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Symphonic Orchestral plugins, which is the best?


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I just recently purchased East West Symphonic Orchestra, and I like how it came with not only great sampled instruments, but also effects (e.g. trills, tremolos, string scraping sounds, breath for woodwinds, etc.) that really adds realism. Having said that, I have one big gripe on how a lot of the instruments provide limited notes range. For example, a good number of the instruments provide only 3 to 4 octaves, some even a lot less. This is a problem when a sound is ideal for an excerpt in my song, only to find out its range is two to three notes short of what I need, and I'm not about to change the key of my song to work around that limitation. Because of these shortcomings, I am compelled to continue my search for other symphonic libraries.

 

The only other symphonic library I've seen is the Vienna Symphonic Library, and I didn't pick it because of the price; it would eventually cost me 7K to get the complete set of libraries. And I'm not sure if it will have the same notes range limitations; I prefer not to realize that after having expended a lot of money.

 

So going by the criteria of great realistic sounds coupled with less restrictive notes range, is there any of you out there who has had a good deal of exposure to the various orchestral libraries to give an informed recommendation?

 

Any opinions and recommendations would be immensely appreciated. Thanks.

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The ranges are limited to those of the instruments,as a rule.

Which ones are a problem?

Maybe trying different ones to spread the load,as it were?

 

When you said "as a rule", were you saying that rule applies only to East West's product? Or are you saying that rule also applies to other symphonic orchestra libraries (like Vienna)? I had just recently come back to MIDI music creation after stopping for 15 years. Back then, I used hardware devices such as tone generators and sound modules like Proteus1XR, JV880, etc., and they didn't have such limitations.

 

"Which ones are a problem?" I can see most of them becoming a problem. The solo flute has only almost 3 octaves. The Solo Clarinet and Solo Violin has about 3 1/2 octaves. The French Horn has only a little more than 2 octaves. The Solo Oboe and Solo Piccolo has only 2 1/2 octaves. I can keep going. While these octave ranges may be 90% to 95% adequate, I can see the possibility of needing to exceed those ranges once in a while. And when I do, it will be a pain to have to split a coherent musical sequence across two tracks, if that is even an option. For instance, while strings have a wider array of choices where one can use a viola to compensate for a violin in the low ranges, there aren't those choices with most of the woodwinds like the flute and piccolo.

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Those ranges are a realistic representation of the instruments sampled.

Because they're sampled from the instruments.

Composers have to compose within these limitations....though there are exceptions.

If you need to go lower than an oboe,use a cor anglais,then a bassoon and so on.

Clarinet>Alto clarinet>Bass Clarinet etc

 

Too low for violins? Viola.

Too high for Contrabass?Cello.

 

Most (if not all) sample libraries have these range limitations because they are recordings of the instruments themselves.

 

There are a few exceptions and/or patches that cover all registers automatically assigning to the instruments with the most appropriate range.

Logic's own String Ensemble springs to mind...

There are probably others,and some samplers will allow you to use pitches beyond the real range of the instruments...but they tend to start sounding iffy.

 

Unless someone else chirps in with better info... :oops:

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There are probably others,and some samplers will allow you to use pitches beyond the real range of the instruments...but they tend to start sounding iffy.

 

I do know what you mean. I remember Proteus 1XR also claimed their sounds to have been sampled, but the strings provided the entire 61-key range. Some did sound iffy, but I think it's better to let the musician make the call rather than depriving them of the range.

 

Do you know if Vienna Instruments is constructed similarly?

 

Do you know of any other recommendable symphonic libraries? I'm not asking about the different brand names available out there because I can research that on my own through the internet. The kind of recommendation and testimonies I'm looking for are those based on first-hand experience.

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The synth patches may well have been sampled,but putting them over the whole range is a different philosophy from that on which 'real' sample libraries are based.

Like making a dog bark over 7 octaves is a trick,not a realistic proposition ( though I'm aware of at least one dog with such a range!). :D

As far as I'm aware,most orchestral libraries follow this idea,though some instruments do have extended ranges (like Contrabasses with a low B).

