I really would like to see this forum thrive.
In my opinion the Strad is the next generation, all orchestral VST's must now follow this trail.
So I am going to start a thread for newbies. Its basic information and my first impressions after having taken the plunge.
Its all IMO. I try to be honest .
Ideal set up:
The ideal set up for the Strad is a keyboard with pitch and mod wheels, touch sensitivity, midi out, aftertouch, and an input for a sustain and expression pedal - both of which will be used. You also need Kontakt 2 obviously.
Can you get by without all this?
Answer: Minimally, you must have Kontakt2 and a sequencer that allows you to alter various cc controllers, you can program the Strad 100% this way. You dont actually need a keyboard.
[B]Live performance or programming a sequencer?[/B]
Gary emphasises using the instrument in a live way. In my view it can be used either way 100% effectively. It depends if your skills are sequencer based or musical keyboard perfomance based. Personally I am currently using it in program rather than performance mode. My results are fine - very expressive. Obviously using the keyboard even in a simple way, helps get the feel right.
It's a lot of money for a new keyboard, and its also a lot of money to shell out for Kontakt if you havent got it already - plus there is the cost of the the strad, perhaps the cost of a new keyboard, and maybe even pedals too. In my view, having done this, it's been well worth the effort. Read on....
Stagger the purchase?
I started by buying Kontakt and the Strad, which was a fully functional solution, but I was soon yearning for a better keyboard.
I found the CME UF8 at digital village in the uk this retails for £340 UK . I bought it at a real rock bottom price, its a quality instrument and its working fine. See my other post if you want a run down, here:
KONTAKT 2 - a run down
Kontakt two's forum is currently a very negative vibe. Users have been waiting for an update since early december which still hasn't materialised. Apparently there a lot of bugs.
I can only say, Kontakt is working fine except two things:
Firstly, I can't see a change in the colours of keyswitch defined notes on the virtual keyboard - though they are there.
Secondly, I can't get the import working for foreign formats.
This does not make a difference to the Strad which is 'native' (if you forgive the dreadful pun).
Others users of K2 are not as lucky as I, I understand, but in my guesstimate, the update is only a couple of weeks away and ought to be comprehensive judging by hints from the moderator.
So, purchase of the instrument can be staggered in three stages.
First the instrument and Kontakt, for your sequencer.
Next a decent keyboard with the correct functionality.
Third expression and/or other pedals.
How much to learn?
On the learning front, honestly speaking, I found a bit of a curve. Assuming you have set up all your equipment, first base, you have to learn Kontakt to a functional degree. You dont have to be able to program in Kontakt, or even use more than a couple of screens. You just have to load the instrument and understand the main panel. This can be done in an evening if you don't get way laid in the seductions of the 200 page manual.
A quick asideabout Kontakt for those that are tempted:.
I had Halion 3, and I did not need Kontakt at all, but I am glad I took the plunge fro the saake of the violin.
Firstly the samples packaged with Kontakt are superb, well worth the ticket price even if Kontakt could only whistle dixy.
There is a whole VSL orchestra for a start, plus many high quality instruments and syth sounds.
Secondly, Kontakt 2 has a scripting editor - let me explain: A scripting editor means that software companies can create basic interfaces for any kind of instrument, with custom knobs and dials. These 'scripts' function just like VST, DXI, RTAS, etc.. instruments in their own right. There interfaces are dull grey and they are displayed, and used, right there in Kontakt.
The Strad is an example of this scipting power. Additionally, on the bundled disk there are other instruments such as a 'rib cracking' cathedral organ which is absolutely stunning!!!. There are also virtual 'strumming' guitars, trance like step editors, a whole lot of synth and percussion sounds much of which is sensitively tweakable to a high degree - easily. There are gigs and gigs of this stuff!
Its very easy to get way laid by the seductions of Kontakt 2 believe me here. Its a wonderful set of sounds.
Do I need to learn how to program in Kontakt?:
No. Absolutely not. You don't need to know a jot about scripting, you just need to be able to load programs that have been scripted already by someone else. You can script yourself if you want to also, but you can also just go ahead and use the Strad and or other instruments, more or less immediately.
Using the actual violin instrument:
You have to learn how to program the Strad. How much work is involved? Well, the manual is 44 pages long and a lot of it is not mission critical - i.e. stuff about the life of Stradivarius.
Knowledge of real violins
You have to know something at least about the various articulations and bowings of the violin. There is a section in the manual which is a very useful start.
Putting it all together
You need to work out a game plan about how to use these tools to formulate and achieve a musical goal. In my view time making small sketches using the articulations and settings is the only way to go here.
Is it worth it?
The result is SO MUCH MORE realism. At last a REAL virtual instrument one that can be played as well as programmed. It's worth the effort, this is no virtual blind alley, the learing curve may be long for you, depending on your skills, but learning the strad is going to equip yyou with the right skills for the future of sampling IMO.
At the end of the road when is all is set up and learning assimulated, the Strad is EASY to use, and you simply won't hear anything better.
Dont believe me?
Well, use your ears yourself:
Check out Stafano's song here: