Classic piano sound as s/w instrument

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by antonis, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. antonis
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    antonis

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    Jun 10, 2011
    #1
    Hey all,

    I've recently started to explore midi potentials since the sounds of my stage piano and synth are already very long in the tooth. So I've connected the stage piano to GarageBand via midi (I might go to Logic later on, if there is a real reason to) in order to use the s/w instruments.

    Point is, I'm mainly interested for classic grand piano sounds, and the only one that is built-in GB is at least mediocre (e.g. it's very blurry). I suppose that I'll have to buy some s/w instruments collection from 3rd party. Is there something that could be recommended, regarding the above description ? (piano sounds).
    Should I go to Logic for this ? Does Logic provide any better piano sounds out-of-the-box ?

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. xb2003
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    xb2003

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    #2
    Logic has a Yamaha and a Steinway sample set, I really like the Yamaha. It's darker, and it sits fairly well in a thicker mix. The Steinway is alright.. you might like it. I'm not sure if GB has either or both of these, I haven't used it in forever.

    Check out Native Instruments if you want awesome sample libraries.
     
  3. antonis
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    antonis

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    #3
    Thank you for the prompt reply. As I understand it, then, Logic comes with a wider range of libraries out of the box, compared to GB. In that case, should I just purchase Logic and use its built-in instruments (Yamaha & Steinway) or will I be better with GB and a purchase of an external set from Native Instruments or any other ?

    For instance, I've found this that sounds great.
     
  4. xb2003
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    xb2003

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    #4
    In my opinion, Logic is the best $200 you can spend in music software. (If you are a student you can get Logic, Mainstage, Final Cut for $200) If GB doesn't have the samples you are looking for, id strongly consider buying Logic. You could also spend $30 on Main Stage and get a ton of the stuff that comes in Logic, but MS isn't a DAW. There aren't recording capabilities and it isn't time based. Also, MS midi is getting buggier with every update..

    While I love Logic, most of what's in it is just... good. Like everything is somewhere between a 6.5 and 8 out of 10. You get a TON of good stuff, but nothing is just like amazing. Point being, if you are really serious about your tone (for whatever reason, gigging, recording, etc), Logic's includes sample libraries won't last you that long.
     
  5. antonis
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    antonis

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    #5
    Thank you very much for the insight. I purchased logic and I'll see how it goes from there on. I've seen in apple's site that there are at least a few decent classic piano sounds, definitely much better than what I have now and a lot of parameters in order to change them even further. Beyond that, regarding external libraries, I guess sky is the limit.

    Thanks again for all the info.
     
  6. Morpheo, Feb 22, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017

    Morpheo
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    Morpheo

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    #6
    Here's how I see it: as far as sample libraries go, Logic's are a good starting point, but nothing more (which is fair actually, after all you're still buying a DAW, not state-of-the-art samples). Synths on the other hand are pretty impressive, starting with Alchemy. This one alone justifies spending $200 but that's just me. Speaking of that $200, LPX package does represent an amazing value, yet when you have specific needs and expectations, it's normal to look for other options to widen, and complement your library.

    These days my only recommendation when it comes to "which virtual piano should I go for" is Pianoteq. Reason #1 is that it's not sample-based, it's a physical model, so you're not limited by velocity layers, it feels so natural when you play I don't know how I could do without it. And it does sound amazing. They have 3 of the major brands modeled (for instance, Steinway, Bösendorfer et Yamaha), and you can add more models too. They have 3 versions, Stage, Standard and Pro. Stage is the cheapest, it doesn't give you much control (or tweaking) on your sound, but the sound is definitely there. And then you can upgrade of course if you want... they even have a demo so you can see for youself before making your decision.

    Before that I was using Ivory and I also have all the NI pianos, which are pretty good too. But like I said, Pianoteq is a different animal, it doesn't cost that much, it's very easy on your cpu and has a tiny footprint compared to sample-based instruments. I've used it countless times on various projects (from shorts to feature-length) and people can't tell the difference, in fact they're always amazed when I tell them it's not a real piano. I'm not kidding. Just don't let things like "it's not a real sound" stop you though - none of them are actually. But to me, Pianoteq is certainly the closest to the real thing.

    The only other one I would consider these days is Hans Zimmer's piano from Spitfire Audio.
     
  7. antonis, Feb 22, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017

    antonis
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    antonis

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    #7
    Thank you very much for this info. Actually, after purchasing Logic, that's exactly the kind of insight I was looking for. The built-in pianos (especially Steinway and Yamaha), although great for out-of-the-box instruments, seem to need a lot of tweaking to come close to my taste of the piano sound. I'll definitely check Pianoteq and Spitfire Audio options. LPX seems a great platform to built upon it.

    I had no idea of Pianoteq, so you've been very helpful, thanks again.

    P.S.: To be fair, though, these Steinway and Yamaha pianos included in Logic, do sound great after playing a bit with them.
     
