• Overview
  • What's new?
  • Fine details of sound
  • Features
  • Instruments
  • The Pianoteq history
  • Technology
  • Changes

PIANOTEQ - beautiful, vivid, adaptable

Pianoteq represents the future of virtual pianos, providing the best and latest technology available. The sound is reproduced through a physical model that simulates properties and behaviours of real acoustic pianos. This results in a remarkably playable, vivid and adaptable instrument. The size of Pianoteq is just 40 MB (MegaBytes) and installation is quick and easy. You can use Pianoteq on any modern laptop and connect it to your MIDI compatible piano keyboard.

Where can I listen by instrument? Visit the Instruments page
Version 5 is out? See what's new
New to Pianoteq? Download free trial version
Pianoteq customer? Upgrade to Pianoteq 5 now

Pianoteq is available in 3 versions:

Pianoteq versions comparison table:
Includes two instrument packs 1   
Includes KIViR historical instruments   
VST, AU, RTAS, AAX, Standalone   
EQ, velocity curve, reverb unit   
Preset (fxp) loading 2   
Piano model tweaking   
Microphones setting   
Loads external reverb impulses   
Thousands of editable overtones   
Note-per-note edit 3   
Supports up to 192 kHz audio 4   

[1] Two instrument packs are chosen during the purchase and confirmed during registration. The possible choices are: D4 + K2 grand pianos, or Electric pianos + Hohner Collection, or Vibes + Xylophone/Marimba. All upgrades from versions 1/2/3/4 to version 5 include automatically the D4 and K2 grand pianos.
[2] In PIANOTEQ Stage, preset loading is limited to parameters that are present in the interface. Presets built with PIANOTEQ PRO can be loaded in PIANOTEQ Standard without limitation.
[3] PIANOTEQ PRO lets you edit 30 parameters for each note on your keyboard. In PIANOTEQ Standard, you can explore this feature with the volume and the detune parameter.
[4] PIANOTEQ PRO offers an internal sample rate of up to 192 kHz. Up to 48 kHz in PIANOTEQ Stage and Standard.

Pianoteq Stage
Pianoteq 5 Stage is the choice of the budget-minded musician who does not need to modify the sound. Pianoteq Stage includes the same instruments, sounds and playability as in Pianoteq Standard and PRO. You can upgrade to the Standard or PRO version at any time.
More details
Pianoteq Standard
Pianoteq 5 Standard offers unique powerful tools to enhance and modify the sound, such as changing the unison width, hammer hardness and string length. You can place up to 5 virtual microphones around the instrument and load external reverb impulse files. You can upgrade to the PRO version at any time.
More details
Pianoteq PRO
Pianoteq 5 PRO is the most advanced version, adapted for the creative composer and demanding studio engineer. In addition to the Standard version, it gives you all the tools needed to work in a truly professional environment, letting you adjust 30 parameters for each note on the keyboard and work with up to 192 Khz audio.
More details

All versions offer the same sound, instruments and playability but differ in the range of features and settings.

Pianoteq Studio Bundle (Pianoteq Pro + all instrument packs) available here.

New Features in version 5

Refined piano sound

Modartt has devoted two years of research in developing and refining the award-winning Pianoteq physical model. Pianoteq 5 brings more body and soul to the instruments, refining the attack and soundboard model, adding more clarity and authenticity. The refined piano sound is applied to the current grand pianos D4, Blüthner Model 1, YC5 Rock Piano, and the upright piano U4, which can all be purchased in our online store.

More details: D4, Blüthner, YC5, U4

New grand piano K2

Available for purchase in our online store is the new grand piano K2 which combines the best elements of several source pianos. Its 211 cm (6' 11”) cabinet offers the magnificent sound that comes from a perfect balance between warmth and brilliance. Enjoy its dark, woody character in a musical allround environment. The instrument is especially developed for Pianoteq 5.

