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stereo piano soundfont available, please review


JeffLearman

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For a short time only, here's a stereo piano soundfont I whipped together on Sunday afternoon. 8 evenly-spaced velocity layers, no envelope tweaking. Every 4th white key was sampled, for the most part.

 

It's a sample of my Ensoniq's MR76's Stereo Piano patch.

 

jStereoPiano.sfArk (52MB, expands to about 150MB.)

 

I'd like feedback on the general playability of this soundfont. Not surprisingly, it doesn't play as well as the MR76 itself, but it's not too far off. But what I really would like feedback about is the dynamics. I find that the dynamics are much more natural sounding than pretty much all the free grand piano soundfonts I've tried. So I'm trying to understand whether it's the velocity curve of my MR76 that's throwing the other samples off, or whether these really are just a more nicely spaced set of samples.

 

If find that most soundfonts play well at F, FF and FFF, but sound like crap when I try to play with any real expression, especially p and pp.

 

BTW, I find this piano sound is good for a variety of styles and sits in a mix quite well. My biggest issue with it is some pretty obvious aliasing in the upper-middle octaves that makes it sound artifical. The bass may be a bit full but you can always EQ that out.

 

This is for educational purposes only. Please do not redistribute the soundfont.

 

I'll be using the feedback to do a better job on the dynamics of my Rhodes soundfont, which you can find here:

 

jRhodes1.html

 

Thanks!

Jeff

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Learjeff,

 

By distributing this sample, you're ripping off its creators. You ask others not to redistribute the sample, but you shouldn't have made it available at all. It's not yours to offer.

 

By all means, take this file offline. That's just the right thing to do. But don't stop there, or you'll miss out on the learning that you desire. Grab some microphones and sample any decent piano you can find. I promise you'll learn a great deal, and when you're ready to post your results for evaluation, I expect you'll find the feedback to be helpful.

Keven Spargo, Sound Designer

www.ksounds.com

Quality sounds for Yamaha, Korg, Kurzweil and Kontakt formats

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ksounds, you have a valid point. What I'm doing isn't criminal according to US laws, but it is actionable in civil court, as a violation of implicit phonorecording copyrights (of the samples).

 

Interestingly, any use of the piano to record music is also a violation of that implicit copyright. However, since the instrument is sold for the ostensible purpose of creating music, this would be a ridiculous claim to try to make -- one that would put any instrument manufacturer out of business. In my case, though, I'm not creating music but essentially creating a new instrument, which is why I think ksounds's position is more legally valid than Capn's (but thanks for the support, Capn!)

 

I will probably hobble the samples in some way so that the soundfont is useful for the educational purposes but nobody would want to use it as a real instrument. This shouldn't be hard to do, and would help to ligitimize the "fair use" claim I'm making.

 

I haven't distributed this widely and I doubt it will affect the sales of Ensoniq synthesizers (especially since Ensoniq doesn't exist any more).

The only available product I could find is a chipset for a popular ROMpler that contains all the sounds from the ZR76, and I doubt my soundfont would possibly affect sales of that item.

 

So, while your argument is valid, I feel that the actual damages are zero, or nearly zero.

 

I won't be posting this sf at the places where people go to search for soundfonts, but only in two places where I expect specific feedback from experienced players.

 

Note that these are analog copies of the original samples, whereas I could have uploaded and used the digital wave files. That would have been a good way to create a better soundfont, but wouldn't have met my goals for eliciting feedback.

 

But the bottom line was in my first paragraph -- ksounds is right, and I will do something about it.

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Originally posted by orangefunk:

Just a thought Jeff, but how does a piano from a keyboard thats so old take up 150MB of memory? :D

and after you answer that good question, you have to tell what's so valid about ksounds point. it's a mute point. it's pointless. it's a pointed finger! it serves no purpose other than to stifle your creativity. and generosity. and curiosity. And all those things which do separate rules from reason and man from machine. Et cetera.

 

In fact, I want a copy of this old piano. Wait. What old piano? I can't remember!

"........! Try to make It..REAL! compared to what? ! ! ! " - BOPBEEPER
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The reason my samples take so much room for a piano sound that's probably less than a meg in my synth is pretty simple. Ensoniq worked hard and played lots of tricks with looping and applying envelopes to take relatively small wave files and create what I think is still one of the best synth piano sounds.

 

But all I did is sample it, without using loops (though you can hear evidence of Ensoniq's loops in the unnatural sounding harmonics in the upper middle registers), and using 8 samples per not (and sampling every 4th white key).

 

So my result is lots of data, even though the source uses a lot less data to get even better results. I still miss Ensoniq as a manufacturer, and I wish they'd never sold out to Creative. Or had managed to keep their synth division going somehow. But I doubt it was a profitable department -- Ensoniq made its money on its DSP chips and soundcards, or something like that.

 

I also miss good ole SCI, makers of the Prophet series. Not only did they design great sounding gear, their stuff was built easy to service (at least, the few I've dug into). The Ensoniq is not at all fun to take apart, and worse to get back together again!

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Ok - at least you're being open and honest here.

 

How about this? That piano sampledata comes from William Coakley, of "Perfect Piano" fame. He's a small one-man operation who works very hard to make and sell his sample data. He was lucky enough to make a deal with Ensoniq to license them his piano data. A good day for a developer, and I hope it made him some well-deserved money.

 

Now...you've made this soundfont version of his data and are offering to share it for free. So it's not some failed company that doesn't exist anymore. It's a current sound developer trying to eke out an existence in this world.

 

Forget your interpetations of law, let's talk simple human ethics. What is the right thing to do here?

 

http://www.williamcoakley.com/piano.htm

 

Jerry Kovarsky

 

P.S. Yes I worked at Ensoniq for many years, but William's deal happened after I left. I now support his efforts at my job with Korg, so I know what I'm talking about.

 

:-)

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Originally posted by jerrythek:

Forget your interpetations of law, let's talk simple human ethics. What is the right thing to do here?

My point exactly.

 

Thanks, Learjeff, for being willing to see the heart of this issue. Contrary to what some may have thought, the intent of my comments was not to stifle your creativity or willingness to create sounds for others' enjoyment and evaluation. Just the opposite: I would strongly encourage you to pursue sound design using your own original samples. I expect you'll find it interesting; you may even find it addicting.

 

Will your first sampling session yield something of impeccable professional quality? Probably not. But there's a great deal of satisfaction in knowing you've created a playable sampled instrument from scratch, and you can keep practicing and improving your skills as much as you like.

Keven Spargo, Sound Designer

www.ksounds.com

Quality sounds for Yamaha, Korg, Kurzweil and Kontakt formats

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Good thing I downloaded it before you two scared the poor guy off!

 

for crying out loud, does the maker of the drum or the piano get freaking residuals from someone who stuck a mic on it? I doubt there's a wealthy tabla fabricator out there living large on the residuals of a sample CD, or that Tom Oberheim gets a check for every "OB SAW" on an expansion card. Those of us who have heard ourselves, unedited, on broadcast and consumer product just say "Did you hear A12 on Star Trek last week?" "No but C28 is a staple on CSI"

 

How many versions of E-Mu's "waterphone" are out there? Is that really "Don's Snare" or did it come from a hole in a Van Halen song?

 

The only time a rip off is an issue is if the identical product (hardware or intellectual) is repackaged and sold or given away straight up as the original product in an overt or covert attempt to defraud the original developer. Like pirated software, which sucks and is illegal. Whether sound designers like it or not changing an envelope, a transient or a filter creates a new and unique product. Because it isn't "the same".

Yep.
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Hi Learjeff:

 

Not all of them - he licensed an almost 16 MB piano (his Perfect Piano) that was used in the ZR-76 and later released on an expansion board. That's the one useage, although I think EMU may have also offered the same sample in a "Best of the ZR-76" title for their gear.

 

I tried to come off reasonable in my last response, but please note that I'm not attacking you or accusing you of anything. I just think you didn't know the "back-story" of this data, and when you consider the situation you'd see the impact this type of activity has on a real person, not some faceless defunct company.

 

I don't see this as others are writing here about sampling a bass drum or a piano. There is no doubt that this source is from this developer. So the situation to me is ethically clear.

 

I don't usually speak up like this when I see people talking about sampling a sound from synths in general (even my Korg products although I have grounds to) because I understand the nature of the situation. But when a friend of mine running a small business is impacted in this direct fashion I just want to bring it to light.

 

So no harm/no foul intended, OK?

 

Regards,

 

Jerry Kovarsky

Keyboard and Recording Product Manager, Korg USA

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This piano is NOT the Coakley Perfect Piano. It's from the MR76; the PP came out in the subsequent ZR76. In any case, I've asked Coakley if he did the MR76 stereo piano.

 

No harm no foul on the part of anyone posting. It's a valid discussion and different viewpoints should be voiced.

 

I think it's interesting that sampling a Minimoog or a real piano is completely legal, but and sampling a sampled piano is civilly actionable, and criminal if the resulting samples are sold. Interesting, but appropriate.

 

Capn, while I appreciate your support and your point of view, I don't think your "value added" argument holds water. If I use the intellectual property of another and improve on it, I still have to get permission from the original IP owner to distribute my improvement. It's no different than if someone writes a song and I cover it, and maybe add a bridge. The original recording might have been a dud, and my cover could be a blockbuster. But still I'd owe royalties to the original author. This is capitalism -- if you're not a capitalist, then you might disagree ethically. From the standpoint of a communist ethos, I suppose there's no such thing as intellectual property rights.

 

Anyway, from a legal standpoint, I'm in the wrong, and if sued, I'd be liable for actual damages. I'd only be liable for statutory damages and attorneys' fees if the copyright is registered.

 

OK, now ethics. It seems to me like the owner of the MR76 sounds must be EMU, since they sell a circuit board module called the "Sounds of the ZR76", that include this piano. This is only available as a card for the EMU Proteus 2000, which is a hardware ROMpler module. The existence of my soundfont, even if it was widely distributed, would probably have zero effect on sales of P2000 boxes. The ZR module contains hundreds of sounds, including what is generally recognized as a much better piano sound (the Coakley PP). I doubt my samples would have any measurable effect on the sales of this unit. (Actually, it's just as likely to improve it, because anyone with a P2000 might play it and decide to buy the module as a result, getting a much better version.)

