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Topic: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Pacific Northwest

    Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    I would appreciate your comments and advice. I currently have two orchestral libraries - GPO and the EWQLSO Gold Bundle, and was not contemplating an additional purchase at this time. Nevertheless, the current upgrade to the Platinum bundle is very tempting. But, given total upgrade costs, the Vienna SE plus the Extended (both would be needed) could also be an option (actually, I wish GPOA existed).

    My primary interests consist of chamber and small orchestral music, and also church related service music, also for small ensembles (am also partial to full lush strings). For my purposes, each of the two libraries have strengths and weaknesses as follows:

    EWQLSO Platinum. Strengths: 3 mic positions, 24 bit samples definitely sound better than the 16 bit samples, overall sound, built in reverb (in some cases), and probably the upcoming Play software. Weaknesses: close mic samples are still very wet, and not really optimal for chamber music, some missing articulations, and occasional truncated ranges (solo double-bass for example), and occasional problems with individual sampled notes.

    Vienna SE and Extended. Strengths: full compliment of instruments with full ranges, flexibility of styles - result of dry samples, slightly more intimate classical sound, and legato scripting. Weaknesses: no second violin section (although the decision not to include them is regularly defended, for me it remains a major drawback), somewhat limited articulations, the need for an additional quality reverb. Given that I am not a professional, any subsequent purchase of any of the full VSL libraries would be very unlikely.

    Further difficulty - the two libraries (upcoming Play for EWQLSO) use different copy protection dongles, and from what I understand, the two schemes do not always play nicely with each other.

    Rough computer specs: one DAW, Intel core two duo, three hard drives, 4 gigs ram (about one year old). I also have an older DELL Pentium D in general use that could eventually be converted to sample duty if needed - but for most of what I am currently doing (chamber/small or string orch/small ensembles), the one computer should remain fine.

    The ideal answer is to buy both libraries, but that is not even remotely possible at this point. Another option is to simply keep working with what I already have and buy nothing, though I am leaning to purchasing the upgrade.

    Thanks again for your comments.


  2. #2

    Re: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    Hello Jim,

    I also own the EWQL Gold bundle, and the upgrade to Platinum appears to be very tempting, indeed. I also have VSL, and what I can say is, if you are more into chamber music / small orchestras, then IMHO the the way to go is definitely VSL, especially if you are ready to go for the Vienna SE plus the Extended (and yes, you would need both of them). For full lush strings, you would get the Appassionata Strings, and for smaller ensembles the chamber and solo strings. Layering the various string ensembles, depending on the situation, can give very convincing results, too. Plus, once you get familiar with the VI and Vienna Ensemble engines, you won't like to miss them anymore. If you are on a budget, than you still could use your Gold XP (and even GPO) in combination with VSL (which does work, as many have stated here), which is 16 bit only, but is not so bad at all.


  3. #3

    Re: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    Haha, aren't we all in the same boat? I am also pondering wether to upgrade or not or go another route....

    I would like some points to the VSL-option:

    * VSL does NOT include the full ranges! I read numerous threads were people complained about not being able to reach this or that note. In Kontakt that was no problem: Just extend the highest/lowest sample's range and you're done. Thanks to the VI-player you have NO WAY of editing the sample pool. If something is not right, you can NOT fix it. If you want to edit an instrument to get something out of it that the guys VSL do not want: You can't.

    * Is there still no upgrade path for SE? You may pay a lot of money and be stuck if you want to upgrade later on.

    * Even in the extended version the SE is a step backwards comparing to its predecessor (Opus 1+2) regarding the available articulations etc.

    The advantages and drawbacks of Platinum have been discussed at length. I still hope to find a piece which was done with the close mics ONLY so I could hear for my own if the upgrade is delivering what I personally need. However considering PLAY, you must not forget this: Remember how long it took Native Instruments to make Kontakt usable. Version 1? Wow, those were forum flamewars.... 1.5 was not bad and basically usable. How long did it take to come out? K2 is the first REALLY usable, stable and powerful version. Again: How long since K1.0? Now think about PLAY: It basically works right now but it will be at least 3-5 years until it will work as intended. I would not consider it a viable option right now. I am sure it will be good one day, but not within the next years (same goes for all the other samplers that will enter the market soon - These things need years to grow and ripen).

