Before we take a good look at some of the Best Piano VST products on the market, let’s run through exactly what we mean by the term.
A VST or Virtual Studio Technology is a software interface that allows piano, synthesizer and other effects to be used in DAW’s. They simulate real instruments in a software environment. Piano simulation is possibly the most common of these but also probably one of the most important.
We’ve gathered together the 8 best piano VST currently on the market in this review and will give you full details of each, as well as outlining their pros and cons. We’ll then announce, what in our opinion, is the best piano VST available.
- Top 8 Best Piano VST Products In 2023 Reviews
- 1 Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
- 2 Synthogy Ivory II Italian Grand Virtual Instrument
- 3 Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand
- 4 Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Keyboard Collection
- 5 Synthogy Ivory II Grand Piano
- 6 Ilio Synthogy Ivory II Upright Pianos
- 7 Garritan Instant Orchestra
- 8 Acoustica Pianissimo Virtual Grand Piano
- So Which VST Is Going To Give Your Music A Big Lift...
- So What Should You Be Looking For?
- So What Is It You Want From A VST?
- So, What Is The Best Piano VST...
Top 8 Best Piano VST Products In 2023 Reviews
1 Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics is one of the top pieces of virtual synthesizer software. It used widely by composers and producers because of its quality and the power it possesses in its many functions. It’s an upgrade from the original Omnisphere package.
It can operate as either stand-alone software for live shows or as a direct download to your DAW. Included with the software are over 12,000 patches, and the sound library is extensive. A great facility is that you can also put your own samples into Omnisphere 2.
This is no toy. The options within this VST are limitless but are also at times complicated to work with, It is safe to say it will do everything. You can take the onboard sounds or your own samples and turn them inside out sound wise. Each patch can have 10 oscillators and its own wavetable. It can become very complex.
The visual interface is encompassing but is scaled to a size that will comfortably fit into your display.
To refer to every option possible in this VST would take a reference library. And if the options were rack mounted you’d need a big room. It is quite simply all-encompassing. Of course, this level of software does not come cheap, but if it’s within your price budget, it will be hard to find better.
One issue you will need to consider before purchase is to ensure you have a system that will take the weight of the RAM required to run this software properly. It is large and will take quite a bit of power.
- Recognized as an industry standard.
- Extensive sound library.
- Endless possibilities for sound creation.
- An expensive package.
- Requires a lot of RAM.
2 Synthogy Ivory II Italian Grand Virtual Instrument
It is said, quite rightly, that no piece of software will ever reproduce the ‘real’ sound of a concert grand piano. At this point in time, they are of course right. But this beautiful software comes very close. Very close indeed.
Synthogy have been very brave in trying to create the sound of the Italian concert grand piano, which is a very sought after piano and an extremely expensive instrument. The software utilizes new technology in its Ivory II piano engine which goes a long way to capturing the unique sound of this piano.
At the forefront of the sound design is what they call Sympathetic String resonance which goes further than other packages to create the ‘feel’ of the instrument. It has excellent dynamics, and with its soft pedal, the player can translate their own creative expression into reality. This might be the closest you can get to a grand piano without actually having one.
Classical in theory, design, and application it might be, but this software moves seamlessly into jazz and even pop environments and still sounds superb, There is a resonance to the sound and clarity especially among the high notes, that at times is stunning.
On board, there are enough effects to tweak the sound to exactly how you want it, but you won’t need much.
There are several piano sounds to choose from and a piano string combination that works beautifully. There are some options included to vary the ambiance of the room to achieve the effect you desire.
If you are serious about your piano sounds, then this VTS will give you what you need and at a reasonable price.
- Stunning classical piano sound.
- Options for tone and room ambiance.
- Realistic cost price.
- Software download will take some time.
3 Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand
In Studio 1 at Abbey Road studios in London, famous the world over was the Yamaha Concert Grand piano. It was from the sound created in this iconic venue that engineers set about re-creating the sound for use as a virtual piano. Everything had to be right, even the ambiance of this famous room was made a part of the finished article now known as the Garritan Abbey Road Studios Concert Grand.
It could be said that this is on another level to other VST pianos. The presence of the sound and the general dynamics created are wonderful to the ear, and the soft pedal allows a sympathy for playing that is rarely found. It’s simply a piece of crafted excellence.
It has an extensive library, and you are able to adjust the sounds of the piano, the reverb, and ambiance working beautifully to create the sound you require. It is a huge file, over 120gb to be precise and it will take a while to download.
With something so good as this comes certain issues you will need to consider. You will need the best equipment to support the sound it creates, right down to the headphones you are using. Using inferior products will not allow the full richness of the sounds to be produced, and therefore you will certainly not get the best out of it.
As a piano VST, it is quite simply superb, recreating the sounds in the ambiance of one of the great studios and allowing you to easily work with that sound.
