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Time for a real string library comparison!
Last post Wed, Mar 19 2003 by Nigel Watson, 20 replies.
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Posted on Tue, Mar 04 2003 21:19
by Emlyn
Joined on Tue, Jan 21 2003, Providence, RI, Posts 67
I've been reading a lot of threads on this and other forums, and I can't seem to find any definitive ranking of the major string libraries, namely VSL, Sonic Implants, and GOS.

What would be ideal (for any library/section comparison, really), would be a single short sample of music using each library individually, and a variety of performance techniques all mixed together, as in legato,pizz,marcato,sordino,etc. using different dynamic levels throughout.

I want to use an effective string section, but I can't decide which! Confused

Any takers? (Anyone got all three???) Stick out tongue
Posted on Tue, Mar 04 2003 21:54
by Netvudu
Joined on Sun, Dec 15 2002, Madrid, Spain, Posts 63
I would also like to hear such a comparative.
Be aware though that King Idiot will soon reply that the best sound depends on the sound you´re after Big Smile
3d animation? hah! have you looked through your window. There´s plenty of it...and pre-rendered!
Posted on Tue, Mar 04 2003 22:12
by KingIdiot
Joined on Sat, Nov 30 2002, Posts 400
thats because there is no definitive answer

I've got all three and use all three for different reasons, not to mention these reasons are all based on my personal taste.

Add to it that basic demos of each library would just be that, basic, and not really showing you what it "could" do if you were to do even slight things like EQ.

In all honesty, if you were to take basic demos and listen, you'd like SI the most. It works perfectly for most string sounds "out of the box". If you hate mixing pick that one. If you hate haring "suction" in your string performances, pick VSL. GOS is starting to show its age, but it does trump the others in certains areas, like range of articulations and free updates (the latest of which gives me one of my favorite string sounds ever).

THEY ARE ALL INCREDIBLY GOOD LIBS!!! The amount of difference is negledgible with this type of quality if you ask me. If you cant make good music with any one of these you've got some other serious problems.

Really...I am an Idiot
Posted on Tue, Mar 04 2003 22:27
by herb
Joined on Mon, Aug 05 2002, Posts 4622
I hope that everyone understands that I don't want to do such comparisons tests for myself. I have deep respect for every sample producer out there. In my function as VSL developer, such comparison would have a very polemic touch.

best wishes
Herb
Posted on Wed, Mar 05 2003 19:00
by Emlyn
Joined on Tue, Jan 21 2003, Providence, RI, Posts 67
Thanks for the info, KingIdiot. At least you've used all three, and you seem like you know what you're talking about.

Herb: I think that all 3 are fantastic, so I hope it's obvious that I'm talking about very subtle variations here. It's all great quality work.

Of the few GOS demos I've heard, there are some things that sound a little artificial, but the overall sound is almost as good as the others IMHO.

While I do like SI strings, I've heard that they don't have the kind of performance tool found in VSL or GOS, which would be a big Sad Is this true?

I *am* prepared to do a great deal of mixing/tweaking etc. but what I WANT MOST is the flexibility to apply different coloring in different situations without spending $6000+ on 3 libraries. So I guess I'm afraid of being "stuck" in one library's sound (considering how important strings are in the orchestra).

Thanks again.
Posted on Wed, Mar 05 2003 19:23
by avatarprod
Joined on Fri, Jan 03 2003, Posts 11
I, too have all three.

I just finished an article for Electronic Musician magazine that covers the "best of..." in string libraries that, of course, covers all three of the above-mentioned libraries as well as others.

I agree with KI; SI sounds great out of the box, but has no tool for overcoming the "wah-wah' effect of the static attack envelopes. GOS and VSL are employing revolutionary techniques that no one else is doing. These techniques make the control of articulations much more a function of the user's skills, patience and time.

VSL still has a lot of holes to fill in the areas od dynamic layers, articulations, etc., which they are quite aware of and are working on like crazy, I presume. The promise of where VSL is heading based on the initial release of the Cube and P-Set tells me that VSL will need to be a component of all serious users sooner or later.

That being said, all of these libraries have their strengths and weaknesses, much like any group of live musicians. Sometimes you need Steve Gadd; sometimes you want John Robinson for a recording date based on, primarily, the requirements of the music and what their "sound' is. Right? Same with sample libraries.

If you can only afford one library, then you will just have to investigate the options and decide on your own; no one of us could—or should—make that decision for you. These libraries are so deep that a simple comparative demo will NEVER properly represent each library at its full potential. All of these mega-libraries must be approached like new instruments; you have to learn how to coax the best from them and explore them in depth.

Regards,
Rob Shrock
Posted on Wed, Mar 05 2003 19:25
by avatarprod
Joined on Fri, Jan 03 2003, Posts 11
I, too have all three.

I just finished an article for Electronic Musician magazine that covers the "best of..." in string libraries that, of course, covers all three of the above-mentioned libraries as well as others.

