Fracture Sounds – Midnight Grand and Woodchester Piano NKS

Fracture Sounds – Midnight Grand and Woodchester Piano NKS

KK-Access Review

Fracture Sounds have now dipped their toe into the waters of Komplete Kontrol with an NKS/Kontakt Player update for their two popular piano libraries, In this review we lift the lids on both instruments and take a peak at these beautifully atmospheric keys.

Fracture Sounds…

UK based library creators Fracture Sounds have blossomed into a now recognised and very welcome edition to the world of sample libraries.

Founded by film and game composer Will Bedford, they have a growing number of well crafted products in their portfolio. Until now, none have been NKS compatible, requiring the full version of Kontakt to run, and thus have also not been accessibly mapped to Komplete Kontrol hardware for accessible use within our NKS eco system.

This has now all changed with a new update to their 2018 Woodchester Piano, and also last years Midnight Grand, which has now blessed them with full user interface parameter mappings.

The Dynamic Duo…

The Woodchester Piano is a detailed sampling of a Wilh Steinberg German upright piano with felted pedal, while as a contrast the Midnight Grand is a Steinway D Concert Grand.

Tech Specs…

Midnight Grand installs at 3.3GB whereas the Woodchester piano is 1.1GB, both use the NCW compressed format.

Either the full version of Kontakt 5.6.8 or equivalent free Kontakt player is required, and of course they are both fully NKS ready.

There are two master NKI preset files for each product.

Download & Installation…

This is a painless and accessible procedure, your purchase email contains a link for a straightforward archive file, which will extract to the fully assembled library folder.

The email also contains your authorisation number, so it’s a simple case of adding this into Native Access to register, and then adding the folder location from the ‘Not Installed’ tab and voila! the job is done.

Launching Komplete Kontrol in standalone finally scans the instruments into the factory side of KK ready for you to use.

Komplete Kontrol Browser & Plug-in Edit NKS Mapping.

Midnight Grand

Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 & 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Type: Piano/Keys
Knob 6 – Sub Type: Grand Piano
Knob 7 – Character: Acoustic, Airy, Deep, Human, Melodic,
Knob 8 – Preset: Midnight Grand, Midnight Grand Alt

Woodchester Piano
As above except the instrument type is ‘Upright Piano’ and the character types are Acoustic, Clean & Melodic, the presets are Woodchester Piano & Woodchester Piano Legacy

Plug-in Edit NKS Controls

Midnight Grand

Page One – Layer, Volume & Sound

Knob 1 – Raw
Knob 2 – Haze
Knob 3 – Shivers
Knob 4 – Eclipse
Knob 5 – Sound/Colour
Knob 6 – Stereo Width
Knob 7 – Atmosphere
Knob 8 – Reverb

Page Two – Noise & Feel

Knob 1 – Noise Key Release
Knob 2 – Pedal
Knob 3 – Room Tone
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Feel, Velocity Response
Knob 6 – Sample Start
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated

Woodchester Piano

Page One – Layer, Volume & Sound

Knob 1 – Raw
Knob 2 – Ache
Knob 3 – Dream
Knob 4 – Clouds
Knob 5 – sound/Colour
Knob 6 – Stereo Width
Knob 7 – Atmosphere
Knob 8 – Reverb

Page Two – Piano Noise & Feel

Knob 1 – Key Release
Knob 2 – Pedal
Knob 3 – Pianist
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Velocity Response
Knob 6 – Sample Start
Knob 7 & 8 – Unallocated


Part of the beauty of these two pianos is their simplicity, not only from the playing perspective, but also in their ease of use which goes hand in hand with the user interface and associated controls.

To this end, it was really pleasing to find that all of the parameters usually found in the visual mouse controlled UI, have been faithfully transferred to the NKS mapping.

Well actually all but one, this being the ‘reduce thump’ button found on the Midnight Grand library, it’s not present in the Kontakt mapping either so we will have to live with this. the idea here being to reduce the percussive low frequencies, it is switched on by default, and turning it off will apparently give the piano more presence.

It’s really pretty much a 99% thumbs up when it comes to accessibility via NKS, as put quite simply there are no other parameters left unmapped.

Tinkling The Ivories…

The Woodchester Piano has been recorded in a fairly close proximity, and the Midnight Grand was captured in a concert venue, so the ambiences are intrinsic to those locations. There are no individual microphone channels in these libraries, however instead Fracture Sounds have opted to blend both the close and more distanced mic positions together into a single mix, which sounds perfectly fine to me, and will undoubtedly reduce the size and CPU load.

There is a stereo width control, that will take the piano sounds from mono to a wider stereo spread, this control being pertinent to only the raw piano sounds, and not the additional sound layers described later.

