Frequently Asked Questions: Music Production Software
- What software do you use?
- Logic Studio
For my main framework, I use Logic Studio for 49 out of 50 projects.
This software is amazing and deep. The built-in samples are great, and
the effects are enough to do most things out of the box.
There are a few glitches here and there, but overall - I give Logic a
9 of 10 rating.
Should you buy Logic? No idea. There are other products that do a lot
of the same things.
Even the lowly GarageBand is a very capable editor for a lot of projects!
Use what you like; the framework (Digital Audio Workstation - DAW)
software means less than you think.
- Sample Libraries
The DAW software does the work of capturing and arranging notes, but
to make things into sounds - that takes synths and samplers.
- Logic Sounds
Logic ships with a giant selection of samples. Many of these can also
be purchased in Jam Packs for GarageBand.
- Pianos - Bad - They ship 4 standard "pianos", Boesendorfer, Stainway,
Yamaha, and Pop. None of these sound real. There are a selection of
"warped" pianos, like an olde timey piano, and ghost piano. These are
usable (for when you need highly effected pianos)
- Acoustic Bass - Reasonable - These aren't bad, but I have better ones
in other places.
- Electric Bass - Reasonable - Trillian's are better - so I rarely use these.
- Acoustic Drums - Ok - I rarely use these, but they are not bad.
- Electronic Drums - Reasonable - There are a lot of electronic drums
in here. Many of the really nice ones are found in the dedicated
"Ultrabeat" drum sampler. This is a deep-featured sampler, and it is
difficult to use. Don't expect to do much without putting in a good 8
hours of learning.
- Electric Pianos - Very nice - These use the EVP88 synth, and the
sounds are the best that I have.
- Organs - Brilliant - The Hammond sound is well captured in the EVB3
synth. I think this is better than the official Hammond synths.
- Vibes and Marimba - Meh - Also not terrible.
- Synthesizers - Excellent - There are hundreds presets of pads and
leads and basses. In addition to that there are 6 different software
synths where you can make your own. I personally enjoy the ES2
synth... and like the Ultrabeat - it takes a while to learn.
- Pop Strings - Meh
- Pop Horns - Meh
- Acoustic Guitars - Reasonable - Guitars are difficult to simulate,
these are 'ok' basic samples.
- Electric Guitars - Meh - For synths, these are fine. Most of the
time, they will sound like synths. These samples are well supported by
the amazing effects that are set up in the presets.
- Orchestral - Okay - I'm not going to rate everything in here, because
I don't use any of these anymore. I used to use the strings a lot.
They have that hyperreal hollywood high-end bite to them that is
really fun to deal with. Same with the brass.
- World Instruments - Nice - These are easy to play, and reasonably
well done samples.
- Loops - Excellent - Logic also ships with 15,000+ audio loops. This
is significant, and can make sketching amazingly fast. I use these all
the time in finished products as well..
- Trillian (Trillian Player)
- Holy moses, this has bass. Electric, acoustic, and synth basses. I have always found something perfect in this set.
- CineBrass PRO (Kontakt Player) - This instrument is a life-saver. The legato French horns are so nice.
The full brass ensembles can chop down production time by hours. It doesn't have everything, but it does a lot!
- CineBrass Low (FULL VERSION of the Kontakt Player) - Crazy monster low brass stuff. Very cool. Very usable.
- CineWinds PRO (FULL VERSION of the Kontakt Player) - This one will never show up in your Kontakt Library,
and you need the Full Version of Kontakt to use it. Now the up-sides: period instruments, bagpipes and tin whistes!
Oh Yeah! Easy to use once you make a template for everything. Pretty playable live.
- CineBells (FULL VERSION of the Kontakt Player) - I bought this for the piano, but I use the autoharp and dulcimer
more now. It has a very 'real' edge to the sound..
- Heavyocity Evolve (Kontakt Player) - Brilliant
This one is a LOT of fun to play with.
Very modern and deep sounds. (See the Ghostpocalypse series to hear
what this can do. It was built almost exclusively with Evolve.)
- Heavyocity Damage (Kontakt Player) - Brilliant
Big, big percussion. The oil drum is so well sampled... I need to find a use for that.
Super control of all the samples in volume and stereo field. Oh, and the 3 recording positions means you can fit these right in your mix.
So, so, so good.
Warm distortion. Easy built-in compressor, reverb, delay.
- West Africa (Kontakt Player)
- Just when I thought I knew a bit about West African drumming, I got this and discovered a whole lot more.
Great for... exactly what you think it would be great for.
- Studio Drummer (Kontakt Player)
- If you've always wanted live drums - this one if for you. You can adjust darned near everything in these three very deeply sampled kits.
Three doesn't sound like a lot - but the diversity of processing makes it feel like dozens... plus, you probably only need a couple.
- The GIANT (Kontakt Player) upright piano
Very interesting instrument with a lot of film scoring extras like plucked and bowed piano strings. Good presets.
- Scarbee Funk Guitarist (Kontakt Player)
I had high hopes for this one, but the tempo drifts around and it never synchs with a project quite right. It has become unusable to me
except for very small bits that I can export to AIFF and rejigger back into the project.
- Skanner XT (Reaktor Player)
Innovative little synth that doesn't work like any other synth... so... you get results that sound actually new.
- Symphonic Orchestra
- Brass - Very good. They are sort of unplayable live because of the amount of articulations you get, for recordings they are reasonable.
- Woodwinds - Very Good. Also, difficult to play live, but they sound fine.
- Percussion - Brilliant. My favorite tympani and bass drums are these.
- Strings - Very good. Lots of recorded extended techniques, and easy to play large ensembles that are very reasonable sounding!
- Celesta - Nice!
- Harp - Also nice.
- Glocks - 2 kinds, both nice.
- Xylophone - Cutting and great for film score-like things
- Hollywood Strings - Great. These are my go-to orchestral strings. The only times I don't use these are when I need the extended
techniques that are only in
Symphonic Orchestra, and for when I need a crappy-sounding string section.
This sample set is amazing. Amazing. Did I mention amazing? It ships on an installation hard drive because it has to -
the install runs over 300 gig. This set has no solo instruments, but the section articualtions are brilliant.
- Hollywood Brass - Great. This together with Cinesamples' "Cinebrass Pro" are my major brass workhorses.
This set includes solo, and groups.
This is the first time I've seen a sample of a cimbasso. If you know what that is - you'll know why you want it!
- Hollywood Orchestral Woodwinds - Good. I do use these. They have a decent amount of articulations... I'm also likely to use
the basic Symphonic Orchestra samples, or even the Garritan samples if the line isn't super-exposed, and I need to get an expressive
performance in quickly.
- Symphonic Choirs - Brilliant. Word Builder (the bit of software that allows you to 'play' whatever text you like)
takes some work to get right, but the results are incredible.
On the simple side, oohs and aahs are very easy.
- Drum Kits - Very good. There are a nice variety of kits in here, and they are all very servicable and realistic.
- Acoutstic Guitars - Pretty good. Both the steel string and nylon string guitars are well sampled and very playable.
- Choir - some ooh and ahh bits from the Symphonic Choirs pack as well as a couple of the solo voices from Voices of Passion.
- Electric Bass - Reasonable. I don't work with bass a lot, so I can't comment too much.
- Electric Guitars - Bad to Brilliant. Sometimes there is exactly what you want here, and sometimes there is nothing close.
- Electronic Drums - Good. Just, solid nice to good with the occasional perfect.
- Ethnic - Very nice selection of percussion, string, and wind instruments.
- General Midi Bank... Wait... This exists!? okay, thats 128 more instruments that I have to try out now.
- Keyboard Mallet Instru - This is a decent catch-all selection of intruments - most of which seem to be
included in more complete forms in other packages I own.
- New Age Ensembles - Fun patches that are good enough to record quick improvisations with.
- Orchestra - Nice, but not as complete as the Symphonic Orchestra pack.
- Pianos, E Pianos - Some interesting effects, but I prefer Logic's EVP88 for the EPs.
