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VSL Steinway D: The BEST (resolved)
Last post Sat, Jun 13 2020 by The-not-so-young-Norman, 49 replies.
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Posted on Fri, Dec 21 2018 23:56
by opus64
Joined on Fri, Dec 14 2018, Posts 10

As many other piano players I have a amassed a collection of piano VST's, most of them which I never use and are no good.  The notable exception was Garritan CFX which has been my workhorse.  Being a fan of the Steinway D sound I was very excited when the VSL Seinway D was released...the specs on paper looked exceptional so I jumped in and got the full version.

The BEST: This is the best sounding piano sample set I have ever heard, of any piano, period.  The different mic perspectives and ambience are phenomenal but the quality and character of instrument itself is just gorgeous and the numerous velocity layers capture the dynamics and nuances of the instrument in a way that I have never heard a sample based piano do before.  Which is why it pains me to note...

The WORST: Sound is not everything in a piano VST that is meant to be played live with a keyboard(not just sequenced).  The simulated instrument should mimic how the real instrument reacts, and this instrument fails, almost as if a gross error or simply no attention was paid to the MIDI velocity -> velocity layer map.  As others have noted the instrument mapping is either aggressively biased to the ff side or the velocity layers sampled were very skewed perhaps due to the mapping used for the 'robot'.  Now, this would usually not be a problem as every other tool on the face of the earth has velocity curve editors, but that critical feature does not seem to be present in Vienna Ensemble, except for the very limited 'MIDI Sensitivity'.

Can anyone suggest a workaround to this problem?  I use a Kawai Novus NV-10 which has limited control over velocity curves, however this has not been a problem with other VST's like Garritan and the limited control is plenty to make any adjustments.  With the VSL Steinway it seems the adjustment needs to be pretty significant and non-linear.

Posted on Sat, Dec 22 2018 01:08
by David B.
Joined on Tue, May 15 2018, Posts 48

Originally Posted by: opus64 Go to Quoted Post

The simulated instrument should mimic how the real instrument reacts, and this instrument fails, almost as if a gross error or simply no attention was paid to the MIDI velocity -> velocity layer map.  As others have noted the instrument mapping is either aggressively biased to the ff side or the velocity layers sampled were very skewed perhaps due to the mapping used for the 'robot'.  Now, this would usually not be a problem as every other tool on the face of the earth has velocity curve editors, but that critical feature does not seem to be present in Vienna Ensemble, except for the very limited 'MIDI Sensitivity'.

Thank you for pointing this out. I have not contacted tech support about it because I was hoping it would get fleshed out here in the forum but so far it hasn't.

At first I thought it was just my setup but then other people noticed it as well. It's hard for me to believe that this was an intentional choice by VSL. However, what do I know about making piano samples? I just know that it's way too harsh for my ears, and when I turn down the midi sensitivity to something that's manageable, I lose the dynamic range when I do want to play loud. I don't have this issue with my VSL CFX. I'm hoping there will be an update in the Synchron Piano Player that will address this issue. Unless of course it was by design. In that case, I wish I would have known before I purchased it. 

God Bless,

David

Posted on Sat, Dec 22 2018 08:12
by Paul
Joined on Sat, Aug 03 2002, Vienna, Posts 12031

Hi guys, 

Thanks for your input! We're listening :-)

Best, 
Paul

Paul Kopf
Product Manager - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Sat, Dec 22 2018 10:06
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1566

Why is it when Guy Bacos plays this instrument in the demos and videos it sounds spectacular? 

What's his secret?


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Sat, Dec 22 2018 16:51
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 513
Originally Posted by: jasensmith Go to Quoted Post
Why is it when Guy Bacos plays this instrumentin the demos and videos it sounds spectacular?
What's his secret?


Technique and skill :) I know, not funny, Jasen. I simply couldn't resist!

Cheers,
Dave
www.DavidCarovillano.com - NEW SITE!
www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Sat, Dec 22 2018 21:57
by Eukalyptis
Joined on Mon, Nov 19 2018, Posts 3

Originally Posted by: opus64 Go to Quoted Post

Sound is not everything in a piano VST that is meant to be played live with a keyboard(not just sequenced).  The simulated instrument should mimic how the real instrument reacts, and this instrument fails, almost as if a gross error or simply no attention was paid to the MIDI velocity -> velocity layer map.

