I've been playing piano using the Garritan CFX Concert Grand for a while now, and while I've found a sound I like, I notice that the dynamic range tends to be too great. I don't notice it much while actually playing it with headphones, but when listening on a speaker setup like my car, for instance, it's much less pleasant.
Specifically, the default output is very quiet when recorded. So I simply raise the volume in my DAW before exporting. But that results in a difference between the softest and loudest notes that's apparently way too great:
For comparison, here's the range of a solo piano track on a commercially released classical album:
Here, the quietest notes in the centre are about as loud as my mid-dynamic notes, and the loudest volume is fairly constant throughout.
So I'm wondering what I'm doing wrong and what I should address. I have no training. Maybe you fine folks can help me sort it out.
There is a dynamic range setting in the piano VST that "determines the difference between the softest and loudest notes; use 50% for the piano as sampled". Well, the range you see there was with this setting at only 45%. Here's what the loudest part sounds like. If I change it to 17%, the extremes do sound somewhat better to me. Is the answer just to drop the range way below what the manual implies is normal? Should I be going even lower??
Should I use a compressor instead?
Should I adjust the velocity curve instead? In the VST or on my actual keyboard?
Should I equalize the highs quieter? (These tend to be the the ones that make me wince when they get too loud after correcting the overall track volume.)
Should I work on my tone so that the quiet notes are clearer? Similarly, should I manually edit the MIDI velocities of the lowest and highest notes?
Should I manually reduce pedalling so that the quieter notes can be heard more clearly without raising the track volume as much?
Am I wrong that this is even a serious problem?