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Which VSTi for classical music? #2712949 02/09/18 02:40 PM
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madshi Offline OP
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I've seen many threads about VSTis, but most recent threads haven't been very specific about the use case. So please forgive me for starting yet another new thread, but very specific for classical piano playing. Which VSTi would you guys recommend for:

- Debussy
- Tchaikovsky
- Beethoven
- Grieg
- Schubert
- etc

FWIW, I'm not a very advanced player, I don't even know what half pedaling is blush so I'm probably fine if the VSTi doesn't support special pedaling features. Or maybe I should learn that stuff?

(Kawai CL36 -> MacBook + Thunderbolt Audio Interface -> Presonus E5.)

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Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2712963 02/09/18 04:03 PM
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michaelvi Offline
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Can I sit here and eavesdrop on the answers? I asked similar question here but probably did it not in a proper way smile In fact, I am also interested in classical genre mainly and I don't have a clear answer yet.

But before a much more experienced and knowledgeable people will come here with their answers let me share with you my experience.
But before disclaimer: I am not a classical piano player and actually I am not yet piano player at all (see my signature). I am just learning with very simple pieces but my teacher selects them with knowledge that final goal is classical music.

I started with highly popular here Galaxy Vintage D. It took me some time to get used to it but finally it became my main VST for several months (I had two others at the same time, which I don't want even to mention - not being expert in this field and knowing that some people here like them, so I'll let them to express their opinions). Still I wasn't 100% satisfied so I looked further reading a lot of threads here (also listening to demos - but that considered not very reliable criteria).
I recently bought Garritan CFX Lite and Ravenscroft because these two are also highly recommended. Didn't try Ravenscroft yet, but CFX Lite I liked immediately. Don't know how it will work with real serious classical music but it works well with my exercises.

Also I want to share with you some statistics that I collected here (if you believe in "Big numbers rule"):
You will find thoughts:

"Ravenscroft is better for jazz than classical" - at least 3 different people expressed this opinion (others may disagree of course, we'll see).

"Try the Ivory II American D for classical music. I'd recommend the Galaxy Vintage D if you were playing pop or jazz"
"I doubt the American D will disappoint you for classical"
"I've just created a new session on try-sound and to me it does sound like Ivory is a more musical/classical sounding piano"
Question: "If you could choose only one of those for a classical album, which one would it be?" Answer: "The American D. But I play pop much more, so my favorite is the Vintage D, which is the best sounding Steinway I've heard for pop or jazz"

recorded using the Garritan CFX, ... designed to test .. instrument as a classical.. option

And another two highly recommended for classical music VSTs are "THE GRANDEUR" (here at PW) and Pearl Concert Grand (on other places)

I don't have ACD, Grandeur and Pearl, and I think I will stop buying VSTs for now (to save money for a better keyboard in few years) - unless I will hear specific suggestions for classical music and they will be on sale smile

And last but very important thing (Just in case you don't know it yet): try this this site try sound. Many people found it useful. Not all VSTs are available for trying there but many are


Started 2016-01-29
Casio Privia PX-760 => Garritan CFX Lite, Ravenscroft 275 => Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 =>ATH-40mx, Sennheiser HD598, JBL LSR305
Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2712965 02/09/18 04:06 PM
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If you're not very advanced, then does it really matter which VST is better "for classical music"? Just buy one that sounds good to you.

In general ...

Bach never wrote for piano. The harpsichord was his instrument for keyboard work. To play Bach on a piano rather than a harpsichord you'd likely want one with a thinner sound and little sustain.

Mozart played the early German Stein pianos, known for lighter, thinner tones than what we're accustomed to today.

Beethoven preferred the English Broadwood pianos, which in those days were more powerful than most others. Not as resonant as a modern piano, but more powerful than the Stein.

Liszt was said to play like a sledgehammer, so his view was surely about powerful sound (where suitable).

Jazz pianists tend to prefer a bright, cutting tone in a piano. Perhaps a Yamaha. Surely not a Bosendorfer!

There's much more to be said about this ... but I wonder how much it really matters to you?

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: MacMacMac] #2712969 02/09/18 04:11 PM
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michaelvi Offline
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
If you're not very advanced, then does it really matter which VST is better "for classical music"?... but I wonder how much it really matters to you?

I am an absolute beginner. Believe me it does a lot...


Started 2016-01-29
Casio Privia PX-760 => Garritan CFX Lite, Ravenscroft 275 => Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 =>ATH-40mx, Sennheiser HD598, JBL LSR305
Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2712971 02/09/18 04:13 PM
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vmishka Offline
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I play classical music exclusively and I have used both Ivory II Italian Grand and Garritan CFX (full). The CFX definitely requires more disk space and probably more computer resources. My desktop computer is a 2014 i5 iMac. My notebook is a 2012 Macbook Pro. I have used the Ivory II on the notebook with absolutely no problems. I haven't tried the CFX on the notebook but use it with no problems on the desktop.

Half pedaling means depressing the sustain pedal only partially down instead of all the way down. That definitely changes the character of the notes being sustained and is worth exploring. Both of the pianos that I have support half pedaling.

My YouTube channel is Sergei Aoûtka.

There you will find two Schubert selections made with Garritan CFX and a Mozart Piano Concerto made with Ivory II Italian Grand. You can also get to two of the three videos from the Members Recordings page: Schubert Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946 and Mozart Piano Concerto No 26 K537. The third selection on the YouTube channel is the Schubert Piano Sonata D. 664.

In my opinion, either of these two is suitable for classical music and I don't make a distinction regarding what piano to use for which composer. It all depends on the kind of sound you prefer. Everyone will have different opinions. Some people have good things to say about Galaxy Vintage D and Ravenscroft 275. Other people like the sound of Pianoteq 6.

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: vmishka] #2712974 02/09/18 04:25 PM
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michaelvi Offline
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Originally Posted by vmishka
I play classical music exclusively and I have used both Ivory II Italian Grand and Garritan CFX (full).

Could you please share with us what perspective and mic you are using with CFX? (I am considering upgrade of my Lite and thinking if it is worth another $95)


Started 2016-01-29
Casio Privia PX-760 => Garritan CFX Lite, Ravenscroft 275 => Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 =>ATH-40mx, Sennheiser HD598, JBL LSR305
Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: MacMacMac] #2712977 02/09/18 04:26 PM
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madshi Offline OP
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@michaelvi, I've also read that American D was often recommended for classical music, but the threads were relatively old, which is why I've started a new thread, maybe there are new and better alternatives available now?

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
If you're not very advanced, then does it really matter which VST is better "for classical music"? Just buy one that sounds good to you.

Just listening to some MP3 files doesn't really help me much because listening to MP3 files is completely different to actually playing, and furthermore the MP3 demos available for the various VSTs don't cover the same classical pieces. So it doesn't really allow me to properly compare, or to properly evaluate if they sound good to me.

I was hoping that the more advanced players on this forum would have some sort of consensus which VSTs are best suited for classical playing? In older threads American D was often recommended for classical playing, but that was a while ago, so maybe there are (even) better options available today?

I'm not looking for a different VST for each componist. Just one VST which works well as an alround VST for classical music. I've no interest in Jazz.

Thanks.

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2712978 02/09/18 04:32 PM
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madshi Offline OP
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@vmishka, thanks, I appreciate that. How do you decide whether you use the CFX or the Italian Grand? Does it depend on mood? Or is one more mellow and the other brighter/sharper?

I wish there were time limited evaluation versions of all the VSTs available... ;/

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2712979 02/09/18 04:37 PM
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michaelvi Offline
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Originally Posted by madshi
I wish there were time limited evaluation versions of all the VSTs available... ;/

Italian Grand is available here - https://www.bestservice.com/try-sound.html
Not exactly a "time limited evaluation version" but better than nothing...


Started 2016-01-29
Casio Privia PX-760 => Garritan CFX Lite, Ravenscroft 275 => Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 =>ATH-40mx, Sennheiser HD598, JBL LSR305
Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: michaelvi] #2712980 02/09/18 04:37 PM
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vmishka Offline
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Originally Posted by michaelvi
Originally Posted by vmishka
I play classical music exclusively and I have used both Ivory II Italian Grand and Garritan CFX (full).

Could you please share with us what perspective and mic you are using with CFX? (I am considering upgrade of my Lite and thinking if it is worth another $95)


I basically use the ones recommended by Phillip Johnston which you will find in this thread: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...demo-real-enough-series.html#Post2605238 except that I enable partial pedaling and not re-pedaling.

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: vmishka] #2712983 02/09/18 04:44 PM
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michaelvi Offline
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Originally Posted by vmishka
I basically use the ones recommended by Phillip Johnston which you will find in this thread: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...demo-real-enough-series.html#Post2605238 except that I enable partial pedaling and not re-pedaling.
Thank you!!!


Started 2016-01-29
Casio Privia PX-760 => Garritan CFX Lite, Ravenscroft 275 => Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 =>ATH-40mx, Sennheiser HD598, JBL LSR305
Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2712984 02/09/18 04:45 PM
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vmishka Offline
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Originally Posted by madshi
@vmishka, thanks, I appreciate that. How do you decide whether you use the CFX or the Italian Grand? Does it depend on mood? Or is one more mellow and the other brighter/sharper?

