As computers have become more powerful and affordable in the past few years, the ability to process and use high-quality audio samples has opened up a world of sounds and possibilities for music producers at all levels.
It’s never been easier to produce great sounding music, whether you’re in a professional studio or a bedroom.
Here are three excellent virtual instruments that are both beautiful and won’t break the bank. They will take your studio sound to the next level from the freebies that came with your DAW.
Acoustic Samples, Academic Grand & Old Black Grand
While in most cases, nothing beats recording a live piano with good mic/preamp, for $88 Acoustic Sample’s Academic Grand gets you darn close.
Recorded from a 1963 Steinway D concert grand, Academic Grand captures the rich American Steinway sound that countless major music institutions have used and trusted for decades.
Also for a muddier sound, their Old Black Grand has a great vintage sound that’s perfect for jazz standards or anything that could use a grungier character.
For anyone who hasn’t heard of Hans Zimmer and his extensive library of samples and rare instruments, it’s the stuff of legend. So when he’s says that u-he’s Zebra sample is the “greatest software synth ever built,” it’s worth looking into.
For $199, Zebra is a virtual modular synthesizer that gives an impressive amount of control and design over your signal. The result is basically unlimited sound colors. While it takes a little time to learn to use, there are some great free tutorials online.
Bang for your buck, this synth can do for a fraction of the cost what many top-end synths do for thousands of dollars.
Spectrasonics, Bob Moog Tribute Library for Omnisphere
Finally, the Bob Moog Tribute Library is collection of over 800 samples from the world famous Moog synthesizers. Over 40 a-list composers, sound designers and electronic music artists contributed to this library. (Danny Elfman, The Crystal Method, Fredwreck, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Hans Zimmer to name a few…)
Apart from collecting (and oftentimes restoring) vintage and rare Moog synths, this is by far the best and much more affordable way to work with those world famous sounds. The Bob Moog Tribute Library costs an unbelievable $100. And all of the proceeds go to the Bob Moog Foundation, which endeavors to promote new student initiatives and make Dr. Moog’s extensive archives available to the world.
The only catch is that it runs in Omnisphere (another Spectrasonics product), which you’ll need to buy if you don’t already own it. (But at $499, it’s also well worth the price. Many top composers swear by its rich, atmospheric synths.)
The bottom line is for a relatively low cost, you can massively upgrade the quality of your samples. These three products are just a few of the hundreds out there that can take your sound to the next level.