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#2030105 - 02/09/13 09:34 PM Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 459
Survey

(This is an informal experiment I am conducting to see what people think of various tones used in the samples below.)

One melody using a MIDI file* played through a variety of piano software plug-ins.

__________________________

Sound files located here:

1. Choose the top five
2. Order from 1-5 best to worst
3. Choose one that is the overall worst sounding

Your selection results should have 6 total each: the top five (#1-#5) and the overall worst (#6).
__________________________


You may notice some variables in atmosphere between different examples. I did not spend a lot of time attempting to make this a level playing field but I did avoid relatively significant differences. The survey is focused on the sounds you prefer rather than making it about one plug-in vs. other plug-ins. Eventually, responses may reveal opinions of certain products by accident as I am withholding the software used in each example. Also, volume levels are inconsistent so you will need to compensate with your volume adjustment when listening to a few.

Note: I may have made this more difficult by having so many examples (18) to choose from. Just run through them taking note of your impressions. Make a couple of passes if necessary listening, making notes and eliminating. Then from what is left decide how to rate them.

Tip: When on the Soundcloud page do not double-click on any files. Instead, hover your mouse cursor over the first file and click on the play arrow from there. This will trigger the first file to play and each will automatically play when the previous file has ended.

=>Note: You should see the letter of the file that is playing at the top of your browser or tab label. When the last file ends it does not necessarily go back to the first file automatically. For some reason it can become random.

Thank you for participating!


*Forum member Allan Wang originally performed this melody for another thread question. I thought the piece worked really well to show off characteristics in software piano plug-ins. Thanks Allan!

EDIT Sound sources revealed here:
EDIT Correction made in one file ID
Click to reveal..

Sound Sources:
"Custom EQ/Processing" generally involved adjustment of tone (usually to brighten) and/or adding some reverb.

A: Galaxy The Giant Pop preset -custom EQ/Processing
B: Native Instruments Berlin Mood -custom EQ/Processing
C: Garageband Grand Piano with custom EQ/Processing
D: Galaxy Vintage D with custom EQ/Processing <= Note Correction**
E: 8DIO Legacy Grand Player Mic Hi
F: Native Instruments New York Production with custom EQ
G: Galaxy The Giant Vibrant preset
H: Native Instruments Upright with custom EQ/Processing
I: Galaxy The Giant Upright preset
J: Galaxy The Giant Hard & Tough preset
K: Native Instruments New York Showcase with custom EQ/Processing
L: Galaxy The Giant Pop preset
M: 8DIO Legacy Grand Close Mic Hi
N: Ivory II American Concert D
O: Imperfect Samples Fazioli
P: Imperfect Samples Steinway
Q: Steinberg HalionSonic Bright Acoustic Grand with custom EQ/Processing
R: Steinberg HalionSonic Acoustic Grand with custom EQ/Processing

**Please note correction:

I incorrectly identified a sound source D as Garageband/Pianoteq when D is Galaxy Vintage D with custom EQ/Processing.

How?
When I originally created the DAW working files I pretty much stuck with one product then moved on. Sometimes I went back to rework something or to dig through additional presets. I created several DAW project files. I could not use one for all of this because it taxed my system.

When I was ready to make mp3s I opened the projects and exported sound files naming them A-P. I made notes on an index card. Initially, the designated letters of the mp3 files showed a pattern as they were grouped together according to the software.

The final step in the process was renaming the files to shuffle the sequence to make it random. I manually randomized the sequence making additional notations in my notes. Many people said 18 files were too many. I had more that I did not include. I misread my notes thinking I had uploaded the Garageband/Pianoteq file.

I thought of using HalionSonic after I had completed and uploaded the others to SoundCloud. With 18 files, having a couple made with the same product next to each other would not matter. I ended up with both HalionSonic files (Q&R) back to back at the end.

Sorry frown



Edited by o0Ampy0o (02/18/13 08:27 PM)

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#2030125 - 02/09/13 10:11 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
So hard to compare different pianos when they have different reverb situations...

These things are always fun, though.


Edited by gvfarns (02/09/13 10:15 PM)

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#2030145 - 02/09/13 10:40 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 459
True, that is why I made this a question of what sounds better to you rather than any attempt to choose the better plug-in itself.

It may help if you ignore the possibility that each is a different plug-in and just think of each as a different preset.

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#2030163 - 02/09/13 11:18 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Cool. I'll put my opinions in a spoiler window so it doesn't affect anyone's opinion before they do the test.

Click to reveal..

Plugins I like:

1. D
2. C
3. J
4. L

I couldn't really pick a fifth favorite. I thought P, A, B, E, and G were more or less in the running.

As for plugins I don't like:

F -- Total lack of detail and bass sounded horrible.

R -- recording seems broken. Super far away and almost under water. Possibly a change of presets might help this one. Q was the same way but not as bad.

N -- Actually the tone was ok but there was very little tonal variety. It would be a bit frustrating to play, I imagine.


Unfortunately these types of blind experiments often don't get a lot of takers. Still, I'll be interested to see what other people think, and of course to find out the identities.

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#2030269 - 02/10/13 05:09 AM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3677
Loc: North Carolina
G first
L second I could probably swap the ranking on G and L. I liked both.
D third
J fourth
A fifth A bit too bright for me, but better than the next thirteen choices.

Q worst Horribly thin. Sounds a bit like my Clav. Not good.

Note: "C" is also pretty bad. It's hard to decide which I dislike more: "Q" for its thinness or "C" for its thin but muffled sound. I also disliked "I".

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#2030298 - 02/10/13 07:47 AM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1321
Loc: Portugal
Your head spins with so much choice but, sticking to your rules for bare life, I thought the best four:

j' big lively sound
g' big engulfing powerful
c' strong clear
k' pretty and nice detail

and worst:

i' tinny and sounds as if it's on the other side of a broom cupboard - h' was nearly as bad.
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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#2030305 - 02/10/13 08:04 AM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1321
Loc: Portugal
...since we're allowed 5 good ones, I also think D is one of the best, all round. And because it is relatively pure, I used this (D) and 'A' as references for the others.

ps - interesting to see some coincidences between members' choices here. When will the names be revealed?


Edited by toddy (02/10/13 08:10 AM)
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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#2030548 - 02/10/13 02:21 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: toddy]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 459
Originally Posted By: toddy
When will the names be revealed?

I'd like people to have a chance to participate before revealing what each tone is.

Maybe in a week or two.

Plenty of people have viewed the thread.........I know I put up a lot of choices........I hoped the instructions to simplify the process would make things more appealing.

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#2030593 - 02/10/13 03:34 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
Temperament Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/10
Posts: 424
Loc: Hun,EU
1. B (Steinway?)
2. C (Bösendorfer?)
3. D (Steinway? Fazioli?)
4. L
5. M
---------------------
6, Worst: Q, R, H in this order, all three bad enough

Nice Job, Ampy, by the way, particularly after Purgatorycreek seemed to be dead since a while.


Edited by Temperament (02/11/13 03:40 PM)

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#2030608 - 02/10/13 03:53 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
JFP Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 1318
Loc: The Netherlands
Very difficult and dangerous comparison. If you would ask the same thing about wine ; people really don't recall the exact taste of the glass nr 1 , when they are at number 3 or 4 . Also the judgement will be colored in respect to the other samples you hear, because you hear differences "in relation" to the other sounds, not completely on it's isolated own. It will be quite easy to distinguish the best ones from the real bad ones, but in the middle range it is very hard and may even vary when you listen at different times, under different circumstances and in relation to other samples than before.

Therefore I hope it will not be a 'contest' to decide what's the best sound; it's not unbiased and scientifically correct setup to determine that. Due to the human factor 'taste' that's also not possible. The reason I say this, is because readers might take the final outcome (with real product names) for granted and once it's out on the web it starts leading it's own live and may mislead readers into thinking product A is better than product B, because these results say so. Turning on or off a (bad ? ) reverb on one sound and not on the other can already completely distort judgement.

So..that's of my chest; now I must confess the test is interesting and I will try to do it later on and I applaud the effort ! Just hope it will not be a naming game in the end , without taking into account the samples may be too different in settings and the test too unscientific to make a pure unbiased judgement.

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#2030622 - 02/10/13 04:10 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 459
JFP,

I agree with your feelings about the potential confusion and outcome of a survey like this. That is why I have set up the rules to eliminate the large middle range between the best and worst. It is not even that important to order the top five, just picking the best 5 out of 18 and a worst would work. This survey is about the sounds you like and dislike the most, not about the software.......yet it will be interesting for people to see what is what.

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#2030641 - 02/10/13 04:38 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
JFP Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 1318
Loc: The Netherlands
OK , that's fine then. When I find the time, I'll add my list...

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#2030761 - 02/10/13 07:40 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
7notemode Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/07
Posts: 101
Loc: Raleigh/Durham NC
Before looking at anyone's post, I picked D as number one. It sounded really usable. That said, settings make a world of difference, so it may be it just had the most pleasing setting. I couldn't use any of the settings...too much dreamy reverb in them all, so I had to listen "through" that to discern the underlying tone. Still, very entertaining and interesting. This must have taken some time and effort, thanks for posting it. I look forward to the big reveal!
_________________________
www.youtube.com/7notemode

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#2030942 - 02/11/13 05:29 AM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 447
Loc: Europe
would spend money for it:
L
G
C

maybe for adding an alternative sound to my DP, if I could get it free of costs, sounds do almost reach the quality of my Roland SN:
H, J, N, R, K

better than nothing:
many

sounds already unacceptable like in a 300$ toy piano:
E, I

worst of all:
A, F,


Edited by Marco M (02/12/13 12:56 PM)
Edit Reason: EDIT: found all the samples and thus have had to repeat my test
_________________________
learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#2031074 - 02/11/13 11:21 AM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2240
Loc: UK
I didn't listen to them all, sorry, started to go mad!

Best B,C,D,E,G (maybe D and G top)
Next H,J
Dreadful A, F, I
Madness descending ...

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#2031093 - 02/11/13 11:46 AM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
36251 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/12/10
Posts: 654
I'm interested in the results. For me to pick though, I would need something simpler, such as chords, bass and treble notes hitting octaves, repeating with different pedal pressures. These are the kind of things I do before playing actual music, to determine the intimacy the sound creates.
_________________________
AvantGrand N2, FP-4, Gallien-Krueger MK & MP

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#2031299 - 02/11/13 04:34 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: Marco M]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 459
Originally Posted By: Marco M
I only find letters A to J, don´t know where you picked up the other letters???

Hit Refresh/Reload to reload the page. It seems that the entire page did not make it to your browser.

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#2031419 - 02/11/13 06:31 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
kurtie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 195
Hi,

Blind tests... I like blind tests smile

Promise I've taken the test before seeing what others were answering for not being influenced by others responses:

Best: D, L, B, N, C
Worst: Q

Anyway, is very hard to compare 18 different piano sounds.

Regards,
Kurt.-

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#2031682 - 02/12/13 07:19 AM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 447
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: o0Ampy0o
Originally Posted By: Marco M
I only find letters A to J, don´t know where you picked up the other letters???

Hit Refresh/Reload to reload the page. It seems that the entire page did not make it to your browser.


I stupidly mised to see the scroll bar on the right: yes there are letters A to R. So I will repeat my test including the other samples as well, ...but this will take some time, maybe 2 days until I found time for it.

UPDATE: I repeated my test listening now to all samples, and subsequently edited my former post to only show my final findings


Edited by Marco M (02/12/13 12:59 PM)
Edit Reason: UPDATE of information

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#2031710 - 02/12/13 08:37 AM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3677
Loc: North Carolina
Upon re-listening to the samples I'm beginning to think the most (but not all) of these samples are really the same piano, but with different tone/timber/hammer adjustments. smile

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#2031798 - 02/12/13 12:03 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
erichlof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 358
I love a good Blind Taste-Test! If I may, let me add a letter 'S' to this fine group:

https://soundcloud.com/wurmph-fernburger/s

Hint: it was created with software of which the name starts with the letter 'P'. smile

Best of all, the piano plugins used were free! All I paid for was a $50 licence for my Reaper audio workstation software that exported the mp3 file.

p.s. from the OP's previous list, I liked 'N'.

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#2031833 - 02/12/13 01:02 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 447
Loc: Europe
Let me know what S is! Getting it for free is a good choice!

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#2031847 - 02/12/13 01:17 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: MacMacMac]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 447
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Upon re-listening to the samples I'm beginning to think the most (but not all) of these samples are really the same piano, but with different tone/timber/hammer adjustments. smile


All have a somehow metallic character, some extremely, but some others so subtle that I couldn´t decide if they really all have the same base underlaying or if they are actually different ones. But, so many forum members who point out that the software pianos would be so nice. I only found 3 worth to _maybe_ one day spend money for them - but didn´t feel at all any need to change what I have. The newly submitted sample "S" is at least as good, and if really available for free, then I could give it a try. Paying for any of A to S at the moment? I am much reserved about this.
_________________________
learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#2031957 - 02/12/13 04:13 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: Marco M]
erichlof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 358
Originally Posted By: Marco M
Let me know what S is! Getting it for free is a good choice!


Hi Marco,
Not wanting to hijack this thread, I will spill the beans about sample 'S':

It is a hybrid of "Piano One" by Sound Magic and the demo version of Pianoteq (Bluethner Model) by Modartt. So they both indeed start with the letter 'P' but there was a little trickery involved. smile

Piano One is a sleeper in my opinion as a source of really good, clean, unlooped samples for free. However, it, like most piano software out there, is lacking in the sympathetic resonance department. This is where Pianoteq comes in.

Pianoteq is being mixed together at a lower volume with Piano One on top. They both are running at the same time and reading the same MIDI file. The reason I need Reaper is that this program allows me to run both and render to mp3. Plus, I really like Reaper and its philosophy so I support them.

Piano One is fully featured and free to download and use. Pianoteq's Bluethner demo version is missing some notes (in order to make you pay eventually), but used in this context, I can get away with the free demo version. It is just under the hood, adding support, body and life to the Piano One samples.

