How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

How to do this, that and the other. Share, learn, teach. How did X do that? How can I sound like Y?
classic
KVRAF
1880 posts since 26 Jul, 2004

Post Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:30 am

magicmusic wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:21 am
you need a piano that is good sampled with many velocity layers and then play very soft and make loud with the level knob. maybe you try demo of modart pianoteq. its a pysical modelling piano https://www.modartt.com/pianoteq_stage

or for darker fuller pianos are bösendorfer or a c7. but all pianos sound only as you like when you play them with very low velocity. but many sample piano do jumps in velocity when play them low.
Thats the point of all points.
I am playing piano since 40 years and I asure you, there are differences.
First thing you need is a really , really hight qual sampled piano.
Velocenty layers, as much as possible.

Now you can start manipulating the sound with eq ore what ever makes it right.
East West pianos, especially the Bechsteiner and Bösendorfer are greate.
Don´t take a Steinway, much to hard and bright.

pupika
KVRer
12 posts since 26 Jul, 2018

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:53 am

HI, thanks. I have Keyscape C7 if you mean that one.
IT has setup velocity for Ballad, Warm etc. samples.
But because I use mostly 3 octave from the middle C it has that attack as any piano in that octave.
That is why I asked how to make that octave softer.
When I lower even more velocity the sound is so tiny that I have to put it into audacity to normalize sound to be louder.
I tried Ozone 9 but it just distorts the sound with its maximizers etc.
It would help if I can upload first couple of measures here on the forum so you can hear a difference but the browser does not allow it for some reason?

Passing Bye
KVRAF
1591 posts since 5 Nov, 2014

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:07 am

Give it compliments :hihi:

pupika
KVRer
12 posts since 26 Jul, 2018

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:28 am

Thanks for your time to answer a fellow pianist :)
I thought it should be easy as I can play a real piano exactly as I want, with endless layers as I have finished Music University.
I was so frustrated because those stup.. vst pianos can not reproduce the sound as I would play on a real piano.
On a real piano I would need like 30 min to record perfectly everything, grrrrr.
But, I can not pay for a studio because I need like 100 songs on You Tube to start paying peanuts.


I will definitely look into that attack, maybe layer piano with something else.
And I will look into other settings, just slowly as I am a beginner in sound engineering.
Now, I will compose some flutes and harps, hopefully that would be more successful.
Thank you again,

Marijana!

pupika
KVRer
12 posts since 26 Jul, 2018

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:03 am

Hi,
What keyboard do you play?
I have a cheap MIDI controller and a lower range digital piano.
They are not fully weighted. At first I thought this is a reason as you said - if I play low velocity some notes are jumping all over place.
Than in piano roll I put all velocities at 70, totally straight line and the notes are still jumping all over place in velocities???
Than, I rented Roland keyboard that cost around $1200, and to my surprise again notes are jumping!
I played even as I would on a normal piano, so it is not my playing but the keyboards are faulty.

Maybe a keyboard of like $5000 would be better. And maybe not.
Do you have experience with those better keyboards?
What do you recommend for me, going forward if this job starts paying off.

Thanks!

ahanysz
KVRer
16 posts since 14 Jun, 2020

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:18 pm

As a classical pianist, I actually prefer your version to the example tracks! The very first link in this thread barely sounds like a piano to me. A real piano simply can't sustain like that in the top register. What you should be hearing is mostly attack, as the high strings are so short. And I can hear a little bit of vibrato in the sound -- perhaps an algorithmic reverb that includes some frequency modulation? Even the middle register doesn't sound like a piano: the attack is too soft, it's more plucked than struck.

