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Passion reflected in every detail. We hosted the inspirational Yamaha CFX concert grand piano at Abbey Road Studio One, where award-winning engineers used the world’s best microphones and equipment to create an amazing virtual instrument library. Studios CFX places the user on a banquet in front of the incredible Yamaha CFX concert grand piano, characterized by a wide palette of tonal colors and the ability to create the most subtle, expressive nuances. This beautiful instrument is combined with the stunning acoustics of the legendary One Abbey Road Studios and the best collection of microphones in the world. All aspects of this project – instrument, room, microphones and recording experience – work together to create the finest sampled piano ever recorded.
The CFX grand piano marks an important milestone in Yamaha’s famed 108-year history as a recognized world-class piano maker. In 1991, Yamaha began its most ambitious piano project: to create a new generation grand piano for concerts, conservatories and studio performances. The result was the CFX Concert Grand Piano, which embodies the concept of beauty and power. The rich palette of tonal colors and musical voices that the piano can reproduce characterizes its beauty. Power comes from the unprecedented tonal projection of the CFX.
Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Lite® We placed the awe-inspiring Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano in Abbey Road Studio One, where award-winning engineers used the world’s greatest microphones and equipment to create a stunning virtual instrument library. The resulting product, the CFX Concert Grand, set new standards for virtual pianos. A truly remarkable virtual piano The Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand places the user on the bench before the Yamaha CFX, an incredible concert grand piano characterized by a wide palette of tonal colors and the ability to create the most subtle, expressive nuances.
To give the piano a more plucked sound and turn the Timbre Effect knob below 50%. For a less percussive sound. This can be used to emulate the technique George Martin utilized on “In My Life.” به نسخه GarritanCFXConcertGrand بروز رسانی شد. دانلود وی اس تی Garritan CFX Concert Grand با حجم 15. Torrent Garritan Abbey Road Studios Cfx Concert Grand Forks Garritan Cfx Concert Grand Crack The Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand places the user on the bench before the Yamaha CFX, an incredible concert grand piano characterized by a wide palette of tonal colors and the ability to create the most subtle, expressive nuances.
Virtual instruments are now more popular than ever, so we are checking out the best piano VST plugins available in 2020.
Many piano VST’s are thought to sound more realistic than the piano engines found in keyboard workstations, etc. When you consider the processing power of high-quality PC’s and Mac’s, it’s no surprise that some plugins can push the boundaries further than a physical instrument. In this article, we will list and review our top piano plugins.
Here are the best piano VST plugins 2020:
1. Spectrasonics Keyscape
The ultimate piano VST plugin
Spectrasonics are giants of the virtual instrument world; their Omnisphere synth changed the way people think about VST’s. Now, they Keyscape Collector Keyboards VST is the benchmark for virtual pianos.
Keyscape is a collection of 36 stunning keyboard instruments, ranging from a beautiful grand piano to a more obscure harmochord. In between the conventional and the obscure, there are gorgeous Rhodes, Wurlitzer’s, Clavinet’s, and much more. Even more impressive than the instrument lineup is the meticulous attention to detail in finding, restoring, and recording these rare instruments.
Each instrument has lots of variations, for example, the flagship Yamaha C7 Grand Piano has rock, classical, cinematic, amongst others. Each variation suits different styles of playing or musical genres.
The user interface is well laid out and easy to use. There are two windows on the left; the upper window is where you choose your instrument, and the lower window is where you select your style variation. Once you have selected a keyboard, the main window will show a nice image of it, underneath which you will find a range of relative controls, like reverb, performance noise, EQ, etc.
To get the most out of your performance, Keyscape has a broad range of velocity curve settings that are optimized for the most popular controller keyboards.
|Image credit: SpectrasonicsCheck Sweetwater|
In our book, Keyscape Collector Keyboards is the best piano VST plugin; it’s that simple. The fact that it was around 10 years in the making show the monumental amount of work that went into putting it together.
