Review: Westwood Alt Piano by Westwood Instruments

by

Westwood Alt Piano is an upright piano sample set with four mic positions and several methods of creating something rather different from your standard piano.

Jump to the Videos of Westwood Alt Piano by Westwood Instruments

Jump to the Demos of Westwood Alt Piano by Westwood Instruments

 

Review: Westwood Alt Piano by Westwood Instruments

Westwood’s Alt Piano is a 6 GB piano library (2.5 GB download) combining hammer and felt recordings, and a few synthesis options to allow the user to morph the standard piano sound into ethereal, ambient and alternate sounds.

Westwood Alt Piano normally sells for $59.00 from Westwood Instruments

Thoughts

Alt Piano is a combination of two recordings of a 60s era upright piano – with and without felt. What identifies this library as unique, is the addition of re-recorded sample sets to create alternate textures.

Westwood Alt Piano runs in the full version of Kontakt 5.6.8 or higher, and includes 4 stereo mic positions – close, room, studio and ambient. The user interface is nicely laid out and easy to understand. The main character aspects are blending between Natural and Felt, and Texture. The Felt blend range from full Natural to full Felted recordings. Texture includes 4 options – Air, Grain, Earth and off. The Textures are resampled versions. Air was resampled through reverbs and granular synthesis to create a sustained pad texture. Grain was re-recorded through a Sony TC-121 cassette recorder, and Earth through a Tascam MSR-24s reel to reel, then resampled at half-speed. Earth adds a deep tonal character. Earth adds lows, but might need some compression/EQ control in a mix. Air is probably the most versatile for lighter ethereal pads, where Earth adds a warm lower end beef that fades in after the note attack.

The multiple mic positions are Close, Room (to the side and behind the pianist), Soundboard (close, facing the back of the piano), and Ambient (far back in the room). Note, the manual says the 4th mic position is also “Soundboard”, but I assume this is a typo, and also assume “A” stands for Ambient as it is a room mic, but I could be mistaken.

Close is the most natural sound, with the soundboard mics having a slightly muted sound, as one would expect. The Room mic has a little more room ambience compared to the Close mic. And finally, the Ambient mic position has a good bit of room to it, and a bit of post-attack low end resonance. Using this mic alone, or high in the mix may require a little EQ or multiband compression. The knob on each mic channel controls width. I would call this a character piano library. It won’t compare to the larger realistic piano libraries.

The additional controls, such as Piano Sound, Pianist, and Noise are self-explanatory – adding the requisite noise from sources such as the pedal, hammers, and even bench squeaks from the pianist. These do enhance realism in certain cases and can be useful for creating a raw sound. “Front” and “Perspective” alter the apparent position of the sound source, and listener perspective – audience or pianist. Transpitch transposes the samples down 6 semitones and then back up to create a somewhat deeper tone. For actual detuning, “Untune” does the trick. Rounding out the top row of effect controls, “Start” alters the attack and “Sensitivity” controls velocity sensitivity. EQ, Delay and Space (Kontakt-based convolution reverb) round out the effect options for Alt Piano. Delay can of course be synced to tempo.

Alt Piano comes with several factory “Snapshots” (presets in Kontakt) to get you started. I found Alt Piano to be interesting for certain uses. The manual is nicely laid out, well-written and quickly describes every aspect of Alt Piano. A typo or two are of no concern, especially since Westwood has an obvious sense of humor that I think we can all appreciate – e.g. Windows support lists “7, 8, 9 and 10”. If you already have a solid piano library or two, Alt may not find its way into your work as a general-purpose piano. But its ease in creating the unique textures, combined with various onboard alterations and effects are its calling card. Give the demos a listen and decide for yourself. Alt Piano may be just what that next score or song needs.

Facts

Alt Piano requires 5 GB of disk space is required during unzipping and install.
2.5 GB for the final install.

PC: Windows 7, 8, and 10;

MAC: OS X 10.10 or higher.

16G of ram recommended.

Requires  Kontakt 5.6.8 or higher, full version is required.

Fast internet connection.

Alt Piano sells for $59 from Westwood Instruments.

Westwood Alt Piano normally sells for $59.00 from Westwood Instruments

 

Demos of Westwood Alt Piano by Westwood Instruments

 

Videos of Westwood Alt Piano by Westwood Instruments

Contributor Dedric Terry reviews Westwood Alt Piano by Westwood Instruments
“Westwood Alt Piano is an upright piano sample set with four mic positions, and several methods of creating something rather different from your standard piano.”