Congratulations on your purchase of Pianoteq.
Pianoteq is the starting point of a new generation of physically modelled virtual instruments, developed from mathematical research made at the Institute of Mathematics of Toulouse at INSA Toulouse, France.
Do not hesitate contacting us if you need any assistance on how to install and use the software. You are also welcome to provide feedback and suggestions - www.modartt.com/support
MIDIfile player (standalone version)
The first generation of pianos, starting in 1698 with Cristofori’s pianoforte, came to maturity at the end of the XIX century with the acoustic grand concert piano. It was followed in the XX century by electro-acoustic pianos, and then by digital sampled pianos.
Pianoteq introduces the fourth generation of pianos, based on physical modelling. It offers extraordinary playability and unique physical parameters that model the behaviour of real acoustic pianos.
With Pianoteq, you can adapt the piano sound to your own taste. Unique parameters that model the behaviour of real pianos result in great realism, until now only to be experienced on real acoustic pianos.
Using 32-bit internal computation, the calculated piano sound is free from quantization noise. True dynamic timbre results, from the faintest pianissimo to the strongest fortissimo, for all 127 standard
MIDI velocities (and even more with high resolution
Everything that characterizes a real piano is there: the mechanical noises, the complex sound of pedals and strings in interaction, the percussive impact on staccato play (short notes), and of course, most importantly, the beauty of the piano sound.
The second generation brought innovative sounds (such as the Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Yamaha CP 80, and others), whereas the third generation only reproduced recorded samples. Based on an effective physical model, Pianoteq allows you to adjust and stretch parameters, resulting in new sounds and performance styles. Pianoteq is both away to emulate existing pianos and an innovative tool for music creation.
Pianoteq is in fact the first virtual piano factory: it can produce new brands as well as copies of existing instruments, from historical instruments such as harpsichords and pianofortes to contemporary grand pianos or the more recent electro-acoustic pianos.
Other instruments of the idiophones family are regularly added to the Pianoteq collection. Visit our website www.modartt.com and discover our latest creations.
CPUfor computing all sounds in realtime. It loads easily into RAM, and installation is instantaneous. No problem using it on a laptop.
Pianoteq is available in three versions:
Note Editfeature allows those who require complete freedom in note shaping to edit the parameters note-by-note.
All versions offer the same sound, instruments and playability but differ in the range of features and settings. The table below summarizes the main differences between the three versions.
|PIANOTEQ STAGE||PIANOTEQ STANDARD||PIANOTEQ PRO|
|Included instrument packs1||2||3||4|
|EQ, velocity curve, reverb unit||✓||✓||✓|
|Piano model tweaking||✓||✓|
|Loads external reverb impulses||✓||✓|
|Note-per-note edit: all other physical parameters||✓|
|Thousands of editable overtones||✓|
|Supports up to 192 kHz audio3||✓|
This manual describes the general features that can be found in Pianoteq. Depending on your version, some of them may or may not be present.
Pianoteq is equipped with many exciting features:
scalaformat files import
Pianoteq works on computers equipped with
Linux. You can use Pianoteq in standalone mode or as a plug-in instrument in a
Audio Units or
AAX host. Pianoteq runs in 64-bit mode. We recommend visiting www.modartt.com where you will find the latest information, a detailed FAQ page and a tutorial on how to connect your hardware.
Execute the installation program file
pianoteq_setup.exe. Activation is required when launching Pianoteq for the first time. Just follow the on-screen instructions.
ASIO drivers are necessary for obtaining a low latency. If using a soundcard that is not distributed with its own
ASIO drivers, you can download
ASIO drivers at www.asio4all.com.
If you experience pops and cracks when playing, watch the audio load and
CPU frequency in
Options ► Perf:
Red bars in the graphic indicate an overload. In that case, look at the displayed
CPU frequency. If this frequency varies or stays below the normal frequency of your
CPU, it comes from the Power Management setting of your computer which should be set to
Click on the Pianoteq package and follow the instructions. Activation is required when launching Pianoteq for the first time. Just follow the on-screen instructions.
To install a new instrument pack that you purchased, make sure you have the latest update installed. Log in to the user area on our website to download. After updating to the latest Pianoteq version, update your licence as follows: click on
Options, then on
About, then on
Update licence. There, leave the serial number as it is and click on
Quick Activation. If your computer has no internet connection, you need to click on the
Manual Activation button and follow the instructions given.
Using Pianoteq standalone is very simple. Launch Pianoteq and specify your
MIDI settings in the
Devices dialogue box: you are ready to play.
Pianoteq can be loaded by any
Audio Units or
AAX host. You will need to specify, inside the host, your
MIDI device and the driver you are using.
Pianoteq can be used with any
MIDI compatible keyboard. We recommend a touch sensitive keyboard, such as one with full weighted keys simulating the hammer response of a real piano. See tutorial section 16.4 for adapting Pianoteq to your keyboard in the best way. For partial pedalling, a progressive sustain pedal is required.
The requirements for using Pianoteq successfully are:
ASIOcompatible sound card and drivers (concerns Windows users only)
Windows7 (64-bit) or later,
macOS X10.11 or later,
When you click on the
Options button, a window containing the following sections appears:
Devices section (in standalone mode only) lets you select your keyboard, audio device and related driver (Audio device type), output channels, sample rate and audio buffer size.
MIDI section you can:
MIDIcontrollers to Pianoteq parameters (experienced users only ― may produce unexpected sounds with
MIDIfiles containing special instructions).
Current MIDI Mapping: Minimalistic(recommended for starting).
MIDI mappingsetting, click on
Save asand enter a suitable name. If you want Pianoteq to always load your
MIDI mappingpreset, click on
Set as default. If you want Pianoteq to always load your saved
MIDI mappingpreset when you load a specific instrument preset, click on
Attach to current preset, close the
MIDI mappingwindow and save your instrument preset by clicking the floppy disk icon.
Pianoteq computes all notes dynamically (that is, in real time). Thus a modern
CPU is required. Bass notes contain more overtones and thus require more computations. The
Perf section allows you to select from among the following features:
Multicore rendering. You should usually enable this feature.
CPU overload detection. Under certain circumstances (a slow
CPU, very fast music), the
CPUmay be overloaded by the number of required computations.
CPU overload detectionmight be useful for real time processing, for example when 10 seconds of sound require 12 seconds of
CPUcomputations. Some computations are then bypassed.
Internal Sample Rateaffects the internal sampling rate of Pianoteq. A lower frequency requires less computation. Thus the lower the capacity of your
CPU, the lower you should set this sample rate.
Polyphonyis the number of individual sounds (notes, sympathetic resonances…) that are played simultaneously. The lower the capacity of your
CPU, the lower you should set the polyphony. Alternatively, you can choose
Auto (Pessimistic or Optimistic)for an automatic polyphony setup.
You can load
ptq files (and
MIDI files with the standalone version) quickly by dragging each file at a time, from the file manager, email client or web browser, onto the Pianoteq interface.
The Pianoteq standalone version is equipped with a
MIDI player that lets you play and record
MIDI files. You can load several
MIDI files via
File ► Load MIDI file and even create your own
MIDI Playlist via
File ► Manage MIDI Playlist. A long left-click on the
MIDI score let you zoom-in for a better precision.
You can adjust the playback speed by clicking on
x1 (“times 1”). A menu will appear where you can choose another value or enter any value between 0.1 and 10. Alternatively, click on
x1 and drag the mouse to get the value you want.
Click on the
record button to start recording your performance live.
MIDI file by opening the
File menu. There you can also export your recording to a
MP3 audio file.
At any time, you can retrieve your recent performances via
File ► Recently played on the keyboard. Particularly useful when after a brilliant performance you think “too bad I didn’t record this!”. Well, Pianoteq did it for you: just load the latest
Recently played on the keyboard and save/export it to a regular
MIDI/AUDIO file. It’s as simple as that!
For less recent performances, a
MIDI Archiver is available, access to its settings at the bottom of the
Recently played on the keyboard menu.
In the standalone version, for exploring your
MIDI file step by step, forwards or backwards, use the computer keyboard right or left arrows to play single notes or chords. Using right click in the
MIDI player, you can remove events placed before or after the current position.
The Pianoteq interface is resizable, making it comfortable to work with any display size. Click on
Options ► General and select the size in the
Interface magnification menu, or simply use the handy keyboard shortcuts
Pianoteq instruments are based on physical modelling ― which simulates the way the sound is generated and how it propagates in space ― coupled to a mathematical analysis of original instruments.
The optional instruments are included in demo mode in Pianoteq for your evaluation. You can download additional free instruments from the user area at www.modartt.com.
Authorized by Steinway & Sons, the Steinway Model D pack contains two virtual copies of Steinway D grand pianos, well known for their exquisite musical expression: one manufactured in New York (NY Steinway D) — in fact the very first produced of Steinway’s groundbreaking new flagship instrument Model D Spirio|r, which has been used by some of the most famous pianists in the world today — and one manufactured in Hamburg (HB Steinway D). New York and Hamburg Steinway pianos are very much like twin siblings that share strong family traits but exhibit subtle differences in their personalities. These differences can be attributed in part to the variations in hammer construction and voicing techniques utilized in both production facilities. Proprietary procedures in soundboard fabrication and installation unique to each factory also flavor the nuanced tonal distinctions between Hamburg and New York Steinway pianos. Both use soundboards that are constructed from carefully selected premium Sitka spruce wood. Within Pianoteq, each note of each virtual instrument has been carefully adjusted in its finest detail, just like in the real factory. The result is stunningly vivid instruments created with the most demanding musician in mind.
