Instruments, particularly keyboards,used to be things that you set up inyour studio and played into arecorder. But now, they’re in yourrecorder—and instead of arriving in awood, metal, or plastic enclosure, theycome on a CD- or DVD-ROM, or aredownloaded from the Internet. Really,these are instruments?
Really, they are. There are over athousand virtual instruments available,ranging from questionable to insanelygreat. We already did a roundup onvirtual drummers in the 07/07 issue,but now it’s time to lay our fingers onsome synths and samplers.
Of course, lines of code and a cooluser interface do not an instrumentmake. One of the most important addonsis a control surface to give physicalcontrol over an instrument,whether a dedicated box like NativeInstruments’ Kore, or a more generalpurpose “fader box” controller. Eitherof these help restore the physical elementto virtual instruments.
The computer comes into play,too. Today’s fast computers reducelatency, and make the playing experiencefar more enjoyable; also, companion editing applications reveal aninstrument’s innards in a way that’shard to pull off in the physical world. Truly, the virtual instrument hascome of age.
This roundup has two main sections.The first covers tips and techniques onrecording virtual instruments, becausethe process is not always as obvious asit might seem. The second featuresreviews of several current virtual instruments,and frankly, this presented aproblem: There are so many of them wecouldn’t cover even 1% of what’s outthere. So, we chose a selection that’sfairly representative of what you’ll find—from clever analog synth emulations, tosuper-synths with huge sound libraries.
There’s a third part, too, but thisone threw us a curve: We wanted toget some insights from prominent virtual instrument designers on thestate of the art, so we asked ErnstNathorst-Böös (Propellerhead Software),Doug Rogers (EastWest),Peter Gorges (Advanced InstrumentResearch, a division of Digidesign),and to add a non-designer viewpoint,Nick Batzdorf (Editor of VirtualInstruments magazine) to give ustheir thoughts. We expected to get afew useful quotes we could use insidebars, but to our surprise anddelight, we instead received long,detailed, and introspective responsesfrom all of them. There was morethan we could fit in the magazine,and editing them seemed just plainwrong. So, we’ve put the complete,unedited versions of these interviewson the web at www.eqmag.com . It’srare to get these kind of insights frompeople who are, in various ways,responsible for the virtual revolutionwe’re experiencing in music.
It was a blast putting this rounduptogether, and we sincerely hope youenjoy it. Play on!
Well, it’s easy, isn’t it? You just insert itinto your host and click on record. Right?
Wrong, because a virtual ...