Friday, September 29, 2006

Multitimbral versus Multi-output

Sometimes it's easy to get confused about multitimbral virtual instruments versus multi-output instruments, and an instrument can be one or other, or both.

Multitimbral means that the instrument can respond to more than one MIDI channel, playing different sounds on each. One instance of a multitimbral synthesiser plugin could supply your bass, lead, pad, strings and brass sounds in your arrangement - all at once.

Generally these plugins are 8-part or 16-part multitimbral, corresponding to MIDI channels 1-8 or 1-16 respectively.

Multitimbral = Responds to multiple MIDI channels, with different sounds on each channel

Multi-output refers to whether the instrument is capable of having more than just a stereo audio output. In the case of a sampler, loaded with a drum kit, you could send the kick drum to one output, the snare to another output, the toms to a third, and so on. Each output comes up into its own mixer channel in Logic, allowing you to mix and add plugins to taste.

Logic's EXS24 sampler, for example, comes in both a stereo, and a multi-output version. It is monotimbral - one instance can only respond to one MIDI channel at a time.

Multi-output = Can send more than one audio output into Logic's mixer

Note that if an instrument supports multiple outputs, it will show up in both the "Stereo" plugin instruments list *and* the "Multi Channel" plugins list - to use multiple outputs, you must have the multi-channel version loaded, otherwise only a conventional stereo or mono output will be available.

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