8Dio recently released their newest virtual instrument, 1990 Studio Grand Piano, and I got a chance to check it out! For those who might not be aware of 8Dio, they have been around since 2011 making virtual instruments of all kinds. They are well revered amongst industry pros who use them to score blockbuster movies and video games.
The piano sampled for this virtual instrument was the Yamaha C7, one of the most popular pianos used in recording studios worldwide. The library is made for the full version of Native Instruments Kontakt, so you will need that to be able to use this sample library. 8Dio also recommends to have 8GB of RAM and a Quad Core CPU.
After starting it all up the first thing you will use is a very well done 3D rendering of the piano, interface, mics, and pedals. It’s a nice, simple, and elegant design and makes the options clear and nice to look at. The first thing I noticed was there are 3 different modes you can switch in between, which each use a different set of samples. This gives each mode of the piano a more realistic sound and feel. I mostly stuck to the sustain mode, but every now and then I would use the Staccato mode.
I have used piano sample libraries for years. The nice thing about them, especially these days, is that they usually sound great. The tone of the piano, the recording, all of it is usually done well. BUT! it always sounds like a sampled piano library. They sound a little to sterile. There isn’t anything wrong with that if thats the sound you like, I like it myself. But I haven’t really come across a sample library that was like very realistic sounding. And the first library to make me feel that way is this one by 8Dio. I don’t know how they did it but there is a certain rawness to the sound of the piano that makes it sound more realistic. I imagine it has something to do with the way it was recorded, the mics used and the reverb. Whatever it is, if their goal was to get not only a great sound piano library, but also a realistic sounding one, than mission accomplished. Is it the most realistic I have heard? No, the most realistic virtual piano I have come across was one based off physical modeling, but that one was no where near as pleasant sounding the “1990 Studio Grand.”
8Dio give you all the options that make sense to have. You get control over the microphones’ volume and panning. There are 2 different types of reverbs to choose from that the piano was sampled with. Meaning, it isn’t convolution, it’s how the piano sounded with the reverb at the time for recording, and they both sound great. You are also given a good amount of articulation options. There is your standard ADSR, but there are options that affect certain aspects of the piano. For example, the Pedal knob controls how high or low the volume the pedal of the piano makes when you press it. There is also the response knob, which controls dynamic feel of the piano. Making it softer and warmer sounding or sharper and brighter sounding, all depending on what you are trying to go for.
I was very impressed with 8Dio’s newest effort and I look forward to what else they have up their sleeves. If you are looking for not only a great sounding virtual instrument piano, but a realistic one at the same time, I can’t actually think of anything else I could recommend first other then the 1990 Studio Grand Piano by 8Dio. It’s priced at just $249, a steal for a piano this good.