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The Ultimate Piano Shootout Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 19th July 2014
  #1
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BrockJon's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
The Ultimate Piano Shootout

The concept of this thread is we work with one MIDI file (posted below) and export MP3s of all the various piano sample libraries so we can see how they compare to one another.

The MIDI file is from one of my songs. It uses most of the piano's range and is rather dynamic.

For this to be most effective, please abide the following:
  • Use the MIDI file below (Piano Test.midi.zip) NOTE: if your DAW doesn't read the tempo in the MIDI file, see post 9 below. Logic X users, see post 11 below. Cubase users, see post 33 (on page 2).
  • Use optimal settings in the instrument (max polyphony, sympathetic resonance, sustain resonance -- basically the instrument's best settings) , but no special tweaks (e.g. EQ)
  • Don't use ambience/reverb (turn it off in the instrument)
  • Don't apply any other processing (no EQ, compression, etc.)
  • Also, nothing on the master bus
  • Render to MP3 @320
  • When uploading the files only add two at a time. E.g.,upload two. Add two more. Add two more. Etc. It seems to fail when doing more than two at a time.
Attached Files
File Type: zip Piano Test.midi.zip (4.7 KB, 335 views)

Alicia's Keys.mp3 (6.09 MB, 6777 views)

The Grand 3 Bosendorfer 290 Close.mp3 (6.09 MB, 6093 views)

The Grand 3 Bosendorfer 290 Player.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5695 views)

The Grand 3 Model D Close.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5649 views)

The Grand 3 Model D Player.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5470 views)

The Grand 3 Yamaha C7 Close.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5440 views)

The Grand 3 Yamaha C7 Player.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5448 views)

EW Platinum Pianos Bechstein Close.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5403 views)

EW Platinum Pianos Bechstein Player.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5314 views)

EW Platinum Pianos Bosendorfer 290 Close.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5383 views)

EW Platinum Pianos Bosendorfer 290 Player.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5253 views)

EW Platinum Pianos Steinway D Close.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5240 views)

EW Platinum Pianos Steinway D Player.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5218 views)

EW Platinum Pianos Yamaha C7 Close.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5122 views)

EW Platinum Pianos Yamaha C7 Player.mp3 (6.09 MB, 5144 views)

Old 19th July 2014
  #2
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feck's Avatar
Cool. The problem is that using only stock settings will be kind of strange - for example, the sympathetic resonance and sustain resonance for some reason is turned OFF in the Garritan CFX. Most other pianos default to ON for those controls. Also, polyphony levels are all over the map by default on different sets. Might I suggest keeping the FX off but setting any instrument settings to the optimal per user? After all, the idea is to hear how good each piano has the potential to sound (minus any external processing).
Old 19th July 2014
  #3
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BrockJon's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Yes! Good thinking! I'll adjust the OP accordingly.
Old 19th July 2014
  #4
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feck's Avatar
Cool, man. I'll bounce this through Vienna Imperial, Ravenscroft, VI Labs True Keys, and Production Voices Grand.
Old 20th July 2014
  #5
Tui
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Tui's Avatar
Brilliant idea. I'll post some tomorrow.
Old 20th July 2014
  #6
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BrockJon's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Posted a video here.

Demonstrated are:
00:45 Alicia's Keys (Native Instruments)
03:24 The Grand 3 (Steinberg) Bosendorfer 290 Close
06:06 The Grand 3 (Steinberg) Bosendorfer 290 Player
08:48 The Grand 3 (Steinberg) Model D Close
11:29 The Grand 3 (Steinberg) Model D Player
14:11 The Grand 3 (Steinberg) Yamaha C7 Close
16:52 The Grand 3 (Steinberg) Yamaha C7 Player
19:33 Platinum Pianos (EastWest) Bechstein Close
22:15 Platinum Pianos (EastWest) Bechstein Player
24:56 Platinum Pianos (EastWest) Bosendorfer 290 Close
27:38 Platinum Pianos (EastWest) Bosendorfer 290 Player
30:19 Platinum Pianos (EastWest) Steinway D Close
30:01 Platinum Pianos (EastWest) Steinway D Player
35:42 Platinum Pianos (EastWest) Yamaha C7 Close
38:24 Platinum Pianos (EastWest) Yamaha C7 Player



If you guys are cool with it, I'll post subsequent videos with your contributions. If you don't want your clips used, please say so!
Old 20th July 2014
  #7
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrockJon View Post
The concept of this thread is we work with one MIDI file (posted below) and export MP3s of all the various piano sample libraries so we can see how they compare to one another.

The MIDI file is from one of my songs. It uses most of the piano's range and is rather dynamic.

