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Newbie question - Where to start?
Last post Mon, Dec 28 2009 by jasensmith, 8 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Nov 16 2009 04:10
by Newbis
Joined on Mon, Nov 16 2009, Posts 39
I'm kind of a newbie about VSL. I look at the site, and the sounds are great, but there are so many packages. The more I look for an explanation, the more complicated it gets. It looks like everything's alla carte, and I'm afraid that if I want this to create orchestral music, it will cost an arm and a leg, and even then there will be additional packages required to make it work.
For someone who has never used this before, where do I even begin? Right now, all I have is a standard PC laptop, a keyboard, a MIDI connector thingie, Finale, and some basic sequencing software. Is that going to be enough, or does one need more than the average PC for this? Can one actually install this thing and have it work? Is it easy to use? How many different things would I need to buy from VSL to actually be able to do orchestral music with this?
Right now, I'm considering either VSL or Garritan. VSL sounds a lot better, but the price difference seems to be like between buying a used bicycle vs. a brand new Boeing 747. I'm wondering if I actually buy the thing, will operating it be like being in the cockpit of a 747 too? (Just the fact that I have to look at currency trading sites to begin to understand how much it might cost suggests that it's a bit complicated.)
Actually, I'm pretty computer savvy, but mainly concerned about how tedious it will be operate, and whether it will interact with my other software and formats. I've used Finale for many years, and I always marvel at how all the information to know what to do is randomly assorted into three separate reference books...I wonder if this would be a similar experience.
Any help on where to start is appreciated.

Posted on Mon, Nov 16 2009 19:30
by Mahlon
Joined on Sun, Jan 08 2006, The decadent South, Posts 441

 I know it's confusing looking at all the different avenues crisscrossing the VSL landscape. Probably the best way to start you've already accomplished by posting in the forums. Big Smile

Could you tell us what your goals are? Do you want to work professionally? Do you want to realize your musical compositions for you own gratification without regard for income from it? Perhaps it is both? Are you just testing the waters to see if you like this way of music realization at all? One nice thing about the VSL library being modular is that you can add to it incrementally as your goals change.

I ask because if you're just staring out into the sample world altogether then the VE Special Edition seems like an excellent place to start. And it was designed to run on equipment which is not quite so hefty as what would be required for the full libraries. What are the specs on your laptop?

Operating the VE interface is a breeze once you understand the basics of how it works. Very intuitive, and I don't think anyone would have a problem with it. Certainly quite less daunting than Finale. Do you want to use Finale to do your realizations or do you want to use a sequencer?

Posted on Tue, Nov 17 2009 01:46
by Newbis
Joined on Mon, Nov 16 2009, Posts 39
Thanks so much for answering. :) Yes, you're right...I want to use it both for realizing my own orchestral and chamber compositions, and also would like to try to break into professional film music composition. I'm already creating my own recordings with simple tools (e.g., recording keyboard with midi, doing a few edits in a sequencer, then recording in a digital recorder, and sometimes a little post-editing), so now I want to go the next step in this because all I have is piano recordings or else electronic-sounding stuff from my keyboard (which I have to distort to make it sound reasonable).

As to specs...My Sony Vaio laptop is 1GB Ram, but I'm planning to expand to 2GB. I have two Intel 1.66 GHz processors. I have 16GB Hard drive free, but I could easily install instruments on an external USB drive if that works. I'm not sure what kind of sound card Sony puts into its laptops (I can't find it under Devices), but it plays music and movies really well. I have Windows XP MCE (shows up as Windows Pro, but it's Microsoft's hybrid between Pro and Home). Anyhow, is that in the ballpark of what I'd need?

Starting small probably makes sense as that would give me a sense of the interface before I shell out the whole ball of wax. I'm still curious what I would end up eventually spending to have full orchestra, say with standard winds plus piccolo, bass clarinet, Eb clarinet, horns, cornets, trumpets, trombones, tuba, full percussion including stuff like crotales, marimba, vibraphone, timp, harp, piano, organ, strings (both tutti and solo strings with mutes and everything; I tend to divide my strings a lot).

If I get the VE Special Edition, does that have everything, or is the Interface separate? And the "key"...that's something I'd have to buy too to get everything else to work?

As to note entry...I guess I'd want the flexibility to do it a few different ways. Right now, I use Finale exclusively for printing, but it would be neat if I could enter stuff right from it, though I'm not sure how to make it sound vaguely human if it's done that way. Everything I do for recording is through Midi, so my conception is that I would be layering all the parts that way, recording at super slow tempi so that my ensemble and expression are both good. I'm not sure how that works with the way things are in VSL. Do you basically import MIDI files and then assign instruments to the tracks and add vibrato and bowing?
Posted on Tue, Nov 17 2009 20:18
by Mahlon
Joined on Sun, Jan 08 2006, The decadent South, Posts 441

 Hopefully someone more knowledable than I am about your computer specs will chime in. VE Special Edition has the same interface as the full libraries, so once you learn it (which honestly doesn't take any time at all) you're good to go when you add more instruments.

