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Hello Remixers,

 

I am wondering if I should seek to invest in a good string library, and if so, what are some recommendations? I already have Komplete 9 Ultimate which comes with Action Strings, Session Strings Pro, and Kontakt Strings. I don't know if it is just my skills falling short of making them sound good, or if I could use better source material. I use both FL Studio and Sibelius 7.5 as DAWs.

 

I've done a lot of research, but I don't want to spend the money if it's just my skills that need the upgrade. I've been playing violin for almost 20 yrs and have played in several orchestras. I know what "good" sounds like, but I am new to the remixing scene.

 

Thanks!

 

Rodok

SDG

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Answer 1:

Post some examples of music you've made with your current string samples. Evaluation can help people tell you if your problems are easily solvable by clever programming or if the samples are the problem themselves.

 

Answer 2:

Good samples will get you there faster than wasting time on awful ones.

 

Action Strings is mediocre; it's just a bunch of pre-made "action" phrases. Repeated staccato rhythms and the like.

 

Session Strings Pro is a super dry sound, and the recordings aren't great; I don't even think it has legato scripting. It's kind of love or hate; Session Strings gives you the "pop" string sound really easy but you can't really do actually intimate string stuff with it. It's good in band ensembles, but it absolutely does not function as a string orchestra; it's too thin.

 

Kontakt Strings are... pretty mediocre as well. They sound thin, and don't offer much dynamic or variation. You can drop them as chordal backgrounds, that's about it.

 

What kind of string writing do you want to do? That can better help answer the question as to what string library would be better for you.

 

This is a running list of the pretty good string libraries around right now:

-Spitfire Sable

-Spitfire Mural

-Audiobro LA Scoring Strings

-Berlin Strings

-CineSamples CineStrings CORE

-Various Libraries from Vienna Symphonic

-Cinematic Strings 2 (this is what I have, and it's wonderful)

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I've been playing violin for almost 20 yrs and have played in several orchestras. I know what "good" sounds like, but I am new to the remixing scene.

 

How do the strings from Action Strings, Session Strings Pro and Kontakt Strings sound?  Do they sound good?

 

I'm guessing that it's how you're sequencing and mixing that's making what's being produced not sound "good".  Do you have examples of what you're doing?  Examples of what you want to sound like?

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My gut reaction is that if you don't yet have the experience to know when you've outgrown a library, then the thing causing you problems is probably more your lack of experience than the libraries themselves. Action Strings is pretty specialized in application, but you should be able to get decent results with Session Strings Pro combined with the Kontakt factory strings library. ("Decent" being relative, of course, since I'm not sure where exactly you're setting your goalposts.) This is not to say that upgrading to something else wouldn't have any benefit -- it likely would -- but don't assume that a more expensive library will necessarily solve your problems.
 
That said, here are some things to ponder in making the decision:
 
Are there particular aspects of the libraries you have now that you like or dislike? When considering a new library, it helps to have a fairly clear idea of what things do and don't work for you and of the weaknesses in your current string palette that you're trying to address.
 
Building on the previous point, do you have a feel for the sort of workflow you prefer? Triggered phrases like Action Strings? Keyswitches like Session Strings and the Kontakt factory strings library? One separate MIDI track per articulation? If you have a strong preference for a particular workflow, it may be a significant factor in deciding what library would be right for you.
 
Out of the articulations available to you, how many do you actually use? Are you currently missing articulations that you need? Are you satisfied with your current legato patch(es)?
 
Do you know much about arranging music for strings? Good writing can go a long way in carrying mediocre samples.
 
What is your budget?
 

This is a running list of the pretty good string libraries around right now:

-Spitfire Sable

-Spitfire Mural

-Audiobro LA Scoring Strings

-Berlin Strings

-CineSamples CineStrings CORE

-Various Libraries from Vienna Symphonic

-Cinematic Strings 2 (this is what I have, and it's wonderful)

Now, now, just because you don't like Hollywood Strings ...  :razz:

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Now, now, just because you don't like Hollywood Strings ...  :razz:

 

 

whazzat who me

 

> _ >

< _ <

 

Naw, I wasn't claiming those were the only good ones. I just simply will never explicitly recommend Hollywood to someone (because if I don't think it's a good piece of software, I shouldn't have to xP) Hollywood gets amazing mileage out of people who are willing to put up with it, and also people who are already used to multi-patch workflow.

