Vienna Symphonic Library Forum
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  • How Will VSL Compete with Hollywood Strings?

    Hi folks. I own the VI string collections, as well as Hollywood Strings.  Although VI has more options and runs better on an older system, you have to be honest and say that HS sounds better overall, and the legatos are much more detailed and controllable.

    I just wondered if VSL had plans to beat East West in terms of detail and sound?

    I'll be more than happy to support both companies if they can both stay at the top :)

  • I don't believe that Hollywood Strings sounds better. It sounds different, but not necessarily better. However, there are things missing from the VSL range of String sounds that i feel I need.

    FWIW I don't know of any bad sounding string libraries. None of them sound like a string section though. What differentiates them for me is the controllability of articulation and flexibility of use. I don't doubt that HS has some flexibility (although in many ways less than VSL) but PLAY is nothing when compared with VE Pro, and has a long way to go even when compared with version 1 of the VI player itself. I need VSL to come up with something revolutionary, not just a re-hash of other sample player techniques that have been around for a while.


  • I thought the VSL forums were here to discuss VSL products. You can compare VSL features to other makes, but to come on here saying that something else is better, is really pretty stupid (sorry, there’s no better way to say it). There are several community forums where such opinions could be expressed and debated, but why come here with such affirmations? [N]

  •  The difference between EW and VSL, is that the Eastwest libaries sound nice, but VSL sounds real - that is the difference. And if the Play engine was anywhere near as good as VI Pro, I may even consider buying Hollywood strings, but the huge limitation of articulation control in Play still makes it a no for me.

  • Hi Dagmarpiano, You mention that the Hollywood Strings legato is much more controllable. What makes the legato more controllable in their interface?

  • In response to the suggestion that I shouldn't debate other products here, well it's just my intention to be honest about my opinions and help to push things forward by looking at how VSL can keep up, and stay ahead. I agree that the VI Pro interface is very advanced and helpful.

    In response to the question about how the legato is more controllable in HS, it's simply that key velocity controls the speed of the portmento effect, so you have many gradations of slide rather than just 2. Also, you have separate control over many levels of vibrato, and many more round robins and dynamic layers.

    Of course there's room for many different companies with different sounds, and I do like many aspects to VI and VIP. I just think HS has moved the technology further forward than VSL at the moment, by exploiting the potential of new fast SSDs and the large RAM now available.I think it's a fair point to mention this and hope that VSL have a new generation of amazing libraries around the corner.

    Also, yes I admit that I just said HS sounds better as an assertion. I honestly thought that the difference in sound was enough for that to be beyond question, but I can see how in some ways and for some uses VI strings are still better, so fair enough that was overstated.

    In response to DG's point about revolutions and evolutions, yes it would be great if a real revolution came along. I think this needs to build on the techniques of Sample Modeling's brass intruments, where individual components of sound are sampled and separated, and then the performance is put back in through modeling.  I would like to see a virtual orchestra where individual real players have their performance styles captured, and the library is built up through playback of multiple modeled performances, using 'look-ahead' software to find the right articulations based on score directions and markings.

    But anyway. In the short term I'll keep layering a few players from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with VI and HS, which gets a great better-than-real sound :)

  • A line from a review on HS product page:

    "This thing is a monster..."

                                                    — Film Score Monthly

    I think agree. It becomes especially clear when you listen to Vivaldi renditions made with it.

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    @Another User said:

    But anyway. In the short term I'll keep layering a few players from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with VI and HS, which gets a great better-than-real sound :)

    I think that this will be the better way for a very long time.


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    @dagmarpiano said:

    I just think HS has moved the technology further forward than VSL at the moment, by exploiting the potential of new fast SSDs and the large RAM now available.

    Large RAM now available? On a Mac, PLAY and HS can not load more than ~2GB before it crashes, due to 32-bit limitations. (I've got all the crash logs handy, if you don't believe me.)

  • I haven't been paying much attention to EW lately so maybe things have changed but what I've never been able to understand about EW is why they insist upon recording samples with their own built in ambience.  Even the close mic position has too much ambience.  I like the dry samples offered by VSL which allows me to create a sonic world of my own.  Due to the ambience EW products have very limited uses.  If all you do are big Hollywood scores, so be it, but I like the flexibility that VSL's samples offer.  I think it's been about a year now but somebody on this forum once arrogantly demanded that VSL record a second set of samples with ambience like EW insisting that ambience was the holy grail missing in authentic sounding sampled orchestrations.  I could have sworn that guy was a troll sent by EW.  Why would VSL make the same mistake EW did?

    dagmarpiano, have you checked out the Dimension Brass yet?  I'm quite certain that VSL is working on a string version with the same technology.  If the strings are as good as the brass then Dimension Strings coupled with MIR will most likely blow Hollywood Strings away. 

