Which are the Best Piano VST Plugins or Sample Libraries for youLet me share my top recommendations. =)

10 Best Piano VST Plugins & Sample LibrariesHello, Mike here, and I am a composer.
Just. Like. You. 😃

The piano is my absolute favorite instrument as a composer.

Why? Because it is so versatile. It has the full range of all octaves, as well as all dynamic levels from the softest of soft, too the loudest of loud (PPP to FFF).

You also have a huge range of sound, tone and character for the piano. Depending on which piano model you use, which microphones are use, where those microphones are placed and so on.

11 Best Piano VST Plugins (Top List)

  1. Keyscape
  2. Addictive Keys
  3. Ravenscroft 275
  4. Walker 1955 Concert D
  5. Cinematic Studio Piano
  6. Una Corda
  7. Emotional Piano
  8. The Gentleman
  9. The Giant
  10. The Grandeur
  11. Alicia’s Keys

How to Choose your Piano VST Plugin?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a piano plugin or library for your composer toolkit. However, there is no such thing as one piano to rule them all.

Every piano is like a different singer. And all vocalists have different styles they are best suited for. That’s why I use different pianos for different productions, depending on what end result I am looking for.

Here is a list of the things I mainly consider:

  • The Piano Model (Grand vs Upright. The brand and model name.)
  • The Overall Tone (Warm vs Bright. Attacky vs Silky.)
  • The Dynamics (Range, Balance, Dynamic Levels, Round Robins)
  • The Microphones (How many, and how I can mix them.)
  • The Shaping Tools (Can I adjust soft/hard, pedal noise etc.)
  • The Sound Quality (Recording quality, balance etc.)

And here is my complete list of my favorite piano plugins and libraries:

1. Keyscape

Keyscape Piano VSTSpectrasonics did an amazing job with this plugin. Not only do you get a great acoustic piano sound.

You get an entire library of all kinds of keyboard instruments, including lots of electric keyboards, and even rare keyboard based instruments.

The sound quality is amazing, and the customization options are extensive. The main downside though is the CPU and RAM usage is quite high compared to most other piano plugins and libraries I have used.

How I use Keyscape as a Composer

Keyscape is my go-to piano/keys software instrument for creative sound design keyboard sounds, smooth sub-bass like low-end pianos, hybrid piano sounds, and rare keyboards.

Keyscape – My Top List

  • The Sound Quality
    10 years of detailed recordings and production of this plugin truly made it become one of the most celebrated piano and keyboard software instruments in the world.
  • The Range of Sounds
    You get 36 instrument models with thousands of presets included.
  • The User Control
    You can shape the tone & character, layer sounds, add effects etc.

2. Addictive Keys

Addictive Keys Piano VSTThis is not a Kontakt sample library, but in fact a dedicated piano VST Plugin. And I have to say this interface is one of the most beautiful and inspiring to work with. Not only for piano plugins, but for any plugin I have used.

You get a nice FX page in this plugin too, where you can customize delay, reverb, microphone mix, filters, saturation etc.

The main advantage is that you can get a complete piano sound with this plugin, effects and all included.

Addictive Keys also comes in different modules you can pick and choose from: a grand piano, an upright piano, an electric grand piano, and an electric piano.

How I use Addictive Keys as a Composer

I mainly use Addictive Keys when I need a crisp, studio sounding produced piano. I also like using it for arpeggios and delayed piano sounds.

Addictive Keys – My Top List

  • The User Interface
    Stunning design, easy to use, and very inspiring.
  • The Performance
    In my own tests it does perform remarkably well with low CPU usage compared to most other piano plugins I tried.
  • The Quick Controls
    You can shape the tone & character, layer sounds, add effects etc.

3. Ravenscroft 275

Ravenscroft 275 Piano VSTWhen I want a well balanced true piano sound, I very often go to this instrument.

It has a very classic sound, but is also very flexible at the same time. You can play anything from jazz, to cinematic action piano parts.

It has that true hammer-resonant low-end that sounds like a piano. In contrast to many other piano plugins that are very boomy, and have too much rumble in the low-end range.

This piano is one of the easiest to mix in a composition, because of the great balanced tone over the full range.

How I use Ravenscroft 275 as a Composer

Whenever I look for a super well balanced piano sound that will easily blend into the mix, I consider this piano.

I find that it works great for background pianos and cinematic music, where you don’t want a boomy low-end or piercing high-end. I also love it for that true and mean piano-hammer sound in the low octaves.

Ravenscroft 275 – My Top List

  • The Tonal Balance
    Stunning design, easy to use, and very inspiring.
  • The Ease of Mixing
    This piano always seem to blend in so well in the mix.
  • The Classic Sound
    The sound of this piano works in so many styles of music because it doesn’t stick out too much.

4. Walker 1955 Concert D

Walker 1955 Concert D Piano VSTBased on a 9′ Steinway Concert D Grand, and with a huge number of velocity levels, this piano library has an amazing range of dynamics. Especially for staccatos, which have got extra attention from the developers.

They recorded dedicated staccato samples in 36 velocity levels and 2x round robins for each key. Which makes this my go-to piano for short note phrases, rhythmic playing etc. Try layering it with staccato or spiccato strings, and you will get amazing results.

Another great aspect of this piano is the adaptive release functionality. This means that the note length will change the actual release sounds, which adds more variation and life to the performance.

How I use Walker 1955 Concert D as a Composer

I love this piano for its amazing sound on short notes, staccato parts and arpeggios. Especially if you leave some space after the notes to let those beautifully recorded resonances and harmonics ring out.

Walker 1955 Concert D – My Top List

  • The Controls
    There’s so many ways to control this piano: a tone color page, una corda, velocity response, volume scaling, pedal noise, release volume etc.
  • The Staccatos
    The focus on staccato samples makes this piano perfect for rhythmic and short note playing styles.
  • The Dynamic Range
    The dynamic range, round robins, and variation from adaptive release etc.

5. Cinematic Studio Piano

Cinematic Studio Piano Piano VSTThis piano is not the most feature rich. However, the interface is amazingly simple, and the sound and tone is exactly what the name implies: cinematic.

It is based on a Yamaha C7 grand piano, and recorded in the same scoring stage as the rest of the cinematic studio series of instruments. This makes it one of my go-to pianos for that instant Hollywood cinematic sound.

You get 4 microphones that you can mix and blend to suit your current composition, and since it is recorded in a scoring stage you get that cinematic sound instantly without having to EQ, filter or add external reverb (unless you want to).

There’s a switch to turn on/off key noise, as well as pedal noise. And an extra reverb slider. And that’s it, no fuzz. Just a great pure and simple cinematic piano.

How I use Cinematic Studio Piano as a Composer

Whenever I need that instant hollywood sound for a piano part, Cinematic Studio Piano is a perfect choice. Lush, warm, beautiful room sound, and delicate tone.

Cinematic Studio Piano – My Top List

  • The Instant Cinematic Sound
    The name says it all. A beautiful, cinematic sound recorded in a premium scoring stage.
  • The Pure Interface
    No clutter, just pure focus on the most important aspects. And super easy to use.
  • The Tonal Balance
    It has a great balance over the full range, and is very easy to mix, especially for cinematic music.

6. Una Corda

Una Corda Piano VSTThis piano library is very different from a standard grand piano. It was recorded from a custom built upright piano that produce a very soft, resonant tone.

It is incredibly useful for those dreamlike piano sounds, and I find it to work great for ambient parts, underscores, cinematic soft background music etc.

The tone is beautiful, and you can choose from 3 different modes. Felt, cotton and pure…all having a distinctively different character.

This piano has lots of character in the resonance and release, harmonics, pedal and key noises etc. I personally often dial down the noise aspects, but in some cases you want to have it present for that close, genuine and intimate sound.

How I use Una Corda as a Composer

I find this the perfect piano for magical overtones, otherworldly harmonics, and sustains full of soul and life. It does not get used in every track due to its specific sound, but when I need it I am grateful to have it in my composer toolbox.

Una Corda – My Top List

  • The Pure & Silky Tone
    It truly has that magical character similar to what you get from guitar string harmonics.
  • 3 Sound Banks
    You can choose from 3 different sound banks with a completely different tone and vibe: Pure, Felt and Cotton.
  • The Shaping Controls
    You can shape the transients, the stereo image, add tape compression, vintage reverb etc.

7. Emotional Piano

Emotional Piano VSTBased on a walnut-bodied Kawai grand piano for it’s soft, luminous warmth and rich, resonant tone. If you want a really soft and emotional piano sound…this piano might be the perfect choice.

It comes with over 40 presets to help you find the perfect piano tone for your needs. And in the user interface you can shape the character further with controls for: tone, body, tightness etc.

There is also an arpeggiator, as well as an entire FX rack. However, I personally most often use Emotional Piano straight out of the box using the main preset to get that lush, radiant piano tone that is perfect for soft, emotional piano performances.

How I use Emotional Piano as a Composer

Whenever I need a very soft, warm and emotional piano sound, this piano is a perfect match. Great for soft chord progressions, or inspiring warm arpeggios.

