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#2424923 - Yesterday at 08:54 AM First time piano VST buyer-advice please!
Jennifer Ann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/15
Posts: 5
I am searching for the most real sounding piano VST package. I want something that sounds most realistic when played solo, as I want to record my piano compositions which are in a new age/contemporary style (think David Lanz, George Winston, etc.)I currently have it narrowed down to Imperfect Samples Steinway Walnut Grand, Garritan Yamaha CFX, Impact Soundworks Pearl Concert Grand (Yamaha C7), VI Ravenscroft 275. I've never used a VST before and therefore am having a difficult time with this and feel like I'm listening to demos over and over again and scouring forums in an attempt to make a decision so I can move on with my life! Does anyone have any comments about the VSTs I've mentioned? I've also listened to Ivory's and Pianoteq's pianos but have not liked any of them as they've sounded less real to me than the ones I've mentioned. I probably like the Imperfect Samples Steinway and the Garritan Yamaha CFX best, though the first sounds slightly too imperfect in the demos and the second sounds too perfect. The Pearl Concert Grand also sounds really nice. Agh!
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Pianist/composer/singer-songwriter
facebook.com/jenniferannkeller

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#2424949 - Yesterday at 10:01 AM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
Digitalguy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 539
Loc: Switzerland
I think the demos are just going to mislead you. I have bought several pianos based on great demos and reviews, like the Fazioli imperfect samples or the Ravenscroft and have been quite disappointed. Of the many I have the best for me is the Ivory American. Others prefer the cheaper Vintage D (I have it but I like it less than Ivory). And those that have what is probably the most expensive virtual piano (do you have budget limits?) say that the absolute best is the Vienna Imperial by VSL, and they are probably right. But the only way to test them, unless you have a friend that has them, is to buy them and be happy or disappointed... (as many of us have done in the past...)
_________________________
Roland FP-4F, Korg Kross 61, iRig Keys Pro, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH240A, RME Babyface, M-Track Plus, Roland DuoCapture, iPad Air, iLoud, Ivory II ACD, Galaxy Vintage D, Galaxy Steinway, TrueKeys American, VILabs Ravenscroft, Kawai-Ex Pro, The Grand 2, SampleTekk Black, Addictive Keys, Ezkeys

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#2425034 - Yesterday at 01:58 PM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Digitalguy]
Jennifer Ann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/15
Posts: 5
Thanks for your response-you're probably quite right! I likely am just going to have to take the plunge and buy one. I am hoping to not spend quite as much as the Vienna Imperial warrants-it's quite expensive! Can I ask what made you disappointed with the imperfect samples and the Ravenscroft?
_________________________
Pianist/composer/singer-songwriter
facebook.com/jenniferannkeller

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#2425060 - Yesterday at 02:55 PM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12683
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Can I ask what controller/digital piano you are going to use? It's not just the VST itself, but also how well the DP can control it that makes a difference.

Also, if you will be using a PC, latency (or delay between when you press the key and when you hear it sounded) may come up as an issue. Once you get that worked out for your particular configuration, it should be fine.

I agree with DigitalGuy in that the demos may not be very helpful at all. In the end, you take the plunge and try them out. The thing about sound is it's such a personal thing, that one person may hate a sound and say it sounds nothing like a piano and the next person love it and swear it sounds just like their acoustic. So it's probably best to stick with a lower-budget one and mess around with that. Once you get used to using it, your ears may develop to the point where you have a better idea of what you want in a VST piano, and you can then feel a bit more secure in purchasing a larger ticket item.

You can try out Pianoteq for free - only a few keys will be missing, but it can give you an idea of what that is like. I'm not sure of any others that offer a free trial like that. I own TrueKeys American by VILabs and was quite happy with that.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher FT



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#2425095 - Yesterday at 03:54 PM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Morodiene]
Macy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 648
I'll chime in because even though some us tell people to ignore the demo's, they usually don't. It's kind of human nature to be leery of advice like that, and to think it's "safe" to buy the one that sounds the best on a demo. It isn't safe. The demo's are terribly misleading. Not only do they tell you nothing about the playability of the VST, they don't tell you much about the sound you will get either. This has been discussed many times here so I don't want to go into all of that again. Some people, including me, have had to learn that the hard way. So ignore that advice at your own expense.

As far as which to buy, the most often recommended VSTs here have been the Vintage D and the Ivory II American D. They are $150 and $190 respectively, but I don't think price has much to do with the recommendations. Certainly not for me. The playability of both are excellent, and that can't be said of all VSTs. The Garritan, as an example has no half-pedaling or re-pedaling, making it unacceptable for some us (although some seem not to care, but I don't understand that since those are essential characteristics of an acoustic piano). Anyway, I don't think you can go wrong with the Vintage D (my personal favorite for pop, jazz, standards because it has more harmonic complexity and can be voiced over a wider range while still sounding realistic) or the Ivory American D (I'd favor for classical). Then no matter what you buy, you will probably continue to buy more because we always think the next one might be even better.

(If I had to pick a 3rd it would probably be the True Keys American. I consider my purchase of Ravenscroft, Alicia's Keys, and most of all the EWQL pianos a learning experience. The GAS could have been a contender, but it was abandoned.)
_________________________
Macy

CVP-409GP, Vintage D, Ivory II GP's & American Concert D, True Keys American D, Ravenscroft 275, Garritan Authorized Steinway, Alicia's Keys, EWQL Pianos, MainStage, iPad/forScore/PageFlip Cicada, Custom Mac MIDI/Audio Software Design, Macs Everywhere

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#2425113 - Yesterday at 04:17 PM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
dmd Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 2122
Loc: Pennsylvania
The truth is ... you are probably going to purchase one, find it to be less than you had hoped, buy another one and find it to be less than what you had hoped, and on and on until you find out what "good" is. You may end up determining that the first one you tried is the "best" one.


Interestingly, I have been down that road and while many of them are "good", I have settled into Pianoteq for much of my playing now.

Good Luck
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D, Pianoteq 5

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#2425119 - Yesterday at 04:24 PM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
Digitalguy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 539
Loc: Switzerland
Originally Posted By Jennifer Ann
Thanks for your response-you're probably quite right! I likely am just going to have to take the plunge and buy one. I am hoping to not spend quite as much as the Vienna Imperial warrants-it's quite expensive! Can I ask what made you disappointed with the imperfect samples and the Ravenscroft?


Hi Jennifer,
Concerning imperfect samples I'll quote what a wrote a few days ago, while replying to a similar question by someone else

Originally Posted By DigitalGuy
...I have just played it for a short while. It's not going to be easy to describe, especially in a foreign language like English is for me. I compared it to another Fazioli, Ivory II Italian, but also played a bit of ACD and German D too. The Fazioli ebony felt lifeless. The complete edition should have something like 14 layers but it felt much less responsive in terms of dynamic range. Ivory was vibrating, this one was dead. It felt distant (and I tried the 3 mic positions), it felt like a recorded piano and not so perfectly recorded, while Ivory felt like I had a living instrument under my fingers. That's my subjective feeling, but to be honest I have a hard time imagining anyone who plays the 2 side by side, and thinks the Fazioli Ebony is any better the Ivory Italian for instance (or even close).


Concerning Ravenscroft, I don't like the mid range and, generally, the responsiveness of the piano. From the same company I also have the ViLabs American and while I like the sound it doesn't feel good under my fingers as do the Ivory pianos or Pianoteq (but the sound of Pianoteq is not as good IMO).
Personally I have learnt, at my expense, that those that produce a good virtual piano will continue to do so or even improve while those that make bad pianos do not deserve to be given a second chance....
I started with Ivory I which I liked and Ivory II was only better. The same producers of Vintage D did another good piano in the Grandeur. I gave a second chance to VILabs and I was wrong. So I will not give it to Imperfect Samples, etc.

But as Morodiene said, the piano you are using will have an impact, and I would add also the sound system (headphones, speakers...).
Some pianos sound decent with average speakers and terrible with (good) headphones for instance.
And I do agree with what Macy told you, although he prefers the Vintage D for most of what he plays while my number one for everything is American D, but consider, for instance, that he uses the (good) speakers of his (grand) digital piano, while I use (good) headphones most of the time as I live in a condo, so the experience is different and this can have an impact.
_________________________
Roland FP-4F, Korg Kross 61, iRig Keys Pro, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH240A, RME Babyface, M-Track Plus, Roland DuoCapture, iPad Air, iLoud, Ivory II ACD, Galaxy Vintage D, Galaxy Steinway, TrueKeys American, VILabs Ravenscroft, Kawai-Ex Pro, The Grand 2, SampleTekk Black, Addictive Keys, Ezkeys

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#2425132 - Yesterday at 04:58 PM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Morodiene]
Jennifer Ann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/15
Posts: 5
Thank you for your response Morodiene! I will be using a Casio PX-300. I also am using a new macbook air and audio technica ath-m50 headphones. Thanks for the advice! I probably will try out the pianoteq trial version to get a feel of what a VST does first before I buy anything!
_________________________
Pianist/composer/singer-songwriter
facebook.com/jenniferannkeller

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#2425135 - Yesterday at 05:06 PM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
Jennifer Ann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/15
Posts: 5
Thank you everyone! You have all been quite helpful! smile
_________________________
Pianist/composer/singer-songwriter
facebook.com/jenniferannkeller

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#2425139 - Yesterday at 05:13 PM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
MacMacMac Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 4096
Loc: North Carolina
I think dmd hit the mark exactly.
Originally Posted By dmd
The truth is ... you are probably going to purchase one, find it to be less than you had hoped, buy another one and find it to be less than what you had hoped, and on and on until you find out what "good" is.
That's why I own nearly two dozen VST libraries.

