The piano is a classic instrument that appeared in almost every genre of music. However, not all piano virtual studio technology (VST) plugins provide realistic and expressive sound that can enhance your mixes. Thankfully, there are many great options available today that cover the diverse range of piano sounds. In this article, we will explore the top piano VST for authentic sound of any budget. So, let’s dive in!
Soniccouture’s Hammersmith Pro is a hidden gem for those in need of an authentic concert sound. Its 21 velocity layers per note were recorded with and without the sustain pedal, resulting in a true-to-life response. Additionally, the choice and placement of microphones used play a crucial role in the quality of the piano’s tone. Hammersmith Pro provides 6 different mic setups, including classic options such as Neumann or Schoeps stereo pairs. As well as unique alternatives like a binaural head or a single mic in the sound hole à la The Beatles.
This is truly the right piano VST for authentic sound. The piano has been a popular instrument to sample for many years. Numerous projects have aimed to capture the realism and expression of the concert grand since the early days of VSTs. However, some of these piano VSTs can be expensive and focus on meeting the meticulous standards of classical musicians. Additionally, in other genres of music, the traditional concert piano can sound clinical and austere.
3. NI Unacorda
The sound of the piano has continued to evolve despite the instrument’s seemingly unchanging design for centuries. One instance of this is the ethereal soft piano that evokes emotions in melancholic film soundtracks. NI’s Unacorda offers a distinct piano sound created by David Klavins, a master piano builder. The Unacorda is a unique instrument with a single string per note and was developed in partnership with composer Nils Frahm. This is really worth a try.
Spectrasonics, the creator of the highly recommended Omnisphere plugin, also offers the well-regarded Keyscape plugin for those seeking more conventional keyboard sounds. Alongside vintage electric pianos, harpsichords, and toy pianos, Keyscape provides a range of exceptional traditional piano textures, including dusty old uprights, tack pianos, and concert-quality grands.
Speaking of creating soft and haunting piano tones, the classic way to achieve this is by including more felt to the hammer mechanism. This is the approach used in Spitfire’s Soft Piano, which helped establish their LABS platform and inspired full albums of expressive piano music. It remains one of the most evocative sampled pianos available and the best part is, it’s available for free!
UVI is a well-known brand in the field of lifelike instrument sampling. Their Model D Grand plugin is a tribute to one of the most iconic pianos in history. The plugin features detailed sampling, advanced scripting, and built-in effects, making it an excellent option for those seeking a genuine and contemporary grand piano sound.
The Vienna Symphonic Library has long been a go-to for film and TV composers seeking realistic orchestral instrument samples. The library’s impressive string and horn sounds are matched by its highly regarded Imperial concert grand. If you’re seeking for the piano sound of the modern virtuosos, Vienna Imperial should be your choice.