The reverb control allows you to add ambience to the global mix, however as we cannot accessibly choose and select our own impulses and sizes, I found it easier to turn this off and instead add a second Komplete Kontrol effect slot with my own choice of reverb and more extensive parameter controls, as a suggestion, Eventide’s Black hole can sound wonderful here!

The Midnight Grand was actually recorded with a layer of cotton placed between the hammer and strings, and the Woodchester using a felted pedal means that neither of these instruments sound ultra hard, digitally clean or clinically sterile, which I think serves to add a good deal to their intimate and textural warmth.

There is still a colour control which can increase or reduce the brightness if required for your track, if you do need to add a little clarity to the tone.

Sound Layers…

Alongside the control for the raw piano samples, each piano also comes with several additional melodic instrument layering options, which can be added, mixed or completely omitted according to taste.

Midnight Grand has Haze which provides a smooth pad type sound, next Shiver is a layer that is derived from live string recordings, and then finally Eclipse offers a subtle granular reverse and delay undertone.

Woodchester Piano has a similar set of supporting sub layers albeit with different naming conventions, Ache again gives a gentle and warm pad tone, Dream to me sounds like a string based derivative, but with some delicate reverse content being part of it’s make up, and last but not least, Clouds is another pad effect again with some reverse content.

Each of these separate sound layers have their volumes individually controllable, but in addition are also linked to the mod wheel, meaning that you can play just the raw piano sound in isolation, and then gently ease up the mod wheel to add that extra tonal palette of colour when perhaps you feel that extra touch of emotion is needed.

However you opt to utilise them though, they really do enhance and reinforce the natural piano sounds of each library.

<pre class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code"><strong>   Dial In The Realism...</strong></pre>

Both pianos have well implemented extra authenticity which comes courtesy of some incidental fine detail sampling.

Page two of the NKS mapping for both libraries have controls for the key release noise, which accentuate the hammer sounds.

real time pedal noises are linked and triggered by your sustain pedal adding those sounds into the mix as you play.

Each library features an additional sample unique to themselves, Woodchester Piano has ‘Pianist’ sounds which add the occasional noise from the player, perhaps a seating shuffle or clothing scuff, which all sound pretty natural and unobtrusive.

Midnight Grand has ‘Room Tone’ which is the result of the microphone being left on within the recording space. This captures the ambient creaks, clicks and cracks found within the original concert venue, again this is not overstated or artificial, and works well to add another level of realism if you are seeking to achieve this effect on your track.

It’s worth noting that the room tone is a rolling yet undetectable sample loop, which means if you have the volume up, it will be included in your overall mix. this is probably inaudible during quieter musical passages, however is still something worth being aware of, just in case you forget and thought you had a noisy input channel!

Tailoring Your Performance…

The final two controls for each library are the velocity sensitivity and sample start.

The velocity control lets you set the point at which you want the pianos to respond to the pressure of your key strikes, which is helpful for matching your performance style to the music, and ultimately how quietly you wish to play.

The sample start is useful but quite subtle, it is clearly not intended to chomp away half of your piano sound , but more to just gently clip the attack of the initial key press.

I would strongly recommend checking out one or two of the walk through reviews which I will link at the review footer, these will further demonstrate and emphasise the sounds and product features which I have explained here.

<pre class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code"><strong>  Thoughts & Conclusions...</strong></pre>

It goes almost without saying that Pianos can be quite stylised and personal instruments. There is certainly no one size fits all, the playability and feel can be of as much of a paramount importance as to the sound it produces.

This is especially true when the subjects of the library focus on a more intimate and expressive sound, which is without doubt the case here.

Fracture Sounds have created two noteworthy instruments with Midnight Grand and Woodchester Piano.

They have Avoided the temptation to include the obvious zeitgeist of a heavily sound design oriented feature set already exploited by other developers, and instead opted to provide just enough additional complimentary sound layering enhancements to implement melancholy, pathos and emotions into your music.

 Midnight Grand will certainly lend itself extremely well to a cinematic role, and Woodchester Piano whilst serving  as a distinctive enough complimentary companion is versatile enough to also work for this purpose. In any case both should bring you immense pleasure just in the joy of playing them.  

Midnight Grand & Woodchester Piano can be purchased directly from the Fracture Sounds web site
At time of publication there is a 20% promotional discount enabling both to be bought for £102.40 ex VAT, see web site for individual pricing.

Fracture Sounds Product Page:

Woodchester Piano Walk through with James Everingham:

Midnight Piano Walk through with James Joshua Otto:

Simeon Amburgey – Dual Piano Walk through:

(c) Chris Ankin
October 25th, 2020


The author accepts no responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this article,or Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based solely on information perceived as a blind user whilst using the product or gathered from official factual sources on the web or product manual.

About the Author

Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.


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