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#1799926 - 12/03/11 10:49 AM Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments
Mr Romance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/09
Posts: 102
Loc: USA
I am looking to buy a Piano virtual instrument and I am currently considering Synthogy's Ivory II Grand Pianos.

I play classical music.

There is so much selection out there but here are the ones I am considering:

Ivory II Grand Pianos

Galaxy Vintage D

Steinberg the Grand 3


Has anyone tried Vienna Imperial or EWQL Pianos?


What are your opinions?
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Kawai MP8II, Logic Studio 9, Alicia's Keys, AKG 240.

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#1799930 - 12/03/11 10:56 AM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3763
Loc: North Carolina
I never used Ivory 2. I used to use Ivory v1.5. It's pretty good. It includes a Steinway, a Bosendorfer, and a Yamaha.

It doesn't have half-pedaling, though. I was considering Ivory 2 just for the half-pedal capability. But then I found Galaxy ...

I now use both Galaxy Vintage D (Steinway) and Galaxy Vienna Grand (Bosendorfer). I like them both, better than Ivory 1.5. They're both VERY good. And the two combined ($300) cost less than Ivory 2. (Ivory 2 costs $350 I think, plus $40 more for the Ilok key.) frown

I've never tried EWQL.

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#1799942 - 12/03/11 11:19 AM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
Melodialworks Music Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 1309
Loc: Canada
Search this forum, as well as do a google search, and you will come up with tons of reviews of these pianos.
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#1799954 - 12/03/11 11:39 AM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
Galaxy Vintage D is very rich and intimate. Great for legato, sentimental music. Good for general purpose music and, by itself, is cheap if you only buy one.

Galaxy 2 has a newer Steinway, a Bosendorfer, and a baby Bluthner. That gives a little more variety (or you could buy them individually as MacMacMac indicates).

Ivory 2 also has a good variety and high quality, though you have to buy an iLoc (same with EWQL). Some consider this the premium package.

Ivory Italian Grand is a Fazioli, which can add to your variety as well, and is a lovely piano (actually I only heard the version 1...but I assume version 2 is good too). It's a bit brighter and clearer.

EWQL pianos are very large and have a reputation for being a little more demanding on the hardware. Some people have reported playability problems, but the tone is reputed to be very good.

Lots of people say good things about Garritan Steinway, though that's just one piano..and it's the one most likely to be in every collection: a young, healthy Steinway.

There are actually a ton of pianos available from like PMI and sampletekk and native instruments for low prices. They have great sounds, but in most cases lack features like symathetic resonance and half-pedaling, which really decreases the playability in my experience. Galaxy 2 and Ivory 2 are more modern, have all the features, and have refined the streaming technology so they will work on a normal computer flawlessly.

Also possible: TruePianos and PianoTeq. PianoTeq is modeled, so it's flexible and works well on smaller computers, but the tone isn't quite right. TruePianos is a hybrid, so it's kind of a jack of all trades. Decent tone, low hardware requirements, quite playable. I thought about getting it, but I found the different in tone quality between it and Vintage D too large, so I stuck with the latter.

IIRC Vienna Imperial does not have half pedal, so I would avoid it.


Edited by gvfarns (12/03/11 01:09 PM)

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#1800016 - 12/03/11 01:43 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 946
They're all getting good. I've got Native Intruments Akoustic Piano. Got it in a package with their vintage keys and B3 software (both incredible). The acoustic piano part has 3 grands and an upright. Steinway D is mainly what I use, but also has a Bosendorfer and a Bechstein, plus the upright.

I'm sure the others do this too but mine has samples key noise and pedal noise (dampers coming off the strings). All controllable to get a good mix. I'm very happy with it.
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BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 21+ year teacher and touring musician
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#1800076 - 12/03/11 04:25 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
Just for the information of the original poster, Akoustic pianos is now called "the Grand Collection." I don't think they changed any of the original samples. They also sell each piano individually for like 80 bones.

I played it and really liked the sounds. I did miss my half-pedal, though.

Another possibility, which some people like, is Alicia's Keys. It's also by NI and has some technological innovations relative to the rest of NI offerings that make it a bit more playable. However, I personally do not care for the sound of the piano from which it was sampled.


Edited by gvfarns (12/03/11 04:25 PM)

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#1800126 - 12/03/11 06:18 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
kippesc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 407
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: Mr Romance
There is so much selection out there but here are the ones I am considering:

[1] Ivory II Grand Pianos

[2] Galaxy Vintage D

[3] Steinberg the Grand 3

Has anyone tried [4] Vienna Imperial or [5] EWQL Pianos?

Last I checked: 1 and 2 have partial pedal. 3, 4 and 5 do not.


Edited by kippesc (12/03/11 06:19 PM)
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#1800136 - 12/03/11 06:29 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: gvfarns]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 946
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Just for the information of the original poster, Akoustic pianos is now called "the Grand Collection." I don't think they changed any of the original samples. They also sell each piano individually for like 80 bones.

Thanks. I didn't know that. Good thing though. Always thought "Akoustic Piano" was just weird.
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BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 21+ year teacher and touring musician
My Downloadable Video Piano Lessons
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My Music

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#1800206 - 12/03/11 09:24 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
Mr Romance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/09
Posts: 102
Loc: USA
I already have Alicia's Keys, I do like it. I mean it is all I play basically. I hardly if ever use my MP8II's original piano samples.

I am going to purchase the Galaxy Vintage D to start.

For Christmas I am going to get the Galaxy Vienna Grand, Garritan Steinway and Ivory Italian Grand.

I just like to have many different options and sounds...

Thanks for all your input.
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Kawai MP8II, Logic Studio 9, Alicia's Keys, AKG 240.

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#1800252 - 12/03/11 11:17 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
Once you have all those you will basically have the state of the art in each type of commonly used piano: vintage steinway, new steinway, bosey, fazioli, yamaha.

Though it is my personal opinion that someone (like the galaxy folks) needs to do a really good job sampling a high quality yamaha cfx and sell it as an individual piano. Personally I don't think Alicia's keys cuts it.

Or maybe a Kawai EX.


Edited by gvfarns (12/03/11 11:17 PM)

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#1800363 - 12/04/11 08:50 AM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2171
Loc: Sydney, Australia
@gvfarns: RE: the Kawai EX, are you aware of the Acoustic Samples Kawai EX? The demo recordings sound very good to me. They haven't used many layers, but the Pro version supports layer blending. (needs a fast processor for that, they told me) EDIT: I don't see any mention of the layer blending thing on the web site any more - not sure what's going on there.

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (12/04/11 09:02 AM)

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#1800436 - 12/04/11 12:33 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: gvfarns]
Mr Romance Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/09
Posts: 102
Loc: USA
@GVFARNS

Just curious, what is it you do not like about the Alicia's Keys Yamaha?

For $100 I think it sounds very nice.



Edited by Mr Romance (12/04/11 12:34 PM)
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#1800451 - 12/04/11 01:12 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
Yuri Pavlov Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/10
Posts: 211
Loc: Moscow, Russia
Alicia's keys does not support "Late pedal partial damping" - it is very important for playing!
I try Alicias Keys for improvisation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rn4oh3wIhk - sorry for some bugs), sound very specifically - not for all pieces
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#1800454 - 12/04/11 01:36 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
I agree that Alicia's Keys is well priced, and I didn't have any particular problem with the playability. At the end of the day, I just didn't like the sound. I think they should have sampled from a nine-foot grand, not her little one. It just isn't a nice enough piano. Also at times it feels like the piano is not well voiced, but I could be confusing the two effects. I

No accounting for tastes, though. I would not lose respect at all for someone who likes it very well.

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#1800520 - 12/04/11 05:36 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
Yuri Pavlov Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/10
Posts: 211
Loc: Moscow, Russia
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DP: Korg Sp-250,Pianoteq 3.x, TruePianos 1.9x;
Grand piano: Blutner, Muhlbach, Yamaha;
Upright: Kalujanka;
English (with some problems)

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#1800524 - 12/04/11 05:45 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
I'm glad you found a software piano you like. I definitely do not agree that it (the piano tone) sounds good in that video or in any PianoTeq example.

Perhaps you could save that (or something similar) as a midi and have a couple of people render it using modern sampled pianos. It's pretty easy to compare under those circumstances.

EDIT: increased politeness.


Edited by gvfarns (12/04/11 06:02 PM)

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#1800535 - 12/04/11 06:18 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
Yuri Pavlov Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/10
Posts: 211
Loc: Moscow, Russia
Pianoteq is not ideal, but is ideal possible? Any Kontakt piano dont support "late pedal partial damping" (Pedal press after key up and support sound).

Try this MIDI file (Chopin, Valses, N1, Eb) on any software piano -
http://yuri-pavl.com/op18-in-eb.mid
and analyse problem in sound
_________________________
DP: Korg Sp-250,Pianoteq 3.x, TruePianos 1.9x;
Grand piano: Blutner, Muhlbach, Yamaha;
Upright: Kalujanka;
English (with some problems)

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#1800539 - 12/04/11 06:25 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: sullivang]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: sullivang
@gvfarns: RE: the Kawai EX, are you aware of the Acoustic Samples Kawai EX? The demo recordings sound very good to me. They haven't used many layers, but the Pro version supports layer blending. (needs a fast processor for that, they told me) EDIT: I don't see any mention of the layer blending thing on the web site any more - not sure what's going on there.


