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Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

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Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby dred2009 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:00 am

I'm using Mixcraft 7 and I have a good plugin collection. However, I still don't have a lot of experience to know what to do and when to do. I am trying to make the Pianissimo piano VST sound like a classical recording. I know that would be impossible to make it sound like a good acoustic recording, but I want to know how far I can go.

So far I used plugins in this order:

An EQ - To apply low cut, add frequencies in the top and subtract in the middle (TDR nova):
Multiband compressor - just to control the bass end (GVST Gmulti):
Convolution reverb with EQ in the reverb Bus (ReverbereteLE)
Tube saturation and Tube Limiter (Izotope mastering essentials):

It already sounds better than the version with no plugins, but I want to know how an experienced mixer would mix a piece of music with this VST (Pianissimo piano VST). And also, how would a mixer mix a piano piece recorded in a decent piano VST.
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby Chevytraveller » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:11 am

Find a good acoustic space and re-amp it with some decent monitors..



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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby dred2009 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:31 am

Chevytraveller wrote:Find a good acoustic space and re-amp it with some decent monitors.. :bouncy:

I'm still an amateur. What do you mean with re-amp and decent monitors?
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby Chevytraveller » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:51 am

play the output of the piano track through some decent monitors in a good sounding acoustic space.. record the result and mix some back in to the original track

Yes, technically this is only reverb, but it is actually physically moving air which adds much more depth and nuance than reverb plug-ins..

if you can find a space with a piano in (church hall, school etc) then position the speakers towards the frame of the piano and record the result from the other side of the piano frame.. this will add sympathetic resonances that can also be mixed in to add realism.


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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby tomas » Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:20 am

Maybe try another plugin? I’m very happy with this one for pianos, and they let you try it before buying. https://www.pianoteq.com/pianoteq6
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby ef37a » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:01 am

tomas wrote:Maybe try another plugin? I’m very happy with this one for pianos, and they let you try it before buying. https://www.pianoteq.com/pianoteq6

You beat me to it Tomas. My son was VERY fussy about the sound quality of piano in Cubase but loves Pianoteq.
It is also a handy bit of MIDI software.

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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby CS70 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:55 am

From what I see, the plugin should have a reasonably good sound by itself.

What do you feel it is lacking?

Like any instrument, keep in mind that the sound is not so much about the timbre itself but the music and how you play (and for VSTs, the kind of expressiveness your control allows for).
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby The Elf » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:09 am

There are plenty of perfectly good plug-ins and sample sets around. If you're having to resort to such a chain of plug-ins to make a piano sound good then I'd ditch whatever you're currently using and try something else!

The most I ever have to do to a sampled piano is a tiny bit of EQ and a bit of reverb.
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby Zukan » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:53 am

I don't know that particular piano vsti but I tend to use Pianoteq for all my piano lines and edit to taste.

However, you need to look at the multitude of 'shaping' tools you have available in your DAW and inject some life into your piano lines using automation, envelope shapers, channel pressure tools etc...
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby Studio Support Gnome » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:14 pm

some fundamental questions.


1), and this is critical, are you sure , you KNOW what a good classical piano recording sounds like ??

2) can you describe difference in the tonal balance and presentation of a couple of classic piano types ? say Bosendorfer Vs Steinway Vs Yamaha ?
\
3) can you describe the ambience, of a good sounding recording ?

4) can you suggest what makes the room sound good with a piano in it?

if the answer is no/i don;t know to any of them.... you're probably applying all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.

and the majority of responders thus far are far more versed in Piano for popular music...

which is often a very different beast than a serious classical recording.




so are you sure you know what you're aiming for ??
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby DC-Choppah » Mon Jan 21, 2019 2:44 am

I gave a listen to that VST - Pianissimo piano VST. That is not a very good sounding realistic piano to me. Sounds like a MIDI piano just for certain kinds of pop sounds. Not very expressive.

