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VSL vs Hollywoods Strings #2
Last post Tue, Aug 09 2011 by devastat, 79 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Jun 05 2011 13:06
by Erik
Joined on Sat, Nov 20 2004, The Netherlands, Posts 144

Hi,

The thread "How Will VSL Compete with Hollywood Strings?" has gone into another direction than originally meant. So I would like to share here my contribution to this issue with a new and moreover musical thread this time. Some forum members have been challenged, understandingly, by other members to show off their point of view with a MP3 file. I haven't joined the original thread actively, but now in this #2 you can hear different libraries with the same "source".

I have made three versions of a moderately modern (a little bit Bartok), very nice and energetic piece by Stephen Barton. You can find the midi file (and more: pdf etc.) on the site of Audio Impressions. This piece requires everything from a decent library: smooth legato, agressive staccato, leggiero spiccato, high speed runs, repetited notes, tremolo etc.. Shortly: it is comparable with many classical pieces in the need for high quality patches and software.

It concerns Hollywood Strings and VSL, Appassionata Strings, (how surprisingly) and as a bonus also a version with LASS. I have made all three versions with the same intention: to make the best out of them, but I realise that no version will be the same made by others. You are invited BTW to make your own of course with the midi file mentioned hereabove. Without doubt a different or even better version is possible: there is a limit of time investment doing (non commercial) things like this, not in the least.

I didn't multi-layer the tracks with solo instruments as often is advised here on this forum: so it is just the string library as mentioned (except for LASS, because it is an essential part of the full sound). Hollywood Strings with only the basic mic position, BTW.

I don't have any business relationship with one of the companies, I normally use a 'dedicated' library for a specific purpose. As in real life there are favourite orchestras for Mozart or Mahler on the other hand as well.

I used an interesting, but very expensive spatial verb by Flux SPAT (hence a demo version), just to let you know. It also makes life quite easy to get a warm but transparent, nice string sound (for all three libraries).

And.......of course I have certainly a preference for one of the three examples *, but I am more interested in your opinions to be honest. I also hope that others are challenged to make their own version with their own libraries.

Enjoy!

* Actually there are now 5 versions if you include the Audio Impressions demos with 35 and 70 players.

Posted on Sun, Jun 05 2011 14:15
by cjthibeault
Joined on Fri, Mar 25 2011, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Posts 33

I kinda prefer everything about the LASS demo. The Holywood demo was ok, but not great. The Appasionata demo sounds alright, but it starts off sounding a bit weird to me in terms of dynamics. 

Just curious, why Appasionata and not the regular VSL orchestral strings? Don't the Appasionatas lack many of the articulations of the orchestra strings package? Not sure if this makes it a fair fight or not. 

Thanks for posting it though. I love hearing straight comparisons. 

Posted on Sun, Jun 05 2011 19:06
by Jack Weaver
Joined on Sat, Mar 27 2004, Tucson, AZ, Posts 390

Interesting the complete failure of Hollywood Strings to handle the fast articulations. All blur and no definition. 

Yes, I also would have gone with the Orchestral Strings (w/ maybe a hint of the Chamber Strings shorts). 

However, hats off to the original poster for his honest work and effort in this. It must have taken a bit of time to put these together.

Mac Master:
2010 Mac Pro 12-core. 3.46GHz, 64 GB RAM, OSX 10.12.3, Logic Pro X 10.3.1 ,VEP5, SSD system drive, etc.

PC Slave:
12-core e5650, 48 GB RAM, Win7, MIR Pro/VEP5, SSD system drive
Posted on Mon, Jun 06 2011 01:41
by mplaster
Joined on Fri, Jan 12 2007, phoenix | az | usa, Posts 217

Wow, thanks for taking the time to do this, Erik.

Firstly, i have to eliminate LASS. I am sure LASS shines on certain things, but on *this* demo and *this* type of music, it's not too successful, in my opinion.

That leaves me with VSL versus Hollywood Strings.

In this demos, to me, the Hollywood Strings sounded like it fit perfectly in a soundtrack; had a very "cinematic" feel to it. It's odd for me to try to reconcile how something "musical" can have it's own descriptive character as "cinematic" or "perfect-for-film." But in that respect i think Hollywood Strings succeeded.

