8 Best Piano VST Plugins in 2018 (FREE Downloads Included)

Software piano is more than just a passing fad and something you should totally be considering if you can’t afford to get a real piano for now. An actual piano that offers, even if it’s just the basics, can cost a pretty penny, hence, the introduction of the virtual piano.

This software has the advantage of being a lot more affordable than pianos with hardware. Also, it does not need room space. And most can even be hosted on a DAW, even though they are generally standalone.

You’re probably thinking that even the best sounding piano VST cannot hold a candle to good actual keyboard. Well, probably. The truth is that it depends on the kind of piano VST you get. There are realistic piano VST which when paired with an 88-key MIDI controller keyboard sound even better than a number of actual pianos that we see around. You just have to know where to look.

Best Piano VST Review

Thankfully, we have relieved you of that burden. In this article are eight of the best piano VST in the market. But just before we go into the full reviews, take a quick glance our top eight piano VSTs.

Product

Picture

Sample /Modeling

Piano(s)

Rating

Price

Garritan Abbey Road

Sample

Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano

Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2

Modeling

Garritan Instant Orchestra

Modeling

Orchestra

XLN Addictive Keys

Sample

Synthogy Ivory II Italian Grand

Sample

Massive Grand Concert Piano (from Italy)

Synthogy Ivory II Upright

Sample

Yamaha u5 Modern Upright, Hume Vintage Upright, Barroom Upright

Synthogy Ivory II Grand Pianos

Modeling

Specctrasonics Keyscape Virtual

Sample

LA Custom C7 Grand Piano

1. Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand Piano VST 

You’re probably on to the best piano sample in the market. Guys, this is a total game-changer. This VST is as real as they could ever come. The samples contained in this software were developed from one of the best pianos around: the Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano.

Using only the best microphones, the engineers who created this software recorded the world-famous Yamaha CFX specially for all musicians in need of quality piano VST instruments.

And check out its perspectives, all three of them. They are all discrete and add to the realness of the sound that this software produces.

This is easily our best virtual piano on today’s reviews for obvious reasons. And even though, it’s a tad high-end, we tell you, this is an investment you’d thank us for.

To get this VST to give you its absolute best, just pair it with a fantastic 88-key MIDI keyboard. Now, sit back and enjoy amazing piano tracks for any of your songs.

Also, don’t forget to try the mic perspective on an SSD and then tell us how you like it.

If you want the best piano virtual instrument, then you should seriously consider this one.

Pros:

  • Three discrete perspectives,
  •  Amazing sound quality

Why We Like It:

We love the overall sound quality of this amazing piano VST. It gives you that feel like you’re working with a real piano in a studio.

2. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Virtual Studio Technology 

The Spectrasonics Omnisohere 2 VST is a favorite of many professionals around the world. So, that should say something about the quality of sound you should expect from it.

We love how Spectrasonics provides the user with tons of options to choose from when using this virtual instrument. For instance, the product comes with about 10,000 different sounds that you can explore. Also, as an improvement, this model comes with all-new arpeggiator, plus numerous other new effects. You’ve got no choice but to be creative with the plethora of features this software offers.

The thing that impresses us most about this product, though, is that there is the opportunity for the user to create his/her own original sounds. You can create your own audio content using the software, and share it on Omnisphere.

This VST can also achieve diverse genres with a sound complexity that’s superior.

Furthermore, the VST puts you in charge by putting the sound design in your control. This gives the feel of a professional studio ambience.

Other things which make this VST stand out for us are its 8 new different filter types. Plus, it now features new modulation tools which will make the software more pleasurable to use.

Pros:

  • Up to 10 000 sounds,
  • Comes with new and  improved features,
  •  Professional sound

Why We Like It:

We love how Spectrasonics gives us limitless possibilities with this product. It might be somewhat pricey but this is a very useful VST that easily proves its worth. The sound quality is through-the-roof, the filter and effects are standard. In all, this VST is a very professional piece of software.