Goodness, thank you SO much for confirming what I thought was just in my head or due to my inexperience with a physical Steinway-D. I absolutely do love the sample library and its nuances, but the live playability truly suffers from this oversight. I will still use this for rendering the piano track (after some obvious automation), however it hurts to admit I'd rather use something else when coming up with ideas / performing. The less than stellar velocity reaction definitely impedes on creativity. If/when it is improved, it will be the ultimate Steinway D VST.

It is a sin to support mediocrity.
Posted on Sat, Dec 22 2018 22:09
by Eukalyptis
Joined on Mon, Nov 19 2018, Posts 3

Originally Posted by: David B. Go to Quoted Post

At first I thought it was just my setup but then other people noticed it as well. It's hard for me to believe that this was an intentional choice by VSL. However, what do I know about making piano samples? I just know that it's way too harsh for my ears, and when I turn down the midi sensitivity to something that's manageable, I lose the dynamic range when I do want to play loud.

A colleague and I share this sentiment exactly. If the Steinway simply had the playability / velocity reaction of the Pianoteq 6 Steinway, in my opinion, the search for pianos would be over! Really hoping for a fix soon.

It is a sin to support mediocrity.
Posted on Sun, Dec 23 2018 03:10
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5509

Is this another dynamic range issue?  In other words, perhaps the timbral velocity is mapped properly but the amplitude differences triggered by velocity are simply too much. So dialing down the dynamic range could fix it.  But that is only a speculation as I don't have this instrument.  

Posted on Sun, Dec 23 2018 09:54
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1566

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: jasensmith Go to Quoted Post
Why is it when Guy Bacos plays this instrumentin the demos and videos it sounds spectacular? What's his secret?
Technique and skill :) I know, not funny, Jasen. I simply couldn't resist! Cheers, Dave


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Sun, Dec 23 2018 22:45
by karvala
Joined on Mon, May 07 2018, UK, Posts 23

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

Is this another dynamic range issue?  In other words, perhaps the timbral velocity is mapped properly but the amplitude differences triggered by velocity are simply too much. So dialing down the dynamic range could fix it.  But that is only a speculation as I don't have this instrument.  

No, if anything the other way around.  The amplitude mapping is more or less okay; it's the timbral mapping that's heavily skewed in favour of fff.  If the amplitude were similarly skewed that would actually be better because then it would be quite straightforward to fix with a velocity curve.  Unfortunately, that's not the case, so we await some magic from VSL.

Posted on Mon, Dec 24 2018 01:37
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5509

O.K., you know first hand -  that sounds like something to be worked on.

Posted on Mon, Dec 24 2018 17:14
by TCLG
Joined on Mon, Dec 24 2018, Posts 7

Opus64, you may find the Piano World thread relevant to your issue.

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/2789334/Searchpage/1/Main/191107/Words/%2Bvsl+%2Bvoucher/Search/true/re-vsl-steinway-d-released.html#Post2789334

That said, I see Karavala is posting both there and here, so maybe not. The reply by Erard seems (to me) to address the velocity layer issue.

Posted on Thu, Dec 27 2018 11:59
by Gabriel Plalame
Joined on Thu, Feb 27 2003, Frogs eater country., Posts 153

Ideally, we don’t need a midi velocity curve, but a layers velocity curve, and it has to be build inside the player.

If the library has 128 layers, a midi curve will ignore some layers or will group some midi level to the same layer (it depends of the curve form). It’s a rude way to modify the velocity.

The ‘128 midi levels to 128 layers’ equivalence has to stay. That’s why we can’t use external midi tool to solved that problem.

The only way to not lose layers or velocity sensibility with a programmable curve is to change the samples layers volumes mapping inside the player engine.

However I’m not sure we need it key by key. A general layers velocity curve would be fine.

 

(Sorry again for my poor English)

 

Regards

Gabriel Plalame

The French dyslexic who speaks badly English.

https://soundcloud.com/gabriel_plalame

Asus Prime Z270-K | Intel I5-7600 3,5GHz | Gskill DDR4 | Samsung SSD 960 EVO 500Go M2 2280 NVME x2 + 3 other SSDs | RME HDSP 9652 | Windows 10 pro x64 | Synchron Pianos 1.1.1413 | Samplitude X4 / X5 Suite...
Posted on Thu, Dec 27 2018 12:43
by Gabriel Plalame
Joined on Thu, Feb 27 2003, Frogs eater country., Posts 153

I just add this : modify layers volume may affect the realism. If the present curve is the robot’s curve, we probably can fine tune the layers curve, but not much (the curve will lower some samples that were recorded at a louder volume, for example)

(Last edit : it’s hard to say if it’s the robot and/or the instrument and/or a mapping cause(s). If the robot send a perfectly linear strength on each piano key over 128 levels, and if there is no velocity mapping post-production, well, the velocity we get here is just the way the piano react. And we have to adapt our play to it, like a real player has to.)

