Best Overall Piano VST: Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand
Recorded in the iconic Abbey Road Studio One studio, Garritan has pushed the boundaries of what it means to create a dedicated piano VST that can benefit music producers across the industry with their latest VST made using the CFX Concert Grand Piano.
Best Budget Piano VST: Garritan Instant Orchestra
Shopping for a great VST but don’t want to break the bank? Garritan is a popular option thanks to its remarkable features, numerous samples to work with, and the affordable price tag.
Best Premium Piano VST: Native Instruments Komplete 12 Software Suite
One of the most ground-breaking of all VST software packages, Native Instruments is a dedicated VST with over 25,000 unique sounds for you to play with ranging from piano sounds to every other instrument you can imagine!
Our Top Ten
Choosing a VST is no easy business, especially when you’re looking for the perfect sound to suit whatever track or project you’re working on. This is even harder when it comes specifically to pianos because there are so many options, and there’s such a defined sound.
Furthermore, you’re going to need high-quality samples that bring your project to life, rather than holding your creative ventures back. To help you find the right tools for the job, today we’re going to explore our top ten choices when it comes to the best pianos VSTs, as well as sharing our definitive buying guide to ensure you pick the one that’s right for you.
Starting off our list, we’ve chosen the highly popular virtual grand piano sample set from Acoustica; one of the most famous classical instrument producers in the world. In this specific kit, you’ll find 250MB of high-quality samples to use in any of your audio projects.
Optimal Recording Quality
The samples here have been recorded using a Steinway Model D grand piano which has been modified and enhanced using exclusive acoustic modeling technology. This has been used to help the piano create a much warmer and deeper sound, which is far richer than your traditional piano.
The samples have then been edited with a slight professional reverb effect that creates an incredibly realistic sound that is quite simply beautiful in terms of acoustics. The samples have also been recorded and processed using an ‘unparalleled sample programming’ structure.
This is ideal because it gives the samples a unique and impactful sound without the traditional limitation of velocity switching and the sorts. With all the notes included in the set, including key releases and damper pedals, this is a complete set with everything you need.
In terms of performance, this is a low CPU VST that won’t slow your computer down and can be run on pretty much any major DAW software platform. All samples are compatible in all music formats, including WAV and MP3, ensuring you have full control over your sounds.
What We Like About It
The level of manipulation you get from this sample pack is unreal, and even the most experienced music producer will find something they’ll love. From MIDI control, two-track recording support, and even Mixcraft compatibility, the possibilities here are endless.
- Can be filtered down into the most popular music formats
- Recorded using a customized Steinway Model D Grand Piano
- Samples professionally processed using unparalleled sample programming
- Can work on any DAW software application
If you’re looking for a juicy mid-range piano sample pack that doesn’t break the bank but still comes loaded with high-quality samples that are perfect for your next project, it’s worth turning your attention to the Garritan Instant Orchestra 5 pack. Garritian is renowned for its fantastic samples, and this pack is no exception.
Everything in One
As the title suggests, this VST doesn’t just zero in grand piano samples, but an entire orchestra. This means in addition to pianos and keyboards; you’ll have a vast selection of woodwind instruments, percussions, and more. The possibilities here are infinite!
All these samples mean you can create your tracks individually, one instrument at a time, or just picking and choosing the individual samples you want to use in a specific track. If you wanted to, you have the opportunity to create the sounds of an entire orchestra directly within your DAW.
In total, there are an incredible 500 instruments to choose from, each one having been recorded using the most professional methods to ensure you’re getting the highest quality and most realistic sound.
Each sample has a ton of variations included with the pack, such as reverb effects, professional performance spacing, and other kinds of articulation to help you find the perfect sample you’re looking for, or to help you get your creative juices flowing.
There’s no denying this is a great pack to have in your inventory, and as well as being one of the most affordable, there’s no reason why beginner and expert producers wouldn’t want to consider this pack for their piano sample needs.
What We Like About It
What most people love about the Garritan range is that once you invest in one of their product lines, in this case, the Instant Orchestra, you get discounted upgrades for all future releases. So, when 6, 7, 8, and so on are released, you’ll be able to enjoy them for less!
- Over 500 instruments included in the VST
- Recorded to a very realistic sound quality
- Contains a wealth of effects to manipulate your sounds
While Magix has taken a place in the middle of the industry when it comes to audio production and software, that doesn’t mean their products are as industry defining. The Soundpool 12 edition is a fantastic sample of what Magix still has to offer.
One of the most affordable piano VSTs on our list today, Soundpool 12 is loaded with over 6,000 individual samples totaling a tasty 6GB of memory. All these samples are loaded onto a DVD, so while it may not be very modern to have a downloadable link, this does mean you can load up the samples on basically any platform straight from the disc.
Everything You’ll Need
Inside the pack, you’ll find both loops and samples that you can cut up and edit however you please, all in a pristine 16-bit WAV format for crystal clear sounds. Of course, you’re here for piano samples, and Soundpool doesn’t disappoint.
There are plenty on here to explore, as well as pretty much every other instrument you care to name. This is also backed by the extensive inventory of effected samples which have been mastered in.
Some of the most popular effects here include Reverb, Vocoder, Filter, and Echo. This doesn’t just save you time in editing your own samples but also ensures the samples with effects you’re using are edited to the highest quality; ultimately producing the best results.
Overall, Soundpool 12 is renowned by many to be one of the most complete sample packs and VSTs which hold an essential part of your inventory, regardless of what kind of producer you are. Since it’s so affordable, so easy to use, and compatible with every application and DAW, there are no excuses to why you can’t benefit from this pack.
What We Like About It
This is actively one of the most user-friendly VSTs in the industry. The DVD is loaded with samples in their sound formats, so there’s no need to install anything or ensure everything is compatible. Just pop the disc in, download the samples you want to use, and you’re done! It’s that effortless.
- Comes in a DVD format, so it’s suitable for any computer
- Over 6,000 samples across 6GB of folders to explore
- All variations and professionally edited effects, such as reverb, included
- Compatible with every DAW application and software platform
Our first entry from the Spectrasonics range, the Omnisphere 2 is a powerful synthesizer VST platform that is renowned in the audio industry as being one of the best in the game and is currently one of the best-selling solutions available right now.
Taken advantage of by both producers who are new to the industry and experienced producers alike, Omnisphere 2 holds some of the most monstrous processes and abilities to create unique sounds that are near-impossible to create anywhere else.
In fact, there are over 10,000 base sounds you can load into the VST and start playing with, literally hundreds, if not thousands, of these, based on piano and keyboard sounds. You then have all your standard synthesizer controls to adjust your sound, plus 25 patented effects you can mix and master however you please.
When it comes to full control over your creative opportunities, it really doesn’t get much better than this. The interface is incredibly clean, and while it may look a bit overwhelming, to begin with, you’ll soon learn your way around it and become a master of what it has to offer.
Taking a quick dive into the performance and compatibility of this synthesizer, the VST is compatible with the vast majority of DAW applications and will run on both Windows and Mac computer operating systems. As long as they’re 64-bit and you have at least 8GB of RAM, you won’t have any problems.
All in all, this is a complete synthesizer solution, and whether you’re looking just for leading piano samples, or you’re happy to treat yourself to a complete setup that can keep you busy and covered for many years to come, the Omnisphere 2 makes a great choice.
What We Like About It
Just the expansive rate of control this digital synthesizer gives you over any sounds, plus the 10,000 included sounds are what sets this synthesizer apart from the rest. For example, there are over 400 waveform controls to explore, which is over 100 times more than the original edition of Omnisphere!
- Comes with over 20 oscillators and 34 algorithm filters built into the synthesizer
- Nearly 14,000 base sounds to start your audio journey, including piano sounds
- Compatible with all DAWs and both Mac and Windows computers
- Over 500 DSP waveforms in Synth Oscillator
The Spectrasonics Keyscape sample is not for the faint-hearted, and if you’re a producer looking for some serious firepower and opportunities when it comes to piano sounds, there may not be any reason to look further than this.
This virtual keyboard collection is packed with over 500 unique sounds that have been expertly recorded from some of the rarest pianos in the world. The result? A selection of HD samples you won’t find anywhere else.
Some of these rare pianos include the LA Custom C7, the Classic Mark I Rhodes, the LA Custom ‘E’ Model Vintage Vibe Electric Piano, the Harpsichord Mini Student Butterfly Piano, and nearly a dozen more; all waiting for you to sink your teeth into.
Designed for Greatness
All in all, this collection pack has been optimally multi-sampled which has allowed the samples to support velocity switching up to 32 ways, as well as other processes like Round Robins. All in all, this sample pack will total around 77GB on your computer.
Of course, this VST can be used with the majority of major DAW platforms and software applications, but the pack has been specially optimized to work while being fully integrated Omnisphere 2.
An All-in-One Solution
All samples include variations including mechanical noises, classic pedal noises, and even release noises. It’s safe to say that this is a creative wonder pack that seriously contains everything you’re going to need to create the sound you’re aiming for.
While this is one of the most expensive collections, it is one of the most feature packed and well worth every cent. It’s hailed by many as being one of the best. Compatible with both 64-bit Mac and Windows computers, there’s no reason this pack won’t be for you!
What We Like About It
The fact that this sample pack has been in the making for over a decade now should tell you just how much attention to detail has been placed in its creation. From sourcing the very best pianos possible to recording and processing in the most professional way; quality is everything here.
- Dozens of the world’s rarest piano sounds to explore
- Compatible with both 64-bit Mac and Windows computers
- Over 77GB of high-quality samples to explore as you please
- Come with full Omnisphere 2 integration
The second Garritan sample pack to enter our list, this time under the guise of the Instant Orchestra; a dedicated sample pack and VST to help you discover all the samples you need for your next project, whether that’s a piano instrument or any other you’d find in a full orchestra.
Everything is included here including individual instrument sounds, plucks, loops, and then your FX loops including rises, textures, and chords, all available for each instrument. There’s even a collection of choir vocals you can take advantage of!
Free Music Player
Included with your purchase, you’ll find the coveted ARIA instrument player used for sampling your sounds and efficiently organizing and managing your new sample files; all for free. Of course, you’ll also be able to enjoy these samples across the board on whatever platform works for you.
This includes compatibility with all DAW software, all VSTs, and the pack even comes with OS X Audio units and RTAs! In true Garritan fashion, every single sample has been recorded using professional methods that are tried and tested to produce the best and most realistic sounds for you to work with.
The quality is easily the best feature here, and which such a broad selection of samples on offer, you simply can’t go wrong. With a mid-range price tag suitable for most serious producers, even those on a budget, the Garritan is an excellent choice when it comes to seeking the best piano samples.
What We Like About It
Garritan pride themselves on making your music creation process as simple as possible. This is why the sample pack comes with a range of Ensemble presets to use that help you match the best and most beautiful sounding samples together; saving you time and effort when creating a beautiful sound!
- Affordable and suitable for most budgets
- Available in VSTs, Samples, and OS X sample units
- Recorded to the very highest quality possible
- Comes with the free, professional ARIA music player
Throughout this guide, you’ll have seen us mention the brand ‘Steinberg,’ and that’s simply because no matter what sample pack and VST you’re investing in, the chances are the sounds or instruments have come from a Steinberg grand piano.
Yahama, one of the biggest names in the music industry and creator of the legendary Steinberg have then taken their instrument and created their VST; and let’s get it right off the bat that this truly is a VST to behold.
Critically Acclaimed Software
According to several critics, the Halion VST has pushed the boundaries of what it means to deliver high-quality samples that are genuinely acoustic, and sound simply fantastic. The foundation of your next track needs to be made using these.
Included with this bundle, you’ll find Groove Agent 3 which refers to the three special instruments that can be used to make powerful drum sounds and beats. This isn’t just a piano VST; this is the complete instrument producer package. However, at its core, this is a piano dedicated pack.
Five Beautiful Piano Sounds
This is all thanks to the five unique pianos included in addition to the headline models we mentioned above. Each piano has its own unique style and taste, which only holds true to giving you much more options to play with, much more creative opportunities, and much more freedom to do what you want.
With such a high level of control over your sounds with such a seemingly infinite number of possibilities at your fingertips, Halion allows you to focus on what’s necessary; being your true creative self, rather than have to worry about the more technical and time-consuming areas of music production.
What We Like About It
Apart from being curated by one of the most legendary music brands to have ever existed, one of Halion’s best features is simply the number of options you have to achieve the perfect sound. For example, while there’s a ton of samples for the Steinberg, there are even samples with the microphone positioned in different locations, and with different settings.
This really allows you to zero in on the sounds you want to use, ensuring you’re able to achieve the perfect finish.
- Created by the iconic Yahama company on some of the best instruments in the world
- Over 70GB of samples totaling 6,800 presets and files
- Exceptional recording quality with some legendary instruments
- Designed to be one of the best VSTs in the business
Now moving onto an absolute powerhouse of a VST that’s a serious investment you’re not going to want to miss. If you’re looking to take your productions to the next in the most professional and most creative ways, Native Instrument’s Komplete 12 Suite should be at the top of your list.
Of course, this is complete pack, not just a dedicated VST for piano sounds, although you’re going to find an absolute ton of them here; and that’s only scratching the surface of what this solution has to offer.
Over 50 Premium Instruments
What makes this kit stand out is the fact it’s packed full with over 50 premium instruments all waiting at your disposal. In total, this breaks down into over 25,000 sounds, which is truly mind-blowing when you consider how much potential this is going to have when it comes to your levels of inspiration and creativity.
This all comes together to total an incredible 220GB of data, so yes, you’re going to need the space on your computer to use this VST; especially if you plan on using lots of them at the same time. You’re also going to want a fast and stable internet connection to get everything downloaded.
If this seems like a lot; well, it is. If you were to purchase all the premium instruments and effects separately, you’d be paying 85% more than if you invest in this set, so not only are you gaining access to the best solutions out there, you’re also getting a great deal.
Complete MIDI Compatibility
It’s also worth noting if you’re using a Komplete Kontrol Keyboard for your MIDI processes, this VST is designed to work correctly with this in the most innovative and most initiative way possible.
There’s no denying this is a solution designed with producers like you in mind. Even though there’s so much going on, Native has been extremely hard working in making sure the VST is easy to use and as initiative as possible. Whether you’re starting out or fully experienced, you’ll be able to get your head around this one.
Finally, with all the effects, filters, over 15 expansions, all the software and engines you need to run everything, and all the online support from the online community you could need wherever you need assistance, this isn’t just a VST, it’s an experience.
What We Like About It
Easily the best feature of this VST is the fact it’s designed by nature to work with ANY DAW platform you may be working with. It literally doesn’t matter what software you’re using; the Komplete 12 will work with your solution without any compatibility issues!
- Works with any DAW, no matter what you’re using
- Over 220GB of samples totaling 25,000 unique files
- Save up to 85% than individually purchasing premium instruments
- A thriving online community available 24/7
Synthogy’s Studio Grands VST is a standalone application that comes into the more premium budget price ranges but is a quiet contender in the industry that’s well worth being made aware of, especially when you start to realize what it has to offer.
