Accessible softsynth pluggins for Mac. Any ideas?

macOS & Mac Apps
Hi! I'm trying to get up to shape on the music production side and therefore I'm trying to find accessible software instruments or "softsynths" that sounds better than the standard pack for GarageBand. Yeah, I know, I should really get out of GarageBand soon if I'm going to make professional productions, and the plan is to buy protools within the next couple of months. But by now, the only thing I have is GB, and I need something that sounds great, and that I can use together with VoiceOver. I've installed the kontakt player and a few instruments from Native Instruments, but the interface isn't accessible at all. So the work around is to have a sighted person helping me to set up an instrument or 4, and then save it as a preset in GB, so I can find it my self in the list of instruments. The same thing goes for Addictive Drums. Not accessible at all, but it just sounds so great, that I got to annoy some of my friends to help me to set up a few custom kits and then save it in GB as a preset. But I really would like to find pluggins that I can handle and edit myself, and that has a high-end quality to them. And I guess that accessibility of the interface will stay the same after I've gotten protools, cause it's probably the same edit window that opens for e.g. kontakt player or addictive drums as in GB. The only difference is probably that protools uses VST pluggins and GB can only use AU... Have I got it right? I'm really hoping that some of you clever people out there might have some experience with this, and may have a few options to suggest for me... Thanks in advance ;) Cliff



Submitted by Scottsdale on Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hey Cliff, There's a few rights and a few wrongs in there man. You're correct that neither Kontakt nor Addictive Drums will be no more accessible in Pro Tools than they are in Garageband. At the moment, access to plugins in Pro Tools comes by exposing their automatable parameters. This works fairly well for the most part, but it's biggest weakness is that interfaces which feature additional buttons to load patches or preset browsers specifically designed by 3rd party plugin developers are invisible to VoiceOver. When you also take into consideration that the MIDI event editor isn't accessible in Pro Tools, the uncertainty of a timeframe for accessibility to the overhauled areas of the GUI and the new AAX plugin format that're coming in version 11, and that it doesn't support VST's as you were hoping, I'd be hard pushed to think of any advantage it'd give you over Garageband if you're primarily a MIDI and software instruments kind of guy. In a nutshell, unless you want to do a lot of saving out presets, access to Softsynths is pretty meager on the Mac right now, no matter which DAW you're using. One thing you might want to look into is getting Apple's Main Stage and using those additional samples where you are in Garageband. I've ended up back in Windows to make music, because that's where the accessibility is right now. It's bolt-on style accessibility, some of it costs extra, most of it is less than ideal, but when the chips are down, it enables me to get stuff done. Feel free to chime in and correct me on that last paragraph people. I'd be pleased to be proved wrong. Hope that helps a bit Scott

There is an app, called mainstage, that offers all the apple jam packs of garage band and logic pro instruments for $30. It does some other stuff, but don't ask me anything about that because I just got it for the instruments. That's a little bit inaccessible; if you want it, feel free to contact me for a walkthrough of how to get the instruments. Speaking of instruments, we're talking an orchestra, ethnic instruments, several choirs, and way too many guitars, drum kits, and bases. Over twelve gigs of material, which you can download in chunks of instruments for different types of music.

Thank you both, for the Mainstage suggestion! Downloading it now as we speak! I thought you would have to buy Logic to get it, and that it could only be used within Logic. But if I can use it in GarageBand, that would be pretty awesome! Very currious to if I manage to use it... Scott, I'm both a softsynth and a real audio kind of guy, so I hope that protools will give me a few benefits over GB. I'm mainly a guitarist and a vocalist, but I would also like to have the ability to lay down a track with software instruments now and then, i.e. drumtracks, hammon, rodes, a softpad every now and then, and maybe even some horns if I can find something that doesn't sound completely super-nintendo! I find editing of MIDI in GarageBand to be a hassle as well, so I don't think that could be much worse in protools... Or is it? The most important feature I need when working with MIDI tracks, is the ability to quantize sections of the track. In GB it seems like I can only quantize the whole track and I'm not able to select a specific part of it to quantize... But if that is possible to do in protools, I would just have to do a good job when recording the track in the first place, so I don't have to edit more advanced MIDI parameters as notelenght and velocity and so on. Not sure what you ment the difference in protools 11 is..? Doesn't 11 support VST anymore? Maybe I should hurry and get protools 10, and not upgrade to 11 then? What exactly do you use in Windows to get your work done? I have been a windows user until september last year, and I never found something that worked for me... I always was stuck with huge amounts of latency, errormessages that caused my machine to crash and restart and DAW's that got real slow when working with more than 3 - 4 audiotracks at a time. So for me, GarageBand is a whole new world of possibilities, both when it comes to accessibility and performance. The only thing I really miss, is a efficient way of editing tracks, like cutting, copiyng and pasting in real adio and MIDI. Can't seem to do that in GB... So I was hoping that protools would be better for doing that. And there's also a size limit of 2 GB in garageband which I knocked my head against a few times.... Very annoying.. Synthesizer101, I might just take you up on your offer to help me out with the instruments in MainStage! Let's see what I can figure out myself, after the download is ready and I got it up and running ;) I might wanna contact you if I'm struggling with something still after an hour or 3 ;) Thank you guys!

Hi. In garage band you can not only quantise whole tracks but also regions within tracks separately. To do this first show the editor by pressing command-E, next interact with the arrange layout area, then interact with the timeline group, then interact with the instrument tracks scroll area and select a region from the list. Note: you may want to put a hot spot on this region so that you can get back to it to select another one. Next stop interacting with everything, and move over to the editor, interact with this and find the quantised pop up button which will say off if there is no quantisation already on the track. Open this to select a quantisation value from the menu. After selecting this the region will be quantised. You can do this with any MIDI or audio region, audio regions use time stretching to be quantised. Hope this answers your question. Thanks. Chris.

Submitted by Cliff on Monday, August 3, 2015

Hi! Since originally posting this topic a few years ago, I've switched over from using GarageBand to Pro tools, and so far I'm very satisfied.
However, I'm still looking for great sounding instrument plugins that I somehow can use. I have a Digi003 control surface so if the plugin window it self isn't accessible, I might maybe be able to use the controlsurface to access the settings of a plugin... What do you all think? Any suggestions of new plugins that might work for me?
Also, someone earlier in this tread mentioned MainStage... Does any of you know if I will be able to use the sounds from Mainstage in Pro Tools 11? Or is this not possible to do?
Any great sugestions would be highly appreciated! :)
Thanks in advance

Submitted by Ken Downey on Monday, August 3, 2015

It really all depends on what you want to do. For some great sounding instruments that leave a small footprint, I recommend Hypersonic 2. I use Windows and not a Mac, but I'm almost positive that Protools and Logic both use VST plug-ins. Anyway, if you want to be able to create your own sounds, Synth1, Atlanffis and a few others are very good. Personally, I use Reaper, which I know can also be used on the mac, which is why I'm posting this. If you really want to create some strange sounds, there's a plug-in called the weird noise machine. Google these and you will find them.

Submitted by Cliff on Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hi Ken, and thanks for your sugestions! Unfortunately Pro Tools has stopped supporting VST plugins from ver 11. The only thing that works now is pro tools own format, called AAX. But that doesn't mean that the plugins you refer to don't exist in AAX format... I will certainly check that out, and see if they have made them available for the new PT standard!
Sounds like something I would like to have in my toolbox! :)
Thanks again!