Deviating from the concert grand tack, the latest in Synthogy´s series of massively multi-sampled pianos comprises the Steinway B and Bösendorfer 225 - thoroughbred 7´ studio performers both. Steinway invited the developers to their factory to choose the specifc Model B used (which was then recorded at Power Station New England), while the 225 is resident at Firehouse Studios, Pasadena, where it´s been tickled by countless LA sessioneers. Together, the two libraries weigh in at an epic 112GB.
The last time we looked at Ivory II was in cm189, when American Concert D scored 10/10. With the release of Studio Grands, the engine has been upgraded to v2.5, adding a handful of new features. The biggest is Shimmer, which enables tweaking of the decay rate of higher sustain harmonics, shortening and lengthening them for - in simple terms - a brighter or duller sound. Adjustable Half Pedaling controls, compatibility with MIDI CC88 High Resolution Velocity, MIDI controller support for the Mac standalone version, and iLok-free authorisation are less exciting, but all welcome.
The Ivory II interface gives plenty of sound-shaping control, from editable resonance and lid position to key and pedal noise, dynamic range stereo width, and there´s even a simple onboard synth should you, for some reason, fancy layering in a cheesy pad sound. EQ, chorus and reverb are on tap in the Effects page, while the Session page grants access to a similarly comprehensive range of performance-related parameters, including pitching, velocity response and the aforemention Half Pedaling controls.
Ivory II Studio Grands boasts four more velocity layers than previous enteries in the series, for a total of 24, upping the playability and realism even further than before. Both pianos sound absolutely magnificent, and contrast well with each other - the raw Bosendorfer being the weightier of the two, the Steinway having the brighter sound. Another fine addition to the Ivory II line-up, but isn´t it abou ttime that noughties-style GUI got a makeover?