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All reviews by Jake Jackson

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Reviewed By Jake Jackson [read all by] on September 18th, 2007
Version reviewed: 3.52 on Windows.
Last edited by Jake Jackson on 18th September 2007.
Excellent program. (Notice that all of the reviewers below were using an older version of the software.) VSampler was my first softsampler. I moved away from it and into VSTI's and experimented for some time with Kontakt and others. I've returned to VSampler recently, after learning more about sampling, and I find that it has by far the best interface and the best ability to modulate parameters. (Halion 3 seems to have taken some of its interface design from VSampler.)

The last version came out in January of 2006. As a result, there is no convolution. However, it supports external VST effects, so that problem can easily be solved. I'm not sure that there needs to be a new version of this software--it does almost everything.

The interface is extremely good. Some people may have had trouble with it because the program can do so much, and it presents separate pages for each major set of parameters, such as Filters, Amp, Banks, etc, with many buttons on each page. The pages can be either docked in a rack view or allowed to take up the entire page. There is also a button bar to the right (customizable) that lets you call up any page, and keyboard shortcuts allow you to avoid even these buttons. Press F2 and you have the page for Zones and samples, etc. Press F3 to call up a large keyboard. Once you learn the program, the interface makes perfect sense. The interfaces of other samplers will seem designed to obscure edits and slow your work.

The filter controls: Not just a simple ADSR envelope. You can set the Attack freq, the Decay freq, rate, and shape, and enter up to 68 other points on the envelope, which you can drag around however you want. Veloctiy to cutoff, to envelope, to resonance knobs. Still better, you can set the freq cutoff note by note nonlinearly--in other words, once you've set a cutoff freq, you can vary the extent to which each key is filtered, with widely different settings across the range or across just two notes that are side by side. The display lets you see the amp envelope in an outline behind the filter envelope, so you can adjust the filter to correspond or not correspond with that envelope's stages. Without question the best filter interface and controls.

Almost everything can be modulated by everything. It comes with free envelopes that can modulate whatever you want: delay the entrance of resonance or drop it down fast, delay eq to avoid the attack phase, etc.

The only real problem is that no complete manual was ever written. If you know sample and synth programming well, VSampler is fairly straightfoward, but a manual would still have been nice when I was getting started. This is a program that can do almost anything to a sample, so the number of controls can be bewildering to a new user.

There has been no word recently about a new version of the program, and support seems to have stopped. When the company was active, the support was very good, and my score for support indicates that as well as the current absence of support.

I wouldn't worry about the presets. Use your existing libraries. Much better to have an excellent program than to have great samples with a limited program and a bad interface.
Reviewed By Jake Jackson [read all by] on August 15th, 2007
Version reviewed: 2.1 on Windows.
Last edited by Jake Jackson on 20th May 2009.
PianoTeq is astonishingly good, but you must be willing to spend time learning to understand it. If you know nothing about the various elements that contribute to the sound of a piano, you may find the many parameters overwhelming. Often, since each parameter is added to the effect of another, one must edit several of them in small increments to achieve the sound you want--increasing the hammer noise, for example, you may also want to decrease the hardness of the hammer.

The interface is in many ways excellent: you can see almost every parameter easily. However, for a new user, the layout may discourage an understanding of the ways in which the parameters interact: often, you may want to make changes in several windows to gain a specific sound. To increase the length of the sustain, for example, a single edit in one box will almost certainly require edits in another.

And a suggestion from the Pianoteq users' forum: Try setting Dynamics to somewhere between 30-40, instead of the default 60. The result will be louder soft velocities that retain the harmonics of soft hits. Then experiment with various other edits. You will be better able to hear the changes, and be able to hear how velocity affects each parameter.
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