As a virtual grand piano, Keyscape’s LA Custom C7 is king. The beautiful C7 is incredibly articulate and crisp, with a low-end that almost makes you feel the weight under the keys. No other virtual piano has so much depth of character; no other VST is so responsive to your playing.
At this level, sounding nice isn’t enough; it’s about small details, and Spectrasonics do that better than anyone. All 36 keyboard instruments are of the same impeccable quality; that’s why Keyscape is our highest-rated piano VST plugin. Try it with a top-quality keyboard controller, and it will blow you away.
2. Garritan CFX Concert Grand
The sound of Abbey Road Studios
When you think about Yamaha grand pianos, the 9-foot CFX concert grand is as good as it gets. Now, place that CFX concert grand in Abbey Road Studio One, and you have a match made in heaven. That is precisely what Garritan did.
The Yamaha CFX concert grand piano is world-renowned for its broad palette of tonal color. The acoustics of Abbey Road Studio One was the perfect place to capture all of that detail. It was done by using the very best microphones in the world in various positions to create lots of presets.
The presets are split into three categories, which are Classic, Contemporary, and Player, each with its unique microphone position. Within each category, there are numerous sub-presets to suit all styles. If we take a closer look, the Classic category is full of presets that range from Bach inspired classical settings to a Bill Evens themed jazz tone. So, it crosses different genres but remains in the classic era of each.
Contemporary provides amore modern mix of presets. It covers everything from dark and edgy soundtracksto Randy Newman style movie magic warmth. Both Classic and Contemporary are allabout the output and how the audience hears the CFX.
The Player category, onthe other hand, is all about the CFX itself. It’s full of presets that captureevery single noise and nuance of the CFX from right there on the bench. Thereare also a few alternate tuning presets that offer something a littledifferent.
Garritan put together an attractive user interface with just the right amount of content. It has enough tweaking options, whether it’s mic positions or mechanical noise, but not so much that it becomes tedious. It’s very playable right from the start.
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Deciding where to place this one on our list was quite tricky. It was always going to be near the top, but splitting this VST and Ivory II by Synthogy was difficult. In the end, we placed Garritan slightly ahead; the sound quality was close, but the lovely user interface won us over.
The Yamaha CFX concert grand is a genuine performers piano; it’s not tied to one genre. Garritan has delightfully captured all of that versatility through the extensive microphone positions. This piano is beautiful from top to bottom, but it’s the midrange that excels most. Play a simple major 7th root voicing anywhere in the mids, and you’ll be hooked.
3. Synthogy Ivory II Studio Grands
The most realistic grand piano emulator
Synthogy has been a leader in virtual piano software for many years, and some people still consider them to be the best. Their Ivory series has never failed to impress with its outstanding realism. This time, we are looking at the Ivory II Studio Grands plugin.
The plugin features two iconic grand pianos that were recorded in iconic studios. The first of the pianos is the Steinway Model B grand piano, one of the most recorded grand pianos in history. It was recorded at the legendary Power Station in New England with absolute precision.
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The second instrument is the Bösendorfer 225 grand piano, which was recorded at the famed Firehouse Recording Studios in California. This specific VST has been used on multiple Grammy Award winning songs.
The thing that stands out most when you get the specs of Ivory II is that it boasts a 112 GB library. To think of the time involved in sampling those pianos to that extent is nothing short of spectacular. Each piano has up to 24 velocity layers and more release and soft pedal samples.
Ivory II was also the launch of an entirely new sound engine from Synthogy, the Ivory 2.5 Piano Engine. Apart from the improved sound, it comes with some new features like Shimmer, which gives more precise control over reverb and decay.
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Synthogy are experts in this field; they have been doing it for a very long time and keep getting better. Ivory II takes two iconic pianos, and they have replicated them digitally with incredible accuracy. When you think about the sheer size of the library and the 24 velocity layers, you can imagine nothing is lost, every nuance of these instruments is at your fingertips.
The Steinway Model B is a stunning classical grand piano, it’s beautifully percussive, too. The Bösenndorfer 225 is the more versatile of the two, great for classical, but exceptional for jazz. Especially that bottom range that Oscar Peterson made famous with his ostinato bass lines.