 

I'm afraid I don't know of any that differ in this regard.

Cue more knowledgable chaps.

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As Cloggy said... For the most part sampled libraries of Orchestral sounds tend to only include usable ranges for each instrument... to give a more authentic sound..

 

However, there are a few libraries that do give extended ranges for certain instruments.,.

 

L.A.S.S. for strings.... Full ranges both up and down across the board for every string instrument..

 

Orchestral Brass Classic has good ranges for almost all the Brass instruments...

 

VSL is probably the best there is, in reality.. Costly? Absolutely... but worth it if you want accurately sampled instruments and full ranges...

 

For a much cheaper option.. Komplete 8 includes the newer v8 Library which includes a wide range of instruments that are sampled across a very wide range.. Nothing like as good as VSL but for about $500 for the entire library plus so many other addons.. not a bad deal at all.. (and of course, if you want the rest of the collection then the Komplete Ultimate Edition for $999 is pretty good too)

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Really, there is no such thing as "the best" orchestral library. There is only "the appropriate sample library for any given passage". Here's what I mean...

 

Instruments of the wind, brass, and string group can be played with a vast amount of variation with respect to vibrato, tone, ensemble size, note length, and attack speed, just to name a few. And on a sampling session, the players will be directed to perform in a manner conducive to the producer's stylistic sensibilities. For example, the producer for library "A" might have a string section play a trill at a speed that's faster or slower than the trills recorded by the producer of library "B". So let's say you're writing a Baroque piece and you've conceived of some florid passages played with trills. And you only have library A, but the trill samples are too fast or too slow for what you want to achieve. What do you do? Here are your choices:

 

1) actually play in the trill using a legato or other violin sound from library A that will produce an appropriate and convincing-sounding trill

 

2) buy another sample library in which the speed of the trills are more appropriate to your piece. You'd then use library A for most of the piece but library B for the trills.

 

3) write around the samples, meaning that you deliberately alter your composition to suit the speed of the samples you have access to at the moment

 

4) the opposite of #3: use library A's trill samples for now and live with them being "wrong" until you have opportunity to try and time stretch them (using Flex) with the hopes that you can alter the tempo of those trills to fit your piece

 

So really, there's no such thing as "best". There is only "appropriate".

 

HTH,

 

Ski

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So really, there's no such thing as "best". There is only "appropriate".

 

When I used the word "best", I meant it loosely, hoping to get any one of you to "rave" about what you liked about a certain library. For me, the "best" library would be one that contains the most realistic-sounding instruments along with excellent modifiable effects parameters that can be applied to the instrument. A good example I can think of right now is RealGuitar. I am beginning to love it because it has the most realistic classical guitar sounds and realistic strumming and note glide effects I have ever heard. So at this point in time, RealGuitar is the "best" classical guitar library for me. (My needs are modest. :))

 

I'm looking into Komplete 8 Ultimate, but it sounds to me like a collection of products from different 3rd party manufacturers; if that is the case, I'm concerned these manufacturers might come out with new versions that might not easily integrate with Komplete 8, but I'm still researching. Even though it claims to have orchestral instruments, it certainly doesn't boast much about it in their demo videos, which is another concern. Any of you own Komplete 8 Ultimate? Perhaps I can ask some very basic questions about it?

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I'm looking into Komplete 8 Ultimate, but it sounds to me like a collection of products from different 3rd party manufacturers; if that is the case, I'm concerned these manufacturers might come out with new versions that might not easily integrate with Komplete 8, but I'm still researching. Even though it claims to have orchestral instruments, it certainly doesn't boast much about it in their demo videos, which is another concern. Any of you own Komplete 8 Ultimate? Perhaps I can ask some very basic questions about it?

 

No.. You have got the wrong end of the stick completely.. I do know why you might think that however, but the reality is, all the parts of Komplete are owned and updated by NI... The same was the case with the previous Komplete 7...

