Woodwind libraries

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Woodwind libraries

Postby ottomc » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:06 pm

Dear fellow Notion users,

Lots of music for movies, TV shows and games is produced with sample libraries these days. As far as I can see, there has for quite some time been a trend towards making scores where the string, brass and percussion groups are more prominent than the woodwinds. This trend has been reflected in the release of several high quality sample libraries within the string and brass domains over the last years. Myself, though, I love the woodwinds, with their ability to paint scores in brilliant and poetic colors (as we know from Tchaikovsky and many French composers). But I am still looking for the ultimate woodwind library -- in particular when it comes to the ability to perform rapid passagework in a convincing way (just like woodwind instruments and their players are very good at in the real world).

Notion's bundled woodwind samples are always very functional to use within Notion, but sometimes it would be great to add some more body and color to the sound, and then I am not quite sure what to choose. Good old Miroslav Philharmonik still does a good job, with its lush sounding samples, but Miroslav has its shortcomings when it comes to the playback of certain articulations, in my experience (lacking in legato performance and having very sharp staccatos, but the latter problem may be solved by using mezzo staccato on a hidden stave). The sound quality of the woodwind samples of EWQL Symphony Orchestra is somewhat variable (best with close mic), and their playback of fast passages sometimes sounds rhythmically awkward (EWQL is great to use in many other contexts, though). The VSL SE woodwind samples are generally good, even if the woodwinds may not be the best part of the VSL SE library. Like EWQL -- albeit to a lesser degree -- they occasionally show small rhythmical deviations in fast-moving music, and the sound quality is not alway consistent across different pitches, registers and articulations. Many of these apparent flaws may probably be overcome by doing some tweaks in the Vienna Instruments Pro Player. And there seems to be quite some improvement in N4 VSL-integration compared to N3. And in general, the VSL woodwinds gives you a "real thing"-feeling. The VSL samples in the Kontakt content library are not very functional in fast-moving music, though. The Garritan samples are rather slim, and come close to the Notion samples in this respect. In general, though, their sound quality are less uneven than what you get with some other libraries; a reliable -- if not the the most realistic -- library. The WiVi Band sounds, based on physical modeling and not real world sampling, have many attractive features (like negligible memory footprint, consistent sound quality...), but -- not surprisingly -- they don't give you the "real thing"-feeling all the way (the flute, for instance, having too much of a trumpet-like sound in the lower register), and they occasionally sound a bit out of tune.

Do you have any advices on how to make the most out of the woodwinds of the mentioned libraries? Or has anyone experience with Berlin Woodwinds -- which I am tempted to try -- within Notion? And in general, do you think it is worthwhile to use libraries which (like the Berlin Woodwinds) are not natively supported by Notion, even if the samples as such are great? Myself, I am not interested in using lots of time on technicalities. My main focus is to compose music by way of notation -- converting my musical ideas to notation as fluently as possible, with as little technical tweaking as possible -- but I also want to end up with an audio demo that sounds as convincing as possible. And when it comes to the woodwinds, I love to exploit their potential for nimble virtuosity, in particular the dazzling agility of the flute and the clarinet (the expressiveness of sheer virtuosity is underrated!). Thus, I particularly need woodwind samples that play rapid passagework in a fluent manner, with smooth legato, without stuttering staccato, with consistent sound quality and rhythmical precision in all registers, and so on... What do you guys do within Notion in order to make rapid woodwind passages sound as convincing as possible? Notion's bundled LSO samples generally do a great job in these scenarios, but sometimes it is desirable to make the sound somewhat fatter and even more realistic, as already mentioned.

I have uploaded four short test videos to YouTube, with some short, relatively fast scale passages for flute, clarinet, oboe and bassoon, played by different libraries, using three basic articulations (legato, staccato and no articulation). These videos only give a cursory impression of the quality and potential of the various libraries, of course, but hopefully you get some ideas of their differences. (Be sure to watch the videos in full screen HD quality if you can't read the staff names properly). In order to compare the basic quality of the different libraries, I have loaded all samples with no reverb in their respective VST players, and with no effects apart from the Notion reverb (at its default setting). Other settings, various tweaks and selected effects would have made another result. Using rule sets uploaded by helpful users in the custom rules section of the forum -- like the ones for WiVi Band, Miroslav and Garritan -- will surely make a difference, in particular when it comes to other articulations than the basic ones. Dynamics is another important question, of course, but right now I am particularly interested in different woodwind libraries' ability to perform rapid passagework with different articulations. Below are the YouTube links to the test videos,

http://youtu.be/9uixhKU7dyo (Flute)

http://youtu.be/9dBfJrzHzpc (Oboe)

http://youtu.be/Ds7TJKom6k8 (Clarinet)

http://youtu.be/1sgsO8wIAV8 (Bassoon)

BTW, in the "Share Notion Files" area I have uploaded links to a flute quartet in four movements, where I have used flute samples from both the Notion, Miroslav and VSL libraries. Comments and suggestions on how to use and tweak the sound of flute samples are welcome.

Best,
Otto
Last edited by ottomc on Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Woodwind libraries

Postby wcreed51 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:17 pm

Hi Otto,

Actually, I think WW are one of VSL's strongest sections. I have the full versions rather then the SE, and replace the SE patches with those in the Notion VSL presets.

Do you ever visit the VI Control forum? There you will find people who own every different library, and can give comparisons for very specifics uses.

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Re: Woodwind libraries

Postby ottomc » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:39 pm

Thanks for the tip!
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Re: Woodwind libraries

Postby DaddyO » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:39 pm

Ditto on the VI Control suggestion.

New Libraries released in 2012:

Cinesamples CineWinds (same company that makes CineBrass and another 2012 release, CinePerc.
Berlin Woodwinds

Many at VI Control still prefer the full version VSL woodwinds, but you will find lengthy threads on that forum discussing the pros and cons.

Anybody, ANYBODY who does orchestral and hasn't begun to frequent VI Control is missing what is probably the best overall resource out there for computer-based orchestral work. Samplemakers, working professionals, some very high profile, all interact helpfully along with aspiring professionals and hobbyists. Great community.
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Re: Woodwind libraries

Postby iamnemo » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:13 pm

wcreed51 wrote:Hi Otto,
Actually, I think WW are one of VSL's strongest sections. I have the full versions rather then the SE, and replace the SE patches with those in the Notion VSL presets.
Do you ever visit the VI Control forum? There you will find people who own every different library, and can give comparisons for very specifics uses.
Bill

I agree with with Bill on both counts! Otto: did you take a look at Guy Bacos' videos here http://guybacos.com/vienna.php and in demos on VSL site. The Bb clarinet demo is quite impressive for example, even using the "old" Vienna Player. Of course such control happens at the articulation level and a lot of CC's are required :)
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Re: Woodwind libraries

Postby dshertz » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:57 pm

Hi, Otto:

For me, one of the major problems with the VI SE woodwind occurs when you stack several voices together. The tendency is to get a "boxy" sound which is the room resonance of the recording environment "ringing".

This ringing will blur the edges of note attacks and releases.

You can avoid some of this by using the "resonance" presets for the Vienne Suite EQ for the particular instrument. You can find these resonance points yourself by sliding the center frequency of a high Q parmetrics filter around while playing a passage.

Warning: watch your volume or you may get unpleasantly surprised.

I have also found that the reverb removal plugin Deverb helps a bit with this, especially on piccolo, flute and oboe.
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Re: Woodwind libraries

Postby ottomc » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:36 pm

Thanks all for your feedback and suggestions! I will definitely start using the VI Control forum.
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