Thanks for pointing that out. I actually had heard of it though I've never tried it, but it doesn't really qualify as a current generation sampled piano in my mind. Compare 5 velocity layers there with 13 in Vintage D and up to 18 in Ivory Italian Grand. Partial pedaling appears to be missing. Repedalling, same.

I do like pianos that are sampled in different perspectives, though (close, player, side). That's a plus. Also it has true staccato releases. Not sure how important that is. Anyone know?

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#1800541 - 12/04/11 06:35 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
@Yuri: actually I spoke before looking at your sig. I see you own Ivory. Would that be Ivory 1.5, I'm guessing? The fact that you own a sampled piano and still recommend PianoTeq is quite a significant vote. I no longer feel the need to show you how much better sampled pianos are.

Basically there are people who like PianoTeq tone and those who don't. I agree that they are able to do all the nice playability details like late pedal partial damping. However, my opinion is that sampled pianos have improved their handling of these types of things faster than PianoTeq has improved its timbre. Generation 1 sampled pianos like Ivory 1.x and Akoustik Pianos have a wonderful sound but had some playability problems. Only the current (and future) sampled pianos really have both the tone and the playability to approach perfection. Again my opinion.

When I was testing my ranking was

Vintage D > Galaxy 2 > Onboard Sounds (MP8) > Ivory 1.x > Akoustic Pianos > PianoTeq

Where Ivory 1 and AP are knocked down because of playability reasons only...Their tone is wonderful. I haven't played it but I guess that Ivory 2 would be close to or better than Vintage D and Galaxy 2.

I'd actually prefer to use an improvisation of yours for testing--something similar to the video. Some of these classical pieces have a little too much character if you know what I mean. For example, I'm thinking of the piece used in the sticky DP MIDI playback comparison thread. That file begins with a long section with una corda down and also very low velocities. These are valid sounds, but it means the beginning of the song, which is the easiest to A/B, is uncharacteristic of the most commonly heard timbre of the piano.


Edited by gvfarns (12/04/11 06:50 PM)

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#1800546 - 12/04/11 06:51 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Yuri Pavlov]
kippesc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 407
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: Yuri Pavlov
Any Kontakt piano dont support "late pedal partial damping" (Pedal press after key up and support sound).

I think this is "repedaling" in Galaxy/Kontakt lingo. The Galaxy video tutorials discuss a number of the effects supported by the Galaxy pianos. I agree that Pianoteq does a more consistently better job with many advanced pedal, resonance and noise effects (though in its present form [3.x] it nonetheless does not sound particularly real or appealing).
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#1800547 - 12/04/11 06:55 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
I see, in that case, recent Kontakt software pianos do have the behavior in question.

By the way, while we are talking about software pianos, I should mention my opinion that the innovation that makes Vintage D really nice is primarily the scripting. The interface is super useful...you can change the tone in helpful ways, and a lot of details of playing (like repedalling and release samples) are handled nicely. The timbre is also very good, but it is very similar to, for example, PMI Old Lady, which is much cheaper (helps me understand why people say aged Steinways are better than new ones). But Old Lady isn't as modern in terms of its scripting and interface.

There are other modern (as I have defined it) software pianos, but Vintage D lies at the intersection of the sound I like and the playability I like. That's why I'm a fan.


Edited by gvfarns (12/04/11 07:10 PM)

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#1800587 - 12/04/11 08:57 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: gvfarns]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Once you have all those you will basically have the state of the art in each type of commonly used piano: vintage steinway, new steinway, bosey, fazioli, yamaha.

Though it is my personal opinion that someone (like the galaxy folks) needs to do a really good job sampling a high quality yamaha cfx and sell it as an individual piano. Personally I don't think Alicia's keys cuts it.

Or maybe a Kawai EX.


I think Sampltekk did a good job of sampling a Yamaha C7. They have a 1/2 price sample going on right now to so it's $100. They have two one is "seven seas" and the other is "TBO". With the sale, some of their stuff is an "impulse buy" like their Harscichord that is marked down to $6.
http://www.sampletekk.com

They sell sample libraries but consumer-level stand alone programs so you need to know more about how this all works. It's especially easy for mac users because Apple builds the EXS24 sampler into the OS. PC users would need Kontakt or Giga, Haloin or something that can read those formats


If you want a Kawai EX look here. Price is good and they have a few more formats But good news for many is they have a FREE player so if you are on a Windows box with no player you don't have to buy one. Less than $100, I think.
http://acousticsamples.net/kawai-ex-pro

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#1800615 - 12/04/11 10:08 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
Right, but like I sort of mentioned earlier do these sampletekk and acousticsamples libraries have half pedal, repedaling, release samples, etc? And the acousticsamples library has only 5 layers...not too impressive for a software piano.

