I’m not a fan of sampled pianos. To me the affordable ones always sound very “canned” and even the extremely expensive sampled pianos don’t really sound like a real piano to me. I think the reason for this is that they aren’t flexible enough in their response to your playing touch. A real piano responds to every tiny variation but a sampled piano only has a limited number of possible samples it can play back.
But when I heard Pianoteq all of my preconceptions of what a sampled piano could sound like were dashed. To my ears this software sounded extremely close to the “real thing.” I was (and remain) amazed by how great it sounds.
Of course, later I came to understand that Pianoteq isn’t actually a sampled piano at all. It’s a piano “modeler.” To be honest, I don’t really understand how this is even possible but essentially it’s an amazingly accurate synthesizer where the sound is “modeled” to sound just like a real acoustic piano.
The key to why it sounds so much more realistic than a sampled piano is that it’s totally responsive to your playing touch instead of only being able to play back a limited number of different samples. Playing touch is really what separates sounds that sound “real” and those that sound “fake.”
It’s essential to get the most out of this flexible responsiveness to play Pianoteq with a weighted key MIDI controller (this plugs into your computer and controls the software.)
I use the SL-990 88 key weighted MIDI controller keyboard and I have no complaints. It’s relatively inexpensive and for me it definitely gets the job done. It sounds (and feels) so much more real to play on a keyboard where you can feel the weight of the keys pushing back on your fingers.
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