|To create CFX
Abbey Road Studios
piano, studio, mics,
Yamaha’s hand-built, $180,000 CFX piano is
one of the finest instruments made. When Mirek
Stiles at Abbey Road decided to sample one, he
called on Garritan to pool their resources. Abbey
Road’s staff chose the miking techniques and
supervised the recording sessions, and Garritan
transformed the recordings into a software
instrument. Together, they captured every sonic
detail of the piano in Abbey Road Studio One.
Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand (CFX)
comprises AAX, AU, RTAS, and VST plug-ins as well
as a standalone application. Simply run the installer,
choose the full (122GB) or compact (24.5GB) content,
register online, and save the activation file to your
desktop. Because the included brochure tells you
very little about using the software, you should refer
to the user’s manual.
CFX offers three sets of virtual mic setups, called
perspectives. Engineers used two mic kits to capture
each perspective: one close to the piano and one in
the room to capture ambience. Classic is the most
detailed perspective and makes a good choice for solo
performance, whereas Contemporary is the brightest
and plays best with others. The Player perspective
comes closest to making you feel like you’re actually
sitting at the piano in Studio One.
CFX’s five views share controls for loading
perspectives, changing mic levels and panning,
and specifying keyboard parameters. A pop-up
menu selects Full or Compact versions of all three
perspectives, determining CFX’s impact on computer
resources. Thirty-two excellent presets are duplicated
for each version. Knobs and sliders control stereo
width and the balance between close and ambient
mics. You can fine-tune pitch, transpose by semitones
and octaves, and pick from a
dozen tuning standards.
Piano view supplies knobs
for pedal noise, sympathetic and
sustain resonance, and release
volume, crossfade, and decay.
You can select lid positions, too.
Duplicating an acoustic piano’s
sympathetic string vibration is
a challenge for any digital piano.
CFX’s sympathetic resonance
responds realistically to your playing, and is available
in both the Compact and Full versions.
Controls for the integrated convolution reverb
appear in Studio view. Impulse responses include
concert halls, rackmount hardware, and even an
underground cave. You also get three bands of EQ
for close and ambient microphones, and a saturation
effect that affects harmonic texture.
In Advanced view, edit, save, and load velocity
curves. Specify the range between the softest
and loudest notes, and choose from 15 included
temperaments, import additional temperaments,
and dial in stretch-tuning adjustments. CFX can
load MIDI files directly into the standalone version.
Buttons at the bottom of every view provide
transport functions and allow you to record a WAV
file of your performance. Choose Render Offline to
convert MIDI files to WAV files using the current
Playing Abbey Road CFX comes as close to
playing an acoustic piano as any software or digital
hardware I’ve tried. It sounds superb at both ends of
the tonal spectrum, bright and dark. For that reason,
along with so much control over mic placement, and
stunningly natural reverb, the Abbey Road CFX is my
new go-to studio piano.
Beautiful tone. Responsive
Gorgeous room sound. A
Full installation requires
132 GB of disk space and a
Abbey Road Studios CFX
Former senior editor
Geary Yelton has been
writing reviews for
since the very first issue.