- Brilliant sounding piano.
- Ambiance and reverb controls add beautifully to the sound.
- Abbey Road studio 1 at your fingertips.
- Supporting equipment needs to be of some quality.
- Large download file.
4 Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Keyboard Collection
The Spectrasonics name for this piece of software is an accurate description. It is a collection of some of the most iconic keyboard sounds ever used.
To name a few, it includes a Grand Piano, Upright Piano, classic Fender Rhodes, classic Electric Piano, Wurlitzer, Clavinet C, Electric Harpsichord and so many more. It reads like a history of the great piano sounds and has then created them.
Incredible attention to detail in sound production and ensuring the sounds represent the instruments has taken the reproduction of these instruments to another level.
However, it goes a lot further than just sound reproduction and allows the further development of the sound. Each patch has a set of controls and special effects processing that encourages experimentation. Not only then, do you have the original sound, but you also have the opportunity to then change that basic sound to fit your music exactly.
It is with the grand piano sound though that Keyscape has excelled, producing an instrument that is warm and lush and sounds so much like the real thing. Effects allow you to tailor that sound to make it fit exactly the style, venue and ambiance you wish.
Let us not ignore the other possibilities though. The Fender Rhodes is excellent as is the Wurlitzer and Clavinet sound just to mention a few.
It is patently obvious that the people responsible for the production of the Keyscape Virtual Keyboard Collection have left nothing to chance and no stone unturned in their efforts to find perfection in the reproduction of some of the worlds greatest keyboard instruments.
Buying a Piano VST is one thing, but if you want more than that, then Keyscape is worth a good long look. It is outstanding by any consideration.
- Outstanding piano sounds.
- Multiple keyboard instruments all with excellent sound reproduction.
- Effects to enhance and fit your own style.
- Will require good sound equipment to enjoy the benefits fully.
- The large file takes up a lot of RAM.
5 Synthogy Ivory II Grand Piano
Synthology have produced in the Ivory II the next generation of Piano VST’s. They include a new graphics interface and piano samples that give the user more expressive detail courtesy of the engine of the new system that powers the product.
It provides users with a whole new range of features not previously available. Some are subtle in their delivery, but the key issue is that the original great sounds of the pianos have not been sacrificed.
The sounds of the Steinway, Yamaha C7 and the Bosendorfer with their classic tones and sounds are still at the forefront of the options available. All are faithfully reproduced. Taking the sounds of these iconic instruments a stage further is a set of effects that can add further color to your sound.
As with all products that reproduce sounds to a higher quality, as this software does, you will need to consider your own systems. This will require a good amp and speakers to faithfully reproduce what it is capable of producing.
For implementation and the running of the application, you will need an ILok dongle.
This is a quality VST and is worth considering for your music production, and it will take your recordings to a new level. It will though, require a large amount of disk space and be prepared for a lengthy download. A small price to pay for the ability to produce great piano sounds, and that is what this package does so well.
- Great piano sounds.
- Effects allow tweaking to suit your personal taste.
- Some may consider iLok usage negative.
- Requires a lot of storage space.
6 Ilio Synthogy Ivory II Upright Pianos
A lot of time and effort is put in by developers to create the perfect concert grand piano sound, sometimes, the good old fashioned upright piano is ignored. Synthology have provided with this package four excellent uprights, including a honky tonk.
All of the four have multiple velocity layers creating thick, warm, authentic sounds with half-dealing and even pedal noise.
The four upright pianos featured are the Yamaha U5 the top of the range in upright pianos by Yamaha and widely accepted as the best produced modern upright, and the US made Hume upright, perfect for jazz and blues.
Also included is a barroom Honky Tonk, a simulation of an early 1900’s Packard piano and an original sounding tack piano again from the early 1900s.
The tack is especially interesting. Inserted into the hammer felts are metal tacks as per the originals. The piano is not tuned exactly, and therefore maintains its authentic feel. This makes it ideal for traditional blues and early roots music but is also an asset to some modern music.
The package contains an extensive library which includes special effects allowing the user to play with the sounds to create precisely what they are looking for and is driven by the Ivory 11 piano engine.
This will give you a variety of piano sounds that are not available elsewhere so if your looking for something different, this is well worth considering.
- A great range of upright pianos.
- Authentic sounds.
- Special effects provided.
- Not a cheap product
- Might be considered of limited usage.
7 Garritan Instant Orchestra
There are many packages purporting to provide quality string and orchestra but few as good as this, It is in effect an Instant orchestra.
Included is everything you would expect to find but it is the sound reproductive quality that is quite amazing. Powerful brass, warm and emotive strings, choirs, harps, woodwind, all are creatively produced to allow you to create great music. This package offers excellent cinematic possibilities.
The ‘sister’ product to this by Garritan, the ‘Personal Orchestra,’ concentrates on producing essentially solo individual instruments but this package includes groups of instruments and combinations of the same instrument to give that real orchestral sound.
