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YAMAHA CFX & STEINWAY D... and the winner is...
Last post Tue, Jul 23 2019 by pat, 15 replies.
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Posted on Wed, Jan 16 2019 20:40
by fatis12_24918
Joined on Sat, Dec 16 2006, Posts 262

 

I had a pretty good experience with the Yamaha CFX Synchron Piano: the quality of the sound, but even more the nice feeling of playing it (with a 88 weighted keys piano controller of course) was stimulating me to buy something more, and I decided to buy the Steinway D as well.

The first feeling with the Steinway, as other reported before the update, was of love and hate, wonder and blame. 

The first impression was really weird... perfect recording, amazing sound, but loudly metallic and out of control, compared to the perfect balance of the Yamaha, but I had a pretty emotional and nice flashback... it had something hyper-realistic, weared, like an old consumed instrument, and I found my self for a moment back in the 90's playing the old Steinway of my Conservatorio, in the empty auditorium hall... 

After the last update, the instrument is back to a more equilibrated and fine sound, still bright but no longer excessive. It has lost a bit of caracter, but at least it is now in line with the Yamaha, and you may play them in sequence without a big change or excessive need of adaptation.

Despite the improvement, and despite the fact it is a pretty nice piano, still I can't join the number of Steinway's fans and Yamaha detractors. In real life I also always loved the Steinway sound more than Yamaha, but with the Synchron Pianos i have to say the opposite:

there is something so perfect and well balanced in the Yamaha CFX Synchron Piano, that still surprises and captures me every time I play it... deep bass, vibrating but never metallic... sweet treble, sharp but never nasty... superb uniformity across the whole range.  So finally I loved the Steinway D last update, but Yamaha CFX is my favorite one. Does anybody agree?

Posted on Fri, Jan 18 2019 05:10
by johnstaf
Joined on Thu, Apr 21 2011, Dublin, Posts 189

It would be like choosing one of my children -if I had any! 

I have a feeling the Synchron Imperial will be my favourite, if it captures that glorious Bösendorfer tenor as well as Vienna Imperial did.

Cubase (OS agnostic). Various VSL bits and pieces.

Posted on Fri, Jan 18 2019 05:50
by LAJ
Joined on Sun, Dec 13 2009, Posts 468
While I always liked the sample-based Playability of the Imperial, I never liked it‘s sound that much (except of the Bass).

The CFX and the „Steiny“ are both brilliant for themselves. I cannot decide. But now I have my Pianos of choice - that‘s for sure.
Great to have both!
—Lurker-mode—
Posted on Fri, Jan 18 2019 12:55
by karvala
Joined on Mon, May 07 2018, UK, Posts 23

Originally Posted by: fatis12_24918 Go to Quoted Post

there is something so perfect and well balanced in the Yamaha CFX Synchron Piano, that still surprises and captures me every time I play it... deep bass, vibrating but never metallic... sweet treble, sharp but never nasty... superb uniformity across the whole range.  So finally I loved the Steinway D last update, but Yamaha CFX is my favorite one. Does anybody agree?

Yes actually, I do.  They're both very fine instruments and I will quite happily play either, but if you told me I could only keep one, I'd marginally choose to keep the CFX.

In my case that's a reflection of my acoustic prejudice as well, though; I actually prefer the sound and feel of an acoustic CFX to a Hamburg D, which I realise is sacrilege to many people.  The acoustic CFX is a fine instrument; completely different from other Yamaha offerings.  I think the VSL instruments quite accurately capture the acoustic characteristics of both instruments, to the point of replicating my acoustic preference.

Posted on Sat, Jan 19 2019 04:31
by musicos
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 14

Hi Karvala,

You mentioned an update... "After the last update, the instrument is back to a more equilibrated and fine sound, still bright but no longer excessive."

Do you know when the update was?


Thanks!

Posted on Sat, Jan 19 2019 19:14
by johnstaf
Joined on Thu, Apr 21 2011, Dublin, Posts 189

The update's only a few days old. It's in the Synchron updates in your user area.

Cubase (OS agnostic). Various VSL bits and pieces.

