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Originally Posted by vagfilm
Well... I kind of agree and disagree with MacMacMac... Alicia's keys may have the right tone for contemporary christian music, which is what you want. On the other hand, garritan cfx lite has several bright presets that may also work well, and the lite version is affordable.

Interesting, thanks for that input!

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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
Yes, Alicia’s Key is a nice VST but not really for classical music. Garritan is quite nice.

Very subtle differences but still noticeable at least to my still learning ears. Lol

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Originally Posted by vagfilm
Forgot to add that Modern U is also a very good choice (mybe even better than garritan).

In my opinion Noire is very muffled and dark by default.

That Modern U was nice, but up there in price. And you're a bit right with the Noire, it maybe a bit too dark tonally for my style of playing.

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Warning - you are likely to buy more piano VSTs than you need! You’ll keep wondering how much better that other VST might be… smile I have quite a few pianos (thanks to the Native Instruments bundle to begin with, but then have bought a few more “wondering”), but at this point I mainly play Garritan CFX and Pianoteq 7, but am wondering about a few others. Yes, there are differences in all the VST pianos I currently own, but once I start slamming away at the piano keys, most of them are responsive enough and sound good enough. We are spoiled by all the possibilities out there!

You can read opinions and you can watch/listen to YouTube videos, but until you have a VST on your computer triggered by your controller in your listening environment (whether headphones or speakers), you won’t really KNOW if you’ll love a particular VST. And unfortunately, you won’t know how various VSTs really compare till you have them and give them some time to learn their ins and outs.

Good luck and have fun!


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If I think back to buying my first VST I know what I'm about to say probably isn't very helpful because you are undoubtably looking for lots of details and insights. But my short answer (because I lack the energy to write something lengthy on this over and over again) is get the Vintage D if you favor a dry sound and want your room to create it's natural space, or the Garritan CFX if you want something with much more ambience (too much sometimes for me).

You can see in my sig I have a number of VST's, but I always come back to the Vintage D after playing other VST's. I find it by far the easiest VST to set up with a slight tweak or two and then just forget about it and play most anything. Everything else I seem to always be looking for another adjustment when changing genres or even material within a genre.

I'd put the Ivory II American Concert D 3rd, which is also a reasonable choice if you want more recorded ambience than the Vintage D.

Everything else in my sig falls way short of those 3 for all sorts of reasons (and here's where I run out of energy to do a full write up again so ignore I said it if you want but ...). I do have to warn you though (or I couldn't sleep tonight) that Alicia's Keys and EWQL pianos (my first VST) were dreadful mistakes.


Pianoteq is a different animal. It's more of a DIY project that you can make sound pretty good on some things but just not right on others. You can download and try a demo, but it's so controversial there's nearly books written here debating about it (which should tell you something).

My last advice - forget about listening to demo's. They will mislead you into terrible mistakes (that's how I bought EWQL) You have to play them yourself and experience how they sound, how they respond, and what you can do with them as you play them.

Last edited by Macy; 09/29/21 03:05 PM.

Macy

CVP-409GP, Garritan CFX, Vintage D, Ivory II GP's & American Concert D, Pianoteq, True Keys American D, Ravenscroft 275, Garritan Authorized Steinway, Alicia's Keys, EWQL Pianos, MainStage, iPad Pro/forScore/PageFlip Cicada, Custom Mac MIDI/Audio Software Design, Macs Everywhere
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Hi.. My current goto VSt is Pianoteq Grotrian Prelude with the Binaural setting enabled.

Gives you a nice soundstage to work with (binaural)

Personally all my Pianoteq instruments I enable either the medium eq setting or the vintage eq setting. For me it takes away the slightly metallic sound of the model and to my ears makes it a very lovely piano to play.

If You're going the sampled route :
Modern U is also excellent If I had to recommend a sampled piano It would be the Modern U or Vintage D.
Both are lovely.
I've always loved a nice quality upright piano probably due to the fact that it's what I've grown accustomed to playing a plethora of old English Acoustics. The Modern U is full of Character and provided that your volume levels are sufficient , it has a wonderful singing tone to it. Playability is pretty good as well.

Ravenascroft is decent but u gotta be in the mood for it.

CFX is amazing ,albeit it's difficult to get a dry piano sound with it and is a bit heavy on resources.



Hope this helps with your decision.
Cheers.


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Originally Posted by Raf702
After listening to the comparisons based off everyone's suggestions. I collectively like them all, tough choice.

NI NOIRE
Embertone Walker 1955 D
VI Labs Modern U
Garritan CFX Lite
Alicia's Keys(NI)
The Grandeur(NI)


From the 6 listed, the CFX Lite/Embertone/Alicia's Keys/Grandeur is under the $100 mark, and produce quite pleasing tones. And the other 3 sound great as well, but they're in the $150-200 range, which is a tough pill to swallow.

I have them all but the Embertone. My order would be:

Modern U
Garritan CFX
Noire
The Grandeur
Alicia's Keys

I use a VPC1 as a controller.

Good luck with your decision!

Jose


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Kawai VPC1
...plus some other DPs, synths, controllers and VSTs

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You're not alone ...
Originally Posted by Macy
... my short answer is get the Vintage D if you favor a dry sound ...

You can see in my sig I have a number of VST's, but I always come back to the Vintage D after playing other VSTs.
I find it by far the easiest VST to set up with a slight tweak or two and then just forget about it and play most anything.
Everything else I seem to always be looking for another adjustment when changing genres or even material within a genre.
...
My last advice - forget about listening to demo's. They will mislead you into terrible mistakes (that's how I bought EWQL) You have to play them yourself and experience how they sound, how they respond, and what you can do with them as you play them.
I use the Vintage D about 99% of the time. And with just a small increase on the Colour and Resonances knobs I'm in business.
I set 'em years ago and they've not needed any further adjustment.

Grandeur is almost as good. It nicely produces the Steinway sound. But it has a honk in the bass.
I think it's fixable by reducing the setting on one of the knobs. But that adversely affects the tone. So I don't use Grandeur anymore.

As for demos ... I completely agree. All demos sound pretty good. They don't always demonstrate the sound I want. But they sound good.
But when I buy one ... shazzam. Gold turns to pot metal.
Q: What happened?
A: Dunno. But it doesn't matter. Demos are bullcrud. Always keep that in mind.

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Originally Posted by Doug Brock
Warning - you are likely to buy more piano VSTs than you need! You’ll keep wondering how much better that other VST might be… smile I have quite a few pianos (thanks to the Native Instruments bundle to begin with, but then have bought a few more “wondering”), but at this point I mainly play Garritan CFX and Pianoteq 7, but am wondering about a few others. Yes, there are differences in all the VST pianos I currently own, but once I start slamming away at the piano keys, most of them are responsive enough and sound good enough. We are spoiled by all the possibilities out there!

You can read opinions and you can watch/listen to YouTube videos, but until you have a VST on your computer triggered by your controller in your listening environment (whether headphones or speakers), you won’t really KNOW if you’ll love a particular VST. And unfortunately, you won’t know how various VSTs really compare till you have them and give them some time to learn their ins and outs.

Good luck and have fun!

Absolutely agree, at some point I’ll have to be content with just a few. Lol

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Originally Posted by Macy
If I think back to buying my first VST I know what I'm about to say probably isn't very helpful because you are undoubtably looking for lots of details and insights. But my short answer (because I lack the energy to write something lengthy on this over and over again) is get the Vintage D if you favor a dry sound and want your room to create it's natural space, or the Garritan CFX if you want something with much more ambience (too much sometimes for me).

You can see in my sig I have a number of VST's, but I always come back to the Vintage D after playing other VST's. I find it by far the easiest VST to set up with a slight tweak or two and then just forget about it and play most anything. Everything else I seem to always be looking for another adjustment when changing genres or even material within a genre.

I'd put the Ivory II American Concert D 3rd, which is also a reasonable choice if you want more recorded ambience than the Vintage D.

Everything else in my sig falls way short of those 3 for all sorts of reasons (and here's where I run out of energy to do a full write up again so ignore I said it if you want but ...). I do have to warn you though (or I couldn't sleep tonight) that Alicia's Keys and EWQL pianos (my first VST) were dreadful mistakes.


Pianoteq is a different animal. It's more of a DIY project that you can make sound pretty good on some things but just not right on others. You can download and try a demo, but it's so controversial there's nearly books written here debating about it (which should tell you something).

My last advice - forget about listening to demo's. They will mislead you into terrible mistakes (that's how I bought EWQL) You have to play them yourself and experience how they sound, how they respond, and what you can do with them as you play them.

Thank you for this!

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Originally Posted by Mta88
Hi.. My current goto VSt is Pianoteq Grotrian Prelude with the Binaural setting enabled.

Gives you a nice soundstage to work with (binaural)

Personally all my Pianoteq instruments I enable either the medium eq setting or the vintage eq setting. For me it takes away the slightly metallic sound of the model and to my ears makes it a very lovely piano to play.

If You're going the sampled route :
Modern U is also excellent If I had to recommend a sampled piano It would be the Modern U or Vintage D.
Both are lovely.
I've always loved a nice quality upright piano probably due to the fact that it's what I've grown accustomed to playing a plethora of old English Acoustics. The Modern U is full of Character and provided that your volume levels are sufficient , it has a wonderful singing tone to it. Playability is pretty good as well.

Ravenascroft is decent but u gotta be in the mood for it.

CFX is amazing ,albeit it's difficult to get a dry piano sound with it and is a bit heavy on resources.



Hope this helps with your decision.
Cheers.

Thank you!

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Originally Posted by EB5AGV
Originally Posted by Raf702
After listening to the comparisons based off everyone's suggestions. I collectively like them all, tough choice.

NI NOIRE
Embertone Walker 1955 D
VI Labs Modern U
Garritan CFX Lite
Alicia's Keys(NI)
The Grandeur(NI)


From the 6 listed, the CFX Lite/Embertone/Alicia's Keys/Grandeur is under the $100 mark, and produce quite pleasing tones. And the other 3 sound great as well, but they're in the $150-200 range, which is a tough pill to swallow.

I have them all but the Embertone. My order would be:

Modern U
Garritan CFX
Noire
The Grandeur
Alicia's Keys

I use a VPC1 as a controller.

Good luck with your decision!

Jose

The Garritan CFX/Modern U/Walker 1955 D, seem to be the current choices so far.

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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
You're not alone ...
Originally Posted by Macy
... my short answer is get the Vintage D if you favor a dry sound ...

You can see in my sig I have a number of VST's, but I always come back to the Vintage D after playing other VSTs.
I find it by far the easiest VST to set up with a slight tweak or two and then just forget about it and play most anything.
Everything else I seem to always be looking for another adjustment when changing genres or even material within a genre.
...
My last advice - forget about listening to demo's. They will mislead you into terrible mistakes (that's how I bought EWQL) You have to play them yourself and experience how they sound, how they respond, and what you can do with them as you play them.
I use the Vintage D about 99% of the time. And with just a small increase on the Colour and Resonances knobs I'm in business.
I set 'em years ago and they've not needed any further adjustment.

Grandeur is almost as good. It nicely produces the Steinway sound. But it has a honk in the bass.
I think it's fixable by reducing the setting on one of the knobs. But that adversely affects the tone. So I don't use Grandeur anymore.

As for demos ... I completely agree. All demos sound pretty good. They don't always demonstrate the sound I want. But they sound good.
But when I buy one ... shazzam. Gold turns to pot metal.
Q: What happened?
A: Dunno. But it doesn't matter. Demos are bullcrud. Always keep that in mind.


Thanks for the input!

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I can't believe we are doing this again, so soon. Since everyone seems to be playing, I may well chime in also.

VSL CFX is the head on favorite. Nobody says they dislike it. Expensive and computer demanding. Mine is not powerful enough and it's pretty new.

Garritan CFX is the next favorite, but everybody loves the VI Labs Modern U these days. Just remember it's an upright with upright sound.
Not the majestic sounds of the first 2.

Pianotek is worth trying cause the demo really gives you a great idea of what is sounds like. You love it or hate. No in between. Not my cup of tea.

Ravenscroft is my favorite, but certainly not for everyone.

If all you are concerned about is playing the piano, these are you main choices. Everything else is either subpar or made for composing with unique sounds and not what you are looking for it would seem.

Ron

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Originally Posted by Raf702
The Garritan CFX/Modern U/Walker 1955 D, seem to be the current choices so far.

I don't have anything to add in terms of suggestions Raf702, but I will say that the Walker is the one piano VST I can't run smoothly - and I only have the lite version! I can run all the VSL mammoth libraries without a hitch, but Embertone Walker brings my system (i7 from about 18months ago/fast SSDs etc) to its knees.

The Modern U is a thing of beauty and relatively undemanding on my system.

For something cheap and cheerful, I didn't see anybody mention the aging Sampletekk libraries that are currently 90% off the listed price, I believe. Some of them run in the free Kontakt player, others don't.

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Originally Posted by ronlefebvre
I can't believe we are doing this again, so soon. Since everyone seems to be playing, I may well chime in also.

VSL CFX is the head on favorite. Nobody says they dislike it. Expensive and computer demanding. Mine is not powerful enough and it's pretty new.

Garritan CFX is the next favorite, but everybody loves the VI Labs Modern U these days. Just remember it's an upright with upright sound.
Not the majestic sounds of the first 2.

