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Virtual Vs Real Instruments

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Real vs Virtual Instruments
I have been recording, mixing, and sequencing music for the past two years (still a rookie but intelligent enough to talk about music) and have wondered if it is more cost efficient to make music using real instruments or just to sequence them using virtual instruments. I have even heard a sample of a virtual composition compared to the actual recording on a big budget movie and I could not tell the difference. So I am wondering, are real instruments going to be replaced by virtual and does it actually save time and money?

Here are a couple pros and cons for both:

Pro Virtual:

1. Can only take one person to get the job done.

2. Cheaper! - No need for musicians, microphones, space, studio, instruments, hardware (compressors, pre amps, etc),
composer, hd rig. All you need is a keyboard and a computer with Logic Pro, Reason, Cubase, etc.

3. If you are good - you can be as dynamic as a real instrument.

Con Virtual:

1. Very music savvy individuals can pick up on real vs fake.

2. Sequencing is very time consuming and takes a lot of practice to be seasoned.

3. You still need to know some music theory.

Pro Real:
1. The recording of a song with a full band is an EXPERIENCE in itself. It fun and emotional to be apart of the recording

2. Real instruments will always sound more authentic and dynamic.

3. Keeping real instruments in the music process will keep musicianship alive and give reason for them to play.

Con Real:

1. Can be very expensive like a said earlier in pro virtual.

2. If your musicians aren't that good at what they do, then your job has just begun! You have to edit things to be on time and
in tune in order for you to have your name on it (if you even want your name on it).

3. Sometimes the recording experience is not so fun: like your artists are very difficult to work with or they need the perfect
conditions to be artistic. Or someone have have forgot to press record instead of play and you missed the best take.

Since I don't know how to play an instrument, I am a sequencer and I also prefer virtual over real. But if I was an amazing
acoustic guitar player I would probably prefer the real deal. If anyone has a take on this please post something!


I'll go for the real instruments :), well it is real and tangible I mean its better to practice and play in a real instrument than in the virtual instruments, simply because you can feel it more so you can do it more better,and the real instruments have the full functions not like the virtual instruments


I imagine it would be more cost and time efficient to use virtual instruments, but it depends what you really want to get out of it. I've done songs with virtual instruments and I own FL Studio, and it's so easy to make a professional sounding song with no talent that it feels almost like cheating and I don't think very highly of my digitally made music because of that. I also own a Keyboard and even though it's MUCH easier to do keyboards on a computer (with better sound than my not-professional gear), it still feels "wrong" to me. I feel like it's not really my skill that's making the music.It depends on the instruments you're using also. String instruments like guitar for example are pretty hard to emulate realistically, but pianos sound pretty real.It depends on the style of music as well. For example, modern pop rock is often mixed to sound 'fake' with lots of compression (it evens out the sound, makes it sound more 'professional' and cd quality -- but the con is that you lose a lot of dynamics that make playing unique-- this is why most radio music sounds the same). In other music like jazz, classical, indian classical, classic blues, compressing the sounds would be blasphemy and you'd be shunned from society for even thinking about it. So for a pop rock song, or an electro song, or hip hop song, you could pretty easily make it sound good, but if you're really into the complexities of sound and music, there's no way you could pass virtual for real.So I guess in my opinion it boils down to what you want to do. Some people are impressed by simple rap or pop music, others have a deeper interest in music theory, instrument technique, etc and wouldn't think too highly of most virtual music. I love playing instruments, I love holding them, and hearing the real live sounds I'm making. I have a real appreciation for musicians of any style who play an instrument, and a real lack of appreciation for techno, pop, rap that is all made on a computer. You can make great sounding songs with virtual instruments, dependent on the style of music of course. If producing an end product is your sole goal, then go virtual. You might even become a skilled composer and have an orchestra or something. If you want to learn an instrument because it interests you, you'll find it a thousand times more enjoyable to play a real life instrument, even if it takes you years to make decent music.

Nelson Blogs

You can sort of use a combination of both! Take a keyboard and use a MIDI-to-USB (for old keyboards) or a USB-to-USB (newer) and connect your keyboard to the computer. Then you can get Steinberg Cubase or FL Studio and just play. This way, you can play using a real keyboard and change the sounds in the software. I have done this to compose a few songs.


For me the instruments are just for the ascetics of the product. If would be way more cost effective if it done with the aid of electrical devices due to no skill in the actually playing of the instrument is required. However the down to this is that device capable of providing the variety of the instrument, can at times, be more costly than the actual instrument. On the brighter edge of the spectrum, one is capable of deriving more advanced rhythms that are impossible to perform with the instrument.


Real instruments are probably more practical, they can be used without electricity and are less likely to break. However, instruments like laser harps are amazing technical innovations that are much more interesting than traditional instruments, so I would prefer to have a virtual one.


Personally, I like the way real instruments sound. If you listen to synthesized pianos, violins, guitars, etc, versus real pianos, violins, guitars, etc., the difference is quite obvious. Synthesized instruments are perfect which is both a pro and a con, though in general I think it's more of a con, since you don't get the error and emotion that goes into a real person playing a real instrument, which sounds more natural. It is true that these imperfections can be simulated, but in general I prefer the sound of real instruments. Although, a combination of the two can be quite effective as well


I like both, it's nice to listen to real instruments, but sometimes I can listen to virtual instruments too, it's not a problem for me, for me they are equal and it depends where you need to use those instruments.For example, if some kind of a band has a drummer, but he is out for holidays for a month, so a drum machine in a computer can be quite good, even though the feeling is not the same, but it really helps :)


Real instruments will be the best kind of instruments for a really long time. In my opinion, I can't stand the sound of the MIDI virtual instruments like in Finale Notepad, Noteworthy Composer, etc. I have to give some virtual instruments credit like some VST synthesizers, pianos, and drums but it there is no emotion when listening to the music. Sure that you can add dynamics into the software but it is not exactly like hearing an instrument live. For example, I once had the breathy flute VST for FL Studio. It sounded great, but it lacked properties of a real instrument. No matter what kind of advanced software there is, you cannot simulate real instruments.In my eyes, I prefer real instruments but there are many uses for virtual instruments as well. For example, I think that they could be used for practice beats, composition (being able to listen to the score), and for video game OSTs like Mario, Kingdom Hearts, etc. Also, if you pay attention to some albums, you can notice that some drums are produced by the computer. Still, nothing beats hearing drums in real life.