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Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: Erard] #2735461
05/10/18 07:35 AM
05/10/18 07:35 AM
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karvala Offline
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Originally Posted by Erard


<snip>



Thanks for these, thanks to sorrownightingale for earlier demos as well; these are all much more helpful than the official demos.

It sounds very good, generally. It's striking how much clearer the Surround is compared to the main. I also get some slightly strange spatial effects on the Composite mixture.

Do you have any demos from the High mics? Some people have said they're very good?


Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, Blüthner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp
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Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735524
05/10/18 12:53 PM
05/10/18 12:53 PM
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karvala Offline
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Okay, so I've had a play with this now, and I must say my 10-minute exposure initial impressions are not very positive overall. That might well change with more exposure.

The Good:-

1. Dynamic level is terrific. Even on the default of 100% there is a real sense of dynamic contrast; the fact that it can be increased beyond that is amazing. Definitely the widest dynamic range of any piano VST I've played.
2. Dynamic control is similarly impressive; it promotes a good feeling of connection with the instrument. It seems that a high number of dynamic layers really can help.
3. Timbre. It's not actually to my taste, being rather too bright for me, and the sound is not without its flaws (see below), but it sounds very clearly like a proper piano.

The Bad:-
1. Stability/compatibility. It comes with no player of its own, which is a bit clumsy. I normally install my software pianos to the C: drive initially and then farm things out to various drives using Junction links in Windows 10, which normally works fine; software is supposed to see it seamlessly as still in the original installation path and it means things can be moved around with needing to reinstall. This is the first and only VST of any type I have come across that does not support that (specifically, it crashed when the files were like that, and only stopped crashing when I moved the actual files back to the original drive). That's annoying. The need for a hardware USB dongle to be attached is similarly annoying. There also remain silly bugs, e.g. in Edit mode, the on-screen keyboard is incorrect by one key, i.e. if you press 'A', it claims the central frequency of that is 415Hz. This just speaks of a lack of proper testing.
2. Controls. I read the manual fully before testing, and still to actually make any meaningful adjustment to the sound in a predictable way is unnecessarily difficult. If people thought the controls in the Garritan CFX were opaque (and I didn't; I actually thought they were quite straightforward) I can only imagine what they'll think of these.
3. Mistuned notes. More accurately, mistuned strings, since it's not that the note as a whole is mistuned, but one of the strings, leading to a rather sour sound. That's careless maintenance during sampling.
4. Long load times. It's not a huge deal, but this are by far the longest load times for me, even on a newish Samsung SSD. Think Garritan x 2 at least.

The Ugly:-
1. Space. Grazilerimba wrote above about a dislike of the space, and I can entirely see what was meant by that. I don't mind an ambient sound, in fact I play the Garritan with stronger ambient than close mics normally, but this is just horrible. In the first place, with the numerous ambient mics and reverb settings all over the place, it's pretty much geared up for ambient sound. If you want a close piano sound, it could be said that isn't what this instrument is about. You can make it dry by cutting all the reverb and all the ambient mics, but it doesn't sound great; it's quite dead and clipped. However, my first impression of the key problem with the ambient sounds is:-
2. Phase problems! OMG, do VSL not believe in phase-matching? This makes True Keys pianos (which suffer from this problem a bit) look positively professional. There are ugly phase shifts all over the place; I feel almost dizzy while playing. I'm quite sensitive to that because of a background partly in psychoacoustics, and maybe other people won't notice as much, but to me it completely destroys the illusion of playing an actual acoustic piano and makes it really quite unpleasant and highly distracting after a while. The rather eccentric mic placement (including the close mics - just how were they positioned?)

On the basis of the ugly, I can completely see someone would want to cut out the room and replace it with something that does the job properly or at least gives your ears a break. I'll test it more, and maybe I'll get used to that, but somehow I doubt out. It's a real shame, as the ugly completely spoils what could have been a nice alternative to the CFX.

Last edited by karvala; 05/10/18 01:15 PM.

Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, Blüthner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735534
05/10/18 01:27 PM
05/10/18 01:27 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
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Erard Offline
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Originally Posted by mcoll

I'm not in any danger of buying another VST soon, but just out of curiosity, between Garritan, VSL and Pianoteq:
1. Which is the best to play? Which is most immersive when playing?
2. Which is the best sounding from a player perspective when playing?
3. How does the pedal work? Is it fully functional? And what about the resonances?

Well, I don't know which is the best to play - I personally like Garritan and VSL CFX best - and that might even change in a month time!
About the pedal - as far as I can tell, the half-pedalling is not working at the moment in VSL CFX - it's not following at all the speed of the pedal when stopping the sound. On the main screen there is a Half Pedal but that only makes the transition shorter or longer - but always fixed - again, it doesn't follow the sustain pedal.
On the other hand Garritan CFX pedal is very good, Pianoteq pedal is absolutely perfect IMO.

jfl, pianistje and karvala - you are welcome!

Originally Posted by karvala

Do you have any demos from the High mics? Some people have said they're very good?


Here you go:
High
High-Sur

And another mix with Close1 (0dB), Main (-16dB, 21ms) and High (-6dB, 16ms)
Composite2

Please keep in mind that these samples are not normalized.


