Apart from the fact that to date a lot of sampled pianos are available to the modern musicians - but no real, authentic Bechstein yet - the concept behind the C. Bechstein Digital Grand (from C. Bechstein Pianofortefabrik AG) represents a completely new and modern approach to the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) oriented digital grand piano. All the existing solutions and concepts on the market have been completely put to the test and questioned before only the first note was recorded.
This resulted in a kind of reversed process, as between the DAW and the classical grand piano the developers did not start their product design with the actual instrument, they started with analyzing what the modern music producer and musician expects from a professional grand piano for his DAW based music productions.
The C. Bechstein Digital Grand user experience and its user interface now are optimized for both, the enthusiast musician and also the sound design expert. Providing easiest possible access to the C. Bechstein sound, its touch and access to the innovative Instrument parameters.
Capturing that C. Bechstein Sound
“In mid-19th century young C. Bechstein visited a Liszt Piano recital and witnessed the furor of the pianist breaking the grand piano gradually into pieces. From then on it was the young piano maker’s ultimate goal to create instruments that handle the full range of lyrical and dramatic melodies. It was the beginning of a fairytale like success story.” Source: The Becchsteins - A family story.
The acoustic role model for the software incarnation of a C. Bechstein grand is a carefully selected C. Bechstein D 282 – a concert grand that is already setting standards in terms of dynamic development and powerful sound per se. With its ability to highlight and emphasize even the most subtle melody lines through its unparalleled richness of tone colors, the D 282 belongs to the best modern concert grand pianos in the world. To extract the tonal personality of this piano a completely new recording process and workflow was needed and created.
Bechstein spent over 3 weeks in the acclaimed Teldex Recording studio in Berlin that continues the great tradition and history of Telefunken and later Teldec Classics and their recording teams. Since its modernization in 2003 Teldex Studio Berlin is one of the biggest private recording studios in the world. The famous recording hall, the state of the art equipment - including a unique collection of vintage microphones - and the experience of the Grammy-awarded producers and engineers ensure first class productions, no matter what style of music.
Under supervision of 3 time Grammy winning recording-engineer Tobias Lehmann each and every note of the D 282 piano was recorded in numerous variations, articulations and under perfect acoustic conditions – also utilising for the first time the M/S microphone technique, the sound engineers’ and sound designers’ method of choice for capturing acoustic instruments.
Due to the different recording techniques, the software instrument excels in all kinds of musical styles. Classic arrangers will appreciate the fine, extremely nuanced recording quality of the samples. Jazz and pop musicians will like the innovative sound tools of the Digital Grand.
C. Bechstein is known for their non-compromise attitude when it comes to the touch and tone experience of the acoustic instrument. Therefore, with the same effort, more than 10,000 carefully selected sample-zones were voiced individually! Both, software developers and piano makers worked hand in hand to create a large variety of presets for the Digital Grand to provide an impressive range and a natural sound for each sound setting. For this purpose, the controller ranges of the innovative GUI were programmed in a way that possible sound modulations always value “the original” - the unique character of a C. Bechstein concert grand piano remaining recognizable at all times.
A different approach to sampling a grand piano
In contrast to the common approach recording a grand piano for sampling the C. Bechstein team preferred a rather minimalistic method. Instead of recording dozens of microphone signals, which usually are mixed together at the postproduction stage much later in the process, they decided to focus on recording from just 3 classic listening positions. These were captured with only 5 microphones (24 bit/ 192 kHZ, Swiss Made Merging Technologies converters. An additional stereo signal capturing the direct and close “aura” of the grand piano also can be dialed in fully in phase from the software instrument.
“As the focus of the instrument is the use within a DAW we decided to create this instrument with the least possible room reflexions or even reverb. This makes the C. Bechstein Digital Grand incredibly flexible for any kind of productions as the users are able to choose freely the room or reverb that suits their music and arrangements best in the mixing stage of the creation process!” Oliver Hutz, MD C. Bechstein Digital GmbH states.
The sonic performance of the software instrument speaks for itself: playing with high polyphony throughout all registers, even in pianissimo each note remains clearly defined within the arrangement. Especially the M/S signal shines in detail making the individual notes tangible through the entire dynamic range.
The C. Bechstein Digital Grand relies on Native Instruments’ proven KONTAKT sample player (available for macOS and Windows PC) as technological basis. Thus, the C. Bechstein Digital Grand is ready for use on all modern DAW systems. It also supports the Native KONTROL Standard (NKS) including Native Instruments’ innovative Light Guide technology for visualizing string-based sound shaping.
For more information, visit: bechstein-digital.com