Being the black friday weekend, I picked up NI's Alicia's Keys for at half off. It sounds pretty good - after increasing the stereo width control - but there was just something about the playability of the VI. On a whim, I decided to download the trial versions of two other pianos I've been meaning to try, Truepianos and Pianoteq.
I must say I'm quite surprised. Pianoteq initially sounded quite boring, until I tweaked some parameters - I'm only on headphones, so changing the output type from "Sound Recording" to Stereophonic or binaural made a *huge* difference. Also, I love the ability to draw a custom velocity mapping curve, again, that helped greatly. Finally, the ability to adjust the difference in volume between the ppp and FFF - wow. What's best, is that after I fell in love with the playability, I checked out the website in more detail, and found out that the latest D4 piano in Pianoteq was actually modelled after a Steinway D! Even more win!
I then switched over to testing Truepianos. I must say, that the sounds of Truepianos has much more bite and character compared to the Pianoteq. Just A-Bing them made it painfully obvious. On the flip side though, I felt like I couldn't get as much dynamic range out of Truepianos versus pianoteq.
Other pianos I compared them to were my good old sampled Old Lady piano, which I now found quite thin compared to pianoteq. Maybe I need to increase the stereo width like Alicia's Keys to get the bite I want on headphones. But it still played very nice.
I think I definitely want to get the "stage" version of Piantoteq soon, I just love how it plays under my fingers. The others are great sounds, and will definitely be useful depending on different genres of music. However, in terms of playability, I think I like Pianoteq the best.