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RICHARD HUTCHINS

Decent Plug Ins for a good piano sound

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Hi, as a novice I am using Cakewalks piano plugin for MIDI, and its free so I'm not complaining but it doesnt sound very realistic. Are there any better ones out there? If so how much or are they free?

 

Rich

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My go to piano has been Addictive Keys. The demo version is free with the only limitation is a few octaves are silences. For most pop music you won't miss them. 

Do you have Addictive drums? If so you can download the demo from the XLN installer. If you don't just go to the XLN site and set up an account, download the installer and try the demos. I think there's even a good basic drum kit there. 

If you purchase any Focusrite interfaces they include a free ticket to any of the ADKeys add ons. A lot of folks never follow through with the free offering you get. 

My other piano I use came with Sonar a long time ago is called True Pianos. I use that when I can't use ADkeys.  

There's a few free Shareware type vst pianos kicking around and I think I've tried them all. They don't sound any better than tts-1 to me. 

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There are mainly two types of piano plug-ins; those that are sampled and those that are modelled. Sampled instruments are based on actual recordings of physical instruments, while modelled instruments are based on computer algorithms emulating the sound of physical pianos. There are also some hybrids of which the True Pianos previously bundled with some versions of SONAR is one. Of the pianos mentioned above, XLN Audio's Addictive Keys is a sample based instrument while Pianoteq makes modelled ones.

Each kind of technique has its loyal followers. May I suggest that you try to decide for yourself what pianos you prefer before you pick out your Big Credit Card. Free pianos do exist but are few and far between. Also, the quality may vary. In addition some of them require the full Kontakt plug-in from Native Instruments, which in itself is quite expensive.

There are plenty of demos. Some of them are quite usable but often come with a limited number of octaves and/or fewer microphone perspectives. The 49 key demo from XLN Audio that John mentions above I think is very good. It's free and there is no time limit so you can use it as long as you wish.

Should you look for a full 88 key version and are on a tight budget, there is a grand piano called Mini Grand from AIR Music Technology which often can be found for $10 or thereabout. It’s actually currently available for €10.27 at Plugin Boutique. It’s not on level with more expensive grand pianos, but as always you get what you pay for. However, it does require iLok for copy protection.

Edited by Canopus

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The Air mini grand I actually have deleted from my system as it was causing problems.  I don't remember exactly what they were but it was something like the volume would go full blast .. Anyhow It might have seen an update but it was not that great anyhow. 

OK if you have AD then it only takes a minute to download the demo of AD keys. Just run the XLN installer. 

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Sonivox Eighty-Eight 2 can be found pretty cheap. It is sample based and depending on how many layers of velocity you load, can be cpu hungry but bang for the buck, can't be beat! It will need the ILok software licenser but that is better than a hardware ILok.

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Check out acousticsamples, I use their C7 Grand on pretty much everything. Right now they have a 30% off sale. 

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@njm255 That's defiantly the best VST piano I've listened to. I want it!  All of their stuff seems pretty high quality. To bad I blew all my studio money on that dang Motu. 

Edited by John Vere

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I like the pianos that come with Kontact. I was tipped by our Deals forum about a free piano from Melda called Monastery Grand. This impressed me right off the bat. Its a sampled piano of over 3.1 GB size.

I am very pleased with its sound.  I already have most of the pianos mentioned in this thread.  All of them are very good. This one is very nice, though.  

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16 hours ago, John Vere said:

The Air mini grand I actually have deleted from my system as it was causing problems.  I don't remember exactly what they were but it was something like the volume would go full blast .. Anyhow It might have seen an update but it was not that great anyhow. 

OK if you have AD then it only takes a minute to download the demo of AD keys. Just run the XLN installer. 

This used to be my go-to piano - can't say I've had any issues with it myself in normal use. The only downside is it won't work when running CbB through a debugger (which is a pain for development), so I tend to avoid it nowadays only for that reason.

AD Addictive Keys sounds great - it goes on offer for free every now & then too.

If you've got a soundfont player, an sfz player or the full version of Kontakt you could try my own sampled piano:

For SFZ/SoundFont set the release time to around 0.5 - 0.6 seconds.

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You'll get as many recommendations as there are users, because everybody has their favorite go-to piano. Also, the piano is far and away the most-sampled instrument out there. That's good, because it means there are many options, ranging in price from free to $400+. There are a surprising number of good ones in the FREE category, but whether they're good enough depends on what you're after.

Richard, you didn't say in your post whether or not you're a piano player. For some of us, the piano is our main instrument. For others, it's just one more element to throw into a mix. If you record solo piano pieces, or piano with orchestral backing, then you'll want a piano VI that sounds great on its own. I'm assuming that's where you're coming from.

Which then begs the question: what does a piano sound like? A concert grand sounds different from an upright, a Yamaha sounds different from a Steinway. A serious "piano player" will likely have multiple virtual instruments to cover all the bases. Personally, I have at least 20 piano solutions here, and that's not unusual. My default go-to is a rather expensive one called Keyscape from Spectrasonics, but I'll often switch it up depending on the song and style. Some of my favorites were very inexpensive, although they typically require full Kontakt to use them. 

I'd start with YouTube. There are a number of videos there that compare virtual pianos. I know the thread asked for specific recommendations, but do the search as it will probably uncover something that fits your needs perfectly. Maybe even something we don't know about yet.

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"Maybe even something we don't know about yet."

 

Oh great, another piano!🤕

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