Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
jochicago
KVRian
868 posts since 26 Feb, 2018

Post Sun Dec 16, 2018 1:00 pm

Any thoughts?
https://www.pluginboutique.com/product/ ... Mini-Grand


As a piano player, I'll say this:
If you are not necessarily a grand piano enthusiast, and you want a solid library for pianos that are not going to be the leads of your projects, then this plugin is probably all and more than you need to get great sounds with easy presets that are quite varied. This is going to be head and shoulders better than whatever piano sounds come with your DAW sampler pack.

The download is 1gb. Not quite as large as the mega samples for the fanciest pianos, but 1gb is a typical size for high quality samples of a single perspective, which is what comes in this package.

There's nothing "mini" about the piano itself. This sounds like a Steinway concert grand to me, or otherwise a grand designed to be in a New York concert hall. The recording is solid as well.

The design of the plugin is pretty clever. They used this 1 high quality library and applied the best effects they could to shape the sound (eq, reverb, formant?, etc) to change the character of the same piano in 7 different ways. Overall I'd say they were successful.

So you get a single solid perspective, with controls to make that perspective sound like 7 different pianos. With many interesting presets, plus the addition of easy reverb control and dynamic response, it is very easy to find a sound you like and tweak to taste to make this piano work for your piece.

Low CPU, small size, full grand sound. Other sampled plugins can sound better and give you finer control, but they will require far more disk space, loading time, cpu power, and a better piano ear to configure the sounds yourself. They will also be more than $10.

Performance demo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzLJmo32STU

chk071
KVRAF
24101 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Sun Dec 16, 2018 1:28 pm

Thanks for the heads up. If i didn't own a couple of Grand Pianos already (and soon another one, which comes with my new MIDI keyboard... :)), i'd be all over this. Sounds good, except for the hard strokes, which sound a tad artificial/metallic. Also could still sound a bit fuller i guess? Not a expert. For $10, sounds great though. :)
Plugins and a DAW. On a operating system. Which runs on a computer.

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Russell Grand
KVRAF
2632 posts since 22 May, 2017

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:15 pm

Yeah it's a decent piano plug. I have it and use it. The onboard reverb can make it sound pretty lush.

Eirikur
KVRist
100 posts since 24 Feb, 2004

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:13 pm

Downloading it now. I have the full license to all their instruments, but I never got around to trying it. All the instruments made by that team sound really nice. On Black Friday, I bought their collection of all their effects ported to VST from Pro Tools. They simple for the most part, but very high quality.

v1o
KVRAF
2207 posts since 2 Oct, 2004

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:36 am

Why wouldn’t you use this for your leads?
Orion Platinum, Muzys 2

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Russell Grand
KVRAF
2632 posts since 22 May, 2017

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:41 am

Eirikur wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:13 pm
...All the instruments made by that team sound really nice...their collection of all their effects ported to VST from Pro Tools. They simple for the most part, but very high quality.
+1

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Scrubbing Monkeys
KVRian
837 posts since 21 Apr, 2017 from Bahia, Brazil

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:39 am

Areed a quality, efficientand versatile piece.

jochicago
KVRian
868 posts since 26 Feb, 2018

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:45 am

v1o wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:36 am
Why wouldn’t you use this for your leads?
Mostly spoiled by better libraries.

Like all of us, I’d want my music to sound as good as what I hear in the albums I like, and for grand pianos I’d like a very realistic sound that draws you in. If the piano part is going to lead the song so you’ll hear it close and center, and you mix it to give it breathing room, the Mini Grand is not quite as convincing from a purist perspective as the other libraries you can get your hands on for reasonable prices.

With larger libraries there’s also the ability to really tailor the sound without using effects but instead actual high-quality sampled perspectives. Sometimes you want your lead to feel a bit more distant, say a tense piece for a movie. Sometimes you want it to be punchier in the highs but not quite in-your-face, say for a slow ballad. The Mini Grand has settings that should give you a sound that feels appropriate for what you want to do, but it will get there via effects instead of having more samples hidden in its toolbox.

Comparison
Take for instance what I think is one of the best pianos you can get around $100 (when on sale), the Wavesfactory Mercury:
https://www.wavesfactory.com/mercury-piano/

That’s 35gb in size. It has 5 perspectives (not 15 as I stated before, I believe I was mistaken about the lid settings being independent perspectives). So when you adjust the settings to change its character, you are not applying effects to it but changing the samples. The result is a truly pristine sound for a large range of settings.

But you pay such a price for the added quality. 35gb is huge. Even from an SSD you need to have patience for the loading times. At the highest quality setting only a powerful CPU can run it in real time.

