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Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano
3.75 3.75 out of 5, based on 1 Review

2 weeks ago

Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano by OK1

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 3 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75
Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano

Many years ago, about 3, I realised that my Yamaha stage piano sound was no longer meeting my needs, so the journey to sampled pianos began, or rather restarted. I had a prior attempt about 10 years ago with Synthogy Ivory, which did not conclude in success, cos at the time my target for a piano sound was the Yamaha Motif piano, and I never had access to real acoustic pianos, so at the time, sampled pianos were such an unfamiliar sound.

So I took the decision to acquire some of the inexpensive sampled pianos - Waves Grand Rhapsody (WGR) being one of them. Great price - about 25 dollars, bought during the introductory period.

I went through a two year period when the product was unusable cos after about an hour of piano practice, which is what I use pianos predominantly for, I would have to restart my DAW - Reaper, cos WGR was causing memory leaks.

I complained vehemently about this bug to Waves, who eventually resolved the issue in version 11. This resolution took at least two years. I bought my copy of the software in version 9. After proving, with the version 11 demo that the bug was resolved, I paid to WUP to version 11.

So total cost invested in the software was about 35 dollars including the WUP.

Being somewhat "new" to sampled pianos, for a long while I struggled with the sound.

One key change I made was to set the compression dial in WGR to zero, cos I wanted to hear the original sample without any alterations.

Next I disabled any internal reverbs in WGR, using my own reverbs, giving me much more control over ambience.

One major fix was being able to use a MIDI plugin to define a custom velocity curve to remap MIDI from my 88 note MIDI controller keyboard, in between the keyboard and the WGR plugin.

What I have used with success is MidiCurve by InsertPizhere. Its open source and free to use, which you'll find here, as part of the PizMidi bundle of MIDI plugins :

The key challenge for many of us who do not have the opportunity to play high end acoustic grand pianos is, we do not really know how an acoustic grand piano should sound.

Probably the most difficult issue with sampled pianos is matching the sample layers played back, with your keyboard controllers velocity. The aforementioned Midi velocity remapping tool, is a life saver.

This week I attempted to redo the velocity mapping, and it became so apparent that while velocity mapping could minimise the issue, WGR has some shocking gaps in their sample layers. Sudden jumps in timbre and volume from one layer to the next, in between low and high velocities, making the instrument unpredicatable to play.

Having done all I could to ameliorate this issue with a custom velocity curve in MIDICurve, lets describe the sound.

A short attack phase with volume diminishing rather quickly, when notes are sustained, and none of the huge undulating LFO kind of volume variation you get with some other grand piano sounds. Low velocities are dark and woody, and some decent harmonics at higher velocities. To its credit there is a huge range of volume variances between the quietest notes and the louder velocities. I almost feel some of these higher velocities have been artificially amplified, or the lower velocities have been artificially.

There are no release samples, so any note endings especially those with no sustain pedal on, have an artificial abrupt ending, limiting its use as a realistic piano.

All in all a great attempt but not one with a vast potential.

Learning the hard way, with my own money. Next purchase will need to be from one of those businesses who know how to sample a piano properly with multiple microphones which was one of the delivered promises of WGR, which does come with 8 microphone positions which you can use 3 of, simultaneously - like products from Production Voices, ViLabs, Vienna Symphonic Library, and Garritan CFX.

Sad that in this case, you get what you pay for. Not much at the end of the day. Promising but a bit of a let down with its shortcomings.