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Software Review: THE GIANT From Native Instruments

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THE GIANT is one of the latest instruments from Native Instruments. It is a sampled piano based on the world’s largest piano – the Klavins Piano Model 370. To get the kind of sound that the 370 produces you have two choices. First you can get Klavins to build you one these. It is an integrated version of the original 370 which means that it is mounted into a wall of the respective building you put it. The size of the piano can range from 9 ft. to 17 ft. tall, weighs around two metric tons, and will cost you in excess of €260,000 ($300,000+).

Now, if you don’t have that kind of money (not to mention the place to ‘install’ it), then the second way to get this kind of sound is through Native Instrument’s THE GIANT. THE GIANT features a huge sound, tight bass, a dynamic tonal range and tonal character that unite the character of an upright piano with body of a huge grand piano.

THE GIANT

THE GIANT is powered by either the free KONTAKT player that comes with the package, or by using the full stand-alone KONTAKT 5 product which also comes with the Native Instruments KOMPLETE 8 packages. THE GIANT is really two instruments in one. One is the standard GIANT piano and the second is the GIANT Cinematic Effects.

THE GIANT will let you create intense, dynamic sounds ranging from urban, pop, and piano ballads all the way to film score sound tracks. Straight out of the box you can begin to make larger than life sounds limited by your own imagination. THE GIANT was sampled by the sonic artisan Uli Baronowsky of Galaxy Instruments and with the same eye to detail that comes with al NI sample instruments.

As I said, THE GIANT is really two instruments. It comes as two NKIs and each one has their own sample set, graphical user interface, and detail controls. The first page (the ‘Day’ interface) is the sampling of the Klavis model 370i. Below the KONTAKT header you have two common interface controls on the right side. One that loads presets and the other is the Space panel that houses THE GIANT’s Convolution Reverb, which uses impulse responses of real acoustic spaces to simulate the acoustics of those rooms. These IR’s are a bit like the room’s acoustic fingerprint, or like recording a sample of a space. Convolution reverb is unbeatable in quality and realism when it comes to simulating real acoustic spaces like concert halls, churches or studio rooms.

THE GIANT

On the left side you have the Tone control panel on the top and the Anatomy panel on the bottom. The Tone controls gives you two main options. The first is the Color control. This changes the tone color or the timbre from soft to hard by readjusting the sample mapping. It’s a dynamic way of mapping, while balancing the volume differences between softer and harder samples. Turn to the right makes it crisper turn to the left makes it warmer. The XXL button makes the sound bigger with more sustain, more space and more liveliness using Native Instruments’ TRANSIENT MASTER effect. The XXL amount is controllable on the Tone Edit Page.

There is a little triangle on the Tone Control panel (as well as other panels that have edit options) that opens up the Tone Edit Page. Here you will find an equalizer that controls the bass, body, and air (low, middle, and high) as well as the XXL amount. You also have controls for low keys – changing the volume of keys below middle C, and a compressor control where you can manage the compression amount.

On the bottom left is the Anatomy panel. Here you will find control over dynamics, tuning, noises, overtones and the stereo image. This has controls for dynamic range as well as resonances. Like the Tone panel, the Anatomy panel has an edit page as well. Here you can control things like overtones, stereo image width, linear velocity and more.

THE GIANT

The second page (the ‘Night’ interface) is the Cinematic effects page. This page is used to create more extraordinary piano sounds by using different special sounds, articulations and noises a piano can make, processed through your choice of a collection of unique FX impulse responses.

On the top you have the Sources panel. You have five selections. The first is overtones for the whole piano which are created by interaction between two strings. The second is resonances which are separate resonance samples of only the pedal down resonances for each key of the piano. This lets you play THE GIANT’s resonance without the dry tones.

The third is release samples that represent the decaying sound of strings when a key is released bringing the damper down to kill the string. The fourth one is plucking sounds which are samples of the string being plucked. The final are noise FX which features 88 different noises and special sounds by using the THE GIANT in unusual ways. There is also a Sources Edit Page where you can control these through filter and envelope controls.

THE GIANT

On the bottom left is the Convolution Panel that gives you the ability to control the special effect convolution and warp the sound sources into something unique. From the drop-down menus you can select from over 150 effect impulse responses. The upper menu selects the category, and the lower menu and arrows select the individual sample. The categories available to you include Giant Resonance, Processed Resonance, Piano Noise, Texture, and Weird Spaces.

I found that THE GIANT was big on a number of different levels. First off, the piano sound is just so incredible that if you play the keyboards, then you will definitely want to get this instrument. There are so many different configurations that you can use out of the box and so many more that you can create on your own.

THE GIANT Cinematic Effects are equally just as amazing as well. They bring a strong set of alternate sounds and like the standard version, you can tweak them and have virtually an unlimited possibilities. At only $119, if you play piano, this is a must have add-on instrument. Even if you don’t the cinematic effects alone, may be worth the price. I very highly recommend THE GIANT.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.