Piano World Home Page
Posted By: Groove On Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 03:57 AM
What are your top VSTs for these keyboard categories?

Pianos
Electric Pianos
Organs (Hammond etc.)
Synths (Moog, Prophet, Oberheim etc.)
Posted By: johnstaf Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 03:59 AM
I only use pianos. For me it is the VSL Synchron CFX and Steinway. I do love Vienna Imperial too, but it needs to be updated.
Posted By: MacMacMac Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 04:09 AM
Pianos only: Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Kawai EX Pro
Posted By: pianogabe Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 05:23 AM
Piano: C. Bechstein Digital Grand and Pianoteq Steingraeber
Posted By: QuasiUnaFantasia Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 07:55 AM
Piano only: The Grotrian (most of the time) and Bechstein DG (less of the time) from Pianoteq. I don't own other VST's.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 08:04 AM
Garritan CFX. But I need to test the VSL libraries.
Posted By: Ojustaboo Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 08:08 AM
For synths my favourites are

Arturia CS80
Arturia Jupiter 8
Arturia ARP 2600

Omnisphere

Also have NI Komplete 12, loads of good things in there such as Massive, Reactor, various Kontakt Instruments etc

When I’m just messing around, the three Arturia synths are the ones I tend to play with most (but do have the entire Arturia V collection)

As a youngster (17 in 1981) I always wanted a Jupiter 8 but didn’t have the funds. That said I did get to own many synths that are now considered classics such as Korg Trident, Roland Juno 106, Ensoniq SQ80, looking back, out of all of them I think I loved the SQ80 the most.
Posted By: U3piano Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 08:25 AM
I have a few piano vst's, i would rank them like this:

1. Vi labs ravenscroft
2. Garritan Cfx (full)

3. Acousticsamples kawai ex pro
4. Synthogy ivory 1
5. Imperfect samples fazioli

For solo playing, out of these 5 i'd say only ravenscroft and cfx are really worth buying right now, as they simply outclass the older vst's.

For production use of course everything could be interesting, but that fazioli is quite interesting and full of character. I ranked it last because it's playability is the worst, but i think it sounds amazing.

Posted By: Jethro Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 01:48 PM
Originally Posted by U3piano
I have a few piano vst's, i would rank them like this:

1. Vi labs ravenscroft
2. Garritan Cfx (full)

3. Acousticsamples kawai ex pro
4. Synthogy ivory 1
5. Imperfect samples fazioli

For solo playing, out of these 5 i'd say only ravenscroft and cfx are really worth buying right now, as they simply outclass the older vst's.

For production use of course everything could be interesting, but that fazioli is quite interesting and full of character. I ranked it last because it's playability is the worst, but i think it sounds amazing.


Good thing you rank ravenscroft over Garritan CFX because I was pondering buying the Garritan. I already own both The Ravenscroft app and full version but still prefer the Grotian Pianoteq piano for it's playability and quality sound. I personally believe it's the best compromise between the two. High quality sound and fantastic control. Of course neither of these compare (nor come anywhere close) to feel and sound from my Shigeru Kawai acoustic. I wish there was a way to make my Ravenscroft VST more sensitive to my finger input. It's just not there right now.
Posted By: Kbeaumont Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 03:02 PM
Pianos: Pianoteq Steinway D & Addictive Keys Studio Grand
EP: Lounge Lizard 4
Organs: VB3
Synths: Omnisphere 2, Synthmaster, Alchemy, various other Mainstage / Logic synths

I have a lot of others but these are my go to.
Posted By: Gombessa Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 03:57 PM
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Garritan CFX. But I need to test the VSL libraries.


Same on both counts. But I recall something about those USB eLicensor dongles that completely puts me off. CFX has such a reasonable and effortless DRM model that I really don't want to deal with anything more user-unfriendly.
Posted By: Frédéric L Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 05:01 PM
VSL pianos (CFX, Steinway, Bösendorfer : Vienna Imperial), Garritan CFX, Bechstein Digital Grand are my favourite.

