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Commercial virtual instrument bargains

Some well known commercial companies of audio softwares make demo versions of their famous programs with usual limitations (no load/save options) but without the blank or white noise that appears every 20 seconds, or other time limitation that make them unusable.
So, these rare demos can be played as long as you want, and provide some very good sounds, just limited by the number of internal presets. It is mainly the case of soundbanks, as you can see below...



Sound banks
IndependencefreeIndependence free 2 by YellowTools is a full featured sampler coming with 2 Gb of free samples ! No import function, of course, but everything of the commercial version works, and you can save your projects. The software is very good, and offers sample edition, mapping, mixing etc. The sounds : classical but good synths and arpeggios, rather varied percussions (a beautiful battery kit with some settings but not many layers, ethnic percussions), a good bass, nice acoustic and electric guitars, DX electric pianos, some good drum loops, and a not so bad church organ...  win / mac / standalone / vst / au

kontaktplayerKontakt player 5 by Native Instruments is a free sample player, like UVI Workstation, given with some soundbanks from Kontakt 4, containing a B3 organ, a Minimoog bass, mellotron male voices, a 808 kit, a kalimba, and a complete section of cellos, with 6 articulations. You can also download another selection of sounds, (muted trumpet, guitars, basses, electric piano, upright piano, percussions, world instruments etc), a total of 50 instruments. win / mac / standalone / vst / rtas

EW-kompakt-demoEastWest Kompakt demo 2006 is, as its name says, a demo version of EastWest sound banks in a lite version of kompakt sampler. It features 12 good instruments (2,2 Gb of sounds) : orchestral concert toms, french horns, violas, a choir of women, a kora, a bodhran, an electric guitar, a bass guitar, a drum kit and three sounds of synths. Of course, no import nor compatibility with Kontakt or Kompakt (full version), but you can save your settings... win / standalone / vst / rtas

uvi-workstationUVI Workstation is the actual extended version of UVI Engine by UltimateSoundBank, and it is not a demo version but a free and full featured software. The sound banks are not free, of course, but UVI Worksatation comes with a demo sound bank of 415 Mb, offering some instruments and mainly loops. The software is a bargain by itself, because it contains a lot of parameters, with edit and modulation capabilities, filters, envelopes, lfos, and many good effects like a convolution reverb, real time time stretching, 64 midi ins, separate audio outs, mix functions, import of several formats : Rex, AIFF,wav etc. win / mac / standalone

The free demo of the previous version of UVI Engine by USB is no more available, but it can load special light versions of USB commercial sound banks (that were downloadable on the site), extracted from Retro Organs, Synths Anthology, X-Treme FX, Mayhem of Loops and Retro Keyboards. If you find them (UVI Engine and the free sound banks), do not miss them, because the 4 bar organs, for example, sound much better than any freeware emulations... Vst and standalone.

Plugsound-freePlugsound free by USB is the old first version of UVI Engine, and you can still find a demo of it offering 29 instruments in light versions : mainly keys, synths and drum kits... Only vst.

proteus-vxProteus VX by E-MU Systems is a lite version of Proteus X, running without E-Mu sound cards. It is a sort of GM bank with 1024 presets ! The samples are basic and not very good, but they are widely improved by an army of good filters and effects (54 !). Most of the presets sound synthetic, artificial, but it can be useful to all the people who can not buy excellent commercial sound banks. The best sounds are mainly electronic organs, electric pianos, synths and basses. Forget all the acoustic instruments, except the "dynamic grand" piano which is good... Register before downloading.

Virtual drummers and bassists
Addictive-drumsAddictive Drums by XLN Audio is a magnificent virtual drummer, and its demo version (no load, no save) sounds very good, but it offers only 4 instruments : 1 kick, 1 snare, 1 hihat and 1 crash cymbal, for a weight of 180 Mb ! Many settings are available (mic position, type of room etc), effects, rythms allowing a good basic rock accompaniment. win / mac / vst / au / rtas

mdrummer-smallMDrummer Small by MeldaProduction is, like its name says, a reduced version of the commercial virtual drummer MDRummer. Of course no load nor save, no edit pages (only a "quick setup" page), but a 180 Mb multi-purpose bank, with varied sounds and rythms. A real and easy-to-use virtual drummer which can be useful. Vst and standalone.

