Hey, gang! Forgive me for trying to tap into all of your experiences, but having no shame, that's exactly what I need to do. 😇 I find myself now owning all the original SE libraries, all the Synchronized SE libraries, Epic Orchestra 2.0, and Smart Orchestra. So in order to keep me from spending so much time comparing each and every preset and never actually getting to any composing, I have two questions: 1. Having the Synchronized versions, is there any reason whatsoever to open any of the original VIP versions ever again? And 2. Are there instruments in the Epic Orchestra (or Smart Orchestra, for that matter), that are worth exploring that would improve upon or complement what's in the Synchronized SE libraries?
Any advice or opinions greatly, greatly appreciated, as it will vastly improve my chances of writing at least one piece of music before I die of old age.
Smart Orchestra's primary purpose is quick sketching or live performances.
Big Bang & Epic Orchestra is primarily for sketching or projects that might require light orchestration where individual instrumentation is not necessary.
The more complete libraries like the special edition libraries or even the standard or full libraries are for focused orchestration that requires individual notation for each and every instrument in the orchestra. It is notable that for the vast majority of composers just getting started, the Special Editions cover almost everything you need minus the ability to adjust the amount of vibrato (for the life of me, I don't understand why crossfading is not included, since many more full libraries that cost significantly less offer this functionality, such as the Chris Hein libraries, which are in my opinion, the best overall solo orchestral instruments on the market right now).
Whether you have a reason to open the VI instruments is all a matter of what products you currently have, and what your needs are. If you have a license for Vienna Suite Pro and MIR Pro with Synchron stage IR, You can easily get the identical sound that is offered from the Synchronized libraries but has, but with much more flexibility.
You have to understand that Vienna decided to create a product that sounds good out of the box (Synchron libraries) but at the cost of less flexibility. The advantage the Synchronized editions provide is good sound, less time spent having to shape the sound of each instrument, and results in having to spend less money for said results.
On the other hand, the VI libraries provide more flexibility at the cost of having to spend time shaping the sound for each instrument and require spending additional money on things like reverb or FX like compression or EQing. Of course, you can set up templates, but this comes at the cost of having to load more into memory than you may be willing to load, which is an additional tradeoff you have to make if you use templates.
Finally, probably pretty obvious, but often overlooked, is the UI provided with Vienna Instruments versus the Synchron player. My personal opinion is the VI player is better for my tastes. It looks less fisher price and more like a product that is professional, however, each person will have their own tastes. I think feature for feature, VI Pro is on par with Synchron player, in fact, Synchron player has the advantage of offering polyphonic legato without having to pay extra, something which for the life of me, is an astonishing money grab by Vienna. In my view, if you paid for the instrument, polyphonic legato should not be an added cost.
My personal workflow involves using Smart Orchestra, Epic Orchestra 1 & 2, and Big Bang to sketch out ideas, then quickly convert the instrumentation to full orchestration in one of the Special Edition variants. For epic or trailer work, Synchron is great. For more subdued projects, I use VI. For example, I just wrote a Fugue, and it made more sense to use VI for this project. A month or two ago, I did a 12-minute trailer that made use of the Synchron libraries. One other point worth mentioning, some specific instruments simply sound better in either the VI or Synchron variation. The solo coronet, for example, is simply stunning in the VI variety, run through the Black Hole reverb plugin. The majority of the string libraries are fantastic in the Synchron library right out of the box with almost no sound-shaping required. It is all a matter of exploring both of the libraries. You paid for them, spend time getting to know them, start writing pieces with them in different styles and varieties, and it will quickly become apparent where they are good, and where they are not so good.