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Unable to achieve a good Orchestral Sound
Last post Sat, Jan 25 2014 by nektarios, 24 replies.
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Posted on Thu, Jan 09 2014 03:48
by nektarios
Joined on Tue, Nov 19 2013, New Jersey, United States, Posts 468

After purchasing the Vienna Dimension Strings, and the Orchestral Strings I & II,
I find myself unable to replicate a satisfying orchestral sound. In the below example
I use a simple chord progression.
https://soundcloud.com/mail-87-1/orchestra-snippet

And in each track I use:

Track 1: Violins I > Dimension Strings
Track 2: Violins II > Dimension Strings
Track 3: Violas > Orchestral Strings
Track 4: Cellos > Dimension Strings
Track 5: Double Bass > Orchestral Strings

All have performance legato as the main articulation and enabled velocity xFade.

For example, the way the strings sound here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQXVzg2PiZw
(they begin after 39 seconds) is the sound I like for strings. Or alternatively, I like how
the strings sound here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuAGGZNfUkU

It has been a very frustrating experience. How can I mix them altogether to get a
satisfying sound? I understand this must have been touched many times before, but I
think after spending so much on these libraries, I must be able to reproduce a
satisfying sound.

Any help would greatly be appreciated!

Thank you.

-N.
_____

Cubase Pro 8, Windows 7 64 bit @ 64 GB RAM
Dual Intel Xeon E5-2687W @ 3.10GHz
Dimension Strings (Full)
Chamber Strings I+II (Full)
Appassionata Strings I+II (Full)
Orchestral Strings I+II (Full)
Solo Strings I (Full)
Vienna Imperial
Saxophones (Full)
Woodwinds I (Full)
Brass II (Full)
Dimension Brass (Full)
Upright Bass
Percussion (Full)
Overdrive
Jazz Drums
Vienna Choir
Soprano Choir
Solo Voices (Full)
Posted on Thu, Jan 09 2014 08:20
by johnstaf
Joined on Thu, Apr 21 2011, EI, Posts 216
The first thing you need to do is experiment with dynamics. When a string section sounds like a harmonium, it means you need to shape the lines to resemble those of real strings. Timbre and dynamics are equally important when it comes to realism, so you could start by experimenting with the Mod wheel, or whatever controller you have assigned to Velocity Xfade.

It also helps if you work on the dynamics for each instrument separately, as having every player follow the exact same contour sounds unnatural, as it is not the way real musicians play. Remember you are not only the conductor, but the player of each instrument as well.
Cubase (OS agnostic). Various VSL bits and pieces.

Posted on Thu, Jan 09 2014 10:40
by gernot
Joined on Mon, Oct 29 2007, Vienna, Austria, Posts 46

hi nektarios,

when i first started with vsl i was also facinated with legato transitions and used them all the time. but the result often is, that you're arragements don't breath. there's no pause, no relief in between.
when you listen to you're youtube example, there's hardly any legato transition but rather, as johnstaf said, a variation in dynamics and expression. try using more sustained notes, or even some dynamic (cescendi) versions for some layers of your arrangement. also play with the different vibrato versions of the strings. layering non vibrato with vibrato and expressive versions makes the arrangement sound much more natural/alive.
in addition open your arrangement up a bit by e.g. using different chord variations and increasing the harmonic bandwith - for example move your violins slowly up an octave thourh the harmonic progression. 
to get even more tension/liveliness in the quiet passages i love using the slow tremoli of the dimension strings (in mix with normal sustain articulation of the other strings).

also: i feel you're strings aren't balanced out in volume and space well. try looking at the chord matrix presets from vsl. basses and celli are mixed quieter.. and try to play with your reverb a little.. it still sounds a bit "direct" for what you're trying to achive.

i know vsl can be frustrating in the beginning. but it's so worth getting into it deeper ;) you know the demos and what's possible.

hope that helps

best, gernot 

Posted on Thu, Jan 09 2014 14:14
by whlederman
Joined on Mon, Jan 25 2010, Posts 111

Hi nektarios,

I suggest You learn from Beat Kaufman.try his website.

