Connelly Chapel Baldwin

Putting together the audio for the latest piano, a '90s built Baldwin grand, one of the last American-made Baldwins from their Cincinnati plant. It's currently housed in the Connelly Chapel at DeSales University, and so carries a lot of the ambiance of the chapel. In fact, this sample set is almost as much about the space as it is about the piano!

The close mic perspective carries very little ambiance, but the mid, mono, and especially far mics all carry a good chunk of that beautiful acoustic space.

Here are some audio samples using an incomplete sample set. The audio is raw, with zero noise reduction, so you'll hear plenty of noise (especially on the far mics), but it'll give you an idea of what the instrument will sound like!

Working on a new GUI

It's always been my aim to do more than just slap down a bunch of knobs and dials, but to try to make it look as if the controls were somehow interfacing with the piano itself.  Working with the 3D design capabilities of Blender, I've been able to get closer to that ideal this time around!

Check out the new "wood" and "air" controls, which dial in more or less thunk ("wood") and high string resonance ("air"). The new controls look like what they actually do - pull more or less wood and air up from the guts of the piano, pulling these sounds up through the hole in the cast-iron frame. 

Baldwin Parlor Grand v 1.1 released - 35% discount

Version 1.1 is out now, with a sale price of 35% off until February 1!

We've made some improvements and tweaked a few things. New stuff includes...

Pedal noise layer now responds to the musics' dynamics. 
Electronic sustain pedals are not velocity sensitive, but actual acoustic piano pedals are. When you play hard on a real piano, you tend to stomp on the thing, and that force is reflected in the loudness of the pedal noise. So, we hooked up an added gain reduction script that automatically reduces the sound of the pedal noises depending on the velocity of the most recently played note. So, if you play quietly, the pedal noises are softer. Nice!

Pedal noise, key release, and sustain resonance toggle added.
This little button just turns off these "extra " layers. While they contribute a lot to the realism of the instrument, they can suck up resources unnecessarily while composing or editing. This toggle just shuts them down - toggle them back on again when it's time to render your audio!

Pedal noise, key release, and sustain resonance panning follows mixer panning
This fix now allows the panning of the extra layers to follow the pan setting of the predominant mic perspective in the mixer. So, for example, if the mid mics are a little louder than the close mics, then the pan settings for the mid will also be applied to the release, noise, and resonance layers.

Simple user interface introduced
Now you'll have the option to switch to a simple interface featuring a photo of the piano with a limited set of controls - master volume, scene preset button, and global reset button. This is for those who only want to load presets, or just want a change of scenery from the full control panel. The full set of controls can be easily retrieved with a single click on a button in the upper right.

Simple interface

And some fixes include some soft clicks removed from samples, some graphics tweaked (fixed the input field for the "scene" preset function), and smoother dynamics so there's a more gradual increase in volume as velocity increases.

The update is free for those who already own the instrument. Just download it, and it's ready to go.

The demo is updated, too, so if you want to check it out, feel free to do so!

version 1.1 on the way

Coming in early January, 2017, version 1.1 will feature a simple user interface as an alternative for those who simply want to load presets without all the visual clutter of the full control panel.

Other improvements include:

  • key release sample layers now correctly follow mixer pan controls.
  • a handful of sustain samples have been tidied up - faint clicks removed.
  • smoother dynamics for the sustain layers for a more gradual increase in "bite" as velocity increases.
  • pedal noise layers now follow recent key velocity.

This last one's a bit subtle, but helps mimic the natural effect that dynamic playing has on pedal noises during an acoustic piano performance. Basically, when you pound the keys, you tend to stomp that sustain pedal. Likewise, quiet playing usually results in more gentle pedal action. While the pedal noise control on the GUI still calls the shots, quiet playing will result in an additional trim amount so your delicate playing will result in quieter pedal up/down sounds.

Choosing an image for the new simple GUI background

Final review

UVI has sent their encrypted version of the instrument back to me, but before I start to distribute it, I need to go over everything once more with the proverbial fine-toothed comb. Time to pick nits. If all is good, I will start handing the thing out to my Kickstarter contributors and posting it for sale on the website. If there is an opportunity to squeeze in a needed tweak or two, I will do so, and we'll see the product next week!

Getting close to the finish line

One more feature is being coded into the instrument as I write, and that's the "damper drop" feature for the key release layer. Once that's done, we should be ready to go.

In the meantime, there is a demo version available for you to check out. While it doesn't have the finished key release layers, it will give you a pretty good idea of what the instrument is all about. But we'll consider it a bit of a beta at this point.

If you do download it, I'll make sure I let you know when the full version it available.