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I saw VSL Steinway is on offer and I downloaded the demo version.

OK, first impression: bad. Maybe I need to tweak it but it sounds ringing, not enough body, kind of fake. I like much better Garritan CFX and even Noire. My impression; maybe it'll change once I learn how to set it up.

But there's one thing that really worries me: resonance. Back to the basics: resonance is the effect where another string resonates sympathetically to another string being played, right?

I mean you keep C3 pressed, you hit C4 and the free C3 strings resonates. That to me is a very important effect to mimic a real piano. I have tested this with several acoustic and digital pianos and invariably found that the acoustic resonance is much stronger than the digital one (when the digital has one, not always).

Anyhow, I couldn't get VSL Steinway to do that. I mean there is a resonance parameter but even if you push it to the max is the single string that resonates, not the other being held. Very strange, very unnatural. This is not resonance it's a silly useless effect.

To those knowledgeable: am I doing something wrong here ?

Thanks.

M.

Last edited by marklings; 06/16/22 05:09 AM.
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There's resonance and there's resonance.

Digital piano manufacturers usally call "string resonance" what you are after with your test. It doesn't exist in all digital pianos. Maybe only in few -- if any -- sampled VSTs too(?)

(Of course Pianoteq has it.)

More commonly found is the "damper resonance" which works when you have the damper pedal pressed.

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Originally Posted by marklings
I saw VSL Steinway is on offer and I downloaded the demo version.

OK, first impression: bad. Maybe I need to tweak it but it sounds ringing, not enough body, kind of fake. I like much better Garritan CFX and even Noire. My impression; maybe it'll change once I learn how to set it up.

But there's one thing that really worries me: resonance. Back to the basics: resonance is the effect where another string resonates sympathetically to another string being played, right?

I mean you keep C3 pressed, you hit C4 and the free C3 strings resonates. That to me is a very important effect to mimic a real piano. I have tested this with several acoustic and digital pianos and invariably found that the acoustic resonance is much stronger than the digital one (when the digital has one, not always).

Anyhow, I couldn't get VSL Steinway to do that. I mean there is a resonance parameter but even if you push it to the max is the single string that resonates, not the other being held. Very strange, very unnatural. This is not resonance it's a silly useless effect.

To those knowledgeable: am I doing something wrong here ?

Thanks.

M.

Maybe check out Stu Harrisons settings and see if you can match. It sounds OK here, and Stu said he only used a touch of resonance on the VSL.



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I don't know if this is your first toe in the waters with VSL pianos, but for me the Steinway is easily my least-used of the four big grands as I find it the hardest to dial in the sound on. I know what you mean - it's "big" but I often feel there's a hollowness to it even though I've heard it sound great when others use it. The other big grands are all truly wonderful instruments (though the Bosendorfer Imperial doesn't suit me as well).

I've seen a number of complaints about the resonance but have never had a problem with it myself. That isn't to say it acts 'as it should;' only that I like the sound :-)

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Originally Posted by marklings
I saw VSL Steinway is on offer and I downloaded the demo version.

OK, first impression: bad. Maybe I need to tweak it but it sounds ringing, not enough body, kind of fake. I like much better Garritan CFX and even Noire. My impression; maybe it'll change once I learn how to set it up.

But there's one thing that really worries me: resonance. Back to the basics: resonance is the effect where another string resonates sympathetically to another string being played, right?

I mean you keep C3 pressed, you hit C4 and the free C3 strings resonates. That to me is a very important effect to mimic a real piano. I have tested this with several acoustic and digital pianos and invariably found that the acoustic resonance is much stronger than the digital one (when the digital has one, not always).

Anyhow, I couldn't get VSL Steinway to do that. I mean there is a resonance parameter but even if you push it to the max is the single string that resonates, not the other being held. Very strange, very unnatural. This is not resonance it's a silly useless effect.

To those knowledgeable: am I doing something wrong here ?

Thanks.

M.

You should definitely watch this video, and under video there is also a link to the VSL forum where several of his presets for Steinway have been posted. If you like the sound you hear, then this is it.


