Many music producers these days are switching from hardware to software, and for good reason. Software is much more flexible than most hardware, and with the right tools you can replicate many of hardware’s best features, such as the warmth (to some extent) and filters. But what about the sounds? How do you get the source sounds in your software to sound like they came out of your Yamaha Motif or MU10?
There are several methods to playing the same sounds. Firstly, we’ll discuss the hardest way to do this so we can move onto the more practical methods. The most difficult and time consuming way to transport your sounds, then, is to export them (record them) via the hardware and then import them into the applicable software program.
There are several programs that can help you to do this, such as Sample Robot, which can be obtained via SampleRobot.com. For 1000 or more patches, you may want to set aside a few weeks to get all the sounds across. If you want to multi-sample each note, which can add realism, it may take even longer!
The easiest way to move over to the digital world is to look for software equivalent designed by the original manufacturer. For instance, Korg has released its Legacy Digital Edition software to allow people a smooth transition from their original devices like the 05R/W. Many vendors do similar things, but if your hardware is not supported yet then you may need to follow the time-consuming sample export process outlined above.
When it comes to emulating the workstations of old, there are legal issues as well. You are not supposed to distribute the sounds in their source form, and digitising them allows some scrupulous characters to do bad by the companies.
For the actual synth modules, such as the Virus range, certain software emulations exist, but you need additional hardware to use as processors. Hopefully the Access company will allow proper software emulations to be produced without the need of these hardware-assisted processes.
Computers have gotten fairly fast anyway, with quad-core processors now the standard, and huge amounts of memory cheap and easy to install. If you are actually exporting synth sounds (many do this for their old Moogs), try to get filter plug-ins that emulate the old machines’, or you may be left with static and uninspiring results. The most important thing to remember is this: as long as the software remains faithful to the original, there is no harm in using it in place of the hardware.