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Doubling the size of dimension strings
Last post Tue, Dec 01 2015 by Casiquire, 18 replies.
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Posted on Thu, Aug 13 2015 00:38
by AberforthD
Joined on Sun, Oct 21 2012, Posts 14

Hello,

I have searched around this forum and found some threads that already discussed this topic but I couldn't figure out what the best method is to increase (almost double) the size of the dimension strings.

I want to create an early romantic orchestra with 14+12+10+8+6 string players using the dimension strings. Since there are only 8+6+6+4 players available I need almost double the available number of players. The typical trick seems to be to create 2 divisi per string section. For example the 14 Violins1 are made up of 2 instances of players 1 to 7. The first divisi (=instance) plays the samples "as is", and the second divisi uses a pitch shift of 1 semitone down and transpose 1 semitone up so they are back at concert pitch but using different samples to avoid phasing.

This solution seems OK for my purpose because I rarely have a need to split down to individual desks, let alone individual players. So I am happy having 10 tracks in my DAW to control the 2 divisi of each of the 5 string sections. Each track corresponds with 1 Virtual Instrument where all players within a divisi are stacked in up to 7 slots.

There are now 3 open questions for which I could not find an answer:

1) The 12 Violins2 are of course also built on the same 8 players as already used for the 14 Violins1, at least partly. When Violins1 and Violins2 play in unison this could again cause phasing and I can't believe that a pitch shift of 2 and 3 semitones is a good solution. Is there a better way?

2) My perhaps naive reasoning is that phasing can also be avoided by setting different humanization parameters. A small delay between both divisions within a section should solve the phasing issue, right? So you wouldn't need the pitch bend/ transposition trick. But in several threads I read that this will not solve the problem. I don't understand why.

3) In this thread https://www.vsl.co.at/co...nsion-Strings#post222821 it is recommended to use a combination of the pitch shift solution and the LASS approach. But I am at a complete loss as to what the LASS approach is. Can somebody enlighten me in this respect?

Thanks,

Arnold

Aberforth D
www.thesoundofopera.com - Backing tracks to opera music
Posted on Thu, Aug 13 2015 01:52
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1582

I believe LASS refers to L.A. Scoring Strings or Stage, or words to that effect, which is an entirely different library from a different company other than VSL.  I guess the idea is to use that library in conjuction with DS to layer the audio which in effect "fattens" the sound.

 

But...

 

Why couldn't you use VSL's Appassionata, Orchestral, or Chamber Strings to achieve the same results?  I don't own DS but from what I understand different samples were recorded to create that library so you wouldn't have phasing issues and you wouldn't have to pitch bend anything.  Maybe LASS just a cheaper alternative to Appassionata?    


"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 Thu, Aug 13 2015 02:45
by AberforthD
Joined on Sun, Oct 21 2012, Posts 14

Well, that's what I have been doing so far. I am currently using the orchestra strings for unison parts and 2 instances of chamber strings for divisi parts. I purchased the dimension strings because it is supposed to give a better ensemble sound and you can control the humanization factor of individual players. I am just seeking a way to double the size in the best possible way.

A

Aberforth D
www.thesoundofopera.com - Backing tracks to opera music
Posted on Thu, Aug 13 2015 09:06
by Saxer
Joined on Sat, Apr 18 2009, Frankfurt Germany, Posts 116

a good way to make a bigger section is using different articulations from the same players. there are a lot of similar articuations avaliable which together make a good ensemble sound. 

there's a good documantation written by 'muk':

http://vi-control.net/community/threads/vsl-dimension-strings-template-tutorial.44806/

Posted on Thu, Aug 13 2015 09:25
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 8104

Originally Posted by: AberforthD Go to Quoted Post
[...] I am currently using the orchestra strings for unison parts and 2 instances of chamber strings for divisi parts. I purchased the dimension strings because it is supposed to give a better ensemble sound and you can control the humanization factor of individual players. [...]

