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Why do none of my "piano" module sounds sound near as good as my piano recordings
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9th June 2007
Old 9th June 2007
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Why do none of my "piano" module sounds sound near as good as my piano recordings

Guys I'm listening to some bits of Piano wav samples that I have in my MPC 4000 from different sessions in the past where I miked decent grand pianos in good rooms. It sounds "organic (for lack of a better term) the sound almost floats while sound module pianos just kinda lay.

What do you do to make a module more like a piano? I tried playing with eq/comp/ffx but it just feels like alot of work to get what comes from a piano naturally /easily.

Piano is not the primary instrument in the tracks I'm doing but it's still important that it fill up a track/song the way I'm used to hearing it.


HELP!
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9th June 2007
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Have you tried Ivory?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GearGeek View Post
Have you tried Ivory?
yup. It's better but still not there IMO. Tweaking ivory is probably my best option.
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Brian Eno was talking about synthesis & samplers being used to emulate acoustic instruments on an interview i heard a while back. the example he illustrated was that the sound of a piano is effected by everything, the temperture & size of the room, the type of wood & ivory, the age & tuning of the strings... all of it adds up to that sound in that moment moving billions of molecules in the room. while a sample or synth is routing a formula thru some circuitry & resonating only a few molecules on an output.

i drown my synth pianos in verb. mostly use em as accents, not a main instrument in the mix.
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I imagine that when you play two notes at the same time on a real piano the sound waves bounce off of each other in a pleasant way. When you play two notes that were sampled separately that interaction is lost. Maybe the next generation of piano samples will feature every possible combination of 10 notes (one for each finger) and play the sample of an entire chord rather than several samples played together. Of course there will have to be samples of arpeggios, every possible combination of velocities within the chord, it would be an absolutely massive collection of samples. But I bet it'll happen.
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9th June 2007
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that's funny usually I'm trying to get my free wurlitzer spinet to sound half as good as some crappy piano samples I have

I when i got it, it needed 2 tunings. Now it needs a third. It's been a couple of months. Expensive bummer. I'm starting to think even with a great tuning a crappy upright spinet will still sound like crap

argh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6dyslexicelephnt View Post
that's funny usually I'm trying to get my free wurlitzer spinet to sound half as good as some crappy piano samples I have

I when i got it, it needed 2 tunings. Now it needs a third. It's been a couple of months. Expensive bummer. I'm starting to think even with a great tuning a crappy upright spinet will still sound like crap

argh
pianos need tuning alot - some clients i have insist that the piano is tuned every
day - twice a week - once a week if someone is lax - in a way they are like dogs in
that they must be trained to stay in tune.......
if no technician can turn your free piano into a wonder, put tacks on the hammers
and turn it into a tack piano - they can sound amazing....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by no ssl yet View Post
Guys I'm listening to some bits of Piano wav samples that I have in my MPC 4000 from different sessions in the past where I miked decent grand pianos in good rooms. It sounds "organic (for lack of a better term) the sound almost floats while sound module pianos just kinda lay.

What do you do to make a module more like a piano? I tried playing with eq/comp/ffx but it just feels like alot of work to get what comes from a piano naturally /easily.

Piano is not the primary instrument in the tracks I'm doing but it's still important that it fill up a track/song the way I'm used to hearing it.

HELP!
Hiya- oh happy bday btw.

My thoughts:
With all the trouble that people go to to try to get a simple guitar tone via modelling and such and it STILL cannot be done.

Now look at how simple a guitar is versus how complicated a piano is.

I own two upright piano's- one in London, one in NYC specifically so I don't have to use modules or samples unless I absolutely have to.
I get a tuner in before each session.
That said - Pianoteq is pretty bloody good.
Much better than Ivory- althought is has been a while since I used it- how does Ivory handle partial-pedal?

