New issue with velocity curves in Steinway Basic 1.04
I have a VST plug-in level preset that I've used with the Garritan Steinway Basic for pretty much ever. From memory, I think the main changes from the default were to increase polyphony to 128 notes, change the velocity curve to the first louder one (to adjust for the response of my keyboard versus the Steinway Basic's response), possibly to manipulate the sustain and sympathetic resonance settings slightly (I have them both turned on and set to 25 and 48, respectively, if those aren't the default settings), and to turn off any ambience (if in the default). I don't think I changed any of the Tune or Info tab settings, but, just in case I'm remembering incorrectly, I'll note that the RAM is set to 512 MB, Pre-Caching to 23 Kb, and Quality to normal (hermite). I've also been using V1.04 since late 2009.
Until relatively recently (last several months), this all worked just fine. However, recently I started noting notes' cutting out when I played, and in a very noticeable fashion. Due to various "life gets in the way" things, I hadn't had time to do any troubleshooting until today, though I had experimented a little with the memory and caching parameters to see if they made any difference. At times I was feeling like they might have, but at other times, I was feeling like they didn't, so I did not come to any conclusions there, other than maybe that there might be some "coincidence" involved.
Today, though, in trying to get ready for a session coming up this weekend, I decided I need to make a serious attempt to resolve this issue, or else I'd have to revert to using one of my other software pianos (and the Garritan one has been my favorite for some time now as it seemed to respond more like an acoustic piano than the others I have, at least for my sensibilities).
I initially tried installing the software again over the top of my existing installation, thinking that perhaps some of the samples had gotten lost or corrupted. I started from V1.02, which is the first full version I have, then went progressively through the 1.03 and 1.04 patches. At each step the Sample Manager did not give me the opportunity to install the samples, but it did give me the opportunity to diagnose them, which nominally seems to check their integrity, which it claimed checked out fine each time. Still no change to the symptoms I'd been seeing (which seems logical since nothing changed in the samples database, and I'm pretty sure the software was installed just fine anyway).
As I played with the instrument (in SONAR X1d Producer Expanded with an E-MU 1820M audio/MIDI interface running at 5 ms latency), I noted that the notes cutting out seemed to be toward the loud end of the spectrum. I had not previously made that observation, so I can't say if that has always been the case. This gave me the idea to try turning off the velocity curve, after which I did not notice notes cutting out anymore. I also tried recording a MIDI part, and playing it back, and I noticed my loudest notes were getting up around 107 for MIDI velocity. If I played back at the default Steinway curve, things sounded good, but, if I played at the next louder one, notes were cutting out. I thought I'd try scaling the MIDI velocities upward to see if having a number of them up around 127 would create the same issue with the normal velocity curve, thus suggesting it was a problem with very loud samples. However, it did not appear to cause a problem.
The net would seem to be that there is some problem with the velocity curves, rather than with the samples themselves. If so, though, why? In particular, why would it have worked for several years before suddenly going awry with no change in the Garritan Steinway software?
Now to add one possible clue: I also have two other ARIA Engine-based products (by the way, my version of the ARIA Engine in the x64 version of Steinway, which is what I use, shows V1.128). One is a version that came with my Akai EWI USB wind controller, which I updated to latest versions on their web site around the time I got it (late July 2011). I did not notice any Steinway-related issues after installing that and using it for a while. The other is the relatively new Garritan Instant Orchestra, which I installed in February 2012. It is quite possible that timing may correspond with when my Steinway problems started happening, though it is hard to be sure as the relative hiatus in my production schedule also started somewhere in the same general neck of the woods. I do at least see that the versions of the Aria Player in the Steinway and the Instant Orchestra are showing the same V1.128 release level, and I don't know what the Aria version I was using prior to that was.
Is it possible there may be some known (or as-yet-unknown?) issue in this area with the ARIA Engine? It does at least seem that not using a velocity curve seems to work around it, albeit not with a touch that isn't optimal for my keyboard and the sorts of music I am doing. Has anyone else seen this?
Re: New issue with velocity curves in Steinway Basic 1.04
Thanks for the report. We verified it. The new libraries like Instant Orchestra or Pipe Organs happen to have a change in the Aria engine (Steinway uses the shared aria engine) that affected the velocity curve response. We've fixed it and will have it in v1.05