3. Garritan Instant Orchestra Piano Virtual Studio Technology 

Yeah, it’s Garritan again, so you know what it is – amazing software that absolutely works! Like the name of the VST suggests, this is an orchestra VST. That is to say that if you’re looking to create opera-like music, then this is the guy for you. All the sounds that you should expect from an orchestra are easily found in this software. From low octave rumblings, to slivery choirs, to wild overlays, to harps, to chord clusters, and much more; you’ll find all that you seek right here.

In fact, it even comes with the ARIA instrument player. So, you’re sorta getting two great products for the price of one upon purchasing this VST. Is this a value product or not?

Not all of us can just wake up in the morning and work with an orchestra in a snap just because we want to. However, this VST presents a far better and easier way. You won’t even have to do so much because most of the hard work has already been done for you. The developers have created this software such that all the complex mixing that we expect from an orchestra have already been done.

And if you’re looking for an orchestral effect, maybe something like what you hear from the movies, it’s also contained in this VST.

It is a standalone program, but then, if you need to host it on another platform, this VST is compatible with most.

Pros:

  • Multiple orchestras are streamed with the Conexant Endless Wave technology,
  •  Amazing orchestral sounds

Why We Like It:

Orchestra is hard to create even when working with synths. This is a product that splits the job neatly by half. Of course we love it! If you’re looking for an effective cheat to boycott sessions upon sessions of live recording for orchestra and still sound awesome, you need this VST.

4. XLN Addictive Keys Studio Collection

XLN developed this VST with the fun creatives at heart. It is well supplied with tons of features and effects that you can easily experiment with to create your best sound yet. From diverse incredible sounds to astonishing effects, the XLN Addictive Keys can be your new best buddy.

The piano VST plugins in this software are terrific and you’re going to love working with them. Some of them include the EQ filters, distortion, chorus, tremolo, and lots more.

XLN sure did put its foot in this one as it went only for the crème of the crop to develop this software. Only after testing selected top quality pianos (ten of them) did the engineers settle for the one of the very best in quality. XLN is not here to play.

One another advantage that we spotted is the MyCloud Technology it comes with. This feature makes it possible for you to connect to and work with your VST from anywhere at all. What happens is that it synchronizes all your work automatically, irrespective of your device of choice.

Now, with this feature, it doesn’t matter whether you change devices or what device you decide to use per time, your work will always be safe, easily accessible and well organized.

Pros:

  • Amazing sound and effect quality,
  • Allows access from multiple devices,
  •  Allows experimentation and creativity

Why We Like It:

If you’re a frequent traveler there’s no way you aren’t psyched about the MyCloud. Now, you can rest easy while you travel around collaborating with different musicians, knowing that all your work has been automatically synced. This is no doubt the VST of choice for those of you constantly on the road but have to keep working.

5. Synthogy Ivory II  Italian Grand Virtual Instrument 

One piano VST that is very popular among users is the Synthology Ivory II Grand Virtual Instrument. Perhaps, its most endearing feature for users is its expansive sound library. This VST sure comes with a staggering number of sounds, to the tune of 28GB. That is, you have access to 28GB of sound samples which you can choose from. If you haven’t figured, then let us be the first to tell you that there’s hardly anything you can’t do with this VST.

Its Sample Interpolation Technology is another amazing feature that the VST offers. It allows you to be able to create various velocity layers which can be as many as 18 different velocity levels. And similar to this Sample Interpolation Technology, there’s the Harmonic Resonance Model which helps to produce sympathetic string resonance that’s realistic.

We can say that the Synthogy Ivory II offers one of the best acoustic piano VST sounds we have seen. Its manufacturers designed its DSP engine and 32-bit sample playback in such a way that it closely imitates an acoustic piano.

There are also samples from the grand concert piano, which increases your options as well. These grand concert piano samples were from a piano that’s made in Italy. In fact, it is presently considered one of the best pianos in the world.

Pros:

  • Comes with 28GB samples,
  • Top-quality sound,
  • Versatile: usable across different music genres

Why We Like It:

The Ivory II is very versatile and it can produce literally any kind of sound you want, whether it’s pop or jazz, or even funk.