Adding plugins to make it sound more like a piano for classical music is counter-productive.


Classical piano has a lot to do with the touch of the player to get a good tone. The hand does not strike the key, but the arm pronates and controls the delicate acceleration so that when the felt hits the string a certain tone results. We can listen to a good player and immediately identify the artist by the tone of the note.

All of this is lost in a cheap MIDI piano. No amount of mixing or plugins can add it back in. Some of the good MIDI pianos try hard to have this expression, sort of anyway.

But if the artist could not hear the VST react, he would not play with the expressions of the instrument. There is a feedback between the performer and the instrument that has to happen.
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby ef37a » Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:47 pm

I am not getting a notification when a post is updated, even though the box below is ticked.

This does not happen at HR.com . Fretboard will not let me register, just "hangs".

Could this be anything to do with my recent speed upgrade? I now get 21Mish down and over 9M upload.

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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:00 am

One of the most important things to getting a realistic piano sound is to use a sustain pedal or to write in the sustain patterns in your DAW. If you're not a piano player this might be a complete revelation to you, but using a sustain pedal as pianists do will transform the realism of any plugin, even less expensive ones.

This vid explains it. Sorry if you know this already but when I was informed about this it transformed my midi piano parts instantly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gckH1Ebtkfg
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:12 am

Here's a vid of how to draw in the pedal moves in your DAW. He uses Logic but the principle is the same for any daw, obviously.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FIIzth_PLg
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby CS70 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:11 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:One of the most important things to getting a realistic piano sound is to use a sustain pedal or to write in the sustain patterns in your DAW. If you're not a piano player this might be a complete revelation to you, but using a sustain pedal as pianists do will transform the realism of any plugin, even less expensive ones.

Fascinating! I was thinking of dabbing with some midi piano and I'll definitely keep this in mind.
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby ef37a » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:20 pm

CS70 wrote:
Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:One of the most important things to getting a realistic piano sound is to use a sustain pedal or to write in the sustain patterns in your DAW. If you're not a piano player this might be a complete revelation to you, but using a sustain pedal as pianists do will transform the realism of any plugin, even less expensive ones.

Fascinating! I was thinking of dabbing with some midi piano and I'll definitely keep this in mind.

Not remotely my area but I note all but the very cheapest MIDI controllers have a jack for a sustain pedal.

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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby CS70 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:36 pm

Yeah my idea is to actually write the midi (my mouse skills are better than my keyboard's) so the idea of automate the sustain sounds like one these little secrets which can make a lot of difference..
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:02 pm

Night and day. Hopefully a proper piano player might chip in?
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:21 pm

Interesting! Noted for future reference. Thanks DHL! :)
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Re: Trying to make a PIANO VST sound better.

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:46 pm

CS70 wrote:Yeah my idea is to actually write the midi (my mouse skills are better than my keyboard's) so the idea of automate the sustain sounds like one these little secrets which can make a lot of difference..

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:Night and day. Hopefully a proper piano player might chip in?

I consider myself a proper piano player (for reference, not for promotion here's a piano performance of mine on an 'ok but not great' piano sound recorded live recently: https://soundcloud.com/eddy-deegan/recollection) and having read through the thread a couple things that jump out at me.

Firstly, a low-quality piano sound played well is far preferable than an amazing piano sound played badly. Unless you're showcasing a specific instrument and want to show what it sounds like, on a piano music will sound 'better' when played well.

Secondly, for anything other than really simple music it's going to be extremely hard if not impossible to create a convincing piano part using a MIDI editor.

In order to play 'with feeling', the push and pull against the beat (if indeed there is a beat), the momentary pauses and the anticipated attacks are important. Equally so are the variations in velocity. Within some combination of both of these the result will sound mechanical and lifeless unless it's buried in a mix or used only to add texture to a larger soundscape.

A sustain pedal makes a HUGE difference and I consider it to be a fundamental part of the instrument as opposed to a controller.
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