Four New Virtual Pianos

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Last week three new virtual pianos were launched, which is quite something. Firstly there is the Synchron Fazioli F212 from Vienna Symphonic Library. This is a high-end imaging of Fazioli’s medium-sized concert grand. Secondly, UVI has unveiled Aurora – a source of textured piano voices generated by processing samples of a high-end concert grand. And finally SynToPix from Quiet Music — a collection of fun toy piano sounds.

Also unveiled recently was the Ravenscroft 220 VI from Prime Studio. Like the Synchron Fazioli F212 this is a premium-quality virtual instrument, here recreating the Ravenscroft Model 220 grand piano.

Synchron Fazioli F212

Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL) is based in Vienna, Austria. It specialises in developing premium quality sample libraries and music production software for classical orchestral and film music.

Screenshot of Synchron Fazioli F212 user interface
The Synchron Fazioli F212 User Interface

Synchron Stage Vienna is a world-class recording facility capable of handling large orchestras of up to 130 musicians. Originally known as Synchronhalle, it was built in 1940 by the National Socialists for film-sound production (including wartime propaganda). In 2013 it was purchased by Vienna Symphonic Library and renovated.

Since 2016 VSL has used this unique facility to sample musical instruments for its library, and the newly-released Synchron Fazioli F212 is its latest virtual instrument.

The F212 is a mid-sized grand piano with a rich full timbre balanced nicely over the entire compass of the keyboard. Its wide dynamic range delivers a nuanced response to both volume and timbre. The Italian Fazioli company is regarded as one of the finest piano makers in the world.

screenshot showing microphone mixer page
The microphone mixer page

In December 2022 VSL released the Synchron Fazioli F308. The F308 is a big powerful instrument and VSL recorded it in the spacious Synchron Stage Vienna’s Stage A. Now the F212 has been recorded, but in the smaller, acoustically dryer, and more intimate Stage B which better suits the character of the instrument.

Engineers sampled the Fazioli F212 using multiple high-end microphone arrays. These are accessed using the free Synchron Piano Player software, and enable the user to tailor the sound to their exact requirements.

VSL offers the Fazioli Synchron F212 as a Standard Library Edition, or as a Full Library Edition — the latter providing more microphone positions.

More information is available on the Vienna Symphonic Libray website.

SYNCHRON FAZIOLI F212
System Requirements (Mac)
Operating system:
macOS 10.13+; macOS 14+ (recommended)
Minimum hardware: Intel Core i5
Recommended hardware: Intel Core i7/i9/Xeon/M1/M2
Disc space—Standard Library: 68.7GB
Disc space—Full Library: 148.6GB
RAM: 32GB
Supported formats: Audio Unit, VST, VST3, AAX, Native compatible host.
System Requirements (Windows)
Operating system: Windows 10+; Windows 11 (recommended)
Minimum hardware: Intel Core i5 or AMD Athlon 64 X2
Recommended hardware: Intel Core i7/i9/Xeon
Disc space—Standard Library: 68.7GB
Disc space—Full Library: 148.6GB
RAM: 32GB
Supported formats: VST, VST3, AAX, Native compatible host.
PRICE
Standard Library: introductory price until 29-Feb €225, thereafter €295
Full Library: introductory price until 29-Feb €375, thereafter €490
Free 30-day trial version available.


Ravenscroft 220 VI

Ravenscroft Pianos, like Fazioli, is a relative newcomer to the world of piano makers. It was founded in 2004 and is based in Scottsdale Arizona. The company hand-builds pianos to the highest of standards and has gained an enviable reputation for the exceptional quality of its instruments.

Ravenscroft produces two models, both grand pianos — the Model 275 and the Model 220. The 275, a powerful instrument, is designed primarily for larger concert halls, whereas the 220 is a more versatile piano ideal for smaller venues, home use, and for recording. 

images showing a screenshot of the software and astusio photo of the Ravenscroft Model 220
Prime Studio Ravenscroft 220 VI main page in KONTAKT, and Ravenscroft Model 220 piano

Prime Studio is a world-class recording facility located deep in the Austrian Alps. It prides itself on the dedication of its staff and the quality of its equipment. Since 2015 it has been producing exclusive audio plug-ins.

Ravenscroft and Prime Studio got together following a recording session in Austria, and when Ravenscroft decided to digitise its Model 220, it knew that Prime Studio was the company to do it. 

A Ravenscroft Model 220 Swarovski-Edition is at the heart of this impressive new virtual software package. And the Prime Studio team have gone to extraordinary lengths to capture the nuances of this instrument.

During the recording process over 185,000 samples (60,000 of which were used in the final product) were taken, employing eleven microphones in six different positions. Una corda, sostenuto, staccato and sustain pedal samples were also included and the recordings made at up to 12 different velocity levels.

Image showing main screens for the Standard and Lite editions
“Main” pages for the Ravenscroft 220 VI and Ravenscroft 220 VI Lite

Splitting the signal after the microphone stage allowed for two separate pre-amps with differing sound characteristics to be used. The first, “Modern”, has a clean pristine sound, and the other, “Vintage”, has a richer, warmer tone.

