“These samples are warm… deep, too!”
the Big Swing Grand for Kontakt 5 was designed to be the best, warmest, cleanest and most importantly, most playable piano sample available. Created by a pianist, “road tested” on gigs and sessions, much effort and many innovations went into this project. Weighing in at nearly 10GB of 24-bit samples (uncompressed) this is one of the most deeply-sampled piano libraries available.
All 88 notes were sampled using a hand-made calibrated key-playing device lovingly known as “Ted Stryker.” The use of this consistent striking force allows for very accurate dynamics. The velocities were calibrated to be approximately 2db apart in volume, and range from triple-forte (as hard as is possible) to the point of barely triggering at all. This yields the true dynamic range of 33db, much wider than the typical sample set, and completely faithful to the true touch of the instrument. There are 16 velocities on most notes.*
These samples were left at their natural volumes, rather than “normalized,” to ensure absolute accuracy. Careful programming allows for smooth transitions between the velocity zones.
Once the samples were recorded, we put the “Stryker” device to work on MIDI keyboards. One feature of the device was the ability to measure touch-weight and key-travel time; on the grand, this was measured for every velocity, and then reproduced on the digital keyboard. For the first time, the touch response of a MIDI controller has been calibrated to match that of a real, highly regulated grand.**
Clarity of Tone
This 7-foot piano*** was tuned repeatedly during the weeks-long sampling process, with the multi-string unisons touched-up for each note prior to sampling. This “tight” tuning is necessary for complex jazz harmony; too much “beating” between strings adds a “blur” to lines and chords. The goal here: a chime-like focus. All strikes of a single note were recorded in one session to avoid any pitch-drift between velocities. All notes were allowed full decay time, sometimes as long as 40 seconds.****
EQ is provided in the user interface, carefully tuned to the various “character” frequencies.
Multi-velocity releases, pedal-down sympathetic resonance, action noise and damper sounds are included at their natural volumes; if you want more or less, offsets are provided.
Live or Studio
Close-miked for a “sitting at the piano” level of focus, this sample-set will allow live playing that emulates the experience of playing a real piano. (if heard in stereo through high-quality speakers)
Several Custom Impulse responses are included to allow for variable “room tone” when needed.
You may find that the constant volume adjustments needed when playing digital piano live will be less necessary when the dynamics of touch are correct.
*Some lower notes wouldn’t trigger at the lowest velocity due to heavier hammers. This is to be expected. Rather than “cheating,” we left them just as they were.
**This calibration will not work well with non-weighted keyboards, since a spring-loaded action has vastly less variation in key travel-time. It is possible to adjust the velocity response for these, but it won’t feel like a piano. (duh!)
***Built in a country that begins with “J” by a company that starts with “Y.”
****This is to allow you to studiously hold the pedal down for 30 seconds or more at the end of a studio take, despite the fact that nobody ever really needs that in a final mix, and that the drummer noisily put down his sticks instantly after the last hit.
Download the user manual: