Sonora Cinematic Verticale review

Creating the perfect felted upright piano takes time, perseverance and four layers of vertical felt!

  • £49
  • €59
  • $59
Sonora Cinematic Verticale
(Image: © Sonora Cinematic)

MusicRadar Verdict

You just can’t argue with the rise of the upright, and Verticale provides a ton of pianistic character, in a tidy Kontakt form.


  • +

    Intimate piano sounds.

  • +

    The quad-felt piano samples feel unique.

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    Three beautifully blendable mic sources.

  • +

    Lo-fi cassette based samples add grit.

  • +

    It’s chock-full of character.


  • -

    Some equalisation needed.

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    It might have limited appeal and use.

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Sonora Cinematic Verticale: What is it?

Upright pianos have always been a popular instrument for conveying sensitive and intimate textures in production. Ranging from singer/songwriter material, to televisual scoring, the place of the upright is secure. 

However, this domain has been infiltrated in recent years, by the use of felts, creating an even softer and more intimate texture.

The name Verticale is associated with the name given to upright pianos in Italy. The package itself constitutes a perfectly formed Kontakt instrument, which is NI library compliant, providing two patches; a natural upright piano, alongside a felted version of the same instrument. 

Unusually, and in something of a first, the felted iteration uses four layers of felt, rather than what would be the more usual single or double layers.

Sonora Cinematic Verticale

(Image credit: Sonora Cinematic)

Sonora Cinematic Verticale: Performance and verdict

Regardless of piano version, there are three microphone signals available; large diaphragm condensers (AKG C414s) capture the room, while there is a choice of spot mic, provided by either small diaphragm condensers (Neumann KM 184) or ribbon mics (AEA N22s).

Also consider...

Spectrasonics Keyscape 1.5

(Image credit: Spectrasonics)

Spectrasonics Keyscape
A wealth of colour, in both acoustic and electric versions, with a newly included double-felted grand.

Spitfire Audio Labs: Soft Piano
Continues to be one of the finest – and most used – examples of a felted upright.

The relatively muted effect of the four layers of felt produces some interesting overtones. It is considerably muffled if compared to other examples of felt pianos on the market, resulting in a sonority of tone, particularly in the middle register. 

This area might require some equalisation, while the upper register is utterly sublime. It’s not overly bright, but still pure, while adding a degree of reverberation results in a singing quality, which is hugely appealing.

We found ourselves continually drawn to the more distant signals provided by the 414s. The spot mics are very characterful, which is exactly the kind of thing you want in a library of this kind, but the ambient support provided with the room miking really bolsters the sound, through a sum of parts.

The un-felted upright, simply labelled Natural, provides yet more examples of character. This intimate piano provides moments of detuning, with the odd resonant ‘twang’ creeping in from time to time. 

If you play the samples too heavily, there is a sense that the attack becomes overbearing, particularly in the lower-middle register. The addition of some DAW-based compression helps in this regard, while the overt harshness of the hammers can be extremely useful in the upper register. With some further application of reverb dialled in, the striking effect is exactly what it claims to be – striking! 

The central strip of the interface provides a further sample signal path. Created by recording via a high-speed Portastudio, the Cassette-based signal delivers a degree of lo-fi. It’s linked with a lo-fi emphasis control, which dispenses distorted impurity, on demand. 

For a touch of added realism, there is also a straight volume pot, linked to the sound of the whirring tape, although thanks to its high-speed operation, it does sound a little reminiscent of a projector in full flow.

The final layer of felt

Apart from the upfront-signal paths, there are a few other niceties to add to the overall sonic makeup; Release samples can be dialled up or down, via a separate volume pot, with a further pot to dial up or down the dynamic range. There is also onboard Delay and Reverb, with a simple but highly effective Color pot, which see-saws the overall tone of the samples.

Upright pianos can be hard to capture, which is exactly why a library of this kind can be so useful

Upright pianos are, by their very nature, full of character. They can be very difficult to capture in recorded form, which is exactly why a library of this kind can be so useful. It provides sonority, colour and pianistic personality in a perfect little package, which is a rare commodity in a sample suite. 

You can never have enough piano samples to call upon, and Verticale will deliver a perfect addition for any producer who regularly requires uprights.

MusicRadar verdict: You just can’t argue with the rise of the upright, and Verticale provides a ton of pianistic character, in a tidy Kontakt form.

Sonora Cinematic Verticale: The web says

"I was pleasantly surprised to find that this felt piano was actually one of the clearest ones I’ve heard yet."
Sample Library Review

Sonora Cinematic Verticale: Hands-on demos

Sonora Cinematic

The Sampleist

Sample Library Review

Simeon Amburgey

Sonora Cinematic Verticale: Specifications

  • Works with the free Kontakt Player v7.1+.
  • Size: 7.44GB (compressed).
  • CONTACT: Sonora Cinematic