As for VSL, the VSL version of the demo, to me, sounded the most like an actual real orchestra; meaning, there was an "essence" about it that felt mostly as if i were in a concert hall listening to it. I am going to assume that the reverb, placement, effects, etc. were all identical for each track (aside from LASS's self positioning). And therefore i am going to conclude that the fact that HS sounds more "cinematic" and VSL sounds more "real orchestra" is not an anomaly of different mixing/reverb settings. And therefore, from that, i am going to conclude that the difference is inherent in the actual sample data, the amount or articulation content, and the playability of each library's sample set.

Therefore, in MY opinion, VSL takes the gold, HS the silver, and LASS the bronze.

Although i must concede that at that point much of it comes down to what the user him-or-herself is really looking for. As always, different strokes for different folks. To me, HS would seem to be more appropriate for someone doing video game soundtracks, or Hollywood-esque scores. And VSL would seem to fit better the user who is trying to imitate a real orchestra for music and song. And please dont take that out of context. I do not at all mean to imply that Video Game and film composers are any less musical than the rest of us. There are good and bad in both film scoring and music/song-writing. I simply mean to illustrate a difference in not only what the composer himself wants to sound like, but in what the consumer/recipient/audience is expecting to hear in whichever media they are experiencing.

Anyhow, awesome work Erik. Thanks for taking the time to produce these and let us hear them!

- michael

_______________________________
facebook.com/soulwhirlingsomewhere
Posted on Mon, Jun 06 2011 08:36
by Hicks
Joined on Sun, Feb 28 2010, Posts 48
Thanks for comparing.

LASS can do far better than what is shown! But however this library doesn't have enough articulations to handle this kind of piece. It shines on legato and spiccato. SO as says previously I would exclude LASS.

Important thing is to see how close HS and VSL are sounding quite the same the first bars of the music.
I can hear well the attacks on HS and even if some are sounding weird, it is far impressive.

VSL is very good at the beginning. However all the runs are far better with HS.
I must say that HS shine on this, but VSL is not so far behind. The only issues are very fast passages. This is why I would like to hear orchestal strings as I would liek to purchase this library and as I am pretty convince by WW runs from VSL, I am sure Orchestral strings can handle those runs (with time streching).





Posted on Mon, Jun 06 2011 16:59
by Erik
Joined on Sat, Nov 20 2004, The Netherlands, Posts 144

Hi,

Thanks so far for all comments.

And the good news is...........there is also a special VSL orchestra version* now.
(which makes six version totally).

Anybody for the VSL chamber version?

* same spatial verb as on other tracks of course (Flux SPAT)

Posted on Tue, Jun 07 2011 07:33
by Hicks
Joined on Sun, Feb 28 2010, Posts 48
Erik, you're the man!

This latest version is the one I prefer.
Mostly because this is the one which sounds the more like real strings (HS sounds also very real, but very compressed and filtered). Orchestral strings reminds me the pit of an orchestra. The attacks are very good and also dynamics.

The only lack is still very fast passages in highest range of the violin. Could you tell us what kind of articulations you have used?
It is also a little bit too much quantized, but that's not a big issue as it is due to the mock up already done.

The great advantage from VSL is even spiccato have been recorded as perf interval (with interval between two notes recorded) so spiccati passages (especially with celli are quite incredible).

So I would say HS and VSL orchestral ex aequo. HS sounds really good and can handle fast passages, VSL orchestral (HS beats on the example appasionnata as sound is similar but HS sounds more real). has the best sound to my ear but some issue on highest range (the 1.45 min passage). It sounds too much clean, too much "piano man".
But I am pretty sure runs from orchestral can handle this!
Posted on Tue, Jun 07 2011 09:08
by Erik
Joined on Sat, Nov 20 2004, The Netherlands, Posts 144

Hi Hicks,

Thanks!

Well, I deliberately didn't pay much attention to a more humanized version (timing), so you are right that it could sound better and more lively. I choose for this setup because I didnt want to use something else than the offered MIDI version on the site of AudioImpressions.

Concerning the used patches. First of all I made a new version yesterday with the full VSL orchestra version (which I didn't have at the moment I made the Appassionata version). Using Cubase 6 with its expression map, combined with two CC lanes in this case (CC3 and 4),  makes it really a breeze to create a fast mock-up. Personally I don't like keyswitching very much, but prefer Program Changes. This explains the rather rudimentary use of patches maybe of the Appassionata version: it was made in Sonar, that allows of course PrCh, but with quite some effort.

Back to the patches: I used only 6 matrices: Perf Leg All, Perf Trill, Short Notes combi, Dynamics (only pf-sfz-sffz), Perf Rep and a matrix with tremolo, pizz and col legno (CC3 horizontal change, CC4 vertical, where needed).
So I did not use any perf spiccato BTW, just a selection of the short notes (combi).
I noticed in the past that using the perf repetition for spiccato results in a kind of quite unrhythmical sequence, is there something wrong with the attack in the alternating samples maybe??), so that's why I usually take from the short notes matrix.

I only implemented the Flux SPAT verb, no compression or EQ-ing or what so ever. Maybe a second mic in the HS would have been needed for a directer sound (loading samples in HS takes some time and much RAM however, hence this choice).

I will consider a new version for the App's based on the Orchestra version (just changing patches in this case), for the sake of an honest comparison.

Posted on Tue, Jun 07 2011 11:01
by Sergino Futurino
Joined on Thu, Dec 18 2003, Livorno, Posts 651

Erik, did you use MIR for the Vienna Demo?

I first got into Vienna Samples just and only because they are dry, and I can use them as I want, but Expecially with MIR.

I think MIR is a must for using Vienna, so if you didn't, your work value is zero.Geeked

www.sergiobrunetti.it
Windows 10 on Vertex4 SSD - I7 3960x overclocked @4.0 Ghz - 32 GB RAM -
2010 MacbookPro 2.66 Ghz 8 Giga RAM -
MOTU: 2408 MK3, 24i, Traveler,MIDI Express XT
Studio One 4.1 Pro, Notion 6.5, Sibelius 6.2, Kontakt 5.6
VE Pro 6, VI Pro 2, Vienna Suite, Vienna MIR Pro w/Roompacks 1 and 2,
Libraries (preload size 2408): Special Edition Standard and Plus, Appassionata I, Solo Strings I, Dimension Brass, Percussion, Soprano Choir, Upright Bass, Flugelhorn, Saxophones, Concert guitar, Jazz Drums, Epic Orchestra, Dimension Strings
Posted on Tue, Jun 07 2011 12:44
by Erik
Joined on Sat, Nov 20 2004, The Netherlands, Posts 144

Also added ( and not with MIRSmile)

1. Appassionata #2

2. Chamber

Posted on Wed, Jun 08 2011 05:39
by GoranTch
Joined on Tue, Mar 14 2006, Berlin, Posts 524
mplaster wrote:

Wow, thanks for taking the time to do this, Erik.

Firstly, i have to eliminate LASS. I am sure LASS shines on certain things, but on *this* demo and *this* type of music, it's not too successful, in my opinion.

That leaves me with VSL versus Hollywood Strings.

In this demos, to me, the Hollywood Strings sounded like it fit perfectly in a soundtrack; had a very "cinematic" feel to it. It's odd for me to try to reconcile how something "musical" can have it's own descriptive character as "cinematic" or "perfect-for-film." But in that respect i think Hollywood Strings succeeded.

As for VSL, the VSL version of the demo, to me, sounded the most like an actual real orchestra; meaning, there was an "essence" about it that felt mostly as if i were in a concert hall listening to it. I am going to assume that the reverb, placement, effects, etc. were all identical for each track (aside from LASS's self positioning). And therefore i am going to conclude that the fact that HS sounds more "cinematic" and VSL sounds more "real orchestra" is not an anomaly of different mixing/reverb settings. And therefore, from that, i am going to conclude that the difference is inherent in the actual sample data, the amount or articulation content, and the playability of each library's sample set.

Therefore, in MY opinion, VSL takes the gold, HS the silver, and LASS the bronze.