6. Synthogy Ivory II Upright Pianos 

So, here’s another VST with a wealth of samples. Synthogy literally created a colossal library and packed it full with sounds for the user. And it’s not just any kind of sound, a lot of effort was made to ensure that the samples are only selected from the best pianos.

Oh, we haven’t mentioned the size. Does 84GB impress you? Of course it does? This VST does 84GB on the sound library (this library affords as many as 16 different velocity layers). Now, you can have access to a variety of powerful and mind-blowing tones to make work fun.

Just like the Ivory II Italian Grand that we just reviewed, this also comes with the same DSP engine and Harmonic Resonance Modeling. However, here, the sounds are both improved and new.

The pianos from which the sounds were sampled include the Hume Vintage Upright, the Yamaha u5 Modern Upright, and the Barroom Upright. These pianos were especially chosen because of the beautiful vintage sound they give.

So, naturally, musicians who favor jazz, vintage blues, and even rock vibes gravitate towards this particular VST.

Pros:

  • Four upright pianos give excellent vintage sound,
  •  Great for various music genres

Why We Like It:

We like this software because of its near universality. Almost every genre of music finds something fitting from it.

7. Synthogy Ivory II Grand Pianos

As usual with Synthogy, the sound library of this VST is literally explosive. With a large collection of samples available to the user, one can easily create new tones that sound original and fantastic.

One important factor that most piano manufacturers go for when making a piano is Sympathetic String Resonance. Any pianist worth his salt understands how important this feature is and will almost always seek it out in any piano. This VST features Sympathetic String Resonance, further confirming its high quality.

In fact the sympathetic strings here aren’t just those created by ordinary sine waves, they are a lot better. Using an all-new custom-made engine, the sympathetiic strings you get from this VST end up being more complex. This ultimately impacts positively on the overall sound quality of the software. And Synthogy can do this because it has dedicated years and resources into making synthetic pianos that sound as lovely as actual pianos.

The software can be easily used by anyone, beginner or pro. That, for us, is another score for the Ivory II Grand Piano.

Pros:

  • Features Sympathetic String Resonance,
  • Each piano gives 18 levels of piano,
  •  Terrific playability and fidelity

Why We Like It:

It’s our best software from Synthogy on this review. Musicians looking to use a grand piano effect in their arrangements, would love this software.

8. Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Keyboard Collection

The Spectrasonics Keyscape Virtual Keyboard Collection has tons of sound samples, and these samples were made from the LA Custom C7 Grand Piano as well as other excellent pianos like it. So whatever your song composition style, you have a lot of samples for the creation of awesome tones. From contemporary songs to retro, let this VST empower you in the creation of amazing sounds that you’d love.

One thing about this VST though… it does tend to clog up the CPU of a PC quite a bit. However, that’s a small price to pay for such amazing tones, isn’t it? In fact, we can assure you that it is.

If you’re still a bit doubtful, you can decide to use this with the Omni 2 that we reviewed earlier. But then the truth is you’d hardly have to. This VST does really well on its own.

Like we mentioned in the beginning, it comes with more sounds than you’d know what to do with.

Pros:

  • Access to diverse sounds,
  •  Lots of samples from many different pianos

Why We Like It:

This VST affords the individual a lot of choices as to how they create their own tones. This is thanks to the huge library of sound samples made available with this software. It is also very easy to use both by beginners and experts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Piano VST

Piano VST -- What Is It?

A piano VST or a piano virtual studio technology in full, refers to software that’s developed to mimic the sounds of a piano. A piano VST is all software and does not come with any hardware at all. However, a VST can’t function alone. It needs a MIDI controller (88-keys preferably so it feels like a real piano), and a computer to be good to go.

How Are the Virtual Pianos Created?

Engineers actually record actual pianos while they play in the studio with top quality microphones. They have to record all the 88 keys and go the extra mile to record each individual key as many times as it has variations.

That is one way…

Another way can be to produce synthetically by imitating piano sounds using digital code. VSTs made this way do not sound very much like traditional pianos. However, they can get real close if the synth is of high quality.

In addition to the sounds though, most VSTs also come with layers and effects which are very useful in the creation of better refined songs.

