VSL, wishlist advices

Hi all.

Need some advices from VSL users.

Back to composing for classical ensembles after a two-years of hard rock and progressive parenthesis, I'm going to expand my rig one piece at the time in the next months.

Here are some source of personal turmoil:

1. Orchestral strings vs. Appassionata (standard version, non SE I already own), which one?

2. Choir and Solo Voices: opinions? I read Synchronized-SE Vol. 4 has a selection of both, for the price of regular Choir only. Is it worth it?

3. Also about Synchron environment: is it possible to dry out ambience from the samples to use them in conjunction with regular VI libraries?

4. MIRx. Demoing The Sage Gatehead these days. Superb.
Since I can't afford the whole bundle, what is your opinion on other available venues? Which would you purchase first?

Thank you for your hints.

Keep safe.

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Replies

  • I mainly use VSL. (Other samples I use are no longer available and took a bit of work to knock them into shape).

    Unfortunately I can't answer many of your questions because 1) I haven't tried Synchron or its player and 2) I don't have MIR.

    Most of my collection was bought on the cheap from the VI libraries.

    I bought the standard Appassionata strings, tried them but haven't used them so far. As the demos show, they do sound nice and (as the blurb goes) larger than life and Hollywood-like. But this doesn't sit well with the rest of the VI orchestra (from what I've done so far). If inspired to do a lush string work I'd use them.

    The Orchestral Strings are fine for me. May I assume you've looked the articulations up? The muted strings are rather beautiful. The VI player allows you to make up other articulations if necessary (slot rack)

    The Orchestral strings are €70 more at current prices and they offer more.

    I do some fairly complicated string writing and I haven't been let down yet. Sure, there are one or two articulations left out that I'd love to have but I can't expect everything and no other library seems to offer them either. Things like muted glissandi.

    Incidentally I've been just as happy with the VSL solo strings bundle.

    = =

    The choir/soloists, these came at a bargain price. €620 seems expensive for the bundle but you get a lot for it. Note though that the extended library gives the same set of articulations but a different vowel sound. If you don't mind Ahhhs, then the standard library will do. Again, may I assume you've looked up the articulations? The sound is okay but misses out things like humming, no rolled-Rs. No word-builder. It has much for experimental music. 

    (I'm tempted to acquire the EW choir/word-builder but the set omits solo tenor baritone and bass but has extended the ranges of the choir unfeasibly. (Soprano down to E3? Do leave off!). However, it gives a boy's choir and boy soloist. It looks ok for cinematic but not, say, salon music. It's a bit cheaper at the moment too.)

    I bought the collection mainly for the soloists and these are good - intelligent legato, good staccato. and again, more articulations possible using the slot rack.

    The coloratura is beautiful - goes up to the high F IIRC, the soprano is fine except on her lowest notes which are a bit strained. I've substituted the mezzo in for the lowest notes, timbral difference can be disguised though the slot cross-fade if it's really necessary. The mezzo is beautiful, on the plaintiff side; the tenor baritone and bass all ok. Just a shame no one's come up with a word-builder. 

    Note, though that these are choir soloists rather than operatic though they tend to sound operatic at the top of their tessitura.

    Sorry but that's all I can say...except maybe about the pro player. I don't know if you use it but just a mention in case others are interested. It was worth the €50 for the extras (the entirely controllable humanising feature, the time stretch, the extra slots and being able to extend instrumental compass by 2 tones in both directions. 

    If that's any help, cheers,

    Dane

  • Thanks for the reply, Dane.

    Qualified and helpful.

    And, yes, VI Pro is a must. On top of my wishlist.

    Best

  • Hi Fabio, I am still here though not as active as in the past. Currently I am only participating in the more technical threads. I would love to participate in more philosophical stuff, as well as generally more wide-ranging and interesting threads, but the forum as currently constituted seems to be limited to almost nothing but "here's my latest piece, what do you think?" I'm pretty bored with that at this point.

    So your thread is a welcome diversion. I can tell you I have Appasionata Strings, and I like them. They are somewhat similar in sound to Cinematic Strings, which I also have. The two libraries are similar enough that I can combine them, and they compliment each other well, compensating for the other's weakness. I don't have Orchestral Strings, unless they are the ones included in Special Edition 1, which I also have. If so, I don't care much for them. Although I like the Bass Pizzicato. 

    Can't help with voices, I never use them.

    About Synchron: for years I struggled with the panning issue. Having multiple libraries, with some being panned-in-place, and others not panned at all, I felt I had to figure out a pan scheme that would work for all. For example, GPO and EWSO are pre-panned, but Sp. Ed. 1 is not (in the original Ensemble Edition). but my pan schemes never worked very well. Then I discovered that I could cross-grade SP1 to the Synchron version, which is pre-panned. And their pan scheme is in good agreement with GPO and EWSO. So I got the SP1 Synchron version, changed how I do pan (leave pre-panned inst's in place), and the results have been good. My music sounds better, because I am not messing with the natural room impulses and pans that come with the instruments, which are almost impossible to improve upon. 

    now, to your question: you can go with the default settings in Synchron, which will give you built-in reverb, pan and room impulses. Or you can configure things so you have the pan and room impulses, but not the reverb. Or you can just have the pan, in which case you have a totally dry sound, to which you add your own reverb. It gives you total control over the process.

