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#2320307 - 08/26/14 06:25 PM Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11
William Schryver Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/01/14
Posts: 15
First of all, I have done several searches on the forum for threads/posts that discuss the issues that I am about to raise, and although I found a number of threads/posts that touch upon Synthogy's Ivory II product, I couldn't find a thread that answered all the questions I have ... hence this thread. If, indeed, there have been past threads that will answer my questions, I apologize for starting this new one, and will simply request that someone provide me with links to those prior threads. I know how annoying it can be for someone to appear on a forum and commence to re-plow old ground.

Anyway, I purchased a Kawai MP11 back in the spring of this year and have been playing it 2 - 3 hours a day since then. I love its action, and the overall touch/feel of its keyboard. That said, I (like many others) have not been all that favorably impressed with the preset piano sounds, nor with the capacity of the MP11's Virtual Technician to custom-modify those sounds in order to craft a grand piano sound that suits my preferences. Consequently, I am on the verge of purchasing the Synthogy Ivory II Grand Pianos product to use with my MP11.

My first question regarding Ivory II concerns the "system requirements." My current (4-years-old) laptop easily meets all of the specified system requirements except for one: it does not have a 7200rpm hard drive, but rather an older 5400rpm one. Although I will shortly be in the market for a newer laptop, I want to know whether or not any of you out there who use Ivory II have been able to do so successfully despite not having a computer with a 7200rpm HDD (or an SSD)?

If my current laptop, with its slower HDD, is simply not going to be able to "do the job" in terms of running Ivory II, then I think I will probably delay purchase of the software until such time as I have acquired a new laptop.

Thanks in advance for your answers to this question and to any others I will pose in this thread.

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#2320313 - 08/26/14 06:55 PM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
William Schryver Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/01/14
Posts: 15
As follow-up questions: My old laptop also lacks firewire (IEE-1394) and USB 3.0. Will Ivory II work fine with only USB 2.0?

Also, I understand it is recommended to NOT install Ivory II on the same drive (or partition, I assume) as the operating system. Have current users of Ivory II found this to be the case? And, if so, have any of you been able to successfully run Ivory II on an external HDD connected via USB 2.0? In other words, is USB 2.0 going to be a bottleneck regardless of the speed of my HDD and whether or not I load Ivory II to the OS drive?

#2320328 - 08/26/14 07:39 PM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
Beakybird Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/27/14
Posts: 16
I asked this to Synthogy, and they told me that USB 2.0 is less than ideal. They made it sound like it might work, but they cannot guarantee results.

I would wait until you can get another laptop.

I have Synthogy and Pianoteq 5, and I like Pianoteq more. I don't even use Synthogy anymore. Pianoteq will almost certainly work with your old laptop. You can try it for free in demo mode. I am sure that there are Synthogy fans who will think I'm daft.

Best of luck!

#2320337 - 08/26/14 08:26 PM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: Beakybird]
William Schryver Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/01/14
Posts: 15

I appreciate your reply, and I wonder if you could perhaps elaborate on why you prefer Pianoteq over Synthogy? Thanks ...

#2320430 - 08/27/14 12:10 AM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
Macy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 638
Ivory II American D is very dependent on drive speed (and random access time). The other Ivory II pianos are slightly less demanding. Personally, I wouldn't try either with a 5400 rpm drive for maximum performance. I actually had to replace a 7200 rpm drive (Firewire 800) with an SSD (firewire 800) to get all of the performance (about 100 voices) that I wanted.

Why don't try the Vintage D instead? It needs about half the drive transfer rate of Ivory II in my tests. Plus I like it even better than the Ivory II American D.

CVP-409GP, Vintage D, Ivory II GP's & American Concert D, True Keys American D, Ravenscroft 275, Garritan Authorized Steinway, Alicia's Keys, EWQL Pianos, MainStage, iPad/forScore/PageFlip Cicada, Custom Mac MIDI/Audio Software Design, Macs Everywhere

#2320472 - 08/27/14 03:25 AM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
pmh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/14
Posts: 25
Loc: South Coast UK
Hi William,

You can try Pianoteq 5 for free by downloading the trial version. If you download the standard trial version I believe you can also download user presets constructed by other PT5 devotee's via FXP corner on their website. The author rjpianst and her FXP's for the D4 has an enthusiastic following. She also has a very interesting blog on digital vs acoustic here.


From the Piano World threads PT5 seems to score highly on expressive play and is well regarded by some professional musicians. See here for an inspiring introduction.


While PT5 is uniquely configurable, its overall tone is not for everyone. For example Macy above strongly favours the luxury end of the piano sample market over PT5. In fact in my opinion the Galaxy Vintage D is a fine example of sampled piano software at its best with a deep resonant tone that is very beguiling. There is a useful comparison below. Although the playing is not particularly subtle you can get a good sense of the difference in tone between the two piano's especially if you listen with good headphones.


The other comparative route is by visiting the galaxy website and listening to Vintage D snapshot recordings and comparing them Pianoteq's. The problem here is the different presets used which changes the sound of the pianos. It's also frustrating that none of the pieces are the same for each piano which makes direct comparison tricky. However, sticking to the PT5 D4 piano, I found comparing Schumann symphonic etudes with the Vintage D Schumann Almost too serious to be most helpful....well, sort of. There is a lot to take in. I'm less familiar with Ivory II but that too gets very high marks in most reviews with the exception of its PC hungry footprint. Anyway, good luck and I hope some of this guides you in your search.

Paul H

Edited by pmh (08/27/14 03:39 AM)
Edit Reason: Clarity

#2320497 - 08/27/14 05:49 AM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
Digitalguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 473
Loc: Switzerland
You will be able to run Ivory II with factory settings without problems, both on a 5400rpm disk and on USB 2. Problem is factory settings are pretty low: only 24 voices and no sympathetic resonance. How much you can increase this depends on your CPU and on how fragmented is you disk. 7200 don't make a big difference (and they are often almost the same price as 5400rpm disks in my experience). What really makes a difference are SSD (which are much more expensive). With an ssd you can install without problem in the same disk of you OS and push the specs pretty high.
However please note the following:
according to my tests Ivory II manages voices really well. While in some keyboards with low polyphony you will hit a key with no sound if you keep the pedal pressed and press many keys, this doesn't happen with Ivory (the notes the drops are probably the older ones). For instance in a test with 24 voices I played a lot with the pedal constantly down and I didn't lose any new notes. I was constantly at 24. Same test at 150, similar results. I was at 150 most of the time...
If I were you I would buy the American and then decide whether to upgrade later if you are not satisfied.
However, if you are on a pc, I suggest you buy a small USB audio interface for best results.
Roland FP-4F, Korg Kross 61, iRig Keys Pro, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH240A, RME Babyface, M-Track Plus, Roland DuoCapture, iPad Air, iLoud, Ivory II ACD, Galaxy Vintage D, Galaxy Steinway, TrueKeys American, VILabs Ravenscroft, Kawai-Ex Pro, The Grand 2, SampleTekk Black, Addictive Keys, Ezkeys

#2320636 - 08/27/14 12:08 PM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
NormB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/02/12
Posts: 56
Loc: Vancouver, BC
If you have any technical ability I'd suggest replacing the HD in your laptop with an SSD in any case, as the effect usually is quite transformative. SSDs are quite cheap now, and folk like Crucial sell them with an effective cloning kit that really works. With my similarly vintage laptop and a 500 GB HD the process was clean and quick.

But I nevertheless use my big desktop for Ivory II....

#2320705 - 08/27/14 02:26 PM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: Beakybird]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2282
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: Beakybird
I asked this to Synthogy, and they told me that USB 2.0 is less than ideal. They made it sound like it might work, but they cannot guarantee results.

Just to be clear - I assume this advice was regarding using an external USB drive. If it's just for the audio interface, USB 2 should be fine.

Middle-aged Top Gear acolyte

#2320768 - 08/27/14 05:55 PM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
Beakybird Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/27/14
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: William Schryver

I appreciate your reply, and I wonder if you could perhaps elaborate on why you prefer Pianoteq over Synthogy? Thanks ...

Music is very subjective, and even though I was an English major, I might be at a loss of words.

The two qualities I prefer with Pianoteq are 1) the piano sounds more alive and soulful like I'm playing a breathing instrument and not a recording. It's not quite a piano because the sound is coming from two speakers instead of from a wood cabinet, and you don't feel the vibration beneath your fingers. And 2) I feel more woodiness in the bass notes.

Two things that aren't perfect about Pianoteq are 1) sometimes the voices are a little too metalic. This can be edited, of course, but I have the stand alone version. 2) I sometimes hear a bit of an unnatural phase shift when notes are played together.

It's hard to explain, but maybe it's this. Synthogy is more realistic when the notes are played individually, and Pianoteq more realistically captures what happens within a piano when notes are played together.

BTW, those are the only two quality soft pianos that I've played with, so an expert I am not.

#2320821 - 08/27/14 08:19 PM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: Beakybird]
Kawai James Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 10081
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: Beakybird
It's hard to explain, but maybe it's this. Synthogy is more realistic when the notes are played individually, and Pianoteq more realistically captures what happens within a piano when notes are played together.

That's an excellent summary!
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

#2321000 - 08/28/14 07:41 AM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: Beakybird]
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1774
Originally Posted By: Beakybird
It's hard to explain, but maybe it's this. Synthogy is more realistic when the notes are played individually, and Pianoteq more realistically captures what happens within a piano when notes are played together.

Did you try layering the two pianos?
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

#2321035 - 08/28/14 09:37 AM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: doremi]
Beakybird Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/27/14
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: doremi
Did you try layering the two pianos?

No. It's an interesting idea. It would definitely overload my computer.

Anyway, to the originator of this thread, I would try the demo version of Pianoteq.

If you upgrade your computer and pay $40 for an iLok and splurge for an external hard drive or high performance USB 3.0, you can go with Synthogy, but whether you're going to get a better sound than you will with Pianoteq is open to debate.

