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.