Roland recently released new sound content for the five + year old RD 2000, a German Concert Grand V-Piano expansion. This suggested a re-look at the V-Piano capability in the RD 2000 and an examination of the new model capability.
- The original Roland V-Piano
- RD-2000 V-Piano
- German Concert Grand Expansion
- V-Piano in other Roland products
The original Roland V-Piano
Roland introduced the V-Piano in 2009.
Roland states the V-Piano individually models the components of piano sound, strings, sound board, etc., to avoid the challenges such as sample switching in PCM sounds.
The V-Series technology concept follows a holism paradigm, which combines uncorrelated but essential sound components to create synergistic effects. Specifically, for V-Piano, the piano sound is divided into three strings first. In addition, the thump impact sound produced by the frame and body is isolated in the high-frequency range and then resynthesized.
We precisely separated and modeled the three strings into three partials. When we asked a well-known acoustic piano tuner to test it, it impressed me to see them tune the V-Piano using the acoustic piano method. After producing these three-string models, we created other partials individually. Finally, we made a supplemental virtual soundboard and combined it with the above component objects.Roland Engineering: V-Piano – Interview with Roland engineer Tadao Kikumoto
There were two base models, Vintage and Vanguard. Vintage provided a traditional piano tone. From the brochure description of the Vanguard model:
The V-Piano’s Vanguard piano model takes the instrument to new levels of creativity. Imagine a piano with three strings for every key, even in the low register, with all strings wrapped in copper material or perhaps made of steel. Tones that were previously unavailable are now at your fingertips, with smooth, fluid performance across every note. Thunderously deep and smooth low notes can also be achieved, thanks to all-triple-string programming.V-Piano Brochure, Roland, 2009
24 different pianos were provided, based off the two models, each with customizable parameters. It had a sound generator that digitally reproduces the sound-generating elements of a piano.
There were 14 adjustable settings per model, eight of the settings could be set individually for each of the 88 keys. The per-note settings were able to adjust sets of keys in addition to individually.
Roland released editors for the original V-Piano, running on both Windows and Mac, which could help in individually tuning settings per key.
In 2011 Roland put the V-PIano engine in a grand-sized cabinet. They added an additional four models, for a total of 28, which were also made available for the original V-Piano.
The RD 2000 was released in 2017 with one V-Piano model, and 10 piano tones based on the model. The RD V-Piano model was modified from the original. A system update provided an additional seven V-Piano tones, for a total of 17.
There are 10 “global” settings for the piano tone. Roland refers to these as “Piano Designer.”
- String Resonance
- Damper Resonance
- Hammer Noise
- Duplex Scale
- Key Off Resonance
- Cabinet Resonance
- Sound Board Resonator
- Damper Noise
- Key Off Noise
“Individual Voicing” provides three per-key settings. Unlike the original, there is no way to adjust settings for more than one key at a time.
Roland did not release a companion app (similar to the V-Piano app) for the RD-2000.
Lets look at the settings that define the 17 V-Piano tones in the RD 2000.
Individual Voicing – Tuning
This setting adjusts tuning relative to the “pure” harmonic tune.
Pianos typically have “stretch” tuning, keys above the midpoint (C4-C5) are increasingly tuned sharp, keys below the midpoint are increasingly tuned flat. The action of performing the tuning and hardware characteristics provide a certain randomness in the values. (Wikipedia’s discussion of stretch tuning.)
The RD V-Pianos have 13 tunings (four are reused). This is like the work of 13 different tuners, each with a slightly different ear for tuning, maybe some aging since tuning.
Individual Voicing – Level
The level setting reduces volume of an individual key. This may emulate slightly softer felts on a key, or increased mechanical resistance reducing impact velocity.
S05 and S06 differ only in one note. With the wide variation in values across the octaves, these two pianos will have a more interesting volume characteristic, and this may be a difficult patch in a clean solo setting. The middle range is fairly constant, the upper and lower registers start to vary significantly, maybe simulating an aged piano.
S02 and S03 have only a few non-zero values:
Individual Voicing – Character
From the parameter manual, “higher values produce a harder sound; lower values make the tone more mellow.” To my ear, this is the Individual Voicing setting that provides the most dramatic change in sound, and would be the most useful to be able to change across all 88 notes at once.
With a lot of variation in character, this gives the piano a more complex tone profile. This may be better in chords, versus isolated notes, where the note to note variation may stand out.
Here is a view of three from above, showing the character variation. S04 shows movement, starting harder in the lower registers and moving towards mellow in the higher register.
The settings that define the piano model. The black bars show the valid range for each parameter. S09 and S10 have identical settings.
A summary of the settings by tone:
We can take some hints on the nature of the tones from the table.
- S01 and S07-S10 have no level or character variation, so they should be a cleaner, pure sound. (S01 is a fixed +1.0 character)
- S04 and S05 have the most variation, with level and character changing across the registers (see below), so they will have a complex tonal behaviour, (more interesting?) that might (or might not) fit a particular use.
- S03 has the mellowist (overall) character, S14 has the hardest character.
- S09 and S10 vary only in the stretch tuning (see below). This is a good hearing test to see if the difference is noticeable. It is going to be subtle.
