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ivory? + controller? + monitors? = jazz nirvana


bebopple

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I know it's mostly personal preferences. But I'm going to teach in China for a while. And I'm selling my Steinway coz it's too big for carryon baggage. So I want to get software, a controller and monitors which I'll run through my Macbook and which, with any luck, will make me feel like I've got a secret key to Rudy Van Gelder's or Manfred Eicher's studio instead of *my apartment*.

 

I've been reading all your posts on similar stuff for a week now. They're great. But I haven't heard anyone talk about this (practice and performance at home) kind of situation.

 

So far I've looked at Ivory, Pianoteq, the RD300SX through small Roland monitors, the 700SX with no sound (great keyboard). Most of the Yammy keyboards have felt good to me but not the sounds. I've read you all talk about the SRX11 and 12. I probably only need Piano and Rhodes sounds even though synths are nice to experiment and collage with (like Mr Moran does).

 

I'm gonna miss that Steinway (when it's in tune). But maybe not too much if I make some good choices here.

 

I'd really appreciate your input... Thanks a lot.

 

Bob

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While I don't have Ivory, I wonder... do 'giga-size' samples really tend to sound better than a smaller sample set? Is the goal "realism" or the best audio quality? I would have thought that the best audio quality would come from a balance from a combination of a sampled sound and a synth engine. Also, more samples=more work perfecting/editing.

 

Listening to the demos at http://playivorys.com/modules.php?name=Piano_compare I have to say that Ivory sounds like it has a few 'rough edges,' for me, maybe some of the smaller sample sets don't sound as 'real,' but they do sound _good_. (And I just know I'm going to get blasted for going by online clips here. Oh well.)

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My question is this -- what are you going to use for a controller? If you are going to use a full size keyboard with 88 weighted keys then I think it will work out.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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The current issue of Electronic Musician has a very thorough review of most of the multi-gigabyte software pianos. I have Ivory 1.5. I like listening to it more than playing it, just my preference. I just ordered Akoustik Piano, which was the preference of all three reviewers. I heard from another source that the Akoustic piano is much less CPU demanding. I haven't got it yet, so can't confirm. If you want to hear samples from these, go to emusic website and listen to samples that are an online companion to the article.

 

Link: under heading: Software eighty eights

 

http://emusician.com/web_clips/web_clips_oct_2006/

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Jazzwee: This is my question. And maybe I didn't make it clear. I'd like your recommendation for the best *combination* of controller, software and powered monitors for a small-performance situation, which will create the most convincing or best sounding virtual piano "playing" not "listening" environment.

 

7note: I'll check that out. So what would your recommendation for the whole package be?

 

Thanks!

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Different people have different tastes in controller actions. The best one is the one you like the best, the one that feels good to your hands and allows you the most expression. There are so many high end studio monitors that it's also impossible to say which are best for your application.

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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bebobble:

 

You are asking the $64 million dollar question. We debate digital piano sounds and action on this board endlessly. No single product has risen to the top for most people for most situations.

 

And if you think about it, that would even be true if we were debating real pianos.

 

So it always comes back to: find out a few leading candidates, and try before you buy. The fact that you are looking at 3 pieces at once makes it that much more complex.

Moe

---

 

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All I can specify is that a controller should be one of the available 88 weighted keyboards like S90/S90ES, RD700/RD700SX, FP*, Casio PX, Yammie P series, etc.

 

What I would suggest is avoid getting true "controllers", like M-Audio Oxygen/Axiom, Novation, EMU XBoard as that would ruin the feel of the piano software.

 

As far as the piano software is concerned, I like Pianoteq and it should work well for jazz IMHO. And I think it can be tweaked to suit personal tastes. I've never tried Ivory or Akoustik.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Originally posted by 7notemode:

The current issue of Electronic Musician has a very thorough review of most of the multi-gigabyte software pianos. I have Ivory 1.5. I like listening to it more than playing it, just my preference. I just ordered Akoustik Piano, which was the preference of all three reviewers. I heard from another source that the Akoustic piano is much less CPU demanding. I haven't got it yet, so can't confirm. If you want to hear samples from these, go to emusic website and listen to samples that are an online companion to the article.

 

Link: under heading: Software eighty eights

 

http://emusician.com/web_clips/web_clips_oct_2006/

After re-reviewing AP and Ivory I have to agree with the EM reviewers. I like AP, especially the Bechstein, better than any of the Ivory pianos. The Bechstein is rich and full sounding. Great dynamic range. I disagree that AP is less CPU intensive. I have not found that to be the case on either Mac or PC. I've gotten AP to run fine on Receptor using 16-bit samples and minimizing a few things.

 

The Ivory and AP pianos sound quite different. The AP's have more of a direct sound, like you would hear from a hardware digital piano. Ivory is more distant sounding. I much prefer the tone of the AP pianos.