One of the 2 CFX is probably too much for my needs. I have found them very close.
Posted By: U3piano Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 07:21 PM
Originally Posted by Jethro

Good thing you rank ravenscroft over Garritan CFX because I was pondering buying the Garritan. I already own both The Ravenscroft app and full version but still prefer the Grotian Pianoteq piano for it's playability and quality sound. I personally believe it's the best compromise between the two. High quality sound and fantastic control. Of course neither of these compare (nor come anywhere close) to feel and sound from my Shigeru Kawai acoustic. I wish there was a way to make my Ravenscroft VST more sensitive to my finger input. It's just not there right now.


Well it's personal of course. The cfx is also great, and the favorite of many others, you might just love it.

Me, i already had the cfx for a while, and bought Ravenscroft so I could switch back and forth between these vst's, but it turns out i like it even better than the cfx so i use it all the time. I might even decide to sell the cfx because of this, but im not sure about that yet.
Posted By: U3piano Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 07:41 PM
Too late to edit my post, but just wanted to say this:

Don't get me wrong. I don't think ravenscroft has better playability than the cfx, i would rank them equally in that regard. i just feel more like im playing a real piano with ravenscroft more so than with the cfx, I think it's just in the way it sounds.

Im a self-thought amateur player, and have no trouble with the response of either these vst's, I think the playability is great on both.
Posted By: Jethro Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/18/19 08:26 PM
Originally Posted by U3piano
Too late to edit my post, but just wanted to say this:

Don't get me wrong. I don't think ravenscroft has better playability than the cfx, i would rank them equally in that regard. i just feel more like im playing a real piano with ravenscroft more so than with the cfx, I think it's just in the way it sounds.

Im a self-thought amateur player, and have no trouble with the response of either these vst's, I think the playability is great on both.

I'm sure their playability is on par with one another. Have fun!
Posted By: Erard Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 07:55 AM
Piano: VSL CFX and Steinway D - with a slight preference for the CFX at the moment.
I have many sampled piano and Pianoteq (the Steingraeber is not bad at all), but these two leave all the other ones in the dust IMO.

Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Garritan CFX. But I need to test the VSL libraries.

Same on both counts. But I recall something about those USB eLicensor dongles that completely puts me off. CFX has such a reasonable and effortless DRM model that I really don't want to deal with anything more user-unfriendly.


I always hated dongles - but now I have tree different systems I use VSL on - two Windows 10 and one MacOS - and I can go from one to the next without any problems. I can have as many copies as I desire! So I hate dongles a little less lately...
Posted By: pianogabe Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 10:21 AM
Originally Posted by Erard
Piano: VSL CFX and Steinway D - with a slight preference for the CFX at the moment.
I have many sampled piano and Pianoteq (the Steingraeber is not bad at all), but these two leave all the other ones in the dust IMO.


Erard, do you also have C. Bechstein Digital Grand for comparison? I do not see this library mentioned much, and I think it is absolutely fantastic. Needs a powerful computer though. In terms of sampled pianos, I can only compare it to Garritan CFX light, and Embertone Walker, and I prefer it over those.
Posted By: Granyala Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 10:45 AM
I only have 2:
Pianoteq (Steinway D) and Garritan CFX.

Imho, pianoteq feels more difficult to control.
Posted By: QuasiUnaFantasia Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 10:58 AM
Originally Posted by Granyala
Imho, pianoteq feels more difficult to control.


You could try lowering the value of the dynamics slider. I recently discovered this, and it has major impact on how easy it is to achieve evenness of tone.
Posted By: jamiecw Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 11:05 AM
Originally Posted by Granyala
I only have 2:
Pianoteq (Steinway D) and Garritan CFX.

Imho, pianoteq feels more difficult to control.

I think that's the first I have ever seen this - a modelling VST more difficult to control than a sampled one...
Posted By: pmh Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 11:16 AM
Me too. I find Pianoteq most responsive to my needs. I have all 10 of the Pianoteq models and the Galaxy Vintage D. I also enjoy the Yamaha CFX and Bösendorfer native to my Yamaha CVP 709. Of the Pianoteq models, l particularly like the Steinway D, Bechstein and Grotrian Concert Royal.

