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Nutritious

Which Orchestral Sample Library?

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As the title suggests, I'm looking to purchase a good sample library for orchestral instruments and am trying to figure out which library to choose. I'd be using it for full orchestral songs, small ensemble/single instrument use as backing for contemporary music, and electronic music hybrid stuff.

I'm looking to spend ~$200, which so far has led me to either Garritan Personal Orchestra, or the EWQL Silver Bundle (both silver and silver Pro XP together).

Does anyone have experience with these libraries that can help me out? I don't quite understand the different between the EWQL bundles (pro xp vs just normal and gold vs silver, etc.) so any info about that would also be helpful.

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Silver bundle is what you want, IMO. Pro XP is simply an expansion pack; you need the original to use it. QLSO Gold adds more articulations and chromatic sampling to Silver, but for your purposes I would just go with Silver + Silver Pro XP. Great sound quality, lots of articulations, easy enough to use.

I have GPO and I really don't use it anymore after getting QLSO.

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Definitely go with EWQLSO Silver. I use Gold and yeah, there are a lot of articulations that either aren't all that prevalent or sound pretty much exactly like 3 other articulations. However, The sound from the EWQLSO products is quite amazing. I would recommend it unless you don't want anything to do with filmscore-style reverb drenched samples, which arguably is what EWQLSO is known for.

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Yeah, go with Silver and then suppliment later on with solo instruments from places like westgatestudios--that way you can have that one instrument that sounds really good and really stands out

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I agree with the above. EWQL Silver does provide some excellent sounds for a relatively cheap price. The woodwinds are slightly terrible, in my opinion, but the great piano, percussion instruments, strings and french horn samples make up for it in heaps and loads. The built-in effects and reverbs are highly customizable and are really worth playing around with.

Garritan features better woodwinds but I find the library clunky, resource-heavy and not as well sampled as EWQL.

I hope that helped. :)

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It depends on what you want to do.

GPO can actually out-perform EWQLSO Silver, but to do so requires a lot of skill and practice. Few can get it. I wasn't able to either. I now mainly use EWQLSO Gold with the pro XP.

The Pro XP essentially adds more articulations. It isn't a sample quality improvement.

The main difference is the way the libraries are programmed. GPO is designed as a playability library. You don't have to load an articulation instrument for each articulation. MIDI CC controllers create the articulations. An advanced MIDI controller with aftertouch is a must-have for GPO (or at least a sequencer that allows you to draw-in the needed controllers). A cheap Yamaha PSR won't be able to use it with full potential. It has a learning curve. GPO is not sampled with reverb. You must add reverb yourself. Panning is pre-set, but can be changed to your liking.

EWQL is a traditional library. Different articulations are sampled and used as MIDI instruments. You may find yourself splitting parts between instuments to get the sound you want. The learning curve isn't as high and the brass sounds are pretty decent. The woodwinds, though, could be better. The long release tails can get you into trouble on fast sections if you are not careful. I've hit the instrument polyphony on some woodwind runs before and it is noticeable. Reverb is included as a release tail. That is less work for you. The reverb can be adjusted, but if you want to use external reverb, you may need to remove the tails if you can still get the Kontakt version. Once again, panning is pre-set but changeable.

GPO is more flexible in terms of playability. If you want to write a lot of expressive, dynamic music you may want to consider GPO. It excels at that. It can do real-time vibrato control, both intensity and frequency, and better single-note dynamics due to it's mod wheel volume/timbre control. For some reason in EWQL when I do a diminuendo with the expression controller, bringing it back full for the next phrase, the release trigger of the previous note will pop back louder.

If you want power, though, go with EWQL. GPO can't do powerful brass very well, with the exception of the horns. Also, EWQL does staccato much better. GPO's is weak due to the way it is programmed. EWQL has sampled staccato. Also, EWQL has more effects.

So, think about what kind of music you want to write and choose appropriately. GPO does better "classical" music, while EWQL is better for "film score" style music.

Also, think about how much time you want to spend mastering the use of the library. GPO takes a lot of practice and the right reverb settings to get it to sound really realistic.

If this matters, Garritan's customer service is amazing and there is a healthy user community in which the designers, programmers, and Gary Garritan himself regularly post.

They are both excellent libraries. GPO is different and gets a lot of flak for it because people don't really sit down and use it the way it was intended to be used. Choose the library YOU feel more comfortable with.

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One thing to keep in mind about EWQL is that the samples come with packed in reverb - and I do mean PACKED.

This can really make things difficult, stylistically. With EWQL in metal mixes, the reverb can make the instruments hard to mix well, and can sound pretty mushed up. Just a tip. It'd really have been better if EWQL had a way to play with the built-in reverb, but, they don't.

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One thing to keep in mind about EWQL is that the samples come with packed in reverb - and I do mean PACKED.

