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#665506 - 08/01/08 03:04 PM EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Classico Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/28/08
Posts: 7
Thanks everyone for your thorough analyses and comments about the piano software libraries discussed in recent threads. I've been on the lookout for a great piano library for a while. Like many others, I waited patiently for the Authorized Steinway library. Once I heard the demos, I quickly lost interest. I agree with all of what Propianist has written on the subject. One library I don't see mentioned in the latest discussion is Quantum Leap Pianos. I'm down to comparing it with Galaxy II. I personally tend to gravitate towards the former the more I listen to it. I didn't find any comparison demos on purgatory creek. Does anyone have any experience with or comments about EWQL Pianos they'd care to share?... both from the player perspective as well as recording/mix standpoint? Thank you so much.

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#665507 - 08/01/08 06:37 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Copilot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/07
Posts: 262
Loc: Belgium, Europe
EastWest QUANTUM LEAP PIANOS website HERE .

The "MIC MIXER" feature of allowing you to mix together any combination of 3 mic-recording positions looks very promissing.

Interesting comparison demos!

;\)
_________________________
I love my dark rosewood Yamaha CLP-240. She's as honest with me as a loyal dog but she sounds better.

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#665508 - 08/02/08 12:10 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by Classico:[/b]
Like many others, I waited patiently for the Authorized Steinway library. Once I heard the demos, I quickly lost interest.

I agree with all of what Propianist has written on the subject.
Thank you Classico. Highest regards to you, sir!

Anyone else looking for my recent pearls of wisdom on these topics can find them here and here , but not on NorthernSounds any longer I’m afraid.
Before opening my own wallet, I also carefully considered most of the serious commercial software pianos currently available...


Best Service Galaxy II[/b] (£169 / Steinway + 5.1 / Bosendorfer / Bluthner )

Garritan Authorised Steinway Pro[/b] (£255 / 5 mic positions / endorsed by Steinway - demo )

Synthogy Ivory Italian Grand[/b] (£89 + iLok / Fazioli )

Synthogy Ivory[/b] (£149 + iLok / Bosendorfer / Steinway / Yamaha )

EastWest[/b] Quantum Leap Pianos[/b] (£259 + iLok / Steinway / Bosendorfer / Bechstein / Yamaha )

Milan Digital Audio Hamburg Steinway D[/b] ($200 / Kontakt format only - multisample vs live recording )

Steinberg The Grand 2[/b] (£116 / Kawai EX )

Sampletekk Black Grand[/b] ($139 / Steinway D )

Bluthner Digital Model One[/b] ($299 / endorsed by Bluthner - demo )

Vienna Symphonic Library Bosendorfer Imperial[/b] (£180 + ViennaKey dongle / endorsed by Bosendorfer - demo )

Native Instruments Akoustik[/b] (£129 / Steinway / Bosendorfer / Bechstein / Steingraeber upright )

Art Vista Virtual Grand Piano 2[/b] ($199 / Steinway B )

Modartt Pianoteq[/b] (£195 / physical modelling + add-ons - demo )

4Front True Pianos[/b] (£90 / 4 modelled grands - demo )


As regards the Quantum Leap Pianos you mention, I think the fact it takes 263Gb to fully load it means that someone’s either put a lifetime’s work into the editing the samples or corners have been cut somewhere to get that much material prepared. Computers running automated batch-processing scripts are used to edit a lot of samples quickly these days. There are four different pianos (58Gb Steinway, 87Gb Bosendorfer, 73Gb Bechstein, 46Gb Yamaha) with three different mic positions for each (probably under lid / player / ambient) so each miked piano is really about 20Gb multisample, including eight variations of each note (presumably 88 key fully sampled in most cases) and between 5 and 18 velocity levels.
Yet despite all this, they’ve used vintage Neumann large diaphragm mics (great for close-miked vocals maybe, but I’m not so sure about their off-axis colouration on a concert grand piano recording!) and also, it doesn’t include sympathetic string resonance, which kinda put me off... You'd think for such a big, expensive monster library like this, an important feature like string resonance wouldn't have been overlooked.

EastWest have got an excellent range of MP3 and 24 bit WAV demos on their website , and (like ProAudioVault with the BDMO) are brave enough to include some third party comparison demos against rival products like Ivory and Akoustik. Their marketing guys probably thought this would show that Quantum Leap includes all the brands of grand piano from both Ivory and Akoustik collections put together. However they’ve been a bit too brave, because it clearly demonstrates how Ivory actually sounds better on certain examples!

