I would like to let people know about my experience, as a honest contribution to the community evaluations. This is my first report:
I wrote to Kirk about my order, and I received not only the standard order tracking e-mail, but also his personal and kind answer. Later I had my little box in Italy for no-extra-cost in only 8 days: I payed only the cost of the software. I asked for some suggestion and clear-up, receiving again a kind and quick answer.
A little tricky/complex because of compressed files, but all information were enough to correctly install and make it work on my Mac OS X, Kontakt 2.
It is really 20Gb of wear!
The usual issues of wide sound libraries, learn abbreviations, explore folders, understand programs and controllers. The library is complex and the documentation is still under development, then it's not "for dummies".
But the project has some key concept that help with a little of coherence, so after first impact, it's not so difficoult to learn and the trial of all the proposed programs is a nice experience.
The Emerald Synphonic Orchestra wasn't yet a "clean and engineered" product, but as a kind of handmade craftsman tool, it has anyway an exclusive and actractive value.
The amount and variety of samples is huge, the realism is frequently impressing, programs are providing the user with a very wide range of options, suggesting several different ways to manipulate and control the sound in real time (via velocity, controllers, keyswitch, Kontakt 2 scripts etc.) and proposing the most logical combination of articulations grouped in a lot of ready-to-use setup. The legato tool works fine, and make easy and quick an expressive mock-up. With a little of MIDI tweeking, the final result may be impressing.
In the last two weeks, Kirk has fixed some issues, posted updates, enlarged the documentation on-line. The product then will reach probably soon his best and more definitive shape. It will keep at the actual price a terrific quality/price rate.
The Chamber violins bonus had a real value, because the sound of this section is quite interesting and different from the orchestral sections: Emerald Chamber Strings should be a product to check, IMHO.
I hope that some additional programming will be added for continuous control. Programs are all good from a sound variation point of view, and the answer to velocity is so good, that even old GM MIDI sequences are easy to import in KHSO. But the use of cc#11 for real time dynamic control is an important addition still to do: I implemented it quickly in Kontakt 2, but the "director's cut" of Kirk is nice to have.
Some samples are including little noises, slightly unbalanced tuning, volume or timbric colour.
Somebody might be not happy, even if all issues are easy to fix.
To be honest, after the first disappointment, I find now some of those issues like an opportunity/benefit:
the perfection of sound makes clean single notes, but somewhat "frozen" and artificial the music made with several notes. The sligthly more imperfect or noisy sound of unpredictable points, has in the mix the result of a "live" performance effect.
Personally I like to talk more with and about musical results, then more music and less words: I post a first sample of string music