I am certainly not the first to try this hybrid approach of modelling and sampling, but I think that this will be the likely piano software/DP future, if we ever want anything better than what's been posted here already. smile

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#2031992 - 02/12/13 05:09 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
Vectistim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 312
Loc: Reading, UK
I have a top five, but I don't know about an order for them
D,B,J,K,N

I have a bottom three, Q & R because they both sound fuzzy to me, and E because it sounds like I'm listening with my head in the piano.

This is listening with Sennheiser HD598s on, I would probably give different answers through my PA system.

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#2032242 - 02/13/13 02:12 AM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3076
Relevant to some conversations in other threads, it's apparent how wildly different people's opinions can be about which sounds are better than which!

I wish there had been some more held notes and chords without motion underneath, the sample seemed lacking in that.

I'd rate them in roughly this order, with skipped lined to delineate where I found bigger jumps:

D
N

F
C
G
H
J

B
E
I
A (ff is bright and brittle, reminds me of some Rolands)

I didn't want to listen to the really bad ones multiple times to try to determine which was worst out of a bad batch. ;-) But really, a lot toward the end started getting pretty bad, starting with K. From there to the end (except for N) each one seemed probably worse than the one before. So I guess the worst one is R.

But who knows. Maybe tomorrow, I'd come up with some different answers ;-)

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#2034874 - 02/17/13 05:32 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
o0Ampy0o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/12
Posts: 459
Sound Sources Revealed:
EDIT: Correction made in one sound source ID
Click to reveal..

"Custom EQ/Processing" generally involved adjustment of tone (usually to brighten) and/or adding some reverb.

A: Galaxy The Giant Pop preset -custom EQ/Processing
B: Native Instruments Berlin Mood -custom EQ/Processing
C: Garageband Grand Piano with custom EQ/Processing
D: Galaxy Vintage D with custom EQ/Processing <= Note Correction**
E: 8DIO Legacy Grand Player Mic Hi
F: Native Instruments New York Production with custom EQ
G: Galaxy The Giant Vibrant preset
H: Native Instruments Upright with custom EQ/Processing
I: Galaxy The Giant Upright preset
J: Galaxy The Giant Hard & Tough preset
K: Native Instruments New York Showcase with custom EQ/Processing
L: Galaxy The Giant Pop preset
M: 8DIO Legacy Grand Close Mic Hi
N: Ivory II American Concert D
O: Imperfect Samples Fazioli
P: Imperfect Samples Steinway
Q: Steinberg HalionSonic Bright Acoustic Grand with custom EQ/Processing
R: Steinberg HalionSonic Acoustic Grand with custom EQ/Processing

**Please note correction:

I incorrectly identified a sound source D as Garageband/Pianoteq when D is Galaxy Vintage D with custom EQ/Processing.

How?
When I originally created the DAW working files I pretty much stuck with one product then moved on. Sometimes I went back to rework something or to dig through additional presets. I created several DAW project files. I could not use one for all of this because it taxed my system.

When I was ready to make mp3s I opened the projects and exported sound files naming them A-P. I made notes on an index card. Initially, the designated letters of the mp3 files showed a pattern as they were grouped together according to the software.

The final step in the process was renaming the files to shuffle the sequence to make it random. I manually randomized the sequence making additional notations in my notes. Many people said 18 files were too many. I had more that I did not include. I misread my notes thinking I had uploaded the Garageband/Pianoteq file.

I thought of using HalionSonic after I had completed and uploaded the others to SoundCloud. With 18 files, having a couple made with the same product next to each other would not matter. I ended up with both HalionSonic files (Q&R) back to back at the end.

Sorry frown


Edited by o0Ampy0o (02/18/13 08:29 PM)

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#2034905 - 02/17/13 06:25 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Interesting. American D was actually on my least favorite list. Guess I won't be buying that one any time soon. Of course, settings and maybe even velocity curve could have made a difference here.

Lots of love for Garageband Grand blended with PianoTeq. How much of each was in there?

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#2034929 - 02/17/13 07:01 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3076
Although there was a good deal of variance in people's opinions, all but two people put D at or near the top, Could you give a little more detail about how that one was designed?

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#2034932 - 02/17/13 07:09 PM Re: Piano Software Plug-in Sound Survey [Re: o0Ampy0o]
36251 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/12/10
Posts: 654
Besides having fun participating in this survey, what can we learn from this? Is it that each software program can be EQ'd an processed to sound pretty good or very bad. Seems like a waste of time to me?
_________________________
AvantGrand N2, FP-4, Gallien-Krueger MK & MP

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Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Whole tone scales leading to interesting series of keys
by caters
04/25/14 12:16 AM
Another beginner
by mojoe
04/25/14 12:02 AM
GH1 tuning pin torque
by awyaks
04/24/14 11:38 PM
Will you take Manhattan?
by davefrank
04/24/14 11:31 PM
Growing student
by pianoplayer84
04/24/14 11:19 PM
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