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Best piano VSTs 2022: the best plugins to get the most authentic sound

Grand Piano on a stage in an empty theatre
(Image credit: Getty/ Ivan Hunter)

The piano is one of the most popular instruments in the world, so creating the best piano VSTs, for realistic software virtual piano emulation, has been the number one priority for software and DAW developers for the last couple of decades. As such, most DAWs already ship with decent enough software pianos, but they don't usually offer quite the nuanced character and breadth of dynamic sound you can expect from a real upright or concert grand. Third-party software developers have therefore been falling over themselves to create even better software virtual pianos so there are now loads of options out there. 

Software virtual pianos use either modelling algorithms or samples of real instruments to create beautiful emulations. We'll discuss more on these in our buying advice section. Many piano instruments – modelled or sampled – feature effects and can have a number of tweakable parameters like other virtual instruments. What you can expect from both kinds of instrument are exceptional piano sounds as developers have been perfecting these instruments for many years. But the best thing is that you have access to models of pianos that can costs tens of thousands of dollars/pounds at a tiny fraction of the price. And with your DAW as a host, you don't even need to play like a concert pianist to sound like one.

If you'd like to read some in depth buying advice about the best piano VSTs, it's included at the bottom of this guide. You can click the link to go there. If you'd rather get to the products, then keep scrolling.

Best piano VSTs: MusicRadar’s Choice

Your choice of piano really comes down to the music you make. If you are a singer/songwriter with the piano as your main song focus, go for one of the larger multisampled instruments that focus on all of the detail of famous – and expensive – grand pianos. In this respect, it's hard to overlook Spitfire Audio's Hans Zimmer Grand Piano (opens in new tab) that delivers all the sound of the super-composer's favourite grand, with meticulous recordings at many different microphone positions. Similarly, Garritan's Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand delivers a legendary grand in a legendary setting – an older title but one that still delivers an amazing sound. We also have to mention Synthogy Ivory II Studio Grands (opens in new tab) here as you get two pianos for the price of many other options, both of which sound incredible.

If you aren't focussed on grand pianos, but the keyboard being your main instrument, then there are two other options that deliver great piano sounds alongside all sorts of other key-based instruments. Spectrasonics Keyscape (opens in new tab) is just about every keyboard instrument you can imagine in one package. Expensive, yes, but its quality emulations and effects are right up there with the best software instruments available. Finally, one of the few modelled instruments that scores well whenever a new version is released is Modartt's Pianoteq, an instrument that will run light on any system but sounds anything but light, and with loads of purchasing options for any budget level. 

Best piano VSTs: Product guide

Best Piano VSTs: Spectrasonics Keyscape

(Image credit: Spectrasonics)

1. Spectrasonics Keyscape

An incredible array of beautifully emulated keyboard instruments, with high-quality effects to match

Specifications

Price: £359/$399/€349
Type: Keyboard instrument with 36 modelled keyboards
Key features: 500 sounds, 36 Instrument Models and Hybrid 'Duo' Patches; multisampled sounds with up to 32-way velocity switching and Round Robins; mechanical noise, pedal noise and release noise behaviour modelling; authentic circuit modelled amplifiers and effects
System requirements: AU, VST 2.4 or AAX-capable host (64-bit); macOS 10.13 High Sierra or higher; Windows 7 or higher; 2.4 GHz Intel dual core processor or higher (i7 recommended); 8 GB RAM, 80 GB hard drive space (optional 30 GB 'Lite' installation); Solid State Drive recommended
Contact: www.spectrasonics.net

Reasons to buy

+
Exquisitely sampled
+
Great effects
+
Massive library of presets.

Reasons to avoid

-
No per-key velocity editing 

Keyscape is the ultimate keyboard instrument in that it features 36 separately modelled keyboards ranging from Wurlitzers to Fenders, toy pianos to Rhodes with a huge number of pianos. It breaks our rules by offering both multisampling and modelling but you'll care not, as the results are stunning. 

