Best "lightweight" piano and organ VSTs in Windows

Looking for input on the best-sounding piano (acoustic, Rhodes, Wurli, Clav) and Hammond B3 organ virtual instruments that consume minimal resources in Windows GP. I currently use Embertone’s Walker 1955 Steinway D, SampleTank 4 Yamaha C7, and Arturia Piano V2 for acoustic pianos, Velvet for Rhodes and Wurli, ST4 or Kontakt Clavinets, and IK’s Hammond B-3X. A basic piano/organ rackspace can consume over 40% CPU (GP audio processing) before I even hit a note, which leads to glitching on a pretty hefty Windows 10 laptop. I know that some plugins differ in their resource utilization between Windows and Mac, which is why I posted here rather than under plugins. So tell me why you like Pianoteq, Blue3 and any others that meet my lightweight criteria. I have a feeling I will be doing some shopping soon!

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I use DB-33 by Air Music Technology and ZR-3 by Rumpelrausch Taips.

In a rackspace with only one of these plugins, playing simultaneously 10 notes, GP cpu charge is 3% max.
Now, maybe these plugins are not the best, but they are cheap (or free) and lightweight :slight_smile:

@bpeterson : you already read my post in the topic " Optimised laptop recommendations" so you know all about my setting.

Thanks, Hermon. I actually own DB-33, it was in an Air Music Tech bundle with Velvet. I’ve never used it because it looks like it only supports one manual and I sometimes use both upper and lower manuals with different drawbar settings. I’m not familiar with ZR-3, but I will look into it.

Personally I use
Lounge Lizard (Rhodes/Wurlitzer)
Pianoteq (Acoustic Piano) – although it does a decent Rhodes/Wurlitzer as well
Blue3 (Hammond organ)

All of the above use physical modeling so no samples and the CPU usage is fabulous.

NB - there is a discount available for Pianoteq if you are a Gig Performer user. We don’t receive any portion of such sales. Please see this KB article first to understand why.

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So what prevents you from using two instances of DB-33? Each for one manual?

Typically, decent organs support multiple manuals plus pedals, using a different MIDI channel for each

I thought of that after I posted my reply. Since I already own DB-33, I may give that a spin.

Thank you, dhg!! I was not aware of the GP discount on Pianoteq, so I really appreciate you sharing that information. If I may digress into a few Pianoteq-specific questions:

  1. Which version do you recommend between Stage and Standard? I would probably go with 3 instruments, so Standard would seem logical, but I could save a few bucks by going Stage and buying an extra instrument pack.

  2. Since I play primarily rock/pop and some jazz, which of the Pianoteq acoustic pianos do you recommend that sounds “acoustic” but will also cut through the mix? I was leaning towards the Rock Piano YC5, but I haven’t found much review material online for that particular instrument.

  3. Are the Hohner Collection and Electric Pianos instrument packs good enough to be primary go-to Rhodes, Wurli and Clavinet instruments? I see you prefer Lounge Lizard, but if I buy Pianoteq the $59 price is attractive compared to purchasing full Lounge Lizard (I currently own Lounge Lizard Session, along with Velvet and Arturia V Collection 7).

I originally bought the Standard, haven’t really used the others. As for Lounge Lizard, I had that long before I got Pianoteq and when Pianoteq first came out, it did not have those instrument packs, so it’s mostly history.
Whether one prefers the sounds of Lounge Lizard or Pianoteq for electric piano is really going to be an individual decision. I do use the Clavinet add-on a lot with one of my bands but I run it through TH-U from Overloud to get the “right” sounds.

I just tried diffrent organ plugins…
2x DB-33 (AIR) -> 7% CPU
1x B-3 V2 (Arturia) -> up to 10%
1x Blue 3 (GG Audio) -> 7%
(CPU percentage of GigPerformer on my I7 8550 @1.8GHz / 16GB RAM - while playing)

@bpeterson: May i ask you, what PC configuration you use?
This might be of interest to better assess your situation.

My primary laptop has and 8th generation i7 running at 1.8 Ghz, 32 GB RAM, and a 1 TB SSD drive. My other laptop is a 6th gen i7 running at 2.8 Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512 GB SSD. Should be plenty of horsepower for GP.

Ah, ok. So this might not be a limiting factor. :+1:

I’m thinking that going with modeled rather than sampled instruments may be the way to go to reduce my audio processing “footprint”. The modeling technology has gotten that good. Pianoteq and any of the modeled organs (Blue3, DB-33, B-3 V2) are way lighter on audio processing.

Yes, all else being equal, I used modeled rather than sampled everywhere I can.

+1 for BlueB. It’s been bulletproof with GP.

I think the additional modifications you can make with the Standard version over the Stage version are quite valuable. Certainly if you were going to buy a third instrument pack anyway I’d go for Standard.

As far as the questions on the Hohner and Electric Pianos, remember that you can demo them pretty thoroughly so you don’t have to decide right away.



Thank you, ezraherman. I will download the Pianoteq Standard demo. My only interest in the Hohner Collection is the D6 Clavinet.

I got the Hohner collection as well and ended up liking the Planet N and T quite a lot.

So I played around with the Pianoteq demo instruments and ended up getting the Steinway B, YC7 Rock Piano, and Electric Keys. I also “revisited” the Arturia Clavinet V I own as part of V Collection 7 and found that I like that quite a bit, so I passed on the Hohner Collection. If I want it later, it’s $60 to add.

For tonewheel organ, I’ve decided that I am going to live with the beast that is IK’s Hammond B3-X. Sure, it’s a resource hog but there is nothing I’ve heard that touches it for overall tone, Leslie effect and flexibility. I played with Arturia’s B3 V2 and DB-33 (even through Melda’s MVintageRotary) and to me they both sound thin and artificial compare to B3-X. I’m sure that Blue3, B5 and a few others are close, but I’m gonna save my money and work with B3-X for now. With Pianoteq using less resources than my sampled acoustic pianos, B3-X will have a bit more headroom within my piano-organ rackspaces.

Has anyone tried the GSI (Genuine Soundware) VB3-II Virtual Tonewheel Organ? I was quite impressed by this review: