Best Piano VST of 2017

Pianos are one of the most amazing sound instruments but they are also one of the most expensive. However, technology has made it possible for musicians to use piano without actually needing to purchase one. Piano VST (Virtual Studio Technology) is a software that basically emulates a piano. You just need a MIDI controller with preferably 88 keys like that on a real piano. There is no piano hardware involved and the sound is generated digitally through the software. This plugin is usually standalone but also can be hosted in a DAW.

The best piano VST can be a great addition to your tunes and will sound just like a piano would. It is a simple, convenient and rather economical solution to having a piano in your studio. Here are some of the toppiano VST's you can buy online:

At a glance: Our top 3 picks
Your shortcut to our team's top 3 recommendations
Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand Piano VST Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Virtual Studio Technology Garritan Instant Orchestra Piano Virtual Studio Technology
  • Discrete perspectives
  • Quality sound
  • Ten thousand sounds
  • Improved features
  • Professional sound
  • Conexant Endless Wave technology to stream multiple orchestras
  • Myriads of orchestral sounds
  • Instant creations
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1. Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand Piano VST

Garritan-Abbey-Studios-Concert-Grand

It is perhaps the best sample VST you can have with sounds that feel like a real instrument. The samples are from the legendary Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano from the Studio One at Abbey Road Studios. Most gifted engineers have used the best quality microphones to create this virtual piano for the world. It has three discrete perspectives that sound as real as the Studio One piano.

It is definitely worth every penny because it is unlike most VSTs you will come across. The moment you start playing this you will realize that its quality is amazing. Use it with a high quality 88 keys and you can produce the best piano tunes for your songs. It works out great on an SSD especially the mic perspective. If you are looking to give your creativity a boost, this piano VSTis exactly what you need.

Pros

+ Discrete perspectives

+ Quality sound

Why We Liked It - This one is our favorite because you will actually feel as if you are sitting in the studio. The character and clarity of the instrument lives through the virtual sound too. Since it comes from the piano from Abbey Studios you can just imagine how many musical legends must have used this piano.

2. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Virtual Studio Technology

Spectrasonics-OMNI2-Omnisphere-2

This is a vst that is used by professionals and therefore is downright the best quality. The Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 has a whopping 10,000 sounds galore to explore and play. The new version 2.0 has seen some staggering new improvements. The new arpeggiator and new effects provide a lot of experimentation options.

The best thing about this particular vst is that you can carry your own audio content through the Omnisphere which creates all the more possibilities to create original sounds. The genres you can play with this thing are diverse and the complexity of the sound can be very high. With this you are in charge of the sound design which is why this is truly the best for professional studio use. There new 8 filter types and new modulation features which make it all the more special.

Pros

+ Ten thousand sounds

+ Improved features

+ Professional sound

Why We Liked It - The possibilities are endless with the Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2. It is pricey software but you do get quality sounds and myriads of effects, filters and other features to give the sound extra special feel. It is by far the most professional and capable VST you can use in your music.

3. Garritan Instant Orchestra Piano Virtual Studio Technology

MakeMusic-MM00225-Garritan-Instant-Orchestra

You know you are getting your hands on something truly beautiful when it is from Garritan. This is near perfect orchestra if you will as it offers all the different kinds of sounds you hear in an orchestra. You have the low octave rumblings, wild overlays, chord clusters, slivery choirs, harps and many more included in one virtual studio.

It also includes ARIA instrument player which makes it all the better in value. This is possibly the easiest way to orchestrate without needing many instruments and many players. It is carefully designed to resemble the complex mix of orchestral family instruments so most of your job gets done already. You know those orchestral effects we hear in movies? They also included those in this amazing software that is all about instantaneousness. It can work as a standalone program and also work with most common platforms.

Pros

+ Conexant Endless Wave technology to stream multiple orchestras

+ Myriads of orchestral sounds

+ Instant creations

Why We Liked It - What is not to like when you can produce fancy orchestras in no time? This product has all the work cut out for you because orchestras are not so easy to achieve even synthetically. This is the perfect thing for musicians looking to create an orchestra without spending endless days.

