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Which synchron piano has more timbre range between low/high velocities?

shawnsingh

Active Member
Hi all,

I'm looking to buy one of the Synchron pianos. They both sound great in videos and demos I've heard. I don't feel I've heard enough of the extremely quiet range of either piano though. Any demos around which show the super quiet side of both pianos?

One thing I loved about my previous go-to virtual piano was the timbre change between soft and loud. I liked the ability to squash the dynamic range of the midi velocities, so that the quiet and loud notes were not so dynamically different but the timbre was still different. This way I try to squeeze more drama and expressiveness out of the piano, without needing to drag the listener through excessive volume arcs.

So I'm wondering which synchron piano has a more varied range of timbre, regardless of volume? From an intimate felty timbre to bright strong forceful timbre?

Cheers!
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Yikes, that's a hard one to nail down due to all the mic choices, which do affect timbre and dynamics as well.

What I can say with confidence at least, is that the CFX has a wider timbral range than I'm used to with this Yamaha model, but I also do not own the Garritan Abbey Road library and still find myself using OTS Rosewood Grand for certain type of material that I need to cut through with very percussive playing -- that one isn't a CFX model though.

What I notice more about the Steinway than with other similar libraries for that model, is that it takes better to non-aggressive staccato playing, which might also translate as lower velocity playing (but not always). I don't notice the timbre shifting across the dynamic layers much though, as with the Bechstein Digital Grand though. Not sure if that's what you're looking for.
 

keepitsimple

Active Member
Intimate felty is going to be a tough one to nail down with VSL CFX. I would say that the Garritan CFX is much better for that, especially with all the included presets (I remember there's one preset that's tailored specially for that, with the soft pedal engaged and a stunning reverb to boot, it's truly inspiring). It also has a great dynamic range but again...so does the VSL CFX.
 

Lee Blaske

Senior Member
I have both of the VSL pianos. I would not turn to either of them for an intimate, felty sound. IMO, they are both big, proud concerto pianos meant to compete with an orchestra. BTW, if you look at the presets on those instruments which are supposedly more "intimate," they're accomplishing that with a lot of EQ.
 
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shawnsingh

Active Member
Thanks for the replies so far. I've got VSL vouchers so I'll get one of these anyway. :grin:

But I wanted to clarify what I meant about timbre range - I'm not just looking to use this for intimate mixes and concert mixes in separate songs. I think I actually prefer the concert bias. Instead I'm interested in how much timbre actually changes between low and high velocities, as a way of getting expressive range out of the instrument even when compressing the dynamics.

Thanks!
 

ILIO_Official

New Member
Hi there! The VSL pianos are capable of quite an impressive dynamic range. "Out of the box" the Synchron pianos sound pretty magnificent and triumphant. However there are a couple things you can do to get a more intimate sound:

-Try lowering "MIDI Sensitivity" in the "Play" menu on the Synchron Pianos interface (this helps quite a bit!)
-Find the right microphone balance in the "Mix" page or even turning off certain microphones. Try starting with the "Intimate" setting or "Player" then adjust from there.
-Getting more granular, you can even adjust each note's dynamic range and volume.

I'm also attaching a composition by Steven Cravis (a user of ours) who was curious about how to get a more intimate sound. He sent us a MIDI file and we ran it through Synchron Concert D-274 Piano. Hopefully this helps!

-ILIO

[AUDIOPLUS=https://vi-control.net/community/attachments/stevencravis-mellowmood-custom-mp3.19021/][/AUDIOPLUS]
 

Attachments

PaulieDC

1967 Bizzarini GT 5300 Strada
I bought the Steinway and have been playing around trying to shape the upper range to sound fuller, and I'm starting to get decent results. In the very near future I'll take the time to sit down and do a comparison between the Steinway stock presets and the new one I'm working on to remove the overly bright emphasis up top. The key is the Tube Mic.

If anyone has the Full Steinway and wants a fuller sound, later I can post the VSL mixer with the mics plus the plugins. But in a nutshell I added the Tube mic and panned it right-center, then panned the condenser left-center. The condenser on the bottom sound GREAT, but the top needs the tube mic, that thing IS the secret sauce. I added (I think) a little Room Ambience and High Ambience mics but most of the breathing room comes from EW Spaces II, the So Cal Solo Piano 3.5 preset as a send on the Steinway channel in my DAW.