 

Gabriel Plalame

The French dyslexic who speaks badly English.

https://soundcloud.com/gabriel_plalame

Asus Prime Z270-K | Intel I5-7600 3,5GHz | Gskill DDR4 | Samsung SSD 960 EVO 500Go M2 2280 NVME x2 + 3 other SSDs | RME HDSP 9652 | Windows 10 pro x64 | Synchron Pianos 1.1.1413 | Samplitude X4 / X5 Suite...
Posted on Thu, Dec 27 2018 17:41
by MMKA
Joined on Tue, May 22 2012, Posts 363

Originally Posted by: Crystal Go to Quoted Post

...(the curve will lower some samples that were recorded at a louder volume, for example)...

 

I don't think so. I think there is a opportunity to change the velocity value of a keystroke. For example: you hit a velocity value of 50 and it is changed in value 30. When you make a tool with such a curve, you don't change the sample volume. 
With this tool you can make a curve, in which e.g. with very high "key hit velocity values" you lower the attenuation in velocity change.

For example:
"key hit velocity" 110 changes in velocity 95,
"key hit velocity" 118 changes in velocity 110,
"key hit velocity" 127 stays 127.
In this way you can use the full dynamic range of the piano. I think there is also a disadvantage in this, that has to do with the resolution in certain area's of the velocity curve (sometimes 2 or 3 "hit key values", e.g. values 40-42, can change in this solution in the same velocity value, e.g. 20). But I don't know if this is very audible.

Posted on Thu, Dec 27 2018 21:24
by Gabriel Plalame
Joined on Thu, Feb 27 2003, Frogs eater country., Posts 153

Hi MMKA,

Originally Posted by: MMKA Go to Quoted Post

I think there is a opportunity to change the velocity value of a keystroke. For example: you hit a velocity value of 50 and it is changed in value 30. When you make a tool with such a curve, you don't change the sample volume. 
With this tool you can make a curve, in which e.g. with very high "key hit velocity values" you lower the attenuation in velocity change.

For example:
"key hit velocity" 110 changes in velocity 95,
"key hit velocity" 118 changes in velocity 110,
"key hit velocity" 127 stays 127.
In this way you can use the full dynamic range of the piano. I think there is also a disadvantage in this, that has to do with the resolution in certain area's of the velocity curve (sometimes 2 or 3 "hit key values", e.g. values 40-42, can change in this solution in the same velocity value, e.g. 20). But I don't know if this is very audible.

That’s what I call a ‘midi to midi velocity curve’ principle. I use a tool like this between my keyboard and my sequencer, called Velocity Curve Changer : http://www.trombettworks.com/velocity.php

Here, a midi level is translate in another midi level, so then yes, as the example you give, in that way, original samples volumes levels aren't affected.

But, in that case, and particularly if it’s a (wonderful) sample library with 128 samples layers per key, you necessary lose samples (/layers), and velocity sensitivity (when several midi levels are pointed to a single midi level (so then to a single sample file/layer), as you describe too).

That’s why I suggest to build what I would call a ‘midi to layer velocity curve’. But the sample player has to handles a separate volume scale from the ‘zero to 127 regular midi scale’, and it has to be much more precise. Then the midi scale can be convert in another 128 scale/layers with different (and independent) volume values, but inside, let’s say, a 512 volume level scale for example.

In another words, if we want the midi scale being targeted to a curve with 128 layers, the ‘target scale’ has to handles more levels. Then we can built a curve without losing any layers. It stays a 128 to 128 ratio with the ability to fine tune the volume layers curve without any layer loss.

However, in that system, the original volume of samples are affected, and maybe the realism with a piano library.

In one case we lose samples and sensitivity, in another case original samples volumes are affected.

Ah. Hard to consider.

I think the second solution (midi to layers velocity curve) may be acceptable with a reasonable curve.

But it’s not easy to do. You need a sophisticated engine with much more than 128 volume levels for layers.

 

I don’t know if I make it clear, sorry for my strange language.

(I think the best solution would be to play like Guy Bacos, but unfortunately, that patch doesn’t exist. It’s a scandal, no ?)

