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#3086334 02/24/21 04:01 PM
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This should be of interest to those who have "pan" control in their VSTs.

I continue to mess with getting better sound from my system. My system is currently this:

Garritan CFX (full) in desktop computer, Garritan in "Performer" perspective;
Digital-analog conversion via computer sound card with "Direct Sound" and "Realtek High Definition" settings;
Computer analog audio out to Pioneer 5.1 home audio video receiver;
Pioneer receiver set to "Dolby/DTS" processing with "Musical" option;
Analog audio out to following speakers:
Front: Energy C500 Towers (dual 6.5" woofers w/ tweeter, each);
Center: matching Energy Center (dual 4" woofers w/tweeter);
Subwoofer: Polk Audio 10", fed from all sub 100hz frequencies from Pioneer amp.

I am trying to get away from the dry, sterile, clinical sound that studio monitors offer, and get a sound more like what I am accustomed to hearing from live piano and/or professional piano audio CDs. From my experience with acoustic pianos, I find the commercial CD sound to be generally closer to the sound of real pianos, and that is what I want.

In recent days I have started using the reverb options in Garritan CFX. I have not found the sound I want from merely increasing the level of the ambient mics. My best mic settings so far has been Close at -5, Ambient at -45, and Master at -5. This is enough ambient to mitigate some of the harshness from the close mic without drowning myself in reverberations. It is a fairly pleasing setting for me. But, I want better. smile

I've been told that the Dolby/DTS option on the receiver allows the amp to pull signals that are common to the right and left front outputs and to concentrate those common elements in the signal being sent to the center speaker. My ear tells me that this is correct. So, even though the receiver is inputting a stereo signal, it can do some "surround" processing of that stereo signal. The Dolby/DTS-Musical setting is the best sound so far, and is what I use.

Today, something rang a bell in my head about the possibilities presented by the "Pan" controls on the two mics available in Garritan CFX. I had never moved them from their apparent default position, which is full pan (full width). After a moment of thought, it occurred to me that since the Close mics were, by their nature, recording the sounds from directly in front of the pianist and from very close in to the strings, that the wide "pan" setting was not natural. It seemed logical that the Close mic should have a very narrow "pan" setting. Similarly, since the Ambient mics were out away from the piano and recording sounds from a wide physical perspective, the natural "pan" setting for those should be wide.

So, I experimented with changing those, and, I really like the improvement. The piano, represented by the close mics, sounds like it is in front of me. Until I heard this sound, I had no idea how unnatural the close mic sound was when coming from the wide position of my two front speakers. The close mics now present their sound right in the middle of my piano, right in front of me, through the center speaker channel. And, the reverberations are out and around the pianist, from where a pianist on an acoustic piano would naturally experience them.

The pan settings I am enjoying the most, so far, are CLOSE at 10 o'clock, AMBIENT at 3 o'clock, MASTER at dead center.

I am now presented a soundstage in which the piano is clearly right in front of me, and I am in a room that reverbs all around me.

I know I may be a dufus for having not thought of this before, but, if any of you have not yet tried panning down your close microphones, and panning out your ambient microphones, give it a try. My short experience, so far, says you might get substantially improved realism and more piano-like sound from your digital playing experience.

I'd love to hear how this works for you.

Last edited by Ralphiano; 02/24/21 04:09 PM.

Ralph

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Originally Posted by Ralphiano
Today, something rang a bell in my head about the possibilities presented by the "Pan" controls on the two mics available in Garritan CFX. I had never moved them from their apparent default position, which is full pan (full width). After a moment of thought, it occurred to me that since the Close mics were, by their nature, recording the sounds from directly in front of the pianist and from very close in to the strings, that the wide "pan" setting was not natural. It seemed logical that the Close mic should have a very narrow "pan" setting. Similarly, since the Ambient mics were out away from the piano and recording sounds from a wide physical perspective, the natural "pan" setting for those should be wide.

I haven't played with the CFX pan settings, but I've mentioned before that stereo pan on a DP seems to be an oddity. Most piano samples aren't binaural, so why are they recorded with stereo close mics positioned so far apart? What's more, on some DPs, it's not entirely clear to me that the samples are true stereo to begin with, it just sounds like a single channel recording with bass notes played at higher volume from the left and treble to the right. Some even allow you to adjust the stereo panning effect--I find that weird, from a purist perspective, because messing with the panning doesn't make it more realistic, or closer to certain pianos versus others, it's more like adding a filter like a distortion or phaser effect more than anything else.


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Thanks for the panning ideas Ralphiano. Adjusting the close mic pan down really changes the character of the Garritan CFX. With headphones, the sound seems much clearer and less diffuse, but I get your point about excessive reverb.

I'll have to play around with this a bit. Maybe a minor reduction of the close mic pan is enough. . .

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Originally Posted by newer player
Thanks for the panning ideas Ralphiano. Adjusting the close mic pan down really changes the character of the Garritan CFX. With headphones, the sound seems much clearer and less diffuse, but I get your point about excessive reverb.

I'll have to play around with this a bit. Maybe a minor reduction of the close mic pan is enough. . .

I'd love to hear how you progress with the idea. I am still using it, liking it, and experimenting further.

I have desired to make the piano a little less clinical/edgy sounding. So far, to no one's surprise, the things that have worked best for that are low levels of either the ambient mics or of one of the small reverb rooms such as "Small Studio." At present, I like the low ambient mics option best because if I turn them completely down/off to use the reverb, then I lose the panning effect. And, with the reverb, I don't remember getting the benefit of the panning effect. This is still an experiment in progress.

It does leave me in the unusual situation of liking the sound from my speakers (a surround layout) more than I like the sound from the headphones. All in all, I'm optimistic about the sound quality gains possible from the tailored panning option.

One reeeeeeaaaaaaaallllllly nice thing is that it has allowed me to leave my EQ settings at default. Previously, I increased the bass and decreased the treble trying to cut the sharp edge off the sound. And, I turned the Timbre knob one click to the left, and even dropped the piano lid to half. Though these things did dull the edginess, they did so at the expense of clarity. I was left with either a muffled, far away sounding piano, or, back to the edginess that I did not like. With this panning approach, I've been able to play with the lid wide open (greater clarity), the Timbre knob at neutral, and the EQ settings all at neutral. I now only move the Timbre dial when I want a slightly darker sound, or when I have my headphones on.

I'm excited about the possibilities. I hope some others take up the experiment and report results.

Last edited by Ralphiano; 03/02/21 12:50 AM.

Ralph

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Reducing the close mic sounds great to my ears for clarity and seems to reduce the diffuse sound of the VI. Sounds like a different VI but same piano and same room. I'm wondering why such a difference.

But it seems to emphasize the room ambience a bit too much. So I reduced the ambient mic gain a lot. And am testing (slightly) reduced room/release settings (piano tab). Current settings with headphones FYI

Full>Classic>Default

-Close
--Width 12 O'Clock
--Gain -5

-Ambient
--Width 5 O'Clock
--Gain -15

-Master
--Pan 12 O'Clock
--Gain -5
--Limit turn off (I think there is a bug when it is on)

Dynamic range
--90%

Studio --Performer
Velocity curve --Default
Max RAM allocation --16GB
Pre-Caching --2048kB

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Originally Posted by newer player
Reducing the close mic sounds great to my ears for clarity and seems to reduce the diffuse sound of the VI. Sounds like a different VI but same piano and same room. I'm wondering why such a difference.

But it seems to emphasize the room ambience a bit too much. So I reduced the ambient mic gain a lot. And am testing (slightly) reduced room/release settings (piano tab). Current settings with headphones FYI

Full>Classic>Default

-Close
--Width 12 O'Clock
--Gain -5

-Ambient
--Width 5 O'Clock
--Gain -15

-Master
--Pan 12 O'Clock
--Gain -5
--Limit turn off (I think there is a bug when it is on)

Dynamic range
--90%

Studio --Performer
Velocity curve --Default
Max RAM allocation --16GB
Pre-Caching --2048kB


Here is where i am right now:

Mic Perspective--Full>Player>

Piano Tab:

Room Release Deca--9 0'clock
Room Release Volume--9 o'clock
Release Crossfade--12 o'clock
Pedal Noise--8 o'clock
Sympathetic Resonance--9 o'clock
Sustain Resonance--9 o'clock
Lid Position--Open


Studio Tab:

-Close mic
--Width 10 O'Clock
--Gain -5

-Ambient mic:
--Width 3 O'Clock
--Gain -60??? (above 00 by 1/3 of the distance between 00 and 40)(I know, the 00 seems like it should be infinity)

-Master
--Pan 12 O'Clock
--Gain -5
--Limit--Unsure. Is limit "On" when the square is highlighted with blue, or when highlighted with gold?

EQ-- all at 12 o'clock

Stereo Image --Performer
Timbre--12 o'clock (sometimes 11 o'clock when using headphones or a darker sound is desired)
Saturation--9 o'clock (2 clicks up from 0) (I'm unsure what this does, other than increase volume)


Advanced Tab:

Dynamic range--80%
Velocity curve --Default
Max RAM allocation --4GB
Pre-Caching --128kB



My recent observations:

1. Player Perspective: This has given a massive reduction in the clangy, metallic timbre, especially in the lower mid range (A110 - A440). In Classical Perspective, that section used to sound like metal bars being struck with a hard hammer. In Player perspective that area is actually very nice to listen to. I actually enjoy it now. If I change nothing else, and just switch back and forth between Classical and Player perspectives, the change in the lower mids is immense, and deals directly with the problem sounds I was trying to eliminate. But, even in Player Perspective, the piano is still brighter than I like above A440. I'm still working on that.

2. I too have heard that there is a bug with the Master Limit button. But, I don't know which position (gold, or blue highlight is the on or off position). Which is it?

3. Regarding this:
Originally Posted by newer player
Reducing the close mic sounds great to my ears for clarity and seems to reduce the diffuse sound of the VI. Sounds like a different VI but same piano and same room. I'm wondering why such a difference.

But it seems to emphasize the room ambience a bit too much. So I reduced the ambient mic gain a lot.

it sounds like reducing the close mic increases the percentage of sound coming from the ambient mic, thus the increase in room ambience. Keep taking the ambient mics down. It is amazing how low you can go on those and still have a nice and unobtrusive reverb effect. At -40 you can still hear it, so don't be afraid to go that low.

4. Also, I am intrigued by your experience of reducing the close mic and getting increased clarity. That seems counter-intuitive to me. I'm going to try that and see what I hear.

My Newest Big News: I bought another home theater amplifier (Denon AVR-985) yesterday. It attracted me because it was cheap ($65), and, because when I researched it, I found that it had a 7 band, parametric equalizer. I thought that might prove helpful in my quest to tame the clanginess of Garritan CFX. I was not unhappy with the Pioneer, but, I just couldn't resist a seven band equalizer and its possibilities.

Well today I completely tore down my piano setup in order to better position it within the room and to accommodate the Denon, along with my second set of tower speakers that I bought today. It was an all day project. Tonight, with everything in place and connected, I started to setup the Denon surround system. To my great surprise, I discovered that it not only had a seven band equalizer, it had a seven band equalizer for EACH SPEAKER!!!!! I had not dreamed of such a facility.

I think/hope I now have the opportunity to implement a brightness taming, custom frequency response specifically to those speakers that carry the majority of the high frequency sounds (center channel and right front channel). It will probably be tomorrow or the weekend before I can dive into this. But, I'm really excited. So far, I've had nothing but positive improvements from abandoning the studio monitors and employing home theater surround technology in their place.

The excitement continues!


Ralph

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Seems to me the separation of basic piano and resonant/reverb sounds make up the biggest gain. In digitals, the more expensive ones may do similar, with speakers dedicated to the "wider picture" although they'd still be within the constraints of the piano cabinet.
Might be good for someone in possesion of such, to chip in here.
But you do realise, Ralphi, that your practice time has to be made up . . . .no wriggling out of that! . . .

Last edited by peterws; 03/05/21 05:27 AM.

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Originally Posted by Ralphiano
2. I too have heard that there is a bug with the Master Limit button. But, I don't know which position (gold, or blue highlight is the on or off position). Which is it?
Bright gold is on so avoid that.

Originally Posted by Ralphiano
4. Also, I am intrigued by your experience of reducing the close mic and getting increased clarity. That seems counter-intuitive to me. I'm going to try that and see what I hear.
Reducing the WIDTH of the close mics (and reducing the GAIN of the ambient mics). It does not make a lot of sense; maybe there is something going on under the hood. But the sound difference is obvious on my system.

Reducing the WIDTH of the close mics excessively made for an unconvincing VI experience.

I notice Garritan CFX has a warm fuzzy sound with default settings; those are my favourite and least favourite features, respectively. karvala & bsntn88 documented that the Garritan CFX's noise floor is about "average" for each of the mics. And that noise floor naturally will increase when adding the ambient mics (see links below). When reducing the WIDTH of the close mics, some of that warm fuzziness seems to disappear; the piano seems more crystal clear and the room ambience seems more pronounced. The difference is very obvious with headphones but might not be with loudspeakers.

You might try the settings with headphones for testing purposes as some changes might be more obvious.

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...t-disappointed-in-garritan-cfx-lite.html

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2735095/noise-in-garritan-cfx-and-noise-floor.html

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So... could this new knowledge mean the start of the end of the pan-demic? smirk

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Originally Posted by U3piano
So... could this new knowledge mean the start of the end of the pan-demic? smirk

Yes, it does. This pan-demic spells the end to the 2020 pandemic, as people are now going to stay at home playng their Garritans! cool

Last edited by Ralphiano; 03/05/21 12:19 PM.

Ralph

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Originally Posted by newer player

The first link gets me the 404 Not Found error message.


Ralph

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