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Top FREE Piano Plugins

Top FREE Piano Plugins


Top FREE Piano Plugins

The piano sounds that come with your DAW of choice aren’t always the greatest. I know for a fact that I grew tired of Logic Pro’s Steinway and Bosendorfer grands pretty quickly.

The trouble is, good quality piano sample libraries are expensive, and they often come with a bunch of bells and whistles that you probably won’t require, especially when starting out. That’s why today I’ve picked out three free piano plugins which I really liked. I’ll also be covering two cool premium piano sample libraries on the Audio Plugin Deals store page.

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Free Piano 1 – Salamander Piano

This piano is a great starting point, especially if your DAW doesn’t even have a piano sound to begin with. It comes in sfz format, so it requires an sfz player (such as Sforzando by Plogue) to run.

The library itself isn’t very flexible in terms of parameters that let you tweak the sound, but again it’s a good place to start.

Free Piano 2 – Skerratt London Piano

Skerratt London is very different from the other two libraries, because it features the sound of an old upright piano. It’s got a wonderful character to it, perfect for perhaps evoking the mood of a street piano or a bar piano. I had a lot of fun when I tested the library out.

Again, there’s not much options to tweak the sound further within the plugin itself, so you’ll need to make use of external effects plugins. The plugin does give you some envelope controls however, as well as volume and panning options.

The library comes as a standalone plugin, and so it doesn’t require any other software to be installed.

Free Piano 3 – Keyzone Classic

Keyzone Classic is probably the library that impressed me the most. I loved the sound of the default instrument – it had a lovely bright tone which I really enjoyed. The library also comes with Yamaha and Steinway grand piano patches, as well as an Electric Piano and a Rhodes.

The developers of Keyzone were kind enough to supply some additional parameters to adjust the sound to our liking. We’re given envelope controls, volume, panning, detune, built-in reverb and even an LFO. The LFO can be used to add some subtle movement to the tone of the instrument, or even some intense tremolo if that’s what you’re after.

This library also comes as a standalone plugin.

Premium Piano 1 – TVBO

TVBO is a Kontakt library by SampleTekk, and it’s currently available on the Audio Plugin Deals store. It features a Yamaha C7, sampled at a great level of detail. You’ll find that in the case of the free pianos I talked about earlier, they would’ve had three or four velocity layers to capture the entire dynamic range of each instrument. TVBO, on the other hand, gives us a whopping 31 velocity layers to work with. It has an insane dynamic range, and an excellent overall sound.

SampleTekk even sampled this instrument using two different microphones – a Neumann SM2 and a U89. We can switch between these microphones within Kontakt to experiment with the different character each microphone gives the piano. We can even combine them together. The library also gives us an EQ, a built-in reverb and sympathetic resonance controls for further realism enhancement.

Note that this library requires the FULL version of Kontakt to run – it will not work in Kontakt Player.

Premium Piano 2 – Piano Gems Bundle

Piano Gems is a bundle by Realsamples, a very unique company which specializes in sampling rare museum-bound keyboard instruments. The Piano Gems Bundle gives us three of their Kontakt instruments – an 1873-built London grand piano, a special small portable keyboard instrument from 1798 called the Orphica piano, and a 1960s German celeste.  Each one of these instruments has its own special character, completely unique to all the other libraries I’ve shared.

The grand piano was meticulously sampled at 32 velocity layers per note. Even then, it has a very warm, soft and delicate timbre, one which I really fell in love with when playing the instrument.

The Orphica piano has a very limited range, as the original instrument was designed to be portable – for that, it would’ve had to be relatively small! However, it has a surprisingly vast dynamic range, and a quirky sound unlike any other. You’ll really have to play it for yourself to see what I mean. I’ll be looking for excuses to sneak this one into my projects, just because of how damn cool it sounds.

The German celeste is also a great sounding instrument, obviously different to the modern celeste samples you find in many sample collections. Once again it has an aged character, considering it was built nearly 60 years ago. It also has some interesting stereo width effects, since the steel plates within the celeste are apparently placed in opposite ends of the housing.

None of the instruments give us any control over the sound, and so you will have to rely on your collection of effects once again for further tweaking. However, for the character alone this library is truly worth it.

Note that this library requires the FULL version of Kontakt to run – it will not work in Kontakt Player.

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