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A Basic Guide to Orchestral VSTs

from the article:


"A word to the wise: In the end you’re the one spending your hard-earned money, so it’s you who has to be happy with your purchase. I may claim that a library is essential, beloved, and great value for your money, but you should still be watching the walkthroughs and judging for yourself. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, don’t buy it.

Keep in mind that it’s unrealistic for me to own and have extensive experience with every single one of these libraries. This guide is meant to introduce you to the best options out there so that you can do some more research on the products that interest you and make a final decision for yourself. "

https://orchestralvst.wordpress.com/

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

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As someone whose recently migrated to both Kontakt and Logic X (and from PC to Mac) I found this article of great interest. I have older orchestral sample libraries from when I used Gigastudio, but it seems Kontakt only recognizes some of the old libraries. I've taken advantage of bundle deals to acquire some newer libraries (Kirk Hunter Strings and Virtuoso Ensembles), but I need more. I like the KH Strings, but I need better brass and woodwind samples and the only percussion I have is the old London Orchestral Percussion for Giga. The advantage of an article like this is that I see what the pros are using and believe to be most useful now. Thank you for posting this.

Steve,
I’ve never looked at a list like that posted here and over the years I have serious money spent on sample libraries.
The main weakness of most if not all libraries is that of the user.
I decide on what libraries I go for by listening to demos or opinions of a few people I trust in knowing what they are talking about.

Take Spitfire libraries. If you listen to any demo created by Andy Blaney for this developer you would swear they were the best thing on the market however, Andy is a such a great pro I’ve yet to hear anyone else getting close to what he does.
Another example would be Pro’s who used nothing but EWQLSO some 10 or more years ago to produce movie soundtracks that went on international release. Yes instruments with no legato samples!

The user is the key to great music, the latest library is but a bonus to those skilled in knowing and getting what they want from what they’ve got.

And I haven’t mentioned Vienna Instruments yet. Oh! I have now.

Ray

Steve,

I've worked with Logic and Mac my whole pro life, you have made a good choice in my view. I also had 2 giga studios at one point and had the same sounds that you have listed.

If your flush, I can recommend Spitfire products, orchestral tools, Chris Hein and Sample modelling. there are many others too which also have a good reputation like CSS and 8DiO. I also have most of the VSL products, so if you want any advice let me know.

I agree with Ray in that the user more often than not can't use these products to their full potential  because of either a lack of orchestration/compositional knowledge and/or DAW technical knowledge. Take for example Sample modelling brass -  parameter manipulation is an essential skill to have along with a good sense of idiomatic writing for these sounds in order to create a convincing mock-up. CC work is an important part in achieving a good musical line and mock-up with all pro samples, along with a good set of ears and mixing ability, but what really matters above all is competence in the writing.

VSL are the best products for choices in articulation as there are many options, but they are recorded dry which tends to split opinion. If you buy their products, it is essential to get MirPro or some other reverb that also allows stereo field placement  In my work, I have keyswitched many times in a phrase in order to get the best sense of line and VSL is rather good in this regard. Regarding Keyswitches, I  highly recommend you use an iPad to manipulate changing articulations and CC's over bluetooth. I use IOS software called TouchOSC which is easy to use and works a treat with Logic. VSL come with its own app for iPad and is brilliant because it makes switching between many many articulations and operating CCs' a breeze. If you want to know more, let me know and if you decide to go down that route, I will give you with some templates I have made up for various sample sets.

Ultimately though Steve it depends on what you want to do with samples. I and others too, can advise there if you need it, depending on the sort of music you want to write and what level of production you want to attain.

mikehewer.com

Andy Blaney and Spitfire 

That's incredible.

Ray K Bigglesworth said:

Andy Blaney and Spitfire 

You're very welcome Steve :)

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Steve Chandler said:

As someone whose recently migrated to both Kontakt and Logic X (and from PC to Mac) I found this article of great interest. I have older orchestral sample libraries from when I used Gigastudio, but it seems Kontakt only recognizes some of the old libraries. I've taken advantage of bundle deals to acquire some newer libraries (Kirk Hunter Strings and Virtuoso Ensembles), but I need more. I like the KH Strings, but I need better brass and woodwind samples and the only percussion I have is the old London Orchestral Percussion for Giga. The advantage of an article like this is that I see what the pros are using and believe to be most useful now. Thank you for posting this.

Thank you for the offers of help. My current project is a musical that incorporates a wide range of styles. Some borders on classical, but not with extensive orchestration, some borders on heavy metal. I do need good brass. I have Project SAM Trumpets, Horns and Trombones for GigaStudio, but these samples date from 2002 - 2003. That's ancient in the world of virtual instruments. I'm still trying to figure out what I can afford. Something new is the subscription model, what are thoughts on that?

At some point I'll want to update some of my older works, some of which are orchestral. I've also given some thought to orchestrating some of my piano music. It's also possible I might choose to take the plunge into writing for orchestra, but the daunting challenge of getting a performance (other than virtual) has held me back. I've always been pretty capable with DAWs and notation, but I've been at this a while. My first music computer was an Apple II+ which had 48KB of memory. That's when the midi standard was new and the internet was something used in the military and academia.

The history is fine, but the fact is technology is an ever flowing river that's deep and wide. Frankly, it's hard to keep up, especially when all I want to do is make music, not fiddle with software trying to figure out how to work it. That's when I count on the denizens of places like this for help.

Thanks again.

I will be curious to hear what VSL's new Synchron Strings I sounds like (beyond their short teaser demo) as they are indicating it will require less manipulation and since it was recorded live in Synchron Stage (home of the Lego Batman soundtrack) it will have its own natural reverb which I find very interesting.  Looking forward to hearing more about this when it comes out this month.

Mike Hewer said:

Steve,

I've worked with Logic and Mac my whole pro life, you have made a good choice in my view. I also had 2 giga studios at one point and had the same sounds that you have listed.

If your flush, I can recommend Spitfire products, orchestral tools, Chris Hein and Sample modelling. there are many others too which also have a good reputation like CSS and 8DiO. I also have most of the VSL products, so if you want any advice let me know.

I agree with Ray in that the user more often than not can't use these products to their full potential  because of either a lack of orchestration/compositional knowledge and/or DAW technical knowledge. Take for example Sample modelling brass -  parameter manipulation is an essential skill to have along with a good sense of idiomatic writing for these sounds in order to create a convincing mock-up. CC work is an important part in achieving a good musical line and mock-up with all pro samples, along with a good set of ears and mixing ability, but what really matters above all is competence in the writing.

VSL are the best products for choices in articulation as there are many options, but they are recorded dry which tends to split opinion. If you buy their products, it is essential to get MirPro or some other reverb that also allows stereo field placement  In my work, I have keyswitched many times in a phrase in order to get the best sense of line and VSL is rather good in this regard. Regarding Keyswitches, I  highly recommend you use an iPad to manipulate changing articulations and CC's over bluetooth. I use IOS software called TouchOSC which is easy to use and works a treat with Logic. VSL come with its own app for iPad and is brilliant because it makes switching between many many articulations and operating CCs' a breeze. If you want to know more, let me know and if you decide to go down that route, I will give you with some templates I have made up for various sample sets.

Ultimately though Steve it depends on what you want to do with samples. I and others too, can advise there if you need it, depending on the sort of music you want to write and what level of production you want to attain.

mikehewer.com

Good point Joshua, I forgot about Synchron. At last, VSL will have a violin 2 section! VSL is still going to be expensive though.

mikehewer.com

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