More details: K2

Prestigious Kremsegg collection

The Kremsegg Collections I & II are beautiful historical instruments which can be purchased in our online store. They are created in collaboration with the Kremsegg Schloss Museum, Austria, where the original instruments are displayed. The instruments range from the 18th Century to the late 19th Century and include pianofortes and grand pianos, incomparable for rendering the music of the Classical period. The late 19th Century pianos, with a design approaching that of a modern piano, can by all means also be used for jazz and other modern music.

Morde details: Kremegg 1 | Kremsegg 2

New microphones bring a higher level of control

The improved physical model in Pianoteq 5 makes it possible to work with directional microphones such as cardioid and figure 8. Fifteen microphones of well-known brands are modelled, increasing the palette of available sound colours. New features have been added: the microphones can be rotated in all three dimensions and attached together for their positioning, and they also offer control over polarity and the proximity effect.


Fine details of sound

Vivid The piano creates the sound in real time while you are playing and takes into account all the complex factors that makes the piano a truly vivid instrument, such as the interaction between strings, the use of pedals, the cabinet resonance and the position of the hammers. It will feel like you have a real piano in front of you... as if you could just lean over and touch the strings!

Versatile Pianoteq introduces new methods to adjust the piano sound to just the way you like it! Changes that until now could only be made by piano tuners are now possible directly from the interface. Within seconds you can adjust the sound to a particular type of music or playing style. The many choices can be saved as a customized setting which you can share with other Pianoteq users.

Expressive All the detailed variations of the timbre are there, from the weakest pianissimo to the strongest fortissimo! What you express on your keyboard will also be what you actually hear. The sound of even the weakest pianissimo is absolutely pure without any audible quantization noise.

Convenient Conveniently for the travelling musician, Pianoteq runs well on a modern laptop. Pianoteq loads quickly because of the extremely small size (40 MB).

We present here the main Pianoteq sound features that illustrate the great flexibility but also the beautiful sounds offered by physical modelling. Many of these features are unique and original inventions by MODARTT.
Sympathetic resonance When undamped strings respond to other string vibrations, it results in sympathetic resonance, here slightly exaggerated and revealing a silently depressed chord C2-E2-G2-Bb2. 
Sustain pedal resonance Listen to how the sympathetic resonance of all strings brings vividness to the piano sound. Here the sustain pedal is depressed during the whole sequence. 
Duplex scale resonance In an acoustic piano there are undamped string parts, called duplex scales, which come into resonance. In this example (exaggerated) staccatos are revealing these duplex scales. 
Sound variation in repetition Repeated notes show a variation in sound as the hammer strikes the strings differently when they are in motion. Pianoteq reproduces this effect demonstrated here. 
Buzzing in the bass Strong strokes on the copper-wounded bass strings produce an irregular buzzing sound. 
Sustain pedal off/on We listen here alternatively to the sustain pedal off/on. When pressing down the sustain pedal of an acoustic piano, the dampers are lifted, resulting in a sympathetic resonance of all the strings. 
Pedal catch/repedalling When the dampers come back in contact with the strings, the string vibrations do not stop immediately. If the sustain pedal is depressed a very short time after, which is called pedal catch (or repedalling if done several times), then the strings are still vibrating a little. 
Partial pedal If you depress the sustain pedal only partially on an acoustic piano, the dampers will stay partially in contact with the strings. The vibrations are then partially damped. This is called partial pedalling (also known as half pedalling). Digital pianos which are equipped with a progressive (continuous) sustain pedal, can achieve the same effect with Pianoteq. 
Unison detuning (large) The unison width adjusts the frequency variation within each unison, changing sound character. Greatly increased, it produces the honky tonk sound ('U4 Honky Tonk' preset). 
Unison detuning (small) With a smaller detuning, you can hear some slow beatings between the strings. Increasing here the unison width progressively to 1, 2, 3. 
Temperament The temperament has not always been equal. Here equal temperament (first) is compared to Werckmeister III temperament on the Walter pianoforte. 
Voicing Important changes can be made to the sound by changing the hammer hardness. This example demonstrates soft, medium and hard hammers. 
Overtones Changing the weight of each overtone can produce some dramatic changes as illustrated by this example. 
Hammer noise The hammer noise can be adjusted separately, softer and then stronger in this example. 
Una Corda (soft) pedal Comparison without vs. with soft pedal. Modification in phase and direct/after sound contributions in each unison induces subtle changes in the sound. 
Soundboard impedance The soundboard impedance is related to its dimension (thickness, width) as well as to the quality of the wood (elasticity, weight). It has a great influence on the sound duration. Here default impedance followed by higher impedance. 
String length The inharmonicity of a string varies with its length (and also with its diameter, tension and material). We listen to a virtual piano of size 1.60 m, then 2.7 m, and finally 10 m. 
Extended range Some of the Pianoteq virtual grand pianos (D4, K1, C3,...) offer an extended keyboard range of 105 keys, down to A-2 and up to F7 (normal range is from A-1 to C7). 
Strike point In instruments like cimbalom, vibraphone, xylophone, etc., the strike point is controlled by the musician, contrarily to the piano where it is fixed by the manufacturer. We illustrate here how Pianoteq allows this control taking as example the cimbalom, ancestor of the piano. First 'normal' position, then one third of the string length. 
Mallet bounce The mallet bounce effect can be used with the cimbalom as illustrated here, as well as with any other Pianoteq instrument. 
Electric Piano
Pickup symmetry In an electro-acoustic piano, the pickup is not exactly in front of the tone source at rest. When it is exactly in front, due to the symmetry of the device, the note jumps one octave higher. Here we listen to normal position, then almost symmetric position (slider at 0.8). 
Pickup distance When the pickup is moved closer to the tone source, the sound becomes more distorted and the timbre variation between soft and loud sounds increases. We listen to a normal and then to a closer position. 
Clavinet pickups The clavinet contains two sets of pickups, positioned above and below the strings. We listen here to the four standard configurations of these pickups: AC, BC, AD, BD. 
Wah-wah Wah-wah is a very spectacular effect, auto-wah used here with the clavinet. 
Tremolo The tremolo is commonly used on vibraphones and electric pianos. Demonstrated here with the Rhody. 
Chorus and flanger Various presets of chorus and flanger are illustrated in this short piece. Switching from one preset to another produces sometimes some interesting sounds too. 
Combo amp A combo amp is included in the effects section. An overdriven amp is demonstrated here. 
Pitch bend The sound can be altered using pitch control, creating variable glissandos in real time. The bend range can be adjusted up to +/-600 cents. 
Convolution reverb Pianoteq 4 is equipped with a new convolution reverb. Three examples: 'Clean Studio', 'Large Hall', and finally the extreme and impressive 'Taj Mahal'. 
Effect demonstration Here is a demonstration of how powerful and flexible Pianoteq can be in the hands of a sound designer. Created exclusively with a heavily edited Pianoteq Concert Harp in Pianoteq Pro, using mainly Pianoteq's built-in effects. 

Listen Listen to more audio demos

Features in short

  • Pianoteq is a physically modelled virtual instrument
  • Includes 2 instrument packs of choice ("flavour")
  • Optional instruments for purchase: upright, grand pianos, rock piano, electric pianos, harp, vibraphones, clavinet, celesta+glockenspiel, xylophone+marimba, steelpans
  • Free instruments: KIViR historical instruments collection, bells and carillions.
  • Unique adjustable physical parameters, such as unison width, octave stretching, hammer hardness, soundboard, string length, sympathetic resonance, duplex scale resonance. *
  • Progressive variation of the timbre (uses all the 127 MIDI velocities)
  • Control of the dynamics in timbre and volume
  • Realistic sympathetic resonances, including duplex scale
  • Microtuning, supports Scala format *
  • Adjustable mechanical noises (sampled or modelled)
  • Built-in graphic equalizer
  • Built-in graphic curve for key velocity, note-off and pedal
  • Keyboard calibration assistant
  • Eight types of pedals (that can be assigned to the four UI pedals): Sustain, Sostenuto, Super Sostenuto, Harmonic, Una Corda, Celeste, Rattle, Lute Stop
  • Progressive sustain pedal, allowing partial-pedal effects
  • Convolution reverberations
  • Effects: tremolo, wah, chorus, flanger, phaser, delay, amp, compressor, mini-eq.
  • Mallet bounce (note repetition)
  • Instrument condition (mint to worn)
  • Variable lid position *
  • Five adjustable microphones *
  • Multi channel - up to 5 channels *
  • No quantization noise (32-bit internal computation)
  • Renders high resolution MIDI formats CC#88 and Disklavier XP.
  • Installs and loads in seconds
  • Extremely small file size (approximately 40 MB)
  • Excellent for use on modern laptops
  • Extended key range (105 keys = 8+2/3 octaves) for the grand pianos D4 and K2
  • Mac OS X 10.5 or later, Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, Linux x86
    MacOS Windows XP/Vista/Seven Linux
  • Audio Units / VST / RTAS / AAX compatible
    Audio Units VST RTAS AAX

  • (* in Standard and PRO versions)
For further details, read the Pianoteq manual

A vast selection of physically modelled instruments is available for Pianoteq.

When you purchase Pianoteq 5, you choose among three flavours:

  • Acoustic pianos (includes D4 and K2 grand pianos)
  • Electric instruments (includes electric pianos: MKI, MKII, W1, Pianet N &t T, Electra & Clavinet)
  • Chromatic percussions (includes V-B and V-M vibes, Xylophone and Marimba)

More instruments can be purchased separately at any time.

Discover all Pianoteq's instruments here

As a Pianoteq customer, you also have access to a set of free instruments: historical, bells and Pianoteq presets (FXP files).

Discover the free stuff section here

KIViR project Bells and Carillons

The fourth generation piano

The Pianoteq physical model was issued from academic research at the Institute of Mathematics of Toulouse, INSA, Toulouse, France and is continuously developed by Modartt. The result is what we call the fourth piano generation. Pianoteq is the very first piano that belongs to this generation.

    First generation: acoustic piano (1698)
    Second generation: electro-acoustic piano (1929)
    Third generation: sampled piano (1984)
    Fourth generation: modelled piano (2006)

The first generation of pianos began with Cristofori's pianoforte in 1698 which came to maturity at the end of the 19th century with the acoustic grand pianos. It was followed in the 20th century by the second generation electro-acoustic pianos and the third generation sampled pianos where each note is a recording of how it sounded during a specific moment in time, not taking into account the complexity of the instrument.

Pianoteq is the first piano belonging to the fourth generation, developed in order to go beyond the limitations of the third generation and to become a versatile and innovating tool. It is in fact the first virtual piano factory — it can produce new brands as well as copies of historical instruments.

Pr. Gabriel Weinreich Professor Gabriel Weinreich, renowned figure in the world of musical acoustics, says:

"I demonstrated the first "Piano from first principles" at a conference in Austria in 1980. Never in a million years would I have dreamed at that time that, in my lifetime, this art would have reached the state of development embodied in your Pianoteq program. I congratulate you and all your collaborators on this most marvelous development."

