Piano dynamics using midi / VST

Hey everyone
Can someone help please, I’m becoming more and more frustrated with trying to get a realistic piano recording, I use Alicia’s Keys, and The Grandeur, I’ve messed around with velocities and swing, but I can’t seem to get my recordings to sound very convincing, the dynamics are poor, any tips or advice please?
Thank you!

Which DAW are you using and which midi-keyboard?

@Hyperprod Hi dude, I’m using Cubase 7.5, and an Axiom 61

The best thing is of course to get a believable performance when you record and both the piano libraries you are using should be able to deliver that. Some midi controllers has an uneven velocity response but I’m not familiar with the Axiom. But if you have the chance to try another keyboard I would do that to see if that helps. Most piano libraries also has the option to adjust the velocity curve which can help to avoid a static piano performance.
If you are quantizing your recordings try to not quantize 100%.
I’m not familiar with Cubase, but Logic has a humanizer function you can apply to midi recordings, I guess Cubase has that too.
And the last, but probably most important thing: practice your piano playing. If your not a pianist you cant expect to sound like one :slight_smile:


@Hyperprod Thanks for the info mate!

Try to edit your piano recording. For example if you play your theme with bad dynamic, try to fix velocity of every note. When you have expirience of midi editing you can do it very fast.

WEIGHTED KEYS not semi-weighted. If your midi keyboard isn’t a joy to play, it won’t be a joy to hear, imo.

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I also had problems with the dynamics. I am using Novation Lunchkey 49. When I was playing on a midi keyboard, it sounded very quiet. The solution was to add Midi effect Velocity. I increased the value of Velocity. After that, the piano sounded more correctly. Maybe you have the same problem.

You need a good keyboard with weighted keys, or some decent stage piano. Your playing won’t matter much with unweighted keys, it’s a big struggle, been there done that. And of course, what everyone said here. See if you can invest some money in equipment. Practicing combined with a good instrument will get you the desired results. Sure nothing beats a good old real piano at the end of the day, but this is the closest you can get. Good luck!

@LuckyBlackCat Hi dude, that’s what I do, I record the piece, and the edit the velocities, but it still sounds robotic! :-/

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@adammonroe Agreed Adam :+1:t2:

@HeartDrumMachine Hi dude, the velocity is fine, it’s just manipulating it to sound genuine that’s the problem!

@BeetOven Hi BeetOven I have spent thousands on my gear, I never buy cheap, if I had room for a nice grand piano I would definitely get one, maybe I need to change my midi keyboard, I thought the keys were weighted, I’m sure they are on my Axiom 49!

You need some practice to find better way of editing. When you edit velocity don’t make every note same sound. Try to keep dynamic :slight_smile: Also check plugin that you use. Some vst has “robotic” sound :slight_smile:

I use NI’s Alicia’s Keys & NI’s The Grandeur, and I’ve watched tonnes of tutorials on editing velocities, maybe I’m just been too harsh on myself, or maybe I need to try another midi keyboard :+1:t2:

To my taste Alicia’s Keys sound not very cool…

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Here’s some tut for you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eLB9GDw-iY . Hope it will be helpful!

@Pavetraxx Thanks dude, really appreciate that! :+1:t2:

+1 , it also sounds plastic and sterile to me. I use pianoteq 5 and it’s nice. From all the sampled pianos I think grandeur is the best.

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Alicia’s Keys is a very nice piano and definitely capable of 100% realism. It’s all about how you play or edit. The best way to achieve realism is of course to be able to play an instrument very well yourself on a responsive MIDI keyboard. If you can’t do that, you need to spend A LOT of time editing EVERY single note. Yes, it takes a long time. Throwing a humanizer on it will not work that well for velocity, but for slight variations in timing it can be very useful.

For a solo piano piece, you would not often go above 70 in velocity - a real piano player doesn’t play that hard if it’s not a pop piece where you just hammer down on chords. Many notes would be around 20 in velocity if they’re not on strong beats. It needs to breathe! Naturally, the pedal must also go up and down in the right places but I’m sure you knew that.

If it’s a solo piece it’s often nice to add custom tempo variations - slow down slightly at the end of a phrase etc. Speed up very slightly if it gets more intense - that’s how a real live piano player would play.