Sample VST Questions



  1. For Xpand!2 users - I bought it but haven’t played with it yet - does the base purchase have sounds you’re using or do I need to look into libraries?

  2. I’ve been using IK Philharmonik when I need brass or strings for covers we’re doing. It worked for some Beatles covers at open mics. My research in different keyboard/synth forums indicates that isn’t typical usage. Should I be aware of something?


Hi Doug

Xpand!2 Comes preloaded. As far as I know, there are no expansions for it, unless there are some 3rd party stuff. I use it frequently for several things and it is mostly light on resources.

As far as your research on the forums, whatever fits your particular situation is best. I use Korg M1 for many of my sounds.

I am not understanding what typical usage means. I know a lot of keyboardists that are purist about no VSTs, or only use huge sample libraries. I do what works for me, and I want quick loading, great sounds that work well in a live situation. Many hours of experimentation led me to realistic emulations, which hold up in a live gig. I don’t want the band to look at me, tapping their foot, waiting on a sample library to load. I am now waiting on them to tune while my great sounding VST is ready for count off.


Hi Corky,

Thanks, I onced owned the M1, will check out the Korg library. It comes up over and over again as a good choice when you need brass for covers.

I get your answer on the Philharmonik. I’ve used it a couple of times and there were no glitches but if I did have to reload it during the gig that would be a problem. So far all my other performance VST’s are emulations.


I use the M1 strings A LOT. Great for any live strings. Immediate load.


Just loaded up Xpand!2. It only took a few minutes because I already have Hybrid. I don’t mind their requiring software iLok - it has been very reliable for me and easy do activate and de-activate between laptops. Since it works offline once you’ve activated it seems safe enough for performance use.

My first impression is that it is like my Roland XP-80. Lots of nice pads etc. The solo sounds are like the XP-80’s which isn’t a great thing IMHO but I think I’ll find uses for this VST. It seems to sip CPU and loads instantly. A big win for the 5 pounds it cost at pluginboutique this holiday sale.


There is a lot to behold, and I have not been very deep into it, but do use it occasionally. If I have to pull up some quick sounds for rehearsal, I go to this or M1 and usually find what I need.


IK Philharmonik strings are primarily aimed at orchestral arrangements, so the sounds might not always work ideally with typical pop arrangements. For strings, you could usually find some simpler sounds in typical romplers like Xpand or M1 that are easier on RAM and CPU. For brass, you might be looking at “brass section” sounds - these are usually more direct and less “polite” than the Philharmonik sounds. You’ll find some usable ones in M1 and Xpand - for more prominent brass sections, I use Native Instruments Session Horns.




Hyper-realistic string libraries usually require more controllers going in real time than you would have hands and feet to play live in a way that lives up to their potential. So I just load a good patch that has more or less the right articulation, or maybe a few basic articulations on key switches, and go for it! Also, in my experience huge 40 to 60 piece string sections get lost in rock/pop mixes and sound like- a keyboard. Small groups of 2 to 4 strings per part are closer to what normally got used in those kinds of session and cut in a mix.


I occasionally use Big Fish Audio Vintage Strings for simple RnR backing. I find the lesser amount of strings cut thru better. They were recorded for Pop and Rock, have many of the basic articulations, and are not so daunting.
BUT…if you plan on playing something like Conquistador by Procol Harum, it is a bit too small. :grin:


Big Fish VS is excellent, I really like it too. It doesn’t have a million articulations but it gets the meat and potatoes job done. And if you layer it with a couple good solo strings it cuts even more.


Thanks for advice, I’ll check out Big Fish VS. My strings would either be R&B 60’s type or the Beatles quartet type.