Authorized by Steinway & Sons, the Steinway Model B grand piano was carefully designed to reproduce the finest sound characteristics of a Steinway B instrument which was selected by Modartt for this project. This model is based on the Martha Argerich edition, and is one of the twenty-five Steinway & Sons Model B-211 grand pianos that the prestigious pianist carefully chose in 2014 for their musicality. She signed each.
In cooperation with Bechstein, Modartt has developed an accurate physical model of a C. Bechstein 282 grand piano, the Bechstein company flagship. Its sound was captured by the acclaimed Teldex Recording studio in Berlin. The Pianoteq version reproduces the outstandingly brilliant and powerful sound of the C. Bechstein D 282 with its singing, richly coloured voice, suitable for many different music genres.
In cooperation with Petrof, Modartt has developed accurate physical models of the two Petrof masterpieces: Ant. Petrof 275 and Petrof 284 Mistral grand pianos. It maintains the colourful, romantic and rounded tone which the Petrof instruments are praised for, thanks to first class materials. These physically modelled pianos capture the characteristic Petrof sound with a range of presets offering a beautiful palette of timbres suitable for all kinds of music.
In cooperation with Steingraeber, Modartt has developed an accurate physical model of a Steingraeber E-272 grand piano. Steingraeber has reduced the surface of the treble soundboard; hence strings have 27% less wood weight to set in motion, and even when softer intonation is called for, the player is rewarded with an immediate, singing resonance. For more delicate playing, Steingraeber E-272 is also equipped with the Sordino (Celeste pedal) and the Mozart Rail (Mozart Rail pedal).
In cooperation with Grotrian, Modartt has developed an accurate physical model of a Grotrian Concert Royal grand piano, rightly considered to be one of the best grand pianos in the world. In order to reproduce the characteristic clarity and warmth of the original instrument, every detail of the Pianoteq model has been fine-tuned, resulting in an authentic and joyful instrument. Timbre and complex resonances are breathtaking.
In cooperation with Blüthner, Modartt has developed an accurate physical model of Blüthner Model 1 grand piano for Pianoteq. A unique feature in Blüthner’s grand pianos is the fourth string for each key in the treble, called the Aliquot system. Its purpose is to create a sympathetic vibrating string that enhances the tone. This feature is included in the Pianoteq Blüthner model.
The grand piano K2, which was created for Pianoteq 5, has evolved by combining the best elements of several models. Its 211 cm (6' 11") cabinet offers the magnificent sound that comes from a perfect balance between warmth and brilliance.
The YC5 Rock piano adds a lot of bite to your pop/rock recording, and fits beautifully in a mix with drums and electric instruments. Its characteristic bright timbre is also adapted for expressive playing and suitable for jazz recording sessions. YC5 is modelled from a well known Japanese grand piano, frequently seen on stages and widely appreciated by touring artists for its musical qualities and reliability. It is also a popular instrument at conservatories and other music schools.
The U4 upright piano offers many presets emphasizing the characteristics of upright pianos. Besides the beautiful timbre of well-built acoustic pianos, there is higher inharmonicity and increased imperfections in presets such as Blues, Honky Tonk, Vintage, Detuned, Ruined, Bierkeller, Tacky, Wavy, Weathered, Club...
Peter Karsten is an instrument collector from Braunschweig, Germany. This collection includes virtual copies of: J. Salodiensis virginal (1600), G. Giusti harpsichord (1680), Ph. Schmidt square piano (1780), J. Weimes pianoforte (1808), NY Steinway square piano (1858). The virtual copy of the NY Steinway square piano was evaluated and authorized by Steinway & Sons in New York. Peter Karsten himself participated in many steps of the development of all the instruments ― from the initial recordings for the audio analysis until the final stages of the beta tests ― together with a dedicated team of experienced musicians, ensuring the authenticity of the instruments.
This collection of beautiful historical pianos, ranging from the 18th Century to the late 19th Century, has been created in collaboration with Kremsegg Schloss Museum (Austria). It includes virtual copies of pianofortes J. Dohnal (1795), J. Broadwood (1796), and grand pianos I. Besendorfer (1829), I. Pleyel (1835), J. Frenzel (1841), S. Erard (1849), J.B. Streicher (1852), C. Bechstein (1899). Incomparable for rendering the music of the Classical period, these instruments can also be used for more recent compositions. The late-19th Century pianos, particularly, with a design approaching that of a modern piano, illuminate jazz and other modern music.
The physical model is based on a copy by Matthias Griewisch of a Hans Ruckers II le Jeune harpsichord (1624). This virtual instrument offers an extension of the original instrument, from 4½ to 6½ octaves, and is equipped with three registers — lower 8', upper 8', and 4', which can be combined in ways not even possible in the real world (see the L8', U8' and 4' buttons above the interface keyboard). A local
MIDI mapping allows you to change the registration directly via the 3 lower notes of your keyboard. Besides sustain and soft pedals, this harpsichord is equipped with a Buff stop pedal and a Rattle pedal (cf. Section 14.1).
This collection is the result of the Keyboard Instrument Virtual Restoration project. It can be downloaded from our website at www.modartt.com. It includes the free instruments clavichord, cimbalom, harpsichords, pianofortes and acoustic and electro-acoustic pianos. Some of them are presented in their current state. Their age has caused imperfections, such as some voicing irregularities, which we have kept intact. We regularly enrich this collection with new instruments.
This instrument is modelled after nylon Classical guitars. Three reference instruments, among these a concert guitar C9 by Luthier Jean-Marie Fouilleul, was used as basis for the model. For the attack part, a finger pick style has been chosen, which is natural given that this instrument is mainly used to play classical, flamenco and Latin music. The idea was to find a sweet spot regarding the amount of nail used during the attack. If it differs from your taste, it is easy to take advantage of the parameters of the model, in order to adjust the sound to the target style. A guitar mode has been designed to help keyboard players mimic the guitar player without limiting their playing, see section 5.3. Many of the most common guitar player techniques are available: legato, vibrato, glissando, pinch harmonics, palm mute and rasgueado. The model has been augmented by natural noises resulting from the interaction between the player and the instrument, including squeaking, rubbing and sliding sounds. Additionnal features, such as supplementary
tunings, automatic or manual fingering, fast
solid body, reserved
midi channels for midi guitar are offered. The instrument lets you explore a range of
presets including some experimental ones, such as
12-string guitars and
electric guitars. If the
Amp effect from Pianoteq does not suit your needs, the bare
preset is a great starting point for third-party Amp plug-ins.
The Harp pack includes a concert harp physically modelled after a Salvi concert grand harp, and a celtic harp equipped with nylon strings. Both include the ability to play pinch harmonics (flageolets) and glissandos. A diatonic mode offers a closer experience to the reality of the instrument where seven pedals allow to change the pitch of the strings and play in all keys, see section 5.2.
The Electric pianos pack offers three amazing electro-acoustic pianos from the seventies. Each Electric Piano (Vintage Tines MKI, Vintage Tines MKII and Vintage Reeds W1) is provided with several variants. Using the rich interface features, you can customize them to your own taste.
The Hohner6 Collection, authorized by Hohner, includes four famous instruments manufactured from the early sixties until the early eighties: Electra-piano, Pianet N, Pianet T and Clavinet D6. The virtual copies for Pianoteq benefit from its physical modelling: addition of a sustain pedal, range extended to seven octaves and possibility to adjust physical properties.
The Vibes pack offers two beautiful vibraphones. V-M is a virtual copy of a Musser vibraphone that belongs to the famous French vibraphonist Dany Doriz. V-B is a virtual copy of a Bergerault vibraphone that belongs to the Condorcet studio in Toulouse (France). The bars are made of metal.
The Xylo pack includes a xylophone and a marimba. The xylophone virtual copy is modelled after a modern 3½-octave French brand and the marimba virtual copy is modelled after a modern five-octave French brand. In contrast with the vibraphone, the bars are made of wood instead of metal.
The Celeste pack includes a toy piano, a celesta and a glockenspiel. The sound of the toy piano is produced by small hammers striking metal rods. The virtual toy piano is modelled after a two octaves Michelsonne instrument and is extened to 4 octaves. The celesta resembles an acoustic upright piano but houses metal plates struck by felt hammers resembling piano hammers. The virtual celesta is modelled after a modern five-octave German brand. The glockenspiel also has metal plates but they are struck by hard metal mallets held by the musician. The virtual glockenspiel, modelled after a modern French brand, has been extended to cover four octaves.
The Pianoteq physical model has been enriched to produce the characteristic timbre of steelpans, with their "blooming" overtones that are due to the mechanical properties of thin steel sheets. Steel drums were originally built from empty oil barrels as the popular drums were forbidden by the Trinidad government.
The Steelpans pack includes 4 instruments: Steel Drum, Spacedrum, Hand Pan and Tank Drum. Each instrument is provided with one preset faithful to the original instrument modelled and several variants.
The Steel Drum instrument is a combination of the known types, the "double second", the "tenor", the "double guitar", the "triple cello", and covers 4 octaves.
The Spacedrum is a recent variant of the Hand Pan. Both instruments offer presets for hand playing and mallet playing, and are extended to 4 octaves. The
blooming effect is a bit less pronounced than in the Steel Drum.
The Tank drum is made of thicker metal from a gas tank. Several tongues are cut into the bottom of the tank for producing the notes. Due to its shape and thickness, there is almost no blooming effect. The instrument is extended to 3½ octaves.
Other instruments such as church bells and tubular bells, are available for download on our website at www.modartt.com. Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest information.
The Pianoteq interface is divided into two sections:
Design. The three unified panels open with a single click on the instrument picture.
The three Instrument section panels
Outputmenu: microphones positioning and mixing. The section also offers features like
malletsettings. Finally, various types of effects are also available: the ones directly modifying the models, called
note effects, and the others more conventionnal audio
The Audio Engineering section
Adjusting any of the parameters is easy. But you can also simply choose your instrument from the
instrument menu on the top left.
You can load and save instruments from the
This menu lets you choose from a list of built-in instruments and presets, extra instruments (files with extension
ptq) or presets (extension
fxp) that you have saved in your Pianoteq folders. More details are provided in section 4.4.
The physical model contains a great number of parameters, but only a small proportion of them are available through the user interface. When only the user interface parameters are changed, then we say that it is still the same instrument but a different preset. Hence presets are understood as variations of a given instrument.
Steinway Model D Prelude and
Steinway Model D Classical are the same instrument, as the difference lies in the microphone position which can be defined by the user himself. On the contrary,
Steinway Model D Prelude and
K2 Prelude are two different instruments because it is impossible to obtain one of them by modifying the user interface parameters of the other.
You can change any parameter of the current instrument or preset by moving the corresponding slider with the mouse. Moving the mouse cursor perpendicularly to the slider will make the slider move slowly.
Each time you modify parameters in Pianoteq, a few computations are needed to update the instrument (physical model).
Once you are done, the
save buttons to the right of the
instruments menu allow you to edit and save your new preset.
Also have fun trying the
Random button, which changes all settings randomly!
In Pianoteq you can modify and create your own presets, save them and share them with other users. The following commands are located at the top of the interface.
savebuttons allow you to edit and save your new preset.
pastebuttons allow you to select and copy/paste a subset of the current parameters from one preset to another. Right click on the
copybuttow allows to copy without changing the previous selection.
freezeallows you to select the parameters that you want to keep unchanged when changing instrument or preset. This is a convenient feature for “transporting” settings from one instrument to another.
random(dice) button allows you to randomly change
designparameters. Parameters located in the Audio Engineering section are not affected by the random command.
undo/redocommands, you can at any time undo and redo the changes you have made: up to 100 undos are possible. A right click on the button shows you the last modification.
ABbutton allows you to switch between two presets A and B, one being in the foreground while the other is in the background. The
ledbeside them is lit as soon as A and B are different. Clicking on the
ledcopies the foreground preset into the background preset. A right click on the
ABbutton lists the differences between A and B. A and B presets have their own
When you click on the edit button, the following presets manager appears:
It lets you manage the instruments and presets from the instruments menu. You can edit the presets information, sort or filter them (see some part of them), rename them, etc.
Information on each preset is displayed at the bottom of the presets manager, as well as a small demo excerpt (
mini-player to the left of the
edit button). There you can edit the information related to your own presets, and record yourself your own demo excerpt (left and right clicks on the
The way presets are sorted can be chosen by clicking in the appropriate column:
bank is a set of presets that are located in a given folder, except the
factory bank which contains all built-in instruments and extra instruments provided as
ptq files and located in the
You can select the instruments and presets that are visible in the
instruments menu through three different
filters located on the right side of managing window:
All banks. You can also click on individual instruments or banks.
A double click on a user preset name allows you to rename it. You can also open the contextual menu by clicking on the small arrows in the
The easiest way to find the Pianoteq folders is to click on the little folder images to the right of
All instruments and
All banks. The Pianoteq folder contains two sub-folders:
Addons: this is where to store the extra instruments provided as
Presets: this is where to store the user defined banks. Each bank is itself a folder that contains presets with
There are two ways of importing
After you have created your new preset, you can save it by simply clicking on the save button; a popup window will ask you for a preset name and a bank name (default bank is
My Presets). Each time you click again on the save button, you will save the new values with the same preset name. You can access backup copies with a right click on the preset name (if there are some).
Generally speaking, you will find it more interesting to make adjustments, large and small, in several parameters instead of making a single large adjustment. Moving a single slider to the left may throw the weight of the sound onto other parameters that you may want to adjust. Moving a slider to the far right may obscure the contribution other parameters make to the sound, or make their small contribution seem too strong. Moreover, the parameters that interact may be in separate panels, since each panel has controls that modify the way in which a single physical component of a piano contributes to the sound, instead of controlling the sound in general. This manual often touches on these adjustments. Further experimentation will let you experience the ways in which the parameters interact. Make a small adjustment in one parameter and a large one in another. Make large and small adjustments everywhere. You can create almost any sound that a piano can create, and more.
Brilliance is an important sound quality for achieving good realism. You may want to adjust it whether you are staying close to the loudspeakers, or listening at low volume levels, or using headphones. You can for example change the hammer hardness from the
Voicing panel, or use the
EQ from the lower panel.
The keyboard velocity itself plays a crucial role in the sense of brilliance. Visit the Pianoteq user forum www.forum-pianoteq.com where users provide velocity curves for many types of keyboards. See also the tutorial in section 16.4.
Listening through loudspeakers usually requires significantly less reverberation than through headphones. The reason is simple: when using loudspeakers, the sound is naturally reverberated by the room in which they sit. We thus recommend that you reduce the
reverberation mix when using loudspeakers.
Moreover, it is worth mentioning that bypassing reverberation in Pianoteq does not have the same effect as bypassing reverberation in a sample-based instrument. In the latter case, unless recording was made in an anechoic chamber, there is a natural reverberation present in the recorded samples which may not be perceived as reverberation because the note release cuts the reverb tail itself, whereas in Pianoteq, there is no reverberation whatsoever when you switch it off. In that case, the sound loses an important part of its natural quality and may sound strange or synthetic, particularly with headphones, because in the real world we never hear sounds without some reverberation. Hence, we recommend bypassing reverberation only when using an external — or natural — reverberation.
The following table summarizes Pianoteq main controls that are associated with instrument features and will be discussed in the next sections.
||Changes A (above middle C) frequency|
||Chooses among standard temperaments|
||Frequency variation within each unison (group of three strings)|
||Modifies the direct sound duration|
||Modifies the global sound duration: raising impedance yields longer sounds|
||Modifies individual intensity of the first eight overtones|
||Modifies the hammer noise level|
||Changes the overtones level|
||Raising cut-off frequency enriches high frequencies of each tone|
||Raising Q factor shortens high frequencies duration|
||Controls sound “acidity” (inharmonicity)|
||Controls the attack envelope|
||Enriches the high frequencies: the harder the hammer, the brighter the sound|
||Controls the amount of sympathetic resonances (strings, soundboard, cabinet)|
||Controls the amount of Duplex scale resonances (undamped string parts)|
Condition slider lets you modify the state of the instrument, from freshly-tuned to completely worn-out. Right-clicking on this slider and changing the
Random seed parameter allows you to enjoy thousands of broken instrument variations.
Command+Click(MacOS) or Long
Next preset), long touch on iOS,
Shiftor perpendicular movement with respect to it allow fine adjustment,
Shiftkey while moving a control point on a curve allows fine adjustment, not available on touch devices,
PTQfiles onto the main interface in order to use them,
Next/Previous presetchanges to
Next/Previous instrument, long touch on iOS,
Randombutton triggers a slight randomization, long touch on iOS,
A/Bbutton shows a list of differences between preset
A/Bin a pop-up window, long touch on iOS,
sliderto its default value,
Shift+Alt+Clickto swap the values, on iOS, use double-touch to show a popup dialog,
Right-Clickon the parameter
freezecheckbox toggles the feature, long touch on iOS.
You can assign Pianoteq parameters to
MIDI controllers such as those that may be on your keyboard. Select the parameter slider that you want to assign (right click on the slider and click on
MIDI ► Assign MIDI Control) and move the knob of the
MIDI controller (or the pedal) that you have chosen for this parameter. Pianoteq will automatically assign the parameter to the controller. More sophisticated possibilities are provided in the
Options ► MIDI section.
MIDI control may be assigned except the following ones:
MIDI controls 6, 38, 96-101 which are used for
MIDI parameters; controls 120 to 127 are reserved for various reset operations ("all notes off" etc.); controls 32 to 63 are reserved for 14-bit precision controllers.
