Review: Traveling Pianos by Kirk Hunter Studios

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Featuring the gentle sound of a sampled Yamaha C5 and a more metallic tone of the Yamaha C7, Traveling Pianos lets you sculpt your own creative sound thanks to the Layer options.
Those producing pop or cinematic music will get a lot out of this instrument although the library may fall short for those creating solo “Classical” piano music.

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Review: Traveling Pianos by Kirk Hunter Studios

The new library by Kirk Hunter Studios is called Traveling Pianos. It features two Yamaha pianos, Kirk Hunter’s own Yamaha G5 and the Michael Lehmann Boddicker’s Yamaha C7. The idea of developing this library was born during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown period, when it was almost impossible to record their other then-planned new libraries. Its name is due to the fact that those pianos (especially the C7) can cover different musical genres (therefore, the idea of “traveling through time”) and that so many artists have played it (including James Horner, Katy Perry, Burt Bacharach and Khristian Dentley), so it’s like it “traveled” to and from these performers.

Traveling Pianos sells for $199.99 from Kirk Hunter Studios

Thoughts

The library comes with one single patch of the same name. The interface is very intuitive and well-looking, with just a few but essential controls for a product of this kind. At the top, just under the library’s name, you’ll find the current piano’s name. Clicking on that, you can switch between the Yamaha C7 and the Yamaha C5.

On the lower zone you can find a set of knobs and sliders to control certain parameters. First of all, a 3-band EQ: you can choose the frequencies on which you want to operate using the left knobs and turn up or down the gain of those frequencies using the right knob. Moving to the right, you’ll find three sliders to control the Velocity Sensitivity, the Warmness/Brightness and the Pedal & Key Sounds. Just above these sliders, a pop-up menu from which you can add two different types of “Tines” to add a kind of metallic attack to each note.

Just above the “Tines” menu, the “Layer” menu introduces a very nice and powerful feature of this library, making you layer the original sound of the selected Yamaha with a “Saloon” Upright piano or with Strings to create nice textures and a kind of pad sound while you’re playing. Once you have selected the Saloon Layer or the Strings Layer, a yellow swiper appears on the left of the Grand Piano icon at the centre of the GUI. Dragging the swiper to the right, you will see the selected layer instrument overlapping the Grand Piano, to indicate the amount of sound of the Grand Piano and the layered instrument.

Above the layering pop-up menu, another menu from which you can choose between 22 presets, but you can also easily create your own moving sliders and knobs. In the “Multis” folder, you can also find a bunch of multi-instruments patches created merging together multiple presets in order to give you a wider choice of sound.

Moving again to the right, there’s a “room” section, where you can set the amount of reverb and the size of the room as well as activate and disable mic positions. Close, Main and Far positions are available, and enabling/disabling them will load or remove samples from the RAM memory. You’ll also have two pedals icons. The right one is by default assigned to the Sustain pedal while the left one will affect your sound like it was the left pedal of an actual acoustic piano. You can also assign it to a MIDI CC or to a second pedal if you have one. Clicking on the pop-up menu above the pedals, you can also decide to add ambience and/or audience noises to make the performance more realistic, and you can set their volume using the slider above.

The sound of the C7 seems to be too aggressive and metallic. It was difficult to evaluate it and I had to try it on different pieces and listen to demos on the developer’s website before coming to a decision. In my opinion, it sounds too harsh, especially on the mid-low dynamic range. The sound of the C5 is smoother and gentler, sometimes still a bit metallic in my opinion, but not as sharp as the previous one. I really like the layering tool, which allows you to easily work on different genres and for different occasions. The controls and the EQ allow you to shape the sound as you wish, and the bunch of presets is very helpful if you don’t want to start from scratch. Also, I really appreciate the presence of the soft pedal (Una Corda), which is very important when you record a piano.

Generally speaking, I think this library works very well if used in “popular music” productions, or in cinematic music, especially when layered with strings or the saloon piano. I personally don’t think it works that well when used as a soloist in Classical music recordings.

Facts

Traveling Pianos runs with the Full version of Kontakt (5.7.1 or higher). You don’t need a serial number to activate it.

It weights about 4 GB but it’s better to have 8 GB of free space (about 3.77 GB for the download and about 4 GB for the final extraction).

Traveling Pianos sells for $199.99 from Kirk Hunter Studios

 

Demos of Traveling Pianos by Kirk Hunter Studios

Videos of Traveling Pianos by Kirk Hunter Studios

Contributor Giuseppe Corcella reviews Traveling Pianos by Kirk Hunter Studios
“Featuring the gentle sound of a sampled Yamaha C5 & a more metallic tone of the Yamaha C5, Traveling Pianos lets you sculpt your own creative sound thanks to the Layer options.
Those producing pop or cinematic music will get a lot out of this instrument all through the libraries may fall short for those creating solo “Classical” piano music. “