Virtual instrument [software synthesizer]
- Brandon Smith
Term for computer software designed to simulate or duplicate the functionality of other instruments. A software synthesizer is any computer program capable of sound synthesis using stock computing hardware. Virtual instruments can be software synthesizers, or a collection of sound samples of an instrument that is being emulated. One reason for using software emulations is to duplicate the look, sound, and feel of an older instrument, particularly if the user has no access to the original. Hard-to-find equipment, such as the Moog Minimoog and ARP 2600 analogue synthesizers, is nowadays synthesized as software.
The most common virtual instruments are designed to work within music sequencer software, although many can function as stand-alone programs. Virtual instruments are played by means of a connected MIDI controller (keyboard, drum pads, etc.) and heard through the computer’s audio output. Popular sequencing software such as Logic, Pro Tools, and Cubase all support virtual instruments. Different ‘plug-in’ formats for software synthesizer and audio effect programs are used to integrate virtual instruments into the host sequencer software. In ...