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Is the VSL SE the right library for me?
Last post Sat, May 30 2015 by noldar12, 35 replies.
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Posted on Sat, Apr 25 2015 19:01
by JoviantheConqueror
Joined on Mon, Apr 20 2015, United Kingdom, Posts 11

Hello,

I'm considering collecting orchestral sample libraries, but what I've been told is that each library had its own strengths and weaknesses, and that which sounds realistic is subjective, and that you need various sample libraries to pick which ones best suit your intentions. My DAW of choice is Ableton Live, and my MIDI Controller is Live's Push. I have the suite version of Live, which means the Orchestra Instrument Collection (OIC) packs included. I thought that these always sounded pretty realistic when used with Ableton's reverb audio effect. I also have ProjectSAM's Orchestral Ensemble Essentials 1 and 2 packs for Ableton. However, even with these combined is probably quite limited to what the VSL SE Complete Bundle offers. I also have the Garritan Personal Orchestra 4, and DSF's Studio Orchestra.

I have heard that VSL's samples are very dry from people, but then again, with Ableton's reverb effect lets you control how wet and dry they are (and it has a concert hall preset). But I like what I've heard of them so far. I accidently pulled the trigger prematurely the other day on the VSL SE Complete Bundle and got a refund, but I'm still considering buying it. It seems like a pretty comprehensive collection, and provides everything I need more or less. I'm also considering Cinematic Strings 2 to go along with it. I also debated about getting Kirk Hunter's library (Diamond Edition) but you need the full Kontakt for that. EastWest/Qunatum Leap was another consideration, and so was LASS, but they might be a bit superfluous at this stage when technically I'll already have about four or five different libraries! I can't spend all my money on libraries.

One thing that's put me off is the price. Do I save the money I buy a car instead, one part of my mind says for instance. Another issue is buyer's remorse. A quality, comprehensive sound library is nice, but so is £1,140. Another thing to consider is the audio interface and getting a fast external hard drive. It all mounts up: it ain't cheap. 

I have no formal training in music and I am self taught. I have mainly learnt through AskVideo.com and reading books on music theory, including some of Walter Piston's books. I have books on orchestration, too. I think that although I'm am an amateur when probably compared to others on this site, I think I probably do have some potential and I think purchasing a sound library will help inspire me to make more music. I've composed a couple of things with Ableton's OIC. Would the VSL Bundle be right for me?

Posted on Sat, Apr 25 2015 20:35
by JimmyHellfire
Joined on Tue, Dec 24 2013, Posts 329

I think in your sitation, going all out with the complete Special Edition bundle would be overkill.

Given that you still have to find your way around writing, orchestration, working with sample libraries etc., having only The SE1 would already take you very far. It covers the basics of a romantic-era orchestra by itself. It's got everything you'd need: solo strings, big string ensembles, all the standard brass instruments, all the usual woodwinds and a bunch of idiophones and orchestral percussion. Expanding the palette of articulations with the SE1+ would be the next logical step, but SE1 alone can already get you very far.

Since you already got the Orchestral Essentials 1+2, that's a lot of additional flavor and interesting combination patches you can further enhance the base of your "realistic" orchestra with.

VSL samples are very dry, yes. That makes them very playable, very programmable and versatile. The downside is that it takes some work and good ears to put them in a nice-sounding space with reverberation. On the other hand, getting the MIRx software is a rather cheap and simple way of getting that out of the way.

I'd say, take small steps at a time. The better you get at writing and programming, the more you will get out of any sample library. Having all that expensive stuff lying around and taking up terrabytes of storage space won't really make you write more or better music. The better and more experienced you get, the clearer your needs and further purchase plans become. Buying the Special Edition Vol. 1 for starters seems like the sensible way to delve into the VSL world and see what it does for you.

Posted on Sat, Apr 25 2015 21:38
by JoviantheConqueror
Joined on Mon, Apr 20 2015, United Kingdom, Posts 11

Would that mean though if I bought them one at a time rather than as a bundle, would I lose out on the bundle discount? I know that if you do it through the store on this site, you get a discount, but if I bought it through a thrid party retailer, wouldn't I lose the discount? I thought it would be better to purchase it via a retailer that sales it in my currency, otherwise I get charged for the exchnage rate conversion. 

Posted on Sun, Apr 26 2015 04:37
by noldar12
Joined on Thu, Dec 04 2008, Posts 582

A few months ago VSL changed the way they handle discounts.  You can start by getting a porton of a bundle, and still gain a bunde discount at the point that you purchase the rest of the libraries tht are part of that bundle.

