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electronic MUSICIAN

Roundup: Virtual Instruments

By CRAIG ANDERTON | June 20, 2013

THE FIRST virtual instrument I ever saw played back one, and sometimes two, voices on a Mac with about 200ms latency. We’ve come a long way, baby . . . between multicore processors, 64-bit operating systems, and some brilliant programming, we now have software instruments whose capabilities not only rival—but in many cases exceed—what had been available in hardware.

Whether you want a sampler with virtually unlimited memory, spot-on emulation of analog subtractive synthesis, re-creations of classic synths, or instruments with capabilities that never existed before, virtual instruments fill those needs—and then some. Lines are blurring, too; it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate between sound libraries and virtual instruments (see the sound library “Roundup” in our March 2013 issue).

The end result is a cornucopia of sonic options, all for considerably less than the price of a single hardware synthesizer. Ready to find out what’s hot in synth-land? So were we . . . and here’s what we found.


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