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There’s a reason digital pianos are so popular: most people either can’t afford the real thing, or they can’t fit them into their homes. Unfortunately, most digital pianos pale in comparison to even the most basic acoustic ones, with wimpy speakers and lackluster built-in sounds. This is unfortunate; even for beginners, having a quality piano tone can inspire you to keep practicing and get better.

But what if I told you there’s a way to make your ‘fake’ piano sound eerily close to a real grand or upright pianowithout having to spend thousands of dollars?

Enter virtual pianos, commonly called piano VSTs (virtual studio technology) or piano plugins. Instead of settling for your cheap digital piano’s built-in tones (or taking on credit card debt for a more expensive model), you can access higher quality sounds by connecting your piano to a computer — or even a smartphone.

Complement the setup with a good set of speakers or headphones, and you can have the most realistic piano experience short of buying an acoustic.

What does a virtual piano do differently?

Piano VSTs are essentially software that replicates the sound of an acoustic piano using one of two methods (or occasionally, both): modeling and sampling. This is also what your digital piano does, but again, your PC is a lot more powerful.

Physically modeled pianos basically replicate a piano using fancy math and physics; an algorithm tells the computer what type of sound waves to produce depending on how you hit each key. Sampled pianos take a more brute-force approach by meticulously recording every note on a real acoustic at various speeds, durations, and pedal combinations.

Both methods have their pros and cons, with modeled pianos often being more a bit more responsive and customizable, and sampled pianos often sounding more authentic but requiring more system resources (multiple GBs of storage, for instance).

I’m a beginner. Do I really need fancier piano sounds?

I’m just barely past a beginner myself! That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy better sound quality. In fact, part of the beauty of having a good piano sound is that you’ll likely be more motivated to practice and make music. My initial motivation in researching VSTs was to more closely replicate the sound of my teacher’s grand piano.

With a good VST, like on a real piano, you can just hold down a few notes and your piano’s sustain pedal (if your piano doesn’t have one… you should get one) and hear how the resonances interact with each other. Notes feel more authentic, and your playing feels more expressive. Besides, I’ve been listening to music all my life and know what a real piano is supposed to sound like. I’m no pro, but I still love to mess around with the keys and see what comes out.

Digital Piano
Digital pianos just keep getting better, but the built-in sounds are rarely the best you can get.

VSTs are also an investment. The advantage of using a VST is that it enables you to get the same high-quality sound out of pretty much any digital keyboard with a midi output (and that’s almost all of them).

While there’s more to a good digital piano than just its sound — serious learners will want something with a high-quality weighted hammer action — using a VST means you can start off with a cheap old keyboard with plasticky keys from the thrift shop if you wanted to and later upgrade to something with higher quality.

It also means that, if piano playing is your primary goal, you can opt for keyboards based on their keybed quality rather than the built-in sounds. Oftentimes digital piano companies will use the same keybed throughout their product range, but will save the best sound quality for their priciest models. Usually, the premium you pay to access better sound quality is more than a great VST will cost you.

What VST should I get, and how much do they cost?

Whichever sounds best to you that you can afford. The goal here is to help you find a piano tone that inspires you to keep playing. You should look for a VST that makes you think “I want to play that!” Most VSTs have a few demos on their website, not to mention countless others on YouTube.

That said, VSTs vary significantly in price, functionality, and system requirements, and I haven’t used them all, so I’m recommending a few based on my own experience. VSTs generally range from free to a few hundred dollars, but I’m not including free VSTs because most of the ones I’ve tried are not that much better than what you’d find on a modern digital, or they require expensive software to run.

Pianoteq 7 by Modartt ($149-$449)

Pianoteq 7

Pianoteq is my favorite modeled piano. I find it to be the most responsive virtual piano I’ve tried, it only takes up a few MB of space, it loads instantly, and it runs smoothly even on old hardware. It’s also a cinch to install and is overall the most painless desktop VST I’ve tried. Here’s a good demo of the latest version of Pianoteq in action:

It also supports a bazillion piano sounds. You get to pick two piano models upon purchase with the cheapest version of Pianoteq, which should be good enough for most users. There are 10 modern piano models currently available (Steinway, Bluethner, C. Bechstein, etc) as well as several extras like historical instruments.

Each piano model comes with a variety of presets. The more expensive, customizable Pianoteq versions come with more instruments, and you can always buy more instrument packs down the road. And one feature I really appreciate is the ability to calibrate the virtual piano’s response to your digital keyboards characteristics. Better yet, as a modeled piano, Pianoteq gets more realistic with every update.

