Cello and piano balance with NotePerformer

I have a solo cello & piano piece, using NotePerformer.
Overall, I feel that the piano is playing way too soft compared to what I know the balance would sound in reality.
If the cello and the piano are both playing P, the balance is fine, though I would not dislike a bit more of LH to support the harmony.
If the cello and the piano are both playing F, only the cello is audible.
If the piano then plays FF, it covers the cello even if it plays FF…

Short of applying local edits to every part where I feel the piano should be more present, is there some general tweak I can apply?
Thanks a lot!

I can only speak generally - and I know that NotePerformer is unique in what it does, but a consequence is that it takes away control to a certain extent. (I think, I haven’t used it in a while.) So with caveats :slight_smile: ;

They usually call the higher frequency range 8K-15K as “air” or something, rather than presence. But an EQ boost on the piano there can have the effect of bringing it forward a bit. If you use an EQ that has the ability to solo just that frequency band - it seems like it is hardly anything and doesn’t change the overall tone of the instrument - but it’s like even the LH is crisper and forward. Just a thought. You can dip the cello down slightly in the same range. Notice this is part of what Anthony does in the tutorial on using Stage Templates.

NotePerformer may not give you a way to do that? I would tend to have second instance, or a different VST for a soloist anyway - and then you have lots of options. Or you can tell me to be quiet :slight_smile: Sometime for me it’s a clue that I maaaay need to change something in the piece.

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Thanks Gregory for your message!
I’m using NP because I’m mostly an engraver, not a sound designer.
For the scope of this project it is not too important, maybe I could just raise the starting dynamic point of the piano a bit, and hope that everything will move with it.
In any case, this is not my composition, rather a classical cello/piano sonata where the piano is playing the shy part…

You mention a second instance: of what, NP?
Please don’t be quiet, I’m a thirsty learner and have got plenty to learn from all this!

There is a way I can think of, but it’s a little bit involved. I’ve used it myself when different instruments have different dynamic responses. It involves understanding a little about how expression maps are set up, how playback options affect the dynamics, and how expression maps are assigned to instruments.

The essential thing is that it’s possible to assign different expression maps to different instruments while using the same playback software (NP in this case).

What I did was clone the standard Noteperformer expression map and in the clone adjust the dynamics options in the playback overrides. Then assign it to the required instruments in play mode.

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I don’t like the piano from NotePerformer either, it doesn’t sound like one either in the low, medium or high register. Threw me off unexpectedly. EQ would be an option, but to me it would probably ruin the overall timbre.
Most of the other instruments are very good though.

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Yah, lots of really good piano vst, but that’s a slippery slope :).

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I was curious to see if I experienced the same problems on a simple test project using NotePerformer and its playback template for both instruments. The material is simplistic but I don’t seem to get the cello overpowering the piano the way you do and wonder if problems might relate to differences in our setups which are here pretty much at default settings.

Cello:Piano test.dorico (648.3 KB)

This project came as XML from Sibelius using the Dolet plug-in.
In previous projects started and completed in Dorico I also do not get this issue.
Thinking about the XML possible issue, before posting all this thread, I tried to reset everything and reassign playback templates, but there are still many things going south, like one hand of the piano playing F when there is a PP dynamic (which attaches to the RH, but should affect both staves).
I wonder if there could be an easier solution to get native Dorico+NP after the XML import.

Would you be willing to guide me through this? It could be helpful to many beyond, I think. Thanks!

Yes, I’m happy to. You may need to hang on for a day or two!

Sure, no rush at all!

Hi Michele,

Here’s a video showing you what you need to do.

The start point is a Dorico file with piano and solo cello with Noteperformer set up to do the playback.

The basic steps are

  • clone the default NP expression map
  • adjust the playback over-rides on the clone
  • apply it to the cello in Play mode

You’ll have to experiment to see what dynamic changes work in your case - I changed things pretty randomly.

Here’s a link

EM video

I tried uploading the video (mp4) directly to the forum but it got stuck at 100%. Does anybody know what I did wrong?

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Yes, piano is one of the instruments in NP I always replace with a custom VST. It is too wet and too thin, so even if you get the volumes right, it still lacks presence and detail. Fortunately pianos are pretty easy to set up without a complex expression map. Lately I’ve been using Simple Sam Signature Grand and it has a lot more presence, clarity, and character. Sits really nicely with the rest of NP or NPPE’s too.

Also even the free and ‘lite’ master keys pianos available from Boz Digital Labs have been really impressing me lately. The full piano bundle is currently on sale and I highly recommend them – great presence and body, and they have built-in EQs and mic positions which would be handy in OP’s scenario to help it sit right in the mix. I personally would start with a better sounding piano before modifiying the expression maps, since I’ve had better luck with a simple swap.

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That’s a good suggestion.

I’ve found myself that I often need to adjust the dynamics settings even when I use different libraries because they have differences in their dynamic scales.

Thanks!
I will try this later today.
Why should I change the EM for the cello when the problematic one was the piano?

Thanks!
I’m working out with their support why I cannot create an account, then I will get their piano. It’s about time I start learning how to use VST properly.

Ah, my mistake. Yes, change the one that gives you the problems!

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I don’t know how to fix it, but I do think there are few balance problems in NP (although I think it is fantastic overall). I find the high strings a little too loud, cellos far too loud, and basses too quiet. Unpitched percussion is far too quiet unless I mark it f or ffmp and mf get lost. The Piano seems a little quiet but has not been a problem so far.

I have used the mixer to make adjustments but try to avoid doing too much there.

Yes, I would expect glockenspiel, tubular bells, bass drum, xylophone, all of these to pierce through a dense orchestral passage, but I barely hear them cut.

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I appreciate the reccs, @wing, especially the Boz instruments that don’t require full Kontakt.

Before I think about purchasing another VST, though, anyone have experience loading in either of the following pianos?

  • (Garritan) GPO 5 Steinway
  • PianoTeq

I’d love to hear about your experiences.

P.S. — Tenor Trombone is another NP instrument that always loads in too soft to my ears.

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This is not possible with standard NP because there is only one entry in the mixer.
I’ve tried to change the volume of the apparent instrument channels but nothing really happened.

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