- Bosendorfer 290 - The king of pianos. This sample set actually goes down to the looooow C, so if you need those notes - then
you need this sample set. It has the character of the Bosendorfer pianos' dense overtone series. I can't put my finger
on why this isn't my favorite - but long notes seem lacking. Fast bright passages work great.
- Pop Brass - (and also saxes) I've not used these much, but they seem nice for very specific things.
- Stormdrone - Great soundscapes. It will take a long time for anyone to understand what is all in this.
- Synth Bass - A good pile of new samples to compliment Logic's synthesized basses.
- Synth Leads - 11 distinct synth lead samples
- Synth Pads - Yes indeed. Dozens of them.
- Vintage Organs - Logic's built-in EVB3 is better and more versitile than these samples, but you do get a Farfisa - which Logic does not have.
- Gypsy - Nice acoustic guitars and accordions. The trombone and violin are not terribly versitile (but they weren't meant to be).
- Ra - World music instruments from Africa, Far East, Americas, India, and Mid East. They're pretty reasonable.
You already know if you need this.
- Silk - More world instruments from China, India, and Persia. The Persian string ensemble is killer!
- Stormdrum - I have to comment on this. It has the biggest cleanest drum kit I have ever heard, I love using this thing.
There are a lot of other great drum samples in this also, but I use the kit over and over again.
- Voices of Passion - Solo voices. If you need it you need it.
- The Dark Side - This instrument is a pack of dirty nasty ugly distorted grusome awesome things.
Mostly drums, basses, guitars, and assorted oddness. I don't use this often, but when I need something like this... this is the fastest way
to get the job done.
- Steinway Piano (Aria Player) - Brilliant - Nothing better.
- Concert and Marching Band (Kontakt Player) - Dated* - I like the field percussion
in here. Additionally it has some exotic instruments like Helicon and
Mellophones that you just can't find anywhere else. *There is an update to this that I haven't bothered to purchase.
- Jazz and Big Band (Kontakt Player) - reasonable overall package
- Latin percussion is better than average.
- Drum kits are fine (Brush kit is very usable).
- Saxophones are fine.
- Other woodwinds are reasonable.
- Brass are expressive to play live.
- Guitars are clean and reasonable.
- Basses are fine (until you compare them to Trillian).
- Piano is quite reasonable (until you compare it to the Steinway).
- Vibes are good (until you compare them to CinePerc Pro).
- EP is good.
- Personal Orchestra (Aria Player)
- Woodwinds are good, expressive, and a joy to play live.
- Brass is the weakest part of this set, not so good for general work.
- Percussion is very reasonable; good mix of items.
- Piano is pretty good.
- Pipe Organ is nice. I can imagine a more flexible one, but this covers most situations.
- Strings are easy to play expressively. Don't expect a huge dynamic range out of these.
- Kore Player items
- Kore Base Library
50 preset synths, I have 5 of them marked as ok, and one as good -
Hey, it is free - can't complain!
- Compilation Vol 1.
Also free, 92 presets. I have 9 marked as ok, and 7 marked as good.
- Paranormal Spectrums
Not free. This has 100 presets which are each a mix of up to 8
elements. I have 6 of these patches marked as "good", but that is only
in relation to everything else. Most everything here has a sort of
late 90s, early 21st century feel to them.
- Zero-G - Carnival Drums (ESX24 Player)
This is an ESX24-based instrument, not deeply sampled, but well sampled. Cheap and fun if you have explicit need for street drumming.
Last Update: Feb 11, 2013
Steinberg Virtual Guitarist
One of the few instruments I've abandoned. The pain in working with this is no longer worth the result.
The thing that I HATE is the USB dongle software license
thingee. I would pay double to not have this.
Gone are the days where you set up a tower computer in a studio and
plug in all the license keys and never move them.
If you want to grab a laptop and a keyboard, the little USB license
key piece of crap thing makes it nigh on impossible to use this
softare on the go.
Screw you, Steinberg (and Vienna - which I've also abandoned... and Hauptwerk - which I will not buy).
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