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.