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  • Make my VSL sound good!

    Okay, I love VSL and how it sounds... but I'm having issues.

    I listen to Spitfire's Albion and despite it's horrible lack of flexibility, I've noticed 3 things that I have tried to mimic in VSL unsuccessfully but that I'll never be happy with until I have it with VSL now, lol. I even recreated my own Lyndhurst mimic verb to compare (and as I love the hall!) and it sounds pretty comparable. The first thing is 'playability' as Albion sounds very playable out of the box, yet no matter what I 'build' with VSL, I can't accomplish the same ease of 'good sound'... but I can let that go so if no one has suggestions there... fine. But I DIRELY want help on the other 2. PLEASE HELP ME! lol

    1) I can't get the low woodwinds and brass to blend nearly as well. They sound great in Albion, especially when their not playing very loud. VSL I can get the brass to blend well when loud (most of the time), but watching a youtube 'live performance' demo of Albion, I was jealous. I hear it most in the 'shorts', but in all of it, they just sound far more blended and I can't recreate that. I've played with the wet/dry balance and like I said, I made my own "Sean's private Lyndhurst" fairly successfully. I place a trumpet in the verb and adjust the mix and it sound like comparable to Spitfire's, but the low sections don't sound anwhere near as comparable and it's the blend. I hear a performance in Spitfire that sounds like real performers matching each other. I've messed with EQ, saturation, compression, a lack of any and all, even attack and decay, and filters, and despite obessive tidious tweaking... I can't recreate this with VSL. Any tips?

    2) The Albion demo's and the full Spitfire library demo sound more blended, yet not also (most noticable with the Cello's to me, but with all of them really). I hear a section that is great, but I also hear each player distincly. This is a very 'stringy' sound, yet a lush sound. I want it! I can't get it with a single section, or a mix of solo, chamber, orchestral... mute with not... etc. I've done all the eq'ing, etc, etc, etc. And nothing I do gets a sound where I hear a lush section with what sounds like individual players coming through also. It's not moments of individual players, otherwise I'd just have chamber or solo come through a little more now and then (which I do anyway, as a dynamic performance is more realistic to me)... but it's even with a simple note. It just sounds more clear and distinct, yet a full section too. They didn't even record it divisi, so I don't know why it's any different. Unless recording to tape, vs plugins is just that big of a difference. I don't have Vienna Suite, UAD, Cranesong's Phoenix or anything that high quality as I barely got a Job after months of no work... but despite my plans to get better plugins, I'm concerned. I took a few samples mixed differently to a friend who has nearly all of waves, and nothing he tried accomplished this either. So is it plugins, something else, magic? lol

    The string thing is far more important to me, but I'd like suggestions for any of it if someone is willing. Don't get me wrong. I prefer VSL any day in almost every way, but these 3 things I am unhappy with and I'm not getting results. ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated.



  • I think your (and our) best bet is MIR Pro in offering a really flattering ambiance as you hear in Albion as you switch on multiple mic positions. You cannot do this in MIR now, unless you bounce different mic positions and mix them afterwards. I have high hopes for this. My other high hope is a better, and tweakable legato for the strings. Oh, what a dream, Dimension Strings with a butter smooth legato that prevails even in fast runs. For now, it's an inhuman effort in my opinion to make it work. To start take the trumpet, for each articulation I need a new track, with different EQ, several sends to busses with different ERs and different Tails, that each have different EQs, the ERs each also have several sends to different Tails, that each have different EQs. The ERs and Tails then need to mixed down. Good luck! Maybe it's easier after all to learn to play every orchestra instrument to a pro level and then book a hall and record everything yourself! But that would be way less fun, right! So let us all thank VSL for the joy of mixing.

  • I've yet to hear ANY vsl demos/tracks that sound like Albion, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on what you are after.  Becuase of the way VSL was recorded, it does have more flexibility than nearly any other library.  However (and this is a big however), that does not mean that it doesn't have its own sonic imprint...regardless of what anyone else may tell you.  So, I tend to look at like this.  If you know what sound you want, and there is a library that nails it, then get that.  As for making VSL sound like Albion, it is not possible. 

    Now, having said that, with the right tools and a lot of experience/skills you can probably get a hell of a lot closer to the sound that you want than what you are currently achieving if you are fairly  new to this.  VSL Vienna Suite with presets can help a lot, MIR is looking very promising, etc.

    But, don't kid yourself.  You are triggering recordings of actual players, playing specific instruments, recorded with specific mics, in a specific room, with a specific team of engineers/producers, etc.  It has a sound.  Tweak it all you want, it still has a sound.

    Rather than trying to make it sound like Albion, the real question is:  Are there any vsl demos that sound the way you want to sound?  If so, then you know it can be done.  If not, then you may be headed the wrong direction using that tool since there are some really, really talented folks making some great examples using VSL.  Nonetheless, taste is taste.  Your taste is by definition always right...for you. 

    Hope that somehow helps.


  • ozoufonoun_29353,

    I completely get that and agree. If one likes spitfire's sounds, get spitfire. However, 1) I like their sound, but they aren't flexible... at ALL. And that is just as important for a sample library as the sound quality, imo. 2) I like VSL's 'flavor' just as much. While each library is really 'which performers', ideally VSL should be able to do anything how it is recorded. Typically I can get different sounding 'flavors' fairly well out of VSL. Whether that's film, small, romantic, and so on.

    I think the problem isn't my liking Albion's sound more or less... but rather that I'm just not getting a natural blended sound. MIR Pro would probably help this considerably and Vienna Suite is high up on my list... but that's a list for a more financially backed day than today.

    Thanks though,


  • Anyone (out of the millions that won't read this, lol) use or have used Reverberate? I'm using this with Samplicity's IR's. Personally I prefer Altiverb but don't own it... again that money issue coming up, :(

    I think part of the problem I've suggested is coming from a lack of a good 'space'. And I don't just mean the IR. I place an instrument, within the IR with a wet/dry balance that SOUNDS right... it sounds like it is on the stage where it should be. But then when I hear it with other instruments, it sounds WAY too muddy. I try different IR's.. no better. I've tried making it slightly more dry... still no improvement as then I run into this blending issue, where the intruments sound too 'on a computer' instead of 'in a room like a recording'.

    Anyone have suggestions on getting a good wet/dry balance, that sounds fairly natural, blends well, but isn't muddy...? I know, I know... MIR... lol. But until I build my next system, I'm not getting MIR Pro... So while I love MIR's sound as much as anyone, I have to make do for a while and any sollutions would be appreciated.



    P.S. sorry to draw my problem out... but I think addressing this may help solve some of my issues for now...

  • Hi Sean, have you checked out Beat Kaufmann's site? Willy what's your email address.mate ? let me contact you in private,I like to help

  • It's my screen name @ live

    I've been on Beat's site. He recommends 3 verbs for the sake of keeping muddyness out. I've been reading into EQing verb and everyone seems to suggest a 5-band eq at least for having more control. Reverberate has 5 and I've actually found that I prefer more than 3 verbs. I've tried using 1, 2, 3 and my usual 10-15. I get muddyness or 'too dry with crappy blend' no matter how many verbs I'm doing, so that isn't it. But I prefer more verbs because I can EQ for different instruments. Call me crazy, I think it sounds better that way. Plus, I'm getting amazing results with VSL percussion. I used to think stormdrum was cool. But I'd rather record my own percussion now and tweak it myself (now that I know how). Sorry, that was a tangent...

    The blend issue is mainly with lower and mid winds. The verb muddy problem comes up with the more instruments I have playing. Winds may not blend great... but they sound fine in the room for a winds only passage... Strings by themselves I can make as lush and warm and beautiful as possible with the library. I even made it sound fairly comparible to an actual soundtrack I like. The brass nearly always sounds amazing. (Probably because I'm a better brass player in real life... ? lol) But when I play the different sections together... I find that the strings sound medium muddy and overly distorted (too warm, YET backing off even a little and it's not warm at all and too clean)... the winds sound WAY too muddy in the verb, and the brass again still sound amazing. Yet playing sections alone sound great.

