Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Digidesign Xpand! (Keyboard, Recording)

The Digidesign Xpand! virtual instrument falls somewhere between an essential Pro Tools plug-in and a default, yet very useful Pro Tools plug-in. Let me explain: Xpand! comes with the installation CDs to Pro Tools 7.3 and later, but Xpand! might or might not come with Pro Tools 7.1, and definitely not with any earlier build of the DAW. In any case, Xpand! comes with a myriad default sounds and virtual instruments, with several options to modify them to your taste (and beyond). You can assign up to four different instruments per plug-in track (stereo or mono), and you can assign those instruments as overlapping or discrete regions on your keyboard to save RAM, CPU, and track usage (e.g., piano from C1 to B2, glockenspiel from C3 to C6, strings from A3 to G#5, etc., depending on your song's needs).

With that many sounds, you actually get to audition exactly what you want for a song, or something similar. From there, you can either buy a better virtual instrument plug-in or go on the Internet and download a free VSTi (VST instrument) if you have the FXpansion adapter. I recommend the latter route, as it saves money and time.

If your version of Pro Tools contains Xpand! by default, don't squander the opportunity to use it. If you don't have Xpand!, order a "free" copy from Digidesign - you will have to pay about $10 for shipping and handling, though. Xpand!, like Strike, is only for use in Pro Tools. A MIDI keyboard controller would be helpful to use with Xpand!, but you can always draw your notes in Pro Tools.

Tickle them pseudo-ivories and have fun recording!

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