 

As I said in my bit.. The K8 orchestral instruments are not the best out there though they are not too bad.. I've used them from time to time when I didn't want to spend a lot of time working with VSL and LASS tweaking stuff... and they will give you very wide ranges of notes to work with.. and relatively speaking, the whole package is extremely cheap for what you get included...

 

I do know of several of my clients who couldn't afford the "big' libraries so they got either K7/8 Standard or Ultimate editions.. and are quite happy with them... and you do get a whole load of different material to work with once you have that in your arsenal.

 

Btw.. I agree about RealGuitar... (and RealLPC for that matter) very usable and very cheap given the alternatives.. and in some ways K8 is similar in nature with lots of easy to use, 'tweakable' controls and modifiers to work with in any given situation/sound.

 

If there is anything specific about K8U you wish to know.. ask away.. I don't own it myself but I have used it often with other clients since it was released in Sept 2011.. and I do own K7 ...

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For me, the "best" library would be one that contains the most realistic-sounding instruments along with excellent modifiable effects parameters that can be applied to the instrument.

 

I don't think you got my point. "Realism" is all about context. So if you don't have the right samples, they'll be out of context with the kind of music you're trying to write. Therefore, with the wrong samples, you can throw all hopes of achieving "realism" right out the window. Besides, there's more to just having great samples to achieving realism, but a discussion of that is probably beyond the scope of this thread.

 

My best advice is for you to listen to sample library demos, and try to listen beyond the music of the demos themselves to the musical and emotional qualities of specific instruments.

 

If you want a good all-around package, Komplete is a great way to go. Another great library is EWQLSO, but neither one is going to be the be-all end-all per the points I made in my previous post. I'll give you one quick example... In a piece I'm writing now, I used Kirk Hunter english horn, oboe and flute sounds. The flute was right on the money, but I thought maybe I could do better with the reeds so I swapped out EWQLSO instruments and replayed the parts. While the EW stuff had better fidelity and more body than the KH sounds, the vibrato characteristics were just not right. So I erased that stuff and went back to my KH sounds, EQ'd them a bit to get some more body and air, and now I'm good to go.

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+1 for Ski's comments... and just to add my own thoughts...

 

One of my favorite and apparently, from the feedback I have received, realistic guitar sounds when i want to do muted, distorted guitars.. isn't made with a guitar sample at all but samples of an African Wooden Block instrument akin to a Xylophone that when put through a certain Guitar Rig preset, works great!

 

As Ski said, it's all about context... and what you are trying to achieve within a certain piece. For one piece, or part of a piece.. Product A might work and for a second piece, Product B would be the way to go... and for a third, an entirely different approach might be needed and taken...

 

I often combine together several elements of different libraries to achieve the end result I want... and i honestly don't think there is one "be all and end all" library... Each has it's own highlights and lowlights... depending on needs.

 

But as I said earlier.. for the money, K8 comes pretty close to being one of the best 'Jack of all trades' in terms of the variety and flexibility any one single package can provide.

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... the reality is, all the parts of Komplete are owned and updated by NI...

 

That answers one of my questions. :)

 

... and they will give you very wide ranges of notes to work with..

 

With the exception of percussions and drums, are there range limitations on any of the strings, brass, strings, piano, guitars? I know some manufacturers use some of the keys for special mode functions (like the way EW and RealGuitar does), and that's okay with me. What I didn't like was when EW limited the flute to just a little more than 2 octaves, which I felt can become inadequate at times.

 

If there is anything specific about K8U you wish to know.. ask away.. I don't own it myself but I have used it often with other clients since it was released in Sept 2011.. and I do own K7 ...

 

Does K8U have all the instrument categories integral of an orchestra? On the subjective side, does it have oboes, clarinets, glocks, pizzicato strings, whooshing cymbals? I just wish I could simply see a complete listing of orchestral instrument names that K8U supplies.

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I don't think you got my point. "Realism" is all about context.

 

I think what you're saying is that to achieve realism, one shouldn't stubbornly insist on one particular library. Instead, one should view all libraries one owns as one palette, and to pick/select instruments to whatever fits the music to achieve realism, regardless of the library where it came from, and to utilize the EQ/articulation/effects tweaking capabilities if necessary, right?

