RDG Audio has released Cottage Piano Lite, a free piano virtual instrument which you can download after registering on their site.
Cottage Piano Lite is a sample-based upright piano virtual instrument and a very nice sounding one at that. The instrument is available in VST and AU plugin formats for PC and Mac. Thanks to its straightforward user interface, Cottage Piano Lite is a plugin that’s easy to recommend to beginner producers. It is extremely simple to set up and use.
The GUI only features a digital level meter on the left (indicating the output volume), a single volume controller located at the bottom, and a notification on the bottom right which reminds you that the piano is in auto-sustain mode. Unfortunately, as a limitation of the Lite version of Cottage Piano, you cannot turn the auto-sustain off. You would, however, have control over the sustain should you choose to buy one of the three full version variants (Classic, Deluxe or Diamond, all available for purchase on the RDG Audio site for $39,99).
Cottage Piano Lite is also limited for use in stereo mode which I didn’t mind at all. The instrument is velocity sensitive, allowing for a greater dynamic range and more expressiveness during a performance. Its biggest drawback, though, is the lack of round-robin samples, which is especially noticeable at 0:38 in the demo video embedded at the top of this page. Another annoying aspect is the checkout process which requires a valid email address and then takes you to a page full of ads before finally redirecting you to the download link.
In summary, Cottage Piano Lite would make a decent addition to your plugin arsenal, in case you don’t already own a virtual piano instrument that you’re happy with. Because of its low system requirements, it is especially well suited for use on lower spec computers or older hardware, providing a great lightweight VSTi piano sound for studio use or live performance. Although it doesn’t have the advanced controls of its full version brethren, it is still a competent (if not slightly middle of the road) and useful piano instrument. The checkout process could definitely be more convenient, though, and the lack of round-robin samples makes Cottage Piano Lite’s usefulness somewhat limited.
Cottage Piano Lite is available for free download via RDG Audio (32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU plugin format for Windows & Mac OS).