As for where to start, it all depends on the type of music you desire to write.  SE1 will provide the instruments of a "classical" ochestra. SE 2 adds additional instrument that will get you to a late Romantic period orchestra, and allow for much more tone color variation.

If you can also afford the + portions of SE1 and SE2, that will provide additional important articulations.

Once you become familiar with the free VI, getting VI Pro will help to fill in some of the gaps in SE, as you can use VI Pro to create additional articulations.  As has already been suggested, consider MIR X as well.

Posted on Sun, Apr 26 2015 05:51
by GoranTch
Joined on Tue, Mar 14 2006, Berlin, Posts 524

I strongly agree with what the gentlemen above already wrote on the matter - my recommendation would be to start with Special Edition Vol.1 and MIRx.

And here is an example of an orchestral piece (Edvard Grieg's Morning) done with SE Vol.1 patches exclusively.

Posted on Sun, Apr 26 2015 10:47
by JoviantheConqueror
Joined on Mon, Apr 20 2015, United Kingdom, Posts 11

I assume though that you only still get the discount from buying portions of the bundle on the store on this site and not through a third party retailer? Because this site uses euros, and I do not live in the eurozone and thus get charged for the exchange rate conversion. 

Though I almost was forced to have the enitre VSL SE Complete Bundle anyway when I bought it by accident! (There was some sort of problem with the PayPal system - I clicked continue to see the price be converted expecting to go to the last page with the 'Pay Now' button but the payment went through automatically after clicking continue? Is that supposed to happen?)

I can afford the SE+ bundle, and can afford the entire VSL Complete Bundle, but it's probably not a good idea to purchase it all in one go, as you said. Probably better to buy each volume in increments. Do I have to purchase the bundle portions via the official site to get the bundle discount, or can I do it through a third party retailer?

Posted on Sun, Apr 26 2015 16:19
by DaddyO
Joined on Tue, May 22 2012, Kennewick, WA, Posts 326

Since I am a US (non-Euro) customer as well, I find your question about third party distributors and upgrades to be a valid and good question. I THINK I know the answer, but I'm not sure, and I'd be glad to have official confirmation.

In the US Ilio is the official VSL distributor, and there are other vendors who sell VSL as well. It's my understanding that if you coordinate with ILIO in advance you can indeed purchase upgrades. But you can't simply order and have it done automatically like you can in the Eurozone. Whether you can also coordinate upgrades with other distributors in the US I don't know. And I don't know who in the UK is VSL's representative.

Hopefully someone from VSL will chime in and explain this officially.

I'm really glad VSL did change their approach on this.

VSL Std Edition Core WW, Brass, Percussion
VSL Spec Editions Complete
VE Pro, VI Pro, MIR Pro
Windows 10
Cubase, Dorico
Posted on Mon, Apr 27 2015 16:21
by JimmyHellfire
Joined on Tue, Dec 24 2013, Posts 329

That is of course the crucial question for overseas customers. I think it's probably best to contact the sales team directly for a definite answer.

Posted on Tue, Apr 28 2015 18:02
by Stefan
Joined on Tue, Oct 10 2006, Posts 510

Hi DaddyO,

 

I'm happy to confirm that our Authorized Dealers and Distributors can also sell you upgrades to bundles if you tell them your registered email address of your user account with us.
Here's the links to a list of our
Authorized Dealers and Distributors.

 

Hope that helps!

Best, Stefan

Stefan Steinbauer
Sales Manager - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Tue, Apr 28 2015 22:06
by DaddyO
Joined on Tue, May 22 2012, Kennewick, WA, Posts 326

Thanks for the quick response, Stefan. Good to hear.

VSL Std Edition Core WW, Brass, Percussion
VSL Spec Editions Complete
VE Pro, VI Pro, MIR Pro
Windows 10
Cubase, Dorico
Posted on Wed, Apr 29 2015 00:33
by Edward Fiebke
Joined on Thu, Feb 03 2005, New Lebanon, NY, Posts 24

Originally Posted by: Stefan Go to Quoted Post
 

I'm happy to confirm that our Authorized Dealers and Distributors can also sell you upgrades to bundles if you tell them your registered email address of your user account with us.
Here's the links to a list of our
Authorized Dealers and Distributors.

Hope that helps!

Best, Stefan

This is good news! Curious, though. . . What is the exchange-rate charge, if any, if one from the U.S., like myself, purchases a product from this web-site? I'm looking to take advantage of the discount pricing if/when upgrading to bundles. Taking advantage of the discount pricing from this web-site seems like an easy thing to do if all one has to do is download the product afterward. However, if the exchange-rate charge is significant, purchasing from this web-site will defeat this goal. Is there a way to purchase from this web-site and NOT pay the exchange-rate charge if such a charge exists?

