2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
65 members (Curt-S, accordeur, 36251, Boboulus, Beansparrow, anotherscott, 18 invisible), 1,443 guests, and 745 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Joined: Jun 2020
Posts: 237
V
vagfilm Offline OP
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
V
Joined: Jun 2020
Posts: 237
I have prepared a series of 6 videos of blind testing of piano VSTs, that some of you here at PW may find interesting. I uploaded them to Vimeo and you can download at will...

My initial purpose with these tests was to compare the demos of the VSL libraries currently on sale, and pit them against Garritan Full that I own and use, so that I could check which, if any, VSL library would be an option for me. After doing this exercise, I thought that it might also be of use for others, and decided to turn this into a series of 6 public videos and expand the comparison to some other Kontakt libraries that I don't really use...

Since I am a player at a very beginner level, live playing was really not an option; thus these videos are totally different from the expert VST comparisons from Gamma1734, Stu Harrison, or many other proficient YouTube piano players. What I did was use 6 publically available MIDI files of well known classical pieces (credits at the end of each video) that I thought would be able to showcase different important tonal characteristics of the libraries. Then I cycled through the VSTs every 4 bars, for better and faster comparisons.

Each video uses 3 VSTs at a time (labeled A-B-C) only identified at the end of each video (therefore, "blind testing"). Although it would be easier to make only one video comparing all VSTs at once, I believe that we are incapable of maintaining sonic memories of 10 or more sources (at least, I am...), and for that reason I opted to make comparisons in groups of 3.

The used VSTs are:
- Vienna VSL Synchron Piano - Bösendorfer Imperial
- Vienna VSL Synchron Piano - Bösendorfer 280VC
- Vienna VSL Synchron Piano - Steinway D-274
- Vienna VSL Synchron Piano - Yamaha CFX
- Cinesamples - CinePiano
- Garritan - CFX Concert Grand
- Native Instruments - The Grandeur
- Native Instruments - Noire
- Pianoteq 7.3 - Steinway D (New York)
- Pianoteq 7.3 - Steingraeber Grand
- Pianoteq 7.3 - Petrof Mistral

For each VST, I chose similar close presets with only a small amount of room reverb through room mics (whenever available). Because I intend to acquire a VSL standard library (not the full version) I used only 2-3 mics available in the standard versions. Garritan CFX is the full version. For Pianoteq I used the demo version that silences a few notes.

Rendering from midi is not an ideal scenario since each library calls for slightly different touch and pedalling. On the other hand, this kind of clinical and mechanical rendering brings up all defects since they cannot be improved by technical adjustments. Listen with critical judgement, and do not forget that midi pedalling is not optimized for any of these VSTs and some suffer particularly from this... So, the libraries will certainly sound better when live played.

The pieces were chosen for different characteristics. The Bach prelude is perfectly quantisized and uses fixed velocity and no pedalling: nowhere to hide... The other pieces were chosen to highlight different playing techniques: staccato single notes, staccato chords, slow phrasing, slow harmonies, fast glissandi, romantic legato, etc... Since these midi files don't have a lot of high velocity values, there was no need to calibrate velocity curves, although the end result is usually mellow. The only changed VST is the VSL D-274 in which I slightly softened the curve slope.

Hope this exercise may be helpful to some...

Here are the links to the videos:

Video 1:
Video 2:
Video 3:
Video 4:
Video 5:
Video 6:

Last edited by vagfilm; 06/15/21 09:25 AM.
Joined: Aug 2020
Posts: 67
J
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Aug 2020
Posts: 67
nicely done.

I've only listened to / watched a few but looking forward to the rest.

a very nice contribution to the online resources available for choosing vsts. and very interesting

Last edited by jackopiano; 06/15/21 10:35 AM.
Joined: Jun 2020
Posts: 237
V
vagfilm Offline OP
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
V
Joined: Jun 2020
Posts: 237
When VSL releases the demos of the remaining 2 pianos (bluthner and bosendorfer upright) I will add a few more comparisons to the series.

Joined: May 2020
Posts: 119
M
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: May 2020
Posts: 119
Great effort, thanks a lot. It confirms even on this test my preference for Garritan CFX, just my opinion. Very well done though.

Joined: Aug 2020
Posts: 281
F
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
F
Joined: Aug 2020
Posts: 281
Interesting, didn't expect those results for me:
- I don't seem too like the VSLs much, so that's money I can save. The only one that kind of works for me is the 280VC, but overall I marked them all with beeing "shrill"
- Seems I'm very conflicted with the Garritan CFX, best marks sometimes but also worst sometimes.
- What really suprised me is that I gave the PT Mistral & Steingraeber top marks. Seems I need to get those, mybe it's because I'm playing with PT pianos every day so I'm used to the sound. The PT Steinway only got a "meh" though, seems I bought the wrong instruments for PT frown.

Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 2,206
K
2000 Post Club Member
Offline
2000 Post Club Member
K
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 2,206
The only one I recognised immediately was Garritan.

Originally Posted by FloRi89
Interesting, didn't expect those results for me:
- I don't seem too like the VSLs much, so that's money I can save. The only one that kind of works for me is the 280VC, but overall I marked them all with beeing "shrill"

I think this demo does not capture VSL well, any of them to be honest. Prior to the VSL player update earlier this year, unless you were a good pianist with a sensitive touch shrill was an accurate description of how they sounded. You need that sensitive touch to access properly the lower velocity samples.

