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Posted on Mon, Jun 17 2019 20:02
by bbelius
Joined on Sat, Mar 14 2015, Posts 430

Hi,

I had finally some time to play with the Synchronized Special Editions, and I must say I really like the "synchronization" on these instruments.
After I played a little bit with the library and the new instruments, I decided to to make a mock-up of the Godfather soundtrack. I mostly recreated the version from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-jdl9hcCeg (first 6 minutes), but I did not try to make an exact copy.

Only instruments from the Synchronized SE versions were used. I modified the EQs of the choirs to make them sing "uuh" instead of "aah". I did not alter any panning but adjusted the volume on some instruments.
On the master bus I added some plugins from VEP7 (Exciter, Compressor), Waves TrueVerb for some additional late reflections, as well as Cubase's Quadrafuzz and Maximizer.

I would like to hear your opinion on this

Best, Ben

File Attachment(s):
TheGodfather.mp3 (8,950kb) downloaded 65 time(s).

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Ben | Cubase 9.5 Pro | Win 10 1809 | i5 8600k @4.4 GHz, 32GB DDR4
Posted on Mon, Jun 17 2019 21:48
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 97

Since this is a mock-up and not an original composition (by you), I'll assume you want feedback on the programming/mixing.  I listened to these on mastering headphones.  The youtube video is at a lower overall volume than your mock-up, so I matched them to compare.

What I didn't like/would change:

  • The choir just doesn't sound good to me.  It sticks out as very fake in an otherwise great mock-up.  Take this with a grain of salt because I haven't heard a choir VST that doesn't sound like a synth keyboard.  
  • Throughout the piece there are dynamics in the original that aren't present in your mock-up (i.e. from 1:10-1:19).  I'd ride the expression fader more.
  • The strings and the triangle in the latter half sound too loud/close compared to the rest of the orchestra.  

What I did like/would keep:

  • The trumpet is dead on.  I actually preferred your version to the original, so well done!
  • Same with the woodwinds.  Very pretty, flowing legato that was enjoyable to listen to and sounded so, so lyrical and song-like.  I think you did those melody lines justice.
  • The crescendo at 4:05 sounded very exciting and spacious.  It brought a big, goofy grin to my face.
  • Comparing this to the youtube video is a bit of an unfair comparison in a lot of ways, since they're in two different spaces (scoring stage vs. concert hall).  That said, I think you did an overall great job of adapting the music to the space.  With the exception of the list above, everything seemed to fit and be "in your face" in all the ways a scoring stage should be.
  • A clean, sparkling mix.  I could hear every part distinctly.  No howling resonances, honky "vintage" timbres or indistinct hollywood mud - just good old hi-fi sound.

MOST IMPORTANTLY:

I enjoyed listening to it.  I really did!  (Well, not the choir bit, but whatever...)  This is one of my favorite pieces of music and your mock-up brought it to life in such a way that I could sit back, close my eyes, and drift off into the hills of Sicily.  Thank you for taking me there! 

Now I want a Neapolitan pizza...

- Sam

EDIT:  Just listened to it again.  1:45-2:30 is just beautiful, man.  It really is a treat to listen to those woodwinds.

Posted on Mon, Jun 17 2019 22:08
by bbelius
Joined on Sat, Mar 14 2015, Posts 430

Hi Sam,

many thanks for your kind words and your detailed feedback. It made me happy to hear that you enjoyed it so much
I'll see what I can do to improve the points you mentioned.

I agree with you on the point that there is no choir library that sounds good enought. But the VSL SE Choir is at least useful imo (compared to others).

- Do you think the choir whould sound better if I placed it more in the background?
- How do you feel about the Sopran Solo voice? For a VST I think it sounds really decent.

"1:45-2:30 is just beautiful" -> That's the Clarinet in Eb paired with Trumpet C, French Oboe, Basson 2.
I used a breath controller and tweaked the velocity crossfade CC to get most of these winds.
(For the solo trumpet / melody lines I used the Bb Trumpet.)

Ben | Cubase 9.5 Pro | Win 10 1809 | i5 8600k @4.4 GHz, 32GB DDR4
Posted on Mon, Jun 17 2019 22:36
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 97

Originally Posted by: bbelius Go to Quoted Post

Hi Sam,

many thanks for your kind words and your detailed feedback. It made me happy to hear that you enjoyed it so much
I'll see what I can do to improve the points you mentioned.

I agree with you on the point that there is no choir library that sounds good enought. But the VSL SE Choir is at least useful imo (compared to others).

- Do you think the choir whould sound better if I placed it more in the background?
- How do you feel about the Sopran Solo voice? For a VST I think it sounds really decent.

"1:45-2:30 is just beautiful" -> That's the Clarinet in Eb paired with Trumpet C, French Oboe, Basson 2.
I used a breath controller and tweaked the velocity crossfade CC to get most of these winds.
(For the solo trumpet / melody lines I used the Bb Trumpet.)

