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What to buy?
Last post Tue, May 03 2011 by cjthibeault, 3 replies.
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Posted on Mon, May 02 2011 15:52
by cjthibeault
Joined on Fri, Mar 25 2011, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Posts 33

Hello Everyone,

I'm looking to add a few new toys to my collection of samples. So far, I've purchased the Solo Strings 1 (great) and the Special Edition. SE started off great, but I feel like I've quickly found the limitations of it, and am starting to expand. I've since added the Special Edition Strings Plus (considered going with a bigger string package, but I'm sure something newer will be coming around in the near future, this will do for now).

I plan on purchasing Woodwinds I Standard and the Dimension Brass (soon, hopefully). My question is about download instruments. I've purchased the English Horn, and I'd like to buy 2 more and pick up the freebie. Woodwinds 1 gives me the standard woodwinds and the ensembles, but not the piccolo, bass clarinet, or contrabassoon. I'm tempted to choose these 3, but since I'm not sure how much use I will get out of the extra samples, I'm asking for suggestions based on your experiences with these instruments.

What I am writing is mainly orchestral and chamber works, ranging in style from early 1800's to maybe very early 1900's. 

I'm leaning towards any 3 of (I think the freebie can be an extended version of one of these if I also have the standard):


Alto Flute

Bass Clarinet

Bassoon 2

Contra bassoon


Piccolo Trumpet

Trumpet (Bb)

(Yes, I know I have a big gap for saxes. Not planning on writing for them at the moment)



Posted on Tue, May 03 2011 17:22
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1581
cjthibeault wrote:

I'm leaning towards any 3 of (I think the freebie can be an extended version of one of these if I also have the standard):


Hello Chris,

I hate to say this but the only person who can answer this question is you.  One thing I will say, however, I would purchase an entire collection as opposed to buying three standards and then use your freebie to upgrade one of the standards.  The instruments on your list are solo and IMHO it is imperative that you have ALL available samples assembled in order to create a convincing solo performance.  With ensembles you can do more faking and tricky editing to make up for some of the samples you're lacking to get by but not so much with solo instruments.  You need all of the samples and, even when you do have all available samples, you'll soon find out out that you'll want the ones that are currently unavailable.

If there's one thing I've learned in my limited MIDIstration experience is that you just never have enough samples.

"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
Posted on Tue, May 03 2011 18:43
by cjthibeault
Joined on Fri, Mar 25 2011, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Posts 33


Thanks for the response.

I should have given more information about my exact requirements. I'm not writing this material for commercial purposes. I'm not a film scorer, working composer, etc. While I was a music major once upon a time, I am now a graduate student in computer science and mathematics. I write for my own pleasure, and intend on making my scores freely available for performance in exchange for a recording of the performance. 

As I am not making any money from this (in fact, I've no doubt that I will never break even), and given my limited discretionary income, purchasing any VSL material is back-breakingly expensive. And so I have to pick and choose carefully. I'd love to buy it all, but I can't. A student discount package would be awesome though ;)

Anyways, with the Woodwinds I, I'm getting a reasonable amount of samples of the solo instruments and their ensembles (at least, enough for my purposes at the moment). The reason why I listed most of those download instruments is because I will only have those in Special Edition form. I don't plan on using those particular instruments much in any extended solo fashion, but primarily for their role in supporting the woodwind section of the orchestra. 

Perhaps the better question is: in a supporting role within an orchestra, would the lesser samples of say, a contrabassoon from Special Edition, really be noticeable in comparison to the fuller sample set? (Assuming it isn't a 'featured' instrument in the piece)



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