Posted on Sun, Jan 20 2019 08:42
by musicos
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 14

Hi John,

Thanks for letting me know.

If you install the update, is it easy to remove it (or does it toggle on or off)? (in case the original version is preferred?)

Thanks,

Posted on Sun, Jan 20 2019 20:42
by johnstaf
Joined on Thu, Apr 21 2011, Dublin, Posts 189

Yes. You can just removie it.

Cubase (OS agnostic). Various VSL bits and pieces.

Posted on Mon, Feb 11 2019 14:53
by Crystal
Joined on Thu, Feb 27 2003, Frogs eater country., Posts 142

 

Hi, everybody.

Nice discussion. (It looks like a Ferrari vs Maserati battle !)

To resume my feeling about those beautiful Syncron pianos : pleasure, pleasure, pleasure and pleasure.

In one word : I just play better with them. Sooooooo comfortable to play. I think it’s due to the massive samples recording for each keys : it gives so much realism, particularly with staccato and repeated notes. And also to the natural ambiance : I never use the processed reverb embedded (or any other one). No need : the Synchon stage sounds gorgeously.

And all those mics and mixer parameters give sooooo much possibilities. I’m always impressed, for example, how the delay parameter (even a little tiny 0,20 ms, or even less) can metamorphose a preset from a flat and dead thing to a wide and alive sound.

We can spend hours and hours to explore all this…

We don’t have details but I’m curious about the mapping. If I understand well, when I look the robot video, short notes are also recorded (I wonder how the engine can handle this…).

I understand what you are saying about the CFX, Fatis, I had the same feeling. However… I have to say that my favorite is... the Steinway now.

With the CFX, I often feel uncomfortable about some release samples in the left hand range, and about timbre in the right hand range (and also, sorry to say that, about the tuning, like the Imperial).

The Steinway’s timbre sounds to me perfectly homogeneous all over the keyboard, without release samples discomfort, and well tuned. Despite the fact there’s a bit less samples per key than the CFX, I don’t make a difference.

That’s the Grand Concert Piano I’m waiting for years, it is exceptional. I think I’ll record all my work with it. (one regret though : I’m a stereo addict, and sometimes wait, particularly with close mics, a larger stereo field IMHO, like some other libraries have).

As I said to Paul, the external robot is the best choice : mechanical pianos (like the CFX “Disklavier ENSPIRE PRO” system, or others) are probably easier to sample, but they are very restricted in numbers and not necessary best instruments in the world. Now the VSL team can record the best pianos in the world… And I think Stefan Mendel’s choice is very good, thanks to him.

Long life to Syncon Pianos !

(Last but not least, with that kind of product, we also buy the support service : four stars, truly.)

 

Regards,

Gabriel Plalame

The French dyslexic who speaks badly English.
Posted on Sun, Jul 14 2019 22:45
by pat
Joined on Fri, Oct 03 2008, Posts 4

Late to the discussion, but after purchasing and testing the VSL CFX I find it meets my needs although I hear intonation problems, out of tune notes in the upper 2 octaves.  Perhaps this is impossible to sample any more in tune with the challenge of keeping all of the sample layers in tune.  I have listened to the VSl Syncrhon Steinway demos and I still hear tuning problems in the upper 2 octaves though perhaps a little less out of tune notes.  I do not own the Steinway sample but would like to purchase it if in tune.  I have heard that VSL improved on the Steinway tuning by learning from the process of sampling the earlier made samples for the CFX. I heard the piano tuner checked and touched up the tuning more often in the sampling of the newer Steinway sample. Does anyone that owns both the CFX and Steinway feel the Steinway's tuning to be improved over the CFX's tuning, especially in the upper 2 octaves?  Other than tuning issues, I feel the VSL CFX is the best piano sample I have used.  I have produced solo acoustic piano studio recordings for known artists using a Yamaha C7 and then a Yamaha S6 using Neumann mics and an excellent signal path, yet I find that the CFX sample to be very much on the same level in final quality.  We are using a Kawaii VPC-1 as the 88 note keyboard controller which goes a long ways in providing a realstic piano touch during the performance. With that said, our studio recordings of the real pianos are much more in tune than the CFX samples.  To achieve this we hire the piano tuner to be present during the entire multi days recording of the piano and he touches the piano up at least every hour or so.  Later, when we edit the album together we can edit previous days takes with newer takes and the tuning matches.  Though on the CFX piano sample we live with the intonation/out of tune upper 2 octaves in our midi recordings.  Perhaps the Steinway improves on this.  And perhaps the Bosendorfer piano will improve even further.