The Pianoteq technology

Characteristics of Pianoteq

  • The piano sound is constructed in real time, responding to how the pianist strikes the keys and interacts with the pedals
  • It includes the entire complexity of a real piano (hammers, strings, duplex scale, pedals, cabinet)
  • Continuous velocity from pianissimo to fortissimo, with progressive variation of the timbre: that makes exactly 127 velocities! A sample-based software program would in theory require hundreds of gigabytes for all these velocities
  • Complex resonances that only a model can reproduce in all its richness:
    • Sympathetic resonance of all strings, both without and with sustain pedal
    • Duplex scale (the undamped string parts which come into resonance)
    • Sympathetic resonances between strings
    • Damper position effect when key is released (variable overtones damping)
    • Other special effects like staccato and sound continuation when pressing down the sustain pedal a short time after key release (re-pedalling)
  • Timbre modification of repeated notes, due to the hammer striking strings which are already in motion instead of being still
  • Release velocity
  • Eight types of pedals (that can be assigned to the four UI pedals):
    • Progressive sustain pedal, allowing the so-called “half pedal”, but also quarter or tenth’s pedals if you want!
    • Sostenuto pedal, allowing you to hold some notes after release without pressing down the sustain pedal,
    • Super Sostenuto pedal, where the notes held by the sostenuto can be replayed staccato, which is not possible on a “real” piano,
    • Harmonic pedal, allowing you to play staccato while maintaining the sustain pedal resonance,
    • Una corda pedal, also called soft pedal, modifying the sound quality or timbre by shifting the piano action to the right (on grand pianos),
    • Celeste peda, where a felt strip is interposed between hammers and strings, creating a softer sound. This pedal is usually found in upright pianos,
    • Rattle pedal, also called bassoon pedal, which equipped certain historical pianos, as for example the Besendorfer from the Kremsegg collection. A piece of parchment comes into contact with the strings to create a buzzing noise resembling the sound of the bassoon,
    • Lute pedal, where a wooden bar covered with felt is pressed against the strings, shortening the duration of the sound. It can be found in some historical pianos.
  • Variable lid position
  • Natural instrument noises including:
    • Variable action key release noise (varies with note duration and key release velocity if present)
    • Damper noise at key release (mainly for bass notes)
    • Sustain pedal noise: pedal velocity dependant “whoosh” produced by the dampers rising altogether from the strings or falling down
  • Choice of microphone position and multichannel mixing (up to 5 mics, 5 channels)
  • Microtuning and scala format files import
  • Various effects including equalizer, keyboard velocity setting, volume, sound dynamics which controls the loudness levels between pianissimo and fortissimo, reverberation with control of reverberation weight, duration and room size, limiter, tremolo.

Why a sampled piano is insufficient

The very best sampled pianos of today are the result of many hours of careful recordings associated with complex solutions designed to provide a valuable piano sound. We respect the work of these high class competitors who manage to develop sampled based pianos of this quality. However, as is well-known, sampling technology itself has inherent disadvantages.

To give you an understanding of the reasons why we chose to develop Pianoteq we find it necessary to describe the shortcomings of using samples to create a digital piano:

  1. The sampled piano contains static recordings of each note, how it sounded during a particular moment in time. It does not take into account the influence of other strings vibrating, cabinet resonance, pedal interaction and hammer position.
  2. The sampled piano cannot alter the existing piano samples when it comes to parameters such as hammer hardness, unison tuning, cabinet size, overtones spectrum etc.
  3. The sampled piano has several technical limitations such as audible quantization noise and uneven variation of the timbre (from ppp to fff).

Despite many recent attempts to enhance the sampled piano sound by adding convolution reverb and other post processing effects, the technology as such has too many limitations when it comes to achieving a truly vivid and convincing piano sound.

What makes Pianoteq unique

Pianoteq offers many unique qualities and features that make it superior to other virtual pianos:

  • Vivid: The piano creates the sound in real time while you are playing and takes into account all the complex factors that makes the piano a truly vivid instrument, such as the interaction between strings, the use of pedals, the cabinet resonance and the position of the hammers.
    It will feel like you have a real piano in front of you... as if you could just lean over and touch the strings!
  • Versatile: Pianoteq introduces new possibilities to adjust the piano sound just the way you like it! Things that until now were dedicated for piano tuners are now possible directly from the interface. Within seconds you can adjust the sound to a particular type of music or playing style. The many choices can be saved as a customized setting which you can share with other Pianoteq users.
  • Expressive: All the detailed variations of the timbre are there, from the weakest pianissimo to the strongest fortissimo! What you express on your keyboard will also be what you actually hear. The sound of even the weakest pianissimo is absolutely pure without any audible quantization noise.
  • Convenient: Thanks to its rather modest system requirements, Pianoteq is suitable to run on a modern laptop, convenient for the travelling musician. The small size (40 MB) and the fast interface means no loading time. Just a few mouse movements to start playing.

Pianoteq interface

The many adjustable parameters make it possible to not only adapt the existing piano model but also to create new piano sounds. This is one of the advantages of a truly modelled piano — it opens up new possibilities for the creative musician.

Pianoteq lets you improve the tuning in ways that are usually available only to piano tuners. Example: diapason (414-467 Hz), different kinds of temperaments (from equal to well tempered), microtuning, unison tuning (for changing the timbre or colour of the sound), octave stretching and direct sound duration.

Screenshot of the Pianoteq upper panel

Another task for a professional piano tuner is to "shape" the piano sound according to the pianist's taste. By adjusting hammer hardness it is possible to adapt the piano sound from mellow to bright in great detail. There is not just one adjustment, mellow to bright, but a very detailed slider for each major velocity: pianissimo, mezzoforte and fortissimo.

The next feature is something that not even a piano tuner can do — changing the soundboard impedance. You will get a total control of overtones. This makes it even possible to change the size of the piano, from A size to D size, even up to a 10 meter (33 feet) grand!

Overview of the available parameters:

Available parameters

To provide you with more possibilities in one package there is also a graphical equalizer and a reverb unit. Of course you can bypass any of these if you prefer other effects plug-ins.

You can also in detail adjust the velocity curve for your particular keyboard to ensure that you get the expression that suits you the best.

Sreenshot of the Pianoteq lower panel

It can be used as a stand-alone player and with any VST or Audio Units host such as Cubase, Logic, Nuendo... It can also be used as an RTAS plugin with Pro Tools version 7.3 and higher. Please refer to the FAQ page for more details.

Enlarged keyboard

105 keys, 8+2/3 octaves

The Pianoteq D4 and K2 virtual grand pianos (and legacy C3 and K1) offer an extended keyboard range of 105 keys. This range makes it the largest ever available in a piano.

Grand pianos that offer an expanded keyboard range are rare and extremely expensive. A very well-known example of such a high class instrument is the Bösendorfer Imperial Grand, with its 97 keys expanding the bass range. Stuart & Sons have also built innovative 102 keys pianos, increasing both the bass and the treble range of the piano.

MODARTT takes up the challenge by providing an unprecedented extra-large key range for its exclusive grand piano D4, with no less than 105 keys (17 keys more than the standard keyboard range), ranging from ultra-low rumbling bass to very high bird-like pitches.

The keyboard range expansion was developed to correspond to an increasing demand from Pianoteq users for additional notes. The extended sound palette, obtained thanks to the powerful Pianoteq physical modelling, can be used e.g. in certain prominent piano works by Debussy, Ravel and Bártok where the extended range is utilized. If playing gentle octave chords, the extended bass notes will add a rumbling sound that will strengthen the effect. Below is an example of where the pianist makes use of the extended keyboard range.

La Campanella
Composers: F. Busoni, F. Liszt, N. Paganini
Player: Joseph Felice

In this particular arrangement (suitable for 4 hands), Pianoteq demonstrates its capacity where most other pianos will fail. Based on transcriptions of Paganini's last movement of his second Violin Concerto, Pianoteq's extended keyboard range brings out the complete tonal colour palette. The highest D#, which constitutes Paganini's original 'La Campanella' (The Bell), exists in an octave higher than every other commercial piano library in the world. Many rumbling ultra-low octave notes are also prominently featured.