Looking for some workflow and buying advice from some online music forums -- primarily on the subject of Choir Samples. (FYI, have included as a Post-Script more detailed info on the specific project this is all for, and exactly how the choir sounds will need to be used). Meanwhile...
WHAT'S OUT THERE?
Based on the websites and reviews I've been able to scan, here are some of the choices I'm considering, and on which I'd love to hear any comments, critiques, or words of warning:
The ProSamples CDs...
- such as "PROSAMPLES VOL.13 - Choirs"
(which includes selections from both "Classical Choirs" and "Hallelujah"; see below)
- Soundscan Vol. 28 "Choir - Acoustic & Synth"
The Peter Siedlaczek collections:
- "Classical Choir"
- "Extended Classical Choir"
- Quantum Leap's "Voices of the Apocalypse"
- Spectrasonics' "Symphony of Voices"
- EWQL's "Symphonic Choirs (w WordBuilder)"
(out of my price range, and maybe not even appropriate for this project, but included here just to complete the list)
Some general questions re the above:
1) Just how limited in content (and quality?) are these ProSamples CDs? And if I need to explore some other kinds of instrument samples, are the ProSamples a good way to try out a particular collection without investing in the full edition first?
2) How much overlap (if any) is there between the older "Classical Choir" and the newer "Extended Classical Choir"? Is the Extended just a bigger and better edition of the original, or are the two completely separate and complimentary?
3) And forgive a newbie question, but when a particular sample collection is offered only in "AUDIO" format, is that the same thing as when the format is listed as "AUDIO/WAV", and if so, does that mean it can be used by LogicExpress, whose EXSP24 sampler lists "WAV" as one of the formats with which it's compatible?
CURRENT PRICES (all in US$):
- S.O.V. is priced at $499 from the Spectrasonics.net site (aka www.ilio.com)
Meanwhile, I see that ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ is having a sale till the end of March. Its discounted prices on the other packages work out as follows:
- VOTA $250 (reg. 499)
- Extended Classical Choir $175 (reg. 250)
- ProSamples 13 Choirs $35 (reg. 49)
The total for the above three, with shipping, would still be less than ordering just the SOV package alone (unless someone knows where it's on sale for less).
SoundsOnline also has the full "Classical Choir" (AUDIO format only) for $70 (reg. 99), and the full "Hallelujah" for $140 (reg. 199) -- but again, just for the next couple of days.
So I'm swimming in a sea of choices right now, and even after checking out as many demos as I could find online, could really use some suggestions:
1) Should I perhaps start off with just the "Extended Classical Choir", plus the "ProSamples Vol. 13 Choirs" (with its selections from both "Classical Choirs" and "Hallelujah")?
2) Should I take advantage of the lower price and grab VOTA as well?
3) Or should I just bypass them all, bite the bullet, and go for SOV (which, if the reviews at http://www.ilio.com/spectrasonics/sy...s/reviews.html are to be believed, seems like it might have the most depth and variety of any single collection? The fact that it has soloists, as well as a boys choir, for me is a very big plus -- yet I've also read comments which describe this package as beautiful but a bit "mushy", and lacking the kind of sonic clarity I'd be looking for (see project description, below).
In terms of this specific project and its particular needs, here's some additional background info...
THE MUSIC ITSELF:
- all based on a couple of simple melodies; tongue-in-cheek spirituals
- when played straight they're reminiscent of traditional folk hymns like Amazing Grace, Auld Lang Syne, Red River Valley, etc.
- for some sequences, the melodies require comically un-spiritual arrangements, ranging from a bouncy, swinging "doodely-doo-doo" feel, to a biting, high-tension, drama/suspense mode.
- aside from recycling the basic melodies, other common denominator I want is for human voices -- as in "wordless singing", "voice as instrumental" -- to be the primary, lead instrument in each of the very different sequences
AND JUST WHAT SORT OF VOICES?
Here's where it gets interesting. Most of the film's music will be heard as underscore, with either live dialog or voice-over narration on top, so the voices don't have to sound perfect (as in "Fooled you, Placido -- they're only samples!"), but neither are they just going to be pads to simply fill out the main arrangement -- the voices will be fairly exposed a lot of the time. So the sound needs to be crisp and clear; not an overly-mellow "wash".
Plus, I would like to have some variety to choose from. The kinds of contrasts I'd like to be able to utilize and/or create are:
- Male vs. Female
- Solo vs. Small Groups (sometimes building to Larger Ensembles)
- Younger vs. Adult
- Angelic vs. Ominous
+ different, non verbal sounds: Ooos / Aahs / Ohhs / Mmms / Doos / etc.
What I DON'T require are:
- separate SATB samples (just a decent range of separate male/female will do);
- a high-end "WordBuilder"-type utility (as much fun as that would be to play with!), since no actual words are being sung;
- a far-away pad feel, or huge mega-choirs drowning in their own reverb (will generally be leaning towards more intimate, chamber-choir kinds of settings, where it feels more like a couple of dozen voices than a couple of hundred; and ideally not too "wet", so I can add the cathedral-like reverb only when I need it).
- an indie filmmaker, now editing a digital short, for which I've also composed some original music.
- lots of film/video writing/directing/editing experience, along with some musical theatre work on the side;
- still learning my way around MIDI, sequencers, samples, etc.
- G5 PowerMac, dual 1.8GHz, 3.5GB RAM
- FinalCutPro 5
- M-Audio Keystation 49e (for MIDI input via USB)
- Finale's PrintMusic2006 (for composing)
- LogicExpress 7.2 (for sequencing and arranging)
So that's where I'm at right now -- and like I said, all insights and input greatly appreciated.