    When I said that things sound good in placing them, but not in the end results... that's what I meant. Instruments sound well placed. Sections even sound pretty great (expect for the lack of winds blend), but playing even 2 sections generates problems. Playing 3 is even worse. I'm absolutely clueless and I may come off as sounding crazy, but I have a good ear... I just don't know the tech know-how to get the sound just right. Plus I'm limited by free plugins right now until I buy VSL's and a eventually a UAD bundle. But I have at least done fairly well picking out fairly decent plugins from what free ones exist (like Yohng's waves limiter clone, etc)

    Thanks for any suggestions you might have. All help is welcome at this point. I've exausted all my ideas with no improvement.


  •  Sean, there are some basic things that will improve your mix hugely:

    1. A decent reverb. Forget UAD and all that over-priced cr*p, the VSL Convolution reverb (and also Hybrid) is absolutely fantastic. Much better than Altiverb, which is far more expensive. Plus the fact that you get a load of other top quality plugs means that the Vienna Suite is the cheapest way to improve your tools.
    2. As to your woodwind problem. You need to think about how Ww sounds in an orchestra. Sure if you have a load of Ww playing in a nice chamber setting they sound full, fat and gorgeous. However, in an orchestral situation they are thin, quiet and generally weedy, compared with the other sections. Therefore you need to make sure that they are virtually mono, get rid of the fat VSL sound, not too much room in the mix and EQ to make them sound further back, if need be. One good way to do all this is to use a short reverb with not too much dry signal in it, and another one to give more of a room sound.

    There are so many questions that you have, it is impossible to answer them all here. However, there are a few general points that a careful study of real orchestral recordings (and I don't mean film scores, as these are pretty much not what an orchestra sounds like) will help you enormously. Program up the classics and then do an A/B comparison. In the end it doesn't matter what the correct way is; the sound is all important.


  • DG,

    yes yes yes... I know... Vienna Suite. lol - I don't want UAD for their reverb at all. I want UAD mainly for two reasons 1) taking load off CPU (Although I imagine other DSP hardware exists? This is entirely unexplored for me). 2) UAD has a tape plugin, a couple compressers, and a couple other plugins I'd like. It's a MASSIVE price to pay, and I agree that it's way over-priced. But I still COULD use it... any 'could' is a 'must have' to me as I don't want to lack in what I can produce. If I find a comparable alternative for cheaper, I'm all for it. But I'm talking non-VSL here as I intend on owning Vienna Suite and MIRP, but I also want others to round out my options. I usually find that not all compressers, etc. apply to everything the same. I may not like VSL's for a specific use, etc.

    THANK YOU for your woodwind advice!!

    I hadn't even considered the weedy point... and how less verb (or at least different verb) and different EQ would help. I'll have to play with that. But I can tell you know from what I hear in my mix and what those changes would suggest... that this may have solved my Winds problem.

    I often forget that 'the correct way' isn't always the best sounding way. I just barely started getting out of that habbit on a few other tonal 'problems' and have found MUCH success in doing so. This is no different, but I simply forgot that I have 'other options' that what is seemingly the correct, natural, or 'default' choice. (That may not have made sense... but it does to me, lol)


  • Hi Sean, I supposed you don't need any help now,as you figure out the Decorr for wind and Strings Willy

  • The winds advice is great! Strings, I'm still having to play with... so any pointers anyone may add are certainly welcome... but I'm in no rush...

    Thanks anyway,


  • Hi Sean, With VSL Strings is a little bit trickier than EW,cause of recording ambience . but honestly ( sorry to VSL),I find it easier to match EW (using all decorr gadget) to VSL winds,than VSL Strings eventhough EW orch str has its own limitation you'll get there! Willy