If you listen to that Thomas Bryla demo, it shows that Akoustik sounds the worst - which we all knew, and Pianoteq is okay but not a genuine piano tone. Those Quantum Leap pianos sound a bit too coloured to me, almost like they've gone through an EQ filter or something - it’s probably caused by the off-axis colouration from the mics. There could possibly be further coloration and phase anomalies if mixing the 3 mic positions together – a feature offered in the software. I also found EWQL had a lot of very low frequency rumble in the recordings. So Ivory seems to be the winner in that particular demo roundup, being the one with purest recorded timbre that approximately sounds like the instrument described, although it’s not perfect either.

On the other 24 bit WAV comparisons, Ivory (particularly the Ivory Steinway) has a hard-boilied edge to it - kind of midrange dominant, and although Ivory's sound is tighter-focused and sharper, I think maybe the softer, warmer, less hard-edged EWQL has a more rounded tone that might be prefereable for some music styles. It's certainly a close call.

One thing I noticed with all the EWQL pianos was that the four different models - Yamaha, Bechstein, Steinway, Bosendorfer don't really sound that much different to each other, as much as they should! I think this could be combined colouration of the vintage Neumann mics, the acoustics of the studio hall and the signal chain of the Neve console, etc., all contributing to a prevailing flavour of sound quality characteristics which are common to all four piano recordings.
End result is you get a concert grand with the obvious character of a lavish Hollywood studio production perhaps, and that's not a bad thing necessarily, but I would have preferred absolutely neutral recordings (no studio fingerprint) and just hear the undiluted personality of each piano. With Ivory, despite its faults, the Steinway sounds like a Steinway, and the Bosendorfer sounds like a Bosendorfer, and the Yamaha sounds like a Yamaha too, so it's more like having the actual real life instruments in your own home.

(For further insight into audio quality colouration issues, I recommend reading this article. )

It's a shame that neither Ivory or EWQL offers the true sympathetic string resonance. Akoustik originally didn't have this feature, but they now offer it via Kontakt 2 scripts developed by Olivier Frappier. Maybe that's why on EastWest's recent comparison demos, Akoustik sounds a little better than I remember when I played it some years ago!
I would have liked EastWest to publish the MIDI files for those comparison demos, or to have included Galaxy II (with Bosendorfer and Steinway that both do include true sympathetic string resonance.)

Sampletekk / PMI actually offer quite a range of different software piano titles, though I only shortlisted Black Grand since I think it’s their best Steinway D product, and as a Kontakt 2 instrument can benefit from string resonance scripts.

The Milan Digital Audio Hamburg Steinway D isn’t as widely known as some of the others but sounds quite good on their website demos, until the bottom of the page when they ask if you can tell the difference between the multisample and a real recorded piano in a blind demo test. Well, it didn’t fool me, but I’d still say the sample is quite high quality sound nonetheless.

I have said that I probably wouldn't buy any piano that didn’t have sympathetic string resonance, and that rules out quite a few of them. Particularly Ivory – it’s a shame because the Italian Grand (Fazioli rather than Borgato) is an especially good quality sample, I think, if they added that SSR feature in a software update somehow, I’d definitely buy it, even in spite of the silly iLok dongle!

Anyway, as you can see from my chart rankings above, my favourite at the moment is Galaxy II and that was the first one I bought. I can recommend that. (You can even try playing it "live" online via this novel website!)

I also bought Garritan Steinway Pro, and after such a long wait for it, as you said before, I too was disappointed – it wasn’t as good as I was hoping, but I’m still glad to actually have it rather than be still thinking about it, stuck on the fence.
It is capable of producing very believable audio renders that could certainly pass for a live recording of a real Steinway in a concert hall, albeit a slightly hissy, slightly coloured, distant off-mic ambient recording! However you can hear worse from some commercial classical piano CDs out there - and although the soft, distant timbre and noise annoys the pianist at the keyboard, it doesn’t distract too much from the music from a listener’s point of view. It grows on you after a while - but I stand by everything I wrote about its technical weaknesses.

I'm on the fence with EWQL - it obviously has drawbacks (no string resonance and maybe some unwanted colouration) but I'd still consider buying it - I think it could be a really good library to have, but if I was buying only one new piano plug-in just for fun, I might try Ivory Italian Grand Fazioli, rather than searching in vain for yet another Steinway or Bosendorfer replacement, as I’ve been up and down that road a lot of times...!

