As examples I selected two popular software pianos that will run on most computers. Both packages were run on an Apple MacBook Pro with a 2 GHz Core Duo processor and 2 GB of RAM. The controller was a Kawai MP8II stage piano.

Garritan Authorized Steinway Basic (, the least expensive of three options from Garritan, is a $99 downloadable, sample-based package. Sampled from the Steinway & Sons model D concert grand, Garritan Steinway Basic is a great way to test the waters of software pianos. The Basic version includes variable sustain and sympathetic resonance settings, tuning and transposing control, variable mechanical noise, three-band equalization, and a very flexible set of room-ambience controls. You can also control the velocity curve--how the software responds to your touch on the keyboard--in a way similar to the touch controls on many digital pianos. Settings that allow you to control processor and memory loads include selectable polyphony, sample rates, and size of memory buffer. If you don't care to fiddle with such things, all of these can be left at their default settings. The software has enough flexibility for the new user to experiment without becoming overwhelmed by options. The actual sound is what you'd expect, given the host instrument: a warm sound with nice harmonic content. I found Basic very playable, with no trace of latency on the test machine.

Garritan Steinway


FALL 2009 -- page 127

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