 

If you want a good all-around package, Komplete is a great way to go. Another great library is EWQLSO, but neither one is going to be the be-all end-all per the points I made in my previous post.

 

That's what I wanted to hear. :) Clearly you folks have a lot more experience on this area than I do, and I just want to hear a positive appraisal of a library before I would even consider it. I'll look more into Komplete and EWQLSO. Thanks.

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I think what you're saying is that to achieve realism, one shouldn't stubbornly insist on one particular library. Instead, one should view all libraries one owns as one palette, and to pick/select instruments to whatever fits the music to achieve realism, regardless of the library where it came from, and to utilize the EQ/articulation/effects tweaking capabilities if necessary, right?

 

Exactly! Loyalty to any one library is a creative mistake that a lot of people make in this area. Unless, that is, their goal is to (say) write only "epic" music with bombast up the yinyang. In that case, EWQLSO and Storm Drum 2 are the way to go, combined perhaps with VSL horns and strings.

 

That's what I wanted to hear. :) Clearly you folks have a lot more experience on this area than I do, and I just want to hear a positive appraisal of a library before I would even consider it. I'll look more into Komplete and EWQLSO. Thanks.

 

As a "starter package" you can't go wrong with Komplete or EWQLSO.

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Exactly! Loyalty to any one library is a creative mistake that a lot of people make in this area.

 

I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, EW had varying effects for string instruments, like one for mellow, one for accented notes, one for staccato, one for trills, one for tremolo, and I can see myself using ALL of them for one single musical excerpt if that is what it would take to achieve the realism of a human performance. Nor would I hesitate to replace any of the EW string effects with that from another library if I felt it delivered the effect I needed better than EW could. This could mean 4 to 5 tracks of instruments from two or more libraries just to complete one small excerpt of the entire song. Sounds tedious, but what one would do to achieve the artistic and creative level one aspires to attain.

 

As a "starter package" you can't go wrong with Komplete or EWQLSO.

 

And I am seriously looking into those two libraries now. Thank you very much for your help!

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This could mean 4 to 5 tracks of instruments from two or more libraries just to complete one small excerpt of the entire song. Sounds tedious...

 

...and it is! But...

 

a) this method is definitely (many times) the way to go, and...

b) once you get the hang of it, it's like anything else... it gets faster. One quick note and then I have to get back to work... :D

 

With many libraries you can do keyswitching between articulations, saving you the need to load up multiple single instances of different articulations. With EWQLSO, there are many keyswitch-type instruments. So to switch between pizz and arco is easy enough. And real players can switch from arco to pizz rather quickly (tempo notwithstanding) so from a realism standpoint that's taken care of. However, when you have to switch from (say) crescndo to legato to something else, even with keyswitching you'll often find that the transitions aren't smooth. So many times it's necessary to load up multiple instances of even the same plugin in order to create the necessary overlaps. A concrete example per my example :lol: :

 

You start with a crescendo sample, but midway through it you need to continue with legato samples. The keyswitch key would occur just prior to the legato passage, but when you play that first note of the legato the crescendo is likely to get interrupted and you'll hear a gap. So the trick is to load up two instances of the plug on two different instruments. One is set for cresc., the other for legato. The cresc. note needs to play just a tad longer than you'd normally expect so that its tail can overlap into the notes of your legato track. Then it will all sound smooth and natural.

 

HTH,

 

Ski

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You start with a crescendo sample, but midway through it you need to continue with legato samples. The keyswitch key would occur just prior to the legato passage, but when you play that first note of the legato the crescendo is likely to get interrupted and you'll hear a gap. So the trick is to load up two instances of the plug on two different instruments. One is set for cresc., the other for legato. The cresc. note needs to play just a tad longer than you'd normally expect so that its tail can overlap into the notes of your legato track. Then it will all sound smooth and natural.

 

Great tip! Thanks!

