Piano plugins - opinions?


#1

Does anyone here have experience of Ivory II and PianoTeq? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on their relative merits, particularly for use live. Also any other contenders you’d recommend? And why?

Neil


#2

I use both of those, along with Keyscape, and almost all of my use is in live performance. I think they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but these are strictly my opinions, not necessarily backed up with extensive resesarch.

Ivory II - I think this has the best pure grand piano sound, and is what I use 80% of the time when that is the sound I am after. Although it has a fair number of options for tailoring the sound, I find myself sticking with a single rich grand piano sound. I am annoyed by the need for the USB key dongle, and sometimes when I first load a patch in C3, the piano samples are not loaded, and I have to re-save the patch. So, before every performance I need to check this.

PianoTeq - Before purchasing Ivory II, I used PianoTeq as my go-to piano. But I found that it didn’t sound authentic enough when played solo, especially in the middle and upper octaves. It sounds a little harsh to my ears (although I’m sure working with effects and EQ could help this.) However, it was excellent in a rock band mix, maybe even better than Ivory II.

Keyscape - I really like the sound of the Yamaha C7 Grand in Keyscape, but find it takes up a lot of PC resources, especially if a number of VSTs are active at the same time. So, I only use this in a few specific cases.

Again, just my opinions. I would welcome other people’s thoughts as well.


#3

Hi Neil,

I used PianoTeq for awhile, but as Roland said, it didn’t feel right in the mid and upper registers. I have never used Keyscape or Ivory so I cannot comment on those. It is really sux that the great, lush pianos that sound so good in studio or at home, will not cut thru in live performance. I finally settled with Accousticsamples, mainly because it cuts thru and all registers sound real on stage. However, this is the older version that was made for Kontakt. The newer version with UVI I couldn’t comment on.

Corky


#4

Hi!
Consider this pianos:

  • The Grandeur
  • White grand
  • Imperfect Steinway
  • Ravenscroft 275
  • Ivory II
  • Galaxy Vintage D
  • KAWAI-EX PRO

My choice is “The Grandeur” (lightweight and very good sounding).
also use my own sample library (sampled from Yamaha CP-33)

kind regards


#5

I rate Addictive Keys ‘Studio Grand’ and ‘Modern Upright’. There’re lots of mic positions and synthesis available.


#6

I’ve used Pianoteq for a long time. I recently purchased the Steinway B module, which is my favorite of all. To my ear, it covers the entire keyboard (including upper octaves) beautifully. https://www.pianoteq.com/videos?youtubeid=Bf-xJdrIgqY&options=autoplay:1


#7

I like the Acoustic Samples pianos, especially the C7 and Academic Grand.

  • Paul

#8

Hey,

I think it depends really on what you want to achieve with the piano sound. There is no ultimate piano sound in my opinion.
There is only one thing that every piano plugin needs to have: Power if you want it!

I use a lot the Galaxy Vintage D. This is my allround-piano. It doesn’t make any problems, is not that heavy regarding RAM and CPU and sounds pretty good. In some ranges the sound is not balanced but anyway: It has a lot of power and really cuts through the mix if you hit it hard… this is whats missing in most cases.

Anyway: If I need a more upright-like-piano-sound I use the old black grand which sounds more mellow. Also it doesn’t have this attack if you play at full velocity. So when it comes down to cover-music and you play rock n roll this will not suit your needs. Its sound is warmer and sits a bit nicer in the mix as the Galaxy D. I like it for softer music and for jazz it’s also a nice choice.

I also own the Evolution Rosewood Grand. This one sounds very nice and has great sustain. It’s great for creating big atmospheres if you add a good reverb to it. But it’s a bit buggy because the voices will add up if you just use the sustain pedal a bit and at a certain point the sound starts to crackle. But this isn’t a pop-piano too.

Good luck with it! :slight_smile:

Best,
Chris


#9

Thanks for all your feedback, everyone - much appreciated! The reason I asked is that I’ve been using Ivory II (German D, typically), and although it sounds great at home, it tends to sound a bit thin when played live. Perhaps American D would be a better Ivory piano for live use.

I downloaded the demo of Pianoteq, and it certainly does seem to have a bit more body lower down, so would probably solve the problem I’m seeing with Ivory II live, but it does feel a bit plinky higher up.

Anyway, after a lot of demoing, and listening to samples, I’ve just got myself Ravenscroft 275, which I’m really happy with. It’s rich, dynamic, and feels like it has a wider dynamic range than Ivory. I’m finding it very playable indeed - rather addictive in fact! I think this has solved the problem I’ve been having, for now. However, after all these comments I’m also wondering about Galaxy Vintage D and perhaps the Acoustic Samples ones at some point soon :slight_smile:

Thanks again!

Neil


#10

The Ravenscroft looks interesting. Too bad they don’t offer a free trial. It’s a steep price for me, for something I can’t test drive first.


#11

I’ve played most of the piano vst’s and by themselves they don’t feel or sound close enough to the real thing to get my blood stirring. In order to get a big realistic tone I’ve found that layering 2 different programs does the trick. I currently use Pianoteq and Arturia Piano V in combination. You have to play with the various presets and velocity curves etc. but in the end you get a big fat tone that responds more like a real piano.


#12

@Neil_Durant

Please let us know your thoughts after using it live a few times as I am always interested in improving my gear.