Although i must concede that at that point much of it comes down to what the user him-or-herself is really looking for. As always, different strokes for different folks. To me, HS would seem to be more appropriate for someone doing video game soundtracks, or Hollywood-esque scores. And VSL would seem to fit better the user who is trying to imitate a real orchestra for music and song. And please dont take that out of context. I do not at all mean to imply that Video Game and film composers are any less musical than the rest of us. There are good and bad in both film scoring and music/song-writing. I simply mean to illustrate a difference in not only what the composer himself wants to sound like, but in what the consumer/recipient/audience is expecting to hear in whichever media they are experiencing.

Anyhow, awesome work Erik. Thanks for taking the time to produce these and let us hear them!

- michael

Posted on Wed, Jun 08 2011 13:21
by Tralen
Joined on Sat, May 08 2010, Brasil, Posts 52
Thanks for making these wonderful demonstrations. I am really impressed with what you achieved here. If I may add my judgement to the topic, I would say the chamber strings rendering is far superior to the rest, the dynamics and articulations are simply beautiful. Of the batch I would say the worst is the first appassionata you posted, but that was rectified by the second one, so I would pick Hollywood Strings as the worst. My problem with Hollywood Strings is the compactness of the sound, I don't know why but I got the impression that I was listening to a speaker inside my speakers. LASS has a softer light to it, which reminds me of the pastoral qualities of Miroslav, but overall I felt the performance very artificial. Thanks again for all your work!
Posted on Wed, Jun 08 2011 18:37
by Erik
Joined on Sat, Nov 20 2004, The Netherlands, Posts 144

Hi Tralen,

You are right for the first Appasionata version: I removed it, it just doesn't do right to this library.

Furthermore I have made a second reverbed Orchestra version, now with Origami (spatializing) and QL Spaces (EWQL).Nice comparison also with a slightly longer verb in the QL Spaces version.

I haven't been able to do a decent one in MIR yet, but that will undoubtly follow within a few days, so "stay tuned!".

Also for me was the Chamber version surpringly good!

Posted on Fri, Jun 10 2011 10:38
by morphlite
Joined on Mon, Sep 17 2007, Posts 86

Hey Erik,

This is perfect timing for me. I've been looking at all the strings libraries recently.

Appassionata2 is probs my favourite as far as overall balance and sound. (fast bits aside) Feels really smooth. What was the reverb/stage on that? VSL Standard Orchestra is also nice actually and punchy in comparison. Gotta be TOP 2

HS is kinda nice, bit bright maybe and I would have to do some work on that and it's basically whether you want the "Hollywood sound" out of a box or not really. This thing looks hugh and demanding and that's got to be a real consideration. As well as the fact that VSL stuff is much more tweekable/reliable compared to PLAY.

Some good deals on HS/HB Gold combined at the moment though. VSL would do well to do something similar.

Paul

Macbook Pro 2011, Logic 8.0.2, Sonar X1
Dell Studio XPS Core i7 Slave W7

Special Edition/VE PRO
Posted on Sun, Jun 12 2011 01:42
by dragsquares
Joined on Sat, Aug 13 2005, Los Angeles, Posts 53

Well, it is demanding.  I admit to not using it much until I got a Gold license, as the Diamond was a bit of a bloated sluggish pig, not to put too fine a point on it.  It does sound great, if pitchy.  In fact, my main complaint with HS and LASS is the thing so many people are saying is great, which is the fact that they are pitchy.  I say this in response: it doesn't sound more human because of that - it sounds more like you got the "B" players to do your session.  As a side thought - maybe it's not a lack of tuning problems that make one's strings sound fake...


My general feeling about EW is that their libraries are ambitious, often very good-sounding, inspiring, and sometimes incompletely programmed or recorded.  One needs to look no further than the QLSO to find, for example, curiously- and inconsistently-articulated attacks on the 6-Horn ensemble or three-trumpet ensemble, or abrupt cutoffs on releases in many of their titles, SD and SDII having notable examples.  Admittedly, I have never attempted to record a giant library using a large number of musicians before, and perhaps it is beyond the scope of any reasonable-priced library to have all perfect performances without making the library a losing proposition money-wise - after all, look at what you get when you buy QLSO Platinum (or Gold, even.) - pretty impressive.  It's still pretty great to be able to drop something in that sounds mostly there.