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#665509 - 08/02/08 01:16 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Classico Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/28/08
Posts: 7
Thank you Propianist for your detailed reply. I value your insight very much as my ears keep confirming what you are describing. I own Ivory, The Grand 2 and Xsample's Steinway B. My particular ears are most sensitive to the attack of a piano note; I can live with the sympathetic resonance deficiency (though not by preference), however, a synthy, cheesy piano attack spoils it completely for me. In that regard, I found Xsample's to be the one I could work with the best, for recording. Although the overall tone is not as clean as some of the others on your list, I actually find it convincing. For live play, however, it's another story. It's ironic because although I'm not willing to plunk down $500 to try QL Pianos, I'm just about ready to buy an actual acoustic Steinway B and be done with it! I actually found one last week that "sang to me" amongst the dozen I've tried in different places and of different ages (and they are all different... just like the sample libraries, he he -- But at that price, you get to try them first).

Thanks again for your time.

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#665510 - 08/02/08 01:23 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Classico Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/28/08
Posts: 7
Thanks Copilot for your mention of the different mix settings. That sounds like a nice, flexible feature to have.

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#665511 - 08/02/08 08:56 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
Well if you can get a real Steinway B then I'd definitely go for that...!

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#665512 - 08/13/08 01:50 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
To update this discussion thread, I’ve expanded my post above adding some more product website links, along with certain relevant audio and video demos that I’ve found helpful.

Also, I have personally now bought Synthogy Ivory Itailian Grand 1.7 standalone, and am looking forward to giving it a good workout. Its Fazioli F308 sound is a seriously nice sample, and for the low price of £89, I think it was worth buying as an alternative piano choice – plus the fun of having another new instrument to play with!
This meant I had to buy the annoying iLok as well – arrrggh! – but now that I have one, it’s more of an excuse tempting me to buy EWQL or Ivory as well...

Of course, I know it doesn’t include Sympathetic String Resonance (SSR) which always bothers me, and that’s why Ivory was never my first choice of piano plug-in – Galaxy II Bosendorfer (with SSR) is my favourite solution to date – but I have a feeling that Synthogy may soon be able to add the missing SSR feature in a future software update, and then ultimately everyone will be happy.
Many Ivory customers have been requesting this modification for years, and other rival companies are including it now, like Native Instruments who successfully updated Akoustik, and Best Service who successfully updated Galaxy II to include the added SSR feature as a major selling point.
If a straightforward sample-playback engine like Kontakt 2 can do it (using basic scripts rather than complex DSP modelling or convolution), then it can’t be impossible for Ivory’s equivalent sample-playback engine to incorporate a similar script-based function into the program somehow...
I guess it’s only a matter of time before Synthogy get this working too, having spent the last few years working hard to develop cross-platform compatibility, Muse Receptor compatibility, adding supplementary velocity layers, producing the new Fazioli library, new upright libraries, new standalone versions, new Vista compatibility, etc, etc… If they so obviously want to retain the dominant industry reputation they’ve established, then adding SSR should already be the highest priority for Synthogy’s upcoming Ivory v2.0 release.

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#665513 - 08/13/08 02:37 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
I'm also an owner of Ivory, and lack of sympathetic resonance was the only reason I was hesitant about buying it. Hopefully they'll listen to the customers and update it already. Anyone tried e-mailing them to see if they're working on it?

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#665514 - 08/13/08 03:10 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
Okay everybody, copy and paste this, below, and email it to support@synthogy.com


Dear Synthogy,

I have been seriously thinking about buying Ivory, but am very concerned that it does not include true "Sympathetic String Resonance" feature, as found in many similar competitive plug-ins like Native Akoustik, Best Service Galaxy II, Garritan Steinway, etc., and nearly all of today's serious stage pianos including Roland RD700GX, Yamaha CP300 and Kawai MP8, plus of course, in every real acoustic piano on the planet!

This is clearly a vital feature for realistic sound quality, and factors quite strongly in my purchase decision. I know Ivory already has global "sustain resonance" to emulate the pedal down effect, but this is a different thing - which works even without the sustain pedal, and with silently depressed keys, or re-enforcing harmonics on sounding keys that are held down.