 

So, from a "harm" standpoint, I'm not worried. But that's not the only standpoint. Is it my right to do this? No. No more than it's my right to walk onto your property deep in the woods and have a picnic (and clean up before leaving).

 

So, ethically, I'm at best on thin ice, and legally, I'm in the water (though not very deep water).

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Hi Learjeff:

 

As we say in Japan, So deska... (I see).

 

OK - then my bad for jumping in too quickly to protect Mr. Coakley. My heart was in the right place.

 

I was never trying to jump into the cut and dry legal side of the issue. It's NOT clear that a precedent exists for a single sample or sound in a ROMpler product. Precedents exist for recreating the complete ROM of a product (The Roland MT-32 case), and there is a viable legal issue with sampling the finished presets of a synth, which can be copyright-protected and considered works of art. But a raw waveform here and there? It's murky water.

 

But I have been in this business for over 20 years and have been very well supported by many small third-party developers who have helped my brands and products (Casio, Ensoniq and now Korg) thrive in the marketplace. Most of them can no longer even attempt to make a living anymore due to theft,and to be honest, due to the large amount of sounds we provide, which does hurt the perceived value of their work. If you can go to a website and download 1,000's of more sounds for a softsynth for free, how does an indepedent guy set value for thier work? So yes, it's not only sampling and file sharing that hurts them (just trying to be fair here).

 

I constantly talk to CD-ROM sound developers now who are getting ripped off, and are looking to only work in encrypted formats to at least be able to recoup their investment in recording/editing/programming. So it's a hard world out there. Us larger companies make the majority of the money from our projects, not the licensee, so I look out for them more then myself. I'm a "big boy", it's part of my business equation as Zoot alludes to. But the little guy? Someone needs to care....

 

Anyway - thanks for replying and setting the record straight.

 

Regards,

 

Jerry

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Hi Capn:

 

Well first off, my issue was about Mr. Coakley's work. The small guy trying to forge a way in the market.

 

But - I don't agree with you. I absolutely believe there is a ethical issue with appropriating a third-party's sample data. Plain and simple. and I think the same about copying audio CD's and DVD movies, and... I better shut up now. I've seen enough of these threads to know that I'm just stirring the water.

 

:-)

 

The original instrument analogy? I play piano and as good as sample sets are getting there's no substitute for the real thing. So if I was in the position of making a decision I'd go for the real thing, no doubt about it.

 

Would I therefore buy a Symphony Orchestra? You know the answer to that... I never would have been in the market in the first place. But the point is that samples can't replace the true nature of a real instrument played by a skilled player. Yet the technologies of synthesis and sampling have had an effect on the use of real instruments and real players etc. So yes, they have had an effect, and lives marches on. People adapt - players add technologies to their arsenal and develop more skill and career choices. Recording technologies has had an effect on studio business and engineers, and budgets and so on. It happens (or happened. And if some aspect of new technology affects my company's business we will have to adapt. As we are constantly doing. That's life.

 

But it doesn't mean to me that therefore anything goes. I still respect the rights of the artist and developer whenever I see a clear case. Just because you can make a case that it isn't always clear doesn't mean to me that it should all go down the drain. So I leave the issue now to each individual. If it isn't about personal ethics and values then no law will mean anything. We should do things because they are right, not because we are afraid of getting caught. That's the difference.

 

I better get back to work - I don't usually even get involved in these threads, but look what happened. And I didn't even have my facts right. Dohhhhhhhhhh.

 

regards,

 

Jerry

 

Originally posted by capnzoot:

C'mon, JK, the only moral high ground here is that the people who craft musical instruments have no recourse for compensation from the people who rip them off by "sampling" their product. A sound is as utilitarian to us as a hammer is to a carpenter. Buy the hammer or the sound, the check is cut, done deal. Otherwise we'd all be rich and it wouldn't matter because the checks would be rolling in for all those patches and demos. The job was defined, payroll was met, the product was done. There is no "ethic" in reproducing something in another (virtual) medium that existed previously as a physical device. You get paid for your "skill" for things in development and your resulting "product".

 

Unfortunately instrument manufacturers product are considered utilitarian, the sound and idea of a piano is in the public domain. These people can only protect their respective trademarks and patents. Anyone who "samples" or creates a fixed product from them should have no more recourse.

 

What LJ has done is no more in violation ethically than what a piano tuner does by taking an existing product and modifying it to taste. The real shame is that anyone can take the work of other craftspersons and protect it as their own, or consider it a fixed work of art or expression. People who forge paintings go to jail. People who forge sounds have an ethical leg to stand on?

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  • 1 month later...

Jerry, as it turns out, Wm Coakley says he was the one who did the piano sounds for the MR, back in 1993 (!!!). Of course, it's property of EMU/Ensoniq now.

 

Incidentally, my 150MB soundfont doesn't sound nearly as good as the MR76 does, with it's tiny sample set (who knows, maybe 4MB at most?) Further proof that, the more memory we have, the more memory we waste!

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