How one can Make MIDI Piano Sound Sensible in Your DAW

There’s nothing fairly just like the sound of an actual piano, whether or not it’s a jazzy upright at a dimly lit bar or a Steinway grand in a live performance corridor. Nevertheless, anybody who’s ever needed to rent piano movers or pay for knowledgeable tuner can attest to the upkeep and price of an actual piano.

Since not each musician has the cash or area for the true factor, listed below are some tricks to make your piano tracks sound practical in your DAW of alternative.

Use MIDI Features

When you’ve chosen a piano sound and recorded your MIDI monitor, there are some suggestions for issues you are able to do with simply MIDI that can go a good distance in the direction of including some realism and really feel to your piano monitor. Particularly when you’re nonetheless studying your means across the piano, the following pointers might be actually helpful.

1. Quantize

The very first thing you should use is the Quantize operate. Once you quantize notes in a MIDI monitor, you lock them to a grid in order that they’re all exactly in time. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to alter the diploma of precision by deciding on a quantized energy decrease than 100%, which is what we’ll do on this case.

By intentionally making it much less exact, the monitor gained’t sound as stiff and robotic. We’re utilizing Logic Professional X as a DAW for demonstration functions, however the course of is just like different DAWs.

This is the right way to quantize notes in your MIDI monitor:

  1. Proper-click on the MIDI area in your Workspace view.
  2. Scroll to Quantize.
  3. Choose the worth you wish to use. Probably the most exact is to a 1/64 word.

    You may also quantize from the Piano Roll grid, which is useful when you do not wish to quantize all of your notes:

  4. Choose the notes you wish to quantize. To pick out a couple of, maintain down Shift and click on or drag along with your mouse or trackpad.
  5. Choose the quantized word worth from the Inspector channel strip view on the left.
  6. Click on the Q button.

2. Velocity

The rate of a MIDI word is the energy at which it’s struck, denoted as a worth from 0 to 127, with 127 being the loudest. For those who differ the rate of notes inside your MIDI monitor, it’ll higher mimic the way in which an actual piano is performed, and there might be some variation within the velocity between one part of notes and the subsequent.

In relation to an actual piano, a few of this variation occurs naturally due to the participant, and a few of it occurs as a result of the piano keys won’t all have the identical contact response.

As a piano begins to exit of tune or is subjected to temperature and humidity adjustments, you’ll discover that there might be some pure inconsistency between one part of keys and the subsequent. There’s nothing unsuitable with this; it simply signifies that each piano is completely different.

To alter the rate of your MIDI notes, in the identical Piano Roll grid view, choose the word you wish to change. Then transfer the Velocity slider to the worth you need. The upper the worth, the louder the word might be.

This is the difficult factor: when you choose a couple of word with completely different velocities, the worth on the Velocity slider would be the lowest velocity of all of the notes chosen. For those who then improve this by 30, for instance, any word with a velocity of 10 will now be 40, and any word with a velocity of fifty will now be 80, and so forth. You may override this and make the rate values all the identical by holding down Possibility and Shift as you choose every word.

3. Swing

The opposite MIDI operate to mess around with is swing. Whereas that is largely used for drum tracks to barely differ the tempo and provides it a “swing” really feel (therefore the identify), it really works with musical notes and different devices too.

Understand that whenever you apply the Swing operate, it is going to be utilized to the entire monitor. In order for you just a few completely different values, make just a few completely different tracks. To use swing to your monitor, simply transfer the Swing slider to the proportion you need.

Set up Plugins

Relying in your DAW, you’ll possible have a wide range of completely different results, also called plugins, which you should use so as to add much more realism and variation to your MIDI piano tracks. Under are a number of the most typical ones. It is best observe to bounce or print your MIDI tracks to audio earlier than making use of these results.

1. EQ

Equalization, or EQ, shapes your sounds by both slicing or boosting sure frequencies or pitches. For instance, when you really feel like your MIDI piano tracks have an excessive amount of bass, you’ll be able to lower out low frequencies.

Conversely, if you wish to add extra physique to your tracks, you’ll be able to attempt boosting the low and mid frequencies a bit. For those who’re undecided the place to start out, Logic has some presets, together with presets for piano tracks.

2. Compression

A compressor takes the loudest elements of a monitor and lowers them to a threshold you set to match the amount of the remainder of the monitor. Compressors are helpful if in case you have a monitor with many dynamic variations, however you don’t wish to decrease the general quantity and danger elements of your monitor sounding too quiet.

Compression will also be used much less conventionally to emphasise transients and make your tracks sound punchier and louder. Mess around with the Assault and Launch values to make the compressor kick in at varied factors (a brief assault will trigger it to kick in quicker).

As soon as you have turned down the loudest elements of a monitor, you’ll be able to deliver up the remainder of it with out it getting muddy or distorted by utilizing the make-up acquire characteristic or altering the ratio of compression. The upper the ratio, the stronger the compression.

For those who’re working with a couple of monitor, compression may assist “glue” your tracks collectively by mixing the dynamics. For instance, when you route all of your MIDI piano tracks to a mixture group (referred to as a Observe Stack in Logic), you’ll be able to then apply a compressor to the complete group.

Logic has a wide range of built-in compressors, and the Apple Help website has an in-depth information for which compressor does what.

3. Reverb

Once you use reverb results on a monitor, you’re primarily inserting that monitor in a selected area, whether or not a big live performance corridor, small drum sales space, or outside stadium. Whereas individuals affiliate reverb with echo, it’s a unique acoustic phenomenon and can provide you completely different outcomes.

When soundwaves from a sound replicate off a floor, we hear these reflections in another way from the unique supply, and the unique sound may look like it’s been stretched out or may sound much less distinct and percussive. It is dependent upon how distant the surfaces are and the way massive the area is. The longer the reverb time, the longer it’ll take for the mirrored sound to cease.

So once we hear a sound reverberating, what we’re truly listening to are its reflections after the unique sound has stopped. Conversely, an echo means you hear the unique sound two or extra occasions, precisely because it sounded the primary time.

By making use of a light-weight reverb to our MIDI piano monitor, it’ll sound extra prefer it’s being performed in a room as a substitute of “within the field” as a result of the notes could have extra presence and sound much less flat and lifeless. You may mix the moist and dry alerts to regulate how a lot of the reverb is utilized.

Layer Your Sounds

Once you document an actual piano in a studio, you typically place a number of microphones across the room and even contained in the piano. By doing so, you seize its sound from a wide range of views after which mix them collectively.

Nevertheless, you’ll be able to’t do that whenever you’re recording your MIDI keyboard on GarageBand. As a substitute, you mimic this impact by layering completely different piano sounds as if from a couple of vantage level. Attempt layering just a few several types of piano, or layering one MIDI piano monitor with reverb utilized and one with out.

Make the most of Panning and Stereo Unfold

For those who print your MIDI tracks to audio as stereo tracks, you should use a stereo unfold impact to widen the stereo subject. Consider it because the distinction between listening on headphones versus listening in a giant studio.

You may also print them as mono tracks and experiment with panning every monitor to create completely different listening views.

Assume Exterior the Field

No matter your DAW and plugin preferences, there are numerous methods to document and blend within the field if you do not have entry to an actual piano or a recording studio.

There are various free DAWs and audio editors on the market that also have industry-standard options. Between MIDI modifying capabilities, software program devices, and plugins, you’ll be able to dial up just about any sound you need. An actual piano sounds wonderful, however with the appropriate results, you will get fairly shut in a DAW.

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