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How do you process YOUR orchestra?


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I've tried a dozen ways using GPO to get a good solid sound out of it but I cant seem to get what I want out of it. I've thrown multiband compressors, all kinds of verb (not all at once) and have tried and tried again to mix all the instruments and trying to mimic what I hear of the movie soundtracks I have. (Cold Mountain, etc. Dramatic films). But no matter what I do it still sounds TOTALLY fake and not very crisp at all. What am I missing?

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You are trying to achieve a sound the GPO was not designed to produce.

GPO was not designed for the film score market, so getting a "hollywood" sound out of it is not an easy task. You won't get the exact sound, but you can get close if you truly milk the library for all of it's features.

I still use GPO every now and then, but when I want a more "hollywood" sound, I use EWQLSO Gold.

GPO was designed primarily as a "playable" library, and thus the emphasis was on controlling the sound, not sound quality (I'm not saying it sounds bad). Because of this, many things are simulated rather than sampled.

To get the best sound out of GPO, you MUST use these features. Are you using the advanced controllers, or are you just sticking with the Mod Wheel, Velocity, and Sustain Pedal? Using the advanced controllers will unlock the full power of the library.

Use the overlays. They will make your brass sections fuller.

If you don't have it, spend the $50 and upgrade to GPO4 ( http://www.garritan.com/products_gpo4.html ). You'll get a chior and you get some samples from Project SAM to fatten-up the brass.

If you want specific tips on specific controllers, I suggest heading over to the official Garritan forums. Great people there. They are willing to help. http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=39

I must say that I love Garritan as a company. Very customer-centered. Not to mention, no dongles. The current versions of EWQL require a seperate purchase of a dongle (which is exactly why I haven't upgraded and still use the older Kontakt versions of EWQLSO)

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You are trying to achieve a sound the GPO was not designed to produce.

GPO was not designed for the film score market, so getting a "hollywood" sound out of it is not an easy task. You won't get the exact sound, but you can get close if you truly milk the library for all of it's features.

I still use GPO every now and then, but when I want a more "hollywood" sound, I use EWQLSO Gold.

GPO was designed primarily as a "playable" library, and thus the emphasis was on controlling the sound, not sound quality (I'm not saying it sounds bad). Because of this, many things are simulated rather than sampled.

the thing is that I've heard the demos on Garritan's website and they have some awesome, crips quality demos using this software. and EWQLSO is like $1000 so i guess for now im left with this. I know I can get it to sound good cause other people have done it!

I have no controller. I'm just pointing and clicking. I am however looking around for one but havent had the time to shop. Any recommendations?

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To get the best sound out of GPO, you MUST use these features. Are you using the advanced controllers, or are you just sticking with the Mod Wheel, Velocity, and Sustain Pedal? Using the advanced controllers will unlock the full power of the library.

I'm guessing the same could be said for all libraries? What are the advanced "controllers"?

The thing I keep wondering is, if all these sample libraries tout how much their presets and samples are sampled from award-winning sound designers and recorders, etc. etc., why are you supposed to edit and mess with them so much to get them to sound right? I mean, you clearly have to to get them to work, I just don't understand how that works out.

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I'm guessing the same could be said for all libraries? What are the advanced "controllers"?

The thing I keep wondering is, if all these sample libraries tout how much their presets and samples are sampled from award-winning sound designers and recorders, etc. etc., why are you supposed to edit and mess with them so much to get them to sound right? I mean, you clearly have to to get them to work, I just don't understand how that works out.

Amen, Meteo. Amen.

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Umm... I wasn't making a statement or anything, I'm genuinely curious.

Not that I know anything about anything, but...

Orchestra instruments have a LOT of harmonics. I don't know much about electronic production and manipulation (yet) but I do understand the harmonics of instruments.

They are incredibly hard to engineer. Personally, I'd compare it to a human brain vs. AI. The complexity and richness of the brain is disproportionate to it's form, it's just a mass of tissue when you look at it. But is far more complex than any machine we can make.

So anyway, that's mostly what creates the orchestra sound - harmonics and acoustics. You either need live instruments, (easy way) or emulate live instruments (the really hair pulling bang head on wall way)

It's made easier by harmonic exciters (expensive! AFAIK) in conjunction with good reverb controls.

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I stand corrected. Although I read somewhere that it was around $950: http://www.musicfaq.net/mfq/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=62&Itemid=90

What's the difference between gold and silver?

