Today, you do not need a grand piano to achieve a pleasant and realistic tone. With the current technological advancements, you can enjoy excellent piano tones without compromising space and for a cheaper cost than a real acoustic piano.
Using Piano Software
Perfecting piano keyboard skills via software includes using various features that strive to leverage the potential of computer technology beyond downloadable PDFs and videos. To enjoy these features, you will need a midi keyboard, computer, and one VST to get started. Read on to understand the best piano software plugin to choose from.
Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is a plugin used on a Digital Audio Workshop (DAW) program. It allows users to develop virtual instruments to produce music. While VSTs are digital, they can generate accurate sound. If you are looking for the ideal piano VST plug-in, there are two commonly used types available. Often, piano software comes in modeled or sampled forms.
Sample-based VSTs produce more realistic sound because they emanate from an actual instrument. This type of VST is the most common because nearly everybody wants to use a real piano without the challenges that come with possessing an actual one.
While modeled VSTs for pianos are more synthetic, they can still produce pleasant sound. Using a modeling VST can be ideal because they produce highly customizable sound compared to their sample-based counterparts.
If you will be running MIDI piano software, it is critical to invest in a MIDI controller. There are diverse MIDI piano controllers available in the market today. Where possible, choose one that works on iOS, Mac, iPad, and PC.
With your MIDI controller at hand, you will need to find the ideal piano VSTs. Robust software costs money, but you can get great software for free. Many VSTs are standalone, which means you do not need a DAW to use them. Standalone VSTs are ideal if you only want to play with the virtual instrument without restarting a DAW.
Best Virtual Piano Software
Read on to establish some of the best piano software plug-ins you can use for a long time.
1. XLN Audio Addictive Keys
XLN Audio Addictive Keys comes with three multi-sampled classic keyboards. These are:
- Steinway Model D Concert Grand
- Yamaha U3 Upright Piano
- Fender Rhodes Mark I
You can purchase each of these keyboards individually, but you can also get them bundled together as the studio grand. When it comes to the studio grand, all the keyboards load into one user interface. Addictive keys create engaging source sounds and have lots of customization.
XLN Audio Addictive Keys offers you realistic and warm piano sounds without taking up too much disk space. Further, it does not compromise other resources on your personal computer. It is also a fast-loading option, which is not the case with some of the VSTs available today. XLN Audio Addictive Keys comes with excellent microphone options that help improve its quality.
2. Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Keyboard Collection
The Spectrasonics VST helps satisfy the needs of piano experts and novice keyboard players too. It comes with the following features.
- Massive selection of keyboards which includes acoustic pianos and other sounds like clavinets and harpsichords
- Standalone through keyspace software
- Modeled and sampled sounds
Some of the robust features that set this VST plugin apart from the rest are its customizable features and diversity. You can use it to customize your sound, depending on your preferences. Further, you can use some pedal and amp options that are ideal for electric keyboards. This feature is not available in many of the VSTs in the market. While the Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Keyboard comes with excellent features, it consumes more than 70 GB of your disk space.
3. Synthology Ivory II Grand Piano
Synthology Ivory II Grand Piano is one of the highly recognized piano VSTs in the market today. It is a sampled audio, a standalone via the ivory standalone host, and is based on the Yamaha C7, Steinway D9, and Bosendorfer 290.
This VST plugin is among the most responsive and realistic you can use. It is also one of the best piano software plug-ins available. However, Synthology Ivory II Grand Piano consumes 77 GB of your hard disk space, especially if you opt to use all of its instruments. Still, you can reduce it to 28 GB if you identify and use only one of your preferred instruments.
4. Sweet Little Piano
While it appears to be simple, this software comes with numerous features. The Sweet Little Piano is a virtual piano, but you can use it like a guitar, virtual flute, a draw organ, or an accordion. You can even change the keyboard and user interface layout to fit your preferences. This software allows you to change notes to flats or sharps.
The Sweet Little Piano software features pre-mapped keyboard keys which produce MIDI notes. It is worth mentioning that MIDI audio files are ideal for musicians because they are easy to edit and record. If you are looking for feature-rich yet easy to use software the Sweet Little Piano is a great choice.
5. Modartt Pianoteq 6
Pianoteq is an outstanding virtual instrument for macOS, Linux (86), and Windows. It offers substantially modeled electric pianos, acoustic pianos, harpsichords, vibraphones, harps, and celestas. Pianoteq comes with plugins for AAX, VST, and AudioUnits hosts. It also features a standalone version.
Pianoteq offers excellent playability and recreates the complex performance of real acoustic instruments. Further, it allows you to adjust the sound depending on your preferences using unique parameters.
Pianoteq features include a physically modeled piano, full dynamics, real-time sound generation, numerous effects, convolution reverb and exclusive tuning, design adjustments, and voicing.
6. Playground Sessions
Playground sessions allow you to indulge in piano lessons online within an engaging environment of interaction and discovery where you learn, and have fun. With Playground Sessions, you can learn with ease, fast, and naturally using your favorite tunes.