Thanks in advance for anyone answering these questions.

Early 2010 MacPro (2 X 3.33 GHz Six-Core); 64 GB RAM; OS X 10.13.6; NIVIDIA Quadro K5000 video card; 8 internal SSDs; two MOTU's 2408 MK3 devices; Late 2012 Mac Mini (2.6 GHz i7); OS X 10.13.6; 16 GB RAM; MOTU 828x device; AKAI MPK88 keyboard controller; Logic Pro X; DP 9.52; VEPro 6, MIR Pro & MIRx, Vienna Suite; VI Pro, VSL S.E. Complete Bundle & various other instrumental libraries.
Posted on Wed, Apr 29 2015 01:59
by DaddyO
Joined on Tue, May 22 2012, Kennewick, WA, Posts 326

Originally Posted by: Edward Fiebke Go to Quoted Post

Originally Posted by: Stefan Go to Quoted Post
 

I'm happy to confirm that our Authorized Dealers and Distributors can also sell you upgrades to bundles if you tell them your registered email address of your user account with us.
Here's the links to a list of our
Authorized Dealers and Distributors.

Hope that helps!

Best, Stefan

This is good news! Curious, though. . . What is the exchange-rate charge, if any, if one from the U.S., like myself, purchases a product from this web-site? I'm looking to take advantage of the discount pricing if/when upgrading to bundles. Taking advantage of the discount pricing from this web-site seems like an easy thing to do if all one has to do is download the product afterward. However, if the exchange-rate charge is significant, purchasing from this web-site will defeat this goal. Is there a way to purchase from this web-site and NOT pay the exchange-rate charge if such a charge exists?

Thanks in advance for anyone answering these questions.

That's the rub. Under current conditions I can't imagine any advantage to US customers to buy directly from the VSL site precisely because of the exchange charges, which, I am told by VSL are levied and handled by you credit card company.

I looked into this last month. Since US pricing in dollars is pretty much equal to the Euro pricing on the VSL site, with the conversion rate being higher than one, the situation right now dictates against direct buying in Euros, even before taking into account any exchange charges.

At least that's how I see it right now. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

VSL Std Edition Core WW, Brass, Percussion
VSL Spec Editions Complete
VE Pro, VI Pro, MIR Pro
Windows 10
Cubase, Dorico
Posted on Thu, Apr 30 2015 06:35
by Target
Joined on Tue, Mar 17 2015, Finland, Posts 27

Originally Posted by: JoviantheConqueror Go to Quoted Post

I'm considering collecting orchestral sample libraries, 

One thing that's put me off is the price.

Do I save the money I buy a car instead, one part of my mind says for instance.

Another thing to consider is the audio interface and getting a fast external hard drive. It all mounts up: it ain't cheap. 

I think purchasing a sound library will help inspire me to make more music.

I've composed a couple of things with Ableton's OIC. 

Hello OP, I am shifting uneasily in my seat as I think my situation is quite similar to yours. I too have a serious case of SLAS: Sample Library Acquisition Syndrome.

I am a beginner and I have used VSL SE, Garritan, VSL Epic, VSL Komplete Factory, Session Strings and Logic's ESX strings. I also tend to think that purchasing a great library will help me make more music.

But it is not really true is it? 

You don't mention what kind of music you want to make and that makes it hard for you to get any recommendations about strings or other tools. 

If you don't have a sensible audio interface, monitors and listening environment then any major libraries are overkill. If you want to run a full orchestra but have an aging machine then that is also something you should look at.

If you are dabbling and you don't have Komplete, then I suggest you get it. The VSL Factory orchestra and session strings give you plenty to play with, and then you get lots and lots of other instruments. If you are considering "collecting" sample libraries - and I must confess I have had great fun picking up little gems now that I am on this train - then Kontakt, that comes with Komplete, is essential because most libraries on the market require Kontakt (a few require just the free Kontakt Player).

Then a word about your investment in time in the interface. The VSL instrument interface is very powerful and potententially complex. I have a soft spot for it because it was my introduction to sample libraries... but... along with the dry samples... I will stick my neck out... it is a good fit for serious orchestral compsosers and perhaps less so for dabblers making hybrid music.

I think you want instant results and my guess is you want "stunt" strings. Komplete is incredible value. I would steer you towards OT String Runs after that. 

