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Violins blow, but only in the most literal sense.


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I have all kinds of violin libraries, some old, some new, with quality ranging from terrible (Komplete 9 standard stuff), some OK but not great, and some really good (Eastwest Hollywood Orchestra, Hans Zimmer Strings, and the best of all the 1727 Stradivari that was sampled in Cremona a few years ago, which is exceptional).

Now, everything that is sampled from real violins as opposed to synth generated, has one thing in common: the higher the note, the more there is a noticeable blow noise in the background. Sometimes it's more prominent, sometimes not as much, but all the libraries, especially the ensembles like Hans Zimmer Strings, have that noise. It's what you would expect from a flautando articulation, except that it happens in regular long sustain ones.

After listening to this noise in all the good libraries, I assumed it had nothing to do with the quality of the samples and instead it's an additional sound produced most likely by the bow being so close to the... I wanna say bridge? of the violin, or something like that.

However, I listen mostly to film and TV scores, which have a lot of large violin ensembles playing very high pitch notes in the 5 and part of 6 range, and I hardly ever heard that, even in the cases that it's just a long note progression from the violins and hardly any other instrument. I also have some SACDs by Anne-Sophie Mutter, and other classical music, where I don't remember hearing that blow.

So just in case you have no clue what I'm talking about, I bounced 4 separate tracks with the same exact note (C6) being played for about 8 bars, with EXP and MOD going from 0 to 127 in a bar or two and staying there. I applied no EQ, compressor, exciter, or any filter, I just loaded the preset as it comes. So unless you really know what I'm talking about, please listen to a couple of these. I also included a bounce of a project with only two tracks, Stradivari and Hans Zimmer Strings long, in which you can hear the noise.

So you know what I'm going to ask next. What filters do sound engineers that work with this type of music normally use to get rid of that blowing noise? I've been doing trial and error with this for months on and off, and I have gotten it better by narrowing the frequency range, since this blow seems to be around the 1 Khz area. But I never got it to sound clean like in most of the albums I hear high pitched violins.

(Note: I just learned that the 1.95 MB limit is not per file, but for all of them, so I just attached the one that seemed to me has the loudest noise.)

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10 hours ago, GeneralDisarray said:

What filters do sound engineers that work with this type of music normally use to get rid of that blowing noise? I've been doing trial and error with this for months on and off, and I have gotten it better by narrowing the frequency range, since this blow seems to be around the 1 Khz area. But I never got it to sound clean like in most of the albums I hear high pitched violins.

That's a tough one because a blowing noise like this is, being noise-like in quality, is going to be spread across a wide range of frequencies and not a specific one, so you'll need to cut a lot of frequencies, and will run into a challenge if your aim is to completely reduce the blowing noise without affecting the violin sound. 

In your example the blow sounds like it's rather low frequency so I would use a low cut and start raising the cutoff while listening to the violin, not the blow, to find out how high I can set the cutoff without affecting the violin sound. Then play with the slope and readjust the cutoff. Chances are you'll be able to tame that blow noise, even if you can't completely get rid of it. 

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Fascinating! I learned early on not to stand in front of my Marshall stack so I can actually hear this. Even more amazing at my age (middle 70's) it brings back memories (trustworthy or not) of a sonic artifact that I have heard in person without electronics. I studied classical bass for about 8 years logging many hours in orchestras, and I remember hearing sin vibrato quiet upper register string passages that sounded like the well-rosined bow moving across a string that was barely vibrating.

I just ran a test myself in East West Opus of a sustained C6 solo violin without vibrato in Logic, velocity 89, heard it clear as a bell (or blow, it does sound a little like an AC vent running in the background). I checked lower octaves, no blow. Proximity of the bow to the bridge would change it slightly (more screech). My composition interest began while sitting in the bass section of orchestras counting many bars of rests (great vantage point for learning orchestration) which was probably when I first noticed this sound.