Another Option
Looking at the positives of the Mini Grand, if you want to consider a jump up in quality, for only around $10 more consider the Sonivox 88 Ensemble:
https://www.pluginboutique.com/products/1844

It’s a similar situation as the Mini Grand. A single high quality perspective, but a whopping 11gb. It has way more velocity samples (16), the sound is more detailed and realistic. So it’s not too big and varied that the loadings take forever, and not that CPU hungry that I’ve noticed. 52 presets, so plenty to work with including layered sounds. Luckily there is a demo from the same performer as the Mini Grand demo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXl5jAwhz1o


The 88 Ensemble makes me struggle when making decisions. I have the Mercury, but when I’m about to noodle a piano part I often use the 88 simply because it loads so much faster, and I’m thinking I’ll lay this part down and “later” replace the piano to finish the piece. But when “later” comes around I’m happy with the 88 and then I want to leave it in. I guess what I’m saying is that, even having "better" libraries, I would use the 88 Ensemble as a lead piano in a production piece. That’s a $20 plugin right now.
Last edited by jochicago on Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Russell Grand
KVRAF
2632 posts since 22 May, 2017

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:50 am

Sonivox sucks, especially their pathetic customer service. I can't speak for others, but I'd much rather deal with Air.

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The Noodlist
KVRAF
2399 posts since 16 Aug, 2017 from UK

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:10 pm

Not bad, I'll give it a miss, there's also lots of good free
soundfonts.
Here's some free soundfonts.
https://sites.google.com/site/soundfonts4u/
Currently trying to turn noise into music. :neutral:

v1o
KVRAF
2207 posts since 2 Oct, 2004

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:29 pm

35 Gigabytes for a piano library? Waste of space. I think they look for ways to inefficiently capture pianos to justify releasing more expensive libraries.

I’d like to see someone do a controlled double blind test between let’s say a 5GB piano and 50+GB library of the same piano in the same room recorded on the same day.
Orion Platinum, Muzys 2

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Scrubbing Monkeys
KVRian
837 posts since 21 Apr, 2017 from Bahia, Brazil

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:02 pm

v1o wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:29 pm
35 Gigabytes for a piano library? Waste of space. I think they look for ways to inefficiently capture pianos to justify releasing more expensive libraries.

I’d like to see someone do a controlled double blind test between let’s say a 5GB piano and 50+GB library of the same piano in the same room recorded on the same day.


It maybe more about the feel. I bet a good player could tell the difference when playing.

I cant tell the difference between Kazrog and Waves GTR when listening. But playing is a whole different game. Kazog just feels so much better and more inspirational.

Not beating up on GTR. It served a purpose.

SoundPorn
KVRian
1022 posts since 24 Jul, 2018

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:18 pm

I'm waiting for the price to drop on their Velvet 2

jochicago
KVRian
868 posts since 26 Feb, 2018

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:20 pm

v1o wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:29 pm
35 Gigabytes for a piano library? Waste of space. I think they look for ways to inefficiently capture pianos to justify releasing more expensive libraries.

I’d like to see someone do a controlled double blind test between let’s say a 5GB piano and 50+GB library of the same piano in the same room recorded on the same day.
We definitely need the quantity of perspectives. I wouldn't want for the Mercury to have any fewer of the 5 it comes with (edit: corrected that the piano comes with 5 perspectives, not more as I thought previously). In fact, they originally planned 1 more. It only has 8 velocity layers (the 88 Ensemble recorded 16 layers). Also, Mercury comes with 4 round robins, so each perspective and velocity is recorded 4 times so you can have more realistic micro variety for every key press. This level of detail amounts to 37,172 samples recorded off this one instrument. The amount of detail is what makes the Mercury sound so much more realistic than something like the Mini Grand, or even celebrated modelers like Pianoteq (we can have that argument all day long though :D, and I'd say the Pianoteq K2 is probably well enough in the ballpark to use that instead of a sampled one like the Mercury).

Can the 37 thousand files be smaller in disk size? Maybe if you use some sort of compressed audio format. But the Mercury already suffers of CPU abuse. If the files were compressed it may cost more CPU to use them on the fly. Could they be a loss-y format like mp3? Then when you apply effects on it you'd have less resolution to operate on, the effects would start sounding mangled faster.

Can 35gb worth of lossless wave files be made into 5gb of reasonably lower quality wave files without sacrificing so much quality that it would affect your ability to mix them anyway you want?
Last edited by jochicago on Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jochicago
KVRian
868 posts since 26 Feb, 2018

Re: Mini Grand by Air, $10 at PB

Post Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:28 pm

Russell Grand wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:50 am
Sonivox sucks, especially their pathetic customer service. I can't speak for others, but I'd much rather deal with Air.
I have not heard any good things about Sonivox customer service. From what I've read, you basically buy the plugins expecting the support to be non-existent. However, I did need help once this year and they replied promptly.

All I can say is that I do have one of their bundles with all the orchestra instruments and as far as I can tell the plugins are fine on my Win10 PC. The 88 Ensemble is a great library, if you can get it to work. If Sonivox was a less troubled company that plugin would be more in the $99 range.

But I also completely support that position of not investing in a company that won't invest in you as a customer. I just really wanted a decent Steinway D, and also some decent strings, and was willing to gamble on the bundle because of the heavy discounts.

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