Please could you tell me what plans Synthogy have to implement this into the next software update ( Ivory v1.8...? ) and approximately how soon this might be released?

Kind regards,

Your eager customer!

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#665515 - 08/13/08 03:15 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
I sent the email.

By the way - I just found out about this whole iLok deal. I must say, it is extra expense, but looks like a pretty good idea. If I have an iLok, can I keep formatting my drive as many times as I want, and reinstalling the software? Even better can I reinstall the software on a different drive?

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#665516 - 08/13/08 04:40 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
Yep, and you can also install your copy of Ivory software from the DVDs onto any number of different computers (home desktop, laptop, external drives, backup drives, bedroom studio computer, rehersal / practise room computer, studio computer, girlfriend's computer, etc.) and take your licence on your iLok key to make it operate wherever you are.

However, it's still annoying to have to eat up a spare USB port, and have the ugly plastic thing physically sticking out the back of your machine, and the protection software running in the background all the time. It isn't an impenetrable security safeguard either, as an evil pirate could probably download some iLok trasher software from the internet to crack it and use the software unrestricted, or even attempt to clone one licence onto multiple iLok keys to circulate multiple copies of the expensive software.

For legitimate users, the iLok has its pros and cons, and for me the plastic key sticking out the back is the most annoying part. I'll probaby try and mount my iLok dongle somewhere out of the way, actually inside the computer case, using an internal USB port header direct from the motherboard with an internal USB adapter cable (you can buy these easily enough.)

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#665517 - 08/13/08 04:52 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
With the amount of spare USB ports on computers these days it's hardly a problem. My major gripe would probably be protection software running in the background. Still the fact that I won't need to delay formatting my computer because it's such a pain to reactivate all the software is priceless.

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#665518 - 08/13/08 05:17 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
ArtVision Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 15
Loc: Ireland
Very stimulating discussion, great insight into current piano-sound programs. Thanks for posting!

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#665519 - 08/13/08 07:14 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by ArtVision:[/b]
Very stimulating discussion, great insight into current piano-sound programs. Thanks for posting!
This thread was mostly just talking about EastWest Quantum Leap Pianos - compared with other (assumed well known) piano plug-ins.

There is plenty more to say about those other plug-ins too, of course, so I recommend reading THIS[/b] thread and THIS[/b] thread where some of those rival pianos (Garritan Steinway / Galaxy II / Ivory / BDMO ) are described with a lot more specific details and revealing insights.

Hopefully, any strengths and weakness are viewed in context of the current market - whatever available alternatives you could buy instead...
I've seen hundreds of forum debates on the internet about how good is this or that particular product, with heated arguments between those fans who love it and those users who hate it. Everyone has their own ears / personal preferences / technical understanding / subjective opinions, but it's no use people saying "This product is brilliant!" if there's lots of equally good equivalent products on the market - because it's only brilliant if it does everything WAY better than all it's rivals!

Likewise, I wouldn't criticise a plug-in for not sounding the same as a real life Steinway Model D, because NO software piano ever sounds that good! But I will heavily criticise it, if it comes far short of what has been achieved elsewhere for lower cost, at better audio quality, with more features, etc.
Criticism is only fair in context, and any qualified, credible reviewer should be willing to offer some specific examples as hard proof, to justify their comments to the world.

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#665520 - 08/14/08 02:57 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
propianist,[/b] thanks for another of your informative posts. I suspect that we'll be linking to them, when people ask for recommendations.

I had the same reaction to East/West samples.

IMO the ArtVista Virtual Grand remains a top choice for Budgeteers. B's are versatile instruments - acceptable for classical, wonderful for popular music.

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#665521 - 08/22/08 01:04 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
I spotted a one-page review of EWQL Pianos in this month’s current edition of “Computer Music” magazine. Like most other throwaway reviews from Future Publishing’s cursory journalism, they basically just described the main features, repeating what you could read on EWQL’s webpage, and their revealing subjective evaluation in the final summary sentance was something like “it sounds wonderful…” Probably, like most magazines they have to suck up to the sponsors! Never mentioned the lack of sympathetic string resonance, or the sonic colouration, or the choice of vocal mics for the piano samples etc. They did however claim that it took their Mac “a few minutes” to load each preset up, but I’m not sure that’s realistic because each mic perspective preset is only a little more than 20GB. I bought Ivory Italian Grand last week which is 19GB instrument, and it loads the whole patch in just a few seconds. Garritan Steinway takes hardly 10 seconds for the full 24 bit program with release and soft samples, and Galaxy II is the slowest at maybe 20 seconds for a full patch including all its additional synth sounds too. Maybe the longer it takes, the better the final quality…? The magazine’s cover DVD also had a few of the EWQL demos you can download from here .

Speaking of buying Ivory, my first impressions were that the raw samples sound clean and sterile - a rather brightly recorded, mellow piano sound, if that makes sense. The amiable software interface (which I feel I’ve known from years ago) is adequate for all basic operational controls, but editing doesn’t take you very far beyond EQ, reverb, velocity / dynamics scaling and stereo panpots. You can tweak the piano brightness to taste, but there’s no way to really alter the sonic character of the default patch, which gets simply distilled to its optimum settings and left on that. Everything works exactly as advertised though, no problems - you pay your money, and get your new piano sample to play. That’s it. There is the well documented lack of SSR to grit your teeth and bear, and unconvincing sustain resonance that lets you down, but I can’t fault the basic package that Ivory have delivered. It’s a reliable straightforward digital sampled piano preset with no fuss.
I have already written a serious user’s summary review of “the Ivory experience” in this thread[/b] , comparing it in detail with Galaxy II. I would recommend reading through that if you’re a demanding pianist / audio engineer and interested in what Ivory offers.

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#665522 - 08/22/08 01:41 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Strat Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 570
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Gotta say that I was quite underwhelmed after hearing the Steinway samples you posted from Galaxy II, whether they be with the default settings or yours.

IMHO, the Galaxy II samples sound boxy, lifeless, & "narrow," for lack of a better word. Ivory's sound much more open. It's no secret you're sold on Galaxy II, but I'm beginning to wonder if you're not confusing malleability for sound quality. From the samples you posted, it sounds like Galaxy II has more options and can be molded into a wider range of tones, but Ivory still is kind when it comes to actual sound quality.
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#665523 - 08/22/08 09:42 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
Hi Strat,

I’m not “sold” on Galaxy II if you’re talking about the holy grail perfect sound. It is just another product in a long line of sampled digital pianos that I’ve bought and tried over the years...
I've already got various hardware digital piano sources (including my main Kawai MP8 keyboard) but recently I've been exploring the available software options, which are the best alternative to date.
After buying Galaxy II and listening to it, I went on to buy Garritan Steinway Pro hoping for something better, and after that, I went on to buy Synthogy Ivory Fazioli Italian Grand, and in addition to that, I've also very recently purchased Synthogy Ivory v1.7 (Three Grands) as well...! And it probably won't be long before some other piano library takes my fancy too! However, I still haven't heard a truly convincing simulation of a concert grand from any of these products, if the truth be told. But my impossible search continues...

I stand 100% by my observations that Galaxy II software offers the best overall “malleability” factor for adapting the behaviour of its fixed samples into various different timbres, and it is WAY better than Ivory’s control interface in that particular respect – no doubt about it!!! I've written over 3000 words in that review I mentioned, which comprehensively explains these aspects of sound control and what it’s like dealing with the software. The limitations of Ivory versus the flexibility of Galaxy II, and I own both of them so it’s an honest opinion based on experience.

I wrote specifically about the sound quality of the actual samples - first and foremost, in the opening paragraphs, which you’re right is an entirely different subject to control parameter “malleability” of tone, and I’ve made that clear distinction. Ivory does have a good (but not perfect) set of basic piano samples, but I’d still say Ivory’s lack of SSR is a big problem, so it wouldn’t be my first choice for life-like realism. I don’t think Ivory is king for absolute recorded raw sample quality, let alone overall virtual piano simulation. I've heard more convincing results elsewhere, but Ivory is a great package, just like Galaxy II is a great package. I bought them both. I don’t think there is an overall winner. Garritan Steinway Pro in fact, can sound very lifelike under certain conditions, but has numerous shortcomings otherwise.

I’ve said on record many times that I don’t like the Galaxy II’s Steinway raw samples that much – both in that particular review, and some other threads which I included links to...

 Quote:
Originally posted here by propianist:[/b]
Galaxy II Steinway – quite metallic and zingy, not quite my idea of how a Steinway D should sound….
Ivory Steinway – sounds more Steinway-esque...