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Thanks for pointing me to the Stu video; I admit I find Garritan more convincing.

Back to the string resonance issue. I am convinced it makes a major part of a piano sound, especially when doing big chords, you can really tell the difference.

I am amazed such a big name as VSL does not have that. I reckon a certain shallow character I find in VSL is due to that.

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There was a post some time ago where a PW'er, Taushi, demonstrated the VSL Steinway via his own playing. It sounded fabulous.

Thread with VSL Steinway demonstration


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It is near inconceivable that VSL doesn't support basic note-on string resonance.

If you hold down an entire octave (G1 through G2) and play c3 (staccato, no damper) do you hear any resonance at all?


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
It is near inconceivable that VSL doesn't support basic note-on string resonance.

If you hold down an entire octave (G1 through G2) and play c3 (staccato, no damper) do you hear any resonance at all?

Nope, it definitely does not have it. It's silly, but it's the truth. Nor does Embertone, for that matter. Few samples pianos have both real damper resonance and real sympathetic resonance, for some reason of scripting or sampling complexity. For example I believe the Galaxy pianos use scripting to emulate damper resonance rather than recording the real thing.

Originally Posted by marklings
I saw VSL Steinway is on offer and I downloaded the demo version.

OK, first impression: bad. Maybe I need to tweak it but it sounds ringing, not enough body, kind of fake. I like much better Garritan CFX and even Noire. My impression; maybe it'll change once I learn how to set it up.

But there's one thing that really worries me: resonance. Back to the basics: resonance is the effect where another string resonates sympathetically to another string being played, right?

I mean you keep C3 pressed, you hit C4 and the free C3 strings resonates. That to me is a very important effect to mimic a real piano. I have tested this with several acoustic and digital pianos and invariably found that the acoustic resonance is much stronger than the digital one (when the digital has one, not always).

Anyhow, I couldn't get VSL Steinway to do that. I mean there is a resonance parameter but even if you push it to the max is the single string that resonates, not the other being held. Very strange, very unnatural. This is not resonance it's a silly useless effect.

To those knowledgeable: am I doing something wrong here ?

Thanks.

M.

The VSL Steinway sounds absolutely unpleasant out of the box, much worse than any of the other VSLs. But this is largely because of the velocity curve. If you want to get any kind of decent sound out of it with most controllers (I believe), you need an aggressive velocity curve, probably more than you think. All of the other VSLs are at least a little playable out of the box for me, but the Steinway is hard and cold.

I think this is because out of the box, it kind of sounds like you're using a high velocity dynamic layer even for mp playing, giving it a kind of cheap digital feel.

Here is a velocity curve that worked for me on my Casio Px-560, as well as my MP11SE with the 'heavy' setting.
[Linked Image]

Once adjusted the piano sounds a lot warmer and lifelike, as well as just playing much better too.

It does not however, have sympathetic string resonance for individual notes. This initially disappointed me a lot too, and I feel like I've heard VSL is considering working on a new sympathetic engine, but don't quote me on that.

But ultimately I found that, once properly adjusted, VSL's other qualities do help make up for this oversight. My experience is that most other VSTs don't capture enough damper resonance and VSLs are excellent. For me the problem with the Garritan is its release samples, which I consider to be lifeless for a lot of types of playing, especially if you need a dryer sound; VSL has much better release samples imo.

All that being said, I've rarely found the pedal down sympathetic resonance on most sampled pianos to sound realistic anyway. The Moderns U is probably the only sampled VST that I'd say gets it right, as long with just about everything else from resonances to releases to realism.

Last edited by napilopez; 06/16/22 10:53 AM.
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The inherent string resonance on all VSL instruments is not a particularly pronounced one, as is the case with some other VIs. If string resonance is a make or break for you, you may not be pleased. You can turn Sympathetic Resonance on, but the effect isn’t a particular good one and tends to make the sound muffled and blurred. If you use it, you should keep the setting low, which will make the effect very light. VSL keeps it off by default. I don’t use it at all.

As for your other issues, the VSL Steinway is one of the hardest to “reel in” than the other. I’ve had theories about why that it. Perhaps some of it has to do with the fact that it uses their external mechanical “finger” to play the notes instead of the built in player systems featured on the CFX and Bosendorfer. Another theory is that the Steinway may have had a lighter action and/or harder hammers than the others. But, you’ll require a careful mixture of mics to get the proper sound of the instrument. You’ll also need to slightly edit the velocity layer.

I’ve worked with it since I bought it months ago to get it to a sound I like; I used recordings of Horowitz’s piano sound as the “holy grail Steinway sound” that I was looking for and tried my best to get it to sound like that. Here are the settings that I use:

I turn off the reverb, all the resonance settings, and significantly turn down the pedal sound which is way too loud:
[Linked Image]

I only use the Tube mic (which has a warm vintage sound and adds a good percussive element to the sound), the Mid 1 mic (which really captures the sound of the Steinway at a distance that is close to how the pianist would hear it) and the Surround & High Surround mics to add some body & room resonance to it. I have both the Tube and Mid Mics panned closer to center and the Surround and High Surround panned more wide to give a better stereo image and a more accurate representation of sound. The Mid Mic was behind the piano so it recorded the sound in reverse to how the pianist would hear it, so it needs to be reverse-panned on playback (which is why the pan settings are red). For me, these settings got me closest to what I want to the sound of a Steinway piano and the feeling of actually sitting in front of one:
[Linked Image]

I increased the amount of voices per key, but kept max voices at 128 per mic. Change the half pedal range slightly. And I bring down the velocity layers slightly at two points.
[Linked Image]

Above all, I’d say, this instrument has to be played very finely. It’s not a particular forgiving instrument, totally, and in that respect, it feels like a real Steinway D, which also isn’t particular forgiving. It is more difficult to “reel in” than the other VSL instruments, but in that respect it also feels more like a real concert grand, which are very strong, capable, and powerful instruments and require a different touch than a regular grand. The fact that it demands a different touch reminds me of the actual concert grand which it samples.

Originally Posted by QuasiUnaFantasia
There was a post some time ago where a PW'er, Taushi, demonstrated the VSL Steinway via his own playing. It sounded fabulous.

Thread with VSL Steinway demonstration

Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been meaning to update this thread, but couldn’t find it. I’m still learning how to use the site. LOL. grin

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Can someone point me to a sampled VST that does the sympathetic resonance well? Or is it only the DP presets on higher end DP's?

It's next on my list to try to emulate, but I'd like to see if any sampled VST's have it already so I can have an example of implementation.


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
It is near inconceivable that VSL doesn't support basic note-on string resonance.

If you hold down an entire octave (G1 through G2) and play c3 (staccato, no damper) do you hear any resonance at all?

Well try for yourself ! Nothing ! Did that and did a C major chord hold and hammered the C scale, nothing ! Just a little resonance in the key themselves being hit, nothing in those being held. This after turning the resonance control to the max value of some +24 db.

Just to make sure I did the same with Garritan CFX and I obtained a plethora of harmonics sustaining some 12 seconds !

It's just not there !!!

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Originally Posted by marklings
to make sure I did the same with Garritan CFX and I obtained a plethora of harmonics sustaining some 12 seconds !

It's just not there !!!

Yep, Garritan CFX does have a very crisp, clear and defined string resonance engine.

There are some examples out there of the string resonance model used in VSL pianos:
https://soundcloud.com/user-4127885...l-vienna-synchron-yamaha-cfx-audio-clips

Also some prior discussions here about it, including thoughts that it may not be a very good model to begin with:
https://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthr...steinway-concert-d-274-review-demos.html
https://www.vsl.co.at/community/pos...sympathetic-resonance--how-to#post310264

There are definitely good and bad implementations, but from what I had seen, it IS a supported feature (though maybe not one worth using?).


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Originally Posted by Taushi
... If string resonance is a make or break for you, you may not be pleased...

It is, deal breaker for me.

Let me submit:



There's a lot of music that relies on harmonics. The above and others simply couldn't be played on VSL . . .