Also on that channel I added a Waves F6 Floating Band EQ and only pulled down 6.7KHz about 2.4db with a .8 Q, followed by Waves Vitamin with a slight hump in the center sliders and lastly the Waves PuigTech 670 Stereo Vintage Compressor, NOT as a compressor, just put it in the circuit for the modeled analog sound. The Threshold is at 1 and there's no boosted gain. I heard Andrew Shoeps, a great mix engineer for pp, say that he wasn't a fan of the compressor plugin itself, but that adding it to the chain adds an analog warmth, and he's right.

That formula, to me, returns the full upper tone that got sterilized in the sampling. VI member @keepitsimple and I have been going back and forth with a MIDI file he generously sent me to test, and it hits every known velocity range, lol! It's been great to test presets, stock and custom, with a file like that. I believe the Steinway has the potential to achieve most of what we want but it's going to take some work. Then he sent me a recording of the Ravenscroft 275 library with the same MIDI file performance and that blew my socks off, I hadn't heard that library before, only OF it. It's incredible and probably the best out of the box for playing softer passages. Then when you wail mf-ff, it lights up perfectly. At the next sale, the R275 is getting added to my world, it's that good. So much for my earlier post of "Piano library search over". Anyone got a glass of water so I can wash down this foot?

Nonetheless, you have VSL vouchers and you're getting their library, so I'll post screenshots when I get home and hopefully in the near future I can get audio samples posted. There's this day job that tends to delay all things musical...
 
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shawnsingh

Active Member
So I went with the CFX instead of Steinway for now. Sounds great! It still does have a nice felty sound at its lower velocities, so I'm satisfied. It seems like the right mic mix can bring out a bit of the body/keystroke sounds that I like, too.

Reducing midi sensitivity helped a lot. But then higher midi velocities can loose some of the brightness by not reaching the highest velocity layers that were sampled. It's that range of timbres that I want, just with squashed dynamic range, so I only touched midi sensitivity a little bit. I wish I could experiment with flattening dynamic range further than 50%.

I'd say I'm able to get 90% of what I wanted. And the nice mic options and sampling quality easily outweigh that last 10% I feel is missing. To be honest, if I had that last 10%, it might be overdoing it anyway.

And the piano that was sampled itself - the keys stay strong for longer and don't decay as quickly as the previous piano library I had. Definitely need to refresh my pedaling technique because of that. After getting used to that lovely sustained tone, it makes my old piano library sound a bit awkward how it decayed so quickly on loud notes.

My current mic mix:
- algo reverb off
- close 2 + mid 1 + decca L+R (no C) + high mic
- close 2 is a few dB down, and the decca + high are +5 dB
- decca and mid positions use inverted L+R to match the close mic. high mic, I didn't invert, but I want to try it.
- low and low-mid boost using EQ and the body% option
- +12 dB to the sypathetic resonance. AFAIK it only affects the close mic setting, so +12 isn't that crazy
- experimented with reducing low-mid frequencies using shelf EQ on the high mic. not sure it made a difference.
- dynamic range 50% (the minimum possible at this time)
- midi sensitivity -22%. going lower I felt it started to miss the brightness on louder notes.

Despite the emphasis on the decca and high mics, this mix sounds like a nice balance between intimate and concert style to my ears.

Examples:
http://suonlabs.com/vsl-cfx-try/13 - mic-mix-1.mp3
http://suonlabs.com/vsl-cfx-try/7 - mic-mix-1.mp3
 
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shawnsingh

Active Member
But in a nutshell I added the Tube mic and panned it right-center, then panned the condenser left-center.
By the way, this is interesting. Almost like a "crossover" between the two mic types.

Thanks to both of you for all the suggestions!
 

PaulieDC

1967 Bizzarini GT 5300 Strada
So I went with the CFX instead of Steinway for now...

My current mic mix:
- algo reverb off
- close 2 + mid 1 + decca L+R (no C) + high mic
- close 2 is a few dB down, and the decca + high are +5 dB
- decca and mid positions use inverted L+R to match the close mic. high mic, I didn't invert, but I want to try it.
- low and low-mid boost using EQ and the body% option
- +12 dB to the sypathetic resonance. AFAIK it only affects the close mic setting, so +12 isn't that crazy
- experimented with reducing low-mid frequencies using shelf EQ on the high mic. not sure it made a difference.
- dynamic range 50% (the minimum possible at this time)
- midi sensitivity -22%. going lower I felt it started to miss the brightness on louder notes.

Despite the emphasis on the decca and high mics, this mix sounds like a nice balance between intimate and concert style to my ears.

