A software synthesizer, also known as a softsynth or virtual instrument is a computer program for digital audio generation. Computer programs (also software programs, or just programs) are instructions for a Computer. Digital audio uses Digital signals for Sound reproduction. This includes analog-to-digital conversion, digital-to-analog conversion, storage Computer software which can create sounds or music is not new, but advances in processing speed are allowing softsynths to accomplish the same tasks as dedicated hardware. Softsynths can be cheaper and more portable than dedicated hardware, and easier to interface with other music software such as music sequencers. A music sequencer (also MIDI sequencer or just sequencer) is software or hardware designed to create and manage computer-generated music
Dedicated hardware synthesizers can have software as complex as a softsynth. The distinction is that softsynths run on a general purpose computer, usually with a sound card. A sound card (also known as an audio card is a Computer Expansion card that facilitates the input and output of audio signals to/from a computer under The advantage to dedicated hardware is that it can be more stable, and also that it often has a user interface that is physical and therefore easier to manipulate during performances. Many softsynths use mathematical algorithms which directly emulate the electronic components and circuitry of the original hardware synthesizer. This results in an exceptionally authentic sound, as well as allowing for some of the inconsistencies, such as oscillator drift caused by the thermal sensitivity of the components, to be added.
One common type of softsynth is an emulator. There are a number of very popular synthesizers which are no longer manufactured. While some can be purchased second hand, many are expensive and temperamental. The emulation can even extend to having graphics that model the exact placements of controls. Some emulators can even import the original sound patches with accuracy that is nearly indistinguishable from the original synthesizer. Popular synthesizers such as the Minimoog and Yamaha DX-7, Korg M1, Prophet V, Oberheim OB-X, Roland Jupiter 8, ARP 2600 and dozens of other classics have emulators. The Minimoog is a monophonic Analog synthesizer, invented by Bill Hemsath and Robert Moog. The Yamaha DX7 was a Synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1986, based on FM synthesis developed by
Some softsynths are heavily sample based. Computers have fewer restrictions on memory than dedicated hardware synthesizers. Some of these sample based synthesizers come with sample libraries many gigabytes in size. Some are specifically designed to mimic real world instruments such as pianos. Many sample libraries are available in a common format like WAV files, and can be used with almost any sampler based softsynth. WAV (or WAVE) short for Waveform Audio format, is a Microsoft and IBM Audio file format standard for storing an audio bitstream on
It's common for recent softsynths to be compatible with technology such as Virtual Studio Technology (VST), which allow other music software to interface with the softsynth. Steinberg 's Virtual Studio Technology (VST is an interface for integrating software Audio Synthesizer and effect Plugins with Plug-in technologies include VST, DXi, Motu Audio System (MAS), Audio Units (AU), and Real Time AudioSuite (RTAS). Digital Performer is a full-featured Digital Audio Workstation / Sequencer Software package published by Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU of Audio Units ( AU) are a system-level Plug-in architecture provided by Core Audio Real-Time AudioSuite (RTAS is a format of audio plug-ins developed by Digidesign for their Pro Tools LE and Pro Tools M-Powered systems