Try Orchestra Violins, layered with Dimension Violins for unisono parts, and do the Divisi between the two of them. Best of both worlds. 

For more "drama" ;-) I love the sound of Appassionata Violins layered with Dimension Strings Violins (although Divisi are less convincing in that scenario, obviously).

/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Fri, Aug 14 2015 09:31
by AberforthD
Joined on Sun, Oct 21 2012, Posts 14

Thank you for all suggestions. Muk’s documentation was interesting reading. The idea to use Dimension Strings for the first divisi and Orchestral or Chamber Strings for the second divisi is an interesting option which I will keep in mind if nothing else works.

In the meantime I have been wondering if phasing is really such a problem after all. I am using MIRx Konzerthaus Grosser Saal which has 8 violin players on the left side of the stage (DS Violins 1), and 8 violin players on the right side of the stage (DS Violins 2). If I understand correctly, the convolution reverb algorithm is applied to each individual instrument before the audio signals are mixed (assuming of course they are loaded in separate instances of VI PRO). Please correct me if I am wrong. If this is the case I would think that phasing is unlikely to happen since the audio signals will be rather different, even though they originate from identical samples when Violins1 and Violins2 play in unison. I hope my reasoning is correct because it would solve my problem. Is there somebody with enough insight in this matter who can tell me whether I’m right or wrong?

A.






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Aberforth D
www.thesoundofopera.com - Backing tracks to opera music
Posted on Fri, Aug 14 2015 15:18
by GoranTch
Joined on Tue, Mar 14 2006, Berlin, Germany, Posts 528

Originally Posted by: AberforthD Go to Quoted Post

Please correct me if I am wrong. If this is the case I would think that phasing is unlikely to happen since the audio signals will be rather different, even though they originate from identical samples when Violins1 and Violins2 play in unison. I hope my reasoning is correct because it would solve my problem. Is there somebody with enough insight in this matter who can tell me whether I’m right or wrong?

A.

If I remember correctly, individual "icon" signals are synced automatically in MIR (that is, there can be no MIR-induced phasing issues, as MIR provides automatic phase alignment for all individual signals). [I hope Dietz will step in if this requires correction ;-)]

Posted on Sat, Aug 15 2015 03:39
by Cyril Blanc
Joined on Thu, Dec 19 2002, Paris France, Posts 2743

> In the meantime I have been wondering if phasing is really such a problem after all.

 

You can also try to "invert" the signal with an adequate plug-in ; tell me if that is helping ? (there is one in Logic)

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Posted on Sat, Aug 15 2015 10:51
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 8104

MIR will add some "uniqueness" to two identical instruments when they get positioned on different spots on a stage (due to the individual IR sets used), and when different Character Presets are chosen (which are "just" carefully applied EQ settings). Still  some phasing issues could occur --- and this is where the Humanizing features of VI Pro 2 can add just enough variations to make for a convincing doubling.

HTH,

/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Sat, Aug 15 2015 14:26
by Beat Kaufmann
Joined on Fri, Jan 03 2003, Switzerland/Brugg, Posts 1780

Originally Posted by: AberforthD Go to Quoted Post

3) ...it is recommended to use a combination of the pitch shift solution...  Can somebody enlighten me in this respect?

Hello Arnold

Using the same library twice for the same melody means that the same samples are played twice which leads to phasing issues apart from using them in MIR(x) for example which adds some room components, so that the samples at the left no more sound exactly the same how those at the right do. If you don't use a lot of wet signal (a lot of room sound) you will probably get the phasing effects as well.

And yes using different libraries is a good solution.

