NotePerformer stereo?

I realize that this is a Dorico forum, but many Dorico users also seem to be experts in using NotePerformer with Dorico (and the folks at NP have never seen fit to reply to any of my support questions).
Is anybody aware of whether the NP samples are stereo?

Well the NP mixer shows L and R channels:

Apparently NP uses some sort of mix of samples and virtual synthesis, not just normal sampling. I don’t know whether the output is dual mono or stereo - I have not looked at it in that respect on the mixer but I suppose we should!

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That’s a good observation. I just checked it out, though, and found that there’s no pitch-related panning. That is, a piano track that plays every note on the keyboard seems to play them all in the same pan position, The registers don’t pan across the soundstage, as they do in most modern stereo recordings, with the higher notes farther to the left.
It’s looking, however, as though these instruments, as they’re reproduced by Dorico, really are stereo sound objects.

Depends on your mic position for piano and harpsichord. If you record from player position of course the higher notes will be on the right. If you record close to the instrument on the stage with a stereo pair pointing at the soundboard you get the high notes in the left. Most commercial recordings use that setup of course. But almost all of the many piano VSTs I have support the close player position set up as well.

Exporting a test NP piano file to Cubase, you can see it is stereo, and that the waverforms are different between the L and the R channel, without touching anything. They do not appeared to be panned in terms of pitch however. Note that both Dorico and NP add lots of small dynamic and articulation modifications.

I suppose if you were keen you could EQ the L and R to emphasize the treble in the R and the bass in the L, which you could do in Dorico with a suitable EQ plugin - no need to go out to Cubase. The MeldaProductions MEqualizer lets you work on single channels.

Andro: Yes, that confirms what I’m hearing. The false-stereo option isn’t anything I’d be interested in, though. I thought that went out of fashion in the 1960s. I’m sure that recording engineers still use it in special cases (like when they have access to only a mono track), but that’s not what this current project is about.
NotePerformer is limited in a few significant ways. But its unique strengths are so strong that I currently swear by it. At least for productions that don’t require MIDI export to a DAW.

One wonders what you mean by ‘Stereo’ (yes I understand the term). Take the piano for example. The term ‘stereo’ has relevance for the player since the left and right-hand notes differ in space and their relationship to the player’s ears. However, to the audience, the piano’s ‘stereo’ effect is positional and dependent on where the listener is positioned in the theater. This is true for any other instrument of the orchestra. While the individual sound of the instrument is not ‘stereo’ per se, the ‘stereo’ effect is achieved by the instrument’s position in space relative to the listener. This effect becomes less important as the listener is distant from the orchestra. So someone in the nose-bleed section of the theater is unlikely to experience the same ‘stereo’ effect as someone in the front row, and even then that listener will only experience a ‘stereo’ effect relative to the extremes of the orchestral layout relative to where they’re actually sitting in the front row. With this in mind, I’m unclear that any ‘stereo’ effect is important for any particular instrument of a VST.


tbabcock, respectfully, you may be overthinking this. Pan positions are without a doubt crucially important in a stereo mix. Piano, even in classical recordings, is generally recorded with the keyboard panned across the soundstage to reproduce what the performer (or a nearfield listener positioned at the opposite end of the soundboard) would hear. This is also also true of other instruments, such as vibraphones or drum kits.

But beyond that, I think we’ve all got to be careful about making our own weather. Dorico is not used solely for orchestral arrangements. A Beethoven piano sonata would not today be recorded as heard from a distant seat; the piano notes would be panned as described above. This is especially true of a studio recording.

And these issues are even more relevant with other types of instrumentation, such as a jazz ensemble or rock group. Have you ever heard a carefully miked drum kit engineered as as though heard from a distance (at least since the 1960s)? Engineers for a half-century have labored over the best way to mic and pan instruments like drums and keyboards in a stereo field.

So I’d suggest that, yes, while even a mono track of a piano might emulate what a “nosebleed” listener might hear live, few engineers would use those criteria as a reference when mixing or mastering. And that’s what I wanted to confirm: NotePerformer does not pan keyboard notes across a stereo field. But it does apparently provide true stereo samples. And this is important in a stereo recording.

Disclaimer: I’m a big fan of mono. Mono recordings of Beatles, Coltrane, Stokowski can be far more compelling and authentic than those that employ stereo “trickery”. But if I’m creating a stereo mix for playback on headphones or stereo speakers in the 21st century, stereo samples can produce a more convincing illusion of reality (at least if the mix & mastering are done intelligently). Given modern recording conventions, a piano part in which all the notes occupy the same pan position in a stereo soundfield can sound outdated or amateurish.

That’s all I was saying. Again, I understand the limitations of a package like NotePerformer and can live with them in order to enjoy the program’s unique benefits. But I wanted to be sure that there was no way around those limitations.

Thanks. I’m overthinking this and you’re writing 6 paragraphs in defense of something that I don’t think needs defending, i.e. the ‘stereo’ effect of any particular VST instrument.