If you are a music enthusiast, you understand more music theory than you may realize. Playground leverages this fact and uses your favorite songs to demonstrate musical approaches as you go.
7. Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand Piano VST
The Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Grand Piano is among the best VSTs that sound like an actual instrument. It uses samples from the Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano.
One of the most talented engineers recorded the Yamaha CFX using good quality microphones. He used the samples to create the Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand Piano for musicians across the globe. This VST comes with three discrete angles that sound as real as the Studio One piano.
This VST is unique and of good quality, making it worth your investment. Use it with a high-quality 88 key MIDI keyboard to create some of the best piano tracks for your tunes. This concert grand piano works well on an SSD when using the mic outlook. This piano is ideal for you if you are looking to improve your creativity.
8. Synthogy Ivory II Upright Pianos
This VST comes with samples from four different hand-picked pianos to give you a wide range of robust and diverse tones. It comes with an 84 GB library and approximately 16 velocity layers. Upright pianos use advanced technology to gives you excellent sounds.
The Synthogy Ivory II Upright Piano also comes with a DSP engine and the Harmonic Resonance Modeling. It also features four vertical piano sources, which include the Yamaha u5 Modern Upright, Barroom Upright, and Hume Vintage Upright. These sources give this VST new and improved sound. As a result, many musicians looking for rock, jazz, or vintage blues music prefer this VST.
9. Toontrack EZKeys
Toontrack is popularly known for creating their Superior Drummer and EZDrummer software. This software has enabled many producers across the world to develop excellent drums for their songs. Toontrack EZKeys comes with sampled audio, standalone capability, and a wide range of sounds like Upright, Grand, Pipe, and Electric Organs. How does Toontrack set itself apart from competitors like VST and XLN piano?
EZKeys is an excellent songwriting tool that allows you to choose sounds depending on genres. It also gives users ideas to work with, which makes arranging easy. Toontrack EZKeys is easy to use software that has been helpful to non-pianists and beginners.
10. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Virtual Studio Technology
This VST is used by professionals across the globe, which means it features some of the best quality sounds available. The Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 gives you over 10,000 sounds to sample and play. This VST is more improved than the original version. For example, it comes with the new arpeggiator and other advanced effects that give you numerous options for your creative needs.
The best thing about this model is that you can feed in your audio content via the Omnisphere. This process gives you more options to create original sounds. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 allows you to play a wide range of genres with complex sounds. It also allows you to control the sound design making it perfect for professional studio use.
11. Synthogy Ivory II Italian Grand Virtual Instrument
The Synthogy Ivory II Italian Grand Virtual Instrument offers a massive library of sounds. You will get up to 28 GB of samples to pick from, giving you numerous options of things you can do with it. You will also get Sample Interpolation Technology that gives you access to different velocity layers.
The Synthogy Ivory II Italian Grand is one of the best when it comes to producing the acoustic piano sound. This VST comes with a DSP engine and a 32-bit sample playback designed to mimic an acoustic piano. You will get samples of a big concert piano, allowing you to create different pleasant tunes.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Let us discuss some of the frequently asked questions below.
Why is my VST not Working or Missing in my Daw?
Nearly all VSTs are compatible with many of the popularly used DAW, but some are not. If you are sure that the file path is correct, then your VST could be incompatible. Check whether yours is compatible. If it is not, you may want to find a suitable DAW that supports it.
Does a Piano VST Generate Real Sound?
Virtual studio technology mimics the sound of piano keys. Experts invest energy and time and leverage the help of iconic pianos to produce perfect and real sounds. While you may not get an entirely realistic sound, the difference is often too small for the average listener to notice. It is worth mentioning that modeling VSTs are different. They are made synthetically to mimic piano keys with the help of digital tech. As a result, they produce synthetic and unreal sound.
Is it Possible to Operate my VST from an External Drive?
This action depends on your VST and sometimes your DAW. In many cases, however, you can operate your VST on an external drive with minimal struggle. You can achieve this if your VST supports a standalone option. Remember; if you will use your VST with a DAW ensure it can access the plugin.
How much RAM Should I have to Run VSTs?
It depends on the type of plug-in. Some plug-ins are small, meaning they have little impact on your personal computer. However, some can be overly resource-hungry. If you are using your VST for music production, you will need approximately 8 GB of RAM. However, if you will be running different programs at once, consider 16 GB of RAM.
Will I Need Internet Connection?
In the beginning, you may need to register your product key and software, and you will require an internet connection to facilitate the process. Later on, you might use your VST without internet connection. Still, this depends on the software and the developer. Remember, internet connection could be essential for software updates.
Use this list to find the best Software that fits your needs
This list includes some high-quality piano software you can choose. VST eliminates the need for a real piano. If you want to play a virtual piano all you need to do is get your headphones ready, configure your software, plug in your MIDI controller, and enjoy making pleasant music.