It’s worth noting that Pianoteq has a robust trial mode that only disables a few of the black keys and briefly interrupts playback after 20 minutes. You should definitely give the demo a try, especially if you’re a beginner.

Ravenscroft 275 by VI Labs ($199 PC/Mac, $36 iPhone and iPad)

Ravenscroft Piano

Ravenscroft 275 by VI Labs is my favorite sampled piano. It is nearly as responsive as Pianoteq while sounding a bit more real due to expert sampling of an actual concert grand (and a very unique one at that). I appreciate that it has more character than most of the very pristine VSTs out there.

To give you an idea of how good this VST is, here it is being played alongside the very same piano it was recorded off of. The piano is so meticulously sampled that it’s hard to tell them apart:

Moreover, Ravenscroft also has a relatively hassle-free installation process and runs smoothly on less powerful hardware, never giving me any performance issues, and only takes up about 6GB of disk space (some sampled VSTs take up hundreds of gigs!). It also has a fair bit of customization to further make the piano your own.

But wait! There’s also a mobile version of the VST for iPhone and iPad users that’s only $36 and available right from the App Store.

Ravenscroft piano iOS

It’s less customizable than the desktop version and is missing a few features for advanced pianists, but otherwise sounds nearly identical to the desktop version.

Embertone Walker 1955 Concert D ($39-$149)

A beautiful vintage Steinway sound with oodles of character, this might be my favorite VST of them all when it comes to sound alone, and the $39, 12 GB ‘Lite’ version gives you a ton of bang for your buck. If you want to full set of sounds (mostly different microphone positions), it’ll cost you $149 and about 200GB of storage space.

It’s kind of a pain to install though, especially if you’re unfamiliar with music software, and may take some tweaking to get to run smoothly. I’d only recommend it for users with a modern, reasonably powerful computer with an SSD.

But man does it sound good:

If you have a decently powerful computer and are willing to potentially put up with some tweaking, the Lite version is almost a no-brainer to at least try for $39.

Garritan CFX ($80-200)

A sampled piano of Yamaha’s flagship CFX grand piano, this VST sounds great and is very playable and tends to run very smoothly. It’s a great option if you want a very pristine-sounding piano. You’ll need 22 GB of space for the ‘Lite’ version, and 122 GB for the full version.

But these are just a few of my favorites; there are SO many options out there. Do your research, and you’ll surely find something you love.

How do I set it up?

This guide is focused more on explaining VSTs than setting them up; there are too many options, each with different installation procedures. But the basics boil down to is picking a good VST, connecting your piano to your PC, and setting it up with a good pair of speakers or headphones.

Most pianos made within the last few years feature some sort of USB MIDI output, and sometimes even Bluetooth. In that case, all you need to do is get the right USB cable to connect to your PC (you know, read the manual), or follow Bluetooth pairing procedures, and follow the instructions for your VST.

On older digital pianos, you might only find an old-school MIDI output, a port with 5 pins. In this case, you’ll need a MIDI to USB interface.

You’ll also want to be aware of latency. You’ll want to adjust your VST’s setting for minimal latency. You shouldn’t have a problem achieving low latency on macOS and the most recent versions of Windows 10, but for those running earlier Windows 10 builds or older versions of the OS — or if you’re otherwise having latency problems, you may want to try installing ASIO4ALL as a workaround.

For this reason, you also probably don’t want to use Bluetooth headphones with a VST, as they will usually lag significantly behind your playing.

What else do I need to know?

While some digital pianos let you play your music back through You should probably get some decent headphones or speakers to go along with your shiny new piano software. After all, the sound is only as good as your playback system.

For speakers, you’re going to want to start with good studio monitors (here are three compact suggestions) or other speakers with a neutral frequency response; these will provide you with the most authentic reproduction of the sampled or modeled piano.

Using a VST does bring up a few caveats. They can sometimes be a little testy with performance, especially if you’re using a sampled instrument with a slow storage drive; this is why I suggested Pianoteq and Ravenscroft for their overall reliability. If you’re using your primary laptop for your VST, it can get annoying to have to reconnect everything each time you sit down to play, so it might be good to relegate an old computer to VST duties or buy a USB dock so you only have to connect one cable each time you sit down to play.

Lastly, it’s also easy to get caught up with tweaking all the different sound options and buying different VSTs rather than just sitting down and playing your music. Don’t fall into that trap. Practice!