FWIW, I agree with your choice of orchestra libraries, especially the EW ones. In the early 70's in L.A. I recorded my first two albums (second one actually included orchestra parts so I got paid for a double on guitar and string bass, VERY fun session) in the Ocean Way (United/Western back then) big studio. The sound had more impact than most concert venues I played in, the EW libraries capture it. And the Strad quartet library is the best solo string collection I've heard.

Bass-ed (sorry) on my experience, this may be actually how violins playing long C6 notes without vibrato actually sound, especially in the C6 range where the bow can't actuate the high E string completed. Keep me posted on this, definitely an interesting trip down memory lane for me!. 

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45 minutes ago, SergeMeister said:

I agree with your choice of orchestra libraries, especially the EW ones.

Yeah, many of them sound nice, but I have become really disappointed in that company after it turned out that all the crashes I was having a few months ago was because of their Opus engine, and their support is almost non-existent at this point.

A guy there called Michael told me that they were understaffed, but I told him, you need to tell those guys to hire more people. When you open a ticket with Spitfire, Arturia and all those companies, they get back to you within a day or so. Native Instruments seems slow lately, but still got to me in about 3 days. 

These people don't get back unless you pester them, because I have opened tickets that went two weeks without any answer, in fact, some of them still do.

And while they found the bug and kind of fixed it, every project I start working on is crash fee for hours or even days, but when I add the first instance of Opus, at some point soon it crashes. Maybe not in the first hour, but it crashes. And these are not crazy projects, I'm just learning music, so they may have 10 to 20 tracks, maybe 30 at the most.

Hell, there was a project where I was trying to achieve what I was talking about here, a violin ensemble from a Michael Giacchino song that was just a very long note progression with very high notes. So I tried the Hans Zimmer ones, it wasn't the sound I was looking for, so I thought I would try EW Hollywood Orchestra, which has an insane amount of everything. And not too long after I was browsing and double clicking to load different violins and articulations to try out, it crashed Logic. And even worse, when I tried to load the project again, it crashed on load.

This guy told me, one day, that they had discovered it was a problem with the M1 version of Logic, and that running it in Rosetta 2 mode didn't crash. So I had to start running Logic under Rosetta 2 mode, which comes with a performance hit. But then, recently I tried to load Hollywood Orchestrator for a track when it was running under Rosetta 2 mode, and it brought down Logic right away. I tried it again, and same thing.

And there's nothing I can do about it. I didn't pay for the subscription because I hate the new subscription model for everything, and the truth is that for what it came with, $400 was a pretty good price. The problem is support is almost non-existent, and now I avoid using them because I'm tired of crashes.

That said, they have a lot of good samples, but some of their cellos sound like a trombone sometimes, or maybe some other brass instrument, but not realistic at all.

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Very sorry to hear about your support issues, because I'm experiencing similar problems from almost all of the software publishers I use, including Apple. 

I was forced into an early (and very expensive) "upgrade" to a MacBook Pro M1 Max after my 2015 iMac died, and I have yet to attempt running it in Native mode. In addition to EW Hollywood I invested in Komplete Collector's Edition several years ago. I seriously doubt Reaktor will be compatible (and functional) this year. Fun fact: NI states (deep in the online user docs) that their software is NOT compatible with M1 MacBook Pro Max or Ultra models. Unexpectedly I've successfully run some of the orphaned NI instruments (Absynth 5, Reaktor) stand-alone in a Logic/Rosetta 2 session.

I also do orchestral pieces, and was really looking forward to a track count that would support it. Haven't tried a large project yet but I expect to be bipping all over the studio even with my state-of-the-art (for a couple of months) MacBook Pro M1 running Monterey for the foreseeable future. Not even the Apple Store tech suggested upgrading to Ventura.

I also heavily depend on UAD software and my Apollo 8p interface for that Ocean Way room I experienced in the 70's, as well as their actually excellent guitar amp plugins, but they also have support problems. Seems all support is handled by their forum, one of their original customer contact guys was still there until lately. I'll be morbidly curious about what their recent relationship with Apple produces.

Starting to feel like my contractor days at MS Redmond in the 90's...

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