Modartt Pianoteq Pro (Mac/Win, $540)
Modartt Pianoteq got our attention as soon as it was released in 2007, and V. 2 won the 2008 Editors'' Choice Award in this category. In addition to a host of GUI refinements; improvements in the physical models of many of the instruments; new effects and an improved reverb; player-perspective and surround miking; and a bunch of new free and premium add-on instruments (electric piano, clavinet, mallet instruments, and more), the new Pro version offers note-by-note editing of most of the physical model''s parameters.
In the extreme, you can use note-by-note editing to create your own John Cage–style prepared piano, and that''s a great deal of fun. But the technique has much subtler uses; for example, slightly altering the hardness of the hammers as you move up and down the keyboard, an effect you couldn''t quite replicate with filters. If click-dragging individual settings for multiple parameters for 105 keys (the expanded size of the Pianoteq keyboard) sounds daunting, there are many shortcuts to create smooth parameter transitions across any area of the keyboard. (For details, see the review in the April 2010 issue, available at emusician.com.) Note-by-note editing is what really sets Pro apart from previous versions of Pianoteq and is what earned it this year''s award.