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Posted By: David Lai My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 01:09 AM
Hi friends!
After fumbling around with some tech, here I am to give you a picture of my thoughts after playing with the standard library of Synchron Steinway D for a couple of hours!
First, the installation and all that jazz before playing. Most of this I can do on my own without sighted assistance, but the e-licensing software installer is not so accessible. Luckily, it was just a few words, so my mom who can only read letters could still click "Next" for me. The library installation and license activation was flawless, and I managed to find the Synchron Pianos standalone software player after a little bit of exploring on the official website.
Now, to actually setting up. The Preferences page was the only thing my screen reader could detect, and I couldn't tell which options are selected and which are not. So I guessed around in setting my midi inputs: I set SL-88Grand as my input device, and I set windows audio as my output device since my audio interface is still at FedEx. Then, after running a tool to get OCR (optical character recognition) browsing, I was able to access some of the provided presets. And then I loaded the player preset.
I had hoped to hear a full-bodied piano sound with all that rich tone and resonance that only a Steinway D could deliver. Instead what I heard was less than perfect: in the loud notes it sounds as if the mid and low frequencies are cut off, and it also sounds like that the microphones have phasing issues, canceling out each other's frequencies. I double checked with a friend and he told me that that's not what the default presets should sound like out of the box. So I'm not sure if it's due to the fact that I don't have an audio interface and was using what ever my Dell laptop had as my direct sound device. Someone on here previously pointed out to me that Dell is playing audio and running it through some sort of a DSP engine and I can't turn it off. Perhaps that is exactly the problem that I'm dealing with. But until this gets solved, I can't use this Steinway normally.
However, the playability is simply amazing, I think even better than the galaxy vintage D! I will update more when my audio interface arrives and I can have a chance to get audio pumping there. I hope that's my side of the issue and have nothing to do with the VSL Steinway!
I wish I could attach an audio clip, but I'm not sure how to do that. However, I've sent the audio clip of me playing some random things to VSL support. Hopefully I can get an email from them tomorrow.
So much for now. I still want to say that it's among the best libraries I've ever played, but this sound problem is driving me into a state of confusion. Maybe this has only happened to me? I don't know, but you can judge everything for yourself.
So much for now, look forward to the audio interface in a day or two so I can write some more here!
Good night!
David
Posted By: minstrelman Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 03:38 AM
I have the Standard version as well.

"and it also sounds like that the microphones have phasing issues, canceling out each other's frequencies"

I am no expert.
here are my thoughts.
and this is sooooo very super subjective.
and the speaker/sound system equipment one plays through, is a huge factor.
and of course what kind of stuff you're playing, and are you playing solo or is it in a mix with other instruments, and so on.

so what I say, may apply to me, and me only.

all that said,
perhaps try turning the Reverb channel off.
also turn off the Room Mic channel.
(the first and last channels.)

also, try playing only 1 mic channel, by itself.
I like the mid 1 mic channel.
and kind of like the condenser channel.
and I like them so much, that I will probably keep it.
(I'm still within the 14 day return window.)
and am thinking about trying the Full version.
Posted By: johnstaf Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 03:51 AM
Unless you have two spaced mics summed together you won't get phasing. If each mic in a pair is panned hard left and right, they can't interfere with each other.

If you have two mic pairs that are close to each other open at the same time, the two right mics are summed and the two left mics are summed, so phasing is possible. I don't think this is going to happen with the standard version. It is possible with the full version as you have multiple mic pairs close to each other.

Is it possible that you switched something to mono? This will cause phasing as the mic pars are spaced (except for the stereo ribbon in the full version).
Posted By: Harpuia Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 07:45 AM
David,

I really respect you as a pianist who is visually impacted. I had a couple of VSTs (VSL, Garritan CFX, Pianoteq) and I think playability wise VSL and Pianoteq are the best. While VSL sounds so much more authentic than Pianoteq. Many people have pointed that the particular Steinway piano that VSL has sampled is a bright concert grand. Maybe this piano is just voiced to be powerful when playing with the orchestra. The condenser close mic in the standard preset is also having a lot of hammer sound. However, I don’t hear phasing issues when I play mics separately. Personally VSL Steinway and CFX are the best VSTs among al the VSTs I own. I don’t use other VSTs quite often now. Personally I think VSL is so flexible that the out of box setting is typically not the best and I also feel underwhelming at the beginning. But it grows on me.

