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Latest reviews of MusicLab products

RealRick
Reviewed By tommyzai
September 30, 2014

INTRO
RealRick by MusicLab is an extraordinary virtual guitar that is modeled after two of the most sought after instruments ever made. Some years back I sustained an injury, which has made playing "real" instruments nearly impossible. Yet, I continued to produce music by either hiring a guitarist of making due with sample library instruments. MusicLab eventually came to my rescue by developing RealGuitar for my acoustic needs and RealStrat for my blues, garage rock, funk, and surf needs. I really dig those two instruments, and they have become indispensable musical tools. Note: RealLPC is on my list, but I'm not as much into classic rock and metal and the other genres associated with that fine guitar. What I really hoped for was just released and is now on my MacBook — a virtual 6 and 12-string Rick! I am a huge fan of the British Invasion sound as well as the later jangle guitar bands. My biggest influences are the Beatles, Joy Division, New Order, REM, The Smiths, Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. One of the things they have in common is the unmistakable jangly bell-tone rhythm guitar. I simple love that sound, and now I have it! But I found RealRick to be much more than just an authentic, great sounding Rickenbacker 6 and 12-string sample library. RealRick also features MusicLab's Pattern Manager and Guitar Pattern Library that assist in creating backing rhythm tracks. This is a very playable instrument that is also fun to play.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:

  • Ordering and downloading was straightforward.
  • Surprisingly usable manual.
  • Installing, authorizing, and launching was a snap.
  • Interface is attractive.
  • I selected the "Chords" button, pressed and held a key, was instantly reminded of the early Beatles sound, and smiled.

FAVORITE FEATURES:

  • User-friendly, inspiring interface.
  • Deep pattern library and excellent pattern browser.
  • Flexible switch system.
  • Extensive array of usable articulations (mutes, harmonics, bends, chopping, scrapes, etc.) — yields very realistic results.
  • Four chord positions with graphic fret-board note/chord display.
  • Sounds great and is recorded DRY as a bone! Thankfully, there are no baked in effects.
  • Convenient standalone version (and plugins of course).
  • Stereo and Mono just like the real thing.
  • Good price considering what this instrument is capable of doing.
  • Innovative developer, known for frequent updates.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

  • What guitar is next?
  • Any chance MusicLab will release a bass collection?

SUMMARY
This is a bittersweet day for me as an eMusican/producer. It's sweet because I finally have the virtual guitar I always dreamt about. It's bitter because I no longer have an excuse for not making music. Like the other offerings by MusicLab, RealRick sounds great and inspires creativity. It is addictive, which is much better than staring at my controller and waiting for lightning to strike. I highly recommend RealRick to any eMusician, producer, film and gamer scorer, DJ, sound designer, etc., who is looking for a virtual Rickenbacker 6 and 12-string guitar. If you dig the early to mid-60s sound and the later jangle stuff of the 80s and 90s, this should be on your wishlist. I have no regrets picking this up, and sincerely hope others will share my excitement over this new release. "We keep working to make your music production life even more fun than it is today!" Well, Tommy Zai is having more fun and gives RealRick two big thumbs up! Thank you MusicLab for adding this authentic, legendary guitar to your collection.

Note: In my upcoming project I anticipate using RealStrat for leads, RealGuitar for anything acoustic, and RealRick for Electric Rhythm.

RealRick v4 Update
The new RealRick version skips from v1 to v4. This seemed strange to me at first, but then I thought about it and think I figured out Musiclab's rationale. Their other, more seasoned, instruments have naturally progressed through the versions, i.e., 1, 2, 3, and 4. They used the same research and development to bump RealRick up to v4. Like RealStrat and others, RealRick now has improved sound and performance. The most noteworthy new feature is the Song Mode, which helps turn this fine instrument into a powerful workstation. At the risk of criticism, Musiclab seems to be taking a path similar to Toontrack. I see this as brilliant. Most experienced electronic music makers have more plugins than they can count; yet, how many do they use. .. or more importantly, how many help the creative process? The Real instrument line are extremely musical and serve as a songwriting assistant. In use, ideas develop and flow instead of going somewhere to rot and die. Some of my favorite new features include:

• Global Song Mode with option to export MIDI
• Easy chord change and pattern insertion
• Increased strum time range
• Advanced humanize engine with several parameters and randomization options.

All in all, this is a sweet update, and I'm glad I picked it up. It's worth all $49 as an upgrade for registered users. RealRick perfectly captures the chimey, bell-like jangle. Thank you, Musiclab!.

*On a side note, it's been a rough year financially, and I was forced to sell my Jetglow 620 to pay some bills. Using RealRick eases the pain!