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The interface lets it down slightly, while it offers a lot of tweaking possibilities, it looks very dated and isn’t as intuitive as it should be. When it comes to sound alone, Ivory II might be the most realistic piano VST available.
4. Native Instruments The Gentleman
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The best upright piano VST plugin
The Gentleman is one ofthe best-rated upright piano VST’s available. It comes from Native Instruments,and it was released at a time when they got into their groove with onefantastic VST after another.
The most significant selling point of The Gentleman (over other upright pianos) is that it was sampled from a vintage 1908 piano. That might not sound overly interesting, but this 1908 is fully intact with all original parts. So, you’d have a hard time finding an upright piano with more character and charm.
The charm of that upright piano was captured in 2300 individual samples and 16 velocity zones. To give an idea of how extensive the sampling process was, even the key release noises were sampled in nine velocity layers.
The Gentleman shines when it comes to it’s tweaking options. The main screen of the interface is nice and clean, with a few reverb, tone, and dynamic options. It’s once you enter the full editing screen that you can control every tiny performance aspect. Everything from key release, hammer noise, to the velocity curve can be adjusted with fantastic precision.
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The Gentleman is one that might get a mixed response from players who want a more modern upright sound. However, we love the character that this instrument brings with it. The piano has been sampled with incredible detail, as we have come to expect with Native Instruments.
The overall sound is warmer than it is bright, but the low-end has that growl that you get from an old upright when it’s pushed hard. If you tweak the sound with the lovely 3-band EQ and abundance of adjustable parameters, you can head towards a brighter, livelier sound.
The downside is that a couple of notes have a slight click when played in a specific velocity range. It’s something you might not notice, but it’s a shame, considering the depth of the recording process. Despite that, The Gentleman is still the best upright piano VST, in our opinion.
5. Native Instruments Noire
One for the sountrack composers
Noire is the latest grand piano VST from Native Instruments. It was developed in collaboration with the German composer Nils Frahm, famous for his contemporary approach to recording piano. Frahm’s handpicked 9-foot grand piano was sampled in Berlins Funkhaus recording complex.
There are two sound settings to choose from, which are pure and felt. Pure is the clean, untouched, grand piano tone. The felt setting, comes from the same grand piano, but it was sampled with a felt moderator between the hammers and the strings. The result is a much more gentle tone with a reduced attack.
Both of the main sound settings can be further tweaked by adjusting the various parameter knobs found at the bottom of the main screen. These include color, dynamic, reverb, tonal shift, and delay. The entire user interface is elegant and represents the instrument very well.
The thing that makes Noire different is the Particles engine, which is very much from the mind of Nils Frahm. What the Particles engine does is generate pulsating harmonic elements based on your playing. These elements can be mechanical sounds, percussive sounds, or pitch-based, and it adds momentum to your playing. It brings together the worlds of classical piano, industrial soundtracks, and modern EDM.
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Noire might be a new piano plugin, but it’s already proving to be a hit with composers and producers. It’s another one that is going to work better for producers rather than performers. The reason we say that is because the Noire’s pure piano tone isn’t as good as Keyscape, Ivory II, etc. However, it is terrific, and the added elements of the felt version and Particles engine give it something different.
The pure piano tone is fantastic for jazz and reflective classical music, not so much percussive playing. It’s when the Particles engine is used that the percussive qualities come out. To sum it up, as a performer piano, it’s very good, for composition and soundtracks, it’s absolute magic.
6. Native Instruments Alicia’s Keys
The singer songwriter’s virtual piano
Alicia’s Keys was one of the first majorly popular piano plugins from Native Instruments. Many people were dubious about the success, wondering if it was down to quality or having a famous name attached to it. Forget that it’s named after Alicia Keys and focus on the fact that it’s modeled on her unique Yamaha C3 Neo grand piano.
