Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Software Instruments

4. Software Samplers

The hardware sampler was a vital part of the studio for around twenty years, allowing the use of acoustic instrument sounds, loops, hits and snatched performances in music production. An entire industry emerged to create specialist ‘sample CDs’, covering everything from saxophones to dripping taps, and break-beats to breaking glass. But in the space of a couple of years, the hardware samplers of key players Emu and Akai all but disappeared. Software samplers arrived which take advantage of the masses of RAM and acres of hard disk space found in modern computers. They are light years ahead of their hardware counterparts in terms of sample size, instrumental realism and complexity, visual editing, and integration with recording software. Entire orchestras have been sampled with multiple levels of velocity, microphone positions and performance techniques. Software samplers are to play these sorts of instruments only because of their access to the huge resources found in today’s computers.

GigaSampler was the first software sampler to really spell doom for hardware. It shipped with a 1Gb sampled piano instrument, which was more realistic in feel and sound than any other sampled piano available at the time. Although initially rather unwieldy and unstable, the software’s evolution to ‘GigaStudio’ has seen it replace racks of hardware samplers, and spawn a handful of worthy and interesting competitors. GigaStudio was unique in that it required specific drivers and hardware outside of the comfortable plug-in architecture of host programs such as Cubase, which made it more complicated, but also unconstrained, lending itself to being run on a standalone computer, with sequencing and other duties handled by a separate machine. Meanwhile, competitors such as Native Instrument’s Kontakt and Steinberg’s Halion have pushed the plug-in format and shown how usability can win out over sheer instrument size. Emu have also recently rejoined the show as part of Creative Labs, and have produced a range of professional music soundcards that are shipped with the EmulatorX software sampler which is a direct descendant of the company’s hardware samplers. Akai live on too – they’ve survived in hardware thanks to the live performance, hip hop and DJ markets - their MPC range of samplers features pads and built-in sequencers for an altogether different beat-making experience.

Native Instruments Maschine

Nowadays, all the major software samplers come with gigabytes of sample library, some of them containing the most amazingly sampled orchestral sounds. It’s now possible to produce a very convincing orchestral performance with sample libraries like the massive Vienna Symphonic Library, and EastWest’s ‘Symphonic Orchestra’.

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Software Instruments overview

Line6 Helix HX Effects Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1958 "Amos" Fender SQ Jaguar Special SS IL CAR Zoom F1-LP Focusrite Clarett 8Pre USB Warm Audio WA73-EQ Presonus Faderport 16 Bose QC 35 II Wireless BK Yamaha DXS15 MKII Palmer PWT 12 MK 2 Zoom F1-SP Fun Generation PL 15 Sub A
Line6 Helix HX Effects

Multi effect pedal More than 100 HX effects, Of which up to 9 effects can be used simultaneously, Import of own Impulse Responses (IRS), Parallel stereo signal paths, Inputs can be switched between line / instrument level, Two assignable...

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Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1958 "Amos"

Electric Guitar Joe Bonamassa model, Body and neck: Korina, Fretboard: Certified blackwood, Neck profile: 1958 Rounded C, 22 Medium jumbo frets, Pickups: Epiphone Probucker 2 (neck) and Epiphone Probucker 3 (bridge), Lock Tone ABR-1 Tuneomatic bridge, Including case, certificate,...

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Fender SQ Jaguar Special SS IL CAR

Electric Bass Body: Agathis, Neck: Maple, Fretboard: Indian Laurel (Laurel), Neck profile: C, 20 Frets, Scale: 762 mm (30"/ Short Scale), Nut width 38 mm, Pickups: 1 J-Style and 1 Split single coil, Black 3-ply pickguard, Colour: Candy Apple...

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Zoom F1-LP

Field Recorder and Lavalier Microphone Set Two-channel audio recorder, Compatible with zoom microphone capsules, Supports WAV formats up to 24bit / 96kHz or MP3 formats on microSD / microSDHC card (up to 32GB), USB audio interface for PC and...

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Focusrite Clarett 8Pre USB

USB 2.0 audio interface 24-bit / 192 kHz, 18 inputs and 20 outputs, 8 Clarett mic preamps with Air mode model and the classic ISA mic preamp sound, Low noise (-128dB ON), Up to 118 dB dynamic range, Switchable...

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Warm Audio WA73-EQ

Warm Audio WA73-EQ; 1-channel Mic-Preamp; British 1073-style; fully discrete Class A; Carnhill Transformers; 80dB of Gain (stepped gain switch); Tone Button (changes input transformer impedance); Polarity switch; +48v phantom power; Inductor based 3 band EQ: Low Band Boost/Cut (35, 60,...

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Presonus Faderport 16

16-Channel DAW Production Controller 16 Professional, touch-sensitive 100 mm motor faders (Dual-Servo Drive Belt), High fader resolution: 10 Bits/1,024 steps, 85 Background and status illuminated buttons, 104 Controllable functions, 16 High-resolution LC displays as digital labeling fields, Timecode and...

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Bose QC 35 II Wireless BK

Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II Wireless Black Noise Cancelling headphone - Acoustic Noise Cancelling, around-ear design, swiveling ear cups, volume optimized EQ, Google Assistant, up to 20 h running time, includes audio cable, USB charging cable and etui, colour: black

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Yamaha DXS15 MKII

Active Subwoofer Equipped with: 1x 15" woofer, 1020 Watt Class-D power amp, Frequency range: 40 - 150 Hz, Maximum output level: 135 dB, Black plywood housing with speaker grille that protects entire front and the front edges, XLR inputs/outputs,...

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Palmer PWT 12 MK 2

Multi power supply for effect pedals 4 Outputs - adjustable from 9 to 18V, 2 Can be interconnected with the supplied Y-cable and deliver up to 36 V output voltage, The maximum capacity of the 9 V outputs is...

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Zoom F1-SP

Field Recorder and Shotgun Microphone Two-channel audio recorder, Compatible with zoom microphone capsules, Supports WAV formats up to 24bit / 96kHz or MP3 formats on microSD / microSDHC card (up to 32GB), USB audio interface for PC and Mac...

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Fun Generation PL 15 Sub A

Active subwoofer Speaker assembly: 15" woofer, Power: 250 W RMS / 1000 W peak, Max. SPL: 125 dB, Frequency range: 40 - 250 Hz, Adjustable low-pass filter from 40 - 150 Hz, Inputs: XLR (L + R), XLR (L...

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