 

Busch.

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The only thing that I can't get past in AP is the brittle upper octaves of the Bechstein. And it's not anything in the recording or the plug-in that's at fault; it's a just a flaw of that particular piano. Being a jazz pianist, I play up in that range often, and I don't care for what's happening in that register at all. I notice that EM didn't address this well known issue at all.

 

Also, I disagree with the statement that Ivory sounds distant. I don't hear that at all. You do know that it has built-in room ambience that can be shut off, don't you?

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I set the velocity curve on AP to -2 and it matches nicely with the RD700SX. If I keep it at 0 the piano is too bright, IMO, and doesn't respond to velocity as it should. At -2 It seems mellow and full through out the range of the instrument. If hit hard, yes it gets bright, but for me that's an accent. Are you running the latest version of AP? They revoiced the pianos in 1.1x.

 

Yes, I turned off the Ivory ambience.

 

Busch.

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Ivory sounds great, I've listened to it a lot.

The only thing holding me from switching to is

quite a requirements for PC (fast hard drive, processor, memory) and sound card to get rid of latency. Although as I heard it's still not possible to avoid it completely.

♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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OK. Well I got my answer: thanx to all of you.

 

My intuition (whatever that means) tells me what I like in music. Why should it be any different in musical instruments?

 

It's 2.5 hours to GuitarCenter Minneapolis from here, so I *try* to get info from the web. My musical mentor George Russell lives even further away and has been known to call his RD-700SX on a Rhodes Suitcase amp "a sad piece of c... with funny tuning."

 

Thanks for all the alternative suggestions and points of view. I'll study them further. Time to play.

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Bebopple,

 

The biggest issue for you is performance of any of these high-end soft pianos on a laptop. It could be a challenge for you.

 

I own an RD700SX but I like Mr. Russell's quote. I hope he knows he can ajdust the tuning of each and every note on the RD to come up with what ever tuning he likes.

 

Busch.

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Thanks Busch. Could you please explain this a little further? Are you saying that laptops are just not fast enough? Someone else made the point about latency. Is that an issue too? If so I'll go another route. I don't know enough. That's why I'm asking.

 

I'm going to try some things this week including the ES4 and the RD 700SX, which with George's ears may sound slightly off at times. But what ears! Fortunately (for me) I don't have quite his level of sensitivity to sound. And yes I'm sure he knows it can be adjusted and may have done that by now. For me his humor is more about the impossible search for perfection.

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The RD-700SX's acoustic piano played thru a Rhodes Suitcase amp will sound terrible. A Rhodes suitcase amp is not full range.

Anybody wanting a jazz Rhodes sound should add the SRX-12 Expansion board to their RD-700SX.

 

By the way, Roland monitors are not very good.

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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bebopple,

here you are email I got from the seller regarding pc requirements to play Ivory:

 

 

"In order to play Ivory, you need to have a host like Cubase or Sonar for your pc to load Ivory in. You will need at least a 2 ghz machine with 2 gigs of ram and a 7200 rpm hard drive to store the samples of Ivory to play it.

As far as a sound card, there are tons out there. For an affordable one, you can look into Maudio's line of cards. Try to find a soundcard which offers a buffer settings down to 128 because the lower the buffer setting a sound card can go the lower the latency you will get when playing. Having your sound card set to 128 or 256 will make latency unnoticeable. Make sure the sound card has a midi in port as well since your keyboard connects to your sound card that way. Thank you for your questions."

So your're looking at very, very expensive laptop...doable though.

And note when they say at least 2GB or Ram, it means you need really 3 or 4GB :D

♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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Jazz+: I don't know what else GR has hooked up to that suitcase, but it sounds good to me. So there.

 

Delirium: Ok my MacBook and LaCie externals are big and fast enough for Ivory. Thanks for the latency warning and sound card recommendation.

 

So to summarize, for my own sanity, there are two (three including gangsu's Promega) distinct ways to go:

 

1. Software through a computer with a soundcard, controller and monitors.

or

2. Software through a stage piano with monitors and a rack.

 

So not forgetting the original problem how to sound, at home, like you're playing rather than listening in Van Gelder or Eicher's studio which set of equipment for each scenario do you think would get closest.

 

In 1 the MacBook is a given. So which combination of soundcard, controllers, software and monitors would be closest here?

 

And in 2, which combination of stage piano, software, rack and monitors would be closest here?

 

And do you have any opinions on the quality of sound from Genelec 8020A monitors for about $770 a pair with all of the above given my space will be small anyway?

 

Thanks again for sticking with it!

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Bebopple,

 

The thing about laptops is that they have a number of design elements vying with each other. The designer needs to be concerned about weight, heat, size, power efficiency, durability and, yes, performance. A desktop can be built as a screaming performance machine, without compromise.

