I’d be the first person to say that my piano playing skills are somewhat lame. But, I’ve always loved tickling the ivories. There is something so expressive and emotional about the piano. I love them as instruments and one day I will own a real piano. But until then, I’ll make do with synthetic ones. And I have a few. Some of them are very good indeed. But none of them come even remotely close to how good Propellerhead’s Radical Piano is.
This instrument, through a blend of samples and physical modelling, is the only synthetic piano that has ever actually convinced me that I’m sat playing a real one. Seriously, I close my eyes, stick my headphones on, and I am sat at a grand piano. It honestly feels that way. This piano is just incredibly accurate.
What really makes it for me is the sound of the mechanics. Often overlooked, deliberately or otherwise, in sample libraries, these sounds form part of the true essence of a piano, and therefore need to be included. Some years ago, I assisted Steve Howell of Hollow Sun with assembling his library of a Yamaha CP70 Electric Grand Piano. We were making it for the Akai sampler range of the time, namely the Z4/Z8 and the aborted Akai Boreas, and ultimately for his Kontakt instrument “Nostalgia”. One thing that these rack samplers possessed was the ability to allocate a “note off” sample. This was a very useful and creative tool, allowing you to assign another sample to the note off release action. It wasn’t long until Steve realised that this was perfect for capturing the mechanics and using it to faithfully recreate the instrument in this library. Steve painstakingly sampled not only every note, but every hammer off as well. And he layered in the pedal actions too. It was a brilliant piece of sampling on his part. He is a true master of his art, which is why he was behind pretty much all Akai libraries from the late 80s to the last couple of years. But the most engaging thing about playing this CP70 library was the subtle use of the mechanics. And Radical Piano has these in great detail. And it is this feature that makes it stand out as a brilliant piece of sound design.
I used to sit at a Steinway Grand at school, pretending to be some kind of virtuoso, and failing miserably, and it is only now that I can hear the very same sound when playing Radical Piano. This, in my humble opinion, is the finest sounding synthetic piano ever. You could spend a fair few hundred dollars/pounds/euros on a massive multi gigabyte sample library. Or you could buy this lightweight, low cost instrument that will give any of those libraries a run for their money.
Colour me impressed. This is the piano to beat all pianos.