The grand pianos Steinway Model D and K2 benefit from an unprecedented keyboard range extension from 88 to 105 notes (8⅔ octaves):
Most historical instruments (cf. KIViR, Kremsegg and Karsten collections) have a reduced range. For some of them, it was possible to extend it slightly. The extended range has been set to the default range for all presets except the reference preset, usually the first one. If you want to use the original range (e.g. in order to obtain the original sympathetic resonances range), click on the minus sign to the left of the virtual keyboard. Clicking on the plus sign will bring you back to the extended range.
By default, the keyboard is set to chromatic mode (except for the diatonic harp preset):
If you click on the little D to the left of the keyboard, you enter the diatonic mode where only white keys produce a sound. As in a real concert harp, the key signature is specified by seven pedals, from left to right D, C, B, E, F, G, A, each pedal being controlled by a group of three black keys:
For example, clicking on left black key below E will produce an E♭ alteration whereas clicking on the right black key will produce an E# alteration.
Clicking on the little C to the left of the keyboard brings you back to chromatic mode.
By default, the guitar instrument pack sets the keyboard to
guitar mode. To go back to chromatic or diatonic mode, click on the little
G on the left of the keyboard. If you click on the guitar neck, it will play the corresponding note, showing a white disk. This mode sets many different features. As can be seen in the following image, several guitar player techniques are available through the yellowish key switches on the left of the keyboard:
legato: note played using the left hand only, pressing the string with a new finger (hammer-on), or pulling the string with the finger already playing (pull-off), activated via the button
Leg. Onto the right of the keyboard. When on, if you try to play up to a minor third, keeping the first note pressed, the new note will be played legato and a small triangle appears on the guitar neck instead of a disk.
glissando: note heard because of the sliding movement of the left fingers on a string. The glissando technique is triggered when the starting note is interrupted by the ending note. If the starting note is stopped before the end of the glissando, the ending note is played glissando, showed by a white horizontal ellipse on the guitar neck. Otherwise, it is plucked normally. The velocity of the ending note sets the speed of the glissando. You can make glissando with chords, where the ending chord is calculated playing only one ending note. The length of the glissando is then calculated relatively to the bass note of the chord. There is a key switch and a pedal to activate
pinch harmonics: note played while stopping the vibration at half of the string resonating length. There is a key switch and a pedal to activate
pinch harmonicsand it is shown as a white equal sign on the guitar neck. The pedal moves continuously, providing interesting variation of tone.
Buff Stops) moves continuously, providing interesting variation of tone.
rasgueado: used primarily in flamenco to play chords as the guitar player plucks most of the strings, releasing each finger very quickly.
The key switches for the playing techniques are by default in
gate mode (ON when pressed). You can set them to
toggle mode by clicking on the little
triangle on the right of the keyboard, which accesses advanced menus and the
The vibrato is central for guitar players. It has been implemented for every instrument in the
Note Effects panel, see section 15.4. A button
~ has also been added to access it from the guitar mode.
thumb key switch on the left of the keyboard is another important feature regarding the variation of timbre, which simulates the tone modification provoked while playing guitar with the right thumb. A similar effect can be achieved by reducing the
The guitar mode lets you experience, in a very convenient way, the six strings of the guitar. On the guitar, the same note can be played on different strings over the neck, changing its timbre. It is constantly used by guitar players to soften or harden the tone. In guitar mode, you can set the keyboard to
easy or advanced
Adv. playing style. The
easy mode sets the general position of the guitar player left-hand on the guitar neck, according to the played notes. The advanced mode
Adv. adds key switches on the right of the keyboard to move the left-hand manually. There is a third way to choose the string: key switches on the left of the keyboard can force to play on a specific string. An extra key switch has also been added to force use of
Open strings when played. Finally, a hidden feature improves chord playability. Indeed, once the guitar player left-hand is placed on a specific part of the neck, some intervals cannot be played at the same time (usually the seconds and minor third) as the string is already in use. An automatic string selector has been implemented when such a case appears, relieving keyboard players from any potential frustration while playing in guitar mode.
In order to mimic guitar player chords plucking, two
repetition key switches have been added, on the left of the keyboard, that can strum previously played chords up and down. It can also repeat single notes to play faster.
Special care has been dedicated to incorporate the additional noises which the guitar player produces as the body touches the instrument. Among the various sounds, squeaks when sliding on the strings and noises related to finger movements on the neck, have been added. In order to control the amount of noise added, a
Casual to Pro slider is available. When set to
Pro, no additional noises can be heard.
The advanced settings are available by clicking on the
triangle on the right of the keyboard. In this menu, you can:
midi channel(very practical with midi guitars),
This guitar mode is available for every instrument in Pianoteq by clicking on the little
C to the left of the keyboard until it shows the guitar neck.
Instruments VibraDrum, CimbaHarp or GlockenTines for sure do not exist. However these are three of the many instruments you can create with the acoustic Morphing introduced in Pianoteq 7 (Standard and PRO). This new technology handles the morphing at the physical modelling level, providing a stunning acoustic authenticity to instruments that never existed. The timbre of the hybrid instrument you can create is the one of an imaginary acoustic instrument whose physical parameters lie somewhere in between those of the instruments from which you started building the morphing.
The Layering feature allows you to mix several instruments, e.g. playing Harp in the low range, Vibraphone in the upper range and mixing both together in the middle range. When layering instruments together, there are two parameters you may find of particular interest:
Attack Envelope. Both can be edited note per note in Pianoteq Standard and PRO. The
Volume can be used for splitting the instruments to different keyboard ranges, and the
Attack Envelope can be used to mix an instrument with a particular attack that you want to emphasize, with another one whose attack has been weakened via the
Attack Envelope parameter.
The difference between Morphing and Layering is that in the latter the two sounds are mixed together with a given ratio (as if you were running several instances of Pianoteq), whereas in Morphing the instrument Physics itself is being morphed at a given ratio, providing a single instrument with intermediate physical parameters.
A click on the
Morph / Layers button gives you access to the
Layers panel. Once you have clicked on
Morphing, you will be able to select the instruments you want to morph in your “recipe”, the values of each “ingredient” being displayed in the left column; or you can let the
Random button choose for you.
Morphingslider on the left controls the morphing amount for each ingredient of the recipe. If you assign it to a
MIDIcontroller (right click), for example included in a
MIDIfile via the so-called automation, the instruments morphing amount will follow the automation. Clicking on the
Stopbutton will stop the automatic application of the morphing recipe,
Flattenbutton merges all instruments from the recipe into one single independent instrument,
Freezebutton allows you to select the parameters that should not be morphed: they are “frozen”. Some of them are frozen by default: for example
Pedal assignments(which are not proper physical parameters) and
Output settings(it makes no sense morphing a two mics configuration with a three mics configuration),
Smooth x2button avoids all glitches that may occur during a morphing operation, but increases the
Slet you individually mute or listen to each ingredient of the recipe,
Editbutton lets you individually edit each ingredient of the recipe, which you can also
Save asvia the drop-down menu.
Layers instead of
Morphing gives you access to the
Layers panel, which is very similar to the
Morphing panel. The above mentioned example is easily obtained by setting both the volume of the Vibraphone in the low range and the volume of the Harp in the upper range to zero (via
Note Edit), and cross-fading them together in the middle range.
Pianoteq allows you to perform all of the tuning operations usually made by a piano tuner. The
Tuning panel contains the following controls:
The standard diapason (A above middle C) frequency7 is 440 Hz, but you can change it to other values by clicking in the
The temperament defines the way the scale is tuned. By clicking in the
Equal temperament menu, you can choose from the following temperaments (see appendix):
Equal temperament: the standard tuning
Pythagore(VIth A.C.): based on harmonic (pure) fifths except for one (the so-called “diabolus in musica”). Can you hear which one it is?
Zarlino(circa 1558): sometimes called the “physicist scale”, based on harmonic thirds (ratio 5/4) and fifths (ratio 3/2)
Werckmeister III(XVIIth): unequal temperaments used in baroque music
Flat: octaves ratio is strictly 2, for use in certain circumstances, for example with synthesizers.
Detune notes entry in both
440 Hz item by default) and
Temperament menus gives you access to the
Note Edit - Detune panel where you can detune your instrument note per note.
A unique feature of Pianoteq is that tuning does not follow a pre-computed frequency table (except for the flat temperament), but takes into account the inharmonicity of the strings, in the same way a piano tuner does with acoustic pianos. Hence, the consonance of the notes is improved and the chords have a fuller and richer sound.
For other temperaments, you can enter the
Advanced Tuning panel by clicking on the
+ button . There you can import your own
scala8 files and keyboard mappings via the
Keyboard Mapping menus.
When retuning an instrument, you can choose among two options:
String tension or
Full rebuild. Changing the string tension affects the timbre of the instrument because inharmonicty increases when tension decreases, whereas full rebuild recalibrates all strings in order to provide the same timbre for a given pitch.
