Review: Midnight Grand by Fracture Sounds

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Fracture Sounds have done it again! Another piano library that is unique, beautiful, and full of depth and clarify. Midnight Grand is an excellent follow up to Fracture Sounds first piano release, Woodchester Piano.

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Review: Midnight Grand by Fracture Sounds

When Fracture Sounds released Woodchester Piano last year I couldn’t quit raving about it. Woodchester had the rich, warm, and soft piano tone so many composers are looking for. Now, with Midnight Grand, Fracture Sounds have offered a second piano library that serves as an excellent companion to their Woodchester Piano. This time Fracture Sounds focused their microphones on capturing the clear and open tone of a Steinway concert grand piano and have excelled at it. Adding in the Atmosphere layers (a concept introduced in Woodchester Piano) for an ethereal and sparkling shimmer on top and Fracture Sounds have something special. This may well become my go-to grand piano library.

Midnight Grand sells for $89.00 from Fracture Sounds

Thoughts

Piano libraries are like opinions – every composer seems to have a plethora of them! There are felt pianos, upright pianos, grand pianos, plucked pianos, experimental pianos, ad nauseam ad infinitum. So, while I love piano libraries (and use them often), I don’t tend to get overly excited when another developer releases yet another piano library. However, after the stellar release that was the Woodchester Piano last year, Fracture Sounds had my attention from the first word about Midnight Grand. I couldn’t wait to hear what they had in store.

Midnight Grand is a deeply sampled Kontakt instrument made from samples of a Steinway concert grand piano, recorded in a concert hall, and prepared with a layer of cotton between the hammers and strings to elicit a more fragile, cinematic tone. The piano was recorded with high-quality microphones placed both close to the piano and further back in the room to capture the sound and reverb of the concert hall, and then combined into a single stereo mix. This results in a sound that strikes a great balance between the close and room mics, and means you won’t get lost spending a ton of time tweaking mic mixes. To achieve further realism, Fracture Sounds recorded true pedal down and pedal up samples, resulting in authentic sympathetic resonance when the sustain pedal is held down. Two NKI patches are included: the main Midnight Grand patch, and the Midnight Grand (Alt) patch, which consists of only the pedal down samples for a richer, fuller sound, even when the sustain pedal isn’t engaged.

One of the things I loved about the Woodchester Piano was the “Piano Noise” control section Fracture Sounds chose to include. For the Woodchester, these controls consisted of Key Release (the sound of the hammers going back to their resting position upon the release of the keys), Pedal (the sound of the sustain pedal moving up and down), Pianist (the creaks and pops from the pianist moving and sitting on the bench), and Reverb. The same controls are available within Midnight Grand, except that the Pianist control has been replaced with a control for Room Tone, allowing you to mix in the sound of the air moving through the concert hall as well as some of the creaks and clicks captured through the room mics. This is a nice addition to Midnight Grand, but I would liked to still have seen the Pianist control included. This is a feature I have even used by itself to add life and realism to other piano libraries. I love that Fracture Sounds have included the Piano Noise controls. They add realism to the sound of the library and allow the user to add as much or as little of each to create their own tailored sound.

One of the most unique features of each of the Fracture Sounds piano libraries is the inclusion of the atmospheric layers. These layers add an ethereal quality on top of the raw piano sound that adds something really special and unique to these libraries. The Atmosphere layers include Haze (a warm sustained pad sound), Shivers (a cold and thin airy pad sound that slightly fades in and then back out), and Eclipse (a sound made from a reversed granular delay effect that adds movement nicely behind the raw piano sound). Once again, each of these controls can be dialed in to taste, allowing you to create your own, custom sound.

By clicking the settings button (just below the Midnight Grand logo within the Kontakt interface) you can adjust the Velocity Response, the reverb’s Impulse Response, the Sample Start position, and change the Room Tone to on/off. There is also a Reduce Thump button that, when activated, reduces the percussive nature of the lower frequencies, particularly in the upper range. This control is active by default but deactivating it will give the piano a more upfront and present sound.

I was a huge fan of the Woodchester Piano. The warm felt sound emerging from the upright body of the piano, coupled with the atmospheric layers, added a new color and depth to my toolkit. With Midnight Grand, Fracture Sounds have once again given us something special – the sound of a beautiful Steinway concert grand piano coupled with the Fracture Sounds signature atmospheric layers. Midnight Grand has a way of transporting you to a beautiful concert hall at midnight, alone with nothing but the sound of a beautiful piano, your thoughts, and time.

Facts

Midnight Grand requires the full version of Kontakt 5.3 or above. It includes 2 NKIs and downloads as 3.3 GB (compressed from 6.6 GB). Midnight Grand is available from Fracture Sounds for $89.00.

Midnight Grand sells for $89.00 from Fracture Sounds

 

Demos of Midnight Grand by Fracture Sounds

Videos of Midnight Grand by Fracture Sounds

Contributor Raborn Johnson reviews Midnight Grand by Fracture Sounds
Fracture Sounds have done it again! Another piano library that is unique, beautiful, and full of depth and clarify. Midnight Grand is an excellent follow up to Fracture Sounds first piano release, Woodchester Piano.