11 Best Rhodes Plugins 2022 (+5 FREE Plugins)

11 Best Rhodes Plugins 2022 (+5 FREE Plugins) | integraudio.com

Today we’ll talk about the best Rhodes and Wurlitzer plugins in 2022.

Electric pianos were built as soon as humans harnessed electricity. The first models were acoustic pianos with built-in magnetic “pickups,” which convert the motion of strings into electrical signals that can be amplified through a speaker system.

Although lighter than regular acoustic pianos, the electrics still weighed hundreds of pounds due to their soundboards. The quest for greater portability led to the development of new electromechanical assemblies that used metal bars to generate a tone captured by a pickup and fed to an amplified speaker.

The sound of an electric piano was a vast departure from that of an acoustic piano, but it became increasingly popular in the studio and on the stage.

Part of their popularity was that the sound could be isolated and modified more easily through electronic circuits such as reverb, chorus, phase shifter, or delay. This allowed the artist to create a more distinctive sound that could be readily identified on the radio.

11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins 2022 

1. Arturia Stage-73 V2 (Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugin)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Instant electric piano sounds are part of the iconic V Collection.

Arturia’s V Collection is famous for bringing many iconic keyboard sounds in a single package. From a Mellotron to a Clavinet, you can count on varied instruments to be captured with intensive care and details, and Stage-73 V2 is just like that.

Every Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer variation was included from the first installment, but this updated version also counts with modern features that help expand its versatility further, such as new effects and possibilities to chain them differently and mix the resulting overall sound.

Arturia Stage-73 V 2 - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

 

Arturia Stage-73 V 2 - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

 

Arturia Stage-73 V 2 - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

 

Arturia Stage-73 V 2

Key Features:

    • Two different models
      By flicking a switch, you can easily alternate between “Stage” or “Suitcase” modes. These two modes try to emulate the most known variations of such electric pianos. The “Suitcase” was the first of the two 73-note models manufactured. The piano section was paired with a set of amplified speakers that also doubled as a stand, making it a complete package for live performances and studio recordings. The “Stage” version emulates the simplicity of a regular electric piano without such speakers but with the same characteristic sound that was often modded with the help of effects.
    • Many presets
      When dealing with the recreations of famous instruments, presets are usually the safest way to test whether the software is living up to its reputation. Arturia always includes many of them in each installment offered, and it’s no different here. Feel free to choose and alter different presets designed to recreate iconic tones from famous songs, from artists like The Beatles or Steely Dan, with just a few clicks.
    • Tone-shaping tools
      The tones coming out of the electric pianos have been faithfully captured in the samples, but the added tone-shaping tools can help expand its versatility like never. You can tweak the master tuning of every instrument, its dynamic range, the pickup distance and alignment, hammer noise and its hardness, damper distance, and tone bar resonance. By setting the controls to your taste, you can expect an authentic and unique electric piano sound that works best for you.
    • Stomp-box effects
      All effects and amps included are simulations from equipment used throughout the years with these electric pianos, some of which gave them a unique sonority. You have stomp-boxes that cover effects like phaser, wah-wahs, overdrive, chorus, and flanger, just to name a few. Amplifiers like the notorious Twin Reverb are included, and you can also tweak the best “Room” sound to make it sound the way you always imagined.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.13 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 8.1 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, NKS, and AU plugin formats. 

Summary:

The Arturia’s V Collection delivers the best samples and tools found in multiple keyboard models, which is valid for Stage-73 V2.

Focusing on electric pianos only, this plugin not only brings different model variations but also allows the user to tweak the sound infinitely, with the help of stomp-box effects, varied amplifier models, and even dynamic configurations.

Furthermore, the included presets can significantly help achieve famous tones while inspiring users to create their own versions.

Related Readings:

Top 12 FREE Piano Plugins 2022 That Sounds Like Paid

2. XLN Audio Mark One Stage Piano (Plugin)

More Info & Price
A warm and beautiful-sounding instrument that brings instant intimate tones.

Entirely based on a Fender Rhodes Mk. I electric piano, Mark One is XLN Audio’s take on the iconic instrument that’s part of pop music since the 1960s. Offering a good range of tools and tweaks, Mark One brings the experience of playing a vintage electric piano right into your computer screen with considerable character and warmth.

