I’ve always had a problem finding a good sounding, smooth and realistic piano VST plugin. After doing some research on the topic, I found all the standard ones like the Kontakt library The Giant, The Gentleman, all the Nexus pianos and other well known pianos. It wasn’t before I watched a livestream of some random producer making a piano house track that I found out about Addictive Keys.
The amount of different piano sounds is amazing
So there’s a lot to choose from regarding Addictive keys. It features many different piano sounds, grand pianos, e pianos and even some more abstract sounds like distorted bass sounds and smooth pizzicato type sounds. All of these sounds are highly customizable with the internal controls and effects that the wrapper comes with. This makes it easy to fit any of the sounds into any type of production.
The Mark One Stage Piano e-piano / rhodes type preset is probably one of my favorites. This isn’t a standard piano sound, but a vintage sounding e-piano that fills up the frequency spectrum beautifully. I’m sure you’re all familiar with Zedd? This preset sounds just like something he would use in maybe a verse together with his signature drums etc. The “drive” knob adds a beautiful distortion that makes it a bit harsher for a more aggressive and compressed feel.
Another favorite of mine is the Intense Keys preset for the Studio Grand piano inside Addictive Keys. This preset sounds like a mix between Avicii’s signature piano sound and Sigala’s funky smooth piano. By using the tone, hardness and timbre knob, you can make it sound a bit more aggressive than how it sounds right out the box.
Apart from these presets, there are lots of more vintage sounding presets that gives your production that professional feel right out of the box. Maybe add a bit of distortion as post processing, and you have yourself a great sound to work with.
Customize the sounds to your heart’s desire
By visiting the “Edit” tab, you’re presented with lots of options to customize your sounds even more. This tab features everything from mic placements to tremolo and vibrato, which can make the sound unrecognizable from the initial preset.
Effects such as delay and reverb can also be edited here, with a unique type of option that goes from 100% delay to 100% reverb. This option is also split into left and right channels, which gives you the option to add more effect on one channel over the other. Other than that, there’s also options for sustain, envelope for filters and amp and noise.
If I’m gonna be 100% honest, I haven’t really looked into all possible types of effects and options that you can do in this plugin. Most of the time the initial presets works just great in most of my productions without any advanced editing or post processing. This is actually something that I value highly in a plugin, since I like to get my ideas and production down in my DAW as quickly as possible.
A bit pricey maybe
As you may know, many VST plugins does cost quite a bit. You could look at it like investing in yourself and your wellbeing (if you’re addicted to producing music like me hehe) but even then you may feel it in your wallet. Addictive Keys is no exception to this unfortunately.
The plugin consists of 4 different piano types (with multiple presets and sounds in each one) that you can buy separate from one another, or in a bundle of 2 or 3. The duo bundle costs €149.95 ($170) while the trio bundle goes for €179.95 ($205). If you’re just looking for one specific type of piano, you can buy them for €89.95 ($102) each.
So how does this thing sound?
As for many popular plugins, there are lots and lots of resources, reviews and sound demos online to listen to. Here are just a few that you can listen to and hopefully get a feeling for the sound of Addictive Keys;
Alternatives to Addictive Keys
There are lots and lots of good piano romplers / samplers on the market. There are a few in particular that I would compare to Addictive Keys;
- Refx Nexus
- The gentleman (Kontakt library)
- The giant (Kontakt library)
- Alicia’s Keys (Kontakt library)
Are there any difference between these? Well yea, there are. The thing is that with Nexus, you get some good pianos but they’re not very customizable. The Kontakt libraries that I mentioned are also very good sounding and very customizable, but you don’t get as many sounds as in Addictive Keys, even though they’re all pretty pricey. That’s the main reason I would go with Addictive Keys if I had to choose just one piano plugin to use for the rest of my life.