The mark of a great virtual instrument isn’t found just in the quality of its samples. Easy of use, overall feel of an instrument to a performer and value for money are also just as important factors to consider. Over the last 15 years or so as computers have turned into serious powerhouses, virtual instruments have also become more powerful for both recording artists and producers alike. They provide instant creative access to thousands of different instruments in-the-box that in reality no one person could ever collect and own in the flesh.
We love a good virtual instrument at Production Expert. We’ve tested a great many from orchestral libraries to drum VIs, pianos to soft synths and pretty much everything in between. In this article we have pulled together several of our most popular reviews and tutorials of virtual instruments and sample libraries that you can buy today.
The 30 Best Sample Libraries For Orchestral Scoring
Compiling a general survey of orchestral sample libraries available becomes more and more difficult every year. The sheer number of companies producing top-quality software for orchestral sampling has increased substantially of late, and there are more options now for the digital composer than ever before in this ever-expanding ecosystem.
Check out our article in which we suggest what we feel are The 30 Best Sample Libraries For Orchestral Scoring
The 30 Best Piano Keyboard Sample Libraries & Virtual Instruments You Can Buy Today
We in the audio tech world revel in choice and variety, not least when it comes to virtual instruments as the quantity and quality of piano libraries available today is frankly staggering. This list is by no means complete, but we at Production Expert feel that these 30 virtual instruments represent the latest and greatest piano libraries currently available.
If you are in the market for a new drum library or virtual instrument then this list represents some of the best drum software products you can buy today to help you get your grooves down in your next production.
Using Virtual Players like the UJAM instruments as opposed to using static content like loops can help generate ideas when songwriting because you’ll probably be presented with ideas you woudn’t have thought of yourself. A bit like playing with other musicians.
In this video review for Production Expert, Technical Editor James Ivey takes an extended look at Arcade, a loop and sample-based synthesiser from Output letting you see and hear just how Arcade lets you edit, tweak and craft your loops like no other VI has before.
In this extended video review Pro Tools Expert team member Julian Rodgers looks at Amber, a virtual acoustic guitar instrument from UJAM, examining the interface and auditioning the instrument both in isolation and in context with other instruments.
In this brief overview/video review we show you around UK Pop EZX within EZ Drummer 2. Watch the video to hear how a small selection of the drums featured in this library sound and to hear a quick example of the beginnings of a Royal Blood style track using UK Pop EZX.
Boom - Our friends at UVI have just released a new rise & impact sound effects library for both UVI Workstation and Falcon instrument platforms called Meteor. Production Expert was given early access to Meteror in order to provide The Production Expert Communities with an exclusive video review.
In this video review, we take a look at UVI's latest instrument for Falcon and UVI Workstation Nagoya Harp. The Nagoya Harp, is a Japanese harp instrument from the early 20th century that combined the mechanics from a typewriter. This instrument has an instantly recognisable sound and UVI has done a great job of preserving this traditional Japanese instrument whilst also incorporating some modern day tech making this a unique software instrument.
The UVX80 feature set and GUI design are both typical UVI, great for regular users of UVI synth instruments as the UVI synth familiarity in this product will quickly diminish any kind of learning curve. There is a vast selection of presets that lend themselves more to rhymic styles of synth sounds. I found I only needed to hold a key down for 2 bars to get inspired to produce a song.
Waves have produced a very natural sounding grand piano instrument in Grand Rhapsody. The control set offers quite a lot of scope for producing a variety of standard and creative piano tones - for the money you are not going to find a better piano virtual instrument on the market.
Silk is the fourth Virtual Guitarist instrument from UJAM. Like the other three (Iron, Amber, and Sparkle), Silk is optimised for one purpose. To produce great-sounding guitar tracks with minimum fuss. The interface is intuitive, and it is a great songwriting tool that allows you to generate parts for the ideas you are working on simply and efficiently.
In this video review, Production Expert team member Marcus takes a close look at Regroover Pro by Accusonus.
In this video review, Pro Tools Expert Deputy editor Dan Cooper takes a look at Toontrack's latest drum expansion pack for EZ Drummer 2 - Alt-Rock EZX. Watch the video to hear Alt-Rock EZX in the context of a Grunge song in Pro Tools.
Watch the video to hear a selection of presets in a cover recording of Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams"
Stacker is a drum sample/hit layering tool that enables users to blend up to 3 drum samples together alongside a synth track. Stacker includes versatile delay & reverb units with deep envelope and filtering control.
In this video review Pro Tools Expert team member Dan Cooper takes a look at EZX Dream Pop for EZ Drummer 2 by Toontrack. Thank you our Friends at Time+Space for providing us with a copy for this review. To purchase EZX Dream Pop please visit the Time+Space website.
In this video James Ivey from Pro Tools Expert takes a look and a listen to the Acoustic Samples Wurlie virtual instrument. Using audio examples he takes you through the controls of this VI and shows you how to take control and make the tone your own.
In this video from Pro Tools Expert James Ivey takes a look and listen to the new B-5 Organ from Acoustic Samples
In this video review Pro Tools Expert team member Dan Cooper takes an in depth look at the new Attack EP88 Electric Piano VI by UVI
In this video review Pro Tools Expert team member Dan Cooper takes a look at the AIR Instrument Expansion Pack that includes seven very detailed virtual instruments.
In this video review Dan dives into his country catalogue to test and review EZX Tradition Country Drums, a new expansion pack for EZ Drummer 2 by Toontrack.
Hear how the drums sound within the context of three country songs and to find out what Dan thinks.
In this video review Dan Cooper manipulates some drum loops in Drum Direktor, a Kontakt instrument by The Loop Loft.
Is it any good? Watch the video to see and hear how it performs and to discover what Dan thinks.
In this video James takes a look at the new Exhale VI from Output. Exhale is an all new modern vocal engine that is a simple or as complex in both sound and control as you want it to be. Take a look and listen as James leads you across the presets then deep into tone creation.
In this review Dan Cooper takes a look a PEARL Concert Grand, a grand piano VI by Impact Soundworks.
Watch the tutorial to see how to add a piano section to a chorus in seconds using EZkeys MIDI loop browser. If you want to get piano parts down in your music but you don't have any piano playing talents then it's EZkeys to the rescue.
In the Pro Tools Expert 2017 Christmas Competition, we offered the chance of winning a copy of Toontrack Superior Drummer, worth $399, as one of 31 great prizes on offer worth over $16,000 in total. We can announce that Peter Walters is the lucky winner.
Drum VI's are the perfect tool for self producing songwriters who need rhythmical ideas to help them write a song or a groove to produce a track to. Many of the top drum VI's today sound as good as the real thing, if not better in some cases as many drum VI’s have radio ready sounding mix presets included but what are the best drum libraries and instruments? In this article we feature a selection of the most popular virtual drum plug-ins on the market today.
In this review Dan shares his views and shows you around PEARL Concert Grand, a piano VI by Impact Soundworks. Dan isn't a big fan of piano VIs, can this latest offering change his mind? Watch to find out.
In this show and tell, Julian takes a tour of Vintage Upright and Mellotoon from Toontrack’s innovative EZ Keys line.
In this video James takes a look and a listen to the CFX Concert Grand piano library by Garritan and Abbey Road Studios. This is so much more than just one piano in a room. James tries this library on classical, jazz and rock music to find out how it works for different musical styles.
The Garritan Abbey Road Studios CFX Concert Grand places the user on the bench before the Yamaha CFX, an incredible concert grand piano characterized by a wide palette of tonal colors and the ability to create the most subtle, expressive nuances. This beautiful instrument is matched with the stunning acoustics of Abbey Road Studios’ legendary Studio One and the finest collection of microphones in the world.
All facets of this project – the instrument, the room, the mics, and the recording expertise – work together to create the finest sampled piano ever captured. Experience the passion reflected in every detail.
Dan Cooper takes this acoustic guitar VI for a spin and likes what he finds. Watch and see in this show &tell review how to use the key features of this AcousticSamples Virtual Instrument.
Russ takes a look at the Ample Sound Bass P virtual instrument. This instrument aims to offer the ultimate P Bass sampled instrument, but it also has a few other tricks up its sleeve. Watch this video review to see what Russ thinks of this addition to the growing range of Ample Sound instruments.
Russ gives a full show and tell review of the TAL V2 U NO LX, an emulation of the analogue synth classic the Roland Juno 60. It has a lot of sonic character and endless possibilities - check it out for that retro synth 80s sound.
In this video James takes a look at the NEW Session Keys Grand S and Grand Y VI from E Instruments and shows that that they are far more than just another sampled piano library.
Russ checks out the updated AAX version of Nerve Drum VI from Xfer Records. Does this drum virtual instrument on steroids offer anything extra for those looking to make beats? Find out what Russ thinks in this extended video review.