    I choose the "short convo. impulses," turn off the reverb, then add EW Spaces reverb with a send. Another nice feature of the Synchron versions is that each inst is on its own synth, so you can adjust reverb and other sends individually.

    Hope this helps!

  • Hi Michael,

    Your post prompted me to mention to Fabio that "Orchestral Strings" don't include Muted double basses whereas the Appassionata Strings do. That set me a problem as I used muted strings often. I got round it by cheating. I also have the Chamber Strings which do have muted basses so on the couple of cases I needed them I borrowed from the Chamber set and doubted the amount in the slot rack with a slight delay. It seems to work but it's about time I tried the Appassionata bases. 

    If fully muted strings are required then Appassionata may be the set to go for. As said otherwise they're more cinematic than concert but they can probably be tamed via the player.

    On the other hand they lack things like harmonics, standard and accel trills, interval glissandi and sul ponte. It comes down to requirements in the end. 

    Another point, the (Orch Strings) violins short detaché has rather a soft attack which I discovered recently converting a piece to VSL. This can be dealt with in the pro player time-stretch if necessary but the unaltered spiccato is pretty good for incisive rhythm.

    I was interested in your comment on Synchron - something I must look up. Panning. I've been reasonably happy with the system used by the player. I've set up my orchestra template fairly conventionally but sometimes put the second violins on the right (as once seemed to be tradition). So...are VSL instruments pre-panned with Synchron?

    This seems to bring in more complications. I haven't yet got MIR (it's a bit of the way down the budget list!) and I'm wondering how one places the performers on the stage. Are they likely to conflict with Synchron panning if anything deviates from convention? In fact, it may be better to go with some third party reverb - probably be cheaper anyway. I've a bit of learning to do to understand reverb.

    I've been using the voices a lot recently, working on a mock-up of a secular cantata. The way I write is more like a recitatif - sung phrases with short instrumental interludes. It took a bit of work getting the VSL soloists to sound as if they had presence at the front - increasing the damping so that nothing much gets reflected. I'm still unsure if that's the right approach.

    Interesting...

  • I can spend the rest of my life
    having this conversation
    Basil Fawlty

    Glad to hear my humble queries revamped your interest in public discussion, Michael; it's not like chatting about “propositions from Wittgenstein”, but Vienna it's still implied, at some extent.

    Thank you for your insights about Appassionata and the way Synchron player works.
    Definitely not looking for cinematic sound (something that should be forbidden by the UN), found the SE Orchestral Strings not sounding as round and full as expected. That's why Appassionata was thrown in the ring.

    As for the lack of some muted instruments, Dale, I confess I'm addicted to mutes, always struggling against myself to have them all over the place — a legacy of my regard toward Sibelius' work; their unavailability should be helpful at winning the inner fight. At need, I could still rely on corresponding SE patches.
    Not the same for glissandi and other specialized articulations that will really expand my vocabulary. I think I shall go Orchestral, even starting from the Standard package alone.

    VSL just put MIRx and its senior siblings on sale today. Immediately purchased demo licenses for both Konzerthuas venues plus Pernegg to choose the one that better fits my needs.
    Had a parallel talk with M° Jos Wylin about this topic (oh, got another mail from him just now…)
    He suggest to take the Virtual Sound Stage + third party reverb path instead — good clue, indeed.
    VSL custom tailored presets, ready made eq and positioning (plus lower overall cost) are still too tempting and enough for an occasional user like me.
    The cons is not being able to take advantage of the system outside the VI player environment (read: you can't apply MIRx to audio tracks).

    To answer Dale question about Synchron, yes, instruments are pre-panned.

    Re third party reverbs. Exponential Audio PhoenixVerb is my go to one at the moment. Got it for a mere 9€ in a sale. Also looking for Seventh Heaven from LiquidSonics (I'm fond of the Bricasti M7) in the future.

    That's enough for today.

    Hope to hear further from you about these topics.

    Cheers

  • I was going to suggest the Virtual Sound Stage too, I've been using it since version 1 and it's a huge time saver/simplifier... As for your questions, I prefer orchestral over Appasionata just as a manner of flexibilty. However, I mostly just use Dimension Strings these days. Have you looked into Samplemodelling strings? By far the most flexible and versatile thing in the market today and also a bargain for what you get, I think my VSL days are over...

    A completely personal opinion: I've always preferred VI over Synchron and the same applies to any library that has "baked-in" impulses and reverb, they're very difficult to combine with other libraries and you end up stuck in one ecosystem.

