Old 06-15-2012, 04:28 PM   #1
Panic
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Default VSTi's ...vs. the real thing

VSTi's are just so convenient and easy to deal with compared to having to record the real thing in a real room with real mics and acoustic issues and all that. Why would anyone bother with the real thing anymore if they didn't have to?

I'll tell you why: because it totally sucks when you're listening to a really cool tune and suddenly realise the frikin piano is one of the sounds that comes packaged with Kontakt. I don't know why it's such a disappointment, but it is. It's like, well now it's nothing special, because I can get the exact same stupid sound. It's like it has no value because the sound is, or can be anywhere, on any recording, because everyone who has Kontakt has that exact same piano sound. Its sonic value is nil.

Now, my 60 year old Wurli upright isn't the best sounding piano by a long shot and it's a pita to record, especially since I have monkeys running around in the house who like to join in on the piano while I'm playing it, BUT there's no one else in the whole wide world who has that piano, or its sound. It's got character, it's unique and it's mine; all frikin mine. And, if you ever hear it on a recording, you can be sure it took a helluva lot more than a few mouse clicks to get it on there. And, you can be equally sure you probably won't hear it anywhere else, which you may decide, is good thing-- if you actually hear the piano.


*while we're at it: you can be sure it's a real performance, not something I played into midi and edited and quantized and all that. Sure it might suck, but at least it's me sucking for real, instead of me being a great fake.
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Old 06-15-2012, 04:38 PM   #2
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There is a lot of beautiful complexity in a piano that cannot be captured with samples. Basically it's how the notes "mix" together in the piano. I've heard people talk about sympathetic resonances, and that must have something to do with it, although I'd be surprised if that were the only thing. With sampled pianos, each note sounds disconnected from the others.

I can't get any sound I like from virtual synths either. I think complexity is a big problem with synths as well. There is a lot of subtle natural fluctuation going on with circuits that hasn't been captured in the synths I've heard. There are usually problems with the treble as well; sticking out very rudely and sounding sort of plastic.

And with anything with knobs it's great to have them in front of you. It's very hard to tweak with a mouse while playing, and it gets so old after a while that I just don't want to do it anymore.

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Old 06-15-2012, 05:35 PM   #3
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re:
Quote:
"totally sucks" and "It's like it has no value"
agree with the underlying sentiment, but disagree that there is *no* value.

re:
Quote:
"With sampled pianos, each note sound disconnected from the others."
very true. samples of most any instrument have that problem.

re:
Quote:
"I can't get any sound I like from virtual synths either. I think complexity is a big problem with synths as well. There is a lot of subtle natural fluctuation going on with circuits that hasn't been captured in the synths I've heard. There are usually problems with the treble as well; sticking out very rudely and sounding sort of plastic."
granted, there's a lot of really bad "rude plastic" synths out there, but remember there were a lot of bad "rude plastic" patches on old hardware synths (trust me, i bought a poly800 new ). i hope you're not just comparing the best of the old with the worst of the new.

i think it's more a question of authenticity. a computer is not a piano, nor is it a string ensemble, a pipe organ, a saxophone, or a drum kit. as a culture we've had a couple of hundred years of exploring the sounds of the piano, strings, etc., and our ears are used to their nuances. so i like it better when the tools are used to their strengths, rather than trying to be "backwards-compatible" and mimic other sounds. sampling is often a cheap shortcut, and i prefer not to use them for just that reason.

speaking of the non-authenticity of sampling, is it then "fake" to use compression and reverb on acoustic sounds, since they use electronics to hide the problems of "recording the real thing in a real room with real mics and acoustic issues and all that" and create a false sonic space? (not to be snarky, just thinking it through...)
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Old 06-15-2012, 05:54 PM   #4
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granted, there's a lot of really bad "rude plastic" synths out there, but remember there were a lot of bad "rude plastic" patches on old hardware synths (trust me, i bought a poly800 new ). i hope you're not just comparing the best of the old with the worst of the new.
Crap I hate it when people quote my typos.