#13

Yes … I have used Ravenscroft since release and like that I can mix different mic positions for different uses. It seems to use more resources than Ivory, maybe because of the way I use it. I also notice that Ivory is somewhat thin next to it but must say that the Concert D they put out is their best sampling set for responsiveness and way less dark toned than the German D (my old favorite). Great for solo practice but needs eqing for live and is usable but still can’t equal the factory sounds in my RD-800 piano/controller for live stage. I trialed the Pianoteq, so not a experienced user, but have read you can tweak it to use in a variety of settings and enjoy very tight and small executable code that is polite to your overall resources. I believe Torsten uses it live if I recall correctly and commented on the large library of pianos you can emulate with the same engine.

Dave


#14

I love my Ivory 2 set up. I use the German D with two different settings depending on the type of music/band I’m gigging with. I found that the amplification choice is the big deal here. I use two Bose L1s and find they are perfect for the Ivory 2. In a small room I place them behind me, and for bigger gigs with PA I put them in front of me and switch the perspective control in the software. This way I always play to ‘my’ sound regardless of what the PA guys might be doing!

Paul


#15

It depends on your taste, but for me, Pianoteq is the best. But you need to do a lot of work to find “your” sound. There are several pianos, everyone has his personality, and you can modify the sound moving virtual microphones, the velocity curve response… but I d’ont like very much the section effects nor the eq. I preferer to use external ones
At the beggining i felt frustrated and disappointed with the factory presets. They had nothing to do with the sound demos. But working a little bit the parameters now I found my great sound!
In fact I used a different custom preset for every song, and occasionally, for extreme pianos o when in a song I need to play few piano notes I use a sampled one by Kontakt, but only because the load time is a little bit shorter
I d’ont like Ivory, and 4Front Truepianos is good, but Pianoteq is better.
For electric pianos try Lounge Lizard or, for Kontakt, the Scarbee ones.


#16

Hey Neil,

I’ve tried most sampled and emulated pianos on the market with a focus on live playing: whilst load times and dongles don’t mean so much in a studio environment, they are a crucial factor in selecting a live instrument (for me).

I’ve worked with Pianoteq pretty much since it was first released, and I’ve developed a kind of hate-love-relationship with it: I love the expressiveness, but I’ve never been happy with how it sounds especially in the area around middle C - just misses the texture, brilliance and “bite” you can get out of the real thing and some good sample libraries (although I also find a number of sample libraries lacking in this area).

I don’t like to use dongles live (too easy to lose or break), so even though I like Ivory (American Grand is really nice) and use it frequently in recordings, I haven’t included it into my live setup. BTW: if you want some more options: my other two favorite recording piano libraries are Garritan CFX and the Galaxy Vintage D - great stuff!

Presently, my favorite piano for live is the Addictive Keys Studio Grand: it has a very reasonable memory footprint, doesn’t require a dongle, installs on three machines in parallel (studio, live & backup) and has a nice universal sound and texture. I’ve created a custom preset which is pretty generic, using only one set of virtual microphones, with a pretty balanced sound. Then I use some EQ, compression, chorus, reverb and delay plugins in my main piano rack to customize the sound - currently using about 10 piano presets.

I do use Pianoteq in my stage setup: mainly for its electric piano sounds (Rhodes, Wurlitzer, CP-80). I like the expressiveness I get from it, and it is less quirky to customize than LoungeLizard. I use dedicated effects plugins after it instead of the included ones - I get a better sound and higher flexibility by using dedicated phaser, flanger, chorus, compressor and amp plugins in my ePiano rack than using the ones included in Pianoteq. To me, the secret to a good rock epiano sound is the selection and the tuning of the amp plugin after the piano ;-).

So, give the Addictive Keys a try - definitely worth it!

Cheers,

Torsten


#17

Thanks very much for your further comments, guys!! Definitely going to check out Addictive Keys and also Galaxy Vintage D.

The amplification definitely is a big deal - surprisingly so I think. What I find though, is that Ivory 2 (German D) can sound a bit thin through a venue PA, even if it’s a big PA in a big venue, and ultimately for me, it’s the sound the audience hears that’s important, rather than what I’m playing to on stage (within reason!). I’m looking forward to testing the Ravenscroft piano through a venue PA - it certainly feels like it has more body and more mid than Ivory.

Neil


#18

Hey Neil,

Instead of changing the piano sample set, you might want to try working with your most trusted piano sample set / instrument (that you feel really comfortable playing) and put a parametric EQ behind it (or even use a dynamic equalizer like TDR Nova). If it sounds too thin, a broad and soft boost around 300-400 Hz can do miracles. This is the area that I tend to REDUCE for my rock piano sounds (easier to cut through the mix without cluttering it), but for solo purposes, a slight boost helps giving the piano more “muscle” - tune EQ frequency and Q with your ears…

Cheers,

Torsten


#19

Good points, Torsten. Actually I think this is a good general approach that a lot of people don’t try - tweaking their plugin sounds using EQ or other processing.

In the case of Ivory II I had tried this, and it did help to an extent, but made the piano feel a bit uneven. It sort of addressed the problem, but gave me another different problem. After the comments in this thread I got myself Ravenscroft 275 which comes with a lot more body out of the box, which actually gives me more to work with and EQ - it simply has more tone.

Neil


#20

A quick update: inspired by @LeesKeys’ comments above, I added the Steinway B model to my Pianoteq - and I’m very impressed! Suddenly my Pianoteq has brilliance and bite in the middle octave - still sometimes a tiny bit “honky” in some presets, but nothing a dash of EQ couldn’t tame.

I’ll check this out over the next couple of weeks, but this might actually be my new main live piano! I love the fact that its memory footprint and loading times are minimal, and with a bit of tweaking, I can get all kinds of sounds from this model.

@Neil_Durant: have you tried the Model B with the Pianoteq? Not a lot of “plinkyness” there to my ears…

Cheers,

Torsten