Next to Ivory this is the most expressive and beautiful grand piano. With Yamaha P60 as a controller it is a very convincing piano experience. Makes PMI Bosendorfer sound like a Casio.
This is one of very few instruments that I can literally found myself lost for hours just improvising and enjoying the details of the sound. I compose nearly all of my music with it, even if piano doesn't necessarily find itself in the final mix.
I used to have similar problems with slow rendering and loading described by others here when I used it with Cubase, but now that I have switched to Tracktion as my sequencer, it renders and loads extremely fast. Ironic to think that a Steinberg instrument works better in non-Steinberg sequencers...
There are times when I find it sounds just a tad bit muddy in a mix, but then I do play the left hand a bit heavy, and usually have bass guitar in my tracks as well. In any case I just roll off a bit of the low end and it sits in the mix very well.
There is not much of a choice of sounds here, but the sound it has is truly remarkable.
First of all, this is not samples of a Steinway but a Kawai EX, preferred among many professional pianists. This is probably the best sounding computer based solution so far but in need of some improvements.
Pros: - Natural piano sound - No loops - String resonance - Realistic pedal down effects - Ability to change the velocity curve
Cons: - Bug 1: It takes too long to export audio in Cubase - Bug 2: Activating both Hammer Action and String Resonance results in minor clicks when releasing keys - Bug 3: Presets cannot be saved - Still in need of improvement regarding the sympathetic resonance - Requires lots of memory to make use of the full potential, 512 MB absolute minimum
1. Sounds absolutely fantastic (quite bright) 2. Very nice sustain pedal on/off simulation 3. Very playable (expressive) 4. Sound and key velocity reponse curve can be tailored 5. Nice key release resonance
1. Slower to load than other vsti's 2. Users more resources (RAM/Disk IO) than other vsti's 3. Audio export (render) is painfully slow (30-40 minutes for a 5 minute MIDI recording on a PIII-1Ghz). 4. There is no "standalone" mode and it needs an ASIO2 wrapper. 5. The room resonance option sounds awful and it is better left off to be honest.
Other comments ==============
My one major complaint with this vsti plugin is the amount of time it takes to do an audio export. It is too slow to be used in a practical situation (5 minutes of MIDI takes 30-40 minutes to render on a PIII-1Ghz PC).
OK, so no software instrument will ever replace the real thing, but this VST instrument does a great job of sounding like an actual piano. Once you set the velocity curve to your liking, change some of the parameters around to suit your style, you will not be disappointed. I immediately compared it to the Steinway sample sound I was using and The Grand sounded fuller, more robust, more real. In general, i was pleasantly surprised at the quality. In fact, I'll have a hard time going back to sampled sounds again. Nonetheless, everyone's a critic, so here are my criticisms: The bass notes are louder than the rest of the keyboard (realistic, but sometimes not practical). There should be either a dedicated EQ for the VST or volume/mic placement controls to even out the sound. Perhaps in a future update?? The ambianece simulation didn't really add anything or detract anything (but maybe i should listen with headphones), the effect should be more substantial. Yes, both of these problems can be fixed with other plugins, but then you are wasting valuable processing power. The plugin is also a ram hog and takes a while to load even on my Pentium IV 1.5 GHz computer with 312 Mgs of Ram. Minor complaints, but heck, it's our job to complain. Finally, there should be more models of other pianos or at least, sonic variations besides hard, soft, bright). THe program should give you a little more ability to change things around. But all-in-all, the Grand is definitely worth the price of admission, even for a one trick pony.