Anyway, I don't have a large amount of experience with synths. I've tried to use a few vsts like Massive and Synth1, and I just can't find a good sound with them. Massive is less plastic if I remember correctly (just messed with the demo) but still not that nice. I've listened to many many demos as well, and they all seem to have the same problems. I've never owned a hardware synth, but have listened to enough demos to be confident that I can tell between the two. I like the slower analogs. The dsi mopho for example has a bit too much edge to it, even with the filter turned down as far as I can tell. I think it's almost midway between what I would like and a rude plastic vst. A moog is more my style, though I won't be able to afford one anytime soon. I'd like to get a Doepfer Dark energy when I have some money to spend. Basically anything Boards of Canada would use I would love (queue someone telling me all they use are microkorgs).

Edit. I checked out the Poly800 and it had sort of an in between sound, but apparently it has digital controlled oscillators, so it's not as "analog" as some synths?

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Old 06-15-2012, 06:02 PM   #5
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VSTi's are just so convenient and easy to deal with compared to having to record the real thing in a real room with real mics and acoustic issues and all that. Why would anyone bother with the real thing anymore if they didn't have to?

I'll tell you why: because it totally sucks when you're listening to a really cool tune and suddenly realise the frikin piano is one of the sounds that comes packaged with Kontakt. I don't know why it's such a disappointment, but it is. It's like, well now it's nothing special, because I can get the exact same stupid sound. It's like it has no value because the sound is, or can be anywhere, on any recording, because everyone who has Kontakt has that exact same piano sound. Its sonic value is nil.

Now, my 60 year old Wurli upright isn't the best sounding piano by a long shot and it's a pita to record, especially since I have monkeys running around in the house who like to join in on the piano while I'm playing it, BUT there's no one else in the whole wide world who has that piano, or its sound. It's got character, it's unique and it's mine; all frikin mine. And, if you ever hear it on a recording, you can be sure it took a helluva lot more than a few mouse clicks to get it on there. And, you can be equally sure you probably won't hear it anywhere else, which you may decide, is good thing-- if you actually hear the piano.


*while we're at it: you can be sure it's a real performance, not something I played into midi and edited and quantized and all that. Sure it might suck, but at least it's me sucking for real, instead of me being a great fake.
Hmmm I'm a lot lot more sick of the same old 60 year old Wirlie upright sound than the piano(s) in Kontakt - maybe it's just me
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Old 06-15-2012, 06:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by run, megalodon View Post
Anyway, I don't have a large amount of experience with synths. I've tried to use a few vsts like Massive and Synth1, and I just can't find a good sound with them. Massive is less plastic if I remember correctly (just messed with the demo) but still not that nice... A moog is more my style, though I won't be able to afford one anytime soon.
yeah me either... or a superjupiter, a oberheim 12, or a memorymoog (my faves)

it's sort of like the o.p. pianos - vsti can get 90% of the way to a real sound, then it hits an uncanny valley of sound. there is something sonically about the slight random drift of the old analog that vsti isn't quite there. and vsti can't pull off some of that complex lfo-slow-gated or evolving textures like the analog originals.

of course it also can take forever to set up an old synth to make them
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Edit. I checked out the Poly800 and it had sort of an in between sound, but apparently it has digital controlled oscillators, so it's not as "analog" as some synths?
right, it was a kind of hybrid...

not to detract too far from the o.p., but what is your opinion of the "massive" and other virtual sounds in my most recent track? no samples used except a couple in a battery kit.
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Old 06-15-2012, 06:20 PM   #7
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not to detract too far from the o.p., but what is your opinion of the "massive" and other virtual sounds in my most recent track? no samples used except a couple in a battery kit.
You know, I listened to that when you posted it and although it's fairly compressed, I didn't think it sounded that bad at all. Pretty cool actually. It may be that I need to learn to program better, but like I said vsts don't exactly help with that. I tend to prefer very simple, naked sounds, usually just osc+filter+volume envelope. It's probably easiest to tell the difference in that stripped down state; the staticness of vsts will come out. Also I prefer mostly acoustic sounds usually; guitar and piano and singing, so a vst is going to have a much harder time fitting in with that sort of thing.
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Old 06-15-2012, 06:29 PM   #8
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You know, I listened to that when you posted it and although it's fairly compressed, I didn't think it sounded that bad at all. Pretty cool actually.
thanks

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It may be that I need to learn to program better, but like I said vsts don't exactly help with that. I tend to prefer very simple, naked sounds, usually just osc+filter+volume envelope. It's probably easiest to tell the difference in that stripped down state; the staticness of vsts will come out.
ya, i do try to hide & smear the sources where possible.

o.p. the staticness of samples is a big problem.

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Also I prefer mostly acoustic sounds usually; guitar and piano and singing, so a vst is going to have a much harder time fitting in with that sort of thing.
very true.
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Old 06-15-2012, 07:51 PM   #9
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re:agree with the underlying sentiment, but disagree that there is *no* value.

re:very true. samples of most any instrument have that problem.
It still has value, of course, just not to me as a listener.

Quote:
Originally Posted by artbay
speaking of the non-authenticity of sampling, is it then "fake" to use compression and reverb on acoustic sounds, since they use electronics to hide the problems of "recording the real thing in a real room with real mics and acoustic issues and all that" and create a false sonic space? (not to be snarky, just thinking it through...)
I wasn't really speaking about authenticity so much, aside from my last bit on the end. It's not so much about being real as being unique and scarce. Nothing technically wrong with sampled pianos it's just that, if everyone has the same sounds available to them, it makes me not want to or use them in my own stuff, or hear them in others.
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Old 06-15-2012, 07:56 PM   #10
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if everyone has the same sounds available to them, it makes me not want to or use them in my own stuff, or hear them in others.
true that
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Old 06-15-2012, 08:43 PM   #11
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Hmmm I'm a lot lot more sick of the same old 60 year old Wirlie upright sound than the piano(s) in Kontakt - maybe it's just me
No, I'm pretty sure it's me who's in the minority. I usually am.
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:32 PM   #12
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I've been thinking about it some more and I guess it's alot like a guy who goes out and gets a fender strat and a deluxe reverb, or something. Pretty common setup, but that doesn't mean everyone who uses it sounds the same.

I guess with sampled instruments, in the end, the uniqueness and character will boil down to the person using it; the fingers, the ear, the tweaking, etc.
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:28 PM   #13
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Interesting. To take on the point about 60 year old wurley samples, a 60 year old wurley would likely sound the same, too, so it can only be your own use/input to that wurley that is getting stale, surely?

We tend to forget that even a ampler playing back samples IS an instrument and as such needs to be played properly to get good results
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Old 06-16-2012, 01:01 AM   #14
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I've been thinking about it some more and I guess it's alot like a guy who goes out and gets a fender strat and a deluxe reverb, or something. Pretty common setup, but that doesn't mean everyone who uses it sounds the same.

I guess with sampled instruments, in the end, the uniqueness and character will boil down to the person using it; the fingers, the ear, the tweaking, etc.
I can make my 1980's proteus midi brain sound just like you are bowing on a cello. VSTi's are way better even. It's all in the touch of the keyboard and how you play, I use the modulator and bend on the keyboard as well as a expression pedal. If you can make a sample musical and believable go for it.

-> Still 'Aint nothing like the real thing Baby" -Marvin Gaye
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Old 06-16-2012, 07:01 AM   #15
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the real thing sounds better. use VSTi when necessary, but prefer real instruments always imo
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Old 06-16-2012, 08:13 AM   #16
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I know I am not saying anything that anybody here doesn't already know.....

I will be the first to stand up and say how much I love unique sounds.

I get a kick out of how the sounds on a great recording all fit together, and how the perceived sounds on a "great mix", listened to individually, usually sound thin and not very "authentic". I am amazed at the incredibly "epic-sized" sound one can get by manipulating authentic sounds into little wisps of their former selves.

