Sample Library Review #001

Braunschweig Upright Piano

By Imperfect Samples

Introduction

A recent purchase to add to my collection of slightly odd pianos. I’m a big fan of a piano with character so it wasn’t a big leap for me to have a look at this one, especially considering a very reasonable price tag. The Braunschweig is an upright piano that is noticeably out of tune, but not so much to sound unpleasant, sampled in such a way that brings the flaws and creaky mechanisms of the instrument to the fore. If you are looking for an alternative piano to stand out amongst the countless perfectly sampled pianos, then read on.

Installation

The Braunschweig comes in two flavours: standard and pro, which weigh in at 5GB and 15GB respectively. Once purchased you are emailed several links to your files which you can download directly. No download manager or serial number registration needed here. I certainly appreciated how straightforward it was. However, there is no player included with this. For optimal results you will need a full copy of Logic’s EXS or Kontakt to use this library. If you have both, Kontakt’s version gives you access to more mic positions, so that’s definitely the player to go for and is what I used for this review

In Use

Braunschweig provides you with a lot of choices. You have a selection of instruments with velocity layers ranging from just 3 all the way to 14 which will command 20MB to 200MB of your RAM. It’s probably more choice than necessary these days, but not a bad thing to have by any means. Imperfect Samples have thoughtfully included instruments with the release samples toned down, and removed all together. The Pro version offers a different mic perspective closer to the keys.

The Sound

Just playing a single note conjures up a nostalgic atmosphere. Braunschweig thankfully stays clear of honkey tonk territory, each note being only slightly out of tune. It is a very mellow sound with a lot of energy in the mid and low ranges. This can make for a slightly blurry texture but that could be appropriate if judged well. And that's just it with this library. It has limited application but it really delivers given the right setting. Haunting and eerie, or warm and familiar like grandma's piano. The extreme registers are a stand out. The bass has a very rich resonance while the top notes bring out the sympathetic resonance of the surrounding strings. It's an unmistakably familiar old upright sound. Imperfect Samples' claims of high realism are not unfounded.

I found the release samples a touch loud. Thankfully there are instrument options with quieter release samples, but in those cases I simply couldn't hear them at all. It's a small gripe but perhaps a clearer middle ground could have been achieved. The piano fx contain some useful sounds such as glissandi. Your mileage may vary as the rest are mostly knocks and thumps. While the sounds of the pianos mechanisms are present here, they are tied in to the piano note sample and therefore cannot be controlled separately. Indeed there are no controls to speak of. Many piano libraries have an option to raise or lower the volume of things like pedal presses, hammer mechanisms or even piano stool creaking. It's a shame as this library is extremely well suited to giving an intimate performance and some would find use in tweaking these parameters. However, it is highly likely that you already own another piano library (this certainly shouldn't be the first that you buy) and combining the two might provide a decent workaround.

Conclusion

As I previously mentioned, this shouldn’t be your first piano. The sound is very particular and not at all versatile. Music that features piano at the forefront could suit it well as the character is very strong. It’s my feeling it would be slightly wasted further back in the mix. At £40 or £90 for the extra mic positions it is clearly excellent value. There is even an upgrade path should you wish to dip your toes in before committing to the full package. I am confident that anyone looking to broaden their sonic palette will find something quite special here.

At a glance

Standard £39.99 5GB
Pro £89.99 17.45GB
www.imperfectsamples.com


Pros

  • Good value
  • Expressive
  • Unique

Cons

  • Lack of controls
  • Not versatile

Summary

A German upright thick with atmosphere and character. Recommended as a second piano option only.


Audio Demos