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View Full Version : How to get realistic piano tone?


Meteo Xavier
03-18-2010, 05:57 PM
I have East West Pianos Gold now and I'm enjoying practicing with it, but I still seem to get really bad mechanical sounding tones and thick middles with no spark of intimacy in any of it.

The kind of piano tones I want to use and compose with are these:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74L8DNsQFB8&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqHHW_eg9HI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMkm5dVO9I8&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZIHqhL2vxA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YRWmRBicrc

I'm just wondering how you need to EQ and reverb your piano to get that warm, balanced and sometimes aural tone so I can do more intimate piano settings. I keep hitting it every once in a while, but I never seem to remember the right way to do it and its hours of going back and forth to get it without it working.

I understand piano is very delicate to replicate, I'm just looking for the right ways to get it so I can do it delicately.

Rozovian
03-18-2010, 08:00 PM
Not sure why you're thinking about eq and stuff, a lot of this is probably just performance. Very soft performance.

You you post an example of how close you've gotten so far for comparison, otherwise nobody here is gonna be able to help you unless they have EQPG themselves. Other settings you're using would help, too, like reverb and eq.

SnappleMan
03-18-2010, 09:03 PM
Yeah, I don't know why you're looking to EQ to solve your problems. Everything we know and love about pianos is performance based. Intimacy comes from the player. There really is no good way to draw in velocities by hand, or timing offsets by hand, you just have to play it. There are, however, aspects that add to the "intimacy" which you can control like reverb and compression. A solo piano performance really needs a wide dynamic range, forcing the listener to turn the volume up so they can hear everything. Then when the performance intensifies, it's that much more powerful because of the difference in volume. So if you're doing a solo piano performance, don't use compression. Also, reverb can help place the piano in a room, but sometimes you don't want it that far or that ambient, so you A->B it and see which feels more intimate to you. As far as EQ goes, when I record pianos, I don't have much headroom with EQ because room noise always comes out more with high EQ, but when I use samples, I can really play with the high end EQ till it sounds just right. But overall, the piano is made to be self EQed so you really shouldn't mess with it. It's all in the performance.

avaris
03-18-2010, 09:03 PM
EQ is an extremely relative thing based upon performance, notes played, and the importance of the piano in the piece. EQ should be the last thing you attempt to use. Although just in case, here are some general frequencies to keep in mind:

2000 kHz is the loudest frequency to the human ear.

8000 kHz will make the sound feel like it is sitting above your head.

250 Hz is where alot of warmth and depth can be found. Also one of the easiest areas to muddy up an entire song.


I agree with Rozo, try lower velocity settings on average. All in all the most important part is the performance bar none. Put a reverb on a send bus and make sure it has a wide stereo field.

Meteo Xavier
03-18-2010, 09:27 PM
Intimacy comes from the player. There really is no good way to draw in velocities by hand, or timing offsets by hand, you just have to play it.

If I could hook my piano up to my computer, I wouldn't have made this topic in the first place.

And I have a sort of example of playing with it, and I would've posted it except I can't find it.

Rozovian
03-18-2010, 09:33 PM
2000 kHz is the loudest frequency to the human ear.

8000 kHz will make the sound feel like it is sitting above your head.

250 Hz is where alot of warmth and depth can be found. Also one of the easiest areas to muddy up an entire song.

I think an extra k made its way into that post.

8 000 000 Hz? Really?

dannthr
03-18-2010, 09:40 PM
20khz = 20,000 hz, which is the highest frequency generally audible (though that rolls off the older you get).

8000 kHz = 8,000,000 Hz, which will not be audible at all.



Fixed.



Anyway, that warm, intimate piano sound is only possible when playing at low velocities. I think PLAY has a velocity range adjustment so you can keep them low at all times, otherwise, I know that my DAW has a velocity trim which will add or subtract from the original performance velocities--otherwise, buck it up and hand edit those bad boys yourself.

EDIT: Play also might have a mute pedal input, not sure, that's how you'd get that with a real piano.

Reverb and EQ are important too. Save your settings when you get it right.

José the Bronx Rican
03-18-2010, 09:51 PM
...overall, the piano is made to be self EQed so you really shouldn't mess with it. It's all in the performance.

Truth: I found out the hard way when I tried and kept discovering I couldn't work a piano into a mix, instead having to work a mix around it.

And if Joren de Bruin's around, whatever piano was used in "Simian Soirée," either real or sampled, I really want it.

Meteo Xavier
03-18-2010, 09:52 PM
Reverb and EQ are important too. Save your settings when you get it right.

Ok, well what are those right settings? That's my question. I know about performance, I'm not asking about that, I'm asking how I can get that warm, aural tone like the videos present through reverb and EQ, if I have to EQ at all. What frequencies do I have to cut? How long do I keep the release for? How big is the room size, etc.

