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#2869476 - 07/27/17 10:13 AM Need some advice on Piano VI's
Lee T Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 119
Loc: North West UK
As with a lot of people on the forum, I have a number of different piano VI's, such as Pianoteq, the Native Instruments pianos and the Sampletekk Black Grand.
I tend to use the NI Grandeur when playing in a band and have it eq'd so it sounds like the Gig Piano that David Weiser created for the Kurzweil and Casio keyboards. Cuts through really nicely.
However lately I've been doing quite a few accompaniment gigs where it's just the piano and a singer. I'm now looking for something a bit, and I hate this word, "warmer" and little more realistic.
I see a lot of love for Ravenscroft on the forum and this is definitely at the top of my list. Along with that the other options are:
  • Upgrade my Pianoteq Stage to the Standard Version and look at some of the newer instruments (already have the Bluthener Model 1). The Standard version will let me tweak quite a bit
  • Buy Keyscape. I already have Omnisphere and have been eyeing up Keyscape for a while. For just over £100 more than Ravenscroft I can buy Keyscape, but have seen mixed reviews of the piano. Plus I have the Scarbee EPS88, Soniccouture Clav and the Indiginus Wurl-E so will it offer much more than I have?

Any other suggestions?
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#2869480 - 07/27/17 10:34 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
linwood Offline
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Registered: 09/11/00
Posts: 5124
Loc: Las Vegas,NV,UNITED STATES
You might as well buy Keyscape. Even if you went with something else, you're going to come back and buy it. It's too good not to have. As far as what others say about the piano, you really wont know until you touch it yourself and see how you can react to it. That said:



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#2869481 - 07/27/17 10:36 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
tnelson Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/12/07
Posts: 57
Loc: Northern California
You want warmer than the Bluthner model in Pianoteq? Did you try just using the EQ within Pianoteq? No need to upgrade from the Pianoteq Stage version. As to more realistic, I don't believe you will find anything more realistic and responsive as a player than the Pianoteq models. I'm primarily an acoustic pianist, and for solo, duo and trio playing, where the piano is exposed and not embedded in a thick mix, some of the sampled pianos sound nice, but they just don't feel as real and responsive as Pianoteq. That's my person take, of course, but I've not found anything as satisfying to play as Pianoteq.

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#2869493 - 07/27/17 11:32 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: tnelson]
Lee T Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 119
Loc: North West UK
It's hard to explain. I've used Pianoteq for years, especially the Bluthner. Whilst I love the playing experience there just seems to be something missing. The sound of a piano is highly subjective; personally I love the sound of a Bechstein and don't really like the Fazioli (used to play the two at Bop studios in Southern Africa quite regularly).
Maybe I need to spend a bit of time tweaking what I have.
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#2869495 - 07/27/17 11:51 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
miden Offline
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Registered: 01/30/06
Posts: 2215
Loc: Australia
TBH, the Ravenscroft isn't as good as some folks would have you believe.

ummm, if you want a strictly solo piano for use with headphones at home, then it is pretty good. But put it in among other instruments it quickly falls away imo. Same for using it live. TBH, i found Pianoteq (with upgraded piano modules) to be a far better all round option. I have the Grotrian as my main upgrade..Bluethner I am still thiking about haha!

Also the authorisation hoops Ravenscroft and iLok make you go through make it a bit of a pain. Not to mention the price and disk size requirements and load times (using live in a host app) make it, for me, a studio/home luxury only. hahaha jm2c - ymmv grin
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#2869496 - 07/27/17 12:11 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
Lee T Offline
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Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 119
Loc: North West UK
I could watch Greg Phillinganes all night. Not only a great muso but a funny guy.
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#2869497 - 07/27/17 12:11 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: miden]
Theo Verelst Offline
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Registered: 02/27/10
Posts: 3635
To me, piantec is alright for some doodling, and I'm sure there are some cool sounds to be had from the mentioned programs, but for the sound I like, the experience I like to have playing the piano, it's all no good. There is hardware that allows sound components I don't hear in any of the s.w. examples I've listened to, and I can use certain studio effects on well built instruments, when discerning how they build tones and chords, but all the s.w. guys sound flat and cold and boring to me, no matter the advertisements.

T.

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#2869498 - 07/27/17 12:12 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
Lee T Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 119
Loc: North West UK
Thanks guys, let me have a look at the Pianoteq options. Keyscape is looking very tempting as well.
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#2869499 - 07/27/17 12:19 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
linwood Offline
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Registered: 09/11/00
Posts: 5124
Loc: Las Vegas,NV,UNITED STATES
Yes, Greg is a great player and funny, as well. Keyscape does a great job of nailing the sound of those records, but a lot of that is in the fingertips. of course the sample set has to be able to react to your touch. That's plain to see in all those vids. Warm comes from your touch.

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#2869505 - 07/27/17 01:24 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: linwood]
zephonic Offline
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Registered: 10/06/05
Posts: 3618
Loc: Redondo Beach, CA
IME, you get what you pay for. I've purchased a bunch of "on sale" piano VI's over the years: Garritan Steinway, Galaxy Vintage D, Piano in Blue, and True Keys.

All of them are okay, none are great. NI Komplete's Grandeur is just as good as any of these, but that's not saying much. I'd just as soon pick the Nord Piano's internal sounds.

I have noticed that much depends on the action of your controller keyboard, though. That can make a very big difference, along with velocity curves in both the keyboard and the VI.

I have vowed not to buy any other piano library until I own KeyScape. I love Trillian and Omnisphere, and find Spectrasonics' stuff to excel at playability and velocity response.
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#2869550 - 07/27/17 10:08 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: zephonic]
hardware Offline
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Registered: 03/04/14
Posts: 1093
Loc: Las Vegas
I use Keyscape inside of Omni and load multis from an NVMe M.2 so the progress bar is almost non existent.
I don't care for the Pianos by themselves, but their transients and sampled attacks are as vital as click on a B3 clone.
Mixing their C7 and Upright with PianoTeq is most gratifying.
So good I actually retuned my notes in PianoTeq Pro edit mode to capture the layered sound better.
I tried layering VSTs years ago and timing or phase cancellation sucked.
These new layers are just fantastic though.
The Keyscape Wing Upright is excellent for all styles.
It cuts in a mix too.
Even on a crappy iPad recording of a gig I heard the details clear as a bell from the mains.
Best R & B Rock Piano I ever owned.
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#2869552 - 07/27/17 10:18 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: hardware]
mate stubb Offline
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Originally Posted By: hardware

I don't care for the Pianos by themselves, but their transients and sampled attacks are as vital as click on a B3 clone.
Mixing their C7 and Upright with PianoTeq is most gratifying.


Great idea. I like to layer uprights and grands on my Stage also. It really keeps the piano in a band mix.
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#2869556 - 07/27/17 10:59 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: mate stubb]
CaptainUnderpant Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 06/15/12
Posts: 621
Loc: Long Beach, CA
Keyscape - I love the Rhodes in Keyscape. This alone is reason for me to own Keyscape. It is buttery smooth and luscious.

VI piano - I have pianoteq, and have enjoyed it. But once I got the Ravenscroft, pianoteq got put to the back burner. Ravenscroft has a more organic sound with a much greater richness.

I haven't yet messed around with layering pianos.
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#2869575 - 07/28/17 02:10 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: CaptainUnderpant]
Ashville.Guru Offline
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Registered: 10/29/07
Posts: 1843
Loc: India
Originally Posted By: CaptainUnderpant
Keyscape - I love the Rhodes in Keyscape. This alone is reason for me to own Keyscape. It is buttery smooth and luscious.

VI piano - I have pianoteq, and have enjoyed it. But once I got the Ravenscroft, pianoteq got put to the back burner. Ravenscroft has a more organic sound with a much greater richness.

I haven't yet messed around with layering pianos.

Captain, have you tried the built-in layered presets in Keyscape? There's one or two where the C7 is layered with the Upright.

My question is more about how resource-hungry it is, than tonal aspects. If you hit dozens of notes with the pedal down, does the CPU hit 100%, do you hear glitches?