Yamaha C3M - Kawai Novus - VSL CFX & Steinway D - Garritan CFX - Pianoteq Pro - American Concert D - Ravenscroft 275
PC -> Sonarworks Reference 4 -> RME Babyface Pro -> Schiit Yggdrasil + Jotunheim -> Sennheiser HD650 & HD800
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: karvala] #2735580
05/10/18 05:50 PM
05/10/18 05:50 PM
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pianistje Offline
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Originally Posted by karvala

On the basis of the ugly, I can completely see someone would want to cut out the room and replace it with something that does the job properly or at least gives your ears a break. I'll test it more, and maybe I'll get used to that, but somehow I doubt out. It's a real shame, as the ugly completely spoils what could have been a nice alternative to the CFX.

I like your critical approach and evident expertise karvala.

I am curious what your favorite top three piano vst's are and why, considering all things involved that make up for the total playing experience.

I reloaded the Garritan CFX this afternoon on a Samsung SSD 860 pro, after i had to remove it a couple of weeks ago ,due to several loading errors.
It works flawlessly now, but i don't like the sound as much as what i remembered it sounded like.
A very strange experience, but maybe something worthwile....by implementing some distance to have a fresh ''ear''.

Last edited by pianistje; 05/10/18 05:59 PM.
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Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: pianistje] #2735758
05/11/18 02:07 PM
05/11/18 02:07 PM
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karvala Offline
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Originally Posted by pianistje
Originally Posted by karvala

On the basis of the ugly, I can completely see someone would want to cut out the room and replace it with something that does the job properly or at least gives your ears a break. I'll test it more, and maybe I'll get used to that, but somehow I doubt out. It's a real shame, as the ugly completely spoils what could have been a nice alternative to the CFX.

I like your critical approach and evident expertise karvala.

I am curious what your favorite top three piano vst's are and why, considering all things involved that make up for the total playing experience.

I reloaded the Garritan CFX this afternoon on a Samsung SSD 860 pro, after i had to remove it a couple of weeks ago ,due to several loading errors.
It works flawlessly now, but i don't like the sound as much as what i remembered it sounded like.
A very strange experience, but maybe something worthwile....by implementing some distance to have a fresh ''ear''.


Thanks, I appreciate it. A fresh ear is definitely useful. I find it's definitely possible both to get tired of a piano VST over time, and to like them more, and sometimes it even seems cyclical. There aren't many that stand the test of time.

My top three VSTs (it's too early to include the VSL CFX yet) is actually quite a difficult question for that very reason. The top one is fairly clear and constant, but the other two vary quite a bit over time, so this is only the current version. Next month it could be different. From my point of view, what I want is a piano VST that I play and that gives me either (a) the impression of playing an acoustic piano, such that I can almost forget I'm playing a sampled instrument; or (b) gives me the impression that I'm listening to a recording of the piano. Both of those essentially mean that it must be relatively free of problems, because problems distract from the illusion. It turns out that there are surprisingly few that meet that requirement. In reverse order.

3. Bechstein Digital Grand
You might describe this as a singular taste. It's quite unforgiving in playing, which means if you're a lazy pianist like me it's not as enjoyable as it might be. It also suffers from a notable lack of sustain in the high notes (an all-too-common problem unfortunately), and it has performance issues which means it requires a decent setup. But the sound is authentically Bechstein, and the sound customisation options are impressive; you can genuinely change it quite a bit. It's useful for certain repertoire, and if you're willing to put in the time, you can make it sound fairly decent. It's a very clean sound, with decent optional sampled room resonance (which sounds a lot better than the algorithmic stuff they also include as an option), and it's reasonably responsive. The sharp attack and lack of sustain mean that you can forget about using it for big romantic pieces, or jazz/blues; it might be alright for some pop although it would a slightly eccentric choice. Good for C18th music, though.

2. Ivory II Studio Grands - Steinway B
I'm actually quite embarrassed by this one, which is diametrically opposite to the Bechstein, and it requires some explanation. When I was a child, I noticed that I quite liked playing the piano when there was a vacuum cleaner on in the background. I later read that Glenn Gould also used to like that (sadly, the similarity ends there!), and I think the reason was alluded to by Krystian Zimerman in an interview a few years ago, where he complained that modern digital remastering has meant that old recordings which were supposed to be purely about the music were now being critically evaluated in terms of sounds (which he thought was unfair). There is something to be said for a piano which genuinely sounds like piano, but a piano which isn't terribly good, so you focus not on the gorgeous sound, but on the actual music instead. This one fits that bill surprisingly well. It sounds like a slightly clapped-out but decent piano that your average piano teacher might own (which is why I previously described it as a comedy piano, which was a bit harsh!). It also sounds, like the Bosendorfer that is packaged with it, remarkably two-dimensional, but which I mean it seems to lack all depth. But it is hugely playable and responsive, and if you don't mind the imperfection in the underlying instrument, there's actually not much wrong with it.

1. Garritan CFX
This is the only one that isn't a difficult choice and is unlikely to change in the near future (although I live in hope!). It's not perfect - there is noise in the samples and it is cumulative, but I find I'm able to ignore that in the way that I would ignore the hiss of a poor amplifier turned up too loud. There is apparently a memory leak, as well, though I don't keep it open anyway so that doesn't affect me. This was recorded with room resonance, and my guess is that, unlike most other VSTs, release sounds are part of the main samples and the room/release controls are actually designed to reduce that rather than add it. If that's true, it's an inspired decision because it has by far the most convincing and frankly gorgeous release sounds of any VST I've played so far. It does have one weakness in the sound as a result of that as well, however, which is that very short staccato playing, which something like the Ravenscroft does superbly, doesn't sound very convincing on the Garritan. That's a fairly minor problem, however, and doesn't stop it being perfectly usable for that type of music. For big Romantic works, it's unbeatable. The sound in itself would make it a contender for the top spot, but it comes out top in several other ways as well. The spatial location of the notes are spot on, without any of the issues seen in others. Similarly the tone and amplitude are remarkably even across the keyboard. That means there are no major popouts and you can play relatively undistracted. There are sensible design options, notably including separate sustain samples which can be turned off if required. It's the only piano I can think of which offers that, and it's so necessary for some pieces. The pedal support, after their update and Cybergene's additional fix, is also excellent. so again you're not distracted by things not working the way they're supposed to. Finally, the mic choices, locations and options are a terrific bonus. If it only had the Classic perspective, it would still easily be top choice. The fact that you get others as well, and can mix and match genuinely close and genuinely ambient mics in a way that sounds authentic, is terrific. With a primarily close-mic setup, I feel like I'm playing an acoustic instrument. With a primarily ambient setup, I feel like I'm listening to a recording. I don't get either of those senses to the same extent with any other piano. For the combination of sound, playability, sensible options and minimal flaws, it's an easy winner for me.

Honorable Mentions
I've bought some real turkeys in the past (Waves Grand Rhapsody, anyone?!), but also some others that are respectable. The Ivory II ACD is decent; the instrument is slightly flawed and the single mic perspective not ideal, so I don't use it much, but there's not a huge amount wrong with it. Similarly, the True Keys American Grand I now feel is the best of those three. The German Grand is more interesting but the sound is just so poor that I couldn't recommend it. The American is fine, though; it's a bit weak and sounds like the hammers were not properly cut in at the time of recording, and the all the True Keys pianos sound to me like they had a bit too rigorous a clean in the production process, but there's no denying it's very even, there are good control options, and as long as you turn the dynamics range WAY up from the default value, it's moderately playable, so it doesn't do too much wrong. Completing the hat-trick of usable Steinway Ds is The Grandeur. In some ways, that is the nicest sounding of the three, with that authentic Steinway bell attack, and the playability is okay, but the Kontakt problems (release samples louder than the attack, weird pedal effects including notes coming back from the dead etc.) are far too distracting to make me want to play with any regularity. Grudgingly, I'll also put the Ravenscroft 275 here. The flagship of the VI pianos, and it does feel like a premium product with great playability, evenness, relatively flawless and a good range of options, so there's not much wrong with it in truth, but I can't get past that bitterly cold and slightly booming sound. Ravenscroft apparently thought this would be a good advert for their pianos. In fact, it makes me want to avoid them if this is any indication of what they sound like.

So that's that. Interesting to hear yours, and indeed anyone else's. smile





Last edited by karvala; 05/11/18 02:07 PM.

Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, Blüthner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735795
05/11/18 05:17 PM
05/11/18 05:17 PM
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propianist Offline
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Hi Karvala,
I'm surprised you didn't give an honourable mention to Vintage D, since you did for Grandeur - because they're both so very, very similar to each other, both Steinway D's running in Kontakt with almost identical player engine and parameters, and both sampled and produced by Uli Baronowsky with a similar approach and style. They're practically interchangeable on paper, except for the subtle differences in each instrument's unique voicing and timbre. Like you, I also own both, and many others of those same software pianos you mention, so I'd agree with all your comments. For me, the Vintage D (although it's a few years old now - well it is vintage!!! haha) is still one of the best Steinways - I'd say better than any of the Synthogy or UVI TrueKeys offerings. (I've got them too.)

The other interesting tit-bit which was pointed out by someone in VSL's user forum, was that VSL's new CFX comes under a "Synchron Pianos" moniker, ie. "Pianos" = plural, so the implication is that VSL might well be adding other piano titles to the Synchron range in the future, and given the Synchron Stage Vienna recording facility owns a Bosendorfer 290 Imperial (with CEUS automation) and a Steinway D, that's quite feasable. The Steinway would be the obvious one to do next, because VSL already have other Bosendorfer titles in their product lineup already. So hopefully a Synchron Steinway D will be in the works sometime soon...!

Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735798
05/11/18 05:38 PM
05/11/18 05:38 PM
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I like the Vintage D and I agree they're quite similar; I got it at the same time as The Grandeur and I think it's timbre is actually more interesting. The two reasons I didn't include it are that it's half-pedal support is quite poor, which I interferes with playing a bit, and it lacks sustained tone in the higher registers (if you try playing something like Chopin Op.25 No.1, it sounds a bit silly), which is the one area in which I think The Grandeur is notably better. That's undoubtedly due to the substantial age difference of the instruments. They're both good, though.

Yeah, a VSL Steinway would be very interesting and well worth a look.


Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, Blüthner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735825
05/11/18 07:26 PM
05/11/18 07:26 PM
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Thank you for the very detailed descriptions karvala. I was looking forward to hearing what the more technically versed users would have to say. So this mistuned strings and phase matching stuff could probably be the reason why the instrument feels a little bit 'out of tune' in general, but not in the same way as a badly out of tune note would. VSL wrote on their site that they had tuners present at the sampling sessions, so it's surprising to me that this seems to be an ever bigger issue than what I had already thought it would be.

What surprises me, is nobody else noticing the notes that stand out or feel bothered by it? Especially the g5, g sharp 5 (and I think also a 5), if you play them within melodies or chords. Also how about d5 sounding out of tune?

@karvala, that's a great list of piano VSTs you have. I would really love to like the Bechstein and I could probably find a way to deal with the extreme system requirements, but the sound is just very unpleasant to me. The recording (player perspective) sounds like it comes from an old radio, for the lack of a better description. I can't stand the sound for more than a few minutes. How did you get it to sound good to your ears? Also the multi instrument is a chore to use. The velocity curves are set up in a weird way so that certain samples (belonging to individual mics) are only triggered at certain velocities, and if you want to change a setting in one mic, you gotta repeat that for the other two

The ACD has great playability, it's among the most real feeling instruments, but the sound is not satisfying to me. Something is wrong with their resonance engine, it worked nicely in the German D from Ivory II, but for some reason the decay of the resonances is so much steeper in the ACD to the point where it has an impact on the enjoyment. This is also the reason why I didn't get the Studio Grands, because I had this issues with the Italian Grand as well and figured it's just gonna be that way for everything that isn't German D.

As for the Grandeur, I would really love to play it, but those phantom notes you mention ruin it for me. It's fairly reproducible as well: press down a note, press down the pedal. release the note. Now quickly release and push down the pedal, as if you wanted to repedal. You'll end up with a weird "re-pedalling of the resonance" where you'll get a sound as if the string was being plucked. This can be avoided by turning down the resonance knob, but then you get an instrument that's as dry as a fata morgana in the desert. I had no idea the Vintage D and the Grandeur were made by the same guys. That's awesome. I wonder what they're up to next.

re: VI Labs pianos, I find it hard to configure them. They have this weird seit of knobs and curves and I can't get them to feel natural to play at all. If I remember correctly it's something about sensitivity curves, but there's also a velocity curve, and then another knob with something else. Very unintuitive when compared to Garritan CFX. The Accousticsamples VSTs have the same thing, especially the C7 grand which gets some acclaim on here but which I just couldn't get warm with at all.

Last edited by Grazilerimba; 05/11/18 07:27 PM.
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735909
05/12/18 08:01 AM
05/12/18 08:01 AM
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New 30 min walkthrough video by Paul from VSL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xs-b_mBIpY

Too bad my Vienna key is still in transit and can't arrive soon enough so i can test this thing.

Last edited by tdwctdwc; 05/12/18 08:02 AM.
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735922
05/12/18 09:20 AM
05/12/18 09:20 AM
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Back to VSL - I have to say - I'm having a great time with this piano.
I've been working with it quite a bit as I wanted to make the tone warmer and more pleasing in general - out of the box it's a little on the cold side and has not enough body IMO.
Yesterday I managed to get a more satisfying result - and I couldn't stop playing. I love the responsiveness and playability - they are really first rate.
Here is another example - Chopin's Scherzo n. 3 - a piece that exploits almost all the characteristics of the piano:

Chopin - Scherzo n. 3

I also tested the sustain pedal again, and actually the piano does respond somewhat to the velocity when you go up - it stops faster if you pull the pedal up faster. If you go slower it follows till a certain speed - you cannot do a real half-pedalling where the note is stopped slowly or lasts a shorter time, like you can on Garritan or a real piano. Hope this makes sense.

@Grazilerimba - Yes, I was bothered by the some notes sticking out - I use a free VST call VeloScaler. It allows you to scale back (or forward) the midi velocity of a note o a group of notes, up to five notes/groups (or more if you chain them). I got a better uniformity this way. I used it also on Garritan CFX to make it really even.

Originally Posted by karvala
The Bad:-
1. Stability/compatibility. It comes with no player of its own, which is a bit clumsy. I normally install my software pianos to the C: drive initially and then farm things out to various drives using Junction links in Windows 10, which normally works fine; software is supposed to see it seamlessly as still in the original installation path and it means things can be moved around with needing to reinstall. This is the first and only VST of any type I have come across that does not support that (specifically, it crashed when the files were like that, and only stopped crashing when I moved the actual files back to the original drive). That's annoying. The need for a hardware USB dongle to be attached is similarly annoying. There also remain silly bugs, e.g. in Edit mode, the on-screen keyboard is incorrect by one key, i.e. if you press 'A', it claims the central frequency of that is 415Hz. This just speaks of a lack of proper testing.
2. Controls. I read the manual fully before testing, and still to actually make any meaningful adjustment to the sound in a predictable way is unnecessarily difficult. If people thought the controls in the Garritan CFX were opaque (and I didn't; I actually thought they were quite straightforward) I can only imagine what they'll think of these.
3. Mistuned notes. More accurately, mistuned strings, since it's not that the note as a whole is mistuned, but one of the strings, leading to a rather sour sound. That's careless maintenance during sampling.
4. Long load times. It's not a huge deal, but this are by far the longest load times for me, even on a newish Samsung SSD. Think Garritan x 2 at least.

The Bad:
1. I agree - it should have a standalone mode. Fortunately it's easy to remedy the lack of a dedicate application using SaviHost, which is free and works well. VSL CFX in SaviHost
About the soft links and the crashing: you don't need to use them - it's possible to move the sound files wherever you want them (even in more than one place) and then change the path the VST will search, or add new paths (Click the gear, then Database). I did it, it works.
The USB dongle: ahh - I hate it! But we knew that before buying, so...
About the frequency of the A key: if you are referring to the 415 that appears under the equalizer after Frequency - that is the frequency of the control in the equalizer that has the focus, not the frequency of the note. If you move the control in the equalizer it will show a different frequency.

2. I agree on this too - it's a very complex piece of software - but also you can do a lot with it. You can edit the volume, the dynamics and equalize with a parametric equalizer each single note! Edit the volume, equalize, delay, pan, apply reverb (and modify dynamically each parameter of the equalizer following the velocity or other MIDI parameters, with Learn function) - all separately for each mic position. And more. I quite like it.

3. Notes out of tune: that's not good at all - fortunately they are very rare - I heard one once on a sample in this thread - but it hasn't happened to me yet while playing.

4. Long load times - on my computer it takes a time proportional to the GB it has to load (makes sense, right?). Try changing the Default Preload Size. I use 3172 samples, and it takes the same time as Garritan (where I use the maximum pre-load size) to load into VSTHost. (15 seconds more or less using NVME drive)

The Ugly (duckling? smile )
Re: the space - not as good as Garritan's, but I find it definitely usable.
Re: phasing - I'm curious if you hear phasing in the sample above? Probably I'm not very sensitive to it - and in any case I try to avoid anything that sound strange while playing with the knobs in the UI.


Yamaha C3M - Kawai Novus - VSL CFX & Steinway D - Garritan CFX - Pianoteq Pro - American Concert D - Ravenscroft 275
PC -> Sonarworks Reference 4 -> RME Babyface Pro -> Schiit Yggdrasil + Jotunheim -> Sennheiser HD650 & HD800
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: Erard] #2735943
05/12/18 11:27 AM
05/12/18 11:27 AM
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karvala Offline
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Originally Posted by Erard
Back to VSL - I have to say - I'm having a great time with this piano.
I've been working with it quite a bit as I wanted to make the tone warmer and more pleasing in general - out of the box it's a little on the cold side and has not enough body IMO.
Yesterday I managed to get a more satisfying result - and I couldn't stop playing. I love the responsiveness and playability - they are really first rate.
Here is another example - Chopin's Scherzo n. 3 - a piece that exploits almost all the characteristics of the piano:

Chopin - Scherzo n. 3


I've played around with this a bit more now as well, and fiddled bit more with the sound options, and my impression has certainly improved. In the right circumstances, which means not only with the right setting but also the right piece, it's exquisitely beautiful - possibly even more than the Garritan - and the samples are crystal clear. But there are significant limitations in my view, and it's not suitable for certain pieces at all, which is not the case with the Garritan. On that note, that's a nice demo, and very impressive performance! The challenge, for a VST, though is not to sound good in complex pieces with plenty of pedal. Almost all VSTs sound fairly nice in such favourable circumstances. The real challenge is how it sounds in something much more simple and exposed, e.g. a Bach fugue or a Haydn sonata or something like that.

Originally Posted by Erard

I also tested the sustain pedal again, and actually the piano does respond somewhat to the velocity when you go up - it stops faster if you pull the pedal up faster. If you go slower it follows till a certain speed - you cannot do a real half-pedalling where the note is stopped slowly or lasts a shorter time, like you can on Garritan or a real piano. Hope this makes sense.


Yes, half-pedal definitely works, is definitely noticeable and the adjustment allows the scale of the effect to be controlled, which is a nice touch. Aside from the bug with clipped release samples in some mics when using the sustain in the current version (1.0530), the pedal implementation feels okay to me.


Originally Posted by Erard

@Grazilerimba - Yes, I was bothered by the some notes sticking out - I use a free VST call VeloScaler. It allows you to scale back (or forward) the midi velocity of a note o a group of notes, up to five notes/groups (or more if you chain them). I got a better uniformity this way. I used it also on Garritan CFX to make it really even.


Yeah, I've used that with some other VSTs before. Here you can actually adjust the volume on a per-note basis anyway in the editor, which is nice, so you don't even strictly need VeloScaler. I wish you could adjust the space in a similar way; shame there aren't separate MIDI values for different stereo channels.

Originally Posted by Erard

The Bad:
1. I agree - it should have a standalone mode. Fortunately it's easy to remedy the lack of a dedicate application using SaviHost, which is free and works well. VSL CFX in SaviHost
About the soft links and the crashing: you don't need to use them - it's possible to move the sound files wherever you want them (even in more than one place) and then change the path the VST will search, or add new paths (Click the gear, then Database). I did it, it works.
The USB dongle: ahh - I hate it! But we knew that before buying, so...
About the frequency of the A key: if you are referring to the 415 that appears under the equalizer after Frequency - that is the frequency of the control in the equalizer that has the focus, not the frequency of the note. If you move the control in the equalizer it will show a different frequency.

2. I agree on this too - it's a very complex piece of software - but also you can do a lot with it. You can edit the volume, the dynamics and equalize with a parametric equalizer each single note! Edit the volume, equalize, delay, pan, apply reverb (and modify dynamically each parameter of the equalizer following the velocity or other MIDI parameters, with Learn function) - all separately for each mic position. And more. I quite like it.

