Review: 1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand by Whole Sounds

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The 1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand by Whole Sounds is a welcome addition to the market as Whole Sounds have managed to capture a beautiful 1954 Baldwin “R” series grand piano while keeping all its wonderful character and subtle nuance intact!

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Review: 1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand by Whole Sounds

Ten years ago, when buying a sampled piano the question in the buyers mind wasn’t so much about the kind of piano or the character of the sound they wanted, but rather it was a question of if the piano was capable of sounding passably realistic. A lot has changed in the last decade in terms of sampling realism and today the assumption that a piano will sound realistic is almost a given. Instead, the user is free to explore the vast array of pianos on the market to find the kinds of sounds that best suits them. The 1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand by Whole Sounds is a welcome addition to the market as Whole Sounds have managed to capture a beautiful 1954 Baldwin “R” series grand piano while keeping all its wonderful character and subtle nuance intact!

1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand sells for $79 from Whole Sounds

Thoughts

Of all the instruments we have in abundance in our sample collection, pianos are probably one of the most common. Piano being one of the staples of music as a whole regardless of genre, one simply can’t do without one. Time was, you had one piano that you figured was the most realistic one you had. That was the only piano you would ever use because the rest of the pianos you had were simply not as real sounding or sampled as deeply. This is no longer the case and instead the market is flooded with dozens if not hundreds of incredibly deep sampled and realistic pianos. Where then does this leave the user? Which piano should you buy? The question is actually reflective of a wonderful problem to have. Instead of searching for the one realistic piano you can get your hands on, you are now free to search for the kind of tone and character that best suits your needs. The 1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand by Whole Sounds is absolutely bursting at the seams with unique character and nuance.

At 22 GB (Compressed) for a single patch, it’s clear they spared no expense with regards to the detail at which they sampled this instrument. While some might argue that sampling in whole steps is sufficient, Whole Sounds was not satisfied to stop there and instead chromatically sampled each of the 88 keys. Each key was recorded at 8 velocity layers allowing for the player to create truly expressive performances. The instrument feature four mixable mic positions that the user can use to shape the kind of sound they want. The instrument also features a 3 band EQ and what’s nice is each of the mic positions can have its own EQ settings. Clicking on a mic position in the interface will cause the EQ settings to contextually show the parameters of the currently selected mic. This would allow a user for example to have the farther away mics to have less high end in order to create the impression that they are even more distant, while simultaneously boosting the high end on the close mics to accentuate that fine detail present in close micing situations.

Where I believe this piano’s strengths are, are in the wonderfully detailed and crisp high end. The low end, compared to some other pianos on the market is admittedly thin. Additionally, the softer velocities are not the piano’s strong suit. The higher velocities on the other hand are amazingly resonant and powerful. This comes back to my initial thought on the state of the market today, that there are so many different kinds of tones for a piano and the question is about which one works for you. In this instance, if you’re after a delicate soft emotional tone, then this piano is perhaps not the best instrument for you, however if you’re after a more biting tone perfect for more agile and harder speaking music then you won’t be at all disappointed with this piano!

As some of my past reviews may reveal about me, I can be somewhat picky about user interfaces. I prefer function over form and clarity over flash. Though at the end of the day all the controls are there, I found this interface a little difficult to look at. At first glance it seems reminiscent of the toy shop of some kind of mad man. Because of its sway towards skeuomorphic designs, I actually felt like I had some trouble at first figuring out what was simply a visual design element and what was something that I could control. Regardless, all the elements are there and once you’re actually playing the instrument, the UI doesn’t really matter.

It is worth mentioning that the instrument was not created for the more standard Kontakt but instead was created for the UVI Workstation, one of Native Instruments’ competitors. Some users may have prefered Kontakt as the majority of samples are Kontakt but as the instrument works with the free UVI workstation player (the UVI equivalent to the Kontakt Player) then it’s not really big deal or concern since the user needs only purchase the library and doesn’t have to worry about purchasing a whole new sampler.

Whole Sounds has without a doubt done a fantastic job on this piano. They managed to capture a huge amount of detail and character and at an extremely reasonable price of only 79 dollars, this instrument is really a no brainer for any composer looking for a new piano to add to their collection.

Facts

The 1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand is a deep sampled piano recorded with four mixable mic positions. The piano was chromatically recorded at 8 velocity layers for all 88 keys and weighs in at 22 GB of uncompressed audio. The instrument features some in-built effects and processing such as a 3 band EQ, compressor, and a convolution reverb. The instrument requires UVI Workstation and will work with the free UVI Workstation. There is no Kontakt support.

The 1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand can be purchased for $79 from Whole Sounds.

1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand sells for $79 from Whole Sounds

 

Demos of 1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand by Whole Sounds

 

Videos of 1954 Baldwin Parlor Grand by Whole Sounds