I saw in other posts that you were practicing Prokofiev Sonata No.4 and you have access to many Steinway grand pianos in the practice room. Since you must be an advanced player and have usual access to acoustic grand pianos, I’m curious on how you will rate your current digital practicing solutions in terms of action, sound, playability and control, compared to the acoustic grands. What do you feel good about practicing on a digital instrument and what is the biggest gap?
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 08:25 AM
Originally Posted by Harpuia
David,

I really respect you as a pianist who is visually impacted. I had a couple of VSTs (VSL, Garritan CFX, Pianoteq) and I think playability wise VSL and Pianoteq are the best. While VSL sounds so much more authentic than Pianoteq. Many people have pointed that the particular Steinway piano that VSL has sampled is a bright concert grand. Maybe this piano is just voiced to be powerful when playing with the orchestra. The condenser close mic in the standard preset is also having a lot of hammer sound. However, I don’t hear phasing issues when I play mics separately. Personally VSL Steinway and CFX are the best VSTs among al the VSTs I own. I don’t use other VSTs quite often now. Personally I think VSL is so flexible that the out of box setting is typically not the best and I also feel underwhelming at the beginning. But it grows on me.

I saw in other posts that you were practicing Prokofiev Sonata No.4 and you have access to many Steinway grand pianos in the practice room. Since you must be an advanced player and have usual access to acoustic grand pianos, I’m curious on how you will rate your current digital practicing solutions in terms of action, sound, playability and control, compared to the acoustic grands. What do you feel good about practicing on a digital instrument and what is the biggest gap?
Hi!
First of all, it was his Sonata No. 3 that I was practicing. But yeah. When I could get access to practice rooms, it was very convenient, and most of the Steinway pianos that I get to practice our tuned OK. but I also practice on a midi keyboard, mainly for convenience, but also, I believe the SL-88Grand is good at re-creating that grand piano playing experience. For me, the most important thing about the action is the firmness and the weight. I think this keyboard has just the right combination of both, not too heavy, and at the same time very firm.
What I find lacking in other sample library’s that this particular Steinway has is the many layers of velocity, and the fact that I could make classical recordings and they would sound authentic. Also, I really enjoy the Steinway tone, and this piano is able to provide that for me. that being said, it is a bit of a bright piano, but I think if I don’t use the condenser mics, I can also achieve a good well-rounded sound with mid microphones and things like that. That being said, at the moment I can’t mute other microphones, or mix them. I also can’t grab a file from windows explorer and open it with the Synchron Pianos software to quickly dial in custom settings. I can only load up the options out of the box.
I have figured out a way to upload the audio file onto Google drive. See if you are able to hear this. This is me playing random stuff just to try things out, and also to show you what the situation is. Hope this helps!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VaJSCUK4oe6AdtBobMDUPSO5ogI3RoBr/view?usp=drivesdk
Posted By: johnstaf Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 08:33 AM
There is a phase problem here. I wonder if you've narrowed the stereo somewhere. My VSL Steinway doesn't sound like this at all. This reminds me of old FM synthesis pianos.
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 10:39 AM
Originally Posted by johnstaf
There is a phase problem here. I wonder if you've narrowed the stereo somewhere. My VSL Steinway doesn't sound like this at all. This reminds me of old FM synthesis pianos.

