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Which VSTi for classical music?

Posted By: madshi

Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 07:40 PM

I've seen many threads about VSTis, but most recent threads haven't been very specific about the use case. So please forgive me for starting yet another new thread, but very specific for classical piano playing. Which VSTi would you guys recommend for:

- Debussy
- Tchaikovsky
- Beethoven
- Grieg
- Schubert
- etc

FWIW, I'm not a very advanced player, I don't even know what half pedaling is blush so I'm probably fine if the VSTi doesn't support special pedaling features. Or maybe I should learn that stuff?

(Kawai CL36 -> MacBook + Thunderbolt Audio Interface -> Presonus E5.)
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:03 PM

Can I sit here and eavesdrop on the answers? I asked similar question here but probably did it not in a proper way smile In fact, I am also interested in classical genre mainly and I don't have a clear answer yet.

But before a much more experienced and knowledgeable people will come here with their answers let me share with you my experience.
But before disclaimer: I am not a classical piano player and actually I am not yet piano player at all (see my signature). I am just learning with very simple pieces but my teacher selects them with knowledge that final goal is classical music.

I started with highly popular here Galaxy Vintage D. It took me some time to get used to it but finally it became my main VST for several months (I had two others at the same time, which I don't want even to mention - not being expert in this field and knowing that some people here like them, so I'll let them to express their opinions). Still I wasn't 100% satisfied so I looked further reading a lot of threads here (also listening to demos - but that considered not very reliable criteria).
I recently bought Garritan CFX Lite and Ravenscroft because these two are also highly recommended. Didn't try Ravenscroft yet, but CFX Lite I liked immediately. Don't know how it will work with real serious classical music but it works well with my exercises.

Also I want to share with you some statistics that I collected here (if you believe in "Big numbers rule"):
You will find thoughts:

"Ravenscroft is better for jazz than classical" - at least 3 different people expressed this opinion (others may disagree of course, we'll see).

"Try the Ivory II American D for classical music. I'd recommend the Galaxy Vintage D if you were playing pop or jazz"
"I doubt the American D will disappoint you for classical"
"I've just created a new session on try-sound and to me it does sound like Ivory is a more musical/classical sounding piano"
Question: "If you could choose only one of those for a classical album, which one would it be?" Answer: "The American D. But I play pop much more, so my favorite is the Vintage D, which is the best sounding Steinway I've heard for pop or jazz"

recorded using the Garritan CFX, ... designed to test .. instrument as a classical.. option

And another two highly recommended for classical music VSTs are "THE GRANDEUR" (here at PW) and Pearl Concert Grand (on other places)

I don't have ACD, Grandeur and Pearl, and I think I will stop buying VSTs for now (to save money for a better keyboard in few years) - unless I will hear specific suggestions for classical music and they will be on sale smile

And last but very important thing (Just in case you don't know it yet): try this this site try sound. Many people found it useful. Not all VSTs are available for trying there but many are
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:06 PM

If you're not very advanced, then does it really matter which VST is better "for classical music"? Just buy one that sounds good to you.

In general ...

Bach never wrote for piano. The harpsichord was his instrument for keyboard work. To play Bach on a piano rather than a harpsichord you'd likely want one with a thinner sound and little sustain.

Mozart played the early German Stein pianos, known for lighter, thinner tones than what we're accustomed to today.

Beethoven preferred the English Broadwood pianos, which in those days were more powerful than most others. Not as resonant as a modern piano, but more powerful than the Stein.

Liszt was said to play like a sledgehammer, so his view was surely about powerful sound (where suitable).

Jazz pianists tend to prefer a bright, cutting tone in a piano. Perhaps a Yamaha. Surely not a Bosendorfer!

There's much more to be said about this ... but I wonder how much it really matters to you?
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:11 PM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
If you're not very advanced, then does it really matter which VST is better "for classical music"?... but I wonder how much it really matters to you?

I am an absolute beginner. Believe me it does a lot...
Posted By: vmishka

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:13 PM

I play classical music exclusively and I have used both Ivory II Italian Grand and Garritan CFX (full). The CFX definitely requires more disk space and probably more computer resources. My desktop computer is a 2014 i5 iMac. My notebook is a 2012 Macbook Pro. I have used the Ivory II on the notebook with absolutely no problems. I haven't tried the CFX on the notebook but use it with no problems on the desktop.

Half pedaling means depressing the sustain pedal only partially down instead of all the way down. That definitely changes the character of the notes being sustained and is worth exploring. Both of the pianos that I have support half pedaling.

My YouTube channel is Sergei Aoûtka.

There you will find two Schubert selections made with Garritan CFX and a Mozart Piano Concerto made with Ivory II Italian Grand. You can also get to two of the three videos from the Members Recordings page: Schubert Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946 and Mozart Piano Concerto No 26 K537. The third selection on the YouTube channel is the Schubert Piano Sonata D. 664.

In my opinion, either of these two is suitable for classical music and I don't make a distinction regarding what piano to use for which composer. It all depends on the kind of sound you prefer. Everyone will have different opinions. Some people have good things to say about Galaxy Vintage D and Ravenscroft 275. Other people like the sound of Pianoteq 6.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:25 PM

Originally Posted by vmishka
I play classical music exclusively and I have used both Ivory II Italian Grand and Garritan CFX (full).

Could you please share with us what perspective and mic you are using with CFX? (I am considering upgrade of my Lite and thinking if it is worth another $95)
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:26 PM

@michaelvi, I've also read that American D was often recommended for classical music, but the threads were relatively old, which is why I've started a new thread, maybe there are new and better alternatives available now?

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
If you're not very advanced, then does it really matter which VST is better "for classical music"? Just buy one that sounds good to you.

Just listening to some MP3 files doesn't really help me much because listening to MP3 files is completely different to actually playing, and furthermore the MP3 demos available for the various VSTs don't cover the same classical pieces. So it doesn't really allow me to properly compare, or to properly evaluate if they sound good to me.

I was hoping that the more advanced players on this forum would have some sort of consensus which VSTs are best suited for classical playing? In older threads American D was often recommended for classical playing, but that was a while ago, so maybe there are (even) better options available today?

I'm not looking for a different VST for each componist. Just one VST which works well as an alround VST for classical music. I've no interest in Jazz.

Thanks.
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:32 PM

@vmishka, thanks, I appreciate that. How do you decide whether you use the CFX or the Italian Grand? Does it depend on mood? Or is one more mellow and the other brighter/sharper?

I wish there were time limited evaluation versions of all the VSTs available... ;/
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:37 PM

Originally Posted by madshi
I wish there were time limited evaluation versions of all the VSTs available... ;/

Italian Grand is available here - https://www.bestservice.com/try-sound.html
Not exactly a "time limited evaluation version" but better than nothing...
Posted By: vmishka

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:37 PM

Originally Posted by michaelvi
Originally Posted by vmishka
I play classical music exclusively and I have used both Ivory II Italian Grand and Garritan CFX (full).

Could you please share with us what perspective and mic you are using with CFX? (I am considering upgrade of my Lite and thinking if it is worth another $95)


I basically use the ones recommended by Phillip Johnston which you will find in this thread: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...demo-real-enough-series.html#Post2605238 except that I enable partial pedaling and not re-pedaling.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:44 PM

Originally Posted by vmishka
I basically use the ones recommended by Phillip Johnston which you will find in this thread: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...demo-real-enough-series.html#Post2605238 except that I enable partial pedaling and not re-pedaling.
Thank you!!!
Posted By: vmishka

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 09:45 PM

Originally Posted by madshi
@vmishka, thanks, I appreciate that. How do you decide whether you use the CFX or the Italian Grand? Does it depend on mood? Or is one more mellow and the other brighter/sharper?

I wish there were time limited evaluation versions of all the VSTs available... ;/


I definitely prefer a more mellow sound.

Garritan CFX wasn't around when I first started with piano VSTs and after a thorough study 7 years ago (as well as considering price) I ended up with the Italian Grand.

