The time has finally come: I am now ready to spend some money to work on my sample collection. Problem is, I don't quite know how to go. I'll tell you all what I've got and then go from there:
Presently, I am running Gigastudio 2.5 with the following libraries:
SAM Trio (Horns, Trombones, Trumpets)
I've messed around with a friend's copy of Sonic Implants Symphonic Strings, so I know what they sound like in my stuff
The most pressing issue for me is, I have no woodwinds. None. (Well, I have Roland's JV-2080 stuff but....) Yeah, no sampled woodwinds. So, I set out on a fact-finding mission and am debating between two WW libraries as of now:
I like WWC because of its price tag and because it's more of a solo winds library. It also has many more instruments than the VSL.
But, as my violinist roommate has told me, when instrumentalists are upgrading their equipment, they don't go for the cheaper option if they are going to be dissappointed with quality. So, I was pretty set on the Woodwind Ensembles (although I dont know why VSL sampled 3 of each instrument as standard orchestral scoring calls for double winds, not triple but that's okay)...
So, then my plan was to buy the complete Sonic Implants Symphonic Strings Library and the VSL Woodwind Ensembles...
That would put me at:
SSIS for Strings
VSL Woodwind Ensembles for Winds
SAM Trio for Brass
LOP for Percussion
I did some more studying and discovered the Opus 1 stuff. I've heard that VSL's percussion is better than LOP....I really love the VSL Performance Set Winds, and the winds in Opus 1 sound really great. More of a solo feel than the heavier-sounding WWE... The strings are thin in VSL, but they're all there, as are all of the brass. I can't help feeling, though, that I'd be buying the library strictly for it's woodwinds. But, as my teacher says, there certainly may be some features in the Opus 1 set that I'll use. But then... the strings? Sonic Implants? Oy...
SO... There it is! All advice is most certainly appreciated!
As far as woodwinds, I only own Westgate, so I can't comment too much on the other options. Westgate is really nice for the price. If you like solo work or chamber pieces, these samples really shine because you can hear a bit of grittiness in some of the samples, which makes you feel like you're sitting right in front of the instrumentalist. I don't care for that effect too much in some bigger more epic pieces, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter too much, I'm just being picky. I think if you're looking for solo woodwinds, VSL or Opus 1 is the way to go, hands down. I think EWQLSO sounds mighty awesome as well, but as you know, VSL/Opus has the true legato action going on, and I've heard just kicking back and playing on the keyboard with one single woodwind is a total blast. The best use & demonstration of the VSL woodwind legato I can think of off the top of my head is Maarten's "Moonlit Dance" demo on the VSL site--check it out. The clarinet intro is incredible in its level of realism.
Strings, that's a tough one. I am actually in the same position you are. I need to add on to my string library in order to get a more diverse sound. For me personally, NOT having true legato in my strings is something I can't cope with any longer, so a library like SISS or KH strings is not an option. For me, it's Opus 1 all the way. I NEED the ability to write violin passages where the notes connect in a realistic manner, so I can write melodies that are performed at a bit more of an upbeat pace without exhibiting the typical sluggishness or disconnection between notes. A few people have told me that Opus 1 strings are a bit flat sounding, but that's no biggie.. I still have GOS to layer on top of it when I need fullness.
My suggestion to you would be to get Opus 1. #1, you'd get the woodwinds you so desperately need (though I believe Opus 1 includes the Viennese oboe, and I'm not really sure what that even sounds like compared to the French oboe), #2, you'd have a nice set of realistic strings that you could team up with GOS Lite, and #3, you'd have a bunch of other instruments you could really use in your arsenal (some percussion, a harp, a solo horn too.. imagine that with legato, in a really nice intimate piece). Check VSL's site for a full list of what you'd get in Opus 1.
I don't really know what your budget is. If it's in the thousands, you may want to check into getting VSL Pro Edition. But even if you get Opus 1, make sure your machine stats are up to par. I've been told that 1.5GB of RAM is a good idea for using Opus 1.
Some other questions/advice about Opus 1 and the Pro Edition Performance Set...
First, what exactly IS the Performance Set? Is it a full Orchestra? I'm considering the Opus 1 set as I've said, but my main fear is that there's enough left out that I'll eventually end up buying the Performance Set anyway. Is this a valid fear?
The problem is that I need these things, especially the woodwinds, very fast. So, I'm slightly stuck: do I buy the lower-priced alternative here, or just say "Hey, it's a good investment, I can spend the money, I'll just go out and buy the whole shabang..."
So, what's the difference here? Is the Performance Set a full Orchestra? Do you all find that the articulations in the Performance Set are useful? Or are there a lot of extras that are just nice to have... I guess if there are, it doesn't mean I have to load everything onto my machine...
Ok, for my two cents, wait a bit. KH strings might be great, so that you might want to wait for. If you really want my opinion, and this is just my opinion, wait for true strike and forgo LOP. I REALLY don't like that collection, so in the mean time download the FREE G-Town samples (Google "G-Town"). They don't have a timpani and such but alot of there samples sound GREAT, and they are FREE. As for the brass, hands down, go for it. That is the best brass library I have heard yet (I am a huge fan), not to say that the others are not great but SAM's was exactly what I wanted. On the Woodwind front, look into Dan Dean's Solo Woodwinds. They are all close samples but sound great, and with convolution sound REALLY great. I have not used the other two though so I can't comment on them. Hope this helps,
Thanks very much for your reply, I'm much obliged. I already own all the SAM stuff, and it's great stuff. I actually prefer SAM's free timpani over LOP's because I feel it has a darker sound, which is what I want. The True-strike stuff which I have downloaded sounds excellent, so I may go that route, certainly.
As for the Strings, I have to admit, I haven't even considered the KH set. I'll admit, I've been blindsided by the VSL and EWQLSO hype (which is well-founded in my opinion). No offense meant at all to the developers at DDSW--as music-makers, I'm sure we can all appreciate the fact that a lot of effort goes into our own projects, and I'm sure lots of effort went into that library, but, being an oboist myself, I find VSL's winds to be superior to any set I have heard. EWQLSO's are probably nice, too, but I can never find demos of just woodwinds, or just brass, or just strings for that matter. In fact, demos for EWQLSO seem to hard to find, other than the completed pieces on their site...
I guess the big question for me is: should I have a "back-bone orchestra" set of samples? A complete collection, as opposed to building libraries one by one, as I am doing. It seems to me that if I pay close to 900 dollars for SSIS, I may be able to get more for my money if I get a full orchestra set like Opus 1 for even cheaper... What's the better value here?
Also, if I happen to have the money, what about the Performance Set? I'd prefer not to spend the large amount of money for the PS (although I'm sure it's worth it)...which is why I ask about the better buy... but I can and will seriously consider shelling out the cash if I will really notice the difference between the performance set pro and Opus 1? How big is the difference in quantity and, more importantly, in the quality of the samples? With so many different versions of VSL stuff, I find I am often confused...
I apologize for being all over the place, but it's all so overwhelming to me! Hopefully I'm not the only one with this problem... There are so many choices out there, and I just want to make sure I'm making the best one for me.
LOP is a fantastic percussion library - one that I still use quite often. I think it's more attractive a library to those who are very particular to the type of sound they want as the library has an extensive array of makes for many instruments. When I write for percussion I have a very specific color in mind, so having all these options really help - but, it has a price tag to boot.
I'm not exactly sure what Maarten is brewing back there, but I have a feeling you'll get all the meat and potatoes of percussion, as well as some veggies, fruit, orange juice, kiwi, sushi, (font size diminishing now) salad, steak - wait, that's meat right? bwaaaahhh!!...!.hah!1.aaa.ha.!..h..
Plus, like all his libraries, I'm sure the price will be supremely generous - and the SOUND of the library is also freakin' awesome. \m/ \m/ So, I highly recommend you wait until the release to spend your hard-earned cash - unless you got money busting the seams of your trousers... which you don't, otherwise you'd purchase GOS advanced + SISS + LOP + VSL Pro edition + All of Horizon + SIB + All of SAM + Div....err *ahem* PLUS (+) + whoops, too many plusses.. or is it pluses? pluzzusss.... Zzzzzz...
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VSL woodwinds......FANTASTIC!!!!! Really, these are the most realistic sounding 'legato' winds. I enjoy just playing them on their own without composition. I've blown quite a few musicians away with them.
I so want to buy the new french oboe
I don't own LOP, but do own UOP and that is a great percussion library as well.
Maartens stuff is always great and a great generous guy he is for his genorosity in sharing free stuff.
I still love SAM horns for their mic positions and will hopefully get SAM trumpets when I have the cash.
I agree that LOP is a great and very extensive percussion library and would highly recommend it. I'd also take a very close look at Opus 1 -- it's affordable and sounds excellent as well.
If you don't mind going the virtual instrument route, I'd also recommend -- and I know I'll probably get flack for this from the elitists in the crowd -- but I'd HIGHLY recommend Garritan's Personal Orchestra. It sounds great and is immensely expressive and playable and, more importantly IMO, easy to use. Combine it with Opus 1 and LOP and you'll be able to do just about anything.
I'd HIGHLY recommend Garritan's Personal Orchestra. It sounds great and is immensely expressive and playable and, more importantly IMO, easy to use. Combine it with Opus 1 and LOP and you'll be able to do just about anything.