This can really make things difficult, stylistically. With EWQL in metal mixes, the reverb can make the instruments hard to mix well, and can sound pretty mushed up. Just a tip. It'd really have been better if EWQL had a way to play with the built-in reverb, but, they don't.

If you simply edit out the release tails (easy with Kontakt, harder with Kompakt) it significantly reduces the perception of reverb.

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Yeah, or buy Platinum Pro XP with the close mics, yo!

I'd like to add that EWQL has a very strong forum community but not the best customer service though Doug Rogers and Nick Pheonix post regularly.

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If you have the cash, look into ProjectSAM for your brass if you're satisfied with the rest of GPO.

Also, you can purchase just the brass from EWQL, but the price is comparable to Project SAM, which is a better power library anyway.

One thing about EWQL. EastWest has developed their own sampler platform and has ported all of their libraries to it. I think they might stop selling the Kontakt/Kompakt versions soon. iLok dongles will be required, unfortunately.

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SAM Horns = great. SAM Trombones = good. SAM Trumpets = terrible.

Really, you only need two or three decent solo trumpets with a nice attack to accomplish most of the conventional trumpet writing. And here I was trying to stack them like horns and expecting them to sound good. I've had them for two years and just can't make them work. At least it came with a nice solo trumpet good for mournful solos. But I'm still without a good, strong staccato/accent.

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If you have a halfway-decent handle on orchestration and you have a trained musical ear, then samples are less relevant than you'd think. We've had brilliant orchestral mixes get on the site with a wide variety of sample sets, including free ones. Don't get caught up on your samples.

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As a student trying to be a film/vg composer I find that samples/programming are extremely important - clients will want a certain level of realism that some of the free samples just can't imitate. I would just like to point out some other options that I personally wish I had...blasted budget.

http://www.kirkhunterstudios.com/ has some amazing strings and some impressive programming to eliminate many of the problems that samples have (such as the machine gun effect). For under 500 I'm pretty sure that it's the library to beat. Of course, you have to buy Kontakt2 or another host to use it, but hey, it's worth it IMO.

Kontakt2 comes with a pretty nice orchestra - VSL has a great tone and if you combine it with, say, the QLSO (which I do) and combine it with a decent reverb (arts acoustic anyone?) you can get some pretty nice results.

Stormdrum is the most amazing drum library I've ever heard for that huge epic movie soundtrack feel...in fact, most of EastWest's stuff is impressive. (Voices of the Apocalypse has the best choir sound on the market, I believe.)

One thing I've learned is that mixing is just as important as samples - reverb/proper eq can do wonders and make one heck of a difference in sound. Also don't forget to pan the instruments to where they should be...at least get the violins on the left and the basses on the right! :)

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VoTA has been superceded by East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Choirs, for the record.

Also, I'm selling a copy of GOS if anyone wants it.

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Is there a large difference between EWQL silver and gold? I'm wondering not so much about the added articulations as the sample quality.

I believe there is, but I have no direct experience with Silver.

I do, however, have Gold and Gold XP, and I have to say that I would probably not know any better if all I had was Gold, but that having had Gold XP, I would never go back.

Additionally, I just installed the Westgate Studio bundle and it gives me the flippin' shivers!

Excellent stuff.

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man i wouldn't pay $565 or w/e crazy amount for that voices of that East West thingy...is there a cheaper choir package by chance??

Well, you're also not a film/TV/game composer getting paid $1000 per minute of music (or more.) You're not exactly the target audience. This is VERY high-end software, not meant for casual hobbyists. The only choir libraries that compare are Symphony of Voices (also nearly $500) which doesn't have the word-builder, but just SOUNDS amazing and has soloists + children's choir + Gregorian choir, and Voices of the Apocalypse which is still hundreds.

The PRIMARY differences between Silver and Gold would be that Silver is not chromatically sampled (eg. every other note or so is stretched) - not a huge deal though - and no release samples, which you may or may not prefer. It does have fewer articulations, but still has a formidable amount. There should be a comparison chart on Soundsonline if you want to see. If you're looking for simpler orch stuff like sustains, marcato, pizzicato, and traditional instruments, go with Silver. If you really need 8x round robins and bartok pizzicatos (or whatever) then Gold might be a better choice.

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Well, you're also not a film/TV/game composer getting paid $1000 per minute of music (or more.) You're not exactly the target audience. This is VERY high-end software, not meant for casual hobbyists. The only choir libraries that compare are Symphony of Voices (also nearly $500) which doesn't have the word-builder, but just SOUNDS amazing and has soloists + children's choir + Gregorian choir, and Voices of the Apocalypse which is still hundreds.

Ah okay...thanks for the heads up...I just wish Papelmedia had more choir samples instead of just Aah's...I need Ooh's and Mmm's :(

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