And I would add that string resonance gives depth to the sound; without it to me it sounds shallow, cold un-natural. Well, just my feeling about it.

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Originally Posted by Dore
Can someone point me to a sampled VST that does the sympathetic resonance well? Or is it only the DP presets on higher end DP's?

It's next on my list to try to emulate, but I'd like to see if any sampled VST's have it already so I can have an example of implementation.

The VI Labs modern U. It's not even close with any of the other sampled libraries imo. Garritan, Noire, and Ravenscroft do it pretty well, but to me the modern U is the only one that sounds utterly realistic.

Originally Posted by marklings
Originally Posted by Taushi
... If string resonance is a make or break for you, you may not be pleased...

It is, deal breaker for me.

Let me submit:



There's a lot of music that relies on harmonics. The above and others simply couldn't be played on VSL . . .

And I would add that string resonance gives depth to the sound; without it to me it sounds shallow, cold un-natural. Well, just my felling about it.

You are right, a piece like the above simply isn't possible on the VSL. Although I'd be curious to see how realistically other libraries handle it!

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Originally Posted by marklings
Originally Posted by Taushi
... If string resonance is a make or break for you, you may not be pleased...

It is, deal breaker for me.

Let me submit:



There's a lot of music that relies on harmonics. The above and others simply couldn't be played on VSL . . .

And I would add that string resonance gives depth to the sound; without it to me it sounds shallow, cold un-natural. Well, just my feeling about it.

If this is the type of music you play, then yes, I doubt VSL would be able to handle it. The sympathetic resonance effect isn’t as pronounced or dramatic as other VSTs.

To be fair, though, I wonder if any VST could handle something like this. This is not only making use of string resonance, but harmonics, complex pedaling & half pedaling, and sonic elements that only a physical instrument could produce. Halfway through the album, some of the music seems to feature two pianos (or is that just two different recordings panned to each side).

Either way, yeah, VSL is not what you want is sympathetic resonance as an extremely pronounced feature is what you need. Napilopez makes some great suggestions for alternate choices.

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Yes it's 2 pianos at some point. No, I don't play that even though I like that kind of texture

But that's beside my point. My point being that when you play say a big chord the internal resonance effectively contributes to the timbre, without resonance the timbre is different from a real piano IMO

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I'm not sure you need a digital piano at all. People here have given pretty good advice, but if you don't use the piano for what it serves, but ask it to vibrate with resonance without a more specific melody that carries the song, then no digital piano will help you because it is not intended for that. I listened to a couple of songs from that musician you listen to, but he doesn't need a piano. I don't want to sound bad, but honestly get any old acoustic piano and it will resonate great, I'm sure many will give you it for free just to take it out of their apartment.

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Originally Posted by slobajudge
I'm not sure you need a digital piano at all. People here have given pretty good advice, but if you don't use the piano for what it serves, but ask it to vibrate with resonance without a more specific melody that carries the song, then no digital piano will help you because it is not intended for that. I listened to a couple of songs from that musician you listen to, but he doesn't need a piano unless he dreams of chasing him at night like in this song you set as an example. With all due respect, but that's how it sounds to me. I don't want to sound bad, but honestly get any old acoustic piano and it will resonate great, I'm sure many will give you it for free just to take it out of their apartment.

Well, before going down that route, consider:

1. Modern hardware DPs have quite strong resonance engines compared to just 5-6 years ago. You might want to try out a non-VST solution like Kawai's SK-EX rendering. Also, Roland's fully modeled PureAcoustic engine and V-Piano engine have been claimed to have a stronger resonance response than some acoustics, so one of those might work?

2. Have you tried Pianoteq? I would think it has good modeled resonance (plus adjustability).


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I just checked with my VSL D-274.
I held a silent key on C3, and did staccato on middle C (C4).
I could clearly hear a light but prolonged resonance sound. Have no idea is it sampled or modeled, but it is there.
I would assume this effect depends heavily on what mics are used, because it can be hardly heard from a room, but should be obvious for player and close mics.
I used Ribbon, and some Tube, Main, and Main-C when did this test.


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