Everything you need to know about Roland’s SuperNATURAL modelling technology to create organic and realistic instruments.
Roland SuperNATURAL technology has gone from being a feature of its flagship digital pianos and synthesisers, to being in many of its most recent V-Drum kits, entry level pianos and more. It is cutting edge technology that provides the most authentic, dynamic and natural sounds possible.
Many digital instruments use samples to create or reproduce sounds, basically a digital recording. Instruments do this by triggering a sound when a key is pressed or a drum is hit. When you press a key on a digital piano, the relevant recording of a piano sound will play from a memory chip. This can make sounds that are quite realistic, but it can also result in unwanted side effects.
How does a sampled piano compare to a SuperNATURAL piano?
First, let’s talk about pianos in general. Every key on an acoustic piano moves a hammer that hits a different length piano string. These strings resonate through a common soundboard, and cabinet. This combination of parameters means that each key is not only a different pitch, but has a different tone or character with many variations per note.
To recreate these sounds manufacturers normally resort to sampling. Often, instead of recording every note of an acoustic piano, they will record every third note to save cost and memory. Then they adjust the pitch so that it plays the correct note. Only one out of three notes is playing the correct sound for the note being played. This results in noticeable changes in sound between notes. One sample switches to another as you move up or down the keyboard. Memory chips are usually an expensive part of the manufacturing of a digital instrument. Many companies try to keep the amount needed to a minimum.
What other requirements are needed to recreate a real piano sound?
The other key aspect of a piano sound is dynamics. When a piano is played softly, the tone is very different to when the keys are struck harder. Piano keys are sometimes sampled with different dynamics, so that when a key is played softly, or harder, an appropriate sound is played. However, this method can also suffer from inconsistencies. If you’re playing the keyboard softly and then gradually striking it harder, you will still hear a change in sound as it switches from one sample to the next.
The SuperNATURAL technology fixes this problem by using technology derived from the groundbreaking V-Piano. First, SuperNATURAL piano sound samples every single one of a piano’s 88 keys, at full length, with completely natural decay. Many other electronic pianos will loop the decaying part of the sound to save memory. But it is what Roland does with these samples that truly sets it apart.
Why is SuperNATURAL modelling technology superior?
With modelling technology, SuperNATURAL creates a smooth transition between samples, between different notes, and different velocities, so there isn’t any noticeable sample switching. This means that rather than having a quiet sample, medium sample and loud sample for notes like many digital pianos, it effectively has many layers. No noticeable transitions.
Roland’s behaviour modelling technology interprets how the player is playing. It also instantly adjusts the sound so that it closely models the sound of the real instrument being played in the same way. Like any great technology, SuperNATURAL simply happens beneath the hood so you don’t notice it. The experience is extremely realistic! When you play an instrument that uses SuperNATURAL technology, everything sounds and feels organic and very musical.
Roland SuperNatural instruments are without compromise in their likeness to the performance of traditional instruments. And you also get to explore the endless creative possibilities offered by the latest digital technology. Roland believes that advanced technology and know-how can take your music further.