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I have Cubase 11 Pro and I'm looking for a good, hopefully not too expensive piano VST. I'm familiar with real acoustic pianos because I have a 2015 Yamaha U1 and recently sold my late wife's (classical pianist) 1911 Steinway 'A' - both professionally maintained.

I'm looking for VST that produces a really good, convincing, acoustic piano sound, BUT with added control - especially ADSR.

I've tried the stock pianos in Cubase 11 and was disappointed. Of all the stock ones the Yamaha E90ES is probably the best but some of the notes have weird "electronic"-sounding timbres. I've also tried Iowa Piano, Addictive Keys and Pianoteq 7 Stage. The Iowa Piano is unstable and seems to cause crashes. I like the sound of the PianoTeq but it has no ADSR. The Addictive Keys is good except that it has a loud percussive thump around 100 Hz - readily visible on a spectrum analyzer - which is especially annoying on the higher notes when there are no low resonances to mask it. I can reduce it with careful EQ but only at the expense of adverse effects on the lower notes.

I do not have Kontakt so getting any of their instruments would make that route expensive. Thanks in advance for suggestions!

Last edited by ArtAt; 12/25/21 12:15 PM.
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These are very popular VIs for classical piano practice and not outrageously expensive:

https://www.vilabsaudio.com/modernu
https://www.garritan.com/products/cfx-concert-grand-virtual-piano/

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Do these have full ADSR (volume envelope) control? I couldn't see anything on either website that said they did and Garritan's link to their manual was broken.

For me this is a must-have feature. All the pianos I've tried so far EXCEPT the PianoTeq have it but I don't want to spend $150 on a VST to find out it doesn't have it.

Last edited by ArtAt; 12/25/21 01:11 PM.
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I never used ADSR on a virtual piano so can't answer your question.

This is the Garritan on-line manual
https://usermanuals.garritan.com/CFXConcertGrand/Content/main_view.htm

You might find some data and ideas in the "Piano Virtual Instruments" database.
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2752919/digital-piano-master-sticky-thread.html

The VI pianos popular here tend to be for classical piano practice, so emphasize playability, response and realistic sound from the players' perspective. There aren't many popular ones here.

VI pianos more popular for production are found in the vi-control forums. Producers looking for more sounds, adjustments and effects but focus less on playability. A lot more VIs are popular there; some are medicore in all ways but just right for certain production.

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VI pianos more popular for production are found in the vi-control forums

What means the "vi-control forums"?

My application is production - I write music for videos and produce them in DAWs using their key editors and piano rolls. Currently I use Cubase but sometimes FL Studio. So "playability" isn't very important to me - I use my MIDI keyboard only for trying out ideas before entering them into the DAW via my mouse.









'.

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Originally Posted by newer player


They describe themselves as "where those who use MIDI Mockup to score for film, TV, movie trailers, video games and documentaries could congregate, share ideas, collaborate, network and create great music" . . . uhhh ... what's Midi Mockup? I've never heard of it. It's capitalised so I assume it's product of some kind but I have no idea what. I've been using DAWs tp write scores for two years and I've never heard of it.

I chose PianoWorld because this is where I expect to find people who know what pianos sound like and who have some musical training. One thing I've noticed about the DAW world in general is that only a small percentage of the people there have any musical training and background and terminology so it makes it hard to communicate with them. And there seem to be lots of discussions on PianoWorld relating to VSTs so this seemed like a sweet spot where I could get real musicians who also know the technology.

Last edited by ArtAt; 12/25/21 04:35 PM.
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Pianoteq "Standard" and "Stage" have some of the components of ADSR control:

. . . "Soundboard impedance" (section 8.1) controls the decay time of each note;

. . . "Soundboard Q" controls how fast the upper harmonics decay -- the "filter cutoff time envelope" on a synth;

. . . "Attack envelope" (one parameter), in the "note-by-note" editor, should affect the attack/decay intensity and time.

"Morphing" and "layering" are also available -- you should be able to build "piano pads" with those features.

I have "Stage", and I haven't played with any of them. But IMHO, you should download a trial copy of "Pro", and see if it does what you need.


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ArtAt: a MIDI mockup is what you do - audiovisual scores using virtual instruments. It is called "mockup" (sketch) because for high end productions this audio is not the final version but serves only to be shown to the producer; if given OK for production then it is played and recorded using live musicians in a recording studio.

But I don't really understand why you want ADSR control in a sampled instrument: those parameters are inherent to each specific piano, each velocity layer, and each note... The attack of a bass note is different from a treble note, and is different if played pianissimo or fortissimo... You may like or dislike a particular piano tone, but ADSR controls of a well sampled piano is not a correct route for realistic sound, in my opinion. And you mention classical piano...

Pianoteq is the only one that has ADSR built in, because it is - more or less - a synthetized sound. But good luck adjusting those parameters and getting something better than the presets.

Listen to Youtube demonstrations of Garritan CFX, VILabs Modern U, VILabs Ravenscroft, Native Instruments Noire, Native Instruments Grandeur, all of the VSL synchron pianos (these are a bit more expensive).

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Why is ADSR so essential, if you don't mind me asking? The ones that I know have explicit ASDR control in the traditional sense are not *great* pianos. UVI Austrian is one that I know. It sounds decent, only plays okay. Soundpaint's new free 1928 Steinway also has ASDR. Also sounds decent and plays okay.

That said, many piano VSTs have controls that cover parts of ASDR, although perhaps not with the flexibility you're looking for? Do you want it for extensive sound shaping or to tune the piano to your preferences?

As mentioned above, pianoteq can do basically all you'd find in normal ASDR controls. Many decent piano VI's offer some control over attack, sustain, decay, and releases, but usually not quite to the extent you'd find in, say, a synth.