I wish there were time limited evaluation versions of all the VSTs available... ;/


I definitely prefer a more mellow sound.

Garritan CFX wasn't around when I first started with piano VSTs and after a thorough study 7 years ago (as well as considering price) I ended up with the Italian Grand.

From 1979 to 1990, I owned an acoustic Yamaha CF. My wife and I moved to Europe to do medical research for 8 years and I sold the piano to Arizona State University. However, I definitely like the Yamaha sound. Therefore, when people like Phillip Johnston started raving about how good the CFX was, I listened closely to recordings and tried it. At the moment, I just use the CFX for final Youtube video "production," but keep the Italian Grand around on my laptop when I am traveling.

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2712989 02/09/18 05:09 PM
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The great thing about the Garritan CFX is that it is one of the few piano VSTs that, IMHO, don't have any notes sticking out in a bad way. So no notes that sound off, too quiet, too loud, tinny, or weird in any other way. That should make this instrument a good choice for any classical music because you can concentrate on the playing and on the depth of your articulation and musical ideas instead of having to circumvent the problems of the instrument. Definitely recommended. Ivory American Concert D is also great but the resonances IMHO aren't as good as the one in other instruments because the Ivory pianos don't have actual pedal-down samples. Good luck.

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2713002 02/09/18 06:28 PM
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madshi Offline OP
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Thank you, vmishka and Grazilerimba.

So far everybody seems to love CFX. I think I like mellow/warm, too. So that should probably be at the top of my list.

I wonder if the full CFX version worth the added cost over the light version? I can afford it, but I don't want to throw out additional money for no reason.

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2713029 02/09/18 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by madshi
Thank you, vmishka and Grazilerimba.

So far everybody seems to love CFX. I think I like mellow/warm, too. So that should probably be at the top of my list.

I wonder if the full CFX version worth the added cost over the light version? I can afford it, but I don't want to throw out additional money for no reason.


There are lots of threads where people give their opinions about whether or not it is worth it to go to the full version. In my case, I was impressed with the sound that Phillip Johnston was getting so I opted for the full version. There is a trade-off. With the full version, you are getting mics and presets that are probably not ideal for classical music that you probably will never use. But, the lite version doesn't include the microphone position which adds most of the ambiance of the Abbey Road Studio, an important part of the package.

The good news is that I don't think there is any penalty for starting out with the lite version and upgrading to the full version. In fact, some people have found deals where you actually save a couple of dollars by going that route.

Last edited by vmishka; 02/09/18 10:05 PM.
Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2713030 02/09/18 09:58 PM
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+1 to vmishka.

I mainly went for CFX due to Phillip as well, and I only wanted full for the single ambient mic perspective on Classic. And I turn the ambient mics way down too. I never touch player or contemporary at all.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2713040 02/09/18 11:53 PM
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This guy's a beginner. I would take the Ivory ACD because the first preset sounds great, and it's a piano sound everyone is familiar with.
The CFX - the default preset has zero resonance, you have to make adjustments to reduce the echo because it sounds like it was recorded in a concert hall even though it's really Abbey Road Studios.
I would recommend a VST that requires little tweaking and that has an intuitive interface.


Roland FP-90; Pianoteq 6 + many add-ons; 2 Yamaha HS8s; ATH-M50X and Samson SR850 headphones; Xenyx Q802USB interface. 2; I make a living playing a Yamaha PSR-S970 with FBT Maxx 2a's, Crowne Headset Mic. I also play guitar.
Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2713079 02/10/18 04:57 AM
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Thanks once again, everyone.

I'm a moderate level piano player, but a PC pro, so I'm ok with tweaking, as long as I only have to do it once and not all the time.

Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2713081 02/10/18 05:15 AM
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If you are a beginner, is you who has to match the VST, and it will take years to do so. Even a medium class digital is gonna be way over your hability. Pick one and study hard. Better if It has weird notes, just like real pianos do.


Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
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Re: Which VSTi for classical music? [Re: madshi] #2713090 02/10/18 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by madshi
Thanks once again, everyone.

I'm a moderate level piano player, but a PC pro, so I'm ok with tweaking, as long as I only have to do it once and not all the time.


Sorry for demoting you.


Roland FP-90; Pianoteq 6 + many add-ons; 2 Yamaha HS8s; ATH-M50X and Samson SR850 headphones; Xenyx Q802USB interface. 2; I make a living playing a Yamaha PSR-S970 with FBT Maxx 2a's, Crowne Headset Mic. I also play guitar.
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