Frequently Asked Questions
What is the end goal of the Pianobook sample library? Is it to have many different piano options, a blend of different pianos? Textural usage? How does the story behind the piano link to the usage of it?
Pianobook is in two parts: very light, unprocessed pianos and then these piano processed through all sorts of effects and modular synthesis. Over the coming weeks we, as a community, will try to establish what will be an acceptable minimum viable product (MVP) for Pianobook.
I probably have easily more than 20 or 30 sampled piano, how will Pianobook differentiate itself?
The aim of Pianobook is to build a really inspiring set of piano-inspired tools. I hope to have a really big selection of pianos but balance this so the library isn't oppressively huge. I would like to treat the library like a detailed string library with different articulations mapped to different patches. With many different Piano samples, Pianobook will provide different options for different uses, be they an out-of-tune honking piano in a basement for brutish use cases vs a more personable sound of a felt piano.
Is there a discussion forum to share thoughts on Pianobook?
Yes! Check out our new forum here.
Will Christian come and sample my piano or should I sample it myself?
A key aspect of Pianobook is to encourage people to get into sampling. Christian’s tutorials aim to provide everyone with the information needed to successfully sample their own piano. This said, Christian would like to come sample some of the community’s pianos and hear more about their stories. The best way to make this happen is submit your story and samples to the library so Christian can pick out any he can travel to.
What equipment will I need to sample my piano?
A pair of microphones (or a stereo mic), an audio interface or digital recorder and some form of audio editing tool (e.g. Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, Cubase, Ableton, FL Studio, Digital Performer or any other DAW).
What advice for microphones/mic placement? Dynamic? Condenser? Polar patterns? Budget options? Stereo?
Most recordings of pianos make use of one or more stereo pairs of condenser microphones - anything from a pair of large diaphragm Neumanns, through to Aston Spirit microphones, to a simple pair of small diaphragm condensers. Whilst Condenser microphones are typically used, you could get great results from something like a Shure SM58. Microphone placement and polar pattern will depend on the particular piano, the room and whatever sounds best!
For the Winter Piano a pair of Neuman M149 were used, placed in a 3:1 ratio, where the microphones are placed 3 times as far apart as they are from the sound source. This helps with phase issues (which are more likely if the two microphones are pointing at the same point).
I don't have a piano - can I still contribute?
Yes! Pianos in the library may be submitted in particular formats (e.g. ESX24, Kontakt) and so one way to contribute might be to create versions of the samples in different formats. You may also be able to offer up support recording the piano of other member’s of the community who lack the equipment to do so.
What sample rates and depths should we use?
For consistency of this project please use 48kHz, 24 bit, WAV
How many samples should I create? Every note/minor 3rds/cycle of 5ths? How many dynamic layers? Round robins? Release triggers? Pedal noises?
For consistency please sample the piano in a cycle of 5ths in two dynamic layers, no round robins, with release triggers and with the sustain pedal engaged. You can download a template to help with the sampling here: bit.ly/2BDgYxX
Watch Christian’s video where he uses the template here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nUa8Rkxkk4
Should pianos be sampled with standard playing style or can the samples be more creative (e.g. plucked, hit with sticks, prepared, felt)?
The playing style should be relatively standard, however you may wish to try preparing the piano, adding felt or other materials to alter the characteristics.
Would the submissions be fully realised Kontakt libraries/presets, ESX24, or raw samples?
Raw samples are fine, however it’s very hard to know if the samples themselves will be useable until they have been constructed into a virtual instrument. Have a go loading your samples into a sampler and submit the instrument with the samples. If you don’t have access to a sampler, reach out to the community to help.
Can I sample a public (e.g. train station) piano?
Before sampling a piano please get permission from the owner. Sampling of a piano in a public place is likely to be very difficult due to likely background noise. That said - if you can get permission to record at a quiet time then why not try and see how the results come out?
Can alternative types of piano be sampled (e.g. toy piano)?
Pianobook will be a collection of acoustic or electro acoustic piano - anything that fits this classification is worth sampling!
Is there a Kontakt template/naming convention/directory layout for the samples?
Please use a different directory for "original" and "NR" (noise reduced) samples. Name each sample with the note being played, ensuring you use only sharp "#" symbols rather than flat "b" symbols (as many tools only automatically recognise the sharp symbol when importing).
Do you want "dry" samples or can they also be processed/warped with effects/put through modular synths? Do you want them de-noised with something like iZotope RX?
Alway provide a clean, as recorded, sample. If possible provide noise reduced samples (with the same names as the clean so they can be "sample swapped" with the original should we need to do something post production).
Is there a Logic template I can use to help me sample my piano?
Yes! You can download it here: bit.ly/2BDgYxX
What about people who use Ableton and don't have full Kontakt?
Ableton’s Sampler can import ESX and (non-encrypted) Kontakt files. If you choose to use Ableton Sampler then please provide the raw samples so that others can build Kontakt and ESX24 version.
What tools are there for noise reduction?
There are a wide range of tools available for noise reduction. Christian currently uses iZotope RX (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U884fIki_jY). The community have also recommended Brusfri by Klevgrand, NS1 by Waves, NR in Audacity, Audition in Adobe Creative Cloud and FL Studio also has noise reduction capabilities (the community recommended this tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1CyFNoAWZc).
How do I get in touch with Christian about Pianobook?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Christian can only answer Pianobook related topics on this email.