Music production has gone digital. You can create full audio production inside your laptop or desktop quickly, at a fraction of the cost of what you would have paid for a workstation or studio time 30 years ago. Virtual Studio Technology (VSTs) is the protocol for 3rd party instruments and effects that allow your Digital Audio Workstation to emulate and exceed hardware. There are, literally, thousands of VSTs out there, and most of them are of at least good quality. But, most can't afford to buy them all, so where do you begin?
Allow us to help you out, by giving you Three VSTs that are MUST-HAVES for your digital studio!
Native Instruments Komplete
Native Instruments Komplete is a collection of 100 GBs of data that includes 27 instruments and effects and contains over 10,000 sounds ready for any type of music you could imagine. Seriously, if there is one VSTi to get? It's this one. The Kontakt factory library alone is enough to keep you busy for years. Throw in the other VSTs like Massive, Battery and FM8, and you have an incredible package for a pretty good price!
Included in this massive amount of content is:
- Massive - a fully-featured synth;
- FM8 - a virtual emulation of the classic FM synths of the 80s;
- Reaktor - A modular vst creation system that allows users to make their own instruments and effects;
- Battery - A percussion sampler and beat machine and
- Kontakt - a powerhouse sampler.
Kontakt is the star of the show here. In addition to coming with 50+ GBs of content, Kontakt is, without a doubt, the most fully featured sampler around, even including hardware. Among all that content is more than enough sounds to create any form of music you could imagine. Synths, drums, strings, horns, vocal...you name it, it's in there. in addition, Kontakt has an extremely flexible internal audio routing system that allows you to do all sorts of creative things. But what really sets Kontakt over the top, is the seemingly endless amount of add-on sample libraries that exist for it. Kontakt has been used to score Hollywood films, television and video games. It also has been used to create some of your favorite hip-hop. Or Dubstep. Or rock. In other words, it's everywhere.
Imagine owning every synthesizer ever. And being able to daisy-chain them together. And route them through an infinitely flexible mixer. And being able to mix the different forms of synthesis, including waveform, additive, subtractive, and digital on one patch. Now imagine putting that in one piece of software.
That's Omnisphere. And it's as amazing as you could imagine. It's a one-stop synth shop that allows you to make every type of sound possible, including acoustic instruments and vocals. Omnisphere comes with 8000 + presets out of the box, and they can all be edited and tweaked to your hearts content.
However, you're going to need a modern machine for it, as it eats up RAM like crazy, and requires at least 50 GBs of storage space. If you have a machine that can handle it (and any computer made in the last two years can), Omnisphere is THE synth to get.
ImageLine FL Studio
I may be cheating a bit, here. FL Studio is a DAW and a VSTi plug-in that just might be the most feature packed application in the digital marketplace. It can edit, record and sequence audio. It can host VST plug-ins. It can ReWire audio. It can also even be used as a VSTi itself. FL Studio is the Swiss Army Knife of DAWs/VSTs. However, it's versatility does not limit it's quality.
Frankly, FL Studio might just have the best MIDI editing capability of all the DAWs, and it's piano roll is a thing of beauty. FL Studio comes loaded with its own instruments that are all tweakable to the nth degree. It's one downfall is it's interface: while it can be configured to mimic a classic, linear format, it doesn't do so out of the box.
A small inconvenience for such a powerful application, I think. Oh, by the way - did I mention the lifetime FREE upgrades from ImageLine for all purchases of FL Studio?
These three VSTs will be the backbone of your studio for years to come...the only thing left is to make the music that you want to hear!