Examples:
http://suonlabs.com/vsl-cfx-try/13 - mic-mix-1.mp3
http://suonlabs.com/vsl-cfx-try/7 - mic-mix-1.mp3
That sounds crazy good, like a piano! I concede... your C4-C6 range beats the Steinway. You made the right choice. I spoke a little too soon back in March but that was because I hadn't actually tried many others and the Steinway did blow me away. But when I started really research the strong competitors, the Steinway grew sterile. CFX is the way to go if you are buying a VSL piano.
 

keepitsimple

Active Member
So I went with the CFX instead of Steinway for now. Sounds great! It still does have a nice felty sound at its lower velocities, so I'm satisfied. It seems like the right mic mix can bring out a bit of the body/keystroke sounds that I like, too.

Reducing midi sensitivity helped a lot. But then higher midi velocities can loose some of the brightness by not reaching the highest velocity layers that were sampled. It's that range of timbres that I want, just with squashed dynamic range, so I only touched midi sensitivity a little bit. I wish I could experiment with flattening dynamic range further than 50%.

I'd say I'm able to get 90% of what I wanted. And the nice mic options and sampling quality easily outweigh that last 10% I feel is missing. To be honest, if I had that last 10%, it might be overdoing it anyway.

And the piano that was sampled itself - the keys stay strong for longer and don't decay as quickly as the previous piano library I had. Definitely need to refresh my pedaling technique because of that. After getting used to that lovely sustained tone, it makes my old piano library sound a bit awkward how it decayed so quickly on loud notes.

My current mic mix:
- algo reverb off
- close 2 + mid 1 + decca L+R (no C) + high mic
- close 2 is a few dB down, and the decca + high are +5 dB
- decca and mid positions use inverted L+R to match the close mic. high mic, I didn't invert, but I want to try it.
- low and low-mid boost using EQ and the body% option
- +12 dB to the sypathetic resonance. AFAIK it only affects the close mic setting, so +12 isn't that crazy
- experimented with reducing low-mid frequencies using shelf EQ on the high mic. not sure it made a difference.
- dynamic range 50% (the minimum possible at this time)
- midi sensitivity -22%. going lower I felt it started to miss the brightness on louder notes.

Despite the emphasis on the decca and high mics, this mix sounds like a nice balance between intimate and concert style to my ears.

Examples:
http://suonlabs.com/vsl-cfx-try/13 - mic-mix-1.mp3
http://suonlabs.com/vsl-cfx-try/7 - mic-mix-1.mp3
Go to the VSL forum, there's a sticky thread that was recently made by Paul where everyone shares presets for both the CFX and Steinway. I shared 3 of my presets there and there are couple more presets by other people as well. Download them and try, see if you like them.
 
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shawnsingh

Active Member
That sounds crazy good, like a piano! I concede... your C4-C6 range beats the Steinway. You made the right choice. I spoke a little too soon back in March but that was because I hadn't actually tried many others and the Steinway did blow me away. But when I started really research the strong competitors, the Steinway grew sterile. CFX is the way to go if you are buying a VSL piano.
Thanks! I did feel like close and mid mics had an awkward thin sound on my first try mixing. That started to go away when adding both Decca and high mics. The highest frequencies get smoothed out because of so many different versions of a similar signal, much like how a string ensemble sounds smoother than a solo player. Maybe trying something similar on the Steinway will work too?
 
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shawnsingh

Active Member
@keepitsimple I liked your Decca setup. But it's a bit "dry" for my tastes. I wonder, are you using headphones? I can imagine that with headphones this would be really pleasing, then I realized I actually don't have a pair connected to my home studio right now (?!) so I couldn't test that theory.

Anyway, I uploaded a slight updated version of my preset to the VSL page. comments and feedback appreciated. Mine is way more wet than most other people's presets there. But out of context without hearing those presets, I feel like mine actually isn't too wet? weird perceptual illusions.

Cheers
 

keepitsimple

Active Member
@keepitsimple I liked your Decca setup. But it's a bit "dry" for my tastes. I wonder, are you using headphones? I can imagine that with headphones this would be really pleasing, then I realized I actually don't have a pair connected to my home studio right now (?!) so I couldn't test that theory.

Anyway, I uploaded a slight updated version of my preset to the VSL page. comments and feedback appreciated. Mine is way more wet than most other people's presets there. But out of context without hearing those presets, I feel like mine actually isn't too wet? weird perceptual illusions.

Cheers
It should sound “good” (subjective of course) anywhere. It needs external reverb that’s why it’s dry. I don’t like to use the included reverb. Will try your preset and give you feedback:)
 
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