IK Multimedia Pianoverse: What is it?
Compatability: macOS 10.13 and Windows 7 or later.
Buy at IK Multimedia
Pianoverse is a new ecosphere created by IK Multimedia to deliver the ultimate piano experience. It is sold as ‘the only piano instrument you’ll ever need’ but actually comprises up to four pianos (with another four due). Each is available for a one-off fee (currently €99.99 reduced from €129.99) or get the lot for (you guessed it) a monthly or yearly sub (€14.99 or €149.99).
Pianoverse, then, looks like a focussed version of SampleTank, the all-singing, all dancing – and quite brilliant – software sound module from IK, but here the focus is ‘just’ on quality pianos. And that even includes using robots to get a perfect piano sound, apparently. Yes you read that right.
The idea behind Pianoverse was to sample the finest pianos around, the first four being a Steinway & Sons D-274, Yamaha CFIII, Bösendorfer 280 and a Yamaha U5 upright. In getting the best samples you have to capture the piano sound over every conceivable playing style – what sounds like a very laborious process. So IK employed ‘robot-assisted sampling for unparalleled accuracy and precision’.
Rather than building their very own C-3PO – complete with an evening suit and piano tuner, we like to think – IK created a mechanical hand with a ‘silent linear motor with an elastic actuator’ to mimic every type of human playing, resulting in instruments that should play back every detail, and all at different mic positions.
IK Multimedia Pianoverse: Performance and verdict
Each piano in PIanoverse is a 20-odd GB download to run in the Pianoverse app. You register each purchase through IK’s Product Manager which is also used to download the content. We had the usual ‘download path shenanigans’ – you have to make sure this path matches in both the Product Manager and Pianoverse – but otherwise it’s a pretty straightforward process.
As to the sounds themselves, we were expecting a straight comparison between the four piano models, but it is more complex than that, as each one utilises the Pianoverse effects and extras to a huge extent. That means, then, you’re only going to reveal the base character of the Steinway – an assertive and warm sound, generally – if you dial all of these effects back.
Instead you get many presets for each piano and these vary massively in sound. You can filter these by Favourites, Mood (eg. Angry, Joyful, Melancholic), Genre (Acid to Synthwave), Style (Acoustic, Live, etc), and Timbre (Aggressive, Edgy and Rich).
It’s very easy to use these filters with each instrument to access a wide range of textures. The resulting sounds are largely amazing too, and fulfil the brief of each filter name. The Ambient sounds are dreamy, for example, and the Moody ones can be anything from aggressive to atmospheric; in fact the sonic range of each piano is quite amazing and unexpected.
The only problem is that the sounds for each piano are so varied and dramatic that you almost lose the point of loading up the Yamaha or Steinway in the first place, when its initial sound has been stretched so much. But there are plenty of less treated and more natural sounds alongside these more effected versions.
What else does Pianoverse deliver?
Pianoverse is not just about great robot-recorded pianos – although to be fair, that would probably be good enough for us. Instead it really comes into its own when you investigate the extra tabs on the main screen. The Space Tab effectively lets you choose a room type and size – well, when we say ‘room’, you can choose the ambience of an Iceberg or the sweeping noise of a desert too! Like everything in Pianoverse, these offer big changes to your core piano sound.
Then there’s the Effects tab. Here you get one send and two insert effects, with loads of controls and super graphics to show you whether you have a filter loaded, or other effects with great names like ‘Convomorph’ and ‘Reelab’. The Mix tab is more about adjusting mic levels and EQ, but there is a superb amount of flexibility in these extras that means that any one piano sound can be stretched, morphed and taken anywhere.
There’s no doubting that Pianoverse delivers amazing piano sounds – these are among the best and most varied you can get. While most DAWs come with competent pianos, we’d question whether they are as good, so Pianoverse is well worth it if rich, quality piano sounds are what you need.
We’re not sure we’d recommend a subscription, though, as getting all four pianos and further releases might be overkill, unless you are a piano obsessive! So Pianoverse is brilliant, but maybe it’s best to explore it piece by piece and engage Warp speed later.
MusicRadar verdict: Pianoverse is pretty amazing and with its great effects, will give you a huge variety of quality piano sounds compared those in your DAW.
IK Multimedia Pianoverse: The web says
"The depth and quality of the sampling is superb and the level of control you have makes it incredibly flexible. Moreover, the unique aspects set it apart from many other piano sample libraries and make it one of the most inspiring I’ve ever played."
IK Multimedia Pianoverse: Hands-on demos
IK Multimedia PIanoverse: Specifications
- Runs on both macOS 10.13 and Windows 7 or later.
- Buy at IK Multimedia