Spectrasonics endeavoured to capture all the noise, imperfection and quirks of the original keyboards, as well as the full spread of their tonality. Each instrument has been sampled with up to 32 velocity layers, and uses multiple round-robins per layer for 'human' variation between notes. 

Keyscape's interface is clean and straightforward. The browser lets you select from the ten top-level instrument types (Acoustic Pianos, Clavinets, Electric Pianos, etc), or head straight to one of the 36 specific models. The presets are listed in the bottom pane, and with over 500 included, most of them come in related sets.

Heading up the Acoustic Pianos category is the LA Custom C7, an 'enhanced' Yamaha C7 that uses "rare long-fiber virgin wool felt" on its hammers. It's joined by a Wing upright piano from 1900 in two configurations. 

All the instruments sound phenomenal, serving up a versatile melange of flavours, from the super clean LA Custom C7, through the funky, evocative electric pianos and clavs, to the pretty Celeste and other Belltones, and the crusty finish and grit of the toy and tacked pianos.

Keyscape is almost impossible not to fall in love with. The care, attention to sonic detail and passion that have been poured into it are palpable at every turn, the huge preset library is an absolute pleasure to wander through, and the deep multisampling employed results in a very high level of playability and stunning sound.

Read the full Spectrasonics Keyscape review

Best Piano VSTs: Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Grand Piano

(Image credit: Spitfire Audio)

2. Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Grand Piano

You won't find a much more detailed grand piano, without spending well into six figures on the real thing

Specifications

Price: £349/$399/€372
Type: Multisampled grand piano
Key features: 88,352 samples; choose from 16 different mic positions including Tree for larger orchestral arrangements; musical and percussive effects folder; 60 different microphones used; close, mid, room and surround options; folders listed by piano tone
System requirements: Requires Kontakt or Kontakt Player 5.6.8 or higher (runs on the free supplied Player), AU, VST 2.4 or AAX-capable host (64-bit); macOS 10.10 or later, Intel i5; Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 (latest Service Pack, 32/64-bit) Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen; 211.2 GB hard drive space
Contact: www.spitfireaudio.com

Reasons to buy

+
Amazingly detailed grand piano
+
Surprisingly varied sound
+
Loads of microphone options
+
Lovely Lyndhurst hall sound from Air Studios

Reasons to avoid

-
Large drive space required

Spitfire set out to produce the ultimate sampled grand piano with this and who better at the helm of the project than soundtrack genius Hans Zimmer. The piano used is one of Zimmer's favourites – the in-house Steinway Model D grand piano at the Lyndhurst Hall at AIR Studios – which has also inspired many of his soundtracks. 

The collection is set out with folders with different sounds – Warm And Rounded, or Low And Weighted, for example. You also get microphone positions to also help guide you through the surprisingly varied sound and an amazing 60 different ones were employed during the recording. There are, for example, close, mid, room and surround options with the close and mid options giving you a slightly brighter sound. The further you move out, the more you get of the wonderful room where the piano was recorded mixed in. You get all sorts of blending options to get a more detailed sound that mixes all of the different positions, or home in on a very specific sound, tailored to your mix. 

While HZP only features one piano, the detail and the amazingly balanced sound is second to none. With multiple velocity options, and an incredible 88,000 samples capturing every nuance of the piano in question, you can expect to be able to reproduce just about every aspect of a Steinway Model D – and there's even a folder of piano effects to take things off-road should you wish. While expensive compared to other options here, you won't find a much more detailed grand piano, without spending well into six figures on the real thing.  