Give it a go- they have a demo.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6dyslexicelephnt View Post
that's funny usually I'm trying to get my free wurlitzer spinet to sound half as good as some crappy piano samples I have

I when i got it, it needed 2 tunings. Now it needs a third. It's been a couple of months. Expensive bummer. I'm starting to think even with a great tuning a crappy upright spinet will still sound like crap

argh
Sounds like it needs more than a tune up- get it serviced.
#10
9th June 2007
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Agreeing on previous posts, no module can beat the real thing, if it is a great instrument recorded in a great room. However, I feel Ivory can definitely replace the real thing if the circumstances of the real thing are less than great/great..

A tip on Ivory (and piano modules in general):
They are often velocity-tuned so that when you play, you play "harder" than you would a normal piano (soundwise).
When you've recorded your stuff, try experimenting with the sound by just lowering the velocity values of the whole midi file.

Needless to say, a great piano module like Ivory requires a great controller to make it justice. Also, you should fine tune Ivory's velocity to suit the keyboard you use.
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9th June 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rufuss Sewell View Post
I imagine that when you play two notes at the same time on a real piano the sound waves bounce off of each other in a pleasant way. When you play two notes that were sampled separately that interaction is lost. Maybe the next generation of piano samples will feature every possible combination of 10 notes (one for each finger) and play the sample of an entire chord rather than several samples played together. Of course there will have to be samples of arpeggios, every possible combination of velocities within the chord, it would be an absolutely massive collection of samples. But I bet it'll happen.
I once sat around with some computer types and we were jawboning late through the night talking about what you could do with computers.

This was in the 80s and you have to remember that a hot box had, like, 640 kB of RAM and clocked at, maybe 8 or 10 mHz... many computer games were not even animated. I don't mean 3D -- I mean at all. Text screens, maybe a crude, static bitmap of who your character is supposed to be. That was if your computer even had a graphics card. Forget about sound.

Anyhow, it's late and alcohol may have been consumed, etc, especially etc, and we start talking about what you can model.

You can model thermodynamics, you can model economics. Given enough computer you'll be able to model global weather patterns.

Of course, someone says, you'd need a lot of computer.

So then, someone says, well, gee, given enough computer -- you could model the entire universe.

But think of the complexity and the capacity you'd need...

There was a silence.


Finally, a guy who'd been lying on his back smoking cigarettes more or less silently for a long time says:

It would have to be so complex and capacious that it would be eaiser to simply recreate the universe.




As someone who longs for the 115 year old piano in storage in the garage below me (one of those compromises in life, but at least I still own it), the appeal of virtual acoustic pianos is painfully obvious to me -- even with the gut understanding that a v-piano will never be like the real thing -- I still have eternal hope...

But there is also one reality that has become apparent to me that tempers my optimism:

Each new piano (or virtual drumkit for that matter) sounds great. At first.

But there's this inexorable, exponential slide. I'm not the first to point out that, particularly in the world of modeled, sampled or otherwise facsimilized instruments, familiarity seems to breed contempt.
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9th June 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6dyslexicelephnt View Post
usually I'm trying to get my free wurlitzer spinet to sound half as good as some crappy piano samples I have
A crappy spinet piano is always going to sound like a crappy spinet piano, so when you need that sound you use it. Is Tom Waits visiting your studio anytime soon?

As far as samples go, perhaps run the fake piano track through a pair of speakers and mic the room? Or get a free spinet piano, take off the front, and aim the speakers at the strings, with the damper pedal down, and mic that, just to add some color to the samples.
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9th June 2007
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I guess since this kind of question is always brought up on GS, here's something I think we can all agree on.

NOTHING BEATS THE REAL THING!

A 1176 Plugin will never sound like the real thing.

A Marshall stack model will never sound like the real thing.

A piano sample will never sound like the real thing.

Auto Tune and BFD will never sound better than a great singer and great drummer.

Not that you can't get good results with models and samples, but don't expect it to sound like the real deal. It never will. Do you guys agree?
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9th June 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle duncan View Post
As far as samples go, perhaps run the fake piano track through a pair of speakers and mic the room?

