Piano VST Plugins: 28 Best Pianos of 2018

Best Piano VST PluginsLet me take a wild guess…

…you came here to find the best piano VST plugins out there.

Am I right?

There are plenty realistic sounding vst’s out there, but we have selected the most useful.

But don’t get me wrong…

Every piano plugin has it’s pro’s and cons, so choosing the right option is a difficult step.

So beforehand you must know what kind of piano you want to playback in your production to get great results.

Example: A grand, upright or an electric piano like the “Rhodes”.

Of course,

If a plugin sounds great straight out of the box, it could be very versatile in any situation.

Here is our Top List of piano VST’s which deliver the best, hyper-sampled and epic-realistic sound to-date.



NI Alicia Keys

OS: Kontakt 5 | HDD: 6.9 GB Free | Version: Standalone, RTAS, VST, AU

Native Instruments Alicia Keys Piano

Pros & Cons
Product Review

When it comes to sample-based instruments, Native Instruments continues to dominate the VST market.

If you’re looking for a clean-sounding high-end Yamaha piano, NI outdid itself.

NI Alicia Keys

And believe it or not…

This realistic piano plugin is worth every penny.

You don’t need to be a fan of the famous soul singer and pianist.

If you hear Thomas Skarbye’s name (Scarbee Rickenbacker and other NI sample packs for Kontakt), then you know what you’re in for.

Yamaha C3 Neo

They recorded her piano (Yamaha C3 Neo) in her own studio (Oven Studios).

Involving Alicia Keys in the project along with her engineer Ann Mincieli (who’s a fine piano tech in her own right).

The best thing about this amazing piano vst is definitely the convolution reverbs and resonance settings which allow you to play with the environment.

Convolution Reverbs

You get a large hall to a dry room which all sound realistic.

The resonance adds more charm and cherry to the almost-perfect sound of the piano.

Resonance Settings

Note: You are buying Alicia’s preferenced sound and presets.

Pros & Cons
Pros & Cons
  • The ability to tweak the instrument to get a more authentic sound.
  • Hypersampled velocities, ambience and half-pedaling sustains are impressive.
Videos
Videos
Product Signature
Demonstration

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NI The Maverick

OS: Kontakt 5.4+ | HDD: 5.22GB Free | Version: Standalone, RTAS, VST, AU

NI The Maverick Piano

Product Review

Another one of NI’s sample based pianos, this one comes with the all-new Komplete 11 package.

While it may include other 61-key vintage pianos such as The Grandeur and The Gentleman, The Maverick has a different tone.

It may remind you of some soft jazz and ballad piano sounds.

The Maverick

NI has modeled it on a piano model from 1905.

While I’ve found it to have a bit of a “honky” or temperamental sound that doesn’t suit much “naturality”.

It’s terribly perfect for jazz is what I’m saying.

  • Controls include a Tone knob that controls the softness or hardness of the piano.
  • It also includes a lid control in the same module, which controls the open or closed position of the lid (leading to a more honky and powerful sound for any of your pianos.

Meanwhile, Dynamic Range controls the round robin of velocity samples while retaining your initial velocity hit.

Resonances and convolution reverbs include hall, a concert chamber and a room.

Pros & Cons
  • The presets are pretty useful if you don’t have time to mess around.
  • Not usable in every situation because of it’s preditermined sound.
Videos
Tutorial
The Sounds of

Pro Tip:

If you want to make use of Native Instrument’s sample based plugins… You need a good computer for music production and recording. Otherwise… You have to record this piano with significant latency issues. And of course, you want to record it with the lowest possible latency.

 

The Giant

OS: Kontakt 5 | HDD: 3.9 GB Free | Version: Standalone, RTAS, VST, AU

NI The Giant Piano

Product Review

The Giant is marketed as a “larger than life upright piano” with the aim of being versatile.

Unlike the vintage sound of The Maverick and other Komplete 11 Pianos, The Giant has more of a cinematic touch.

The Giant

It could pull off a jazz sound if you need it to, but it is more focused on cymatics.

Note: The two storey piano was supposed to demonstrate the power of material physics and to demonstrate the new dimensions of piano sound.

The original Klavins 370i

The Giant is based off the Klavins 370i. It’s a two-storey piano from 1987 built by David Klavins, which focused on the experimental.

