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What are some good free (or cheap) programs that will allow me to play real sounding piano notes via a regular MIDI keyboard? I'm not looking for a notation program; I just want to play without having the notes recorded/noted (like an electric keyboard, except on my computer). One thing that would be really great to have is the ability to play at different dynamics (with velocity sensitive keys). I'm running Windows 10 if anyone is wondering.

closed as off-topic by Todd Wilcox, Tim, Doktor Mayhem Oct 15 '16 at 15:15

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

  • "Questions seeking recommendations for specific equipment are off-topic, because they are primarily opinion based. Instead, describe the required function and setting in which the equipment will be used, and ask what you should look for to achieve that." – Todd Wilcox, Tim, Doktor Mayhem
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • There are hundreds of piano sample libraries, libraries that include piano samples, and sample based keyboards with piano sounds, all of which almost certainly support velocity data, but asking for recommendations of particular ones is off topic on this stack. – Todd Wilcox Oct 14 '16 at 1:28
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The simplest option is to find a free soundfont (sf2/sfz) player, and then load some freely available piano samples in there, but the quality varies a lot.

For a more natural sounding instrument you will have to find a plugin (e.g. AU/VST/RTAS/AAX format depending on your machine). There are many decent quality commercial piano plugins, however note that there is no "best option", as each player has his own preferences with regard to sound, key response, dynamics, etc. And yes, in most plugins you can tweak their response, but slight differences will still remain.

In fact, that preference often depends on the piece of music, so it's best to actually try playing it (e.g. download a demo, or find somebody with plugin; there is something like Try-Sound, but I have yet to try it out).

Finally, if you were to choose a plugin, be aware they come usually in two flavors: modeled and sampled. The first one generates sounds using mathematical models and currently Pianoteq is the only one with reasonable quality that I know (and their Model B is actually very, very nice). Their advantage is low resource requirements and usually low latency. The second generates sounds from samples recorded in a studio, many different layers for various dynamic ranges, articulations, sustain values, etc. Their advantage is sound quality (with a good plugin I cannot tell the difference unless I do something specially for testing), yet the cost is their requirements (but that's not a problem with a fast computer or if this is the only plugin running) and might have higher latency (for me even moderate latency removes any pleasure from playing).

  • Thank you so much for your in-depth response! I have yet to actually try it, but it looks good so far. – Green Plasma Oct 14 '16 at 19:43
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you could try presonus studio one free,it is a full program with less features than the producer edition but it is very good

http://www.presonus.com/press/press-releases/Studio-One-3-Prime

  • Does this program let you play without recording? – Green Plasma Oct 13 '16 at 19:02
  • yeah it does,you dont have to record unless you want too – al1112 Dec 27 '16 at 3:24

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