If you really do want to make your piano sound that bad, then my suggestions are:
- Put the high notes in a track all by themselves, reduce the MIDI note velocity and increase the track volume to compensate. You want to be using the lowest velocity layer of your samples. I'd suggest all note velocities should be below 40, perhaps even lower.
- Keep trying with the reverb settings. I think what we're hearing in that first video is more reverb than direct sound. Possibly there's delay or chorus too, not pure reverb?
- Warm up the bass a little bit. I think the clarity (positive name for "thinness") of your sound is partly because you have less bass than the example tracks, it's not all about the high notes. This might be just a matter of EQ, or even turning up the volume on the bass track, or you might play with preamp or saturation plugins. (Maybe even put it through a guitar amp?)
- Look for other ways to reduce the attack. I don't have much experience with compression, because I don't like what it does to piano sounds, but maybe compression will help here.
- If you have access to Pianoteq, set it to softer hammers, higher soundboard impedance, some blooming energy.

I've just spent half an hour looking for classical pieces on my shelf with a similar texture -- single, slow notes two octaves above middle C, with a bass line and not much in the middle -- to remind myself what this sort of thing sounds like on an acoustic piano. What I found was very interesting. Classical composers just don't use this sonority! I guess they know it doesn't work on a real instrument. Normally, a high melody line would be enhanced one of three ways:
- It's doubled in octaves
- There are chords in the middle register of the piano, or a rapidly moving part, to fill out the sound
- There's no bass. It's all high register, so that it sounds delicate (another positive word instead of "thin"!)

I think Beethoven was the first to write piano music with one hand very high, one very low, nothing in the middle -- but he does that for loud passages, not for soft playing! If you hit the bass hard enough, it resonates and fills out the sound nicely, but it's not quiet or peaceful. Liszt uses the top register a lot to good effect, but it's either both hands high at once (no bass), or else there's a gazillion notes per second.

I checked Chopin, Schumann, Ravel and Debussy too. Chopin nearly always doubles in octaves when he goes that high, and there's chords in the middle. Schumann doesn't seem to be such a fan of the top register. Ravel and Debussy are closer to Liszt (in the way they use the registers of the piano, not in other ways).

The key takeaway here, I think, is that your example videos aren't even close to a natural piano sound, they rely a lot on the right processing.

lfm
KVRAF
5329 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:42 am

Been listening to OP and examples given and think this is to be fixed as close to source as possible.
You cannot EQ fix this, kind of. It's distortion as already said in thread.

Set velocity curve on keyboard to hard, so you have to punch quite hard to reach velocities above 80.

There is no way to get that piercing hard tone playing real soft like upper register usually is.
That is just cheap piano samples if so.

I've taken midi played with another keyboard that were sounding real harsch like this, having three layers of samples(timbres) on each key. So lowered velocity so I kept in the first 2 layers for soft notes. So this set was mapped to play one set of samples on velocity 1-40, next 41-80, and last 81-127. Volume is always kept according to velocity, but what timbre makes all the difference.

Here is that sampleset
http://sonimusicae.free.fr/matshelgesso ... ro-en.html

Listen to Eroica beyond halfway through, at least some upper notes sounding better. I would not say it match to sound full grand piano, but I used then for a pop mix. And a good example how timbre layers matter. So not using loudest can work.

So having a player that do GIG-files import it should be decent on first 2 layers. Kontakt does not do it right, they made three layers overlap so you got two sounding layers on same velocity, so forget about that. Some player that do gig files right.

If you cannot get a nice soft tone keeping velocity down - invest in better samples. These sound cheap like the first free one many years ago that was soundfont.

And never expect picking midi files from internet to sound good on any sample collection - they have to match what is was played on. I just found the same problem using same recorded midi to different sample collections.

To get consistent feel on soft touch wheighted action is a must.

Not sure what you are saying here "Than in piano roll I put all velocities at 70, totally straight line and the notes are still jumping all over place in velocities???"

You in daw set velocity but still jumps about?

And the tailes on reverb are silly long, it makes it sound like having damper pedal down all the time almost.

User avatar
fmr
KVRAF
9684 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:59 am

lfm wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:42 am
Not sure what you are saying here "Than in piano roll I put all velocities at 70, totally straight line and the notes are still jumping all over place in velocities???"

