By Antoine Fafard
Wavesfactory launched its latest product Mercury towards the end of 2016. This virtual instrument consists in a sampled Fazioli piano which used to be owned by rock legend Freddie Mercury and which was recently recorded at Metropolis Studios in London. Wavesfactory began in 2010 by Spaniard Jesús Ginard and currently offers a total of 18 libraries and a single plugin.
Compatible with Native Instruments’ Kontakt Player (version 5), you can access the single instrument and make adjustments sonic adjustments via the three sections of the interface: Mixer, Effects and Settings. The Mixer section allows you to control the volume of the five microphones used to capture it. Effects allows you to add the Plate effects from Metropolis as well as some compression, EQs and chorus.
Mercury, which totals 34GB in size, features the sounds of the Fiazoli sampled in 8 dynamics from soft to hard. Wavesfactory suggests to export your project with the HQ mode switched on which is a setting that reduces the difference between the dynamics but which is very CPU intensive. This feature is off by default but can be set on when bouncing to disk.
On a technical note, I am a Cubase user and had no choice but to use the 64 bit version of the program in order to make Mercury work well on my system. Jesús of Wavesfactory did mention to me that it should work in the 32 bit environment if you reduce the preload buffer in Kontakt, but it just didn’t work as smoothly as in the 64 bit version.
As soon as Mercury is loaded, it is clear from the start that we are dealing with a superb sounding piano. The more I discover new virtual instruments on the market and the more I’m amazed to witness how attention to details keeps increasing. My feeling with playing with Mercury is simply that I’m dealing with the real thing. I can close my eyes and feel that I’m playing on grand piano and can let the creativity juice take over. Mercury hasn’t been created to prove that virtual instruments are there to replace real instruments, it is there to provide inexpensive access to a powerful creative tool, whichever the style of music you are creating. In my mind, there’s no doubt that virtual instruments made of pure samples such as Mercury deliver exactly that. Hopefully the demonstration below showcases some of the subtleties that this instrument has to offer.
The only downside for me is on a technical level. The instrument has been challenging to use and forced me to install the 64 bit version of Cubase which I hadn’t needed up to now. And hopefully, this is a down point that you won’t experience. As a pretty active composer, I focus hard on making my time very productive and try to surround myself with reliable and quickly accessible sounds. The time it takes for for my oldish but still pretty efficient computer to load Mercury is frustratingly long for me when I need to quickly put down some musical ideas. But I will use patience, as the quality in Mercury is so great that any other acoustic piano I had in my sound collection sound extremely pale in comparison!
March 2017 Update: Wavesfactory has since launched Mercury Lite – a much lighter version based on the same samples where all the five mic positions have been combined into a single audio file. More information available at Wavesfactory.