Steinway Grand 3 is a brand new free concert piano sample library by Hephaestus Sounds, based on their acclaimed Gran Coda virtual instrument.
If you’re looking for a great sounding grand piano sample library but don’t necessarily want to download something huge like Ivy Audio’s amazing Piano in 162 (which is also available in SFZ format), the latest freebie by Hephaestus Sounds will probably be right up your alley. Provided as a rather compact 300 MB download, the new Steinway Grand 3 is a high quality virtual piano instrument in a compact and well crafted NI Kontakt 5 package.
See also: Free Piano Sample Packs!
The instrument is based on the commercial Gran Coda (£14.99) sample library and, even though it comes with some limitations when compared to the full version, it is still a highly usable instrument in its own right. Let’s first take a look at Steinway Grand 3’s main features and then highlight some of its limitations when compared to Gran Coda.
Steinway Grand 3 features five velocity layers per sampled note (same as in the full version), whereas the instrument has been sampled on a semitone-per-semitone basis (the sample content is 24-bit stereo and compressed to NCW format). All of this leads to quite natural sounding playback, with almost impossible to spot sampling artifacts. The custom user interface is also rather well made, featuring a handy reverb module, a 3-band equalizer which is optimized for controlling the sampled instrument’s main sound characteristics, and an interesting “Distance” control to place the piano closer to or further away from the listener. A “Realism” control is also included, providing a way to set the balance between the sound quality and the instrument’s impact on available CPU resources.
The things missing when compared to the full version of the instrument are the release samples and release FX samples, enhanced polyphony (32 notes polyphony in the free version as opposed to 128 notes polyphony in Gran Coda), sustain pedal scripts and samples, something called “Performance Intelligent Technology” which is supposed to result in an even more natural sounding performance, and the choice between seven different piano types (only one in the free version).
The download procedure for the free piano is very simple and there’s no need to sign up for a user account or anything like that. Simply visit the KVR Audio forum thread linked in the downloads section below and get your free copy of Steinway Grand 3. Please note that you will need the full version of Native Instruments Kontakt 5 in order to use the library without the 15 minute time limit.
Check out the Steinway Grand 3 audio demo:
Steinway Grand 3 is available for free download via KVR Audio (304 MB download size, ZIP archive, contains 1 instrument patch in NKI format for NI Kontakt 5, full version required).