  8. Morpheo
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    Morpheo

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    #8
    I have to admit I haven't tried them a lot, having already what I needed before. I'll sure give them another look then :)

    ...About Pianoteq, somehow I thought there was a Bösendorfer and a Yamaha in there, but there's not. Their D4 piano is a Steinway D though, which is the one I've used the most. However their latest Grotrian Concert Royal is something truly special. https://www.pianoteq.com/grotrian
     
  9. antonis
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    antonis

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    #9
    Indeed, I've already tried the free version of Pianoteq, Grotrian Grand is great. But the other one you suggested, the Hans Zimmer Piano...now that is pure magic. But look at the disk space it needs ! Almost half a TB for the installation, about 250GB after installed !
     
  10. Morpheo
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    Morpheo

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    #10
    Yeah it's massive! But it does sound great doesn't it? As both a pianist and a big Hans Zimmer fan I have to keep myself fom buying it almost every day but I guess it's only a question of "when" now :) FWIW, the piano used for this library is a Steinway D, my personal favorite. If I had 200k to spare I would get one without an hesitation! Also, huge libraries are happier with SSDs, that might be something to consider too.
     
  11. antonis, Feb 22, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017

    antonis
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    antonis

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    Hehe I'm also a Hans Zimmer fan and a pianist (it's not my profession, though) and I think that yesterday the same struggle begun for me; keep myself from buying it. However, my MBP doesn't have the internal SSD space for this, so that saved me for the moment. I'd need an external thunderbolt SSD for this (if Logic gives the option to use libraries from an external drive).

    Nah, I'll stay with the built-in Yamaha and Steinway for now. I think. :D At least, they do sound better than my Kurzweil's stage piano built in sounds. And xb2003 was right, this Yamaha seems to have a potential. With a little more reverb/space tweaking it could be great.
     
  12. ChrisA, Feb 25, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017

    ChrisA
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    macrumors G4

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    #12
    Short answer. For the money, I think Sampletekk has a good Steinway sound. Take a listen to the sample tracks on this page http://www.sampletekk.com/grand-pianos?product_id=174
    Notice that when you buy this you have to select a player. EXS24 is Apple's format that works in Logic (or with a hack in GB) but you can also select Kontakt. Kontakt is arguably the best sampler in the industry and Kontakt will run inside Logic or stand alone. (There is a free demo version of Kontakt that has decent piano in it.)

    There are some really good software pianos out there. These are specialized and typically work either as Audio Units (that plug into either GB or Logic) or as stand along pianos. The current stator the art is pretty good but it is easy to pay more than the price of Logic X just for one piano.

    Rather then write a book here is a link. Mostly the reviewer is correct.
    http://blog.sonicbids.com/top-5-plugins-to-get-amazingly-realistic-digital-piano-sounds

    Ivory really odes sound good but it is pricy.

    Pianoteq is unique in that it is not sampled so there is no jumps. You can NOT hear why Pianoteq is good by listening to recording, you have to play it and see that it responds to pressure (or velocity) on the keys

    One of the things these high-end piano apps can do is let you select the microphone location. Apple I think only has "play's perspective where the bass comes from the left side. Ny audience's never here it this way. The better apps let you place pics under the lid or even some meters out in front where the first row audience would sit.

    Other things to look for are realistic peddles. Do un-damped strings resonate or only those struct by hammers? Does "half peddle work at all or do yo care?

    Apple's pianos that come with Logic are "ok" but not on the same level as the specialist apps.

    Also, you don't say it but I assume you ARE playing on a hammer action keyboard. You will never get realism using "synth action keys. Best hammer action might be Kawai or Roland. But opinion varies

    For MUCH lower prices you can buy just the sample files. and play them with a sampler inside Logic. SampleTekk is good and they sometimes have sales at 1/2 price or less
    http://www.sampletekk.com/grand-pianos
    To use their stuff you will need one of the samplers they support. I have some of their files and yes the Yamaha grand sounds like a Yamaha and so on But these are only sample files, not the app that plays the samples
     
  13. antonis
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    antonis

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    #13
    Thank you very much for this great insight info and taking the time to write this. I've visited all the links (loved the sound of Sampletekk BG) and I'll most probably choose one of those. I'm mostly looking towards Sampletekk and the fact that it doesn't need a h/w lock is definitely is a plus.

    As a mother keyboard, I'm using a Kurzweil SP88X stage piano which I've also used during my studying years in the conservatory. It has become long in the tooth regarding its sounds, but its keys and pedal are definitely great. You are spot-on that synth-type keys are definitely out of question. Since this is not my job, Sampletekk price seems more justifiable for the moment.

    Thank you !
     
  14. ChrisA
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    macrumors G4

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    #14
    Yes, while Ivory might be the best, your hardware lock and the price keep me from using it too. I discovered Sampltekk some years ago. There IS a way to play EXS24 files in Large Band because GB snd logic use the same sample player, only the one in GB lacks a big graphic user interface that you need to program your own sounds, but Gb allows you to play files you can't create. I forgot the details as I've had Logic now for years. Google it.
     

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