There are plenty of sample libraries out there created with the goal of capturing a large, pristine grand piano in perfect condition and flawlessly recorded. Imperfect Samples takes a different approach to libraries by going for natural and organic character over sterility and preserving the little imperfections in the samples that signal to the listener that they are hearing a real instrument. Imperfect Samples currently offers four pianos: Fazioli Concert Grand (a large grand); Hohner White Baby Grand (a small grand); Brasted Broken Upright (out-of-tune honky tonk) and Braunschweig Upright Piano. The Braunschweig Upright Piano (VST, AU, EXS24, Kontakt) is available as Basic ($59.49, one 8-layer perspective only) and Pro ($133.86, two mic perspectives and up to 14-layers). Perspective 1 (Basic and Pro) is recorded two inches from the soundboard for a very immediate, up-close and large sound. Perspective 2 (Pro version only) is recorded closer to the hammer position for a softer but slightly more percussive sound.
Depending on the style of music, a big grand piano is not always the right choice. I was very happy to find this upright piano, an instrument that is generally under-represented in the world of sample libraries. Many classic pop recordings used upright pianos instead of big grand pianos. In particular, alternative, rock, singer-songwriter and film recordings often benefit from the character and intimacy of an upright piano.
At first listen, the Braunschweig Upright is a little shocking. It drips with character, explodes with rich harmonics, and is full of life. It is not tuned to perfection to the point of being lifeless— you can actually hear the strings beating against each other in a single note. To some, it may sound a bit too far out-of- tune, but I think it sounds great. And, unlike many piano libraries, it actually sounds better when placed in a track. As you add drums, bass, and guitars around this piano, it sounds even more realistic and full of character: Think John Lennon''s “Imagine,” but recorded better. It also handles EQ well, and it doesn''t disappear and get mushy when the stereo image is collapsed.
Like with most piano libraries, I had to tweak the velocity response from my keyboard controller and/or DAW to find the sweet spot; but once I did, the piano was very dynamic and responsive to my playing. And if you really slam the velocity, you can get a great, rockin'' Jerry Lee Lewis or early Elton John sound. When played softly, the Braunschweig is downright moody and melancholy, even eerie.
Of the two perspectives offered in the Pro version, I prefer Perspective 1, which is included in the Basic version. It is overall more dynamic and clear and exhibits an extended frequency response on the highs and lows compared to Perspective 2, which is darker and more distant. Perspective 2 would be better suited for moody film scores or background parts in a recording, rather than being featured up front, in my opinion; however, usefulness and application are completely subjective. I have also had good luck layering the two perspectives together for an even more involved sound, although the 10- layer patches are the highest available for both perspectives (Perspective 1 also has 12- and 14-layer patches; Perspective 2 goes up to 11-layers). I''m also not completely convinced that the mapping is identical between the two perspectives'' 10-layer patches when layered; but, in practice, there is so much chorusing already from the “loose” tuning of the piano in general that it probably would go unnoticed. Overall, I find the Braunschweig Upright Piano immensely useful. It is a great complement to the other pianos in my collection.
I welcome the approach that Imperfect Samples is taking by not sucking the life out of their instruments. I love an instrument that exudes character, and the Braunschweig Upright Piano delivers in spades
Overall Rating (1-5): 4
Imperfect Samples Braunschweig Upright Piano Product Page