Review: The Charakter Piano Collection by Cinematique Instruments


The Charakter Piano Collection is a fun and unique place to turn when you’re tired of the same old piano sound, and each of its 6 included instruments take a different approach to provide a fresh take on a very commonly sampled instrument.

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Review: The Charakter Piano Collection by Cinematique Instruments

Sampled pianos are everywhere. It’s easy to turn your brain off and tune out when you hear that another new one is coming, but Cinematique Instruments has aimed to bring something different to the table with the Charakter Piano Collection. With 6 unique and quirky pianos sampled and packaged up, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised when some of the weird, old, out of tune, and noisy instruments fill a hole in your arsenal that you never knew existed.

The Charakter Piano Collection normally sells for €90 from Cinematique Instruments


The picture above sum up the interfaces of the Charakter pianos quite well. Very minimal controls are offered. Each instrument includes a reverb and a few selected knobs such as noise, EQ, warmth, etc. All of them are a little different, so instead of showing picture of all of them and going through each knob, I’ll mention interface details below while summarizing my thoughts on each included piano.

Curbed Piano
This piano has a feature that none of the others have. Raising the modwheel introduces some “repetition”, so holding down a note triggers it over and over. Like a sort of infinite delay that never fully decays. With infinite reverb on by default, this one has a naturally sort of dreamy tone. The Tone knob does some simple EQ so you can either brighten or darken the sound to taste, and the “reverse” knob layers in a reverse sample that rises up after the initial attack. The big negative here, at least for me, is that the attack of every note has a sort of “click” that can sound like an audio glitch. With no ADSR envelope in the interface, the only way around it is editing the back end of the instrument patch.

Intimate FR
More of a “prepared” piano than anything else, this instrument lets you add a lot of noise with the interface. However, even with the noise turned all the way down, I still find the samples to contain a lot of mid-low range noise on attack. This will probably be my least used part of the bundle.

Intimate +
This one is a little more useful as far as the two “Intimate” pianos. There is a lot more control over the hammer noises, including Decay, Tone, and Key Noise. You can turn them all the way down to get a more “pure” sound. The tone is naturally dark, which seems to be a pattern across all of these. In the upper registers, this sounds really good for a sort of not-quite-but-almost felt piano quality. The “Reverse” knob is also included here.

Practice Piano
The practice piano seems to imitate that old cheap upright that has been in grandma’s house for ages. The “Granny” knob detunes and degrades the sound. This could be a cool feature for cheesy, spooky haunted house music or quirky indie tunes. Without “granny” mode engaged, it’s a fairly standard upright sound but with some static noise in the recordings. This one won’t get much use from me, but its purpose is pretty clear and focused.

Soundboard Piano
Since this instrument isn’t really a real instrument, but is based on a deconstructed piano soundboard, it’s definitely the weirdest one. It feels similar to the Intimate Piano, but with a brighter and thinner high end. This one also has the thickest and warmest low end. The sound can be mangled with “Felt Morph”, which dampens, and “Add Perc” which adds some nasty rattling string sounds.

Upright Piano
This is just a regular ol’ upright piano, as the name implies. No gimmicks. The interface gives you very basic EQ control, a “Warmth” knob to add some low-end richness, and an “Add Bottom” knob that adds a low hammer sound into each note’s attack. I think this one shines with the warmth all the way up, and the hammer sound all the way down. This will give you a pretty standard and realistic piano to play with.

The biggest problem I had with these pianos is that they all lack a nice and rich low end. Of course, that’s something you get more with grand pianos, but this hole in the library made it a lot less useful than I had hoped. However, with a product thats main purpose is to be different and quirky, this might be considered more of a feature than a mistake. Still, the high ends can be very beautiful when treated properly, and as a whole, this package is a nice fast route to intimate and quirky piano sounds favoring the upper ranges. I got some particularly thick and cinematic results by layering the Intimate+ and Upright Pianos and adding a long and bright reverb tail.

If you’re looking for a bread and butter piano for most works, you won’t find it here. But, if you’re looking to explore some more unusual piano options with plenty of character, this can be a very fulfilling and worthwhile bundle.


The Charakter Piano Collection is a bundle of 6 unique sampled pianos: Curbed Piano, Intimate FR, Intimate+, Practice Piano, Soundboard Piano, and Upright Piano. It weighs in at 1.09 GB fully installed, and is compatible with the full retail version of Kontakt 5.6.8 or higher.

The Charakter Piano Collection normally sells for €90 from Cinematique Instruments

Demos of The Charakter Piano Collection

Videos of The Charakter Piano Collection