Stretch menu (left to the
Full rebuild checkbox), one can adapt the stretching of the piano tessitura. When
Stretch is set to
Harmonic stretching is unchecked, then inharmonicity is taken into account, in a similar way as piano tuners do when tuning by ear, that is, listening to the beats between partials (Natural stretching). If on the contrary
Harmonic stretching is checked, then inharmonicity is ignored, in which case the partials are considered to be harmonics, that is, integer multiples of the fundamental, hence the name. Whether the stretching is harmonic or natural, when increasing the stretch value above
1, the tessitura is broadened according to the chosen value, and conversely, when it is reduced below
1, the tessitura is contracted. If you wish to observe what it simply means in terms of cents, you can click on
Transfer the stretching into Detune note-edit and check the values by clicking on the
 For more information, see www.huygens-fokker.org
MIDI standard allows only 128 notes (per
MIDI channel). Hence it is a bit delicate to map temperaments that have lots of notes per octave, such as 31-EDO or 53-EDO: the 7 and 1/3 octaves of piano tessitura would require almost 400 notes with the 53-EDO temperament! Fortunately, it is possible to use the 16 available
MIDI channels to increase the number of notes available to 16x128 = 2048. In the
Advanced Tuning panel, select the
Keyboard Mapping menu, and check the
extended layout for up to 16*128 notes submenu. When this option is checked, a
Main MIDI channel is defined.
MIDI notes that arrive on this channel are played as usual, but notes arriving in the next
MIDI channel will play one octave higher, the following channel will play 2 octaves higher etc., and previous
MIDI channels play the lower octaves (if the main
MIDI channel is channel 1, then its “previous” channel is defined as channel 16).
As very few people know, the three strings of each piano unison (the strings hit by each hammer) are not tuned at exactly the same frequency. To change the timbre or colour of the sound, a skilled piano tuner introduces small tuning differences between these three strings.
Experiment yourself by gently changing
Unison width, that is, the difference between the lowest and the highest frequency produced by the three strings of a single note,
Unison balance, which allows you to adjust the intermediate frequency of a 3 strings choir from the lowest (balance = -1) to the upper frequency (balance = +1) of the choir, balance = 0 being the factory setting value.
It is quite usual to stretch octaves9 in a piano, but how much should they be stretched? Well… this might be a matter of taste! Adjust it to your own taste by modifying the
octave stretching parameter. The main effect will be observed in the treble notes.
octave stretching parameter is set to 1, the stretching follows the natural inharmonicity of the strings (depending on the string length), so there still is a slight stretching. If you want no stretching at all, then use the
Advanced Tuning panel
Stretch menu, you can
transfer the stretching (the amount of detuning) induced by inharmonicity to the
Detune parameter, which allows you to observe directly that detuning in the
Note Edit - Detune panel.
 The musical interval between the two closest notes with the same name (e.g. A3 and A4) is called an octave. The theoretical frequency ratio between two such notes is 2, but in practice it is slightly stretched because of the inharmonicity of the strings and the property of the human ear (cf. also Design Panel).
When tuning a piano, a "natural" way would be, like for most instruments in modern western music, to adjust the pitch of each note to equal temperament, using in particular a frequency ratio of octaves exactly equal to two. Unfortunately, pianos are inharmonic, meaning that strings do not produce harmonics which by definition are integer multiples of the fundamental frequency of the note; instead, each overtone sounds slightly higher than the corresponding harmonic, and is then called a partial. The following spectrograms show the difference between harmonic and inharmonic sounds:
Consequently, when tuning e.g. the octave C3-C4 in the natural way described above, C4 fundamental frequency would be slightly lower than the corresponding second partial of C3. This pair of partials would slowly beat and C4 would probably sound flat relatively to C3.
When inharmonicity is considered, the simplest way of tuning this octave is to match C4 first partial (the fundamental) with C3 second partial. However, the other pairs of partials will not match. For example, C3 fourth partial will in that case be slightly higher than C4 second partial.
The following figure shows the result when matching the fourth partial of a note with the second partial of its octave:
Ultimately: which pair should match? All things considered, this is a matter of aesthetic choice. Besides, instead of tuning octave intervals, you can decide to tune double octaves, or even other intervals, which itself leads to choosing specific pairs of partials to be matched. The
Stretch Points Note-Edit panel, shown below, lets you select the Tuned interval, and the matching pair for each base note (the lowest note of the interval):
Let us see what each ratio means on two examples of Tuned interval options: Octave and Fifth.
Speaking of ratio
2:1 for note C3 (middle C) means that the SECOND partial (C4) of C3 (the 2 in
2:1) will match the FIRST partial of its octave C4 (the 1 in
2:1). There will be no beating on the matched pair
2:1, which is here in the region of 520 Hz.
Keeping the same example C3 and its octave C4,
4:2 means that the FOURTH partial of C3 (namely, C5) will match the SECOND partial of C4 (also C5). There will be no beating on the matched pair 4:2, which is here in the region of 1050 Hz. The tuning with ratio
4:2 is shown in the figure above.
12:6 follow the same reasoning, each one having its particular region of matched frequency.
It is worth noting that the
String Length parameter in the Pianoteq
Design panel has an important incidence when modifying the Stretch Points values, since it directly drives the string inharmonicity.
In this example, the two reference notes are Middle C3 and G3, but the same ratios hold for all fifth intervals throughout the entire chromatic piano keyboard.
Speaking of ratio
3:2 means that the THIRD partial of C3 (namely G4) will match the SECOND partial of G3 (also G4).
Speaking of ratio
6:4 means that the SIXTH partial of Middle C3 (namely G5) will match the FOURTH partial of G3 (also G5).
It goes in a similar way for the other ratios
15:10, each one having its particular region of matched frequency.
Other traditional tuning intervals are considered by piano tuners: octave plus fifth (12th), double octave (15th), double octave plus fifth (19th) and triple octave (22th), all included in Pianoteq. For fun, we also included a non-traditional way of tuning a piano based on Major Third.
Another feature in this
Note Edit panel is the
Roughness slider that can smooth transitions when different
Stretch Points values are used throughout the keyboard (slider on the left means "as smooth as possible").
A remarkable physical consequence of changing the unison width is that the direct sound duration itself is modified. This can also occur when reshaping hammers. You can modify that duration independently via the
Direct sound duration parameter.
Time representation of a piano sound decay, natural scale (left) and log scale (right). Fast decay at the beginning (direct sound), slow decay after (remanent sound).
The strings of a piano are struck by the hammers, small wooden pieces covered with hard felt. For a piano tuner, voicing consists in “shaping” the sound according to the pianist’s taste. This is made by working on the hammer felt, giving it the desired shape, hardness and elasticity.
Pianoteq allows you to perform this same voicing operation. The voicing panel offers you the following controls:
Here you can choose the Hammer hardness at three different velocities:
The harder the felt, the more brilliant the sound becomes. Of course, the louder you play, the harder the felt should be, unless you wish to try some original playing effects!
Here you will find small sliders that allow you to adjust the individual intensity of the first eight overtones (cf. section 11.2). Experiment with it by increasing the weights of all fundamentals (the first overtone is called the fundamental) by raising the first bar. Depending on the piano brand, the seventh, eighth or ninth overtone is usually weaker than the other overtones: the strength of the overtones is related to the hammer strike point defined by the piano manufacturer.
Time, frequency and time-frequency representation of a note, before and after voicing. Here, among other things, the first overtone intensity has been increased.
You can adjust the
Hammer noise, that is, the weight of the hammer percussion sound. With a loud hammer noise, you will feel as though you are standing close to the piano.
Strike point slider allows you to choose the position where the string — or the bar for percussion instruments — is struck by the hammer or the mallet.
A special humanization feature allows the strike point to vary as if it was played by a human musician. This feature is particularly suitable for the chromatic percussion instruments. Right click on the
Strike point slider and select
Humanize. You can adjust the range of the random variation on both sides of the mean strike point.
Here you can control the smoothing degree of the una corda pedal, also called the soft pedal. Despite its name, the una corda pedal usually lets the hammer strike the three strings, but with a softer part of the hammer felt.
The tone sources (reed, tine, bar) of an electro-acoustic piano are struck by hammers or mallets whose hardness can vary, depending on the material that is used. Here again, as for acoustic pianos, Pianoteq provides a voicing panel that offers the following parameters:
Hammer hardness, spectrum profile and hammer noise work in the same way as with acoustic instruments.
In an electro-acoustic piano, the pickup is not exactly in front of the tone source at rest. When it is exactly in front, due to the symmetry of the device, the note jumps one octave higher than the normal tone. Moving the
Pickup symmetry slider from left to right makes the pickup move from an unsymmetrical position to a symmetric position, providing thus a wide range of timbres.
Pickup distance slider sets the distance between the tone source and the pickup. When the pickup is moved closer to the tone source, the sound becomes more distorted and the timbre variation between soft and loud sounds increases.
The clavinet works much like a clavichord. When a key is depressed, a small rubber tip strikes the string and presses it on to an anvil. It contains two sets of pickups, positioned above and below the strings, and is usually electronically amplified.
The voicing panel of the clavinet lets you choose among the four standard pickups settings:
Even more, it lets you make any continuous change between these four settings by right-clicking on the two
The original register switches for tone colours Brilliant (shortened to
Soft are also available.
