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#1320773 - 12/08/09 12:09 AM MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial
bachmaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/06
Posts: 410
Loc: Montreal, CAN
Hi everyone,

I would just like to express my thoughts about this common quest of ours for continued improvement of our digital pianistic tools.

Some time ago, with the help of our friend James (Kawai James) here on the forum, I upgraded the firmware on my MP8 to V 2.14. This made my DP very similar to an MP8II in performance, except of course for the keybed and also for the Concert Grand I default sound, which is hardware-based on the MP8II and thus cannot be duplicated through mere firmware updates. So as of now, I'm enjoying an instrument with a better, firmer keybed (in my opinion) than the latest MP8II version but lacking the latter's improved default piano sound. Though improved through the update, my piano 1 still sounds a bit canned in the midrange although its stereo perspective is great while my piano 2, whose basic tones are much like the MP8II's default grand, is disappointingly narrow, perspective-wise.

Which leads me to the reason for posting this:

I finally got to downloading and testing the trial version of Pianoteq 3.5 to find out whether my piano sounds could be further improved upon. Though my tests are still far from extensive, I am already experiencing mixed feelings about this software.

Pianoteq initially sounds surprisingly good using headphones. But the novelty quickly wears out. First of all, C 6 is an annoying note to play as it sounds like the damper on that string has lost some of its felt. Release the note and listen to the lingering harmonics. Unpleasant. Then the bass, though clean and powerful, sounds like anything but a piano. Also, you can never fully eliminate reverb from the sound: even with the reverb turned off, the piano still sounds like it's in some room with quite a bit of ambience. Conversely, Kawai's internal sounds are available completely dry for playing through speakers, thus avoiding the annoyance of letting already ambient sound be re-reverberated again by your listening room. And, finally, the latency. Of course my PC is but a Hyper-threaded 3.0 P4, but with 4 G of RAM it should be sufficient to avoid this annoyance. It's slight, but just enough to ruin the satisfaction of sometimes striking keys hard. It isn't so bad as to hinder the playing, but enough to be downright unpleasant.

Thank you Pianoteq for providing a trial version, I just saved $300. I'm not ready for this.

Anybody with similar or contrasting experience out there?

Cheers,

Claude
_________________________
K. Kawai KG-2D grand, Kawai MP8 digital, Kawai CA7

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#1320781 - 12/08/09 12:24 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: bachmaniac]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8847
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Hello Claude,

I have experimented a little with Pianoteq (although I do not believe I have tried the latest v3.5 release) and have always been rather impressed with the modelled sound.

I believe the Professional version even allows one to adjust each note separately, offering a considerable amount of control over the character of the sound.

Regarding the latency issue, this is often caused by a limitation in the the soundcard hardware and/or Windows. If you are not using a dedicated soundcard (i.e. onboard audio) you may find that the latency can be reduced considerably by downloading and installing the free ASIO4ALL package.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1320847 - 12/08/09 03:10 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: Kawai James]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
I think pianoteq sounds much better than the on board Kawai sounds. It has the very important advantage that the sound actually sounds alive rather than dead and that it responds much more directly in terms of expressiveness, articulation, dynamics, etc.

Don't forget that we humans tend to like whatever we are used to (even poutine!) and so you will be naturally biased to prefer that which you have been using most recently and most intensely.

Your idea to use an updated MP8 to drive Pianoteq is a very good one and would be my preference above my old Korg SP-200.
I think I may try to find a used one as I also prefer it to the MP8II.

I second the advice of James to only use pianoteq with asio4all and preferably with a professional quality audio interface. I found a very affordable alternative being the new Alesis iM1 Active 520 USB studio monitors which have a built in audio interface and a 1/4" headphone jack and volume control on the front of the right speaker. For $200 you are set to go with or without headphones.


Edited by theJourney (12/08/09 03:12 AM)

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#1320857 - 12/08/09 03:54 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: theJourney]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8847
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
I had to Google 'poutine'...

Those speakers sound like a great package for $200. Thank you for the tip theJourney!