As we suggested, this might not be the most popular piano VST, nor more recognized, but when it comes to dedicated piano samples, it could be everything you’ve been looking for. Compatible with both Mac and Windows PCs, getting this VST running is not a concern whatsoever.
Destined for the Best
Recorded in one of greatest recording studios in the world, Studio Grands is made from samples created by the legendary Steinway B Grand Piano which can be found in the Power Station New England, Waterford Connecticut, as well as the iconic 225 Grand Piano from Pasadena, California’s Firehouse Recording Studios.
Both of these pianos are coveted for their beautiful sounds and their professional studio surroundings and setups, which ensures every single sample is absolutely perfect for use; no matter what you want it for.
This VST can be loaded into basically any DAW software program and provides you with a crisp and clean interface which is incredibly easy to master. Even if you’re new to the whole music production venture, this is a great place to get started and learn all the basics.
Something for Everyone
Nevertheless, even if you’re an experienced producer, this VST can still be hugely beneficial thanks to all the filters, effects, adjustments, and simply the quality of the samples. While quite simple compared with other VSTs, this pack is all about delivering quality.
Within the VST, there are plenty of ways to manipulate the core sounds as you would expect from a professional piano VST. These include resonance adjustments, soft or hard pedal samples, and even the ability to adjust little details like key noises.
To summarise, this is one powerful and complete Grand Piano VST that really does tick all of the boxes of what you should be looking for in when it comes to piano sounds. Suitable for everyone of any budget or skill level, this is a hidden gem you won’t want to miss.
What We Like About It
Due to the fact the quality of the samples are just that good, you can really sit back and maximize the potential of the equipment you’re using. Whether you’re using studio headphones or an entire speaker set up, it doesn’t matter what scale you’re producing on; these samples will just keep on performing correctly.
- Full controls of your sound through the standalone platform
- Three legendary grand pianos to choose from
- Samples recorded to the highest possible standard in iconic studios
- Affordable and suitable for all budgets
Last but not least, we have our final entry from Garritan; this time the VST focusing on a specific CFX Concert Grand Piano located in the heart of the iconic Abbey Road Studios, London.
Iconic Production as Standard
This ground-breaking CD bundle is comprised of samples recorded at the legendary Studio One on the Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano; the same piano that has been used in such a vast number of productions that are renowned all around the world. Even bands like the Beatles have graced the studios of Abbey Road, and now you can enjoy this level of quality.
The samples have been recorded professionally by the experts at Garritan using tried and tested techniques using some of the most powerful and most sensitive microphones in the world. All in all, this is a VST with the sound quality you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
The Concert Grand Piano has been recorded from three different perspectives to create the most realistic sound with the best acoustic the producers possibly could achieve. Hailed as one of the best piano VSTs ever made, this is a one-stop solution for any producers out there who simply want the best they can get their hands on.
What We Like About It
Garritan is very passionate about what they do, as you can tell from the number of outstanding VST packs that have entered our list. This is the highlight of the brand since the engineers, the mixers, the master editors, and the producers are all setting out to create the best experience they can; and they’ve quickly succeeded here.
- Created by a team that live and breathe music production
- Recorded at the iconic Studio One in Abbey Road
- Recorded and mixed from three different microphone positions for best results
The Definitive Best Piano VSTs Buying Guide
As you can see, there are plenty of piano and orchestral instrument VSTs out there for you to choose from, so how can you be sure which one is right for you? To help you make the best decision, go through our definitive buying guide to detail everything you need to know.
The absolute consideration you need to think about is the quality of the sounds you’ll be able to find in the VST. There’s no point if the recordings are poor, crackly, and distorted, which is what you’ll find with a lot of free samples. This is why they’re best off avoided if you’re serious about your productions.
As a minimum, you’re going to want 320kb MP3 files, but lossless WAV files will be the best. Of course, the better the sound quality, the larger the files will be storage wise, and the more expensive the pack will be, but if you want to produce quality tracks, this is something you’re going to need.