Hammer hardness, spectrum profile and hammer noise work in the same way as they do with acoustic instruments.
This panel offers controls over piano design parameters such as string length or soundboard characteristics (the soundboard is the wooden plate which transmits the string vibrations to the air.)
On a real piano, you cannot change the soundboard mechanical impedance10. With Pianoteq, it becomes very easy: it is just one of the design parameters. You can control:
Impedance: the greater the impedance, the longer the sound becomes.
Cutoff: the higher you set this frequency, the more high overtones will be present.
Q factor: the greater this factor, the faster the high overtones will decrease.
Each piano note produces a complex sound, mainly composed of overtones with approximate frequencies f, 2f, 3f... where f denotes the fundamental frequency.
A parameter which greatly affects the timbre (and the tuning) is the so-called inharmonicity: the more inharmonic the strings, the more the overtone frequencies of each string are driven away from their theoretical values f, 2f, 3f... and the more the piano sound will resemble a bell.
Inharmonicity decreases very rapidly with string length. Experiment by changing the
String length. The difference will be most evident in the bass range. You can choose up to a 10 meter long piano! At such a size, there is almost no inharmonicity. People say that piano manufacturers dreamed of producing pianos without inharmonicity...
Sympathetic resonance parameter controls the weight of the strings’ sympathetic resonances. It is used, for example, in the famous piece Mikrokosmos by Béla Bartók. The sympathetic resonances depend on the position of each individual damper, and consequently on the position of the sustain pedal: it is longer when the sustain pedal is down, for dampers do not then touch the strings.
Experiment by pressing down a few keys very slowly so that they do not produce any sound, and then, without pressing down the sustain pedal, play a few notes staccato. You will hear the resonance introduced into the first depressed notes. If you release these notes, the sound will stop.
You can also do the “opposite” experiment. Play a note loudly and hold it, press silently another note, and release the first note: it continues resonating in the second note.
Duplex scale parameter controls the weight of the duplex scale resonance, issued from the undamped string parts located between tuning pins and frame (front scale) and between bridge and frame (rear scale). This invention was patented by Steinway (who consulted with the physicist Hermann von Helmholtz) in 1872 and enriches the harmonic content of the notes.
The Blooming parameters, first designed for steel drums, can also be used for the other instruments, allowing to create new sounds. The blooming effect that characterizes the timbre of the steel drums arises from the non linearity of the mechanical response of thin steel sheets. During the attack, some energy is transferred from lower to the higher overtones, producing a “boiinng” sound. Two parameters control this effect:
Blooming energyparameter controls the amount of mechanical energy which is transferred from lower to higher overtones,
Blooming inertiaparameter controls how fast this energy is transferred: the higher the inertia, the longer it takes to be transferred.
The tines that serve as resonator in certain electro-acoustic pianos produce a typical noise when hit by the hammer during the attack, or by the damper during the release. In the Pianoteq Electric Pianos Vintage Tines MKI and Vintage Tines MKII, these two noises can be controlled separately by the
Tine noise hammer and the
Tine noise damper parameters.
Sympathetic resonance work in the same way as with acoustic instruments.
Here again, the
Blooming parameters, first designed for steel drums, can be used for the electro-acoustic instruments, allowing to create new sounds. See in particular the MKI Blooming Grit preset.
On the left side of the Audio Engineering section, you can find a
velocity control curve, allowing you to adjust Pianoteq to your keyboard. You can add or remove control points (double click to remove) and modify the curve by moving them with the mouse. The upper menu lets you separately adjust
A right click on the velocity graphic opens a menu where you can select and manage velocity presets.
calibration button opens the
Keyboard calibration assistant which will help you adjust Pianoteq to your keyboard and pedal and to your own playing style. We strongly recommend that you follow that procedure at least once. See also tutorial 16.4.
reset button resets the displayed velocity curve to the default curve.
When ON, the
G button lets you define a global velocity curve which overrides the default velocity curve of any preset.
If your digital keyboard is not equipped with
Aftertouch, you still can test Pianoteq's
Aftertouch by clicking with the mouse on its graphical keyboard and dragging the cursor vertically above the keys.
Mallet players often use mallets as dampers while using the sustain pedal. The purpose is to exclude certain notes in a group of ringing notes. Pianoteq offers this feature in the velocity panel. Click on one of the two following options in the
Sustained notes damping (mallet instruments) section:
Low-velocity note-on: piano notes are dampened when using the sustain pedal,
Aftertouch: notes are dampened according to their
Aftertouchvalue when using the sustain pedal (adjustable with the
This extra control is accessible not only for Chromatic percussions, e.g. Vibraphone, but for any instrument.
In the middle of the Audio Engineering section you will find:
Microphonesmode lets you set microphone positions for acoustic instruments. The
Binauralmode includes a head model and is mostly intended for use with headphones. The
Monophonicmodes are used with electro-acoustic instruments and also allow compatibility with previous Pianoteq versions. Click on
save asfor saving your microphone settings.
limiterthan can be turned on/off by a simple click. By reducing high amplitudes, the limiter is intended to avoid cracks that may appear when the amplitude is too high (in such a case, the clipping led to the right of the vu-meter shows up).
Volume. You can adjust it note by note via a double click on the slider.
Dynamics, which controls the loudness level between pianissimo and fortissimo. Since it is applied to each note, it can be seen as the ideal compressor for it allows you to adjust the dynamics without any distortion. In particular, the attack and decay of individual notes are not modified.
The eleven pedals that can be used are the following:
Una corda Pedal, also called soft pedal. It moves the piano action to the right (on grand pianos), so that the hammers strike the strings differently, changing the timbre of the notes,
Celeste Pedal, also called moderator, where a felt strip is interposed between hammers and strings, creating a softer sound. This pedal is usually found in upright pianos, in some early pianofortes as well as in some grand pianos, as for example by Steingraeber. Once this pedal is selected in the interface, a right click on the pedal will allow you to adjust the felt thickness. Checking the
Reverse the celeste pedaltriggers the pedal without the need of pressing down the pedal,
Mozart Rail Pedal, reduces the key depth and the hammer to string distance to play more softly,
Harmonic Pedal, allows you to play staccato while maintaining the sustain pedal resonance effect,
Sostenuto Pedal, allows you to hold some notes after release without pressing down the sustain pedal. Depress some keys, depress the
Sostenuto Pedal, release the keys, and the sound of the notes will continue as long as the
Sostenuto Pedalis down. Check
Ignore the sustain pedalif you do not want the
Sostenuto Pedalto capture the dampers lifted by the sustain pedal,
Super Sostenuto Pedal, where the notes held by the sostenuto can be replayed staccato, which is not possible on a "real" piano,
Sustain Pedal, which lifts the dampers, letting the strings ring after the keys are released. Being progressive, it allows the so-called “partial pedals”11,
Rattle Pedal, also called bassoon pedal, which equipped certain historical pianos, as for example the Besendorfer from the Kremsegg collection. A piece of parchment comes into contact with the strings to create a buzzing noise resembling the sound of the bassoon,
Buff Stop Pedal, where a wooden bar covered with leather or felt is pressed against the strings, softening and shortening the tone. It can be found in some harpsichords and historical pianos. On a real harpsichord, the buff stop generally acts only on one register, leaving the other registers untouched. In Pianoteq, you can select which registers are affected by the buff stop pedal. This can be done via a right click on the register buttons (L8', U8', 4'), which gives you also access to the level and detune of each register:
Glissando Pedal, which produces smoother note attacks, as when a harpist or guitarist plays glissandos on his harp,
Pinch Harmonic Pedal, which produces harmonics by shortly touching the string at a specific point on new notes, producing harmonics. Also known by harpists as flageolet.
The Pianoteq instruments are based on a physical model of the soundboard and its radiation. It simulates the sound field generated by the instrument, and thus allows you to place microphones anywhere around the piano, or just above the soundboard, or even below the piano if you want. The acoustic pressure and pressure gradient are measured where you place the microphone, which allows to simulate omnidirectional microphones as well as directional microphones.
A head model is also provided: here, an additional treatment is applied to the sound pressure registered by the ears of the listener. It can provide an increased realism when listening with headphones.
Once you have selected the recording mode, the microphone window opens (you can detach the microphone window by hovering the mouse cursor above the microphone area and dragging it with the mouse). You can then drag a microphone to any location around the instrument and choose its direction.
Several types of virtual microphones are available, such as omnidirectional, cardioid and figure 8, to choose from a range of well-known microphone brands:
U87 (omni, cardio and fig8),
C414 (omni, cardio and fig8),
R84, as well as two "perfect" microphones (they capture the acoustic field generated by the model without any distortion):
Proximity effect compensation is checked, an automatic compensation algorithm is involved which avoids the increase in bass response when the microphone is close to the soundboard.
To make it easier moving several microphones, you can link them together, either by the
Link to command from the microphones menu, or by double-clicking in between the microphones you want to link. Then you can move them, rotate them and adjust their distance to each other.
By right-clicking in the mic area, you can save your mic settings as a
Mic. Preset and load those you have created.
Here are a few classic microphones techniques.