About the pitch-shift-solution:

Samples of VSL (Full libraries) are recorded in half-tone-steps which means that every halfe tone you have another sample. The trick is now to transpose the music +1 or +2 with midi and to pitch down the VI-Player (audio-wise) -1 or -2 halfe tones. Do it the other way: midi -1 or -2, audio +1 or +2... The same library can play the same melody 5 times and each melody will be played by other samples = no phasing. More >>> here

But... even if you play the same melody 5 times with the chamber violins for example = 5 x 6 violins = 30 violins the result sounds unfortunately not really as 30 violins would sound. The character of the smaller ensemble keeps preserved somehow. So doing some experiments will give you an impression.

Finally a little trick for making ensembles biger: Cut the high frequencies a bit. For example: The sound of the appassionatas is much more darker as the one of the dimension strings... Compare the two files below. "6b" has reduced high frequencies... it seems to be a bit a larger ensemble.

I wish you a lot success!

Beat

File Attachment(s):
eq-tutfx-sounddesign-6b.mp3 (390kb) downloaded 42 time(s).
eq-tutfx-sounddesign-6.mp3 (390kb) downloaded 40 time(s).

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www.musik-produktion-createc.ch (Konzertaufnahmen, Musik mit Samples)
at www.beat-kaufmann.com : MIXING an ORCHESTRA - TUTORIAL
Posted on Sun, Aug 16 2015 01:57
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

Dimension Strings sound very good with no phasing or artifacts when doubled by doing this procedure:

transpose the MIDI sequence up a half step

pitch shift the audio playback down a half step

It is not a good idea to do the reverse, because it increases the vibrato speed and general high frequency of the violins.

Posted on Sat, Nov 28 2015 15:37
by javajam
Joined on Sun, Mar 13 2005, Paris, France, Posts 173

@William

Better transpose a whole step or you'll get phasing on some notes, even with Dimension.

Posted on Sun, Nov 29 2015 22:53
by Casiquire
Joined on Sat, May 01 2010, Posts 325

I'm of the opinion that DImension Strings on its own won't sound like a large ensemble even if it's adjusted to avoid phasing.  Variations of this experiment have been done many times before where a soloist is duplicated several times but it never quite sounds like an ensemble, like the "ensemble" function of Embertone's solo strings which still just doesn't actually sound like an ensemble.  That's not to say that Dimension Strings isn't a perfect library to use when mocking up Romantic-era string writing because it's full of divisi and splits and such, so having a library like that is essential.  It will just have to be combined with other libraries.  If you're already using Appassionata, maybe try seating the DS further back so that they have more reverb and treating them with EQ to get closer to the Appassionata sound, and choose wisely which library takes which splits.

 

DS has been a godsend for string flexibility in my opinion, don't be discouraged by the fact that it might take a bit of figuring out!

Posted on Mon, Nov 30 2015 00:34
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

javajam,

I have not found phasing on any transposed instruments I used with a half step shift on any current VSL instruments, because they are all chromatically sampled.  You may be hearing normal chorusing, rather than phasing, which occurs acoustically (and of course is responsible for ensemble sounds in general).

 

casaquire

That is not a good comparison to mention doubling of a solo instrument to create an ensemble being the same as doubling DS, because many different solo instruments never sound like an ensemble, but with DS it IS an ensemble that was recorded and is VASTLY more complex than a single solo instrument.  The other individual players are slightly audible on each part, and complex interactions between each player are present, and therefore when one doubles the DS ensemble it is far more sizeable than doubling of solo samples which as you said is a very artificial effect and never really works. 

To create a larger sound with DS you can use the doubling to create a very rich "larger" ensemble,  though what is meant by "larger" is debatable.  Of course it is not going to sound like Appassionata strings, which are HUGE.  But if you compare it to many live orchestras,  especially those used for studio recording throughout film history, it is a "larger" ensemble.    Many classic movie scores were recorded with string ensembles far smaller than this amount of players. 

Posted on Mon, Nov 30 2015 11:09
by Saxer
Joined on Sat, Apr 18 2009, Frankfurt Germany, Posts 116

I experimented a lot with doubling and adding similar articulations, layering DS, Chamber, Orchestral and Appassionata strings. My personal results so far:

Sample world reacts very different from real strings when layering. Adding a smaller section to a bigger section doesn't mix soundwise to an even bigger section. The opposite happens: it makes the bigger section smaller.