I agree with KI; SI sounds great out of the box, but has no tool for overcoming the "wah-wah' effect of the static attack envelopes. GOS and VSL are employing revolutionary techniques that no one else is doing. These techniques make the control of articulations much more a function of the user's skills, patience and time.

VSL still has a lot of holes to fill in the areas od dynamic layers, articulations, etc., which they are quite aware of and are working on like crazy, I presume. The promise of where VSL is heading based on the initial release of the Cube and P-Set tells me that VSL will need to be a component of all serious users sooner or later.

That being said, all of these libraries have their strengths and weaknesses, much like any group of live musicians. Sometimes you need Steve Gadd; sometimes you want John Robinson for a recording date based on, primarily, the requirements of the music and what their "sound' is. Right? Same with sample libraries.

If you can only afford one library, then you will just have to investigate the options and decide on your own; no one of us could—or should—make that decision for you. These libraries are so deep that a simple comparative demo will NEVER properly represent each library at its full potential. All of these mega-libraries must be approached like new instruments; you have to learn how to coax the best from them and explore them in depth.

Regards,
Rob Shrock
Posted on Wed, Mar 05 2003 19:29
by KingIdiot
Joined on Sat, Nov 30 2002, Posts 400
Once VSL has other articulations sampled (sordino, etc) I believe it will be the most flxible overall, or in line with the upcoming QLSO libraries strings. Atleast in terms of sound. Possibly performance.

VSL, being recorded in its silent stage, allows for you to do alot of mixing/coloration if you want with out trying to "remove" a certain character. It also takes very well to reverbs.

SI is very colored, but its a very nice sound, even without any legato type tools it can sound very realistic.

GOS's legato tool is outshined 10 times by VSL's performance tools. However with the slides and other samples you can add some extreme realism. It is however, also colored in its own way.

The upcoming QLSO library will have many options for flexible sound. Multiple mic positions, allow you to use the natural ambience to color the sound, or you can use reverb+EQ on the closer mics to create more of your own sound. Its still yet to be heard whether or not the legato features will be up to VSL standards tho. I doubt it will be bad tho, in fact I expect it to be quite good.

In my opinion your best bet is to go with one of the libraries, then use some solo string samples layered on top to color and create and ensemble sound you like.

Dan Dean solo strings layers well with libraries, the upocoming Kirk Hunter library and London Solo Strings libraries should also work nicely.

There is no "one string library to rule them all", your best bet if you must choose is based on your needs.

Since you seem to want flexibility, I suggest VSL with the performance package, and some solo strings, or one of the "lite" versions of SI or GOS. The performance package in VSL is possibly the first thing I'd buy if you are going to mix and match and if you need to save money. Using the legato and repetition samples will get you pretty far layered with other libs.


once the solo strings from VSL is done, they will be another option for coloring. Solo samples tend to let you add a more expressive vibrato over the top of ensemble vibrato. Like a first chair player emphasizing a part.

As of right now there is no solo library out that has a very expressive piano sound. KH is selling early/beta versions of his library, and I'd expect that one to have some. Its quite cheap too, so it may be worth it to you to invest in that one.

The nuances added with this technique is uncanny, its just that it eats up some more poly. As much as I like the VSL strings, I cant wait to have the solo strings to layer on the top, or smaller ensemble variations to layer on top to add more vibrato and different character.

Again as I said, I think VSL in its final form will be the most flexible, its just about if you want to wait and update.

That all said, I sitll like my new updates for GOS alot Smile, totally unusable for some music, and lots of problems if you pick at them, but they have a sound you cant get with any other lib if you ask me.

Really...I am an Idiot
Posted on Wed, Mar 05 2003 20:47
by Emlyn
Joined on Tue, Jan 21 2003, Providence, RI, Posts 67
Thanks to everyone for their input here. Definitely food for thought!

I shall have to think carefully about how I intend to use these, and make my decision accordingly. Some of us lowly composer don't have a lotta $$$ Crying

I like the idea of layering solo instruments over the ensemble patch. Of course, the day will come when ensemble samples will be a thing of the past, since more processing power and polyphony will one day make "true" ensembles be just that: collections of sampled solo instruments playing in unison where color is not only defined by the quality of the instrument itself, but also by the number of instruments used in the ensemble. A truly virtual orchestra, if you will, that will allow for as much flexibility as the real thing (or close to it).

Don't forget silence [Wink]

Emlyn
Posted on Wed, Mar 05 2003 21:42
by KingIdiot
Joined on Sat, Nov 30 2002, Posts 400
thats not a dream Wink There are people looking at developing just that.

I still think tho, that ensemble samples are a need. The sound of a 16 violin ensemble playing together will sound different than a mix of 16 seperate samples of each of those violin players playing. Not to mention it would be wholy different with all the other instruments in a room sitting there and not even playing. Each instrument would resonant with sympathetic frequenices..

all sorts of stuff that will make it never sound perfectly real... Smile

still I can tell you that the idea you have is something thats being thought about, and early tests are extremely promising

Really...I am an Idiot
Posted on Thu, Mar 06 2003 15:29
by Emlyn
Joined on Tue, Jan 21 2003, Providence, RI, Posts 67
Actually, what I meant was perhaps 10-20 samples of *different* players *for each* playing style and articulation to ensure variability. No doubt an enormously expensive undertaking, but not entirely impossible...