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1320867 - 12/08/09 04:29 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: Kawai James]
cjsm Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 134
Loc: Washington, MO
As others have said, if you don't have asio drivers, and better yet, a dedicated musician's soundcard with asio drivers, that would be the cause of your latency problems. I have an M-audio audiophile 2496, which is a low end card and costs about $99 nowadays. I use it with Gigastudio and Kontakt. I was getting terrible latency with the internal soundcard before I got a pro soundcard. There are lots of brands on the market, so shop around. However, don't get a Sound Blaster. Its a gamer's soundcard, and not a very good musician's soundcard.

BTW, I have a MP9500 and I love it. I like the piano enough that half the time I don't bother to boot my dedicated Gigastudio computer to use one of the half dozen pianos I have for it.



Edited by cjsm (12/08/09 04:31 AM)

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#1320906 - 12/08/09 08:08 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: theJourney]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
Originally Posted By: theJourney

Don't forget that we humans tend to like whatever we are used to (even poutine!) and so you will be naturally biased to prefer that which you have been using most recently and most intensely.


Pianoteq simply isn't quite there yet in terms of sound, and that perception is not the result of being used to something else. Purely modeled sound still has this slightly artificial quality that even the V-Piano doesn't really fix, although it does sound better than Pianoteq.
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1320929 - 12/08/09 08:50 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: Martin C. Doege]
Gary001 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/23/08
Posts: 201
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Martin C. Doege

Pianoteq simply isn't quite there yet in terms of sound, and that perception is not the result of being used to something else. Purely modeled sound still has this slightly artificial quality that even the V-Piano doesn't really fix, although it does sound better than Pianoteq.


I used the default sound on my PX720 for over a year and after playing around with PianoTeq I initially found it lacking and a bit synthetic sounding. However, I stuck with it for a couple of weeks to give it a full trail and then tried playing the PX720 default sound again and found I preferred the PianoTeq sound by far and that was on V2. 3.5 has solved a lot of the synthetic issues I was hearing.

I do think there's still a tradeoff with PianoTeq vs the best of the sampled piano packs, in that PianoTeq plays better to me even if it doesn't always sound better. Compared to the onboard sound though, I've found it to be quite a decent improvement, it feels like I'm playing a real instrument now.

Still, everyone has different requirements and tolerance levels, that's the beauty of the free trial.

In regards to the OP's latency issues, as has been mentioned by a couple of people above, it's likely your soundcard drivers. ASIO4All may help and failing that a pro audio sound card or external interface will clear the issues up. I've also got the M-Audio 2496 although I'd consider an external interface if I was buying today, since I now use laptops more than desktops.


Edited by Gary001 (12/08/09 08:52 AM)
_________________________
XIX, XIV, XII, XI

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#1320937 - 12/08/09 09:17 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: Gary001]
bachmaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/06
Posts: 410
Loc: Montreal, CAN
Thank you one and all for your extremely interesting comments. I might add that I am already using asio4all as a driver as my Intel onboard sound wouldn't even conjure up the least sound from Pianoteq without this downloaded driver.

I am very weary about spending around $300 for Pianoteq PLUS I-dunno-how-much more for a sound card, considering other issues such as the C6's unpleasant, unwanted sustain, the cheap-sounding bass, and the impossible-to-get-rid-of ambience inherent to the software. Has anybody else been confronted with these last three issues, or am I alone?

Again, thanks so much for your kind helpfulness!

Claude
_________________________
K. Kawai KG-2D grand, Kawai MP8 digital, Kawai CA7

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#1320943 - 12/08/09 09:44 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: bachmaniac]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1437
Loc: Australia
No problems with latency, using Pianoteq with my MP-5. Quad core with 4Gb ram and an Edirol UR-80 audio/midi interface
The playability is great. I so want to buy Pianoteq, but it is just quite not there, for me.


Edited by R0B (12/08/09 09:44 AM)
_________________________
Rob

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#1320962 - 12/08/09 10:10 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: R0B]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11409
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Have you tried different temperaments? I kind of like the Werckmeister III, that seemed to help a bit. But as for the bass, I agree, they aren't quite there. I'm jsut using my Creative computer speakers, which are nice enough but tend to be boomy to begin with.