Apart from the ridiculously rare grand piano, the other thing Alicia’s Keys has going for it is the fantastic team who worked on it. Led by Thomas Skarbye (Scarbee), the development/recording team is full of Grammy winners and industry leaders. Even Alicia Keys herself was in the studio to record samples, so it’s not one of those products a celebrity puts their name on after the fact.
When it was complete, it had a massive 17 GB of samples with 12 velocity layers per key. In terms of unique samples, it works out at over 3000 samples across the 12 velocity layers – that’s insane!
The detailed sampling process paid off with possibly the cleanest quality virtual piano available at the time. The attention to detail didn’t stop at the playing, Alicia’s Keys still has one of the most natural sustain and release phases of any VST. Even the smallest performance details were captured meticulously, like fingers touching the keys, mechanical noises of key and pedals, string harmonics. The amount of that noise you want in your performance is entirely up to you, and easily tweaked from the interface.
The user interface is straightforward, clearly defined tabs have simple controls for everything from reverb type/amount, to mechanical noise, and mic position. You can even edit the stereo image of the output and hear the piano from the artist’s or audience’s point of view.
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When Alicia’s Keys was released, there was a time when it was the best-selling grand piano VST around. Those days have gone, but it’s still one of the best VSTs, especially for pop or R&B music.
The overall sound is remarkable, although it’s quite a warm sound, and maybe not as articulate in the high-range as it could be. The lows are thick but well defined, not muddy, and the mids are perfect for those lush minor 7/9 chords that Alicia Keys loves so much. If you are looking for a classical piano, this probably isn’t the one, if you are a pop performer, it could be right up your street.
7. Native Instruments The Giant
The most unique piano plugin
The Giant is somethingutterly different from Native Instruments. They sampled it from the KlavinsPiano Model 370i, and if you didn’t already know, it’s the biggest uprightpiano in the world.
The extreme height ofthe piano provides intense dynamics that you won’t hear anywhere else. NativeInstruments wanted to capture those dynamics as naturally as possible, so theysampled it completely untreated.
The Giant comes with two distinct personalities, day and night. Each personality is reflected in the user interface showing a city skyline (day or night) seen from the top of a building.
The day interface hasthree primary control sections, tone, space, and anatomy. The tone section hasa simple soft/hard dial to adjust color and an XXL button that boosts alldynamics when activated. Space deals with reverb, and anatomy controls thedynamic range and mechanical noise. Both the tone and anatomy sections expand,giving you far deeper control of their parameters.
Now for the sinister alter ego, the night interface. The night interface has two distinct control sections, sources, and convolution. Sources deal with more extreme piano sounds, any resonant noise that this monster upright produces when pushed to its limits can be adjusted here. By that logic, the night interface is far darker and over the top than the day model. The convolution section provides a detailed EQ, limiter, and filter. The EQ has a swept middle, meaning it has two mid bands, so it’s very accurate.
The Giant is big, bold, and beautiful.
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The Giant is one of our favorite VST’s period. It’s not in the same league as some of the others when it comes to library size or velocity layers, but it’s so different that we don’t care. Despite being quite an extreme instrument, The Giant is an excellent pop piano when in its day personality. It has a very bright sound, but because the dynamics are so severe, it also has a deep and full low end.
When you switch to the night personality, it doesn’t just get darker, everything becomes more extreme. Night mode is perfect for creating eerie atmospheres and haunting textures for any soundtrack. That is what we would suggest The Giant is best at, it’s less about being a mainstream piano emulator, and more about creating textures as a sound designer.
If you haven’t worked with piano VST plugins before, don’t be put off by stories of MIDI problems and glitches. As long as you are running a system that exceeds the requirements of the plugin, you’ll be fine.
When it comes to sound quality, we can confidently say that many VST’s outperform physical keyboards. But, like choosing any instrument, each VST excels in different areas, so always consider where and how you will be playing it most. Our list includes some of the best-selling and most realistic piano VST’s available, check them out and enjoy!
James is a writer and musician with a passion for audio production. He is a lover of all things tech, especially the latest keyboards, synths, DAW’s, virtual instruments, and effects plugins. Musical interests include jazz, funk, hip hop, blues, and rock.