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Does Ivory cut it live?


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I have heard it said that the sound of the Ivory piano comes across as muddy and cluttered. And that clarity of a piano such as the Roland RD-700SX piano is better in a live band situation.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Find 350 of Harry's jazz piano arrangements of standards, for educational purposes, and tutoring at https://www.patreon.com/HarryLikas


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Bump -- I'd like to know this as well if anyone has any experience here. In the studio...well, duh. We all know what it sounds like in the studio.


I'm thinking of using it in conjunction with a PC series or K series Kurzweil as the piano to save polyphony doing larger shows. I'm trying to set this up for a couple of major touring guys as well...has to be perfect.


Any takers?



Main stuff: Yamaha CP88 | Korg Kronos 2 73 | Kurzweil Forte 7 | 1898 Steinway I

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I can't add any comments regarding Ivory, but there is something to be said about the marriage of a specific midi controller and a specific set of sounds.


I know this from first hand experience. I spent big bucks for Coakley's Perfect Piano Vol. 3 and while it sounded very good as an mp3 file, I was never 100 percent happy with the combination of it and my Roland A80 (and Akai S5000 sampler). (Also, when playing stride on the A80 and only that sample, I couldn't grab the bass notes fast enough with the sustain pedal. When I used the Kurzweil MicroPiano instead, no problem.) When I played individual notes of the WC piano, it sounded very good, but in actual playing, I was never 100 percent happy.


I have midiied my GranTouch to my P250 and something changes about the sound from the P250. If, say, my striking force on the P250 is 0 to 127, when I use the GranTouch to trigger the P250, it becomes -5 to 122.


Again, there is something to be said for the marriage of the midi controller and the sample set and I'm sure the manufacturers tweak their keyboard to better respond to their set of samples.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.


In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.


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Regarding to Dave's comment - clarity, quality of sound doesnt depend at all on how you control it (keyboard-wise), it's the degree of control power you have on sound that's depending on your MIDI kbd setup. MIDI kbd + module versus all-in-one board is not the issue that's being discussed.



It's the audio output path (AD converters and stuff, even cables) that determines how muddy and cluttered sound is, not the sample set. If you will use a 2 gigabyte piano sample with the onboard soundcard (or some consumer grade card), it'll sound worse than some old rompler with 2 megabyte piano sample (say, Korg 01/W), in terms of clarity, presence and ability to cut through the mix.


It also depends a _lot_ on external processing, mostly - equalizer. You have to set up the EQ right in order to get right sound.



Compared to RD700SX piano - I am pretty sure Roland has built a superb quality audio signal path, so the sound should be very 'readable' in mix. I doubt you will get the same result with Ivory and, say, $200 soundcard.


Bottom line - it's not the sample set, it's the hardware, so you can not compare RD700 to Ivory without any further details given. You can compare a specific PC with specific soundcard, to RD700, with equal enviroment - amplifier, cables, so on.

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars


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I have used Ivory live, quite extensively. I tried all three pianos but mainly used the Yamaha and Steinway. The above statement of muddy and cluttered could probably be attributed to me. When EQ-ed to briighten them I found them to be harsh. I did have to turn of the soft pedal and release samples, but those are pretty subtle additions to the sound. I no longer use Ivory live. I do miss the extended dynamice range of the Ivory pianos--you can really get notes to pop out.


Regarding converters, I found there to be slight improvement in clarity with the more expensive converters, but it didn't change the overall sound off the piano. For the record, live I tried Apple's internal Powerbook convertors, Emagic 6/2m, and the Presonus Firebox. In my home studio additionally I have the Digidesign 192 and Benchmark DAC1 which I used for comparison. Again slight improvement in clarity when you get into the higher-end units.


Speakers and amplification make a much bigger difference than converters, IMHO. In that regard I don't use a keyboard board amp but run directly into the mains/monitors. After ABing everything GC had available we chose what we felt sounded the best, and of course was that was the most expensive. We use JBL SRX715s for mains and matching JBL712Ms for monitors. These are powered by up to three QSC PLX-3402s. That gives us 4400 watts for mains and 1400 watts for monitors. Discounted price of the speakers and amps is >$7,500. The point of all this is that I'm not running this through a cheap keyboard amp. If it doesn't sound good through the above equipment, it's doubtful that it's going to sound good through anything.


I gave up on Ivory live because it just wasn't worth the effort for me. Also, using the internal hard disk on the Powerbook, I found problems with notes cutting off. I did not find this problem with other disk streaming pianos when used with soft samplers such as EXS24 and Kontakt. I don't think Ivory's disk streaming is as efficient as Giga, Kontakt and ESX24.


I now use the RD700SX. While I do have some issues with it, it is the only one that I found that I can brighten up without it turning harsh. With the Yamaha and Kurzweil pianos, when you brighten them the looping becomes very noticable. For some reason, eventhough Roland also loops their samples it's not as noticable. Also Roland has a usable damper pedal resonance which helps to mask the sustained looped samples.


Maybe some others will have better luck than I did with Ivory. It has many great qualities and should, in theory, sound great live.


The big issue for live is that you can get it to sound great one night, and then everything changes at the next venue.



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Thanks, Busch. Another great post.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Find 350 of Harry's jazz piano arrangements of standards, for educational purposes, and tutoring at https://www.patreon.com/HarryLikas


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I also have had problems with notes cutting off, so they really need to improve on the disk streaming, rather than adding any more types of pianos, which I've read might be on the next rev. I tried a raid with a Firewire and a USB2 drive array, but didn't really help. This was on a 1.33ghz iBook. The single SATA drive in my dual G5 worked better though, but still there are issues. I'm about to install a dual-SATA external o the G5s, so I'll try the RAID with that. They're 7200 drives, which now I'm thinking I should have popped for the 10k ones. Still, they did say 7200 is sufficient, but we'll see.


The timbre isn't really the problem for me, it's still way better than the RD700 I'm usually stuck with. But I'm not about to lug around my G5+monitors to the gigs, so they need to get this working better on the powerbooks. Note cut-offs are NOT cool. If not, I'm hoping they can get the PC working good pronto, since I have an athlon laptop ready and waiting, with an ext SATA card already installed. :cool:

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