Although a digital product, the user interface has an analogue look and feel, with three principal pages — Main, Control, and Settings. 

Creating a virtual instrument of this quality takes an inordinate amount of time and resources — the Ravenscroft 220 VI took almost four years to complete.

The Ravenscroft 220 VI is formatted for Native Instruments’ KONTAKT platform and has standard plug-ins for Mac and Windows. There are two editions – Standard and Lite, the latter offering just two microphone options and a different user interface.

For more information, visit the Prime Studio website.

RAVENSCROFT 220 VI
Product Type: KONTAKT Player based instrument
Sample Resolution: 44.1kHz (24-bit). Recording at 192kHz (32-bit)
System Requirements (Mac)
Operating system:
macOS 11+
Hardware: Intel Core i5/ i7/i9/Xeon/M1/M2
Disc space: 140GB
RAM: 4GB; 8GB (recommended)
System Requirements (Windows)
Operating system: Windows 10+
Hardware: Intel Core i5 or equivalent
Disc space: 140GB
RAM: 4GB; 8GB (recommended)
PRICE
Ravenscroft 220 VI: €199.00 (excluding VAT)
Ravenscroft 220 VI Lite: €129.00 (excluding VAT)


Aurora

Aurora comes from the French company UVI who produce an extensive range of virtual instrument software packages ranging from full orchestral suites to a set of period-correct instruments that deliver “the authentic 30’s sound of Jazz Manouche”! We looked at UVI’s IRCAM Prepared Piano 2 last year.

5 Screenshots showing Aurora's "Main" and editing screens
Aurora’s pages (L to R): Main, Piano, Texture, Atmosphere, and Motion

For the Aurora package, UVI sampled a world-renowned concert grand (probably a Steinway Model D, but UVI aren’t saying) at the iconic Guillaume Tell studio in Paris (France). These samples were then processed to provide a range of textures, sonic tapestries and atmospheres. Over 200 editable presets are included in the package.

The sound engine enables three different voices to be combined and internally modulated thus providing a vast array of sounds. An all-new semi-modular effects engine further extends the timbral and performance options.

The processing doesn’t however reduce the dynamic control available to the player. Whilst the sound may be going to far-off places, UVI has worked hard to retain the expressive qualities offered by a good controller keyboard. It is still a “piano e forte”.

Aurora can be used as a standalone instrument using the UVI Workstation software or a digital audio workstation (DAW).

For more information visit the UVI website.

AURORA SPECIFICATIONS
Size: 4.45 GB (FLAC lossless encoding, was 18.46 GB in WAV)
Content: 211 Presets, 8170 Samples
Sample Resolution: 44.1 kHz. Recording at 88.2 kHz
License: 3 activations per license.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
Runs in UVI Workstation version 3.1.11+, and Falcon version 2.8.5+
iLok account (free, dongle not required)
macOS 10.14+; Windows 10+ (64-bit)
5GB of disk space
4GB RAM (8GB+ highly recommended for large UVI Soundbanks).
COMPATIBILITY
Supported Formats: Audio Unit, AAX, VST, VST3, Standalone
Tested and Certified in: Digital Performer 8+, Pro Tools 2019+, Logic Pro X+, Cubase 7+, Nuendo 6+, Ableton Live 8+, Studio One 2+, Garage Band 6+, Maschine 1+, Tracktion 4+, Vienna Ensemble Pro 5+, Reaper 4+, Sonar X3+, MainStage 3, MuLab 5.5+, FL Studio, Bitwig 1+, Reason 9.5+.
PRICE
Introductory price until 25-Feb €39 ($39), thereafter €79 ($79).


SynToPix

Compared to the previous two products, SynToPix, from Quiet Music, is a far simpler software package and a lot cheaper. Its mission is to generate a collection of entirely synthetic toy piano voices.

Screenshot of SynToPix's user interface
SynToPix’s single-page user interface

These sounds are based on actual samples of real toy pianos which are then processed using AI technology. The result is 35 presets. These include Ambient, Chillout, Downtempo, Lo-Fi, as well as Relaxing and Meditation Music.

The single-page user interface provides Envelope, Filter, LFO Modulation, Tune, Pan and Volume controls in addition to an effects section offering Reverb, Chorus, Delay and Distortion.

SynToPix is supplied as an Audio Unit/VST/ VST3 plugin for use with a digital audio workstation or a standalone host. It is not compatible with ProTools.

More information is available on the Quite Music website.

SYNTOPIX
System Requirements (Mac)
Operating system: macOS 10.13.6+
Disc space: 480MB
RAM: 300MB
Supported formats: Audio Unit, VST, VST3, Standalone.
System Requirements (Windows)
Operating system: Windows 8.1+ (64-bit)
Disc space: 480MB
RAM: 300MB
Supported formats: VST, VST3, Standalone.
PRICE
Introductory Price until 29-Feb €12 ($12), thereafter €30 ($30).
Free trial version available.



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