  • Things have changed slightly at EW. They recorded their original orchestral samples in the concert hall in Seattle, and then claimed that the only way to get a Hollywood sounding score was to record in a concert hall, ignoring the fact that virtually no scores are recorded this way. Then, having purchased Cello Studios, they started the Hollywood projects, of which Strings is the first. Now of course they would say that you need to have samples recorded in a studio to get the Hollywood sound.

    Of course as any intelligent person knows, there is no Hollywood sound, although there are similarities with production tools such as high end reverb units. There are many different Hollywood sounds, as you would expect considering that some are recorded in LA, some in London and some elsewhere.


  • If hollywood offered the amount of articulations as Vienna, and VIenna recorded their samples @ Eastwest ....and if Hollywood used the Vienna Instrument Pro system........then one would have the best library ever....


  •  I disagree. As soon as you start recording pre-panned positions, then I've lost interest. Too limiting for my work.


  • One of the greatest things about Vienna is the very fact that it is not "Hollywood".  One can do so much more with it in so many different styles, compared to the orchestral offerings of the "noble competition".  From former experience (years ago) as an orchestral musician, to me, VSL, more than any other library sounds the closest to a real symphony.

    +1 to DG's comments.  Pre-panning is a major problem when one is needing to use a wide variety of types and sizes of ensembles - ensembles that often require significantly different instrument placement.

  • I own VSL Appassionata Strings, SE PLUS EXTENDED, and also have the Exploration HD which in effect has all VSL libraries.  I also own LASS, and HS.  For conistency in sound and control, sorry but VSL still kills the others.  As far as work flow, VSL also gets my vote.  

    Hollywood Strings can sound lush but there all sorts of problems in loops, inherent noises built in to some of the samples (background noise- SLOPPY!), problems with RR, voice robbing, all these things effectively make it unusable to me on a daily basis.  Sometimes I can get PLAY to play nicely but with HS in particular, it's a mixed bag.  The cello legato sounds nice and the ability to control the level of vibrato is indeed a nice thing.  However, let's be truthful here.  Claiming that PLAY or HS does things as far as controlling the sound over VSL VI PRO is just not accurate.  

    I will reiterate a point that I feel needs to be underlined here.  I attend concerts weekly.  I'm very familiar with what a live orchestra sounds like also having some of my pieces played by real string players.  VSL consistently sounds like the real thing, not a recording.  EW stuff does sound nice but it sounds like a recording of a good orchestra, and not a live, real performance.  Also, no one has competantly emulated the performance legato that VSL started with.  Even project SAM, a company a love to death, has had some issues with their legato instruments on Symphobia 2.  

    It's really easy to get all gushy about the latest and greatest sound library. But for sheer workability, I use VSL more than any other library combined.  I used it extensively on a recent documentary score and the composer I was working under (a fairly big player in LA) was so impressed with my cues and VSL, that he also bought up a bunch of VSL libraries.  And this guy orchestrates and conducts orchestras every day.

  •  The demos of Hollywood Strings are a turnoff instantly to me.  The sound is not as good as the Appassionata right up front.  

    But also the interface of Vienna Ensemble has become essential to me.  I hate having to use something else that is inevitably less elegant.

    And the fact that all the VSL strings in general are not one library, but a whole combination of libraries that are diffferent and have been amassed over a long time - the Solo Strings, Chamber Strings, Orchestral Strings, Appassionata Strings - it is a huge variety of sound you don't get elsewhere.  And  Dimension Strings are probably the next step...

  • I know the VSL people are investigating or actively working with modeling and active manipulation of these amazing samples in real time. They don't need to record any more strings. Maybe a few more round robins but that is it. The sound of Hollywood Strings is excellent but so is VSL. I prefer VSL pure sound.

  • wow that's amazing news. yes I can see how much more could be made of the existing material with modeling and manipulation.

    exciting times!

    after reading all these responses I've modified my opinion now. I'm starting to think that the quality of the HS sound is in some ways a slight cheat - in that , it sounds great out of the box, without much work, but then, with VSL you can do a lot more, it just takes more work and knowledge. I have to admit, I've always felt too in a rush to properly look under the surface, beyond creating a few fairly straightforward custom patches in VI Pro.

    Also, while HS does fill a real gap, creating a rich, expensive, lush American sound, if you were being unkind you could also say that the sound is a bit distant, unfocused, too chorusy, rich and fruity with its slightly out of tune moments.

    Personally though, I'm very happy to have both!

  • For me, the only things that VSL needs to record are molto vibrato patches for Orchestral Strings, and to make the App Strings have as many articulations (as well as non vibrato) as the Orchestral Strings. The rest could be dealt with by careful editing, which because of the locked nature of the sample pool, would have to be done by VSL

    There are a few things that I personally would like (as a string player), but for most people they would be more of a hindrance than a help, I think. [;)]


  • I would also like for VSL to add the ability to increase vibrato on the fly like HS.  That is one nice feature that EW did.  Sadly, even with the update, I cannot use this library much.  It's just not working well for me.  VSL just works.  And at the end of the day, isn't that what we pay for?  

    p.s. LASS works beautifully in tandem with VSL strings.