GALAXY II Grand Pianos Review © Virtual Piano Domain 2010. All rights reserved Made with Xara GALAXY II Grand Pianos Review  If you are a piano player or composer who is seeking recommendations of a sampled piano, it has a great chance  you hear the name of Galaxy Pianos in recent years. Galaxy Pianos is famous for its surround recording technology  and it is the ONLY sampled pianos in Surround format. Also Galaxy piano is very close to an ideal Steinway sound.  The latest Galaxy II features a Steinway D, a Bosendorfer 290 and a Blüthner. It is a near 40GB monster and it is no  doubt that it is a direct competitor to ivory pianos. Needless to say more, let's start our test from dynamic. Please  note it is necessary to read our review instructions before you read the review, we have detailed explanations and  procedures in review instructions.  1. Dynamic   9.5 of 10 Data 1   C8's Dynamic Range 60.1dB Data 2   A0's Dynamic Range 48.5dB Data 3   Average DR (C3, C4 and C5) (46.7+51.2+63)/3=53.6dB Data 4   Dynamic Curve: Adjustable, Exp, linear and so on  Data 5   Peak Level -5.3dB From recorded test file, we gathered data shown above. The first three data of Galaxy II pianos are all larger than  48dB, a huge dynamic range. Also we clearly noticed that there is a significant dynamic range difference between  lowest note A0 and highest note C8 and C8's DR is larger than A0' s DR. This clearly shows Galaxy II pianos applies  true piano dynamic, but it is pity that they forgot to write this brilliant feature to introduction. The only thing Galaxy  pianos are not quite right is that the A0's DR is too large. It should be between 30dB and 40dB. So here Galaxy II  pianos lose 0.5 marks on this issue. The Peak level of single note is about -5.3dB, nice done!  Galaxy II pianos also enable its users fully control its dynamic. You can freely set lowest and highest volume,  choose different types of dynamic curves. Thus Galaxy II pianos certainly have no difficult with any keyboards on  the market. 2. Sample Layering, Velocity Transition and Sympathetic Resonance  6 of 10 Galaxy II pianos are every key sampled without looping, thus every long note of Galaxy II pianos sounds naturally.  Galaxy II pianos announced every note has 13 velocity layers. But as we look through velocity transition, we found  there are several huge velocity jumps. This will cause some time lower velocity sounds louder than higher velocity.  There are many huge velocity jumps exist in A440. So we have to take 1 mark off for this issue.  Galaxy II pianos claimed it has Sympathetic Resonance (actually they called it Sympathetic String Resonance). But  in the test, it is hard to hear Sympathetic Resonance for pedal up. What is more, Sympathetic Resonance seems  disappear when sustain pedal is down. Also you cannot control the volume of Sympathetic Resonance . So here  Galaxy II pianos lose 3 marks for this issue.  3. Pedal Activity and Microphone Positions  7.5 of 10 Galaxy II pianos respond to all three pedals well. We highly praise that Galaxy II pianos have soft pedal samples.  New Galaxy II pianos Kontakt 4 could respond Half pedaling well which misses in many virtual pianos. You need a  continuously sustain pedal to use this feature. Repedalling function is still a technology difficulty for virtual pianos.  In our test, when you pressed sustain pedal while holding one note, Galaxy pianos' sound has no change. But  Galaxy II pianos succeed in another test, when you pressed sustain pedal just a short after released one note, the  strings start resonance again. Great Job! Galaxy II pianos features pedal noise, which could add extra realism to the  sound. In general, here we have to take 0.5 point off. Galaxy II pianos have two static perspectives, performer and audience. Although you cannot freely adjust them or  mix between them, you can adjust width. Thus here Galaxy II pianos lose 2 marks.   4. Performance  5 of 10 Galaxy II pianos take about 40GB space on your hard disk, average 13GB per piano. It is a really monster that  eating your hard disk space! We do not expect it too much on performance issue. During our test, Galaxy II pianos have a 9% CPU usage when playing 128 polyphony. That's a very impressive CPU  usage for its monster size.  But when we check latency performance, Galaxy II pianos does not give us a good result. It is could not run well  (without pops and clicks) under 128 samples. Finally it can run well under 256 samples.   We concluded that if you want to run Galaxy II pianos without any performance issues. You should prepare a  modern system, with a fast hard disk to get enough performance.  5.  Features  10 of 10 Galaxy II pianos have many exciting features. One of them is certainly the release trigger. It lets the release tail  sounds very similar to real pianos. This will also emphasize the feeling of space and the size of piano's wood body.  Then we cannot forget to mention that Galaxy II pianos two useful effects unit, a special designed compressor and  an IR reverb. Both of them have very good quality, which add extra value to Galaxy II pianos.  Galaxy II pianos feature a carefully designed tuning system, which is very useful for music styles need special  tuning. Galaxy II pianos also allow users to control resonances, color and warmth. Thus users can adjust timbre little by  little.  Galaxy II pianos also provide many kinds of noise, which could add extra realism to the sound.  6. Sound   5 of 5 The overall sound of Galaxy II pianos is very moving and singing. It is obvious that the expensive recording gears  shown their value here. Also Galaxy II pianos should thank their great piano tuner. All of 3 pianos are matching their  sound style, especially the Steinway. Galaxy II pianos really catch the soul of Steinway sound, brilliant and huge,  with a singing and sweet highs. Galaxy II pianos' sound is classical. If you can sit down and spend some time to  taste it, you will be indulged in it!   Best Use Galaxy II pianos is suitable for those busy musicians who have very fast computer, who does not want to waste so  much time on tweaking sound. Galaxy II pianos have a classical sound so it is best to use it in classical music.   PROS:  Good Overall Sound  Excellent Dynamic and Control  Every Key Sampled with 13 Velocity layers  Using soft pedal samples  Many controls to change timbre  Many useful extra features  Support Partial Pedal  CONS:  Exist huge Velocity Jumps  Sympathetic Resonance is not right  Dynamic 9.5 of 10  Sample Layering, Velocity Transition and Sympathetic Resonance 6 of 10  Pedal Activity and Microphone Positions 7.5 of 10  Performance 5 of 10 Features 10 of 10 Sound 5 of 5 Overall Rating: 86 (4 stars)