 

I was simply gauging that the OP wasn't used to that kind of workflow, since none of his current libraries function that way. So I figured recommending it would be counter productive for him.

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Hello all,

 

Thank you for replying.

 

I've posted four different videos of examples to my newly made Youtube Channel.

 

This first one is an example with both Action Strings, Session Strings Pro, Evolve, and a Kontakt F Horn. I layered tremolo strings and regular strings for SS Pro. Done last summer as a challenge to learn and make a song a day.

 

https://youtu.be/KS6QBHjrO-Y

 

This one just has Action Strings, The Giant, and several of the Kontakt Orchestral instruments. Probably could be better balanced in places. Also done last summer.

 

https://youtu.be/TgNW-TvWSfI

 

The next one is an example of Action Strings with Damage. This one is a work in progress and is missing much.

 

https://youtu.be/8MeF7I8xqkw

 

This final one is a song I wrote on Sibelius 7.5 using the Kontakt Player sound set. I used Maximus and RC48 to help master it.

 

https://youtu.be/ReXEyHiJuSw

 

I am looking for a library doesn't have such a slow legato attack like Kontakt, but not as thin as SS Pro. Plus SS Pro doesn't sound all that great to me. A small ensemble like that may work in pop, but I'm looking at more orchestral applications. I like keyswitches because they work well in Sibelius, but also get a lot from triggered Action Strings in FL Studio. Not so wild about one midi track per articulation.

 

I am trying to expand my articulation usage (and grow creatively in general), but really I am just looking for a solid sounding legato/sustain. I've done some orchestrations before for full orchestras and string ensembles. I almost bought CCC3 last year, but decided to go with Komplete Ultimate 9 because it was more well-rounded for a start-up. I am trying to branch out of my classical bubble some as well. This year we are talking ~$500.

 

Thank you all for the comments. I am thrilled to be part of a community that I've followed for a decade, but just recently joined.

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I am looking for a library doesn't have such a slow legato attack like Kontakt, but not as thin as SS Pro. Plus SS Pro doesn't sound all that great to me. A small ensemble like that may work in pop, but I'm looking at more orchestral applications. I like keyswitches because they work well in Sibelius, but also get a lot from triggered Action Strings in FL Studio. Not so wild about one midi track per articulation.

wait wait wait. Hold the phone.

Are you writing your parts in Sibelius and then importing into FL? I can't tell if that's incredibly stupid or incredibly genius, probably the latter.

 

 

Maybe I should try that sometime?

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Nabeel's post was pretty spot-on; as an additional note/endorsement, Spitfire recently released "Mural Ensembles" which is a lighter-weight, full-keyboard-range version of Mural that, to be honest, cuts out most of what you probably wouldn't use anyways, keeps all the good stuff, and sounds amazing.

 

http://www.spitfireaudio.com/mural-ensembles

 

I bought it & have no regrets!

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wait wait wait. Hold the phone.

Are you writing your parts in Sibelius and then importing into FL? I can't tell if that's incredibly stupid or incredibly genius, probably the latter.

 

 

Maybe I should try that sometime?

Nothing that genius. ;-)

 

You can export midi data from Sibelius or use ReWire to treat Sibelius like a plug-in within FL. I've used ReWire to cover violin parts I'm going to record live later. MIDI data doesn't export as well as it should because Sibelius doesn't export the key switching when I write a staccato, sf, or pizz. So I'd have to put it in again with FL, and might as well just use the piano roll to start.

 

Sibelius does have a nice mixer that allows for four different master VST effects and has four effects buses that allow two VSTs each for instrument groups. Plus I have lots of control over the software instruments via commands included in the sound set. Not as easy as FL, but a nice feature.

