01 December 2023
By Ellie Palmer
We dive in to Pianoverse: a new virtual instrument library created by IK Multimedia. Is it worth the price? Just how good is the sample library? See what we made of it below.
View full details on Pianoverse here
A quick overview
Pianoverse is a virtual instrument library created by IK Multimedia.
IK Multimedia also offers a whole host of other virtual instruments, effects plugins, audio interfaces, and MIDI controllers aside from Pianoverse.
Pianoverse was released back in late September. It's pretty much what it says on the tin: a piano universe. It’s a growing collection of carefully sampled pianos from concert grands to uprights, providing a wide range of tones and performance possibilities that will hopefully engulf you into its world.
There are a lot of options out there for pianists and producers when it comes to virtual instrument plug ins. It can feel overwhelming having to try and weave out the good from the bad. I’m here to try and help you decipher whether Pianoverse is worth your time.
What is included?
Pianoverse comes with five different piano sounds, all based on different acoustic pianos. They are listed below.
The Concert Grand YF3: Based on a Yamaha CFIII Concert Grand
The Black Diamond B280: Based on a Bösendorfer 280 Vienna Concert Grand
The NY Grand S274: Based on a Steinway model D-274
Royal Upright Y5: Based on a Yamaha U5 upright
The Gran Concerto 278: Based on a 9.5' Fazioli F278 Concert Grand
Each of the real-life pianos was shipped to Italy and sampled using IK’s unique custom-built robotic system that allowed a degree of velocity measurement, sampling precision and repeatability that, they say, "simply cannot be matched with traditional sampling workflows".
The download experience
One thing to be mindful of before you buy Pianoverse is just how much space you will need to download it. The software, plus the five piano libraries that come with it, totalled around 120GB of disk space. I'd advise that you invest in an external hard drive if you don't have that space available on your device.
It took a fair bit of time to download everything. Leave it whirring in the background and it'll be ready before you know it.
A closer look at the virtual pianos available
You can see the available instruments on the left. Simply click on the one you want to use
When opening the interface, you are met with a list of possible sounds within each piano to choose from. There are over 30 available within each piano, all with their own rather creative names. If you’re not sure which sound to choose from, Pianoverse will narrow it down for you based on mood, genre, style and timbre.
The Concert Grand YF3
The first instrument I tried was the Concert Grand YF3, which is based on a Yamaha CFIII Concert Grand. It’s very easy to switch between each piano with Pianoverse’s interface.
I opted initially for the ‘natural grand’ sound as I assume this is the closest preset to a classic, simple sound. After a few seconds of playing, it was noticeable just how advanced this piece of software appears to be. I’ve tried out a fair few pieces of software over the years, and this is the closest I’ve come to trying out a virtual instrument that sounds this close to an acoustic piano.
Personal favourites: ‘Neo Soul’, ‘Quiet Sandstorm’, ‘Natural Concert Grand’
The Pianoverse interface is slick and easy to navigate
The Black Diamond B280
This piano is based on a Bösendorfer 280 Vienna Concert Grand, and was recorded at the legendary Fonoprint Studios in Bologna, Italy. Typically, Bösendorder grands sound on the darker side; and that was apparent straight away when trying it out.
There’s a huge array of varying sounds to choose from here. You could spend hours trying out every single one, especially the more unusual sounding ones. ‘Vortex’ was one that jumped out at me. I was intrigued. But, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fan! I am sure it would have its place somewhere in a cinematic score or experimental piano piece.
Personal favourites: ‘Dreamy Film’, ‘Cloudy Grand’, ‘Natural Grand’
The NY Grand S274
Based on the Steinway Model D-274, this one had a lot to live up to. Whilst it is of course not the same as having an acoustic Steinway in front of you, it certainly emanates a lot of the recognisable Steinway qualities: power, warmth, richness and colour.
If you choose a sound and you feel the need to adjust the details slightly, Pianoverse gives you plenty of personalisation options under the 'Effects' tab.
Personal favourites: ‘Natural NY’, ‘Jazz Jam’, ‘Rich Landscape’
The Pianoverse effects tab
Royal Upright Y5
This is a more bright-sounding pop-style piano, which makes sense given that it’s based on a Yamaha U5 upright. It’s the ideal sound for jazz or pop singer-songwriter material, as well as vocal accompaniment.
Amusingly, there is a preset on this instrument called ‘Yorkshire Pudding’. Why have they named it Yorkshire Pudding? I wondered. I'm from Yorkshire. Perhaps it's a nice, bright-sounding preset.
IK describes the preset as “dark and moody”… and perfect for rainy days. Should have seen that one coming.
My personal favourites: ‘Yorkshire Pudding’, ‘Landscapes Upright’, ‘London Fog’
Check out an example of the 'Yorkshire Pudding' preset below.
Check out "Yorkshire Pudding" by Greg Allison on the Pianoverse Royal Upright Y5. pic.twitter.com/hBzuKwNM17— IK Multimedia (@ikmultimedia) November 18, 2023
The Gran Concerto 278
This is the latest instrument to be added to Pianoverse. Replicating a Fazioli F278 Concert Grand, it’s bright, very well rounded, and has a punch to it. IK used DPA cardioid microphones for the close miking and DPA Omni microphones for medium-distanced with A-B miking technique to record this spectacular Fazioli at the legendary Fonoprint Studios in Bologna, Italy, within the walls of a 15th century convent.
Personal favourites: ‘Venetian Job’, ‘Jewel’, ‘Delicate hand’
A brief mention of a standout feature
I was particularly impressed with the pedal and piano mallet noise feature. I tried out the ‘Neo Soul’ preset from the Concert Grand YF3 instrument and, as I pressed down on my pedal, I could hear the delightful ‘ttssss’; that iconic sound of the mallets echoing off the strings. It’s a small detail, but it’s worth its weight in gold.
This effect can be added to any of the sounds.
Discover a world of sound 'Spaces'
Ever wondered what a piano would sound like if it was played on the ocean floor? Probably not, but it’s interesting to find out anyway. You can do so with Pianoverse’s ‘sound Space’.
'Sea Floor' Space
Toggle along the top of the interface to ‘Space’ and you’ll find about 30 different options ranging from classics like Cathedral, Studio A and Opera House, to the more adventurous Sea Floor, Red Planet (!) and Old Forest.
I highly recommend having a play around with all of these.
What about the price?
There currently two price options available:
All Access Monthly Plan: Get all current pianos and new ones on release. Cancel anytime. 14.99 euros per month.
All Access Yearly Plan: Get all current pianos and new ones on release. Cancel anytime. 149.99 euros yearly. That’s a saving of 17% on the monthly plan. A good option if you are planning to stick around with it for more than a year.
Individual licences for each piano model: Pick and choose which pianos you want. 99.99 euros per model.
What’s next for Pianoverse?
IK is planning to release three more pianos onto Pianoverse. These will be called Black Pearl B200, Hamburg Grand S274, and Liberty Upright.
Find out more about Pianoverse here.