It is time for another blog article featuring some further plugin recommendations. This time, I will present you my favourite piano and virtual synth instruments, those that are frequently used in my productions. If you do not know already, I previously wrote about my favourite mixing and mastering plugins, my virtual drums and guitar/bass amp simulator collections that could be interesting for you as well whether you are a (semi-)professional or beginner in the fields of modern music production. Enjoy the following list of my go-to keys software.
The current 6th version of the V-Collection costs 499€, includes 21 different instruments with 6000 preset sounds and brings together over 100 years of landmark keyboard instruments in one package. But if you like a single virtual instrument of this package, you can buy it separately for 149€. You will see that buying the full bundle makes more sense if you want more than one of Arturia's plugins.
My absolute favourite of this package is the Mini V that is an emulation of the legendary Mini Moog that brought us funky sounds in the 70s until now. It is my go-to tool for bass lines if played with keys in funk, soul, hip-hop/r&b productions. The CS-80V is a great vintage synth emulation that can be used in almost every genre as well as the e-pianos Stage-73 V (Fender Rhodes) and Wurli V (Wurlitzer) that come along with a super-creamy sound. The organs Vox Continental V and Farfisa V deliver a stunning smokey flavour for funk, rock and indie tracks. As you may have seen in other articles of mine, I prefer virtual instruments that can be also run in standalone mode and not only in the DAW. Arturia's instruments all also run as standalone software - thanks for that!
Applied Acoustics Systems
Applied Acoustics Systems' Lounge Lizard EP-4 is another electric piano plugin that delivers a broad range of Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds. I am sure you will find suitable sounds for almost every music genre. The sound quality of the presets is just outstanding that makes it an excellent tool for the studio and live on stage. That was the reason why I used it quite often in my productions during the past years.
Ultra Analog VA-2 is a collection of reproductions of analogue synthesisers. If you are a big fan of analogue synth sounds, you seriously should give Ultra Analog a try. With its over 790 presets covering ambient, effect, bass, lead, pad and percussive sounds next to arpeggiators, keys and organs, it can be one of your allrounder synthesiser plugins. The big flaw of AAS software is that they design their user interfaces very tiny and do not allow the user to scale the plugin's window. That often annoys me because it is quite stressful to look at small interfaces with small fonts and knobs over several hours a day. But the sounds are simply stunning; therefore I need to hope that upcoming updates will take this critique into account and customers will see changes very soon.
Both AAS virtual instruments are available for 199$ each and can be run in a standalone mode like the Arturia software.
Sylenth1 is Lennar Digital's masterpiece. This virtual analogue synthesiser is sophisticated and versatile - for my taste sometimes too much of both. Nevertheless, Synlenth1 is the best option for musicians or producers that love to create their own, unique sounds. With that piece of software, I did not get into detail that much until now, but I often use presets as a starting point to get a great-sounding, customised synthesiser sounds. The huge Sylenth1 community is a significant benefit of that piece of software because thanks to it, there are countless present banks (free or for sale) available online for every type of genre you can imagine.
Sylenth1 is available for 139€ (+ VAT).
Native Instruments' The Grandeur and The Giant are a great addition to your existing acoustic piano plugins. The Grandeur is a very solid virtual concert grand that can provide you with gorgeous sounds, perfect for pop and classic productions. The Giant can be a helpful tool for scoring or to get a unique acoustic piano sound after a little bit of tweaking. The disadvantage of all NI products is that they only run in the Kontakt sample engine and do not support standalone mode.
Both can be yours for 99€ each.
Albino 3 by Rob Papen is a sound designer's dream like the Sylenth1. Seemingly endless adjustment parameters are available to tweak the synth sound, and a preset package of 2200 sounds for the less experimental users was offered as well. Yes, you heard correctly - WAS. Unfortunately, Albino 3 was discontinued by the developers - sorry for that guys! Back in the days, I frequently used it for my hip-hop productions, and sometimes I still come back to it. Maybe Albino 3 is now available for free somewhere (authorised by the developers). Or you use the chance to check out their newer synth products.
That was another plugin recommendation post that maybe could help you to find new high-quality piano sounds for your next studio productions or live gigs. See you next time for another blog article written by Benjamin Albrecht of AlbrechtProductions.