- Guru
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#2869577 - 07/28/17 03:26 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Ashville.Guru]
Lee T Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 119
Loc: North West UK
I've ordered Keyscape anyway, as I didn't need much of a push smile . For some of the covers I play the MKS20 sounds are perfect as are the some of duo presets.
Also spent some time playing around with the settings on the Pianoteq Bluthner and it's getting there.
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#2869620 - 07/28/17 08:30 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
Stokely Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 1601
Loc: Florida
Controller, and also your interface.

I decided I didn't like Logic's piano, at all. Wasn't fun to play, I figured it was the sound. I tried a demo of something else...and didn't like that at all either.

Turns out, the interface I was using had a bit of latency that I couldn't really hear but could feel. It made a night and day difference when I got my new (very cheap) Behringer interface. It reports low latency, but more importantly it feels immediate now. Has also helped with recording guitar.

I'm now using Addictive Keys, bought the grand and upright on their 50% off sale. Sounds great to me, though I'm sure there are much better ones out there. Waiting until I upgrade my macbook pro as mine is pretty old, then maybe look into something that is more high-end for piano. But once the latency went away, I even liked the Logic piano (a bit more, still don't think it's great!)


Edited by Stokely (07/28/17 08:32 AM)

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#2869623 - 07/28/17 08:35 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Stokely]
Lee T Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 119
Loc: North West UK
I'm using MOTU interfaces and have got the latency down to 64 samples on my MB Pro, so it's all happy there. From a controller perspective I use either the PC3x or my Casio PX-5S. The Casio high resolution midi is recognised by Pianoteq and works very well.
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#2869639 - 07/28/17 09:40 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
linwood Offline
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Registered: 09/11/00
Posts: 5124
Loc: Las Vegas,NV,UNITED STATES
I still use the mks20, too. I've got the real thing in my rack here, but haven't used it since keyscape. The sound of the classic rhodes layered with the mks20 is really nice. You'll love it. I really like the C7, too. Love the way it responds. Sounds great in stereo and I like how I can put it in mono and bounce for when I want the piano panned off to the side and not taking up so much down the middle on things. I've had the Harmochord-Cathedral creep into a few folk-ish projects and what a cool thing that is. There's a ton of stuff in keyscape and if you have omnisphere 2 you'll be a happy camper. Lotta bang for the buck here. This stuff is like string libs, you need 'em all. What a mess we've gotten ourselves into. lol

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#2869662 - 07/28/17 12:18 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: linwood]
Lee T Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 119
Loc: North West UK
Originally Posted By: linwood
This stuff is like string libs, you need 'em all. What a mess we've gotten ourselves into. lol


Ha, too true. I've got a couple of Kronos worth of software in my MacBook. I do have Omnisphere 2 so very much looking forward to Keyscape.
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#2869703 - 07/28/17 04:06 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
hardware Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 03/04/14
Posts: 1093
Loc: Las Vegas
Originally Posted By: Lee T
I do have Omnisphere 2 so very much looking forward to Keyscape.


Make sure to use Keyscape inside of Omnisphere.
Keyscape Creative is a free upgrade/soundest which has several unique layers.
It's a fast way to learn how to use Omni 2 FX.
Their EQs and Distortion are really nice.

I use real hardware Tubes to get fake Electric Pianos clavs and transistor organs more authenticity and grit.
But matched Billy Prestons sound on Get Back so well I let Zebra2 HZ take those channels.
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#2869713 - 07/28/17 06:04 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Ashville.Guru]
chas50 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 123
My question is more about how resource-hungry it is, than tonal aspects. If you hit dozens of notes with the pedal down, does the CPU hit 100%, do you hear glitches?

- Guru [/quote]

my experience with it was mega glitching.
that was with a new laptop with an i5.
I just played it and really stressed it (lots of notes. lots of pedal), with a new desktop with an i7. 64 samples buffer size.
no glitching.
I think it used to glitch. (much to my chagrin and frustration after building what I thought was a strong desktop: NVMe M.2 SSD for sample libraries, a separate M.2 SSD for system, etc.)
I wonder if Windows 10 has been improved? like for playing VST's? just wondering out loud.


Edited by chas50 (07/28/17 06:07 PM)

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#2869735 - 07/29/17 12:04 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: chas50]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 8207
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
I still find Pianoteq by far the most organic and playable, but when I get super-critical on soloed listening, I do find it a bit synthy still. Less so with each release though.

Ideally one could layer it with a sample library, but I have never gotten good results doing that, even when closely matching settings.

I play and write in almost every style imaginable, so need a wide range of instruments and especially pianos. When I work REALLY hard at it, I am ultimately able to get better results with sample libraries, for the most part -- but not "out of the gate" and rarely if ever for original tracking.

Ravenscroft is far and away my favourite, but it isn't for everything. I like that it sort of meets "half-way" between an aggressive Fazioli sound and a more mellow Steinway sound (not that all Steinways are mellow by any means; my parents's is clangy compared to their beloved Mason & Hamlin).

I use True Keys Italian the next most (Fazioli), followed by Galaxy Pianos Vintage D. Along with Pianoteq, I find these four the most reactive to pedaling, and to wide-ranging dynamics and full-keyboard playing.

For Yamaha sounds, I still find Pianoteq YC5 by far the most realistic, but with a lot of work I can get Impact Soundworks Pearl to be useful. Somewhat less so for Orange Tree Samples Rosewood Grand -- mostly due to different miking techniques. pearl is closer to True Keys miking.

I should point out that I despise reverb with a passion and want my piano sound super-dry and intimate. So I can't use sample libraries that don't offer close mics -- pretty much the only mics I use (the ones inside the lid). Sometimes a mic on the pedals can add a bit of energy and realism.

I own several dozen piano libraries. It's rare that I use any besides the ones listed above, and Pianoteq is still the most-used of any of them but no longer holds a monopoly in my sessions. My ultimate goal is to move away from it entirely, on a matter of principle alone, as I have concluded that modeling gets us right back where we were with FM in the 80's, where it sits well in the mix but gets synthy once super-isolated.
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#2869737 - 07/29/17 12:38 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Mark Schmieder]
Lee T Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/15
Posts: 119
Loc: North West UK
Originally Posted By: Mark Schmieder

I should point out that I despise reverb with a passion and want my piano sound super-dry and intimate. So I can't use sample libraries that don't offer close mics -- pretty much the only mics I use (the ones inside the lid). Sometimes a mic on the pedals can add a bit of energy and realism.


Couldn't agree more. First switch I look for in any VI is the reverb 'off'.
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#2869738 - 07/29/17 12:59 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Lee T]
Theo Verelst Offline
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Registered: 02/27/10
Posts: 3635
Most reverbs have gone the way of becoming useless as either a proper simulation or preparation for listening space because of preoccupations of programmers. My concern is: do I hear those samples move, do they come from a specific direction in the stereo field, do they ever and ever play at certain speaker non-linearities, and a lot more hard to explain apparent short cuts that aren't good ideas. Making a digital tone come out right has very little to do with what those plugin programmers are hip to.

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#2869753 - 07/29/17 06:25 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Theo Verelst]
Stokely Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 1601
Loc: Florida
I would find it a bit odd to have a piano sound with no reverb at all--you'd have reverb in "real life" in any room, albeit not that much in a carpeted small one. But obviously whatever works for you is the right way! I do tend to turn off the built-in verbs in my plugins and use other plugins as usually they have more clarity (not always though).


Edited by Stokely (07/29/17 06:26 AM)

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#2869756 - 07/29/17 07:22 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Ashville.Guru]
CaptainUnderpant Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 06/15/12
Posts: 621
Loc: Long Beach, CA
Originally Posted By: Ashville.Guru
Originally Posted By: CaptainUnderpant
Keyscape - I love the Rhodes in Keyscape. This alone is reason for me to own Keyscape. It is buttery smooth and luscious.

VI piano - I have pianoteq, and have enjoyed it. But once I got the Ravenscroft, pianoteq got put to the back burner. Ravenscroft has a more organic sound with a much greater richness.