 

Gabriel Plalame

The French dyslexic who speaks badly English.

https://soundcloud.com/gabriel_plalame

Asus Prime Z270-K | Intel I5-7600 3,5GHz | Gskill DDR4 | Samsung SSD 960 EVO 500Go M2 2280 NVME x2 + 3 other SSDs | RME HDSP 9652 | Windows 10 pro x64 | Synchron Pianos 1.1.1413 | Samplitude X4 / X5 Suite...
Posted on Thu, Dec 27 2018 23:47
by MMKA
Joined on Tue, May 22 2012, Posts 363

Hi Gabriel,

To begin with: I understand by what you write about it, that writing English is difficult for you. But I think, that you made yourself very clear in what you wrote . I'm not a native English speaker also. And I know the difficulty to write something complex in another language.

So I understand from what you wrote, that in your solution you need much more layers than 128 and then you can make a choice which layers you use. So then there is a lot of work to do for the team of VSL I think.

I for myself I think I would perhaps never use the most loud layers of a Steinway. But I'm very aware that that is a cause of personal idea for the ideal sound. 

I had last week the opportunity to play in a church service on a very beautiful Steinway, a Steinway B (2,11 m), special hired for that occasion (it was with the funeral of my father, who died last week. He was 95 years old, and the piano had always had a very special place in his life. He had a Steinway O 1,80 m and I played the last years often for him. He couldn't play anymore). But on that Steinway B I felt it as a pleasure, that I didn't have to do so much to get a loud tone, almost without heavy arm weight. Of course I used a little, but I got a loud tone very easily. And also playing very soft was easy. The micro dynamics went so natural, in my feeling the piano invited me to play very sensitive and beautiful. For me playing became much easier! I'm sure that that Steinway B could sound much louder than I used, but I didn't need that at all, and I really could play a fortissimo. I think some pianists use a louder fortissimo as I do, but I know also from certain concert pianists who have the same sound ideal as I have. So for me it is not a problem if I miss the loudest tones, because I can express myself very well without them, just as on that real Steinway (in the same week I bought the VSL Steinway and in the sound were really many simularities with the real one. But the keys of the real Steinway played definitely much more easy! I have the MP10 of Kawai). Sorry, a whole story.

But I understand that you need the loudest tones also, and in that case you search for opportunities to use that part of the instrument . I sincerely hope that there will be a solution that works great for you!

Posted on Fri, Dec 28 2018 03:46
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5509

How about a real piano?

Posted on Fri, Dec 28 2018 03:53
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5509

Sorry, it is just that someone demanding samples beyond 128 velocity levels is just silly.  There used to be ONE.  Then it was 4 and that was impressive.  But now somebody is upset with fewer than 128.  I can't help but find that hilarious.  People today have no concept of just how much they are constantly demanding, and unsatisfied with.

If MIDI is totally inadequate for your awesome musical demands -- (and why do you have those?  Are you the new Rubenstein??  I guess so, you must be powerful and brilliant beyond anything that MIDI can ever accomplish! )  --  then you might want to consider investing in a real piano and play 5000 levels of velocity.  Or whatever it translates into.  Maybe 10,000.  Would that be sufficient for your utterly exquistite level of dynamic control?

 

In the meantime, doing a recording of MIDI piano, I am still using the Bosendorfer and think it is great.  But of course, I am nowhere near this level of artistry.  

Posted on Fri, Dec 28 2018 13:18
by Gabriel Plalame
Joined on Thu, Feb 27 2003, Frogs eater country., Posts 153

Hi William.

It’s a misunderstanding.

I don’t ask more than 128 layers. (I don’t ask to record anything more anyway.)

The idea is to move layers volumes without losing them.

If the sample library use 128 layers, it needs more than 128 volumes levels to do so, I guess.

It’s hard to explain, (I don’t know how to post a picture on the forum, it’s impossible ?) let’s try an example with a 512 volumes layers scale (not 512 layers !):

Midi volume                Layers numbers           Layers volumes (512 scale in the exemple)

127                            127                              511                    Gap :

126                            126                              503                    8

125                            125                              495                    8

124                            124                              488                    7

123                            123                              481                    7

122                            122                              475                    6

121                            121                              469                    6

etc.

Here you get a velocity curve with 128 Layers.

 

Regards

Gabriel Plalame

The French dyslexic who speaks badly English.

https://soundcloud.com/gabriel_plalame

Asus Prime Z270-K | Intel I5-7600 3,5GHz | Gskill DDR4 | Samsung SSD 960 EVO 500Go M2 2280 NVME x2 + 3 other SSDs | RME HDSP 9652 | Windows 10 pro x64 | Synchron Pianos 1.1.1413 | Samplitude X4 / X5 Suite...
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