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Better MIDI Pianos | Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself By Mike Senior
Published August 2023

These audio files accompany my Better MIDI Pianos article in SOS August 2023 edition. Read the full article here:


In this example, I'm using a sample-based upright piano patch to play a short riff comprised entirely of notes with Velocity values of 98 and 99. Because both these Velocity values trigger the same set of note samples, the timbre remains very consistent.


Here I'm using the same sample-based piano patch I used to generate the previous imp_01_VelocitySwitching01_98-99 audio file, but here I've shifted all the MIDI note velocities up by just a single notch, so that they're now all either 99 or 100. Because the higher of these Velocity values now triggers a completely different set of note samples (which were clearly played a lot harder during the sample-capture process), you can now hear an unnaturally large timbral change between the two adjacent Velocity levels. As you might imagine, this makes programming smoothly phrased musical lines pretty tricky!


This is a section of live-performed MIDI data that I've manually edited for timing purposes, so as to retain the natural time-splaying of each chord's constituent notes. Despite the now metronomic subjective timing, the result remains reasonably musical and organic sounding.


If I had instead used my sequencer's quantisation routine to achieve similarly metronomic timing for the MIDI piano part featured in the previous imp_03_QuantiseOff audio file, the outcome would have sounded like this -- in other words, rather unmusical and robotic by comparison.


Here's a MIDI piano part realised by an excellent software piano instrument, but without any modelling of an acoustic instrument's sympathetic resonance.


Compared with the previous imp_05_SympatheticResonanceOff audio file, this example demonstrates how the same software piano sounds with its sympathetic-resonance modelling engaged. It's a subtle effect, but definitely adds to the instrument's sense of tonal richness and cohesion. (If you're struggling to hear the difference, download these two files and compare them directly side by side in your own DAW, so you can switch between them instantaneously.)