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I bought a MIDI controller keyboard with MIDI-over USB output, which I can connect to my computer. Can anyone suggest a high-quality acoustic piano virtual instrument that I can purchase to use on my computer? How can I evaluate my options?

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closed as off-topic by Dave, Alexander Troup, Jason W, Dan Hulme, Michael Scott Cuthbert Nov 11 '13 at 2:26

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking recommendations for equipment are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve." – Dave, Alexander Troup, Jason W, Dan Hulme
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Are you looking for free software? If not, what's your price range? Also, are you running Mac, Windows, or Linux? –  Peter R. Bloomfield Nov 2 '13 at 10:53
Thank you for your reply . Sir, I don't have Mac. I am looking for windows based software. I don't have a high end pc. And I am not a professional pianist. But I am expecting a very good piano sound from the software. Please suggest me both paid and free softwares. Thank you –  Hari Krishnan Nov 3 '13 at 4:58
I do not know of a free virtual instrument for Windows that has an acceptable acoustic piano sound. You can download a demo version of Pianoteq Stage at the link in my answer below. Please understand that a "very good piano sound" requires a high-end PC system with a fast external hard drive and a good-quality external audio interface, plus speakers, plus software that costs a lot of money. There is no substitute. If this will not work for you, you should spend US $1,250 or more on a dedicated digital piano keyboard. –  Wheat Williams Nov 4 '13 at 7:24
Despite asking for recommendations, I think this question should remain open. –  luser droog Nov 5 '13 at 18:43
@luserdroog: Thanks for posting the meta argument. Your point convinced me to +1 the question. –  Kevin Nov 9 '13 at 3:13

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you have an Apple Macintosh, the Apple GarageBand software program, which is free with new Macs, has a fine built-in acoustic piano sound.

If you have a fast, high-end Mac or Windows PC with a large, fast external hard drive, the industry standard is the Synthogy Ivory program, which costs US $400 for the basic package, with additional add-on modules that cost more money.

I use the Modartt Pianoteq Stage program, which works well on more modest computers and requires very little hard drive space. It costs €100; there are advanced versions with more features that cost €250 and up.

However, there are other factors you must consider. This is a complicated subject.

If you are going to be generating the piano sound on your computer, you will need to have an understanding of the technical requirements of different software programs, the technical specifications of your computer, and how to work with components such as a sound card or external audio interface for the computer, how to configure hard drives, and other factors.

It is not only important to have a good piano virtual instrument software program. Even if you have an excellent acoustic piano virtual instrument, it will sound horrible played back from the speakers that are built into your computer, and it may also sound bad if you simply connect inferior external speakers to the headphone output that is built into your computer. So you need to know how to upgrade your computer system to better components if this is the case.

It is essential to have a high-quality sound card in your computer (for low-latency audio processing and superior sound quality), or to use an external digital audio interface device if the sound card in your computer is not high-quality. You must also have good-quality speakers with a subwoofer to play back the sound (or perhaps high-quality headphones to use with the high-quality sound card or external digital audio interface if you only want to practice alone).

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Modartt's Pianoteq is simple to use and has a very nice user interface. I would recommend it to any serious musican. It has beautiful grand piano sounds and makes playing piano fun! On the front end of the program it is very simple for any person of any skill level to use, but if you are a more experienced piano player you can go deep into the program with adjusting voicings, temperament, hammer hardness, resonance and more.

Another great feature about this product is is works for Mac and PC (Windows Vista/XP, MacOS X 10.4 or higher required). And on pianoteq.com you can download free instrument add-ons, download the latest updates, and exchange your own Pianoteq settings with other users.

Good luck in your search!

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Not to forget, it also runs on Linux-based systems, which sadly very few other commercial plugins support by themselves. –  leftaroundabout Nov 11 '13 at 0:25

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