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Every professional level studio has the ability to record and mix a large variety of projects. From simple voice overs to modern EDM and pop music. Microphones are to real world instruments as virtual instruments are to electronic music.
Now, virtual instruments doesn’t imply an outer worldly or “futuristic” sound. It just means that instead of playing real instruments, keyboards and controllers with MIDI/USB capability are used. When you use virtual instruments, many more musical possibilities are open to you.
For example, take my first recommended virtual instrument, Komplete Ultimate from Native Instruments. Want the sound of a nice orchestra including strings, wood winds, horns, piano and percussion? Komplete has it. Is EDM more of your or your clients’ flair? Komplete has it. Guitar amp simulation? Komplete has that too. It’s the best all around virtual instrument package that I’m aware of.
Spectrasonics Omnisphere is my next recommendation. If Komplete’s Reaktor doesn’t cover it then Omnisphere can. It is packed full of synth potential. It and Reaktor are the current industry standard virtual instrument synths.
If you only occasionally need virtual instruments then my third recommendation may be perfect. It’s Composer Cloud from EastWest. For $30 per month you get access to a ton of virtual instruments. This is by far the best option for new studios that are on a tight budget.
IK Multimedia have been making some waves recently. Their Sample Tank library was viewed as the red headed step child compared to Native Instruments. But MODO Bass and the upcoming Syntronik are hot products that many composers are keeping a tight eye (ear) on.
Need a virtual hard rock/heavy metal guitar? Look no further than Impact Soundworks Shreddage.
A huge collection of the best keyboards in the world? Keyscape, from the same people who make Omnisphere, is the best one out there.
If you have picky piano players the two best ones I know of are Modartt Pianoteq and Synthogy Ivory II Grand Pianos. With those two, you are covered. Be forewarned though that Ivory II’s library is HUGE! So, if you are limited on hard drive space Pianoteq is where it’s at.
A few more suggestions before this post is wrapped up. Need the best audience/crowd noises? Here you go. Boom have some nice libraries that are suited for movie trailers as well. Need radio station ad sound effects? VideoHelper’s Noise Generator collection is a classic. Still aren’t happy with your synth collection? The Arturia V Collection is another great one. Sound effects and a bunch of other things as well (in case you need them)? Digital Juice is a company I keep going back to.
That’s it. With those virtual instruments/sound libraries. you are set to make virtually any aural creation. Pun intended. You don’t need them all, but if I were to buy a comprehensive set for a new studio those are the ones I would get.