Do Piano VSTs Produce a Realistic Sound?

Always remember that piano VSTs emulate a real piano, so yes, there will always be a small difference in the sound of software and hardware. However, there are realistic piano VSTs which sound exactly like real pianos. Engineers who develop these VSTs spend a lot of time and resources to record them, so naturally, you should expect such VSTs to be the best sounding piano VSTs.

Synths, on the other hand, are different and most top end producers don’t care for them.

How to Use a Piano VST

Since it is a software application, it has to run on a computer. We’ve also mentioned earlier that you’d need an MIDI keyboard, so you can “play” the VST.

The MIDI controller isn’t what produces the sound; don’t forget that. It’s only a route through which the signal gets to the VST. It’s the VST that does the sound production. So, yeah, it rises and falls on the VST.

Running the VST will also require that you have a program in which the piano VST plugin will be hosted. Host programs are very ubiquitous and getting one (even free versions) is very possible.

Once you’ve set up the host program, you can now play from your MIDI controller and hear the output. This can then be automatically recorded and saved into your PC by the host program.

If your VST comes with effects (like reverb for instance), you can playback your audio with those effects. Applying the effects is usually easy; it just depends on the interface of your software.

Virtual Samples vs Digital Pianos

Digital pianos are more expensive than VSTs and MIDI controllers put together. Also, they are more realistic sounding. VSTs, on the other hand, offer more room for the user to experiment, give longer delays and offer different velocities.

But then, technology continues to evolve, so picking one over another will definitely get tougher.

Can I Learn to Play a Traditional Piano with a Piano VST?

Short answer, yes and no.

Long answer…

Yes, because the piano VST will just give you a basic knowledge, and nothing in depth.

No, because, even if you’re using the best grand piano VST or the best electric piano VST, generating piano tones virtually is very different from generating it manually. However, transitioning from a VST on to an actual acoustic piano will get easier with time.

Sample VS. Modelling VSTs

Sample and modeling are the two types of VSTs that there are.

Sample VSTs have their sound recorded from actual legendary keyboards, and are therefore more authentic-sounding than modeling.  Some sample VSTs get their samples from grand pianos and upright pianos, so they come with superior options. However, on the down side, they take up a lot of space and can slow down your CPU.

Modeling VSTs are more synth-like, so they don’t sound as realistic as sample VSTs. But then, they don’t slow down your system or take up space either. Depending on your style of music, modeling VSTs can be used if sample VSTs aren’t available.

Other People's Opinion about Piano VST

The Garritan Instant Orchestra Piano Virtual Studio Technology is one of the popular choices among all the VSTs on review today. Different reasons make this so. One, it is one of the most affordable we have reviewed today, considering what it does. Creating orchestra is hard work and expensive too, but still it remains in high demand in the modern entertainment industry. The Garritan Instant Orchestra is the most economical way to go and most people are taking it.

Musicians who love to experiment are huge fans of the Spectrasonics Omnisphere. There are so many features to keep the creative musician happy and busy. The number of samples is staggering! Frequent travelers and those who fancy a more sophisticated VST will also love this software. The automatic sync of workload is a nice touch that individuals such as these naturally gravitate towards.

The pros though, all of them seem united on this one thing that the Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Vst is the best MIDI piano software. This sample VST is the most realistic sounding VST on our reviews today and its source Keyboard is the legendary Yamaha CFX Concert Grand piano as recorded at the Abbey Road Studios.

Our Top Pick of Best Piano VST

Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand Piano VST

Our top pick is quite obvious. The Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand Piano VST is easily the best piano software for MIDI keyboard, maybe even the best in the world. Just be sure to give this VST what it deserves by way of an MIDI controller and hook it up with something that comes with 88 keys. Anything less would be an aberration.

The samples of this VST were carefully recorded by talented engineers from the Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano. If this doesn’t easily make it our best virtual piano today, we don’t know what else will.

One other reason we are so confident that this is the best MIDI piano software is the fact that it is from Abbey Road Studio One. And if Studio One had anything to do with any VST, then you can be sure that it would easily top any review as the best piano virtual instrument.

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