My feeling is that if you started with special edition, you can get quite, quite far without adding instruments. Just listen to some of the fantastic renderings done with the SE. Then if you wanted to add more articulations, you have the choice the "download" instruments which let you build your orchestra a la carte. The download instruments seem to have quite a lot of articulations, and I'm looking into rounding out my own woodwind section with the contrabassoon, bass clarinet, and english horn. I think these downloads are great value.

Since you're used to a sequencer already, VSL works just like any other library, you can import midi files if you want, but most people probably do their input via a keyboard (piano/controller keyboard that is). The interface for VSL lets you organize your articulations and specifics of the instruments so that you can switch between the articulations via keystrokes (notes on the midi keyboard) and further control them via modwheels, continuous controllers (CC11, CC7, etc.) etc.

Have a look at some of information/tutorial videos and you can glean a lot.

Another option is VE Pro with the Epic Orchestra. I believe the instruments are mapped across the keyboard as sections, but it may be a great (and more affordable way) to look into whether you like VSL VE's interface or not. Though I think you will. And of course the quality of sound of the instruments is the same for all of vsl. The only difference is that some instruments may be mapped in larger increments than half steps.


Posted on Wed, Nov 18 2009 06:11
by Newbis
Joined on Mon, Nov 16 2009, Posts 39
Thanks! I appreciate all the advice. It appears now that really it's my computer's capabilities that will be the sticking point. Everything says you must have Intel Core 2, which is 2 GHz, whereas I'm duo core 1.66 GHz. Also if I install on an external hard-drive, my only ports are USB, not Firewire. I don't know if that kills things. Looks like the Epic Orchestra is considerably smaller than the Special Edition, so maybe I don't need an external drive. I wonder though about the limitation with the 1.66 processors. This computer was top-of-the-line just a few years ago, so I don't know happened. :)

I see stuff written though about "master" and "slave" computers. Is that a way around the system resource problem, so that I could distribute the load between two laptops? I wonder if there's even some sort of personal "grid computing" software I could install and have VSL run on top of that would combine the power of the two laptops we have here. Kind of a bummer to think I can't get started with this without buying a new computer.
Posted on Wed, Nov 18 2009 18:28
by Mahlon
Joined on Sun, Jan 08 2006, The decadent South, Posts 441

 Yep, the master and slave thing is to get around the limitations of RAM and hardrive, mostly. If you did have a slave laptop and only ran your sequencer and effects on your main laptop, I think you could get by with 1.66 if you didn't do too  much effects and audio tracks. You'd just have to see.

The slave could handle all the VSL; but you'd have to make sure you have a ethernet connection -- don't know if you're present laptop has that or not....


Posted on Mon, Dec 28 2009 00:28
by rverne10
Joined on Tue, May 26 2009, Southfield, Michigan, USA, Posts 110

If you want to save money in the long run you’ll be best staying with the Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL). All Sampled sounds are limited in their overall sonic responses however, VSL has the fewest limitations. Try budgeting one Orchestra section at a time, Solo Strings, then Chamber Strings, meanwhile maybe a download wind instrument here and there. If you group several solo instruments together, with some clever midi mixing, I would think there might be something there.
Another issue lurks in the background- a lot of us who are not string players really have trouble dealing with all of the articulations-I like this web site for an exploration of that topic.
Philharmonia Orchestra: The Sound Exchange: The Orchestra: Instruments: Discover The Cello: Bowing On The String
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ It contains a ton of information about string articulations and why there are so many.

Cubase 10, Windows 10 64 bit version 1809, MOTU Audio Express, M-Audio Oxygen 88 keyboard contoller, USB connection, Radeon Rx 480, AMD FX 6300 six core processor 3.50 Ghz
Total Physical Memory 16 GB
Posted on Mon, Dec 28 2009 22:09
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1495

Greetings Newbis

I think your processors aren't going to cut it and you haven't even mentioned your hard drive speed, anything less than 7200 RPM is really pushing it.  I'm not saying that you won't be able to run VSL on your system but I think you're going to have some really annoying stability issues for sure even if you strip down your machine to the bare essentials.

What I would do is seek advice from a reputable dealer like Sweetwater or adkproaudio.com (in the states).  Tell them what you want and then tell them your budget.  Then get a second opinion from another dealer.  They will send you a preliminary invoice and, of course, they will try to sell you their product.  So what you do is you take that invoice and see if you can build the same system on your own for less.  You may not be able to get something on your own for your budget, in which case you need to increase your budget or wait another six months or so and see what's available then. 

Good luck to you. 

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
- W.C. Fields
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