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Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
#2949689 02/21/20 03:42 AM
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I saw good reviews on VSL pianos and I got VSL Steinway D a year ago and liked that VST.

Recently they offered two new pianos (Bluthner, Bosendorfer Upright) and both of them got very good reviews here. Many people liked the two new pianos even more than the CFX and Steinway D since the Bluthner and Bosendorfer sounds sweet and warmer.

I wanted to try the other 3 VSL pianos (CFX, Bluthner and Bosendorfer) and I had high expectations on these 3 VSTs since they are also offered by VSL. I was expecting the same level of expression and playability of Steinway D but I'm wrong.

Although the sampling process sounds similar among all those models, the real playing experience is so different among each other. It's like night and day. I'm not sure it is because the acoustic piano itself or the mic position.

VSL CFX is OK and it plays pretty much like VSL Steinway D. The tone is more mellow than the Steinway and less powerful. From the first 30 minutes I feel it's harder for me to control the dynamic of the pieces. I feel like VSL CFX has good playability and I just need to get used to that. The response is different than the Steinway so I need to adjust some of my expressions in my piece.

The Bluthner 1895 has a sweet sound and good resonance on the treble. However, I feel like it is a totally different instrument from the modern pianos, and I can hardly shape any musical phrase on that piano. Sure, it sounds sweet, but lacks the edge and power from Steinway or Yamaha.

The Bosendorfer Upright is similar and this piano is way too mellow than a typical grand piano that I'm used to. It just feels like the piano is sick and does not have any power in it. The Bluthner feels the same way.

I feel the Bluthner and Bosendorfer could fit into some of the classical repertoire (Scarlatti, Mozart, Haydn) or some lyrical pieces. These two pianos just don't have the versatile sound to voice a chord differently. The Bluthner lacks a powerful bass, while the Bosendorfer feels short on both bass and treble.

I played those VSTs on an N3X and used the default velocity curve on all of them. I tried to switch the mic perspectives, velocity curves but I just don't enjoy playing any of them. VSL Steinway D, however, feels like a beast and I just like that VST so much. Maybe I'm so used to the edge and power of the Steinway but couldn't get used to other sound. I went to the university practice room pretty often and practiced on those old Steinways before, and VSL Steinway feels exactly like the Steinway sound that I'm used to. I also practiced on Boston and Yamaha grand pianos occasionally and I feel the experience pretty similar. Am I just not used to the European sound (Bluthner, Bosendorfer)? I don't know.

From my personal experience, if I'm going to rank all VSTs I got, it will be VSL Steinway D >= Garritan CFX > VSL CFX > Pianoteq > VSL Bosendorfer > VSL Bluthner. And this is so different than the reviews I got from other forum members. I will probably ask for refunds from VSL since it is still within 14 days.

Last edited by Harpuia; 02/21/20 03:49 AM.
Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949693 02/21/20 04:16 AM
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Thanks for that perspective. I don't own any of the VSL pianos, but I am occasionally tempted by them on sales. The Steinway would probably be my first choice due to the sound of it, Steinways are my favorite pianos.


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Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949694 02/21/20 04:17 AM
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By the way I wasn't aware that VSL offered refunds. I think for some countries having to offer them is mandatory, but if they have a general policy about that allowing it for everywhere I'd like to know if so -- How does it work with that for them?


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Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949695 02/21/20 04:22 AM
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In order to “calibrate” myself, I just went back to the binaural sample of CFX on the N3X, with all default settings. It felt like a relief to me after trying all these VSTs. The sound is absolutely not my favorite but I can feel the connection with the instrument. I do have this connection when playing Pianoteq, VSL Steinway and Garritan CFX as well. The VSL CFX feels a little bit different to me but maybe I haven’t found the best mic perspective and velocity curve for that VST.

I just don’t have the same connection with VSL Blüthner and Bosendorfer. Maybe it’s the setting, or the acoustic piano itself. I will just request refund with VSL anyway.

