as a keyboard player with hardware synthesizers I now want to make the switch to a software solution. So far I had no contact with it and therefore have no software plugins.
Can someone tell me how I create a cost-effective and yet high-quality switch similar to the use of Mainstage? I.e., are there cheap bundles or similar, with which I can replace my aging hardware keyboards with professional software sounds and use them live in our cover band. So I need a wide range of bread and butter sounds.
Afaik there are no free ‘ready’ bundles, however, there are plenty of free VST plugins, or VSTi (instruments).
It will take some time to gather them, but this is part of the fun I hope.
If you search on google, youtube of facebook for free VSTs you will find many.
Myself, I bought one (relatively expensive bundle, NI Komplete 13), and I’m adding all useful free VSTi’s I can use.
I made the change from a Korg Kronos setup to a plugin-only setup and so far I really like it. One of the main advantages is there are so many plugins to chose from, but that also is time consuming (but fun).
As an alternative, I bought two M-Audio Oxygen 61’s (about 50-60 euros/dollars), not too well keyboards, but if you have an 88 alogn with it, it works great (using the simple Oxygen for synth sounds). The benefit of typical MIDI controller keyboards are that they have a number of sliders, knobs, buttons and sometimes pads.
I bought one for the rehearsal room and one for home, so I don’t need to drag it back and forth.
My first move to an all software set up, used my original synth a Kurzweil K2500 as the controller, I set up a new patch that had no sound just MIDI outs. This was so I could quickly go back to hardware should things not go as planned. After a while I got fed up of lugging 35Kg of keyboard round and I I had not had any major trauma i decided to move to a cheap M-Audio KS88 to see how I got on and left the K2500 in the van. I did go MS first but decided the GP looked a much better option in the long term, the free plugins were an initial benefit and then a pain in the move to GP. I run Arturia Collection V8 and sforzando, the latter is used for all the MS stuff I had to sample, plus I think the Mellotron for this plugin is better than the Arturia version [sforzando Instrument Banks] (sforzando Instrument Banks). If I have to do it again I would go straight to GP.
besides the already mentioned Arturia V collection you should also have an eye on the KORG collection 3 for bread an butter.
Then I definitly recommend CherryAudio Synths! Try the demos!
Also have a look at some very useful free (yes, free!) plugins like PG-8X, Fullbucket (KORGs again), Dexed (THE! DX7 emulator)…
Carefully watch Black Friday for Arturia, for the others there are often sales actions by Plugin Boutique, Plugin.deals etc. Register with a dedicated E-Mail Adress for Newsetters!
Regarding the controller: I still use a Kurzweil Forte SE as an 88 key piano, but I also added a Arturia KeyLab MKII 61 key. If I would be in need for a new 88 keys I would go either Arturia or Native Instruments S88 - they also provide Fatar TP100(LR) keybeds like my Forte SE
Have fun! I’m still on the final move from Hybrid-rig to full SW rig
If you need a good midi controller (with good keybed) Native Instruments Kontrol S61 is my favourite choice. Today they offer it with a bundle of their software collection Komplete 14.
Not cheap, but high quality.
Inside Komplete Standard there is Kontakt, the best sampler ever.
Strings, Mellotron, Rhodes, Wurly at highest levels. IMHO
I cannot answer your question about MS as I never tried it.
I have myself a reasonably cheap second hand laptop (Core i7, 32 GB, 6th so quite old generation). I had 16 GB initially but extended to 32 GB (as I like to keep all songs in memory at the same time). I’m not sure how MS handles this, but GP can use a lot of memory, or actually the VSTs you are intending to use. I am almost sure MS will like a lot of memory too. Others can probably answer better.
Regarding a PC : I bought a PC because they are much cheaper than Mac’s … Initially I spent a lot of time thinking I had pops/clicks because of a too slow laptop, but it turned out to be my audio interface. So you might check if your audio interface is good and might consider a PC instead of a Mac.
Regarding sounds, if you are not in a hurry, you could first try the free ones, and see if they are ok enough. E.g. for organs there is Collab or Hanon, there are many free piano’s and strings and synths.
Some remarks for if you are used to a hardware synth (like me, I had a Kronos):
The VST sounds initially sounds a bit ‘dry’, because unlike a hardware synth they are typically using less effects, you have to do yourself a bit more
Also, on a hardware synth there are mostly ready made ‘stacked’ sounds, also here you have to find your own combinations which work well
Searching for sounds is typically harder, as each VST and manufacturer has it’s own way of sorting presets.
Note also that some sounds do not have the full range … this is very annoying, but it’s related to the ‘real’ life range of an instrument, or simply because a limited range is sampled.