Willy

Posted on Fri, Jan 10 2014 03:07
by nektarios
Joined on Tue, Nov 19 2013, New Jersey, United States, Posts 468

Thank you all for the valuable and helpful advice. I will try and apply what
you suggested. Seems like there is lots of work ahead of me! In addition, one
of the problems I also faced is what notes to allocate for each instrument group
in my chord progression. In other words, do all instruments play all the notes in
the chord progression or the higher ones go to the violins, and lower ones go to
double bass etc.? Since I am more or less self taught, I'd like to know how the
instruments are chosen for what note ranges. Here is what I did for the posted clip
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/33556625/Images/screenshot.jpg

I would appreciate it if you can tell me if you spot something
that looks wrong!


Thanks again!

-N.

_____

Cubase Pro 8, Windows 7 64 bit @ 64 GB RAM
Dual Intel Xeon E5-2687W @ 3.10GHz
Dimension Strings (Full)
Chamber Strings I+II (Full)
Appassionata Strings I+II (Full)
Orchestral Strings I+II (Full)
Solo Strings I (Full)
Vienna Imperial
Saxophones (Full)
Woodwinds I (Full)
Brass II (Full)
Dimension Brass (Full)
Upright Bass
Percussion (Full)
Overdrive
Jazz Drums
Vienna Choir
Soprano Choir
Solo Voices (Full)
Posted on Fri, Jan 10 2014 07:55
by Casiquire
Joined on Sat, May 01 2010, Posts 325
nektarios wrote:
Thank you all for the valuable and helpful advice. I will try and apply what
you suggested. Seems like there is lots of work ahead of me! In addition, one
of the problems I also faced is what notes to allocate for each instrument group
in my chord progression. In other words, do all instruments play all the notes in
the chord progression or the higher ones go to the violins, and lower ones go to
double bass etc.? Since I am more or less self taught, I'd like to know how the
instruments are chosen for what note ranges. Here is what I did for the posted clip
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/33556625/Images/screenshot.jpg

I would appreciate it if you can tell me if you spot something
that looks wrong!


Thanks again!

-N.

For info like that, I highly recommend Kent Kennan's book on orchestration.  It's a good practical guide with the easiest-to-understand little examples of different types of orchestration.

Posted on Fri, Jan 10 2014 10:20
by gernot
Joined on Mon, Oct 29 2007, Vienna, Austria, Posts 46

.. yup - or like whiderman suggested - look for beat kaufmanns website, since he's specifically talking about orchestration using vsl libraries and all the vsl software.

in short: yes, split up the chords into single lines for each instrument group. start by using the highest note for 1st violins, 2nd hightest for 2nd violins, then violas and double the lowest (root) note with cellos and basses (basses an octave below cellos). that is a very common way to do it - but in music no rule is carved in stone.. but it's a starting point.

just look a an orchestra and think how it would play. if, in vsl, you have a string section consisting of 10 violas, they are recorded as 10 violas playing the same note. so if play 3 notes at the same time with 10 violas each, you end up with 30 violas playing. that sound's unrealistic. if you had to play 3 notes with 10 violas, you would (in an orchestra) split them up in 3 groups (devisi) and have each group play one note. that's basically why dimension strings have been introduced by vsl - now you can do it.. this is just an arbitary excample..

there's free literature on the internet about theses things too, but simple pondering about the subject will get you far - and sometimes it's not a bad thing to completly breake all theh rules and do it differently.. however - if you like to recreate the sound of real orchestras it's helpful to know how it is usually done.

have fun with it fellow cubase user ;)
cheers
gernot 

Posted on Fri, Jan 10 2014 15:21
by whlederman
Joined on Mon, Jan 25 2010, Posts 111

Hi Nektarios, sorry,do you have Vienna Instrument Pro. to utilise Dimension Instruments ? if not,you need VI Pro and if possible also VE Pro.

VI Pro will give you sequences that will let you learn how to built chords repetitions and more.

well , of course Beat' Kaufmans is best for VSLinstruments owner

Willy

Posted on Fri, Jan 10 2014 18:07
by noldar12
Joined on Thu, Dec 04 2008, Posts 582

As others have stated, there is really no way around getting good books on orchestration.  One concise book that I have found to be very helpful is Essential Dictionary of Orchestration by Black and Gerou.  Its focus is strictly on individual instruments, their ranges, needed transposition (if any), and characteristics.

I believe, IIRC, that Dietz was once asked what it takes to get samples to sound something like a real orchestra.  His answer, only half in jest, was, "millions of computer edits."  Each note benefits from multiple edits ranging from choosing the appropriate articulation, to expression, attack, and several more, depending on how detailed one wishes to get.  In VI Pro, using humanize can also help.  There really are not any shortcuts.

Posted on Sat, Jan 11 2014 01:23
by Beat Kaufmann
Joined on Fri, Jan 03 2003, Switzerland/Brugg, Posts 1727

Hi Nectarios

You got a lot of good hints above.

I want to point out here that the mix is also a very important thing beside the proper use of the samples togehter with the X-Velocity 24.A), 24B), 24C).

Take into account that the Hans Zimmer Mix is done by professionals, They added subbass, synthchords (inaudible for the listener) to get a full and thick sound, the panned from left to the right for getting a wide stereo field, the used different depths for getting very close and very far sounds, and, and and... all this for having a modern fat, and powerful sound.

That's not a "Saturday_Evening_Concert_Hall_Schubert_Haydn-Feeling_Mix" even if it has some elements of it.

Listening to your mix I believe you used MIR. You agree that Hans Zimmer didn't put all his tracks into MIR, shifted them a bit to and fro on the stage and voilà "he had the Hans Zimmer -Sound. Non, no that's another race. Each track was treated with lot's of effects for getting out the maximum of them for each voice and each voice and instrument...

Nevertheless it is not impossible to come closer to the Hans Zimmer sound.

First of all I would pan the 1st Violins to the left and the 2nd violins to the right for such music. You get more stereo width this way.

Then I wouldn't use MIR for that. If you listen to your mix you will recognize that all the strings are coming out from one room. Here you need a bit depth, yes but more only tail and stereo width. So it would be better to use a common Convolution Reverb for getting the depth you want and the Tail should be produced by an Algorithmic Reverb.

BTW: The Hybrid-Reverb from the VSL-Suite Effects contains both of them.

Using this sort of reverb gives the strings more pressure, specially together with a compressor. You also can have the strings as close you want with this techniqe. Of course you could do this with MIR as well but then you need to know this tool very well.

Listen to the following example. It contains a lot of those things I mentioned.

X-velocity (no static strings), 1st Violins left, 2nd Violins right, different depths from close to far, Some added band instruments (E-bass, E-Guitar etc) (unfortunately no subbass)

4 convolution reverbs created 4 depths and over all we mcan make out the "Algoreverb" - the tail.

Createc_Mix2.mp3

Createc_Mix2_Strings_only.mp3 (together with some other instruments for having a bit context)

Producing a mixing just as you want it to have needs a lot of experience... so be patient if you don't reach such results in the next few days...

All the best

Beat

BTW: The Strings are the Appassionatas - combined with the solo Strings (somtimes they play unison sometimes separately...

BTW2: I've just seen your screenshot. Of course, you are free to compose what you want. But speaking as a mixing enginneer: Never compose two different voices for a double bass...

...Because it is very difficult to get a mix which doesn't  sound muddy in the low end.

So if you want compose for a clean low end don't play chords with low instruments. Two voices for the Cello's low end is enough as well...

www.musik-produktion-createc.ch (Konzertaufnahmen, Musik mit Samples)
at www.beat-kaufmann.com : MIXING an ORCHESTRA - TUTORIAL
Posted on Sat, Jan 11 2014 03:47
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5561

o.k. - I won't comment on Hans Zimmer. 