Thant link is really really old :). If you go to the Sounds Online website (who makes the software) you'll see the current pricing. In terms of the difference:

Silver

Complete

16-bit samples

Single mic position

Essential instruments

Essential articulations

11GB

Gold

Complete Standard

16-bit samples

Single mic position

All instruments

All articulations

33GB

The biggest difference that you have are the samples. Silver only offers you a limited number of the samples they've created. Gold gives you every sample that they ever did for the library. The 2 main differences between Gold and Platinum is that Platinum gives you the chance to work with 3 mic positions (they recorded the samples with three different mic positions) where as Gold only gives you 1. The other thing is that Platinum offers you 24 bit samples as well as 16, which is a nice touch.

I've also read/seen that Silver stretch sampled the instruments where as Gold sampled them chromatically. the newer versions of EWQLSO on the PLAY engine may have fixed Silver, but I don't know.

Honestly, if you go for EWQLSO, save a little more and get the Gold bundle. That way you have access to everything instead of what Sounds Online thinks is "essential".

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Is there a hint of entitlement I read here? "I bought X, therefor I am entitled to know how to use it."

QFE

I believe it's because of the advancement in technology that people have forgotten the age old truth:

"It doesn't matter as much what samples you have, but rather, whether you know how to use and manipulate them."

I'm going through this with my boss right now. He's NOT a programmer, and after hearing what I can do, he's convinced that if I give him my orchestral template, that he will magically be able to do whatever he wants and to have it sound as good. That's simply not the case. It takes time and energy to learn how the software works. However, when you do learn how it works, you can make the samples sing gloriously! Any decent programmer will tell you something similar, I guarantee it.

It's important to keep that in mind!

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QFE

I believe it's because of the advancement in technology that people have forgotten the age old truth:

"It doesn't matter as much what samples you have, but rather, whether you know how to use and manipulate them."

To be fair, a lot of these companies advertise something to effect of being able to create orchestras and pianos right out of the box "right out of the box". :P

So what do these companies do to get these song demos with their samples sounding better than most who buy it could do? Do they run them through MIDI controller keyboards and professional studio mixing and mastering and so forth to get them way? Because I'm stumped just trying to use their controls and FL Studio. Doesn't matter what I do, they just refuse to sound right.

Here's an example:

http://ocrwip.fireslash.net/?fid=523

I used Colossus, big professional VST engine, for the harps and piano and Kompakt for the strings because Colossus's strings are horrible. Actually, the piano and the harps came out pretty well, but you can tell its not great. And I did the velocity layering, the reverb, compression, phase transitioning (I still don't what that is), stereo seperation, filtering, etc. etc. and it still doesn't sound anything close to what these companies usually offer.

What am I missing out on here?

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To be fair, a lot of these companies advertise something to effect of being able to create orchestras and pianos right out of the box "right out of the box". :P

And to their credit, they're doing that. By recording real instruments, spatially panning them, natural reverb, 3 mic positions, etc etc, a lot of it is done for you. But it STILL TAKES PRACTICE.

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To be fair, a lot of these companies advertise something to effect of being able to create orchestras and pianos right out of the box "right out of the box". :P

So what do these companies do to get these song demos with their samples sounding better than most who buy it could do? Do they run them through MIDI controller keyboards and professional studio mixing and mastering and so forth to get them way? Because I'm stumped just trying to use their controls and FL Studio. Doesn't matter what I do, they just refuse to sound right.

Here's an example:

http://ocrwip.fireslash.net/?fid=523

I used Colossus, big professional VST engine, for the harps and piano and Kompakt for the strings because Colossus's strings are horrible. Actually, the piano and the harps came out pretty well, but you can tell its not great. And I did the velocity layering, the reverb, compression, phase transitioning (I still don't what that is), stereo seperation, filtering, etc. etc. and it still doesn't sound anything close to what these companies usually offer.

What am I missing out on here?

The problem here is definitely not samples, and it isn't really even the processing (although there are a couple minor issues here, which I'll get to). It's mostly the orchestration. That's either a bad thing or a good thing, depending on how you look at it.

You're using a string section in a dark, emotional context, but all you have going are 1) a bass pedal, 2) a rising line (cello range) that is never doubled or harmonized, and 3) a sporadic violin solo. This sparsity wouldn't be bad if the music eventually built to something, but the distribution of lines and instruments remains static through the length of the excerpt. The strings need to be beefed way up, either everywhere or as an additive process over time, if you want this to sound like idiomatic orchestra writing in the style that I think you're going for. You can easily have 5 - 10 simultaneous lines going on in an orchestra string section. You don't necessarily need any exciting new melodies; you may just need to fill out the harmonies for what you already have and double some of the lines at octave displacements to fill the texture.