From 1979 to 1990, I owned an acoustic Yamaha CF. My wife and I moved to Europe to do medical research for 8 years and I sold the piano to Arizona State University. However, I definitely like the Yamaha sound. Therefore, when people like Phillip Johnston started raving about how good the CFX was, I listened closely to recordings and tried it. At the moment, I just use the CFX for final Youtube video "production," but keep the Italian Grand around on my laptop when I am traveling.
Posted By: Grazilerimba

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 10:09 PM

The great thing about the Garritan CFX is that it is one of the few piano VSTs that, IMHO, don't have any notes sticking out in a bad way. So no notes that sound off, too quiet, too loud, tinny, or weird in any other way. That should make this instrument a good choice for any classical music because you can concentrate on the playing and on the depth of your articulation and musical ideas instead of having to circumvent the problems of the instrument. Definitely recommended. Ivory American Concert D is also great but the resonances IMHO aren't as good as the one in other instruments because the Ivory pianos don't have actual pedal-down samples. Good luck.
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/09/18 11:28 PM

Thank you, vmishka and Grazilerimba.

So far everybody seems to love CFX. I think I like mellow/warm, too. So that should probably be at the top of my list.

I wonder if the full CFX version worth the added cost over the light version? I can afford it, but I don't want to throw out additional money for no reason.
Posted By: vmishka

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 02:31 AM

Originally Posted by madshi
Thank you, vmishka and Grazilerimba.

So far everybody seems to love CFX. I think I like mellow/warm, too. So that should probably be at the top of my list.

I wonder if the full CFX version worth the added cost over the light version? I can afford it, but I don't want to throw out additional money for no reason.


There are lots of threads where people give their opinions about whether or not it is worth it to go to the full version. In my case, I was impressed with the sound that Phillip Johnston was getting so I opted for the full version. There is a trade-off. With the full version, you are getting mics and presets that are probably not ideal for classical music that you probably will never use. But, the lite version doesn't include the microphone position which adds most of the ambiance of the Abbey Road Studio, an important part of the package.

The good news is that I don't think there is any penalty for starting out with the lite version and upgrading to the full version. In fact, some people have found deals where you actually save a couple of dollars by going that route.
Posted By: Gombessa

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 02:58 AM

+1 to vmishka.

I mainly went for CFX due to Phillip as well, and I only wanted full for the single ambient mic perspective on Classic. And I turn the ambient mics way down too. I never touch player or contemporary at all.
Posted By: Beakybird

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 04:53 AM

This guy's a beginner. I would take the Ivory ACD because the first preset sounds great, and it's a piano sound everyone is familiar with.
The CFX - the default preset has zero resonance, you have to make adjustments to reduce the echo because it sounds like it was recorded in a concert hall even though it's really Abbey Road Studios.
I would recommend a VST that requires little tweaking and that has an intuitive interface.
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 09:57 AM

Thanks once again, everyone.

I'm a moderate level piano player, but a PC pro, so I'm ok with tweaking, as long as I only have to do it once and not all the time.
Posted By: mabraman

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 10:15 AM

If you are a beginner, is you who has to match the VST, and it will take years to do so. Even a medium class digital is gonna be way over your hability. Pick one and study hard. Better if It has weird notes, just like real pianos do.
Posted By: Beakybird

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 11:25 AM

Originally Posted by madshi
Thanks once again, everyone.

I'm a moderate level piano player, but a PC pro, so I'm ok with tweaking, as long as I only have to do it once and not all the time.


Sorry for demoting you.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 11:31 AM

Originally Posted by mabraman
If you are a beginner, is you who has to match the VST, and it will take years to do so. Even a medium class digital is gonna be way over your hability. Pick one and study hard. Better if It has weird notes, just like real pianos do.

Being a beginner, I strongly disagree. Don't forget about inspiration and satisfaction. Especially when it not when parents force their children to practice but when we are talking about our own interest.
Professional (or simply skilled enough) pianist can squeeze a good sound from that broken street piano (some amazing records can be found on youtube)
But when I am "playing" my piano I am making enough my own mistakes so it hard enough for me to produce a sound somewhat close to what I would like to hear. So I doubt that additional weird notes from piano will be of any help. I hope after those years of practicing that you mentioned I will develop skills that will allow me to tweak my playing to a piano's faults, but I prefer first to deal with my own.
When I learned to write in elementary school I started with lined sheets of paper - not just horizontal but also with oblique lines. It took me few years to develop my ability to write on a purely white paper, or even colored one or even on a paper with background pictures. I don't think that process was more efficient if I started learning with such paper.
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 12:28 PM

Originally Posted by Beakybird
Sorry for demoting you.

No probs, I appreciate your feedback. Probably, compared to some of you guys I do rather classify as a beginner. It's all a question of who you compare yourself to... crazy

-------

FWIW, I've just bought CFX Lite (download version from Sweetwater for 60 USD), and first quick impression with untweaked default preset is great - I love how it sounds!! Granted, I didn't have much to compare to: The Kawai CL36 internal sound is faaar away. The MainStage Steinway Piano is actually not bad, but still clearly inferior to CFX Lite. I did also buy the Production Voices Concert Grand Compact for 19 USD, but to my ears CFX Lite clearly wins. Now I just have to make up my mind if I want to upgrade to the full version or not. Decisions, decisions...

Is it possible to configure the CFX Lite standalone player (or also the MainStage plugin) to remember the preset? It seems if I stop the standalone player, the preset gets lost, so I have to re-select it every time which I find quite annoying.
Posted By: mabraman

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 12:33 PM

What I was trying to say is that any of most VSTs is good enough, you just need decent sound and good pedal samples. Some are more flexible than others but each has its own character, and for your ( our) level, what matters is not wich VST you play on, but to develope the hability to switch between instruments and get decent results.
Every piano suits every style, unless you are a pro.
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 12:49 PM

Why should I be satisfied with "decent" sound if I can get great sound? This is not just about learning/improving my playing skills. It's also about enjoying the music I'm playing. So I want the best possible option, obviously. Of course matter of taste always plays a role, too, but there clearly are some products which have higher quality than others. So what's wrong with asking for feedback which VST other users prefer for classical piano playing?

I'm thankful for having been pointed to Garritan CFX by the users in this thread. I clearly don't like every VST the same (see above, I clearly prefer the CFX over the Concert Grand Compact), so just saying that any decent VST should do doesn't seem to agree with me.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 01:18 PM

Originally Posted by mabraman
What I was trying to say is that any of most VSTs is good enough, you just need decent sound and good pedal samples. Some are more flexible than others but each has its own character, and for your ( our) level, what matters is not wich VST you play on, but to develope the hability to switch between instruments and get decent results.
Every piano suits every style, unless you are a pro.

I understand that and in fact I was also hoping so. Unfortunately this theory wasn't confirmed by my experience. Some VSTs (and I am talking about quite popular ones) sounded TO MY EARS ... at least not good if not to say horrible, which couldn't co-exists with my willing to play (well, to learn to play)

I want to echo madshi : we are here for enjoying the music as much as it is possible. Trying to select best (of course individually) VST perfectly fits this goal. And I believe it does not contradict to the goal of developing skills
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 01:35 PM

Yes, VSTs range from wondrous to horrible. And my wondrous VST might be your horrible VST.

There have been many threads here asking for recommendations. But after reading them year after year my only conclusions are:

1. You cannot know until you try.

2. You might think try-sound.com is a good way to try. I don't agree, but ... it's free, so give it a whirl.

3. You can spend lots of money on VSTs. For every VST that I've made heavy use of over the past eight years of my VST-life, I own three or four others that range from meh to stinko. (This is called G.A.S. Item 1 above tends to produce G.A.S.)

4. Be aware of your ACOUSTIC piano preference, if possible. If you like the Steinway sound ... if you like the Bosendorfer sound ... if you like the Yamaha sound ... if you like the Kawai sound ... then choose a VST that's been sampled from that brand of acoustic. VSTs do carry the distinct flavor of the acoustic they're meant to mimic.

5. PW members are divided regarding what's good and what's not. My good list will not match your good list. My bad list will not match yours. So take all recommendations with a grain of salt. See item 1, above.

