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Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
#3012474 08/10/20 09:51 PM
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Recently I'm being tempted by the audio demos of Embertone Walker 1955 VST. Judging from the demo, the sound is one of the best if not the best. I feel the mic perspectives that they provide sound better than what VSL provides. Unlike VSL Steinway, the sound of Embertone Walker is sweet and warm. It is exactly the Steinway sound that I like. Although it sounds a little bit "artificial", seems like they did some scripting to make it sounds less "dirty".

While I saw mixed reactions for this VST on this forum. There is a thread with 12 pages discussing on various issues (they didn't fix it?). However, VSTs like Garritan CFX, Ivory II American Concert D and Ravenscroft 275 all have better reviews than Embertone Walker. At least this is my impression.

I saw Embertone released the 1.1 version so I'm not sure if the critique still makes sense. I'm opening a new thread to ask for up-to-date feedback.

Based on the information that I gathered:

Pros:
- One of the best Steinway sound in all VSTs.
- Multiple microphones perspectives
- A lot of settings to customize the sound
- 30+ velocity layers. In theory the playability should be better than ACD or Ravenscroft right?

Cons:
- Seems like half pedal and re-pedal was not supported well. However, I saw that half pedaling is explicitly mentioned on their website as a "new feature". Did they fix that? What's the issue here?
- There are people complaining about the playability. Are there notes sticking out?
- Seems like there are some out-of-tune notes. I'm not aware of that by listening to the demos.
- Seems like resource intensive. However it should be fine with one pair of microphone?

I would really like to gather people's opinion on this VST. I see a lot of people even becoming disappointed about some "promised" feature that was not implemented. What are those? Isn't the half pedal "fixed"? Anyway I'm not going to buy this VST now if there is no sales event.

Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Harpuia #3012490 08/10/20 10:50 PM
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Don’t buy. It’s my preferred sampled Steinway. Period.

Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Harpuia #3012496 08/11/20 12:12 AM
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Speaking about being resource intensive - yes it is, but you reduce its hunger by limiting its polyphony (max voices count), and you do not really need to use more than 2 mics at the same time IMO.


Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. (falsely attributed to Plato)
Vlad,
Adult beginner
Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Harpuia #3012501 08/11/20 12:20 AM
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The question is - what are you looking for?
Just a great sampled piano, or a great sampled Steinway New York with its rich sound?
Ravenscroft and Garritan sound is very different, it does not make much sense to compare them to Embertone.
Production Voices, Synthogy, and EWQL are its real contenders.
And while I like them all, Production Voices and Emberton are probably the 2 best from this list, but Production Voices require full Kontakt while Emberton works in free Kontakt Player.


Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. (falsely attributed to Plato)
Vlad,
Adult beginner
Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Harpuia #3012522 08/11/20 02:32 AM
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Here's my (beta) cheat sheet... stop as soon as you get an answer.

* Are you planning to record or perform with Embertone Walker 1955? Then, yes, you should buy it.

* Will it improve your playing, inspire you creatively, or otherwise provide significant musical value despite the reported playability issues that have not all been fixed in version 1.1? Even considering that Embertone does not make any commitment to fix bugs and is very slow to release updates? Then, yes, you should buy it.

* Is there some other significant value you get out of Embertone Walker 1955 that's not listed above, and that you judge to be more than the cost of the investment in tangible terms? Then, yes, you should buy it.

* Will you be upset if others do not like this VST or if others find it lacks playability or that it can be out of tune and/or you distrust the value of the demos? Then, no, you should not buy it.

* Will you be upset if Embertone Walker 2020 (or competitor product) is released within a year but it's not a free upgrade? Then, no, you should not buy it.

* Will it "complete" your existing collection of VSTs? Then, no, you should not buy it.

* If you've reached here, flip a coin! smile

Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Harpuia #3012534 08/11/20 04:14 AM
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I'm a fan of the Walker, and have played it alot, ill give my honest thoughts about it.

Pro

- Amazing tone, so full of character, one of a kind
- Best una corda samples I ever heard
- pretty much (36)velocity layers, which is noticable, it feels quite "natural"
- good mic positions to choose and mix. Nice close sounding recordings, even the "room" position sounds close enough to use as a single mic position.
- good user interface, I really like that you can adjust the sample start.

- someone is selling it for just $80 at vicontrol right now!

Con

- Some slightly out of tune notes in the treble. For me this is a non-issue, I noticed it when the vi was new to me, And while i was never really bothered by it, apparently i'm now so used to it, I seriously don'ton't even notice it anymore. To me it's part of this piano's character, and everything I play on it sounds good.
- Lacks power in the bass end. This libary could really use a "low notes/high notes volume slider" to compensate, I mailed Embertone about that, who knows. Somehow the recording of the lower registers seem a bit less loud, and you can't make it growl like Garritan cfx, you hit the limit too early.
- A bit less evenly sampled compared to Garritan cfx and American concert D, I think.
- cpu hog. It's the most cpu hungry vst I own.

All in all I love this one, it just has a special sound. And for playability it's really a mixed bag for me which is hard to explain. When I compare it to Garritan cfx and Synthogy ACD, there is something better and worse about it at the same time, I don't understand it fully myself. I think it feels more authentic because of the sound, and more natural because of the many velocity layers, but at the same time a bit less evenly sampled and less playable because of lack of volume in the power registers.

In the end, as for playability I'd rank them

1. Garritan ctx
2. Synthogy ACD
3. Embertone walker

But even while I rank them like this, like I said at the same time there is also something about the walkers playability that feels better than both the others, I can't seem to find better words to describe it. I think it just feels more authentic. I think, while the sampling is not as even as the others, it is noticable it's got nearly twice the velocity layers.

As for tone, they are so different maybe it's useless to rank them, but if i had to it would be:

1. Embertone Walker
2. Synthogy ACD
3. Garritan cfx

Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Harpuia #3012541 08/11/20 04:40 AM
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I mostly agree with U3piano, but with my Windows Dell i5 computer with 16 GB RAM and huge SSD it is unplayable if you intensively use the sustain pedal, independently of how many mics you apply.

I spent more than a week trying to find the Walker/Kontakt parameters for resolving this, and failed.

Now Walker only takes some space on my external disks, as many other garbage programs which are nice to have but useless.

Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Andrew_G #3012577 08/11/20 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Andrew_G
I mostly agree with U3piano, but with my Windows Dell i5 computer with 16 GB RAM and huge SSD it is unplayable if you intensively use the sustain pedal, independently of how many mics you apply.

I spent more than a week trying to find the Walker/Kontakt parameters for resolving this, and failed.

Now Walker only takes some space on my external disks, as many other garbage programs which are nice to have but useless.

Have you tried to reduce the polyphony (max voices setting)? The default (600) does not make sense.

Last edited by VladK; 08/11/20 09:29 AM.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. (falsely attributed to Plato)
Vlad,
Adult beginner
Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Andrew_G #3012578 08/11/20 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Andrew_G
I mostly agree with U3piano, but with my Windows Dell i5 computer with 16 GB RAM and huge SSD it is unplayable if you intensively use the sustain pedal, independently of how many mics you apply.

I spent more than a week trying to find the Walker/Kontakt parameters for resolving this, and failed.

Now Walker only takes some space on my external disks, as many other garbage programs which are nice to have but useless.

To give another experience, I'm running the full Walker D with 2 mic sets on a 10 year old Mac Pro 2.8 Ghz, 20 GB ram from a 7200 rpm HDD and no problems at all. This is in LogicX with a 512 buffer setting. Happy camper here.

Last edited by Craig Richards; 08/11/20 09:35 AM.

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Harpuia #3012593 08/11/20 10:37 AM
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I think running into problems or not also has to do with the complexity and speed of the music you play.

To give an idea, my windows desktop pc is a I5 4570, 16gb ram and a couple of ssd's. Most of the time the walker runs trouble free for me with one mic position, but every once in a while the cpu load maxes out and that doesn't sound nice.

I play relatively simple music (einaudi/Tiersen etc) so that helps keeping the cpu load down. Because of this, also with 2 mic positions most of the time it runs trouble free. My pc would have big problems keeping up if i was playing complex and fast moonlight sonata's with the walker.

Strange thing is my pc seems to have moodswings. Sometimes I can get cpu overload on the most complex/fast bits of my playing with one mic position, while at other times i use 2 mic positions and it won't overload at all, playing the same things. crazy

Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Harpuia #3012629 08/11/20 11:37 AM
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Well, if you prefer a clear, in tune piano, then this Embertone Walker 1955 is not for you! I like the room mics when listening, but at this price, I wouldn't buy it because it's Out Of Tune!!!!! I don't know why they didn't keep the piano in tune during sampling, honestly. Otherwise it would have been on my VST list.

Re: Talk me out of Embertone Walker 1955
Harpuia #3012792 08/11/20 06:49 PM
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Thanks folks! It turns out the Embertone Walker may still be a good VST although not a great VST. I think the reason why it receives mixed view on this forum is that the audio demo and the specs on paper just look perfect. However the VST itself is not that perfect. I'll just wait for their next sales event.

Last edited by Harpuia; 08/11/20 06:49 PM.

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