Posted on Sat, Jan 11 2014 04:19
by nektarios
Joined on Tue, Nov 19 2013, New Jersey, United States, Posts 468
Thank you Gernot and Beat, and everybody else, for all the great and amazing advice. I have learned so much the past few days! :-) I have a better understanding now on how to structure my compositions, but I'll buy a book on the subject as well. I use Cubase 7.5, VI PRo, and the reverb used is the new one they introduced, REVelation. I also own the Arts Acoustic Reverb. As for collections, I have the Dimension Strings, Orchestra Strings I (full), II, Woodwinds I, Saxophones, Dimension Brass, Vienna Imperial, Percussion I, Vienna Choir I, Harps.


I like a powerful and big sound -- like Hans Zimmer's.


Beat, I really like the music you posted! Sounds very clean, natural and flows nicely! Good job!


I'd love to get my hands on a Cubase Template that utilizes VI PRO. Beat, I see you sell Cubase Templates in your website. If you have a template that is for Cubase 7.5 and VI PRO let me know.


FYI, everybody, what I am trying to create here is my wedding song, which will be in May. You can imagine the pressure here... I got four months... :-/
_____

Cubase Pro 8, Windows 7 64 bit @ 64 GB RAM
Dual Intel Xeon E5-2687W @ 3.10GHz
Dimension Strings (Full)
Chamber Strings I+II (Full)
Appassionata Strings I+II (Full)
Orchestral Strings I+II (Full)
Solo Strings I (Full)
Vienna Imperial
Saxophones (Full)
Woodwinds I (Full)
Brass II (Full)
Dimension Brass (Full)
Upright Bass
Percussion (Full)
Overdrive
Jazz Drums
Vienna Choir
Soprano Choir
Solo Voices (Full)
Posted on Sat, Jan 11 2014 12:40
by Beat Kaufmann
Joined on Fri, Jan 03 2003, Switzerland/Brugg, Posts 1727

Nektarios

The Cubase Template : You will get a project with empty audio tracks.

The meaning is:  Export an audio track of each instrument in your project (strings, woodwinds, percussion etc.) and drag and drop all those Audio-Files into the

corresponding audio track within the empty audio-arrangement: Violins1 into violins1 and so on...

All the routings within the mixer are already done, also the different depths are created (with Reverence...)

In other words: The mix already done for you with these templates.

I've sent you a mail for even more information...

Beat

www.musik-produktion-createc.ch (Konzertaufnahmen, Musik mit Samples)
at www.beat-kaufmann.com : MIXING an ORCHESTRA - TUTORIAL
Posted on Sat, Jan 11 2014 13:25
by styxstyx
Joined on Mon, Sep 20 2004, Copenhagen, Posts 32

Hi there,

and good luck on Your journey with orchestration and composing!
Unless I missed a message, nobody seems to have mentioned

"The study of orchestration" by Samuel Adler

That´s the one who did it for me - also due to the fact it comes with a bunch of CDs with marvelous examples.

Best, Sten

Posted on Sat, Jan 11 2014 19:30
by bhartmann
Joined on Thu, Mar 10 2011, Posts 170

This is probably not what you want to hear, but it could be your system.  Legatos from my spinning drive often sound too much like a Mellotron when they stream from the disk.  For this reason I am upgrading to an SSD for the string libraries.

Please don't go out and spend money based on this post: you may be able to get the sound you are looking for by following the other suggestions.  But this is something to keep in mind if you can't get the sound you want.

If your disk is fast, defragged, and has lots of free space (like 50% or more), then maybe the disk is not the issue.  I just wanted you to have all possible information.  When everything is working right and programmed right, VSL is awesome.

The Mighty Konrad
Posted on Sat, Jan 11 2014 19:57
by Popslaw
Joined on Wed, Jun 22 2011, Posts 138

I agree with the good advice that others have provided here.

To reiterate something that was mentioned above, try experimenting with the dynamic patches and velocity X-fade. For example, here is a sample of your piece with some dynamic patches substituted for the legato patches, and with some CC11 curves drawn in. I used the same Orchestral and Dimension Strings that you're using, though I did omit a few of the redundant lines in the lower strings. This example is intentionally a bit over the top, and you'll probably want to be more subtle about it, but it should give you an idea of what you can do with some other patches.

