“Keyscape” by Spectrasonics Review
Function: Software Instrument
Overview: From the same company that makes Omnisphere 2, the new Keyscape software instrument from Spectrasonics is a collection of 36 unique keyboards, each of which was carefully selected, restored, and carefully sampled. Included in the package are standards like a Yamaha C7 grand piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzers, and Clavinets and also harder to find keyboards like the Hohner pianet series, a Dolceola, and even a Chimeatron. Spectrasonic’s Eric Persing and his team spent over 10 years tracking down specific instruments to include in the collection, and then extensively sampled each with careful attention to detail and playability, including mechanical noise, pedal sounds, key releases, and all of the
other artifacts that make a sample sound like the “real” instrument.
Sound: Spectrasonics has a well-earned reputation for releasing impeccably crafted software instruments, but even with high expectations, the level of accuracy and detail in this collection blew us away. The combination of up to 32 different velocity layers, round-robin triggering, and highly detailed behavior modeling of mechanical artifacts makes the experience of playing these instruments as close as it gets to the real thing. The sound of the piano alone is worth the price of the software, but every keyboard in the collection really does sound spectacular. We had the opportunity to shoot out a beautiful Steinway D with a MIDI retrofit and Keyscape side by side, and on a few recent sessions we didn’t mic the piano, we used the MIDI output to trigger Keyscape instead: it’s that good. Users of Omnisphere 2 will be thrilled to know that they can load Keyscape as a satellite instrument within the Omnisphere 2 engine, and then use it to tweak and bend these keyboards, layering them with your favorite pad and synth sounds. Each sound can also be “thinned”, which loads a less resource intensive version that’s more MainStage friendly for live playing.
Church Use: If you don’t have a grand piano, now you do! Every MainStage user will want these sounds as part of their tool set, and you may find yourself wanting to add a MIDI adapter to your acoustic piano so that you can use the Keyscape Yamaha C7 instead. It really is that good.