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Topic: Decisions and String Libraries!

  1. #1

    Decisions and String Libraries!

    I decided to make a topic about string libraries... GARRRR!!! There are so many of them, but POCKETS are limited :P. One thing I have loved about Garritan since I have been here is the affordable libraries that sound good and ARE DRY! Garritan Instant Orchestra is my my number one LIBRARY to date. Everything about it is AWESOME! Garritan Personal Orchestra is a very affordable complete library of sections and solos, and also recorded dry.

    The sounds are unique and great. My favorite cello out of all my libraries are that from GPO: Cello 2. The brass are supreme and I will never need to get anything else for solo brass. The strings are LUSH... and fit their purpose. There are many reasons why I chose Garritan as one of paths for instruments: 1. The dry recording, 2. It is very affordable for what you get, 3. The sonar quality is good (though I don't see the big deal of releasing 24bit samples, I am hoping Garritan does that in the future). Garritan Is my half source of libraries. The other half is Vienna. Both Garritan and Vienna are dry libraries. I feel both make a good team. I combine both in many of my compositions.

    Now I want to talk about big STRING libraries. There are a few on the market, and they are costly! The big ones that I am aware of include: Vienna, LASS, Cinematic Strings, 8DIO, and EWQLSO Hollywood Strings.

    I have heard demos from all of these libraries and I was looking to spend! LOL. Not thousands, but a little more than usual. So listening to the demos of all these string libraries. I narrowed it down to which path I was going to take. Hollywood Strings sounded great but after seeing the load time on youtube videos... GARRR. Cinematic Strings seemed ok, but didn't give me the whole feel... 8DIO was pretty good, but pricey, your gonna pay few hundred per section! LASS, they have a lite package for few hundred so somewhat affordable, but I did not like their demos.

    After listening to more demos again and again, I made my decision, Vienna! I have now spent a few hundred on them with their orchestral and chamber strings which also included some of their Appassionata Strings. The sound of all three (Orchestral, Chamber, and Appassionata Strings) sounded right to my ears, and were very well worth the price (Special Editions), and they load pretty fast on my computer which isn't the high end type.

    So, I have chosen my path. I say this in a mystical way.. LOL :P (Garritan and Vienna are my path of instruments for the main stuff)!

    So what is everyone else' opinions who have purchased big string libraries? What did you choose for a big string library and why?



  2. #2

    Re: Decisions and String Libraries!


    how true your message is! After Garritan Strings, which set me seriously on the path of going on with computer generated music (and I am still thankfull), I diverted to EWQL SO Platinum+, rather good but not as dry as wanted. So I wandered to Vienna to find out if they could mean anything to me. Being on a lower budget I only purchased the Special Edition Solo Strings Vol 1 and Vol 1 Plus. Initially a bit disappointing to me, but as somebody on the VSL forum said "you have to getting to know the library" and that is very true. I focussed on the Solo Strings. But the next step for me is purchasing the full Solo Strings and next........ maybe one day the full "orchestral" strings. Who knows.

    As you, I also listened to quite a lot of demo's. At first they sound like "heaven", at a second time less and less, and one day you will find out that those demo's weren't made with the library you want. Example - and I am not the only one who thinks so - the demo's of the Special Editions aren't made with those subsets alone, they applied some tricks or borrowed some articulations from other sets in my opinion.. Asking the guy who made them "how-to" wasn't answered, never! And that is the difference between those forums and the Garritan Forum. The Garritan Family always shared and will share his/here findings, tips, tricks with the rest of the gang.

    Buying a library is one thing. Getting sufficient and adequate help is the most important other thing.


  3. #3

    Re: Decisions and String Libraries!

    I agree Raymond, the support is supreme here. The Garritan community is the best community IMO. It is the only one I am really active in. I have gotten a lot of support and help from people in the Garritan community over the last two years of me being here which is really helping progress in my compositions. You are most likely right in regards to the borrowed instruments in the demos. That would indeed be needle stuck in the side not getting an answer for such an honest question.

    I hope nobody is getting the wrong impression by me starting this post. I am merely just curious to what others are using as additional string libraries and why they chose them instead of others. I myself am happy with the Vienna Strings and they work well with the rest of the Garritan libraries the two really make the perfect match IMO. Indeed it was the demos which I had to rely on to make my final choice but it was the sonar (the actual sound of the string) which made me choose the Vienna over the ones I mentioned above.