Paul H
Posted By: stamkorg Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 11:34 AM
1. Pianoteq Steinway D, Steingraeber and Grotrian (in that order)
2. The Grandeur
3. VI Labs Ravenscroft 275

The sampled pianos sound beautifull but I always come back to Pianoteq. IMO the best compromise on the market today.
Posted By: Erard Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 11:46 AM
Originally Posted by pianogabe
Erard, do you also have C. Bechstein Digital Grand for comparison? I do not see this library mentioned much, and I think it is absolutely fantastic. Needs a powerful computer though. In terms of sampled pianos, I can only compare it to Garritan CFX light, and Embertone Walker, and I prefer it over those.


I don't anymore - I returned it and got a refund after testing it for several days.
I agree it's one of the good ones - but it used too much of my computer resources and I found the tone a little hard - and I liked Garritan CFX better at the time.

In any case, to me, C. Bechstein Digital Grand it's way better than Ravenscroft or Americand D. Of course, there are people who feel exactly the opposite.

And they are free to be wrong, of course. grin
Posted By: Gombessa Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 02:03 PM
Originally Posted by Erard

I always hated dongles - but now I have tree different systems I use VSL on - two Windows 10 and one MacOS - and I can go from one to the next without any problems. I can have as many copies as I desire! So I hate dongles a little less lately...


Do you move your dongle between systems or do you have three different ones?

With CFX you can have unlimited copies too, and they can all be activated offline. It's all handled in a .png image key they send you when you register. Just drag the image over the app window and it's unlocked.
Posted By: johnstaf Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 04:42 PM
Which CFX are you talking about? All VSL pianos require a dongle.
Posted By: Erard Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 06:15 PM
Originally Posted by Gombessa
Originally Posted by Erard

I always hated dongles - but now I have tree different systems I use VSL on - two Windows 10 and one MacOS - and I can go from one to the next without any problems. I can have as many copies as I desire! So I hate dongles a little less lately...


Do you move your dongle between systems or do you have three different ones?

With CFX you can have unlimited copies too, and they can all be activated offline. It's all handled in a .png image key they send you when you register. Just drag the image over the app window and it's unlocked.


Same machine, three operating systems, accessed via rebooting: Win 10 as a main computer, Win 10 music optimized (no Internet, few services etc.) now rarely used because of MacOS (Hackintosh) mostly for VSL, Pianoteq and music, since it sounds better to my ears.
I have lots of software and I upgrade hardware quite often - and every time it's a mess with all the software keys, user names and passwords, sites etc. The only software I never have to deal with is VSL as long as the dongle is attached to the computer.

Still, there are many things I don't like about the dongle - with VSL for example if you loose it you have to buy everything again, unless you pay 70€ every two years to VSL as a sort of insurance. Crazy.

I like the Garritan system of using a png image, but I doubt this system would protect more expensive or professional software.
Posted By: Frédéric L Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 08:59 PM
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Which CFX are you talking about? All VSL pianos require a dongle.

The CFX which uses an image as a license key is Garritan CFX. The image is customised with your name.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/19/19 09:03 PM
How’s the half-pedaling and re-pedaling in VSL libraries? Is it good enough and comparable to Garritan CFX?
Posted By: johnstaf Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 12:19 AM
Re-pedalling is good in all of them. Half-pedalling is only possible with the Synchron CFX and D, and not Vienna Imperial.
Posted By: jon123 Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 01:33 AM
Do sampled VSTs typically support the sostenuto pedal? If not, do any of the VSTs discussed here support it?
Posted By: johnstaf Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 02:36 AM
Originally Posted by jon123
Do sampled VSTs typically support the sostenuto pedal? If not, do any of the VSTs discussed here support it?


Yes. There's nothing to it, as there's no difference in the sound between notes held by the fingers and those held by the sostenuto.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 06:50 AM
Thanks for the heads up John smile
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 07:21 AM
Since I am having a sort of "over-the-top" audio production server custom-built for me, I've been thinking about putting Pianoteq and VSL Synchron CFX and Concert D (Steinway D) on it. Is there any reason to have Garritan CFX full if one already has VSL Synchron CFX?

