10 best piano VSTs you can get today: our favorite piano plugins of 2023
It’s time to get those fingers flexing and take a look into the top piano VST instrument plugins that you can buy and download for free right now!
While piano VST plugins can get expensive, they’re a whole lot more affordable than a real piano and professional keyboards.
We’ve spent the last few days searching the internet for the best virtual piano plugin instruments so that you don’t have to. We’ve found what we think are the three best free piano VSTs and seven paid piano plugins too.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best piano VSTs in 2022.
- Spectrasonics Keyscape
- Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Piano
- Arturia Piano V
- XLN Audio Addictive Keys
- Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand
- Native Instruments Alicia’s Keys
- Felt Instruments Lekko
- Versilian Upright No. 1
- Spitfire Audio LABS Glass Piano
- 99Sounds Upright Piano
1. Spectrasonics Keyscape ($349) – best paid piano VST available
Keyscape is an industry favorite VST piano instrument. In fact, it features 36 modeled keyboards that range from Wurlitzers to Fenders, Rhodes keyboards, and a range of other pianos – including toy pianos!
Furthermore, Spectrasonics’ Keyscape instrument features more than 500 presets, hybrid ‘Duo’ patches, and up to 32-way velocity switching with both multisampling and digital modeling.
Spectrasonics also utilized hardware behavior modeling for mechanical noise, pedal noise, and release noise too, in addition to authentic circuit-modeled amplifiers and effects.
In short, every instrument in this virtual machine sounds incredible. You can capture the noise and imperfections of the real keyboards, and capture every detail you could on the originals too.
Moreover, the user interface is simple enough for anyone to get started and write beautiful chord progressions and melodies straight away. And you can use the instruments’ browser to find each instrument within Acoustic Pianos, Electric Pianos, and other categories – or manually search through the 36 specific models.
2. Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Piano ($349) – best single piano emulation plugin
This multi-sampled grand piano features over 88,000 samples recorded with 60 different microphones in 16 different microphone positions, including close, mid, room, and room, that you can switch between.
You’ll need the Kontakt Player 5.6.8 (free) or higher to run the Hans Zimmer Piano, but that seems a small price to pay for this sampled grand piano with Hans Zimmer at the helm.
In fact, the sampled piano is one of Zimmer’s favorites – the in-house Steinway Model D grand piano, recorded in the Lyndhurst Hall at AIR Studios.
You can experiment with different microphone positions and achieve many different sounds too. The more you move away from the piano, the more delicious room ambiance you’ll get from Lyndhurst Hall.
Finally, you can utilize blending options and capture further sonic details with a variation of microphone positions!
3. Arturia Piano V ($249) – best acoustic piano plugin VST
Inside Arturia’s Piano V is 12 beautiful acoustic pianos such as concert & grand pianos (including Japanese grand), jazz & upright instruments, and more!
But Piano V isn’t a sample-based instrument. Arturia has modeled these pianos with their proprietary algorithms and modeling technology, and the virtual instrument is designed to give you complete control over its sound
At a glance, you have every common control with lots of functionality in the slide-out controls. And sitting at the bottom of the plugin window is:
- Full-size piano roll
- Output level control
- Three pedal control buttons
- Polyphony settings
- MIDI channel controls
4. XLN Audio Addictive Keys ($200) – best multi-piano emulation plugin
Addictive Keys by XLN Audio is available in multiple bundles with up to four multi-sampled classic keyboards available.
These include the Fender Rhodes Mark I, Yamaha U3 Upright Piano, Steinway Model D Concert Grand, and Yamaha CP-80 Electric Grand. In short, you can get emulations of some of the best hardware keyboards out there.
Depending on which bundle you choose you can:
- Pick two instruments with the Duo Bundle ($145 / £115.75 / €149.95)
- Three with the Trio Bundle ($165 / £127.75 / €179.95)
- Or four instruments with the Complete Collection ($200 / £200 / €199.95).
Each instrument has been captured using a range of microphones in various mic positions. As a result, you can mix and match three stereo channels and utilize panning and width controls for the best performance.
The best part? All of this content only takes up 8GB of space!
The sample engines provide the ultimate source sounds, and you can get your hands dirty with customization options with EQs, adjust the dynamics, and apply effects like “Delerb” (delay + reverb).
Then, you can choose between several different noise types like tape & vinyl, five distortion types, and more!
5. Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand ($159) – best piano library
Garritan’s Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand captures the legendary piano in the world-renowned Studio One at Abbey Road.
The piano has been recorded in a variety of microphone positions that you can adjust the mic positions to suit your needs. For example, you can choose between 30 presets within the following mic arrays:
Retains the natural sound of the instrument.
Offers a brighter sound
Gives you the impression that you’re actually sat playing the real instrument.
The developers & engineers served to capture the “character, clarity, and nuance” of the real thing. The Contemporary set-up offers a close and ambient sound that’s “bright and hard with lots of attack”. And the Player configuration is another close mic setup designed to emulate the experience of playing the CFX piano.
You also can adjust the
- Lid Position
- Sympathetic and Sustain Resonance
- Pedal Noise
- Mic levels
- Stereo width
Furthermore, onboard effects include an EQ, reverb, and saturation. The presets demonstrate the versatility of these effects, but the total size of the plugin and its sample library take up 132GB of storage space.
As a result, the CFX instrument can take a fair bit of time to load its samples. But the samples themselves sound spectacular!
6. Native Instruments Alicia’s Keys ($89) – best piano VST for Kontakt
Next, NI’s Alicia’s Keys utilizes samples of a Yamaha C3 Neo grand piano – owned by Alicia Keys herself. The virtual instrument was developed in collaboration with Alicia Keys and her engineer Ann Mincieli.
With 7 GB of samples, this Kontakt instrument has 12 velocity layers per key with resonance and mechanical release noises.
Though it’s one of the oldest virtual pianos on our list (released in 2010), that is only a testament to how fantastic it really is. And despite how the C3 Neo is the only instrument available in this plugin, the software has tabbed pages with features that range from algorithmic and convolution reverbs, attack and release settings, and more.
In fact, you can also use sustain and sostenuto pedals with the instrument while a fader control lets you add mechanical noise for pedals, keys, and microphone hiss too.
One drawback, though, is how the room ambiance is somewhat a miss with this plugin. This can be a deal breaker when shopping for classical piano instruments, but there are many other positive aspects here.
The sound itself is produced beautifully with lots of sound-shaping tools at your disposal.
7. Felt Instruments Lekko ($49) – best budget piano VST instrument
Lekko is a sample-based piano VST that captures a small Scandinavian upright piano. But Felt Instruments actually processed the samples through vintage hardware to elicit a desirable analog character too.
Despite the lack of a comprehensive selection of renowned pianos (and that Lekko is missing lower octaves), Lekko does capture little imperfections that add nuances to a performance.
The notes are not perfectly consistent or noiseless, but many musical styles such as Lo-fi music thrive with these sorts of instruments. Furthermore, any fan of the dampened sound of felt pianos will want this virtual piano in their VST arsenal.
Best 3 free VST piano plugins in 2022
With the paid VST piano plugins out of the way, let’s investigate some free VST piano plugins that sound fantastic and are easy to get started with.
1. Versilian Upright No. 1 – best free acoustic piano plugin
The Upright No. 1 virtual piano was recorded at the Berklee College of Music and requires Kontakt Player to operate.
Recorded with two close microphones with wide pick-up patterns, Upright No. 1 also offers effects like reverb and stereo adjustments like panning and volume control.
Three velocity layers are available due to an abundance of samples that give each note some individuality.
Meanwhile, attack, decay, sustain and release envelopes are also available inside this small software instrument package for Mac or PC.
2. Spitfire Audio LABS Glass Piano – best free Arturia piano VST
Glass Piano is actually the sound of the baby grand piano that Phillip Glass, known for scoring films like Hamburger Hill and Secret Window, would feature in his compositions.
LABS Glass Piano is a pretty software instrument – the original instrument has a very long history with film scores. Spitfire Audio features high-fidelity sampled recordings of the baby piano that captures the beauty of the original instrument.
In fact, engineers recorded the piano at Phillip Glass’s home in New York. And Glass Piano even utilizes an atmosphere that adds detail and character to your music.
3. 99Sounds Upright Piano – easiest piano VST plugin to use
Finally, the Upright Piano VST instrument was recorded by Rudi Fiasco. It utilizes six velocity layers for a realistic sound, in addition to an attack/release envelope.
Upright Piano features four sampled notes per octave that were all recorded in stereo while a tremolo effect with intensity and speed controls, a low-pass filter, and reverb effects are available too.
Global controls like a master volume let you determine levels, and you can utilize the release levels of each note – a specific knob allows you to define how loud the release of notes is!
Can’t afford a real piano? No problem.
These free & paid VST pianos are fantastic options for novices, professional composers & electronic music producers to get the sound of grand pianos, digital keyboards, and so much more in their music.
Finding the best VST piano plugin for you can be pretty tricky. In fact, we found it tricky to narrow this list down to ten because there are just so many options!
But we managed to do it, and we’re sure the right piano VST instrument for you is in this.
But which one is the best for you?
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