XLN Audio Mark One Stage Piano - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

XLN Audio Mark One Stage Piano - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • The best mics
      A handful selection of vintage microphones is responsible for capturing this instrument’s whole essence in both close and ambient positions. Three mics were positioned next to the amp’s speaker (Telefunken U47, Coles 4038, and Shure SM57), one on the floor (Sela T25 Stereo), and one in the ambient (Neumann SM69) positions to fully capture the warm sounds only a Rhodes can offer.
    • Different views
      The distinctive view modes can be changed instantly and display different settings depending on your window. The “Gallery” page shows general information about the instruments included, while the “Explore” section displays a selection of presets that can be previewed with a single click. Lastly, the “Edit” page brings all technical configurations in a single window, such as the microphone’s positions, general FX, and volume faders.
    • Direct output
      The vintage Rhodes units were groundbreaking when released because, besides being more compact than a grand piano, you could also choose to have a direct output connecting the line signal. This means you can plug the electric piano in any way you want. XLN Audio included two variations: one output connected to a high-voltage DI box, resulting in a clean signal, and another going through the classic Roland Dimension D analog stereo chorus.
    • Intimate sound
      Besides using the direct output, XLN Audio recorded this electric piano through a vintage tube amplifier. The model in question is a Music Man 112 RD Fifty, with a single 12″ speaker that gives it a crunchy, very characterized resulting tone. But you can also change the position of all the vintage microphones and still achieve different sounds.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats. 

Summary:

The XLN Audio plugins always bring a good selection of tones and sonic tools into the same window, with numerous variations to be applied in your final sound. The Addictive Keys collection is no exception, and Mark One is just an example of the dedicated development of such an audio library.

You can expect to have smooth, delicate tones coming out of it, but with some tweaks, you can bring lots of character and crunchiness to your project, especially with the help of an authentic vintage tube amp used to record the instrument.

Related Readings:

Top 8 Piano VST Plugins For Musicians In 2022

3. Waves Electric 88 Piano (Plugin)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
The unmistakable sound of an iconic electric piano is present on this plugin by Waves.

The sound of an electric piano has changed our music since its creation and continues to influence our styles and genres. As most of us can’t afford a genuine unit, Waves has done a solid job sampling a well-used, road-worn Mark 1 88-key electric piano to capture every nuance and detail of the original sound without compromising the user experience.

Waves Electric 88 Piano - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Two modules
      Two distinct modules control how the electric piano will behave and sound. Essentially, top and low modules are on the main screen, each responsible for controlling a specific plugin area. The upper module can create and control various effects (like phaser, tremolo, pan, and chorus), while the lower module is dedicated to controlling the actual characteristics of the keyboard and amplifier, such as volume, overdrive, and equalization.
    • WaveSystem toolbar
      All presets available are managed through the WaveSystem toolbar at the top of the plugin’s user interface. This handy toolbar can compare different settings, undo or redo steps, load sample folders, and even resize the whole plugin. Feel free to add new folders and even download more presets straight from the Waves website to add more sonorities to your plugin.
    • Formant knob
      This handy knob can change the sound character of the instrument while maintaining the pitch intact. Each step equals half-tone, so when set to “-12,” the piano character will be lower by one octave, but the pitch will remain the same. This is a friendly tool to get instant lo-fi sounds with more variety and easiness than with an actual unit.
    • Tine sounds
      As elaborated earlier, the Fender Rhodes electric pianos use tines to generate sounds. As expected, these small metal sticks can be pretty noisy when recording a vintage unit, and Waves wanted to recreate the overall experience as closely as possible to the original. In order to do so, they added a specific control for the sampled sounds of these tines to be present in your overall mix, coming at the initial value of 35%.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.14.6 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST, VST3, AAX, SoundGrid and AU plugin formats. 

Summary:

This straightforward recreation of a Fender Rhodes piano proves that these sounds are iconic and rooted in our modern music and that Waves can faithfully bring such vintage instrument right into your DAW.

The samples are good-quality – you can opt to download an SD or HD version of this plugin, with the former option being more friendly to lower CPUs – but the present configurations can make it sound like a brand new instrument.

Controls like “Formant” and the sampled tines from the original unit make it sound just like you want it and as authentic as ever.

Related Readings:

Top 6 Organ VST Plugins 2022 (For Musicians & Worship)

4. AIR Velvet 2 (Plugin)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
The realistic sound of a vintage electric piano is brought to you in a simple, fresh interface.

AIR Velvet 2 is a virtual instrument that can add the realistic sound of vintage electric pianos to your recording. The plugin provides five high-quality models of rare and legendary electric pianos developed to deliver realism in terms of sound quality and playability.

Using proprietary technology, Velvet provides all the subtle details that influence the sound of a vintage electric piano.

