Review: 1985 Passionate Piano by 8Dio

by

8Dio have added to their already impressive range of deep sampled pianos with the 1985 Passionate Piano, which puts up the mics on a mid-eighties Yamaha C5 grand piano. In typical 8Dio style it is beautifully recorded, nuanced and also experimental.

Jump to the Videos of 1985 Passionate Piano by 8Dio

Jump to the Demos of 1985 Passionate Piano by 8Dio

Review: 1985 Passionate Piano by 8Dio

There is no shortage of amazing piano libraries out there, arguably to the point of saturation, so the fact that a premier developer continues to release them suggests that there is still ground to cover.

Pianos can be as particular as any other instrument to fit with the mood and timbre of a particular song or cue, which is why you often need a few on hand as there is simply no ‘one size fits all’. The C5 sits at the top end of the Yamaha ‘Conservatory Collection’ with a list price of $33,000-$42,000 and is targeted at music schools and conservatoires. 8Dio have already covered the larger Yamaha C7, but the C5 is distinct enough to warrant sampling. With 8Dio’s 1985 Passionate Piano they have done just that and delivered a library for Kntakt that is more intimate than most of their other piano libraries.

1985 Passionate Piano sells for $198 from 8Dio

Thoughts

With a whopping 66,000 plus samples1985 Passionate Piano by 8Dio is a hugely detailed instrument with up to 10 velocity layers and 5 round robins. Combine that with 6 mic selections and the result is a super realistic and playable grand piano.

The main patch loads with the standard 8Dio interface featuring controls for stereo width, envelope, pitch, filter, tone and drive plus a filter LFO. There is also front panel access to some of the FX, which appear in a separate tab and contain all the usual suspects such as reverb, delay and the excellent transform convolution effect. For pure piano use you won’t really dig into any of these as they only take you further from the original samples, so the most important parts of the main interface are the articulations at the top and the mic positions to the left and right.

There are four articulations – Sustain, Una Corda (soft pedal engaged), Short (staccatissimo) and Staccato. It is worth noting not all piano libraries sample short playing styles and instead rely on the sustains played quickly, but this can be a compromise. By sampling these shorter articulations at source the correct release is captured giving far greater realism. Yamaha pianos tend to have quite a bright and lively sound which is less to my personal taste, so I was particularly enamoured by the una corda articulation which gentlly dulls the highs whilst still retaining a bold sound. For the sake of completeness they could have short sampled this too, but in practice una corda is predominantly used for long notes, so this is a viable omission. All articulations can be combined (by clicking a small link icon) which means, for example, you can add a little staccato to the sustains for a punchier attack. Personally, I am not a fan as it sometimes causes phase issues and the release samples also sound a little odd in combination, though in the context of a larger mix it would be less noticeable and the pros may outweigh the cons. There is no sympathetic resonance modelling, which may put off purists but in practice it is not a huge miss. One addition an update could address is a volume control for the sustain pedal noise.

Moving onto the microphones we find a selection of high-end mics from the likes of Neumann, AKG and others in 5 different positions with another fader as a custom mix of them all.

Moving onto the microphones we find a selection of high-end mics from the likes of Neumann, AKG and others in 5 different positions with another fader as a custom mix of them all. The Close mics are right over the strings with no ambience at all and a wide stereo spread from high to low notes. The Ears is at player position and sounds very natural. The Bottom mic is from under the piano so the sound is warmer and also far more central in the stereo field, which makes it useful for dialling in fullness and power. The Mid option is the room mics and the Far mics give a very wide slight ambience. It sounds like the room was quite neutral and acoustically optimised, as even with only the Mid and Far mics on there really is not a lot of natural reverb. What you do get with the mic positions is the ability to very finely blend a number of close and detailed recordings with very little influence from the recording environment itself. This is good for adding your own reverb, but not so much so if you are wanting some character from the actual recording space. In practice I found the Ear was a good general starting point to which I would add Close for added details, Bottom for body, Mid for a sense of a room and Far for width and space.

One thing to bare in mind is this deep sampling comes at a cost – a huge RAM footprint. By huge I mean nearly 10 GB with all articulations and mic positions loaded! Unless you are stacked for RAM you might want to try the ‘LITE’ nki which is far more forgiving. Alternatively, there is a Mix mic which is the 8Dio custom mix of all the mics, using 1.7 GB and it sounds nicely balanced. You can also purge any unused articulations when you are sure you don’t need them.

 

There are a few additional patches as a sideshow to the main attraction. The Misfit Grand features the same articulations via a custom beer bottle mic. It’s a pretty crusty band-pass filtered sound that could be useful as a weird effected piano, to sound design with or to layer. It would have been better to have this in the main nki really, enabling it to be layered with the more pristine mics, so I am slightly puzzled why it is deserving of its own dedicated patch.

The Elements patch is where the piano gets deconstructed. A Muted and Resonant articulation are added to the regular four and each of these also has a reversed version. By mixing between them some interesting textures can be formed, though it would have been good to be able to control the lengths of the reverses.

An A/B LFO is added to program modulation between articulations, but as in other 8Dio libraries this still retriggers unless you play legato. The mic position is fixed and their faders are replaced with a 4 band EQ and the A/B mix knob. A further bank of 21 presets shows what can be done when the Elements is combined with the Chaos FX system and it is very impressive. This is the place to dive into when you want a hybrid style piano with the contemporary sound of gating, bit crushing , delays and massive reverbs. There are some really inspiring presets in here which immediately lead you into creating interesting melodies and chord progressions that ‘bounce’ off the particular feel of each patch.

The titular ‘Passionate’ of this library is arguably a tad confusing. For me, that word conjures up a warm, gentle and reverb-heavy piano, but this library is quite the opposite! However, perhaps it refers to the close and intimate sound which it has in spades. The detail and quality of the recording and scripting is at the highest level, with a wide dynamic response, going from a tickle to a hammer blow. The sound is full with clean, rich lows and bright highs. This all lends itself to use in both subtle pieces and for bashing out chords and melodies in the loudest sections of a mix. Above all, this instrument is exciting and responsive to play whilst sounding very realistic.

End users may well find this is an excellent choice for a workhorse grand piano that can sit well in a range of genres, but if you prefer very characterful pianos with lots of natural reverb, this is certainly not the droid you are looking for. Think clean, clear and tight for the 1985 Passionate Piano. That been said, 8Dio have pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the superb Elements feature, which reimagines a beautiful but essentially quite normal piano into a modern hybrid instrument, brimming with creative potential.

Facts

The 1985 Passionate Piano is a 22 GB download requiring the full version of Kontakt. There are 66,507 samples from 6 microphones across 6 different positions. 8Dio recommend a minimum of 8 GB of RAM to run the library.

1985 Passionate Piano sells for $198 from 8Dio

 

Demos of 1985 Passionate Piano by 8Dio

 

Videos of 1985 Passionate Piano by 8Dio