Same effect with solo strings. If I want a smaller section I add the solo strings on top.

Very small sections with DS sound weak. Adding solo strings adds live and power. Great for chamber.

I made a 10/8/6/6/4-section using similar articulations (legato vib, legato expr etc). Works fine.

I used the same section and added Orchestral and/or Appassionata. Doesn't sound bigger. Doesn't sound better.

I made an 8/8/6/6/4 section using the transpose trick for the 2nd Vls. Works fine.

Using the same samples twice doesn't make a big problem with phasing when the section is big enough. But it never makes the section bigger. It just uses more cpu. Not effective at all. MIR doesn't help there.

What really makes a section bigger is detuning. The humanize function is key to a bigger sound. Even when a single line really sounds out of tune it adds to a beautiful sound in musical context. My humanize faders are always above 60% for detuning and even more for timing. It even works with LASS: the 3 sections layered and detuned to +/-4 makes everything lush.

Adding a roomy section (from other developers) to the dry VSL strings sounds better than all reverbs (including MIR).

My advice: listen to the resulting sound but never count the sample voices. Sample voices are not live players.

All said is my personal experience and my personal taste.

Posted on Mon, Nov 30 2015 13:09
by Cyril Blanc
Joined on Thu, Dec 19 2002, Paris France, Posts 2743

Did you try to invert the signals ?

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Posted on Mon, Nov 30 2015 16:09
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5726

Saxer, those are good ideas.  You're right about the humanizing, also how additions often cause a smaller sound, paradoxically.  There are a huge number of possibilities with all the VSL strings.  What I am noticing now is how DS layered with the other VSL strings in various ways adds a lot to a natural-sounding complexity.  I am trying to make each string line separate and flowing, instead of block chords.  If you use layers that each flow as if they are playing alone, but actually playing the same notes as the other layers - for example, three different layers of DS, Appassionata and Solo playing the same line but separately humanized -  you will increase the complexity and therefore the impression of "size" enormously.   It is striking how many early tinny-sounding samples from the Dawn of Sampling (B.V. - Before Vienna) had larger string ensembles, but had absolutely no impression of size because there were no legatos, no alternate samples, no dynamics.   So the musical phrasing is a big part of the impression of "size."

Posted on Tue, Dec 01 2015 23:49
by Casiquire
Joined on Sat, May 01 2010, Posts 325
Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post
javajam,

casaquire
That is not a good comparisonto mentiondoubling of a solo instrument to create an ensemble being the same as doubling DS, because many different solo instruments never sound like an ensemble, but with DS it IS an ensemble that was recorded and is VASTLY more complex than a single solo instrument. The other individual playersare slightly audible on each part, and complex interactions between eachplayer are present, and therefore when one doubles the DS ensemble it is far more sizeable thandoubling of solo samples which as yousaid is a very artificial effect and never really works.
To create a larger sound with DS you can use the doubling to create a very rich "larger" ensemble, though what is meant by "larger" is debatable. Of course it is not going to sound like Appassionata strings, which are HUGE. But if you compare it to many live orchestras, especially those used for studio recording throughout film history, it is a "larger" ensemble. Many classic movie scores were recorded with string ensembles far smaller than this amount of players.


I agree, DS is a different beast, but the idea still applies. In my testing and in any examples I've heard, DS on its own has never sounded like a large Romantic-era ensemble like the original post was talking about. That doesn't mean it's impossible, it's just not the single ideal library for the job. You're right that complex interaction is present and that's part of the problem: the players in DS are interacting as an ensemble of 8 violins. From what you've said, it sounds like we're actually on the same page here.

Edited to add that your statements about older libraries sounding tinny due to no legatos and such is spot-on!
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