3. Notes out of tune: that's not good at all - fortunately they are very rare - I heard one once on a sample in this thread - but it hasn't happened to me yet while playing.

4. Long load times - on my computer it takes a time proportional to the GB it has to load (makes sense, right?). Try changing the Default Preload Size. I use 3172 samples, and it takes the same time as Garritan (where I use the maximum pre-load size) to load into VSTHost. (15 seconds more or less using NVME drive)


1. Yes, I use it with SaviHost at the moment, which works fine. I've used that with others in the past as well; a neat bit of software that does the job with a minimal resource requirement. They have actually fixed the loading crash when using junction links, or at least prevented it from crashing. It still doesn't respect junction links, which is quite surprising and suggests the sample locations are being read in a fairly unusual way (most software can't tell the difference between a junction link and a local directory, and indeed it's not supposed to). As you say, though, the sounds files can be moved around easily without needing any reinstallation, so it's not a significant issue. Contrast that with the nightmare of installing Ivory pianos, for example, and it's actually quite good. For the dongle, I've put it in and ignored it, so I'm not too bothered, but I will be if/when it breaks, plus it's wasting a USB port. Not a big deal, but they should join the 21st century and allow online licencing like everyone else.

Editor frequency: no, that is supposed to show the frequency of the fundamental when you first start, before you make any changes. That's been confirmed as a bug by the developer, who attempted to fix it in the last release but it is fixed only before any samples are loaded (try it and you'll see); as soon as the samples are loaded it's broken again. Apparently it will be fixed in a future release. EDIT: I've just looked at the three controls and they appear to show what are supposed to be the first three partials for each. What you see in the frequency box is indeed the frequency of the element that you control, but at the moment these are all based on the frequency of a neighboring note and not the correct note. As the EQs are flat by default, it won't make any difference in practice unless they're adjusted, but if they are, they should be adjusted based on the actual note. Of course, EQing to change note timbre is a dark art anyway, so precision is more of a theoretical concept here!

2. I like the level of control, I don't like the opacity of controls. The spatial controls, in particular, seem to very unpredictable and poorly explained. The rest are not too bad I suppose. Good to have the options, anyway.

3. This is worse on some mics than others, and inevitably much worse at very loud volumes. In fact the two adjustments I've made which made the aural experience more pleasant than anything else were increasing body (to various levels between 5% and 30%) and reducing the MIDI sensitivity (to between -5 and -10). The latter in particular has helped avoid some of those really harsh, banged tones where the slightly mistuned strings are clearly audible. The timbre of one or notes is still disturbing, e.g. B3 (just below middle-C) on the Close 1 mic is just horrible. I really wish they allowed stretching of neighbouring tones so that these rogue notes could be avoided.

4. Load times: it's improved a bit since my first 10-minute test, as I've increased the number of streaming and loading threads to 8, which seems to improve performance/reduces glitches a lot, and thus reduced the number of samples preloaded (not quite to your level, but 4096). I also remembered to add the folder as an exception to Windows Defender which I hadn't done before, and which improves times again. You're right in that it is proportional to the amount being loaded, but as I tend to use 2-3 mics at least, this is still a lot longer than the Garritan, and requires a lot more memory. It's a minor irritation, but not a deal-breaker by any means, and there's nothing that the developer could do about other than using on-the-fly decompression which would add to the CPU load and impact performance. This is the one area where Kontakt actually have some good technology.

Originally Posted by Erard

The Ugly (duckling? smile )
Re: the space - not as good as Garritan's, but I find it definitely usable.
Re: phasing - I'm curious if you hear phasing in the sample above? Probably I'm not very sensitive to it - and in any case I try to avoid anything that sound strange while playing with the knobs in the UI.


Space: to me the biggest difference between this and the Garritan, and in a sense the biggest limitation of this, is that this is ALL ambient sound to some extent. Even in the dryest possibly settings, where you might play some pieces and think you've finally rid yourself of the room, just play a single quick melody and you'll hear the smudging as the room resonance kicks in. That's with close mics only, all reverb turned off, midi sensitivity down, body up etc.. It's literally unavoidable. Paul (chief developer) pretty much said the same thing someone on their forum who was asking how to make it even drier. That's okay - that's the product they chose to make - but it means it doesn't have the versatility of the Garritan. On the other hand, if you like an ambient or distant sound, and want resonance and reverb, then you really can't do better, and there are plenty of options for that here. For myself, I don't mind the details of the room (though I do prefer Garritan's overall spatial characteristics, for sure), but I mind being forced to have the room whether I like it or not.

Phasing: yes, I hear it a bit, but not very much. It's more apparent when you're playing than listening in general, and the problem is much more apparent in some mics. The C5 that sticks out like a sore thumb in Close 1, for example, is fine in Close 2, so it's clearly a problem with specific samples which look like they were wrongly mixed to me. The developer has quite actively engaged with the community in regard to other bugs, so I'm hoping that he'll actually take this seriously and make an effort to fix it, which improve playability a lot. Even better, he could just put a spatial control or even just a stereo mixer control on the per-note editing page, and then we can do it ourselves. Until then, I'm avoiding the Close 1 mic.