I feel like it’s really time consuming for me to tune those VSTs to my liking and I may just keep VSL Steinway and Garritan CFX.

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
puremusic #2949696 02/21/20 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by puremusic
By the way I wasn't aware that VSL offered refunds. I think for some countries having to offer them is mandatory, but if they have a general policy about that allowing it for everywhere I'd like to know if so -- How does it work with that for them?


I read it over here and also need to double check on the refund policy.

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949700 02/21/20 04:57 AM
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I never tested those pianos, but I suspect that main problem is in acoustic pianos from which they recorded samples. Obviously, more than 100 years old pianos have not the same dynamic range and power of newer one, so Bluthner can't be compared with any Model D. The same is for Bosendorfer upright, not comparable with any grand. Obviously not sure of that because I never played them as I mentioned.

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949716 02/21/20 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Harpuia
I saw good reviews on VSL pianos and I got VSL Steinway D a year ago and liked that VST.

Recently they offered two new pianos (Bluthner, Bosendorfer Upright) and both of them got very good reviews here. Many people liked the two new pianos even more than the CFX and Steinway D since the Bluthner and Bosendorfer sounds sweet and warmer.

I wanted to try the other 3 VSL pianos (CFX, Bluthner and Bosendorfer) and I had high expectations on these 3 VSTs since they are also offered by VSL. I was expecting the same level of expression and playability of Steinway D but I'm wrong.

Although the sampling process sounds similar among all those models, the real playing experience is so different among each other. It's like night and day. I'm not sure it is because the acoustic piano itself or the mic position.

VSL CFX is OK and it plays pretty much like VSL Steinway D. The tone is more mellow than the Steinway and less powerful. From the first 30 minutes I feel it's harder for me to control the dynamic of the pieces. I feel like VSL CFX has good playability and I just need to get used to that. The response is different than the Steinway so I need to adjust some of my expressions in my piece.

The Bluthner 1895 has a sweet sound and good resonance on the treble. However, I feel like it is a totally different instrument from the modern pianos, and I can hardly shape any musical phrase on that piano. Sure, it sounds sweet, but lacks the edge and power from Steinway or Yamaha.

The Bosendorfer Upright is similar and this piano is way too mellow than a typical grand piano that I'm used to. It just feels like the piano is sick and does not have any power in it. The Bluthner feels the same way.

I feel the Bluthner and Bosendorfer could fit into some of the classical repertoire (Scarlatti, Mozart, Haydn) or some lyrical pieces. These two pianos just don't have the versatile sound to voice a chord differently. The Bluthner lacks a powerful bass, while the Bosendorfer feels short on both bass and treble.

I played those VSTs on an N3X and used the default velocity curve on all of them. I tried to switch the mic perspectives, velocity curves but I just don't enjoy playing any of them. VSL Steinway D, however, feels like a beast and I just like that VST so much. Maybe I'm so used to the edge and power of the Steinway but couldn't get used to other sound. I went to the university practice room pretty often and practiced on those old Steinways before, and VSL Steinway feels exactly like the Steinway sound that I'm used to. I also practiced on Boston and Yamaha grand pianos occasionally and I feel the experience pretty similar. Am I just not used to the European sound (Bluthner, Bosendorfer)? I don't know.

From my personal experience, if I'm going to rank all VSTs I got, it will be VSL Steinway D >= Garritan CFX > VSL CFX > Pianoteq > VSL Bosendorfer > VSL Bluthner. And this is so different than the reviews I got from other forum members. I will probably ask for refunds from VSL since it is still within 14 days.

Reading your comments, it's seems to me that your conclusions of the VSL pianos are pretty accurate to what you'd experience with the actual acoustic pianos from which they were sampled. A 6'4" Bluthner from 1895 is never going to be comparable to a modern Hamburg Steinway D, and in my opinion that's a good thing. It gives us variation in tone & character. Also, a Bosendorfer upright will suit certain pieces more than a Steinway Concert Grand, so I say embrace the differences.

Last edited by Craig Richards; 02/21/20 06:18 AM.

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Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949741 02/21/20 08:40 AM
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I share your opinion in that the bass and treble of the Bösendorfer Upright are pretty weak. More so on the upper register. IIRC, the refund policy given was 30 days.

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Craig Richards #2949751 02/21/20 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Craig Richards
Originally Posted by Harpuia
I saw good reviews on VSL pianos and I got VSL Steinway D a year ago and liked that VST.

Recently they offered two new pianos (Bluthner, Bosendorfer Upright) and both of them got very good reviews here. Many people liked the two new pianos even more than the CFX and Steinway D since the Bluthner and Bosendorfer sounds sweet and warmer.

I wanted to try the other 3 VSL pianos (CFX, Bluthner and Bosendorfer) and I had high expectations on these 3 VSTs since they are also offered by VSL. I was expecting the same level of expression and playability of Steinway D but I'm wrong.

Although the sampling process sounds similar among all those models, the real playing experience is so different among each other. It's like night and day. I'm not sure it is because the acoustic piano itself or the mic position.

VSL CFX is OK and it plays pretty much like VSL Steinway D. The tone is more mellow than the Steinway and less powerful. From the first 30 minutes I feel it's harder for me to control the dynamic of the pieces. I feel like VSL CFX has good playability and I just need to get used to that. The response is different than the Steinway so I need to adjust some of my expressions in my piece.

The Bluthner 1895 has a sweet sound and good resonance on the treble. However, I feel like it is a totally different instrument from the modern pianos, and I can hardly shape any musical phrase on that piano. Sure, it sounds sweet, but lacks the edge and power from Steinway or Yamaha.

The Bosendorfer Upright is similar and this piano is way too mellow than a typical grand piano that I'm used to. It just feels like the piano is sick and does not have any power in it. The Bluthner feels the same way.

I feel the Bluthner and Bosendorfer could fit into some of the classical repertoire (Scarlatti, Mozart, Haydn) or some lyrical pieces. These two pianos just don't have the versatile sound to voice a chord differently. The Bluthner lacks a powerful bass, while the Bosendorfer feels short on both bass and treble.

I played those VSTs on an N3X and used the default velocity curve on all of them. I tried to switch the mic perspectives, velocity curves but I just don't enjoy playing any of them. VSL Steinway D, however, feels like a beast and I just like that VST so much. Maybe I'm so used to the edge and power of the Steinway but couldn't get used to other sound. I went to the university practice room pretty often and practiced on those old Steinways before, and VSL Steinway feels exactly like the Steinway sound that I'm used to. I also practiced on Boston and Yamaha grand pianos occasionally and I feel the experience pretty similar. Am I just not used to the European sound (Bluthner, Bosendorfer)? I don't know.

From my personal experience, if I'm going to rank all VSTs I got, it will be VSL Steinway D >= Garritan CFX > VSL CFX > Pianoteq > VSL Bosendorfer > VSL Bluthner. And this is so different than the reviews I got from other forum members. I will probably ask for refunds from VSL since it is still within 14 days.

Reading your comments, it's seems to me that your conclusions of the VSL pianos are pretty accurate to what you'd experience with the actual acoustic pianos from which they were sampled. A 6'4" Bluthner from 1895 is never going to be comparable to a modern Hamburg Steinway D, and in my opinion that's a good thing. It gives us variation in tone & character. Also, a Bosendorfer upright will suit certain pieces more than a Steinway Concert Grand, so I say embrace the differences.


Yes! Pianoteq do the same with the vintage Bechstein. It sounds like a piano with candelabras . . .


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Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949776 02/21/20 10:43 AM
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Thanks for the detailed comments Harpuia. The VSL refund policy is a real benefit for the consumer IMHO; this is not standard fare for software companies for obvious reasons.

Did you try the VIs on both the internal N3's speakers and headphones?

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
peterws #2949777 02/21/20 10:47 AM
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With candelabras, yes. And also without the piano. frown
Originally Posted by peterws
Pianoteq do the same with the vintage Bechstein. It sounds like a piano with candelabras . . .

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949797 02/21/20 12:30 PM
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My all time fav so far is an older one: Galaxy Vintage D. I cannot say enough about this. I did nothing with velocity curves or anything, just literally plugged in and played. Barely any editing was needed, and it sounds great.

I'd be surprised if there is a refund policy on software instruments - most of them don't do that.


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Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949822 02/21/20 01:33 PM
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So you, too, are a Vintage D holdout? So am I. It has its pedaling flaws, but in general the sound just SO very excellent. And yes, it doesn't even need tweaking.

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
MacMacMac #2949832 02/21/20 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
So you, too, are a Vintage D holdout? So am I. It has its pedaling flaws, but in general the sound just SO very excellent. And yes, it doesn't even need tweaking.

I find the pedaling no more or less annoying than with an acoustic that doesn't really have much for a half pedal. I just love the sound of it though, and that overrides any of its flaws. smile


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Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949837 02/21/20 02:24 PM
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I love all the VSL grand pianos. I haven't got the the upright, but all the others are great.

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949876 02/21/20 04:32 PM
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I have all of them, and only the Blüthner doesn’t fit my preferences. But its character is similar with the Blüthner of Pianoteq. In a sense, I was warned.


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Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949888 02/21/20 05:04 PM
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Steinway D is my favorite of the bunch followed by the CFX. I like the vintage sound of the Blüthner (the aliquot stringing is nice). I also like the mellow tone of the Bösendorfer.

However, the Modern U is the only one I'm using right now. smile

God Bless,
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Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949891 02/21/20 05:13 PM
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This discussion leaves me wondering whether people (a) like the VST version of the piano or (b) like the piano brand.

Example: I like the sound of a Steinway piano. I like the implementation of such on the Vintage D and Grandeur, but not so in some other VST implementations.

So ... with respect to any or all of these VSL pianos ...
If you dislike one of the VSL instruments, is it because you dislike that piano brand? Or just the VSL version?

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
Harpuia #2949899 02/21/20 05:32 PM
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The VSL Bluthner is a late 19 century European instrument so I can imagine this could be a very different piano.

However, the Bosendorfer Upright is a modern one, but just too mellow from my perspective. It is not the case when I was testing the real acoustic Bosendorfer grand in the piano store. I'm wondering something might not be right in my setting. Either the mic perspective, or the velocity curve, or it could be the headphone itself. The VSL Steinway, VSL CFX, Garritan CFX and Pianoteq all sound good in my headphone, while the VSL Bluthner and Bosendorfer sounds less clear and with low resolution. It also feels narrow and limited.

I'm sorry that English is not my native language and I may not express my thought clearly. Maybe my reviews on those VSTs were harsh but I will also give them one another try with different settings. I was using the Player preset and was not convinced.

Re: Got All VSL Pianos and Disappointed with 3 of them
David B #2949902 02/21/20 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by David B
Steinway D is my favorite of the bunch followed by the CFX. I like the vintage sound of the Blüthner (the aliquot stringing is nice). I also like the mellow tone of the Bösendorfer.

However, the Modern U is the only one I'm using right now. smile

God Bless,
David


I saw David B proposed a customized velocity curve for Yamaha AGs since the default velocity setting of using VSL Bosendorfer on AGs sounds too mellow. I'm also trying to make the midi sensitivity higher to see if it gets any better. I like a highly clear and defined sound. All Yamaha voices (binaural CFX, old CFIIIS samples, Garritan, VSL) and most Steinway voices (VSL and Pianoteq) in my case delivers that voice. I just didn't hear it in the Bosendorfer and Bluthner. I can feel the Bluthner has its unique resonance but it is so different than what I'm used to.

Last edited by Harpuia; 02/21/20 05:41 PM.
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