Pianobook.co.uk relaunched today with a shiny new website focused on community members and their individual musical stories. Let's take a look.
What is Pianobook?
Pianobook is the brainchild of British composer and Spitfire Audio co-founder, Christian Henson. It's a community driven project that started life as a way for likeminded members to sample the sounds of their well-loved pianos and turn them into virtual instruments in order to share with others within the community.
It's since been opened up to include all sorts of weird and wonderful instruments and sounds, from the noise of a Peugeot 306 Diesel recorded at multiple RPM, to the wonderfully evocative Winter Voices, a choir instrument featuring hundreds of voices from the Pianobook community.
It's an incredible free resource that allows composers and producers of all genres to find new, unique, and inspiring sounds to use within their productions.
What's Changed in Pianobook v3.0?
Part of the issue with the original Pianobook website was that there were simply too many samples to browse through, with limited filter options. This made navigating through the library quite challenging at times.
With this in mind, Christian and the Pianobook team have set about totally redesigning the website user experience, focusing more on the instrument creators themselves rather than the instruments. Changes to the homepage include a new monthly featured creator section, demo highlights, and a reworked instrument section containing many more detailed filters.
Other welcome improvements include the ability to add additional supporting content to your uploaded samples such as embedded YouTube videos and Soundcloud tracks. Each member also gets their very own customisable channel, where you can display your own banner, profile picture, and links to your social media.
You can now choose to follow other creators so you get notified when they upload a new instrument, and you can also leave reviews and star ratings for other people's creations.
All these changes to the user interface make Pianobook much more of a social hub, as well as making exploring the amazing content a much more enjoyable and satisfying experience.
Best FREE Pianobook Samples
With so many great and unique sample libraries on offer within Pianobook, it's pretty much impossible to give a definitive list of the very best. Instead, I suggest you sign up to the community and explore the instruments yourself.
That being said, here's a short list of my own personal favourites Pianobook samples, which hopefully should give you a taste of what's available:
Pianobook Spring Piano by Christian Henderson
The Pianobook Spring Piano is an incredibly beautiful, intimate sounding sample of Christian's Schimmel, captured in a multiple microphone setup. If you download only one sample from Pianobook, make sure it's this one.
Available for Kontakt, EXS24, SFX, and the free Decent Sampler, there's no excuse for not taking advantage of this wonderful sounding instrument.
Pianobook Claustrophobic Piano by Christian Henderson
Christian describes this as the best piano he's made since Spitfire Labs Soft Piano, and it's easy to see why. Again recorded using his Schimmel, this time with a binaural mic setup, and a duvet draped over the top for good measure.
The result is an audio experience that sounds like your head is inside the piano, especially when using headphones. The piano sounds soft and delicate, with an amazing amount of character.
Available to download for Kontakt, and Decent Sampler.
Honey Pad by Joshua Meltzer
Recorded during lockdown, the orchestral sounding Honey Pad by Joshua Meltzer is a live recording of a beehive in springtime, processed with Soundtoys Crystallizer, and blended together with a 1960 Gibson Melody Maker!
Available to download for Kontakt.
The Discord Choir by Fred Poirier
The Discord Choir is another instrument made during lockdown. Fred used samples from his friends singing notes over discord, then processed them by time-stretching them and adding several reverb effects, to make this lusciously textured vocal pad.
Available to download for EXS24, Kontakt, and Decent Sampler.
Evertsberg by Stefingo Unosson
This instrument is sampled from a vintage Swedish flute known as a 'spelpipa', crafted many years ago by Hans Karl Andersson. The instrument has a really nice tone to it and is well worth a download.
Available to download for Kontakt.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do you need Kontakt for Pianobook?
Samplers that can be used with Pianobook libraries include Kontakt, EXS24, Decent Sampler, and SFX. The Pianobook website contains an option to easily filter by sampler name, so you can be sure that your selected library will work with your sampler of choice.
It's worth noting that Decent Sampler is a fantastic free sampler plugin that's available for both Mac and PC. This is a great option if you don't own the full version of Kontakt. Check out the video below for more details.
Does Pianobook work with Kontakt Player?
Native Instrument's Kontakt Player is only a limited version of the full Kontakt sampler. One of those limitations is that unless a third-party library creator purchases a special license, the software won't allow you to play for more than 15 minutes at a time before having to reload the sample library.
How do I add a Pianobook instrument to Kontakt?
Pianobook Kontakt libraries cannot be added to the main library browser within Kontakt. Instead, you need to navigate to where you want to store your third-party instruments using the files tab.
Using the quick load catalogue within Kontakt can also help you organise and easily load your Pianobook libraries.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article.
If you hadn't heard of Pianobook before, then I strongly suggest you take a look. It's a really friendly and inclusive community that seems to be growing bigger every day.
If you're after more free resources then check out the rest of my blog, and make sure to subscribe below if you want updates on when a new article goes live.
Have a great day.