I know it's not in the original, but I think it would sound better as an ensemble choir.  The solo soprano is very nice, but - like every solo choir VST I've heard - it just falls apart when transitioning, true legato or no.  There's something about the human voice that, to my ears, just stubbornly refuses to be sampled.  In ensembles that doesn't seem to happen as much, probably because the transitions are masked by a mixture of reverb and overlapping sustains from the individual members of the choir.  Just my particular take on it.  If you like the vocals as is, you should definitely keep it - your opinion matters most!

The breath controller is working, then!  They sound right on the money.

- Sam

Posted on Wed, Jun 19 2019 01:56
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5338

I had the same reaction as Sam - the trumpet sounded great - you did great work on that with beautiful phrasing and expressive dynamics -  but the voice  sounded artificial.  The legato transitions were exaggerated.  The choir would be a way to get a more natural sound as Sam mentioned. 

Guy Bacos has done it - several of his demos of the solo voices are fantastic -  but I haven't been able to get a solo  voice to sound convincing on a fully developed melodic part like this, only in very simple things.

Posted on Mon, Jun 24 2019 15:56
by bbelius
Joined on Sat, Mar 14 2015, Posts 430

Hi Sam, Hi William,

thank you both for your feedback. I tried to tweak it a little more:
I have changed the volume of the strings (and triangle), as well as the breath CC for the App strings in comparison to the Orch. strings.
I also removed the maximizer in the master bus for more dynamic.
I did not replace the solo soprano with the choir because it did not sound good to me. But I tried to improve the transitions of the solo soprano by tweaking attack, legato blur and overlapping midi notes. I think it sounds better, but I would like to hear your opinion.

Best, Ben

File Attachment(s):
TheGodfather_v2.mp3 (8,950kb) downloaded 4 time(s).

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Ben | Cubase 9.5 Pro | Win 10 1809 | i5 8600k @4.4 GHz, 32GB DDR4
Posted on Mon, Jun 24 2019 18:20
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 97

Originally Posted by: bbelius Go to Quoted Post

Hi Sam, Hi William,

thank you both for your feedback. I tried to tweak it a little more:
I have changed the volume of the strings (and triangle), as well as the breath CC for the App strings in comparison to the Orch. strings.
I also removed the maximizer in the master bus for more dynamic.
I did not replace the solo soprano with the choir because it did not sound good to me. But I tried to improve the transitions of the solo soprano by tweaking attack, legato blur and overlapping midi notes. I think it sounds better, but I would like to hear your opinion.

Best, Ben

Ooooh, I like it a lot better without the Maximizer.  Everything breathes a lot more.  The strings sound great (maybe a bit on the quiet side now? Maybe you could layer them with the orch strings...), so much more lush and closer to the original.  Triangle doesn't jump out, all the parts weave and flow.  It's very, very nice!

As for the solo soprano, there are parts that sound much better to me.  I've puzzled over why, and I think I came up with some helpful feedback.  In 3:05-3:10 in your piece, the voice sounded just fine for me.  For the majority of the rest of it, something was off.  The difference, I found, was twofold:

1) In how often and quickly you switched between vowel sounds

2) In how detached the legato was

My curiousity piqued by William's comment, I listened to some of Guy Bacos' demos of the solo soprano voice.  I noticed that he varies the vowels a whole hell of a lot and, in many pieces, creates a more gradual attack on each note rather than a portamento-like legato.  I think this is to simulate the formation of a vowel after a consonant.  For example, listen to 0:30-0:50 in "Liebe und Verzweiflung - Soprano & Baritone" in the Solo Voices demo section.  He seems to change vowels almost every note, creates a subtle attack fade-in, and avoids portamento except in a melismatic or accent context.  He also uses the sampled breath noises to further sell it. 

Then, listening back to your piece, I noticed that there's a lot of staying on the "aah" vowel and sliding between pitches.  While this would sound good with a real voice, I think it exposes the artificiality of a fake one.  It reminds me of another piece with a very similar tone and instrumentation (albeit much lesser in composition):

Moonlit Butterfly 

It's more subtle than in Guy's demo, but I do notice distinct attacks as well as vowel switching/morphing on almost every note.  (There's also a wash of reverb and counter-melodies, but, hey...)

I hope any of that was useful.  Sorry for rambling on!

Peace,

- Sam

Posted on Mon, Jun 24 2019 22:05
by bbelius
Joined on Sat, Mar 14 2015, Posts 430

Hi Sam,

thanks again for your feedback!

The strings are already layered Solo, Orchestral and Appassionata strings. But I agree that they should be a little louder.
For the soprano: for this piece I limited myself to use only the Synchronized Special Editions (to encourage myself to get the most out of it by tweaking as many parameters as possible). Therefore I was limited by the available articulations: the Syn. SE only contains the vowel "ah" and only staccato, long notes, legato and sforzato. I used only the legato patch as the transitions even sounded worse with the long notes patch. I noticed that on some notes with some velocity layers the transitions sound better. I'll try to tweak tis a little more. The legato sounds too often like a portamento imo.

"I hope any of that was useful." -> Always! It gives me additional ideas how to improve the sound and an additional pair of ears to improve balancing in the mix. I am deeply grateful for all your feedback. Thank you!

Best, Ben

Ben | Cubase 9.5 Pro | Win 10 1809 | i5 8600k @4.4 GHz, 32GB DDR4
Posted on Mon, Jun 24 2019 23:47
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 97
That's a winning combo of strings. They sound really, really totally balanced. Question for you (and William, who made me aware of that technique in an old post I read): when you layer strings, do you stack them on a patch level or do you create separate instances for each layer?

That would explain just the "aahs" then. It's cool that you're challenging yourself like that.

Glad my feedback helps, then. Hopefully once I wrap my head around the nooks and crannies of all these tools I can start to upload stuff myself, lest I paint myself into the corner of an armchair expert :)

- Sam
Posted on Tue, Jun 25 2019 00:45
by bbelius
Joined on Sat, Mar 14 2015, Posts 430

Originally Posted by: Seventh Sam Go to Quoted Post
That's a winning combo of strings. They sound really, really totally balanced. Question for you (and William, who made me aware of that technique in an old post I read): when you layer strings, do you stack them on a patch level or do you create separate instances for each layer?

I like to keep them in seperat player instance for maximal flexibility. It is quick to copy one midi sequence from one track to another, but I can customize the midi data. In this case I used the same sequence and breath CC for all versions of the strings, but then I realized that the orchestral strings sounded great, but the appassionata strings had too much pressure. So I altered the cc for them. In one case I did not like the legato transition of the DB Solo on a specific interval, so I altered the notes just for this instrument so that the transition is not triggered.
Another thing I like to do is to use different articulations at the same time (not in this project). For example the strings play repetition detache but the solo instance plays rep. spiccato to give the sound more excitement.
And some other advantages: You can EQ each string size seperatly (and if needed add some other fx), finding the right balance is easier in the (VEP-) mixer and quicker to alter if needed, and you can mute a section by deleting its midi for things like divisi or altering the audible sections size.

For this project I left the in-player volume settings as is in the presets (I put those numbers in brakets) and used following ratio in the VEP mixer: Orchestral [67] -2 dB, App [81] -7 dB, Solo [59] -4 dB.
But I think I will make each instance 1 dB loader so it fits better with the other instruments.

One word about the SE-only challenge (the reason why I did this): it helps me to see the limits of a library, but also at the same moment it pushes me to think more creative to push myself and the library to the limits and work around the limitations. (For example I EQ'ed the choir to sing "uuh" instead of "aah" because the SE does not include this articulation, and imo it works fine as choir in the background.)
I think I have now a better feeling for what the SE can and what it can't do and this will help me in coming projects to decide which library to choose. (Also it makes one more grateful for all the different articulations when working with the big libraries  )

Best, Ben

Ben | Cubase 9.5 Pro | Win 10 1809 | i5 8600k @4.4 GHz, 32GB DDR4
Posted on Tue, Jun 25 2019 01:13
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 97
Having a separate instance for each one would be my instinct, to, for the reasons you specified. Good advice, thanks!

I hear you about the big articulations. True dynamics and performance trills are an absolute godsend and really open the instruments up, imo. Before updated to the full stuff I was using vipro like a mad dog time stretching and interval mapping to get the most out of the basic samples, but really good dynamics and ultra fast legato just wasn't doing it, no matter how much fiddling I did.

I recall reading a bit of advice from guy bacos in some obscure forum thread somewhere where he said that, were he to teach someone how to work with samples, he would advise them to challenge themselves to make a full melody with only one articulation, then two, then three. A bit gradus ad parnassum (sp?). Your approach reminds me of that.
Posted on Sun, Jul 07 2019 01:02
by littlewierdo
Joined on Sun, Apr 24 2016, Posts 178

Choir libraries to look at:

Insolidus - https://8dio.com/instrum...takt-vst-au-aax-samples/

Dominus - https://fluffyaudio.com/shop/dominuschoir/

Oceania - https://performancesamples.com/oceania/

There are a few others, but these are the top 3 in my view. Dominus in particular is something to behold and as a side note, probably matches closest to this style.

I almost wonder if instead of a choir, a solo voice would work better. I was thinking lyrical phrases or Eva.

https://sonuscore.com/shop/lyrical-vocal-phrases/

Posted on Sun, Jul 07 2019 21:53
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 97

These solo voice VSTs are worth a glance:

https://realitone.com/products/realivoxladies

https://realitone.com/products/realivoxblue

One thing that irks me about most choir libraries is their inability to do melismatic lines coupled with legit syllables and consonants.  Since melismatic singing more or less defines the classical choir sound, I wonder why more libraries don't work on adding that functionality?  Currently, the only ones I know of that do so with acceptable legato are the Genesis Children's Choir and the Wotan/Freyja/Arva trio.

- Sam

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