A Synthesizer in its broadest term, any musical device that makes its sounds output electronically is a synthesizer.
Software synthesizers are programs made for computer to generate digital audio automatically. It is also known as softsynth or virtual instrument as it creates sounds or music virtually.
Sounds created by computer programs are nothing new, but with the advancement in the processing speed the softsynth type software are getting priorities to perform as dedicated hardware.
Softsynths cost less, more transportable than devoted hardware, and are compatible with other music software such as music sequencers whose primary task is to create and manage electronic music. Almost all modern sequencers now have the sound editing and processing capabilities as well. As a result, the terms digital audio workstation and music sequencer are often used interchangeably.
Software vs. Hardware
Software synthesizers are complex software owing to its high production value. There are hardware synthesizers which have software as complex as a softsynth. The difference is that softsynths run on a general purpose computer, usually with a sound card. The advantage to dedicated hardware is that it can be more stable, and also that it often has a user interface that is physical and therefore easier to control during real time shows.
Power of Synthesizers
Most professional software synthesizers offer a near infinite range of creative possibilities with a wide collection of synths ranging from highly realistic emulation of acoustic instruments, analog and FM synthesizers, loop processors to entirely unique hybrid creations.
There are programs designed to emulate accurately the universe of a real recording studio, synthesizers, drum machines, sample players, effects, mixing table, sequencer, with extra tools to edit patterns, control curves, MIDI sequences. The powers include real time synthesis and effects, a user friendly interface and a type of automated studio, which provides the user with an unprecedented comfort, and facility of composition.
There are the composition wizards, which help users to quickly understand the general use of the software and the different aspects of creating a song. It can act as a learning curve for both novice and experienced users alike and helps to learn the way to compose in unfamiliar music types.
Software synthesizers have a tightly integrated environment comprising mainly three zones, the player, the designer and the navigator. With the integrated player one can play the preset synths included in the library. The user interface of the software synthesizers program depends on the manufacturers and their designers. However, there are provisions of tweaks to customize the presets of the existing factory and save them as new and custom sounds.
The designer is the customization section. Here in software synthesizers, the individual modules are connected within a synth, or even create new instruments or emulation from the scratch, using a spontaneous building block approach.
The builder interface presents the patch associated with each synth in a way that is easy to understand and logical. Finally, the browser or navigator is the browsing of the library consisting of: performances, synths, presets, modules, MIDI Links, imported patches and sub patches.