THE BEST FREE PIANOS

02.17.2020

Lists

By Shane

Who says good piano libraries have to be expensive?

Piano is an essential tool or sound in any producer's sonic toolbox. It's one of the few instruments that shows up in nearly every genre of music. Unfortunately, a lot of the paid piano libraries from companies like Native Instruments, Spectrasonics, UVI, Spitfire, and more, can all cost upwards of $100 and, in some cases, much more.

 

To make matters worse, the pianos that come with a lot of popular DAWS like Logic X and Ableton sound dated and thin. 

 

That's why we wanted to round up the best FREE piano libraries and plugins. We downloaded over 20 pianos and tested them out, putting each one through a litany of tests. We graded each piano on sound quality, ease of use, and playability. 

 

To our surprise, the majority of the pianos we downloaded were hardly useable, let alone good. We ended up finding about 5-7 that we liked and we think you'll like as well!

We also decided to make a free piano. A piano that we would be proud to sell. It took a couple of months, but we think it was all worth it because, honestly, it's a great-sounding, versatile piano. 

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a paid review. Echo Sound Works is not affiliated with any of the companies listed below. 

We have also omitted any reverb plugins that can't run on native processing. So no UAD in this list.

Understanding the two types of piano plugins and libraries 

Sample Based

 

The majority of piano libraries and plugins are sample based. Meaning a real piano was sampled. Sampling a piano is a lot of work. That's one reason why they are so expensive. A piano has 88 notes, it's capable of producing a wide dynamic range, and there's a lot of elements making up the sound that we all ubiquitously know as the sound of a piano. There's hammer noises to consider, key noises, pedal sounds, and more.

Physical Modeled

There are a handful of piano libraries out there that don't make use of traditional samples. Arturia Piano, Modartt Pianoteq, and 4front True Pianos, all make use of a technique called physical modeling synthesis. Physical modeling synthesis refers to sound synthesis methods in which the waveform of the sound to be generated is computed using a mathematical model, a set of equations and algorithms to simulate a physical source of sound, usually a musical instrument

THE BEST FREE PIANO LIBRARIES

echo sound works denver grand piano kontakt

As we were putting together this list of the best free pianos, we quickly realized something. Most of them aren't even useable, let alone good. So we decided to release our very own free piano, The Denver Grand.


The ESW team sampled this piano about 6 months ago, and we decided to make a high quality, modern sounding free piano library.

Why Denver? It’s admittedly not the first city you think of when you picture a grand piano. But Denver is the city where Echo Sound Works started. Denver is where I went to college to study music. That’s why we jumped at the chance to sample a
 piano from my old stomping grounds.

The Denver Grand comes in three formats: Kontakt 6, Logic X, and Ableton 10. The Kontakt version has a custom GUI and script and even comes with 4 unique patches for presets. We sampled everything we could think of and more. Over 1,000 samples make up the sound.

The Denver Grand isn't just a grand piano, it's 4 pianos that cover a wide range of genres. 

PROS

  • Sounds Great

  • Looks Great

  • 4 Unique Patches

  • Round Robin

  • Control Key Noise, Hammer Noise, and Overtones

 

CONS 

  • This is the largest piano in our list. It's a deeply sampled piano and tops out around 1GB. 

00:00 / 00:18
Piano in 162 free piano kontakt.png

I personally really like Piano in 162 by Ivy Audio. It's a great piano for Indy or Alternative tracks. It also plays nicely with LoFi effects like RC20. 

Piano in 162 is a sample library of a Steinway Model B grand piano, available in Kontakt, SFZ, and Korg Kronos formats.

Allows for mixing, loading, and purging of the close and ambient mics to fit the library into any mix or genre

PROS

  • Sounds Good

  • CPU Efficient

  • Control over microphone (close, ambient) 

 

CONS 

  • Requires the full version of Kontakt

  • Lacks control over other features 

00:00 / 00:18
labs soft piano best free pianos.png

Spitfire Audio makes some of the best sample libraries, especially for Film Score and composing.

They have an entire range of free instruments, it's called LABS. They have a couple LABS pianos, and the Soft Piano is our favorite. 

Recorded at Air Edel Studios, London, this sound has become a favorite of musicians and composers across the globe. The soft tone is achieved by placing a thin strip of felt between the hammers and the strings.

 

PROS

  • Unique Sound

  • Dedicated plugin 

  • CPU Efficient

  • Simple GUI

 

CONS 

  • Specific sound, isn't a do it all sort of piano (but that's also a pro) 

00:00 / 00:18
Tape Delay Experimental Piano Free Konta

This is by far the most unique and left of center piano on our list. It's a piano sampled through a bunch of tape delays and modular effects. The pianobook is a unique community driven site that has a bunch of free pianos.

Curated by one of the founders of spitfire audio pianobook is a collective sample project that aims to bring together a community of likeminded music makers to talk about their stories through the pianos they use, admire and are inspired by.

 

The start point is the belief that every piano has a story, we will tell that story and then, as part of that narrative, sample the piano to preserve it at that point of its timeline. Christian Henson will then take these samples and mutate them (with the input of this community) into a whole new world of inspiring sounds, textures and instruments.

PROS

  • One of a kind sound

  • CPU Efficient

  • A lot of fun to play

 

CONS 

  • Requires Kontakt

  • Basic and boring GUI

00:00 / 00:18
amore grand piano ultimate list of free

The Amore Grand Piano is an anomaly. It sounds much better than it should. It only has 10 MB of sample data, yet it has a sound that just works in certain situations.

 

From the horses mouth, "We recorded a Yamaha grand piano, close miked in stereo and kept it small, under 200 MB. The 3 page GUI is intuitive and easy to understand with controls for decay, EQ, IR reverb, Delay and Keyboard response."

PROS

  • Simple and easy to use

  • Light CPU and Ram usage 

 

CONS 

  • The sound might be too thin for certain applications

00:00 / 00:18
weber baby gran piano free kontakt piano

Another offering from pianobook, the Weber Baby Grand has a great tone. 

"My mother is a pianist, and this piano belonged to her. It was purchased when she was a teenager in the 1950s, and it stayed in our family until just recently.

 

A few summers ago, my mother was moving from Boston to Florida and didn't have room in her new place for the beloved instrument. She offered it to me, but I didn't have space either. After much heartache, she finally decided to give it away to charity. Before she did, I thought it would be nice to sample it so that we could have a memory of the way it sounded.

.

PROS

  • Simple GUI

  • Character rich sound

 

CONS 

  • Some velocity's aren't consistent across octaves

00:00 / 00:18

CHECK OUT THE IN DEPTH VIDEO 

SUBSCRIBE NOW
  • Grey YouTube Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey SoundCloud Icon
  • Grey Facebook Icon

Join our community to stay up to date with new releases, receive discount codes, free sample packs & presets, and subscriber exclusive content. All you have to do is join our community  to the right ------->

We are a group of passionate producers and sound designers who teamed up with one simple goal in mind. To create tools for producers, artists, & engineers that making creating music easier more fun than ever before. 

WHAT WE  DO 
© 2020 Echo Sound Works LLC