I spent a few hours yesterday testing different mic techniques on my piano. As it turns out, there are so many variables for getting different sounds on a piano. Which mic, where the mic is, which way it’s rotated, which polar patern it has, how far spaced the microphones are, etc.
My thought is that I want to make a few sample libraries called “Living room piano set” or something. Basically, the idea is that instead of sampling concert grands in a big hall, I want to sample smaller, less perfect pianos from peoples’ houses. I love the sound of a nice piano, but sometimes the perfect concert grand doesn’t really match the sound that I want in a simple song.
My plan is to make a VI out of this piano as it is now. some strings buzz, some strings are out of tune, the low strings are super dirty. It just sounds like a good home piano. After that I’ll get it tuned and maybe even restrung and make a second version.
After I do this one, I’ll go sample my wife’s aunt’s piano. We stopped by her house on the way to yellowstone a couple weeks ago, and she had this awesome bosendorfer from 18 something in great condition.
It’s also relatively rare to find a good honky tonk piano sound. You might be able to find a niche by sampling some uprights. You’re right though, there are a lot of grand pianos in big rooms out there. Adding some character would help make samples more useful.
I did a whole reflection of my life in that minute. Certain things just get to me, and that did. Not the feedback you were looking for. I went back and forth trying to decide the one I liked best. Couldn’t decide.
Emma gets some great sounds.
I must have tried a gazillion piano samples over the years but these sound interesting boz. They fill a wee gap in the samples currently available. I have used a wide range of vst pianos and they tend to fit into two main categories - flash or strange. These sound more like aunty’s piano… and as such I would definitely be interested. The main reason I LOVE Alicia’s Keys is the authenticity of the straight raw sound. I virtually never faff around with the other noise options - key strikes, pedal noise - but the notes feel responsive and rich to me. It is that richness, density of tone, that is often missing in the ‘Grand’ samples…
I really like the idea of the tuning being a bit variable… that’s a nice touch. That sure is a tasty piano to have in your living room!
I’m in the same boat. Of all the pianos libraries I have, that’s the one I default to every time. It’s more fun to play than any of the others I have. There are times where it’s not the right sound in a song, but it’s my favorite for sitting down and playing.
I’ve found the same over the years, that its deceptively difficult to capture a piano.
I ALWAYS remove the music stand. Lately my favorite tactic has been to pull the music stand off and put the 2 mics over my shoulder but back a ways. That makes a very interested stereo effect (and obviously familiar) as you play up and down the register, but the trick is (for me anyway) is to be subtle with the panning, or else it sounds like 2 one handed pianists playing on both sides of the stage lol.
Lately I’ve been playing around with putting a set of Earthworks mics directly in-between the dampers and the hammers, then putting a room mic about 15 feet back. Like with a drum set, the room mics are doing the heavy lifting, and the close mics blending to taste. Just some ideas
What type of keyboard do you use with samples? The reason I’m asking is my sister is an accomplished pianist with an older Yamaha Clavinola that needs a variety of repairs. I’m trying to convince her to replace it, but she is very particular about the feel of the keyboard.
Some of those dinosaur clavinovas have outstanding tactile feel and action…it seems they were able to over-engineer the keybeds because of the steep price those things retailed for in music shops back in the day. It’s very hard to find good key action on new controllers these days. The market has changed a lot since those things were popular.
I know you were mainly asking Boz, but I’ll chime in anyway… Native Instruments S88. Not very impressed with the action. I use it on the road because I have to set it up myself, and it’s light and easy to lug around.
My go-to is still the Yamaha Motif. I like the Nords action too. But I don’t think either of them sell just a controller. Casios (believe it or not) have pretty impressive action for a controller that doesn’t break the bank.
Thanks, the question is open to anyone, and I appreciate your input. I’m trying to explain to her that the Clavinova is prohibitively expensive to repair. She’s a little intimidated by the idea of a keyboard and samples, but $2000 in repairs doesn’t make sense to me. It is a nice convenient instrument, but to me it’s outdated.
Really, I think the only way to get the right feel is to try a bunch out and see what she likes. Also, I think it’s important to ask if she actually wants to be pulling up a sample library every time she sits down to play.
Yeah, that’s probably the biggest hurdle, but repairing the clavinova to me would be expensive and the clock would be ticking on the next repair.
She needs to find a newer version of what she has That’s more economical.
Sorry to hijack your thread.
That’s funny, I never understood why some pianists were so particular about the keyboard feel. I play on my grand piano, upright, electronic, synths and midi controller equally. Maybe that’s why I never became a great pianist!
@bozmillar I’d be curious to know how you sample a piano. How many recordings do you need for just one note? How many different velocities are you sampling? Are you sampling each note with and without the sustain pedal on? How do you handle overtones?
I have heard very few piano samples that sounded realistic to my ear, mostly because of the lack of overtones and the way sustain and pedals are handled. The most realistic to my ear is the Nord Piano samples, next come the NI samples.
for me, it’s whatever piano I’ve been playing most that feels the best. When I play my casio for a long time, it starts to feel normal and real pianos feel super sluggish. When I play a real piano for a while, my casio feels too light. I just don’t really like unweighted keys for doing piano because it’s harder to get the dynamics right.
I’m curious too, that’s why I want to try it. I have ideas in my mind about how I’ll do it, but I’m sure that will all have to change once I actually try and see what actually works and what doesn’t.
I like the 2nd mic perspective. It is still too bright for my taste but 2nd is definitely better than the close mic one. Most piano samples out there are wayy too bright and recorded with mic too close to the sound box and the distortions are just too hard to handle, though It does works with certain productions.
Few things I focus on when I work with samples rather than VST piano is the use of the sustain pedal and the timing. I tend to avoid the samples with overused sustain pedals or overly quantized loops.
Either way, the samples are your choice, however you wish to play would probably be fine.
Alicia Keys Library is too big for what it offers imo. The sound blending of the notes is definitely the strong feature of the Alicia keys, but the harmonics of Alicia keys piano aren’t as rich sounding as some others out there, that focus more on preserving the harmonics. I mean, I like Alicia Keys piano but I prefer Yamaha concert grand by Ken Scott (Soundsonline). Lighter, easier and better harmonics over Alicia Keys but the note blending on the Ken Scott version could use some work.
I still haven’t found a library that works consistently for everything for myself. On the size aspect, I like addictive because its lightweight, but that comes with its share of compromises. I like the Vienna, and Ivory 2 samples a lot. Between those 3 I can usually get to a happy medium between convenience, flexibility, and tone. I don’t use Alicias Keys, but that’s not because I dislike it at all. More because I’m really used to the other 3.