What’s The Best Virtual Piano?

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With all the different virtual pianos that are available, it can be difficult to choose just one.

Wouldn’t it be easier if Jordan Rudess just demo’d them all for you?

That’s the idea behind this set of videos, created by YouTube user jacosmith86:

I have assembled here a collection of Yamaha pianos, all demoed with the same MIDI file, “Grand Illusion” by Jordan Rudess. This song always impressed me with its incredible dynamic range, and I thought it a great clip to display the power of a Grand Piano. I selected this clip because of how it demonstrates the full range of dynamics across nearly the entire keyboard.

Part 1 offers a comparison of Yamaha C7 piano virtual instruments, including:

  • Sampletekk The Big One (Convolution IR added)
  • Sampletekk Seven Seas Grand (Convolution IR added)
  • Reason Pianos Yamaha C7 Close Mics (Convolution IR added)
  • Reason Pianos Yamaha C7 Jazz Mics
  • Native Instruments Alicia’s Keys (Dry w/ Convolution IR added)
  • Post Musical Instruments Yamaha C7 (Convolution IR added)

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Part 2 compares various Steinway D piano virtual instruments:

  • 4Front True Pianos Amber (Ambient Preset)
  • Galaxy Vintage D (Concert Grand Preset)
  • Galaxy Steinway (Concert Grand Preset)
  • Sampletekk Black Grand Close (Convolution IR added)
  • Sampletekk Black Grand Medium
  • Sampletekk Black Grand Ambient
  • Reason Pianos Steinway D Close Mics (Convolution IR added)
  • Reason Pianos Steinway D Jazz Mics
  • Native Instruments New York Concert Grand (With Overtones Preset; Convolution IR added)
  • Vir2 VI.ONE Black Grand
  • Post Musical Instruments Old Lady 1923 Steinway (Convolution IR added)
  • Post Musical Instruments Steinway D (Convolution IR added)

While these videos don’t demo every possible option, they do highlight the wide range of options that are available for piano virtual instruments.

Got a favorite?

via vstcafe


19 thoughts on “What’s The Best Virtual Piano?

  1. If you are a live player who expects to run the piano through mono (either in mains or monitor), it is worth auditioning these pianos in mono to see if they sound decent. Most sampled pianos with a nice stereo spread sound compromised in mono. Not an issue more most playback, but for some things like radio, or hand-helds, it is possible they will be heard through a single speaker. If it matters to you, it is worth checking.

    I've found that this is the biggest failing of most available sampled pianos– for me– as I play through a mono rig live.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
  2. Interesting. I let these roll without looking at the vids, just listening while doing other stuff, and they all sound virtually indistinguishable from one another.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
  3. What about the Native Instrument Acoustic Pianos? NY, Berlin, Vienna, and Upright?
    Also, don't underestimate True Piano.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
  4. Oops, I see NY Grand is mentioned. I wonder if that is considered superior to the other N.I. pianos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  5. Interesting comment…in terms of recording it makes a lot of sense. I try to record each instrument (sound) in mono and add any effect (chorus,delay, phaser etc.) only once I have the place where I want to be sound be heard in a stereo image.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  6. So far I was really impressed with:
    Sampletekk Seven Seas Grand
    New York Concert Grand
    While I was definitely not impressed with:
    Alicia's Keys
    VI.One

    I have Reason Pianos and it just sounds ok and is quite light on loading; the pianos just sit the mix. Been in a huge studio the other day recording a fully miked (5 mics) Yamaha C7 and believe me, if you have the budget, a good live recording with a good player is still unmatched.

    Does anyone have Modartt Pianoteq and knows if it's any good compared to these multi-GB libraries?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. PianoTeq, by a mile. I've tried lots of sampled pianos, they all have very noticeable weak spots. PianoTeq is 100% synthesized and over time it's been perfected thanks to a lot of feedback from the ears of end users. When I play it through my headphones it literally makes me believe there is a piano playing live in my room. I didn't buy the Pro version – most people won't need it, but the standard version really is worth every penny. It's even better when paired with an excellent reverb plugin, although the built-in reverb got some improvements in recent versions and actually fits really well.

    Put these sample-based pianos to rest. Get PianoTeq, don't look back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15
  8. P.S. If you do buy it, note that if you go to the downloads section of Modartt's user area you can download free additional pianos covering pianos available in older versions of PianoTeq and various other piano models that I think were contributed by users, all sound great!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6
  9. Pianoteq sounds like a synthesized piano, especially in the higher registers it sounds artificial. Low registers are okay, but lacks in punch. Overall it can't compete with those high end sample libraries. It's a nothing more than a nice try. I think that physical modelling still needs some time and further development to create satisfying results.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2
  10. for my buckage, Truepianos really sounds the most natural, and pianoteq is really great too, a bit of a ram hog though…. but on stage i use my roland xv that really cuts through live….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3
  11. When I only used Reason pianos for recording, it seemed for me to be quite brilliant compared to every sampled piano I've listened before. But there is one major problem: too much noise in the samples leads to some sort of "noise escalation", especially when it comes to dumper usage. I thought that is a general issue and technology-related until I started using Alicia Key's piano. Meanwhile, I am confinced by Sampletekk. The web site is crappy but the samples are simply great!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  12. I agree with Andy. I think people enjoy True Pianos and Pianoteq because they are "playable", but neither are as realistic to my ears as stuff like Garritan Steinway, Quantum Leap Pianos, Ivory, or Galaxy Vintage D. Pianoteq reminds me of as a glorified electric piano (ep) sound.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
  13. Sampletekk pianos via Kontakt cannot be beat. I prefer them to ivory even, seven seas, TBO, Black Grand especially. SampleTekk dude also was the brain behind the Reason Pianos, and they sound brilliant considering their limitations (looping, no streaming from disk). TruePianos is pretty amazing and sounds great in a mix. I use it s lot during tracking and composing since it’s easy on resources. PianoTeq sounds pretty artificial to me…but part of this is just what your ears are used to. Many many people claim Ivory is the best hands down, but most of them I have met really haven’t used anything else so their ears are just used to it! :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • I Agree with you, i´m pianist and Sampletekk are the most Realistic VSTI pianos(7CG,TBO), East west Pianos and Ivory 2 are good too.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  14. Ditto comment about re Black Grand…. the best sampled piano on the market for RECORDING purposes…. not necessarily for LIVE PERFORMANCE… that’s a whole different ball game.

    I find that the pmi bos, wet sustain layer, and in the lower velocity layers, is also hard to distinguish from a real recorded piano.

    I own and use the Authorized Garritan Steinway and the EWQL 3-some. There is much that is “real” sounding in these monster samples, but surprisingly perhaps, they cannot be made to sound as convincing —as far as recorded piano sound is concerned—as the Black or the Wet PMI.

    Again, for LIVE playing it’s a whole different situation and I’d be inclined to come up with an entirely different set of sampled pianos.

    JG

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  15. Does anyone else notice Reason Pianos “bottoming out” at very low velocity? I can’t play really lightly with it…the softest note I can get sounds like a 40 on the velocity curve. Could be a software issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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