Best Piano VSTs: Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand

(Image credit: Garritan)

3. Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand

Fabulous recreation of a legendary piano at an equally legendary studio

Specifications

Price: £179/$199/€185
Type: Sampled version of the Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano in Abbey Road Studio One
Key features: Piano captured with Classic set-up (close, mid and main mics for "the natural tonal character, clarity and nuance"); Contemporary set-up (close and ambient for "bright and hard with lots of attack"); and Player (close and player mic set-ups for the "experience of playing the CFX, from the piano bench"); over 30 presets covering all three set-ups
System requirements: AAX, RTAS, VST, and AU compatible, runs on ARIA Player (supplied); macOS 10.12 through 11.x, Intel based hardware; Windows 8.1 or later (64-bit), Intel or AMD processor hardware; 4 GB RAM, 133 GB hard drive space
Contact: www.garritan.com

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic recreation of a legendary piano
+
Three great microphone set-ups
+
Extraordinary detail

Reasons to avoid

-
Load times can be noticeable

CFX Concert Grand captures the legendary piano in the eponymous and enormous Studio One at Abbey Road. You get three, via different mic arrays: Classic, retaining the natural sound of the instrument; Contemporary, brightening it up somewhat; and Player, making it sound like you’re actually sitting at the instrument. 

Adjustments include Lid Position, Sympathetic and Sustain Resonance, Pedal Noise, mic levels, stereo width and more, with onboard effects comprising EQ, reverb and saturation, as employed to great effect by the small but rather lovely collection of presets.

With the full install weighing in at a drive-busting 132GB, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that CFX can take time to load its samples, but it sounds absolutely beautiful. It has exquisite tonal detail, powerful lows, glassy highs and a level of expressiveness that has to be felt to be believed.

Best Piano VSTs: Synthogy Ivory II Studio Grands

(Image credit: Synthogy)

4. Synthogy Ivory II Studio Grands

Fantastically detailed multisampled versions of two of the finest grand pianos out there

Specifications

Price: £205/$299/€279
Type: Two sample-based grand pianos
Key features: Steinway B Grand Piano from Power Station New England in Waterford, Connecticut and Bösendorfer 225 Grand Piano from Firehouse Recording Studios in Pasadena, California; 112 GB Core Library, up to 24 Velocity Layers, multiple levels of Una Corda, effects include Real Ambience, chorus and EQ
System requirements: AU, AAX, VST (2.4 plugin host); Mac OS X 10.8 or later, Windows 8 or later (32 or 64 bit); 2GGz Quad-Core CPU, 2GB RAM, 112 GB hard disc
Contact: www.synthogy.com

Reasons to buy

+
Two legendary pianos with great, varied sounds
+
Impressive multisampled recordings
+
Lots of tweakable options and effects

Reasons to avoid

-
Dated UI

Ivory II Studio Grands contains, as Synthogy claims: "two exceptional Studio Grands recorded in a legendary studio". As such you get a Steinway B recorded at Power Station New England, Connecticut and a Bösendorfer 225 recorded at Firehouse Studios, Pasadena. Both pianos are thoroughbred 7ft studio performers and these are impressive multisampled versions weighing in at 112GB in size. 

The Ivory II interface, while not the most contemporary in design, gives plenty of sound-shaping control. You get everything from editable resonance and lid position to key and pedal noise, dynamic range and stereo width, and there’s even a simple onboard synth should you, for some reason, fancy layering in a cheesy pad sound. 

EQ, chorus and reverb are on tap in the Effects page, while the Session page grants access to a similarly comprehensive range of performance-related parameters, including pitching, velocity response and the aforementioned Half Pedalling controls. 

Both pianos sound absolutely magnificent, and contrast well with each other – the raw Bösendorfer being the weightier of the two, the Steinway having the brighter sound. Studio Grands is another fine addition to the Ivory II line-up.

Best Piano VSTs: Modartt Pianoteq 7

(Image credit: Modartt)

5. Modartt Pianoteq 7

Lovely lightweight modelled piano instrument with great features and in depth editability

Specifications

Price: £102/€129/$129 (Stage – Acoustic, Electric and Chromatic Percussion focus); £224/€249/$319 (Standard – more instruments and customisable options); £330/$519/€369 (Pro – more instruments, supports audio up to 192 kHz and a wide array of adjustable parameters); £719/€799/$899 (Studio – which includes everything in the Pro package along with all of the many optional packs)
Type: Physically modelled virtual instrument
Key features: Choose from 2, 3 or 4 instrument packs (grand pianos, upright piano, electric pianos, harp, vibraphones, clavinet, celesta and glockenspiel, xylophone and marimba, steelpans) and get free bells and carillons. Many editable parameters (unison width, octave stretching, hammer hardness, soundboard, string length, sympathetic resonance, duplex scale resonance); built-in EQ and effects; ten types of pedals
System requirements: AU, AAX, VST (64-bit only); Mac OS X 10.7 or later, Windows 7 or later, and Linux (x86, arm)
Contact: www.modartt.com

Reasons to buy

+
Light on your system and storage
+
Fantastic sound 
+
Great editing options

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly confusing sound-pack choice system

Modartt’s Pianoteq is quite simply one of the best modelled pianos out there. Unlike sample-based products that record acoustic instruments at varying velocity levels for playback, Pianoteq creates tones by way of modelling the relationship between hammers striking strings, that are coupled to a resonant soundboard. Modelling also requires a fraction of the disk space that sampling does: compare the relatively small download of Pianoteq to the multi-gigabyte size of a high-end sample library.

Pianoteq is a veritable cornucopia of pianistic possibilities – from Steinway B and D grands (approved by the instrument manufacturer itself) to more esoteric models by Grotrian, Steingraeber and others. Each instrument has variations, as well; some of the Steinway B varieties include those named Recording, Close Mic, and Cosmic, each with its own character and sonic imprint.

Despite many editing options and other features, Pianoteq is surprisingly easy and nimble to navigate. Modartt’s modelled instruments have an organic, acoustic shimmer to them that will keep you playing. The Steinway models are detailed and rich, just like their acoustic inspirations. Other models shine as well – especially the Upright U4 and the J. Donhal “Close Mic” – and Pianoteq’s acoustic pianos exhibit incredible personality.

Pianoteq, with its lean CPU requirements, stunning sound, and near-infinite editing capabilities is a breath of fresh air. Even if you have a go-to hardware or software piano instrument or library, Pianoteq is worth a look and listen; it sounds that good.

Read the full Modartt Pianoteq 7 review

Best Piano VSTs: e-instruments Grand Bundle

(Image credit: e-instruments)

6. e-instruments Session Keys Grand Bundle

A rich, versatile, fun package at a good price

Specifications

Price: £159/$159/€159
Type: Two iconic multisampled grand pianos
Key features: Two separate sound banks for each piano; Pentamorph sound control; Animator 400+ piano phrases; Smart Chord function; Native Instruments NKS compatible
System requirements: Requires free Kontakt 5 Player or Kontakt 5 Version 5.5.1 or higher; macOS 10.9, 10.10 or 10.11, Intel Core 2 Duo; Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 (32/64-bit), Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2; 4 GB RAM, 24 GB hard drive space
Contact: www.e-instruments.com

Reasons to buy

+
Sounds great
+
Good value
+
Lots of fun

Reasons to avoid

-
Editable phrases would be good

The Grand bundle comprises two multisampled instruments (also available individually for around £99/€99/$99 each), the Grand Y (Yamaha CFIIIS Concert Grand) and Grand S (Steinway D Concert Grand). The Steinway delivers the more lively sound of the two while the Yamaha is warmer, but both sound magnificent. 

Each can be switched between 'Concert' and 'Studio' mode, the latter recorded with the lid removed and the mics closer for a drier, more contemporary tone.

The Pentamorph controller morphs between five preset combinations of forward and reverse samples, and mechanical noise, while the Tonality editor facilitates noise, resonance and envelope shaping.