German Concert Grand Expansion
In 2022, Roland released an expansion for the RD with a new V-Piano model. This model shares the V-Piano controls above.
First, to really hear the difference from the original model requires adjusting settings to match, and disabling master effects. You need two unused program (or scene) locations. Best if they are adjacent, so you can assign button 9 to program up/down for rapid compare.
1. Save an original V-Piano in the first scene
2. Go to Individual Voicing, and select off for tuning, character, and level
3. Go to Piano Designer and copy down the settings to use in the GC tone
4. Turn the reverb and delay levels to zero
5. Save the program
Repeat 1-5 with the GC in the second program, but in step 3 enter the Piano Designer settings copied from the original model.
Head to head, with identical settings, the German Concert seems livelier, more brilliant, with longer sustains.
Individual Voicing – Tuning
The first interesting observation is a single tuning profile for all 17 GC tones. Not sure this matters, since you only hear one tone at a time, and it prolly takes better ears than mine to hear the difference in a specific stretch.
Second, the sharp D1 key (+25.7c) might catch the ear. (My ears do not notice it individually, but in a chord the detune seems to add a little more energy.) If this note causes distress, it takes only a few actions to dial the tuning down and save into a program.
Individual Voicing – Level
There are no level entries for the new model, all are set at zero.
Individual Voicing – Character
There is a little variation in a few low register notes in a few profiles, others are flat. The brightest and darkest (>+2, <-2) areas are not explored in the presets.
Finally, the settings to define the individual tone:
The GC settings cover a wider area of settings than the original. Second, five tones share the same Piano Designer settings, which means that the only difference in these tones would come from the Character settings (since Level was all zero, and they share the same tuning). (From the data, it appears that X09 and X17 should sound the same, but I have not done this test yet.)
The data also imply that the new GC model should have a purer sound, with less note to note variation in character or level. This might make it purer in solo situations, against providing more complex sonic profile with complex chords or trying to stand out in the mix. An analogy might be a newer piano expertly tuned and adjusted, with much less note to note variation. (Other than that pesky sharp D1.)
This table adds the German Concert tones to the summary:
This implies that
- X10 and X16 will have the brightest character
- X04, X05, X08, X12, and X14 will be the darkest
- There does not appear to be any difference in settings for X09 and X17
The 17 tones in each the original RD V-Piano and the German Concert Grand expansion provide a good cross section of V-Piano settings, but there are uncounted variations available. With this look at how the tones are configured, you may be able to create additional piano tones in your preferred style.
There is lots of available sound opportunity with the new German Concert Grand model, using fixed and variable Character offsets, and with more interesting level profiles.
Challenges in creating a customized V-Piano tone
- Adjusting 88 (x 3) Individual Voicing entries
- How do you take a profile you like (such as Character) and combine it with Tuning or Level from another tone?
Character may be the Individual Voicing setting with the most impact on the tone, but it requires adjusting 88 settings.
The RD 2000 Piano Editor layout for MIDI Designer Pro 2 can help. Some of the capabilities include:
- Multiple methods to explore V and SN piano customizations
- Editors and preset templates for Individual Voicing Tuning, Level, and Character
- Editor with presets for Piano Designer and Sympathetic Resonance
- Transfer Individual Voicing edits between programs and zones
- Sysex “dump” capability for Individual Voicing and Piano Designer settings
An update to version 2 of the editor is in work to add templates from the German Concert Grand expansion. (Maybe including a GC tune template with adjusted D1 value.)
The character tab (right in above picture) is prolly most useful – it can quickly change the character of the piano from bright to dark, either fixed value, or with some variation.
The data was requested using controls provided in the Piano Designer layout. Data was captured using Snoise.com MIDI Monitor, an awesome free utility.
ROLAND UNVEILS RD-2000 STAGE PIANO
RD-2000 Midi Implementation Guide, Copyright 2017 Roland Corporation
RD-2000 Parameter Guide, Copyright 2017 Roland Corporation
V-Piano Brochure, Roland Corporation, 2009
V-Piano Evolution Brochure, Roland Corporation, 2011
The Roland V-Piano and SuperNatural® Piano Sound Engine, 2011
V-Piano in other Roland products
LX – GP Series
The Roland LX and GP Series do not explicitly state they include the V-Piano, but the description of how the piano sounds are created and the available controls match those of the V-Piano. Each includes four preset tones:
LX – European Grand; European v2; American Grand; & American v2
GP – Concert Piano; Ballad Piano; Mellow Piano; & Bright Piano
The Fantom series includes the V-Piano model and 17 preset tones – the same as in the RD 2000.
The edit interface in both series above is similar to the RD 2000. Even with the larger screen and controls of the Fantom, Individual Voicing edits are key-by-key.
The SuperNatural pianos (both acoustic and electric) in the RD 2000 have similar customizing capability, including individual note tuning profiles.
With customizable V- and SN- pianos, there is significant piano sound domain that can be explored with the RD 2000.
With the GC Expansion installed, there remains an unused expansion slot unused in the RD 2000. Could we hope for the original “Vanguard” model to be ported to the RD?
End of Red Heron content
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