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Topic: Getting A Realistic Sound

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  1. #1

    Unhappy Getting A Realistic Sound

    Hi

    I am an experienced musician but relatively new to using computers to produce music.

    I have Sibelius 5 and various Garritan sound libraries (Personal Orchestra 3, Concert and Marching Band) running under the Kontakt 2 player.

    While some of the sounds sound fine (percussion and keyboard instruments particularly, for example) I am very disappointed with the quality of sound I am getting for the many other instruments, especially brass instruments. These often sound little better than the inbuilt general midi instruments.

    Is there a comprehensive beginner's tutorial somewhere that explains how to set up my software to get the best realistic sounds out of such samples?

  2. #2

    Re: Getting A Realistic Sound

    There used to be some tutorials linked to the main garritan.com page, but I haven't been able to find them for a while (since they started updating their web design). Maybe a moderator can point us in the right direction.

    Anyway, as far as realism goes, I suggest using the project sam brass samples (GPO4) and/or the brass overlay patches. Use the brass overlays with the solo samples to create a thicker sound; it really helps to bring out the brass quality of the solo samples.

    Also, don't forget to tweak the two variable controllers (those seem to add a nice nuance to the sound) as well as the mod wheel and attack data. Typically, if I have something that sound too synthetic, I try to tweak the attack levels and the mod wheel.

    One last thing, and I apologize if this is something you're already aware of, but be sure to use just the right touch of reverb. The aria player has built in reverb (via send knobs) or you can use your own reverb vst. Nothing will sound that good if it has the room sucked out of it, so add some reverb and you may be surprised on how close you get to the real deal.

  3. #3

    Re: Getting A Realistic Sound

    The tutorials have been moved to the Garritan Wiki, here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for the tuts under "Other".

    Since you're using Sibelius, I'm not sure just how much use they will be to you, since they are geared for the DAW/Sequencer user. Finale takes care of it automatically, but I'm not sure how Sib goes about it. Hopefully one of our Sib users will chime in.

    To address your first point, though, you are absolutely right that without the addition of continuous controllers, the GPO samples will not sound a whole lot better than your standard built-in computer wavetable sounds. But, the Garritan libraries (and all modern sample libraries) are programmed to respond to those controllers in ways that make them come alive. For examples of what GPO can do in the hands of an experienced musician, see here and here, or listen to the offerings in the Listening Room.

    Good luck, and be sure to continue asking questions!

  4. #4

    Re: Getting A Realistic Sound

    Hi, Peter-- I'm sure you understand that your question has an answer which is millions of pages long. It's the starting question everyone has when they start using digital resources to make music.

    There's no way that anyone will ever get "a realistic sound" by just triggering some samples. They have to work on many levels, as a composer, as a musician, and as an engineer, to start breathing life into the raw material.

    You've had some excellent replies on this thread. The underlying theme of all of them is that you are at the start of a huge adventure and only You will arrive at the answers that make sense to you.

    I am going to add that I feel you're working under a handicap since you're using Sibelius which is designed for making professional looking printed scores. I use Sibelius, but not for making recordings which I'd care to share with anyone. It Is possible to make good sounding recordings with it, and I completely marvel at anyone who can manage to squeeze those kind of results out of a notation like Sib or Finale.

    Most of us who are concerned about making good recordings are working with programs aimed at that purpose--sequencers, audio/MIDI programs like Sonar, Cubase and Digital Performer. If you're really wanting to make better recordings, I feel you would have a much more rewarding time working with an app that can more easily help you get those kind of results.

    Randy B.

  5. #5

    Re: Getting A Realistic Sound

    Hey Peter,

    Welcome to the forum. Even though I haven't been around here much n the past year due to other obligations, I think you will find that this is a great place to get information and to seek help when needed.

