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Dark, thick piano

SupremeFist

New Member
Hello all! I'm a composer working on a set of solo piano pieces, and having had classical training many years ago, I'm now realising that I really dislike the bright sound of most sampled Steinways etc, and I want something more "dark" and "warm" and "thick" and "intimate" and so on. So far I'm happy with pieces produced with:

Noire
Piano in Blue
Una Corda
Olafur Arnalds Felt Piano

I like the NI Maverick a lot but it feels a little brittle or thin in places. Would the Bechstein Digital Grand run OK on a 3Ghz dual i5 with 16Gb of RAM? Or should I get the Pianoteq version? Is it good enough for exposed solo piano production?

Other libraries I am currently considering are Mercury and CinePiano. Anything else I should look at? Thanks for your advice!
 

Fleer

Feeding the Trolls
Hello all! I'm a composer working on a set of solo piano pieces, and having had classical training many years ago, I'm now realising that I really dislike the bright sound of most sampled Steinways etc, and I want something more "dark" and "warm" and "thick" and "intimate" and so on. So far I'm happy with pieces produced with:

Noire
Piano in Blue
Una Corda
Olafur Arnalds Felt Piano

I like the NI Maverick a lot but it feels a little brittle or thin in places. Would the Bechstein Digital Grand run OK on a 3Ghz dual i5 with 16Gb of RAM? Or should I get the Pianoteq version? Is it good enough for exposed solo piano production?

Other libraries I am currently considering are Mercury and CinePiano. Anything else I should look at? Thanks for your advice!
Have and love most of them but would suggest to focus on Mercury, CinePiano and Bechstein DG. CinePiano is positioned as a successor to Piano in Blue (although that one still remains very special).
Both the Wavesfactory Mercury and the Bechstein Digital have light versions included. The former has a remarkable effects section you can also use separately. The Pianoteq version of the latter is very good, maybe Pianoteq's best and dons Pianoteq's unbeatable playability, but its sound will not be as warm and thick as the sampled version.
 

ptram

Senior Member
My preferred dark and thick piano is the Embertone Walker. As of now, it has some issues, that should be overcome by the next release, expected in a few weeks.

Dark, not because lacking higher frequencies (that are on the contrary very rich), but because of the non-piercing quality of the original instrument.

Paolo
 
OP
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SupremeFist

New Member
Thanks for the kind responses so far! Malmsjo is rather beautiful but a bit too "vintage" and particular-sounding for my needs. The Woodchester is nice but I reckon I have felts covered with Noire and Olafur. Embertone Walker is the nicest Steinway library I've heard (maybe along with American Concert D) but still not quite what I'm after…

Having digged around some more on videos, demos, & specs, I'm surprised that Wavesfactory Mercury has only 8 velocity layers, which seems very light these days, and I'm definitely bored with editing every MIDI note to avoid jarring jumps in timbre. I can't find how many layers Cinepiano has but I'm beginning to suspect it's not going to give me anything I don't already have between Noire and Piano in Blue.

The Bechstein Digital Grand, however, is sounding better and better to me, but I'm just a bit concerned about how CPU-hungry it is — the specs recommend a quad-core processor, and I only have a dual. Any owners running it well on a less powerful machine?
Cheers,
SF

PS yes, none of these are for everyday playing, for which I have a Kawai CA97 which I love, so I'm guessing the consensus is that Pianoteq is not sonically the equal yet of a good sample library for production…
 
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Fleer

Feeding the Trolls
Sorry, can't help you on the CPU question with regard to the Bechstein Digital Grand, as I'm running it on a quad-core but, as I wrote, there's a light version included.
 
OP
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SupremeFist

New Member
Sorry, can't help you on the CPU question with regard to the Bechstein Digital Grand, as I'm running it on a quad-core but, as I wrote, there's a light version included.
Yes! But the light version would not be good for me, so I'm hoping I could run the full version… ;)
 

willbedford

Composer/Programmer
I'm biased, but I'd recommend Midnight Grand ;)

(It's also on sale until tomorrow)
 

Francis Bourre

Active Member
I like the pianos you listed, but I'm really surprised you dislike Steinway's sound, it's really warm compared to Yamaha that is crystal clear. I'm wondering if you're not hunting felt pianos specifically. Hard to find a piano rounder than a Steinway D!
Some outsiders that were not listed previously:
- Ivory American Concert D.
- 8dio Passionate Piano in some context.
- I was lastly surprised in a good way by the sound of the Pleyel in UVI augmented piano.
Don't forget EQ and saturation (tape or preamp) are the keys to make it warm. Don't hesitate to mix key and pedal noises for intimacy, even from other libraries.
I would definitely avoid pianoteq for what you want to achieve. This plugin is really good in terms of fast loading when you want to try an idea, but it's unusable for solo recording. Btw, most of the time, any virtual piano is a bad choice for a final piano solo recording. I feel sorry to write that, but that's still sadly the truth in 2019. A virtual piano is not a piano, It's just two different instruments, for the goods and the bads.
I never had the chance to try the Malmsjo, but for the others, many pianos listed above were not successful for me, except the midnight grand that got something special. I guess piano sound is really a matter of taste sonically and in terms of playability, two different things and most of the time hard to get together.
 
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SupremeFist

New Member
I like the pianos you listed, but I'm really surprised you dislike Steinway's sound, it's really warm compared to Yamaha that is crystal clear. I'm wondering if you're not hunting felt pianos specifically. Hard to find a piano rounder than a Steinway D!
Some outsiders that were not listed previously:
- Ivory American Concert D.
- 8dio Passionate Piano in some context.
- I was lastly surprised in a good way by the sound of the Pleyel in UVI augmented piano.
Don't forget EQ and saturation (tape or preamp) are the keys to make it warm. Don't hesitate to mix key and pedal noises for intimacy, even from other libraries.
I would definitely avoid pianoteq for what you want to achieve. This plugin is really good in terms of fast loading when you want to try an idea, but it's unusable for solo recording. Btw, most of the time, any virtual piano is a bad choice for a final piano solo recording. I feel sorry to write that, but that's still sadly the truth in 2019. A virtual piano is not a piano, It's just two different instruments, for the goods and the bads.
I never had the chance to try the Malmsjo, but for the others, many pianos listed above were not successful for me, except the midnight grand that got something special. I guess piano sound is really a matter of taste sonically and in terms of playability, two different things and most of the time hard to get together.
Thanks for the comments! To be fair I do love the Piano in Blue, which is a Steinway! But for this project I do not want a "pristine classical sound", which is also why I'm not recording real piano: I'm using tape saturation, hammer noises etc as you say and also adding electronic atmospherics for more of a complete soundscape feel. The genre of what I'm writing is broadly post-minimalist with some influences from Chopin, Satie, and jazz, if that makes any sense. (It doesn't always to me!)
 
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