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Coldplay Magic Piano: Hardware

Last time we recreated the Magic piano sound in software, today we will do it with hardware. If your workstation allows deep editing of the reverb effect then you may be able to replicate our software setup exactly. If not I am going to show you the alternative method using delay to get that off-beat attack.

The Beginning is the Same – Pick a Piano

As noted in the previous post you need to start with a decent piano sound. Something that has a nice attack and nice harmonics. I have mentioned that I prefer European style pianos for that – let me know if you find something better. This sound is more of an effect than a featured piano part so don’t get too crazy with finding the best piano.


Step two is the same – compress it. Of course we have a lot more control over this with software, in hardware you are often limited in the controls but to the extent you can you still want to dial in a quick attack and medium (or auto) release. The sound should get louder overall with a more even volume between attack and sustain portions of the sound.

Delay – the Secret Sauce

This approach relies on delay. The song “Magic” is at about 80 BPM and my math suggests the delay should be about an ⅛ note but I have found 1/16 note sounds better. Tempo sync your delay after setting your tempo to 80 BPM. If you can’t tempo sync then the delay should be 80-120 msec. Set the wet/dry mix to favor the wet side by a good bit – this will feature the first delay sound over the actual initial sound and give that off-beat push. Decrease the feedback so that the delay cuts off after 1 or 2 repeats.

Reverb. Again.

Last in line is reverb. Try to pick a dark medium sized reverb and lay it on thick. On the Nord the 1st reverb of each type is darker than the second, and I feel like Stage 1 fits the sound the best.

Try it out

You can see my walkthrough on the Nord Stage 2 here. Give it a try and let me know how you did in the comments. Thanks!

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