 

I used to gig with Ivory. I used it on both Mac and PC. The Mac was a 1.33GHz G4 Powerbook with a 5,400 rpm drive. I ran Ivory within Logic Pro and it ran from the internal drive. I believe I ran at a 256 sample buffer. I would turn off the extras such are release samples, ambience, etc. I knew this wasn't the ideal setup, but I didn't want to drag along an extra drive with all that entails. Ivory would run OK but I would on occasion get drop outs where the note wouldn't properly sustain. It would sound, then cut out.

 

The only system that is known to run Ivory full bore, with low buffer settings (128) is Receptor. Probably the latest and greatest desktops will run it fine as well. You're MacBook might do it as well, though the external drive is probably necessary. If you go with an external sound card don't use the same interface as the external hard drive. If the hard drive is Fireware, then use USB(2) for audio, and vice versa.

 

I would recommend getting a stage piano with a good action and piano sound that you can live with, in the event that the software route doesn't work out for you. You're really going to have to make that decision on your own.

 

Busch.

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I don't play out, but I've been using Ivory 1.5 on my MacBook since I got it and it runs like a champ*. I do have it running on an external FW drive (80 GB, 7200 RPM), and I didn't tweak settings such as the sample buffer, release samples, ambience, nor the polyphony. I do usually run the samples with the most number of levels whichever piano I use. I installed Ivory on the external drive because I didn't have room on the internal to install all of Ivory.

 

I'm controlling Ivory with my RD-4073 via a Edirol 3x1 USB input. Sometimes I have Ivory running in GarageBand, others I use the Ivory Standalone.

 

* Okay, sometimes, Ivory will do what busch describes, where it plays a note and cuts out after a few seconds. This is either a bug or for some reason the external has gone to sleep and it hasn't woken up. After a couple of tries, it works okay. The other problem I've had at times is stuck notes within Ivory. This doesn't seem to be a MIDI problem so much as a bug somewhere in Ivory. I haven't been able to isolate it though.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Thank you, thank you. What an amazing resource of experience and knowledge, etc this Forum is.

 

And Joe: That DP 4073/Privia (especially if it runs Ivory with 32 polyphony) does seem like one of those amazing bargains which makes you think all is right with the world! The desiderata personified!

 

Be

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.

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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Originally posted by bebopple:

And Joe: That DP 4073/Privia (especially if it runs Ivory with 32 polyphony) does seem like one of those amazing bargains which makes you think all is right with the world! The desiderata personified!

It was a bargain. So much so we bought one for my wife's grandmother to "replace" an upright that needed work. (I'm not crazy about the built-in sounds in the DP 4073, but they'd work in a pinch, the board is incredibly light, and the action is very good.)

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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  • 1 month later...

Just got Ivory 1.5 loaded up on my PC.

Wow!! Really good - I'm very pleased with it, and have just started to explore its features.

And so much easier to get a great sound, c/w miking the Steinway.

 

Any thoughts on the Italian Grand expansion set?

Tom F.

"It is what it is."

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Originally posted by Tom Fiala:

Just got Ivory 1.5 loaded up on my PC.

 

Wow!!

FYI...

 

If Ivory 1.5 were distributed on high-density double-sided floppy disks, it would come on about 29,535 disks, stacked 307 feet high, the length of a football field.

 

It would take over 8 days to install (not including the time to manually switch disks).

 

Add another 138 feet of floppies for the Italian Grand, and another 4 days of installation time.

 

:eek:

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Originally posted by Is There Gas in the Car?:

Originally posted by Tom Fiala:

Just got Ivory 1.5 loaded up on my PC.

 

Wow!!

FYI...

 

If Ivory 1.5 were distributed on high-density double-sided floppy disks, it would come on about 29,535 disks, stacked 307 feet high, the length of a football field.

 

It would take over 8 days to install (not including the time to manually switch disks).

 

Add another 138 feet of floppies for the Italian Grand, and another 4 days of installation time.

 

:eek:

:thu: you meant 360k floppy or 1.44M floppy disks... :D
♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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Playing live IS a different animal. When I bought a PC w/GigaStudio I loaded it w/ a bunch of piano libs (PMI Bosendorfer, Bardstown Bose, Sampletekk White Grand and White Sister, Vintaudio Yamaha C7) I lugged this rig to my one heavy piano gig, playing big band jazz tunes with a rhythm section and a trumpet player, for several months. I liked a lot of them in the live context but none really killed me. Even in stereo a lot of the stuff that really made me like these libs in the studio was just lost onstage. I've been using a Yamaha P90 for this gig lately and find that in a live context playing this board I don't miss the bigger libs at all, and my setup time has lessened considerably.
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I just got the disks for the Italian Grand and can't wait to load them.
Ron,

 

I'm anxious to hear your review once you've had some time with it. I've heard Synthogy's classical demos, and I'm curious to hear hwo this piano sounds on jazz. Thanks!

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