Posted on Mon, Jul 15 2019 00:16
by stephen limbaugh
Joined on Tue, Feb 23 2016, Los Angeles, Posts 209

Pat, what notes are out of tune on the Yamaha?  Also, are you familiar with the per-note tuning on the Edit page?

2019 MacBook Pro, 8 core i9, 32gb RAM. Heavy Digital Audio PC slave, 6 core Xeon E5-1650, 128gb RAM. Logic 10.4.5. Mojave & Windows 10.
Posted on Mon, Jul 15 2019 00:45
by pat
Joined on Fri, Oct 03 2008, Posts 4

Thanks Stephen, I forgot about the per note tuning feature only having VSL CFX for a week.  I'll try that, although what I am hearing is a note out of tune with itself which occurs when 1 of the 3 strings that make up the pitch of the upper register piano notes, is out of tune with one of the other same note strings.  In this case tuning the whole note made up of 3 strings may not tune that note but I will try and report back. I am not in front of the CFX right now so I will do this tomorrow. And I will report back the results of tuning the notes and I will also note the notes that are out of tune.  Basically the notes themselves are chorusing when played one at a time which is caused by the 3 strings not tuned.

Posted on Mon, Jul 15 2019 23:35
by pat
Joined on Fri, Oct 03 2008, Posts 4

Originally Posted by: stephen limbaugh Go to Quoted Post

Pat, what notes are out of tune on the Yamaha?  Also, are you familiar with the per-note tuning on the Edit page?

Following this up, the notes on the CFX that seem out of tune to my ears are:

B5, Eflat6, E6 (This is an example of a note that choruses meaning one or more of the 3 strings is out of tune making the note itself out of tune with itself which gives it that chorsuing effect when played), F6, G6, A flat6, B6, D7.

As Stephen suggested, I tuned them individually one note at a time. (Nice feature!)  Thanks for alerting me of that ability.  And this did improve the above mentioned notes in all cases except perhap E6 which seems to chorus no matter how I tune it.

By tuning up the notes above I am able to improve the tuning in that upper octave and feel this to be a big improvement.  (though this would be excessive, imagine sampling each string and then giving the user control over tuning each string not too unlike how a piano tuner tunes a piano muting the 2 strings while they tune the 3rd, and so on).  This would require 3x the sample memory and woudn't be realistic.  But it is an interesting idea at least. This might be applied to only octave 6 and above which seems to be a challenging are of a piano to keep in tune.

Posted on Tue, Jul 16 2019 00:19
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 120

pat,

Did you check the out of tune notes against a mechanical tuner?

Posted on Tue, Jul 23 2019 00:29
by pat
Joined on Fri, Oct 03 2008, Posts 4

The tuning problem does have to do with the individual upper two octaves single pitches.  Not so much a problem with relative tuning, meaning notes are somewhat in tune with each other.  Although I have retuned a dozen or so notes in the upper octave more to my ears liking.  The problem lies in the fact that single notes chorus when played alone.  So one or more of the 3 strings that make up that higher note's pitch are out of tune with themselves so the idiviudal pitch tuning doesn't fix this issue.  I will live with it.  Just aoivd playing those several notes that have the issue.  Perhaps the Steinway has solved this, I don't know as I do not own it yet. I only wish VSL developers had sampled those particular notes in tune with themsevles.  I know it is a daunting task to have all of these layers of each ptch in tune with themselves and am impressed with how in tune the entire keyboard is below the upper 2 octaves.  It seems that the uppoer 2 octaves on a piano are more susceptible to going out of tune during a recording/sampling process.

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