But what I can say is that VSL seems to suffer far less from tuning and articulation issues than any others - and also that I've had a great deal of success making VSL sound satisfyingly "Hollywood" with the right ambiences and positioning, maybe a hair of layering, and maybe the occasional bit of distortion (from Devil-Loc or the like) - whereas HS is HS, pretty much.  If you get a lot of the VSL strings, you can get a lot of different sounds out of them.  I'll never forget the first time I took something written with App strings and converted it to the Chamber stuff - the Chamber Strings are very agile and easy to direct.  It made the App strings feel like I was driving a city bus by comparison.  Not that they're bad at all!  Just that when the sound of more players is involved... Anyway, it would be nice to have more, shall we say, florid playing options in VSL than are currently offered, but that often seems to come at the expense of malleability in programming.  Though if anyone can make it work, maybe it'll be the folks from Vienna.

Richard F.W. Davis
Composer, Producer, Arranger

VSL, VEP, OT BS, AM/SM, CSS/CSSS, SSO, 8Dio, NI, JFK, MTBF, TL;DR
Posted on Sun, Jun 12 2011 15:26
by Erik
Joined on Sat, Nov 20 2004, The Netherlands, Posts 144
dragsquares wrote:
I say this in response: it doesn't sound more human because of that - it sounds more like you got the "B" players to do your session.

That is exactly my opinion. Mentioning the issue on the forum of Audiobro didn't help at all, on the contrary: there are some LASS believers who really think that you first have to make  'music' before complaining about patches that are fully out ot of tune. A mock-up of whatever piece with only the First Chair patches gives a ridiculous result, not even on a level of B-players, it just lacks any level. Combining FC, A,B and C makes the pain less, but still audible.

And...you are right on this also: HS is a bit (sometimes more than a bit) out of tune in some patches.

On the contrary: with VSL, besides the abundance of articulations, also this element is in hands of the users of VI Pro with all kinds and levels of what I call "dis-tuning".

Does anybody have listened to the original DVZ results (35 and 70- players) BTW?

Posted on Mon, Jun 13 2011 00:53
by jammusique
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Paris, France, Posts 258

Nice job. I prefer the VSL Orchestral version. I’m not sure that the score calls for this, but I could imagine a mix of Chamber and Orchestral sections in this piece.

Overall very nice, and there are (at least) a few moments of truly exceptional programing !

WW complete. MirX Teldex, Cubase, PC
Posted on Sat, Jul 02 2011 15:54
by Erik
Joined on Sat, Nov 20 2004, The Netherlands, Posts 144

Hi,

There is an add-on, if interested visit this page.

Erik

Posted on Sat, Jul 02 2011 16:24
by Sergino Futurino
Joined on Thu, Dec 18 2003, Livorno, Posts 651

Yes, but VSL without MIR is like a Porsche without a blonde.

(Forgive me ladies! By the way, I prefer Ferrari and brunettes Geeked)

www.sergiobrunetti.it
Windows 10 on Vertex4 SSD - I7 3960x overclocked @4.0 Ghz - 32 GB RAM -
2010 MacbookPro 2.66 Ghz 8 Giga RAM -
MOTU: 2408 MK3, 24i, Traveler,MIDI Express XT
Studio One 4.1 Pro, Notion 6.5, Sibelius 6.2, Kontakt 5.6
VE Pro 6, VI Pro 2, Vienna Suite, Vienna MIR Pro w/Roompacks 1 and 2,
Libraries (preload size 2408): Special Edition Standard and Plus, Appassionata I, Solo Strings I, Dimension Brass, Percussion, Soprano Choir, Upright Bass, Flugelhorn, Saxophones, Concert guitar, Jazz Drums, Epic Orchestra, Dimension Strings
Posted on Tue, Jul 05 2011 11:16
by Erik
Joined on Sat, Nov 20 2004, The Netherlands, Posts 144
Sergino Futurino wrote:

Yes, but VSL without MIR is like a Porsche without a blonde.

(Forgive me ladies! By the way, I prefer Ferrari and brunettes Geeked)

Hi Sergino,

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