For this to be most effective, please abide the following:
  • Use the MIDI file below (Piano Test.midi.zip)
  • Use optimal settings in the instrument (max polyphony, sympathetic resonance, sustain resonance -- basically the instrument's best settings) , but no special tweaks (e.g. EQ)
  • Don't use ambience/reverb (turn it off in the instrument)
  • Don't apply any other processing (no EQ, compression, etc.)
  • Also, nothing on the master bus
  • Render to MP3 @320
Very useful, thanks for taking the time to do this!
TH
Old 20th July 2014
  #8
Tui
Gear Guru
 
Tui's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrockJon View Post
...

For this to be most effective, please abide the following:
...
BrockJon, you did not mention sample rate and BPM of the song.

I loaded your midi file and the MP3 of Alicia's Keys into Logic, but I am having problems with aligning audio and midi. There appears to be massive tempo drift of the audio file... I cannot explain it. BPM appears to be around 85, but I cannot get audio and midi to synchronise. Strange.

So, if you could tell us what sample rate and tempo you used to record your files, it would help.
Old 20th July 2014
  #9
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Thread Starter
Sorry about that. For some reason Cubase/Nuendo can read the tempo in the MIDI file but Logic can't (just verified). The tempo map is pretty screwy with some accelerandos and deaccelerandos. This is pretty much what it does (assuming MIDI file is placed at bar 1):

Starts at 80 with even accel to 90 at downbeat of bar 9.
Bar 44 (downbeat of last note of sextuplet run) even deaccel to 80 at bar 46
Bar 51 deaccel to 70 at bar 52.
Bar 54 accel to 94 by beat 2 of same measure.

All that said, doing the whole thing at 85-90 should be fine. It's not so much about a "musical performance" as it is about hearing the sound of the pianos. The files may differ in length and feel, but the piano will be the same, right?
Attached Thumbnails
The Ultimate Piano Shootout-piano_tempo_map.jpg  
Old 20th July 2014
  #10
Tui
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Tui's Avatar
OK, I get it. I was beginning to think there must be a type of giant clock jitter I'm unfamiliar with!

So, what I will do tomorrow is post some files recorded with a consistent tempo. They might sound a little mechanical, but it should still be worth it.
Old 20th July 2014
  #11
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Thread Starter
Sorry, I should have just done this in the first place. Here's a Logic X file with the tempo mapping.
Attached Files
File Type: zip Piano Test.zip (365.2 KB, 74 views)
Old 20th July 2014
  #12
Tui
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Tui's Avatar
Cool. Give me a little time, and I'll post some files.
Old 21st July 2014
  #13
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feck's Avatar
I am unable to upload the mp3s - keep getting this message

"Your submission could not be processed because a security token was missing."

Not sure why...
Old 21st July 2014
  #14
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BrockJon's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
feck was so kind as to provide these MP3s.
Old 21st July 2014
  #15
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djanthonyw's Avatar
 

Here's Sampletekk's TSO & WG.
Attached Files

White Grand.mp3 (5.79 MB, 4844 views)

The Small One.mp3 (5.79 MB, 4824 views)

Old 21st July 2014
  #16
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Session Keys Grand S
Attached Files

Session Keys Grand S.mp3 (5.79 MB, 4754 views)

Old 21st July 2014
  #17
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Not really sure how useful this test is, given the variations between each library, how they were sampled number of layers velocity response etc. You could use one midi which makes piano X sound better than piano Y, but then use a completely different midi which makes piano Y sound better than piano X.

Really in the end its not just about raw sample quality, but about which piano library suits the way you play the keyboard best. When you find the one that makes you feel like you're playing a real piano and lose track of time just playing, then you have a personal choice winner.
Old 21st July 2014
  #18
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Thread Starter
@Arksun With all due respect, I mostly disagree with you. I agree it's important to be comfortable playing whichever library upon which you settle. That said, I think a lot can be distinguished simply by listening to the differences between them. The MIDI file here most certainly was not prepared with any particular library in mind. As stated in the OP, it's dynamic and covers a majority of the piano's range and was selected for that reason alone.

More, I've not driven anyone toward one library over another. While I suspect a discussion will eventually ensue, I expect everyone will draw their own conclusions. The furthest extent to which I'm interested in others' opinions is helping me hear things that aren't readily apparent to me. That said, I have yet to be compelled to share my options with others. I think with a test like this, the evidence speaks for itself.
Old 21st July 2014
  #19
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Nevertheless, a different midi performance could still yield totally different results, but as a rough guide it might seperate the very best from the very worst yes and will certainly reveal which one suits your own playing style best
Old 22nd July 2014
  #20
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fecks ravencroft mp3's are all cliping again. seems it doesn't like this midi file
Old 22nd July 2014
  #21
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zephonic's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksun View Post
Not really sure how useful this test is, given the variations between each library, how they were sampled number of layers velocity response etc. You could use one midi which makes piano X sound better than piano Y, but then use a completely different midi which makes piano Y sound better than piano X.

