Joe Ierardi of Synthogy was playing excerpts from Chopin, Beethoven and others, but instead of working the Baldwin booth he was at Ilio, demoing his "Ivory" piano plugin. No strings attached, just electrons flying around inside a Mac. Surprisingly, these electrons sounded remarkably like a piano. Actually three pianos: a Bosendorfer Imperial grand, a Steinway D, and a Yamaha C7.
Having been trained as a classical pianist, I am a very tough judge when it comes to sampled pianos. While there are still some limitations to the sampled piano, the "Ivory" pianos come remarkably close to the real thing, and pretty much stretch the technology as far as it can go until some further pedal hardware is developed (my opinion).
Maybe the realism has something to do with the 32 *gigs* of samples that go into this plugin. The pianos are layered up to 8 times per note, across the entire keyboard. The programmer has also thoughtfully included presets with fewer layers so that less powerful computers can also make use of this plugin. As you would expect, switching between layers is seamless.
The samples are only part of the story here though, as "Ivory" sports digital fx processing that includes ambience, chorus and eq. Of special note was the programmers willingness to turn off the reverb and let us hear the samples dry, something he did rather often. I can tell you that this is one sampled instrument that doesn't rely on extreme reverb to sound good. The dry samples were simply dry, not desperate. If you know what I mean.
The samples feature full length sustain, no loops, and have what the programmer calls "real release". The library also features soft pedal samples. There is a lot of real time control, and numerous user-adjustable parameters.
We hope to do a full review of this plugin in the near future.
Ilio's "Ivory" is available now for Mac OSX and PC, and the price is set at $349.