Originally posted here by propianist:[/b]
Galaxy II Steinway doesn't sound quite realistic with the factory presets defaults (too bright and over-zealous), but if you do your homework getting familiar with the user-interface, and edit all the parameters carefully, you can seriously improve and transform it into a very capable sweet instrument that plays soft and delicate better than most, yet with impressive power when you play loud.

I'm not saying it's perfect, of course! If you're a die-hard perfectionist like me, you'll find faults with whatever you buy.


Originally posted here by propianist:[/b]
It is obvious on the Galaxy II Steinway that the piano's output is rendered far too loud and bright using the default factory settings.

I think it [the 1929 Bluthner sample] is almost more life-like sounding than either the Bosendorfer or the Steinway, among Galaxy II’s pianos.
If you were underwhelmed by what you heard from the Purgatory Creek MP3 demos I posted, I’m certainly in agreement there - the results are not convincing for any of them, although that experiment was worth doing, but I’ll offer some thoughts...

I personally think the Purgatory Creek MIDI test file in question is not all that brilliant for assessment, as it always seems to give bad, fake-sounding results with nearly every piano test I’ve heard including Ivory and many products I own that sound good otherwise. I think the Purgatory Creek’s velocity curve in the original recording (Roland RD600 keyboard) must have been quite narrow and the player has overcompensated a bit for the Roland’s internal sound. The file’s MIDI velocities are therefore probably a bit exaggerated, and most sampled pianos (which have much more realistic multisampled dynamic levels) tend to over-react to it, sounding very fierce, without any real delicacy of touch.
Because of Purgatory Creek’s popularity with 300 existing demos on their piano comparison website , I chose to use it to stay consistent to the overwhelming volume of unrepeatable test work that’s already been done over there.
Obviously, they're only compressed MP3 quality(!) and if you said it sounds "narrow", it could be because in my user tweaks I deliberatly reduced the stereo width to narrow the piano's stereo image. That sounded better to me!

I promise I will soon record some completely new, fresh comparison test demos soon using these piano libraries, and I’ll try to upload 24 bit WAV as well as convenient MP3 files. I'll try and use well known pieces of music, and those familiar classics that are favourites for manufacturer's demos. And I'll try to post the actual MIDI files and my exact parameter settings, so anybody can repeat these tests for themselves, or upload some comparison piano renders from the rival plug-ins they own, which would help everybody evaluate today's products on the market, because I can't afford to buy them all!

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#665524 - 09/18/08 07:47 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
StrangeCat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 15
Loc: Minnesota
I have been reading everything and anything I can on these forums about sampled pianos. First time posting here.

propianist I love your write ups! There Great! One thing I have a problem with is how you guys talk about Ivory as being so great? I have played so many piano libs and what really get's me is the lack of velocity layers! I played Ivory and I felt like the piano lib was holding me back from my expression at a piano!

I am really interested in Galaxy II. I hope I can test that library out at Guitar Center soon.

propianist I also agree with pretty much everything you have written about on sampled pianos and there pros and cons.

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#665525 - 09/18/08 09:07 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Eternal Offline
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Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
Ivory has up to 10 velocity layers.

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#665526 - 09/18/08 12:37 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
ere Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/05
Posts: 109
Loc: UK
oops, decided that my answer was sligtly off topic (i talked about pianoteq mostly)and waranted its own thread....
Seee here http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/6/5320.html
_________________________
My gear: Roland FP4 digi-piano, M-audio A192 sound card , Sennheiser HD580 phones , Synthogy Ivory+ Italian Grand , soft-piano Pianoteq (highly recommended)

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#665527 - 09/18/08 05:32 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
StrangeCat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 15
Loc: Minnesota
Ivory has up to 10 velocity layers.? yea and LOL!!!!
10???
ilok is easy just shove it into a usb slot (mine has about 12 usb2 slots)
then download the drivers and then the Sample Library you are installing will have a key to install on the ilok.
I just installed a ton of PLAY libs but not the piano lib yet I have test it out the demos aren't doing it for me.
I really want to test out Galaxy II all the tweaking you can do is a big plus!!

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#665528 - 09/18/08 07:41 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by StrangeCat:
Ivory has up to 10 velocity layers.? yea and LOL!!!! [/b]
Care to enlighten me as to what's so amusing?

