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  • Which VSL package(s) and/or Instruments to get for a new VSL user?

    Newbie question here that I'm copying over from the VSL vs. Spitfire thread.

    I have decided to invest in VSL and am wondering what VSL package or instruments people would recommend that I get.

    I already own a number of out-dated orchestral  products (Miroslav, Garittan 1st edition, QL brass 1st edition, etc) and one VSL representitive that I spoke with felt that while the  VS Special Edition would be a bump up from what I've got, it wouldn't be enough of a bump to justify the purchase (though perhaps he was just being a good saleman[^o)]!).  He recommended that I look at the Cube package which is an appealing, though expensive possibility.

    That being said, I'm wondering if there is tere a better combination  of instruments (solo and sections) that one would advice me to put together and then add to as need (jobs) requires?

    I write music mainly for TV and indie films so large lush  "hollywood" orchestral scores are not what I'm doing (these days). More intimate and smaller ensemble music is what I'm mostly called upon to do. Therefore, solo instruments are a major necessity.  I do need orchestral sections, there are just so many VSL offerings that it's hard to know which one(s) is best.

    Thanks!


  • My first orchestral library was Garritan Personal Orchestra. I have VSL SE (incl. Expanded) and it is far above and beyond anything else I've tried or heard for the price. EWQL Orchestra is another popular pick - however, it has two issues people mention 1) All the samples have built in ambience (while VSL is dry and therefore more flexible) and 2) You have to deal with the Play engine and EastWest. Now, I don't have a Play-based instrument and I haven't really interacted at all with EastWest, but all over the internet you'll find horror stories about both of those. I'm happy to give VSL my support and I think their products are fantastic. I think you can start with VSL SE and then add on from there.


  • Perhaps the first step is to determine your budget.  Based on your budget, some bundles may be eliminated from the start.  Note that if you can afford bundles, bundle prices are always better than buying individual libraries.

    Another option would be to aim towards a complete traditional early to mid-19th century orchestra and then add color as needed from there.

    As for small ensembles work: solo strings I, chamber strings I, woodwinds I, perhaps harp, perhaps brass I would all be worth considering.  Depending on need, muted strings could come later.  One point that has sometimes been missed regarding the strings: all string libraries are I: standard, II: mutes; except orchestral strings which are I: violin and viola; II cello, bass.  There is a real sound difference between SE and the full libraries (though SE is very good).  When purchasing full libraries, for realism, you will end up needing both the standard and extended portions for whatever full libraries you decide to purchase.


  • Thank you for the replies!

    Nolder12, I have been considering a combination similar to the one  you suggest. Here is my list:

    • Solo strings complete (including extended)
    • Chamber Strings Bundle (incl extended)
    • Percussion complete (including extended)
    • Harps
    • Winds 1 (including extended)
    • Brass 1 (Including extended)
    This combination will run me $6850 (if I buy directly from Ilio versus the $8070 if I buy the Cube + extended).
    The obvious ommision in my setup are orchestral strings & Brass 2,  but since I'm not doing a lot of large scale orchestral writing these days, my hope is that I could get by without it, for now. Down the road, if the need arises, I could pick it up. Perhaps there will even be a more appropraite (updated) string library from VSL then.
    Is this a foolish approach? Is there a smarter way to purchase this stuff given the sales the prop up throughout hte year (eg. the buy one get one free promotions I occasionally get).
    Thanks all![:)]

  • dsilvercoin,

    I'll probably avoid this thread to give some breathing room for others to answer, just an fyi [;)] but I did want to say that I think your setup looks pretty good.

    -Sean

    P.S. Are you signed up for the VSL Newsletter? I've seen some very wide ranging promo's, from buy one get one free... to buy a dvd and get a download instrument... to anything. They range, and too much discussion on that specific point on here would be useless, just because who knows what they'll offer next? And you don't want to get the wrong impression and see a different offer. But the Newsletter will at least keep you updated. I don't know if they just email you when you create a logon here or what, but if not I'd look into it. Best of luck!


  • That does look good... the one thing I wish chamber strings had that it does not is fast legato, but the chamber strings are very, very nice, and generally regarded as one of VSL's better libraries.

    However, I would suggest you wait at least until December 16 to purchase, as VSL will most likely do a Christmas/holiday promotion.

    Last Christmas, VSL ran a promotion IIRC, that was buy 3 (it might have been 4, I don't remember, fairly sure it was 3) standard libraries and/or extended libraries, get one standard and/or extended library free (standard purchase gave standard free, extended purchase gave extended free).  They also did a 2nd promotion of buy one standard library, get one extended library free (limit of one free extended library with this promotion).  VSL's best promotions have generally been mid-December through mid-January.

    Of course, there is no guarantee that VSL will do anything similar this year, but still, it is probably best to wait and find out what the promotion(s) will be.

    As for where to purchase, if going through ILIO, I would assume you are most likely in North America.  It would be worth comparing ILIO's prices with Sweetwater's, as sometimes Sweetwater is slightly better (on standard libraries), though Sweetwater does not appear to offer all the available bundles.  Regardless, it would still be worth checking.