You in daw set velocity but still jumps about?
Maybe there's MIDI CC11 (Expression) in action?
Fernando (FMR)

ahanysz
KVRer
16 posts since 14 Jun, 2020

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:12 am

pupika wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:53 am
When I lower even more velocity the sound is so tiny that I have to put it into audacity to normalize sound to be louder.
Hang on, are you using any DAW software (Reaper, Cakewalk, Garageband, Logic, Cubase, etc), or are you doing all your production in Audacity alone?

pupika
KVRer
12 posts since 26 Jul, 2018

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:35 am

Hi, thanks for your input guys,
Those are points that I will work on, Now I know what to look for.
So I use Cubase 9.5 and Noire Felt with Kontakt - does not come as standalone patch.($200)
Keyscape ($500) so these are not cheap pianos if you mean that?
I bought them after looking into videos and how people played and what soft tone they got.
But I play much higher notes than those in the video and to my surprise when I recorded them it does not sound nothing as in theses videos. So these pianos sound nice in the middle range.

But there is something psychologically with higher notes that makes people like dreamy, sleepy,relaxed. That is why these compositions are mostly in high octaves. There was a show on TV when people ate a lot more food in the restaurant when listening the piccolo orchestra than normal instruments...

And you should see comments of the people of these guys that I sent a link - it is from this music is divine, something best I have ever heard, help me to sleep, calm down etc. and people listen to this like endlessly.

That is why I stated to go into this sort of music, it is easy to compose but extremely hard to mix.

I use audacity at the end just to make it louder in the end. Because if velocity is 40 or 70 it is very low in You Tube.
But it has to be the same level as other songs. I tried Ozone 9 for mix but it has maximiser, limiter etc. but in the end it distorts the sound a lot, so the sound is even worse.
I spent a lot of time with EQ, compressor but I can not get that sound. And I have payed some engineers from Fiverr to mix my raw piano, but they did not come even close to the sound.
They put a ton of reverb which pushed the piano in the back, and it was swimming in the reverb.
I told them in the reference track you can clearly hear the piano is close. But they did not know how to do that, that piano is close and a reverb lasts for 6-8 seconds and does not fell down.
I double the piano one close other in reverb but piano is still sharp, tiny and the reverb distorts the other piano track.
What drives me crazy is that reference tracks ( and they have milions of listeners) are all soft piano + reverb. And mine is - as you can hear in my songs.

I need like months or years to learn how to properly mix. But I do not have that time as this is opportunity now to compose and upload this kind of music because in time it will be more and more people doing that so I will not get enough subscribers to pay of. I have to have like 500 000 or million so it starts paying like a regular salary. That was the idea honestly, compose from home instead going to work.
One more problem is when everything is set 40 - some notes start jumping off in velocity. And than I spent endless time to correct but they are never good as there are not much variety at that low velocity. The note ( in piano roll) has like 2 layers loud and to quiet - so it sound like a child playing and not an experienced pianist.
And there is nothing to cover the sound here as it is a solo piano.

User avatar
fmr
KVRAF
9684 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:54 am

pupika wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:35 am
Hi, thanks for your input guys,
Those are points that I will work on, Now I know what to look for.
So I use Cubase 9.5 and Noire Felt with Kontakt - does not come as standalone patch.($200)
Keyscape ($500) so these are not cheap pianos if you mean that?
.../...
And there is nothing to cover the sound here as it is a solo piano.
Keyscape is not good for acoustic piano sounds, IMO. Actually, the best you can get with SAMPLED pianos is a bearable sound.

If you really want a realistic acoustic piano sound, get Pianoteq. As alternatives, you may try Piano V (from Arturia) or True Pianos.

To cover the sound you need to write the music accordingly. Listen to the examples pointed out, from Chopin, Liszt, and also Scriabine and Rachmaninoff. All of them used the piano solo extensively, taking advantage of all its resources,
Fernando (FMR)

lfm
KVRAF
5329 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 5:11 am

"I use audacity at the end just to make it louder in the end. Because if velocity is 40 or 70 it is very low in You Tube."

I think you focus on volume too much and equal that with velocity. It is also different timbre on an acoustic piano if doing fortissimo or piano or mezzo piano. The louder the harder the sound.

If you want to even out levels - that is what compression is about - lift weak parts up in level and keep loud parts within range. It works on audio parts, not midi velocity.

And if you just normalize I think that is really bad idea. A good limiter not working more than 2 dB or so will probably do a better job.

Your example were much more in your face than the example you liked. To relax in a dreamy way I am not thinking loud at all. I'm thinking more like pre-fader send to reverb to let it swim. The normal post-fader sends to reverb cannot be more than 50% dry and 50% wet, but if you do pre-fader you adjust mix dry/wet and it can be 70% wet reverb or more if you want.

If you introduce new instruments in the mix, they can bathe in reverb at first and then increase dry signal to appear coming closer.

Are you relaxed while listening to these recordings - and in the same mood as listener?
Or are you tense over the sound, so you really don't listen?

It's almost like you go about this volume thing as it would play in a club and people dancing or something.
Think elevator music - or musak that you hear in shops or restaurants - it's not loud, it's just about audible - and it affects us.
As you said - in a range where ears are sensitive - 1k-3k or so.

"Keyscape ($500) so these are not cheap pianos if you mean that?"
Call it overpriced then if you cannot get a nice tone from soft touch.

I would experiment extensively to see what you get from samples and what key velocity curve to use from your keyboard, to really fit those samples. Just do a couple of bars, 4-8, listen carefully to timbre and where it starts to sound harder.

If you fail here - get some other samples.


You mentioned having low end digital piano - but even getting a Yamaha P-100-series have very decent key beds to use as controller, if the sounds are not good enough. It cost about $500. Shitty midi controller is hardly up to the job. You need weighted keys, forget anything called semi-weighted since it does not mean a thing(it's just synth stuff).

Just experiment with what you've got - that is the only way to gain experience. You cannot fix this if it does not sound right - just call it education money. If you plan to make a living on this would not be a month salary for equipment.

Good luck with your YT channel.

pupika
KVRer
12 posts since 26 Jul, 2018

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:02 am

Thank you, I will :)

magicmusic
KVRian
1190 posts since 11 Nov, 2013

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:52 am

pupika wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:53 am
HI, thanks. I have Keyscape C7 if you mean that one.
IT has setup velocity for Ballad, Warm etc. samples.
But because I use mostly 3 octave from the middle C it has that attack as any piano in that octave.
That is why I asked how to make that octave softer.
When I lower even more velocity the sound is so tiny that I have to put it into audacity to normalize sound to be louder.
I tried Ozone 9 but it just distorts the sound with its maximizers etc.
It would help if I can upload first couple of measures here on the forum so you can hear a difference but the browser does not allow it for some reason?
3 octaves from middle c is much more as i hear in the example video. or in which min sec this piano play so high ?. this example use a large reverb at high level with boost of 200-400 hz. at the begining of video i hear high notes but they are bright too. maybe what you need add is only the reverb on your keyscape c7
win 10 64 Build 18363 intel i5 8600K (6*3.6 GHZ) 16 GB Ram

magicmusic
KVRian
1190 posts since 11 Nov, 2013

Re: How to make piano upper register (right hand) sound warm and soft?

Post Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:06 am

here is how a c7 can sound on low key press on some notes he play https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Tx998BZzho

if you have maybe a sample tank 3 or 4 and the c7 piano, there is effect called piano lid. it reduce brightness. i have sample tank 4
win 10 64 Build 18363 intel i5 8600K (6*3.6 GHZ) 16 GB Ram

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