POSTED BY HERB TUCMANDL, PRESIDENT VSL, ON THE VSL WEB SITE
To what does symphonic music owe its incomparable power?
The composition. The musicians. The instruments. The interpretation.
Music needs space. The space.
The acoustic environment of a good concert hall, of an arena, or even that of an intimate room for chamber music, is much more than just its perceived external effect on a performance; the acoustic character of a room is not a separate, expendable cog in the mechanics of sound. The room´s \"voice\" - its resonance, reflections and acoustic characteristics - is always an interwoven, inseparable part of the music. It determines the reverb, the tone color, the spreading and dampening of sound, the clarity of the language and melody, and countless other facets of the psycho-acoustic experience.
It is the essential resonance that binds together the tones of dozens of orchestral instruments into a unified body of sound, forming a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts.
Real space. No two instruments are alike. No two spaces are alike.
In creating their works, composers must use symphonic sound combinations to drive the emotional message. Ideally, the sound of the space - whether it be a concert hall, opera house, or arena - is one of the primary colors in their palette. Still, through the centuries, only a privileged few have been allowed to test and refine both at once: the effect of the instruments within the performance space.
The samples of the Vienna Symphonic Library, for the first time ever, have put all of the sounds and playing techniques of the symphony orchestra into the creative musician´s hands - directly, with immediacy, authenticity, and complete flexibility, with new technical solutions.
And now, the picture is complete:
Sampled reverb. Sampled reverb. In full 3D.
The Vienna Symphonic Library is pleased to add a critical ingredient to the alchemy of orchestral music production - real spaces. An advancement brought forth with the same uncompromising spirit that made the library become a standard virtually overnight. With the same absolute authenticity, flexibility, and perfect integration as the award-winning instruments of the Vienna Symphonic Library.
Restrictions of the past
Of course, there are numerous other ways of creating \"reverb\" artificially. Some of them modern music production could hardly do without. But all of them lack the inimitable characteristics of real architecture, that certain magic, that makes the famous concert halls of the world so unique.
Other approaches involve recording the instruments inside a fixed acoustic space, like a concert hall, and capturing both the instrument sound and the reverb together. Seems to be a covincing solution - but the creative restrictions of this method are massive: Spatial characteristics are frozen and unchangeable, the user has no flexibility to alter the size or acoustic properties of the room, or to change the space altogether. Plus, each time more than one note is played, the sound of that reverb is duplicated over and over again. Play three notes, the result is the cumulative, layered sound of three halls! Small, intimate chamber music or merely \"atypical\" creative orchestrations for modern pieces are hardly possible. - Innovative sampling techniques like those used in the Vienna Symphonic Library´s pioneering Performance Set exclude rigid methods like this from the outset, because the realization of unlimited, authentic legatos or repetitions simply doesn´t work with \"built-in\" reverb.
The magic of great architecture. The new technology
The basic idea is simple. Just as it is possible to digitize (i.e., \"sample\") an instrument with all of its wealth of expression, one can also digitize the characteristics of an enclosure, be it a small room or a concert hall. To do this, the \"response\" of a real space to a precisely defined acoustic impulse is recorded, and then \"imprinted\" onto an acoustic signal in a mathematical process called Convolution. Theoretically, the result is the same as if that signal had actually been recorded in this space.
Up to now, the immense computational requirements of convolution barely allowed more than two or fourchannels of sampling reverb, which was derived mostly from unidirectional mono impulses. The Vienna Symphonic Library takes this technology to the next level, capturing the great concert stages of the world in their full glory, wall to wall, floor to ceiling, in all three dimensions! MIR - Multi Impulse Responses - are the key to success: This engine places each instrument of the orchestra into one unified acoustic space, and the space of the composer´s choosing.
MIR - Multi Impulse Response
The VSL Sampling Reverberation and Mixing Engine
Now\'s the time!
A new approach to Impulse Response Convolution in the shape of impulse response of spatially segregated multi-mono impulses
The step into the 3rd dimension:
An award-winning concept
Highly specialized impulses in up to seven direction, horizontally and vertically
several hundred user applicable impulse-responses for each room, according to instrument and position
intuitive graphic Interface
complete integration of the instruments of the Vienna Symphonic Library with the MIR-engine
Real time and offline modes
utterly convincing, three-dimensional enveloping of each instrument according to the room, its position therein, and its relative volume
... and even more to come The Vienna Symphonic Library´s founding principle (which already won a prestigious award last year, even when it was only a drawing board concept) , is as simple as it is compelling in its fundamental logic: the \"stage\" of a concert hall can be subdivided into a number of sectors and from each sector a special impulse can be released in up to seven directions.
The impulse response can then be recorded using surround techniques from ideal positions in the hall. After the impulses are processed, the user simply places defined instruments and instrument groups of the Vienna Symphonic Library onto this virtual stage - with the help of an intuitive graphic interface. Due to the close association between the library and the reverb engine, the typical directional characteristics of each instrument are taken into consideration when formulating the \"correct\" sets of impulse responses. For instance, the horns, which are directed to the rear, can be assigned different spatial aspects than the frontally blaring trumpets.
But the Vienna Symphonic Library has even expanded on this already revolutionary concept. The reverb engine is actually a complete mixing station! With a few intuitive movements, the user can control every parameter of a virtual orchestration. Volume, position on the stage, distance from the virtual microphone, all of the necessary spatial parameters are connected in one macro environment. (Of course here are expert settings in the background enabling more refined control of the environment and instrument placement.)
The results can be heard in real-time in preview mode. The high-definition final results have to be be calculated offline (but it´s merely a question of time before even conventional computers are fast enough to enable high-definition real-time convolution). Output on up to eight audio channels covers even extravagant surround formats - allowing the complete recreation of the entire acoustic space in 5.1 and other three dimensional systems.
The innovative ideas of the Vienna Symphonic Library are by no means exhausted here. Our ongoing research and development explores the cumulative effects of adding individual instrument groups´ resonances with each other - every instrument being, as it were, a space by itself. The goal is to blend all of the sonic nuances of individual orchestral instruments and groups with the acoustic characteristics of the room at large to create a complete acoustic picture with unprecedented realism. Combining the acoustic properties of the very small with the all-encompassing sonority of the very large is a revolutionary step toward achieving virtual acoustic perfection.
Indeed, we live in exciting times.
[The first stage of the VSL MIR Engine is expected to reach the market in 2004]