What’s The Best Purchase For Sound Designing: Software Or Keyboards?

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The technology for sound designing has become highly advanced over the last couple of decades. This has made it easier for sound designers to rapidly search or create the right sound for any project that they are working on whether its music, theater, film, software applications, or video games. The focus will be toward music.

There are a variety of products out that can be used to design sound. You can customize your sounds with either keyboards or sound designing software. But, which format of sound designing products is the right or best to choose? There are many factors to consider when it comes to finding the most convenient product to add to your studio. It may be the amount of features. Or, it could be the ease of use and quality of the product. And for some people, it may be the price that determine what they should buy. Here’s a brief breakdown of what keyboard workstations have to offer vs. the qualities of sound designing software.

Most keyboard workstations can be used as a stand alone instrument and gives you all the tools, sounds, and instruments needed to create an entire song or composition on the board. Keyboard workstations usually have a lot of sounds with a large array of combis and pre-sets to choose from. These sounds include a wide variety of traditional and modern acoustic instruments from pianos, horns, and strings to a generous amount of percussive elements. They also include analogue sounds like synths, pads, FX, and electronic percussions. The drum kits alone, whether conventional or analogue can be very extensive. The sounds in these keyboards are so well made that they could make your task very easy when you’re shaping the sounds the way you want them or creating your own user pre-sets.

The features in a good keyboard workstation usually include oscillators and effects engines that can be used to shape or create a variety of sounds. You can combine up to sixteen instruments and tweak them using the effects to come up with totally new sounds or variations of those original sounds. Most keyboard workstations will have a substantial library of arppegiators or complex pre-set rhythm patterns that you can use to add a little more character to your music. And you should be able to remake alternate versions of these patterns too.

The only problem with keyboard workstations is it can be quite expensive for many people, especially when buying the top or latest brand. A really good workstation can run anywhere between $2500 to $3850.

If you want complete control of what you are making, sound designing software may be a good choice. It can have a ton of sounds at a more affordable price. A lot of sound designing software can possibly have many more features and options than most hardware sound workstations. Some of them can be used as a stand alone tool. Others can be a huge plug-in for any DAW (digital audio workstation) or digital/analog studio combination.

With sound designing software products, you can take a set of original sounds and multi-samples, layer them in up to 16 channels at a time, and add a variety of effects to them to create whole new unique sounds. You will be able to use oscillators and tuning to thicken the sounds and give them sinister motion-like affects. There’s also a variety of modulation waveform options and other methods to create many different effects from the original sound or sample that you designed. The other effects that can be used is flanger, phasers, chorus, reverbs, and analogue filters.

The types of sounds and instruments you will get with sound designing software is basically similar to keyboard workstations, but with a larger library. Some of these software applications can hold the capacity of up to five or six different keyboards in one super package. The category of instruments you will get with sound designing software is synths, bass, keyboard, leads, pads, horns and so on. These categories may contain a whopping thousands of sounds that you can use as templates to create whole new sounds.

Some sound designing software have editing or mixing tools, but these are mostly designed to shape and mix the structure and ambience of your newly made sounds. It’s better to use the mixing tools of your main recording program to get an even and pure mix for your entire project.

Both keyboard workstations and sound designing software are good items to have for sound designing. Keyboards have the convenience of having pre-sets that make it easier to create new sounds quickly. They can be very good MIDI controllers too. But, if you want full control of what you’re making for your project at an affordable price, sound designing software is the way to go.

Here are some things you will need to effectively run your sound designing software. Make sure you have a good MIDI controller, preferably one with USB connections. And of course, you will need a computer (Mac or windows) with plenty of memory space to accommodate the large library of instruments and sounds included with the synth software. An MPC, Akai, or other similar types of MIDI pad machines can be useful, especially for the many drum kits that sound designing software may have. You will also need a good DAW like Pro tools, Fruity Loops, or Sonar to control it all. And last but not least…….your skills as a musician. Draw on your creativity and take a little time to explore and enjoy the powerful musical instrument that your CPU will become after installing your chosen sound designing software.

About the Author

Daryl has attended the Art Institute of Atlanta majoring in audio engineering and Music Business Management. He is a writer and beat maker for Beat Maker: Music Production Spot and Beat Maker Club101.

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