A sequencer without sound generators (virtual instruments) is like a recording studio without instruments. The sequencer offers you tools for arrangement and recording but not usually any actual sounds to arrange.
Here's where the virtual sound generators (software instruments like the Native Instruments products), which include various software synthesizers, drum machines for rhythm production, emulations of legendary instruments and software samplers, come into the picture.
These software instruments create all the sounds you need for music production, both electronic and acoustic : bass, drums, pianos, pads, strings, horns, synthesizers, sound effects, rhythms and much more. Tens of thousands of sounds for all musical styles are generated directly from your computer, without the need to use any hardware instruments or samplers.
The software instruments are opened directly in the sequencer as instrument plug-ins, and are thus directly integrated with the sequencer. The virtual instruments can be played in real time via MIDI keyboard, whereupon the MIDI signal can be recorded to a MIDI track in the sequencer. Once recorded the track can be conveniently edited and arranged.
Advantages of using Software compared to hardware
Top value for money
Software is clearly cheaper when compared to hardware (and nearly everybody owns a fast computer).
Convenient user interface
Software instruments are easier to operate, because there's enough space on a monitor for detailed editing screens.
Most software instruments include much more features and sound possibilities than comparable hardware instruments
Software instruments are often more powerful when used with a fast computer - more high performance than hardware synths (-> more voices, bigger memory, quick loading of samples, faster calculations for complex tasks like time-stretching (in real-time)).
NI software instruments can be seamlessly integrated within a sequencer programme. Nearly all parameters can be automated. The sound data always stays in the digital domain without the need to convert it from digital to analog and vice versa.
Unlike hardware, software doesn't age. Regular download updates keep software up-to-date and provide new features as well.
Software instruments integrate much better into sequencer programs: the latencies are lower than with slow MIDI, and all controls can be automated. Audio data remain on the digital level all the way to the CD.
All settings for NI instruments (e.g. presets, samples, fader settings) are saved with the song and are recalled exactly the next time you open it.
Software instruments can be opened more than once in the sequencer. Therefore you get not just one instrument, but in fact several of the same kind. This way you can produce different sounds on different tracks at the same time with the same program, a possibility comparable to multi-mode on hardware instruments.
Stay up to date
Computers can be upgraded in ways seldom possible with hardware instruments: By installing more RAM, a bigger and faster hard drive, a better audio card, a second graphics card (for an extra monitor) and a faster processor you can build up your system to your needs. The software grows along automatically, for example higher performance allows more voices.
Special advantages of NI software over other music programs
Vast features range, real-time operation, all interfaces supported, stand-alone and as plug-in, brilliant operation with a great attention to detail, top sound quality, always for Mac and PC on the same disc, outstanding value for price.
Software Instruments avalible from Dolphin Music