Emotional Piano – My Top List

  • The Soft & Lush Tone
    For soft and emotional piano parts, this instrument is one of my favorites.
  • The Ease of Use
    Since it is a very focused piano library, you can use it straight out of the box and get instant results.
  • The Shaping Controls
    You can shape the transients, the stereo image, add tape compression, vintage reverb etc.

8. The Gentleman

The Gentleman Piano VSTSometimes you simply need a nice upright piano, if you want that roomy and intimate vibe. The gentleman is based on an upright piano made in 1908, which gives it a really lush vintage sound.

It has a very delicate and close sound, and works great for piano parts in the background of a mix. However a nice, close upright piano also works great for pop music.

The tone controls include levels for pedals, damper, string, and hammer sounds. And you can even control if the lid is open or closed.

How I use The Gentleman as a Composer

If I need a laid-back, roomy piano sound with a close, soft, and intimate vibe, the gentleman is one of my primary choices.

The Gentleman – My Top List

  • The Intimate Tone
    It has that roomy, jazzy vibe perfect for laidback piano parts.
  • The Control Sliders
    Controlling the levels for various sound characteristics.
  • The Vintage Vibe
    It has that vintage character in the very body of the sound.

9. The Giant

The Giant Piano VSTThis is a very unique piano, which the developer calls “Larger than Life Piano”. Why do they claim this?

Well, it is based on the Klavins Piano Model 370i, the world’s biggest upright piano, which is built directly into the wall of the room it is installed in.

It is over 3 meters high, and weighs over 2000Kg. The size of the soundboard is about twice as large as a typical 9′ concert piano. Reading that made me understand their claim.

The end result is a super heavy low-end, rich overtones, and very cinematic sustains. This piano adds a lot of punch, so you really need to be careful with it in the mix to not overwhelm other instruments.

You get over 40 presets, and you have lots of tone shaping controls. But you also have a cinematic mode where you can really get creative and make piano sounds from out of this world.

How I use The Giant as a Composer

Every time I need a bold, punchy low-end in my piano sound, The Giant is a great choice. I rarely use this piano without the XXL button turned on. I also go to this piano for the twisted cinematic sound design abilities.

The Giant – My Top List

  • The Bold Low-End
    The super heavy and bold low-end is my main reason for choosing this piano.
  • The Cinematic Mode
    Design and shape a piano sound beyond this world.
  • The Tone & Anatomy Controls
    Quickly shape the dynamic range, resonances and overall tone.

10. The Grandeur

The Grandeur Piano VSTA concert grand piano with that classic feel, a nice dynamic range with 18 velocity zones and separate overtone and resonance samples. Even the key release sounds have been sampled with 9 velocity layers.

The piano has a crisp and silky high-end and well balanced low-end. It also has that instant concert hall piano vibe, perfect for classical style piano parts.

You can control the tone from soft to bright, as well as individual levels for pedals, damper, string, and hammer sounds.

How I use The Grandeur as a Composer

When I want that classical vibe with a silky high-end and balanced low-end that would fit a concert hall piano sound, The Grandeur is a great choice for me.

The Grandeur – My Top List

  • The Silky High-End
    Which works great for cinematic music where you might need a present piano sound at lower volume.
  • The Classical Vibe
    If you need that classic concert piano sound, this piano will deliver.
  • The Fine-Tuning
    Lots of sliders to control levels of various sound aspects.

11. Alicia’s Keys

Alicia's Keys Piano VSTRecored from Alicia’s own Yamaha­ C3 Neo grand piano. This piano is not as flexible when it comes to sound shaping as many others I’ve tried. But I still go to it often because of that soft, intimate sound you get straight out of the box.

It does not do huge, it does not do bright and attack. Instead it simply does those gentle and magical sounding piano parts amazingly well.

It is very warm and lush sound that lends itself well to RnB, Jazz and laidback piano performances, and I personally use it a lot for background cinematic piano parts.

How I use Alicia’s Keys as a Composer

I mainly use Alicia’s Keys for soft, intimate chords to get that warm, lush and magical vibe. It’s basically always a background piano for me, but a very nice one indeed.

Alicia’s Keys – My Top List

  • The Warm Tone
    The warm, soft and lush sound is this piano’s main highlight.
  • The Intimacy
    Even the fingers hitting the keys have been sampled separately.
  • The Produced Sound
    This piano has a very produced sound, which is sometimes a great shortcut.

Now Take Action!

I personally don’t want to be limited by only having one single piano library or plugin. But you have to start somewhere, and build up your library of pianos in your composer toolbox.

Good luck finding piano VST plugins and sample libraries that suit your music compositions! =)