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#665529 - 09/18/08 10:26 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
StrangeCat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 15
Loc: Minnesota
no that's ok. I bought EW new piano lib instead of anything else. If you go from playing pro classical, jazz, etc on a real piano to a Sample lib that only gives you 10 velocity layers your no way in hell going to be able to play the same.
see ya

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#665530 - 09/19/08 07:34 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by StrangeCat:[/b]
I bought EW new piano lib instead of anything else.
You bought East West Quantum Leap Pianos? How do you rate it so far?
EWQL just got a thorough review in Sound On Sound magazine (Oct 2008 edition) here in England.

I own Ivory Grand Pianos (10 layer Bosendofer & Steinway, but only 8 layers for Yamaha) and I also have Ivory Italian Grand which actually has 12 velocity layers.
I think Ivory doesn't do ppp soft levels very well, they're a bit too bright sounding, but it's overall playability and smooth mapping is generally good. I'm hearing some hiss on the Yamaha samples though.

I'm gonna post some comparison demos on here soon, with all these interesting pianos side by side.

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#665531 - 09/19/08 09:28 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by StrangeCat:
no that's ok. I bought EW new piano lib instead of anything else. If you go from playing pro classical, jazz, etc on a real piano to a Sample lib that only gives you 10 velocity layers your no way in hell going to be able to play the same.
see ya [/b]
10 layers refers to the number of actual samples being taken. I'm pretty sure they are then further interpolated to fill in missing resolution steps on the velocity curve.

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#665532 - 09/19/08 12:31 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
ere Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/05
Posts: 109
Loc: UK
Eternal,

I'm not so sure. I feel that increasing Ivory's dynamic range (from default 30db to maximum 60db (same as pianoteq's default)) does not improve its playability (theoretically it should ). If anything it feels even more step like, but certainly not less then usual.
I think Yamaha and Roland interpolate and fill the missing steps, but I don't think Ivory bothered. Unless there is something wrong with my keyboard config, because Ivory makes a sound even at the lightest press of the key (it shouldn't produce sound at all and doesnt on roland/yamaha's inbuilt soft). This same identical sound is repeated for slightly harder key press (approximately the lightest touch that inbuilt soft responds to).

So i don't know about other sample libraries, but Ivory I am quite sure gave us just the pure recorded samples. All 10 of them per note:)
_________________________
My gear: Roland FP4 digi-piano, M-audio A192 sound card , Sennheiser HD580 phones , Synthogy Ivory+ Italian Grand , soft-piano Pianoteq (highly recommended)

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#665533 - 09/20/08 08:56 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
Ivory does feature, according to their website ...

"Proprietary Timbre Interpolation technology for ultra smooth velocity and note transitions.
Use of proprietary Timbre Interpolation technology assures the smoothest velocity and note transitions for each of the pianos, achieving a level of musical playability that is unparalleled."

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#665534 - 09/20/08 10:55 AM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
ere Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/05
Posts: 109
Loc: UK
Propianist,
Does it mean there is something wrong with my setup? Lets say I wanted to play 4 pianissimo cords, but each ever so slighly different from another (eg pp, ppp, pppp, ppp). On pianoteq its is easy and natural, on ivory i get 4 identical chords - not just in texture, but in volume! So frustrating:(
Also the key makes a sound even at the very lightest, slowest press (that doesn't make a sound in other programs)...
I've followed your (brilliant) Ivory setup guide to the letter, but do I get different results to what I should?
_________________________
My gear: Roland FP4 digi-piano, M-audio A192 sound card , Sennheiser HD580 phones , Synthogy Ivory+ Italian Grand , soft-piano Pianoteq (highly recommended)

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#665535 - 09/20/08 01:18 PM Re: EWQL Pianos vs. Galaxy II vs. Authorized Steinway
7notemode Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/07
Posts: 101
Loc: Raleigh/Durham NC
For what its worth, I have found the Ivory Steinway to be very dynamically expressive, but the Italian Grand not as much. The Italian Grand has a timbral sameness to the velocity layers and is not as playable. The Ivory Steinway brightens considerably between velocity layers, and I personally find it very expressive.

I just bought and installed Galaxy II yesterday. It is very promising. The Galaxy Steinway is closer mic'd than the Ivory Steinway, but there is a lot of timbral movement between velocity layers, which makes it very expressive. I am playing around w/propianist's settings.

Propianist, if you have other Steinway settings or Bosendorfer settings to try in Kontact 2, it would be much appreciated ;-)
_________________________
www.youtube.com/7notemode

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