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Modartt Pianoteq 7

Modelled Virtual Piano By Robin Bigwood
Published April 2021

Pianoteq 7 loaded up with its new New York Steinway D. Users of previous versions will feel right at home: all the important changes are under the largely unchanged surface.Pianoteq 7 loaded up with its new New York Steinway D. Users of previous versions will feel right at home: all the important changes are under the largely unchanged surface.

Pianoteq 7 introduces new morphing features and an even more realistic modelling engine.

It’s been fascinating to follow the progress of Pianoteq, by French company Modartt, since its debut in 2006. In case you haven’t heard of it already, it’s a virtual instrument specialising in acoustic and electric pianos, mallet instruments, harps and harpsichords that’s based on principles of acoustic modelling, as opposed to sample replay. That makes it computationally intensive, potentially, but also laughably small in its installation footprint on your computer: still only around the 50MB mark (which by my calculations makes it about 0.0007 the size of something like Synthogy’s Ivory II) and requiring only 256MB RAM.

This latest version, Pianoteq 7, adds two new features. The first is a morphing and layering engine. Morphs allow you to create hybrid instruments that don’t exist in reality by blending aspects of two or more donors. Layering is a simpler and more familiar concept, but can make for a different kind of sophistication. The second headline addition is a new piano, a brand spanking American Steinway Model D ‘SPIRIO|r’. That’s an update of the already no‑expense‑spared 8’11” model D, and it adds motorised‑key replay facilities. The real thing would cost you over $200,000 to buy new.

Perhaps just as important, though, is yet another refinement of the underlying modelling engine, which promises to improve the sound of the entire existing instrument line‑up. ‘Double polarisation’ takes account of string vibrations that can emanate in any direction into the soundboard, and is said to provide more complexity, a three‑dimensional character, and supports acoustic piano bass notes that can sustain as long as a couple of minutes.

Morph The Cat

I was excited to try the new morphing features in the Pro version I had on test, and I must say they did not disappoint: they enable a new kind of sound design.

Working in a dedicated (and detachable) panel you load presets for any of your instruments into slots that have accompanying mute and solo buttons, and which have a horizontal travel fader that controls the intensity of that ‘ingredient’ (Modartt’s terminology, suitably culinary perhaps). There will also be a vertical...

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Published April 2021