Boesy is as close as I\'ve heard.

    Finally, can I just add that the gigasampler solution might well be more expensive that you\'d hope. You really want a hot rod computer for it, it warrants a good GS compatible sound card, the Boesy alone needs about 2 gigs of fast disk, and though it works with 128 megs that\'s none too generous so I just ordered more ram, whew! I\'ve put quite a bit more into my GS system than I expected, but then again, it\'s turned out cooler than I hoped, great products and totally worth it. I may be tempted by other great piano samples in the future, but I\'m not looking now, I\'m very happy with what I\'m getting from my setup. I\'ll put up some Boesy mp3\'s when I have a chance, but realistically it\'s going to be a month or two, sorry!

    Best wishes,

  5. #5

    Re: If you could have only one ...

    Thanks Sam and Elle!
    30$, now THAT\'s the kind of price I\'m looking for! I went to the site and listened to the demo made with this set, you\'d think they\'re trying very hard not to sell it Seems they\'ve taken a standard midi file and simply played it back using the sounds, with no controller editing or anything of the sorts. The result is almost comical, but you can tell that the samples really does have quite a potential. I\'ll try to scrounge up the change for this one, both because the sounds are promising and to support an effort to get libraries like this down in the sub $200 range.
    As far as the pianos goes, I\'m currently leaning towards the GP. I wish Trachtman had some more MP3\'s of his pianos up on the site, the Chopin that\'s there is not a good choice to show of the quality in my opinion. There\'s too little variation in strike and it\'s a little too fast paced.
    As for the Boesendorfer, the lack of dynamic range is a big minus in my book, the lack of a metallic tone a big plus. The statement that it\'ll \"sit well in a pop mix\" that I read somewhere is exactly the opposite description of what I\'m hoping to find. It\'d like it dynamic with plenty of body, and if the choice is between metallic and muddy I\'ll go for the latter, it\'s what\'s suitable for the music I do. Like I said in my first post, it should be a piano that can stand on it\'s own in a sparse, naked mix. Hence the Bosendorfer appears to have the quality I most want as well as the quality I\'m most trying to avoid


  6. #6

    Re: If you could have only one ...

    I think you\'re reading too much into some of what has been written, the Boesy works very well for Beethoven and Chopin, and those require great expression and dynamic range. It\'s a great solo piano that requires no apologies. I\'d have no qualms about recording for just about any style of music except maybe rock and few people could tell that it\'s a sample.

    Words can never describe sounds adequately, and though we may nitpick these things for not quite being a perfect recreation of our favorite concert grands, the GS pianos are still so much better than what has come before that I don\'t feel there are good alternatives.


  7. #7

    Re: If you could have only one ...

    Sam knows more about this than I do. I\'m 46 now (big confession) and I\'ve played piano (and dabbled in trumpet, clarinet, recorder, french horn, baritone (euphonium sp??)).

    Absolutely, the steinway is metallic, not everywhere, but about an octave below and above middle c. But (ironically, I suppose, thanks to Sam) the filter really eliminated much of that for me. The GS was not a contender, although I like the p layer.

    That leaves the BOS (and Tractman, Ilio, ultimate piano, et. al.) I\'ve ordered Tractman, just because it IS inexpensive, and although it sounds honky-tonk to me, it\'s close enough in some respects to what I\'m looking for that I\'m willing to give it a try.

    I honestly don\'t like the BOS, and in precisely the same range of notes (octave below and above middle c) that are a problem for the Steinway. Listening is hard, because the ear accomodates so quickly. So in my test I use Raymond Cooke KEFs and switch back and forth between the Steinway, the BOS, and several modern, slow, classical recordings (of Bach WTC). With filtering and fiddling, I can get the Steinway to a point where it\'s indistinguishable from some of the recordings I have. I could name them, but it probably wouldn\'t be useful. The Bos does have all the attributes that Sam refers to, no question. But from a strictly TONAL standpoint (to the extent that this attribute can be separated from other factors) I just haven\'t been able to make the TONE of the BOS sound anything near as real as the tone of the pianos used in the CDs that I\'m comparing it to. Something strange about the tone of the instrument. Yet I\'ve played a few, and they\'re fabulous, fabulous pianos.

    The Steinway, on the other hand, I can get so close to certain recordings (of certain Steinways) that I have a real hard time telling the difference. It\'s definitely not as smooth as the BOS, but I\'m very partial to the basic sound of the sample. Trachtman\'s should, by all rights, be smoother *more layers*; I\'ll just have to see once I receive my copy.

    [This message has been edited by john grant (edited 02-14-2000).]

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