As for the reverb, that can be turned off. I kind of like it though.

I had a latency issue also, but then I installed the asio4all driver and that solved the problem. I'm using Vista and it was a bit of a pain, I just had to fiddle with things and eventually something worked, not sure what made it happen smile.

I'm using Pianoteq just because of the free trial for now. However, when comparing sounds I really preferred Ivory (but they don't have a trial version). If you're not happy with Pianoteq, I'd keep looking then. It's a big investment.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1320976 - 12/08/09 10:32 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: bachmaniac]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
Thank you one and all for your extremely interesting comments. I might add that I am already using asio4all as a driver as my Intel onboard sound wouldn't even conjure up the least sound from Pianoteq without this downloaded driver.

I am very weary about spending around $300 for Pianoteq PLUS I-dunno-how-much more for a sound card, considering other issues such as the C6's unpleasant, unwanted sustain, the cheap-sounding bass, and the impossible-to-get-rid-of ambience inherent to the software. Has anybody else been confronted with these last three issues, or am I alone?

Again, thanks so much for your kind helpfulness!

Claude


Claude, you may want to take a look at the pianoteq forum as well and pose your question there. You are certainly not alone and pianoteq is not for everyone, but it is becoming very tweakable. There is an interesting comparison of the VPiano to Pianoteq with mp3s for example using different configurations which is enlightening. Also, there are some links to midi files of the Minneapolis ePiano competition which are very nice to have pianoteq interpret.

I thought that my on board sound was pretty good, but using an external audio interface with good monitors has made a huge difference. It would be a low risk to upgrade to some nice monitors/interface for your PC setup regardless of what you decide to do with a pianoteq purchase. If you don't like the sound of the demo, I can't imagine you would like it better after paying for it...

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#1320990 - 12/08/09 10:56 AM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: theJourney]
Jake Jackson Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 577
Loc: Atlanta, GA
The reverb that you are hearing after turning off the Reverb comes from the mic settings. In many of the presets, the mics are at some distance from the piano, so a lot of room is added. Try moving the mics closer, or using the Close presets, and using the binaural settings to reduce the reverb. The binaural head, moved to face the keyboard and slightly to the left of center, has almost no reverb. (The exact placement of the head--its height, whether it's in front of or over or past the keys, and its horizontal placement--gives you enormous variations in the sound. Moving it very slightly in any direction creates an entirely new sound.)

PianoTeq is very powerful. Almost any piano sound that you want can be achieved, but the parameters (and how they combine) take some time to learn. And experimentation is often needed, since one is working with the construction of the piano and the mic placement. Often, several small changes are needed instead of one large change.)


Edited by Jake Jackson (12/08/09 10:59 AM)

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#1321149 - 12/08/09 02:54 PM Re: MP8 & Pianoteq 3.5 trial [Re: Jake Jackson]
EJR Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 861
Loc: Bristol, UK
re: 'C 6 is an annoying note to play as it sounds like the damper on that string has lost some of its felt. Release the note and listen to the lingering harmonics...'

Is it C6 and all notes above? Is this the point where there aren't any dampers on real pianos? I think this point is adjustable in Pianoteq and part of the nitty gritty detailing of the model. I believe its movable (e.g you could raise it), you may be able to tweak the other attributes as well to get "the sound" you're after.

Which Pianoteq 'piano' were you using, whilst I haven't yet upgraded to Version 3.5 (I'm still on 3.0ish) I found I don't really like the "C" series which sound artificially bassy/boomy to me and I much prefer the "M" series which sound a lot better balanced.

One thing I found recently is that you do need a good pair of headphones. I found that recordings I made sounded bottom/bass heavy. After buying a new set of headphones (closed back Denon AH-D501). The recordings sound much better. I think on the earlier recordings, I'd been over emphasising the bass because the frequency response of my headphones was lacking in that respect. Since getting the Denon's it all sounds much better.
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