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Piano Quiz


U.Honey

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I am trying to decide which of my keyboards has the best acoustic piano sound. I am looking for an overall usable piano sound for rock/pop/jazz - type of situation. There are lots of very good piano players in this forum, so whats better than to get a second opinion from the fellow musos here :)

 

I played a little ~30 second tune and recorded it with three different (hardware) pianos and one software piano. I used the factory preset piano sound and disabled all the effects (reverbs, EQs etc), so what youre hearing is the pure piano sound coming out from the instrument.

 

Each sample plays for about 35 seconds, like this:

 

1st piano starting at 0:00

2nd piano starting at 0:35

3rd piano starting at 1:10

4rd piano starting at 1:45

 

Take a listen and chime in:

 

Which one you like the most.

Which one you like the least.

Also, feel free to comment on why you liked/disliked the particular piano.

 

Here is the link to the audio file:

 

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I didn't like #2 or #3...too bright and 'drenched in reverb' type feel to them, which I don't like. I think I like #1 the best because of its deep tone, but #4 is alright if you want a lighter sound.

 

Just my opinion. Please be sure to post which pianos you're using afterwords (I think I have an idea, though..). ;)

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They all sound usable, but if I had to pick one, I would go for #2, which sounded the fullest and most resonant to me, then #3 or #1, then #4, which has less dynamic range.

 

PS: I wrote and posted this before seeing Kenny's post. No surprise that personal preferences vary!

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Obviously my ears are different from everyone else who's posted so far.

 

4 was very soothing, the sort of thing you could listen to all day. My favourite.

2 sounded authentic, very acoustic. Good.

3 was like a digital piano trying to sound acoustic. OK, but not quite there.

1 was meh.

 

 

SSM

Occasionally, do something nice for a total stranger. They'll wonder what the hell is going on!
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Boy, opinions do differ!

 

I like the first one a lot, it sounds real and rich.

 

The third one is also very good to me. Not as "authentic" sounding as the first but still very musical.

 

I don't really like the second one. It has a kind of "hollowness" to it, and the initial drop from attack to decay sounds exaggerated.

 

The fourth is the one I like least. Somewhat similar to the second one, overall. Plinky sounding, too percussive (the right hand part at 2:03 sounds almost like marimba).

 

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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...looking for an overall usable piano sound for rock/pop/jazz - type of situation.

That is tall order. FWIW

Rock/Pop - 3

Jazz - 1

Good distinction. The two I liked were 1 and 3, but along the lines of what you said, I might be inclined to pick #3 for a rock/pop ensemble gig, and #1 for somewhere where the piano would be more exposed.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Well, my main point to consider is composed of two IMO important considerations. First, how you connected, sampled, implicitly (maybe you don't eve know) processed and mp3 or (what soundcloud uses to compress) converted on most modern digital keyboards makes a lot of difference on good systems, when you listen back. For instance, I find an immense "ringing" effect audible in all examples, just bearable, but extremely pronounced in comparison with what I'm used to.

 

The other main thing I'd like to draw attention to, and that relates to the "effects off" matter, though not necessarily, is that in an advanced instrument like the piano, and it's digital counterpart, there convoluted effects that make it go loud in a non-dangerous way, and also in a way that makes listeners close by and far off hear an ok sound. That's a very important issue, especially when people can buy a blasting 500 powered speakers for only a few hundred bucks. From your examples I couldn't exactly work out how that all works for these machines, but the first recording (possibly the instrument too) sounded dangerous in that department.

 

Second, there's the question of "playability", that I can not really deduce from these examples, because I know that some of the not-so-great and not-so-piano-ploinky sounds may work very well when performing all the music kinds you mention, even if a superficial "nerdy" sound test isn't the certain thing some people appear to look for.

 

Less important, I think the 2d and the 3d fragment had some form of "loudness neatness" in them, in that on a neutral PA they probably behave better. The first one, the way it's recorded, sounds like it would blow peoples ears of, unless maybe used on a combo amp, but in the way the recording sounds, strongly un-recommended, and also, as third priority, sounds ugly, except maybe on very weird speakers (maybe the ones people nowadays take as "studio" monitors).

 

Again, the digitization makes a lot of difference, and my personal preference is to add some effect (say a hint of Lexicon reverb if you want to be sure you do things right), to differentiate between the sound effect of the digital mixing and recording, and the PA or practice speaker sound, such that it's easier to hear what goes on in the various sounds. So maybe the test is too one-dimensional to get a good answer.

 

T.

 

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That's a very important issue, especially when people can buy a blasting 500 powered speakers for only a few hundred bucks. From your examples I couldn't exactly work out how that all works for these machines, but the first recording (possibly the instrument too) sounded dangerous in that department.

 

Less important, I think the 2d and the 3d fragment had some form of "loudness neatness" in them, in that on a neutral PA they probably behave better. The first one, the way it's recorded, sounds like it would blow peoples ears of, unless maybe used on a combo amp, but in the way the recording sounds, strongly un-recommended, and also, as third priority, sounds ugly, except maybe on very weird speakers (maybe the ones people nowadays take as "studio" monitors).

I listened to these, and audition all my sounds, on my EV ZLX, thats what I gig with and thats my reality. For live use I have given up on making decisions based on what something sounds like through hi quality studio monitors or headphones. I assumed the OP was asking for an opinion based on live use.

MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P

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Thanks to everyone for comments. The pianos were:

 

1. Yamaha S90 ES.

2. Gem Promega 2.

3. Nord Stage.

4. Steinway piano from Logic Pro 9 bundle.

 

Yamaha clearly got most likes, followed by Promega 2. The only software piano (Steinway from Logic Pro bundle) was the most disliked one, although one user liked it to be the best. Nobody ranked Nord as the clear number one but two user voted it to be the best piano for jazz.

 

Thats pretty interesting result. Looks like the hardware pianos still compete pretty well against the pure software pianos. However, the Logics Steinway is probably not the best software piano out there.

 

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I've used a S90 since it was just out, I don't know which piano you used, but it sounds quite different. I suppose an edit ? To me at least the software piano in your setup appears under control, that's good.

 

T.

 

The S90 ES Piano was an unedited 'Natural S' patch. S90 classic does not have that sample, it came out with S90 ES.

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The S90 ES Piano was an unedited 'Natural S' patch. S90 classic does not have that sample, it came out with S90 ES.

Right... I believe the "Natural S' patch is the S700 sample, which lots of people liked... and not only was it new to the ES version of the S90, it also didn't make it into the XS version! Only the ES version had it. However the S700 sample is available as a free download from Yamaha for the MOXF and Motif XF, if you have a flash card installed.

 

For piano #3, the Nord Stage, which piano sample did you use?

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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The only software piano (Steinway from Logic Pro bundle) was the most disliked one, although one user liked it to be the best.

For Rock/Pop none of the Logic AP's had the tonal quality I was looking for. I ended up choosing SampleTekk White Grand, recommended by another forumite, for live Rock/Pop use in MainStage.

MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P

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The S90 ES Piano was an unedited For piano #3, the Nord Stage, which piano sample did you use?

 

It is the Studio Grand patch. I have Nord Stage Classic and so I think the exact sound is 'Studio Grand Mk2 YamC7 close v3.0'.

 

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I believe the "Natural S' patch is the S700 sample, which lots of people liked...

 

That's right, S90 ES came out with the S700 triple strike piano. I had the S90 Classic but upgraded to S90 ES mainly because I liked the new piano sound so much. That was back in 2006, though. Time flies!

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For piano #3, the Nord Stage, which piano sample did you use?

 

It is the Studio Grand patch. I have Nord Stage Classic and so I think the exact sound is 'Studio Grand Mk2 YamC7 close v3.0'.

It would be interesting to hear the Nord represented by one of its more modern samples, like the Grand Imperial, which can be loaded into the Stage Classic (though not in its most sophisticated form).

 

It's funny, when I first listened to the samples, my guess was that #3 was a Yamaha. So it is kind of reassuring that, even though it was a Nord, it was a Nord sample of a Yamaha. ;-)

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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For piano #3, the Nord Stage, which piano sample did you use?

 

It is the Studio Grand patch. I have Nord Stage Classic and so I think the exact sound is 'Studio Grand Mk2 YamC7 close v3.0'.

It would be interesting to hear the Nord represented by one of its more modern samples, like the Grand Imperial, which can be loaded into the Stage Classic (though not in its most sophisticated form).

 

It's funny, when I first listened to the samples, my guess was that #3 was a Yamaha. So it is kind of reassuring that, even though it was a Nord, it was a Nord sample of a Yamaha. ;-)

The Fazioli is the best piano patch on the Nord currently...
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