The Emperor & King

A Bechstein upright from the late 1800s recorded with a Sontronics Apollo 2 stereo ribbon mic.

The story

“The Emperor and King

C. Bechstein Upright – Hof-Lieferant Sr.Maj.des Kaisers u.Königs (supplier of the Emperor and King).

Our Bechstein dates back to the late 1800s, is in wonderful condition and has an incredibly warm tone. Having had the piano for around six months I decided to sample it for the PianoBook as it has given me a new creative pallet.

The mics have helped to capture a depth to the piano and consist of a pair of Sontronics Orpheus in a spaced close mic position as well as a Sontronics Apollo 2 stereo ribbon mic using the Gary ‘Barlow’ technique, positioned just above my head; thanks Christian and Gary! The signals go through a UA Apollo 8p interface without any processing applied.

The felt is attached to an old curtain rail using double sided tape. A small corner of felt is also tagged to each end of the rail to reduce any vibrations from the piano.

I would love to know if some of you can make use of it as I’m considering re-sampling with more velocity layers, with and without felt.”

Reviews for The Emperor & King

  • Sound
  • Character
  • Playability
  • Inspiration
  • GUI

Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!

  • Perfectly Awesome!

    As a pianist, samplist, and as someone with a tiny little bit of knowledge about piano maintenance, thing, and repair, I'm pretty picky about piano samples -- as my other reviews will attest. I can find almost nothing which could be changed or improved about this library, however. It's immaculately recorded, it sounds beautiful, and it's so very playable. I will admit that there are some very tiny inconsistencies in the trimming of the starts of the samples. I love this library so much that I went through and edited them to be all consistently tight because I love this library so much. This is probably my all-time favorite felted piano on the entire site.

    Sam Ecoff09 November 2021
  • The Workhorse Pianobook Felt Piano

    This piano instrument came by personal recommendation from professional composer, Pianobook samplist and reviewer extraordinaire, Sam Ecoff.

    Sam recommended a few pianos to me and I tested them all out, next to other top felt pianos including the OA piano, Noire, Spitfire Felt Piano and all of the others on Pianobook that I personally think are sonically superior.

    What stands out to me about this piano is how well recorded it is and how even the sound and playability are. This felt piano works in the context of actual music better than any of the other Pianobook felt pianos because of it's frequency response. The low end isn't so bloated and overpowering like a lot of other felt pianos are.

    I understand the need to position the microphones close to the hammers in order to get that really intimate sound quality where you can literally feel the mechanics of the piano working. It definitely adds to the kinetic experience that connects a person to the sample instrument as if they were really sitting on the piano bench playing it. I think some of the sampled pianos suffer because not everyone is a recording engineer and knows how to equalize the samples to keep the instrument sounding even both in volume and frequency response.

    This instrument has a nice balance between capturing the intimate sound you get with super close mics but keeps the mics far enough away to capture a sound where the sound waves are more evolved and have had time to fully develop in terms of frequency content. It's a fine line that professional engineers search for to find balanced mic placement. At least, that has been my experience.

    This piano has a very thick tone and very rich resonance but retains enough clarity to work in the context of a mix. It balances itself easier with less of a need to start carving things up with an equalizer compared to other felt pianos that are very bass heavy. Bass heavy pianos can work beautifully in solo piano music but if you need something more versatile, this is your best option currently on Pianobook for the soft felt sound.

    Compared to something like Christian Henson's Claustrophobic piano, this piano sounds more "vanilla" and less characterful and immersive with the nuances of piano imperfections that Spitfire are the masters of. Naked, the Claustrophobic piano is more impressive but when it comes time to have a working instrument for a piece of music, The Emperor and King is going to surprise you with it's usefulness.

    I personally prefer the 162MB Kontakt version. You have to turn up the volume of the mics a bit but overall, I find it plays and sounds better than the 172MB version when comparing the two.

    Thank you Chris Cook for creating this instrument. Well done on the recording and preparation of the samples.

    And thank you to Sam Ecoff for pointing me to it.

    Bob Guido07 January 2022
  • A trully nice felt piano

    It really is. Despite the fact that the high register is not panned properly to the right, the sampling is incredible so there is no audible noise - unless you go absolutely extreme frenzy mode with the sustain, but that's not what the keyboard wants to offer you. It has the kind type of character, a romantic if you'd like. It also offers you two different mic mixes, and a release trigger volume option, but I suggest leaving that off since it will introduce a lot of white noise.

    Alex Raptakis21 October 2021
  • Perfect piano for layering.

    I remember to have watched a video or read an interview in which the composer was explaining that his piano sound was the combination of two pianos, one very warm and the other brighter. If you're looking to use this approach, this piano works very well for that purpose. Another way this piano can be useful is to create organic low-end support to a high-end pad or string machines like a Solina or a Mellotron. Otherwise, the sound of the piano is too dull for my taste, and honestly, I prefer to use felted piano to have that kind of sounds.

    Julian Doe12 October 2021
  • Stunning Felt Piano

    I remember this one sticking out to me when i first found pianobook. Its pretty dark and mid heavy but i like that about it. The sample maker said he might resample it with more velocity layers and im definitely here for that. This piano has a really dramatic vibe, It definitely sounds old but really pristine and not to chorusy. Its not a super heavy felt but just enough which is really nice. The panning isn't perfectly straight throughout all the samples it seems like so that could also be something to check out if you dove back into this piano. Still this is a really great instrument.

    septemberwalk12 November 2021