  4. #4

    Re: Decisions and String Libraries!

    Ok, I'll mumble and grumble a bit more about those high end libraries...

    Not that I say that they are bad, do not misunderstand me. Just... I do not think they are worth the efforts. And by effort I mean not only the price tag... but above all hardware requirements and usage. I do not like being limited by what the producer thought I might be needing to use, I like to do things "my way", so I need to have the library running in an open environment where I can change things and impact all the parameters. ARIA and Independence are my go to engines. Kontakt would surely also do, but I am absolutely comfortable with the above two.

    Strings are complicated to sample. You can take a million samples and still they'll eventually fall short on something. Pizzicato and the short articulations will be fine almost anywhere.... the problems are all on the transitions: real strings are too rich. Going into detail... while most instruments have dynamics controlled by one parameter, breath on winds or pressure on a piano... dynamics on strings are a complicated interaction between bow pressure and bow speed. When one plays a pp passage on a violin, you both applying slight bow pressure AND doing it at very slow speed. It is difficult to decide how to sample these instruments, you never "get the whole picture".

    With Vienna in particular, the sound is very good and detailed. My problem with their strings is that notes never seem to blend one into the other, they always feel disconnected. But this is pretty much true for any other library.
    The only high-ish end string library I have is KH "Pop/Rock" which, despite the name, is only a downgrading of his concert strings which is a package absolutely at the level of all other "pro-grade" ones. Even in the light package (pop/rock), still you have 4 ensembles (orchestral, half divisions, quarter divisions -chamber - and solo) that can be used as "divisi" or by themselves. You basically have 4 libraries. Sound is good, articulations are rich, there's a variety of short hits that the library automatically layers up with the sustained sound for a variety of effects and playing styles...
    But still the character is too robotic for my tastes. Plus, they are heavy and load really slow. I never use them.... I do not even have them installed.

    I usually use Dimension Pro strings, that I know Richard also likes (the Sonivox derived), that I completely repacked and re-programmed in both Aria and Independence. In my humble opinion their sound is top and they give a very good representation of the instruments. The "espressivo" strings are lush and characterful, the "legato, strangely I'd say, are more aggressive but this is good as the attack sounds of the top two dynamic layers make for convincing short articulations (spiccatos and marcatos). Some time ago I made my patches for Aria available for the community, as a GPO add on (provided that one legally owns Dimension Pro and the samples, which are not in the download) :


    These instruments were not based on the full 4 layers of dynamics, but only the top layer of the "legato" samples, simulating the various playing styles through programming. In my opinion, VST have to be light, quick to load and easy to use, with a few controllers and with as few as possible key-switches. For example, I do think that it is wrong to sample tremolos and trills they HAVE to be playable and they CAN get convincing this way, through accurate programming.

    My go to solos are coming from a free set of samples, Philharmonia Orchestra's, patched in Independence.
    I am particularly "proud" of the solo violin, listen to this couple of Paganini's Capriccios:



    Plus, I succeeded in cracking open "London Solo Strings", a Kontakt player library, working a bit of black magic a bit "on the egde", but I hope no one complains as I legally own the library and still make legal usage of it as I only did it to re-import the samples in Independence for personal use . The package worked badly in Kontakt.
    This is the LSS solo violin in Zigeunerweisen:

    (we worked a bit on this, months ago, via PM with Graham, "Plowking", who I thank for the suggestions).

    My string quartet by Philharmonia's samples + LSS violin on test:


    This is with a demo file by VSL, which you can find here:

    (open Beethoven's String Quartet 59/3)

    Listening to their demo there (with the full solo strings package) and my version ... I am not saying that "my guys" do it better... but to me it is pointless to upgrade to a pro library. My guys do it "well enough" .

    Finally... as with all tools, musical or not... I do think that "it is not the instrument", but how one uses it.


    P.S. Raymond, there's a number of downloadable "demo" files on VSL's demo pages. You might study those to understand "how they did it". To me they are useless as I do not have VSL so I do not understand th various CC, controls and key-switches. But I used those files often as "notes factories" for head to head comparisons.

  5. #5

    Re: Decisions and String Libraries!

    Ahhh... I am such an air head sometimes. I completely forgot about Sonivox in this post... *smacks self in face* Yes... Sonivox is also another dry and very great sounding library (based on the dimension pro strings which I own). To this date, in my humble opinion, those expressivo strings are the best for deep underscores and emotional pieces, IMO. However, I really did wish they had portamento... that is the only thing I can complain about, but I only use the portamento in specific parts. Most of the time I'd probably be good with basic sustains to be honest. I mostly compose for character and depth rather than articulation. Although, I have been doing much better with the Legato or connection of notes as compared to my old stuff. The only reason why I haven't purchased the full Sonivox library is because it is pricey and you can't buy sections. Thanks for the detailed reply Fab. I'll take a look at those demos tomorrow, falling asleep at the keyboard as I type :O



  6. #6

    Re: Decisions and String Libraries!

    oh yes... portamento... it is usually slightly "grotesque" in sample libraries, but I have to admit that VSL implements one of the best I' ve heard.
    By the way, this is one of the reasons you want to work in an open environment. All sample players do implement some ways to handle it. Aria acts on a pitch envelope widely programmable, with lots of parameters. Kontakt and Independence have a dedicated "glide" generator, which is handy as you have it right there on the interface and you can alter any parameter "on the fly", or even map any of the controls to custom cc right away, whenever you need it, for small adjustments. Dimension Pro also has the pitch envelope on the GUI interface.
    Portamento is complicated to get right and, since it is of rare use unless you are doing some kind of gypsy passage, in my opinion it is just better to leave it alone and eventually draw a pitch wheel curve highly customized, right on the spot. It is a matter of seconds and usually it works better.

    Just my 2 cents...

  7. #7

    Re: Decisions and String Libraries!

    Interesting topic, Richard.

    The choice is still growing.

    Cinesamples who are probably my top choice for libraries are releasing Cinestrings in just a couple of days. The requirements are high, at least 8 gigs of RAM needed just for the strings, but at a paltry $429 intro offer. They sound great and are instantly playable and more affordable than so many other uber string offerings.

    I don't agree with the 'dry' samples end of things because in my experience dry samples give the poorest results. But that's just me. I tried using LASS strings, their ultra dry harsh sounding strings are nearly impossible to mix with everything else.

    I use Cinematic Strings 2, and that's where I'll stay. My PC won't expand beyond 16gigs of RAM so I can't purchase Cinestrings, which I had considered doing.
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  8. #8

    Re: Decisions and String Libraries!

    Quote Originally Posted by Plowking View Post
    ...a paltry $429 intro offer...
    HA! Caught my eye - One man's "paltry" is another man's "astronomical."


  9. #9

    Re: Decisions and String Libraries!


    Pricey, yes, but not for a top library of this quality I would expect to cost double or triple.

    The cost of great libraries is falling somewhat. Some with age, but some new ones are getting more competitively priced.

    After the silly high price point from items like LASS and Hollywood strings, as well as the shocking combined cost of the modular libraries like Spitfires Sable or 8DIO's string section releases, Cinesamples have created something that take them on for a quarter of the combined price and already be complete out of the box.

    East West are actually offering 8 of their best libraries on a terabyte drive for a paltry (snigger) 600 euro (maybe that's about $750). For what is offered, that's an amazing deal.
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  10. #10

    Re: Decisions and String Libraries!

    The requirements for the Cinestrings are indeed steep. The price is not too bad for these kind of libraries considering it is a full set. As for me, not being fan of Kontakt... unless I am forced to use it (Player). I also have to use demo mode for some of my other libraries such as Voice of Gaia. Just not my favorite. I much prefer the Vienna and Aria engine. As for strings I have personally indeed decided to commit to Vienna for these big string libraries and I am interested in what Garritan comes up for strings as well. Right now I own: Vienna SE Strings 1 and 2 (Orchestral, Chamber, and the Appassionata strings sample content which came with se strings 2). After hearing the Appassionata strings (sustains and staccato content) I knew these were for me . I just purchased the SE Strings 2 about two weeks ago. So I have been in happy land for bit So, I have decided I am going to go for the Vienna SE Volume 3 pack which includes all of the articulations that I will need for the Appassionata strings (Portamento, Legato, Sustains, etc). I'll never use any of the other articularions in the full package. But included with this pack will also complete my solo strings and chamber strings with col sordino and the articulations that I use. The package is about $516 Canadian. So, I'm saving my pennies for little while

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