    Some other options that may be worth considering instead of going Platinum/VSL:

    * Wallander Brass Instruments: Sound good for Jazz, chamber, solo and mellow/calm (pp-f) orchestral works. Can sound LOUD but somehow doesn't have the power of a real recorded section (that may be the demo's fault). Also never heard a demo using them in a movie-cliché context.

    * Wallander Woodwinds: Well, all the demos show chamber and mellow works. Sounds good for pp-mf but other than that?

    * Siedlazcek String Essentials: On another forum I heard a demo which featured the first truly powerful string staccato I heard. But the rest of the samples, especially for the price? Maybe if Bestservice will have another of it's sales...

    * XSample: The demos sounds good, but I wonder how much of that comes from using a good reverb (Altiverb?). Also: I wonder if these samples could be used in a bigger, elaborate orchestral piece. I did not hear one using them yet.

    * Altiverb: VSL is said to be useless without it. I hear many acoustically amazing pieces all over the web that use it. All the pros use it. So instead of getting more samples and fighting with other reverbs, why not get one that is being developed for a considerable amount of time? Right now the Altiverb option keeps nagging me in the back of my head... Why get samples with baked in reverb when I can use this to improve the sound of my current sample pool? Too bad there are not group buys or sales on this...

    Sorry for the long posting. Just wanted to insert some more thoughts.
    Greetings from Vienna!
    My website: Above the staff.net

  4. #4

    Re: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    When you mentioned small ensembles and more intimate settings I also thought maybe EWQSLO might not be your best choice.

    I'm also contemplating the Plat upgrade as the pricing is definitely very tempting. But just because something is a great price doesn't mean that it will necessarily be just what I need for MY music - not just when considering a new library but ANY new piece of gear.

    So I'm pretty much in a similar 'boat' as you guys.

    I'm also contemplating KH Diamond, since that is also in the same price range and I've heard many good things about Kirk's strings. One thing that is attractive about the KH libraries is not having to worry about learning yet another player interface, protection schemes, and etc., and etc.

    Many pros and cons to consider. Ugh.

    Musicpete... btw... aren't those Siedlaczek ensembles on sale now as part of a holiday sale somewhere?

  5. #5

    Re: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    I own VSL Vienna SE and I would like to dispel the rumour about it not having full ranges. That's wrong. What Vienna SE does not have is the 5 velocity layers on each instrument like the full blown VIs do. This results in having to be a little more careful using the velocity-triggered patches. Most of the time, I use the Mod wheel to affect timbral changes because I have more control.

    For small ensemble work, Vienna SE is the way to go. Yeah, it's as dry as a bone but if you have Logic Pro you can use Space Designer. I also own Platinum and love it to death but I do find it harder to achieve an intimate sound compared to using VSL Vienna SE. MIND YOU, I have both Basic and Extended libraries from Vienna SE. When you buy it, you get both but only have a 30 temp license for the extended library. These instruments really fill out Vienna SE as they give you Chamber Strings, Epic horns, saxes, guitars, etc. If you get this lib, you pretty much need the Extended Library.

  6. #6

    Re: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    I'm also in a similar "confused" state. I want to take advantage of these end of year sales and am trying to decide between the Platinum upgrade, VI SE + Extended, and KH Diamond. I currently own Gold XP and First Edition (although this is not getting much use since I don't use GS anymore). So...

    1. Platinum sound
    2. Update VSL and utilize the VIP side grade offer
    3. Go totally new and try out KH Diamond

    They'd all be basically the same price to me and all have something very useful to offer. I'm getting ready to do a blind-folded dart throw here, so if anyone has opinions or info that would help me decide it would be greatly appreciated

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Pacific Northwest

    Re: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    A few thoughts regarding KH libraries, and why they were not included on my list in this thread...

