Yes, I finally joined the club! I must say that GPO is a very helpful program. The concept of one instrument at a time with expressive MIDI programming makes for quite a convincing layering of orchestral sounds.
On my Gateway 310XL Pentium 4 2.6 Ghz w/ 1GB Ram and 7200rpm 8mb cache hard drive, I have quite a bit of headroom for adding sounds. I did get the "running out of memory" message one time when I loaded the full orchestra template into the GPO studio. But I closed the message and it didn't appear to hurt anything. I was still able to play all of the instruments that it loaded.
What I really like about GPO is that it isn't all cluttered up compared to other soft synths. It's pretty easy to assign my Yamaha S80 controllers to control the various parameters. The mod wheel on an S80 is a far reach, so using it to control the volume and tone is a bit uncomfortable. I really wish that the Kontakt player allowed me to remap within the player itself, although I can use Cakewalk to do the same.
Speaking of Cakewalk, I have Home Studio 2004 XL without the VST adapter, so I had to use the GPO DXi plugin. In HS2004, GPO is kind of sluggish. I have heard that the VST plugin works much better. I am waiting for Sonar 4 (and a couple of months after it's release date so bugs can be fixed), so hopefully I can use VST and not have to think about the sluggishness of DXi.
Now back to GPO itself. As I stated above, the method of layering one instrument at a time really is the only way to go for convincing orchestration. The samples included with GPO are not overly bright and over-processed, so the sounds blend quite nicely.
I really like the woodwind samples. The flutes, french horns, bassoons and clarinets are extremely useful (especially if you are into Gil Evans like me!). The brass suits my taste just fine. I have heard some say that the brass isn't aggressive enough, but in my experience, you can get a lot out of brass samples simply by using the pitch wheel and keeping that fine tuning knob on the move. With brass instruments, it's really hard to get a convincing sound. There is just so many expressive parameters involved! With the strings, I didn't really notice any difference with bowing direction with the sustain pedal. It's kind of hard to tell because the higher frequencies, where you tend to hear more of the bow rubbing against the string itself, sounds somewhat attentuated.
I really enjoy the Steinway Grand. It puts my S80 piano to shame! I had almost forgotten what a piano sounds like when you simply hold down a key. It doesn't quickly tail off into sine-wine blandness like most hardware piano samples do. IMO, it's good enough to do some solo things with and yet it blends well with some of the other instruments. I also like some of the other keyboard sounds, like the organ, the harpsichord. The harp really blew me away!
For the 1st version of GPO, I am very impressed with the overall quality of GPO. It is refreshing to see a music software program that not only sounds great, but adheres to a philosophy that suits traditional orchestration very well. I have known a few musicians who have hit a brick wall trying to do everything with raw samples and loops. You still have to have some MIDI and sequencing chops to get anything done!!
My only real gripe with GPO is that it really is a system resource hog, particularly with RAM. I can see that in some cases (such as running GPO on a laptop with a notation editor - composing on a beach) you would want to run things in RAM. But if you are attempting to use GPO with other plugins or a rewire program like Reason, you are going to run into trouble. With the major sequencers moving more towards freezing technology, maybe it won't be such an issue. I would like to see the next version of the Kontakt player version offer some kind of disk-streaming capabilities. Of course, this is more of an issue with NI than GPO.
Kudos to such a well-written and extremely useful program. I look forward to future updates and getting around to completing some demos here in the near future!
Of course, if I'm going to give my State Of The Union, I can't forget to mention the GPO family. This forum is a real blessing for those of us new to this program. I can't think of another program that has the support community this place does! You guys are the greatest! I also want to thank Gary and a special mention of Arnie @ mtlc.net. Their fast and friendly customer service is very appreciated!