Of course, it will never replace the real thing!
Posted on Thu, Mar 06 2003 17:59
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726
I have to say that although I only have VSL and GOS of these three under discussion, all of the details in this very intelligent and knowledgeable thread pale in significance next to one thing - LEGATO.

Strings ARE legato. That is maybe 75% of what it is to be a string player. And only VSL has the real thing. It is not a matter of comparing many different details, it is an enormous, single revolutionary accomplishment on the part of this company.

As I was recording some more tracks for a symphony I've been endlessly working on, I was thinking as I listened to the startling perfection of sound possible with VSL that this is what has always been missing from sampling. It is the one missing element that is absolutely crucial to true musical expression - the actual connection between notes, not just the notes themselves. That is how a player makes his instrument "sing" and it can now truly be accomplished with samples.
Posted on Thu, Mar 06 2003 18:23
by Iwan Roth
Joined on Thu, Nov 07 2002, FRANCE, but Swiss....., Posts 222
William wrote:
That is maybe 75% of what it is to be a string player. And only VSL has the real thing. It is not a matter of comparing many different details, it is an enormous, single revolutionary accomplishment on the part of this company.


This leaves 5% for intonation, 5% Technique, 5% musicality, and 10% money for buying the strings -or Beer Big Smile

Iwan
Posted on Thu, Mar 06 2003 20:13
by Tripit
Joined on Thu, Jan 30 2003, Hollywood, Ca., Posts 350
I too have and use all three libraries. and as with the others I agree with KI.
SI is great out of the box. The SI strings are wonderful for sublte and delicate strings. The sound is wonderful. SI also offers a range of string effects and non standard articulations that are very handy for scoring.
VSL is really great sounding too. The legato is unbeatable. Once the rest of the articulations are avalible, it will probably become the defacto string library.
GOS has some good patches, but I find that I don't use it at all with the other two availible.
Posted on Thu, Mar 06 2003 22:19
by Emlyn
Joined on Tue, Jan 21 2003, Providence, RI, Posts 67
Iwan Roth wrote:


This leaves 5% for intonation, 5% Technique, 5% musicality, and 10% money for buying the strings -or Beer Big Smile

Iwan



Hahahaha! I don't think string players drink beer... Isn't it port, or cherry or something? [Wink]
Posted on Tue, Mar 18 2003 14:54
by phenty
Joined on Tue, Mar 18 2003, Posts 1
While we are on the subject, can anyone say anything about the Miroslav Vitous library in comparison to VSL?

Thanks,

Paul
Posted on Tue, Mar 18 2003 17:43
by scores4film
Joined on Tue, Aug 20 2002, Posts 91
M vitous was great for its time, but definately no comparison to VSL. Some of the winds have a nice character and I still use the solo trumpet - love the tone not the flexibility. Overall the library is a bit sluggish.
Posted on Wed, Mar 19 2003 05:36
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726
What Miraslav had was beautiful - all of the recordings were excellent sound quality, and the performers were probably at least as good as the VSL. However, it was from about ten years ago, and VSL has literally ten times the data (actually somewhat more) and includes multiple dynamics on chromatic samples - none of which Miraslav had. Also, and as crucially, the MV never had anything remotely like the alternation or legato tools.

I am reworking a major recording project I did with the Miraslav Vitous samples to use VSL, and what I notice most is that with MV even though there were many great sounds much of the time one would have to fake something - using filter and volume to get a pp out of an mf sample, or overlapping ends and beginnings of samples to get a "legato" effect. However, with the VSL, you do not have to fake anything, even subtle things, and it makes all the difference in the world.
Posted on Wed, Mar 19 2003 14:38
by NG1
Joined on Thu, Dec 19 2002, Posts 193
My biggest problem with Miroslav was it's imbedded musicality - some notes would swell or do a cresc then dim, etc. This made it fantastic to audition, but once I started trying to bend its will to my pieces I found that it invariably would be doing the opposite of what I wanted it to be doing musically. I eventually ended up using AO more often than not, because it was easier to shape the notes how I needed. The only alternative for me was to compose at the keyboard with Miraslov preloaded (instead of in front of staff paper) and let the samples dictate the composition.

The sound of the hall in the ensemble samples was nice, though, especially on the brass ensembles (disclaimer: I'm not trying to start a thread on the merits of samples recorded with concert hall ambience.)
Posted on Wed, Mar 19 2003 21:37
by Nigel Watson
Joined on Fri, Dec 20 2002, Cologne, Germany, Posts 365
actually, string players like a nice cup of tea [Wink]
though there may be some national differences in this respect
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