    First, though, it is important to say that many have found the KH libraries to be exactly what they were looking for, and have had success with them.

    For me, two things stood out: 1) a desire to move towards libraries that either are not, or soon will not be, based on a third party software sample player. I had a very bad experience with Giga years ago, and NI seems to me to be currently heading in a non-optimal direction (no interest in 64 bit, etc.); 2) as a classical bassist, the KH strings always struck me as among the more synthetic, and also had noisy exaggerated bow attacks (though others do like them). For those two reasons, KH was not on the "short list".

    Are the KH libraries a good value for the money? Absolutely. Has Kirk been responsive to the many posts on this board? Again, absolutely. As has been mentioned, choosing a library comes down to one's personal preferences. There is no perfect library - hence each one of us being in a somewhat similar state of uncertainty.


  8. #8

    Re: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    I recently got Kirk Hunter's Sapphire and I'm mightily impressed with the programming detail that went into each patch. So many keyswitches, timbral changes through the mod wheel and very warm sounding strings. I also like the brass and solo winds. And this is the $99 library.

    Honestly though, when it comes to orchestra libs, you can go on forever thinking about what to buy. Or like me, buy most of them. I find each one has different strengths. I love HALion Symphonic Orchestra for its short string articulations, MOTU SI for its speedy navigation and period instruments, Miroslav Philharmonik for the emotion behind the samples, etc.

  9. #9

    Re: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    Well, I for one finally decided to go for the Plat upgrade. Which doesn't mean that I am closing the door on other options in the future.

    I figured the price was right and I would first finish what I had started and have one top of the line library rather than lots of introductory bits and pieces. I'm still interested in the KH libraries at some point and may do as Dave did and pick up Sapphire and work my way up - though probably I will start with Emerald.

    And as Peter suggested in another thread... the Appassionatta library sounds very interesting.

    Just as most of you guys, I have a number of tools to choose from and plenty to keep me busy. I figure I'll see what the future brings and also it will depend on what the music dictates.

  10. #10

    Re: Future Library Purchase VSL SE or Upgrade to Platinum

    Since you mentioned church work, Writing and Performing Christian Music is now out, so I'm going to respond to you at that level.

    If you're doing work in church, I presume you want strings for backing tracks for singers. Should this be the case, consider the Appassionata Strings I and Vienna Special Edition.

    I just reviewed this package for Film Music Weekly (I write the Music Technology & You column), and I felt that the Appassionata Strings were the weakest element in the library. With SE, you can upgrade via download for very inexpensive prices.

    As I wrote in my review, going through the score of St. Matthew's Passion I saw that SE has enough "Baroque" instruments to give you a wide range of colors and particularly those that will mesh well with vocalists.

    The addition of the free Vienna Ensemble (Vienna's V-Stack) makes panning a cinch with the Power Panning feature.

    If you want small horns, the saxes in expanded edition are great and you should be able to pull off R&B staccato and sweet horn sections (like alto-tenor-bone-bari, tpt-alto-tenor-bone-bari, etc).

    For church work, there's always need for piano/organ at times and SE has both. The Bosendorfer is OK. I'd like to hear the full version before passing judgment, but the organ included is a knock-out.

    Having said all that, if church = praise band, ignore the above and go straight to Appassionata Strings, do not pass GO.

    Also, if church = praise band, then depending on how deep you need to go, the Hollywood Strings in Spectrasonic's Atmosphere are very versatile.

    I have Platinum, but I haven't tried the close position for vocal back-ups. But if you're not in a hurry, I'll test them this weekend for you.

    BTW, many of the libraries do not have genuine 2nd Violins. With Vienna, the way to get around it is using Power Panning, put Vlns 1 to the left and Vlns 2 to the right, then have violas and cellos between them. This is the European seating arrangement and you can pull it off with any library recorded in the center stage position.
    Peter L. Alexander
    Learn it right the first time.

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