(Then when you are really flying get VEPro, some VSL instruments, Mir, SE etc etc etc)

rMBP 15" 2.2 i7 16gb ext. 2x USB3 850EVO 10.10.5
MP 1,1 2.66 32gb 10.7.5
Logic X 10.10.2. VEPro5 5413888. Kontakt 5, Play 4, Omni 1
...VMK76, MPD232 Asus 4k, OWC TB2 dock:)
Posted on Thu, Apr 30 2015 13:04
by JoviantheConqueror
Joined on Mon, Apr 20 2015, United Kingdom, Posts 11

The style I'm going for is cinematic/soundtrack. I have to say though, the EWQL library is starting to win me over, especially with their symphonic choir wordbuilder (it's a cool gimmick). The Hollywood style was kind've what I was looking for. However, I've also heard complaints about them.

I have 5.1 speakers and internal sound card in my computer (which has 8GB of RAM and is 64bit, the computer, not the sound card, that is). I also have a Creative Sound Blaster external sound card for my headphones. But for a proper audio interface, I was thinking of getting a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. 

And this is a short piece with legato strings I composed a while back using Ableton's OIC (supported by a ProjectSAM string section). Perhaps this might give you a better idea about my style and thus, if VSL would really suit me.

Posted on Thu, Apr 30 2015 18:37
by DaddyO
Joined on Tue, May 22 2012, Kennewick, WA, Posts 326

Originally Posted by: JoviantheConqueror Go to Quoted Post

The style I'm going for is cinematic/soundtrack. I have to say though, the EWQL library is starting to win me over, especially with their symphonic choir wordbuilder (it's a cool gimmick). The Hollywood style was kind've what I was looking for. However, I've also heard complaints about them.

I have 5.1 speakers and internal sound card in my computer (which has 8GB of RAM and is 64bit, the computer, not the sound card, that is). I also have a Creative Sound Blaster external sound card for my headphones. But for a proper audio interface, I was thinking of getting a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. 

And this is a short piece with legato strings I composed a while back using Ableton's OIC (supported by a ProjectSAM string section). Perhaps this might give you a better idea about my style and thus, if VSL would really suit me.

You DO NOT want to run EWQL on 8 GB of RAM. The library and it's PLAY engine are notorious for bogging down with under-spec'd machines, in RAM, in CPU, and in sample drives. All I can say is, make SURE you do your homework before purchasing. May I suggest that before buying you publish exactly what EWQL libraries you want to run along with your full computer specs on a forum VI Control. Hopefully you will get Jay Asher, who is contracted by EWQL to represent them on that forum, to give you expert advice on whether you can run what you want on your system. Jay is a good guy and he takes a lot of grief on the forum for EWQL practices and product. He does his best to represent things fairly. Here's a link to the forum:

http://www.vi-control.net/forum/viewforum.php?f=32

Also, don't let videos fool you on EWQL Symphonic Choir. Some years ago I thought the Word Builder looked fantastic until after I bought the library and started using it. It takes a lot of hard work and savvy just to get it to sound halfway decent, and the Word Builder is kludgy and hard to work with. I totally wasted my investment. I strongly suggest you find some way to actually try the library (a friend or acquaintance who has it?) before you take the plunge. My guess is you will pass. I could be biased, but I'm not the only one who has had this experience.

Anyway, all these comments are intended constructively to get you to do your homework before making any investment. Good luck.

VSL Std Edition Core WW, Brass, Percussion
VSL Spec Editions Complete
VE Pro, VI Pro, MIR Pro
Windows 10
Cubase, Dorico
Posted on Thu, Apr 30 2015 21:28
by JimmyHellfire
Joined on Tue, Dec 24 2013, Posts 329

Regarding choirs: IMO, the EastWest choirs are somewhat outdated for today's standards. Several newer products by other companies sound way more detailed and realistic, and some of them do have good word builder functionality if you're willing to spend some more money. A GREAT tip if you're looking for really good sound (great recordings and very nice true legato) at a super-fair price, and can live without a word builder, would be Soundiron's Olympus Elements. And you can upgrade to their "big" Olympus library that also includes a word builder later.

I personally wouldn't go with the old EWQL orchestral library any more. It's actually kind of abandoned by EW. They sell it, but they're not putting any kind of development or support work into it any more. I think that not even the affordable price is really an argument, as EW constantly hawk their "current" (and better) orchestral libraries (the Hollywood series) for very little money. They have quite aggressive sales all the time, one just has to wait and keep their eyes open.

The dreaded PLAY engine is always a risk factor, and while some of the sounds of the old EWQL are still quite nice (some of the strings and the percussion), the library is quite outdated in some aspects. The woodwinds for example just don't cut it, and I really think that VSL woodwinds are the best thing you can get, period. It's really a whole different league. The old EWQL stuff also doesn't have any "true" legato, which I really value having, and is again something that IMO VSL is unparalleled at.

