Living in an apartment has its benefits, but for music production there are always a few drawbacks as well. Other than drums, the main problem I run into is that of having access to an in-tune well-kept grand piano. With technology ever-improving, the software solutions available nowadays have really been getting very impressive and quite affordable as well. I wanted to do a quick head-to-head comparison of a few piano samples that are out there.
First, let's take a look at where we started. The below sample is using the "Steinway Grand" that comes with the standard install of Logic Pro.
Not bad for having come out in the late 90's. That patch has been available since, I believe, Logic 7 or Logic 8, but it might even be older than that. I've only been a Logic guy for the last few years.
Next, we'll take a listen to a piano from a well-known audio plug-in and virtual instrument manufacturer, Native Instruments. They've been known for some very successful and widely-used plug-ins like Kontakt, Reaktor, and Battery, among others. They released a package of pianos a some years ago called "Akoustik Piano", and this is the sample of their "New York Grand".
And, finally, we're going to listen to another sample but this is from a small developer called VI Labs. I'd never heard of these folks, but I was introduced to them by a friend the other day, and I'm beyond impressed. This is their "American Grand" which comes in a 3-pack with an Italian and German counterpart as well. In their documentation they reveal that it is in fact, a sample of a Steinway D.
I greatly enjoyed the TrueKeys American, and will be using that as my go-to piano for now. There are many other options available for software pianos, the most well-known being Synthogy's Ivory which is quite fantastic. However, it comes on quite a few DVD's, so you'll be spending some time in front of your computer feeding it discs for at least an hour. Those with newer iMacs or Retina MacBook Pros will need to make sure to have an external SuperDrive for the install; doing so over Remote Disc would be just painful.
The only processing done on these recordings was use of the Universal Audio Lexicon 224 reverb and Precision Limiter to sweeten things up. I made sure there was very minimal limiting to preserve the audio on the recordings.
What's your favorite virtual instrument piano? Or if not piano, what's your favorite virtual instrument in general? Post a comment, I'm always interested to explore new software offerings especially those from lesser-known developers.
Thanks for reading!