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Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
#3035082 03/26/20 12:58 AM
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As Buddy Rich said on one of his tapes.... "Days off, nothing to do." So I'm trying a different piano. I wasn't sure whether to post this here or Shameless Plugs, since it's a video and I have no shame – it does show off my terrible technique (something I hope to work on in these next few weeks given I'll have plenty of time).

This is a great Bill Evans tune that I'm sure the jazzers here know and have played, but of course I can't state the melody since youtube would probably flag me for a copyright violation. So here's a quick 1:12 clip of me blowing on one chorus. I'd like to play a little game and see if anyone can "guess the piano." The last time I did this it was with my venerable Native Instruments "New York" and it seems like I surprised a few people who wouldn't expect an almost 15 year old virtual piano to still hold its own.

One thing I may have messed up is that I boosted the volume quite a bit. It's not clipping but it's very loud now so if anyone would be kind enough to let me now if I overdid it, I'll redo the upload and tone it down a bit. That'll be nothing new – I've been told to turn down MANY times! smile

Enjoy and thanks for listening! Sorry, I couldn't resist the "reezekeys signature move" with my octave shift buttons at the end – just be glad it's not the transpose button!


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035095 03/26/20 01:52 AM
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Beautiful playing, man! Thanks for sharing.

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035096 03/26/20 01:59 AM
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Nice very cool playing. I always like that Bill Evans tune and especially when read it was first song he wrote back as a teen.

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035106 03/26/20 03:01 AM
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Thanks for sharing. Nice playing!

I know we've been this for years... but seeing a really decent piano sound coming out of a keyboard controller is still strange to me somehow. smile


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035110 03/26/20 03:33 AM
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Enjoyed that! Nice piano sound; I won't venture a guess as to what it is. You made that little 61 key SW controller sing, especially when, smooth as silk, you pressed that octave shift button at the end. You got that move down cold.

Just goes to show that it's not the rig, it's the player. Thanks for sharing.


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035121 03/26/20 05:27 AM
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As for the piano, it sounds great in the lower and middle registers. If I'm being critical, the attack on the high notes sounds just a tad too sharp to my ear. But overall it's a great sound for jazz.

What is that controller?


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035141 03/26/20 12:01 PM
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Hey Rob, that’s some nice playing and thanks for your ‘guess the piano’ idea. I’ll take a stab in the dark that it’s True Keys American. I’d venture to say the sharpness Adan mentions has more to do with the A800 Pro than the VI.


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035146 03/26/20 12:32 PM
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Nice playing Rob on a wonderful song! I can’t guess which piano it is

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035162 03/26/20 02:25 PM
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Beautifully played Rob. I can't tell what the library is but it's nice and warm. How do you achieve that touch on an A800? pop smile

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Al Quinn #3035164 03/26/20 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Al Quinn
Nice playing Rob on a wonderful song! I can’t guess which piano it is

I'm with Al here on both points.


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035184 03/26/20 04:25 PM
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Thanks guys, I really appreciate the kind words. Drum roll, it's the free Korg piano for iPad! I "borrowed" my wife's iPad (she may not see it for a while!) after I read the posts here about Korg and Moog temporarily offering some of their apps for free. That led me to downloading this guy, and after a few days messing around with it, all I can say is that I'm very impressed at what I can do with a 4 1/2 year old iPad Air 2 and this free software. My latency setting was at the minimum (64 samples) and this old hardware had no problems with any kind of playing I did. Also, there's nothing added to the audio except the aforementioned volume boost when I made the vid; the app has a few reverbs and other efx (I only used a little bit of verb). I did mess with the velocity response settings and probably could have spent a little more time there. IMO it's the midrange that's the weakest (as it is in a few pianos I've played) – it has a somewhat synthetic sound. The best way I can describe it is that it's like each note has only two strings instead of usual three, and the unisons are too "perfect." I hope that makes sense. But hey, it's free! I gotta say I was shocked at how playable this piano was.

The last few days have been an iPad education for me. So far I've connected to this app from my laptop using three different methods – bluetooth, "Midi Network Setup" and "Inter-device Audio and Midi mode." The latter method routes the audio to my Mac as well as doing midi communication. My impression is that the Network setup, with audio coming from the iPad, provides the best latency performance but they're all acceptable imo. I see that Amazon has inexpensive USB2 "B" (device) to lightning connector cables which presumably means I could do a gig using only my A800 controller and the iPad – no computer required. Has anyone tried this? I'm curious to now how it's worked out. I know I'd probably have to provide external power for both the iPad and my controller.

Am I going to replace my current virtual piano with this guy? No. Would I be able to make it through a gig with this piano in an emergency situation? Yes, I think I could. What I'm thinking is that, if this is what I can get for free, I wonder about the paid pianos out there? I'm tempted to start looking into this. I'm liking that Minimoog too!