I think the VSL Special Edition + MIRx is the best, most value-for-money full orchestral collection right now. It's not the "newest" collection of samples either, but it's impressive how gracefully they have aged. I guess it's this very detailed, down-to-earth and "realistic" recordings that make these samples so timeless. Trends come an go, and perhaps something that sounds really contemporary and "epic" today, will be perceived as dated 10 years from now. But a VSL oboe simply sounds like an oboe, and the programming is still just top-notch. And it's still a living product - they come up with new stuff like MIRx, VI Pro is being updated, etc., which keeps breathing new life into the library.

In the end it's all subjective of course, and I can only concur with DaddyO's closing statement. Do your research, avoid jumping the gun with sample libraries, be very clear about your needs, and if you can actually try stuff out somewhere, that would be really really valuable and helpful.

Posted on Fri, May 01 2015 02:25
by mschmitt
Joined on Mon, Jan 01 2007, Posts 141

Originally Posted by: JoviantheConqueror Go to Quoted Post

The style I'm going for is cinematic/soundtrack.

I think you'd be really happy with SE 1 (and possibly the plus addition as the extra articulations are really good) and SE Volume 3 Apassionionata & Muted Strings to start out with. Apassionionata will give you that lush grand cinematic sound. Later you may wish to add SE 2. Either the complete SE 2 or just some of the sections, maybe brass and winds.

As others have said MIRx is great, and you can demo it once you buy a VSL instrument and the dongle. One thing to be aware of with MIRx is that it is NOT a plug in! It resides in VI, and therefore can only be used on VSL instruments.

Originally Posted by: JoviantheConqueror Go to Quoted Post
But for a proper audio interface, I was thinking of getting a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.

I can't really make any audio interface recommendations, but you will want to use something other than your internal sound card. There are numerous ones out that are good quality and affordable.

Michael

Full Cube and lots of other stuff
Posted on Fri, May 01 2015 04:56
by noldar12
Joined on Thu, Dec 04 2008, Posts 582

In terms of my own sample library experience, I went from GPO to EWQLSO to VSL SE to VSL Cube.  Of those libraries, I probably found EWQLSO to be the most frustrating.  While it had better sound than GPO, the baked-in reverb was a real problem (Platinum with the three mic positions was a bit better than Gold in that regard).  The incomplete range of the strings I found to be a problem.  I also found that some styles of writing did not work with their strings - writing to the samples was an issue.  I have not had those issues with VSL - even VSL SE.  As for Play, I did not care for it at all (I had EWQLSO Gold in Kontakt, Platinum in Play).

I will echo what others have said: you do not want to even try to run their new Hollywood series on anything other than a new high-end computer.  VSL SE, OTOH, will fit quite nicely on a very mid-range computer.  As for sound, IMO, VSL SE is far superior to the older EWQLSO.

However, the key is to find what works for you.

As Daddy-O suggested, do check out that other forum.

Posted on Fri, May 01 2015 16:06
by GoranTch
Joined on Tue, Mar 14 2006, Berlin, Posts 524

Originally Posted by: JimmyHellfire Go to Quoted Post

I think the VSL Special Edition + MIRx is the best, most value-for-money full orchestral collection right now. It's not the "newest" collection of samples either, but it's impressive how gracefully they have aged. I guess it's this very detailed, down-to-earth and "realistic" recordings that make these samples so timeless. Trends come an go, and perhaps something that sounds really contemporary and "epic" today, will be perceived as dated 10 years from now. But a VSL oboe simply sounds like an oboe, and the programming is still just top-notch. And it's still a living product - they come up with new stuff like MIRx, VI Pro is being updated, etc., which keeps breathing new life into the library.

My take on this issue as well, couldn't have put it better then this....

Posted on Fri, May 01 2015 19:58
by JoviantheConqueror
Joined on Mon, Apr 20 2015, United Kingdom, Posts 11

Funny that you should mention Soundiron's Olympus Elements: I already have it (albeit the Ableton Live version). I also noticed the sale for the VSL SE products. If I purchase one volume, and I decide to upgrade after the May sale, would that mean I would keep the same discount as I would have gotten in the May sale?

I've heard similar complaints about EWQL's Hollywood Orchestra. I've also heard they don't like any criticism or complaints on their forums. I don't know if that's true or not.

What sort of audio interface do you use? Does anyone use the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (it's the bestseller on Amazon.co.uk and comes up top whenever I search 'audio interface' on Google shopping, and it's not that expensive). 

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