broomstickbass4BroomstickBass by Bornemark is a sample-based virtual bassist featuring drum accompaniment. The reduced demo version comes with two sounds, a picked or damped Fender Precision bass and an Odyssey basic one. The sound is rather good, and you can adjust on the first page tune, release, glide, shuffle, speed (only x1/2,x1 or x2), choose different variations and patterns (not many of course : it is demo), activate or not a good sounding drum accompaniment, choose between manual or automatic play. On a second page, you can adjust accent, chord, tuning, velocity, octave, and use 1 EQ, 1 pitch shifter, 1 chorus, 1 overdrive and 1 compressor... Limited but usable... win / mac / vst / au

Magazineware are not completly freeware, since you have to buy an issue of the magazine, for which they have been made, to get them. They are often lite or reduced versions of commercial softwares, but they are complete, not limited synths. So, you purchase one issue of the magazine, at its normal price, and you get virtual instruments of various qualities, and among them some real treasures...

The CM Studio
Computer Music is the most renown magazine in its category, and offers each month a DVD full of softwares and free samples. Among them, the CM studio contains around 40 audio softwares and comes with each issue of the magazine. So, to get it, you have just to purchase one issue... Of course, it becomes bigger gradually, but slowly... To purchase one issue, if you live in a place without Computer Music (like me), see the site Computer Music, and choose one of the last issues.

ZebraCMZebra CM by U-he is a scaled down version of the fabulous Zebra synth, made by Urs Heckmann, who designed a special beautiful interface for it. With 2 Osc and 16 waveforms, morphing capabilities, 3 Lfo, 2 envelopes, 1 VCF and some effects (delay, reverb), its richness, creativeness, beauty and variety of sounds make it the best magazineware ever made, and, alone, it is worth the price of the magazine. An absolute must-have that sounds exactly like Zebra. win / mac / vst ogg
wusikstationCMWusikstation CM is a lite version of Wusikstation 1, very good rompler/sample based synthesizer by William K. It can play up to 6 layers simultaneously, feeding 4 Osc and 2 wave sequencers (up to 128 steps), modulate them with 8 lfos, 1 big modulation matrix, 1 vector X/Y pad, 4 filters, 4 EQs, 2 effects per preset (among double chorus, quad chorus, stereo echo, distortion, reverb). Excellent for soundscapes, complex and rich atmospheric pads, it can also do anything else... Coming with many presets, it is a fascinating jewel.... ogg
GenesisCMGenesis CM by Ummet Ozcan is a 4 voices poly synth with 2 unison Osc, that can play up to 44 voices per key, 176 voices simultaneously, with a bit of FM, 2 Lfo, 2 filters per osc, 3 envelopes and effects : delay, reverb, chorus/crusher, phaser and distortion. It sounds very powerful, fat, very good for techno and acid musics... ogg
Astralis CM is a scaled down version of Astralis B, a complex sample based synth by Homeground Sounds, made for atmospheric pads, soundscapes and sound design. It has a "dual oscillator" with 11 waveforms, 2 modulation sequencers, 1 modulation matrix, 1 gate sequencer, 1 arpeggiator, 1 ring modulator, many effects (echo, delay, flanger, EQ, clipper, organic etc), routing system for effects, microtonal tuning, random buttons to make it easier to use... Very interesting and inspiring, it gives good quality sounds, though they are a bit harsh and stuffy.

Astralis Orgone CM is a lite version of Orgone, almost the same thing as above, but is the next generation of sample based synths by Homeground Sounds. It is also made for sound design, with similar results, and this CM version has more options than the Orgone Lite of which we speak page 3, like 50 samples instead of 25...

DominatorDominator is a well done and versatile virtual analogue synth, made only for Computer Music. With 3 osc and 6 waveforms, 2 multimode filters per voice (12 voices), extended control for each voice, lfo, a waveshaping section with 5 modes, 5 different routings for filters and waveshaper, a mixer, ring modulation, 3 envelopes, a chorus etc, the sound is not that original, but good, melodious and powerful... As good as good freeware VA synths, it can be used as effect...

microteraMicrotera by Virsyn is already an old magazineware, but still is one of the best, combining additive and waveshaping syntheses, and coming from Tera 2 and Cube. With 3 Osc, 32 voices, 2 Lfo, 2 multi-segment envelopes (64 each), and effects (delay, distortion and modulation), it has the really good and original Virsyn sound. You can find it only in second hand issues of these magazines : issue 35 of the french magazine Recording Musicien (07/08 2004), issue of 10/2003 of the german magazine Keys, or number 9 (12/2003) of the english magazine Music Tech... If you find it, do not hesitate. win / mac / standalone / vst ogg

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