Also, low strings should be panned toward the right if you're trying to imitate a standard orchestra. Google for an orchestra seating chart and pan things based on that.

The strings are the interesting thing here. I don't think the harp and the piano are even necessary. They're just playing the same arpeggiation over and over, distracting me from what the strings are doing. They're also too loud and too close to the "microphones"; moving them back and bringing the level down might reduce the distraction, but I really think you should rethink the lines.

If you've never looked at any honest-to-God orchestra scores, it would be a good idea. It's easier to figure out how the pros orchestrate by looking at their work than it is by hearing it. IMSLP.org has orchestra scores by the boatload.

tl;dr: The upshot of all this is that there's more to writing for an orchestra than just the samples.

EDIT: The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that it's the harp and piano that are the biggest problem here. Nothing says amateurish like the orchestra equivalent of a Garage Band loop.

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The example wasn't made for orchestration, it was made for examples on the samples and their mechanization. That would be why.

Then what's the problem, exactly? I don't hear anything wrong with the samples, and the mix is passable. What specifically are you comparing it to?

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That's all I was looking for were the samples themselves. But the strings are unbelievable, the violin in particular, and the sound demo that I remember listening to for Kompakt made it sound much different and believable than what I could do, so I'm just wondering whats missing or what I'm doing wrong in programming the strings.

I mean, I know violins sampled are in the ballpark of the hardest to replicate in the first place, but if they can make it sound believable then somehow in their demo, I should too. I'm just trying to see what I'm missing here.

Hmm... this might be that entitlement thing Rozovian was talking about...

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I used Colossus, big professional VST engine, for the harps and piano and Kompakt for the strings because Colossus's strings are horrible. Actually, the piano and the harps came out pretty well, but you can tell its not great. And I did the velocity layering, the reverb, compression, phase transitioning (I still don't what that is), stereo seperation, filtering, etc. etc. and it still doesn't sound anything close to what these companies usually offer.

What am I missing out on here?

Sounds like sample fatigue. No matter what you do with the sample engineering-wise, it just always sounds the same to you. :-P

phase transitioning (I still don't what that is)

Phase Transitioning... phase changing... maybe phase changing during a change, or note/pitch change...? What values can you alter with the plug? And does it make any traditional phaser sounds... cause that'll tell us how it is using phase.

Topic:

So for your orch arr. are you using your reverb as a send or as an insert. Because I've had a lot of success with using both at the same time.

My FX chain: Synth (samples) > Reverb > Compressor > EQ > Send (Bus Reverb) > Main Mix

Reverb (1st) - is just for warmth... a subtle verb. I just try to put it in a room.

Compressor - to squeeze AFTER the 1st reverb. Bring out everything under the dynamics

EQ - to clean everything up, "tighten mix." I tend to do this after compressing because 90% of compressors I've ever encountered will give you more in the "power range" (~200Hz -1kHz) of your spectrum and I like to tweek those bumps.

Send (Bus Reverb) - to give the polish / "main" reverb. Using it on a send helps because I can route other instruments (samples) to it and they all sound like the are in the same space.

Do what you do, but that is how I do. Hope you got some ideas.

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Sounds like sample fatigue. No matter what you do with the sample engineering-wise, it just always sounds the same to you. :-P

Is that real? Because that does sound like what I have when I'm working on them.

Phase Transitioning... phase changing... maybe phase changing during a change, or note/pitch change...? What values can you alter with the plug? And does it make any traditional phaser sounds... cause that'll tell us how it is using phase.

Shit, umm... no its not phase transitioning, I'm sorry. I guess the word I'm looking for is "Dynamic Transient Processing"?

Its this thing:

http://www.fluxhome.com/products/Freewares/bittersweet2

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Sounds like sample fatigue. No matter what you do with the sample engineering-wise, it just always sounds the same to you. :-P

Anecdote time. Very frequently, when I am editing together multiple takes from a recording session, the splice point in the audio will sound weird and unnatural to me. When I go back to the unedited takes, though, it often turns out that one or both of them sounded like that to begin with, and I only hear a problem because I'm trying to hear a problem.

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