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Hello,

I hope this is the right forum for my topic:
I’m an advanced but not a professional piano player, with classical education, lot of experience with gospel and pop, but meanwhile jazz is my main passion.
In the past I used to play acoustic pianos but mostly my old electric Yamaha P 250.

I’m completely new to VST pianos. Just bought Garritan CFX lite and compared it to Addictive Keys Grand and Pianoteq 7 demos. With my 7-8 years old Win 10 Lenovo laptop (i5, 8 GB, SSD) and my Motu M2 I have no problems with CFX lite (64 samples at 44.1 kHz) with respect to crackling or latency. (For pianoteq and addictive keys I need 128 samples buffering).

So far, I’ve spent about 2 hours playing, but several hours reading posts in different forums. And I’m surprised that my first impression of CFX lite doesn't match “perfectly” what I had expected regarding tons of good reviews. So here are my points:

1) The default preset has a lot of reverb. Meanwhile I know the other posts about it in this forum, but I have one more annoying aspect to add. As we know it’s not the reverb option that leads to the reverb but the room / release decay. So I can turn it down. Or use something like the “dry score” preset. BUT: All these setting options have no effect on the 1,5 highest octaves! So with the drier presets or settings you get a big jump between the keys where the settings take effect and those where it has no effect. The result is completely uneven, unnatural and unusable. Or rather, I have to take care not to use the upper keys while playing. I have never read anything about it in the internet so I’m confused, because, as mentioned, I have spent only a very short time with CFX lite. Am I doing something wrong?

2) The presets … Pianoteq bringt a lot of useful presets, focused on different room and recording options. CFX lite has its focus on rather bright / harsh sounds and presets I would call gimmick. I love a rather mellow and dry sound.

3) Especially with headphones the c’’’ sounds “louder” than the neighbouring keys, almost hurts me when I play around it. Depending on the preset the affected key can vary slightly, with softer settings this is, for example, the b’’. Is that a special resonance of the original CFX or a sampling error? Maybe the original Yamaha CFX is so inhomogeneous. Addictive Keys or Pianoteq don’t have differences between neighbouring keys like that.

4) With some presets like “dry scoring” I recognize a big “jump” between forte and fortissimo velocity layers around c’.

(Pianoteq: Very homogeneous and easy to play, but sounds a bit artificial in the middle / lower octaves to my ears.
Addictive keys: homogenous, drier and softer, maybe a bit boring – can’t express it better).

So my questions are:
- Is there anything I’m doing wrong? I think I understood all setting options, tried different headphones, etc. So I have run out of ideas.
- Would the full version of CFX fix some of my problems?
- Is there a (not too expensive and resource-hungry) vst piano that could better meet my needs?

Thank you!!
Chris

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Hi Chris,

Part of what you are noticing may be stereo pair mics that can have some phasing effects which are difficult to resolve. The Extra mics in CFX Full help bury that.

Different headphones will also emphasize different frequencies.

I think the classic>default is the most popular piano here, with some minor tweaks:

- CyberGene pedal mod
- Boosting dynamic range to say 70%+
- Stereo image to performer
- Disable the Master limit button (I don't think this is applicable for the CFX Lite)

You might try reducing the St. Width dial to say 12 O'Clock

With CFX Full you might reduce ambient mic "volume" too

The on-line user manual is quite helpful
https://usermanuals.garritan.com/CFXConcertGrand/Content/main_view.htm

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Bear in mind that in the acoustic piano from which the samples are recorded, the upper approx 1.5 octaves do not have dampers. So, those strings are likely to add more uncontrolled resonances and reverb to the recorded samples.

Personally, I found the differences between Garritan CFX and Garritan CFX Lite to be so great that one could easily fail to identify them as related absent prior knowledge. If you purchase the upgrade to full version, Garritan CFX becomes very nice.

I differ from many here, in that I prefer the "Player-Full" set of samples over the Classic, as the mid range takes on a lovely, rich, mellow sound, and the fundamental tones are beautiful. There are pan settings for the mic combinations that greatly help achieve this effect. Search for my earlier (approx. two months ago) thread titled "It's in the pan" or something similar for the details.

The excessive reverb you hear is from the Ambient microphones, which, I believe are not adjustable in CFX Lite. You need CFX full to get the controls allowing you to dial back the Ambient mics. I think most of us turn off all reverb as the reverb embedded in the close and ambient mics is more than sufficient.


Ralph

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What Ralph said.

Also, on point 3) I discovered about half a dozen quiet notes in CFX full. Not sure if these affect all mics or just my preferred settings. I’m currently using Reaper to apply a midi velocity gain correction to those specific notes - so they blend in better with the volume of the neighbouring notes.

Last edited by Showpan2; 04/16/21 02:27 PM.
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Apparently this is the right forum for my topis :-). Thanks a lot for the great answers.

Of course the upper range without dampers has a different reverb. But with specific settings this jump sounded unnatural to me.

In gernal I got used to it and even started to like it over the past few days.

One question to what Ralph said:
Ralph pointed out that with the full version I can reduce reverb by getting direct access to the amound of reverb resulting from the ambient micro samples. However, according to the Gharritan website the full version offers the ambient samples additionally. I interpreted it in such a way that with the full version I could get only more reverb, not less. So are the samples in the lite version the pure close mics samples (as dscribed on the Garritan website) or a mixture of close and ambient? In the first case, the full version wouldn't bring me the desired effect. Except that my laptop will eventually glow (only older i5 and 8 GB RAM, not exendable).

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The reverb is in the samples. They were recorded with this amount of ambiance reverb. You can't reduce that. I have the ful version, with reverb off and ambient mics off. The level of reverb is still too much for me. It depends.... I finally prefer a dry piano sound with a reverb that I can tweak to my needs.

Globally, the Garritan CFX is a disappointement for me.
Most of time, I play Pianoteq.

If you like the CFX sound and prefer sampled sound, NOIRE from Native instrument could be a good choice, but it doesn't have Unacorda samples, not a great problem...

Last edited by stamkorg; 04/18/21 04:22 AM.
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Yo
Originally Posted by Ralphiano
I differ from many here, in that I prefer the "Player-Full" set of samples over the Classic, as the mid range takes on a lovely, rich, mellow sound, and the fundamental tones are beautiful.

You are not alone!

I even started to appreciate the contemporary set as well, while before I had discarded it as the least of the 3, but the player set is still my favorite.

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Yes, I know that the reverb is in the samples. But "newer piano" and Ralph wrote that the full version would help me to get more control of the reverb in order to reduce it. But from my understanding I can only get even more reverb with the full version, since I get the additional ambient samples, which are not included in the lite version.
So the only chance for getting less reverb in the full version is the player perspective, as I suppose. Right?

So I have to decide between the full version and a complete other vst. NI Noire was suggested bei U3piano which I had already on my top list. Are there any other good options for jazz piano and a rather dry, warm and mellow sound as default?

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Ravenscroft by VILabs!

It has a harspsichord-piano kinda sound; very immediate and responsive; and it lacks the overdone reverb; not to mention that it is tiny by comparison (6GB).

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....since you mentioned ‘jazz piano’.......


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Yes ravenscroft should be great for jazz. Also i think vsl's 280VC probably is as well, but for it to be warm you do need the full version, which sounds much warmer than the standard version.

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Chris888: I have both Lite and Full on separate computers. If you are interested, I can render the same MIDI file in both versions (will use the dryest preset).

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I bought the light version and it was unplayable. I upgraded for a low price at Sweetwater and the difference was vast. I recommend the full version in player mode, but would never recommend the light version.


Jazz piano Instructor. Technical Editor for Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book". Studied with Mark Levine, Art Lande & Mark Isham (1981-1990). Also: Barry Harris & Monty Alexander (1993-present)
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Originally Posted by Ralphiano
Bear in mind that in the acoustic piano from which the samples are recorded, the upper approx 1.5 octaves do not have dampers. So, those strings are likely to add more uncontrolled resonances and reverb to the recorded samples.

Personally, I found the differences between Garritan CFX and Garritan CFX Lite to be so great that one could easily fail to identify them as related absent prior knowledge. If you purchase the upgrade to full version, Garritan CFX becomes very nice.

I differ from many here, in that I prefer the "Player-Full" set of samples over the Classic, as the mid range takes on a lovely, rich, mellow sound, and the fundamental tones are beautiful. There are pan settings for the mic combinations that greatly help achieve this effect. Search for my earlier (approx. two months ago) thread titled "It's in the pan" or something similar for the details.

The excessive reverb you hear is from the Ambient microphones, which, I believe are not adjustable in CFX Lite. You need CFX full to get the controls allowing you to dial back the Ambient mics. I think most of us turn off all reverb as the reverb embedded in the close and ambient mics is more than sufficient.

An excellent summary, which Completely matches my observations.


Jazz piano Instructor. Technical Editor for Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book". Studied with Mark Levine, Art Lande & Mark Isham (1981-1990). Also: Barry Harris & Monty Alexander (1993-present)
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Originally Posted by Chris888
But from my understanding I can only get even more reverb with the full version, since I get the additional ambient samples, which are not included in the lite version.
So the only chance for getting less reverb in the full version is the player perspective, as I suppose. Right?
The full version adds ambient mics to the Full>Classic>Default. Adding the ambient mics increases room effects but reduces the phasing issues IMHO. The ambient mics are very wet, so I reduce their volume a lot.

Also, adding more mics boosts the noise floor a bit.

Note, the CFX Full provides additional mics to try. I like the CFX Full a lot more than CFX Lite.

But for people that did not like CFX Lite, I don't know if upgrading to CFX Full changed a lot of opinions. The piano, room, recording and scripting don't really change between the versions.

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Originally Posted by Chris888
Yes, I know that the reverb is in the samples. But "newer piano" and Ralph wrote that the full version would help me to get more control of the reverb in order to reduce it. But from my understanding I can only get even more reverb with the full version, since I get the additional ambient samples, which are not included in the lite version.
So the only chance for getting less reverb in the full version is the player perspective, as I suppose. Right?

So I have to decide between the full version and a complete other vst. NI Noire was suggested bei U3piano which I had already on my top list. Are there any other good options for jazz piano and a rather dry, warm and mellow sound as default?

What I was hoping to convey was that in the Full version the ambient microphones provide a lot of room reverb. And the close mics provide a small amount of reverb, as well. So, with equal amounts of input from the close mics and the ambient mics, your sound will be awash with reverb. The Full version, however, features a volume level control for the ambient mics, which can be used to turn those mics WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY down, to a level where the overall reverb is at least not distracting, and, even nice sounding.

Perhaps a better way to say what I wanted to say is, the reverb in the Full version is very controllable, mainly by dialing it down. First, you can decline to add any reverb settings, which still leaves you with the ample reverb recorded within the samples. Then, since the ambient mics are the largest source of the remaining reverb, you can dial back the ambient mics to very low levels so that the combination of close mics and ambient mics provides a level of reverb you like. As an example, I leave the close mic at about -5db, but dial back the ambient mic all the way to -40db. The reverb, at this level, is very natural, not distracting, and enjoyable. And, they can be dialed back even more than I do.

So, I cannot really say whether the level of room reverb in Full can be made less than in Lite. I just don't remember the reverb experience in Lite well enough to comment on that.

I apologze if I was sloppy in the way I wrote. I do not remember how much reverb was in the CFX Lite sound, as, I never looked back once I upgraded to the Full version. And, excess reverb was not the reason I struggled with CFX Lite. Rather, I was more bothered by its brittle, bright, clangy sound, and that is what I was focused on when I upgraded to Full

In addition to the above, if you make those pan adjustments I mentioned in my earlier post, along with using the Player-Full sample set (instead of Classic-Full) you can achieve a very nice, mellow sound in the piano's upper bass to treble range. These tweaks are what moved me from being very frustrated with Garritan CFX to liking it very much.

Last edited by Ralphiano; 04/18/21 03:25 PM.

Ralph

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“Brittle, bright, clanging sound “ sums up Lite. Full is quite nice. Go to the Youtube comparisons And you can hear people play it against Ravenscroft, ivory, Vienna etc. Garritan Full is warmer in the mids and highs, IMO.

I believe Player Mode is the best perspective set in Full Garritan. Classical sounds like it’s a ways away in a rather big concert setting, fine for film soundtrack work, but not so much for intimate solo piano work.


Jazz piano Instructor. Technical Editor for Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book". Studied with Mark Levine, Art Lande & Mark Isham (1981-1990). Also: Barry Harris & Monty Alexander (1993-present)
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I'm really overwhelmed by all of your valuable posts, thanks a lot!

I have now

- NI Noire
- Ravenscroft 275
- Garritan CFX Full Upgrade

on my list. All of these sound very different so maybe I may need them all in time :-). I can make the order dependent on future special offers, with Garritan's full upgrade for 80$ being almost a no-brainer. (Neglecting possible follow-up costs due to the comparatively high system requirements ...)

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Originally Posted by Chris888
so maybe I may need them all

Welcome to the club. grin

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Originally Posted by U3piano
Originally Posted by Chris888
so maybe I may need them all

Welcome to the club. grin

Oh, no, I am not the VST Hoarder King, I am missing Noire! cry


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