  • Thanks for the feedback. I am definitely going to wait to see if there are any promotions and I will be sure to sign up for the newsletter (thanks for the advice!).

    The best prices I have found in North America (though many will match) are at B&H photo/video.

    Do you think I will be able to get chamber strings to fake a larger ensemble if need be? I realize some creative mixing may be required and that I may even need to layer some of my older libraries.

    Also, I plan on buying Vienna Instruments Pro2. I also found that the demos of MIR pro REALLY made the ensembles sound better. Is MIR and/or ensemble another must have like VIP2?

    Thanks!


  • PS sean,

    I hope VSL gives you a commission[:P]. And thanks for all your time and feedback in the other thread! 


  • Can't... resist... replying... lol

    Thanks, I'll take my free super package now... cough cough. [G] [:D]

    In all seriousness though- VI Pro 2.0 is phenominal. I hesitated at first, thinking 'software? I'm buying a library, not software!' So I then decided to demo the software after getting my library. Yeah, that changed my mind pretty quick. Demoing MIR has convinced me hands down that I want it. I keep spending my money on other things I convince myself I need more (It's that software mentality creeping up, despite my badly wanting it. lol I'm conflicted). But MIR is truly outstanding. With that, I'd recommend demo'ing it. That way you'll know what you're getting. Plus, you want small right now. I'm pretty sure Dietz explained this once on here- that unlike samples, IR's have to be loaded entirely into the ram at all times. MIR is like that times 1000 (literally). So it is important to note that the system requirements for MIR say 12GB for small projects and 24 for large. I'm fairly sure that even one instrument still means that multiple things are loaded within MIR. So even if you are thinking small, if you plan to use MIR I would invest in more memory when you do.

    MIR worth it?

    I would mention one thing that I think is worth noting. There is a building I live by that is known for it's amazing acoustics. I was reading a doctoral disertation on how its acoustics could be accurately emulated. Due to the complexity of the hall, shape, materials, and so on (if I remember, it was even different durring different seasons in the year....? maybe?)... the level of sophistication would require at least several hundered impulses, and preferably 1000 or more. So MIR seems to have the right approach (is that an understatement?) I can tell you personally that every IR I've ever heard isn't even capable of sounding as good as concerts I've been to live have been. The sound is purely astonishing. I haven't been to the halls in MIR, but it seems that if any reverb can give accurate representation of a real acoustic enviornment, it's MIR. Again, I'd still say to demo it. But with what I just said, and with a price comparison I recently read on here between MIR and other 'high-end' reverbs, it is absolutely worth it in the end. It's just a matter of how important it is right now in your setup for what you are trying to produce at the moment (quality-wise, surround sound, and so on). Those things may matter less for you at this point in time, they may not. Sorry dsilvercoin, I keep pegging that back on you. lol, that's probably a good thing for you in the end though.

    -Sean


  • dsilver, the trouble you may run into is that the basic sound of, say, the chamber violin section is simply different from the orchestral violins, or the AP violins.  In generaly, the larger the section, the less precise, and less intimate the sound.

    Somewhere there is a file comparing the overall sound of solo/chamber/orchestra/AP strings to each other, on the same brief piece of music.  It might have been by Beat, or by someone at VSL, but I just don't remember, nor do I remember where to find it (perhaps someone from VSL can chime in here).  At the very least, it could give you a clear idea of what you are aiming towards.


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    @dsilvercoin said:

    Do you think I will be able to get chamber strings to fake a larger ensemble if need be? I realize some creative mixing may be required and that I may even need to layer some of my older libraries.

     

    Short answer is no. To get the best (IMO) large ensemble, I would get Chamber and Appassionata and layer them together. This gives a fantastic sound, and even gives you a kind of vibrato control, if you layer the correct Chamber patches.

    Unfortunately neither the Orchestral Strings or Appassionata is a complete library (the App has less than anything else, IMO) so there will still be things that you don't have if you buy one or the other. So the layering thing is the best way to go for my musical taste.

    However, beware that the one important thing missing from the App Strings is harmonics. What a pain. [:(]

    DG


  • Thanks everyone for the replies.

    Glad to hear that with the appasionada strings and Chamber I'll be able to get a great full scale string orchestra sound. Are the orchestral string libraries just not as up to date these days?

    And as for brass, I'm assuming if I want a fuller brass sound, the dimesion brass would be the way to go. Am I right about that?

    And thanks for the replies about MIR. I can't believe what a RAM hog it is. With those RAM requirements, one has to have a slave PC, no? Does a MAC even permit that type of RAM?

    Thanks again! Here's hoping VSL has some holiday promotions set to launch[:)].

    ds.

    ps. Why is the special introductory offer on VIP pro2 more expensive than the download from ilio? Am I missing something?


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    @dsilvercoin said:

    Thanks everyone for the replies.

    Glad to hear that with the appasionada strings and Chamber I'll be able to get a great full scale string orchestra sound. Are the orchestral

     

    The orchestral strings are great for some things, but a warm, lush sounding melodic legato is not one of them. In piano or mezzo piano they sound great, but any louder and they sound strident and anemic. Some of that can be tamed with EQ and coloured reverb, but there is a limit, and the tiny amount of vibrato at the top level just makes them edgy to my ears.

    DG


  • So the Appasionada strings + chamber syrings will enable me to do everything that orchestral strings will do but more (and better)? Or are there some thing sthat the orchestral strings can handle on their own that none of the other colections can handle?


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    @noldar12 said:

    Somewhere there is a file comparing the overall sound of solo/chamber/orchestra/AP strings to each other, on the same brief piece of music.  It might have been by Beat, or by someone at VSL, but I just don't remember, nor do I remember where to find it (perhaps someone from VSL can chime in here).  At the very least, it could give you a clear idea of what you are aiming towards.

    nolder12,

    is this what you were referring to?

    http://www.slb-o.com/index.php/forum/The-Recipes/11-A-challenge-for-string-libraries


  •  The Orchestral Strings have many more articulations, but the only thing that I regularly use them for is harmonics.

    DG


  • No, that is not it, I will see if I can find what I am thinking of.

    Regarding the various string libraries, to me, AP Strings is in some ways the weak link of the four (solo/chamber/orchestra/AP).  It simply does not have near the articulations of the other libraries, and if one does any serious writing for the double-bass section, the articulations for the basses in AP Strings are badly lacking.  Conversely, orchestra strings lack any intense vibrato patches.  Having said that, I am generally not after "Hollywood".  One can get fairly lush layering orchestra/chamber strings (or add solo as well).  I will probably purchase AP strings at some point, but that would be quite a ways off (there are other VSL libraries that have clear priority for me).  In the end, what "works" or "doesn't work" depends on one's primary writing style(s).  Ultimately, that is one main reason none of us can decide what libraries are best for you, as what is best will depend on your compositional goals.

    Curiously, there have been comments about users having troubles blending chamber strings and AP strings.  However, I would take DG's comments very seriously, as he is one of the most knowledgeable (far moreso than myself), and most helpful, persons to regularly post on the forum.


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    @noldar12 said:

    No, that is not it, I will see if I can find what I am thinking of.

    Regarding the various string libraries, to me, AP Strings is in some ways the weak link of the four (solo/chamber/orchestra/AP).  It simply does not have near the articulations of the other libraries, and if one does any serious writing for the double-bass section, the articulations for the basses in AP Strings are badly lacking.  Conversely, orchestra strings lack any intense vibrato patches.  Having said that, I am generally not after "Hollywood".  One can get fairly lush layering orchestra/chamber strings (or add solo as well).  I will probably purchase AP strings at some point, but that would be quite a ways off (there are other VSL libraries that have clear priority for me).  In the end, what "works" or "doesn't work" depends on one's primary writing style(s).  Ultimately, that is one main reason none of us can decide what libraries are best for you, as what is best will depend on your compositional goals.

    Curiously, there have been comments about users having troubles blending chamber strings and AP strings.  However, I would take DG's comments very seriously, as he is one of the most knowledgeable (far moreso than myself), and most helpful, persons to regularly post on the forum.

     

     LOL. Well you won't like what I'm going to post now then:

    99.99999% (and that's a fact. Or is it a statistic?) of composers only know 4 articulations for Double bass, and 2 of those start with "woof", so I wouldn't let that colour your judgment on which sample library to buy. [;)]

    DG


  • dsilver, the two demos I was thinking of (but was not remembering) are two demos under the "strings complete" package.  The two are "Irish Strings" and "Compare Rag".  Both feature the same material being played first by solo strings, then chamber, then orchestra, and last, AP Strings.  They give a very good comparison of the basic sound of the four different libraries.

    They demonstrate fairly well that one library really cannot substitute for another (though certainly can be layered with).


  • DG, one of my favorite quotes about statistics: "Torture the data enough and it will confess to anything." <smile>

    Actually, in all too many cases, you are right.  Composers either tend to write for bass (Beethoven, etc.), or relatively ignore it (Copland, among others).  Most do opt for "ignore".  For film scoring, what is in AP Strings, sadly, is probably enough (growl, whine, or menacing rumble).  For traditional orchestral writing, the answer would be different.

    One of my favorite double-bass stories (a true one): Gary Karr (a now semi-retired double-bass solo concert artist - am guessing he is now about 70ish or so, and arguably the best solo bassist ever (Klaus Stoll and some others also rank up there), when in college, was in the university's chamber orchestra as the only bassist.  At every rehearsal the conductor kept saying the usual, "The bass is too loud."  Gary decided to play the entire concert keeping the bow an inch above the strings (while fingering every note, of course).  Afterwards, the conductor commented to him that he had played extremely well during the concert (note: the story was told by Gary, himself).

    So yes, the bass: best seen but not heard.