Gear of the Year 2018: Best Software Instrument/Library

2018 offered plenty of software instrument and libraries that were worth the splurge. We narrowed down the best one and recommend three others that should be on your radar. 

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Gear of the Year, Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

2018 offered plenty of software instrument and libraries that were worth the splurge. We narrowed down the best one and recommend three others that should be on your radar. 

Gear of the Year, Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

WINNER: Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

Price £305
Contact Time+Space | 01837 55200 | Toontrack

The worlds of the software instrument and huge instrument library have become so large (and slightly complicated) that it has become easier to merge anything software-based with a controllable front end into one all-singing, all-dancing Software Instrument category… and this is it! However, that results in a lot of nominees, so we’ve included a few extra Highly Commendeds, as so many deserve praise and were so close in our voting. But there can be only one winner…

Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 3 is not really ‘just’ a drum instrument, it’s a drum ‘world’. Complete with meticulously sampled drum sounds – some 230GB of 44.1kHz/24-bit samples – and a DAW of sorts, this is designed to be everything you need to perfect your acoustic (and also, to a certain extent, your electronic) beats.

The samples are recordings of six acoustic kits – from Gretsch, Ayotte, Pearl, Yamaha, Ludwig, and Premier – made at Galaxy Studios in Belgium, presided over by renowned engineer George Massenburg. Add surround-sound content, plenty of kits, masses of incredible plug-ins and a DAW to put it all together and this is one of the most comprehensive takes on any instrument-type ever recorded.

Martin Delaney said: “Some producers just can’t get enough drums, and if you need that level of detailed control over every aspect of your drum sound, you’ll be all over SD3. Similarly, if you’re into building beats and grooves in a more ‘samplery’ style, you might not be convinced – this isn’t Maschine, for example – but the drum-machine sounds expand on the palette and reduce time spent building hybrid kits in other applications.

“But all that aside, Superior Drummer 3 lives up to the title – the kits are great, I particularly rate the effects and overall, it’s got the tools, options, content and the flexibility – everything, in fact – you need to deliver a full, organic drum track. Superior Drummer 3 offers unrivalled creative control, customisation, loads of content with incredible detail, and will take care of drum production, from start to finish.”

Read our full review here

Highly commended

v collection 6

Arturia VC 6

Price €499 (€149 to €199 per plug-in)
Contact Source Distribution | Arturia

Want pretty much every classic keyboard ever made in one package? Andy Jones certainly does. “V Collection is the ultimate vintage-keys package. Nothing else out there does emulation and recreation so well.”

Read our full review here.

SynthMaster One iOS

KV331 Synth-master One iOS

Price £14.99
Contact KV331 Audio

The MT Award-winning synth comes to iOS – and it’s a winner: “For £15, you could justify getting yourself an iPad just to buy it. KV331 has done it again. Best brush down the suits, there are more awards coming.”

Read our full review here.

Zero-G Ethera EVI - Voices of the Empire

EastWest Voices of the Empire

Price $399
Contact EastWest

This Asian and Eastern-European tinged collection of raw, primal solo vocals featuring the insanely talented Uyanga Bold for use in game, film and other soundtrack compositions has beguiled reviewer Dave Gale and the voting public for 2018: “This is a great library, which places a superb vocalist right at its heart. A fine addition for any soundtrack composer.”

Read our full review here.


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