Last edited by karvala; 05/12/18 11:38 AM.

Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, Blüthner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: Grazilerimba] #2735960
05/12/18 12:44 PM
05/12/18 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Grazilerimba
Thank you for the very detailed descriptions karvala. I was looking forward to hearing what the more technically versed users would have to say. So this mistuned strings and phase matching stuff could probably be the reason why the instrument feels a little bit 'out of tune' in general, but not in the same way as a badly out of tune note would. VSL wrote on their site that they had tuners present at the sampling sessions, so it's surprising to me that this seems to be an ever bigger issue than what I had already thought it would be.

What surprises me, is nobody else noticing the notes that stand out or feel bothered by it? Especially the g5, g sharp 5 (and I think also a 5), if you play them within melodies or chords. Also how about d5 sounding out of tune?


Yeah, some notes are certainly not great. It seems to vary quite a lot with the different velocity layers as well, so sometimes it's quite hard to reproduce a particular problem on demand, but you frequently hear it while playing. In which mic are those bad notes?

Originally Posted by Grazilerimba

@karvala, that's a great list of piano VSTs you have. I would really love to like the Bechstein and I could probably find a way to deal with the extreme system requirements, but the sound is just very unpleasant to me. The recording (player perspective) sounds like it comes from an old radio, for the lack of a better description. I can't stand the sound for more than a few minutes. How did you get it to sound good to your ears? Also the multi instrument is a chore to use. The velocity curves are set up in a weird way so that certain samples (belonging to individual mics) are only triggered at certain velocities, and if you want to change a setting in one mic, you gotta repeat that for the other two


The main changes to the Bechstein that I use all the time are to make the velocity curves linear (I do that in most VSTs unless there's a clear reason not to; it's a way of taking an important parameter out of the sound equation), add some warmth (+1, sometimes even +2; occasionally I'll remove that but not often), close the lid by at least 1/3rd (that probably makes a bigger difference than anything else), and add some (sampled) Aura while increasing the stage distance a little. It makes it more resonant (but also more distant and with some reverb) but a lot more playable as well. I wouldn't say it sounds good(!), but it sounds acceptable and like a Bechstein, and it has a lot of clarity when playing.

Originally Posted by Grazilerimba

The ACD has great playability, it's among the most real feeling instruments, but the sound is not satisfying to me. Something is wrong with their resonance engine, it worked nicely in the German D from Ivory II, but for some reason the decay of the resonances is so much steeper in the ACD to the point where it has an impact on the enjoyment. This is also the reason why I didn't get the Studio Grands, because I had this issues with the Italian Grand as well and figured it's just gonna be that way for everything that isn't German D.


Yeah, all the Ivory piano seem to be very playable; they've really nailed that part. They're all a bit lacking in depth to me, and the single mic perspective which is somewhere in the near-mid range doesn't really convince from an aural perspective. The decay of the Studio Grands is possibly better than the ACD, but still not great; certainly not on a Garritan/CFX scale.

Originally Posted by Grazilerimba

As for the Grandeur, I would really love to play it, but those phantom notes you mention ruin it for me. It's fairly reproducible as well: press down a note, press down the pedal. release the note. Now quickly release and push down the pedal, as if you wanted to repedal. You'll end up with a weird "re-pedalling of the resonance" where you'll get a sound as if the string was being plucked. This can be avoided by turning down the resonance knob, but then you get an instrument that's as dry as a fata morgana in the desert. I had no idea the Vintage D and the Grandeur were made by the same guys. That's awesome. I wonder what they're up to next.

re: VI Labs pianos, I find it hard to configure them. They have this weird seit of knobs and curves and I can't get them to feel natural to play at all. If I remember correctly it's something about sensitivity curves, but there's also a velocity curve, and then another knob with something else. Very unintuitive when compared to Garritan CFX. The Accousticsamples VSTs have the same thing, especially the C7 grand which gets some acclaim on here but which I just couldn't get warm with at all.


Yeah, it's all pretty confusing. There a velocity curve, a velocity min, a velocity max, a velocity sensitivity and a dynamics amount. The Ravenscroft also throws in a midi sensitivity curve as well to REALLY confuse you. I'm all for having options, but these things would seem to be interrelated and yet the controls are all independently adjustable and don't affect the values of the others, so you end up wondering what the effect of something is actually going to be. As I go for a simple linear velocity from 1 to 127 (usually, sometimes to 115 or 120 for certain instruments), I can more or less ignore the velocity parameters. The dynamics one, however, is crucial and the default value of 40% is absolutely bonkers. I adjusted it a bit in the 30-60% range, and it had some effect but still I didn't find any of the True Keys pianos to be particularly playable. Then one day I came back to it and tested 90% and it's SO much more playable. I can't understand why they limit it to 40% by default.


Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, Blüthner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735978
05/12/18 01:52 PM
05/12/18 01:52 PM
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Erard Offline
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A quick question: on my copy, the single note volume in Edit page doesn't work. All the other sliders work.
For example, if I select a note and move the Note Dynamic Range the change is obvious, but the Note Volume slider has no effect.
Any suggestions?


