French music software and hardware developer Arturia has released Augmented Grand Piano. This intriguing new software package blends high-quality piano samples with modern synthesizer-based sounds. The result is a unique “never-before-heard” range of highly usable, contemporary voicings ideal for all manner of music production.
Virtual pianos* have come a long way in recent years, so much so that almost all major makes and types of acoustic, and electro-mechanical pianos have been comprehensively sampled or modelled. Music software houses are now looking at ways to extend and enhance the “scope” of the piano.
Arturia, with Augmented GRAND PIANO, has brought synth sounds into the picture, and this results in a unique array of composite timbres all with a piano heritage.
Samples, Synths, Layers, and Slots
Augmented GRAND PIANO proffers two types of sound engine: (i) piano-based samples; and (ii) synthesizer generated voicings.
Each sound produced by the software comprises two layers (A and B). And in turn, each layer has two slots both of which can be loaded with either of the two sound engines.
At the heart of Augmented GRAND PIANO is a set of premium acoustic piano samples derived from a 1980’s Steinway Model D grand. These recordings are both straight and “affected” (i.e. created using more unusual techniques such as bowing, plucking, etc). Samples are arranged under the headings Real Piano, Processed Pianos and Additional Samples. They can be further modified as required.
The synth engine features a collection of preset synth sounds generated using analogue, granular, harmonic or wavetable synthesiser technologies. All presets are fully editable.
The main control panel (shown above) has a very simple layout, with just eight knobs (macros). Four of these are effects controls, the other four shape the sound.
These macro controls are individually assigned to multiple parameters from any of the sound or effects sources (see screenshot below). So each macro can drive up to 8 different parameters. This melds the overall sound giving it its own identity with enhanced dynamics, articulation, and timbral transformation.
Consequently, Augmented GRAND PIANO is more than a piano with a synth laid on top. Here, by virtue of cross-blending, the whole is substantially greater than the sum of the parts.
The software includes 300 presets arranged in a library. To aid selection, these are tagged into various categories and cover a massive range of expressive, contemporary and abstract piano sounds. And of course, you can add your own creations to the database.
Augmented GRAND PIANO brings a whole new world of sounds to the party. It is particularly good at creating cinematic sounds suitable for film and television scores, video gaming and production music.
Arturia’s Augmented GRAND PIANO is available directly from the company’s website and has a price tag of 99 euros (approx. $99, £85).
- Dynamic hybrid piano instrument
- 2 Layers within each preset; each contains 2 customizable sound sources
- Detailed piano sample library: Real piano samples / Processed piano samples /Additional abstract samples
- Flexible synth engine: Virtual analogue / Granular / Harmonic / Wavetable
- Morph control moves between Layers A and B, affecting up to 8 custom destinations
- 7 additional macros: Time, Colour, Motion, FX A, FX B, Reverb, Delay
- 2 LFOs, 2 Function Generators, 2 Random Generators, 4 Keyboard modulation sources, Vibrato & Tremolo
- 2 FX slots per layer with 14 FX including ParamEQ, Bitcrusher, BL-20 Flanger, and more
- Dedicated Delay and Reverb sends with 5 spatial/time-based algorithms
- Built-in 16-step arpeggiator
- 300 factory presets
- Playable in a digital audio workstation (DAW), or standalone with a MIDI keyboard.
Requires 4GB RAM and 3GB hard disc space
* A virtual piano is a software application that simulates the playing of a piano using a computer.