Have you ever heard people refer to ’round robins’ (sometimes abbreviated to RR’s) when discussing virtual instruments?

If you’re new to the world of VSTs or you simply haven’t had this concept explained to you, don’t worry. Round Robins are a simple concept to understand, and play an important role in helping instruments sound authentic.

What Is A Round Robin?

Sampled virtual instruments are made from carefully recording an actual, physical instrument themselves.

Therefore, when you play the instrument on your MIDI controller, it is actually just playing that recording back to you.

However, when you play real instruments, you never play it exactly the same way every time. Tiny nuances and imperceptible changes occur that altar the sound and tone of the instrument slightly.

In a nutshell, round robins are simply multiple recordings of the same thing. This way, if you play the same note multiple times, it plays different recordings that are subtly different, helping it to sound more natural.

Why is this important?

If you’ve ever heard a digital recording of a snare drum being played over and over again, it sounds completely fake if it’s completely the same each time. When played it quick succession, this is often called the ‘machine gun effect’ and unless you’re deliberately trying to achieve that, it sounds unpleasant and unnatural.

By including round robins in their virtual instruments, manufacturers build more realism and playability into their VIs, without you having to take the time to do anything else later.

Therefore, if round robins are mentioned on the sales page, this should be considered a good thing.

Making Your Own Round Robins With Your Samples

If you are someone that is sampling their own instruments or you just want to see the process visualized more quickly, I’ve found this great tutorial on how to make great round robin samples that I wanted to share:

Anyhow, I hope that you now understand what round robins are, and why they are so important in sampled virtual instruments – especially acoustic instruments!

If you have any other questions about round robins, please ask them using the comment form below.

Thank you!

– The Musical Sanctuary Team

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