There’s been plenty of talk of comfort foods. For some of us, piano is a comfort instrument. And here are a couple of especially cozy piano instruments to add to your computer – for free.
Remember the days of being stuck with truly soulless piano sounds in hardware? It really is a joy now to plug a good MIDI controller in – ideally one that simulates hammer action – and enjoy virtual piano sounds. And there is a terrific range – idiosyncratic and rare instruments oozing personality, the very opposite of the caricature of a dull upright that was once the norm. I’m finishing a story now on Modartt’s Pianoteq 7, which I think is unequaled in physically modeled pianos, and if you want the most versatile instrument possible – complete with tweakable tuning and morphing and simulation of resonant strings – that’s the easy answer. There are also lavish sampled instruments that reproduce the details of a specific instrument. If you have Arturia’s value-packed V Collection, you’ve got their excellent Grand V already, and just have to grab an external drive and hit install if you haven’t already.
These instruments are nothing like that, though. The ‘free’ aspect is useful if you’re zeroed out on budget, but it also makes these instruments nicely specific. You aren’t presented with a bunch of choices or deciding which hall reverb you want. You don’t get the feeling that you’re behind a 7′ concert grand in Steinway Hall, nervous that you’ve completely forgotten Liszt.
No, these instruments are also particular. They’re intimate. One note already feels a bit melancholy, like you’ve made yourself some tea on a rainy day and you’re the only one around, and you can play whatever you want. And that makes them kind of priceless.
They’re also small, so – not only do you not need to worry about whether you’ve got cash, you also don’t have to check that over-stressed internal hard disk the OS keeps warning you is too full. (Back to Pianoteq – that’s also a very, very important advantage of their tool.)
In my inbox today is the wonderful Room Piano V3. (It’s okay; I missed V1 and V2, too.) It’s Windows-only, but it has that perfect comfy sound. It reminds me of days I had my third-favorite piano in a practice room, or house-sitting someone’s apartment – someone with a fairly friendly, slightly chubby cat napping while you play. It’s fitting they have a window open in the simulation with some birds singing; I literally have memories of this. And yeah, specifically that means nailing the room reverberation and sampling an instrument which was cared for but has its tuning slipping just enough for real character.
1 lightweight piano sound (60 MB)
64-bit VST plugin instrument for Windows 8.1/10
The multi-LFO seems out of place here based on everything else I’ve said (uh, the person you’re house sitting for left a tab of acid?) but you get the point.
Free/donationware – give them an email. It’s on Gumroad, which means it’ll also automatically be added to your account if you’ve nabbed other similar items on that platform.
Thanks – https://www.samplescience.info/ – Pierre Parenteau
In a similar category, if you aren’t already on Spitfire’s brilliant LABS series, you absolutely need to be. I think. I wonder if I don’t hear friends talk about this more just because they’re afraid to give away some secrets.
SOFT PIANO is recorded on a stage – Air Edel Studios, London, to be precise – but the trick is adding some felt.
This actually kicked off Spitfire’s series – you were in the know when it happened if you were reading CDM in 2008. But here you are:
Some of the LABS series definitely feel like cheating, although at that point they’re worth downloading just to inspire you to then go try layering some instruments yourself. But see also the very-lovely PIANO PADS.
Honestly, this stuff brings back some of the first experiences a lot of us had with keyboards, when you’d dial up a patch and get lost.
Got more? Shout in comments…