Skip to main content

Free Piano VSTs: The Diary

In this post I describe some of my experiences of searching for VSTs that emulate pianos.   

I recommend a couple of very good software companies that I advise you check out for yourselves.  

I also share some of the difficulties I have faced whilst searching and offer solutions that I hope you find helpful. 

A freeware favourite: DSK  

One of my favourite freeware manufacturers is DSK.  I have used DSK’s free VST’s a lot over the past couple of years and I am usually really satisfied with the results.  They have a wide range of plugins that emulate both electronic and acoustic instruments to often good, sometimes great, degrees of success.  This is something to be thankful for for two reasons:
    • It is difficult to find an emulation that realistically replicates a ‘real’ instrument
    • With DSK, you get a good rendition for free.
    DSK products I love and recommend trying out include:
    • Overture – This is fantastic and probably my favourite plugin of theirs.  It contains so many rich, evocative and realistic sounds, from timpanis and glockenspiels to strings sections. If you have an older PC - like I do -  it can be very CPU hungry, but it is a wonderful collection.

    • ChoirZ – An ethereal 80’s keyboard sound rather than a proper human choir section.  I could play with the ChoirZ all  day.  In fact, on several occasions, I have.
    • RhodeZ – Another favourite of mine.  It doesn’t get that Fender Rhodes sound 100% but you cannot expect it to. I use this a lot.  I think it has a lot of warmth, although, going forward, I may manipulate it in various ways to try give it a little more ‘oomph’.  More on that in a later post, though.
    • Strings and Brass (two different packages) – I have to pick and choose when it comes to DSK Strings and DSK Brass.  Not every instrument in these packs does it for me but some are very nice sounding, so explore them as much as possible and make them work for you.
    • OranZe – I love this strange set of synthesizer sounds and haven’t used it as much as I want to.  I would use it sparingly in a track, but I really like what I have heard from this plugin.
    AkoustiK Keyz: What am I doing wrong?

    DSK's piano VST AkoustiK Keyz doesn’t seem to satisfy in the same way that the above recommendations do.  I often feel the need to slip the AkoustiK Keyz behind or underneath the other tracks in a song because it seems to sound a little flimsy to me.  This hasn’t been much of an issue until now, as my piano tracks have always been subtle extra touches, rather than leads.  However, one new project of mine requires a more prominent piano and AkoustiK Keyz just doesn't cut it.  On top of this, I have begun to find something a little jarring about the frequencies outside the mid-range.  In my opinion, the lower-end seems a bit boomy and the highs seem a little harsh.

    This isn’t an attack on DSK.  Pianos are notoriously difficult to emulate and music is, like any other art form, highly subjective.  This may be nothing more than a simple difference in taste.

    Disclaimer out of the way, I might try parallel compression to get rid of this perception of flimsiness, although for some reason the idea of parallel compressing a piano track scares me a little.  To try to remedy the percieved boomy and harsh lows and highs, I may try a bit of A/B testing using the excellent Stillwell HP/LP filter that comes with REAPER.  Another option I have is removing the use of a piano VST altogether and getting some samples in there instead. Hmmm.  I will do a follow up post once I have got somewhere with this little experiment of mine. 

    A popular alternative: Supreme Piano

    A lot of people really rate the Piano One plugin by Supreme Piano.  I look forward to downloading and testing it as an alternative plugin over the coming weeks.  I'll update you as soon as I've tested it out.

    In the meantime, don’t just take my word for it, visit the DSK and the Supreme Piano websites at the links below, test out some of these great plug ins and let me know what you think!     

    DSK Music
    Supreme Piano

    Popular posts from this blog

    About The New Beatmaker

    Hi!  I'm Lee.  Welcome to my blog.  Here we talk music: news, reviews, interviews, tips, tutorials and more.  I'm also working on the upcoming podcast  Influenced  as a guest, writer and researcher alongside music aficionado Mark Williams and friends.  Watch this space! I have been a lover of music for as long as I can remember, an amateur lyricist for 25 years, a music writer for 15 years and a hobbyist musician and blogger for almost 10 years. My tastes range from jazz to house to hip hop and I love helping artists from all genres develop their sound. My music, videos, reviews and interviews have been featured in a variety of magazines and websites, including: B-Boy Tech Report Gimme That Beat Humanhuman Audio Skills Dream House Beats Where Did the Road Go Beat Tape Co-Op Push Power Promo Drum Magazine You can find my music on Bandcamp: Monkey Mind Sounds AKA LeeTNB And you can find me on Facebook: The New Beatmaker page Lee's personal page

    The Theory For Our Revenge 'OBORO'

    REVIEW: Japanese multimedia art duo make a great first impression with their mix of industrial, trap and operatic pop The following is a paid for review and post, via humanhuman (see below).  It is always an honour and a pleasure to receive new music to check out and review; especially  when it's as enjoyable a listening experience as this first offering from The Theory For Our Revenge is. The Theory For Our Revenge are COLD FAITH and Jhas; a Japanese music production, fashion stylist and visual art duo The Theory For Our Revenge are COLD FAITH and Jhas; a Japanese music production, fashion stylist and visual art duo. Their debut single ,'OBORO', is a slice of experimental electro-trap / operatic-art-pop. Starting with an industrial sounding chugging and churning, the track moves into frosty, haunting melodies. It's in these opening bars that the only potential hiccup occurs. Around the 0:38 and 1:12 marks there's a jagged synth whistle which i

    Georgel ‘Colibrí’

    REVIEW: 'Colibrí' highlights Georgel’s potential as a superstar in the making It is always an honour and a pleasure to receive new music to check out and review; especially when it's as enjoyable a listening experience as Georgel’s ‘Colibri’. A slice of swaggering, sensual, big band pop, ‘Colibri’ is a superb offering from the singer songwriter.     ‘Colibrí’ immediately demands listener attention thanks to punchy horn stabs, satisfying drum fills and Georgel’s strong vocals.  Listener attention is maintained throughout due to the athletic and theatrical flair of both vocals and instrumentation. These theatrics never descend into ham or kitsch. The hook is slinky and sensual, adding an extra layer to an already super-enjoyable cut. The memorable arrangement and vocals, together with professional mixing and mastering mean the song would be as much at home in a big-budget Hollywood musical or Broadway show as it would be on your favourite music streaming servi