It will always be the "song" and it's emotional and performance "content", and not the sounds used, that reign supreme for me.

One is good, the other stirs souls.
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Old 06-16-2012, 08:14 AM   #17
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I think it's six of one and a half dozen of the other.

Certainly samples and emulators probably will never reproduce all nuances and complexities of the "imitated" instrument itself, of individuals playing instruments, or the sympathetic sounds/ambiances of an ensemble performance.

That said, as electric guitars, electric pianos, Chamberlains/Mellotrons, drum machines, etc.--originally poor "imitations" of what for they were originally supposed to substitute--became distinct instruments unto themselves. So too may many virtual instruments become signature sounds unto themselves.

Considering also the time it would take to acquire competence on any given instrument, it's not always so bad to use samples, loops, emulators, modelers, etc. should one be unable to acquire an instrumentalist to play the particular instrument on a track. Also, VSTi's tend to have less dysfunctional personality quirks than many human musicians. ;-)
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:20 AM   #18
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Considering also the time it would take to acquire competence on any given instrument, it's not always so bad to use samples, loops, emulators, modelers, etc. should one be unable to acquire an instrumentalist to play the particular instrument on a track. Also, VSTi's tend to have less dysfunctional personality quirks than many human musicians. ;-)
ya - if i had 24-7 access to a full orchestra that never needed practice, pay, or food and water, i'd definitely use them first
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:29 AM   #19
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ya - if i had 24-7 access to a full orchestra that never needed practice, pay, or food and water, i'd definitely use them first
Hee-hee.
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Old 06-16-2012, 12:51 PM   #20
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"*while we're at it: you can be sure it's a real performance, not something I played into midi and edited and quantized and all that. Sure it might suck, but at least it's me sucking for real, instead of me being a great fake. "


According to this reasoning,if a guy like Beethoven couldn't play what he wrote then his music would be crap and he would be a great fake.

To me, it's about the music, not how great your neuro-muscular system is.

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Old 06-16-2012, 02:20 PM   #21
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Sure it might suck, but at least it's me sucking for real, instead of me being a great fake.
I understand where your coming from PAPT but I think there's a little more to it than that.

If a person somehow fakes their playing or music in some way and claims they played it with their instrument(s), then that's deceitful.

There are a lot of impressive players out there that I am truly impressed with. On the other hand I can be just as impressed with someone who puts together a great midi composition that sounds good. They both take skill, knowledge, and ability.

Quote:
According to this reasoning,if a guy like Beethoven couldn't play what he wrote then his music would be crap and he would be a great fake.
I rather doubt Beethoven, Bach, John Williams, etc. could play all the instruments they wrote for. However I suspect they had a great deal of knowledge how each instrument works and where to use them.
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Old 06-16-2012, 05:58 PM   #22
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ya - if i had 24-7 access to a full orchestra that never needed practice, pay, or food and water, i'd definitely use them first
lol...not to mention trying to stuff a full orchestra into a 100 square foot bedroom.
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:50 AM   #23
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I know what you mean by the value being diminished by the fact everyone has one and it's so easy, I feel the same about auto tune. I used to take pride in my pitch and timing control and looked up to the masters...

OTOH, I always remind myself that the common or garden Fender Strat was a plank in some hands and a virtuoso instruent in others.... or even just an ornament in the corner of a room! The end user made the difference...

Use your old Wurli ALONG with the ubiquitous pianos and that will really cause some head scratching, as in, how the hell did he get THAT sound!
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:50 AM   #24
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VSTi's are just so convenient and easy to deal with compared to having to record the real thing in a real room with real mics and acoustic issues and all that. Why would anyone bother with the real thing anymore if they didn't have to?

I'll tell you why: because it totally sucks when you're listening to a really cool tune and suddenly realise the frikin piano is one of the sounds that comes packaged with Kontakt. I don't know why it's such a disappointment, but it is. It's like, well now it's nothing special, because I can get the exact same stupid sound. It's like it has no value because the sound is, or can be anywhere, on any recording, because everyone who has Kontakt has that exact same piano sound. Its sonic value is nil.

Now, my 60 year old Wurli upright isn't the best sounding piano by a long shot and it's a pita to record, especially since I have monkeys running around in the house who like to join in on the piano while I'm playing it, BUT there's no one else in the whole wide world who has that piano, or its sound. It's got character, it's unique and it's mine; all frikin mine. And, if you ever hear it on a recording, you can be sure it took a helluva lot more than a few mouse clicks to get it on there. And, you can be equally sure you probably won't hear it anywhere else, which you may decide, is good thing-- if you actually hear the piano.


*while we're at it: you can be sure it's a real performance, not something I played into midi and edited and quantized and all that. Sure it might suck, but at least it's me sucking for real, instead of me being a great fake.
ya, you lose a little in character, and uniqueness, but to me, as the performer, the real thing is far superior. although, you can modify and edit content easily.

If i were rich and making a record i thought would go platimum, or doign a real professional record, and money was not a problem. then i'd go real. real all the time. no midi violins or anything like that, real violinists.

unless of course i'm doing a kind of pop sort of tune, where many sounds will sound fake and manufactured on purpose. but as an imitation to real life, i would not use VSTis unless i had to. and i have to, so i'm so awesomely glad that shit exists.
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Old 06-18-2012, 01:30 PM   #25
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I understand where your coming from PAPT but I think there's a little more to it than that.

If a person somehow fakes their playing or music in some way and claims they played it with their instrument(s), then that's deceitful.

There are a lot of impressive players out there that I am truly impressed with. On the other hand I can be just as impressed with someone who puts together a great midi composition that sounds good. They both take skill, knowledge, and ability.



I rather doubt Beethoven, Bach, John Williams, etc. could play all the instruments they wrote for. However I suspect they had a great deal of knowledge how each instrument works and where to use them.
Not a big deal, but, the first part of you quoting me wasn't what I wrote, but was me quoting someone else. That's why I put the quotes around it.

I didn't do a good job of it.
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:30 PM   #26
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Not a big deal, but, the first part of you quoting me wasn't what I wrote, but was me quoting someone else. That's why I put the quotes around it.

I didn't do a good job of it.
Aah, PAPT, I'm sorry, I didn't catch that so now it all makes sense.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:40 PM   #27
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VSTi's are just so convenient and easy to deal with compared to having to record the real thing in a real room with real mics and acoustic issues and all that. Why would anyone bother with the real thing anymore if they didn't have to?

I'll tell you why: because it totally sucks when you're listening to a really cool tune and suddenly realise the frikin piano is one of the sounds that comes packaged with Kontakt.
Bass is one I notice in stuff I have done. Despite owning Trilion and trialling all sorts of bass vsti's, it's my cheap beat Fender Squire bass that still has the same strings on it from the day I bought it more than 5 years ago that wins hands down.

I can get all sorts of timing and feel from it that Trilian just can't do despite what it says it can do...

But EACH TO THEIR OWN
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:47 PM   #28
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ya, for me, bass, and guitar needs to be real. horns and things, and violins, are decent on VSTi. Piano is frickin awesome, and all key things are amazing.

if i could play every instrument, i would record every single one, but VSTis are pretty damn good in most cases.

still won't do it for bass though if it's a real guitar bass sound i'm looking for. no matter how much of a piece of shit my crappy samick is. it still gets the role.
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:51 PM   #29
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Yeah..bass guitar is unwhackable
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Old 06-20-2012, 07:20 PM   #30
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Unless you're making music that goes DOOJ DOOJ DOOJ DOOJ DOOJ
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:13 PM   #31
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Unless you're making music that goes DOOJ DOOJ DOOJ DOOJ DOOJ
ya, but that wouldn't require bass guitar, it would require bass of other sorts, and if it did require the guitar sound, which i'm sure it could, and incidentally, some slap bass on that sort of music could actually be quite cool, then it would, imo require a real one.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:43 AM   #32
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Just noticed this thread after someone resurrected it.

