We have $350 left to spend on software for our software piano. So what will it be: Bechstein, Blüthner, Bösendorfer, Fazioli, or Steinway (New York or Hamburg)? The great thing about software pianos is that, over time, the answer could be "all of the above." All of these pianos and more are available in our price range, but hold on—before you buy the software, you need to make sure it's something your current computer can handle; if you have to buy a new computer, you'll blow a big hole in your $1,995 budget. Most software packages list their requirements, so it's easy to compare them with your computer's specs: the amount of free space available on your hard drive; the amount of memory, or RAM, your computer has; and the speed and type of its central processing unit (CPU). See your computer documentation for instructions on how to find the specs for your computer.

Assuming the specifications of a two-year-old midrange computer, some of the software packages that will work with it are shown in Table 4. These are just a few of the options; demonstration recordings and screen shots for most of them are available on their websites.

The software piano option will be especially appealing to those for whom the quality and realism of the piano sound are particularly important factors in choosing a digital piano, such as the classically trained, and other connoisseurs of the acoustic piano exploring the world of digital pianos. As you can see from the amount of free hard-disk space required to install these packages, the sample sets average more than 12GB per individual instrument. This is vastly larger than the amount of storage available on the majority of digital pianos, and allows for much greater sample detail and nuance.

So, the seemingly simple question of which digital pianos can be purchased for $1,995 has produced more than a dozen options, spread over three different approaches: console pianos, slab or stage pianos with outboard sound systems, and software pianos. I'm betting your piano—the one that meets your musical needs, suits your preference in visual appearance, and whets your appetite for adventure—is in there somewhere.

Table 3: Slab or Stage Pianos as part of a Software Piano setup in the $1,995 price range
Brand/ModelVoicesPolyphonyWatts/
Speakers
Recording
Tracks
USB to
Computer
Warranty
parts/labor
(years)
Est.
Price
Kawai MP5 256 192 0/0 0 Yes 3/1 $1,199
Kurzweil SP2X 64 64 0/0 0 Yes 1/1 1,099
Orla Stage Player 16 64 30/2 2 No 5/1 1,082
Yamaha P155 17 128 24/2 2 No 1/1 1,199

Table 4: A few of the software packages costing $350 or less available for use on midrange computers as part of a Software Piano setup
SoftwarePianos Included Recommended
System Requirements
(see websites for
minimum requirements)
PriceDeveloper's Website
East West Quantum Leap
Piano Gold Edition
Bechstein D-280
Bösendorfer 290
Steinway D
Yamaha C7
55GB free HD
4GB RAM (Mac)
8GB RAM (PC)
Mac: 2.5GHz Pro
    Quad-Core Xeon
PC: 2.0GHz Quad Core
$314 www.eastwestsamples.com
Ivory Bösendorfer 290
Steinway D (Hamburg)
Yamaha C7
41GB free HD
2GB RAM
Mac: 1.5GHz G5
PC: 2GHz Pentium 4
$349 www.synthogy.com
Galaxy II Blüthner Vintage 1929
Bösendorfer 290
Steinway D
30GB free HD
1GB RAM
Mac: 1.8GHz G4 or
    2GHz Core 2 Duo
PC: 2.4GHz Pentium/Athlon
$350 www.galaxypianos.com
www.eastwestsamples.com

 

SPRING 2010 -- page 152

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