Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Anyone Interested in the Virtual Orchestra?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    San Francisco, CA USA
    Posts
    24
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Anyone Interested in the Virtual Orchestra?

    A virtual orchestra is not an orchestra in the sense of requiring many players, a hall, a conductor, an audience. A virtual orchestra is a medium that expands the sonic pallet of what a solo musician can achieve and, like any medium, can spawn good music, bad music and a multitude of styles and approaches. As when we speak of "piano music", we're not talking about a particular style or genre of music, we're speaking only of the medium (the piano) that the music is expressed with. Same with virtual orchestration and the virtual orchestra.

    I've worked in this medium since the mid-1980s and have seen it evolve and advance in remarkable ways. I was recently asked to to a masterclass/interview for Sound Bytes magazine; here it is if you're interested in reading it:

    READ

    Best,
    Jerry
    www.jerrygerber.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    15,028
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    137

    Default

    Good article!
    I just moved up (for me) to Logic 9, and it has some virtual orchestral instrument samples. I'd like to get the Vienna set, and have a sampler disc of it.
    According to Rick Beato, these virtual orchestras are valuable to soundtrack composers, since producers will want to hear what it sounds like even if it will later be played by a real orchestra.

    Like many, my big hero is (was) Frank Zappa. His comments about the financial unfeasibility of having orchestras play your music were very enlightening, and somewhat depressing, so, yes, let's hear it for virtual orchestras! If it walks like a duck...

  3. #3
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,163
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Good article!
    I just moved up (for me) to Logic 9, and it has some virtual orchestral instrument samples. I'd like to get the Vienna set, and have a sampler disc of it.
    According to Rick Beato, these virtual orchestras are valuable to soundtrack composers, since producers will want to hear what it sounds like even if it will later be played by a real orchestra...…………………………......
    Gone are the days when composers bashed out a score on a battered old piano and say the immortal words..."of course it'll sound much better with a real orchestra". Me and Jerry worked through the transition from live to virtual in the early 90's much to the loss of many real sessions. Jerry has embraced the virtual and writes accordingly, I write as though for real.
    If you get VSL, consider the Synchron series as that places the instruments in an acoustic space, rather than the original sample sets which where recorded dry and need additional processing.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

  4. Likes millionrainbows liked this post
  5. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    San Francisco, CA USA
    Posts
    24
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    Gone are the days when composers bashed out a score on a battered old piano and say the immortal words..."of course it'll sound much better with a real orchestra". Me and Jerry worked through the transition from live to virtual in the early 90's much to the loss of many real sessions. Jerry has embraced the virtual and writes accordingly, I write as though for real.
    If you get VSL, consider the Synchron series as that places the instruments in an acoustic space, rather than the original sample sets which where recorded dry and need additional processing.
    Hi Mike,

    Doesn't MIR achieve the same, or similar results? When I drag instrument icons around in a MIR soundspace, both panning and distance from the front of the stage are impacted. The advantage of dry is I can control how close, or how distant, the instrument sounds by changing reverb parameters. I like that flexibility. Since I haven't tried Synchron instruments I don't really know the difference though...

  6. #5
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,163
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Gerber View Post
    Hi Mike,

    Doesn't MIR achieve the same, or similar results? When I drag instrument icons around in a MIR soundspace, both panning and distance from the front of the stage are impacted. The advantage of dry is I can control how close, or how distant, the instrument sounds by changing reverb parameters. I like that flexibility. Since I haven't tried Synchron instruments I don't really know the difference though...
    Yes of course Jerry, I was just informing MR of the fact that one set is dry and the other wet and that the dry would need extra software to 'place' it in acoustic space as he may not have known. As to the results, well as you know, that is subjective and dependant on work preferences. I haven't gone down the Synchron route as of yet and am sticking to the original Cube VSL atm, along with other sample sets. I do remember hearing some Tchaikovsky string pizz. music with Synchron strings and being very impressed with the dynamic range - for once the pp sounded like it should for that particular technique.

    MR, Synchron samples also include the room in the recording, which can be tweaked by selecting different mic combinations and levels along with wet/dry balancing.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Apr-28-2020 at 10:33.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

  7. Likes millionrainbows liked this post
  8. #6
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    15,028
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    137

    Default

    Thanks for the info, mike375.

  9. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    San Francisco, CA USA
    Posts
    24
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    Yes of course Jerry, I was just informing MR of the fact that one set is dry and the other wet and that the dry would need extra software to 'place' it in acoustic space as he may not have known. As to the results, well as you know, that is subjective and dependant on work preferences. I haven't gone down the Synchron route as of yet and am sticking to the original Cube VSL atm, along with other sample sets. I do remember hearing some Tchaikovsky string pizz. music with Synchron strings and being very impressed with the dynamic range - for once the pp sounded like it should for that particular technique.

    MR, Synchron samples also include the room in the recording, which can be tweaked by selecting different mic combinations and levels along with wet/dry balancing.