    In terms of extra articulations you might need, I strongly recommend UVI Ircam solo instruments 2 and Orchestral String FX by Dynamic Sound Sampling. They're both quite reasonable and provide most things missing in mainstream libraries. You could also look at 8dio's CASE strings.

    Hope that helps!

    Fabio Biolcati said:

    I can spend the rest of my life
    having this conversation
    Basil Fawlty

    Glad to hear my humble queries revamped your interest in public discussion, Michael; it's not like chatting about “propositions from Wittgenstein”, but Vienna it's still implied, at some extent.

    Thank you for your insights about Appassionata and the way Synchron player works.
    Definitely not looking for cinematic sound (something that should be forbidden by the UN), found the SE Orchestral Strings not sounding as round and full as expected. That's why Appassionata was thrown in the ring.

    As for the lack of some muted instruments, Dale, I confess I'm addicted to mutes, always struggling against myself to have them all over the place — a legacy of my regard toward Sibelius' work; their unavailability should be helpful at winning the inner fight. At need, I could still rely on corresponding SE patches.
    Not the same for glissandi and other specialized articulations that will really expand my vocabulary. I think I shall go Orchestral, even starting from the Standard package alone.

    VSL just put MIRx and its senior siblings on sale today. Immediately purchased demo licenses for both Konzerthuas venues plus Pernegg to choose the one that better fits my needs.
    Had a parallel talk with M° Jos Wylin about this topic (oh, got another mail from him just now…)
    He suggest to take the Virtual Sound Stage + third party reverb path instead — good clue, indeed.
    VSL custom tailored presets, ready made eq and positioning (plus lower overall cost) are still too tempting and enough for an occasional user like me.
    The cons is not being able to take advantage of the system outside the VI player environment (read: you can't apply MIRx to audio tracks).

    To answer Dale question about Synchron, yes, instruments are pre-panned.

    Re third party reverbs. Exponential Audio PhoenixVerb is my go to one at the moment. Got it for a mere 9€ in a sale. Also looking for Seventh Heaven from LiquidSonics (I'm fond of the Bricasti M7) in the future.

    That's enough for today.

    Hope to hear further from you about these topics.

    Cheers

    VSL, wishlist advices
    Hi all. Need some advices from VSL users. Back to composing for classical ensembles after a two-years of hard rock and progressive parenthesis, I'm g…
  • Hmm, I don't have muted strings on my Appasionata collection. Maybe I need to upgrade? I think I have them on GPO or EWSO. I like muted strings but the quality usually isn't very good in most libraries. 

    re: "cinematic" string libraries: I think Cinematic Strings by the Aussie guys is misnamed. They are not that cinematic to my ears (a plus). I like EWSO gold's strings a lot too, they sound like what strings sound like in Mozart's music. Although a bit thin. I'll have to check out the Samplemodeling strings. I have yet to find one string library "to rule them all," though I haven't really tried many, especially the really pricey ones. I almost bought Albion's Mural collection, they really sounded nice. EW Hollywood also, but supposedly very buggy.

    Re: Virtual Sound Stage: I have come close to getting that, but it cannot be applied to midi instruments unless they are on a single synth. So it would work with VSL Synchron versions. but those are already "fixed up" so it wouldn't make sense.

  • Hi Michael

    Mutes are in Appassionata II (Standard or Full).

  • Hello Michael,

    While I don't want to move the thread away from the original topic I couldn't help but notice your comment about the expectations here. It set me recognising that I too have limited my reviewing. Partly because I'm not able to comment on some styles - classical for instance when I can only say "nice", or just leave it if it isn't...which doesn't mean if I haven't commented I don't like it or it's nasty. There are only so many hours in a day. Cinematic is a no-no, as are those efforts where the composer claims they ran up the piece last night and 'what do you think?' 

    The big sample shops hype their wares, turning the buyer into the greatest composer since Beethoven. They provide stuff for 'epic' moments so aspirants produce a few minutes of epic music which are rarely more than musical highlights in an overall multimedia offering.

    Which makes me wonder why I compose 'impressionistic' music. Isn't it similar? Perhaps in a way but I had the belief that it inspires the imagination rather than being incidental to fixed visual images; rather as novel ignites the imagination rather than a film which is a syndicated imagination served up 'oven ready' to save the viewer the trouble.

    A student acquaintance once told to me that he couldn't 'visualise' no matter how hard he tried. What to do? My advice was to turn off the television and buy a book. 



    michael diemer said:

    Hi Fabio, I am still here though not as active as in the past. Currently I am only participating in the more technical threads. I would love to participate in more philosophical stuff, as well as generally more wide-ranging and interesting threads, but the forum as currently constituted seems to be limited to almost nothing but "here's my latest piece, what do you think?" I'm pretty bored with that at this point.

    So your thread is a welcome diversion.

    VSL, wishlist advices
    Hi all. Need some advices from VSL users. Back to composing for classical ensembles after a two-years of hard rock and progressive parenthesis, I'm g…
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