I haven't yet messed around with layering pianos.

Captain, have you tried the built-in layered presets in Keyscape? There's one or two where the C7 is layered with the Upright.

My question is more about how resource-hungry it is, than tonal aspects. If you hit dozens of notes with the pedal down, does the CPU hit 100%, do you hear glitches?

- Guru

Ashville, I will check it out sometime later today and report back. And include my computer specs.
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#2869789 - 07/29/17 02:33 PM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: CaptainUnderpant]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 8207
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Oh, I'll use a reverb in production for sure, but a light one, depending on the context. I just don't want it baked in, nor while playing as it can throw off my sense of phrasing etc.

The reverb in Pianoteq isn't bad for playing, but I turn it off anyway as otherwise I am less conscious of when I want string resonance from pedaling instead.

I tend to use Vienna Instruments reverbs for most things these days, and Altiverb as well but less than before. I did invest in MIR but haven't had time to fully utilize it yet, so tend to use their hybrid reverb and smaller convolution reverb a bit more.

If I was going to use a piano VI live, it'd be a bigger challenge as to what to do, but I still don't trust computers on stage (Muse Receptor is a different situation, but I have less and less reason to invest in it as my live playing rarely ever includes keys anymore).

There are some libraries that have reverbs specifically designed for the library, and I'm actually starting to use some of those, but NONE of those are for piano products. The one that comes to mind is Chris Hein Horns. It's a rare case where I'm finding his special reverbs (these aren't ones that come with Kontakt) win against all contestants, for trumpets/saxes/etc.


Edited by Mark Schmieder (07/29/17 02:33 PM)
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#2869942 - 07/31/17 06:02 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: chas50]
Ashville.Guru Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 10/29/07
Posts: 1843
Loc: India
Originally Posted By: chas50
my experience with it was mega glitching.
that was with a new laptop with an i5.
I just played it and really stressed it (lots of notes. lots of pedal), with a new desktop with an i7. 64 samples buffer size.
no glitching.
I think it used to glitch. (much to my chagrin and frustration after building what I thought was a strong desktop: NVMe M.2 SSD for sample libraries, a separate M.2 SSD for system, etc.)

This is really interesting. It looks like the CPU is the weakest link in the chain, and faster read/write speed via M.2 doesn't help. It has something to do with the way Spectrasonics has implemented streaming, I understand. I understand that you can avoid glitching by turning off streaming - at the cost of increased load times, and you'll need to max out your RAM. But that's where the M.2 would come to the rescue, I'd imagine.

I'm curious to know the exact model of the CPUs - both on your laptop and the desktop.

Originally Posted By: CaptainUnderpant
Ashville, I will check it out sometime later today and report back. And include my computer specs.

thu

- Guru
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#2869979 - 07/31/17 08:24 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Ashville.Guru]
Markay Offline
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Registered: 01/28/12
Posts: 2671
Loc: Australia
The amount of RAM may also be significant.

In MainStage there is CPU and RAM meter which provides real time information of what is going on inside MS and usage for each VI. Fastest way to trouble shoot resource issues.
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#2870028 - 07/31/17 10:59 AM Re: Need some advice on Piano VI's [Re: Ashville.Guru]
miden Offline
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Registered: 01/30/06
Posts: 2215
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Ashville.Guru

This is really interesting. It looks like the CPU is the weakest link in the chain, and faster read/write speed via M.2 doesn't help. It has something to do with the way Spectrasonics has implemented streaming, I understand. I understand that you can avoid glitching by turning off streaming - at the cost of increased load times, and you'll need to max out your RAM. But that's where the M.2 would come to the rescue, I'd imagine.

I'm curious to know the exact model of the CPUs - both on your laptop and the desktop.

- Guru

Depends really, if it is a sampled instrument, then SSD (or HDD) speed/space is critical and indeed they could be run quite successfully with only an i3 chip (even a Celeron in a pinch). It is the modelled instruments that run entirely from RAM that need the big/fast CPU's
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