AIR Velvet 2 - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Three distinctive sections
      One of the best aspects of AIR Velvet 2 is the simple design interface. Divided between three distinct sections, each can provide parameters that will affect the final piano’s sound. The top section is entitled “Setup.” It provides control over the basic sound and behavior of the selected electric piano model. In contrast, the middle section controls the “Preamp/FX” settings, and the lower is the “Piano Front Panel” that allows the user to select between the different models.
    • Mechanics control
      The “Mechanics” controls adjust the type and amount of mechanical noises that occur when playing an electric piano (i.e., the sound of keys being pressed, as heard by the player). The pickups don’t capture these sounds. There are three modes included: “Off,” which disables mechanical noises, “On,” which enables the mechanical noises and their respective controls, and “Open,” which is almost the same as the second mode but with the simulation of the piano’s lid removed.
    • Condition setting
      A truly unique feature present in Velvet 2 is the “Condition” knob. You can simulate the actual weariness and age of the selected instrument. By twisting the knob clockwise, you’ll hear altered notes in terms of tuning and dynamic response, which simulates the state of an old electric piano malfunctioning. This can be useful for lo-fi productions and bring tons of character to your track.
    • FX section
      Velvet 2 provides six categories of classic vintage effects to be used effortlessly. These effects can be switched on simultaneously, but only one effect’s parameters can be viewed simultaneously. This  section receives the signal from the “Preamp/EQ” section and passes its output to the “Master Output Volume” on the “Piano Front Panel.” Included effects are distortion, wah-wah, modulations, cabinet simulator, reverb, and delay.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.10 to 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats. 

Summary:

AIR Music Technology has an impeccable selection of keyboard plugins in its catalog, similar to Velvet 2. They all present an elegant and simple design interface that can house many configurations and presets within.

This recreation excels at faithfully reproducing an actual vintage unit’s sound with controls like “Mechanics” and “Condition,” aside from presenting many effects and hardware adjustments.

5. AAS Lounge Lizard EP-4 Electric Piano (Plugin)

More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Featuring innovative technology, this plugin brings realistic simulations with the help of your CPU.

The AAS Lounge Lizard EP-4 is an electric piano plugin somewhat different from the rest. Each component of these instruments has been recreated with AAS physical modeling technology to reproduce the behavior of the instruments.

In other words, this plugin solves, in real-time, mathematical equations describing how its different components function. No sampling or wavetables are used in the Lounge Lizard EP-4, as the sound is simply calculated in real-time by the CPU according to the values each parameter is receiving.

AAS Lounge Lizard EP-4 Electric Piano - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Three distinctive modes
      The GUI of Lounge Lizard EP-4 is distributed within three distinct windows. The first one, entitled “Play,” allows you to control and configure the piano’s fundamental parameters and set any tweaks in the effect modules. The second (“Edit”) and third (“FX”) windows are more focused on deep editing of these same parameters, perfect for any sound designers that want to take the maximum out of the controls.
    • FXs included
      The “FX” section contains an EQ, a compressor, and a reverb unit, aside from a multi-effects option combining any two different effects in series. You also have distortion/drive, flanger, wah-wah, notch filter, chorus, auto-wah, and delay at your disposal.
    • Bank manager
      “Banks” and “Programs” can be organized using the “Bank Manager.” The manager window is displayed by clicking on the “Manager” button to the right of the “Bank and Program” display. You can find the list of banks on the left of the window. Clicking on a bank name fills the list of programs in the center of the window with the name of these included in the selected bank. This functional window can gather all necessary parameters in a single window, making it easy to use and alter said presets.
    • Polyphony enabled
      The “Voices” control in the upper left corner of the “Utility” section allows the user to adjust the number of polyphony voices used by Lounge Lizard EP-4. The number of voices is adjusted by clicking on the control and selecting the desired number of voices. Generally, a higher number of voices is desirable, but remember that the CPU load is proportional to the number of voices used.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.10 to 12 (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST2, VST3, NKS, AAX, and AU plugin formats. It also runs in standalone mode.

Summary:

A complete and capable plugin, Lounge Lizard EP-4 boasts a new technology that doesn’t rely on samples or wavetables to deliver authentic tones. Not only that, but the number of configurations and tools is vast and can be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with similar plugins.

The interface looks pleasing and not so polluted, focusing on the audio configurations and parameters instead of visual aids.

6. Adam Monroe’s Mark 73 Electric Piano (Plugin)

More Info & Price 
A straightforward rendition of a Fender Rhodes that bears simplicity and good quality.

Adam Monroe has a reputation for providing good VSTs that recreate iconic instruments, such as the Theremin and upright bass. This time he’s offering a rendition of a 1976 Rhodes Mk. I that offered much mojo and character.

To get rid of unwanted noises, he covered the instrument in tinfoil, thus providing a clear example of this electric piano. He sampled it through a Radial Pro 48 DI box and a Fender Deluxe Reverb amplifier (which was, in turn, captured with an AEA R84 ribbon mic and AEA TRP preamp).

