Review: Emotional Piano by Soundiron


 Soundiron has given these particular ivories a gentle tickle creating a boutique instrument that oozes character. Emotional Piano is a hugely expressive instrument and while it likely won’t be the only piano you need in your arsenal, coupled with plenty of built in tweak-ability and some inventive presets, it can fulfill a number of roles for the professional composer and songwriter.

Jump to the Videos of Emotional Piano

Jump to the Videos of Emotional Piano


Review: Emotional Piano by Soundiron

With ever growing processing power and larger, fast SSDs and external disks, it does seem there is no shortage of deeply sampled realistic piano libraries out there at the moment. For developers, the challenge is exactly how they can stand out in the crowd. With Emotional Piano the crack sampling team at Soundiron have opted not to go for the jack-of-all-trades multiple piano type package. Instead, they have created a single instrument with a very defined, unique and beautiful sound.

Emotional Piano sells for $149.00 from Soundiron



Emotional Piano Player Edition is an all new product, but as Marty McFly would proclaim ’it’s an oldie where I come from.’ The original actually dates back to 2012, but recently the product was given a full update into a Kontakt Player version. The engine was improved and optimized, which has resulted in better performance and more sound options. The GUI is clear and simple to learn. When developers have created a really special set of samples, I do like this approach of revisiting them as technology improves to make them work even better, rather than simply making a whole new instrument that might not have quite the same vibe they recorded originally.

The team has chosen a model not often sampled – an 8 foot Kawai grand with a walnut body.

So what we have here is an very lush, resonant and warm sounding grand piano. The recording space was a large studio, but heavily baffled to achieve a very dry, detailed sound. Neumann TLM-103 microphones were used at an almost forensic level; just 1-3” away from each string.

As soon as you play it, you are drawn to creating slow and for want of a better word, emotive passages. It is full of character and very inspirational to play due to the sheer timbre of the sound – rich, soft and dark, without ever being dull. It is a very full sound, making it ideal for solo composition or to sit with a minimal production around it. Below C2 it starts to get pretty complex in the pure heft of harmonic overtones, so you might be more inclined to use single bass notes that far down, depending on what else is in your piece. Around the middle it is just sublime and what is interesting about this piano is that by the time you get to the lofty heights of C5/C6, it does not sound too harsh like many of the more traditional piano libraries out there. The warm walnut soundboard still gives these high notes a degree of weight. There are without a doubt other pianos better suited for punching through a heavy orchestral section or a busy pop/rock song, but Emotional Piano was never conceived as a one-stop-shop and therein lies it’s beauty.

Personally I like having a range of very specific VIs in my work that each fit in well for particular purposes. The bog standard is often a bit boring!

Not many developers have sampled low velocities quite as well as Soundiron have here (likely due to the close proximity of the mics), which enables you to get a very gentle performance from Emotional Piano. There is no option to mix multiple mics and instead you only have the main sound, which is close and dry. This is ideal for adding your own reverb, but it would have been nice to have had a stereo room pair that you could edge in for a touch of real ambience. It also lacks sympathetic resonance, which in a real piano results in any notes held down that are harmonically related to ones being played ringing out with harmonics in sympathetic vibration. Now, while it does add realism to a sampled piano, I don’t really miss it too much on Emotional Piano, mainly because the basic tone is so complex already. There are scripts in Kontakt that can approximate this effect and if the Soundiron team could add it I think it would be a great update (hint, hint!).

It may seem thus far that this library is a bit of a one trick pony. To an extent it is, but there is another side to Emotional Piano too.

First of all, you can really bash the keys and get a pretty powerful sound and without the hard attack that other pianos give you when bobbing along at 127! Getting deeper into the interface there are other options to tweak tone (treble) and body (bass) plus attack and release controls. There are nice softly buzzing release samples which you have full volume control of, plus a rather characterful pedal on/off noise (this also can be altered in volume, it comes up quite loud by default actually). More experimental note shaping can be done with the tightness knob, which designates the sample start position, so you effectively eat into the sample and there is a vibrato knob too (not sure why really, but maybe fun for sound design elements). Lastly, there is a high damp button which serves to slightly decrease the upper harmonics especially on the highest notes. Frankly it is pretty subtle, but still nice to have.

In addition to these front panel controls there are a whole host of presets and they seem to be tweaks done ‘under the hood’, not just certain settings of the front panel knobs.

Rather than build in an FX tab to the interface on all these additional NKI presets, Soundiron have done the hard work for you and dug in heavily to the deeper modulation, convolution reverb and insert FX capabilities of the Kontakt engine. The main folder presets range from the badly tuned Pseudo Granny to the blissful Gentle Blur, which gives a soft, muted sound. Another folder of FX presets shows off the experimental side of Emotional Piano. This gives the user a whole other bank of very usable sounds that are utterly unlike the main instrument, where we get some big shimmering pads, distorted plucks, eerie drones and much more. Should you wish to sound design yourself, the main Emotional Piano.NKI patch does include a separate FX tab with all the regular suspects you would imagine (wrapped in a pretty snazzy GUI might I add!) and FX presets.

Two final bonuses are worth a quick mention. First, there is an advanced arpeggiator for those who maybe don’t have the best piano chops or for parts that you want to be a bit more rigid and loop based. There is a brilliant and very clear range of patterns with knobs to make it less robotic and also a velocity graph to add subtle or drastic dynamics across a given time period.

Second, there is a velocity range slider right there on the front page (not hidden in an obscure menu like it often is) where you can easily select the playable ranges. This is a really handy tool if, for example, you want to play a very quiet part and have any notes you accidentally hit too hard effectively capped at a certain velocity layer and it can also be a cure for a semi- weighted midi controller that might not be that great for dialing in desired velocities.

I have a few pianos I use regularly but Emotional Piano is firmly my new go-to piano for jamming initial ideas, for showing my students the power of VIs and for use in my own productions.

It is extremely well suited to film and TV scoring and will work well on modern pop and indie productions, especially on slower tempo songs. Without a doubt. Emotional Piano has a rich and deep sound, but it is the amount of expression you can coax from it that I really admire. Sometimes the true power of a great sample library comes not just from the pure quality of the sampled audio, but from how YOU feel when you play it and this makes me feel DAMN good!



Emotional Piano is a 2.57 GB download with an uncompressed 4.6 GB of content. As a Kontakt Player instrument it works in both the the free and paid versions of Kontakt, appearing in the libraries tab. There are 41 presets and a total of 1716 samples at 24bit/44.1.

Emotional Piano sells for $149.00 from Soundiron

Demos of Emotional Piano


Videos of Emotional Piano