Yamaha C3M - Kawai Novus - VSL CFX & Steinway D - Garritan CFX - Pianoteq Pro - American Concert D - Ravenscroft 275
PC -> Sonarworks Reference 4 -> RME Babyface Pro -> Schiit Yggdrasil + Jotunheim -> Sennheiser HD650 & HD800
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: Erard] #2735983
05/12/18 02:33 PM
05/12/18 02:33 PM
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Which version are you running? In 1.0530 it definitely works okay for me; the change log for that version mentions that the per-note controls were not working properly before, but doesn't specify which; I guess it could be that?


Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, Blüthner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: karvala] #2735990
05/12/18 02:58 PM
05/12/18 02:58 PM
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Erard Offline
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Yes, that was it! Thank you for the quick response thumb


Yamaha C3M - Kawai Novus - VSL CFX & Steinway D - Garritan CFX - Pianoteq Pro - American Concert D - Ravenscroft 275
PC -> Sonarworks Reference 4 -> RME Babyface Pro -> Schiit Yggdrasil + Jotunheim -> Sennheiser HD650 & HD800
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735992
05/12/18 03:05 PM
05/12/18 03:05 PM
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Great; glad to help. There are good things about 1.0530, but as you'll discover if you hadn't already been using it, there's a serious bug in which the reverb and room resonance is more or less cut off dead for any notes that were pressed while the sustain pedal was down, once the notes and/or the pedal are released. It can be a bit distracting during playing. In the previous version that had been fixed, but it's broken again in this one, just to warn you.


Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, Blüthner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2735999
05/12/18 03:55 PM
05/12/18 03:55 PM
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Erard Offline
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Thanks for the warning karvala - and now the half pedal behaves properly and it's fully modelled - really great actually! This thing is growing on me even more...
I like the fact that they are on the ball and listen to customers.

I hope they will implement the possibility to adjust temperaments - period music requires that IMO. Besides, I prefer modern well temperaments (Koval 3, Coleman 11 etc.) over equal.

On the forum at VSL somebody asked about that. The response from Paul:
No tuning options in there (yet). Hope we can add this option later, but I can't promise that.

I hope so too.

Last edited by Erard; 05/12/18 04:07 PM.

Yamaha C3M - Kawai Novus - VSL CFX & Steinway D - Garritan CFX - Pianoteq Pro - American Concert D - Ravenscroft 275
PC -> Sonarworks Reference 4 -> RME Babyface Pro -> Schiit Yggdrasil + Jotunheim -> Sennheiser HD650 & HD800
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2736028
05/12/18 07:37 PM
05/12/18 07:37 PM
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David B Online content
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Why are some here saying that there is no "stand alone mode?" What does that mean? It doesn't come with software to run the piano? What software are they using in that 30 min video on youtube?

Also, at the beginning of the 30 minute youtube video the guy says that this is a Yamaha CFX piano, with a "new interface based on the Synchron player engine that is coming up soon." What is the "Synchron player engine" that is coming up soon? Is it not available now?

Thanks for the help.

God Bless,
David


Yamaha AdvantGrand N1X
Mac mini 2018/Focusrite Scarlett 2i4/KRK Rokit 6 G3 Studio Monitors
Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course; Lessons 1-35 Completed
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2736075
05/13/18 03:36 AM
05/13/18 03:36 AM
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Erard Offline
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Originally Posted by David B
Why are some here saying that there is no "stand alone mode?" What does that mean? It doesn't come with software to run the piano? What software are they using in that 30 min video on youtube?

Also, at the beginning of the 30 minute youtube video the guy says that this is a Yamaha CFX piano, with a "new interface based on the Synchron player engine that is coming up soon." What is the "Synchron player engine" that is coming up soon? Is it not available now?

Thanks for the help.

God Bless,
David

Stand alone in this context, to put it practically, means that you double click an icon and the program starts and you can play the instrument. That means that the instrument software is at least able to receive MIDI as input and to interface with your sound card as output.
The VSL Yamaha CFX instead is sold as a plugin, meaning it needs another containing piece of software to interface with your keyboard, with the sound card etc. - this piece of software can be a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) which acts as a plugin host, among other functions (recording, editing etc.) or it can be a simpler Host that just allows you to play the instrument. The user interface of the instrument is managed by the plugin but it's launched from inside the host.

Yes, the Synchron player engine is available now in the VSL CFX product.

Last edited by Erard; 05/13/18 03:49 AM.

Yamaha C3M - Kawai Novus - VSL CFX & Steinway D - Garritan CFX - Pianoteq Pro - American Concert D - Ravenscroft 275
PC -> Sonarworks Reference 4 -> RME Babyface Pro -> Schiit Yggdrasil + Jotunheim -> Sennheiser HD650 & HD800
Re: New incoming Yamaha CFX vst from VSL [Re: slobajudge] #2736076
05/13/18 03:38 AM
05/13/18 03:38 AM
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Stand alone generally means the player can’t be loaded without an host (DAW or other host).

On a PC SAVIhost is a really simple host : you rename the executable fie to match the VST filename (but keep the .exe extension), then it will automatically load the matching VST.

The player I have loaded is called Vienna Synchron Pianos. It is available !

Last edited by Frédéric L; 05/13/18 03:42 AM.

Yamaha CLP150, Bechstein Digital Grand, Garritan CFX, Ivory II pianos, Galaxy pianos, EWQL Pianos, Native-Instrument The Definitive Piano Collection, Soniccouture Hammersmith, Truekeys, Pianoteq
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