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The Legendary Zoltan

What are the best orchestral libraries for cinematic music?

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mickmoo, have have you gone through the manual yet? There's alot in there about what the acronyms mean and descriptions about the patches (butter legato, qleg, lyrical. expressive etc), as well as the features of the sampler. Or are you looking more for the orchestration side of things?

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EWQL and Symphobia are the best IMO.

Well I hear that Orchestral Essentials has a lot of the same exact sounds with some added ones from some of their other libraries so I would think that you'd like that one as well. I'm currently leaning towards buying Orchestral Essentials.

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mickmoo, have have you gone through the manual yet? There's alot in there about what the acronyms mean and descriptions about the patches (butter legato, qleg, lyrical. expressive etc), as well as the features of the sampler. Or are you looking more for the orchestration side of things?

Orchestration side. Midi composition in general, but especially if someone has tutorialswith these libraries

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I think these examples may give you a pretty good picture of what to expect from each of those libraries.

The Orchestral Essentials one sounds good, but it's a big old wash of sound. There's no substantial orchestral arranging, just giant blocks of orchestra noise. You can't write something with this library that will sound, for instance, like the EWQL SO example.

The EWQL SO example sounds decent and demonstrates a complexity of arrangement that you can't get with Orchestral Essentials, but it has the characteristically too clean, too present sound that you get in a lot of stuff done with EWQL SO. I think that's a usage issue more than a library issue, but it demonstrates how difficult it is to use an orchestral library convincingly.

I don't like Miroslav because the strings sound synthy, though admittedly I'm not as familiar with its sound as EWQL SO. I wouldn't recommend getting Miroslav when you can get EWQL SO Silver for the same price.

I can understand that they DIDN'T but I don't see why I COULDN'T make a song that sounds like the East West one using Orchestral Essentials. Are you saying it can't be done because of some innate problem?

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Just looked over at the orchestral essential's instruments list and observed that there aren't many solo instruments, and what there is has only 1 articulation.

Also, string section appears to be either full string ensemble and the only violin ensemble has violins plus flutes combined. Bit difficult to do 4 part harmony me thinks? And if you do, it's going to be actually 4 full string ensembles each playing one line, versus violines/violas/cellos/basses each playing a line.

Similarly, for woodwinds, it appears to be all played together. I think with OE, it may not be possible to set it up so that I can do double, triple or quad winds.

Keep in mind that I have no experience with the above library, just what I gleaned from that linked pdf and I may be totally incorrect.

Personally, I have EWQLSO.... and would suggest getting VSL SE as a base library as the vsl instruments do have true legato, and I have issues with noise etc on some ewqlso solo instruments. Pick your poison and make your music :3

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I can understand that they DIDN'T but I don't see why I COULDN'T make a song that sounds like the East West one using Orchestral Essentials. Are you saying it can't be done because of some innate problem?

For libraries such as EWQL, you get solo patches with a lot of articulations for each orchestral instrument. When you arrange, you could, depending on how dense your orchestration is, be dealing with 20+ individual patches at a time. Labor-intensive? Yes, but you get an enormous amount of control over what the orchestra is playing. If you, say, wanted to to realize Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra, you could program the piece with Strauss's original notes and orchestration, no problem.

Orchestral Essentials mostly doesn't use solo patches. What you get are ensemble patches that include all of the instruments in a given section (strings, brass, or woodwinds). What plays for any given note you press depends on what instruments live in that range. For example, with the woodwinds, if you play really high, you'd get flutes (and maybe piccolo), in the middle, you'd probably get clarinet and oboe, and low, you'd get bassoon (and maybe bass clarinet). Since the instruments in ensemble patches don't play outside their own ranges, GallenWolf's concerns about difficulty writing four-part harmony probably wouldn't be much of an issue (i.e. you will never get a full ensemble sound from any given note, so multiple notes in different ranges won't duplicate the entire ensemble). His point about double/triple/quad winds is entirely correct, though -- you just don't have the control over individual instruments that you would need in order to do that, which brings us to my next point.

The issue with ensemble patches that makes me say you wouldn't be able to get an arrangement like that one EWQL demo is that your precision in selecting specific instruments in an arrangement only goes as far as what you can get by working in a specific range of the ensemble patch (or whatever limited solo patches you have). If you want an oboe solo, you have to take whatever lives in the oboe range of the woodwind ensemble patch, which probably includes clarinets, and you may not get the extreme upper range of the oboe since that may not mix well with the flute that lives up there. Your choice of articulations is also extremely limited. For woodwinds and brass ensembles, you only get long, short, and special effects articulations. The string ensemble adds pizzicato and tremolo to those. If you tried to do Also Sprach Zarathustra with Orchestral Essentials, it would probably still sound good, but you would't be able to exactly duplicate Strauss's orchestration because you don't have instrument-level control over the entire orchestra.

The whole point of ensemble patches, though, is that you're not supposed to be thinking too hard about what exact instruments are playing. They're set up so that you can create something that sounds good extremely quickly, and the trade-off for this is that you don't get much control over the details of the orchestration. Whether this approach appeals to you over the slower, more detail-oriented approach of libraries like EWQL SO is something you should consider when deciding which to buy.

If you haven't already stumbled across it, the most detailed review I've seen of Orchestral Essentials is here: http://www.scorecastonline.com/2012/04/23/review-projectsam-orchestral-essentials/

EDIT:

Personally, I have EWQLSO.... and would suggest getting VSL SE as a base library as the vsl instruments do have true legato, and I have issues with noise etc on some ewqlso solo instruments. Pick your poison and make your music :3

Yeah, the reasons I bought VSL SE rather than EWQL SO were that 1) VSL has true legato, 2) VSL is dry-sampled, and 3) I like VSL's sampler a little better than EWQL's PLAY sampler. The only thing I've found in VSL SE that I don't like is that it's a little light on velocity layers. I think velocity layering is the big area where they stripped the instruments down for SE from their full non-SE counterparts.