(BTW, johnstaf, after my chat with you last Sunday, I told my custom builder to crowbar into my custom build a RAID controller with a pair of NVMe M.2 PCI-e 512GB SSDs in a RAID-0 configuration for my non-boot drive D. I'd rather kick VSL Synchron Concert D's ass than vice versa! wink Let me know if there are any other tweaks I should be having him include. This build already has an RME Babyface Pro 24-Channel 192 kHz USB Bus-Powered Audio Interface.)
Posted By: Erard Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 07:55 AM
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Since I am having a sort of "over-the-top" audio production server custom-built for me, I've been thinking about putting Pianoteq and VSL Synchron CFX and Concert D (Steinway D) on it. Is there any reason to have Garritan CFX full if one already has VSL Synchron CFX?

I haven't used Garritan CFX at all from the day I bought VSL CFX and then VSL Steinway D. To me, at this time, these two VSL libraries are the best money can buy (although there is still room for improvement)
Keep in mind though that you need to spend some time tweaking and testing them to find the perfect mic combination\velocity curve etc. that really satisfies you (but there is no velocity curve control in the Synchron software, so you will have to use some other way). The result is Pianoteq level playability plus real ambience and the superior tone of a sampled library.
At least this has been my experience.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 08:19 AM
What do you mean there’s no velocity curve control? Is this serious? So you can only use your controllers curves or some MIDI automation in the DAW?
Posted By: Erard Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 08:41 AM
Originally Posted by CyberGene
What do you mean there’s no velocity curve control? Is this serious? So you can only use your controllers curves or some MIDI automation in the DAW?

I know, it's hard to believe, but you cannot control the velocity curve in the Vienna Synchron Piano VST sofware (the VSL software for the CFX and Steinway D samples - 500€ each!).
There is only a Midi Sensitivity control, no UI, that makes the samples more or less velocity sensitive - I have no idea of what that means (goes from -100 to 100), and it is practically useless to me.

I use Cantabile on Windows, with a velocity curve VST (MidiCurve, 32 bit, with jBridge) chained before the Synchron software, and Mainstage on MacOS, which has a somewhat ok velocity curve control.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 09:07 AM
With that in mind, I’m amazed at the advanced touch curve functionality in my Studiologic SL73. Using the control software one can create not only a custom touch curve but also velocity offsets per key and even create a balance between the black and white keys shocked That controller itself isn’t anything to talk about in terms of piano action realism but the advanced level of programming capabilities is great. I guess their SL88 Grand might be a great solution for pianists taking in mind it uses their best action with wooden parts and in combination with the fine-grained touch curve configuration.
Posted By: JJHLH Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 12:35 PM
Originally Posted by Erard
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Since I am having a sort of "over-the-top" audio production server custom-built for me, I've been thinking about putting Pianoteq and VSL Synchron CFX and Concert D (Steinway D) on it. Is there any reason to have Garritan CFX full if one already has VSL Synchron CFX?

I haven't used Garritan CFX at all from the day I bought VSL CFX and then VSL Steinway D. To me, at this time, these two VSL libraries are the best money can buy (although there is still room for improvement)
Keep in mind though that you need to spend some time tweaking and testing them to find the perfect mic combination\velocity curve etc. that really satisfies you (but there is no velocity curve control in the Synchron software, so you will have to use some other way). The result is Pianoteq level playability plus real ambience and the superior tone of a sampled library.
At least this has been my experience.


Do you have a favorite between the VSL CFX and VSL Steinway D?
Posted By: Erard Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 01:54 PM
Originally Posted by JJHLH
Do you have a favorite between the VSL CFX and VSL Steinway D?


As I said, at the moment I slightly prefer the CFX - but I also like the Yamaha flagship better than the Steinway D on the real instruments.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure this helps if your question is about deciding which one to buy: another person's opinion means very little in this regard.

Having said that, I prefer the CFX samples because they sound more raw and direct and more real to me.
On the other hand, the Steinway D has a better implementation of the note off sound and it's a tiny bit more smooth and regular.

The funny thing is, a few months ago I used to play the Steinway D almost exclusively...
Posted By: rach3master Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 03:10 PM
My experience with VSL Steinway is a bit different. I got it after hearing some impressive demos and reading some good reviews. When I tried it myself, however, I realized it was extremely bright, even brighter than my Garritan CFX, which I didn't expect from a piano sampled from a Steinway. To my ears, it almost sounded like a honky tonk.

Because of this, I felt a complete disconnect between what I was pressing and the sound that was coming out. I tried tweaking some settings suggested by some members here, and that made the sound a little more palatable, but I still felt that odd disconnect. I don't think there is enough tweaking that can be done to fundamentally change the timbre of the instrument. Maybe I am just too used to the sound of the Garritan CFX, although that too I also wish were a bit mellower.
Posted By: pianistje Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 04:43 PM
piano's :
Garitan CFX full (for playabilty and sound as replacement for a piano solo)
Embertone Walker 1954 (for any piano parts in a mix)
Super Grand, Ravenscroft, Hammersmith full, my piano and some others that i don't use anymore.....

electric piano's :
Scarbee EP88 (perfect for anything Rhodish, they did an amazing job with this one)
Neo souls deleted and some i don't even remember from Waves like Wurli and electric grand 88

Organ :
B5 V2.02 (almost perfect don't need another one)

Synth :
OP-X (all the Oberheim emulations i'll ever need)
Kontakt 6 synths (analogue dreams etc.) and Cubase 10 synths.

I don't really need anything now, very happy at the moment...focussing on playing more instead of the next even better plug in.
Posted By: pianistje Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 05:06 PM
Something i forgot to tell about the Embertone. The Walker 1954 sustain is one of a kind and i solely use the hammer mics and the liquid sonics ''illusions'' reverb plug-in for a bit of reverb. I have never experienced a more ''alive'' piano in a pop mix. All the warm piano characteristics without eating up the tonal qualities of other instruments. The intro of ''always a woman to me''/Billy Joel is a great Steinway intro that the Walker can mimic easily.
Most other piano's end up the same, loosing their character in the mix and this ''Yamaha'' lifeless eveness/brightness is dominant no matter what brand the sampled piano was supposed to be..
Not so with the Embertone, still a bit wanting for solo piano, but it is so good in a mix.
Try to layer only piano with a string patch and most vst's muddy the result to some extent .
The Embertone reveals it's organic qualities even more so than in isolation. It's o so slightly thin and tacky character (because i use the hammer mics) becomes it's strenght and the sustain does the rest.

I'm a huge fan of it and if i had to pick only one, the Embertone would be the one for sure, also because i frequently play along with records to maintain perfect pop/rock timing.
Posted By: johnstaf Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 05:28 PM
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

(BTW, johnstaf, after my chat with you last Sunday, I told my custom builder to crowbar into my custom build a RAID controller with a pair of NVMe M.2 PCI-e 512GB SSDs in a RAID-0 configuration for my non-boot drive D. I'd rather kick VSL Synchron Concert D's ass than vice versa! wink Let me know if there are any other tweaks I should be having him include. This build already has an RME Babyface Pro 24-Channel 192 kHz USB Bus-Powered Audio Interface.)


Tyrone, that sounds great! This isn't the first VSL instrument to tax the most up-to-date systems. Their Dimension Strings (2013), in which every string player in the orchestra is sampled separately, is probably the most demanding sample based instrument in existence -depending on the size of your orchestra.

With your system, you'll probably be able to load all mic positions of the Synchron D together with tiny latency.

The Baby Face Pro has great low latency drivers for Windows. It sounds like your system is going to fantastic!
Posted By: johnstaf Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 05:42 PM
Originally Posted by Erard
Originally Posted by CyberGene
What do you mean there’s no velocity curve control? Is this serious? So you can only use your controllers curves or some MIDI automation in the DAW?

I know, it's hard to believe, but you cannot control the velocity curve in the Vienna Synchron Piano VST sofware (the VSL software for the CFX and Steinway D samples - 500€ each!).


For people who aren't familiar with VSL pricing, the standard versions usually have less playable content than the full versions. However, the pianos only differ in the number of mic positions. They are otherwise identical, but much cheaper.

