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VIs - No Need To Sound Like Everyone Else

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,432
I'm an electronic musician, so if you're only into guitars, no need to read further. If you are more like me, read on.

Once you get beyond the mindset of sticking with the heavily promoted stuff you find at your local GC, there are some lesser-known virtual instruments out there that simply sound fantastic.

I'm not going to list the ones I like; we all have the ability to do research on the web, discover and assemble our own very personal, unique rigs, and that is a big part of what's gratifying and interesting.

Most VI companies offer a free demo download. Try things out. It's great fun, and you will quickly assemble a nice set of personally chosen tools to create a unique set of sounds.

I'm similar to a guitar player whose pedalboard is in a constant state of flux, only I play keys and am into VIs instead of pedals (yeah, I do play guitar too, and have pedals, but my priorities are a little different).

There are also some very nice new keyboard controllers on the market, and they're worth experimenting with, too.

Back in the day when a decent sounding synth was a couple of grand at least, it took a big investment to put together a versatile electronic music production studio. Now you spend a couple of grand on a computer, and for relatively very little outlay, you can load it with VIs that are at times even more powerful, and often even better sounding (I'm especially thinking of samplers and sample libraries here, but I think there are also a few VI synths that are better too), than the best of what we had 20 years ago. Throw in some decent processing plugs and you are totally in business.

And the processing plugs? You are NOT limited to emulations of vintage hardware. There's some REALLY interesting stuff out there.

I realize very few here care about this electronica stuff, so I don't expect many responses, but this interests me so I had to post it! ;)
 
Messages
132
Yup.

It's a great time in the history of music technology. Coming from a room full of synths and modules controlled by an MC-500 to just one computer with a MIDI controller, one can really see how things have changed and evolved. What used to take racks of equipment to achieve can now be done with a little computer.

No more clutter, no more huge mixers with 36 channels just to be able to listen to all your gear, no more miles of wires all over the room, no more scrolling through pages of menus and sub menus on a small little screen with monochrome green or orange, no more digging out manuals just to see how to combine 2 sounds together, no more running serious syncing hardware with tricky time codes just to score to a video, no more practicing fader moves just to bounce out a rough mix...etc.

Today, as you have pointed out, with just one computer and a MIDI controller, we can have far more choices and power in terms of sounds and tools. Buying a powerful computer to use as a musical instrument is like buying a mall to use as an art gallery. You have one heck of a lot of space to display art, and so much art to choose from in the whole world. And the cherry on top of the cake is, all the art, even the best ones, can be bought at reasonable prices, not to mention there is great art that you can pick up by the street for free.

It's a great time indeed...
 

Rusty G.

Member
Messages
3,143
I think you'd be surprised how many people here are also into Virtual Instruments. I think it starts out with trying to get drum tracks. The artist/songwriter/amature producer checks out BFD, Superior Drummer, and the other programs available/around. Then, it progresses to loops, midi controllers and the like, and while you're at it, you come across some really interesting sounding virtual instruments, like strings, orchestral hits, piano, organ, etc. That's not to mention wind/brass instruments.

f.w.i.w. . .I've got a Yamaha KX61. It's a USB keyboard, that hooks right up to the USB inport on my MacBook. I used it as a trigger. It doesn't have weighted keys, or an produce any sounds on it's own. But, it only costs about $300 (I bought it from Sweetwater) and does what it's supposed to do.
 

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,432
>>It's a great time in the history of music technology. Coming from a room full of synths and modules controlled by an MC-500 to just one computer with a MIDI controller, one can really see how things have changed and evolved. What used to take racks of equipment to achieve can now be done with a little computer.<<

You bet. I had a 64 input mixer and still needed a freaking 16 channel submixer just to route all my hardware's outputs to my mixes. Five 96 point TT patchbays (that's 480 gozintas and gozoutas)! In order to run a realistic sounding orchestra I needed five hardware samplers loaded to the max. Synths? I had four racks of them, plus a bunch of keyboards. When a client called with video changes to something I thought I finished, it took me hours to reset all the hardware to where it was when I left off.

Life is much more organized now. I literally have a steamer trunk full of neatly coiled cables and snakes that I won't be using again.

>>I've got a Yamaha KX61. It's a USB keyboard, that hooks right up to the USB inport on my MacBook.<<

I just bought a KX8 for piano playing, 88 weighted keys, and for synths I have an Akai MPK49. Similar concept. I like the Yamaha keybed feel.

I still have an M-Audio Keystation Pro 88 in my storage room in super condition if anyone in the Detroit area needs one... ;)
 

mgrier1

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,147
You bet!!!

I have actually been going through some of my magazine collection (FutureMusic and Computer Music both come to mind - British publications but still available from Barnes & Noble) and trying the trials and freebies on the enclosed DVD... Some great stuff in there...

Soft Synths, Plug-ins, etc.

Just picked up an Akai MPK-49 that I'm liking a lot, too... Great keyboard feel and the Pitch and Mod wheels actually feel pretty substantial unlike so many other controllers...

Big fun here, I agree!

Best,

Mike
 

retro

Member
Messages
1,686
Totally into synths and samplers...

And I have to say the new ways some of the VI's are being implemented to use are so damn cool.

I especially like cinematic effects.

The new Transformers trailer has some really cool stuff IMO.
http://www.transformersmovie.com/

Love the thuds into the desert sand...

My dream is to walk into a major sound effect shop and they tell me to take anything I want.


:phones
 

deepbluez

Member
Messages
234
Yeah, count me in...for love, not for money - strictly a hobby. I got bit early by the Reason bug and it's been a slippery slope from there. Still using my trusty Oxygen 8 - but looking for a new keyboard/controller.

And totally infatuated with the likes of Zebra and Rapture...Papen's Predator...on and on. Exciting times for electronic music, to be sure.

Nice post, btw!
 
Last edited:

MichaelK

Member
Messages
6,476
That's a very cool post, Les! I use MIDI to some extent, but not even close to how often you use it.

I wish I could respond with an enthused "Yes!" but I have to settle for "I believe you," because my DAW computer is on OS 9! I'm in awe every day that it just works.
 

Kenny D

Member
Messages
1,667
I have been using Native Instruments B4II and Acoustik Piano to collaborate with a keyboardist in England who has the same plugs that I have.

I send him a mix and he tracks MIDI and an occaisional WAV file and sends them to me.

With the MIDI, I can change what was played, move it around, align it with the drummer, etc. Totally flexible. Plus, I have to put a "plug" for the Native Instruments B4 II Hammond B3 emulator VI - SMASHING!!! I have heard nothing that sounds as much like a B3 as the NI B4II.

I am a guitarist that knows enough about music and keyboards to get them to do what I need. As a studio owner - this is the way to go!

Great thread.
 

trisonic

Member
Messages
13,147
Yes, agree. Keep your mind open and you'll be rewarded.
I still love plugging into a Marshall, though.

Best, Pete.
 

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,432
>> I still love plugging into a Marshall, though.<<

I'm a real-amp-plugger-into-er m'self! Strictly talking synths and samplers here, bro!
 
Messages
1,092
I'm into them as well. My favorite is still my Roland V-Synth XT, but I sold all the other hardware stuff in lieu of softsynths/samplers.

A few of my favorites include the Virus (I have the Poco version), AAS Tassman and UltraAnalog, Absynth...probably most of the usual suspects. Just picked up Reason4 and am looking forward to re-learning it (used it for a ton of media work when it first arrived on the scene). If you haven't checked out Sample Logic's Elements, AIR, and others--they're a media composers dream!

I do think the downside is that with all the VIs and presets available, people don't spend as much time learning to program, but I won't lecture. :nono :D
 

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,432
I'm a programmer, too. The first thing I do when buying a new VI is learn to program sounds from scratch (if possible; there are some, like additive synths, that can get pretty crazy to program from scratch). It's really the only way to find out what a synth is capable of, and how to get it to do what you need it to do.

This is why I have a vitamin D deficiency...I never get into the sun any more, I have moon burn!

But it's nice to be able to find a preset that's close when you're in a hurry, and tweak to taste. ;)
 

enharmonic

Old Growth
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
8,982
There are a bunch that I use and like. Others still that I want to try. Trying to think of the best way to store sounds in my new rig. I'm thinking external HD, but it will depend on whether I opt for a tower or laptop. :)
 

kludge

The droid you're looking for
Messages
7,106
Oh man... I recently got a copy of NI Classic for $149. A full set (11gb) of amazing piano samples, plus electric piano samples, B4 organ, and the PRO-52 Prophet 5 emulator. Is it as cool as having a great piano, Rhodes, B3, and analog synth in my studio? No. But it sounds good enough for any album, and it's dirt cheap, and it takes no space.

I really want to get some of the more exotic synths one of these days.
 

trisonic

Member
Messages
13,147
I'm still just scratching the surface of all the stuff just included with Logic Pro8.
I'll post something I've been working on later, a Daily Planet Suite for Superman..........

Best, Pete.
 




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