I didn't do anything to it. I just loaded the player preset out of the box. So not sure what's going on here -- and I can't do anything to it -- none of the microphone controls are accessible by a screen reader, and even this preset loading had to be done in a complicated kind of way. I had also taken this to VSL Support.
In terms of accessibility, the best I've played with so far is Garritan CFX Concert Grand in the aria player, and the worst is Ravenscroft 275 in the UVI Workstation. Kontakt is bad at the beginning and setting up, but it gets good when things are set up and all I need to do is to load up an NKI from Windows Explorer and start playing in the software.
Posted By: johnstaf Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 11:44 AM
Yes it's best to contact VSL. It's very strange. I hope they sort out something for you.
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 01:55 PM
I contacted VSL Support, and as always, the very kind and sweet Andreas answered my email! He told me that that is certainly not the sound I should hear from the library, but he is not sure what happened that led to me hearing the sound like this. He suggests using a sequencer and saving a project file, as he told me that I can't use the Windows Explorer, browse to a .vsynpreset file and point the Synchron Pianos to open it. That's a shame, all other pianos support that!!!
Do I really have to start using a sequencer? I've never used one before, and most of them are very hard to learn... That's why I always use things standalone, as all I do is browse, load and play. If I need to record, I open Audacity or GoldWave and just record live.
This is interesting...
I offered if he wouldn't mind taking a look at stuff through Team Viewer, for example. Let's see how he would respond, but still this kind of sound is not the Steinway sound I'm looking for. Apart from that, all the rest of this library fits my expectations perfectly! It's a shame!!!
Posted By: VladK Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 02:30 PM
Is it possible that you accidentally pushed a delay button for one of Synchron mics?
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 02:36 PM
Originally Posted by VladK
Is it possible that you accidentally pushed a delay button for one of Synchron mics?

I don't know... Maybe during the exploring which part could load something part I triggered something by accident? Not sure.
If anyone is interested, we can schedule a Team Viewer session, and if you are in the States, we can connect through the phone, if you so choose. PM me to set it up. Thanks! smile
Posted By: slobajudge Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 03:30 PM
If your VSL Steinway sounds live like your recording here, then there is definitely something wrong with your hardware or software setup. No piano VST sounds like that today especially top notch plugin. I think you need to learn to use DAW for your playing and recordings and insert plugin through it. For basic functions like playing and recording they are not hard to learn. It has lots of benefits especially for recordings.
Posted By: Harpuia Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 03:53 PM
David are you playing this VST using a studio monitor? Wondering if anything related to the speaker?
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 03:58 PM
To answer questions above, no it has nothing to do with my speakers as they usually work pretty good. I think either it's because I don't have an audio interface and now I'm just using my laptop's built in audio capabilities, or some kind of settings I didn't know I have triggered. The audio interface is on its way here and I just realized that I don't have the correct cables to connect the audio interface to my speakers, so it'll be a few days before I can really discover any change to the sound via an audio interface.
My speakers are KRK Rokit5 G4's, and the audio interface I'm getting will be MOTU M2.
To reply to two posts above about digital audio workstations, can you recommend an easy-to-set up and use, as well as a free software that I can try out right now to see if anything happens? Many thanks! smile
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 04:00 PM
Originally Posted by slobajudge
If your VSL Steinway sounds live like your recording here, then there is definitely something wrong with your hardware or software setup. No piano VST sounds like that today especially top notch plugin. I think you need to learn to use DAW for your playing and recordings and insert plugin through it. For basic functions like playing and recording they are not hard to learn. It has lots of benefits especially for recordings.

Yes, it does sound like that right now! Other than that it's very playable and I love it so much!!! If this problem can be solved, I'll keep this library.
Posted By: EVC2017 Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 04:56 PM
David, probably you know that but, anyway, install the drivers of Motu, do not trust Windows to do it. I learned that the hard way with my Yamaha AG06. The interface did work with the drivers windows installed but it took me a while until I realized there was no ASIO support for the AG06. The input and output functions of the interface worked but latency was terrible.
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 05:04 PM
Originally Posted by EVC2017
David, probably you know that but, anyway, install the drivers of Motu, do not trust Windows to do it. I learned that the hard way with my Yamaha AG06. The interface did work with the drivers windows installed but it took me a while until I realized there was no ASIO support for the AG06. The input and output functions of the interface worked but latency was terrible.

Then how do I do it, may I ask? And how to make sure that everything is running smoothly on my Windows computer?
Due to the fact I don't have the required cables for my speakers to be connected, I won't start exploring audio possibilities with the M2 until I can get a TRS to XLR cable purchased.
Posted By: Ken Knapp Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 05:50 PM
David Lai, you have your personal email in your post. This could get you a lot of smam in your email. Would you rather ask that people send you a private message so that you won't have to endure a lot of worthless email?
Posted By: EVC2017 Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 06:16 PM
David, I cannot talk about VSL (others can certainly help you with its specifities), but with Pianoteq, you can choose the output interface. When you choose ASIO on Pteq, it shows the available interfaces, AG06 and ASIO4ALL (actually not anymore because I uninstalled it).