There's only a singe version of Vienna Imperial, but a Synchron Imperial is expected soon, which will presumably have a cheaper standard version.
Posted By: MacMacMac Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 07:12 PM
I just got the Garritan CFX ... and I'm thinking I need to add it to my top choices.
I did not expect to like a Yamaha grand. And I haven't touched one in over twenty years.
I expected it to be bright and harsh. But upon trying the Garritan I think I'm becoming a fan.
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Pianos only: Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Kawai EX Pro
Posted By: Gombessa Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 07:33 PM
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I just got the Garritan CFX ... and I'm thinking I need to add it to my top choices.
I did not expect to like a Yamaha grand. And I haven't touched one in over twenty years.
I expected it to be bright and harsh. But upon trying the Garritan I think I'm becoming a fan.


Welcome to the club! There are a lot of good suggestions for curves and mic settings on here for CFX, if you feel the need to make adjustments.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 07:42 PM
And the repedaling fix wink
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 10:20 PM
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Tyrone, that sounds great! This isn't the first VSL instrument to tax the most up-to-date systems. Their Dimension Strings (2013), in which every string player in the orchestra is sampled separately, is probably the most demanding sample based instrument in existence -depending on the size of your orchestra.

With your system, you'll probably be able to load all mic positions of the Synchron D together with tiny latency.

The Baby Face Pro has great low latency drivers for Windows. It sounds like your system is going to fantastic!

A controversy has erupted with my custom builder, which seems to be a point of stubborn pride for him. Perhaps it has less meaning from the MacBook Pro power-user perspective however.
Posted By: MacMacMac Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/20/19 10:49 PM
I'm sure I'll want to make adjustments. Is there a condensed summary available? (Said the lazy one.)
Originally Posted by Gombessa
There are a lot of good suggestions for curves and mic settings on here for CFX, if you feel the need to make adjustments.
Posted By: Craig Richards Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/21/19 12:28 AM
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I'm sure I'll want to make adjustments. Is there a condensed summary available? (Said the lazy one.)
Originally Posted by Gombessa
There are a lot of good suggestions for curves and mic settings on here for CFX, if you feel the need to make adjustments.


The Garritan CFX also works well in contemporary/pop tracks, such as Tracks 029 and 033 on this album of production music I produced recently:

http://www.motionfocusmusic.com/album/mofom%20222/mofom-222-Sentimental-Journeys

Here's some screen shots of my CFX settings:

https://imgur.com/a/ZFSAWIZ

I've only ever owned the full version, and I always include some amount of the ambient mics in the mix (which aren't available in the CFX Lite version). No extra reverb added to the piano, but there is a touch of Valhalla Room (Large Room) on the master output to help gel everything. Guitar is Hephaestus sounds Spanish Guitar from Sampleism, and Strings are the free Pocket Blackus Solo Cello.
Posted By: Craig Richards Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/21/19 12:50 AM
Originally Posted by pianistje
Something i forgot to tell about the Embertone. The Walker 1954 sustain is one of a kind and i solely use the hammer mics and the liquid sonics ''illusions'' reverb plug-in for a bit of reverb. I have never experienced a more ''alive'' piano in a pop mix. All the warm piano characteristics without eating up the tonal qualities of other instruments. The intro of ''always a woman to me''/Billy Joel is a great Steinway intro that the Walker can mimic easily.
Most other piano's end up the same, loosing their character in the mix and this ''Yamaha'' lifeless eveness/brightness is dominant no matter what brand the sampled piano was supposed to be..
Not so with the Embertone, still a bit wanting for solo piano, but it is so good in a mix.
Try to layer only piano with a string patch and most vst's muddy the result to some extent .
The Embertone reveals it's organic qualities even more so than in isolation. It's o so slightly thin and tacky character (because i use the hammer mics) becomes it's strenght and the sustain does the rest.

I'm a huge fan of it and if i had to pick only one, the Embertone would be the one for sure, also because i frequently play along with records to maintain perfect pop/rock timing.


That's really interesting to hear, and I know exactly what you mean about the Billy Joel 'Always a Woman' piano intro - that tone, character and aliveness is hard to emulate with any sampled piano. Always admired the piano sound Billy's producer Phil Ramone captured on 'The Stranger' album which that track was from, but thought the piano they used on that album was a Baldwin concert grand. Not sure, but it's a huge, resonant sound I really like.

The Embertone Walker D has a tone & character unlike any of the other (90+ would you believe) sampled/virtual pianos I own. The closest sonically to my ears would be the Cinesamples Piano in Blue (not surprisingly, the same Steinway D, but from 1949). I only have the Lite version of the Embertone Walker D, but my first impression was of it being a more detailed version of Piano in Blue, with that same clear hammer attack & complex swirling harmonics & sustain. I've been considering upgrading to the full version, and adding the hammer mics (the clarity of which really appealed to me in the demos). I am concerned about the pedalling & performance problems detailed here and on VI Control, and the promised update is still a work in progress it appears.
Posted By: pianistje Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/21/19 08:50 AM
Originally Posted by Craig Richards


That's really interesting to hear, and I know exactly what you mean about the Billy Joel 'Always a Woman' piano intro - that tone, character and aliveness is hard to emulate with any sampled piano. Always admired the piano sound Billy's producer Phil Ramone captured on 'The Stranger' album which that track was from, but thought the piano they used on that album was a Baldwin concert grand. Not sure, but it's a huge, resonant sound I really like.

Ah thanks ,that Billy Joel piano has many similarities to the hammer mics in the Embertone + the resonance... i thought it was a Steinway.
I must say that the Embertone does not sound like a new Steinway though.... and Steinway over the last century ( both Hamburg and New York) have such varying exemplares soundwise....
Quote

The Embertone Walker D has a tone & character unlike any of the other (90+ would you believe) sampled/virtual pianos I own. The closest sonically to my ears would be the Cinesamples Piano in Blue (not surprisingly, the same Steinway D, but from 1949). I only have the Lite version of the Embertone Walker D, but my first impression was of it being a more detailed version of Piano in Blue, with that same clear hammer attack & complex swirling harmonics & sustain. I've been considering upgrading to the full version, and adding the hammer mics (the clarity of which really appealed to me in the demos). I am concerned about the pedalling & performance problems detailed here and on VI Control, and the promised update is still a work in progress it appears.

I also happen to have the CinePiano which sounds great, but it’s a bit jumpy in some velocities.
I don’t know how many velocity layers the Embertone light has, but in the full version i use all 36 layers.
It’s definitely enhancing the dynamics of the Embertone.
Yes it doesn’t play as smooth as the Garritan CFX with the better pedal behaviour.
But i didn’t have the experience as some others that the playability was bad.
Compared to some other libraries it plays pretty good and I use a Kawai MP11SE and have no problem playing the Embertone from that keyboard.

But i suppose that a demanding classical repertoir requires something else.
Which i always find a bit amusing.
Two weeks ago i played a brand new Steigraeber C-212 and Bösendorfer Imperial, Yamaha S6 ( second hand) and the new Bechstein B-212 .
Besides their haunting real sound, the action was able to perfectly execute up to the smallest details imaginable.
I fully onderstand money issues and a certain limited environment at home , but if i were to play a demanding classical repertoir i would try to play on A catagory grands if it were remotely possible.
The Yamaha N3x is a slap in the face by comparison.
It was a long time when i played an S6, but all what you are missing in the Yamaha Avant grand series immidiatly presented itself at the very first passage on the S6.
I know most sampled versions of an S6 ( most Yammy digitals have also a S6 onboard) they never come close to the real thing.
It was an eye opening experience how good an S6 actually plays and sounds.

Sorry for the derailment, but i do not use piano vst’s to mimic the experience of a real grand....it would frustrate the heck out of me.
Posted By: BigIslandGuy Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/21/19 10:41 AM
I use the Pianoteq (latest version as of 7/19) Steinway B, fed by a Kawai MPSEII as the silent complement to my acoustic S&S B. It took a good bit of adjustment over a period of about a month to get it just the way I like it, perhaps because I have the "real" B to compare it with, but I really like it. Obviously not exactly like the real one, but it's way better than any crappy acoustic would be. A student could grow with this combo for quite a long time. I also find it extremely convenient for listening to myself because it's always recording recent MIDI output. I just forget it's on record and sometimes snag some pretty decent (for me anyway) passages .
Posted By: Gombessa Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/21/19 08:16 PM
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I'm sure I'll want to make adjustments. Is there a condensed summary available? (Said the lazy one.)

Don't think there is a single thread, but folks like Cybergene and Philip Johnston have posted their settings. Anyone the common settings I've seen and have used:

1. Don't bother with reverb. The ambient mics (in Full version) give you everything you need and more.
2. Most users default to the Classic perspective.
3. Update the program to get (and enable) half and partial pedaling support.
4. Set ambient mic eq/volume to about 60-70%,, higher for more reverb, lower for a more dry sound.
5. Increase the dynamic range from 50 to 60-70 or so.
6. Try Cybergene's repealing fix.
7. Drop the pedal noise, it is super distracting.
8. If you have trouble with some pops/skips, disabling EQ-Limit may help.
Posted By: Frédéric L Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/21/19 09:36 PM
Originally Posted by johnstaf
[
There's only a singe version of Vienna Imperial, but a Synchron Imperial is expected soon, which will presumably have a cheaper standard version.

Has VSL said officially (or non-officially) something about it ?

I suppose the Synchron version will be a record from the concert room, then ready to be mixed with an orchestra, while the old Vienna Imperial uses other perspectives.

Since I play only with the player perspective, I suppose the Synchron to be redondant with the Vienna Imperial.
Posted By: johnstaf Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/21/19 10:02 PM
Originally Posted by Frédéric L

Has VSL said officially (or non-officially) something about it ?

I suppose the Synchron version will be a record from the concert room, then ready to be mixed with an orchestra, while the old Vienna Imperial uses other perspectives.

Since I play only with the player perspective, I suppose the Synchron to be redondant with the Vienna Imperial.


They hinted at it many times on their forum. I think everybody knew the Steinway was coming, after they linked to their video showing the pianos in the Synchron studio. I believe they've all but confirmed a further instalment.

I wonder if there will be a Synchronized version of the original Imperial. They've done this with many instruments where they use their own software to attempt to "place" their dry recordings on the Synchron Stage. I would prefer this option, as it means they would have to clean up the original Vienna Imperial, and bring it up to date. A new Synchron version would have to be pretty spectacular to beat Vienna Imperial.
Posted By: karvala Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/25/19 12:33 AM
A little late to this particular party, but just wanted to add another vote for the VSL CFX and Steinway D. I have a lot of the most popular piano VSTs these days, and these are my top two. Honorable mention for the Garritan CFX as well, which is somewhat different but also very good. Wouldn't bother with any others, unless you're a specific fan of the Pianoteq approach.

Originally Posted by Erard
Originally Posted by JJHLH
Do you have a favorite between the VSL CFX and VSL Steinway D?


As I said, at the moment I slightly prefer the CFX - but I also like the Yamaha flagship better than the Steinway D on the real instruments.


Ditto; I also prefer the CFX and also partly at least because I prefer the underlying CFX acoustic instrument as well. I originally disliked the Steinway D for the reasons rach3master gives - it was excessively bright in its original velocity curve and even after that was fixed by VSL it still felt somewhat brutal - but I must admit it's grown on me. Rather like a very complex and bitter coffee that just feels harsh originally but that you eventually come to appreciate. The smooth-drinking CFX still takes the crown for me, though.

To also support other answers given: sostenuto works fine and as expected. Half-pedalling is generally excellent; best thing I can say is that I generally don't notice or need to pay attention to the pedalling implementation - it just works, which is how it should be if it's done properly.

Yes, no velocity curve in the VSL piano VSTs, which has been repeatedly criticised but to no avail. Having said that, it needs to be hosted in a DAW anyway (or something like SaviHost, which I use and is very convenient as well as free), which will usually have a velocity curve facility, so it's not a major problem.
Posted By: Chordo24 Re: Your Top VSTs - 07/25/19 04:27 PM
Hi all,

as thread opener I now have decided with which VST I will start the adventure. Your recommendation which VST to buy was clear cut - so I bought both!

The discussion was generating lots of detailed information and advice, which I hadn`t found elsewhere. Very helpful. For me especially the hint about the differences between Full and Demo was important.

Now if I only could find that software version of the almost unknown SK.

Thanks again.
© Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums