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In-depth Feature:  Emagic EVP88 Vintage Piano
Trevor Curwen writes: .

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Sounds / Demos
Convenient it might be with a whole battery of instant electric pianos at your fingertips, but something like this ultimately stands or falls by the quality (and in the case of something so obviously retro - by the accuracy) of its sounds. Happily, the EVP 88 scores highly on both points. There is no doubting the sound quality on offer here it is clean and detailed and the instruments do sound authentic with the 12 basic models all sounding sufficiently different to the next and exhibiting the expected variations between types. There are silky smooth and mellow Rhodes sounds plus a few that are harder sounding while some take the sound beyond the bounds of an original to place that Emagic sees as a natural extension of the sound. There are Wurlitzers with both hard and soft sounds and the addition of the Hohner Elektra (as used on Stairway to Heaven, apparently) is a nice touch for a different flavour. The variations included as presets such as Bright Suitcase, Pure Stage and Headphone-jack Wurlitzer, provide a whole range of sounds that are instantly usable without any further tweaks while at the same time giving a real indication of what can be achieved with subtle adjustments of the controls.

Although the EVP 88 sounds great in the context of a track, compared to a real physical instrument it is arguably a little too clean and consistent across the keyboard. It's the idiosyncrasies of an electro-mechanical instrument that give it its character, small tuning or timbral inconsistencies from key to key and the interraction of moving parts all contribute to an instruments sound. With the ageing process and differing degrees of maintenance over the years, each individual Rhodes or Wurlitzer will sound slightly different from the next, something that can't really be replicated in a virtual instrument which has to represent the average instrument. The amount of tweaking variations, however, do let you set-up the sound of the instrument in precise detail, and you can put a bit more life into the sound by using the 'Stretch' and 'Warmth' knobs. Stretch, with separate control over bass and treble, lets you deviate a little from an equal tempered scale by tuning the low end down and the top end up, while Warmth generates random deviation across the keyboard. Add in a little bit of these controls and you can get your piano nicely out of tune, if that appeals.

For putting the final touches to your sound there's the effects section. Personal preference made me reach for the drive knob on most occasions just to add a bit of grit to the sound. This, combined with the tone control, can produce great results, putting some real bite and edge into things for a sound that cuts through.

On top of that, the phaser has a nice 1970's feel about it and the tremolo effect is just excellent, both add a lovely degree of movement and life to the sounds.
MP3 Demos from Emagic
  • A nice dry stage piano with full stereo spread
  • A stage piano with all effects on plus the Logic Audio stereo delay
  • Classic Wurlitzer
  • A stage piano featuring the built-in phaser.
  • A suitcase piano
  • More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • EVP88 At Emagic's Site
  • Win EVP88 @ Sonic (ends June 10th)
  • Email the author
  • More virtual instruments @ Studio

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