The last Yamaha Disklavier M4PRO in the UK makes Realpiano a reality17 September 2014
“David and Charles both picked it up and ran with it, almost against the odds,” says Dodd. “When it was clear that the first piano [a Yamaha Disklavier E3 – see part one for the full story] wasn’t living up to expectations, they could’ve gone ‘well, we’re really sorry but it’s not going to work,’ but they went out on a limb because they knew how hard I tried to make it work.”
A minor miracle enabled Bozon to secure the DS6M4PRO for Dodd. EU trading standards had prohibited any further sale of the higher-end models, which featured more sophisticated software, within Europe. It just so happened a school in the UK had returned one they recently purchased – the last M4PRO in the country – as it was too complex for their needs. But it was perfect for Realpiano, and just as PSNEurope September was going to press, Dodd received a completely new software upgrade, too. “It’s really exciting because it has taken many months and embraces so many of the factors that we brought to their attention,” he adds. What’s more, Yamaha has since also given its E3 software a full upgrade.
As for the rest of Realpiano’s recording chain, it starts with a pair of Brauner microphones (the setup is pictured right) – the VMX pure cardioid and Valvet. The signal then runs into a Prism Sound Orpheus, which is a relatively new purchase for Dodd. Unsure of which model to buy, he called up Prism Sound and ended up discussing the business with a “very supportive” Graham Boswell, Prism Sound’s founder.
“A couple of days later this truck arrived with five or six Prism Sound units, all fantastic pieces of kit, I sat in the studio and thought ‘how am I going to choose?’ It’s like having the whole series of Ferraris to choose from!”
For a different flavour of mic pre, a GP Electronics PML200E mic pre is also available. Monitoring is provided by a pair of Dynaudio BM6 monitors, and Mackie HR626 & HRS120 monitors, and files are recorded into either Logic Pro or MOTU’s Digital Performer 7.
Aside from work for the production music, TV and film industry, Realpiano has also contributed to recordings from artists globally: Canada, Israel, Australia, Brazil, France… even a remote island north of Norway in the Bering Sea. “That’s very often the most exciting thing to be involved in because you’re part of something that’s purely creative,” says Dodd.