While they focused on the aspect of improving the potential of pianos, NI focused on capturing the experience of Michael Ponti and other piano players who had played there.

Pros & Cons
  • Tailord for cymatic productions providing a unique sound
  • It has the same Tone, Dynamic Range, Resonance and Convolution Reverb controls similar to The Maverick
  • Able to control the overtones for maximum-level tweaking to your sound.
  • It’s not a piano for taking the lead in your compositions.
Videos
In Depth
Library

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NI The Grandeur

OS: Kontakt 5 | HDD: 13.7 GB Free | Version: Standalone, RTAS, VST, AU

NI The Grandeur Piano

Product Review

Included with NI Komplete 11 are The Maverick and The Gentleman, The Grandeur is a piano vst focused on delivering a modern concert grand piano sound.

The dynamics and warmth of the Grandeur is perfect to use within modern classics which will be loved by any soloist.

The Grandeur

The Grandeur is modeled on a concert Steinway D.

Steinway Pianos are well-known for their warm and vibrant sound and is often the preferred instrument of many classical, jazz and session pianists worldwide.

Pros & Cons
  • An versatile piano which is fit enough for any type of piano song
  • Limited number of controls with phasing and overtones might leave you fiddling to find a better sound.
Videos
Tutorial
The Sounds

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The Gentleman

OS: Kontakt 5 | HDD: 9.8 GB Free | Version: Standalone, RTAS, VST, AU

NI The Gentleman Piano

Product Review

Included with Komplete 11, The Gentleman is indeed a gentleman because of its beautiful upright sound.

Why NI is obsessed with sampling 1900s pianos:

Because these pianos are rare and they have an extremely unique sound.

The Gentleman

The Gentleman is an unspecified upright piano from 1908 that survived from its time with all its parts intact.

Comparing the sound vs The Grandeur and The Maverick:

  • The Gentleman has that “ol’ timey” vibe with not-so-great-but-likeable bass tones.
  • As with The Maverick and the others, it has the same controls for the lid, tone and space.

The piano sounds really warm instead of being impersonal and perfect.

The Gentleman Piano

It also has it’s own unique characteristics ranging from holding notes for a dark resonance, to swells which can be heard after releasing notes.

Pros & Cons
  • It has an amazing vintage sound from an old masterpiece.
  • Problems with velocity when playing loud notes, the way to fix this is to turn the tone knob to soft (disappointing).
Videos
Tutorial
The Sounds Of

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NI Scarbee Vintage Keys

OS: Windos 7+ / Mac 10.7+ | HDD: 5.9 GB Free | Version: Standalone, RTAS, VST, AU

NI Scarbee Vintage Keys

Product Review

Thomas Skarbye, responsible for the Scarbee line of sampled instruments (that I admire so much it hurts), has recorded famous electric pianos from the 60s & 70s.

These are referenced in the modified brand names (the norm for most samplers) of Mark I, A-200, Clavinet and Pianet.

Scarbee A-200

All these sampled instruments by Thomas Skarbye deliver vintage tones that may remind you of Pink Floyd and other bands during the era with lush electric piano sounds reminiscent of Rhodes instruments.

Scarbee Pianet

But, unlike the vintage electric piano’s of that era, these digital sampled versions do not detune.

The clavinet sounds as funky as a 60’s song should.

Scarbee Clavinet

Meanwhile, Mark I probably has the best sound suitable for 60s jazz and electronic instruments.

Playing it just reminds me of that era along with their crazy lifestyle and music.

Scarbee MARK I

I have to agree though; they really sound authentic and the non-detuning part is a great plus for me.

Pros & Cons
  • Scarbee A-200: A warm vintage sound which goes into overdrive when played harder.
  • Scarbee MARK I: Chime like bell tones are produced from it’s high frequencies while still sounding mellow when playing soft and bright when played hard.
  • Scarbee CLAVINET & PIANET: 2 in 1 Keyboard giving you one which is bright and vibrating and the other which has a vibraphone style with percussive envelope.
  • NONE!!
Videos
The Instruments

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Modartt Pianoteq6

OS:Windos 7+ / Mac 10.7+| HDD: 50MB | Version: Standalone, AAX, VST, AU

Modart Pianoteq

Product Review

If anything, the Pianoteq 6 from Modartt is simply what sampling technology can do nowadays.

