Get Real Piano is an online service that transforms your MIDI files into acoustic piano tracks, recorded in real-time on a Yamaha Disklavier DC3Pro acoustic grand piano.

Get Real Piano Disklavier

Composers, songwriters, and musicians have come to rely on the speed and flexibility of working with MIDI and sample libraries for writing, editing and arranging their music. However, when it comes to laying down a piano part in the final mix, nothing beats the rich, detailed, and musical sound of an acoustic piano recorded with high-end gear in a great room. The solution? Use MIDI data, generated while monitoring piano samples, to trigger an automation-equipped acoustic grand for the final recorded track.

Edwin Dolinski, an accomplished classical pianist and former director of Electronic Art’s Music Department – and long time Yamaha Disklavier owner – discovered that regardless what keyboard controller / sample set combination was used to make the original MIDI file, the resulting playback on the Disklavier was always somewhat disappointing. Inevitably, certain notes would be over-accented while others were barely audible no matter how precisely the Disklavier’s MIDI channel volume was set. Not ideal.

To overcome this, Dolinski experimented with adjusting the note velocity of each of the offending “outliers” to bring them in line with the musical context. Eureka! This manual intervention was the breakthrough needed to perfect the approach. “It makes a huge difference. By using our ears and pianistic intelligence in a patient and methodical manner, we can produce a more believable and musical result than has ever been offered before using this technology,” he says. If done this way by a skilled operator, a MIDI-to-acoustic-piano-conversion using a Disklavier can indeed rival the real thing while easily surpassing sampled piano performances for perceived realism and richness of sound.

Inspired by this discovery, Dolinski founded the website and began producing top-notch custom piano recordings from MIDI files on an ongoing professional basis. Now in its third year of operation, Get Real Piano has many satisfied clients from all around the world plus a growing list of appreciative repeat customers.

The process is simple, but effective. Customers upload their Standard MIDI Files to the website, and the Get Real Piano team loads it into Digital Performer and feeds it to the Yamaha Disklavier for playback. Over the next few hours, the MIDI velocity values are continuously adjusted and auditioned by ear until the track sounds just right. All of the timing and feel of the original track remains completely intact throughout this process. Only the MIDI velocities are changed to match the dynamics of Get Real Piano’s particular Disklavier.

Once the performance is locked in, the 6′ 1″ Yamaha Disklavier DC3Pro acoustic grand is recorded in real-time with a matched pair of Neumann KM184 microphones, a Millennia HV-3C stereo preamp and a MOTU 896 digital interface. A third microphone – a modified Apex 460 large diaphragm tube condenser – simultaneously captures the sound under the piano. This extra mic produces a much darker sound and is sometimes useful for adding more punch when mixed under the main stereo track. The final step is to send the hi-res audio files back to the customer for approval and to respond to any requests for changes.

The Get Real Piano service is available at a flat rate of $200 USD per track, including time to render the MIDI data, record and deliver the audio files, and respond to any requests for changes. Finished audio files from a single session can be available for download within 24 hours of submission.

More information: Get Real Piano