MIDI playback & recording on a Hamburg Steinway Model D . . .

CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
Almost 3 years on from launching my online Session Pianist, Production & sampled piano MIDI to Audio service www.pianoproducer.com I am pleased to announce the upcoming Premium Service of having your piano MIDI played back and recorded in a professional recording studio on a stunning Hamburg Steinway Model D Concert Grand.

Captured at 24bit-88.2kHz with premium mics, pre-amps & converters, it's the ultimate in realism for your projects. More details to follow.
 
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CGR

CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
What a great idea!

(Don't suppose you plan to sample this piano? ;))
Thanks. The idea of sampling the piano had briefly crossed my mind - but the sample editing and scripting part of it quickly put a dent in my enthusiasm!
 
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CGR

CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
Audio of the real Hamburg Steinway D Grand Piano playing the demo MIDI file is now on the site:


A new video demo of the piano in action is coming soon!
 

labornvain

Active Member
It sounds cool. And it definitely showcases the superiority of playing a real piano over a sampled piano.

The tone is a little bright for my taste, and that makes me wonder what mics you guys have or have used.

If it wouldn't be too much trouble, I wonder if it might be possible for you to do a quick synopsis of your signal chain - from the mics to the converters and all points in between.

But mostly I'm interested in the mics. I used to make a living as an audio engineer and was always quite particular about the mics I used on our Steinway.

Steinway's generally have a bit of a honking piercing sound in the high mids and so often I used mics that would tame that a bit. My favorite, of course, was our matched pair of Telefunken 251s.

If I wanted to soften and warm it up even more, I would switch out to the U67's, also a matched pair.

Both of these mics, presuming there well-maintained, have a kind of silkiness to them on the high while retaining strength and warmth on the low end.

Of course it all depends on the track and the mix and the sound you're going for.

Again, and to be very clear, these demos sound great. And I would be happy to use your service as it is. I'm really just curious what the options are and also curious what mics they are just for the fun of it.

Anyway, great job and you can expect to be hearing from me soon. I can't wait.
 
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CGR

CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
Thanks for your interest and response, and yes, there is so much more going on sonically with the real piano compared to the sampled pianos. The demo has a a slight EQ boost around 2250 Hz and dip around 250 Hz and a little compression added, but clients can choose to receive the raw recording, or a 'produced' version if needed. The sampled piano demos are quite bright compared to the raw recording of the real Steinway.

The signal chain is:

Schoeps MKIV >> Benchmark PRE420 >> RADAR Studio A-D >> ProTools HD

We settled on this after numerous trials & combinations, and feel it represents the piano's tone, attack transients and sonic signature accurately. Also, adjusting the velocity values & scaling in the MIDI file can control the level of brightness or warmth according to taste.

We are shooting a video next week showcasing the piano playing a number of excerpts from MIDI files. I will update this thread when it's on the site.

Kind regards,
Craig

EDIT - 27/5/20: the mp3 demos have been replaced with no adjustments to EQ (ie. no boost or dip as specified above)
 
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labornvain

Active Member
Thanks for your interest and response, and yes, there is so much more going on sonically with the real piano compared to the sampled pianos. The demo has a a slight EQ boost around 2250 Hz and dip around 250 Hz and a little compression added, but clients can choose to receive the raw recording, or a 'produced' version if needed. The sampled piano demos are quite bright compared to the raw recording of the real Steinway.

The signal chain is:

Schoeps MKIV >> Benchmark PRE420 >> RADAR Studio A-D >> ProTools HD

We settled on this after numerous trials & combinations, and feel it represents the piano's tone, attack transients and sonic signature accurately. Also, adjusting the velocity values & scaling in the MIDI file can control the level of brightness or warmth according to taste.

We are shooting a video next week showcasing the piano playing a number of excerpts from MIDI files, and being played by a human (yours truly!). I will update this thread when it's on the site.

Kind regards,
Craig
I wondered if that's what you were using. No the schoeps are great mics, you can't go wrong there

Coincidentally I did a session a few weeks ago playing an upright piano, some old Relic that they had restored, and those are the mics that were used. It sounded freaking great.
 
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Gerbil

Active Member
Great idea. Do people send in audio files of sampled performances with the midi files so you can hear how they want them to sound and then you tweak them accordingly? If you put the same midi file in two different sampled pianos they're unlikely to match up so it will be the same here.
 
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CGR

CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
Great idea. Do people send in audio files of sampled performances with the midi files so you can hear how they want them to sound and then you tweak them accordingly? If you put the same midi file in two different sampled pianos they're unlikely to match up so it will be the same here.
Thanks - it's generating a lot of interest. A reference audio file is always a good idea, particularly with regards to dynamics. We find that MIDI files generated from being played on good weighted/hammer action keyboards translate to the Steinway quite accurately.

MIDI files with a lot of very high velocities play back quite harshly, and we find limiting the highest velocities to around 105 works best, and sounds most natural.

Also as I've noted on the website, careful sustain pedalling is important - there is a lot of beautiful complex resonance when playing the Steinway, and it can get out of control if you "ride the pedal".

By default I preview the playback of both the real Steinway and the sampled pianos to assure a good result before recording/rendering to audio. I offer an Advanced Service for the sampled pianos for more extensive editing/optimising of the MIDI file if requested. The same service is available (for an additional fee) for the real Hamburg Steinway.
 
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CGR

CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
A short video demo of the piano in action:



More content to come.
 
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CGR

CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
Just updated the video to explain the service. There will be more videos in the coming weeks.
 
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Gerbil

Active Member
I know people who will be keen on this, and it does sound lovely, but what if the uploader doesn't like the results? $90 per track is quite a lot to blow on something they haven't heard. Is there any way of providing a sample (say with occasional interruptions) at 128kb, to check?
 
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CGR

CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
I know people who will be keen on this, and it does sound lovely, but what if the uploader doesn't like the results? $90 per track is quite a lot to blow on something they haven't heard. Is there any way of providing a sample (say with occasional interruptions) at 128kb, to check?
Thanks for the feedback. I recommend clients provide an audio file if possible, mainly as a reference for dynamics. The $90 production cost includes one revision, in case velocity scaling needs to be tweaked.