I don't get this "omg! It's a Kontakt piano and everyone has it so now it sucks." I have a Les Paul. So does half the guitarists out there. I'm not throwing it out the window (unless I'm tied to it). Every artists has access to the same paint at the art store. That doesn't mean you have to go find another Red that nobody else has to make a decent painting. It's about what you DO with it. Besides, if you can't stand the sound of it as is, just run another filter on it with a subtle effect. Ker-Blam! New piano.

And here's the bottom line: Go ask 5,000 random people what kind of Piano that is. None of them will know. And NONE of them will say "OMG! It's a default Kontakt piano!" They will all say "Um, it's a piano."
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:34 AM   #33
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Just noticed this thread after someone resurrected it.

I don't get this "omg! It's a Kontakt piano and everyone has it so now it sucks." I have a Les Paul. So does half the guitarists out there. I'm not throwing it out the window (unless I'm tied to it). Every artists has access to the same paint at the art store. That doesn't mean you have to go find another Red that nobody else has to make a decent painting. It's about what you DO with it. Besides, if you can't stand the sound of it as is, just run another filter on it with a subtle effect. Ker-Blam! New piano.

And here's the bottom line: Go ask 5,000 random people what kind of Piano that is. None of them will know. And NONE of them will say "OMG! It's a default Kontakt piano!" They will all say "Um, it's a piano."
indeed.

that said, i understand though the desire for a signature sound. but like you said, you can get that from how you process your sound. heck, you could layer two piano VSTis on top of each other even.

you make a piano that doesn't even exist in the real world. it's actually more flexible i think that a real piano in terms of variety of timbres possible.

i mean ya, you can mic a piano a certain way, but there are quite few models of real piano used in the majority of recordings i think.
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Old 06-22-2012, 12:21 PM   #34
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I don't get this "omg! It's a Kontakt piano and everyone has it so now it sucks."
Not saying it sucks. Just saying it cheapens a production.
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Old 06-22-2012, 12:27 PM   #35
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Not saying it sucks. Just saying it cheapens a production.
Is there a difference there?
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Old 06-22-2012, 04:36 PM   #36
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Is there a difference there?
I guess they could be viewed as the same thing, but

I think of, "sucks" as a quality statement; where as, "cheap" is a value statement.
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:00 AM   #37
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A good song is a good song and snobbery will always be just that, no matter if it is about class divide or presets
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:42 AM   #38
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I guess they could be viewed as the same thing, but

I think of, "sucks" as a quality statement; where as, "cheap" is a value statement.
Can't say I see much of a difference between those, either.
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:08 PM   #39
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A good song is a good song and snobbery will always be just that, no matter if it is about class divide or presets
this is true, and i know exactly what you mean, but, that something is unique, does have some added appeal to it. whether it is a sound or whatever. but at the same time, if we lived back in the day when all there was was live instruments, you wouldn't scoff at someone for having an instrument of the same brand and therefore similar sound to another. i mean, it is kind of ridiculous to put some sound down because someone else uses the same one. although the electronic age has allowed us to replicate at a much more perfect degree than ever before which changes things a little. but really, whatever. it's like you said. a good song is a good song. if all the sounds sound good together, who cares who else used the same sound as you. however i still find there's a little nice freshness of new stuff, and the same old recycled sounds gets old after a while too.
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:51 PM   #40
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if we lived back in the day when all there was was live instruments, you wouldn't scoff at someone for having an instrument of the same brand and therefore similar sound to another. i mean, it is kind of ridiculous to put some sound down because someone else uses the same one.
...it really makes the point!

How many people here, in many instances, can tell which instrument was used in a song? People actually seek out these instruments for their specific characteristics.

Fender Guitars, Gibson Guitars, Wurlitzer or Rhodes Electric Pianos, Hammond Organs, Moog Synthesizers, etc.......the list goes on and gets more and more specific!

Use what you've got, to the best of your ability, and be grateful for the opportunity.
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