These are what I previously called first generation sampled pianos.

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#1800650 - 12/05/11 12:45 AM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: gvfarns]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Right, but like I sort of mentioned earlier do these sampletekk and acousticsamples libraries have half pedal, repedaling, release samples, etc? And the acousticsamples library has only 5 layers...not too impressive for a software piano.

These are what I previously called first generation sampled pianos.


They are sample libraries not virtual pianos. If you want a progressive pedal that is a function of the software. Nobody samples every pedal position and every key velocity. Inside Kontakt or ESX you can specify how the pedal input is to be used. Same goes for level transitions, if they are to be switched to "morphed". It is a function of your sampler and what you asked it to do.

same also applies if you want effects like reverb, EQ and compression, that is software, none of that is in the samples, well except the samples with the mics at a not-close distance, then you get some natural room reverb.

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#1800730 - 12/05/11 09:00 AM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
sullivang Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2171
Loc: Sydney, Australia
gvfarns: FWIW, this (new?) Steinway from Imperfect Samples seems to tick a lot of boxes: http://www.imperfectsamples.com/website/samples/steinwayconcertgrand/steinwaygrandpiano.php (although the full version of Kontakt is required for some features)

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (12/05/11 09:13 AM)

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#1800754 - 12/05/11 10:19 AM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: ChrisA]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: ChrisA
They are sample libraries not virtual pianos. If you want a progressive pedal that is a function of the software. Nobody samples every pedal position and every key velocity. Inside Kontakt or ESX you can specify how the pedal input is to be used. Same goes for level transitions, if they are to be switched to "morphed". It is a function of your sampler and what you asked it to do.


Doesn't matter what you call it. A different name or different division of labor doesn't excuse missing functionality. You are right that no one samples every pedal position, but at least they need to have one half pedal sample available or you can't say it supports half pedal.

A sample library isn't just a bunch of sampled sounds, it's also the Kontakt scripts that run them and make them do what you want. Unless I am very much mistaken, it is not possible to set up Kontakt such that a partial pedal event will trigger a half pedal sample and associated shorter decay with a library like Sampletekk C7. Similar for things like release samples and repedalling.

It seems like you are implying that this lack of functionality in first generation sample libraries is user error. As far as I know, that is not correct.

To find out otherwise would save a lot of money (a lot of people wouldn't upgrade from Ivory 1.5 to 2, for example), so I'd be interested to hear it, but I don't think that will happen.


Edited by gvfarns (12/05/11 12:25 PM)

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#1800758 - 12/05/11 10:26 AM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: sullivang]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: sullivang
gvfarns: FWIW, this (new?) Steinway from Imperfect Samples seems to tick a lot of boxes: http://www.imperfectsamples.com/website/samples/steinwayconcertgrand/steinwaygrandpiano.php (although the full version of Kontakt is required for some features)


Yes you are right. It's definitely on par with other current software pianos in terms of functionality (and in fact they have a version with 128 sampled levels apparently--I wonder if it's playable or just for offline rendering). I wasn't super impressed with the demos I listened to, though. I'd be interested in the experience of anyone who owns it.

Their Fazioli was the one I was most interested in, but I decided it probably wouldn't satisfy (and I don't want to get the Ivory one for philosophical reasons among others).


Edited by gvfarns (12/05/11 11:18 AM)

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#1800919 - 12/05/11 03:33 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
kippesc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 407
Loc: United States
Philosophical reasons? ILok or Plato's allegory of the cave?
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#1800974 - 12/05/11 04:45 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3480
Loc: Pennsylvania
Haha. Yeah, philosophically not a fan of the ILok. And since I sent them a nasty email telling them I would't buy their product because of the ILok I definitely feel like I can't buy their product now, even if I had nearly unlimited money and thought Ivory was the best fit for me.

You gotta take a stand sometimes. smile

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#1801007 - 12/05/11 05:57 PM Re: Opinions on Piano Virtual instruments [Re: Mr Romance]
David Sprunger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/07
Posts: 162
Loc: Oregon, USA
I've now got all of the Native Instrument VST pianos, but I still WAY prefer my Yamaha P200 sound.

off topic - my favorite VST from NI is their "Pre-bass". Pretty authentic, but not a piano.
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