Adam Monroe’s Upright Piano was sampled from a (slightly used) Schafer and Sons VS-40 upright piano using Oktava Mk-012 (in cardioid pattern) and AEA Ribbon microphones in wide stereo into Grace M101 and AEA TRP preamps. The piano was sampled with both small diaphragm condenser and ribbon microphones in order to capture both the transient details and warmth of an upright piano. This approach also allows the user to blend between microphone positions, in order to achieve a more percussive SDC sound, or a laid-back Ribbon warmth, depending on the needs of the track. With both mic positions equal, the piano library achieves a punchy, present, balanced sound useful for pop and solo piano tracks.
The piano was sampled with the lid and front-panel removed in order to further accentuate the string and hammer sounds, and mics were positioned directly over the hammers in spaced pairs. Naturally some phase issues arose, so the phase was inverted on the Ribbon mics in order to allow the bass frequencies to come through. The piano was recorded in a slightly reverberant room, a bit of which can be heard in the ribbon position.
Adam Monroe’s Upright Piano contains 10 layers of velocity for each note, with 2 note round-robin, which equates to approximately 3500 audio samples. The instrument includes built-in reverb and some anticipated frequency cuts which can be engaged via switches. The cuts centered around 10.6 kHz and 13.5 kHz are the frequencies where the piano’s hammer noise is most prevalent, and the 120 Hz cut is intended to clean up mud in bass-heavy mixes.
Our intention in developing this library was to create a piano voice that was both punchy and clean without sounding sterile or boring. We think the end result is a sampled upright piano that fits nicely into mixes without sounding clean or fake, and that has enough presence to breath life into pop and rock tracks, well also being versatile enough to sound good as a solo instrument.
The Kontakt version of Adam Monroe’s Upright Piano is cross-platform, and is maintained by Native Instruments, all the programming and effects being done through them. Some simple scripting is done by us.
The Kontakt version requires the FULL version of Kontakt 5 or later. You can use the (free) player version to “demo” the instrument, but it will time-out after 15 minutes.
The VST and Audio Unit versions are another beast entirely, and the programming falls entirely on AdamMonroeMusic. Our goal in any sample library that is also a VSTi (virtual instrument) or audio unit is to attempt to match the performance of the Kontakt Player. With this library, we feel like we have done just that.
The VST and AU versions include updated, high-performance algorithms that have been improving with each new virtual instrument released by Adam Monroe Music. For example, the buffering algorithm is double-buffered and multithreaded, which means that buffering performance is fast, even on slower computers, and even in lower latencies. Voices are held and iterated over in a pure, C-Style array. Memory use is comparable to the Kontakt version (about 400MB).
Because of the solid VST/AU code base, you can feel confident that the VST and AU versions should work just as well as the Kontakt version. The VST version currently works with all Windows VST compatible DAWS, the AU versions works with all Mac compatible DAWS
Why develop a VST or AU version at all? Although a great piece of software, the Full version of Kontakt (required to run 3rd party sample libraries) is expensive. Developing a VST/AU version that anyone can use does not add significant time to the development of an Upright Piano library – most of the time is spent sampling and processing the samples – so it’s a real no-brainer.
Audio engineering is a large part of creating a VST, but the sounds of this upright piano have barely been processed. Slight eq tweaks were done here and there done in order to balance-out the microphone positions. The samples were de-noised.