An Introduction To Pianoteq, The Virtual Piano Program

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Hugh Sung, pianist and host of the "Clair de lune from Scratch" video piano lesson series ( ), discusses the limitations of entry and mid-range digital pianos, and how the virtual piano program Pianoteq by Modartt ( ) enables an unprecedented level of musical expression. Dispensing with 1980's sample-trigger technologies that hamper digital keyboards, Pianoteq actually models the physics of the piano sound components in real time. Tone, color, and textural effects are now possible with the Pianoteq program, along with an incredible array of instrument customization and virtual recording tools.

Hugh demonstrates the expressive capabilities of the Pianoteq virtual piano in a performance of Debussy's masterpiece, "Clair de lune".

Pianoteq is available for immediate download for Mac, PC, and Linux computers.

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  1. Maico Malnero

    02/23/2014 at 7:03 PM

    thanks torley

  2. youngnw2

    03/11/2014 at 1:10 PM


  3. Mark Matthews

    04/16/2014 at 9:42 PM

    Thanks Hugh, your interpretation of Clai de lune is spot on! Amazing how much expression you get out of a digital keyboard and software! Thanks!

    • Hugh Sung

      05/26/2015 at 11:04 PM

      +Mark Matthews Thank you so much! If you like that, you might enjoy this video demonstrating Pianoteq 5 – my acoustic piano is a hybrid, enabling me to record digitally with Pianoteq 5! Let me know what you think of this:

  4. Dude2010ification

    04/21/2014 at 8:02 AM

    Gorgeous playing.

    • Hugh Sung

      05/26/2015 at 11:03 PM

      +Dude2010ification Thank you 🙂 Sorry it’s taken me a year to thank you properly! 😛

  5. Gina Bisaillon

    01/18/2015 at 2:23 PM

    Which particular “flavour” are you using in this demonstration? And doesn’t the quality of the keyboard itself matter?

    • Hugh Sung

      01/18/2015 at 2:51 PM

      I’m just using one of the standard classical piano presets. This video was made 5 years ago – the Pianoteq program actually sounds much more amazing (and realistic) with their latest version 5. In fact, this is the sound of my piano when I teach my online lessons at ArtistWorks!

    • Hugh Sung

      01/18/2015 at 2:54 PM

      As long as your keyboard is MIDI capable, then the only quality issues will be the physical feel of the keys. The keyboard will be working as a controller, whereas the quality of the sound comes from the Pianoteq software.

    • Gina Bisaillon

      01/18/2015 at 3:10 PM

      +Hugh Sung Yes, my Casio Privia is MIDI capable, and the feel of the keys is adjustable, up to a point. I don’t have a laptop at the moment, and I can’t move my computer to the piano, so I’ll have to wait to get this software until I get a laptop later in the year (I don’t suppose it works on a tablet? I’ve got 2 iPads). My initial comment on the ArtistWorks website was because Casio does not offer good support and the manual is useless for that, yet I’m sure I could get a better sound with all the different adjustments I’ve already got, so a tutorial would be extremely useful.

  6. Gianna Giavelli

    02/06/2015 at 4:42 AM

    I agree. something special in the pianoteq 5 release. they really got it.

    • Hugh Sung

      05/26/2015 at 11:03 PM

      +Gianna Giavelli I couldn’t agree with you more. Check out the Pianoteq 5 sound in this video:

  7. W. Jordan Robson

    03/21/2015 at 4:51 AM

    Wow! I really enjoyed this! What kind of digital keyboard are you using?

    • Hugh Sung

      05/26/2015 at 11:02 PM

      +W. Jordan Robson I’m so glad you enjoyed this! I’m using a Roland RD-700SX – great keyboard that works really well with Pianoteq!

  8. Orlando Benjamin

    04/18/2015 at 4:49 PM

    huh… that jingle at the end sounds kinda cool… like something vintage is about to take place…

    • Hugh Sung

      05/26/2015 at 11:13 PM

      +The ‘Pelagato’ Glad you liked it! It’s actually part of the piece I was playing in the video, “Clair de lune” by Debussy 🙂

  9. Andrew Piatek

    05/19/2015 at 4:49 AM

    Nice Roland keyboard, that’s for sure.  I have a Muse Receptor 1.0, so the furthest version of Pianoteq I can run on it is 2.  I got the Receptor brand new old stock, with all the original plug-inst pre-installed, including the Pianoteq.  So, I am going now through the 30-trial now.  Afterwards, I will have to pay $300 on to continue using the Pianoteq 2.  I must say it doesn’t sound too bad.  But for classical piano, I got far more used to the SRX-02 sampled piano library from Roland.  The Pianoteq 2 just doesn’t hit that level of expression, even though the individual notes sound quite good, but the playability factor of the whole instrument altogether seems to be quite a bit compromised.  Maybe it’s because I am using presets.  Anyway, I am using Roland A-80 MIDI controller at the moment, and the SRX-02 is just by far my favorite.  The SuperNATURAL piano residing in Integra-7 is not bad, but it doesn’t sound even close to what the SRX-02.  So, I find it very surprising that most reviews totally despise of the SRX-02 for having unnatural decays and so on.  The supposedly superior SRX-11 library everybody had been raving about, but I am not sure.  I mean, it’s good, but not as good as SRX-02.  By the way, I also very much like the sound of Clavinova CLP123 digital piano, which I’ve had for about 20 years now.  That Yamaha sound does not use as much as 3 or 4 samples per velocity level.  It uses the lowpass filter so skillfully though, that it’s a really playable sound for classical music.  All in all, it’s maybe what one grew up with, and what one got used to that sounds best.  My point is, it’s all very subjective what sound good to which person.  I personally haven’t found anything better than SRX-02 library from Roland just yet.  What I am quite surprised about is that I seem to be the only one with this opinion.  Maybe the later versions of Pianoteq are better, but version 2 damper sound and all, are quite a bit of a joke, like a toy really.  Overall tone is very good in Pianoteq.  It’s just the way the notes sound together in musical piece is not even close as well tuned in and matched together as all above Roland piano libraries that I mentioned.  Those, and Yamaha Clavinova piano of course, which is very playable.  So, here is my take on “outdated” and “obsolete” sampled piano technology that I happen to love and admire to this day.

  10. Cue Zephyr

    05/26/2015 at 10:50 PM

    Fantastic playing! It’s amazing how well PianoTeq responds to your playing.

    • Cue Zephyr

      05/27/2015 at 10:15 AM

      I think I’ve narrowed it down to the Casio PX-5S Privia Pro. As far as I’m aware, it’s about as good as it can get for under a grand. Any of the RD boards is a little too expensive for me right now. 🙁

    • Hugh Sung

      05/27/2015 at 12:11 PM

      +Cue Zephyr I have an older Casio Privia model – great keyboard, especially it’s light weight and compact size. Great for traveling! I think you’ll really enjoy that Casio – let me know!

    • Cue Zephyr

      06/08/2015 at 10:35 PM

      I got a good deal on a B-stock Casio PX-5S. It’s actually a (very popular, apparently) stage piano with a few downfalls for some pianists (no half-pedaling or tri-pedal support) but for me starting out, the tweakabaility and the MIDI controller aspect sure make it a winner for me. It should be in this week! I can’t play yet but I’m absolutely stoked! 😀

    • Hugh Sung

      06/08/2015 at 10:42 PM

      +Cue Zephyr How exciting! Congrats on the Casio! Be sure to let me know when it arrives – I’d love to see and hear how it plays!

    • Cue Zephyr

      06/27/2015 at 10:10 PM

      +Hugh Sung Some people really don’t like the ivory/ebony feel keytops. I really like them. The sound is plenty for me right now and probably for a long, long time. I haven’t used much of its other functionalities at all, but so far I’m absolutely loving this piano and playing/learning it as well!

  11. Michael Parson-McNamara

    09/25/2015 at 8:55 PM

    It’s a toss up between which is nicer, your playing or the sound of the Pianoteq! Nicely done on both counts.

    • Hugh Sung

      09/25/2015 at 9:01 PM

      +Michael Parson-McNamara Thank you, Michael! This video is quite old – the newest version of Pianoteq sounds far better today, believe it or not!

    • Michael Parson-McNamara

      09/25/2015 at 11:39 PM

      +Hugh Sung    I’m aware of 5 as a friend has it and keeps trying to get me to get it. So, my comments are still on target and even more so! LOL    Debussy is my absolute favorite and Claire de lune is still as magical as the first time I heard it, by Isao Tomita, by the way. Then I went and bought a dozen different versions. I have one by a guitar duet, one played on harp and various  other “approaches”.

  12. Lisa Mee

    10/02/2015 at 6:48 AM

    Thanks for the video. If you connect a Pianoteq system to a digital piano/keyboard, it does not matter what brand and model of digital piano/keyboard you are using it will sound the same. Am I correct?

    • Hugh Sung

      10/02/2015 at 10:06 AM

      +Lisa Mee That’s correct, Lisa. You can connect Pianoteq to any digital piano/keyboard and it will produce the same sounds 🙂

  13. Lui Lui

    02/13/2016 at 5:27 PM

    Great sound and playing. i’m in Love of Pianoteq 5

  14. Wakeey

    04/30/2016 at 7:39 PM

    How does it calculate how hard you are pressing the keys?

    • Thomas Andersen

      08/23/2016 at 3:30 AM

      Yeah. If you have a cheap midi-controller with no velocity sensitivity how does it calculate how soft/hard you are playing?

    • neilpsissons

      02/02/2017 at 4:17 PM

      It can’t. You have to have a good controller or there is no point.

  15. Cynthia Chen

    07/29/2016 at 7:31 AM

    Absolutely beautiful Hugh…I just got Pianoteq and I look forward to using it. It gives you sooo much more than a regular digital piano!

    • Hugh Sung

      07/29/2016 at 11:47 AM

      I’m so glad you enjoy this video, Cynthia! Have fun with Pianoteq!

  16. Shunarjuna

    03/13/2017 at 3:19 AM

    I was using the EastWest pianos and thought they were great but I encountered exactly the same expressive limitations you are talking about here. I decided to look around for other options and when I discovered Pianoteq I was blown away. Can’t wait to get this same technology for the entire orchestra. I know Synful does it but not as well as Pianoteq, at least not to my ears.

  17. Climbers Of Ice

    06/07/2017 at 5:11 AM

    Is there any difference in sound between using a USB midi interface instead of an audio interface?