Audio production with big VST3i libaries: Windows VM possible, or dual boot?

Hello, I'm in the process of ditching Windows from my life and very glad to have found Zorin OS which immediately clicked with me after testing it on my laptop first. Everyday use is a breeze, gaming works fine enough as I tested, so that is all covered.

However, when it comes to my main (desktop) machine, I'm also a sound/music creator, and one major remaining question mark for me is still how to best set up audio production on my desktop machine while ensuring to still be able to use the huge amount of "Windows-/Mac only" virtual instruments libraries I have. Some of them are quite large, 1 TB (for instance Spitfire BBC Orchestra and EastWest Opus Orchestra), so I have doubts regarding the viability of bridged solutions like LinVST, Yabridge, Carla and airwaves. Especially since there's also the topic of avoiding latency etc.

So it seems to me a lot less hassle to stick with Windows for the moment for that topic, so Dual-booting is one option, but I've also read about Virtualbox. Any experience / advice in what works best? Would Virtualbox be able to properly support ASIO?

Glad to hear helpful suggestions. :slight_smile:

Hi, and welcome. I have just tried to do a search for your needs but came back with zilch. As you only have a notebook and not a desktop I would look at purchasing an external drive and install whatever flavour of GNU//Linux. Zorin did at one point offer a premium Multimedia version. The problem I found with Zorin 17 with my sound card is that I do get sound but it incorrectly recognises the source as S/PDIF out. While my SoundBlaster Audigy Rx does indeed have S/PDIF out that is not the source of my audio. The problem with most GNU/Linux distros these days is PulseAudio, and just like systemd, written by Herr Poettinger, it takes over your machines resources and any attempt to remove it kills your OS. The better sound system for audiophiles is ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) which can handle multiple streams. I would take a look at AV Linux put together by a musician. You could sign up to their forum and ask if such things are possible there.

Another possibility for you to consider is Ubuntu Studio:

https://ubuntustudio.org

AV Linux: AV Linux MX Edition

Forgot to add, virt-manager IMHO is far superior to Virtual Box.

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I probably shouldn't have mentioned the notebook, that was my 'test' device. I clarified a little more now. :slight_smile: But thanks for the advice! My desktop machine has several disks.

I'll definitely check out what native music making venues Linux has to offer, at the moment it seems there are lots of synthesizers but hardly any good sample-based engines (Also I tried Ubuntu Studio and Zorin feels much more mature in every way to me in terms of user experience)

But my main goal is definitely not to make all my virtual music toys somehow work on Linux -- from what I've seen, there's simply no surefire way to make it all work reliably other than keeping a windows environment. For now I've set up a dual boot and I suppose I'll experiment a little with virt-manager etc. :slight_smile:

@endolexis I tried setting up a DAW in VMware but ran into low latency problems, it is best to use bare metal setup for music production, as a VM takes away a lot of resources that the DAW and instruments, virtual or otherwise need.

There are VST resources in Linux, but if you use Windows as a main production machine, that is one of your options. Ardour is a free DAW that can be used in Linux, but you can also use Reaper (Windows, Mac and Linux) which you will have to pay for, but from what I understand people recommend highly. Here is a link to the Reaper web page.

The choice of music production software depends on which OS you really want to use. In Linux, you also have Ubuntu Studio, this OS specialized in providing you with software right out of the box that you can use for music production, video production, arts, etc. as mentioned by swarfendor437.

Here are some links to music resources in Linux from what I have found:
LinuxMusicians forum

VST resources in Linux

on the use of the JACK audio connection kit

some comments on VST resources in Reddit.

how to set up JACK audio connect kit.

JACK is the kit used to connect many virtual instruments, DAW, MIDI instruments to your computer. It is like a patch bay of sorts.

Hope this helps you out.

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Thanks - I'm indeed a longtime licensed REAPER user already, which does have a native Linux client, but the VST offerings on Linux are slim compared to Windows.
I'll suppose I'll stick with Windows for music making for the time being, I see very few other real options if I want to keep using all the stuff I already have. :slight_smile:

I'll definitely however also spend some time finding out what native Linux virtual instruments can do these days. Limitations make creative, or so I've heard.

@endolexis Hi again,

I have not used Reaper but from your experience, how good is it? As far as Linux is concerned, everyday new resources keep cropping up, so there are good resources, but ProTools, and others sure are hard to beat.

I know just a little bit about music resources in Windows and Linux, since I was usually not on the recording side of things (I use to play drums, now not due to health problems), but I am always keen on learning new things. I hope things work out for you and many happy sessions! :grinning:

There is a cool synth program with lots of instruments in its banks that can be a pain to set up and that is ZynAddSubFx:

https://zynaddsubfx.sourceforge.io/

It should be in software.

There is also Hydrogen drum machine with a Demo track of Robert Porcaro's (R.I.P.) drum sequence to ToTo's track 'Georgy Porgy'.

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@zorusr2 I can wholeheartedly recommend Reaper! It's extremely lightweight, fast, stable, has a very flexible and accesible routing system and lots of other nifty features.

@swarfendor437 Thanks, I've seen that before, and will be glad to explore. I've also used Vital / Helm before on Windows, and they also appear to have Linux versions. Yes, for electronica music style, Linux music production has a lot of options. For sample-based orchestral stuff and other large-scale commercial libraries however, pickings are rather slim at the moment unfortunately. I'll try my luck with Yabridge / LinVST / Carla etc. anyway, just to see how far I get.

@endolexis thanks very much for your review of Reaper, I have heard of it but not used it yet. I have used Ardour but that is all, mainly for MIDI tracks.

I think that professional audio on Linux is not mature enough, yet. Leaving asside that I would need to switch to another DAW, but also I cannot get my expensive audio hardware running in Linux. So I will continue using my Mac for audio and closely monitor any progress on Linux. Maybe the day will come when using Linux feels like a real option.

I've now found Bitwig and immediately fell in love with it. Ableton never much clicked with me, but this one does. It runs natively on Linux, projects are 100% compatible when opening them from the Windows version, and the broad selection of internal plugins (including some great sounding baseline orchestral stuff even) work seamlessly on both versions. So for now I'll keep Windows in dual boot, that way I can quickly sketch something while on Linux (or while traveling on my Linux notebook) and use the fancy VSTi I have on Windows to refine later. :slight_smile: