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Re: Amber Upright

Postby anotherscott » 12 Jul 2017, 21:46

Gambold wrote:That's why I'd like an explanation from Clavia on why this is happening - because until I get one, I can't help but assume it's to move people like me into new keyboards.

You can't help but assume that they are unnecessarily padding the file to make it harder for people with old boards to use? If that's what you assume, why would a different explanation from Nord persuade you otherwise? After all, any company who would do that would presumably not be averse to lying about it.

My question would be: Does it sound better than other piano samples? Some people seem to think it does. That could be because of the character or the source piano, but particularly if you're talking about overall sound quality (as opposed to "character"), it could well be because there is more sample data (longer attack portions before starting to loop, for example). IF you think it sounds better, what are the odds that the increased size came from unnecessary file padding as opposed to, well, something that would make it sound better? And if you do NOT think it sounds better, then it doesn't much matter, because you could just use some smaller piano that you think sounds just as good.
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Re: Amber Upright


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Re: Amber Upright

Postby Gambold » 12 Jul 2017, 22:16

>You can't help but assume that they are unnecessarily padding the file to make it harder for people with old boards to use? <

I don't know if it's unnecessary or not. No-one here does. None of us know WHY they are bigger.

A Large is a Large is a Large - I'm presuming that the *old* process is still available for Clavia to use. Why not have two Large samples - one at 65MB and the other at 99MB? Both still have resonance and pedal-down samples across the keyboard, yes? What's so essential about the *new* process that Nord has to use it exclusively, making their new samples difficult or impossible for older keyboards to use?

Just asking a question.
Last edited by Gambold on 12 Jul 2017, 22:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amber Upright

Postby Gambold » 12 Jul 2017, 22:38

Just to toss some data into the conversation:

The XL samples appeared with the Grand Imperial at 196. The most recent Royal XL is 199. Not much change over six years. Over in the Uprights the XL appeared with the Grand at 160, and now the newest Amber is 161. Again, little to no change in size over the past four years.

But XL samples have always been the purview of the most expensive Nords, given their very high MB size. For the bulk of the user base, most of who use older keyboards, the S-M-L samples are the go-to. All of those samples have almost doubled in file size in the past six years.

Here's the data for the L samples (and the ratios are the same for the S and M): the Grands have gone from the Concert Grand at 56MB to the Velvet at 106MB. The Uprights have traveled from the Rain at 47MB to the Amber at 99MB.

The new technology evidently doesn't mean anything for XL. Which seems a little odd - if larger bitrates or longer attack portions are being used, why haven't the XL sample sizes doubled too?
Last edited by Gambold on 12 Jul 2017, 22:47, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Amber Upright

Postby BuckW » 12 Jul 2017, 22:44

So they are making money by fiendishly making free samples too big for old products upsetting loyal customers thereby sending them off to their competitors?

<Dr. Evil grin>
Right!
</Dr. Evil grin>
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Re: Amber Upright

Postby Schulti » 13 Jul 2017, 11:32

Gambold wrote:>I think its for obvious reasons like more velocity layers and/or longer samples and/or higher bitrate.<

Ok, you clearly know something that I don't - I'd be interested where you got that information, or if it's just your educated guess. If it's the latter, with all respect it doesn't address the lack of information from Clavia on why samples are so much larger now.

I do have a beef about it. To wit: New samples are not "gifts from Nord." They are part of the board we purchase, a key selling point, and a large reason we spend the premium price for their machines. Now last time I said this, board elders like Pablo Mastodon came screaming in like I was spray-painting dirty pictures on a church wall, but I'm going to say it again anyway - regular new samples from Nord are an expected part of the product I bought from them. They are not Christmas presents or generous freebies from the kind souls at Clavia.

Imagine if they stopped releasing them or started charging for them, without adjusting their pricing. They won't, because a steady stream of *new* piano samples is part of what you buy when you buy a Nord. Sometimes we have to wait for them longer than we'd like, but we know they are coming eventually.

SO - when they start releasing samples that my keyboard doesn't have the room to contain, without removing a large chunk of the ones I already have, it rankles a bit. Especially when Stage 3 players with their 2GB of piano space are going to happily load them in like so many beer cans into a cooler. That's why I'd like an explanation from Clavia on why this is happening - because until I get one, I can't help but assume it's to move people like me into new keyboards.


I am just guessing. But i think its a good guess. Because thats the way it goes with our (music)technology - higher quality, more required space... The customers want that and other companys do it that way too.
So for me the newer pianos are sounding better than the older ones. But why? I dont know, but i´m sure, more velocity layers, longer samples, higher bitrate could be a part of it.
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Re: Amber Upright

Postby anotherscott » 13 Jul 2017, 15:05

Gambold wrote:>You can't help but assume that they are unnecessarily padding the file to make it harder for people with old boards to use? <

I don't know if it's unnecessary or not.

You said "I can't help but assume it's to move people like me into new keyboards." meaning you couldn't help but assume it was unnecessary (that is, only being done to screw users of older boards). That's the part that didn't make sense to me. Why must you assume the worst (i.e. "can't help but")? And if you're going to assume evil motivations, why would you necessarily believe anything else they said anyway?

Gambold wrote:The new technology evidently doesn't mean anything for XL. Which seems a little odd - if larger bitrates or longer attack portions are being used, why haven't the XL sample sizes doubled too?

That's an interesting point. First, as an aside, I don't think bit rate is a good theory here to begin with, because in the context of instrument playback, unlike longer attack portions, higher bitrate is unlikely to make a noticeable audible difference (and may even require different playback electronics). But you're right, longer attack portions would seem to have to affect all sample sizes, so that's probably not what they're doing either. (The reason I say "probably" rather than "definitely" is that there are other possibilities... like they already were using longer attack portions on the XL but hadn't been saying so, or they felt that longer attack portions were not as important if they weren't stretching... but I think these are less likely answers.) Same with the idea of including more velocity layers.

So if I had to guess, I'd say it was probably that the S/M/L are using less sample stretching than they did in the old days. That would be something that would tend to make them sound better, but would not increase the size of the XL. And they could choose to do such a thing because an increasing percentage of their users have the space to spare and would probably prefer the better sounding piano in a still pretty manageable size (it's not like there aren't already plenty of smaller pianos available for those who need them), OR they could have determined, because of the sonic character of the particular piano being sampled, that they could not get satisfactory results if they did as much stretching as they did on some of the earlier sample sets.

If someone is so inclined, one could load up the XL and the S of the newest piano, and by comparing note by note, determine how many notes are truly sampled vs. stretched; then load up an XL and an S of an older piano and do the same thing. Then you could determine whether the new S samples do or do not have less stretching than the old.

Again, I think it is somewhat academic, but it would be interesting to know.
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Re: Amber Upright

Postby harmonizer » 13 Jul 2017, 16:10

Back to the topic of using the new Amber Upright sample, which for me means in mono:

My son helped me to experiment with various EQ settings last night with the Amber Upright, in mono thru my EV zxa1. I am using an Electro 3, so I can only use the L sample size. At first we tried with the Electro's Mono button on, since that had worked well with the Royal Grand. With the mono button on for the Amber Upright, we never found a great solution. We were fighting the tendency of the octave below middle C to sound gummy, or if we used EQ to mask that problem, the problem of the sound of notes about 2 octaves higher to become too shrill.

I recalled comments from others that in non-mono mode, Node AP sounds often have more bass in the Left output and more treble in the RIght output, so we turned off the Electro's Mono button, used the Left output only, and started over. This time we found something better. Here are the EQ settings we came up with, with all dial settings expressed as clock times:
BASS: 12 noon
FREQ: 2pm
GAIN: 1pm (maybe just a tiny bit before 1pm)
TREBLE: 12 Noon

The GAIN level dial my son set at about 9/10 (about 4pm). I did not have an opportunity to ask my son why he chose this (I am not sure if there is any difference between boosting the GAIN level dial and just turning up the volume).

We chose a Stage reverb, set about half way between 1 and 2 (out of 10).

For me, the result is that it doesn't suck - it actually does sound like a piano.

I cannot easily A/B the single-amp performance of the Amber Upright (with these settings) against the Royal Grand, because I can only fit the "L" sample of one or the other at a single time. In general, I *think* the Royal Grand sounded a little better as a solo instrument, but I could not get it to cut through in a covers band. Tonight we have another covers band rehearsal, so I will find out tonight whether the Amber Upright with these settings can "cut" through.
Last edited by harmonizer on 13 Jul 2017, 16:12, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Amber Upright

Postby daniel70 » 13 Jul 2017, 20:16

I can get the Royal Grand cutting through by cranking up the treble. Sounds great stereo and mono. My bandmates say the same.
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Re: Amber Upright

Postby Gambold » 13 Jul 2017, 21:24

>if you're going to assume evil motivations<

Evil? Look, I know that anything less than a glowing comment about Nord is taken hard on this forum, but *evil* is your word, not mine. I'm just yakking here. I own a Nord and will probably buy another one before I croak so that puts me in that very tiny minority of people on the planet that buy the groceries at Clavia.

The fact remains that sample sizes have ballooned over the past five years, without any explanation why. The new bigger-file samples themselves are not distinctly or obviously superior to the older ones - indeed, a couple of the new ones are kind of weak, and most of the others are on par with the older models. You aren't going to poll a universal vote here saying yeah, the Velvet schools the Grand Lady D. Or the Bambino trounces the Black.

So the question remains - why is this file bloat happening, because the detriments (older boards can't use them) seem to outweigh the benefits (whatever those are).
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Re: Amber Upright

Postby harmonizer » 13 Jul 2017, 22:20

daniel70 wrote:I can get the Royal Grand cutting through by cranking up the treble. Sounds great stereo and mono. My bandmates say the same.


Can you please tell me the exact settings you are using for BASS, FREQ, GAIN, and TREBLE, and what amplifier you are using? I am interested to try your settings with Royal Grand.
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