Read Review

RealStrat
Reviewed By tommyzai
December 5, 2012

The last version thoughts are at the bottom. .. .

INTRO

RealStrat v4 by MusicLab is an excellent Fender Stratocaster software emulation that is extremely playable and great sounding.

GETTING STARTED
The purchase, download, install, and authorization process is simple. In no time, users will be up and running. There are no dongles, just a simple license file. Another cool thing new users will quickly notice is the size of the package. The application itself is only 45MB and is linked to a sample library of a mere 915MB. I get amazing quality audio without filling my hard drive with a zillion levels of questionable samples. I believe MusicLab incorporates a combination of samples and algorithms to accomplish this dead-on emulation. Regardless of what's under the hood, RealStrat has exactly what is needed and sounds great.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The interface is clean, modern, and inviting. The learning curve is moderate. It should only take a couple hours to learn where everything is and how it works, but after that. .. you'll be jamming away.

IN ACTION
When I first launched RealStrat, I smiled and thought to myself, "MusicLab has done it again!" Just like RealGuitar, this electric version has excellent performance modes. I turned up the volume on Solo Mode and played a cool little lick for my guitarist, who had his back turned at the time. He quickly spun around and was in shock for two reasons: 1. I'm a terrible guitarist, and what I played sounded great. 2. I was using a plugin. I had to prove to him I wasn't playing a loop sample. I'm grateful to no longer have to spend weeks learning key-switches. For me, this software is fun right out of the box. I just launch and let my muse carry me away.

Just like the "real" Strat, this virtual version is capable of a wide variety of tones, ranging from clean funk to crisp surf to aggressive speed metal arpeggios to down-n-dirty blues licks. In addition, users have access to all the nuances that make a guitar performance sound authentic — mutes, harmonics, scrapes, slaps, fret noise, pick noise, volume swells, feedback, wah-wah, hammers, slides, legato, etc. All of these little features help to recreate spontaneity and a human feel. It's very playable and allows users to quickly create chord progressions, record lead and rhythm tracks, and even final tracks (with a little extra effort in adding nuances).

WHY A STRAT
Even though many players use a Stratocaster, whether it be real or virtual, they can sound totally different from one another. David Gilmour chose it as his main instrument because it was the guitar which, "allowed the player to express his or her personality the best." It's perfect for sounding exactly like another player, or like no other player.

OVERALL FEATURES I DIG
• Attractive GUI
• Fast loading
• Excellent workflow
• Stand-alone and plugin
• Randomize dynamics
• Drag-n-Drop patterns
• CPU efficient
• Extremely stable
• Small footprint
• Responsive developer — usually answers my Q's within a day
• Good value.

NEW V4 FEATURES I ESPECIALLY DIG
• The new Song Mode is much better for composing. It's easy to insert chord changes into the Song Track via the Smart Chord Selector. Patterns can also be inserted on the fly.
• The Advanced Humanize Engine helps to add more realism to the performance with a simple mouse click. Randomization options include sound, timing, velocity, and pitch.
• Another convenient new feature is the ability to export a MIDI file from the Song Mode, which, like patterns, can then be dragged and dropped into a DAW or MIDI editor. I believe the tracks are exported as Standard MIDI, making it universally accepted by other apps and instruments.

SUMMARY
RealStrat continues to be the best sample-based Stratocaster emulation on the market. And, the best just got better with the release of version four, which is a robust upgrade containing several new features and improvements. I highly recommend this audio software to anyone creating music digitally, who wants or needs a virtual Strat for jamming, composing, or recording. The sound is all there! Words that come to mind are: VERSATILE! FLEXIBLE! AUTHENTIC! This is almost as good as the real thing! For nearly 60-years, the Fender Strat has represented the ultimate in electric guitar versatility, and RealStrat helps to carry that tradition in software form. When you don't have much money, you need to make sure every penny is spent wisely. This is a great value — lots of bang for the buck. I've paid more for confusing sample libraries and hiring the wrong "guitarists." All in all, this virtual guitar is fantastic. Will RealStrat replace a virtuoso guitarist? Probably not! But, it could possibly replace you and me. LOL. I highly recommend this fine audio software to any eMusician, producer, etc., who wants to write, produce, and record sensational electric guitar parts that have a classic Fender flavor, whether it be rhythms, leads, or FX. Thank you MusicLab! Great stuff.

RealStrat v5 by MusicLab

INTRO: RealStrat v5 is the latest virtual Stratocaster offering by MusicLab. It includes two Strat combination options. A RealStrat Standard version that is an updated version of v4 and RealStrat Elite, which is a completely new supercharged version that has been deeply resampled at each pickup position. Both versions boast an attractive, neatly organized new interface that's both eye-pleasing and inviting — seasoned users will have no problem navigating v5, and new users won't be scared-off (however, there will be a learning curve).

PROS: The features that made the first four versions a success are still there, fully intact, i.e., the sound, strum-ability, play-ability, humanization, etc. There are many improvements and new features, most notably the new Multi-Performance Mode (live control of solo and strum and chord positions). This makes it much easier to sequence realistic sounding guitar tracks. I especially dig the Song section. I have a friend who boasts about the Key Switch FX in chordal mode — this is a deep instrument. I've only scratched the surface, but having fun — not stressed, lost, or overwhelmed while demoing. There is a new option that allows users to choose between a black & white and color guitar theme. V5 features increased control over timbre via the three pickup configuration and pick position options. The Bridge & Neck combination is exceptionally rich and REAListic. The 12-string versions are a nice surprise.

CONS: Learning curve increase. Larger sample size footprint for Elite version. Otherwise, I found no negatives, only positives.

SUMMARY: The best virtual guitar emulation app/plugin just got better. This is a fun, playable, great sounding virtual instrument. All-in-all, this is an outstanding and significant update that is well worth the money — especially purchased on a special sale. Great job, MusicLab! I continue to be a proud user.

https://www.musiclab.com/products/realstrat/info.html.

Read Review

RealGuitar
Reviewed By tommyzai
November 29, 2012

Version 3:
I had an accident and could no longer play guitar. :- (. I missed having guitar on my tracks, especially acoustic accompaniment and riffs. I tried using my synths, but they sounded like synths! I needed something real — something human! Waiting for friends to come over and play parts for me became inconvenient and embarrassing. I needed to find a way to lay down tracks on my own. I needed a virtual guitarist! I went on a mission, buying and trying nearly every guitar library ever made. A couple of them weren't bad, but most of them left me cold or frustrated. I was tired of filling my hard drive with thousands and thousands of samples that were packaged in a non-user friendly interface. The last thing I wanted to do was spend more years learning complicated key-switches. By the time I got a track down, the inspiration was lost. I was discouraged and frustrated until I tried MusicLab's RealGuitar. It's fantastic.

The interface is neat, clean, and fun! I'm a visual person, and I love seeing the notes on the virtual neck. The way the keyboard is laid out is intelligent, giving total control over the type of strum, fret noise, slide, tremolo, and all the other little squeaks and articulations. The strum engine is a snap to work with and as powerful as you need it to be. I think they call it the "Struminator." The built-in rhythmic patterns usually give me exactly what I need, and if not. .. I can simply make adjustments or create my own patterns. All in all, RealGuitar is easy to use, sounds realistic, and sits perfectly in the mix. This is the first sample-based virtual guitar plug-in I've found that truly emulates the real thing. I've got pretty good ears and most of the time I cannot tell if it's real or RealGuitar. I feel like I'm playing again! Thank you, MusicLab, for creating such a great product. :-). I'm saving up to buy RealStrat and/or RealLPC.

Version 4 (update):
RealGuitar v3 by MusicLab is an amazing piece of audio software and represents the finest in virtual guitars, and it just got better with the release of v4. Like many previous version users, I had to consider whether or not to upgrade. After reading through the list of improvements and new features, it was impossible for me to pass on this one, and I'm glad I went for it.

The new Song Mode alone was enough to justify upgrading. I'm a songwriter, and I work in a linear fashion, measure by measure and in structural parts, i.e., intro, verse, pre-chorus, rise, climb chorus, bridge, middle eight, etc. The Song Mode in RG4 helps to create backing tracks in a familiar and natural way — as if I had a guitar in my hands and could play it well. The Time line enabled easy navigation along the song. And, to make the workflow as simple as possible, chords are inserted into the song track and patterns are drag-n-dropped into it.

The Pattern Library Browser has been improved, and provides faster access to over 1200 guitar rhythm patterns that are neatly categorized and selected with the help of the Pattern Filter. Any inserted pattern can quickly be multiplied or edited throughout the song. Chord edited has also been enhanced. Other improvements include Humanizing (sound, timing, velocity, pitch), FretNoise (trigger) FX, Transpose, Harmonics, etc.

Version 4 is a significant update, and I'm glad I grabbed it!

Version 5 (update):
RealGuitar v5 a BIG BIG upgrade that is very impressive. Most notably MusicLab added a new guitar sample set called "Steel String." This is in addition to their "Classic" model. There are easier than ever switching between soloing, strumming, string picking, etc. via key velocity. It takes a little time to get used to, but with the right touch it's a breeze. There are many other additions and improvements. All-in-all, the upgrade is well worth it, and I continue to be happy. Thank you, MusicLab!.

