Top 6 Best Piano VST Plugins for 2020

best piano vst

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Getting the perfect sound is essential for any musician. Those who play the piano will often find that their home is not large enough to accommodate this instrument. Grand pianos can be quite expensive, as well, and they will eventually need to be tuned. They are not the best or most practical option for most.

Therefore, many people have instead decided that they would choose a keyboard or a MIDI controller, which can help to recreate the sound of a grand piano, as well as other sounds. These tend to be smaller and easy to transport, and when you have a quality keyboard, they can provide you with an excellent playing experience. However, you must have the best piano VST (Virtual Studio Technology) for the keyboard or MIDI controller if you hope to have a great sound.

Whether you are looking to replicate the sound of a modern upright, a Steinway model, a grand piano, or other sounds, the VST can be the best solution. It can provide you with the realistic piano sounds that you are striving for in your music. Of course, when you are looking at all of the various options that are available for VST piano sounds, it can get overwhelming.

There are many from which you can choose, including high-end options and low-quality free VST piano sounds. To help make things easier for you on your search for the right piano VST plugin, we’ve narrowed the options. Below, you will find the six best piano VST options on the market today. Also, we will delve deeper into what a piano VST plugin is and how it can help to improve your music.

The Best Piano VST Plugins

Name
Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Keyboard
  • HD Space Requirements: 80GB
  • Minimum Computer Requirements : Windows/Mac, multicore processor, 8GB minimum RAM
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Garritan Abbey Road Studios Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand
  • HD Space Requirements: 122GB
  • Minimum Computer Requirements : Windows/Mac, multicore processor, 4GB minimum RAM
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Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
  • HD Space Requirements: 64GB
  • Minimum Computer Requirements : Windows/Mac, multicore processor, 4GB minimum RAM
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Ilio Ilio Synthogy Ivory Ilio Ilio Synthogy Ivory II Upright Pianos
  • HD Space Requirements: 15GB
  • Minimum Computer Requirements : Windows/Mac, multicore processor, 1.5GB minimum RAM
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XLN Addictive Keys Studio Collection XLN Addictive Keys Studio Collection
  • HD Space Requirements: 4GB
  • Minimum Computer Requirements : Windows/Mac, multicore processor, 2GB minimum RAM
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Synthogy Ivory Synthogy Ivory II Grand Pianos
  • HD Space Requirements: 77GB
  • Minimum Computer Requirements : Windows/Mac, multicore processor, 1.5GB minimum RAM
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Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Keyboard

Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual

Keyscape from Spectrasonics is easily one of the best piano VST options on the market today. The virtual instrument features a massive selection of collector keyboards, and the entire process of making the software took a full decade. The instruments included in the VST were all first carefully restored and then multi-sampled to get the full, beautiful, and rich sounds that this piano VST can offer. The sounds are very expressive and accurate to the instruments that have been sampled, which helps support authenticity while delivering the sounds you need. The attention to detail that went into the recreations of the sounds will be appreciated by anyone who chooses this piano VST.

You will find that there are hundreds of patches based on 36 instrument models within Keyscape, including hybrid sounds. They call these Duos, and they are a combination of two different instruments so that you can create an entirely new and interesting sound. This opens up the musical possibilities exponentially.

Some of the different instruments that are included with this piano VST include an LA Custom C7 Grand Piano, Wing Tack Piano, Dulcitone, Clavichord, Electric Harpsichord, several toy pianos, Rhodes Piano Bass, and the MK-80 Digital Rhodes. There are enough sounds and options to please any musician. There are so many choices that it can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Another one of the benefits is the fact that many of the electric pianos that have been sampled include the sound of the keys due to how they were recorded. This can help to ass some more realism to the music you are making with the piano VST.

The custom controls that are available with all of the patches will allow you to do a substantial amount that goes well beyond what even the original sound offers. With the patches, you will have a lot of control with this versatile tool. The interface of the piano VST is intuitive and relatively simple to use. You won’t have to worry about a hard time getting started.

Those who are searching for a high-quality piano VST will find that this can be one of the best solutions. It will provide you with a wealth of sounds right at your fingertips, so you can get the sounds that you want and need from your MIDI keyboard.

Pros

  • Authentic expression for a great, real sound
  • 36 beautifully sampled keyboards
  • Reconstruction of rare musical instruments
  • Easy and fun to use

Cons

  • The number of options can sometimes lead to creative slowdowns simply because there are so many choices

Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand

Garritan Abbey Road Studios

Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand is a unique and interesting piano VST that can provide you with a legendary sound. It is important to note that this is a dedicated virtual piano sound that focuses on the Yamaha CFX concert grand piano. The recordings for all of the samples were done at the legendary Abbey Road Studio One, which means that the sound you are getting with the piano VST.

Even though there is just a single instrument with this VST, you will find that it provides a nice amount of flexibility and options. The CFX concert grand piano offers a range of options that can be mixed and then equalized in the combinations that you want. The Yamaha grand sounds fantastic, and you will find that overall, there are 132GB of sampled piano sounds.

The technology in the software provides you with a robust number of controls that you can use to shape your music. You can choose a range of different types of virtual rooms for the piano VST, including large halls and natural-sounding rooms. This helps to give the sound more character. You will also find that there is a stereo imager, a saturation knob, and a simple EQ system. You can find a wide range of tuning options, as well as a dynamic range knob and velocity curve. Overall, you will find 30 different presets that you can use.

If you are focusing on finding and getting a certain kind of sound, you will find that this Yamaha Grand virtual piano could be a perfect solution. While it focuses on just a single keyboard, there are still plenty of different things that you can do with the technology, but it does have some limits. Those who are more focused on having more variety and features within their piano VST might find this to be limiting. For those who want an authentic Abbey Road sound for their music, though, this is probably the best virtual piano you will find, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Pros

  • Focuses on just the Yamaha Grand, offering a stellar grand piano sound you will love
  • Provides mic-based sound variations
  • Very responsive
  • Quality, simple interface

Cons

  • While the sound is excellent, there is only a single basic tone, and it doesn’t provide other native instruments like some piano VSTs

Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2

Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2

Omnisphere 2 is easily one of the most powerful VSTs on the market today, and it could provide you with all of the sounds that you need to produce your music. The technology offers expanded hardware synth integration, along with upgrades to the arpeggiator, new patches, and more. Thanks to the hardware synth integration, it will allow these devices to become easy to use, hands-on controllers. The user interface of the VST is intuitive, so whether you are a beginner or you have been playing for a while, it should be easy to get a lot out of this tool.

There are many options within the VST. You will be able to create nearly limitless sounds with the technology. There are more than 14,000 sounds from many types of music production included with the VST, not just piano sounds. However, this is just the beginning of what users can expect when they choose this tool.

There are nearly countless settings and options available, making this a tool that will provide you with many years of use. It is possible to create a wide range of soundscapes with the tool thanks to the wide range of native instruments, along with the synth oscillator, which now has more than 400 DSP waveforms. Omnisphere 2 offers dual filter architecture, a live mode, a stack mode for layering patches, and the ability to import your audio file to use as a source.

One of the other features that many love about the new version of Omnisphere is the browser. While this might not be the thing that most people worry about when they are choosing a piano VST, it’s imperative when you have so many different options. There are so many elements to the software that having a quality browser is essential if you hope to make any headway. Fortunately, the browser has been optimized with better categories, Sound Match, and Sound Lock. These help to make it easier to find what you need and to remember where you found it.

This is a great sounding piano VST, and it offers so many other instruments in the sample library and other options that it can make for an excellent choice for anyone who plays. Produce the music you want with the tools that will make it easier for you. With this software, you will have worlds of music at your fingertips.

Pros

  • Features hardware synth integration for more than 65 popular synthesizers
  • More than 400 DSP waveforms for the synth oscillator
  • A wide range of interesting and unique sounds
  • Audio import is possible

Cons

  • Some of the samples could be better, but they are high-quality for the most part

Ilio Ilio Synthogy Ivory II Upright Pianos

Ilio Ilio Synthogy Ivory

If you are searching for a great piano VST that can provide you with a nice selection of upright pianos for your music, this could be right for you. There are four different upright pianos available with the software, which provide velocity layers, as well as pedal noise enhancements and other features that make it a standout. This is award-winning software, and many professionals swear by the product for the quality sound that it can offer. It makes use of the Ivory II piano DSP engine, which has Harmonic Resonance Modeling, which provides a beautiful and authentic sound. You will find four instruments in this piano VST, each of which has characteristics of their own.

There is the modern upright piano, which is sampled from a Yamaha U5, which is considered one of the best uprights available today. In addition to the modern upright, there is also a vintage upright. Those who are looking for an “old school” piano sound might want to use this option. It is sampled from a 1914 A.M. Hume upright. It provides a great tone and a lot of character. This option will work quite well for those who are playing and producing rock, blues, and vintage jazz, for example.

There is also a Honky Tonk barroom upright sampled from a 1915 Packard upright. Those who want to play or record a honky-tonk style sone will find that this is a great option. Finally, there is the Tack Piano, which is sampled from an old upright from the first part of the 1900s, and that has actual tacks in the hammers. It provides you with an authentic sound that can be used to great effect in a wide range of different types of music.

You will find a host of settings and effect options with the tool. There is an optional synth pad layer, as well as customizable controls for things like the velocity response, timbre, and mechanical key noise. You will find pedal noise enhancements, an extensive library of piano samples, and a unified, simple interface. There are many benefits to the Ivory II, and it could be the right solution for your music production needs.

Pros

  • Samples quality instruments - Yamaha U5, 1914 A.M. Hume, 1915 Packard, and the Tack Piano
  • Pedal noise enhancements
  • All 88 of the keys have been individually sampled up to 16 dynamic levels, ensuring an accurate sound
  • Up to 16 velocity layers

Cons

  • While it does a great job at sampling these four pianos, there are only four different instruments – some might want more variety

XLN Addictive Keys Studio Collection

XLN Addictive Keys Studio Collection

If you’re going to create music that sounds like a Steinway Model D Grand Piano, you will find that there is no better option than XLN Addictive Keys Studio Collection. This piano VST features a Steinway Model D Concert Grand Piano, one of the most popular pianos in the world. The piano was recorded and sampled in a recording studio located at the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, which has helped to provide the samples with a clear tone and just the right amount of reverberation for the perfect acoustic piano ambiance.

The recordings for the piano samples were done using vintage tube and ribbon mics. They were able to record the acoustic piano from various perspectives from right up close to far away, providing a lot of options and character to the samples. You will be able to choose from six different mic perspectives. The sound that they were able to capture and produce helps to ensure that you have precisely the right Steinway model sound you want for your music.

There are three close mic perspectives. For the close (stereo XY), they used a Neumann M269 mic, for the close (stereo wide), they used a Coles 4038, and for the close (mono), they used an RCA 6203. For the mid (stereo wide) perspective, they used a Neumann M250. For the ambient (stereo wide), they recorded with the Neumann M269 again. For the body (mono), they used a Sela T25 mic.

Although this piano VST only features the Steinway, you will find that there are also packs available that you can add to the system later if you would like. These other packs include options like the Fender Rhodes MK I 73. However, the standard Steinway can still provide you with a lot of use, and it will provide that classic resonance and beautiful sound that you have wanted to add to your collection.

Pros

  • Sampled using a quality, authentic Steinway Model D Grand Piano
  • Six mic perspectives
  • Provides a warm tone and a unique sound
  • Easy to use interface

Cons

  • There is only one instrument sampled in this piano VST

Synthogy Ivory II Grand Pianos

Synthogy Ivory

Synthogy was already on the list with their Ivory II Upright Pianos, and they have made it again with their collection of Grand Piano sounds. Three different acoustic pianos were sampled for this software. There is the Bosendorfer 290 Imperial Grand, the Steinway D Concert Grand, and the Yamaha C7 Grand. One of the benefits of the technology is that you can install each of the pianos separately. This way, you do not take up too much space on your hard drive if you only need to have one of the piano samples for your project.

