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Topic: Volume versus Soft/Loud Playing

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  1. #1

    Volume versus Soft/Loud Playing

    I thought I would start a new thread on this subject because I have heard a lot of demos lately in which the volume knob is used instead of the correct samples to represent an instrument playing at loud or soft levels.

    Using a trumpet as my example, what I mean is that I have heard many cases in which people are using the volume knob to turn down its loudness in softer passages, when they should actually be using samples of softer playing in those parts. There is quite an audible difference between the two, because a trumpet player's attack on normal-to-loud notes is quite different from the attack used in playing softer notes, and it's easy to tell when the volume knob has been used instead.

    For those who seek more realism in their recordings, this is a very important point that many seem to be overlooking. The volume knob is not a substitute for softer attacks (or louder, as the case may be). As in the example I gave, I have heard a number of cases where one trumpet level is used for all the passages in the piece, whether soft or loud, and it sounds very artificial when the volume knob is used to adjust the loudness. Volume is not the only consideration, especially for brass and woodwind instruments. The hardness and softness of the attack is just as important, if not more so, when striving for realism.

    I hope others will add their comments here to elaborate, perhaps, in words that are better than my clumsy attempt at this. Please help me to get this point across.
    Arvid Hand
    Theory-Comp./Piano
    ASCAP

  2. #2

    Re: Volume versus Soft/Loud Playing

    Very interesting!
    But if the note needs to be sustained for sufficiently long, it will eventally sound at its "volume" loudness even if soft attack is used. How would you recommend to resolve this?

  3. #3

    Re: Volume versus Soft/Loud Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by alex2081 View Post
    Very interesting!
    But if the note needs to be sustained for sufficiently long, it will eventally sound at its "volume" loudness even if soft attack is used. How would you recommend to resolve this?
    That is precisely what the volume knob is for. There is nothing to resolve. I did not say not to use the volume knob at all, but using it to substitute for using a soft-(or loud-)attack sample is obvious and does not sound realistic.
    Arvid Hand
    Theory-Comp./Piano
    ASCAP

  4. #4

    Re: Volume versus Soft/Loud Playing

    Brass sounds brighter when it is played loudly, so using a soft sample and turning it up louder does not sound natural.

    If a sound starts soft and the note gets louder until it is very loud then the brightness will vary as the volume increases.
    Very often a crossfade between a soft and a hard sample will solve this.

  5. #5

    Re: Volume versus Soft/Loud Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by P.T. View Post
    Brass sounds brighter when it is played loudly, so using a soft sample and turning it up louder does not sound natural.

    If a sound starts soft and the note gets louder until it is very loud then the brightness will vary as the volume increases.
    Very often a crossfade between a soft and a hard sample will solve this.
    Yes, and that is what the Garritan KS (key switch) instruments are good at.
    Arvid Hand
    Theory-Comp./Piano
    ASCAP

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