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What are plugins? Well, if we're talking about DAW software (sequencers), then plugins refer to effect plugins and instrument plugins. Such plugins can be loaded into a track in your DAW to add effects such as reverb or compression, or to work as an equalizer. Instrument plugins are commonly referred to as virtual instruments, and are often imitations of real instruments such as guitar, synthesizer, drums or piano that can be played via MIDI devices. Of course, you could always enter your music in note by note with a mouse and keyboard if you prefer. In order to imitate instruments, plugins utilise samples or - usually in the case of synthesizers - physical modelling, which allows for on-the-spot tone generation.

Nowadays, many DAWs come with a small to medium sized set of effects and instruments so you can get started right away. Of course, after you've gotten settled in with your software and are ready for more, you can always expand your collection with additional external effects and instrument plugins. Do be sure to check that a plugin is compatible with your sequencer before you purchase it! VST is the most common format and is used in most music software, after which comes AU (Audio Units by Apple) and RTAS (Pro Tools). If you're not looking for 'playable' instruments, but want individual samples and loops instead, check out our assortment of sample CDs. | Spotlight