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Good summary! To add on what you're saying, I would say VSL Special Edition isn't really that too far out of someone's budget. There are student discounts (I'm speaking from Australia but I'm sure it's a worldwide thing) available which lowers the price even more.

Just getting the first SE without the Extras will give you some damn good basic samples to learn how to sequence and (hopefully) orchestrate properly. Orchestration will always be a funny one in the world of MIDI sequencing, but if you can make VSL sound coherent I think you'll be on your way to higher level sequencing.

What's good about VSL is that it's dry mic'ed. So there's no way to try and lie to yourself about what the mix or the balance of instruments sounds like cause it's right in your face!

ProjectSAM is years out of date.

Orchestral Essentials should have been called ProjectSAM's Greatest Hits 2002-2010.

Symphobia should have been called Orchestrationphobia, as it's a library designed specifically for people who don't want to spend time with instrumentation. It's only useful for people who have to write 10-12 minutes of music a day for TV and need a lot of one-button-wonder patches. For what it offers with respect to substance, it's about 4 times overpriced.

ProjectSAM's Orchestral Brass Classic stood for years as the best orchestral brass library around, but has since been outclassed by more recent libraries.

I would not recommend any currently available ProjectSAM library as a starting point for any student looking to delve into the orchestra, who wants to learn about orchestration and how to write music better.

What is your budget, and what kind of music do you want to make?

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I would not recommend any currently available ProjectSAM library as a starting point for any student looking to delve into the orchestra, who wants to learn about orchestration and how to write music better.

... learn how to sequence and (hopefully) orchestrate properly.

Since both dannthr and kevinpenkin have brought this up, I think it's worth emphasizing: because of the limitations of ensemble patches, you cannot use Orchestral Essentials/Symphobia to learn "proper" orchestration. If your goal is to approach orchestral writing as a student who is trying to learn as much about the orchestra as possible, you absolutely should not get Orchestral Essentials/Symphobia as your only orchestral library. Alternately, if your goal is either to write orchestra music extremely quickly, augment another orchestral library, or write orchestra music without having to learn "proper" orchestration, then Orchestral Essentials/Symphobia may be a good choice.

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The non-SE vsl libraries may not be an improvement compared to the SE in terms of velocity layers, my solo violin and chamber violins only have 2 layers for the legato performance interval patches, and the repetition performance legato patches 3 velocity levels.

Defo agree with Moseph about not getting OE as your first library... I think VSL SE is a great lib, lots of solo/ensemble instruments to put together.

ALSO: Kontakt. I bought kontakt specifically for using it as a sampler for kontakt libraries, but the factory library is fairly complete, if lacking in orchestral legato patches. The factory library seems to be a cut down version of vsl as well.

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Thanks again for everyone's input. I very much appreciate it. So I'm listening to Vivaldi Summer on this page and it's absolutely blowing my mind. http://www.soundsonline.com/Symphonic-Orchestra

That's the East West Quantum Leap Symphony Orchestra. But really any song that I listen to of any of these high end libraries sounds great. So since money IS actually a bit of concern and I seem to like the different things that you can do with each library, I'm considering starting out with Orchestral Essentials.

You can tell me if the logic seems flawed.

Logic point #1: I'm not trying to learn orchestration so it's OK, at least for now, if I don't get a ton of first hand experience with manually layering all kinds of instruments.

Logic point #2: I'm VERY serious about starting to make money in the music business as soon as possible and film soundtracks are an area I'd really to hit.

Logic point #3: I may not be able to do everything with OE but I can still do a lot. I'll do what I can with it as my first library and then get EWQLSO in the future once I've saved some money (hopefully from music jobs).

Logic point #4: I'm freaking poor right now because I'm buying the computer at the same time.

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What's the difference between the VSL version included with Kontakt 5 and the VSL Pack 1 mentionned above, beside the obvious lack of legato ?
Would you still suggest getting the VSL Pack if I already got the K5 bundle ? I beleive it's possible to script the legato with the bundled version, right ?

Kontakt / VSL ... most amazing thing I bought this year. I can run 600 track projects without a hiccup..


I say forget Miroslav btw, that's what I've used for years unfortunately and it's not good. Big differences in volumes, horrible interface and browsing, 32 bit.

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8 hours ago, Metal Man said:

What's the difference between the VSL version included with Kontakt 5 and the VSL Pack 1 mentionned above, beside the obvious lack of legato ?
Would you still suggest getting the VSL Pack if I already got the K5 bundle ? I beleive it's possible to script the legato with the bundled version, right ?

Kontakt / VSL ... most amazing thing I bought this year. I can run 600 track projects without a hiccup..


I say forget Miroslav btw, that's what I've used for years unfortunately and it's not good. Big differences in volumes, horrible interface and browsing, 32 bit.

Some differences between VSL SE and the Kontakt VSL:

VSL SE uses real legato -- that is, the transitions between notes have actually been sampled and those samples are triggered when you overlap notes into subsequent notes. Legato based purely on scripting doesn't sound as good.

VSL SE has a better/more full-featured sampler interface than what's included in the Kontakt version. It has the ability to do things such as program custom articulations, apply filters, manage crossfade behavior, program articulation selection methods other than keyswitch, and so forth.

VSL SE has slightly more articulations if you just look at Vol. 1, and many more articulations if you look at Vol. 1 PLUS.

 

I suggest you use the Kontakt version until you feel limited by it, then look into upgrading.

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