Two years ago, in this article, we wrote about a new and quite peculiar sample libraries company, realsamples. This time we’ve tested one of their latest releases, a virtual copy of the Orphica portable piano. Invented by Carl Leopold Röllig, this small portable piano type was built in Vienna in 1798. Produced for merely about 15 years, the Orphica remains one of the rarest pianos today worldwide, only 30 instruments have been preserved. The instrument is taken from the famous collection of ancient instruments by Professor Andreas E. Beurmann.
How does it sound? Röllig was reminded of the “Lyre of Orpheus”, so he chose the name accordingly for what happens to be a predecessor of today’s portable keyboard. Actually the word ”piano” here could be a bit misleading. The Orphica’s tone is actually quite different. Its three octaves remind me more of an impossible mix between a dulcimer and a “mellow” harpsichord, but there’s really something quite peculiar in this instrument. I’m sure if you’re into sound-design, vintage sounding stuff (think of Jon Brion, etc.) you’re gonna love this little gem. It may also work great to double/reinforce other keyboards’ tracks. Here’s a short audio clip, straight from realsamples’ website.
Technical details Realsamples captured the sound with 16 velocity layers of each note, that means you’ll get an expressive dynamic range. Furthermore, key release sounds were sampled chromatically with 8 variations per key. As usual with this software company, the Orphica samples has been recorded in a true “gearslut” way: the great sounding rooms of the Hasselburg estate, custom-made Wagner™ U47w® tube microphones, Crane Song™ Flamingo® preamps and Universal Audio™ 2192® digital converters, captured in 192 khz/24 bits resolution. All the most popular soft samplers are covered: HAlion, Kontakt2 and higher, EXS24 and GigaStudio3.
Conclusion A rare and lovely sounding instrument brought back to life. Definitely recommended for those that want to add a new colour to their keyboards’ palette, as well as for musicologists.