 

I've thought about doing a project where I do sort of a violin concerto with a virtual orchestra backing me up. I'd have to use FL to record, but I would probably write it out in Sibelius. I'd have to really test the limits of the ReWire function, but theoretically it's possible to have Sibelius render the orchestra through FL and then add live violin or anything else that FL can do.

 

Meanwhile my computer melts in the process.

 

Nabeel's post was pretty spot-on; as an additional note/endorsement, Spitfire recently released "Mural Ensembles" which is a lighter-weight, full-keyboard-range version of Mural that, to be honest, cuts out most of what you probably wouldn't use anyways, keeps all the good stuff, and sounds amazing.

 

http://www.spitfireaudio.com/mural-ensembles

 

I bought it & have no regrets!

 

Impressive sounds from the walk-through. I'm not as familiar with Spitfire, but I do like the 30% educational discount. Being a public middle school strings teacher has its benefits.  :-D

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For optimal results with any string library, you're going to be better off working with MIDI directly in FL Studio rather than triggering sounds from Sibelius. The FL Studio piano roll view gives you a fine-grain control that you don't get in Sibelius, and you'll need this degree of control to get the most out of a library. I'm not sure how Sibelius deals with MIDI CC events, but you'll need to be comfortable with editing them to use a string library well and it will almost certainly be easier in FL Studio. At very least, I'd recommend exporting MIDI from Sibelius and then importing in FL Studio, or better yet, actually performing things from the score into FL Studio with a MIDI keyboard. If you're okay with having meh playback while you work in Sibelius, I'd suggest not bothering with samples at all in Sibelius and saving that until after the composing is finished and you're working with the notes in FL Studio.

 

You might try experimenting with layering Session Strings Pro over the Kontakt factory strings. (This will likely be easier in FL Studio than in Sibelius.) The idea here is to use Session Strings to get better attacks and more articulation variety and flesh out the timbre by mixing in the larger ensemble found in the Kontakt factory strings. You may even get good results layering the Kontakt strings over themselves, which would let you layer articulations with stronger attacks on top of the standard sustains, which have weak attacks.

 

Edit: An additional reason to use FL for samples rather than Sibelius is that sample use can sometimes be counterintuitive when compared with score notation. For example, you sometimes want to use short articulations (staccato, spiccato, etc.) to get very short legato notes that would be notated with slurs. In FL, you would choose the articulation(s) based on what sounded good and that would be that, whereas in Sibelius, you'd either have to notate things in a way that didn't make visual sense in order to get the short articulations or you'd have to reprogram the articulation assignments, which would mess up playback in other parts of the score. Judging from the YouTube example with the Sibelius score, this is part of the problem you're having with legatos -- Sibelius has chosen a sustain with a weak attack for your slurred notes, when instead you want an articulation with a stronger attack.

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wait wait wait. Hold the phone.

Are you writing your parts in Sibelius and then importing into FL? I can't tell if that's incredibly stupid or incredibly genius, probably the latter.

Maybe I should try that sometime?

Careful, that had the potential to be incredibly rude. :P

 

Moseph hit it on the head; writing string parts and creating string performances are different things. Being a computer composer is about being able to do both, not just the former. Professionally, it's referred to as creating a "mock-up", meaning a computer performance intended to mimic what the real orchestra should sound like. Mock-up creation is all about... well, all the stuff Moseph said. Most if not all the orchestral stuff on OCR is "mock-ups"; I don't think anyone here records their stuff on orchestra (expect a few submissions from video game orchestras? maybe?)

 

 

Impressive sounds from the walk-through. I'm not as familiar with Spitfire, but I do like the 30% educational discount. Being a public middle school strings teacher has its benefits.   :-D

Spitfire doesn't have a huge online presence, but it is a very elite sample library company. They even do custom private libraries for professional composers. Of course, everything is top dollar (or top pound, I should say, since they're british).

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I appreciate the help Moseph and Neblix. Sibelius is definitely not as easy to work with production wise since AVID has Pro Tools for that. I'll try the layering for awhile and see how it goes. If it doesn't work out, both CS2 and Mural Ensembles come in at <$300 with the education discount. It wouldn't be bad to build up my library for that price anyway, and I'll bet a better dedicated library would be less CPU usage in the long run.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm surprised no one's mentioned Symphobia yet. I like their articulations and the patches are high quality... layered with something concrete like cinematic strings, it's almost gold. I only use Symphobia 2, but there's some great sounding stuff in Lumina, as well.

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I'm surprised no one's mentioned Symphobia yet. I like their articulations and the patches are high quality... layered with something concrete like cinematic strings, it's almost gold. I only use Symphobia 2, but there's some great sounding stuff in Lumina, as well.

 

I don't think to recommend libraries like that because I personally prefer instrument part-writing by hand (and the ProjectSAM stuff is a lot of multi-patches and tuttis); however, yes, those libraries sound wonderful. Especially Lumina. <3 Can get really beautiful results in minutes if you know what you're doing.

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I don't think to recommend libraries like that because I personally prefer instrument part-writing by hand (and the ProjectSAM stuff is a lot of multi-patches and tuttis); however, yes, those libraries sound wonderful. Especially Lumina. <3 Can get really beautiful results in minutes if you know what you're doing.

 

Very good point; I suppose they are best used for coloring after composition, not necessarily as the source.

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Very good point; I suppose they are best used for coloring after composition, not necessarily as the source.

 

Not true, it just depends on your orchestration ability. If you like writing parts by hand (violins do this, violas do this, etc.) then those libraries don't facilitate that for you and make creating organic orchestrations a lot harder. On the other hand, if you don't like it, you may prefer libraries like Lumina, because they're built to do it for you, albeit with a few disadvantages like lack of control and unrealistic voicing (you play one note and you have 15 string players... you play two notes and suddenly you have 30, play 3 and you have 45, etc.). Or you are a good orchestrator and prefer orchestrating, but you're musically inclined enough to say that there's a certain magic to  the sound of Lumina and use it anyway. The sky's the limit, really, there's no right or wrong answer except for "do what works for you."

 

For people wanting a library to give them big beautiful orchestral sound for their compositions, it's perfect. For people who have to get it recorded by a real orchestra or prefer the control of manual orchestration, it's not as perfect. For people who need a great sounding scratchpad tool, it's perfect.

 

There's also the factor of a deadline; TV composers will lean on using things like Lumina because it makes getting orchestral sound faster. And TV composers need to write shit fast.

 

There are so many situations to use it, and so many situations not to.

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Nabeel's post was pretty spot-on; as an additional note/endorsement, Spitfire recently released "Mural Ensembles" which is a lighter-weight, full-keyboard-range version of Mural that, to be honest, cuts out most of what you probably wouldn't use anyways, keeps all the good stuff, and sounds amazing.

 

http://www.spitfireaudio.com/mural-ensembles

 

I bought it & have no regrets!

Oooh Lyndhurst Hall?  One of the best I've heard.

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Not true, it just depends on your orchestration ability. If you like writing parts by hand (violins do this, violas do this, etc.) then those libraries don't facilitate that for you and make creating organic orchestrations a lot harder. On the other hand, if you don't like it, you may prefer libraries like Lumina, because they're built to do it for you, albeit with a few disadvantages like lack of control and unrealistic voicing (you play one note and you have 15 string players... you play two notes and suddenly you have 30, play 3 and you have 45, etc.). Or you are a good orchestrator and prefer orchestrating, but you're musically inclined enough to say that there's a certain magic to  the sound of Lumina and use it anyway. The sky's the limit, really, there's no right or wrong answer except for "do what works for you."

 

 

You're right as well, there. I tend to compose directly via MIDI/piano roll in order to streamline what I'm envisioning; for the more accomplished orchestral arranger, I'd imagine they would want more direct control over their individual parts than something such as Symphobia provides. That's why I use a combination of ProjectSAM w/ Cinematic Strings or something similar, to give me a little more clarity/control on individual sections. I guess it really boils down to your compositional approach. Different strokes.

 

I recently started using Presonus' Notion, which has a pretty nice sounding library recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. You can ReWire it directly into your DAW and convert [to midi] a fair amount of dynamic control directly from your notation, which is helpful. While it takes me longer to notate traditionally, it seems to be worth the extra effort so far.

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