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Auddict Broken Heartstrings Piano

Kontakt Instrument By Dave Stewart
Published March 2024

Auddict Broken Heartstrings Piano

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I’ve been keeping my eye on Auddict since reviewing Drums Of The Deep in July 2017. Following their impressive debut, this versatile UK company built up a sizeable catalogue of orchestral titles, including Angel Strings (reviewed in SOS in March 2021) and the excellent Master Solo Woodwinds, which features a jaw‑droppingly realistic legato mode.

For his latest release, Auddict CEO Dorian Marko dusts off his concert pianist chops and invites us to get our hands on his Steinway Model D concert grand. To achieve the requisite soft, tender tone, this magnificent instrument was modified for the sampling sessions: a layer of felt was introduced, the hammers were treated and the soft pedal calibrated by a piano tech. Happily, the re‑engineering was reversed after the sampling was completed.

The piano was recorded in Mr Marko’s studio from three mic positions using Royer R‑121, Coles 4038 and Neumann U87Ai mics. The mid and far positions add a little room ambience, and you can use the built‑in reverb to create a more distant concert hall sound. In an interesting departure from standard piano miking, the close mic position was adjusted according to the range being recorded, thus ensuring a super‑close, intimate sound across all 88 keys.

After adjusting my keyboard’s velocity curve to suit the instrument’s dynamic response, I found it responded well to sensitive, improvisatory playing. Though essentially soft and gentle, its overall tone remains clear and fairly transparent, with enough attack to maintain a rhythmic presence. The 16 velocity layers and full length sustains also guarantee a naturalistic response with plenty of dynamic expression.

Front‑panel controls include stereo width, percussive hammer and pedal noise, the latter the bane of sound engineers the world over. The Lament setting introduces a per‑key capture of the piano’s natural resonance which, when used sparingly, gives it more size and body.

Also available are transformative effects such as Echoes (a floaty, subtly modulated long reverb), Haunt (which adds a ghostly upper octave) and the spacey pad‑like shimmers Whisper and Hush. There’s also a beautiful, ethereal dedicated pad layer and a great Plectrum option which gives you the sound of the piano strings played with a guitar pick, creating a cheerful jangle reminiscent of a Persian santur or pub piano. Having adjusted these settings, you can save your work in one of the 12 preset slots.

I’ve played a few sampled pianos which broke my heart (not in a good way), but this one brightened my morning.

I’ve played a few sampled pianos which broke my heart (not in a good way), but this one brightened my morning. This review may have missed the deadline for Valentine’s day, but if your loved one is in the market for a highly playable felted sampled grand, this piano would make the ideal romantic present. Cheaper than a real Steinway but expensive‑sounding nonetheless, Broken Heartstrings (9.35GB installed) requires the full version of Kontakt 4 or higher.