Dynamic patch demo (unlisted YouTube video)

Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2014 06:26
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1582

Well this may be a first on the forumParty!!!

Usually any thread where Hans Zimmer's name is mentioned has a half life of about three days before the moderator pulls the plug on it.

nektarios wrote:

Well that's sweet!  I did the same thing for my wife.  Congratulations!!!Big Smile  I wish you two many years of happiness.


"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 Mon, Jan 13 2014 20:23
by nektarios
Joined on Tue, Nov 19 2013, New Jersey, United States, Posts 468
.
Popslaw wrote:

I agree with the good advice that others have provided here.

To reiterate something that was mentioned above, try experimenting with the dynamic patches and velocity X-fade. For example, here is a sample of your piece with some dynamic patches substituted for the legato patches, and with some CC11 curves drawn in. I used the same Orchestral and Dimension Strings that you're using, though I did omit a few of the redundant lines in the lower strings. This example is intentionally a bit over the top, and you'll probably want to be more subtle about it, but it should give you an idea of what you can do with some other patches.

Dynamic patch demo (unlisted YouTube video)




Thank you! WOW, your example Popslaw is so much closer to what the sound I am looking for! Awesome!!! Thanks! What are dynamic patches anyway? I really like how you mixed the strings. What software do you use?
_____

Cubase Pro 8, Windows 7 64 bit @ 64 GB RAM
Dual Intel Xeon E5-2687W @ 3.10GHz
Dimension Strings (Full)
Chamber Strings I+II (Full)
Appassionata Strings I+II (Full)
Orchestral Strings I+II (Full)
Solo Strings I (Full)
Vienna Imperial
Saxophones (Full)
Woodwinds I (Full)
Brass II (Full)
Dimension Brass (Full)
Upright Bass
Percussion (Full)
Overdrive
Jazz Drums
Vienna Choir
Soprano Choir
Solo Voices (Full)
Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2014 20:25
by nektarios
Joined on Tue, Nov 19 2013, New Jersey, United States, Posts 468
jasensmith wrote:

Well this may be a first on the forumParty!!!

Usually any thread where Hans Zimmer's name is mentioned has a half life of about three days before the moderator pulls the plug on it.

nektarios wrote:

FYI, everybody, what I am trying to create here is my wedding song, which will be in May. You can imagine the pressure here... I got four months... :-/
 Embarrassed

Well that's sweet!  I did the same thing for my wife.  Congratulations!!!Big Smile  I wish you two many years of happiness.



Thank you!!! I hope it turns out with a great result!
_____

Cubase Pro 8, Windows 7 64 bit @ 64 GB RAM
Dual Intel Xeon E5-2687W @ 3.10GHz
Dimension Strings (Full)
Chamber Strings I+II (Full)
Appassionata Strings I+II (Full)
Orchestral Strings I+II (Full)
Solo Strings I (Full)
Vienna Imperial
Saxophones (Full)
Woodwinds I (Full)
Brass II (Full)
Dimension Brass (Full)
Upright Bass
Percussion (Full)
Overdrive
Jazz Drums
Vienna Choir
Soprano Choir
Solo Voices (Full)
Posted on Mon, Jan 13 2014 20:59
by Popslaw
Joined on Wed, Jun 22 2011, Posts 138

The dynamic patches are included in the Extended Library of the Orchestral Strings, and in the Full Library of the Dimension Strings. You can find them under the Patch tab In Vienna Instruments, under the second category "02 DYNAMICS" of the respective instruments. Here's a picture:

Dynamic patch location

Even without the dynamic patches, you can achieve a very similar result by drawing CC curves for velocity X-fade and volume.

The software I'm using is Cubase. I basically just played the notes as shown in the screenshot you provided. The reverb is the Sage Gateshead of MIR Pro (default settings).

Good luck with your project, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

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