Despite the caveats, a good piano sound can completely transform your enjoyment of your digital piano — whether you’re a beginner or advanced player. Hopefully, these tips will help you keep making beautiful music.

Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In – and you can subscribe to it right here.

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Naabiae Nenu-B is a Medical Health Student and an SEO Specialist dedicated to flushing the web off fake news and scam scandals. He aims at being "Africa's Best Leak and Review Blogger" and that's the unwavering stand of Xycinews Media.

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This Samsung Galaxy Flip 3 price leak is almost too good to be true

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Samsung will unveil its 2021 foldables next week during an unprecedented event. For the first time since it introduced the Galaxy Note series, Samsung will not launch a new model this year. Instead, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 will be the main stars of the August 11th Unpacked event. Both foldables will deliver better hardware than their predecessors, and they should be significantly more durable than the other Fold and Flip phones. The new handsets might also be more affordable. The Flip 3 price will certainly impress if a new leak is accurate. The Fold 3 will have a higher cost, as expected for the larger foldable handset that’s the apparent Note replacement. But Samsung already has a few new deals in place that might lower your cost significantly.

A new leak comes from Europe and seemingly confirms a previous rumor. The Flip 3 might have a very attractive price this year, while the Fold 3 will be the most expensive new Samsung foldable.

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A few days ago, an online store listed the purported Fold 3 and Flip 3 prices for the European Union region. The leak indicated the 256GB Galaxy Z Fold 3 would cost €2,029 (VAT included). The 128GB Galaxy Z Flip’s price stood at €1,182 (VAT included). There’s a reason we’re not turning those prices into dollars. A direct conversion would not give us the US price. That’s because EU countries include VAT in their pricing structures.

Instead, a comparison to the Fold 2 and original Flip prices would make more sense. The Fold 2 was priced at around €2,020 in Europe at launch, and $2,000 in the US. The Flip price was €1,359 at launch last year — $1,380 in the US.

Flip 3 price better than Galaxy S21 Ultra?

If the previous Fold 3 and Flip 3 price leak is accurate, then the Flip 3 will get a significant discount. The Fold 3, not so much. This brings us to the newest Fold 3 and Flip 3 price leak from Europe.

A leaker claims the 256GB Fold 3 will cost €2,009, with the 512GB model priced at €2,099. If the figures are accurate, then the Fold 3 will have almost the same price as the Fold 2. But the real deal might be the 512GB Fold 3 here. Only €90 for 256GB of extra storage sounds too good to be true.

The 128GB Flip 3 will cost €1,029, according to the same leaker. Paying €90 more would get you twice the storage — 256GB for €1,109. If accurate, the Flip 3 price is quite impressive. It puts the foldable in line with the latest iPhone Pro models, which start at €1,149 (VAT included) in Europe.

To put things into perspective, the 128GB Galaxy S21 Ultra cost €1,279 (VAT included) at launch in Europe, and $1,199 in the US.

Again, converting the prices into dollars will not make sense for either the Fold 3 or Flip 3. But comparing these price points to the Fold 2 and Flip launch prices in Europe suggests the Flip 3 will get quite a big price cut this year.

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Wyze now makes Wyze Smart Bulbs and they’re only $9 each

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If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on
our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.

BGR Deals readers have come to know the brand Wyze quite well over the past few years. Its claim to fame is the $26 Wyze Cam home security camera that has been purchased by millions of people. This great little wireless home camera has all the main features you’ll find in rival cameras. But the Wyze Cam is literally less than half the price. Now, in addition to its super-popular cameras, the company has entered the smart lighting space with Smart Wyze Bulbs.

These are beautiful and bright smart LED light bulbs that support Alexa, Google Assistant, and more. And as you might expect from Wyze, they’re remarkably affordable.

Wyze Labs WLPA19-4 Smart Wyze Bulb, 4-Pack, White Price:$36.92 ($9.23 / Count) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Unless this is your first time reading our site, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Wyze Cam before. This great gadget packs nearly all the same features you might find in a $100 home security camera. But the Wyze Cam sold for just $26. That’s a big part of the reason why it had about 78,000 5-star ratings on Amazon.

Now, the original Wyze Cam has been discontinued. The hot new model is called the Wyze Cam v3. It has awesome new features like color night vision, and it’s still remarkably affordable at Amazon. But Wyze isn’t just a camera company anymore. Now, Wyze has used the same formula to set its sights on the smart lighting market.

Wyze Smart Bulbs aren’t expensive!

Wyze Bulbs are LED smart light bulbs that offer many of the same features you would find in a bulb from a leading brand that costs $20 or $25. You get a nice bright 800-lumen bulb with adjustable color temperature, Alexa support, Google Assistant support, and more. You won’t need a hub to use these smart bulbs since they connect directly to your home Wi-Fi network, so that’s an added bonus. But the best part is the price tag, as you might have surmised.

You can pick up Smart Wyze Bulbs bulbs for around $15 each at Amazon. But who uses just one smart light bulb? Definitely pick up a 4-pack instead so you can cut your cost per bulb to just over $9 apiece! Also of note, you can get Wyze Labs Color Smart Bulbs for $13.49 apiece.

Wyze Labs WLPA19-4 Smart Wyze Bulb, 4-Pack, White Price:$36.92 ($9.23 / Count) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission
Wyze Labs WLPA19C2PK Smart Wyze Bulb, 2-Pack, Color Price:$26.98 ($13.49 / Count) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Smart Wyze Bulbs let you set any mood with tunable white color temperature
  • Hues range from warm white (2700k) to daylight (6500k)
  • This 60-watt equivalent smart LED bulb uses just 9.5 watts of power
  • The dimmable bulb produces up to 800 lumens of brightness
  • Control Smart Wyze Bulbs with your smartphone or voice commands
  • Use the app or your voice to dim these bulbs; not compatible with dimmer switches
  • These smart bulbs connect directly to your home Wi-Fi network, so you don’t need a hub
  • Use the free Wyze app for fast and easy setup
  • Pair your bulbs with Wyze Sense contact and motion sensors for great automations
  • You can also link your Wyze Bulbs to IFTTT for use with other smart home platforms
  • Set schedules to make it look like someone is always home
  • The group feature lets you control multiple bulbs ar once
  • Wyze Bulbs fade on and off so they’re not harsh on your eyes
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant

Wyze Labs WLPA19-4 Smart Wyze Bulb, 4-Pack, White Price:$36.92 ($9.23 / Count) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission Wyze Labs WLPA19C2PK Smart Wyze Bulb, 2-Pack, Color Price:$26.98 ($13.49 / Count) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Go here to see this month’s best deals on Amazon!


Follow @BGRDeals on Twitter to keep up with the latest and greatest deals we find around the web. Prices subject to change without notice and any coupons mentioned above may be available in limited supply.

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Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ release date: The most expensive TV show ever made arrives Sept. 2022

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For the longest time, Amazon’s strategy for its Netflix-like Prime Video service has been a little all over the place. In the early days, it had a kind of art theater, off-the-beaten-path vibe to its projects. Some of them, admittedly, delivered runaway success for the company, like Transparent and more recently The Boys. But there were also too many “What were they thinking?” kinds of projects, and others that were rushed, weren’t marketed well or didn’t realize their full potential (think, Man in the High Castle and Mozart in the Jungle) along the way. This brings us to Amazon’s much-anticipated Lord of the Rings series release date, which the company on Monday finally confirmed.

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Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series — coming in 2022

Once the show debuts (on September 2, 2022, almost 21 years after the original movie premiered in theaters), it will mark the culmination of a huge strategy shift at Amazon Prime Video.

The company’s now-ex CEO but current chairman, Jeff Bezos, swooped in and gave the service a simple command a few years ago. The streamer has too many oddball TV shows and series, he decided. And what it needs, very urgently, is to land a blockbuster. Specifically, it needs to find its own Game of Thrones-sized hit.

Pretty much every streamer, by the way, has been chasing that ghost, in the wake of the staggering impact of HBO’s landmark fantasy series. But in a sign of how serious Amazon is about actually realizing this ambition, its series — set within the beloved literary universe of J.R.R. Tolkien — had a $450 million budget. Making this, for those of you keeping score, the most expensive TV show ever made. How’s that for a Game of Thrones-ian, fantastical TV universe conjured up from the pages of a classic book series?

Key details

Everyone involved in this Lord of the Rings series, by the way, has kept key details about the show pretty close to the vest.

Production reportedly wrapped in New Zealand on Monday. The first-look photo that Amazon released above is from the premiere, but it’s not known who that image depicts. It’s also not known which characters from the Tolkien book series will be appearing herein. However, we do know that the show will be given a weekly release cadence for new episodes.

From the company’s announcement Monday:

“The new epic drama brings to screens for the very first time J.R.R. Tolkien’s fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. Beginning in a time of relative peace, thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth.”

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