Piano sampled sounds are always quiet

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
KVRer
16 posts since 16 Mar, 2021

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 6:31 am

Any idea why sampled piano VSTs are so darned quiet?

I've tried them with multiple sets of speakers and headphones, but I always have to dial the dB way up on piano tracks vs almost any other instruments just to get a basic volume.

All of the pianos included with Kontakt, the Addictive Keys, Sampletron, etc are all super quiet compared with their other sampled repertoire. The only ones I don't have to blast are modelled sounds like Pianoteq, AAS, or anything made with a synth.

Anyone experiencing the same? Am I doing something wrong?
Last edited by JamelaBanderson on Mon Aug 02, 2021 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KVRian
1257 posts since 23 May, 2012 from London

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 6:34 am

Even at full velocity?
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KVRAF
6570 posts since 13 Nov, 2015 from Norway

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 8:19 am

Yes prob a velocity thing. But have you checked your levels inside the plugin? Could be you accidentally set your volume level low. Just a thought. :shrug:
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sjm
KVRAF
2130 posts since 17 Apr, 2004

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 8:28 am

Kontakt has an option to boost the output in its settings somewhere, take a look at the options, or check Google. It's always way too quiet here too (not just for pianos). Can't comment on the others, but bear in mind that the creators will be working on the assumption that you might be playing big chords on piano, so they need to make sure that the individual notes aren't too loud, as they can soon add up. If you are playing 6 notes at once, you don't want that clipping just so that individual notes are "loud".
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KVRAF
6570 posts since 13 Nov, 2015 from Norway

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 8:45 am

Yes Kontakt has atleast two options for volume boosting. Preset volume and Main volume. Think there is a third option aswell but can't remember. You should ask EvilDragon. He works for Native Instruments and knows everything about Kontakt.
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KVRAF
1890 posts since 6 Jul, 2013

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 9:51 am

Polyphonic instruments generally have a lower volume than things like one-shot drum samples etc as multiple-voices will be added together.

If your one piano sample hit 0dBFS when you pressed one key at max velocity, then when you played a 10-finger chord you'd blow the bloody doors off..! ;)

KVRer

Topic Starter

16 posts since 16 Mar, 2021

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 4:17 pm

sjm wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 8:28 am
Kontakt has an option to boost the output in its settings somewhere, take a look at the options, or check Google. It's always way too quiet here too (not just for pianos). Can't comment on the others, but bear in mind that the creators will be working on the assumption that you might be playing big chords on piano, so they need to make sure that the individual notes aren't too loud, as they can soon add up. If you are playing 6 notes at once, you don't want that clipping just so that individual notes are "loud".
That makes sense. Though I'm surprised sampled drums and guitar are generally loud enough given those are played on a polyphonic basis too.

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KVRAF
1890 posts since 6 Jul, 2013

Post Tue Aug 03, 2021 6:51 am

JamelaBanderson wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 4:17 pm
Though I'm surprised sampled drums and guitar are generally loud enough given those are played on a polyphonic basis too.
With ten fingers and a sustain pedal, you can easily generate 60+ overlapping voices in a short time on a piano, which doesn't tend to happen with things like drums, which are relatively short, or guitars, which are inherently limited to 6 notes of polyphony.

So pianos often have more headroom, especially ones that are more classical in nature, where people aren't slamming their mixes to 0dBFS...

(If anything, instruments are often too loud on an individual track basis, eating up mix headroom and forcing you to turn everything down...)

KVRAF
1694 posts since 26 Aug, 2012

Post Tue Aug 03, 2021 7:22 am

wha-tha-hell yo talkin' bout?

KVRAF
8802 posts since 16 Aug, 2006

Post Tue Aug 03, 2021 8:28 am

JamelaBanderson wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 6:31 am
Any idea why sampled piano VSTs are so darned quiet?
They're playing back at the same volume they were recorded at. Pianos are classical type instruments and not meant to be normalized to 0dbfs.
JamelaBanderson wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 6:31 am
but I always have to dial the dB way up on piano tracks vs almost any other instruments just to get a basic volume.
Maybe ask why most instruments are way too loud? Not a joke. What you probably consider a "basic volume" is probably way hotter than any analog gear was meant to take level-wise, and applies for analog modeled plugins too. VST synths frequently go for "get as close to 0dbfs as possible" with preset levels, but that's not a basic level. That's actually a crazy loud level. The old adage of "monitor loud, mix quiet" is a good one too learn. Turn your speakers up and keep your levels lower in the system. And I mean that at the instrument output.

One thing I try to shoot for is create a decent sounding rough mix using just the output levels of VSTi's with faders at unity. So things will be peaking with plenty of headroom. It makes it very easy to add an instrument into the mix late-on and you get very good range from your faders, which makes visual sense to me.
JamelaBanderson wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 6:31 am
Anyone experiencing the same? Am I doing something wrong?
The pianos are at a good level for recording pianos. If anything, I argue all the time that synths just ship with presets that are way too loud. Ideally you'd have plenty of headroom built into all instruments and pianos wouldn't be so quiet in comparison.

But good news: the volume knob in Kontakt works both ways.

KVRAF
22810 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Tue Aug 03, 2021 10:55 am

just set Kontakt to max 0dB rather than -6 or whatever, in Options.

Spitfire libraries, or this used to be true anyway, aren't normalized so they were telling the user to boost some 4dB to match the rest of the world, basically.

I used the pianos back from Kontakt 2, eg., the August Foerster, for years. (not stellar but serviceable)
Piano should be more dynamic than some things, yo.

KVRer

Topic Starter

16 posts since 16 Mar, 2021

Post Wed Aug 04, 2021 6:09 am

Lots of valid points on this thread. Glad I asked!

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