Adam Monroe's Mark 73 Electric Piano - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Impulse responses
      This plugin offers a wide variety of amps and cabinets simulations. Included are six different amps, 30 cabinets, and a Leslie simulation. The best thing about such diversity is that all cabinets feature impulse responses, basically the reaction of any dynamic system in response to some external change. The final result is a precise and concise recreation of what an actual speaker would sound like, with all defining characteristics that make it sound as it is.
    • Vacuum tube simulation
      Simulating not only the impulse responses of the cabinets but the amplifiers present in Adam Monroe’s Mark 73 Electric Piano also get special treatment. They all feature a vacuum tube simulation that offers the same nuances and character that only a genuine tube system could provide, but inside your DAW.
    • Convolution reverb
      Another cool treatment that displays this plugin’s intensive attention is the convolution reverb. Like the cabinet simulations, this exclusive reverb depends on impulse responses to recreate an accurate and realistic ambiance that can resemble an iconic studio room, a live stage, or even any ambient used to track down these electric pianos.
    • Smooth knob
      This “Smooth” knob is another feature that deals with digital vs. analogic conversions in real-time. Basically, by tweaking the knob, you can dial back some of the harshness provided by digital linear distortion. In essence, you’re making the overall sound less distorted in multiple segments of your performance or a specific section.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.9 to 10.15 (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

The small window that houses the graphic interface of Adam Monroe’s Mark 73 Electric Piano may indicate a simpler or basic software, but don’t take that for granted. This plugin brings an iconic instrument recorded with very good equipment, and they’re all at your disposal.

In addition, the focus on simulating the response of an actual cabinet and adding modern elements like a convolution reverb can help make it sound as authentic as a real unit but in a much more lightweight form.

7. SCARBEE CLASSIC EP-88S Virtual Electric Piano (Kontakt Library)

More Info & Price
A complete sample library that features a diverse recreation of the Fender Rhodes electric piano.

Thomas Skarbye is responsible for multiple guitars, bass, and vintage keys Kontakt instruments that were even included in the Native Instruments’ Komplete series. The Native Instruments Rhodes is his creation, too, so why develop a new plugin that does the same?

The answer lies in Thomas’ passion for recreating and improving this simulation, now six times the size of the original library and with 30 velocity samples.

SCARBEE CLASSIC EP-88S Virtual Electric Piano - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Key action
      Here you can select the appropriate velocity curve alongside your MIDI keyboard controller. The window displays the current velocity curve, and right below it, there’s a “Calibrate” button that allows you to tweak the best value for your keyboard. By entering this menu, you’ll see the 30 different velocity layers available, divided into two sets of 15 layers that alternate via a custom round robin system.
    • Pre-attack control
      This configuration allows for refined control over the pre-attack noises that an electric piano may present. In essence, you hear the sound of the finger pressing down the key and the movement of the mechanics before the hammer-tip hits the tine. If you skip this entirely, you will get a fast action and no extra latency, but the sound will be complex and more piano-like. In nature, the softest velocity has more pre-attack as the speed of the fingers determines the dynamics, so when playing softly, your movements are slower – and so are the keys and mechanics.
    • Stretching octaves
      To give a more natural  aspect of the weariness of the instrument, you can stretch the distance between one octave. A stretched tuning means that two notes distanced by an octave are gently tuned differently, giving a slightly unbalanced perception. You can easily simulate this effect or deactivate it with the “Lower” and “Upper” knobs that will deal with the exact amount of stretch tuning in either bass or treble keys.
    • Bass key pitch drift
      The deeper you play on the keyboard, the more the tines vibrate away from the pickup center and cause pitch drift. The “Normal” setting gives maximum pitch drift, resulting in the fattest chorus-like sound of the bass notes, while the opposite happens in the “Little” setting.

Compatibility:

The library is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in Kontakt 5.5.2 or Kontakt 5 Player version 5.5.2 or higher.

Summary:

With years of experience in sampling technology, Thomas Skarbye presents an updated and revamped library that can be set to multiple different configurations and still present an authentic Fender Rhodes sonority.

The 13.6GB collection boasts high-quality and exquisite controls that allow the user to manipulate an authentic electric piano sound to its limits. The light design interface is also inviting, with a clear and inspiring aspect from the moment you first turn the plugin on.

Related Readings:

Top 9 Piano Kontakt Sample Libraries 2022 (And 5 Best Free Pianos)

8. e-instruments Session Keys Electric R (Kontakt Library)

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Vintage soul mixed with a modern vibe that maintains warmth and character.

Session Keys is a series of highly expressive and versatile acoustic grand pianos and famous electric pianos
that let you quickly achieve great results. Specifically, Session Keys Electric R provides much more than just the sound of a legendary electric piano.

Captured from a modified vintage 1976 Fender Rhodes Mk1, Electric R offers expressive vintage piano sound and fascinating acoustic textures recorded via a unique microphone setup.

