In suitable repertoire, the Bechstein Digital is capable of very impressive results, and that’s what I bought it for, but, alas, it is plagued by a few playability issues — which indeed can't be picked up on by listening to the available official demos — which I find incomprehensible in an instrument as meticulously prepared, sampled and programmed as this one is supposed to be.
The thing that bothers me most about this piano, is its unconvincing dynamics. Surprising really that it should fail as badly as it does in this regard because the instrument apparently has 26 velocity layers — that’s more than twice the amount of some of my favourite sampled instruments — and it certainly has some very clever scripting working under the hood. And yet, when you play it, the dynamic response is distractingly unnatural. I mean, the range is certainly there, from very quiet to very loud, but the instrument almost appears to fade in and out depending on the incoming velocities instead of suggesting a convincing and coherent dynamic behaviour with all the timbral and energy differentiation that this requires.
Adjusting relevant parameters does help somewhat to address this issue, but only a little and you certainly never get it quite right — at least, I haven’t managed it so far — so, to my ears, there’s definitely something wrong with the programming of the dynamics.
(These three examples were all made with the default 'Enjoy Digital Grand M/S' preset. No tricks, no additional processing, simply played live, straight into Kontakt.)
Hear those totally unnatural level changes, depending on how loud or soft I play? Sounds completely wrong to me, and I really don’t understand why this piano, into which so much effort and expertise was invested, should have such an apparent flaw. And I understand even less why no one seems to have noticed it during the development stages.
(It’s not uncommon though: The WavesFactory Mercury and the SonicCouture Hammersmith are also plagued by severe playability issues of which I will never understand how these ever managed to pass through even the most rudimentary quality control. But they did.)
What I also found a bit annoying, is that the sustains of some notes (not all, but too many) appear to die away quite fast at the lowest velocities, almost sounding as if the piano is dampened at its lowest dynamic. (That isn’t the case of course, but it just sounds a bit as if it is.
I’m guessing the character of the Bechstein is partly the reason for this as it’s a piano which has very bright, pronounced, even edgy attacks. Even so, it does limit the possible playing styles somewhat, I find.
But again, if you use it in the right repertoire, it can be pretty sensational. Give this instrument a piece that manages to allow the piano to show itself from its best side, and you’re listening to a *very* good sound (not just timbrally but sonically as well).
Problem is: the range of repertoire that will bring out the best in this piano is rather small, I find. (I thought it a very unwise choice on the part of the developer, for example, to start their demo playlist with a Debussy piece, music which, to my ears, is completely at odds with the character of the instrument — not at odds with the Bechstein brand, but certainly with this particular sampled incarnation of it.)
I don’t regret buying it (well, maybe a bit), but try as I may, I just can’t declare this a good sampled piano. Not in its current version anyway. Maybe if they update it and take the opportunity to submit it to some rigorous pianoplayer testing before releasing it again, it might be a success (because all the raw material to make it so are definitely there), but until then: very difficult to recommend it, I fear.
(By the way: I haven’t run into any CPU overload problems or other technical issues. And that’s on an older Mac (early 2009 model, 2x.2,93 quad, 32gig RAM). So, from a technical point of view, this library works perfectly well, in my experience.)
Last edited by Piet De Ridder (01-04-2017 21:51)