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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035194 03/26/20 04:42 PM
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Ivory Steinway D in-app for Korg Module Pro has a better all around tone. Better again is Ravenscroft - if you’re into taking iPad pianos further. But it’s worth noting for ease of use that Module’s sounds are all there in one package (adding Scarbee is definitely worth it) and you can set-list your favourites as if they are presets. No hosting apps, no mismatches, etc. Easy!


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035198 03/26/20 05:25 PM
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Yes I see that piano - "Ivory Mobile American D." There's also the "Ivory Mobile Grand" and they're both the same price ($30). They both sound pretty good although the D's demo is much louder than the Mobile Grand and has more ambience which makes comparison difficult. The Scarbee sounds good but I wonder if there's a way to tame down the "bellish" tine-y component a little to make it sound more old school (more of a "thunk" attack). That would work better for what I use a Rhodes on – but that's just me, the sound itself is really nice. The other thing is that I assume these bigger pianos are more resource-intensive than the free Korg piano, so I wonder how they'd do with the iPad Air 2. No way to really know without forking over the dough.

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Adan #3035201 03/26/20 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Adan
What is that controller?

Roland A-800 Pro.

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035205 03/26/20 05:42 PM
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On iPad I have Ivory Mobile American D and Ivory Mobile Grand. I ordered the latter by mistake, which was kind of a waste of $30. Actually they were both a waste because I prefer Ravenscroft to both. Warmer, more natural sounding. But they're all good and gig-worthy.

I also prefer Neo Soul Keys Studio 2 to Scarbee. Scarbee is good and very gig worthy, but to me the comparison is not close even comparing the out of the box sounds. Add in that Neo Soul is infinitely flexible and it's game over. YMMV.

Nice think about Korg Module Pro is you can do a lot within one app, including splits and setlsts, so no need for interfacing apps and workarounds. Organs and synths are a weak area for Korg Module -- they work in a supporting role but not front and center.

I'm not an expert in this stuff by any means, I just know what I like and what has worked for me.


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035223 03/26/20 06:45 PM
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Totally agree on the Ravenscroft and Neo Soul Keys Studio 2. I like that you can set up the MIDI controls through AUM, and not have to worry about reloading the individual apps when they crash. The original Neo Soul wouldn't save controller settings, and I don't know if the new one does within the user-presets as I don't need it to. Anyway, so now you can buy and load B3X as an audio unit and there's your Hammond.

BTW Module's Scarbee has quite a few presets, but you can't deep edit like NeoSoul Keys Studio 2.

Sorry to take this sideways!

Last edited by drawback; 03/26/20 07:08 PM. Reason: On a tangent

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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035253 03/26/20 09:14 PM
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No prob on going "sideways"... not that I'm the big cheeze here but as the thread starter I'll just say that it's all good as far as I'm concerned.

So I go to the App Store and see a few Neo-Soul offerings: Keys, Studio, and Studio 2. "Keys" is free so what the hey, I download it. I have to assume the sounds it has are nothing like the Studio apps – they are rather weak, imo. Also, nowhere in the description does it say that this app is completely non-functional without the in-app purchases. Well, not "completely", they let you play the five flavors of keyboards for a few minutes, then abruptly stop the sound and pop up a page where you can purchase. The individual pianos are not expensive, between $3 and $5 each, and all five for $10, but I wouldn't use any of them on a gig. It makes me nervous about going for their Studio or Studio 2 offerings but from what you guys are saying, those are completely different from what I hear in this version – I sure hope so!

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035254 03/26/20 09:27 PM
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Rob,

It might be worth doing some more research or starting a new thread on Neo-Soul. Lots of folks here have experience with it. I never tried the free version. The $25 version of Studio 2 seems complete without further in app purchases. But I don't even know what those in app purchases are. More presets, perhaps?

Neo Soul Keys Studio 2 has more detail and richness than anything else I've heard, sampled or modeled. Occasionally I notice unwanted artifacts, static or crackles. It's just here and there and I don't really know why. It's not a perfect product, and not as refined as what you can get from bigger companies like Korg, but it has character and nuance for days. Speaking for myself, I can't get enough of it.


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035263 03/26/20 10:01 PM
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There's communication lacking from the developer, for sure. I went through the same sequence a couple of years ago and deleted the free one right away.

The thing about Studio and Studio 2 is that if you don't like the presets (which I don't), you have the ability to use them as building blocks to hone pretty much anything you want. Studio is more like tweaking a real Rhodes, whereas Studio 2 is a different concept. It has a basis of synth-style editing points to sculpt the sound and a visual rack of fx to finish them off.

It's a learning curve because the interface is unique, opaque and visually messy. That said, Studio 2 has an owner's manual built into the software (not a separate document) that gives you at least an idea of what's going on. At first I found it a bit frustrating but after giving it some time to sink in, the results for me were satisfying.