Coupled with a great velocity-sensitive piano:

  • You could virtually take the sound of a grand piano complete with the nuances and dynamics.
  • No worrying about the weight and detuning of a “real piano”.

Modartt Pianoteq 6

Pianoteq 6 still looks similar to Pianoteq5.

As with every Modartt Pianoteq Product, you have the Action and Mallet Bounce controls.

Modeled Pianoteq6

One thing about the Pianoteq6 that stands out compared to other sampled piano vst’s is the accuracy of piano dynamics.

You can hear the octave stretch and even the slight hardness of the piano felt hammers.

But like all sampled pianos, it’s still far from perfect.

Pros & Cons
  • Modart uses their own modeling technology for their plugins giving you a small installation size.
  • Microphone positioning to change room modes & sound pickup.
  • Compatible with Linux through the ARM Architecture.
  • If you want more modeled instruments it can become expensive when not buying the complete bundle

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AcousticsampleS Piano Collection

OS: Windos 7+ / Mac 10.7+ | HDD: 59 MB Free | Version: Standalone, RTAS, VST, AU

AS Piano Collection

Product Review

Gospel Musicians had helped create AcousticsampleS’ acoustic grand piano collection.

The group had hypersampled a Kawai-EX Pro piano and they had worked closely with Lance Herring with the playing.

According to the group, they have recorded the instrument with 3 microphone pairs to add dimension compared to their early work in the AcademicGrand piano.

The EX Pro was designed to give a modern, realistic piano sound in its approach to sampling.

But the OldBlackGrand part of the package focuses on using old-school gear with tube microphones, giving it the warm sound from a really old Pleyel Grand PIano from 1928.

But it doesn’t stop there, the AcademicGrand is also in the package and that’s an old 1963 Steinway D concert grand piano.

The A-Pian is an old French Gaveau piano from the 1960s and last but not least the B-Pian, which is an emulation of an everday slim upright piano in any house.

Pros & Cons
  • A bundle with the right piano for every project
  • Microphone positions to use with the kawai and oldgrand
  • Individual piano’s are much more expensive then the bundle
Videos
AS Kawai Ex Pro
AS OldBlackGrand
AS AcademicGrand

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XLN Audio Addictive Keys

OS: Windos 7+ / Mac 10.7+ | HDD: 1.5 GB Free | Version: Standalone, AAX, VST, AU

XLN Addictive Keys

Product Review

If anything, what I love about Addictive Keys is the noise flavor for your recordings. I love having a warm tape sound to my pianos.

Adding distortions definitely help create a unique experimental sound.

While it can be useful in creating house music, Addictive Keys isn’t just for electronic music.

It has a powerful grand piano sound that, while it may sound flat, these effects I mentioned definitely help bring more dimension and flavour to its sound.

Another thing I like about it is the ambience controls. You can actually have aged piano strings; a feature you have yet to see.

Even Pianoteq5 still doesn’t have these beautiful features but you do get the great mallet simulation.

You have a choice of wide ribbon, ambient, tight studio and mono tube piano sounds, all of which have their own applications in different types of songs.

There’s even an audience microphone, the one closest to the audience, which makes Addictive Keys a very good choice for a realistic sampled piano set.

Pros & Cons
  • Unique sound
  • Professional effects
  • High-quality Producer presets
  • Many mic configurations to choose from
  • Impressive flexible tools to shape the sound
  • Fast loading and simple user interface
  • The sound of the Mark One is disappointing
  • Must be installed while being online
Videos
Overview
Tutorial
Modern Upright
Studio Grand
Mark One
Electric Grand

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Steinberg The Grand 3

OS: Kontakt 5 | HDD: 6.9 GB Free | Version: Standalone, RTAS, VST, AU

The Grand 3

Product Review

Steinberg had just released The Grand 3, which is a premium collection of virtual pianos.

collection of virtual pianos

This suite features three grand piano models:

  1. the Yamaha C7,
  2. the Bosendorfer 280 Imperial and
  3. the classic Steinway D.

