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Topic: VSL Strings- Harsh? what am I missing?

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  1. #1

    VSL Strings- Harsh? what am I missing?

    VSL is largely regarded as THE premier sample library today and whilst many demos I've heard are superb, the user interface excellent and every possible sample you would ever needed is provided, the strings are no doubt the low point.

    IMHO and many other people share this view, the strings are harsh and almost synthy sounding. Why?

    To me SISS and KHSO sound warmer, richer and useable BUT.......
    Am I missing something?
    Is there a reason for this and is there a fix for this sound within a mix?

    Is it my ears decieving me or are the VSL strings accurate?

  2. #2

    Re: VSL Strings- Harsh? what am I missing?

    They made a big deal about recording in a "silent stage", with mics placed not too far away, and hall noise / reverberation nearly nonexistent. Ambience of the instruments is preserved, but is usually hard to notice except for one particular case (which I'll talk about shortly). The idea behind this was to make a library that would preserve the instrument's timbre precisely, and be flexible enough to allow users to apply whatever processing they want to make it sound however they want. So it becomes much more responsive to stuff like EQ, exciters, and convolution than wetter and more ambient libraries.

    Most people will tell you that you can get a warm sound with convolution, and that VSL is meant to be used with convolution reverbs. I totally don't disagree (what works, works!), but I came up with another solution that's been working really well so far - basically it takes advantage of the samples that have more obvious ambience (the performance samples) and uses them in a different way than they were intended.

    Additionally, my solution involved shrinking the stereo image, which I do with most VSL patches by now. Because VSL isn't recorded in position, the stereo image on the samples can be outrageous at times (eg. a string section's C sounds like it starts off a little to the left, then the C# sounds like they all suddenly teleported over to the right; or a solo flute sounds it's all around you instead of in one specific place). Simply shrinking the image by a % based on how much physical space the section takes up in real life has immediate results on the warmth of the strings. It's also extremely easy to do this in Kontakt.
    Wilbert Roget, II
    Composer
    Rogetmusic.com

  3. #3

    Re: VSL Strings- Harsh? what am I missing?

    I would say the short answer is a combination of the above and also the simple fact that every lib will have some sort of a "sound" which some will like and others dislike, whether it costs $100 or $10,000. But I think there is merit to the idea that it was a philosophical decision to record the samples dry and unforgiving and let the end user warm them-or not.

  4. #4

    Re: VSL Strings- Harsh? what am I missing?

    I'm having a similar issue with GOS. Is there processing tips that might make them more suitable for pop use? I have all of the Logic plugs, Sonalksis, UAD-1.
    JP

  5. #5

    Re: VSL Strings- Harsh? what am I missing?

    Quote Originally Posted by jimmymio
    I'm having a similar issue with GOS. Is there processing tips that might make them more suitable for pop use? I have all of the Logic plugs, Sonalksis, UAD-1.
    JP
    I have GOS too and they can be bright... I usually use Gigapulse, a good warm rooml tames them. Also for me when mixing into rock/pop a small dip around 4-5 khz helps...

  6. #6

    Re: VSL Strings- Harsh? what am I missing?

    VSL's studio really isn't dry, it has a short reverb time. There's a big difference. They also don't close-mic the instruments.

    But a lot of VSL sounds like a Casio until you run it through a good reverb - for the most part it's not intended to be used naked - and you can EQ the strings so they don't sound harsh.

    EWQLSO and SI sound much better out of the box, no question. But that's the way they're designed. Most people will have a preference, but all three approaches have been proven to be sound, and each has its advantages.

  7. #7

    Re: VSL Strings- Harsh? what am I missing?

    Thanks for all the input, guess a buying decision boils down to useability and what our ears tell us.

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