Rozovian
03-18-2010, 10:08 PM
You you post an example of how close you've gotten so far for comparison, otherwise nobody here is gonna be able to help you unless they have EQPG themselves. Other settings you're using would help, too, like reverb and eq.

Also, put the reverb on a bus so you can eq it separately.

SnappleMan
03-18-2010, 10:10 PM
You shouldn't have to cut any frequencies, it's already slotted for you. The only time you cut piano EQ is when you need to fit it into a mix. I limit my piano EQ to just adding a little bit of high end sparkle. For reverb, I'd first try a hall setting, play with the early reflections to get some more character out of it. If that's too distant for you, then try a small room setting, that should really put the piano all around you.

Meteo Xavier
03-18-2010, 10:25 PM
You shouldn't have to cut any frequencies, it's already slotted for you. The only time you cut piano EQ is when you need to fit it into a mix. I limit my piano EQ to just adding a little bit of high end sparkle. For reverb, I'd first try a hall setting, play with the early reflections to get some more character out of it. If that's too distant for you, then try a small room setting, that should really put the piano all around you.

Now we're talking.

But do I have to cut frequencies in the reverb too so they don't get muddied? I couldn't never really figure out how to control reverb like I want to, I always end up making them to washy and muddy.

Vig
03-19-2010, 12:13 AM
I rarely EQ a reverb return. If your reverb is getting muddy, consider adding more predelay, increasing the early reflections vs. the tail, or using a brighter reverb. EQing a reverb will generally NOT result in a more natural sound.

avaris
03-19-2010, 12:35 AM
I think an extra k made its way into that post.

8 000 000 Hz? Really?

Haha whoops wrote this right after I got home from work. ;) Suffice to say I was asleep 15 mins later.

zircon
03-19-2010, 12:41 AM
I rarely EQ a reverb return. If your reverb is getting muddy, consider adding more predelay, increasing the early reflections vs. the tail, or using a brighter reverb. EQing a reverb will generally NOT result in a more natural sound.

Really? Almost all reverb plugins have low/hicut controls, why would they be there if they resulted in a less natural or worse sound? Not all samples are recorded very well, or even if they are, they may not be pre-EQed. The #1 problem I hear with almost any amateur track is excess lows because people don't EQ their lows properly. Reverb without lowcut only adds to that problem!

markhansavon
03-26-2010, 02:48 AM
You know, I just wrote a horrible review on this, but East West's Borsendorfer has that rich, warm sound.

So does Reason's Piano Refill...

So does that one piano Kontakt has.

So does Garritan's Piano sample library.

If you're not actually playing the piano yourself, note that the velocities (in midi) usually stay around 1-70 per note hit. When I play, sometimes, I'm at around 1-35 only (on very very soft parts).

If you run a midi through your sampler (assuming you're using very awesome samples) most likely the problem is that all of your note velocities are stuck at 100, which is gonna make it hit HARD every time.

SnappleMan
03-26-2010, 11:03 AM
Really? Almost all reverb plugins have low/hicut controls, why would they be there if they resulted in a less natural or worse sound? Not all samples are recorded very well, or even if they are, they may not be pre-EQed. The #1 problem I hear with almost any amateur track is excess lows because people don't EQ their lows properly. Reverb without lowcut only adds to that problem!

Well, while I totally agree that cutting unwanted frequencies out of your reverb is a must, I don't think all applications of reverb call for a low cut. In the case of a piano though, I think it would be best to cut some of the lows out.

Swann
03-28-2010, 04:05 PM
So does that one piano Kontakt has.

So does Garritan's Piano sample library.


I'd highly (http://tindeck.com/listen/xloi) recommend (http://tindeck.com/listen/pqbp) Garritan's Steinway Piano library.

I've found that most piano samples DO tend to get uncharacteristically muddy/loud in the low frequencies, and while some of that can be attributed to the way the piece itself is structured, taking them down a notch is something to be considered.

Best of luck!

prophetik music
03-29-2010, 12:57 PM
akoustik piano can do anything. ANYTHING. i've fooled professional pianists with it.

Kanthos
03-29-2010, 02:20 PM
Though sadly it's not available anymore, so if you don't already have it or find someone wanting to transfer a license, you're out of luck.

Meteo Xavier
03-29-2010, 03:03 PM
Though sadly it's not available anymore, so if you don't already have it or find someone wanting to transfer a license, you're out of luck.

Isn't it in the new Kontakt? I can't remember if I was able to confirm that or not.

dannthr
03-29-2010, 03:48 PM
Isn't it in the new Kontakt? I can't remember if I was able to confirm that or not.

Akoustic Piano is available under a new name in the NI sampled instrument store.