    I have the exact setup that you are using, Sibelius 5, GPO through Kontakt 2 player, and I manage to get, what I think are very realistic recordings, straight from my scores. If you want examples, go HERE and check out some of my stuff. Take a listen to Lament for Cello and Piano, Three Scenes of Winter, Libera Me, Domine, and Carol of the Bells.

    I would be happy to help you along the path if you need it.

    Have a nice day,
    Jonny
    For more information, check out www.jonathoncox.com/intro.html

    "The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead." - Igor Stravinsky

  6. #6

    Re: Getting A Realistic Sound

    The tutorials have been moved to the Garritan Wiki, here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for the tuts under "Other".

    Thanks for the link....perhaps it should be a sticky.

    EDIT: Ah man I just went to "GPO String Ensemble Building Tutorial" and all of the links for audio are dead.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: Getting A Realistic Sound

    G’day,

    pcartwright wrote:

    “Nothing will sound that good if it has the room sucked out of it, so add some reverb and you may be surprised on how close you get to the real deal.”

    Somebody in the past famously said (I think it was I, who said it):

    “… reverb is a good way to cover up garbage with garbage …”

    No doubt this is not what pcartwright has in mind.

    Peter said:

    “I am very disappointed with the quality of sound I am getting for the many otehr instruments, especially brass instruments.”

    Music is often produced in non reverberant environments and less often in reverberant venues. Brass bands frequently play in the open, no reverb there. Clubs, bars, but also smaller to medium sized room have no reverb. If an instrument does not sound ok, then adding reverb is not going to fix poor sound quality of the instrument.

    The quality of the orchestration is the most important factor. A good sample library helps a lot. Also importantly, midi editing brings the music to life.


    Best wishes,

    Herbert
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
    Good Food, Gemütlichkeit, Wein Weib und Gesang – History, Politics, Civil Law –
    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
    Photography, Painting, Wood Working - Midi Orchestration, Music, Music, und Musik …

  8. #8

    Re: Getting A Realistic Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by sonata5920
    The quality of the orchestration is the most important factor.
    I couldn't agree with this more. If the orchestration and balance (not audio balance in this case) is good, I think you'll have at worst a reasonable sounding mock-up of your work whether it's rendered with a notation program or a sequencing program.

    Beyond that the more you work with the midi data, the more realistic each individual virtual player or section will sound and therefore further enhance the good orchestral balance you achieved in the first place.

    With notation programs it's usually a matter of putting in phrasing, articulations and dynamic markings. With sequencers, it's a matter of tweaking controller data to bring out dynamics and timbre and many other parameters that affect phrasing and the sound of the instruments.

    Steve Winkler

  9. #9

    Re: Getting A Realistic Sound

    Hello again, Peter

    I'm picturing you perhaps a bit frustrated with the generalities in our responses. But I do hope you've started to do some more investigation on your own as you work toward your goal of getting more satisfactory recordings.

    Steve gave you a really good capsulation of the differences between working with notation and sequencer programs. In both cases it gets down to learning about the tools at hand and applying them with your imagination to get life into sample playback.

    Like in a sequencer, after studying the sound of a recording of a live orchestra, you'll have noticed that the tone of a lead instrument, horn for example, will vary greatly. Well done sample libraries, like GPO will incorporate changes of timbre depending on the velocity of notes - how hard the keys are being played, if one is using a keyboard. But the contrast may not be enough. So in the mixer of a sequencer like Sonar, the user may want to automate parameters of that instrument's equalization, the EQ, so that the higher frequencies become more emphasized during a loud, soaring passage, and those same frequencies may want to be dampened down for dark, soft passages. That's an example of knowing what tools to use to simulate something that happens during a live performance.

    Something that will continue to be potentially confusing as you dig up more information and continue your experiments, is that you'll find more experienced musicians/composers will have extremely varying opinions on different topics. That's to be expected, because we're talking about art, and people arrive at their own ways of working, and their philosophies behind how they work. Just don't let it confuse you. Take all input and suggestions with some caution, remembering that no one person can be considered The source of truth for any aspect of working with music programs.

    Reverb, it's purpose and use, is something about which there is endless discussion and debate both here at Gary's Forum and on other music bulletin boards online.

    Here's what I think of reverb, and it's not an untypical opinion:

    --In the Real World every sound we hear is being reflected back to us after that sound wave bounces back from whatever surfaces are in the environment. The size of the space we're in of course dictates the nature of that reverberated sound. We can become most consciously aware of hearing reflected sound when we're in a large space like a concert hall, or standing at the edge of The Grand Canyon.

    But even while sitting in our relatively small living rooms, or maybe the spare bedroom which has been turned into a recording studio, we are still never hearing "pure" sound. The clicking keys on my laptop as I type this sound dry and devoid of reverberation, but they actually aren't. The walls and all the objects in this medium sized room are effecting that sound before it reaches my ears.

    --When recording music, part of the task at hand when using GPO, which features "dry" (reverb-less) sounds, is to add back the natural reverberation which occurs when instruments are played IN ANY SPACE. If we don't add some reverb, the results have no way of sounding natural to us since we never hear sounds in real life without some reverb.

    --The more complicated part of this equation is that a recording isn't the same as a real life listening experience. It's always an engineered, designed thing we're hearing, and often the attempt has been to simulate what music sounds like in real life, but it's always a simulation. Without the use of equalization, reverb and other recording tools, the recording, ironically, will sound less satisfactory.

    And then many recordings aren't even attempting to sound the way music would be performed in a hall - the creators are simply making interesting/pleasing sounding recordings, and they'll bend or break a lot of natural acoustical laws towards that end. In pop music, the totally dry kick drum is a perfect example. It sounds much better for that drum to be dry in a recording, even though in real life it would be reverberating in a space just as much as the rest of the drum kit.

    --Reversing something that was said on this thread, in my opinion Music is always produced in a reverberant environment, and never in a non-reverberant environment, since that only exists in the Real World in anechoic chambers designed to dampen all reflected sound.

    Clubs, bars and all smaller to medium sized rooms have just as much reverb as a concert hall - it's simply of a much more subtle, short wave-length nature. The only way to record a convincing jazz band, for instance, is to add at least a touch of a small room reverb to each instrument in the mix.

    So, all sampled instruments are going to sound "better" with some reverb added to them, because only then can the simulation be made that they're being played in a physical space.

    There's a bit of irony about me going on about reverb. Many Forum members who've been here a long time may recall that I am a big advocate of using much less reverb than people often do in their recordings. I find the constant attempt to sound like music was recorded in gigantic opera houses to be a bore, and often the results are ridiculously "wet"--music sounding like it's being played from a distant canyon. If those same reverb units used in those recordings had been dialed back by 90%, then they would've sounded much better, with an intimate but natural sound.

    In other words--as you get a handle on how to make your music sound as good as possible, never neglect the importance of adding SUBTLE amounts of reverb to your instruments. Otherwise, you'll have killed the opportunity to make your sample sets sound more realistic.

    And of course, there we have the perfect example of how varying opinions can be on some basic issues.

    All the above is offered IMHO. (in my humble opinion)

    Randy B.

  10. #10

    Re: Getting A Realistic Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Jeffrey Gale View Post
    Hi

    I am an experienced musician but relatively new to using computers to produce music.

    I have had Sibelius 5 and various Garritan sound libraries (Personal Orchestra 3, Concert and Marching Band) runnign under the Kontakt 2 player.

    While some of the sounds sound fine (percussion and keyboard instruments particularly, for example) I am very disappointed with the quality of sound I am getting for the many otehr instruments, especially brass instruments. These often sound little better than the inbuilt general midi instruments.

    Is there a comprehensive beginner's tutorial somewhere that explains how to set up my software to get the best realistic sounds out of such samples?
    Since you're using the K2 player versions of GPO & CoMB, the Phrase Modeled Performance Multi available here will automate the midi manipulation required for realistic renderings

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