Our Most Popular CD-ROM Turns 3!
In 1994, when Sweetwater released its first Grand Piano CD ROM, Kurzweil K2000s shipped with a mere two megs of RAM, and upgrading to 16 megabytes was far too expensive for most musicians. Still, many of the two to 16 meg pianos in the Sweetwater Piano "archives" are surprisingly good, particularly given the restrictions of the time.NOTE: Formatted for Kurzweil Kxxxx keyboards
These Kurzweil CD-ROMs are in a proprietary Kurzweil format that can only be read by a K2000/K2500/K2600 series keyboard using a Kurzweil-compatible SCSI CD-ROM drive. These CD-ROMs can NOT be read by a Mac or PC. If you are interested in adding these sounds to your Kurzweil PC3K, we suggest that you try our Sweetwater PC3K Library, which has over 100 instruments selected from all nine of our Kurzweil CD-ROM libraries. The library comes on a 2GB thumb drive that's been formatted so that you can plug it directly into the PC3K and start loading. Since there will be plenty of room left over on the drive, we'll include the latest operating system and objects, as well as the currently available Kurzweil PC3K libraries (including the SynthScapes and Take 6 collections) and the K2661 ROM compatibility files.
Today, it's not really that expensive to bump a Kurzweil K-Series instrument up to 64 or even 128 megabytes. Even so, it's great to have the smaller sized pianos so that additional instruments can be loaded for stage or studio work. The 16 meg "Ultimate Grand" - at one time our flagship grand - is still an amazing accomplishment, and it sounds as good today as it did when it was first released.
Version 3.0 of the Sweetwater Grand Pianos CD ROM Collection includes all the contents of the original disc, the upgraded programming of our Series Two discs, plus three "mega-sized" grands (64 Megabyte Stereo Bosendorfer Grand, 64 Megabyte Stereo Steinway A3 Grand, and 4 Megabyte Guild Cabinet Grand) that fit into 64MB of RAM, plus a wonderful four meg "Tack Piano."
64 Megabyte Stereo Bosendorfer Grand
Our original CD ROM had a 12 megabyte version of this piano, an ebony, 9 1/2 foot Bosendorfer Imperial Grand which resides in the main auditorium of the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC).
The piano has an interesting history. In 1993, Alesis was seeking the "ultimate grand" to use in their brand new QuadraSynth. After several unsuccessful attempts at various Los Angeles studios, the company turned to InVision Interactive and the company contracted with Stratus Sounds to record several grand pianos in the San Francisco Bay area. Their hands-down favorite was this wonderful instrument, which was discovered by Tish Eastman (who since went on to work for Walt Disney Imagineering).
Three sessions were booked, all after midnight to assure as little extraneous noise as possible. The result of the first two sessions appeared as the flagship QuadraSynth stereo grand (and in many Alesis products that followed). The third session, booked by Stratus Sounds for the original Sweetwater Grand Piano CD ROM, resulted in the material on this disc. The 12 meg version was used exclusively by Constance Demby on her critically acclaimed album "Aeterna." But the piano has finally appeared in its full glory here in a 64 megabyte version. It was close-miked using a matched pair of AKG 414 microphones.
64 Megabyte Stereo Steinway A3 Grand
This particular piano, which was originally built by Steinway and Sons in 1911, now resides in the main recital hall at Florida State University. In the early 1990s, this piano was completely rebuilt by the Steinway company to the exact specifications of the original. Using only materials that were available in the early 1900s, this piano has a warm organic tone that is almost universally associated with Steinway pianos. As such, even when played very hard, the instrument still maintains its warmth and never produces an overly bright sound, making it ideal for the accompaniment of other acoustic instruments or in classical or jazz applications.
This particular piano was recorded using Earthworks omnidirectional TC40Ks placed approximately three feet from the piano, so there is a bit more room sound (or "air") than in many sampled pianos.
54 Megabyte Seiler Grand Piano
Seiler is a small European manufacturer of quality stringed instruments. It is not often seen here in the U.S. This particular instrument, a nine-foot grand built with a stunning rosewood body, has a very open, well-articulated sound, quite unlike many other "name brand" pianos. The piano was custom ordered in 1994 by a customer in Sacramento, California, who was kind enough to allow Stratus Sounds to record the instrument while it was still in the dealer's showroom being tuned after its long trip overseas. The master DAT tapes have been in the Stratus vaults until now.
A pair of AKG 414s were positioned approximately two feet from the sounding board, while a stereo Crown SASS-P MkII (a near-coincident array using PZM technology) was set out in the showroom approximately six feet from the piano in a "listener's position." Of our three "big" pianos, this one cuts through a mix the best.
4 Megabyte Guild Cabinet Grand
This interesting instrument resides in the music department at San Jose State University. The Guild Cabinet Grand - essentially a small grand piano turned upright - was built in 1923. By itself, the sound is rather unimpressive, so at some point in its history, someone took the initiative to add real brass tacks to all the hammers, effectively turning this into the world's largest tack piano. By doubling the octaves through pitch shifting, we also achieved a terrific "player piano" tone. Note that the lowest notes capture the unique string buzz and rattle of the original. You will have some fun with this one!
A pair of AKG 414s were used to record this piano, though it was summed to mono for this disk. A full 64 megabyte stereo version is included in the Sweetwater "Historical Keyboards" CD ROM. Even though the samples here are monophonic, there is still a lot of room sound, thanks to the acoustic properties of the recording environment and the mic placement.