Really in the end its not just about raw sample quality, but about which piano library suits the way you play the keyboard best. When you find the one that makes you feel like you're playing a real piano and lose track of time just playing, then you have a personal choice winner.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrockJon View Post
@Arksun With all due respect, I mostly disagree with you. I agree it's important to be comfortable playing whichever library upon which you settle. That said, I think a lot can be distinguished simply by listening to the differences between them. The MIDI file here most certainly was not prepared with any particular library in mind. As stated in the OP, it's dynamic and covers a majority of the piano's range and was selected for that reason alone.

More, I've not driven anyone toward one library over another. While I suspect a discussion will eventually ensue, I expect everyone will draw their own conclusions. The furthest extent to which I'm interested in others' opinions is helping me hear things that aren't readily apparent to me. That said, I have yet to be compelled to share my options with others. I think with a test like this, the evidence speaks for itself.

The gist of it is this: every library has different velocity response. The MIDI file was played with a certain sound, and the player would (hopefully) adjust his playing instinctively to the way the sound responds to his/her input.

Another sound may have different cross-over points for the layers, and as a result could sound either too static or too dynamic.

I am not saying this test is not useful, and I'll participate, but it is good to be aware of the caveats and not draw any definite conclusions.


On a different note: all these mp3's make this thread really sluggish and slow to respond. Isn't there a better way to do this? Maybe host the mp3's somewhere else and just provide links here?

Either way, I'll add Galaxy Vintage D, Cinesamples PianoInBlue v2, HalionSonic Natural Grand, Halion4 BrightConcertGrand, Kontakt NewYorkGrand, Garritan Steinway Basic, and my trusty NordPiano.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #22
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Brilliant idea. I'll post some tomorrow.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrockJon View Post
feck was so kind as to provide these MP3s.
Hey BrockJon, thanks for posting these, i'm not here to promote our products, but the demos you posted are completely cut, same thing for the vienna btw. I will upload renders or the Ravenscroft but without these weird cuts.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #24
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Here are the 4 files, one for each position for the VIlabs Ravenscroft 275
Attached Files

Ravenscroft-Shootout-Close.mp3 (3.60 MB, 5001 views)

Ravenscroft-Shootout-Player.mp3 (3.60 MB, 4889 views)

Ravenscroft-Shootout-Room.mp3 (3.60 MB, 4815 views)

Ravenscroft-Shootout-Side.mp3 (3.60 MB, 4585 views)

Old 22nd July 2014
  #25
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And Here is the close position for each member of the VIlabs True keys Pianos
Attached Files
Old 22nd July 2014
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steppert View Post
fecks ravencroft mp3's are all cliping again. seems it doesn't like this midi file
Yeah, it happened on a few different VST's. Looks like this might be an issue with the latest beta release of Studio One - I'm looking into it. Obviously I didn't go through each bounce as I've not had any previous rendering issues with any of my VSTs. Anyhow, the tone/sound should still hopefully be evident enough for people to hear the overall differences in the sample sets.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feck View Post
Yeah, it happened on a few different VST's. Looks like this might be an issue with the latest beta release of Studio One - I'm looking into it. Obviously I didn't go through each bounce as I've not had any previous rendering issues with any of my VSTs. Anyhow, the tone/sound should still hopefully be evident enough for people to hear the overall differences in the sample sets.
I agree, but people might think some libraries just behave this way which would be pretty bad Anyway with the links i posted, there should be no confusion now
Old 22nd July 2014
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VILabs View Post
I agree, but people might think some libraries just behave this way which would be pretty bad Anyway with the links i posted, there should be no confusion now
For sure. By the way, excellent job on the Ravenscroft. It gets used here in productions all the time. Looking forward to what you guys cook up next...
Old 22nd July 2014
  #29
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by VILabs View Post
Hey BrockJon, thanks for posting these, i'm not here to promote our products, but the demos you posted are completely cut, same thing for the vienna btw. I will upload renders or the Ravenscroft but without these weird cuts.
Killer! I agree with feck that the overall tone came through, but I can certainly understand wanting to not create the impression that's how the library operates. I removed the Ravenscroft MP3s that were originally provided to me from the post.

I appreciate you taking the time to participate. (And great job on the library!)
Old 22nd July 2014
  #30
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Piano in Blue

Note: original file updated using Nuendo file provided by Brock Jon
Attached Files

Piano Test - Piano in Blue.mp3 (5.89 MB, 4999 views)

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