MIDI piano + sustain pedal realism

Link to good samples/soundfonts at http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/free_audio_data

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MIDI piano + sustain pedal realism

Post by sb56637 »

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the world of MIDI, although I've used Linux for a really long time. Anything that I do with a computer I pretty much require that it works with Linux or else I'm not interested. I've played piano most of my life and I've recently been looking into a fairly realistic and inexpensive way to go digital. So I recently bought a slightly used M-AUDIO 88es at a great price, and I connected it to an old laptop running openSUSE Leap 15.0 . Basically, I was able to plugin in the controller/keyboard and connect it to a software synthesizer via qjackctl, and I am able to play music. So that's the important part. :-) Now there are just a few oddities and bugs I'm running into, mostly relating to the naturalness of the sustain pedal behavior:

- Anything based on FluidSynth (qsynth or SF2 Player in LMMS):
-- The sustain pedal works, but not like a real piano. After hitting some keys, releasing the keys, and then immediately depressing the sustain pedal while there is still residual resonant sound, it does not sustain the resonant sound. At least, it normally doesn't-- but for a short period I was constantly switching back and forth between qsampler and qsynth and restarting Jack, and at some point the sustain pedal starting acting like a real piano under qsynth, sustaining the resonant sound after releasing keys. ?!?!?! But I can't repeat it now.
-- I really like the Yamaha Salamander soundfont from musical-artifacts.com or a modified version at SoundFonts4U, but there are issues with FluidSynth. FluidSynth can't open .sfz files, so the musical-artifacts.com version is out. The SoundFonts4U version can be opened, but it appears that FluidSynth doesn't reproduce the sustain pedal release noises that some of the instruments have there, which I would really like to have.

- LinuxSampler with qsampler
-- The sustain pedal does work correctly like in a real piano, as described above. This is a huge advantage.
-- The sustain pedal release noises also work correctly, which I really like.
-- LinuxSampler has poor support for .sf2 formats, so it's not a universal option for all the fantastic soundfonts I found.
-- I don't like the slow and clunky interface and the poor integration with the LinuxSampler engine.
-- The FX button doesn't really seem to have many effects. I also can't figure out how to connect LinuxSampler to other Jack programs to further modify the output, for example adding a gain amplifier for certain low-volume soundtracks or adding piano reverb effects.

-- This is my favorite, but as I mentioned above, in the case of SF2 soundfonts I don't like how anything based on FluidSynth handles the sustain pedal.
-- The GIG player is nice.
-- No direct .sfz soundfont support, but there is integration with Carla as a plugin.

- Carla
-- I'm running into some major stability problems with the version currently packaged for openSUSE, but soon they're going to update it to the next version, which works better.
-- I understand that this used an internal LinuxSampler library, so after messing around with some of the rack plugin settings I am able to use SF2, SFZ, and GIG soundfonts.
-- SF2 soundfonts still have unnatural sustain pedal behavior. Is this an SF2 format limitation?
-- SFZ and GIG soundfonts do have the correct sustain pedal behavior, but it appears that the subtle sustain pedal release noises that some soundfonts offer don't work under Carla for some reason?

Any other options or tips or workarounds? Thanks in advance!

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Re: MIDI piano + sustain pedal realism

Post by noedig »

It's interesting that you mention the sustain pedal intricacies, something I haven't been paying attention to really.

I can't think of much more for you to try regarding getting the right sound. What I can suggest is a better interface and easy fast access to sf2 soundfonts, gig and sfz files with this software of mine:
I use it almost permanently when playing. It will at least allow you to quickly try out and switch between different sounds. It includes a searchable library of all your sf2, sfz and gig files.
It uses the Carla Linuxsampler plugin behind the scenes to load sfz and gig formats and it uses Fluidsynth to load sf2 files. So it won't give you more realistic sounds than you already had, but will at least allow you to try them out in a more fluent interface (not that you can't also have a fluent workflow with Carla, this is just a bit different).
I usually output the audio to another plugin host like Ardour for effects.

Finally, you could try the Pianoteq demo.
I'm sure you'll find it to be the most realistic yet. It's the only piece of payed software in my Linux setup and I'm not regretting it.

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