They’ve also included the Yamaha CP80 Electric Grand Piano and Nordiska Pianofabriken’s Upright Piano

Now, everyone who had used a sampled piano knows that the tone and sound differs per emulation depending on the room it was recorded along with the VST’s features.

Yamaha CP80

One thing I can say is the Electric Grand Piano additions are definitely welcome; there’s too much grand piano everywhere in the virtual world that no one had taken time to get off a great Electric Grand Piano like the Yamaha CP80.

Steinberg, being resource-conscious, had made sure the RAM consumption on computers aren’t too taxing.

It has a RAMSave feature that allows it to unload samples not being used while tagging the notes and velocities being played.

If you’re playing one song or recording one, this can make a load of difference in your system’s overall performance.

Pros & Cons
  • The midi scratchpad is a huge plus
  • A very good suite worth considering
  • Loading time are very slow
Videos
Overview

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Steinberg Neo Soul Keys

OS: Windos 7+ / Mac 10.7+ | HDD: 700 MB Free | Version: VST, AU

Steinberg Neo Soul Keys

Product Review

As it says, Neo Soul Keys was made for jazz and hip-hop tracks. The electric piano emulation focuses on sampling the original Mark I suitcase piano.

Now I know you may have encountered this piano in several samplers. But none come close to the samples on Steinberg’s iteration.

With velocities, sustains, releases and staccato notes all faithfully recorded, you definitely feel the authenticity of playing it with actual instruments.

As an electric piano, an amp is especially important.

Most emulators get away with just one amp or it being a fixed feature in their sound collection.

But for Steinberg’s Neo Soul Keys, it adds six types of amplifiers.

It also adds plenty of effects to play with to create you realistic sound.

As it comes with an amp, you also get different emulations of condensed and tube piano types.

You even get great microphone axis positioning as you would with guitar recording.

Pretty awesome!

  • Versitile in configuring sound to your liking with the effects
  • Now offerd and updated by gospelmusic giving you even more control and collection of piano’s

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Synthogy Ivory II Grand Pianos

OS: Windos 7+ / Mac 10.7+ | HDD: 22 GB Free | Version: Standalone, VST, AU

Ivory Grand

Product Review

It might be old from 2012 but Synthogy‘s Ivory II line is far from being old-sounding when it comes to piano emulations.

Just like Steinberg, Synthogy focused on the old Bosendorfer 290 Grand, Steinway D Concert Grand and Yamaha C7 pianos.

Bosendorfer 290 Grand

But as I continue to listen to it while playing piano (as much as I can), it sounds more organic, more “warm” than the sound delivered by Steinberg’s iteration.

It also could just be me, but it has that natural feel to it.

Other iterations might have better features but if I need a really realistic piano sound with the right “organic” balls, this is the suite I really need.

The sound is also pretty “malleable” to a point it’s easy to include it in any mix.

It also has half-pedalling, a good sustain resonance and stereo width, perspective, velocity response and mechanical key noises (similar to Pianoteq5’s mallet bounce) that deliver the most realistic approach to piano sound, as far as I can listen to it.

Videos
Walkthrough
The Sounds

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Imperfect Samples Steinway Grand

OS: Kontakt 5 | HDD: 6.9 GB Free | Version: Standalone, RTAS, VST, AU

Imperfect Samples Steinway Grand

Product Review

Half-pedalling, four mic positions (ribbon, condenser, close microphones, etc), the Steinway D Grand from Imperfect Samples is actually pretty much perfect to my ear.

With a plethora of piano effects to choose from, you could go with traditional concert pianos up to funk and even alternative rock piano riffs.

Yes, the Steinway D Grand Piano’s sound is applicable to such areas.

With the four-perspective sampled recording, I can definitely say you don’t need much tweaking with this one.

Except that, the piano does sound quite modern, given its sympathetic sampling technique.

If you hate Kontakt though, you might miss out on this grand piano.

One perk I like: overall control with the sympathetic resonance.

Half-pedalling is definitely a must.

Back to your soloist, this is a piano sampler that he’ll definitely, definitely love.

However, he might be limited just to the sound of the Steinway Grand.

But for me, this works, especially if you want a very low data footprint.

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Soniccouture Hammersmith

OS: Kontakt 5 | HDD: 19 GB Free | Version: RTAS, VST, AU