You will find that there is a substantial amount to enjoy when it comes to the Ivory II for grand pianos. There are up to 18 discrete velocity layers that feature sample interpolation technology. This simply means that you will notice that there are perfectly smooth note and velocity transitions. Thanks to the Harmonic Resonance Modeling, it allows for very realistic sympathetic string resonance.

The piano VST plugin also features half-pedaling, sustain resonance DSP, and a range of digital effects. These include chorus and EQ, as well as a range of customizable user controls. You can customize things like the velocity response, tuning tables, timbre shifting, and much more. All of the keys have been sampled in up to 18 dynamic levels, while the Bosendorfer has an extended low octave. You will find real release samples, soft pedal samples, and pedal noise enhancements. Those who have an interest in choosing one of the best grand piano VST plugins will find that this is a fantastic option to consider.

Pros

  • Models three great acoustic pianos including Bosendorfer 290 Imperial Grand, the Steinway D Concert Grand, and the Yamaha C7 Grand
  • Provides you with a great sound with the resonance you want from your VSTs
  • Each of the pianos can be installed separately, which is helpful for those who don’t have a lot of space
  • Easy to use controls, so it won’t be hard to get started

Cons

  • It only offers grand pianos, so it could limit some creative endeavors unless that’s what you are looking to find

What is VST in Music?

As mentioned, VST stands for virtual studio technology. Essentially, it puts a studio in a box, providing you with a range of different native instruments and sounds that you can use in the creation of your music. There are many kinds of VST on the market today, and many of those are aimed at the piano, such as those that are listed above. However, there are more than just piano VST plugins. You can also find native instrument plugins, and with some of the piano VSTs, there are other instruments included.

When it comes to piano VSTs, you need to know that it is a type of software that will emulate the sound of a piano. As you have seen above, the VSTs can replicate many different real-world keyboards used over the years. The VST itself does not contain any hardware. To use the software, you will need to have a MIDI device to play, while the computer creates the sounds that you have selected in the VST.

Of course, you will also need a digital audio workstation, often called a DAW. There are many different DAW options available today. Some of the most popular and most used include FL Studio, Ableton, and Logic. You install the piano VST plugin to the computer and the DAW, so it will be accessible when you connect the MIDI.

You might be wondering just how the creators of the software can get the correct sounds that they need. Often, they do something called sampling. They will record the piano using various types of microphones in different settings so that they can have sound variations. Many of the VSTs use sampling, but there are also options out there that create the sound of the piano synthetically using digital coding. This is called modeling type, and while it might take up less space on your computer, you will find that it doesn’t always sound as “real” as you might like

With the sampling, the engineers can capture the true sound of the piano that they are recording. They often sound almost identical to an actual piano when they are recorded well. Most people will not be able to tell the difference when they are listening to the music that you have created.

How Do You Connect a VST to a MIDI Keyboard?

Getting started with a VST is quite simple. Once you have loaded the software onto your computer, you will then need to connect the MIDI device used by plugging it into the computer via USB cable. Once the MIDI piano is recognized, you can load the VST instrument that you want to use and open a MIDI channel in the DAW. Choose the device for your input MIDI channel and make sure it is working correctly. You should be able to hear the instrument that you have loaded.

Most of the DAWs that are available today will have a relatively simple and intuitive interface. You should be able to add the VST that you want easily, so you can get on with the business of playing and recording your music.

While this is the basic method of setting up your connections, you should always make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your MIDI piano, DAW, and VST.

It is important to remember that you will need to have not just the VST, as they are not standalone products. They will need a DAW where you can interface with them, and that means you will also need a MIDI device, so you can play the actual music that you want through the computer. Ideally, you will have an 88-key device that can replicate a piano. This tends to be the best option, and it will be faster and easier for you to record your music.

If you want to be able to play music without always going through the computer and using the VST, you must choose an electric piano that has speakers. You also want to make sure that you will be able to use it as a MIDI controller. Fortunately, there are many options out there today that will meet those needs. You can even find those that will accept pedals, so you can realistically create sustain, for example.

Who Should Consider a Piano VST?

Are VSTs only for those who are planning to record their music? Not at all. You will find that a piano VST can be a fantastic investment for any musician who likes making music and who wants to have the actual sound of a piano in their songs. It does not matter if you are starting out or you have been playing for years. Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional, having a quality piano VST as a part of your DAW is a great idea.

Something important to keep in mind when you are first starting with VSTs is that they can be intimidating. There will be a learning curve when you are first getting started. You will want to go through user manuals to get an understanding of the basics and to learn where to find everything on the menu and the interface. Once you start to use the VST, just like when you first start to use a DAW, things will start to become second nature to you. This will help to speed up your workflow as you are playing and recording. Also, you can find online videos and forums that can help to answer questions that you might have and to show you the basics of using the VST piano, your DAW, or your MIDI controller.

The Problem with Free Piano VSTs

If you are like many people, you like the idea of saving money wherever you can. You might even be tempted to look at some of the various free piano VST options that you can find on the Internet. While this might be tempting to help you save some money, it could ultimately be a significant mistake. You will find that there are often problems with the free piano VSTs that you will surely want to avoid.

One of the first problems that you will find is that the features, options, and quality tend to be drastically diminished from the actual products made by professional companies. This means that you will have a correct sounding piano, which is going to cause problems with the music that you are making. If it doesn’t sound right and it doesn’t sound authentic, it is going to show in the final product. Those who want to have the best possible sound need to make it a point to invest in a high-quality product.

Also, a free piano VST is not going to have as many of the other features and options that you want and need. You will have a much smaller selection of what you will be able to do with the software. You will not get many other native instruments if any. The same goes for the low-end options that are on the market. They tend to have fewer features. If you are serious about making music, you will want to have something that’s a bit better.

One of the biggest problems with finding and trying to download a free piano VST is the fact that you never really know what you are getting. If you find a link that promises a free version of the software, there is a good chance that you will also be downloading a virus or malware with your download. These can wreak havoc when they get into your computer, which is the last thing you need.

Finally, free piano VSTs are not often going to have the best support. This means that you aren’t going to get upgrades or patches to correct issues with the software. Instead of going the free and dangerous route, it makes more sense to think about what you need and then save the money to get a high-quality product like those on the list above. They have proven themselves to be among the best options out there, and they are well worth your time and your money.

What You Should Look for in When Choosing the Best Piano VST

When you are going to choose a piano VST, you want to make sure that you are buying the one that’s right for your needs, naturally. The piano VST plugins can be costly, and you want to make sure that it will work well for the music that you are making and recording. This means that before you make your choice, you will first have to think about precisely what it is that you will need from the VST. Are you going to be recording a song that will only need to have one or a handful of different types of pianos? Do you need a VST that will have the ability to provide you with other kinds of sounds and instruments, or do you already have that covered?

Make a list of the elements that you know you need from the software to help you narrow your choice. You will also want to look at all of the features that are available in the software. What types of effects and controls are available. These can help to make or break the software for many people. Take the time to learn as much as you can about the software and see where it shines and where it doesn’t meet your needs.

Of course, you will also want to consider the price and your budget for your piano VST. The cost of the virtual studio technology can be on the high-end, so you need to make sure that the one you want will work well with the amount you have to spend on it. If you have a VST in mind that you love, but you don’t have the money yet, it might be better to keep saving for it instead of getting a piece of software that will not work as well for you.

It is also essential that you think about the computer you will be using for the software. When you use a sampled piano VST plugin, you will find that it can take up a lot of hard drive space that you might not have. Consider this when buying. Also, consider the power and speed of your computer. You need to make sure that it will meet at least the minimum requirements.

Find the Best Piano VST Today

As you can see, there are some great options out there when it comes to the piano VSTs that you can choose. You want the best for your needs. Whether you are looking for something that captures the sound of just one or two pianos perfectly, or you are looking for a more robust option that provides a range of native instruments, and that has packs available, there are some excellent choices for you. Consider the type of gear you have, your computer, your MIDI piano, and the kind of music that you want to produce. Find the perfect sounding piano and VST for your musical needs, whatever they might be.

Aiden Jones
Aiden Jones
Music is in my blood, I decided to create this Roaming Sound to talk about the all things music. Welcome! Learn more about me here