In this guide we’ll take a look at the best piano VST plugins.
We’ve compared functionality, sound libraries, usability and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Is The Best Piano VST Plugin?
More Detailed Piano VST Plugin Reviews
It almost feels hard to start describing Omnisphere 2. It’s got so many excellent qualities that some professional musicians can’t live without it. Yet it’s still user-friendly enough for beginners.
With over 12,000 different sounds in its vast library and endless possibilities to create your own, I could easily spend hours browsing the collection. It’s a good exercise in self-control!
The included sounds are very high-quality and are organic and just feel right when you hear them.
There are lots of different pianos and keyboards. One of my personal favorites is ‘plucked dream piano’.
The program also features a super arpeggiator and many other effects that you can use to take your music to the next level. These tools are awesome as they allow you to really customize your music, and they can quite easily make it seem more advanced than it really is.
Even though chances are that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in the huge library, you can also create your own samples. You can even make up purely synthetic sounds from scratch.
This software is great no matter which level you are currently at. You can use the easy interface to get things done quickly or go deep into custom modulation if you fancy that.
I really like that, because it means that you can learn with the plugin, you will be able to use it as a beginner and are able to grow with it as you progress.
This means that you won’t have to upgrade to something more advanced after a while.
It’s really nicely designed and very user-friendly. You can tell that the developers have thought about almost every single detail!
- Over 12,000 sounds
- Awesome Arpeggiator
- Endless possibilities
- Uses a lot of CPU Power
If you are looking for a pure piano VST plugin with what might be the best sampling ever, then you’re going to love Garritan’s grand piano.
This is one of my absolute favorites because the quality is so remarkably high.
Imagine the scenario: Yamaha’s flagship CFX concert grand piano is placed in Abbey Road Studio’s Studio One. Some of the best sound engineers in the entire world use top-class equipment including some of the best microphones on the market.
They play every single key multiple times and record all the different ways you can imagine playing them.
As you probably can guess, the result is an amazing piano VST plugin that really sounds like a real piano. And not just any piano, but a really expensive grand piano.
You can decide if you want the lid to be open, closed, or half open. You can also add reverb, change the sustain and so on.
Do you want it to seem like you’re in a church or some other place with cool acoustics? No problem!
You can also switch between what the player hears and what the audience hears. Another thing that I find useful is that you can change how far the microphone is from the piano.
It might seem like it’s a one trick pony to buy a VST plugin that only has a piano, but I feel like it’s such a good one that it’s definitely worth the cost.
You can really alter the tone to get it exactly like you want it, as long as you want a piano that sounds very authentic.
- Amazingly realistic sound
- Sampled from Yamaha's CFX Concert grand piano
- Surprisingly versatile
- Expensive but worth it
I wish I had a 10 foot Italian grand piano in my living room, but my husband says that we don’t have room for both a sofa and a grand piano.
If you too have a spouse that prefers comfortable furniture over pianos that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, you might like me need Synthogy Ivory II Italian Grand.
This plugin brings one of the best grand pianos in the world directly into your DAW and allows you to create beautiful music.
What I like the most about it is how real it sounds, people often can’t tell whether it’s a VST or an actual piano they are hearing. That is exactly the effect many of us are going for.
There are quite a few things you can do as well to change the tone. You can decide how much the lid should be open, how much key noise should be heard and your preferred dynamic range.
This is great, because many of these things are things that a pianist considers if possible, and it adds to its credibility.
There are a few other settings you can change and effects to add on, like choosing which room the piano is played in.
There are also standard things like reverb, delay, wet/dry and so on that you can play around with to really get a unique sound that is exactly what you want.
- 10 Foot Italian grand piano
- Incredibly realistic sound
- Lots of different settings and effects
- Takes a while to get started
When people that are passionate about something come together and work for ten years to create something perfect, the result is bound to be something extraordinary!
This is definitely the case when it comes to Keyscape. This piano VST plugin is a collection of different vintage keyboards.
It took ten years to find the right keyboards, restore them and sample them and I am a big fan of how it turned out!
Part of the charm is that the samples aren’t perfect. It might sound like a contradiction, but the thing is that old keyboards do have a few quirks and noises that are just part of the experience.
While others might have aimed to eliminate these, the team behind Keyscape decided to embrace them!
Many of the keyboards in Keyscape are really rare, and for that reason, it really feels like a treat to use it. There is no way I could ever get one of them for real, and that is probably the case for you too.
- Compelling and highly expressive sounds
- Huge collection of rare and vintage instruments
- Good value for money
- Download takes a while
Addictive Keys is the most user-friendly piano VST plugin I’ve reviewed. It’s quite similar to Garage Band in the way that it’s very visual and easy to understand.
When you choose between all the cool sounds, it’s easy to preview the different ones by clicking on them before you confirm your choice. This makes it easy to browse through many different instruments quickly.
Addictive Keys are made from samples from grand- and upright pianos. There are not only classical pianos but other, more modern alternatives as well. One of my favorites is called ‘Death Row’, which is a heavily distorted version of the grand piano.
You can also experiment with filters, distortion, reverb, phaser, delay, tremolo, pitch and a lot more very easily.
It really feels like they’ve had beginners in mind when they created it. I would absolutely recommend it as your first piano VST plugin if you still feel like you have a lot to learn.
Another thing I personally enjoy is that there is a built-in memo recorder. It’s really handy when you’re composing and need to remember something.
When you use Addictive Keys you have access to MyCloud, which is an online service that synchronizes your presets and memos.
MyCloud allows you to produce music both from your home computer and at work. It’s also great if you’re collaborating with other people on projects.
- Great for beginners
- Lots of cool effects
- Access to MyCloud
Piano VST Plugins Buying Guide
If you’re new to producing music in a DAW (digital audio workstation) you are probably still discovering the endless possibilities there are.
And even us who have been producing music for a while always find new stuff we’ve never tried before, including cool plugins.
One of the most common instruments in both modern and classical genres is the piano, and if you produce music you will need to use piano VST plugins.
I’m going to guide you through some of the best options out there. I’ll also take some time to explain what they are and what you should think about when you buy one.
What is a VST Plugin?
Before you find out which piano VST plugins are any good, it’s good to actually know what they are. If you already do, you don’t have to read this bit, but I thought it might be good for beginners to get an introduction.
First, let’s look at what VST stands for. It’s short for Virtual Studio Technology. You use VST plugins together with your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) which is the music producing program you use.
Examples of DAW’s are Appleton Live, Cubase, and Logic Pro, but there are free options as well, although never as good, of course.
When you produce music in your DAW, you want to be able to really customize the tone. You want to change not only what notes and instruments that are played, but even the small details.
This is when plugins enter the picture. They’re there to make it possible for you to put your personal touch on the music and also to allow you to pick sounds that suit the genre and song.
You could say that there are really three different types of VST plugins. The one we’re talking about in this article is VST instruments. They are like having digital instruments on your computer for your disposal.
This opens up endless possibilities since it means that you don’t have to own a physical instrument in order to include it in your productions.
You can change the sound within the plugin as well, so you actually get many different sounds from the same VST instrument if you want to.
How to Use Piano VST Plugins
Ok, so now you know what a piano VST plugin is, but how do you actually use it? Do you have to press all the keys with your computer mouse? Fortunately not!
In order to use your piano VST plugin, you need a digital piano that supports MIDI. There are even MIDI keyboards that are only made to use for music production that don’t have speakers but need to be connected to the computer to work.
So what is MIDI? Instead of recording sound, like if you were using a microphone to pick up sound waves, MIDI records the signals rather than what you hear when you play.
This means that if you use your piano VST plugin and play your piano, you use the sound from the plugin instead of your piano sound.
MIDI can be used for all types of tones- your keyboard can turn into practically any instrument!
What to Look for in a Piano VST Plugin
Let’s take a look at what you need to consider before you download a piano VST plugin.
The best way to go about finding the perfect one is to beforehand think through what you need from it. It makes it easy to tell when you’ve found the right plugin.
Knowing what you’re looking for also makes it easier to know when something isn’t right for you, speeding the process up.
Two Types of Piano VST Plugins
There are two different types of piano VST plugins, virtual synthesizers, also known as modeled VST and virtual samplers.
Virtual synthesizers are what it sounds like, they have synthetic sounds and are made to recreate the tone of real synthesizers.
Virtual samplers, on the other hand, are sampled from real pianos. This means that somebody has recorded a real piano, and that’s what you’re hearing from your piano VST plugin.
It’s not just any pianos that are sampled, but famous grand pianos such as Steinway.
All 88 keys are recorded several times. This is to get not just all the notes but all the different variations in terms of volume and touch response, different acoustics etc.
It’s impossible to say which of the two different types are best since it all comes down to what kind of sound you’re looking for.
If you are producing a beautiful piece with strings and piano that is meant to move people to tears, then you might want to get a virtual sampler.
But if you are producing house music, you’re probably more interested in a cool virtual synthesizer.
One thing that is good about synth based piano VST plugins is that they often are smaller, whereas the sampled ones can be huge files.
The synthesizers are also easier to customize than the virtual samplers. This can be essential for some music, but might not be appropriate when you’re looking for something authentic. Then the samplers are a better choice.
What does a piano VST plugin cost? This is a hard question to answer since they range from free to being part of a large collection costing hundreds of dollars.
If you are just getting started you should download a free version to see what it’s all about. Then you can determine if you feel like it would be worth it for you to invest.
Just like with so many other things in life you get what you pay for. There is a reason why some samplers are so seemingly expensive.
A lot of expert work and pricey equipment has been used and somebody has to pay for it, it’s just the way it is.
Check That It’s Compatible
Before you buy a piano VST plugin, make sure that it works with your DAW and your operating system so that you actually are able to use it!
You should also check if you’ll need to use an iLok, which is a USB device that you keep licenses on to protect the software.
Don’t forget that music production should be fun! It’s when you’re enjoying yourself that your creativity sparks. So you should go with a plugin that makes you feel like you want to spend hours trying out different sounds and effects.
Don’t just listen to what other people say. If you have a feeling that you’ll like a particular plugin, then go for it!
One great way to get a feeling for them before you make your purchase is to watch YouTube videos where the different sounds are demonstrated.
I hope that this article has been useful and that you’ll find a plugin that will boost your creativity and help you produce awesome music!