I've been looking for a good piano ever since. And truly, I was desperate. Most commercial products (and there are many many many of them) sound very good at first key-hit, but when you play some more notes, the sound becomes kind of muddy. Moreover they start for 5 minutes if you're not lucky.
Eventually I have found Prova. It has a weird name, absolutely no user interface, just one piano sound and is made in synthmaker. But it starts in a nanosecond, takes almost no CPU and sounds pretty good.
About the sound - it is not perfectly realistic. But it is bright, I mean very bright, so that even complicated compositions full of jazzy harmonies sound good. Maybe it is only my personal taste, but I like it this way.
Also the attack and release are very very fast, but that is very good for rhythmical music. It sound kind of "different", but I was very surprised, how easily can this thing fit into my compositions full of drums and bases.
The only thing about the sound, is some kind of odd balance between both channels, but it seems that mix to mono does not make any phasing or whatever, so it is probably only my feeling.
It has no settings or effects. This make it a little harder to use, but I want to use my effects anyway...
Yeah, and did I mention that it is free?? :-)
Now I'm really stucked - I don't know what points to give, because I like it a lot but there is no user interface :-).. Nevermind, so I'll make some compromise and choose some mediocre rating for those points.
Could be really good. 15MB download - sample based. CPU usage is 2-10% depending on # notes played (P4 2.4 1.5GRam XP)
Pros: * Has pretty choice sound - think of a modern electronic honky tonk piano. Clavi-ish piano.... Strong mid-hi range harmonics without too much ear strain. It currently suits a digital sounding mix. * Really nice sustain - it follows a very nice acoustic sounding resolution curve. * Stereo - few pianos properly sample / model the fact that playing low notes means stronger left signal, and hi notes means stronger right signal. This does it very nicely * Nice photo
Cons: * Could do with more low range harmonics, slightly cut midrange - if you were after a vintage acoustic piano disco smile type mix * Too much attack - ideally attack would decrease as velocity increases. However attacks great as is at upper and lowermost octaves, but not good at midrange where it also has a lot of bell / sawtooth sting. * Release: the most noticable thing is how quickly the note off release is. It sounds very synthy - unless played with the sustain pedal. And if you play repeated notes with the sustain they attenuate the preceeding ones way too quickly. * No patches or adjustable parameters, such as AHDSR or dampen. Cant custom assign midi controllers for events eg. change the channel of sustain pedal (on default atm).
All in all its a good effort and free. Itd be loved by people used to good but vergin on artificial sounds, but probably not by acoustic/vintage warmth lovers as it stands.