Galaxy Steinway 5.1 features a Steinway grand piano recorded at Galaxy Studios in Belgium. The piano was close-miked using five Bruel & Kjaer microphones, with room ambience recorded using Neumann mikes. The SPL/Brauner microphone system was also used to record in five-channel surround format with a separate mic for the LFE channel. The recordings were made using a Neve Capricorn digital console linked directly to Pro Tools. All top kit!
The samples are mapped in whole tones with ten velocity layers, providing a natural sound quality over the whole dynamic range. Sample lengths range up to 40 seconds. The recordings are supplied in 24-bit and 16-bit versions at 48kHz samplerate. The 24-bit version uses a massive 6.8GB of audio samples. If you need only the stereo version, this uses just 1.2GB of audio samples.
The virtual instrument software is a special version of Native Instruments Kompakt, with samples provided by Best Service. You can run Kompakt either stand-alone or as a VST, RTAS or Audio Units plug-in.
Usefully, you can load just a subset of the 6 channels, so I was able to load the mono Center channel on my G4 500MHz – although even this took ages. On a 1.5GHz PowerBook it loaded more quickly and played back without any breakup in the sound.
The sound of the sampled instrument and the quality of the recordings is first-rate – yes, it probably is the nearest thing to an actual Steinway available. But sampled pianos do still have some way to go to achieve full realism. I compared the sound of this sampled grand with my venerable Steinway Model K upright grand piano, which dates from about 1895. The samples were good – but I wouldn’t even dream of swapping these for the real thing. Also, I don’t recommend that you buy this package unless you really need the 5.1 surround version – it’s too unwieldy to work with easily, unless you have absolutely massive amounts of RAM, the fastest hard drive and the speediest CPU.