Hello Composers, Mike here!
What are your favorite Piano VST plugins and sample libraries right now, and why? Do you use them in any specific way? Here are my favorites:
Keyscape by Spectrasonics
- I find the piano presets in this plugin has the most depth of all, especially and incredibly detailed low end. It is also super easy and great at customizing the overall tone, the noises (pedal, keys), the room etc. And you can use it inside Omnisphere to get access to the incredible Steam Engine with all FX etc. I especially love how close and focused you can get the of Keyscape if you want it to. Overall it can be a bit heavy on the low-end range in them mix, so I generally add some EQing to make it fit.
Ravenscroft 275 by VI Labs
- I love this piano for how incredibly well balanced it is. It does not have a piercing top-end or rumbling low-end like many software pianos do. It is the best piano for mixing into the background of all pianos I tried, simply because how great it blends into the mix straight out of the box.
Addictive Keys 2 by XLN Audio
- The interface is beautiful, but the true power comes from the vast sound shaping capabilities you have. With different microphones, EQs, compressors, effects, velocity response…you can really create your own unique tone with this piano plugin. And it’s quite light on CPU and RAM too, very efficiently coded it seems.
Now share your favorite pianos, why, and how you use them! =)
Mikael “Mike” Baggström
Founder of professionalcomposers.com
Someone asked about best piano libraries in a group the other day and ran a poll.
Here’s a screenshot of the results!
I thought it was pretty interesting!
Polls are interesting, but not statistically viable unless everyone has the same data (tried them all). =)
The biggest downside with polls like this is that we are often biased towards what we own ourselves. So I see Ravenscroft for example did not actually get any votes in that particular poll, when people like myself that have like 20 piano libraries and plugins praise it from our own comparisons.
Yeah it was definitely only a limited sample. And totally agree about people just recommending what they own! I just thought the poll was interesting. It could just do with a few thousand more votes!
Couldn’t agree more. My go-to Piano sound for composing and recording all the time.
Funny how different people react to different libraries. I bought NI Alicia Keys but thought the low end / low octaves was really missing something. Hardly use it now.
It also depends on use…I often use pianos as background elements so I have had more work reducing the low-end in a natural way.
I sometimes go to Alicia’s Keys if I want that soft and jazzy sound. However, I don’t use it as often anymore after getting the 3 ones I recommended in my post.
Yes well that makes sense. For me Piano is always either a key sound in an arrangement, being a pianist, or has a strong rhythmic element to play alongside drums and bass, so a proper sounding grand piano sound always my preference.
Awesome suggestions. I’d agree mostly but you can actually get one free piano from spitfire labs which is actually lovely, especially as it’s a completely real sampled instrument with awesome room sound and built in verb.
Check out Christian Henderson on youtube too. He gives away his piano sample packs for free quite often and there’s also a website he runs called piano book where you can download and install all of the pianos on there sampled by hundreds of musicians around the world, and that’s also free.
The orchestral piano from spitfire is lovely too. Very good for orchestral stuff as it sits super nice in any orchestral mix… that’s basically what it was designed to do
Oh man I actually just downloaded that free Spitfire piano. And I realized I have missed a felt piano in my arsenal.
That smooth and magical tone, that gently fits into the background of your composition.
Yeah I layer it aalll the time!! It’s now had over a million downloads according to Christian Henderson the CEO. All of those Labs instruments are really good. Highly recommend them. The strings and choir are especially good. They’re taken from their £1000+ range of sample libraries. You only get one patch but it’s worth every second! Plus you’d have a string library from spitfire then to see what your missing out on
Tip: with the felt piano, it sits best if you slap an EQ on it and take some low mids out around 250hz