The mix table allows you to mix the microphones into the different output channels. For each active microphone and each active channel, you can adjust the volume, the delay and the polarity that you want to be applied by clicking in the corresponding cell (right click opens the popup). Polarity is reversed when
Reversed polarity = 1. Which channels are active depend on your audio configuration.
When switched on,
Level compensation and
Delay compensation compensate respectively for the level and delay on each line connecting a microphone to a channel. When switched off, the raw sound from the microphones is heard: the volume decreases with the distance from the piano while the delay increases. In both cases, level and delay that you adjust in the mix table are relative to the chosen configuration.
Two other parameters can be adjusted in the
Stereo width. This parameter allows you to narrow or broaden the stereo image of the instrument,
Sound speed. Since this parameter was present while we developed the model, we chose to make it available for you. Its effect is equivalent to changing the time unit. It modifies the travel time of the sound waves in the air.
lid can be raised or lowered. Hover the mouse over the top edge of the lid and drag the lid to raise or lower it. This feature appears in the same panel as the microphone position because it is part of the acoustic radiation model and thus directly influences the sound waves captured by the microphones.
If you have selected the
Binaural mode, you can choose the position of the listener around the piano. The
Binaural mode involves physical modelling of a dummy head. You can rotate the head in any direction, and you can even increase its size (for big headed people only).
As is well-known among sound engineers, the microphone position has a dramatic effect on the resulting sound of the piano: for some positions, the sound is nicely balanced from low to high frequencies while other positions lead to a strongly coloured sound. There might be places where some frequencies are almost completely missing (wave nodes), and even the best position is far from rendering a purely flat response: recording always brings some additional colour, which makes sound recording a real art.
The next graphic gives an idea of how “flatness” can vary with the position: the lower a point of the surface, the flatter the response becomes.
The lower right panel gives access to the
Effects settings. The buttons below it provide a shortcut for enabling/disabling the selected effects and the reverb.
Here you can adjust several parts of the piano action:
Damper position: when a note is released, the damper falls back on the strings and each overtone decays more or less rapidly depending on the damper position. It is particularly noticeable in the bass notes when using partial pedals (and also with keyboards sending variable key release velocity),
Damping duration(efficiency of the dampers),
Last damper: all keys with
MIDInote number greater than this value have no damper,
Mute: makes the dampers more or less press onto the strings,
Key release noise, noise made by the release of the key,
Sustain pedal noise: “whoosh” when all dampers rise together, as well as when they fall.
This feature is particularly interesting for the chromatic percussion instruments, including the cimbalom.
You can adjust the way the mallet bounces on the bar (or on the cimbalom strings):
Initial delay: adjust the delay for the initial bounce,
Velocity sensitivity: the higher the sensitivity, the longer the first bounces at high velocity (the “drop height” has increased),
Delay loss: adjust the amount of delay loss from one bounce to the next one,
Velocity loss: adjust the amount of velocity loss from one bounce to the next one,
Humanization: adjust the random variation of all these parameters.
In its default state (
Main is selected), contrarily to the
EQ3 effect (cf. Section 15.5), this
EQUALIZER works in pre-processing (modifying the model before computing sound). The fact that it works in pre-processing allows automatic
volume compensation: for example, when increasing the medium spectrum, it will increase the medium frequencies in each note while keeping the natural balance across the keyboard. In other words, the middle notes will not get suddenly louder than the other ones. Another advantage of pre-processing is that it allows very fine variation in the EQ curve, unlike on a standard 3 band EQ. You can add (click) or remove (double click) control points and modify the curve by dragging them with the mouse.
Two other features,
Res Eq and
Res Dur, allow respectively to equalize the sympathetic resonances and to modify their duration.
This panel adjusts the effects acting directly on the model, for each individual note. Three effects are available, the
Vibrato, modulating the frequency, the
Tremolo, modulating the volume, and the
Depth of the
Vibrato defines the importance of the effect in cents. The
Offset controls whether the change in frequency will be more positive or negative. The
Depth, in dB, of the
Tremolo controls the importance of the effect, and the
Relative Phase determines how synchronous the
Tremolo are when used together.
The left part of the panel sets the speed of the variations,
Rate, the time before it appears,
Onset Duration, its
Shape and its
When using the
Attack Envelope in addition to the
Mallet Bounce feature,
Bounce Envelope determines how the bounced attack will be.
The effects panel lets you chain three effects that can be switched if wanted.
The effect menus allow you to select among the following effects:
Gain is applied after all effects. Placed here for convenience, it does the same as the
Volume in the main interface.
The following controllers are shared by several effects:
Delay: the length of the delay line in milliseconds,
Depth: the loudness variation in dB in the effect,
Feedback: the percentage of signal feedback in the effect delay line,
Mix: the ratio of the effect and the unprocessed sound,
Mono switch: changes the effect from mono to stereo,
Rate: frequency of the oscillator that modulates the effect,
Stereo: phase offset between the stereo oscillators,
Sync switch: its menu allows synchronizing the effect to the tempo,
Tone: simple tone control for the delayed signal.
Tremolo effect, you can control the shape of its LFO by draging the mouse horizontally and vertically over the
Wah effect, the
Wah slider itself is the direct controller of the wah-wah effect (right click on it and click on
MIDI to assign it to a
MIDI controller). In
Auto-Wah mode, the Wah is modulated by the amplitude of the sound. Specific
Sensitivity: Auto-Wah is disabled when the slider is at the extreme left. The more you push it to the right, the lower the amplitude which starts triggering the Wah effect.
Depth: controls the upper limit of the frequency shift for the wah-wah filter.
Similarly, in the
Phaser effect, the
Phasing slider is the direct controller of the phaser effect. Specific
Intensity: the width of the frequency sweep, ranges from 0% to 100%.
Amp effect simulates an amplifier equipped with the following controllers:
Mix: the ratio of the effect and the unprocessed sound,
Drive: amount of distortion introduced in the signal,
Bass: amplifier low frequencies boost,
Midrange: amplifier mid-range boost,
Treble: amplifier high frequencies boost.
Comp effect is a standard compressor with the following controllers:
Ratio: gain ratio input/output above the threshold,
Attack: the time it takes for the compressor to reduce the gain once the signal reaches the assigned threshold level,
Release: the time it takes for the gain reduction to end once the signal drops below the assigned threshold level,
Threshold: the level at which the compressor gain reduction starts,
Gain: the gain in the overall level after the compression.
EQ3 effect is a simple 3-band parametric equaliser. Dragging control points on the interface will change the cutoff-frequency and the gain of each band. Pressing the ’shift’ key while dragging will change the
Q factor of each band.
A new convolution reverberation unit simulates acoustic surroundings ranging from Studio up to very long reverbs like
Taj Mahal. It includes other types of reverbs such as
Broceliande... In PIANOTEQ STANDARD or PIANOTEQ PRO, you can even load your own reverb impulses via
Load WAV impulse... in the
The reverberation is controlled by the following parameters:
Mix: the relative level in dB between reverberant sound and direct sound,
Duration: the length of the reverberant sound,
Room size: from 5 to 50m,
Pre-delay: the time between the direct sound and the reverberant sound,
Tone: a tilt equalizer that only affects the reflected sound, darker to the left, brighter to the right,
Tail / Early reflections: the relative level in dB between early reflections and reverberation tail.
And now, a few tutorials to help you understand how Pianoteq works. We will learn how parameters influence the sound. It is important to notice that Pianoteq also lets you produce new sounds which could never be obtained from a real instrument.
What is the difference between a “normal” piano and a “honky tonk” piano? Most of the difference can be found in the unisons tuning. Each note has three strings, except in the bass range. The honky tonk sound comes from the fact that these three strings are not in tune: they do not produce the same frequencies. You can obtain this effect by moving the
Unison width slider to the right in the
However, having the three strings perfectly in tune is not necessarily best. If you push the slider completely to the left, the three frequencies of each unison will match almost perfectly, but you will find that the sound becomes uninteresting. It sounds too “clean”; it lacks life. So, how should it be tuned? There is no universal truth in such an aesthetic matter. That is why Pianoteq, for the first time in a digital piano, lets you adjust the unison tuning to your own taste!
Unison width, you may also find it interesting to change the
Direct sound duration, reducing it if you have reduced
Unison width and vice versa. Observe that the closer the strings are to being in exact unison, the faster the direct sound will decay and the slower the remanent sound will decay.
Unison tuning is not the only feature that affects tuning: another question is how intervals, that is, the frequency ratio between two different notes, are tuned. The tuning of all the intervals within an octave is called a temperament.
Over the years, many different temperaments have evolved. The most commonly used today is the equal temperament, in which all semitones are equal. However, a few hundred years ago, people used many other temperaments, some of which you can choose in the
Temperament menu. Try playing them. You may find the difference not so evident when playing single notes, but much more prominent when playing chords, some of them having a nice consonant sound, whereas others having a quite harsh sound.
The main objective of piano voicing is setting the brightness of the sound by adjusting the hammer hardness. Different music may require different voicing. The
Voicing panel contains three hammer hardness sliders. Try first moving the
Mezzo slider, which acts on the hammer hardness around
MIDI velocity 64. Moving it to the left, you will obtain a softer sound, whereas moving it to the right yields a brighter sound:
Once you are familiar with these sound changes, you can try the other two sliders acting at
Piano level and
Forte level respectively. You may also want to experiment with using the
Hammer noise parameter in conjunction with this
Hammer hardness setting. You can, for example, set the
Hammer hardness to very soft, but increase the volume of the hammer hitting the string using the
Hammer noise setting. In other words, reducing the hardness of the hammer doesn’t mean that you have to lose the percussive sound of the hammer as you reduce the brightness of the sound. On the other hand, you may want to have hard hammers to make the timbre bright, but at the same time reduce the volume of the percussive knock of the hammer hitting the strings.
Another feature is timbre adjustment through the intensity of the individual overtones, which can be partially performed on a real piano by shaping or needling the hammers.
Spectrum profile, starting with the first overtone, also called the fundamental.
Voicing is not independent from tuning, for shaping the sound during tuning can be considered as voicing. Do you want to obtain longer decay? Then you can:
Unison widthin the
Direct sound duration,
Soundboard Impedancein the
Soundboard impedance plays a crucial role in piano design. What is the soundboard mechanical impedance? When a periodic force is applied to the soundboard, the wood oscillates with a certain velocity at the same frequency as the applied force. The soundboard impedes (resists) with its inertia, elasticity and resistance: this is the mechanical impedance, which has a ratio of force / velocity.
Typically, a high impedance results in a long sound because the energy is only slowly transmitted from the strings to the soundboard, and vice versa. High impedance yields long but weak sounds whereas low impedance yields strong but short sounds. Hence piano manufacturers have to find a compromise between sound level and sound duration.
With Pianoteq’s solution, you are free to amplify the sound as much as you want. There is no more compromise. You can set the impedance, adapting it to the sound duration that you want:
Impedance, acts globally on the impedance at all frequencies. Moving it to the right will result in longer sounds and vice versa.
The mechanical impedance depends on the frequency. The impedance is usually quite high below a certain frequency called the cut-off frequency, above which it drops down with a slope called the
Q factor: the rate at which impedance is reduced and thus the rate at which the sound decreases in length. Higher frequencies decay more rapidly than lower frequencies. Hence:
Cutoff, to the right will increase the cut-off frequency, and thus increase the number of high overtones that are long.
Q factor, to the right will increase the impedance slope, and thus decrease the duration of the overtones above the cut-off frequency. Moving it to the left will instead allow these overtones to decay more slowly, prolonging the initial bright sound just after the attack.
Example: if you like emphasizing the sound of the strings, you can reduce the
Q factor. Alternatively, you can increase the
Impedance or the
For demanding pianists, it is of utmost importance to adapt Pianoteq to the keyboard in the best possible way.
Calibrationbutton below the velocity window and follow the instructions step by step.
Some further adjustments can be made that depend on the instrument you are playing:
Dynamicsthat you want to use, typically between 20 dB and 60 dB. Measurements made on acoustic pianos show a dynamic range of approximately 50 dB. In piano recordings, due to compression, the dynamic range is often much narrower. In Pianoteq, when changing dynamics, the forte volume remains constant while the lower amplitudes are raised or lowered.
You are now ready to play. Note that steps 3 to 5 can also be used to adapt Pianoteq to a given
MIDI file in the best possible way.
What is the difference between the spectrum profile (see tutorial 2) and the equalizer? Let’s look at an example. Open the
Voicing panel and set the first two spectrum bars respectively to +6 dB and +3 dB:
What happens to the sound? All notes are modified: for each note, the fundamental has been increased by 6 dB and the second overtone by 3 dB. The piano sound has become globally softer because the higher overtones now have a lower amplitude relative to the fundamental and the second overtone.
undo’s, put the spectrum bars back to their original values, and now adjust the equalizer curve, increasing it from 0 dB to 10 dB when going down from 200 Hz to 62 Hz:
What happens to the sound now?
The resulting piano sound will have more bass, with an unchanged middle register and treble notes.
PIANOTEQ PRO is the advanced version of Pianoteq. It includes the following additional features:
Note Edit (note per note adjustment) of parameters is a very powerful tool that lets you adjust the chosen parameter for each note.
You access the
Note Edit window by clicking on the
Note Edit button or by double clicking on an “editable” slider. You can drag the Note Edit window anywhere on your screen and open several new windows, allowing you to work on several parameters at the same time as you can see in the picture above, where
Unison width and
Direct sound duration are being adjusted.
handles that let you perform some more global changes on the curve. These handles are located on specific
control notes that you can select/unselect by a double click on the
control rail below the graphic. These control notes are shared by all parameters except the special case of the spectrum profile which is described in the next section. For fine tuning, press the
Shift key while moving a point of the curve.
Clicking outside a control note lets you modify any other note individually.
Convenient tools are provided that allow you to modify a given shape:
rescale. Click and drag the mouse around the button to vary the degree of the effect (see also the tips that are provided on the interface). The
reset button resets all parameters to the saved settings of the preset (contained in the
fxp file on the hard drive).
The Note Edit of the
Spectrum Profile works a bit differently from the other parameters, for you can adjust each overtone for each note! You can access it by a double click on any of the spectrum profile sliders.
Overtones can be modified individually, but also in different combinations called
Octave... Various draw modes named
Fill only are also provided. All these features are grouped in the same menu on the right, labelled
Simple draw at first access.
The spectrum profile has its own set of
control notes that you can select/unselect by a double click on the
control rail below the graphic. They are independent of the control notes used by the other parameters.
control notes, the spectrum profile is linearly interpolated, and you can observe the intermediate values by clicking on the corresponding note on the
If you set a single
control note and increase its third overtone by 6 dB, all of the notes will have their third overtone increased by 6 dB:
With a single
... all other notes are modified in the same way.
Here — starting with a
reset to clear everything — since we wanted only the middle C to be modified, we added 2
control notes on each side to prevent the interpolation from "propagating" to the other notes:
With three consecutive
... you can alter only the middle note if you want to prevent your edit from spreading to the notes above or below it.
In this last example, we modified the middle C and the C below, and we observe how the intermediate notes are interpolated:
Profiling the middle C...
... and the C below ...
... results in interpolated values for the F between.
MATLAB programs for some Pianoteq built-in temperaments12. Inputs are equal tempered frequencies
f (which may be stretched) and corresponding
%------------------------------------------------------------------- function f = pythagore(f,MIDI) %------------------------------------------------------------------- delta = 3/2/2^(7/12); ratio = delta.^[-3 -8 -1 -6 1 -4 3 -2 -7 0 -5 2]; f = f.*ratio(rem(MIDI,12)+1); %------------------------------------------------------------------- function f = zarlino(f,MIDI) %------------------------------------------------------------------- ratio2C = [1 25/24 9/8 32/27 5/4 4/3 45/32 3/2 25/16 5/3 16/9 15/8]; ratio = ratio2C./2.^((0:11)/12); ratio = ratio/ratio(10); % leaving A unchanged f = f.*ratio(rem(MIDI,12)+1); %------------------------------------------------------------------- function f = mesotonic(f,MIDI) %------------------------------------------------------------------- q = 5^(1/4); ratio2C = [1 5*q^3/16 q^2/2 4*q/5 5/4 2/q 5*q^2/8 q ... 25/16 q^3/2 4*q^2/5 5*q/4]; ratio = ratio2C./2.^((0:11)/12); ratio = ratio/ratio(10); % leaving A unchanged f = f.*ratio(rem(MIDI,12)+1); %------------------------------------------------------------------- function f = welltempered(f,MIDI) %------------------------------------------------------------------- q = max(real(roots([1 0 0 2 -8]))); a = (128/q^5)^(1/7); ratio2C = [1 a^2*q^5/16 q^2/2 a^4*q^5/32 q^4/4 2/a a*q^5/8 q ... a^3*q^5/16 q^3/2 4/a^2 a*q^4/4]; ratio = ratio2C./2.^((0:11)/12); ratio = ratio/ratio(10); % leaving A unchanged f = f.*ratio(rem(MIDI,12)+1); %------------------------------------------------------------------- function f = werck(f,MIDI) %------------------------------------------------------------------- ratio2C = [1 256/243 1.1174 32/27 1.2528 4/3 1024/729 1.4949 ... 128/81 1.6704 16/9 1.8792]; ratio = ratio2C./2.^((0:11)/12); ratio = ratio/ratio(10); % leaving A unchanged f = f.*ratio(rem(MIDI,12)+1);
Warm thanks to our beta testers, who helped us greatly in improving our instruments. Without their intensive participation, their constructive criticism and enlightening advice, Pianoteq wouldn’t have become the enjoyable instrument which you are playing.
Many thanks also to our customers and distributors for their support and all others who supply us with valuable opinions and ideas.
MODARTT is a company that develops and provides software, hardware and consulting services for artistic and technological applications. MODARTT also supports the KIViR project (Keyboard Instruments Virtual Restoration), offering digital restoration of historical keyboard music instruments in museums. Please visit our website www.modartt.com for further details.
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