I am a Piano Music teacher and am extremely fussy when it comes to all piano's, not only Virtual ones and I could not wait to put the Imperial Grand to the test and through its paces... well within 20 minutes I was sold out and forgot that I was playing on a "Virtual Grand"
My first impression of Sound Magic Imperial Grand is that it is very expressive, rich, realistic sonically, responsive and I immediately enjoyed the dark rich tones of this Piano. The bass response of this piano is also modeled correctly and is not "muddy".
After 5 weeks of playing, testing and testing and testing I found this Grand Piano to be stable reliable and definitely my "go to" piano. I teach and play on different Upright and Grand Pianos and I do own the Native Instruments Acoustic Piano set, True Piano's Amber set supplied with my Sonar 8.5 Producer, and I have Grand Pianos on my Yamaha Motif Es so this baby was up against stiff competition!!!
My testing system is a Duel core Intel 3mhz, 4gb ram, Windows Xp, Sonar 8.5 producer
When I compose on a piano and the sound is not right I lose my creative flow immediately, but with this Grand I played for hours and hours and thoroughly enjoyed it! Some sound examples will follow soon!
The Unique Artificial Assistant Intelligence Tool was very interesting to work with and I found it to be very easy and intuitive to understand and I had my personal Piano setting done in 5 Minutes. The manual is well written and easy to follow and understand.
The Revolutionary HD Velocity Layers is a specialized technique to capture every nuances of expressive playing and I can truly say that it caught every single detail of my playing with perfect accuracy, which to me is the most important aspect of any piano even Acoustic ones.
The GUI was a pleasure to work with as it is clearly defined and has explanatory notes that explains what the purpose and functionality is of every dial and setting. To set the piano was also easy and quick for me as I am very particular over the sound that I prefer when I play. The dials worked smoothly without any glitches or quirks.
What was a big plus factor was the reverb settings, which I found to be very effective and realistic sounding!
This is a beautifully Hybrid modeled - Sampled based Virtual Grand Piano, compared to other Virtual Pianos it has a tiny installation footprint. It was easy to setup and clearly documented. I had found my preferred sound settings with 5 minutes and it is stable and reliable, It was compared to my other Virtual Grand Piano's but I found myself always going back to the Imperial Grand for it's rich, dark, expressive tones and I can honestly say that.... I love it!!!!
It is also much, much more worth than it's selling price of €99!
My first moments playing the Imperial Grand3D were exciting and inspirational. It has a very clear responsive sound that appealed to me. The dynamics and overall feel playing it are excellent. It comes with eight presets and eight slots for user presets as well as a separate 3D effect for those of you with surround sound.
Imperial Grand3D uses a combination of physical modeling, samples and synthesis which gives it the sound and feel of playing a real piano. In my opinion it does this very well.
The user interface looks good. It has a good color scheme that is easy on the eyes and is quite easy to read. There are seven sections for editing the sound to your liking as follows:
--Dynamics-- Here there are sliders to adjust both minimum and maximum volume to match your playing dynamics. There are ten choices of velocity curve and another slider to adjust the difference of volume at highest velocity between A0 and C8.
--Designs-- There is an overtone on/off button here which selects which harmonic is to be adjusted by the harmonic dial. The harmonic dial lets you find a darker or brighter sound to your liking. There is a staccato button as well which switches staccato mode on and off and a soft pedal slider for adjusting the amount of influence the soft pedal has on the volume. A release dial, ten choices of timbre curve, a dial called 'Board' for sustain and decay and a 'Lid' dial for for adjusting if the lid is open, closed or somewhere in between.
--Microphone positions-- Here there are three sliders. Close, Distant and Room. This section is also where you set your midi controllers for sustain pedal, sostenuto, soft pedal and staccato.
--Sympathetic Resonances-- This unique feature adds harmonies to pedal up and pedal down notes. There are five adjustment sliders in this section. One for the volume of the Sympathetic Resonance. Four for adjusting the volumes for each of the four harmonics and one for release volume of the tail sound.
--Hammer Actions-- This is an important part of creating a realistic piano. Besides having two sliders to adjust the amount of the hammer noise and the pedal noise, you also have three sliders to adjust the hammer hardness while you're playing soft, moderate or hard.
--Environment-- The environment is essentially a reverb section with eight reverb types. You have control over room size, damp, spatial, predamp, decay, diffusion, reverb type, spacial type and density.
--Tuning-- This allows you to choose tuning between 415Hz and 466Hz.
--3D-- Imperial Grand3D comes with a separate plugin for 7.1 surround sound. I did not have surround sound hardware to review this.
--My Thoughts-- I have compared this to other piano instruments in my arsenal and this one will be my 'go to' piano. With great realistic sound, responsive feel, lots of editing features and small footprint (147mb installer) I highly recommend trying out Imperial Grand3D if you're thinking of buying a piano.