Pianotek is worth trying cause the demo really gives you a great idea of what is sounds like. You love it or hate. No in between. Not my cup of tea.

Ravenscroft is my favorite, but certainly not for everyone.

If all you are concerned about is playing the piano, these are you main choices. Everything else is either subpar or made for composing with unique sounds and not what you are looking for it would seem.

Ron

Thanks! I enjoy the CFX quite much, Garritan at least.

Also I just downloaded the Pianoteq Demo, and I’m thoroughly impressed with the usability of a VST. The piano tones are pretty good so far. But so many to choose from during the sampling/demoing with Pianoteq.

Didn’t realize how much a game changer it is using a VST. That fact I can utilize better acoustic piano tones on demand versus the default tones in my DP is quite remarkable.

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Originally Posted by CraiginNZ
Originally Posted by Raf702
The Garritan CFX/Modern U/Walker 1955 D, seem to be the current choices so far.

I don't have anything to add in terms of suggestions Raf702, but I will say that the Walker is the one piano VST I can't run smoothly - and I only have the lite version! I can run all the VSL mammoth libraries without a hitch, but Embertone Walker brings my system (i7 from about 18months ago/fast SSDs etc) to its knees.

The Modern U is a thing of beauty and relatively undemanding on my system.

For something cheap and cheerful, I didn't see anybody mention the aging Sampletekk libraries that are currently 90% off the listed price, I believe. Some of them run in the free Kontakt player, others don't.

That’s quite alarming having to need a fairly fast PC/Mac. So far my MacBook is able to run the Pianoteq smoothly demo version at least.

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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
You're not alone ...[quote=Macy].

Grandeur is almost as good. It nicely produces the Steinway sound. But it has a honk in the bass.
I think it's fixable by reducing the setting on one of the knobs. But that adversely affects the tone. So I don't use Grandeur anymore.
Hi Mac - I've seen a lot of threads where you point out the honk in the Grandeur, but I just can't find it. Can you tell me what I have to do to hear it? Is it all notes below a certain point, or a small range that you can point out? Also, is it at a certain velocity? I have no EQ applied and my tone setting is slightly on the soft side. I feel the scripting of Galaxy pianos is sort of unmatched for the price you pay. Uli is one of the best and I find Galaxy to be some of the closest to Pianoteq in terms of playability, along with Garritan.

To the OP, you might also want to consider an Upright. The E-instruments Session Keys Upright has some great scripting and is on the low side in terms of pricing.
Also - I might get some flack for calling out Addictive Keys to you, but if you just want a simple great sounding Steinway grand, and a great-sounding Upright, for what they offer at their price point, it's hard to beat. I wouldn't use it for classical tracks, where pedaling techniques come into play, but if I needed something to jam on or sit in a mix that loads quickly, that might be what I'd turn to. Super easy interface to play with. Hope this helps!

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@Boston: The "honk" is an overly loud tone in the lower octaves.

It's only present with sustain pedal.

IIRC it's observed only if the tone color knob (or was it the resonances knob? can't remember) is turned up a bit past the12 o'clock position.
I have the tone at a bit past 2 o'clock, and the resonances at around 1 o'clock.

This was disappointing because I preferred Grandeur over the Vintage D because the latter was hard to control.
So the "Grandeur honk" eventually turned me away. I needed those knob settings to get the tone I liked.

But maybe the next person would be satisfied with the knobs set to mid-range ... and voila, no honk.

Anyway I grew to like the Vintage D ... and for a beneficial reason: I learned better control and articulation over the dynamics. You really must learn that when playing Vintage D.

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I've not tallied numbers, but this might be true ... for now:
Originally Posted by ronlefebvre
VSL CFX is the head on favorite.
Garritan CFX is the next favorite, but everybody loves the VI Labs Modern U these days.
Pianotek is worth trying cause the demo really gives you a great idea of what is sounds like. You love it or hate. No in between. Not my cup of tea.
Ravenscroft is my favorite, but certainly not for everyone.
But your list is incomplete. There are more choices missing than present in your list.

Also ... come back in a year and the list of popular pianos will be quite different.
Look at the threads from five years ago. The list was quite different then.
Or look at ten years ago. Even more different.
People rave over the latest. But have they tried anything else?

Finally, this is entirely subjective, and it does not at all follow from your tally:
Originally Posted by ronlefebvre
... these are your main choices.
Everything else is either subpar or made for composing with unique sounds and not what you are looking for it would seem.
The postings indicate preferences. But they don't dictate choices and they don't say what is or is not subpar.

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