Well, it’s an interesting discussion nonetheless. Thanks for commenting.

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the problem with panning a piano left to right across the keyboard is that ONLY the performer will hear it that way.

absolutely no audience member regardless of how close they are will hear a panning effect.
The keyboard of a piano is never positioned so that the performer has their back to the audience.

and the open top of a concert grand will automatically mix the sounds of low and high ends of the keyboard into a non-directional combination.

the only people who think that a piano sound should be panned are sound engineers who don’t understand how the instrument works, nor how the audience hears the performance.

This from someone who has been performing for 50+ years.


Indeed; and if there is any panning going on, it should be to virtually place the entire spectrum of signal wherever the piano would be seated in the ensemble (often off to the side if it’s functioning as an ensemble, rather than solo instrument). Ie- place the piano on stage relative to the other instruments in the given ensemble, not splitting up the treble and bass ends of the signal.

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The piano of NotePerformer is stereo and panned from left to right according to its range: the extreme lowest notes sound from the left and the excessive highest notes sound from the right. Therefore, it is very unnatural to listen as a player and as an audience.

I resolve this problem as follows:

Step 1. Mixing two channels to avoid extremely panned sound using a channel mixer (or making the sound mono).

Step 2. Using a Stereo expander or stereo image plugin.

Step 3. Using a stereo convolution reverb plugin.

prko: The NP panning you describe is what my particular piece needs – the piano presented as it would be heard by the performer, playing lower registers with the left hand – but I just don’t hear it on my system. Even on my $1800 planar-magnetic headphones, which are audio microscopes, I hear only very slight pitch-based differences in pan position. I wonder if there’s a setting somewhere.

Re: the proper way to record piano, everybody makes good points, but one can’t assume that decisions based on one’s particular use cases should be applied to everybody. I’d wager that the majority of recording projects feature content that is far different than Michel’s performances. A good recording engineer will choose a methodology that best accommodates the artists’ vision, and will recognize that there is no single “right” way to record, mix, or master all types of music. Just as there is no “right” type of music.

A recording is a different experience than a live concert, thus it has different requirements of acoustical sensation. It’s nonsensical to purely recreate a live experience that’s anyhow impossible to recreate.
Panning in recordings serves a different purpose than recreating a concert sensation - it enables transparency and spaciousness in recordings, both which are likely to be more pleasant to the (asynchronous) audience.

This comes from a sound engineer with approx. 10 years of experience.


i) Klafkid: You’re IMHO absolutely correct, except for a small # of scenarios. E.g., an authentic reproduction of a listener’s audio experience, especially when recording “live in studio.” “Kind of Blue”, Tom Jung’s dmp recordings, or even the 3-track Mercury “Living Presence” titles. But in general, yeah, an audio recording is an inherently unrealistic way to consume content because it omits the visual context that has been an intrinsic element of live performance for millennia. So even a perfect recreation of a 10th-row listening position may not necessarily be the best way to reproduce a live listening experience. An amplified band’s sound may have almost no player-specific imaging; and listeners’ visual cues make that acceptable. But without those cues, a more engaging experience, more like that of a live performance, can be created by a skilled engineer who knows how to mix and pan to substitute audio cues for the visual. I don’t mean to speak for klafkid, who obviously knows far more than I do on the topic, but that’s my 2c.

ii) prko, I ran a test score with an isolated piano track and, yes, you’re absolutely correct! The notes pan across the soundfield as they would for the pianist – bass on the left, higher registers on the right. For my particular project this is exactly what I need. Thank you again – you saved me a lot of trouble by pointing that out.

I did not notice this in my earlier mixes because my piano parts so far are mostly chordal comps that span the entire middle one-third of the keyboard. Multiple pan positions on the same beat.

Really, I’m a happy camper right now. Thanks again, everybody. This forum is Tony the Tiger GRRREAT!

If you’re needing critical piano demos that are that sensitive with the panning, I suggest you check out pianoteq. The realism is incredible, and you can adjust mics in virtual space to get the exactly desired effect.


Thanks. I’ll take a look. But will moving to pianoteq require me to re-orchestrate the entire piece for a new set of sound banks?

Try it and see?

The following answer should be ignored.

Do you use Dorico under Microsoft Windows?
Under Microsoft Windows, many audio driver manufacturers provide extra effects. For example, the stereo signal sent from Dorico might be separately processed in those effects before sending to loudspeakers or headphones. Please check the various sound effects on your operating system (Built-in effects of Microsoft Windows and audio effects provided by audio driver manufacturers).

I have read the following answer from you after writing the answer above:

ii) prko, I ran a test score with an isolated piano track and, yes, you’re absolutely correct! The notes pan across the soundfield as they would for the pianist – bass on the left, higher registers on the right. For my particular project this is exactly what I need. Thank you again – you saved me a lot of trouble by pointing that out.
I did not notice this in my earlier mixes because my piano parts so far are mostly chordal comps that span the entire middle one-third of the keyboard. Multiple pan positions on the same beat.

I am happy to hear you have resolved the problem!