Read Review

RealLPC
Reviewed By Epidural
January 25, 2010

RealLPC is simply the best virtual guitar available in my opinion. It is pretty much identical to RealStrat (in case you own or have tried that one), except of course, the samples are recorded from a Les Paul Custom. There are a great many articulations (ie. Hammerons, Pulloffs, Pinch-Harmonics, Bridge-Mutes etc...), performance triggers (ie. Slides, Trills, Tremolo etc...), and the ability to create a custom keyswitch arrangement in order to trigger them.

I find it sounds much better than Realstrat (but that's a matter of personal taste). In particular, the bridge-mutes sound much more realistic, especially for rock-style playing.

The size of the application is surprisingly small considering all the options that are included, but that is because it combines samples with a lot of midi trickery. For example, there are no sampled chords; While chords can be triggered in "Chord Mode", the chords are combinations of individually-sampled notes. This obviously makes the library much smaller than it would be if all possible chords were sampled. One would think that sampled chords would sound much more realistic than chords comprised of individual notes combined, but RealLPC's chords sound very real. This is because the program doesn't just play individual notes at the same time to create a chord, it staggers the timing of the individual notes in order to simulate the effect of a pick strumming across the strings. In fact, the speed of the strum can be customized so that the chord can be strummed at any speed you like. There are adjustable pick noises as well. So while the sample-set is considerably smaller than some of the competing sample-libraries, there is considerable midi-magic used in order to compensate for this. I have a sample library for Kontakt that is absolutely gigantic by comparison, but I much prefer Musiclab's e-guitar offerings because they are very cleverly programmed, making them far, far easier to play.

I won't bother listing the vast amount of features, but suffice it to say that when I factor in the price, the amount of articulation/performance features and ease of play, I find RealLPC to be the biggest bang for the buck available at the moment. There is a learning curve, and you do need an amp sim (making it far more versatile than pre-amped/pre-distorted samples), but you can program some very convincing guitar parts with RealLPC as well as RealStrat and Realguitar (Realguitar being a collection of acoustic guitars).

My only gripe with it is that the pinch-harmonics aren't currently mapped to the right notes/frets. This was done on purpose, presumably because many users want pinch harmonics that match the regular notes, which isn't how a real guitar works -the pinch harmonics of notes played on certain frets are often different notes than their non-pinch-harmonic counterpart, and I guess some users prefer them to always match (real guitarists will know what I'm talking about). They're mapped realistically in RealStrat, but I guess they gave the average users what they wanted with RealLPC. Not a big deal though, and since I find that RealLPC sounds much better than RealStrat for my tastes, I can certainly live with it.

I gave the "Presets" rating a 1 simply because there was no "Not Applicable" option to choose. There are no presets. It comes with a default configuration, and you can create as many of you're own custom presets as you see fit, creating your own sets of keyswitches, altering the default pick-position, strum speed etc...

I wouldn't trade it for anything else out there at the moment.Read Review

RealGuitar
Reviewed By Fhangor
September 21, 2004

I have been waiting for a long time for RealGuitar because it seemed to be the only nearly realistic guitarsimulation. Now after using it for a while I can only say: I am not disappointed anyway!

The sound of the guitars included in the package is (for me of course) undistingable from a real guitar. Bending, whacking, slapping, muting, everything is simulated by this VST-instrument. Maybe there is a difference because playing on keyboard is not the same than strumming on a guitar. But nothing is perfect, even not the player himself!

The handling is well-thought and after a while playing around you get a guitarfeeling on the keyboard. It is one of my most used instrument now. Grats to the good work!

Addition for Version 2 (26.6.2007):
First I have to say: after using RealGuitar for a long time now I have never got complaints because of a "synthy" guitar! I rather have heard: "Grats to your fine technique in playing guitar"! That's a symptom how good RealGuitar really works.

In addition to version 1 RealGuitar got a pattern manager which includes patterns in many various styles. They are really easy to select and can be handled in two ways: either they are played by RG itself or you can copy them via drag'n'drop into the pianoroll. And believe me: the sound you get out of is convincing!

So as a conclusion I have to state once again: this is one of the best products on the market you can get for simulating a guitar.

PS.: The only minus of this product is the customer support. I had troubles with the combination FLStudio and RG and it took a half year to get the problem fixed.Read Review

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RealEight round robins?
by ediblepolecat at 29 Jan 2020, 08:14