6 Best Piano Plugins 2020 Review Roundup featured image

6 Best Piano Plugins 2020

We’ve finally reached the end of our quest to find the best piano plugins!  In this roundup, we’ll be weighing the results from the five in-depth reviews I’ve done over the previous weeks and crown the champions in each category, plus name my favorite free piano VST plugin as well.  Let’s get down to business!

CategoryProduct NameInstrument TypeDownload SizePrice
Best OverallArturia Piano V2Modeled91 MB$249 $125
Most RealisticWaves Grand Rhapsody PianoSampled14 GB$79 $36
Best ValueAIR Mini GrandSampled1 GB$69 $5
Best StandaloneToontrack EZKeys Grand PianoSampled1 GB$149
Best ExtrasSONiVOX Eighty Eight EnsembleSampled11 GB$59 $15
Best Free VSTMonastery Grand (MSoundFactory)Sampled4 GBFREE

Best Piano Plugin Overall – Arturia Piano V2

ARTURIA PIANO V 2
Arturia Piano V Review main plugin image

Name: Arturia Piano V 2

Description: Modeled piano synth with huge variety of piano tones, from hyper-realistic to experimental and beyond.

Offer price: $249 $125

Operating System: Windows/OSX

5

Summary

Visually appealing, well laid-out, versatile, and stuffed to the gills with highly musical controls, this easy-to-use plugin has quickly become my go-to for piano tones.

  • LOOKS
  • FEATURES
  • USABILITY
  • VALUE

Pros

  • 12 realistic piano models
  • Includes both grand and upright tones
  • All the controls are available in one simple interface

Cons

  • High price

After intensely reviewing piano plugins for over a month, Arturia Piano V2 is the plugin that I was the most impressed by and got the highest score out of the bunch. Other than also having the highest price, I couldn’t find a single fault with Arturia Piano V2 and was incredibly impressed by its featureset. Being the only modeled plugin out of the group, Arturia Piano V2 has the smallest download size, and is light on processor use while having an unbelievably realistic piano tone with tons of mic and sound output options.

If you’re only going to buy one piano plugin, Arturia Piano V2 is well worth the investment. The best value of all comes from purchasing the entire Arturia V Collection 7, which comes with an additional 23 fully-featured keyboard plugins for under $500 retail.

Below is the sample from my full review of Arturia Piano:

HALF OFF THROUGH AUGUST 12th
Arturia Piano V Review

Visually appealing, well laid-out, versatile, and stuffed to the gills with highly musical controls, this easy-to-use plugin will quickly become your go-to for piano tones.


Most Realistic-Sounding Piano Plugin – Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano

WAVES GRAND RHAPSODY PIANO
Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano Review main plugin image

Name: Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano

Description: Huge sample library of a Fazioli F228 piano recorded with seven sought-after mic pairs.

Offer price: $79 $36

Operating System: Windows/OSX

4.3

Summary

It sounds and feels like you are actually in the room with a real Fazioli F228 grand piano when you’re playing. If the quality of piano samples is your primary consideration, then this plugin is absolutely for you.

  • LOOKS
  • FEATURES
  • USABILITY
  • VALUE

Pros

  • Breathtaking grand piano samples
  • Most realistic sound at this price point
  • Extreme value if you catch it on sale

Cons

  • Several glaring usability issues
  • Broken velocity control

It cannot be overstated how realistic-sounding the sample set in Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano is. The Fazioli F228 grand piano that Waves sampled in the creation of this plugin has a hauntingly good tone. It’s clear from the days that I spent evaluating this plugin that Waves took a great deal of care in creating the samples using eight different mic configurations. In my review, I did find a few usability issues, but if those were fixed this plugin could easily have been the winner of the round-up.

Here is the demo from the complete review of Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano:

54% OFF!
Waves Grand Rhapsody Piano Review

Huge sample library of a Fazioli F228 piano recorded with seven sought-after mic pairs. Featuring the highest-quality grand piano samples you'll find at any price point.


Best Piano Plugin Value – AIR Mini Grand

AIR MINI GRAND
AIR Mini Grand Review main plugin image

Name: AIR Mini Grand

Description: An incredible value on a faithful reproduction of the classic grand piano sound.

Offer price: $69 $5

Operating System: Windows/OSX

4.5

Summary

AIR Mini Grand is a great value and a useful tool for anyone who wants a realistic piano sound in their mixes at an affordable price.

  • LOOKS
  • FEATURES
  • USABILITY
  • VALUE

Pros

  • Realistic mini grand piano tones
  • Easy-to-use controls
  • Good complement of reverbs

Cons

  • Lack of fine-tuning and detuning features found in other piano plugins
  • Dynamic Response control not all that useful

While the regular retail price of AIR Mini Grand may be slightly higher than that of the offering from SONiVOX, it is frequently on sale for under $15, making this plugin an absolute steal if you can get it on promotion.  Also, it is very often bundled with other AIR virtual instrument plugins like Velvet and DB-33, making it an even greater value if purchased at the right time. As such, I found AIR Mini Grand to be the best value among the bunch.

Here is the sample from the in-depth review of AIR Mini Grand:

90% OFF THROUGH SEPTEMBER 3rd
AIR Mini Grand Review

An incredible value on a faithful reproduction of the classic grand piano sound.


Best Standalone Features – Toontrack EZKeys Grand Piano

TOONTRACK EZKEYS GRAND PIANO
Toontrack EZKeys Grand Piano Review main plugin image

Name: Toontrack EZKeys Grand Piano

Description: Visually attractive, easy to use, and very realistic sound, with tons of great features to quickly improve your workflow on tracks that call for a classic grand piano sound.

Offer price: $149

Operating System: Windows/OSX

4.3

Summary

EZKeys Grand Piano will allow you to quickly and easily dial in a fantastic and realistic-sounding grand piano tone.

  • LOOKS
  • FEATURES
  • USABILITY
  • VALUE

Pros

  • Realistic grand piano sound
  • Nice dynamics control
  • Visually attractive with Note/chord display
  • Great Standalone Features

Cons

  • The bundled MIDI functionality is not particularly useful in a DAW setting
  • Audio controls are tied to particular presets, crippling some of the advanced functionality
  • Price

In addition to working well as a DAW plugin, Toontrack EZKeys Grand Piano has a great deal of additional standalone functionality that really makes it stand out. Though most of the plugins in the roundup also offer standalone versions, users will find many of the features of EZKeys particularly useful for songwriting, basic MIDI recording, or just playing around and blowing off steam without having to fully load into a DAW and set up a project.

Below is a sample of Toontrack EZKeys Grand Piano from my full review:

CLASSIC PIANO TONES
Toontrack EZKeys Grand Piano Review

Visually attractive, easy to use, and very realistic sound, with tons of great features to quickly improve your workflow on tracks that call for a classic grand piano sound.


Best Extras – SONiVOX Eighty Eight Ensemble 

SONIVOX EIGHTY EIGHT ENSEMBLE
SONiVOX Eighty Eight Ensemble Review main plugin image

Name: SONiVOX Eighty Eight Ensemble

Description: Grand piano virtual instrument with choirs, strings, synths, pads, winds, brass, guitars and basses for instant accompaniment.

Offer price: $59 $15

Operating System: Windows/OSX

4.5

Summary

With all of the features I expect from a piano plugin at this price point and some fun additional sounds to boot, Eighty Eight Ensemble get my wholehearted recommendation for those looking for a piano plugin with extra features on a budget.

  • LOOKS
  • FEATURES
  • USABILITY
  • VALUE

Pros

  • Realistic and versatile piano tones
  • Great value for a full-featured piano plugin

Cons

  • Ensemble features plagued by usability issues

SONiVOX Eighty-Eight Ensemble includes not only convincing piano tones at the lowest retail price point of our roundup, but also includes fun ensemble features that add choirs, pads, synths, strings, and other instruments to create interesting and unique sounds. Eighty Eight Ensemble is a fantastic option for those on a budget who want a realistic and versatile piano plugin and some additional functionality to play with.

A sample from my review of SONiVOX Eighty Eight Ensemble:

74% OFF THROUGH SEPTEMBER 3rd
SONiVOX Eighty Eight Ensemble Review

Wonderful and realistic piano tones plus a ton of additional ensemble functionality.


Best Free Piano VST Plugin – MSoundFactory Player with Monastery Grand Sample Pack

If you don’t have the funds to pick up one of the plugins above, MeldaProduction’s free MSoundFactory Player has a free 3GB+ sample library called Monastery Grand that is simply lovely. Though it doesn’t have the breadth of mic options or depth of sample library of most of the others in the roundup, it’s no slouch, and is a fantastic starting point for those on a budget.

In order to get MSoundFactory Player, just download the demo version and the Monastery Grand sample pack, then let the demo expire. You’ll get to keep the free Player version of MSoundFactory as well as Monastery Grand.

If you’d like to read more about MSoundFactory, check out my full review here.

Here’s a quick sample of MSoundFactory with Monastery Grand sample pack from my full review using the exact same MIDI file from the other five reviews in our roundup:

ENORMOUS SYNTH SOUNDS
MeldaProdution MSoundFactory Review main plugin image

The most feature-rich synth I've ever used. Add in the free Monastery Grand and MDrummer sample packs and this plugin is an absolute tour de force.

(Note: In a previous version of this review roundup, Bitsonic Audio’s Keyzone Classic was crowned the winner of this category, however, Bitsonic no longer gives away Keyzone Classic for free unless you already own another Bitsonic product. Also, MeldaProduction released their Monastery Grand sample pack for free along with the free MSoundFactory Player, which is far superior to Keyzone in every way. As such, I have replaced Keyzone with Melda’s offering as the winner of Best Free Piano VST.)


That’s it! I hope you enjoyed the whole series of reviews that culminated in this roundup, and that it proves useful in finding the best option for your piano tones. Please feel free to join us in the Home Studio Enthusiasts Facebook group for more discussion and advice!

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