In the other topic of yours about latency you posted the configuration panel of ASIO4ALL, if Motu's drivers are ASIO compliant, VSL will probably show Motu ASIO and you will be able to configure buffer size there, amongst other things.

While the cables to connect the external speakers do not arrive, you may use the headphone output of Motu.
Posted By: VladK Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 06:21 PM
IMO, in David's situation I would keep setup as easy as possible and avoid adding DAW just to run Steinway as plugin.

David,

I doubt this can be caused by soundcard or monitors if, say, youtube sounds good.
It might be caused by accidental changes to Synchron preset setup (mic mix, delay, reverb), or by duplication of MIDI input or audio output routing somewhere. Does this happen with all presets? If yes, then the problem lies not with screwed up preset setting, but somewhere else, and routing is the most likely suspect IMO.

Are you sure all other VI (Aria, KONTAKT, etc.) are closed completely?

Can you check Synchron settings for audio and midi in menu item File/Preferences?

Have you tried the last resort - uninstall Synchron Pianos (software only), and perform a clean install again?
Posted By: slobajudge Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 06:24 PM
Originally Posted by David Lai
To reply to two posts above about digital audio workstations, can you recommend an easy-to-set up and use, as well as a free software that I can try out right now to see if anything happens? Many thanks! smile

The best free solution is fully functional for 60 days Cockos Reaper DAW (It will work even after 60 days), it is among the best DAW with minimal size and many many users. There are lots of videos for Reaper and you can learn very quickly basic functions. Till your audio interface come, install first Asio4all driver if you didn`t already. The first time you start Reaper it will popup window for audio setup and then you can chose Asio4all driver. In options-preferences, tab left - VST point to folder where your VSL Steinway dll file is. It is probably in C:\Program Files\VSTPlugins or default C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins (see at first is this location is already set in Reaper by default). After that go to Insert-Virtual instrument on new track. Locate in Reaper window your piano and it will load on track. To see your piano click green button FX. With little curiosity you will easy find all you need after that. For recording, etc you have button functions under instruments with mixer under that. I hope that this very short tutorial will help you.
Posted By: slobajudge Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 06:33 PM
And not to forget, in Options-Preferences, left tab Audio (Midi devices), enable your midi for DP in the top right window.
Posted By: Boboulus Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 06:46 PM
I think I would try to delete and reinstall and see if that helps. Maybe you tested this already?
Posted By: David28 Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 06:58 PM
I managed to get sounds something along these lines with VSL when I had a Kontakt library loaded at the same time (the tone - unfortunately my playing is nowhere near your level!). It happened once, and I haven't been able to replicate it ... not much help, but my gut says this is a software or driver issue rather than a setting in the Synchron player.
Posted By: David B Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 07:09 PM
I didn't catch what midi controller you're using, but did you turn off the Local Control so that the native sounds are shutoff?

God Bless,
David
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 07:47 PM
Hi friends! Wow, a lot of useful replies!!!
First of all, one of you is concerned for me getting spam on my email. Well, to be honest, the private message feature here, though good, can't give me instant notifications when I do receive a private message. And though I might check posts back here, I might not notice that unread message icon. On the contrary, an instant notification on my phone for new emails will permit me to respond quickly and effectively if need to. I will modify this once things get solved or what ever, so don't you worry for me!
I also believe keeping things simple is a good option, but I'll take the DAW into consideration for, say, convenient loading of presets, ETC.
This recording was made only with the Synchron Piano player running, and I have GoldWave on recording. I've reinstalled the software and the sound is the same, unfortunately.
I have just selected 2 cables for the MOTU, when they arrive, which will have completed my midi / audio gear upgrade, I can then test out the Steinway and see if this changes anything. I hope I will still be within the 14-day window!
I'm using a StudioLogic SL-88Grand, a midi keyboard with a TP40W action.
Thanks very much for all your suggestions! I love being here and hearing from all of you, as well as trying things that may make my experiences better. Keep the replies coming!
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 07:48 PM
Originally Posted by slobajudge
Originally Posted by David Lai
To reply to two posts above about digital audio workstations, can you recommend an easy-to-set up and use, as well as a free software that I can try out right now to see if anything happens? Many thanks! smile