Luckily the update makes it easier for us lesser mortals to access these lower velocity layers and enjoy the rich sound of the VSL virtual pianos. The samples used in this comparison does not appear to take advantage of the velocity curve editor.

Last edited by KevinM; 06/16/21 06:33 AM.
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 213
C
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
C
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 213
Originally Posted by KevinM
The only one I recognised immediately was Garritan.

Originally Posted by FloRi89
Interesting, didn't expect those results for me:
- I don't seem too like the VSLs much, so that's money I can save. The only one that kind of works for me is the 280VC, but overall I marked them all with beeing "shrill"

I think this demo does not capture VSL well, any of them to be honest. Prior to the VSL player update earlier this year, unless you were a good pianist with a sensitive touch shrill was an accurate description of how they sounded. You need that sensitive touch to access properly the lower velocity samples.

Luckily the update makes it easier for us lesser mortals to access these lower velocity layers and enjoy the rich sound of the VSL virtual pianos. The samples used in this comparison does not appear to take advantage of the velocity curve editor.
I agree. The VSL pianos (well most sampled pianos to be honest) need to be played, not triggered by generic MIDI files. The VSL pianos in the right hands sound spectacular. Also, I've been a long term fan & user of the Garritan CFX Full edition. They produced an excellent sampled piano which stands up to the best of them in my opinion.

Last edited by Craig Richards; 06/16/21 06:52 AM.

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
Joined: May 2021
Posts: 98
C
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
C
Joined: May 2021
Posts: 98
Fantastic! Thanks so much!!! I learned from this the piano modeled/sampled is more important than the technical side.

Last edited by Christopher90; 06/19/21 09:39 AM.
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,754
R
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
R
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,754
Thank you so much, vagfilm! You put a lot of work into a very helpful tool for the rest of us.

My personal reactions are:

1. This was a nice affirmation that I can be happy with the SOUNDS of a great many VSTs. I particularly liked the sounds of Garritan CFX and Bosendorfer Imperial);

2. My future VST choices need to focus on playability, given that so many of these VSTs provide sound I can be happy with;

3. Pianoteq has come an amazingly long way since Pianoteq 5, the level I started at;

4 My next purchase will likely be another Pianoteq (Either the Bechstein or the Steingraber featured here), or, whatever VI Labs Grand piano that is coupled with the advanced engine and interface they used with the Modern U Upright.

Thanks again, vagfilm. This was a great contribution!


Ralph

Kawai VPC1
Garritan CFX
Pianist since April, 2015
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 1,156
B
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
B
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 1,156
Thanks, the first 3 were easy to guess.

Just goes to show how much better the VSL Steinway is than Garritan, VSL Bösendorfer, and VSL CFX - which was lucky as I was just about to purchase the VSL CFX!!!

The Pianoteq NY Steinway sounded quite good in #2 though.
And I'm glad I didn't purchase the Steingraeber - the Blüthner is so much better.

Last edited by Burkey; 06/19/21 09:24 PM.

Pianos are one of the best human inventions of the past 320 years - help evangelize the magic!
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 45
C
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
C
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 45
Originally Posted by Burkey
Thanks, the first 3 were easy to guess.

Just goes to show how much better the VSL Steinway is than Garritan, VSL Bösendorfer, and VSL CFX - which was lucky as I was just about to purchase the VSL CFX!!!

The Pianoteq NY Steinway sounded quite good in #2 though.
And I'm glad I didn't purchase the Steingraeber - the Blüthner is so much better.

FWIW, Burkey, I have a very different perspective on the VSLs. Of their "big grands," the Steinway is at the bottom of my list, and the CFX is easily at the top. For me, that and the Bosendorfer 280VC are in a whole different league. If I just loaded up the 274 first, I'd probably think it was pretty darn good, albeit hard to control (prior to the velocity curve update). With access to all the others, though, it's one I only pull up when I think I need to try something a bit different.


Not saying you're "wrong," obviously, but if you haven't demoed the VSL CFX, you really should!

Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 1,156
B
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
B
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 1,156
Originally Posted by vagfilm
Just watched the last 3, Noire was the easiest to spot (so that wasn't such a blind judgement as I own it!) - easiest to spot because it's the quietest one of the lot.

The Cinesamples CinePiano was by far the least realistic - sounds more like a harp/bell in the upper treble.

Last edited by Burkey; 06/20/21 11:00 AM.

Pianos are one of the best human inventions of the past 320 years - help evangelize the magic!

Moderated by  Piano World 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
.nausicaa OP. (elementary version)
by WarDesu - 07/23/21 07:09 PM
Selling the sizzle if not the steak
by cfhosford - 07/23/21 06:25 PM
For the Experts
by Epee - 07/23/21 12:43 PM
Another question about piano positioning
by Cassia - 07/23/21 12:16 PM
1992 Yamaha C3 vs new CX2
by MusterMark - 07/23/21 10:19 AM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums42
Topics208,177
Posts3,115,838
Members102,217
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers

Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2021 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5