Also, most of the popular Kontakt pianos run on the the free Kontakt Player. You do not need to pay for the full Kontakt. Noire in particular has plenty of sound shaping controls that I think can largely do ASDR type stuff while also sounding very realistic, though I can't remember all the controls off the top of my head. Perhaps take a look at the Noire manual and see if would work for you? Certainly one of the most versatile piano VSTs.

Check it out here: https://www.native-instruments.com/fileadmin/ni_media/downloads/manuals/NOIRE_Manual.pdf

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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
But IMHO, you should download a trial copy of "Pro", and see if it does what you need.

I was on their discussion forum and they agreed that they have nothing like ADSR at least for the Stage version. I was pointedly reminded that real acoustic pianos don't have ADSR so why should an accurately modeled one? Regarding trial versions - I wasn't aware they offered a trial version.

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Originally Posted by napilopez
Why is ADSR so essential, if you don't mind me asking?

So far PianoTeq is the only piano I've tried that doesn't have it. For my particular sound I like to soften the release, not just extend the note like a sustain pedal, but have it fade down with a particular curve that I match to the style of the piece. PianoTeq notes end too abruptly for my taste and I was told point-blank on their forum that there was no way to do what I wanted.

How does the ADSR in the Kontakt Player work with the instrument? Envelope shapers usually need to be designed for the specific instrument - you can't just take a sample near the end and stretch it out and fade it down or it sounds unnatural.
The Envelope Shaper insert in Cubase's Mixer shows the limitation of that approach.

Is the Volume Envelope editor in the Kontakt Player well-integrated with the instrument? Good sampled pianos are sampled at many different velocities so if you specify a slow fade in the Release part of the ADSR it has to have access to these different samples. It's not easy to do well.

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Originally Posted by vagfilm
but ADSR controls of a well sampled piano is not a correct route for realistic sound, in my opinion. And you mention classical piano...

I want a piano with a realistic timbre and resonance and I want the notes to fade off in a very specific way that I can control. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of this feature on sampled pianos - of all the Piano VST's I've tried only PianoTeq doesn't allow be to shape the envelope curve. And I asked them point blank on their forum and they said they don't have it and chastised me for even wanting it, for the same reason you did, so I don't know why you say they do. But all the sampled pianos I've tried so far suffer from other problems like adjacent notes having radically different sounds, or weird IM effects in chords or other weird stuff like the ~100Hz bump on the Addictive Keys.

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Originally Posted by ArtAt
I want a piano with a realistic timbre and resonance and I want the notes to fade off in a very specific way that I can control.
I don't know much about ADSR but I know that you can control these things in Pianoteq. As for the fade off, Pianoteq has for example a parameter called "damper position" where you can control how abrupt a note is dampened which I don't know of anyone other piano VI that has.


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In Pianoteq use the note off velocity to make the note decay unrealistically long (or play around with half-pedaling values). You can use the cubase midi editor to adjust those values per note.

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The controls I'm talking about don't happen in Kontakt Player itself, but rather the instrument's UI. I don't know what's possible in the full Kontakt, but again, there is some control over parameters in the UI.

Most of the highly regarded pianos don't have full ADSR controls but many do offer control over things like the release or sustain volume and sometimes length. Garritan, for instance lets you adjust the release volume and decay length, which might get you what you're looking for. See the controls on this link:

https://usermanuals.garritan.com/CFXConcertGrand/Content/piano_view.htm

Part of the confusion may be that simple ADSR controls don't really make sense for piano VSTs especially a modeled one like pianoteq. The high quality pianos pianos include separate samples/models for the hammer, strings, key off mechanisms, overtones, resonances, etc, multiplied by mic positions. It's not just one sample taken at multiple velocities and divided into four parts, except for on the lower quality instruments.


I still feel like what you describe is possible in pianoteq...did you mess with the setting called damping duration? That largely covers 'release length'. Combined with the impedance control, which can control an effect kind of like release volume, you might be able to achieve the sonority you're looking for.

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Originally Posted by johanibraaten
Originally Posted by ArtAt
I want a piano with a realistic timbre and resonance and I want the notes to fade off in a very specific way that I can control.
I don't know much about ADSR but I know that you can control these things in Pianoteq. As for the fade off, Pianoteq has for example a parameter called "damper position" where you can control how abrupt a note is dampened which I don't know of anyone other piano VI that has.

That may exist in the pro version but not in mine and they don't seem to have a free trial of the Pro version.

Originally Posted by vagfilm
In Pianoteq use the note off velocity to make the note decay unrealistically long (or play around with half-pedaling values). You can use the cubase midi editor to adjust those values per note.

The point about an ADSR envelope editor is that you can control the shape of the curve so whether the Pro version offers enough control I could only tell if I could find a free trial.

Last edited by ArtAt; 12/25/21 09:00 PM.
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Originally Posted by napilopez
I still feel like what you describe is possible in pianoteq...did you mess with the setting called damping duration? That largely covers 'release length'. Combined with the impedance control, which can control an effect kind of like release volume, you might be able to achieve the sonority you're looking for.

It may be possible in the Pro version - definitely not in the Stage version that I have. But they don't seem to offer a free trial of the Pro version to try out.

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Originally Posted by ArtAt
It may be possible in the Pro version - definitely not in the Stage version that I have. But they don't seem to offer a free trial of the Pro version to try out.

They offer a trial of the standard version =]. I ownstandard and have these controls.

Last edited by napilopez; 12/25/21 11:26 PM.
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ADSR modification of a sampled piano sound often spoils and makes it less natural, that's why there are no too many ADSR controls in piano VST. For reducing the release time you can apply continuous pedaling.

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