4. XLN Addictive Keys Studio Collection

XLN-Addictive-Keys-Studio-Collection

If you are looking to create your own signature sounds and experiment with your own creativity, XLNs VST can help you do that. It brings you myriads of sounds with equally great effects to create sounds that represent you. You can use filters, EQ filters, reverb, distortion, tremolo, chorus and many more. XLN used best of the best by testing 10 different pianos and then using the best out of them for sampling this collection.

Besides the amazing sounds you will create, there is another big advantage with this Virtual Studio Technology. It can be connected from virtually anywhere. The MyCloud technology lets you connect with it and work from anywhere. It automatically synchronizes your work like presets and memos regardless of the device you use. This basically allows you to work on the go from all your devices and keep everything organized and safe.

Pros

+ Quality sounds and effects

+ Access from multiple devices

+ Room for creativity and experimentation

Why We Liked It - The MyCloud technology without any question is a blessing for anyone who travels a lot or collaborates with other musicians. You can have the software on multiple computers and everything is synched automatically. This makes things so much easier and faster if you think which makes this software the most convenient VST to have.

5. Synthogy Ivory II Italian Grand Virtual Instrument

Synthogy-Ivory-Italian-Virtual-Instrument

This is a popular piano Virtual Studio Technology and rightly so because it offers a gargantuan sized library of sounds. Imagine having 28 GB of samples to use from. You can create so many distinct tones with the Grand Virtual Instrument. It offers the Sample Interpolation Technology which allows you to have different velocity layers (up to 18 velocity levels).

Similarly, the Harmonic Resonance Model produces realistic sympathetic string resonance. If you are looking for the best acoustic piano sound then you will love the Synthogy Ivory II. It's 32-bit sample playback and DSP engine is specifically engineered to emulate an acoustic piano. After all, it features samples from gigantic Grand Concert Piano so you can be sure about producing beautiful tones. This piano was made in Italy and is one of the best in the world.

Pros

+ 28 GB of samples

+ Quality sound

+ Suitable for many genres of music

Why We Liked It - This VST can produce whatever type of sound you are aiming for. Whether you want the smoothest jazz or the most vibrant pop, the sample on this will take your music to the next level. It is very dynamic and is suitable for anyone looking for the authentic feel of a piano.

6. Synthogy Ivory II Upright Pianos

Ilio-Synthogy-Ivory-Upright-Pianos

This one includes samples from four different hand selected pianos so you can imagine how powerful and diverse the resulting tones would be. This VST is very generous with the samples as you have 84 GB of library and up to 16 velocity layers. It uses all the latest technology to bring you the absolute top tones.

This one too has the Harmonic Resonance Modeling and DSP engine but the sound is ever more improved thanks to the four vertical piano sources. The pianos which include Yamaha u5 Modern Upright, Hume Vintage Upright and Barroom Upright were carefully chosen to give the true vintage feel to the tones. For this reason, it is loved by all the musicians who are looking for the vintage blues, jazz, and even rock.
Pros
+ Vintage sound from four upright pianos

+ Diverse genres

Why We Liked It - It is one of those software's that can be used by any kind of artist.

7. Synthogy Ivory II Grand Pianos

Synthogy-Ivory-II-Grand-Pianos

This Virtual Studio Technology from Synthogy features sounds that are the result of groundbreaking technology. You have a new interface and an expansive set of samples for creating new tones. The Sympathetic String Resonance is present on this which is one of the most important and sought after features on pianos.

It explores the more complex sympathetic strings that professionals know the value of. It does not rely on ordinary sine waves and uses a new custom engine. This is definitely the result of years of experience of the engineers at Synthogy who are trying hard to make synthetic pianos sound nearly as sweet as the real pianos. This software is a lot more playable than many others like it so anyone can use it.

Pros

+ Sympathetic String Resonance

+ 18 levels of velocity from each piano

+ High-level playability and fidelity

Why We Liked It - It is the top effort by Synthogy to emulate Ivory Grand pianos. It is made for professional musicians who are serious about reproducing grand pianos and want to create something magical. The improvements on this software are very much clear which justifies the high price tag too.

8. Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Keyboard Collection

Spectrasonics-Keyscape-Virtual-Keyboard-Collection

Based off LA Custom C7 Grand Piano and others like it, this collection of samples is very thorough and complete. Regardless of the genre you play, this will help you create some amazing tunes. Spectrasonics used the highest quality to sample tunes on this and from vintage style to contemporary, you will find all of them in one place.

It can hog your CPU a bit though but the tones you will produce will be make up for it. If you want you can use it with the Omni 2 but that can be a tad bit complex. This one on its own is good enough too as you will have most of the sounds you will need from a piano.

Pros

+ Diverse sounds

+ Samples from many pianos

Why We Liked It - It is one of those things you cannot really go wrong with. Whether you are a beginner producer or a pro, it will work just fine with your musical choices. The big range of choices can let you experiment with your music and produce high-quality tones.

Piano Virtual Studio Technology Buyers Guide

Top Pick

Garritan-Abbey-Studios-Concert-GrandFor our top pick, we have chosen the Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand from Garritan which is no surprise as anyone with the love of piano would choose the samples from this iconic piano. Abbey Road Studios have produced some of the top music of the last century and anything from their studios is bound to sound sweet in our ears. There are three very discrete perspectives that can take your music to the next level. It would not be wrong to say that this is digital piano royalty. For the near perfect piano sound, artists and musicians choose this software.

Why is it so perfect? It may use the iconic grand piano but it has the ability to bring your own creativity into the mix. Musicians know that it is good to have icons but nothing can beat originality in music. You can retain your own unique sound with the magical keys of this virtual piano. It is definitely a good investment and can make any studio as near to Studio One as possible.

Premium Choice

Spectrasonics-OMNI2-Omnisphere-2If you have the budget then Spectrasonics is the way to go. Their VSTs are popular among award winning engineers and make any song a hit. Their Ominsphere 2 is jam packed with amazing features that not only deliver real sounding piano tunes but also give the control in your hand. With so many filters and effects too at hand, you can do so much with this software.

Spectrasonics VSTs are definitely pricey but the number of tunes you gare is unbelievable. For musicians looking to break out of traditional tunes and making something unique, this could be a big helper. This makes it all the more diverse in terms of genres of music it can help you create. From jazz to pop, any tune can be created with the amazing set of piano samples on this software. It is a big improvement in terms of the additional capabilities you have. With over 400 DSP waveforms and 10,000 tunes, what more could one ask for?

Great Value

MakeMusic-MM00225-Garritan-Instant-OrchestraGarritan is a renowned virtual instrument and sound libraries producer and this VST from them in such good price is the main thing anyone looking to recreate orchestral sound will find. The Instant Orchestra lives up to its name as it all about creating near perfect orchestra in moments. The real orchestra which takes weeks to prepare is sampled with perfection to give musicians ease and variety to play with. It also includes ARIA instrument player so all the more great in terms of value.

Most orchestral tunes are captured in this Virtual Studio Technology which can virtually create orchestra like no other software. Orchestra is popular in modern media as we have heard similar tunes in cinema and in pop music. If that is something you want to add to your music, this will be the most economical way to do so.

 

FAQ

What is a piano VST?

A piano virtual studio technology is a software that emulates the sound of the piano. There is absolutely no hardware involved on the part of the piano. However, you just need a MIDI controller with preferably 88 total keys to emulate a real piano to play it. Since it is a software you need a computer to play it on. It can also be hosted inside Ableton, Logic or FL Studio.

It is a virtual piano which is created by recording actual pianos from studios. The engineers behind these softwares record the keys of the piano (all 88 of them). They do this with a microphone and do it several times to get different variations. One key can have variations in sound so to get the most realistic sound they do this over and over again. This is called a sampling piano VST. Some VSTs create the sound of the piano synthetically through digital code which is basically imitating the sounds. This type is dubbed as the modeling type and has a more synthetic character i.e. it does not sound like original piano keys. However, sample VSTs depending on their quality can sound an awful lot like an actual piano.

This software is used by budding artists and professional musicians alike. Since not everyone can afford a piano, this type of virtual instrument provides musicians a way to include piano sounds in their music. And many of them have additional effects and layers to add to the sounds which make it all the more useful in creating tunes.

Does a piano Virtual Studio Technology produce realistic sound?

The whole idea behind virtual studio technology software is to emulate the piano keys and to make it sound just like a piano. In that sense, it does sound like a real piano but that is highly dependent on the VST itself. The VST made by experienced engineers using iconic pianos is perfectly realistic sounding. The reason is that a lot of time and energy goes into recording these samples. Powerful microphones record each of the 88 keys multiple times to record variations because pianos can be very dynamic. One key may not have a uniform sound all the time. This way they try to make it sound just like a real piano.

You cannot expect 100 percent realistic sound but in most cases, the variation is so minute it goes unnoticed by the average listener. However, the scenario with modeling VSTS is very different. They are synthetically produced to imitate piano keys and that is done digitally. So there sound is synthetic to some extent and is not as realistic as some producers would want it to be.

You can find all types of piano sounds on these VSTS and what you would do with a real piano you can do with the VST as well. In fact, they have more features and effects as well to give the sounds a different perspective.

How do you use a piano VST?

Piano VST is a software so you will need a computer to run it on. You will also need a MIDI which can be used to play the piano on the VST. A MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface is a protocol that different electronic instruments use to communicate. This MIDI is your connection between a keyboard and the VST. You can easily find an 88 key keyboard to recreate piano sounds.

MIDI should not be mistaken for creating sound. It simply sends the signal as to which key you pressed to the VST so that it can produce corresponding sound. So the main task is still performed by the VST software.

To use the VST you will need a host program that can host the piano plugin. The professional softwares can do that for you and you will need to connect the MIDI keyboard. You can do that via a USB port as most keyboard now have that option. In case you do not have a host program, you can find a free online one too.

The host can be used to play the Virtual Studio Technology plugins and once everything is set up, you can play the keys on your keyboard and you will hear sound output from the amplifier. The host program can directly record whatever you are playing and save it on the computer. Those VSTs that are equipped with effects can be played with these effects on like the reverb. It is very easy to apply these effects and the interface will depend on the VST at hand. You can also find presets that are very similar to what you are trying to record.

Are virtual sample/libraries better than a digital piano?

Digital pianos and piano VSTs are very different but the end purpose is the same. How they achieve this purpose is also different. Digital pianos have hardware and are standalone instruments in their own right whereas virtual pianos are completely software based.

Each of them has their own pros and cons and it comes down to what is important for you. Digital pianos may not be able to give you the same amount of sound possibilities as would a VST. These softwares have thousands of samples and on top of that add effects and all. The size of these libraries can be in tens of gigabytes. So you can imagine the vast amount of choices you have in terms of sound. Also, VSTs sound very much real at least those sampled by experienced engineers from iconic pianos. The big size of these files means that you have different velocities and longer delays etc.

Digital pianos can give you more of a realistic piano feel in terms of playability. Also, high end digital pianos can be a lot more expensive than a VST and MIDI controller. At the end of the day, it depends on the kind of sound you are trying to achieve. If you like more room for experimentation then perhaps VSTs can provide you with that. Many musicians prefer VSTs over electric keyboards for all these benefits in the studio and beyond. And technology really has improved over the years for both these options so to answer which one is the best is a very tough call. It is always best to study each option thoroughly and compare it with your own musical aspirations.

Is Piano Virtual Studio Technology Good for Beginners?

If you are new to the music world, investing in musical instruments and software should be properly researched. In this question, we will highlight some points that can make your decision a lot easier.

If you are still learning the tricks, investing in a piano VST can give you a great boost. VSTs can help the young and budding musicians in expanding their reach, however, having said that, we would like to mention that polishing your skills with DAW is also important as both often work together. There is one thing that you should always have in mind - when you're just starting, thing like which synth is going to complement your style, etc might complicate things a little. Our advice here would be to stay consistent and try to learn the equipment and software in use. Try focusing on creating and learning magic rather than waiting for it to happen automatically.

How hard it is to master Piano VST

As they say, good things don't come easy. Piano VST can do wonders to your music but it can't just be done in a day. You need to practice and practice hard to create good music out of it. We would advise our readers to visit the local music store and hang around with people who already know what you are trying to learn. Expert advises always work. Other than that, the Internet is a powerful resource too. You can join groups and forums and have your questions answered.

Can I Learn How to Play Actual Piano with Piano VST?

It would entirely depend upon your level of interest and dedication. The simple answer is "yes and no". "Yes" because a piano VST will give you the general know-how of the science behind the piano keys. "No" because generating electronic piano tones is entirely different than playing it manually. If you have never played piano before but have the command on VST you might find it difficult to handle the real piano on the first go but you are surely to get familiar with it in no time.

Piano VST can be a great addition to any studio and choosing the greatest guarantees that your music is top notch. There are many great software's available to choose from but one may offer something better than the other or something you want. With technological advancement, these VSTs can produce great piano tunes that sound just like a real piano. If you know everything about this software, it will become very easy for you to find the right thing.

Digital Piano VS. Piano VST

If you do not have a piano and looking for a synthetic solution, there are two routes you can take. There are two digital ways to reproduce piano sound: digital piano and piano Virtual Studio Technology which we will be discussing here in detail. Digital piano has weighted 88 keys and emulates a piano. It can also have speakers and headphone jack. The sound is produced digitally and it is a self-contained instrument so to speak. A piano VST, on the other hand, is a software that emulates the piano. You just need a MIDI keyboard to connect to the system and play the piano on the software. You can say that it is through and through digital.

Types of Piano VST

There are just two main types of Piano VST: sample and modeling. The sample piano VST is the most popular and most commonly used virtual piano. As the name suggests the piano tones are recorded or sample from an actual piano. The way they do this is that a sound engineer takes a microphone and records the individual 88 keys. Each is recorded several times to get the top sound. Piano key tunes can be difficult to emulate because they are affected by the dynamics of the play. The variations make it easier to capture the real sound of the key and make it as close to the actual sound.

The second type which is the modeling kind has tones coded digitally through algorithms that sound similar to the piano. This is similar to a synth if you will and differs in quality from a sample piano VST. These too are popular among musicians but most genres of music may not sound that great with these as they require authentic piano sound as if it came from an actual piano.

Sample Vs. Modeling

The benefit of the sample piano Virtual Studio Technology is clear that it is more real sounding and the music you will produce with it will sound more sweet and warm. And the pianos used to record these samples are nothing less than legendary. This is a no brainer as anyone would want to replicate the absolute top quality audio, so the creators record samples from the likes of Steinway and Fazioli. They are recorded from both grand and upright pianos so you have ample choice. The downside is that they can take up a lot of space on your hard drive and also at times hog down your CPU. Also, if the samples are recorded from one kind you can only use them.

With modeling, you do not have to worry about space or speed. Also, it allows a lot more customization on your part. And of course, it does not require a software sampler to run. The disadvantage is that the sound is not as real as that on a sample VST. That depending on your taste and style can be a big drawback. You can never really replicate the sound of piano keys 100 percent.

You should understand that each one of these may suit some musical styles and genres so the decision-making criteria should be based on how each of them would make your final music sound. For jazz, blues, and rock, the obvious choice is sample type because it as close to reality as possible.

Prices

These softwares depending on the company and the type of pianos sampled can vary in pricing. You will find some free softwares too online but those are modeled and are very poor in quality. For professional use, you should obviously go for the highest quality VST from companies like Synthogy and Garritan. You can find decent software in $100. However, some can go up to $500 too especially those that are a sample from iconic pianos from famous studios and artists.

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