Spectrasonics releases Free Keyscape Update with New Double Felt Grand Piano Instrument.

Spectrasonics Keyscape 1.5 includes a Double Felt Grand piano, and existing users get this “#1 most requested sound” for free

Spectrasonics does not release major software updates for its products very often, but when it does, it tends to get them right. And that certainly looks to be the case with Keyscape 1.5, which adds the Double Felt Grand piano. This is said to be “the number one most requested sound” among the plugin’s users.

Spectrasonics let us know that, in honor of International Piano Day (the 88th day of the year), they’ve released Keyscape 1.5 – a free update that adds a brand new instrument, Double Felt Grand.

The Double Felt Grand is the first brand-new Keyscape instrument since the product was launched back in 2016 and comes as part of the v1.5 update. This is free for existing users.

Traditionally, the felt piano sound is achieved by draping a layer of felt vertically between the strings and hammers of an upright piano, creating the intimate, muted tone that we’re all familiar with. However, Spectrasonics wanted to create this sound using a seven-foot grand piano, in which the hammers and strings are situated horizontally.

In this case, the draping method wouldn’t work; the felt would simply lay on top of the hammers and prevent them from rising up and striking the strings.

The solution, discovered by renowned piano tech Jim Wilson, was to cut up, fit and glue two individually layered strips of felt to each hammer, which explains why this is a ‘double’ felt piano rather than a standard one.

The modified instrument was sampled at Spectrasonics’ LA studio. The company also developed new reverb algorithms that are exclusive to the Double Felt Grand, which promises the best aspects of a felt upright combined with the body and decay of a grand piano.

To demonstrate Double Felt Grand, Spectrasonics shared this performance video, featuring Sony classical pianist and composer Olivia Belli, performing her works As I Was and Spiderwebs of Clouds.  You can check it out at the top of the page.

What Spectrasonics shared about the new instrument:

“Creating the Double Felt
Normally, the highly coveted “felt piano” sound is achieved by draping a layer of felt vertically between the strings and the hammers of an upright piano. This softens the strikes and gives the upright piano an intimate, muted tone. Because of gravity, this technique is not feasible on a grand piano, since the hammers and strings are situated horizontally. The felt would simply lay on top of the hammers, preventing them from rising up to strike the strings. Attempts to attach the felt above the hammers, against the strings, yields less-than-satisfactory results and laying the felt on top of the strings mutes their sustain drastically.

Through careful experimentation, renowned piano technician Jim Wilson (creator of the unique Yamaha grand used in Keyscape for the LA Custom C7), discovered how to achieve this gorgeous muted sound on a world-class 7-foot grand piano. After a great deal of thought and experimentation, Jim ended up carefully cutting, fitting, and gluing two individually layered strips of a thick, natural felt to each hammer.

Sound/Software Development
Once the acoustic piano was prepared in this special way, the acclaimed Spectrasonics sound development team (led by producer Eric Persing) then painstakingly sampled the instrument at the company’s newly developed private recording studio — which features some of the largest naturally ambient recording spaces in Los Angeles.

To complete the experience, the Spectrasonics software team developed lush new DSP reverb algorithms that are exclusive to this new Keyscape sound. The final result is the unique Double Felt Grand: a warm, soft piano with the best aspects of a felt upright, but with the body and the decay of a grand.
The new Double Felt Grand is now available and included with Keyscape. Keyscape runs on PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX formats and costs $399/€349. All existing users can get the new piano as a free update, using the “Get Updates” button on the splash screen of the Keyscape user interface. Find out more on the Spectrasonics website.

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