The best free solution is fully functional for 60 days Cockos Reaper DAW (It will work even after 60 days), it is among the best DAW with minimal size and many many users. There are lots of videos for Reaper and you can learn very quickly basic functions. Till your audio interface come, install first Asio4all driver if you didn`t already. The first time you start Reaper it will popup window for audio setup and then you can chose Asio4all driver. In options-preferences, tab left - VST point to folder where your VSL Steinway dll file is. It is probably in C:\Program Files\VSTPlugins or default C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins (see at first is this location is already set in Reaper by default). After that go to Insert-Virtual instrument on new track. Locate in Reaper window your piano and it will load on track. To see your piano click green button FX. With little curiosity you will easy find all you need after that. For recording, etc you have button functions under instruments with mixer under that. I hope that this very short tutorial will help you.

So what's the difference before and after the 60 days?
Posted By: VladK Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 08:09 PM
David, I am not familiar with GoldWave. But anyway, is it possible that phasing occurs because Synchron audio output has 2 simultaneous routes:
- Synchron directly to audio driver;
- Synchron to GoldWave to audio driver.

This can be seen from Synchron Pianos menu: open File/Preferences, click on Audio Routing tab, and choose 'Output' in 'Show:' dropdown.
How many output channels/buses do you see there?
Posted By: slobajudge Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 08:11 PM
Originally Posted by David Lai
So what's the difference before and after the 60 days?

In both cases it will work and it will ask for a license for couple of seconds and then work normal or you will bought a license to remove nag screen or uninstalled.
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 08:42 PM
Originally Posted by VladK
David, I am not familiar with GoldWave. But anyway, is it possible that phasing occurs because Synchron audio output has 2 simultaneous routes:
- Synchron directly to audio driver;
- Synchron to GoldWave to audio driver.

This can be seen from Synchron Pianos menu: open File/Preferences, click on Audio Routing tab, and choose 'Output' in 'Show:' dropdown.
How many output channels/buses do you see there?

Well it says output 2, and it has output channel 1 and output channel 2, that's all.
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/20/20 08:42 PM
Originally Posted by slobajudge
Originally Posted by David Lai
So what's the difference before and after the 60 days?

In both cases it will work and it will ask for a license for couple of seconds and then work normal or you will bought a license to remove nag screen or uninstalled.

I see. Well, I tested it out just now and the effect is exactly the same, so I uninstalled it. smile
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/26/20 01:23 AM
Hi friends!
Today I got the audio interface and, unfortunately it looks the audio problem still exists. I have made a new thread about it and I've also offered my guesses, as well as a call for help. Hopefully I can still get to keep my VSL Steinway! Thanks!

http://forum.pianoworld.com//ubbthreads.php/topics/2983911.html#Post2983911
Posted By: MooganDavid Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/26/20 03:15 AM
David Cantabile free version worked for me to start off with . Nice job on Italian Concerto but something definitely ain't right. Don't worry about speakers for testing the motu just use headphones for now. Do you have your output paths set right and your sample rates and buffers set right. Try taking midi off omni Good luck MooganDavid
Posted By: David Lai Re: My first few hours with VSL Steinway - 05/26/20 07:02 AM
Originally Posted by MooganDavid
David Cantabile free version worked for me to start off with . Nice job on Italian Concerto but something definitely ain't right. Don't worry about speakers for testing the motu just use headphones for now. Do you have your output paths set right and your sample rates and buffers set right. Try taking midi off omni Good luck MooganDavid

Hi! Yeah, the Italian Concerto is one of my favourite compositions of Bach, and certainly among his unique offerings.
No, the headphone outputs require an adapter. All my plugs are 3.5mm (eighth of an inch), but all the plugs on here are 6.35mm (0.25 inches, which is quarter of an inch). I don't have an adapter. So now the M2 is useless, except I could ask the recording software to do a loopback, so I did and it sounded the same. I believe I have the midi output set to ASIO's MOTU M series.
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