A useful collection of effects has been scripted in, and the superb Smart Chord and Animator systems enable automatic chord generation combined with configurable playback of a sizeable (but preset-only) library of performance-controllable phrases.

These are excellent instruments and the Grand Bundle delivers both with aplomb and a decent saving. E-instruments' Acoustic bundle is also great, adding an upright to the collection – but if it's just the bigger sound you want, then Grand delivers

Read the full e-instruments Grand Bundle review

Best piano VSTs: Toontrack EZKeys

(Image credit: Toontrack)

7. Toontrack EZKeys

A huge and brilliant collection of instruments and MIDI file packs to help you home in on a specific sound and playing style

Specifications

Price: MIDI packs from £25/$29/€29; instrument packs from £79/$99/€75; bundles also available
Type: Multiple sampled instrument and MIDI file packs
Key features: Extensive sound and MIDI libraries; drag and drop the included MIDI straight to the built-in song track and onto your DAW; all major styles covered (Pop/Rock, Soul/RnB, Country, Gospel, Jazz, Blues, Boogie, Funk); extensive chord creation and songwriting features
System requirements: Audio Unit, VST or AAX host; macOS 10.13 macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit), Intel or Apple silicon processor; Windows 7 or newer, Intel or Athlon processor; 2 GB RAM, from 600 MB hard drive space (minimum)
Contact: Toontrack (www.toontrack.com)

Reasons to buy

+
Pick what you need with some great bundles
+
Great playing and composing features
+
A lot of fun 
+
Simply loads of genres to dig into

Reasons to avoid

-
There are better modelled pianos out there

EZKeys is Toontrack's keyboard ecosphere that the company might say is a way of life rather than a single instrument! It consists of instrument packs dedicated to just about every keyboard out there, with multisampled recreations of classic and contemporary models. These include some 16 titles covering everything from Mellotron to grand; upright to pipe organ. 

You get MIDI files and chordal features thrown in with each of these titles to help your playing and composing plus effects for a varied sound. There are also additional MIDI packs to help you home in on more specific playing styles, more than 70 titles covering genres like Prog, Synth Pop and even (our personal favourite) Goth Rock.   

Some of the sound pack highlights include Studio Grand (a sampled Steinway B-211 recorded at OAL Studio, Sweden); the Grand Piano (a Steinway Model D which we described as "flexible enough to bend to your creative will"); Upright Piano (sampled from an Östlind & Almquist); and one of our favourites, Dream Machines (a Rhodes Mk 7 and a celeste we described thus: "Effortless sound shaping, great playability and silky sonics has us beaming.")

To be honest there's a vast choice here but with Toontrack's rep you can be assured that the sampling is right up there – although perhaps not as meticulous as other piano emulations here – and the MIDI side of things is amply covered. Not only is your instrument taken care of, then, but so is your playing style and composing thanks to DAW integration. You'll also want to take advantage of the ecosphere vibe where once you buy in, you get other titles at heavy (usually half price) discounts.  

Best piano VSTs: XLN Audio Addictive Keys

(Image credit: XLN Audio )

8. XLN Audio Addictive Keys

Addictive Keys successfully brings quality keyboard tones to the mid-budget software studio

Specifications

Price: Duo Bundle (£115.75/$145/€149.95, pick two instruments); Trio bundle (£127.75/$165/€179.95, pick three instruments); Complete Collection (£200/$200/€199.95), all instruments)
Type: Up to four multisampled classic keyboards
Key features: Fender Rhodes Mark I, Yamaha U3 Upright Piano, Steinway Model D Concert Grand, Yamaha CP-80 Electric Grand; Memo feature for one-touch recording; X-modulation for flexible MIDI CC control
System requirements: VST, AU, AAX (32 & 64-bit); macOS 10.10 or later, Windows 7, 8 or 10; 10 GB hard disc
Contact: www.xlnaudio.com

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound and mic options
+
Flexible channel editing and processing
+
Sensible cross mod implementation
+
Small disk footprint and quick loading

Reasons to avoid

-
Unnecessarily graphics-rich
-
No library of MIDI parts

The Addictive Keys range comes in three flexible bundle options so you can choose two, three or all four classic multisampled keyboards. These are a Fender Rhodes Mark I, Yamaha U3 Upright Piano, Steinway Model D Concert Grand and Yamaha CP-80 Electric Grand, so these are based on some of the best keyboards available.

The aim is to provide excellent source sounds with plenty of customisation (EQ, dynamics, effects and so on), but with a small disk footprint (under 8GB for the whole lot). Each instrument has been captured using a number of mics in a number of positions, enabling you to mix and match three stereo channels, complete with combined panning and width controls.

You get a decent number of edit features including pitch, filter and volume envelopes, as well as per-mic insert processing (EQ, chorus, compression) and two 'Delerb' (delay plus reverb) effects. Other effects include seven flavours of noise (e.g. tape and vinyl), five types of distortion and three modulation effects (chorus, phaser and tremolo).

AK's core sounds tick all the right boxes, and although you're limited to the tonality of the source instruments, the mic options provide an enormous palette even before you touch the EQ. XLN have put a lot of work into creative patch design. The likes of Prepared Horror (grand), Reverse Attacks (upright), and Glow Sticks (electric piano) show off the insert effects, as much as the source samples, to great effect.

Addictive Keys successfully sidesteps the complexity of more detailed piano libraries, delivering a genuinely useful palette of core sounds and excellent processing. 

Read the full XLN Audio Addictive Keys review

Best piano VSTs: Native Instruments Alicia's Keys

(Image credit: Native Instruments)

9. Native Instruments Alicia's Keys

An excellently produced piano sound, with plenty of tone and behaviour-shaping flexibility

Specifications

Price: £89/$99/€99
Type: Sampled Yamaha­ C3 Neo grand piano owned by Alicia Keys
Key features: 7 GB of samples, 12 velocity layers per key; other details include mechanical release noises and a specially developed sympathetic resonance and release system
System requirements: VST, AU, AAX Kontakt instrument (free player included); macOS 10.14, 10.15, 11 or 12, Windows 10 or 11 (latest Service Pack), Intel Core i5 or equivalent CPU; 2 GB RAM, 7 GB hard disc
Contact: www.native-instruments.com

Reasons to buy

+
Lovely 'produced' sound 
+
Great options including mechanical noise
+
Instant piano fix for most mixes

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one instrument

Like other piano plugins in this roundup, Alicia’s Keys has been around for a while. But good piano plugins stay around and this 2010 release is still one of NI's better Kontakt piano instruments (you can also go for The Giant, The Maverick and The Gentleman, among many others). 

Developed in collaboration with Alicia Keys and her engineer Ann Mincieli (and with Thomas Skarbye programming) the result is an instrument based on her own Yamaha C3 Neo, one she has used for most of her work in the studio and live. 

There is just one main piano instrument here, but it’s accompanied by six tabbed pages with features ranging from algorithmic and convolution reverbs to attack/release behaviour and sympathetic resonance settings. Both sustain and sostenuto pedals are catered for and, if you have a continuous sustain pedal, there’s a simulated half-pedalling option. One of the nicest features is a simple fader control for mechanical noise, including pedal, key and even microphone hiss.

The pink interface may not appeal to everyone, and the sound lacks some of the natural room character associated with classical piano instruments; however, that clearly wasn’t the remit. Alicia’s Keys delivers an excellently ‘produced’ piano sound, with plenty of tone and behaviour-shaping flexibility, all from a fairly compact 7GB drive footprint.

Best piano VSTs: Orchestral Tools Vivid Keys

(Image credit: Orchestral Tools)

10. Orchestral Tools Vivid Keys

Surprisingly flexible piano, delivering atmosphere in spades and all for a very decent price

Specifications

Price: £70/$85/€79 or get seven titles in the Organic Samples bundle for £299
Type: Sampled Yamaha C3 grand piano
Key features: 30 GB of samples (14 GB compressed); 24 bit / 48 KHz patches; sampled using close mics; three mixes: natural, cinematic and pop mix
System requirements: Audio Unit and VST; works with Orchestral Tools’ SINE Player (included); macOS 10.13, i5; Windows 10, Intel Core i5 or similar; 4 GB RAM, 30 GB of samples compressed to 14 GB hard drive space
Contact: www.orchestraltools.com

Reasons to buy

+
Very cost-effective way to get a grand piano
+
Lovely sound
+
Three versatile mix options 
+
Sine Player environment works well

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one piano

Orchestral Tools is well known for its orchestral collections, particularly its mighty Metropolis Ark series. But it also has an Orchestral Grands title – a grand piano recoded very much within an orchestral context – and Vivid Keys, this lovely standalone instrument and part of OT's Organic Samples series. 

The Yamaha C3 is probably the one grand piano you are likely to find in more pro studios than any other grand, and on using Vivid Keys it's easy to hear why. It has a beautiful, mellow yet full sound, and this title captures it perfectly. 

It is played as a sample-based instrument within OT's Sine Player – a Kontakt-like host and freely available. While only based on the C3 piano, you do get three different mixes for a versatile sound. The 'natural mix' is a more upfront sound with optional reverb; a 'cinematic mix' focusses on the softer dynamics of the piano but also adds an evocative pad; finally the 'pop mix' delivers a tight and punchy sound suitable for more contemporary action. 

All in all this is a great and surprisingly varied title, delivering atmosphere in spades and all for a very decent price, and one of the most cost-effective ways to get a grand sound. You can also buy Vivid Keys as part of OT's Organic Samples bundle which gets you six other collections, including strings, vocals and a Bösendorfer piano, all for €300 (£255 / $321 approx), a saving of €200 (£170 /$200 approx) over buying them individually. 

Best piano VSTs: Buying advice

Man works on DAW on computer while playing piano

(Image credit: Pexels/ Brett Sayles)

What you need to know about the best piano VSTs

Broadly speaking you can divide software piano instruments up into the most popular multisampled type, and then the rarer modelled instrument. Multisampled pianos are created by recording the sounds from the original acoustic pianos, usually in an exceptional environment – recording studio or concert hall – to capture the sound of the room as well as the instrument. The recording comprises the actual notes, all played at several velocities, different microphone positions (close up giving more of the sound of the piano, far away giving more of the sound of the room) and even sounds made by the instrument – key presses, hammer noise and so on. Some multisampled instruments sit within shells like Kontakt, so if you have used Native Instruments' sample player before you should be at home with these. 

Modelled instruments use a synthesis engine to model the sound of a piano. As they don't use samples, they are often that much smaller in terms of how much hard-drive space they take up. With hard-drive storage now relatively cheap, you might think there's not so much advantage to using a modelled instrument. However, some multisampled instruments will take time to load up their various sounds – in Kontakt, for example – so you might have to expect some long load times, especially with instruments that require a lot of RAM. Modelled pianos take less time to load presets.

In truth, both types of pianos deliver amazing results, but multisampled instruments that focus on perhaps one or two models will deliver all of the character of the originals. These are the ones to choose if you want exacting detail, and perhaps if you are using the piano as a solo instrument, or the main focus of your music. Otherwise, every other instrument here will deliver a great piano sound for any kind of mix. Check our overall recommendations in the MusicRadar Choice section above.

Andy has been writing about music production and technology for 30 years having started out on Music Technology magazine back in 1992. He has edited Future Music, Keyboard Review, MusicTech magazines and currently runs Computer Music which he helped launch back in 1998. He owns way too many synthesizers.