In response to a thread started by Michiel Post, I would like to contribute a list of libraries I have recent experience using, and offer some quick feedback. This may be very helpful to a number of users. I have also published several in-depth reviews of libraries at ProRec.COM, and have a new series coming there which focuses on how to approach commercial projects with some of the great new libraries available. These are listed in no particular order:
BIGGA GIGGAS: Look to any of these libraries for GOOD price to performance value. Don\'t overlook titles like the DX-11, Prophet V, etc. While it may seem redundant in a day of amazing soft-synths, you can\'t usually run soft synths while running Giga on the same machine. Also, the \"synth\" libraries are amazingly useful to bolster sampled strings, etc. More than you\'d think--way more than you\'d think. They have extreme dynamic range, you can sneak them up under the sampled sections, and \"push\" the expression forward. Michiel Post has some nice libraries on this label, the Post Organ Toolkit is a favorite of mine. Danny Lux\'s Acoustic Essentials and Harmonica Essentials are PRIMO for commercial music producers. The Sunes L-100 is a nice Hammond, again, with B4 it seems redundant at first glance, but you won\'t have very good luck running B4 and Giga on the same machine. The L-100 is very warmly recorded and it has a fantastic \"backwall\" imaging--in this way, it is actually the superior choice to B4 for some settings. You can definitely read the location of the Leslies on the soundstage, while B4 tends to push up in front of the speakers.
VRSound GIGA MODULE--This is a little bit of everything for sampled rhythm section. FUNKY FUNKY FUNKY, and a good deal. Excellent Rhodes samples off a suitcase amp...classic. Good drums, good basses, some good synth sounds, overall, just a nice tight collection of very useful stuff which serves well against just about anything. Even the pianos, which are very small and limited sample sets, are excellent in many settings. Kudos that you can load the same piano from player, singer, or room perspective.
METAMORPHOSIS--This is a tremendous value library. Three different ways of accessing the same loop/groove data exist, bearing three different kinds of fruit.
RARE INSTRUMENTS--Killer. Must Have. Everything is sampled in a highly playable and usable way, with loads of articulations and licks that are easy to integrate in realtime. Great for evoking moods, mystical sounds. Killer hurdy-gurdy, that evokes green haired clowns grinding children into sausages. The Taiko Earthquake makes a great high-impact orchestral instrument. Nick--I\'ll have you know that I was banging away on those Taiko drums and one of my JBL 4412s shook itself off the wall and crashed to the studio floor. Amazingly, only a couple of dents and the speaker survived. Does this give people a picture of the amount of bass and power these things have??
GARRITAN ORCHESTRAL STRINGS--Ditto, Killer, Must Have. I am only now coming to grips. The Legato/Maestro Tools implementation is the best solution to date, no more slurpy lines. This should be standard practice, orchestral developers pay attention!! There is no doubt that this is the definitive section strings library, and one which will serve as a benchmark for orchestral libraries to come. A perfect example of exploiting all the tools Giga has to offer, and inventing a few that Nemesys has been a little slow to provide. I love the recording quality. You can make things happen with this one. I have, no kidding, seen a client of mine cry when she heard what this library did for a piece of hers. Her arms had goose-bumps.
DAN DEAN WOODWINDS, BRASS, SOLO STRINGS, BASS--All First Rate. All must-have. All highly malleable, well mic\'ed and produced, and all played well by musicians of national and international renown...including Mr. Dean himself, whose musical collaborators list like a who\'s who. I don\'t want to repeat myself too much, just know these are standard bearers all the way around. You don\'t have to \"play to\" these samples, they\'ll play to you. VERY important.
DONNIE & SEAN\'S CALFSKIN TIMPS, MARIMBA, VIBES--Wonderfully expressive, best of class as always from these guys. The Vibes and Marimba cross over to jazz and commercial beautifully. Amazing bass on the Marimba, great in your face dynamics. The calfskin-headed Hinger timps are warm at piano, and full bodied at fortissimo with the unique blend of warmth and edge that calfskin heads provide. Lots of power here, and lots of choices from intimate to back of hall, depending on how you mix and EQ them.
BARDSTOWN AUDIO CLASSIC ACCORDIONS, VINTAGE ARCHTOP GUITAR and TENOR BANJO--Both of these collections are gorgeous. The Accordions are recorded to perfection, and are absolutely first rate instruments. The archtop guitar and tenor banjo collection are dead-on. Great stuff. The release triggers on the guitar/banjo samples put the perfect amount of funk between notes for realism. These instruments also map very well to different performance situations. Mapping breath control to attenuation on the accordions, for instance, or some pitch bend to the \"pickup\" version of the guitars for excellent whammy bar emulation.
MATT RAGAN STEEL STRING GUITAR--Great sampling of classic Martin. Excellent layers, excellent variation and many fine approaches to the guitar. FUN to play, with great performance-oriented articulations that put a lot of different stuff at your fingertips. It is a first rate job of recording and mapping. As with the Bardstown guitar, the release samples really give the sound some life and intention. Somebody needs to do a really nice nylon instrument with this much detail.
MALMSJO PIANO--Gorgeous, mellow tone...sweet, haunting. It is a great choice for so many things. Perhaps the most pleasing \"vibe\" of any piano library out. The imaging of this instrument is wonderfully intimate, yet you don\'t get the \"inside the lid\" perspective that absolutely plagues some other libraries. It\'s a smaller, older instrument, so you won\'t get the typical edge or boom of a huge concert Steinway. In many cases, though, huge pianos don\'t work, and it\'s nice to see such a wonderful job done on a more compact instrument.
TRACHTMAN-C--Take a look at the amazing detail of this mapping, and how these samples all work together so cohesively. This piano is a first choice on many different kinds of material, and is one of the best price to performance ratios you\'ll find. Clear tone, player perspective, GREAT feel on the keys. Maybe the best layer transitions of any sampled piano to date. Warren\'s attention to detail is evident to anyone who opens this one in the editor--this baby is TWEAKED. Download the release samples for the full-ride. They add an abundance of personality.
TOTAL PIANO--Buy this one for the EXCELLENT prepared piano and piano effects instruments. We\'re talking spinning wire brushes attacking strings, screws between strings, tack pianos, etc. GOOD stuff...most of it is mapped tonally so you can do melody-esque approaches. Strums, squeaks, shrieks, you name it, you\'ll find it.
HOLLYWOOD EDGE SOUND EFFECTS--the best I have ever used, period, bar none. The recording quality is amazing, and the potential for musical uses of these sounds is beyond imagination. Don\'t discount the value of \"musique concrete\" as a valid compositional tool...you\'d be amazed at the number of melodic ideas that can be hatched from the \"sounds of our world.\" These are WAVE files, but made for Giga. I wrote about this in Keyboard Magazine, so I won\'t repeat it here. You can search for key words, and the files just pop up on the screen.
VOCAL PLANET, SYMPHONY OF VOICES--If you can\'t make LOTS OF CASH using these libraries, you\'d better consider holding on to that day job. There are vocals here for every imaginable purpose, and the amount of material is simply staggering. I cannot begin to list all of it, but there are vocal effects like full choirs moaning or whispering, people laughing, applause, chatter, hundreds of individual blues licks, classical runs, clusters, pop stacks, doo-wop. Even if you use all of it \"straight\" there is enough here for a lifetime of use. If you \"break rules\" with it, the uses are limitless.
JIM CORRIGAN\'S NASHVILLE HIGH-STRUNG GUITARS--If you don\'t know what a High-Strung guitar is, you have likely heard it thousands of times. These are dual tracked guitars, played with altered tunings, strummed. Much like Acoustic Essentials in that you play alternating strums between octaves and change chord classes with your key-switches. These are the driving force behind the \"Nashville\" rhythm-section sound, and these samples are AMAZING for any sort of pop-use. A little-known, but VERY useful library.
PURRRFECT DRUMS--Should I even have to say anything? Imagine the best drums you can find, recorded in the best room you can find, with the best mics you can find. Now imagine them sampled in such detail you will likely need to buy a new hard drive just to load them. Now imagine spending less for them than you would spend buying a nice meal for four in a good restaurant. The snares are nowhere near as bad as rumored. They may not be the snare you want, snares are like pianos. Everybody knows what they like, no two people agree on what that is. Frankly, I do not hear evidence that people are mapping this drum library to multi-zone drum controllers and using it as designed. You can play this on a keyboard, but really, you are missing the true value if you do. Map these samples to a high-end pad set/controller, and you\'ll be properly amazed, I guarantee it.
SCARBEE J-SLAP--If you want to do the Marcus Miller routine, here is your monkey. Thump, Slap, Snap, all that stuff. The Mod Wheel mapping takes a little practice to nail, but once you\'ve found the sweet spots, you can have some good fun. I have had a good time with this, using my KX-5 controller to get \"in the mood.\" Worth a serious look if you\'re doing the \"smooth jazz\" thing (whatever that means).
Hopefully, other people can post some personal appraisals of library materials they\'ve used in their work. While these are only my opinions, certain things are facts. Most important: Each and every library I have listed here is a money-maker. If I cannot quickly play and construct commercial broadcast-quality music using a given library, it is of no use to me whatsoever. Every library I\'ve listed here passes the test. You can make your money back and profit. Obviously, the talent and ability to get composing gigs are up to the end user, but all of these libraries will make music (and money) for any level of commercial job.
[This message has been edited by Bruce A. Richardson (edited 09-25-2001).]
Very informative posting. I am curious about \"world\" instruments. I have a piece to compose that is supposed to parade instruments and styles of many countries more or less synchronized with images. Do you have any recommendations?
Bruce, curse you for inspiring a surge of \"gear acquisition lust.\" It was your columns at Prorec that got me into this Giga-business to begin with, and now this. A couple grand worth of must-haves. Great.
Seriously, the libraries you mention are generally the ones I\'ve been jonesing for anyway. This kind of post helps me prioritize and plan a rationale and viable approach to upgrading. Thanks.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by clueless: Very informative posting. I am curious about \"world\" instruments. I have a piece to compose that is supposed to parade instruments and styles of many countries more or less synchronized with images. Do you have any recommendations?
Nick Phoenix\'s Rare Instruments mentioned above. Bagpipes, Hurdy-gurdy, Irish flute, wind and bowed middle eastern instruments, Taiko drums, a fine Tabla with a very nice mapping. They\'re all well recorded and mapped. The bagpipes are extremely playable thanks to the recordings of typical melodic ornamentations, same with many of the instruments. LOTS of key switching.
There may be others, but this is the one which I have experience using, and it is a lovely library, well produced and nicely packaged with descriptions, photos, etc.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by LHong: I\'m also interested in best Saxophone libraries for jazz and pop songs, so, you or/and someone have any comments or recommendations? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Nick Phoenix\'s Quantum Leap Brass has a number of saxophone samples, even though it\'s not a sax library per se. I do not have experience with others...we are lousy with great sax players here in Dallas, so that has never been a priority for me. I particularly like the Ben Webster-esque Tenor...it has the softly blown Webster/Getz/Dex non-vibrato airy sound.