Groups of instruments combine to lay down chord structures which are full and rich and allow you to create. It is easy to use and includes libraries of unusual sound textures as well as the basic effects. One of the beauties of this system is that it presumes no advance knowledge of orchestrating music.
Combinations of instruments are quickly and simply interchangeable allowing you to hear different parts played by different instruments to see what works best. Effects are on hand to provide the opportunity to adjust tones and the feel. Even the ambiance of the room can be adjusted to create the perfect environment for either a full orchestra or a small string ensemble.
This is a quality product for producing authentic orchestral sounds for those who will find benefit from having been able to create cinematic music.
- Great sounds for all instruments.
- Options for the use of multiple instrument groupings.
- Special effects to enhance the sound.
- Large memory required
8 Acoustica Pianissimo Virtual Grand Piano
This is a Steinway grand piano VST. It has a warm and realistic sound that captures the warm tone of the Steinway grand. The realism of the sound is quite stunning with adjustable sound levels for damper the pedal.
The sound is highlighted by a studio reverb effect which will allow the creation of ambiance to suit the mood of the music. It has a variety of options to enable the user to create a unique sound including chorus and even has a feature to adjust the height of the piano lid.
It can be used in live performances which is an asset and is extremely easy to use. Pianissimo includes a MIDI recorder to allow transfer of files to MP3 quickly and easily.
In considering the product, it is a significant plus to take account of the price. It does provide a great Steinway sound. Has enough effects onboard to allow plenty of adjustments to that sound and to create the correct ambiance. You might expect a reasonably high price tag but no. This VST is very competitively priced considering its performance and is certainly worth considering
Maybe it doesn’t have the functional size of some of its competitors, nor does it have a vast library of sounds, but if you are simply looking for an excellent Piano VST, then this is indeed an option to consider.
- Good value for money.
- Rich, warm Steinway sounds.
- Easy to use.
- Has limitations in terms of library size and some effects.
So Which VST Is Going To Give Your Music A Big Lift...
Today’s modern technological advances in music sound production have been beyond what might have been thought of as possible even 30 years ago. But now you can have some of the finest instruments in the world in your own home.
This is not entirely accurate of course, because it is still not possible to recreate the exact sound of a grand piano, but it’s now getting very close.
Our review has covered a range of instruments and applications in an attempt to help you decide what might be best for you.
The sounds they produce are way above the normal piano sounds you get bundled with DAW’s, etc., but if you’re serious about your piano sound, then the options are available.
It really is a question of choosing what suits you and your music. Each piano, and therefore, each VST, has its own characteristics and some appeal to some and some to others. It’s a matter of personal choice.
We have included in our review the Garritan Instant Orchestra system as quite often Piano VST users require full orchestra as well to create cinematic music. We have tried to provide a range of prices from the super expensive, but excellent Omnisphere, to the Acoustica Pianissimo, for those who might be on a budget.
The best though will come at a price, and we have tried to show what each provides for what you spend.
Some have vast libraries of sounds and effects allowing you to really search out new and expansive sounds. These often come with a requirement for a large computer memory requirement which must be considered when purchasing.
Some are easy to use, the larger more complex systems not so. Be prepared to spend time working your way through the ‘how to’ stages.
An interesting inclusion has been the Upright Piano option, an area often overlooked by those who see only the big grand pianos, but a style of sound which still plays a part in today’s recorded work.
Of course, if you are talking about the reproduction of iconic sounds from the previous era’s, then the Fender Rhodes needs to be included and considered for your choice.
So What Should You Be Looking For?
The best Piano VST’s use samples from the very finest instruments, which are often layered countless times. This gives a full richness of sound and also come with libraries of options and effects. Exactly which instrument is best for you is a personal thing, but that is your choice. The ambiance is an important asset to the sound. So that you can create the feel of the music in either a large hall or a more intimate environment.
They also come with an added facility like pedal and hammer variations that create a more realistic sound. What other effects will you use? The technology that designs modern VST will give you endless options.
So What Is It You Want From A VST?
Do you just want a big Grand Piano or do you want to include other great sounds like the Rhodes or the Wurlitzer? Maybe an upright piano is going to suit better. How much do you want to pay?
We have tried to give a little help in all areas. Happy searching for the best Piano VST for you.
So, What Is The Best Piano VST...
We should start off by mentioning exactly what we would use the VST for. For us, that would be the sound of the Grand Piano. It, therefore, comes down to a choice between those packages that offer the best Grand Piano sound. As well as one with enough of a library to construct your own sound.
We would also recognize that the best performing options do not come cheap.
Therefore, for us, the choice would be the…
Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand
A spectacular sound, reasonably priced, with great effects. And who wouldn’t want the Studio 1 sound from Abbey Road in their system? An excellent choice!