A few years ago Simple Sam Samples released Signature Grand, a Kontakt-powered instrument based on a sampled Steinway D piano. It has 10 dynamic layers, among other things, and I felt at the time with the asking price that I didn't want to have it, that it can't compare with the likes of Ivory II's American Concert D, for example.
Well, with the recent sale cutting the price down to $50, I thought it would be a good excuse to take a look at it. Plus, it has simulated una corda, which is very interesting. It's a small price to pay for curiosity, so I checked it out.
Unfortunately, I can't adjust the parameters for this instrument by selecting the track and pressing P on Reaper. Thus, I can only comment on the out-of-the-box experience with this instrument.
The good: the sound is surprisingly natural and immersive. I think I've underestimated what 10 velocity layers can do. Also, I love the releases and captured noises. It's really a joy to play!
The less good: the una corda is simulated, and it takes a while for me to hear the subtle difference. It's more obvious in the higher registers than the bass, in my opinion.
The bad: for some reason I kept having pops and clicks the more notes I layer on top, which has never happened on any other Kontakt libraries through my Babyface Pro FS. I have a buffer of 64.
The UGLY: The softer velocities are too loud, and the forte samples felt like I hadn't played that loud. The difference between the piano and the forte dynamics is very small, so the playability is not that good. Could it be that right now I'm using an NU1 in China that gives me such an impression? Maybe. I'll probably update this when I return to Bloomington and my VPC1. But so far as it stands now, I think the playability is not very good.
So much for my out-of-the-box experience. Since I can't adjust anything on the interface, I can't control the piano to respond differently. It's sad! But the sound is just as good as the Ivory II ACD. And those releases are really magical to hear, it's as if I'm playing an acoustic concert grand.
This concludes my review of the Signature Grand. It's a pitty how little I can control the instrument. For a discounted asking price, I'm glad I've had this experience. If they plan to make an update, I think it's the ability to include a snapshots folder / browser, or having the parameters adjustable using Kontakt as a VST plugin.
Have a nice day!