With its unmatched flexibility, creative sound design possibilities, and innovative musical tools, Session Keys Electric R has something for everyone – resulting in a genuinely inspiring virtual instrument.

e-instruments  Session Keys Electric R - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Animator
      If you need to generate a motif or phrase that should trigger some inspiration, e-instruments developed a clever tool to assist you. It’s called the “Animator,” and it generates a phrase based on any note or chord you play, thus following the harmony of your composition naturally. Aside from saving time when composing, this can create more intrinsic and connected musical ideas without any suspicion that an algorithm made it.
    • Two sample sets
      There are two different instrument sample sets available to use: the “Studio” mode, with a bright, direct, and responsive sound that represents the Rhodes in a typical studio environment, and the “Live” mode, which includes samples recorded to reflect a realistic live Rhodes piano sound, with a warm mid-range and less ringing.
    • Pentamorph
      This other cool algorithm deals with your spatial configurations. By messing around with a single knob, you are free to adjust the acoustics present on the instrument, from conventional reverb tones to ethereal atmospheres. You can achieve a more realistic sound even if making music with a virtual instrument, counting with the same responsiveness that a convolution reverb or other IR-loaded effect could provide. 
    • Smart chord
      Like the “Animator” algorithm, the “Smart Chord” mode provides instant chords that could fit nicely into your track. You can expect smart suggestions that will complement your composition even if you’re not inspired to develop its harmony any further, all at a click’s distance from reality. If you want even further simplicity, you can adjust the pad control to set single keys to play whole chords or “Animator” melodies, and all you need to do is pick the key you want it to be in.

Compatibility:

The library is available for macOS 10.6 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST and AU plugin formats. Minimum 4 GB RAM recommended.

Summary:

The innovative settings in this sample library display immense attention to the audio quality and valuable tools that can significantly expand the user experience.

Like similar libraries in their catalog, e-instruments have successfully developed unique tools like “Pentamorph” and “Animator,” which can save time and even educate new producers in more profound concepts like harmony and phrase-editing.

9. 8Dio Wurlitzer Electric Grand Piano (Kontakt Library)

More Info & Price
Focused on Wurlitzer sounds, this library offers deep samples and superb quality.

Like most of 8Dio’s products, this library was recorded at Scotland’s premier recording studio, Gorbals Sound, through a large custom NEVE desk. The 24-bit/96kHz rate quality proves that this team is not joking around regarding sample libraries.

You’ll find both standard and prepared articulations included, containing sustains and staccatos with round robins and muted tines, as well as an intensive recording of the internal mechanics to bring the whole electric piano experience inside your computer screen.

8Dio Wurlitzer Electric Grand Piano - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Vintage microphones
      The microphones used to capture this collection were vintage and modern examples, reflecting their quality in the final result. The models included were the “Neumann U87,” “Coles,” “NEVE SE Ribbon,” “AKG 414,” “Neumann KM 184,” and a mixed position which was made combining the 24 microphones used in the sessions.
    • Reverb units
      All samples were processed through two of the most used reverbs in studios worldwide: the TC6000 and Briscati. They can be activated with a single click, giving you instant access and control over the two units in any way you want.
    • Articulations
      Included in 8Dio Wurlitzer Electric Grand Piano, these articulations can be activated within any preset and offer dynamic variations and playability to your phrases. You can choose between sustains (pedal up or down), staccato (with round robin repetitions), and muted.
    • Unique options
      Other useful configurations consist of live key switches, auto-detect controls over the core articulations, dynamics response control, sympathetic resonance control, pedal volume control, release triggers of the hammer action, and true noise and room tone from the untouched signal chain.

Compatibility:

The library is available for macOS 10.11 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in Kontakt 5.8.1 or higher and will not run in the Free Kontakt Player.

Summary:

This Wurlitzer-oriented library is perhaps the most serious about the audio quality on this list. All stages of the recording process were ensured to have the best equipment and deliver the best samples at once, no matter the cost to your CPU.

The microphone selection is not only appraisable but also offers a unique mixed position with the entire 24 mics included. 

Related Readings:

The 8 Best 8dio Kontakt Libraries 2022 (Various Plugins)

10. Soniccouture Broken Wurli (Kontakt Library)

More Info & Price
How could you know that a broken electric piano could sound so good?

The idea behind this library came up when Soniccouture wanted to capture a junky but cool-sounding electric piano. Then, Neil Davidge, producer for Massive Attack, said, “..erm, I have an old Wurlitzer piano with a dodgy distorting speaker that sounds great.”

So, they borrowed it and concluded it indeed sounded really good. The left-hand speaker just breaks up and sounds savage, while the right-hand speaker makes the expected clean ( but lo-fi) sound.

The desire to sample it was huge, although that sample would never capture the full effect of a large number of notes all building up in the speaker distortion at once.

So, the team conducted some experiments by just recording single notes with a microphone, and it still sounded very cool – giving the iconic Wurlitzer tone some real drive and bite.

Soniccouture Broken Wurli - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Three distinctive channels
      Featured at the center of the design interface, the three main knobs are equivalent to three distinctive channels. They consist of “Broken Speaker,” “Line Out,” and “Good Speaker” controls that will do as their name implies. You can add a bit of each or level up only one of them. Aside from that, you get “Pan” and “HPF” knobs to tweak these individual channels further.
    • Options panel
      This panel contains some options to set up your Wurlitzer sound further: the “Key-Off Level” adjusts the level of the key release samples, the “Noise EG Release” adjusts the amount of time the background noise continues after the note has finished, and the “Velocity Setup” allows for adjustments in both the sensitivity of the volume response and its curve – the graphic display shows the relative volume of each of the 127 velocity steps as you turn the knob.
    • Effects section
      This is where you’ll find all effects you may want to include in your final sound. On the top are the “Send” type effects and indicated by individual colors, such as reverb, delay, auto-wah, auto-pan, chorus, and phaser. In the screen’s lower half, you have “Output” based effects, like compression, cabinet simulator, EQ, and distortion. 
    • Memory management
      Because Broken Wurli uses a large number of samples, it is pretty RAM-consuming. If your system is low on RAM, or you are using a sound that only uses one set of samples ( like a line out), you can unload the sets you are not using simply by clicking the LED button next to the name. When the button is lit, then the samples are loaded. When doing this, you will see the memory in the main instrument bar reduce or increase accordingly.

Compatibility:

The library is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in Kontakt 5.5.2 or Kontakt 5 Player version 5.5.2 or higher.

Summary:

This is a unique plugin in our list, mainly because it focuses on recreating the sound of a broken electric piano. Although malfunctionality is not always desirable, it can instantly attach character and personality to your sound in this specific situation.

The “bad sound” is mainly located in the speakers, not in the keys or the internal components, so the resulting sound can be new and fresh. Furthermore, the additional configurations which are still present in other plugins can make it sound as good as any other library.

11. Pianoteq 7 Pro Electric (Requires Pianoteq 3 or higher)

More Info & Download
With Pianoteq, you can adapt the piano sound to your own taste.

Pianoteq 7 Pro is the ultimate package you’ll find on Modartt’s website, with the most listed features and complete packaging. This version is adapted for the creative composer and demanding studio engineer that needs all the necessary tools to work in a truly professional environment.

It lets you adjust 30 parameters for each note on the keyboard and work with up to 192 Khz audio quality. Pianoteq 7 Pro also comes with four instrument packs of your choice.

Pianoteq 7 Pro Electric - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Excellent physical modeling
      Pianoteq 7 Pro is the first of a new generation of pianos, issued from an outstanding breakthrough technology based on physical modeling. Notes are really played (“constructed” in real-time, as on a real piano), not just read from the disk or the memory. This explains why the sound is alive, not static: it is not a simple recording, it is a genuine instrument that responds to the pianist’s most refined interpretation.
    • Note editing
      This feature is only available on the Pro version. In essence, it allows the user to edit the parameters note-by-note in volume, detune, and envelope and in virtually any other physical parameter present inside the plugin.
    • Developed with uttermost attention
      This library has been developed in the prestigious Institute of Mathematics of Toulouse, at the “Institut National des Sciences Appliquées” in Toulouse, France. Two specialists from this laboratory have been working hard to create this beautiful instrument: conception of the physical model is from Philippe Guillaume, a piano tuner, musician, and mathematician whose primary goal is to find the equations for what would be the “piano soul,” and implementation is from Julien Pommier, engineer, and mathematician, who implemented the physical model to work in real-time.
    • Instrument morphing and layering
      These two features are very inviting for new producers and can be useful in many situations. The instrument morphing allows you to create hybrid instruments, providing an acoustic authenticity to instruments that are rarely seen in software like this, while the instrument layering allows you to mix different instruments, like a harp in the low range and a vibraphone in the upper range, mixing both in the middle range and crafting a brand new sound instantly.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.7 or higher (64-bit only), Linux (x86 and ARM), and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, NKS, and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

The Pianoteq 7 Pro delivers what it promises: excellent audio quality and multiple functions experienced producers will love. The number of tweaks and controls in almost any aspect of your final sound make this a perfect choice for complex productions requiring a specific electric piano sound.

However, aside from not being the best option for a beginner, it’s the only plugin in our list that’s also compatible with Linux operating systems.

Best Free Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins

1. Spitfire Audio LABS Wurli

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A part of a collection of free plugins made by musicians for musicians.

Spitfire Audio’s LABS series is renowned for bringing loads of different, unique instruments to the hands of producers and musicians worldwide. This packaging gained notoriety by including very specific options, like choirs and cello samples, in a friendly and lightweight package that can be of use in almost any kind of production you can imagine.

Spitfire Audio LABS Wurli - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Elegant interface
      All bundles present in the LABS series feature a minimalistic design interface that helps you to focus on what really matters: tweaking the sounds you want without much visual pollution. The plugin is very lightweight and will be friendly to most users with a not-so-potent CPU power, with equally good sound results.
    • Simple controls
      Spotting only three distinctive controls, LABS Wurli contains a green fader on the left that controls the overall volume of the library loaded and is connected to MIDI CC value 11, whereas the red fader on the right of it deals with dynamics and overall articulations, and it’s connected to MIDI CC value 1. The big central knob activates the FX menu and indicates the amount of FX used.
    • Iconic sounds
      All samples in this collection are provided with excellent recording quality, with special attention to details and nuances. This may not be so important in other series installments, but in Wurli, you’ll get all the good smoothing sounds and delicate dynamics that this instrument can offer.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.10 to 11 (64-bit only) and Windows 7 to 10 (64-bit only). It comes in VST, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

The same quality delivered with the rest of the instruments present in the LABS series is also delivered with Wurli. In addition, this excellent plugin can be quickly downloaded and installed via the Spitfire Audio Installer, and it features less than 2GB of overall size.

These good points make it a solid choice for beginner producers who want to dive into electric piano sounds and achieve a good, consistent, smooth lo-fi tone.

Related Reading:

Top 11 Spitfire Audio Libraries & Plugins 2022

2. DSK RhodeZ

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A simple choice for anyone trying to know more about electric piano simulations.

DSK always brings nice and straightforward plugins that can cover different utilities. This time, RhodeZ deals with electric piano simulations and some different instrument selections that hopefully will be of great use to producers, especially ones starting out in this professional area.

DSK RhodeZ - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Six piano variations
      There are six different Fender Rhodes variations inside DSK RhodeZ. They are named “Rhodes Low,” “Rhodes High,” “Rhodes Dry,” “Fender Rhodes,” “Suitcase Low,” and “Suitcase High.”
    • Effects
      Accompanying this plugin, you’ll get some effects that blend nicely with the electric piano sound. The flanger and chorus sections help increase the sense of ambiance and deepness, even so, allied with the reverb. The filter can be really helpful to boost or cut any unwanted frequencies in any of the presets as well.
    • Envelope
      The classic ADSR envelope configurations are present here and, allied with the different piano variations, can make the piano sound more authentic than expected. You also have a “Fine” control that deals with fine-tuning and detuning in a single place.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for Windows XP or higher (32-bit only). It comes in VST plugin format.

Summary:

A very direct plugin, DSK RhodeZ offers some good variations in terms of tone within a single window. Of course, it’s a simpler plugin that should benefit a specific group of producers and musicians, mainly beginners.

The lack of multiple configurations may not be missed, as the included controls can do a pretty good job at simulating a Rhodes tone.

3. Bitsonic Keyzone Classic

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A collection of sampled pianos that will be continuously useful.

Bitsonic Keyzone Classic was developed using nice microphones and real piano instruments in order to achieve a more dedicated and realistic sampling experience. The number of pianos is limited – only five included – and, from these five, only two are actually electric pianos. Even so, it’s worth taking a look at the sounds you can get out of it.

Bitsonic Keyzone Classic - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Five presets included
      There are five different presets included that can be switched in no time. They are “Piano from Keyzone 1,” “Yamaha Grand Piano,” “Steinway Grand Piano,” “Basic Electric Piano,” and “Rhodes Piano.”
    • Velocity curve adjustment
      This is a setting not always included in freebies, but it’s nice to see it present here. The velocity curve showcases a relationship between velocity and force, and switching between the various presets can help your piano sound get more delicate or huge-sounding in just a few seconds.
    • Pan knob
      With the help of the “Pan” knob, you can easily create huge soundscapes or tailored phrases to sound just like you want to. It’s extremely helpful if you need to isolate a piano part or just want to enhance it all together.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.9 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows XP or higher (32 and 64-bit). It comes in VST2, VST3, and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

A basic plugin that can easily deal with the most recurrent electric piano situations, Bitsonic Keyzone Classic includes five different presets, and only two of them are related to electric pianos.

Even so, this should be a nice addition to any producers getting their heads in piano simulations, as this package includes every major instrument usage.

4. DSK ElektriK Keys

More Info & Download
A lite packaging that contains the most used electric piano sounds nowadays.

Another freebie from DSK, ElektriK Keys, is a bit different from the previous plugin from them we discussed earlier. The major point here is to blend two different sounds at the same time or have them playing isolated, and their conjuncture can be extremely useful to most tracks and modern productions.

DSK Elektrik Keys - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Mono mode
      The lower menu brings some new options to tame your final tone better. One of these options is the “Mono Mode,” which can make both piano profiles that are being played be executed in separate channels. 
    • Different models
      Both sides contain eight electric piano models, and they’re as follows: “Mark I Soft,” “Mark I Hard,” “Dyno’d Piano,” “Old Brown Wurli,” “Wurli Pad,” “Clavinet Basic,” “Clavinet Hammered,” and “Piano Classic.”
    • Octave fine-tuning
      This control allows for a subtle variation in tuning between the two piano profiles. Such a handy tool can become useful when you need to get just a small deviation in the overall tuning, and when expressed alongside another model, it can sound as real as an actual unit playing the parts together.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for Windows XP or higher (32-bit only). It comes in VST plugin format.

Summary:

With a somewhat good selection of piano profiles, DSK ElektriK Keys offers a considerable variety of models to be used either in a solo or duo setting.

Unfortunately, although the actual pianos are more convincing, all samples sound a bit dull and empty if compared with other similar plugins. The effects and other options included can ease this feeling, but they may not be as useful to various productions as imagined.

5. NoiseAsh Audio Tools Sweetcase EP

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Another nice freeware collection of iconic piano sounds that can be useful in your next track.

NoiseAsh Audio Tools develop Sweetcase EP to be primarily a freeware virtual instrument that is easy to use and with authentic vintage sound quality. This was achieved using vintage analog gear, reflecting how well these samples can sound and interact. 

NoiseAsh Audio Tools Sweetcase EP - 11 Best Rhodes & Wurlitzer Plugins (Paid & Free) | integraudio.com

Key Features:

    • Ready to mix sounds
      Like other NoiseAsh Audio Tools products, Sweetcase EP boasts a “Ready to Mix” quality in each sample, meaning that you won’t need to trouble yourself remixing or adding more plugins and effects to make it sound true, authentically vintage as in your favorite records.
    • Bell knob
      This specific side of the modulation section brings that exquisite and beloved “bell chime” into your phrases and chords. Allied with the “Bass Boost” knob, you can get close to authentic vintage tones in seconds.
    • Friendly size
      Although the audio quality wasn’t spared here, the overall software comes in a relatively lightweight package and can be used even in lower CPUs and older machines. This inclusion can invite producers who want a good sound but can’t afford to waste so much processing power on a fancy GUI, for instance.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available for macOS 10.9.5 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats.

Summary:

Without many configurations and options included, Sweetcase EP goes straight to the point of delivering good sonic results without many tweaks and adjustments.

This can be preciously good for new producers that are already proficient musicians, meaning they can focus on playing and getting the same iconic sounds present on their favorite records without cracking their heads too much around effects, processing units, or filters.

What’s the Difference Between a Rhodes and a Wurlitzer?

Although both are electric pianos, they generate sounds differently: the Wurlitzer uses reeds, while the Rhodes uses tines. These tines can be used interchangeably between different models, but the same doesn’t apply to the reeds. Also, the reeds are much easier to tune than the tines.

This specific variation causes said instruments to sound so different, even while maintaining the same overall tone profile. For example, the Rhodes has a slightly better overall construction, showcasing a longer sustain than its competitor but keeping the same bell-like tones anyway.

Such differences are subtle and may not be perceived so quickly, but even so, they can be of significance to your track’s final sound.

Conclusion

Since their invention, electric pianos have been present in a myriad of different genres and musical styles.  Their unique sounds and ease of use compared to a grand piano were crucial points for artists like Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and Steely Dan to use this instrument extensively in their many records and hits to this day.

These instruments were conceived with a particular desire in mind: to make them as lightweight as possible while adding effects and other cool alterations to their final sound.

Nowadays, they can get as lightweight as possible. All you have to do is download them without needing to carry them around! The incredible power of sampling technology and advanced recording techniques were responsible for popularizing this instrument in modern styles, such as lo-fi and hip-hop.

Their smooth texture and the incredible possibility to add new sounds on top of them are some cool features of electric pianos, even in 2022.

Our list has brought many titles that deserve respect and are good tools for your next production, but let’s highlight some cool options. Considering the overall usage and the final sound, AIR Velvet 2 is arguably the best choice in our selection.

Its light size combined with amazing electric piano models makes it the most versatile and suitable option for producers looking for a serious piano tool to trust. The Arturia V Collection, especially the Stage-73 V2, is another cool Rhodes-oriented alternative.

Other plugins, such as Soniccouture Broken Wurli, bring a whole new perspective to these instruments. This is based on a broken Wurlitzer, and the different configurations present can make it sound out-of-this-world.

AAS Lounge Lizard EP-4 is another example of a different take on the same instrument, without sampling or wavetables being used in the plugin, only a specific technology developed by their team. The results are equally good!

The best options for freebies are Spitfire Audio LABS Wurli, which is part of a larger and excellent free sample library and boasts straightforward sounds, and NoiseAsh Audio Tools Sweetcase EP, with superb audio quality and cool model options available.

Always try some demos out before buying the plugins to tailor them to your specific needs.

Until next time!

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