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If you are into classcal, Vienna is the best. You don't have to spend 7K, there are the VSL Special Edition DVDs and downloads. Their _only_ difference from the full library is the number of articulations and velocity layers. The engine is the same.

 

I appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

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With many libraries you can do keyswitching between articulations...

 

When I first read you talking about keyswitching, it occurred to me I used to do that in Cakewalk fifteen years ago where I would switch instruments within the same track at different times. That was what you meant by "keyswitching", right?

 

I tried looking through the online help using "keyswitching" but found nothing. I called up Apple Proapps support, they turned me away saying they don't train people to use the application, but they did tell me it could be done. How do you do that with Logic Express 9?

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Keyswitching - The use of midi notes to change sample sets.

 

Example: Often used in Kontakt Sample Sets.

 

C1: Sustain Strings

D1: Pizzicato Strings

E1: Sordino Strings

 

You press the one of the 'special' keys and then the sample set is automatically selected for the next set of notes you play... So, in the example above you could play or program C1 and then any notes you play afterwards would be played using the Sustained Strings Sample Set. Then, if you play or program D1, the next notes you play will use the Pizzicato Sample Set.... and so on...

 

Think of it as like changing presets on a synth... whereby you can change presets on the fly where the presets are the different Sample Sets loaded into memory and you use musical notes played or programmed instead of physical switches on a synth... to change presets.

 

The keyswitching itself is handled by the Sample Playback Plugin such as Kontakt for example.... and programmed in the Sample Sets you load into such a Plugin, Logic just provides the means of sending the midi data in the form of notes from your keyboard, to these plugins... to activate the key switching.

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Below is a screenshot of a keyswitching solo violin instrument from EWQLSO. Note that the currently selected articulation is "C0 - Sus Vib Hard". The keys in yellow are inactive, the blue ones keyswitches.

 

I compared your snapshot to my EW interface, and I'm not sure how you got all those blue keys, mine only has yellow and white keys. Did you have to click something to enter a mode where those blue keys would appear?

snapshot.thumb.png.70e73cb2126289ea4a4b7c84bec499e7.png

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Keyswitching - The use of midi notes to change sample sets.

 

Yeah, that's what I thought it meant. I used to do this before with hardware tone generators. I can see the concept here is still the same with software synths.

 

Example: Often used in Kontakt Sample Sets.

 

C1: Sustain Strings

D1: Pizzicato Strings

E1: Sordino Strings

 

Ski had a snapshot of his EW screen, and he somehow had blue keys that allowed "bank switching" within the software synth. My EW interface shows only yellow and white keys.

 

Since I am planning on purchasing Komplete 8 (which uses Kontact I think), your response will help me on that, thanks.

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Look at what Ski has loaded compared to yourself.

 

If you look at the Browser tab in both screenshots you will se that you have just one articulation loaded.. called 11V Sus Vib..... whereas Ski has the full set called SVL KS Master loaded up... Try it and see for yourself..

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Look at what Ski has loaded compared to yourself.

 

If you look at the Browser tab in both screenshots you will se that you have just one articulation loaded.. called 11V Sus Vib..... whereas Ski has the full set called SVL KS Master loaded up... Try it and see for yourself..

 

Oh I got it! So instead of me picking a non-Keyswitch violin instrument, I should select the Keysw instrument in the violin group of instruments, and then I'd be able to select any instrument within that violin group by playing the appropriate blue key within Logic.

 

This is quite a different approach from the way hardware tone generators handled bank/instrument selection, but I'd have to say it's a very good approach!

 

Do most (if not all) software synthesizers handle keyswitching in a similar fashion? You already discussed briefly about Kontact, and it sounded similar to this kind of instrument selection scheme.

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I have 20G of RAM.

 

:shock: 20 gigs! I was told by the sales people at the Apple Store 4 gigs was PLENTY for music, and I'm only at the first four bars of my song with 4 tracks!

 

Either EW is a gargantuan memory hog, or I've got some stuff running in the background that's taking up so much memory, which I can't see in the Activity Monitor. :(

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