BINGO. you need to capture air moving in a space, preferably the same space the other instruments were captured in. so if you can't record a piano, record the piano module.

the re-amp'd tracks may be what you want, or you may find some joy in a blend of the re-amp with direct module playback.

this same thing goes for any itb soft-synth module. getting it out of the box thru speakers and/or outboard is almost always an improvement.


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9th June 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GearGeek View Post
I guess since this kind of question is always brought up on GS, here's something I think we can all agree on.

NOTHING BEATS THE REAL THING!

A 1176 Plugin will never sound like the real thing.

A Marshall stack model will never sound like the real thing.

A piano sample will never sound like the real thing.

Auto Tune and BFD will never sound better than a great singer and great drummer.

Not that you can't get good results with models and samples, but don't expect it to sound like the real deal. It never will. Do you guys agree?
110%

Every time you play a note on a piano, it sounds different. Every time you play a chord or progression on a piano, the notes will interact (phase) with one another differently.

The velocity of the strike alters the pitch very, very slightly.

I used to imagine that a Hammond sample would sound pretty much the same as a real Hammond - until I bought a Hammond and Leslie.

For one thing, the real thing (Hammond, piano, Wurly, whatever) is FAR easier to mix. When a digitally accurate sample is too quiet, you cannot hear it in the mix - but when it is too loud, it's just offensive.

When a real instrument is too quiet, it is still there, you can still hear it. And when it is too loud, it is not in any way as offensive.
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IMO, the hardware digital piano makers (Roland, Yamaha etc) do a far better job of piano than most software libraries. I believe the people making huge sample libraries of pianos (multiple gigabytes hard disk show stoppers) are getting it wrong. Just my opinion, but these are my reasons for saying this:

1 - they often use a stereo pair of mics, and end up with bad phase cancellation around middle C. The mono compatability is usually shocking.
2 - they make the mistake of mic'ing the ambiance. This might sound real on a single note - but as soon as you play multiple notes, you get multible ambiance - which is just wrong and asking for trouble. The samples should be dry, mono, and the mic should be moved for each note to get a consistent sound. The ambiance can be applied as a convolution sample - but really, the choice should be the mixer, not embedded into the sample library.
3 - they make the mistake of using release samples. There isn't a sampler in existance that can match up the level of the release sample with the level of the note sample at the time you choose to release it. This is nothing to do with midi note off velocity - that would be a big mistake. What happens is the release sample is either too loud or too soft - it's not possible for it to be correct, because a piano note decays. The solution is to simply use ADSR and create a nice sounding tail, without trying to be too clever and stuffing it up.

The hardware guys are using tricks to get great sounding pianos out of small (e.g. 32 megabytes) files. If they could provide these pianos as software, it would be a fantastic thing.

Bulk gigasamples aren't the answer - pianos or drumkits or anything. A sampled instrument will always be different from the real thing - so the trick is to use all the advantages of sampled sounds, and remove the defects of the real instrument, and come up with a useable musical instrument. E.g. - have you ever been pissed off at an expensive sample library that has a fret rattle or finger squeak on a note? With a real instrument, the occasional rattle or squeek can be charming. With a sampled instrument, to have the exact same defect repeated each time is maddening. So what i'm saying is there should be a change of tactic amongst the sample library makers. Less is more. IMO.
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Have any of you guys tried East West Bosendorfer?? Pretty Awsome...

Or Steiberg the Grand....is pretty good very cpu hogging>>>


I found the roland JV 1080 has, standard, some good piano sounds but when compressed the noise comes up...

Years ago I read about a mod for the JV1080 removing the 1000picofard caps from the out put this is supposed to clean up the sound but you get an aweful click-spike when you switch it on...

DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO DO THIS MOD????? please PM me....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger View Post
IMO, the hardware digital piano makers (Roland, Yamaha etc) do a far better job of piano than most software libraries.
That's most probably because there's no pedal down samples. Without the pedal down samples, the piano will sit in the mix nicely without disturbing other instruments, while still accetable playing solo.

But in my opinions they're far from organic. Listening from various of sample library, Ivory seems to be stunning and realistic, IF it's a solo piece. But the rich resonance of pedal down (emulation if I'm not wrong instead of samples) seems to kill its presence in a mix.

The best all rounded piano I've heard is The Grand 2. Though sound very squared when solo'ed (especially the lower register), but it sits in a mix pretty well. The pedal down samples is not overwhelming, yet the amout of the resonance captured is just nice.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger View Post
IMO, the hardware digital piano makers (Roland, Yamaha etc) do a far better job of piano than most software libraries. . Less is more. IMO.
Very often after trying several (huge) sample pianos on same track, at the end we finished with hardware modules track indeed as the best solution for the mix.
Definitely much simplier sounding without many (apparent) nuances that would usually sound as better solo instrument, hardware pianos (Kurzweil, Yamaha, Kawai etc) were just right choice. I talk rock and pop here and same is probably different in more acoustical music production.
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If you could afford any piano and have any room to record in would you still choose a sampled piano over a real one?

I'm not being sarcastic here but actually curious.

jim
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As I get more into Jazz and classical music, I tend to want to use a more real piano sound (instead of the Cp80 sound I always use in rock settings). I got the demo from TruePianos and it sounds wonderfull to me. The piano setting that comes with it sounds great and warm.

It uses samples and modelling where needed and its lightweight for the CPU. I love it and concidering its price, I think it blows away software like for example Ivory which is a heavy mother to load...

There are different piano modules in the full version, the 40 day functioning version has just 1 module and I think it sounds pretty good...

Though I know that nothing can beat the real thing, not in sound and also not in keyboard action (which is also an important factor on how your piano sounds IMHO).

But concidering the pricetag and the sound, it invited me to play more jazz and classical music so I think its a winner...

(btw. download the demos on the website, not use the flash player to play them, the codec used is pretty bad and really affects the sound)
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There is something about sound moving through air that is just difficult to replicate... it's almost as if sometimes, I'm looking for the "imperfection" of sound to feel like it's real to me and as though I'm there with that sound again after it's recorded.

Have you ever tried mic'ing what you record again out of your monitors in a small room? I've done that before and have had some success. It does add noise, but you can get a "body" to what may otherwise sound too 2-dimensional.

I've got a Steinway sampler myself, and I like it a lot, but it's definitely got its weaknesses - in addition to the weakness of sucking up all my CPU power.

Have you ever done site recording at colleges? I've done that in the past... you find a piano and try and get in late a night. Bring your laptop (or something else) and a few mics and have pre-setup clicks/music to record to. Then you dump it back into whatever your home setup. Works for me too.

Peace - B
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admittedly a great instrument in a great romm with yada yada yada... but it's amazing to me how close they are getting... still a lotta work to be done in the way of harp resonance and half pedal pedal release etc but it's come a long way.... and for those of us without room for a steinway "D" or big bosendorfer well i'll take it... and of those IMO ivory is the one to have... someone mentioned the pianotek and it's real interesting considering it's not a disc streaming prog uses convolution technology and has a way small footprint on the puter... i'm having trouble lugging around my live rig and considering using it with a lappy....
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I'm gonna try the suggestions of sending Ivory (and others) to a pair of speakers and miking. I was actually hoping to hear what type of results you guys get from this when I posted the thread. I think I need to do something to dirty/trash up the sound a bit (not so much on the trash side).

Also,
My thinking is when I record a piano it's a couple of microphones and good piano in a cool room. It's not the best room or piano in the world. When companies attempt to make sound libraries, they attempt to emulate the world's best pianos/rooms. This is fine but it's not the sound of RnB as we know it, and it doesnt' work in Hip hop tracks all that well either.

I'm not even speaking of complex nuances of piano playing. Most things that I do have Piano as a supporting instrument. I could mike up a piano, and sample the chords/parts on an MPC and it gives what I want. I just wish I could get that from my sounds/techniques so I could avoid having to go to a studio everytime I want that. (I know the solution is buy a grand, and eventually I will. I still have to get a wurly,B3 and a Clav too.)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by no ssl yet View Post
I'm gonna try the suggestions of sending Ivory (and others) to a pair of speakers and miking. I was actually hoping to hear what type of results you guys get from this when I posted the thread. I think I need to do something to dirty/trash up the sound a bit (not so much on the trash side).

Also,
My thinking is when I record a piano it's a couple of microphones and good piano in a cool room. It's not the best room or piano in the world. When companies attempt to make sound libraries, they attempt to emulate the world's best pianos/rooms. This is fine but it's not the sound of RnB as we know it, and it doesnt' work in Hip hop tracks all that well either.

I'm not even speaking of complex nuances of piano playing. Most things that I do have Piano as a supporting instrument. I could mike up a piano, and sample the chords/parts on an MPC and it gives what I want. I just wish I could get that from my sounds/techniques so I could avoid having to go to a studio everytime I want that. (I know the solution is buy a grand, and eventually I will. I still have to get a wurly,B3 and a Clav too.)
Air is key to the piano thing, and also the interaction of all of the notes that are being played. Ivory is pretty just you have to have a decent controller, its ugly with too heavy handed a velocity curve. Pianos and drums in rooms are why studios exist, there's nothing like the air you get using a mic in a room. BTW all of your keyboard tracks will sound better if you stop trying to have every song be in Cb!
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Air is key to the piano thing, and also the interaction of all of the notes that are being played. Ivory is pretty just you have to have a decent controller, its ugly with too heavy handed a velocity curve. Pianos and drums in rooms are why studios exist, there's nothing like the air you get using a mic in a room. BTW all of your keyboard tracks will sound better if you stop trying to have every song be in Cb!
tutt


I would figure all of yours would be, you know how it is when u learn something new and can't wait to use it..

Just play the ones that are in B and tell all your cool friends it's Cb (I dont think they'll hear a difference.)
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Nice posts, guys...As for me, I recently used Ivory on jazzy kind of band-everything except piano was done by live instruments(contrabass, drums, tromb+sax, guitar). I must say that Ivory served me perfectly. No doubt, however ,that it would be too polished and open sounding for let's say r'n'b or hip hop. I also did some experiments on miking Ivory thru studio monitors in solid medium room(nothing fancy). Then I came across on great rev-filter type of efx on Eventide DSP7000(forgot the name of preset-i modded it anyway...). Talking about character...
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I think I need to do something to dirty/trash up the sound a bit (not so much on the trash side).

Try a send to an overdrive with a lo and hi pass before it and blend it slightly...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Byre View Post
When a digitally accurate sample is too quiet, you cannot hear it in the mix - but when it is too loud, it's just offensive.

When a real instrument is too quiet, it is still there, you can still hear it. And when it is too loud, it is not in any way as offensive.
Great point.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6dyslexicelephnt View Post
that's funny usually I'm trying to get my free wurlitzer spinet to sound half as good as some crappy piano samples I have
I when i got it, it needed 2 tunings. Now it needs a third. It's been a couple of months. Expensive bummer. I'm starting to think even with a great tuning a crappy upright spinet will still sound like crap

argh
to cram 50' piano strings into a 36' high piano you have to cross the strings. which as we all know from watching ghostbusters results in sloppy harmonics. for the best tone on an upright pick up a 52'.


i like the 'going Tom Waits on it' suggestion. Tori Amos & a few othes have also gone with the 'wrecked piano' sound with great results on a song that called for it.
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Dzoing / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music & Location Recording
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