Before the days of high-quality sampled emulations grand pianos were not exactly practical instruments to take on the road.
Electric pianos, such as the famous Rhodes and Wurlitzer models, were possible alternatives, but great as they were, they didn't sound like real acoustic pianos.
In the mid-70s, Yamaha released their CP range of electric grand pianos. These were designed to sound like real pianos, but were scaled down to a more portable size. They didn't sound truly authentic, but they had a unique sound all of their own.
Now, AraldFX – a new consortium of software developers and sound designers – have taken a well-recorded, two-layer sample bank of Yamaha's CP70B piano and teamed it with their custom-designed sample-playback engine.
The sample library (which is also available standalone) is from Hollow Sun and the sample engine is of the direct-from-disk variety to reduce memory consumption.
Grand Electrix is a single-sound plug-in – it offers an emulation of a Yamaha CP70 piano and nothing more. There are only a handful of presets and these merely contain different EQ and FX settings.
However, with the built-in chorus, you can create everything from subtle movement, to full-on jangling piano sounds, and the tremolo has a musically satisfying waveshape.
The Release control doesn't affect the release time of the notes (as you might expect) but instead dictates the volume of the 'thunk' that all pianos make when the felts and hammers fall back into place after you release a note – a nice touch.
We should also draw attention to the EQ, which is particularly impressive. It's both simple to operate and boasts perfectly chosen frequencies for the CP70.
Despite being a singularly unspectacular release, Grand Electrix has nevertheless been lovingly crafted by people who clearly know exactly what they're doing. You can't deny that it fulfils its limited remit very well.
The reassuringly-familiar CP70 sound has been used on countless hit records over the years and if it's one you hanker for, AraldFX's plug-in will have great appeal. For Rhodes, Wurly or real acoustic piano sounds on the other hand, you'll need to look elsewhere.