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Starship Krupa

Freeware Instruments Thread

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Could someone help an old guy who isn't up on all the latest tech & terminology? We're upgrading our home studio, got a new Windows 10 machine and installed the latest Cakewalk. I'm not a synth master (was once, those days are gone forever) but would like some quality instrument sounds for our recordings. I'm talking about piano, B3, drum kits, basses...bagpipes, pipa, crumhorn*, etc.

So I get that "VST" is a plug-in (typically effects, or "FX" as you young folks say) and VSTi is a (virtual/digital) instrument. How do I get those instruments, discussed so enthusiastically in this thread, to play in Cakewalk once I have the MIDI recorded?

* Well, probably not a crumhorn. But maybe a sackbut. :)

Edited by Dennis G Pelton

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2 hours ago, Dennis G Pelton said:

Could someone help an old guy who isn't up on all the latest tech & terminology? We're upgrading our home studio, got a new Windows 10 machine and installed the latest Cakewalk. I'm not a synth master (was once, those days are gone forever) but would like some quality instrument sounds for our recordings. I'm talking about piano, B3, drum kits, basses...bagpipes, pipa, crumhorn*, etc.

So I get that "VST" is a plug-in (typically effects, or "FX" as you young folks say) and VSTi is a (virtual/digital) instrument. How do I get those instruments, discussed so enthusiastically in this thread, to play in Cakewalk once I have the MIDI recorded?

* Well, probably not a crumhorn. But maybe a sackbut. :)

First you need to buy, download etc the VSTi's you want. Then you install them on your system. Once Cakewalk has scanned them either on startup or after you "reset and scan" from the plugin manger window then they should show up as instruments you can insert.

I would suggest looking through the Cakewalk Manual for Simple Instrument tracks. These are a combination of a midi track feeding a Virtual Instrument which then outputs its audio to an audio track.  You can also set this up manually by adding a midi track, pointing it to a synth you load in the synth rack and then creating an audio track who's input is assigned to the output of said synth.

From the Manual:

Insert Soft Synth Options dialog
This dialog box appears when you use the Insert > Soft Synths > (name of the synth you want to insert)
command, the Insert > ReWire Device > (name of the ReWire device you want to insert) command, or click
the Insert button in the Synth Rack view and choose a synth from the pop-up menu.
This dialog box inserts the soft synth whose name you clicked into your project. Inserting it means that the synth’s
name is added to the synth and audio tracks’ Input menus and the MIDI tracks’ Output and Channel menus.
Besides inserting the synth, the dialog box has some options:

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I would start with the Cakewalk by BandLab included Cakewalk Studio Instruments, and/or the included TTS-1 GM 16 channel multi-timbral synth, to get familiar with adding instrument tracks to the DAW.

The Cakewalk SI includes a usable (some folks like them) bass guitar, electric piano, string section, and drum kit.

The TTS-1 includes sounds that cover the old General MIDI spec.

This thread has pretty much covered it!  You can see there are a lot of free or inexpensive virtual instruments that you can add (to roll your own collection). :D

But the caveat is that you're not likely  not find an extensive collection of *high quality* band, orchestral, and/or obscure instruments all in one place for free. You will have to search and download to find what you like, or buy sample collections to fill in any gaps.

 

Edited by abacab
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@Dennis G Pelton, welcome to Cakewalk and welcome to the thread.

As mentioned, orchestral sounds are the most difficult, but there are some recent posts in this thread about them. B3's are another toughie.

The thread's supposed to be about free instruments, but the following are inexpensive enough to almost count. 😁

At Pluginboutique, you can currently pick up SONIVOX' Film Score Companion Suite for $29. It includes their Strings, Woodwinds, and Brass instruments, as well as a sampled piano and orchestral percussion. I've spent $10-$15 each on licenses for the Strings, Woodwinds, and Brass as individual instruments and consider it money well spent.

As for the B3, they also have AIR's DB-33 for $15. It's one of the best B3 and Leslie emulations I've found.

(and if you buy something from PB right now, you get licenses for 2 of their sound banks and the player to use them-a nice add on)

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I've been having outlandish amounts of fun playing around with The Free Orchestra by Project Sam, which is a Kontakt instrument that is compatible with Kontakt Player, the free version of Kontakt that has been mentioned in this thread and that everyone should get because it comes with a load of great freeware sampled instruments all by itself. The Free Orchestra is a set of instruments specifically oriented toward cinema scoring. It has a bunch of those workhorse cues and hits that signify "this is scary, heroic, funny, tense, or whatever," plus gloomy drones, evocative strings, I've been exploring it for literally hours now. I dare you not to hit the "Octaver" button and work out the first 9 notes of "Dragnet" after you load up "Pandora Bursts."

Also, if anyone were not aware, IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 CS has finally shipped, and I am pleased to report that unlike its predecessor the VST3 works without crashing its host. I know this has been announced in this forum more than once, but since the intent of this thread is to be a "virtual sticky" compendium and resource, I wanted to mention it here.

The free version comes with a ton of content, it looks like they're taking on Native Instruments in that regard. It's nice to see that IK have sorted that nasty crash issue. It's now my go-to acoustic piano.

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Both good recommendations there Starship (though IKs authorisation procedure might be a bit forbidding to newbies). I've been playing around a little with the Project Sam freebie and as you say it has a small number of great sounds. Not done much tweaking with it yet but look forward to exploring more

I've mentioned them in the Deals forum but the Palette and Soundscapes plugins from Flintpope have some very pleasing soundscape / pad sounds. There are a few other freebies there but none grabbed me https://flintpope.net/free/

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13 hours ago, Freyja Grimaude-Valens said:

Quick note, Orchestools 306 and 153 are versions of Orchestools ONE that are standalone from Sampletank. A lot of the sounds are based on samples provided by the VSCO CE.

https://musictop69.wixsite.com/orchestools/news

Are the sounds in these VSTi's as good as or better than those in Miroslav Philharmonik 2 CE and Garritran PO?

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13 hours ago, Freyja Grimaude-Valens said:

Quick note, Orchestools 306 and 153 are versions of Orchestools ONE that are standalone from Sampletank. A lot of the sounds are based on samples provided by the VSCO CE.

https://musictop69.wixsite.com/orchestools/news

Thanks, Freyja.

I've messed about with the VSCO samples in a couple of different forms but being able to load them into a version of SampleTank that doesn't crash will really help.

(BTW, Freya is the name of one of my favorite characters on one of my favorite TV shows, Norsemen)

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17 hours ago, JoeGBradford said:

Are the sounds in these VSTi's as good as or better than those in Miroslav Philharmonik 2 CE and Garritran PO?

I don't own either of those, so I don't have a reference point to compare with.

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I found this free software for creating backing tracks.

I have been trying this software for a few days now and I am finding it very useful for creating quick backing tracks for song writing purposes. The home page gives you an overview of the software. It really is free. There is no trial period type catch or anything of that sort. It has a good forum and help pages. You can get a response from the person who wrote the software. I am not connected with this company in any way, shape or form except that I have been using the software for a few days now.

https://www.jjazzlab.com/en/

Hope this helps someone,
yeto

Also posted here:

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I don't recall seeing this posted here. I found a pretty decent FREE program to manage my ever increasing hoard of samples/loops. It's ADSR Sample Manager. It does a great job of letting me search and audition the sounds in my many files. Allows you to search by key, tag, BPM, genre, etc. Also it lets you add tags. When you select a file, it shows you the waveform and allows you to preview the sound with the ability to apply some minimal processing to the signal. My favorite such program is actually Loopcloud, however to get all the features of the program enabled you need to become a member.

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