#2321066 - 08/28/14 10:51 AM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
Alexander Borro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/18/14
Posts: 195
Loc: UK
You may find this video helpful on ivory HD performance. I came across it some time ago. Do like the sound of that American D smile

started June 2014, self teacher.
Books: Barratt classic piano course book 1,2,3. Humphries Piano handbook, various others
Hardware: Casio Celviano AP 450 & various peripherals:
Software: Ivory American D, Pianoteq, The Giant, Cubase 7 elements.
My struggles: https://soundcloud.com/alexander-borro

#2321101 - 08/28/14 12:20 PM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
Jeff Hurchalla Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/11/14
Posts: 12
Loc: Portland OR
Just to clarify, pianoteq isn't very dependent on hard drive as compared to any sampled piano - pianoteq uses modeled synthesis as opposed to using samples. In your case the really low hard drive use might be especially attractive.
If you'd like ivory or any other sampled piano, hard drive speed can be an issue. Though if you have an SSD, speed won't be a problem at all.

For sampled pianos, if you have a hard drive, all other things equal 7200rmp is preferable to 5400 rpm, but there's more important factors to hard drive performance, and it's super common for manufacturers to just recommend 7200rpm and leave it at that, since those other factors are hard to explain. There's three main factors for performance.

First is how new your drive is. Newer models are almost always better - everything on the drive gets packed closer together, and that means the drive can access and read data faster. An alternate way to look at this is simply that bigger is better, since biggest generally means you're getting the latest model.

Second is how full your hard drive is. The more free space, the better. For example, you'll get perhaps 2x faster performance if you install to a drive that's 20% full as opposed to a drive that's 80% full. The reason for this is that hard disks spin and the outer part physically moves faster than the inner portion, and so the drive fills that fast outer part first to maximize performance. When there's little free space left, you're left with the remaining slow inner portion for your piano install. Making matters worse, if you install to a drive that's space constrained (perhaps 90%+ full), the drive will often be forced to install different piano samples wherever it can find pockets of free space across the disk - and when you actually start playing, you'll get much much better performance if your reads are close together than if your reads are scattered across the disk. As a guideline try to have at least 25% of the drive still free *after* the install completes. If possible, starting the install on a drive with almost nothing on it would be ideal.

Lastly, the interface matters. USB2 is relatively slow, though it can often be good enough - it might be a risk ahead of time. Firewire 400 is marginally faster, and FW800 definitely a nice improvement. USB3 is much better than the above. Thunderbolt is a little better than USB3, though it's probably academic for pianos. The internal SATA interface (or eSATA, though rare) is the gold standard - the interface used for your internal hard drive will almost always be the best you have available to you. In practice FW800 or better is usually low risk for the interface causing a problem, and USB3 or better is close to no risk on the interface. The other factors still apply though. Again these factors are for hard drives - speed is generally a non-issue with an SSD (unless you do something strange like use an SSD over USB2, or have a very old SSD).

Sorry for such a long explanation, though I hope it helps. It's really not so simple as saying to get a 7200 rpm drive.

#2321411 - 08/29/14 05:05 AM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
ChoPraTs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/14
Posts: 46
Loc: Spain

This is my first message here in Piano World and what I want to say is that your idea is exactly the same combination I was thinking to get: Kawai MP11 & Synthogy Ivory II.

I like to get the best I can, and I think the Kawai MP11 is the best digital piano today I can get, so I hope to buy it soon.

And Synthogy Ivory II perhaps is the best virtual piano I know. But... I'm a bit confused about this since yesterday on YouTube I discovered VI Labs Pianos: True Keys and the incredible Ravenscroft 275. Now I have serious doubts if Ivory II is really the best, because I'm impressed to hear some demos of VI Labs Pianos and viewing that many users with this sampled piano consider is better than Synthogy Ivory.

So... have you considered this option? I don't know if VI Labs True Keys require more or less CPU and Hard Drive speed thant Ivory. In my case, I always use an external drive connected by Firewire 800 to my computer (iMac 2010) and for now, never had problems with any sampled library (and I use a lot of them to produce orchestral works: Vienna, East West, Kontakt, etc.)

Well, I will look for more information about which is better to use with Kawai MP11: Synthogy Ivory II or VI Labs Pianos. If any of you have used both and can do a comparative, please comment your impressions. I will search more information about that in this awesome forum.

Regards to all from a little island lost in the Mediterranean Sea. ;-)
David Prats Juan

#2321511 - 08/29/14 11:09 AM Re: Synthogy Ivory II -- Kawai MP11 [Re: William Schryver]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
I'll highly recommend using a software VST like Ivory II. I've had my Kawai MP10 for a while with the Ivory II American Concert D, and loved it. For the last month I didn't have access to the stupid iLok, so I had to use the built-in sounds and it just didn't feel as good. In comparison, the bass was too loud, and the pedal way too mushy and hard to control, and I was playing them side-by-side with a grand piano.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there's a virtual tech option to tweak how long the sustain pedal catches notes after they've already been released.

Anyway, you can use the Ivory II with less voices, and it will not require as much disk IO. One solution is something like a USB SSD drive. I think that even over USB 2.0, it would be fast enough. Typically it's not about sustained read speeds, what's more important it fast seeking so that it can load the specific sample quickly.

Edited by Allan W. (08/29/14 11:09 AM)


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