    I know what you mean about the dynamics. If VSL came out with Cube 2 with the 8 dynamic layers--ppp, pp, p, mp, mf, f, ff, fff--I'd definitely upgrade. That does mean upgrading everything though; the CPU, SSDs, backup capacity, etc. I think that's what you're referring to, sometimes I want a pp sound but the sample is actually more like an mp. I have to then use cc7 or cc11 to try and match the dynamics of that note to the phrase, and though it works OK, it would be much better to have those velocity-levels built into the sample so that the energy of the sample is actually softer. That would quadruple the size of the library so maybe that's why we're using 4 velocity levels, at least with VSL.

  10. #8
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,163
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default

    VSL Synchron strings have 8 dynamic layers and are worth checking out. There were some initial problems and at first, they sounded quite synthy to me and I wasn't the only one who thought so. I haven't checked them out for a long time and might re-visit to see what improvements they implemented. One issue in particular was the legato transition iirc, but they subsequently bought out a fix for it with a new function in the software. The wind release has more velocity layers too apparently, but I couldn't see any mention of more dynamics for the dimension brass release.

    It's a real pain sometimes having to cheat with cc11, but as you say, it can be convincing when done in a musical way. Using cc11 or cc7 in this manner is also a good reason to have a unifying reverb over everything because one can also take out the reverb too if one isn't careful when riding down an instrument.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Apr-29-2020 at 12:16.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

  11. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    San Francisco, CA USA
    Posts
    24
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    VSL Synchron strings have 8 dynamic layers and are worth checking out. There were some initial problems and at first, they sounded quite synthy to me and I wasn't the only one who thought so. I haven't checked them out for a long time and might re-visit to see what improvements they implemented. One issue in particular was the legato transition iirc, but they subsequently bought out a fix for it with a new function in the software. The wind release has more velocity layers too apparently, but I couldn't see any mention of more dynamics for the dimension brass release.

    It's a real pain sometimes having to cheat with cc11, but as you say, it can be convincing when done in a musical way. Using cc11 or cc7 in this manner is also a good reason to have a unifying reverb over everything because one can also take out the reverb too if one isn't careful when riding down an instrument.

    It's kind of weird that they call the new library "Synchron" because that sounds to me more like what we'd call a synth rather than an orchestral library.

    I once paid a well-known mastering engineer to come to my studio and give me feedback. He told me I should use different reverbs for the different orchestral sections. I tried it for a few months but came to the conclusion that using one reverb to unify the soundspace works far more effectively. It taught me an important lesson: Well-known mastering engineers can be wrong. What might sound great to one person might not to another. If objectivity is anything, it's taking into account how subjectivity is ever-present and, at least in the perception of artistic works, not even possible or desirable to remove.

  12. #10
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,163
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default

    Synchron refers to the studio they recorded in - it looks fantastic.
    That's interesting about the mastering engineer Jerry, was that before MIRpro? Before spatial placement was possible, the practice was to manipulate a sense of depth via tweaking the pre-delay and tail of the reverb. It made sense to alter these parameters for each orchestral section (it still does!), but these days with samples being recorded in position and with room also baked in, there is no real need for several reverbs. Although I still think one unifying reverb is appropriate for disparate sample sets as they don't all tally in terms of acoustics...as we know.
    I agree that reverb and wet/dry ratio is entirely subjective. For me, I used to reference great recordings and sometimes mock parts of them up to balance the template and emulate the space,.....I bet you've done your fair share of that too right? Have a listen to this, a mock-up I did of part of Ravel's Le Tombeau. You can download the reference and mock-up here...

    https://we.tl/t-uU3e0sd2V7

    The one regret I have is not buying the Ircam/ Flux Spat reverb when it was sold separately - it is quite stunning, but I would have needed to go back to skool with it to get to grips with its complexity. When I was ready to buy it, they'd bundled it with sound designer stuff I don't need anymore and hiked the price up severalfold. It's well worth checking out if you haven't already.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Apr-30-2020 at 15:23.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

  13. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    San Francisco, CA USA
    Posts
    24
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    Synchron refers to the studio they recorded in - it looks fantastic.
    That's interesting about the mastering engineer Jerry, was that before MIRpro? Before spatial placement was possible, the practice was to manipulate a sense of depth via tweaking the pre-delay and tail of the reverb. It made sense to alter these parameters for each orchestral section (it still does!), but these days with samples being recorded in position and with room also baked in, there is no real need for several reverbs. Although I still think one unifying reverb is appropriate for disparate sample sets as they don't all tally in terms of acoustics...as we know.
    I agree that reverb and wet/dry ratio is entirely subjective. For me, I used to reference great recordings and sometimes mock parts of them up to balance the template and emulate the space,.....I bet you've done your fair share of that too right? Have a listen to this, a mock-up I did of part of Ravel's Le Tombeau. You can download the reference and mock-up here...<br>

    <a href="https://we.tl/t-uU3e0sd2V7" target="_blank">https://we.tl/t-uU3e0sd2V7</a><br>

    The one regret I have is not buying the Ircam/ Flux Spat reverb when it was sold separately - it is quite stunning, but I would have needed to go back to skool with it to get to grips with its complexity. When I was ready to buy it, they'd bundled it with sound designer stuff I don't need anymore and hiked the price up severalfold. It's well worth checking out if you haven't already.
    I can't remember whether it was before or after I started using MIR Pro. I think it was before. This mastering engineer had little experience with music made with sample libraries, in fact he seemed quite indifferent and didn't really "get" my music at all. I almost threw him out of the studio but since we had a deal, I paid him and he left. In any event, MIR does change things, as you said, because by placing the instruments in the sound-field it adjusts the reverb parameters accordingly.

