Despite the analog/retro craze and the appearance of plug-ins, sample playback synths such as the Korg M3, Yamaha Motif, Roland Fantom series, and their kind remain popular. Furthermore, plug-ins such as IK Multimedia's SampleTank and Digidesign's Xpand! virtualize this type of instrument, making sample playback synths (along with the many soft samplers that have appeared in recent years) popular on the desktop too.
Recording an electronic instrument is simple, right? You just take the output, direct inject it into the mixing console (or insert a plug-in virtual instrument directly into a DAW’s mixer), and set a reasonable level. And yes, that approach works just fine…provided you want to sound just like everyone else who's doing precisely the same thing. Dare to be different, and read this article.
Hardware keyboards are having somewhat of a renaissance, and there are a huge number of options that offer significant value, whether you’re looking for an inexpensive arranger keyboard, a full-blown workstation, something more economical, or even a top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art keyboard. Or, maybe you want a separate tone module and keyboard controller . . . decisions, decisions! Which one's right for you? Read on, and find out.
Many synthesizers and samplers, whether hardware or software, combine digital sample-based oscillators with synthesis techniques like filtering and modulation. These synthesis options can turn on-board samples into larger-than-life acoustic timbres, impart expressiveness to static sounds, and create entirely new types of sounds—but only if you know how to do a little editing.
The SFZ file format maps samples to virtual instruments, and is used primarily in virtual instruments made by Cakewalk, including DropZone, RXP, SFZ, Session Drummer 2, and LE versions of Dimension and Rapture. However, it's an open standard, and others (such as Garritan) are using it as well; furthermore, there's a free SFZ player VST instrument so you can create your own virtual instrument by creating an SFZ file, then loading it into the player. Overall, this is a protocol who's time has come, and we'll walk you through the basics.
IK Multimedia's virtual instruments based on the SampleTank engine (SampleTank 2.5, Miroslav Philharmonik, Sonik Synth 2, SampleMoog, etc.) include so many presets that you may want to organize them differently than the default organization. For example, you can create "favorites" folders for sounds you use a lot, or just to weed out the really useful presets from the ones you'll probably never use.
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