I differ on one point though: I don't find most of them to be "less than I expected". True, some were utterly terrible. But most are at least "good", and many are excellent.

If I had it to do over again, I'd forget about finding "the best one" and I would instead try to understand that the different sounds of these pianos are suitable for different music and different moods.

On that point, Macy and Digitalguy are right. The demos are misleading, but they're hard to resist. It's hard to understand just how misleading they are ... but they are.

So "taking the plunge" is the only way I know. (I just wish there had been a way to eliminate those few "dogs" that I bought.)

As for my favorites ...
- The Grandeur
- Vintage D (a Steinway)
- Kawai EX Pro
- Ivory Vienna (a Bosendorfer)
- Galaxy Vienna Grand (another Bosendorfer)
... not necesarily in that order.

Fair to midling ...
- The Giant
- The Gentleman
- The Maverick
- Galaxy Steinway
- Berlin Concert Grand

The dogs ...
- Alicia's Keys
- Pianoteq (not really a dog ... just a puppy)
- and some others that don't come to mind, sitting in the bin

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#2425140 - Yesterday at 05:13 PM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
torhu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/12
Posts: 187
When I was shopping for software pianos I used http://www.try-sound.com/. You can't play them properly because of the latency, but you get a good impression of how the piano responds to different attacks or voicings, what it sounds like in different registers, etc. More useful than listening to demos, in my opinion.
_________________________
Roland RD-700NX // Galaxy Vintage D

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#2425268 - Today at 01:07 AM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
AZ_Astro Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 544
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2425319 - Today at 04:37 AM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: AZ_Astro]
Jennifer Ann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/15
Posts: 5
Originally Posted By AZ_Astro


Fantastic, thank you! I didn't come across that before but that's quite helpful. It's great to hear everyone's opinions!
_________________________
Pianist/composer/singer-songwriter
facebook.com/jenniferannkeller

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#2425325 - Today at 05:10 AM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
Digitalguy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 539
Loc: Switzerland
Originally Posted By Jennifer Ann
Originally Posted By AZ_Astro


Fantastic, thank you! I didn't come across that before but that's quite helpful. It's great to hear everyone's opinions!


Just a remark on these surveys. Don't forget that people who vote do not have (and therefore know) all the pianos. So for instance you might vote for Vintage D or TK American as the best, but you don't have Ivory American or Garritan CFX (maybe if you had it, it would be your favorite but you don't know...). Very few people have the Vienna Imperial, so it might very well be the very best as all those that have it say, but very few people have it because of the price (it's a big plunge). So, in a word the number of votes is heavily influenced by the number of people that have (blindly) bought a given (or several) piano(s) (based on many considerations, among which demos, reviews, need for dongles, and, not least, price).
_________________________
Roland FP-4F, Korg Kross 61, iRig Keys Pro, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH240A, RME Babyface, M-Track Plus, Roland DuoCapture, iPad Air, iLoud, Ivory II ACD, Galaxy Vintage D, Galaxy Steinway, TrueKeys American, VILabs Ravenscroft, Kawai-Ex Pro, The Grand 2, SampleTekk Black, Addictive Keys, Ezkeys

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#2425353 - Today at 06:30 AM Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2161
Loc: Rocky Mountains
When you go to the pianoteq website. At the top is "community". It brings open forums and a "FXP Corner". Go to the FXP corner. It's part of the forums. That is a place people upload recordings with presets they have done. It also includes being able to download the presets so you can set your pianoteq that way. There is a user there by the name of DonSmith. Go back a page or two and see what he has done with the D4. He has made it sounding very good.

I think most agree that pianoteq is very promising. Modeling is promising. Modart keeps working on pianoteq. I can see that they are pushing the limits of todays computers. Fixes because they are burning cpu's, etc.

Just for discussion sake. There is another one that is expensive besides the Vienna Grand. It's called: Production Grand. I'd say it's equally as good. Equally as expensive. But different. I can see their demo's aren't hyped. From another site where a guy uploaded recordings of it. But from the Production Grand site. If you want some ear candy. Listen to the second recording. It's a Bach piece. I personally think it's the best digital recording of a Classical Piano piece I have ever heard.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2425381 - 17 minutes 46 seconds ago Re: First time piano VST buyer-advice please! [Re: Jennifer Ann]
MacMacMac Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 4096
Loc: North Carolina
I wouldn't put much faith in that survey. The survey technique was seriously flawed. As digitalguy points out ... those who voted did not have or know all the pianos.

Worse, the "voting" is meaningless. A vote tell you next to nothing. After all, what can you conclude from "I like piano A", "he likes piano B", "the other guy likes piano C"? Exactly WHAT is it about piano C that he likes? And, are your preferences aligned with his? Or are yours contrary? The survey doesn't say.

A proper set of reviews might be useful. A piano ought to be judged against a set of meaningful criteria. Lacking that, a "survey" is just hot air.

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