Best Free Piano VSTs in 2022 (Reviews and Comparison)

  • James Parker
  • January 18, 2022

While you may not want to make primarily piano-based music, having piano sounds to work with is a must for pretty much any producer. In addition to being able to fit into nearly any genre, piano plugins are useful for composing chord progressions and songs, and can of course be manipulated with effects to create a huge range of interesting sounds. Today, we are going to look at five great free VST piano plugins to get you started with piano sounds in your music.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT
spitfire-audio-labs 1. Spitfire LABS Soft Piano
  • Free
  • Sample-based
  • LABS interface and selection of other plugins is great
CHECK PRICE
Room_Piano_v3_Gumroad_Overlay 2. Sample Science Room Piano V3
  • Free
  • ADSR controls
  • Low storage requirement
CHECK PRICE
Distant-Voices-2.0-Notes-Kit 3. Arcade by Output
  • Large library of creativity-spurring loops
  • Allows you to keep downloads after subscription lapses
  • Large range of different sounds
CHECK PRICE
soundmagicpiano 4. Soundmagic Piano One
  • Good sound
  • Mix of sampling and modelling
  • Nice selection of controls
CHECK PRICE
GarritanCFX_RightPanel 5. Garritan CFX Concert Grand
  • World-class samples
  • In-depth controls
  • Great sound and playability
CHECK PRICE

What is a Piano VST Plugin

VST stands for virtual studio technology. Created by the audio company Steinberg, it is an open source technology, meaning anyone can use the code, and has become by far the most popular kind of plugin used today. Its more optimized younger brother, VST3, is also very common, and is an updated version of the same technology whose primary upgrade is lighter CPU usage. Both kinds of files can be downloaded and used within virtually any digital audio workstation, or DAW. Some of the most common DAWs include Pro Tools, Ableton Live, FL Studio, Reaper, Garage Band, and Cubase.

VSTs are not limited to virtual instruments like the piano. These plugins can perform a wide range of functions within a DAW. Some adjust EQ, some create wacky effects and filters, and some are powerful synthesizers that allow you to make almost any sound you can imagine. But if you just need a piano sound, they can do that too. After you download a VST to the right file location, you should be able to open it within your DAW and use it as a virtual instrument, which can be played using a MIDI controller connected through USB, or simply by drawing or selecting the notes with your mouse. Each one has its own interface and features. The best part is the huge number of free VSTs available on the internet; try out as many as you can! Since that may be a bit overwhelming, let’s get into some great free options.

1. Spitfire LABS Soft Piano

spitfire-audio-labs

Specification

PriceFree
System RequirementsApple
Mac OSX 10.10 – Mac OS 11
4GB of RAM
64bit DAW required
Compatible with Apple Silicon (M1)

Windows
Windows 7 – Windows 10
4GB of RAM
64bit DAW required

General
It is recommended to store samples on an External SSD Drive
LABS cannot be currently used on a shared hard drive between two devices

Anyone looking for great free virtual instruments should check out Spitfire LABS. There is nothing to lose with these plugins, and they provide some of the best sample-based instruments you’ll be able to find for free. Today, we are looking specifically at their Soft Piano plugin, but all of them are worth checking out. The best part is that they all run through the LABS VST, meaning that all the LABS instruments you download will be accessible from the same place and can be switched between easily. 

Soft Piano is one of the most popular plugins in LABS, and it does a great job for what it is – a simple piano sound. As the name implies, this plugin is geared toward a more mellow sound, so you might need something a little punchier if you want to be the next Warren Zevon. Otherwise, though, you are getting an excellent-sounding piano VST for free.

PROS

  • Free
  • Sample-based
  • LABS interface and selection of other plugins is great

CONS

  • Settings and controls are fairly limited
  • Piano is a bit too soft in terms of output volume
  • Instrument UI is not labeled clearly

For a free VST, LABS soft piano is a great place to start. The sound quality is great and sounds natural. It has some controls for volume, gain, and reverb, and while it would be nice to have a little more, Soft Piano never claims to be a completely comprehensive piano. For what it is, it is excellent, and its flaws are more than made up for by the fact that it is one of the many great free sounds you have access to in LABS. It is not a free trial, so you will never be prompted to pay for anything, and you can download as many instruments as you want.

2. Sample Science Room Piano V3

Room_Piano_v3_Gumroad_Overlay

Specification

PriceFree
System RequirementsWindows 8.1/10 or macOS El Capitan to Mojave

59.4 MB of HD space

Quad-core CPU or better with 4 GB of RAM or more

64-bit VSTi/AUi Host

Sample Science’s Room Piano is a plugin designed to be light on your system, and with that in mind it does an excellent job. It uses a library of piano samples, and while it doesn’t quite have the ability to capture the depth and dynamics of a real piano, it is excellent for adding warm piano lines into your tracks, especially for genres such as hip-hop and lo-fi. It includes amplitude ADSR (attack, decay, sustain, release) controls, reverb, and high and low pass filters.

PROS

  • Free
  • ADSR controls
  • Low storage requirement

CONS

  • Samples only recorded every three semitones 
  • Samples only recorded at two velocities
  • Options are fairly limited

Room Piano is another great option for what it sets out to do. Its sound is a bit louder and more pronounced than Soft Piano’s, and the samples it uses sound pretty good. It is worth noting that its samples were recorded only once every three semitones. This means that not every note is individually sampled, but rather the ones in between are achieved by pitching up or down. This may hold Room Piano back from being a go-to tool for front-and-center piano songs that require extra nuance, but it is no problem at all for achieving a nice backing piano progression or line for your song. Overall, this is a great free plugin with a nice-looking interface. It’s definitely worth checking out.

3. Arcade by Output

Distant-Voices-2.0-Notes-Kit

Specification

Price$10/month subscription with 30 day free trial
System RequirementsOSX 10.12+ AU / VST / VST 3 / AAX
WIN 8.1+ 64 bit VST / VST3 / AAX
8GB RAM required, 16GB recommended
*Arcade is supported by all major DAWs in 64 bit VST, VST3, AU and AAX format. There are certain systems that don’t play nicely with Arcade.
FL Studio: We strongly recommend enabling the ‘Use fixed size buffers’ option in the ‘Processing’ tab of the plugin wrapper.
Mixcraft 9 is compatible with Arcade versions 1.3.11 and below
The following systems aren’t currently compatible with Arcade
32 bit PC: Cubase 8 (PC: VST, VST3). There are no known issues with Arcade running on Cubase 8 on a 64 bit machine.
Pro Tools 10.

This plugin is a bit different from the previous two. The first thing to note is that it is not strictly free, but it does offer a full-feature free trial for 30 days, and allows you to keep using the patches you download during the trial period even after it lapses. Additionally, this is not simply a piano vst. If you subscribe to Arcade, you will have access to its library of sample loops which make up a variety of different lines or patches. These lines are groups of loops that you can tweak and play over top of each other to create some really interesting sounds. 

PROS

  • Large library of creativity-spurring loops
  • Allows you to keep downloads after subscription lapses
  • Large range of different sounds

CONS

  • Trial lasts 30 days
  • Subscription based
  • Not functional as a simple, ready-to-use virtual piano

Arcade is a great plugin for getting out of a creative rut. While it doesn’t hold your hand too much, its array of loops and options make for a great starting point in composing songs. If you are just looking for a simple piano VST, then Arcade may be a bit more than you bargained for. But if you want a springboard for starting tracks and playing with samples, the free trial is a great option. It allows you to use the entire product for the trial period, and allows you to keep the samples you’ve downloaded. 

4. Soundmagic Piano One

soundmagicpiano

Specification

PriceFree
System RequirementsAvailable in 32 and 64 bit versions on both Windows and Mac

In terms of achieving a great straightforward piano sound, Piano One may be the best option on this list. It uses a combination of samples from a Yamaha C7 grand piano and digital modelling to create a great piano sound with a good number of options for tweaking. It offers sliders and knobs for dynamics, reverb, perspective (player vs. audience), tone, and more. If you want a straightforward yet robust piano plugin, consider going with this one.

PROS

  • Good sound
  • Mix of sampling and modelling 
  • Nice selection of controls

CONS

  • Only one sound
  • Download process is slightly convoluted
  • Cutoff of notes requires some tinkering to sound natural

Compared to other pure piano plugins on this list, Piano One is more feature-rich in and of itself. If what you want is a simple piano sound, this VST is one of the more comprehensive options out there. It is completely free, and offers interesting settings such as knobs for string and hammer noise. It is definitely worth testing for yourself.

5. Garritan CFX Concert Grand

GarritanCFX_RightPanel

Specification

Price$199.95
System RequirementsWindows®
Intel or AMD processor based system hardware
Microsoft Windows 8.1 or later with 64 bit architecture
An OS compatible sound card or external audio device, ASIO compatibility recommended

MacOS®
Intel based Apple hardware (For information on M1 based system click here)
macOS 10.12 through 11.x
A sound card or external audio device compatible with Core Audio

Both
Multi-core processor 
4 GB RAM minimum. 8 GB RAM or greater recommended.
133 GB of free hard drive space for “Full” installation; 24.5 GB for “Compact” installation.
A dedicated hard drive with fast interface (SATA, USB 3.0, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt) is recommended. A solid-state drive (SSD) is preferred.
Internet connection for download and activation 

If none of the free options on this list are doing it for you, and you want to go to the next level of piano VSTs, one great option is Garritan’s plugin, recorded on a Yamaha CFX Concert Grand Piano in the famous Abbey Road Studio One. It goes without saying that the quality of the samples in this plugin is extremely high, and it also offers premium options for mic position, EQ, pedaling, and more. 

PROS

  • World-class samples
  • In-depth controls
  • Great sound and playability

CONS

  • No free trial version

If you can fit it into your budget and you want a high quality piano VST, this one might be a good option for you. While it is expensive compared to the others on this list, it is affordable compared to many VSTs out there. It also has a “lite” version that is significantly cheaper, and contains all the features of the full version except its microphone positioning options. All in all, it is a great value.

Conclusion

Whether you are just starting out producing, or you just want to add some new VSTs to your collection, check out the plugins on this list. Each one is great for its intended purpose, and should help you improve your repertoire. Try them out!