6. Over time the recommendations shift. If you review the threads from years ago you'll find raves over VSTs that no longer get any mention. But I find that what was good years ago is still good today. Don't ignore the "old" VSTs.

7. Don't shun the crowd opinion. But don't follow the crowd opinion, either. The only crowd you need heed is that special crowd of ONE.
Posted By: toddy

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 01:41 PM

Originally Posted by mabraman
Every piano suits every style, unless you are a pro.


Debatable. You could even argue the opposite: that it takes a professional to get anything good at all out of a crap piano.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 02:04 PM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Yes, VSTs range from wondrous to horrible. And my wondrous VST might be your horrible VST.

There have been many threads here asking for recommendations. But after reading them year after year my only conclusions are:

1. You cannot know until you try.

2. You might think try-sound.com is a good way to try. I don't agree, but ... it's free, so give it a whirl.

3. You can spend lots of money on VSTs. For every VST that I've made heavy use of over the past eight years of my VST-life, I own three or four others that range from meh to stinko. (This is called G.A.S. Item 1 above tends to produce G.A.S.)

4. Be aware of your ACOUSTIC piano preference, if possible. If you like the Steinway sound ... if you like the Bosendorfer sound ... if you like the Yamaha sound ... if you like the Kawai sound ... then choose a VST that's been sampled from that brand of acoustic. VSTs do carry the distinct flavor of the acoustic they're meant to mimic.

5. PW members are divided regarding what's good and what's not. My good list will not match your good list. My bad list will not match yours. So take all recommendations with a grain of salt. See item 1, above.

6. Over time the recommendations shift. If you review the threads from years ago you'll find raves over VSTs that no longer get any mention. But I find that what was good years ago is still good today. Don't ignore the "old" VSTs.

7. Don't shun the crowd opinion. But don't follow the crowd opinion, either. The only crowd you need heed is that special crowd of ONE.


1. Unfortunately with rare exceptions the only way to try is to buy. The number of such exceptions just has been decreased from tens to very few by your next item...

2. Really? I never tried it myself but was going to schedule a session with Ivory - just following what you call "crowd" (I prefer to call it "Big Numbers Rule"). Could you please elaborate on your 2nd statement?(latency is expected of course, what's else?)

3. Yeah... good portion of my Kawai keyboard budget has been burned this way..

4. That's much more complicated. Because when I am listening to those acoustics I am listening to some pros that seem to be able to get good sound even from raw piece of wood smile So I like them all with rare exceptions. (I can listen to real acoustics only in concert halls you know..., youtube is not counted for this purpose)
Also, let say I like acoustic A much better than acoustic B. Now, let say none of VSTs sampled from A are good enough (to my taste) but there is a VST sampled from B, which is excellent and really sounding quite close to acoustic B. Also that second "B" VST is bug free, what is called "better playable", etc. Shouldn't I go with second "B" VST despite my better liking of "A" acoustic? (In my personal case A is Steinway and B is Yamaha. Actually Yamaha is not even on 2nd place for me but best VST that have so far is CFX. I still dream about a good Steinway so wanted to schedule ACD on try-sound... . And in case of my wife A is Fazioli - as I see so far it is nearly impossible to get a good Fazioli based VST for her ((... )

5. Obviously

6. Sure but still technology and developer's experience are advancing and so outcomes are expected to become better over years

7. Also obvious. I think beginners are asking such questions not in order to blindly follow "crowd" but to minimize risks (see N3) of not only losing money but also of losing time (some adults have very limited time available to experiment with VSTs too much) and, once again, inspiration
Posted By: newer player

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 02:31 PM

I find the Full>Default>Classic (with both close & ambient mics) to be my favourite setting on Garritan CFX by far. This is essentially the default for Garritan CFX Full. I don't really use any of the extra "features" provided in the "Full" upgrade other than the second default mic pair.

The Garritan CFX close mics alone are very responsive but a bit dry for me; they are like PianoTeq in some ways. The ambient mics alone are too wet, distant and detached for my liking. Some other popular VIs minimize room ambience in their samples and are less noisy so that is a different approach.

You opinion will be different based on you personal preferences, playing style, controller, ears, headphones/ earbuds/ monitors, room, etc.

Of course there are several people who dislike Garritan CFX, some that are perfectly content with CFX Lite, and some that upgraded from Lite to Full and were disappointed. A lot of us have a ton of VIs unused on HDDs so I can't advise that an upgrade to CFX Full will fulfill your life. GAS gets expensive and distracting from your practice (see recent epic post by MacMacMac summarizing his library of VIs and personal ratings).

BTW - There are plenty of Garritan CFX tweaks and settings suggestions posts on this site. (e.g. The built-in reverb engine (studio tab) seems superflus as the ambient mics are already too wet. There seems to be a defect in the limit button (above the master slider) so turn that off. CyberGene wrote a nice script to improve pedaling. Getting latency very low can improve playability...)
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 04:45 PM

Thanks again for your feedback, everyone.

Of course I don't know if the CFX is the VST I would like best if I tried them all. But I don't really want to spend thousands of dollars on VSTs *just to try them*. Playing the CFX I'm fully satisfied with the sound, so I don't really feel the need to try anything else right now. As a result, I've now ordered the CFX Full Upgrade. Maybe the Upgrade will prove useful to me, or maybe not. But I think in any case Garritan has earned my money by delivering a really great sounding VST, so I don't mind paying the full price.

@newer player, thanks for the settings tips. Wasn't aware of the limit button, will make sure to turn it off. MainStage reports a latency of 5.8ms roundtrip (Zoom TAC-2 Thunderbird audio interface), using 44.1kHz and 64 samples. Does that classify as "low"? I've tried 32 samples, but got audio drop-outs that way. 64 samples seems stable.
Posted By: newer player

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 05:03 PM

Originally Posted by madshi
@newer player, thanks for the settings tips. Wasn't aware of the limit button, will make sure to turn it off. MainStage reports a latency of 5.8ms roundtrip (Zoom TAC-2 Thunderbird audio interface), using 44.1kHz and 64 samples. Does that classify as "low"? I've tried 32 samples, but got audio drop-outs that way. 64 samples seems stable.


All that matters is how the VI responds & sounds to you.

That good performance out of the box. Those Zoom interfaces have low latency at a low price. Running 64 samples at 44.100 Hz gives "processing latency" of around about 1.5ms which is approaching the lowest latencies people have noted here for piano VIs.

EDIT - I suppose you could try to reduce that 1.5ms figure by boosting the sample rate to 48 or 96 etc and testing different buffer sizes. But you see the diminishing returns here and not sure you would notice any difference.

For latency, what matters is something like the time between pressing the key and sound hitting your ears. In that context, I don't know what that 5.8ms roundtrip latency means. You would need to measure, which is difficult to do at home.

Regardless, if you use loudspeakers, you need to add about 3ms per metre of distance between the speakers and the player (ignore that if you use headphones).
Posted By: Osho

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 05:07 PM

Originally Posted by madshi
Thanks again for your feedback, everyone.

Of course I don't know if the CFX is the VST I would like best if I tried them all. But I don't really want to spend thousands of dollars on VSTs *just to try them*. Playing the CFX I'm fully satisfied with the sound, so I don't really feel the need to try anything else right now. As a result, I've now ordered the CFX Full Upgrade. Maybe the Upgrade will prove useful to me, or maybe not. But I think in any case Garritan has earned my money by delivering a really great sounding VST, so I don't mind paying the full price.

@newer player, thanks for the settings tips. Wasn't aware of the limit button, will make sure to turn it off. MainStage reports a latency of 5.8ms roundtrip (Zoom TAC-2 Thunderbird audio interface), using 44.1kHz and 64 samples. Does that classify as "low"? I've tried 32 samples, but got audio drop-outs that way. 64 samples seems stable.

You perhaps already know this.. but just in case..

There have been a few posts where people have posted screenshots of CFX settings. I posted some a few days ago:

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2709497/
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2709214/

I have seen that Philip Johnston has also posted screenshots (which helped me a lot BTW)..

Here is CyberGene's script : http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...n-cfx-repedaling-timing.html#Post2599557

Osho
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 05:33 PM

Thanks! I'll give all that a try when I have the full version installed... smile
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 06:07 PM

Originally Posted by madshi
Thanks! I'll give all that a try when I have the full version installed... smile

May I ask you to share with us your experience of upgrading to Full CFX (I know it will take time at least until your usb device will arrive to you)?
There are many different opinions about this upgrade, but I especially interested in your case - where classical genre is targeted smile

(My guess is that it also depends on usage scenario - playing for yourself with headphones, with monitors, or making recordings and publish them - I think this is where mic perspective and positions should vary?)
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 07:22 PM

Curious question: what does "GAS" mean?

As for the VSTi: I find it odd that people ask others for advice about what is the "best" in terms of sound. Sound is such a personal thing, there is -0- possibility of giving a proper recommendation.

Best example: my ears like Pianoteq very much. @Mac hates it and lists it as terrible.

Imho, what should be asked is how playable a VST is and whether there are serious problems like the detuned note samples on the Vienna Imperial, because these questions can be answered in a more objective manner and these answers can save people a lot of money and disappointment.

Personally, I am curious about Garritan CFX but I'll hold my horses for now. Too easy to splurge on one VST after another. laugh
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 07:25 PM

Gear Acquisition Syndrome
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 07:42 PM

Originally Posted by Granyala
I find it odd that people ask others for advice about what is the "best" in terms of sound. Sound is such a personal thing, there is -0- possibility of giving a proper recommendation.

I find it odd that you find it odd. What are the alternatives to asking for recommendations? Do you really expect people to buy 20 VSTis for several thousand dollars, so they can choose the one which best matches their personal taste? Maybe professional users can afford that, but private/hobby users like me certainly can't (or are not willing to).

What I find even more odd is that VST companies seem to expect users to shell out the big money, just based on marketing and some random demo MP3s. Why is Pianoteq pretty much the only company offering a proper evaluation? That only works because so many users seem to be willing to buy "blind" (or rather "deaf"). If users refused to buy VSTs which can't be properly evaluated then VST companies would have no other choice than to offer proper evaluation options.

(Sorry for the little rant.)
Posted By: newer player

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 08:14 PM

Originally Posted by michaelvi
My guess is that it also depends on usage scenario - playing for yourself with headphones, with monitors, or making recordings and publish them - I think this is where mic perspective and positions should vary?


Good question. There are lots of options in Garritan CFX but I always return to the default full.

I think Philip Johnston said his Garritan CFX settings posted here are purely for recording (he listens to the onboard Yamaha N3 sounds for playing). Search his post as my memory might be wrong there.

I have tried the Garritan CFX Full with a few headphones, a few earbuds, a few monitors, a few subwoofers. These days, I find myself playing with Classic>Full>Default most of the time. I use a few minor tweaks that don't change based on transducer type. Sample of just one person so YMMV. With my headphones or cheap computer monitors, all my VIs get repetitive sounding. So sometimes I will change Garritan CFX settings or change VI for variety.

However, last month, I pulled from the storage some older monitors and an inexpensive small amp. With the monitors ~1m from the back-wall and my ears, the sound is fun and unfatiguing. With the monitors closer to the back wall, the ambience just somehow disappears. Haven't felt compelled to tweak anything for a few weeks. Just practicing...
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 08:19 PM

I don't know anyone who EXPECTED me to spend thousands on VSTs ...
Originally Posted by madshi
Do you really expect people to buy 20 VSTis for several thousand dollars, so they can choose the one which best matches their personal taste?
... but I did. smile
Posted By: Cinjero

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 08:32 PM

I would have to agree with Mac.

There isn't an expectation to buy 20+, 5+ or spending $$$----- but if you pursue the VI Avenue, it's going to happen. As for a VI just for "classical," just mumbo jumbo; there's isn't one, but some would say Steinway and other anything else but a Yamaha (pop/rock/non-classical). I'd say it doesn't matter---- what do you like? For a real mix-up, you could go with Painoteq (modeled).
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 08:37 PM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I don't know anyone who EXPECTED me to spend thousands on VSTs ...
Originally Posted by madshi
Do you really expect people to buy 20 VSTis for several thousand dollars, so they can choose the one which best matches their personal taste?
... but I did. smile

Which makes your list of VSTs and how you rate them (found that in another thread) very interesting. And yes, I know that my taste could be completely different.

You didn't try/buy Garritan CFX yet, though? Didn't see that in your list.
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 08:51 PM

Originally Posted by madshi
Originally Posted by Granyala
I find it odd that people ask others for advice about what is the "best" in terms of sound. Sound is such a personal thing, there is -0- possibility of giving a proper recommendation.

I find it odd that you find it odd. What are the alternatives to asking for recommendations? Do you really expect people to buy 20 VSTis for several thousand dollars, so they can choose the one which best matches their personal taste? Maybe professional users can afford that, but private/hobby users like me certainly can't (or are not willing to).

What I find even more odd is that VST companies seem to expect users to shell out the big money, just based on marketing and some random demo MP3s. Why is Pianoteq pretty much the only company offering a proper evaluation? That only works because so many users seem to be willing to buy "blind" (or rather "deaf"). If users refused to buy VSTs which can't be properly evaluated then VST companies would have no other choice than to offer proper evaluation options.

(Sorry for the little rant.)

No one but your ears can tell you what sounds good to you. Others can point out general characteristics (harsh/bright/mellow/neutral etc) but in the end it is the same as it is with headphones: YOU have to put them on and try them.

I absolutely feel you when it comes to "no demo available". In fact, that is one reason why I am not buying Garritan CFX straight away because I fear that I might not like it when >I< "play" it (beginner here).
Ofc it sounds superb when played by experienced folks. What doesn't?

I filled out the survey for Pianoteq and commended them on having the courtesy of providing ab test version. Such a rare thing in this day and age.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 08:53 PM

Originally Posted by newer player
Originally Posted by michaelvi
My guess is that it also depends on usage scenario - playing for yourself with headphones, with monitors, or making recordings and publish them - I think this is where mic perspective and positions should vary?


Good question. There are lots of options in Garritan CFX but I always return to the default full.
Personally, at this point of time I am only interested in setup which is best for practicing, with headphones.(Once a week I'll turn on monitors for 1 hour lesson). My internal piano sound is crap (sorry Casio) - it was selected as a best option for its keyboard action within my budget at that time and I do not regret it - thanks PW again!
When I'll reach level of playing for others and (OMG) publish my recordings - I think by that time there will be many other options that I don't have today.
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 09:20 PM

Originally Posted by Granyala
No one but your ears can tell you what sounds good to you. Others can point out general characteristics (harsh/bright/mellow/neutral etc) but in the end it is the same as it is with headphones: YOU have to put them on and try them.

In an ideal world I would love to test all the VSTs, but when it's not possible (because there's no evaluation version available), the next best thing is to ask other users which VSTs they like for classical music. It's a far less useless question than you make it sound. Obviously, some users will recommend one thing, others another. But if the "crowd" often mentioned maybe 2 or 3 specific VSTs and if they don't mention (or even discredit) some other VSTs, then that's all useful information. Granted, it's not perfect, and there's no guarantee that the crowd's favorites will please me, but it's the best information I can get without buying all the VSTs myself, so I'll gladly make do with that imperfect information.

Practically, the proof is in the pudding: Asking for recommendations worked very well for me. I'm really happy with Garritan CFX, and I wouldn't have bought it, if I hadn't started this thread.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 09:35 PM

Pianoteq has a small footprint and is easier to redistribute as a demo. Not so much with multigigabyte libs. BTW, Vintage D used to work in demo mode if not registered. Although wrong, you could download it from a pirated site and install in a legally downloaded Kontakt player and it would work in demo mode. Why that was not officially allowed is not clear. When I purchased it later it turned out the officially downloaded Vintsge D distribution was bit-identical to the pirated one. So I only obtained a license to use it. On pirated websites what they do is to give you a cracked Kontakt app so that you can use the samples not just in demo mode. I believe that might be the reason why Kontakt libs are not given as demos although in practice they work like that. Because with a single pirated Kontakt you would be able to access multiple libs at once.
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 09:50 PM

Honestly,. I don't buy the logistics argument. This is 2018 not 1995. Bandwidth is hardly an issue any longer.

MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV are around 50GB in client size. These companies offer demos that DL the entire client.

There are infinitely more people downloading these huge mainstream games compared to a few folks that would DL big and honkin', highly specialized VST libraries.

Also, they could cut out mic perspectives for the demo version to trim it down.
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 10:01 PM

Exactly, Compact Classic Grand and CFX Lite were around 2.5 GB downloads each. That's really small by today's standards.
Posted By: TheodorN

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 10:05 PM

My Production Grand 2 Gold was 54GB. It was available for download, in 30 zip files. The PV webpage says 58GB, but when I look at my maps for it in Windows Explorer, it's 54GB. Possibly a difference between binary and decimal measuring, but still well over 50GB.

Edit The full Production Grand 2, 207GB compressed, is available for download at purchase. Of course, it's one thing to offer the VSTi for download when bought, and another to offer such a gigantic library as a demo, since that would mean a lot more people would download it, or want to download it.

Edit2 Isn't the CFX Lite 22GB, or 25GB, in download size?
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 10:14 PM

I'm sure there are ways to cut down on size for a demo version w/o having to compromise the instrument. You could probably delete half the velocity layers w/o people even realizing.
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 10:16 PM

CFX Lite is 25GB on harddisk (uncompressed), but compressed download is only 2.5GB.
Posted By: Cinjero

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 10:31 PM

There's a difference between File-size and Disk-size for Windows based systems. The difference usually depends on the cluster size created when the disk was formatted.

Production Grand is a beast, but you can cut the "full" version down by just offloading the version you don't use. I use the max version (Platinum) and just moved off the other ones off disk to backup.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 10:50 PM

Originally Posted by madshi
Originally Posted by Granyala
No one but your ears can tell you what sounds good to you. Others can point out general characteristics (harsh/bright/mellow/neutral etc) but in the end it is the same as it is with headphones: YOU have to put them on and try them.

... But if the "crowd" often mentioned maybe 2 or 3 specific VSTs and if they don't mention (or even discredit) some other VSTs, then that's all useful information.

@Granyala Just apply probability theory here and you will see that if one starts their search from those 2 or 3 specific VSTs and puts those others at the end of "buy to try" queue (de-facto the only option, pirated sites aside) then chances to pick right ball are much better than if they built that queue randomly or (even worse) following marketing attacks (number of ads appearing on their web pages)
Look, OP of this thread was satisfied with his very first purchase (of current round) following "crowd" suggestions. What are chances that without asking this this question he could achieve the same result? There are very small. I was a bit less lucky and (almost) found what I need after ~8th purchase, but still, when I am looking on my initial list I see that without asking questions I could easily make ~25-30 purchases (wasted)
Of course everyone here agree that BUYER has to put them on and try them. The whole meaning of such questions here is "in what order to try them"
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 11:38 PM

No, I haven't tried the CFX. I think that's a Yamaha, so I wouldn't like the sound.
Originally Posted by madshi
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I don't know anyone who EXPECTED me to spend thousands on VSTs ...
Originally Posted by madshi
Do you really expect people to buy 20 VSTis for several thousand dollars, so they can choose the one which best matches their personal taste?
... but I did. smile
Which makes your list of VSTs and how you rate them (found that in another thread) very interesting. And yes, I know that my taste could be completely different.

You didn't try/buy Garritan CFX yet, though? Didn't see that in your list.
And I won't likely be buying any more VSTs. I have more than I need.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/10/18 11:46 PM

Yes, downloads are fast. At 100 Mbps you can download 1 GB in about a minute and a half ... assuming the other guy's server can spit it out as fast as you can take it.

I remember the dial-up days ... when I'd think twice about trying to download something as "big" as a couple of MB. How quaint that seems now. smile
Posted By: Cinjero

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 01:02 AM

The CFX is a Yamaha, but not a C7. I think its more of a match with a Ravenscroft because they are "balanced pianos."

After purchasing the Production Grand, I don't think I'll be getting any others; other than PV's Steinway (maybe) but also Hans Zimmer's piano (maybe).
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 07:23 AM

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I remember the dial-up days ... when I'd think twice about trying to download something as "big" as a couple of MB. How quaint that seems now. smile


And thinking "Do I really need to go to that image-heavy website right now?" because you paid by the minute. laugh

@michaelvi & @madshi: I am sorry if I came across as "your question is nonsensical". That is not what I meant. What I meant is that asking for us for "what sounds best" is misguided because there is no such thing.

Asking other pianists what they like, why and how it plays is different from asking "what is the best sound" and I completely agree that it is useful. I stumbled upon Pianoteq in this forum because a member praised it and I got curious. I doubt that I would ever have learned of VSTi if I hadn't researched my DP purchase here for the past few months. I also see that Garritan CFX, Vintage D, Ravenscroft and Ivory II seem to be liked around here and that @Mac likes the Kawai EX pro VST. That is all valuable information to cut down on the list of unknowns.

PS: 8 purchases... at 100€+ a pop? Ouch. I'm waay too poor for that kind of Trial and Error. >.<
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 09:03 AM

Originally Posted by Granyala
PS: 8 purchases... at 100€+ a pop? Ouch. I'm waay too poor for that kind of Trial and Error. >.<
Fortunately I didn't pay such amounts . Except my very first purchase (Vintage D) for all following I caught sales (bundle of 3 TrueKeys pianos was 74% off, Ravenscroft 50% off, PV pianos were from 55% to 75% off during Black Friday, even CFX Lite I got for 50$ instead of 60 smile ) But still yes, big money were spent here.. ((
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 09:14 AM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
On pirated websites what they do is to give you a cracked Kontakt app so that you can use the samples not just in demo mode. I believe that might be the reason why Kontakt libs are not given as demos although in practice they work like that. Because with a single pirated Kontakt you would be able to access multiple libs at once.

May be this is good idea for a start-up that will develop a new protection method that would work in library layer? smile
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 11:22 AM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
Gear Acquisition Syndrome

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gear_Acquisition_Syndrome

Time to visit my psychotherapist again?...
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 11:40 AM

I guess sometimes it's good to be poor. makes you buy less and play more with what you have.
Posted By: Frédéric L

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 11:44 AM

Originally Posted by michaelvi
May be this is good idea for a start-up that will develop a new protection method that would work in library layer? smile

Kontakt is scriptable, then the developper of the script can develop using the available functions. If NI add protection function (read iLok key...), the developper could prevent the access without iLok key, but a cracker could modify this function to make it lying. This would not be perfect too.

I suppose that NI won’t add such function since there is already a protection embedded, even if it not perfect.

Without a Kontakt protection function, there is no way to develop a protection inside the library layer with Kontakt.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 11:45 AM

Originally Posted by Granyala
I guess sometimes it's good to be poor. makes you buy less and play more with what you have.

+1 smile
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 11:46 AM

You should be rich enough to be able to buy a good instrument and poor enough to not be able to purchase another one soon wink
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 11:50 AM

Originally Posted by Frédéric L
Without a Kontakt protection function, there is no way to develop a protection inside the library layer with Kontakt.

Debatable, but probably not in this forum smile
Posted By: Pete14

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 12:53 PM

Originally Posted by michaelvi
Originally Posted by Granyala
I guess sometimes it's good to be poor. makes you buy less and play more with what you have.

+1 smile


-1

It’s never good to be poor! If you don’t believe me, ask a dirt-poor person if being poor is something that has ever come in handy.
Playing “with what you have” is not an ideal situation; playing a Steinway D, on the other hand, is like being in heaven. Heck, even playing a mundane scale on a D feels like an event, a happening, a momentous (slight exaggeration) occasion. Trust me, a Casio SA-76 will not make you a better player no matter how much you play it. By the way, I live in a van down by the river, so I know a thing or two about poverty.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 01:07 PM

Originally Posted by Pete14
Originally Posted by michaelvi
Originally Posted by Granyala
I guess sometimes it's good to be poor. makes you buy less and play more with what you have.

+1 smile


-1

It’s never good to be poor! If you don’t believe me, ask a dirt-poor person if being poor is something that has ever come in handy.
Playing “with what you have” is not an ideal situation; playing a Steinway D, on the other hand, is like being in heaven. Heck, even playing a mundane scale on a D feels like an event, a happening, a momentous (slight exaggeration) occasion. Trust me, a Casio SA-76 will not make you a better player no matter how much you play it. By the way, I live in a van down by the river, so I know a thing or two about poverty.

Well, I think the main point of Granyala's post was about being GAS-free and to play more. Hard to disagree
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 04:21 PM

Originally Posted by Pete14
It’s never good to be poor! If you don’t believe me, ask a dirt-poor person if being poor is something that has ever come in handy.
Playing “with what you have” is not an ideal situation; playing a Steinway D, on the other hand, is like being in heaven. Heck, even playing a mundane scale on a D feels like an event, a happening, a momentous (slight exaggeration) occasion. Trust me, a Casio SA-76 will not make you a better player no matter how much you play it. By the way, I live in a van down by the river, so I know a thing or two about poverty.

True. To be honest: I am able to afford a Kawai VPC1 and have a good computer to run VSTi w/o issues.
Measured on a global scale I am a very far cry from being "poor" and I doubt that, being a hobbyist, the VPC1 will hold me back anytime soon..

I'd love to encounter one of those big shot Grand Pianos one day when I have some skills. Would probably be fun.
Posted By: Pete14

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 05:04 PM

Granyala, I’m just kidding around. smile
I don’t live in a van down by the river, and I’ve never seen a Steinway D in person.
I get a little bored on Sundays, so I like to come around here to stir things up a little. I get your point.
Posted By: TheodorN

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 08:20 PM

Originally Posted by madshi
CFX Lite is 25GB on harddisk (uncompressed), but compressed download is only 2.5GB.

That's a whole lot of compression, down to 1/10 of the original size. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but the CFX doesn't use FLAC lossless audio compression, which is probably why it's such a big library. Think we were discussing this some months ago.

By the way, congrats on your Garritan CFX, if there were a one size fits all piano library, CFX could make a good case for claiming to be it.

Cinjero, about the cluster size, that makes sense to me. I learned about clusters in my computer science classes, some years back. Never really understood it, but think it has to do with the data not filling out every cluster, or something like that. Don't correct me if I'm wrong, we don't want this to turn into a computer science forum, LOL!

Productin Grand 2 is a great library, even the Gold version below the full one. If I had gotten it before the CFX, maybe I wouldn't have bought the CFX, but it's nice to have both. The long loading time of PG bothers me, though it loads a bit faster now, probably due to the recent upgrade of Kontakt 5.
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 08:29 PM

Originally Posted by TheodorN
Originally Posted by madshi
CFX Lite is 25GB on harddisk (uncompressed), but compressed download is only 2.5GB.

That's a whole lot of compression, down to 1/10 of the original size.

Cinjero, about the cluster size, that makes sense to me. I learned about clusters in my computer science classes, some years back. Never really understood it, but think it has to do with the data not filling out every cluster, or something like that.


I'd love to know how they compress audio data lossless to 1/10th of it's size. Oo

Clusters are the smallest logical memory block the operating system can address. Typically it's 4KB in size. So if you have a 1KB file it will still need 4KB. In todays day and age, the effect can be completely disregarded. We're juggling TBs now, a few KBs no longer matter.
As for size differences: most of that comes from one source calculating with one MB = 1024 KB (etc etc) and the other calculating with 1000. Manufacturers like the 1000 because it gives them nice round numbers for marketing. 2TB drive sounds better than 1.81TB, eh?
Posted By: Osho

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 08:49 PM

Originally Posted by Granyala
I'd love to know how they compress audio data lossless to 1/10th of it's size.

FLAC is very effective.

I am not surprised that piano libraries can be compressed significantly. Most of the audio data is for the long tail of the piano sound after the attack. Let us say, each sample is 20 seconds long. More than 90% of that sound is just decaying string with very low volume. Low volume repetitive data does not require the full 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution and can be compressed fairly efficiently. Also, since compression needs to occur only one time, a very high FLAC compression level can be chosen - that is computationally expensive but reduces the size even more.

Osho
Posted By: Frédéric L

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 08:55 PM

I suppose the sound of a single note can be compressed lossless easily because at the end, the signal is weak, then there is no such thing to encode.

I don’t know how FLAC function, but a typical encoding could be :

For each sample, guess the most probable value from the previous, code the delta (actual value - guess).

The encoding of FLAC is Golomb-RICE which use few bits for frequent values. Then, instead of coding a delta with 17 bits (-65000 to +65000), the code will be mostly around a few bits. If the guess algorithm is good, -1, 0, and +1 will be quite frequent and could require let’s say 2 or 3 bits. (Between 1/8 and 1/5 of 16bits, the original size). 1/10 of the size seems me low (1.6 bits per sample ! It could be achieved if the 0 value is very very frequent)

Having tried a long C4 note : 5771ko WAV, 824ko FLAC (1/7 of the WAV file).
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 09:48 PM

As Osho said, they can use lower bit-depth for the decays. Remember this is not a real-time decompression, it’s used only for the one-off installation and can rely on multiple passes (attacks from one set of files, the rest from other), heuristics, high-compression ratios (intensive CPU), etc.
Posted By: Frédéric L

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/11/18 10:28 PM

FLAC encoding uses subframe which have each their own parameters. One parameter will be adequate for attacks, and will be reduced to the best during the decay. This parameter is directly related with needed bitdepth. Heuristics are already used (called predictions which can even use the 32 previous samples, but I suppose most FLAC encoders don’t go so far).

Perhaps my 1/7 conversion was made quickly (with an online Web converter). I should perhaps try again with a soft I control the parameters. Perhaps also the CFX samples are longer than what I have.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/12/18 02:54 AM

Originally Posted by CyberGene
Remember this is not a real-time decompression...


I thought that the decompression was in real-time (i.e. the samples are stored in a compressed state on the disc, and decompressed when played) - are you saying that the compression is only to reduce the download size, and that once installed, all of the sample data is decompressed?

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: ocd

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/12/18 03:56 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Remember this is not a real-time decompression...


I thought that the decompression was in real-time (i.e. the samples are stored in a compressed state on the disc, and decompressed when played) - are you saying that the compression is only to reduce the download size, and that once installed, all of the sample data is decompressed?

Kind regards,
James
x


That is certainly the case for Garritan's CFX Grand. The files are decompressed as they are installed and remain de-compressed on your hard disk. The installation takes a while.
Posted By: CyberGene

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/12/18 07:02 AM

^^James, yes. Installation file for CFX Lite is 2GB and the installed application is 20GB.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/12/18 07:41 AM

Okay, thanks chaps.

How about for the VI Labs pianos?

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: madshi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/12/18 08:38 AM

I only have CFX Lite and Compact Classic Grand. The CFX Lite explodes from 2.5GB download to 20GB+ installation. The Compact Classic Grand is 2.8GB download and 2.9GB after installation. Compact Classic Grand actually has all the samples as FLAC files.
Posted By: karvala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/13/18 01:42 AM

VI Labs pianos remain compressed on the hard drive and are decompressed in real time.
Posted By: TheodorN

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/13/18 02:37 PM

OT maybe, but I was listening to various VSTis yesterday evening - not because I'm looking for any particular VSTi - rather for listening to nice piano playing. I perceived the VI Labs pianos as dull, and uninspiring, specifically German Grand, and Italian Grand.

However, I found that NI Grandeur was very good, with a full and deep sound, probably good for classical, and that is on topic. Though classical piano music is more in your fingers, than the piano sound itself, but that goes for all music played on the piano.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/13/18 03:49 PM

I really like the Grandeur. That and Vintage D are my most-used pianos.
Posted By: karvala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/13/18 03:52 PM

Yeah, that's pretty much in line with what a lot of people say about the VI Labs pianos, and I've said it before as well. I have mixed views on the instruments you mention. I'm not a fan of Fazioli pianos anyway, and the VI Italian is a bit too bright for me. By contrast, their American and German grands are highly veiled, even muffled. I believe they were brand new instruments that were sampled, which was a mistake in my view, because clearly the hammers have not been cut by the strings, and so you do get a much duller sound. There is something in the VI audio processing pipeline that really seems to flatten the tone of all three instruments as well (even the Italian, in spite of its brightness). By contrast the NI Grandeur has a more recognisable American D tone, and considerable greater immediacy and clarity. Essentially, it sounds nicer.

On the other hand, the VI Labs pianos are the height of professional VST production. There are no major popouts (one or two notes on the American grate a little at times with me, but it's scarcely noticeable), partial pedalling and repedalling works well and is configurable in the interface, they have a variety of mic perspectives (not radically different to each other like the Garritan CFX, but still a welcome addition), they have all the other expected controls, and most importantly, everything works exactly as it should. That means that they are quite playable and stand up quite well to repeated scrutiny. It's just that the tone is rather uninspiring.

The NI pianos are okay, but there are minor issues with them, be it phantom tones appearing, dynamic surge on let off, pop outs, flawed partial pedalling. They're generally not bad (there are way worse cases out there), but not quite up to the production standard of the VI Labs instruments in my view. I like The Grandeur, but I find it gets wearing after a while. For what it's worth, my usage pattern for American Ds has been almost no usage of the Ivory II American D after an initial test (way too many flaws to be tolerable to my ears), almost no usage of the Production Voices Concert Grand after an initial test (realistic tone, but sounds like a recorded piano with way too much ambient noise), reasonable but decreasing use of The Grandeur, reasonable but decreasing use of the Vintage D (interesting tone, but serious lack of sustain makes it unusable for a lot of repertoire, and the pedal support is poor), and reasonable and actually increasing use of the VI Labs American Grand.
Posted By: TheodorN

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/13/18 05:01 PM

Although the three of us seem to agree on, that the VI Labs pianos are lacking, that does not apply to Ravenscroft, only the True Keys trio. I think it (Ravenscroft) is in a league of it's own, among the VI Labs pianos, and even among most other piano VSTs. I really like the tone of it, from what I've heard.
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/13/18 06:14 PM

I listened to a few of their demos and agree, the Ravenscroft sounds awesome. Clarity yet mean growling bass like a beast lurking within.

Together Garritan CFX on my list to snag when on sale. laugh
Posted By: karvala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/13/18 11:03 PM

Originally Posted by TheodorN
Although the three of us seem to agree on, that the VI Labs pianos are lacking, that does not apply to Ravenscroft, only the True Keys trio. I think it (Ravenscroft) is in a league of it's own, among the VI Labs pianos, and even among most other piano VSTs. I really like the tone of it, from what I've heard.


The Ravenscroft is certainly a step up from the three True Keys pianos, and has notably better dynamic response. It is, in other respects, very much a VI Labs piano to me, though. It has the same reliability, very high playability, but - and this is the part you may not agree with - again issues with it's tone.

I can tell you that it's had the largest downward slide in my usage of any VST; I used it the majority of the time for a short while, but I hardly use it at all now. The one and only reason is that the tone is, in my view, quite cold and with an artificial edge, at least when listened to through headphones. Maybe it's better through studio monitors? Anyway, I find the sound increasingly unpalatable, which essentially prevents me from using it. A pity, because it's very crisp and playable.
Posted By: Miko Piano

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/16/18 09:38 AM

Hello me I use the VST, I go through a kawai es110 (which does not work) connect to an audio interface and then has a vst connect to a sequencer, I use american ivory 2. I play only the classic.

   you can see the rendering on my channel.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwmGKHvijj0
Posted By: mcoll

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/17/18 02:54 PM

Just to chime in with my preferences: currently I favor Pianoteq (v6, Bluethner and Grotrian, depending on the mood and the piece); previously I played for about half a year with the CFX lite. I like both, I play classical, intermediate level. Better sound on the CFX and it's pretty much the best sampled VST I've used when it comes to playing, but not as good as PT.
Also, I want to point something out that has been disregarded: for an absolute beginner or close to that (not madshi, just speaking in general), I think it's important to play an acoustic or a standalone digital (set at a proper volume) for a significant time, until some skill is built up, habits formed, expectations set. Otherwise, I believe setting up a VST wouldn't result in the most piano-like setup possible. It may even be very far off and create poor habits and future problems. I don't believe starting on a VST is the way to go.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/17/18 08:21 PM

Originally Posted by mcoll
for an absolute beginner or close to that (not madshi, just speaking in general), I think it's important to play an acoustic or a standalone digital (set at a proper volume) for a significant time, until some skill is built up, habits formed, expectations set. Otherwise, I believe setting up a VST wouldn't result in the most piano-like setup possible. It may even be very far off and create poor habits and future problems. I don't believe starting on a VST is the way to go.

Interesting statement... Could you please elaborate on it? Do you believe it is true regardless what internal DP sound is - including cases when it kills inspiration?

Anyway, I used this weekend (in my country Fri-Sat) to try Ravenscroft 275, which I bought recently and spent in total ~6 hours with it. As a result I added it to my signature because I will definitely use it. I think I agree with people saying that in general it is better for jazz than classical but still it is very good sound and will suit some classical pieces better than even CFX lite (to my taste of course). True Keys American also sounds better than Vintage D for my ears, but I tried it only briefly and still did not decide whether I would use it regularly (it could happen that in the presence of CFX Lite and Ravenscroft it simply will not find its niche)
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/17/18 10:50 PM

Originally Posted by mcoll
I think it's important to play an acoustic or a standalone digital (set at a proper volume) for a significant time, until some skill is built up, habits formed, expectations set. Otherwise, I believe setting up a VST wouldn't result in the most piano-like setup possible. It may even be very far off and create poor habits and future problems. I don't believe starting on a VST is the way to go.

You mean because of touch curves which a beginner might set incorrectly?

I think the beginner could do the same with any internal DP sound.
Posted By: MooganDavid

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/17/18 11:54 PM

Hi I had both Ivory American Grand and Truekeys American Grand and the Truekeys piano was much much better to my ears. Just fuller more realistic and a lot more fun to play.
Posted By: Fleer

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 12:53 AM

For playability, Pianoteq for sure and preferably their subdued Blüthner.
As for samples, did you try the Digital Bechstein by ... Bechstein?
It’s in a class of its own IMO.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 08:55 AM

Originally Posted by Fleer
did you try the Digital Bechstein by ... Bechstein?

BTW Bechstein has one HUGE advantage over most (if not all) other libraries - 30-day money-back guarantee. So one who is still looking for a VST can try it risk-free (although I read one PW member's post that risk is that at the end of period you cannot imagine your further life without it, so you will not get your money back smile )
Posted By: mcoll

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 10:36 AM

Yes, I meant because of the velocity curve, dynamic range, volume, latency etc. I think it may be too much hassle for a beginner and in the absence of some experience and reference points, it may pose further problems.
It is possible to play at very low volume on a digital too and set unrealistic touch curves, but a little less likely. Possible nonetheless. With a vst, the likelihood increases many fold. I remember when I discovered vsts that I had a hard time going for a realistic setup, even when having plenty of reference points. For a standalone piano, if you use a medium curve and you keep the volume high enough (60-80%) or at a level advised by a teacher, it should be a somewhat realistic setup. Good luck getting help from most teachers concerning vst configuration.

All this being said, I haven't exactly stuck to the rules in my musical journey, and I think enjoyment is the main factor. It always was my way of doing things. Otherwise the journey might come to an untimely halt. But despite the enjoyment factor, if classical piano music is the objective, forming good habits and developing proper technique at the start is essential to progress. Otherwise one may limit himself and develop bad habits that may be hard to overcome later and even suffer injuries over time.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 11:45 AM

Originally Posted by mcoll
Yes, I meant because of the velocity curve, dynamic range, volume, latency etc. I think it may be too much hassle for a beginner and in the absence of some experience and reference points, it may pose further problems.
It is possible to play at very low volume on a digital too and set unrealistic touch curves, but a little less likely. Possible nonetheless. With a vst, the likelihood increases many fold. I remember when I discovered vsts that I had a hard time going for a realistic setup, even when having plenty of reference points. For a standalone piano, if you use a medium curve and you keep the volume high enough (60-80%) or at a level advised by a teacher, it should be a somewhat realistic setup. Good luck getting help from most teachers concerning vst configuration.

All this being said, I haven't exactly stuck to the rules in my musical journey, and I think enjoyment is the main factor. It always was my way of doing things. Otherwise the journey might come to an untimely halt. But despite the enjoyment factor, if classical piano music is the objective, forming good habits and developing proper technique at the start is essential to progress. Otherwise one may limit himself and develop bad habits that may be hard to overcome later and even suffer injuries over time.

Thank you mcoll! What you said makes a lot of sense and I will definitely take this into consideration. Although my experience so far seems to be a little different (unless I am missing another important points):
Quite often I do play my Casio without VST. Short daily practices in late evenings of working days - when I am too lazy to wait for computer and VST to start up, so I'm trying to tolerate that awful sound but to perform exercises. Other days I do have patience to wait for VST, plus I always use it in weekends. I don't feel any difference in how I play to get the same volume and dynamics (as much dynamic as I am able to make today). On standalone DP I am suggested to keep volume around 30% and depress keys better (harder, deeper?), I was often complained by teacher that I use too high volume and develop weak fingers, so I forcibly set that limit although I feel better sound at higher volume. When I switch to VST I don't change anything in my playing as I said (unless I don't realize it), volumes are less than at the middle and the only difference I feel it much better sound....
And recently I had a chance to play on a real acoustic. May be a small grand at a train station is not good reference piano, but I indeed felt that its action is heavier and I needed to apply more power to play it, but not significantly more and it took me few minutes to adjust to it. (Probably suggestion to buy PX-760 instead of YDP S31 for its key action that I got here on PW was right one ! smile )
Posted By: mcoll

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 12:29 PM

Originally Posted by Granyala
Originally Posted by mcoll
I think it's important to play an acoustic or a standalone digital (set at a proper volume) for a significant time, until some skill is built up, habits formed, expectations set. Otherwise, I believe setting up a VST wouldn't result in the most piano-like setup possible. It may even be very far off and create poor habits and future problems. I don't believe starting on a VST is the way to go.

You mean because of touch curves which a beginner might set incorrectly?

I think the beginner could do the same with any internal DP sound.


Granyala, I think your point was just proven here:

Originally Posted by michaelvi
On standalone DP I am suggested to keep volume around 30% and depress keys better (harder, deeper?), I was often complained by teacher that I use too high volume and develop weak fingers, so I forcibly set that limit although I feel better sound at higher volume.


The DP set up "incorrectly" with the internal sounds, at the teacher's advice. Q.E.D.
I say "incorrectly", because I have no way of knowing for sure how loud it is, but no DP I ever tried produced a realistic volume at 30%. Nor would I know what "key-hardness" is set. Generally 60-80% seemed like a good target volume, on medium velocity or slightly harder. And for that matter, a teacher with whom I once took some lessons kept her DP (an old Yamaha with a GH action) turned down unrealistically low. Made it very weird to play.
Personally, I try to set a realistic volume, otherwise my feeling of playing a piano goes away, and the dynamic range should not be exagerated. I have seen some playing the CFX with 80% dynamic range. That seems way off to me. 30-40% feels more normal. The same goes for Pianoteq. With extreme values, piano notes are almost hard to hear and forte is blaring. Maybe that only works for recording where one might use a compressor afterwards. But I have no experience with that stuff so I'm simply guessing.
Anyway, those are my personal impressions, they may be wrong just as well smile
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 01:11 PM

Thank you mcoll,
it is not first time that I see that my experience with DP sound and my teacher suggestions contradict with other people experience. Probably the best way for me to resolve this dilemma is to get access to a real acoustic from time to time, as you suggested. I am working on it (no, I don't mean that I am working on getting access to that Steinway in our concert hall smile )
Posted By: mcoll

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 01:43 PM

Yes, I think having the chance to play from time to time on decent grands is the best way to go about this. And trying to get your setup to behave fairly similarly. But it's not a perfect method, nor is it accessible to everybody.
Don't discard the Steinway so quickly.. Who knows :))
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 02:20 PM

Originally Posted by mcoll
Don't discard the Steinway so quickly.. Who knows :))
smile
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 02:55 PM

I never had troubles setting up realistic volume with my VSTs. Nor did I have problems with velocity curves. (Problems solving the latency issue, yes. Other problems, no. I found it quite easy.)

If ... if volume setting is somehow seen as difficult, why would it be any more so with a VST? Twist a knob! Do it right, or do it wrong. It's the same with a VST as with a standalone piano.

And how can we say that 30% volume setting on the piano is correct? Or how can we say that 80% is correct? Some pianos have big speakers, some have little ones. So have high-power amps, some low power. Some play in a small room, some in a large room.

Even if the right sonic result can be imagined, there surely is not one volume setting on all pianos in all rooms under all circumstances that will suit. So just twist the knob until you get a satisfactory result.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 03:12 PM

@MacMacMac it seems that the ability to "just twist the knob" is source of the problem: a beginners don't know when they are supposed to twist knob and when they should stop doing it and rather adjust their playing. A real acoustic doesn't have that knob, so it can serve as a "reference" as what sound power should be produced by what key presses. Yes of course there are different acoustics, different rooms, etc. but still DP (and here I agree with you that the VST to the same extent) has much wider range, so a beginner can (at least theoretically) go out of realistic range twisting knob to minimum or to maximum, develop their habits to that setup and later find it difficult to get similar result on an acoustic. Not my experience (I don't have any), but here I agree with mcoll at least theoretically
Posted By: www.allpianos.com

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 03:41 PM

The best all round virtual pian is by far Ravenscroft if you ask me. I used to have Alicias Keys which has a nice soft touch that could also work well which the composers you mentioned.
Posted By: Granyala

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 06:49 PM

Originally Posted by mcoll
no DP I ever tried produced a realistic volume at 30%.

I just set the volume at a level where I flinch when I smack a key because the harshness in timbre and the loudness snaps at me.
Then I leave it there and let it punish me when I misstep.

That way, Pianoteq felt/feels just like the Kawai acoustic grand I tried in the shop.

As for the touch curves: I probably set the VPC1 (when I finally get it, apparently Kawai can't deliver until march <_< ) to it's pre-configured curve for pianoteq and subsequently never think about touch curves again.
Latency will probably end up at 10ms, that way I can still let video games run in the background and quickly play while I wait for dungeon invites. I could probably push it down further but I am far too lazy for the "close all programs / unneeded services" routine.

To be honest: I think the standard presets are good enough, nowadays, that no beginner should experience problems. If you tinker, you always do so at your own risk. VST or internal.
Posted By: michaelvi

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? - 02/18/18 07:56 PM

Originally Posted by Granyala
I just set the volume at a level where I flinch when I smack a key because the harshness in timbre and the loudness snaps at me.
Then I leave it there and let it punish me when I misstep.

Nice recipe. I don't have authority to convince my teacher (and my wife also) but I am close to schedule a session in our conservatory. After few sessions I hope I will either accept their point of view or feel like having a power to argue smile

Originally Posted by Granyala
To be honest: I think the standard presets are good enough, nowadays, that no beginner should experience problems. If you tinker, you always do so at your own risk. VST or internal.

I also feel so. I was trying to "improve" sound of Vintage D this way without much success. I now understand that it is what it is and sounds as it should. But I feel no need to play with settings of CFX Lite or Ravenscroft smile (Just switching different presets is more than enough, now I just need to choose right one for practicing)
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