Now, all that effort and money spent to get "the one" Rhodes you want may or may not be worth it. Knowing what I want in a Rhodes, I probably achieved about the same thing with either app in the end. But Studio 2 will take you further if you want to go there.


Rod
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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035268 03/26/20 10:51 PM
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Adan: the in-app purchases for the free "Keys" versions are just to unlock the instruments themselves. Otherwise the app is in a demo mode. Unless I missed it, nowhere in the description does it mention that minor fact. Maybe you were referring to in-app purchases in NK Studio 2? Never mind!

One thing I was able to hear immediately besides the rather non-authentic sound in the demos was crackling with buffer settings below 160 samples. The Korg piano in their free app was entirely playable on my iPad Air 2 with a 64-sample buffer setting, the minimum. This doesn't make me optimistic about the Studio 1 or Studio 2 apps.

Anyway – the point of this thread was to share my enthusiasm that a piano that cost $0 and played on a 4.5-year-old iPad could yield a satisfying playing experience – up until now I didn't think it was possible. I know, that mindset is probably more about my misconceptions than actual truth; I guess I'm just late to the iPad party. It definitely got me thinking that I could do a local jazz gig with my iPad and leave the computer at home, which would be nice since my shlep allowance factor is decreasing as my years increase. The minimum requirements for that kind of gig are a decent acoustic piano and rhodes. The iPad still can't replace the rig I need to tour with but that's OK, I wouldn't expect it to.

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
drawback #3035270 03/26/20 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by drawback
The thing about Studio and Studio 2 is that if you don't like the presets (which I don't), you have the ability to use them as building blocks to hone pretty much anything you want. Studio is more like tweaking a real Rhodes, whereas Studio 2 is a different concept. It has a basis of synth-style editing points to sculpt the sound and a visual rack of fx to finish them off.

I'm an old fart not into much tweaking other than getting the velocity response to feel right. If the basic samples are good and the velocity switching is done right, I'm good. The only efx I must have for a Rhodes is the stereo tremolo. Some kind of tube amp sim is nice to have too.

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035278 03/26/20 11:26 PM
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Neo-Soul went through so many revs so quickly, that I lost patience and wish it could be re-sold. I don't even remember anymore the sequence of platform changes between UVI Workstation, Kontakt, and standalone proprietary player, but I was extremely disappointed by the current rev (standalone proprietary player) and felt it was a huge step backwards in sound quality and authenticity.

I no longer use any of them due to the confusion and as I feel I have better choices now across-the-board (Soniccouture Canterbury, and Scarbee's 88, plus Purgatory Creek for all e-keys and also Soniccouture's Clav). For a few years though (especially with the Kontakt versions and maybe the UVI library as well), I thought Neo-Soul was the B's Knees.

Last edited by Mark Schmieder; 03/26/20 11:26 PM.

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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Mark Schmieder #3035352 03/27/20 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark Schmieder
Neo-Soul went through so many revs so quickly, that I lost patience and wish it could be re-sold. I don't even remember anymore the sequence of platform changes between UVI Workstation, Kontakt, and standalone proprietary player, but I was extremely disappointed by the current rev (standalone proprietary player) and felt it was a huge step backwards in sound quality and authenticity.

I no longer use any of them due to the confusion and as I feel I have better choices now across-the-board (Soniccouture Canterbury, and Scarbee's 88, plus Purgatory Creek for all e-keys and also Soniccouture's Clav). For a few years though (especially with the Kontakt versions and maybe the UVI library as well), I thought Neo-Soul was the B's Knees.

Mark, I'm a little confused. Can these alternative be played from iPad? If so, that would be great, but I don't know how to do that.

"Inauthentic" is not a term I'd use to describe the Neosoul EPs. But as a product it does lack the polish and sophistication of apps from more established companies.


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035396 03/27/20 08:11 PM
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I'm referring specifically to the latest edition, when they dumped the licensing costs and built their own home-grown sampling platform. To my ears, a lot was lost in the process, but I can see how they may have felt compelled to do this from a business standpoint as competition is fierce and licensing fees are not tiny.

I do not own any mobile devices, so I do not keep up with what can or cannot work on such platforms. Isn't it just a resource-bound issue, if we're talking something common like Kontakt or UVI Workstation that is available on multiple platforms?


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Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035398 03/27/20 08:15 PM
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AFAIK Kontakt and UVI are not on iOS.

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035405 03/27/20 09:02 PM
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Back to the original post - beautiful playing. And that's not an easy tune to flow through the changes on... Thanks for sharing!

Jerry

Re: Trying a new virtual piano (warning: Jazz)
Reezekeys #3035428 03/28/20 01:31 AM
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Thanks Jerry, I appreciate that – it means a lot coming from you! Those are some great changes to try and play over, that's for sure.

Like a lot of other musicians, I'll have a good amout of free time coming up so I may be posting more of my attempts. I'm actually getting to like this Korg iPad piano!


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