A few weeks ago I asked a professional in the commercial music business what I should use for solo strings.
He mentioned some products he'd had success with. He also said he'd heard that VSL was good but he hadn't tried it.
So I volunteered to buy the VSL Solo Strings package, and report my findings to him.
Here's what I will say to him, unless someone can convince me otherwise:
Do not waste your time and money on VSL Solo Strings. They are not suitable for professional work. Warn your friends.
1. The "sustain" instrument does not sustain. Specifically, instrument 10 VI_sus_Vib will sustain for the following durations.
- at velocity 30-50: infinite
- at velocity 60-80: 6 seconds max
- at velocity 90-120: 14.5 seconds max
The above issue was raised by Jurgen (zentrumsounds) long ago, in post http://community.vsl.co.at/forums/p/23498/158878.aspx#158878 and no satisfactory answer has been provided by VSL.
2. Harmonics cannot be sustained either.
- at velocity 30-80: 8 seconds max
- at velocity 90-120: 2.5 seconds max
The above issue was raised by Jurgen long ago, in post http://community.vsl.co.at/forums/p/21477/147307.aspx#147307 and no satisfactory answer has been provided by VSL.
3. To be consistent, VSL has ensured that sustained "sul ponticello" notes are inconsistent too:
- at velocity 30-50: 12 seconds max
- at velocity 60-100: 8 seconds max
- at velocity 110-120: 5 seconds max
4. You cannot play double-stopped harmonics. Specifically, instrument 02 VI_harm-art_sus is monophonic. Double-stopped harmonics have been used in many, many classical scores, but VSL won't support them.
5. The "legato" instrument 01 VI_perf-legato is also monophonic. Is this a problem? Sort of; I've just skimmed through several string quartets by Beethoven and Bartok, and found many passages where legato lines are interspersed with double-stops. If you want to handle these with VSL, you'll be flipping between articulations often.
6. The sampling is not as good as VSL would like you to believe. Listen to the note A440 in instrument 03 VI_pon_sus. It fades and seems to restrike after .375 seconds. Nearby notes don't have this annoying quirk. It's just a sloppy sample.
7. VSL is a CPU hog and a memory hog. My computer can handle 11 MIDI tracks with 17 Kontakt articulations at once, but it can't handle one MIDI track with 2 VSL articulations without frequent interruptions. Kontakt gives me ways to control its resource usage, for example by eliminating reverb or controlling how a sample is loaded from disk. VSL does not give me this kind of control.
Now I must either buy an expensive new computer that can handle VSL, or spend an awful lot of time working around the limitations, or stop using VSL and ask for my money back.
Either way, I feel obliged to warn everyone away from this product.