Also, take a look to see how the producer recorded the sounds in the first place. There are plenty of premium solutions that use professional studios and multiple microphones in different locations to create the most realistic and most acoustically sound recordings. This is the best you can get, so base your decisions from here!
Variety of Choice
There are VSTs out there which will be curated using a single instrument, such as one grand piano, or they’ll be ones created using a variety of pianos, or even an entire orchestra. What you’re looking for will depend on the type of project you’re working on; all while having an idea of what kind of projects you might be working on in the future.
While you might not know this information, if you know you’re only working on one project, you might just want a small VST to help you get the job done. However, if you’re working on many projects, or you think you might need the VST in the future, you’re going to want to future-proof yourself by investing.
This is important because, otherwise, you’re going to waste so much money buying smaller VSTs when you could just get a larger one now that can cover you for years to come. However, if you’re sure you’re looking for something specialized for a specific project, then you know a smaller more dedicated VST is going to be suitable for you.
While most VST developer teams work hard to make sure their VST works on all major platforms and DAW applications, this isn’t always the case, so you need to make sure you’re checking how compatible a VST is with your setup before making a purchase.
The aspects you’ll want to consider here include the operating system of your computer system, whether it’s Windows or Mac, which bit your operating system is (most VSTs will require a 64-bit operating system), and which DAW platforms your VST will work on.
In some cases, the VST may describe itself as being standalone, which basically means this is a program that will run separately to your DAW and will, therefore, be compatible. If you just have sound files or samples, these will be able to be loaded into any DAW without compatibility issues.
Control Over Your Sounds
VSTs are not just about providing you with high-quality recordings and samples to play with; they also allow you to edit and manipulate the sounds to sound however you want. This is all done through your VST, as long as you choose one that provides these features.
Some of the control features you’re going to want to look for include filters, such as Echo and Reverb, and then your gain controls, mechanical noises, and practically any other kind of feature you want to use.
Each VST comes with a set of basic controls and then the advanced ones they wanted to offer, so always read through each product to see which one gives you what you’re looking for.
Ease of Use
There are some VSTs out there which can be extremely complicated to learn, and to a first-time user, they can be extremely overwhelming. After all, some VSTs with all their dials and gadgets do resemble a NASA control panel. Bear this in mind when making your purchase.
If you’re a casual producer who’s looking to muck around with a VST to see what works and learn the skills to grow as an individual, then you’re going to want to start with something simple that doesn’t overcomplicate things too much but still gives you enough room to learn.
However, if you’re an experienced producer, you know what you’re doing, or you just want to jump straight into the deep-end because you’re committed to getting the best experience, a more complex VST would be ideal.
Of course, it’s essential to take the time to think about how much you’re willing to spend on your preferred VST. VSTs can easily reach into the hundreds of dollars range, so you’ll want to think about whether this is something you can afford, and whereabouts in your budget your VST will be.
If your piano sounds are a priority in your tracks and future productions, then getting a high-quality VST that comes with everything you need is going to be the main priority. If you’re looking for a VST for a one-off project, then it may be worth looking into a smaller, more affordable option.
Luckily, there are VSTs out there to suit all budgets and requirements, especially the ones we’ve included on our list above, so take your time in choosing the best one for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use multiple VSTs at the same time?
Of course! As long as your computer has enough memory to run all your VSTs, or you run them all individually, you can have as many VSTs as you like!
Do VSTs work with MIDI controllers?
99% of the time; yes. However, it’s always worth checking with each individual product to make sure this is the case.
Do I download or get a CD/USB?
This will depend on the individual product. Some are available for instant download, and some will be sent in the post. Check this before you buy.
Choosing the right piano VST for your DAW application and audio projects doesn’t have to be a complicated process. While there are a lot of options out there and a lot to consider, hopefully our recommendations and guide have made it as simple as possible!
Good luck with your ventures!