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  • AP Strings or Orchestra Strings I & II?

    Which do you generally find more valuable: AP Strings or Orchestra Strings I & II?

    As I (once again) start mapping out long-term purchase plans, while I wish I could afford both, I cannot.  As it is, I do have the full solo (adding extended shortly, during the current promotion) and chamber strings, along with the orchestra strings included in the SE packages.

    My interests are varied, and I could see real use for both packages.  Since the SE libraries have little by way of AP Strings, planning to get AP Strings would seem to be the logical choice, while continuing to use the SE orchestral strings as needed.  For classical period style pieces a combination of chamber/solo strings also works.

    My main concern with purchasing AP Strings is the lack of double-bass articulations.  I generally seek to write interesting bass parts, and I have doubts that I would find the number of articulations adequate (particularly the lack of legato is a concern).  Otherwise, I could see real advantages planning in this direction.  In actual use, has the lack of bass articulations posed much of a problem?

    The other option would be to plan to eventually get the full orchestra strings, and then layer orchestra/chamber/solo strings for a larger sound when needed.  I certainly have found the SE orchestra strings to be very useful, but, have really come to value the extended articulations (as in chamber strings) in order to emulate more complete bowing techniques.

    Thanks for your comments/suggestions.

  • There are a host of playing techniques (flaut, sul pont, harmonics, col legno, bartok pizz) not covered in the AS's, and although some prefer the tone of them I'd have to say I'd take the extra techniques of the OS's anyday - it's rare that a piece I write won't use some of them. The only thing to my mind that's missing from the OS's is the addition of a molto expressivo or molto vibrato patch.

    I should mention that my experience with the AS's is very limited though - I don't own them but I have had the chance to play with them at a colleague's studio. However I don't need to use them for long to know that I'd prefer sul pont to be available to me should I want it.

    Just my tuppence worth...


  • I was in a similar situation, have much like you. I chose to get the APP setup over the ORCH setup, moreso as an under layer for normal pieces, and properly thought out with bigger pieces. It's definitely huge and sounds awesome, but the ORCH would have given many more articulations.

    To do it again? I'd have done what I did but would like to add the orchestral strings complete. You just can't get around it.

    re: bass. I don't know if this is normal, but I prefer bass to sound clean as it gets muddy fast. For that, I can't imagine going bigger than Chamber or possibly ORCH unless you are willing to sacrifice the sound when you are listening (thinking of the listener here). Too much with bass = a big fat fart, IMO...

  • Shawn, one reason for the bass comments, was that it was my major instrument, and I am still active in playing the solo literature (I can no longer play orchestrally-details best not discussed).  You are right in that it is very easy for a bad bass section (and sometimes even a good one) to sound muddy.  I can think of orchestration books that comment along the lines that the sound of it "soon palls the ear" as one author put it. 

    Shawn, in general, I don't think I would use AS as an underpinning - I tend to think more traditionally in terms of orchestral sound.  I could see layering AP strings I and II though for times when a real lush sound would be nice.

    The orchestra II bass has the needed bow articulations, while AS really does present challenges in that regard, hence the issue.  I also agree that "getting both" is the best answer, but that is simply not an option.  I have played with the AS patches in SE extended, and really would find it useful primarily in larger works - the basic orchestra strings sound is much more traditional, and closer to what I normally excect to hear (but then, I was used to a close perspective as a player).

    Mosso, your point is well taken.  For my interests, I often do not use some of the alternatives you mention, but I do use a wide variety of bowstrokes.  I could survive with AP, as it generally has enough for what I do, if not ideally what I would prefer.  The problem is how best to emulate different sized ensembles with limited purchasing resources, hence the original question regarding the value of each library.

    Thank you to both of you for your comments.

    Any other opinions or comments?

  • noldar, maybe you can help me, as the bass is your main instrument:

    I have the idea, that orchestral bass parts are more often played detache, and if there is a desired legato, in many cases it will be faked, just because of the shorter bow-length.

    Thus considering - please correct me if I'm terribly wrong - the absence of a legato articulartion could be less of a problem, especially as you own the complete solo strings, and could layer a solo bass with a legato patch under the AP-Bass-section.

  • MassMover, that is a good question.  You are certainly right that the bass bow is shorter than other instruments (it has to be-a stronger, sturdier bow is required due to the thickness of the strings and the pressure required to get them to speak), and that shorter length does somewhat limit legato technique (as does the greater physical distances between the notes). 

    But, that does not mean that legato is not used - it is absolutely a required technique in order to play much of the standard orchestral literature.  Composers generally tended to either write interesting bass parts (Beethoven/Brahms/Mahler/R. Strauss for example) or largely ignored the instrument (Aaron Copland-at least the few pieces of his I ever played-for example).  As for samples, anytime slurred notes are desired, legato would technically be required.  Legato is therefore vital when considering emulation of traditional orchestral writing.  It is nevertheless true that in general far more demands are made in terms of legato techniques with the cello section than the bass section.

    The solo literature is another matter entirely, and much greater demands are made at that level (but that falls outside the current discussion).

    It seems to me that often little more than "thud, thump, menacing-raise-the-roof-growl" is required from basses in certain genres.  In those cases, legato isn't necessary, nor would it be needed for an endless ostinato (the portato in AP Strings becomes very important).  One can understand why the decision was made to exclude legato from the basses in AP strings.

    As for my decision, although it may be awhile, I have decided to eventually go with Orchestra Strings over AP Strings.  I think Orchestra Strings will likely be the better overall fit.

  • I wonder if VSL has plans of offering a new more comprehensive version of App. Strings that offers more articulations ?

    If they do, I will buy them without hesitation. So far nothing new from VSL as far as 'Strings' are concerned. Hopefully this won't be the case for too long.



  • Hello, I have similar question about Appassionata vs Orchestral Strings. Can you explain me, what's diference in sound of Appassionata and Orchestral Strings, please? I own the Orchestral Strings I with the Extension library. This sounds me very close (like close mics) on demo songs on vsl web too. If I'm listening demos of Appassionata on vsl web, it sounds me like distance mics (and bigger sections, of course). Is this (the distance) possible? Or is this just using the right Reverb in the demo songs? Which Strings are you using, Appassionata or Orchestral, and why? Thanks a lot,
    Best regards, Martin

  • Based on the versions in SE:

    What you said is the essence of it.  AP Strings has, by definition, larger sections, and a more distant (fuzzy?) sound.  Given the larger size of the sections, AP Strings is not quite as precise - nor can it be: as a string section size increases, the section cannot be as precise, as each player will play ever so slightly different from the other members of the section.

    Roughly, if one draws a line from solo strings > AP strings, chanber strings would be at the 1/3 point, and orchestra strings at the 2/3 point (again, very roughly).  VSL's orchestra string sections really do emulate traditional symphonic string sections quite well.  AP strings is better suited, by design, for a larger Hollywood, or an extra lush, section sound, whenever that larger sound is desired.

  • I think that AP Strings is primarliy used for filmscores where that deep and lush string sound seems to be in fashion these days.  Perhaps VSL produced them as a response to EW's big string syrup sounding libraries that are being used in filmscore mockups.  I could be wrong on that however.  If you do a lot of filmscore work the AP strings are essential.  Along with Epic Horns for that matter.

    I like a little more string in my strings so I prefer the gritty sound produced by intimate string ensembles such as the Chamber Strings which I absolutely adore.  I Use CS all the time.  In some cases it sounds great even without layering them with solos.