    I've never been one to spend loads of time on reverb. I find a setting a like and usually stick to it; a darker hall with about a 2-2.5 second reverb time and a pre-delay of around 20ms).
    I've spend many hours listening closely to recorded orchestral music but have only done a few virtual interpretations of sections of pieces by Brahms, Bach and Ravel. Here's the Ravel piece, an excerpt from the first movement of his string quartet:

    http://www.jerrygerber.com/mp3/Ravel...%20Excerpt.mp3

    Honestly, I know I can do better as I didn't spend a lot of time on it...p.s I'll download your example later this afternoon, gotta go meet my wife for lunch now!
    Last edited by Jerry Gerber; Apr-30-2020 at 19:28.

  14. #12
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    San Francisco, CA USA
    Posts
    24
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    Synchron refers to the studio they recorded in - it looks fantastic.
    That's interesting about the mastering engineer Jerry, was that before MIRpro? Before spatial placement was possible, the practice was to manipulate a sense of depth via tweaking the pre-delay and tail of the reverb. It made sense to alter these parameters for each orchestral section (it still does!), but these days with samples being recorded in position and with room also baked in, there is no real need for several reverbs. Although I still think one unifying reverb is appropriate for disparate sample sets as they don't all tally in terms of acoustics...as we know.
    I agree that reverb and wet/dry ratio is entirely subjective. For me, I used to reference great recordings and sometimes mock parts of them up to balance the template and emulate the space,.....I bet you've done your fair share of that too right? Have a listen to this, a mock-up I did of part of Ravel's Le Tombeau. You can download the reference and mock-up here...

    https://we.tl/t-uU3e0sd2V7

    The one regret I have is not buying the Ircam/ Flux Spat reverb when it was sold separately - it is quite stunning, but I would have needed to go back to skool with it to get to grips with its complexity. When I was ready to buy it, they'd bundled it with sound designer stuff I don't need anymore and hiked the price up severalfold. It's well worth checking out if you haven't already.

    Mike, that digital rendition of the Ravel excerpt is really amazingly close to the original recording. I can barely tell the difference. The winds sounded ever-so-slightly different (certainly not worse in any way, maybe a hair more "metallic"?) in the virtual version, but not even close to interfering with the sound quality or musical interest of the piece.

    My excerpt I posted is also Ravel, it's OK, but I know if I had spent more time on it I could have improved the phrasing and tempos...

  15. #13
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,163
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default

    yeah, metallic..... the oboe right? I was more interested in placement and space than timbre and couldn't be bothered going through all the oboe samples I have to match up to the reference. I did notice the wide panning of the wind in the reference and aimed for that although I've recently reigned the width back in a touch. I was also particularly interested in the string timbre and getting the pianissimo and florid legato to sound convincing.

    You set yourself a challenge with the Ravel 4tet but did well with it. The placement sounds very nice and the wet/dry is spot on for me. The challenge with solo string sample sets is overcoming the musical shortcomings and actually making them sound convincing. Sure, you could have sculpted more - it never ends does it? - and the dynamics are by default limited, with the effect of narrowing the expression. If I'm anything to go by, you probably got bored after a while of doing this. After some issues and musical problems where resolved with my template during the Ravel mock-up, I didn't see the point in continuing and just abandoned it.
    A string 4tet is the one thing I haven't bothered mocking up because of the limitations. The disconnect between what I'd want in the sound and knowing what is possible in real life as opposed to the actual playback, would drive me nuts with frustration.
    Last edited by mikeh375; May-01-2020 at 09:43.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

  16. #14
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    San Francisco, CA USA
    Posts
    24
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    yeah, metallic..... the oboe right? I was more interested in placement and space than timbre and couldn't be bothered going through all the oboe samples I have to match up to the reference. I did notice the wide panning of the wind in the reference and aimed for that although I've recently reigned the width back in a touch. I was also particularly interested in the string timbre and getting the pianissimo and florid legato to sound convincing.

    You set yourself a challenge with the Ravel 4tet but did well with it. The placement sounds very nice and the wet/dry is spot on for me. The challenge with solo string sample sets is overcoming the musical shortcomings and actually making them sound convincing. Sure, you could have sculpted more - it never ends does it? - and the dynamics are by default limited, with the effect of narrowing the expression. If I'm anything to go by, you probably got bored after a while of doing this. After some issues and musical problems where resolved with my template during the Ravel mock-up, I didn't see the point in continuing and just abandoned it.
    A string 4tet is the one thing I haven't bothered mocking up because of the limitations. The disconnect between what I'd want in the sound and knowing what is possible in real life as opposed to the actual playback, would drive me nuts with frustration.

    I do prefer to spend my time in the studio inventing new pieces!
    Last edited by Jerry Gerber; May-01-2020 at 20:57.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •