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Topic: Some Comments on SI Strings

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  1. #1

    Some Comments on SI Strings

    Since, there haven\'t been many topics about this great library, I just wanted to state a few things I really like about this library.

    I\'m not going to let this post be a \"comparison\" thread between GOS and SI. Everyone knows I like GOS as well, and its useless for me to try to figure out which one I like better. I\'m just going to point out things I like about SI. Both are fantastic and I prolly wouldn\'t want to do without either. But thats because I *DONT* want to have only one sound to all my music all the time. Actually in the last project I had I used both. Really mostly using SI to test it to see how far it would go, there were times I needed GOS, but this \"test\" showed me that there are times where I will now go with SI instead of GOS. Depends on the piece, and if the \"sound\" fits. In the end, if you must choose, I think its the overall sound that you will need to compare. If its the \"sound\" you want.

    Anyhow, SI....

    The dynamic range is quite good accross all instruments. The piano samples are really nice and soft, and the forte is pretty aggressive and grating. The difference between the extreme low dynamics and extreme high dynamics is pretty dramatic, so it gives alot of \"range\" to most of the strings overall

    The release triggers rock. They are probably some of the best programmed/edited release triggers I\'ve heard yet. Great job guys at SI on those. I know how tough it is to get these right.

    I love the ponti-tremolos, they are just too cool. Its possibly one of my favorite, if not my favorite, string patches ever.

    The short bows are really \"tight\", and can be losened up a bit with some extra programming. and possibly creative sequencing...I havent tried yet. Some good sounds in here tho.

    a few of the \"sustaining\" patches have \"hard attacks\" on them and let those patches do many jobs. I got away with using some of the sustain patches for what I\'d normally have to \"Switch\" to short bows with. This is something I really dig, it helps me work much faster. Obviously, you still need to switch to other patches for \"slower attacks\", but in this libraries case THOSE are the *other* patch, where as most libraries have seperate \"hard attack\" options. Its pretty funny, but this actually works for the better, IMO (actaully its been somethign I\'d been toying with before SI, but now they just proved to me that it works)

    Having all the strings already *distinctly* placed in a particular position is a fantastic help for orchestral work. Its obviously a problem if you want \"placement\" control, but for most \"common\" orchestral contexts this placement works, with possibly some \"pushing\" of the 1st violins to be farther left.

    This library functions very well out of the box. Tho you do need a powerfull box (or two) to use the release triggers in some passages. Dont even think about having all the sections running and VotA all on the same machine [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] Both libs are poly hogs with the release triggers.

    I\'ve been kind of disapointed that there haven\'t been any posts about how great this library actually is on this forum. So I thought I\'d share, as well as congradulate the SI team. They did quite a fantastic job.

  2. #2

    Re: Some Comments on SI Strings

    Good post, Ashif. Great information.
    Probably the reason there are few posts is that there are not many of us here that have this lib. In my case it is well back on the waiting list. Heck, I am still learning how to use GOS. Thank God for this forum: just found out about the EQ trick. Now THAT sounds better...

  3. #3

    Re: Some Comments on SI Strings

    I was recently sent a set to review for the Film Music Network. Some comparisons are inevitable because GOS and SI while blendable together are also totally different orchestras recorded in two different halls.

    The idea that string libraries have different sounds is really too generic a concept for me. The question is how does each string orchestra sound playing the same pieces? As you work through a few pieces, you hear the \"sound\" or \"color\" of each orchestra, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each. From there, you can blend the two to create your orchestra, plus determine which orchestra best serves the work you\'re creating.

    Four good starting pieces are:

    1. The Fairy Garden from Ravel\'s Mother Goose Suite, opening bars. This is four-part harmony with the violins, violas and cellos. Basses added later.

    2. On Hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring by Delius. Some wiseacres will laugh at the name, but not the close lush harmony and intimacy Delius achieves.

    3. Mozart Symphony #24 which is a study in BIG, in that a very big sound is created with a very small string section. Features syncopated lines and lots of repeated notes. A real challenge.

    4. Vaughn Williams\' London Symphony second movement for divided basses and celli playing as a section. This passage tells whether or not the programmer\'s knew anything about orchestration and how basses sound in the bottom register. If the nearfield monitors begin rumbling - FAIL.

    Want to really test the celli? Debussy\'s La Mer, Dance of the Waves where the Celli are divided in four parts playing what today we\'d call jazz harmony (seventh chord voicings).

    If you don\'t know these pieces, they\'re a treat. Most of the CDs are available in the budget classical section.

  4. #4

    Re: Some Comments on SI Strings

    Originally posted by dwdonehoo:
    Thank God for this forum: just found out about the EQ trick. Now THAT sounds better...
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Sorry, but... which EQ trick? (Must have missed something)

  5. #5

    Re: Some Comments on SI Strings

    Originally posted by peter269:
    ...

    4. Vaughn Williams\' London Symphony second movement for divided basses and celli playing as a section. This passage tells whether or not the programmer\'s knew anything about orchestration and how basses sound in the bottom register. If the nearfield monitors begin rumbling - FAIL.

    .
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Peter,
    My interest in classical is not old, while I love it, I\'m not nearly as familiar with the work as you seem to be, so I have a question. This (4), do the basses play solo for a moment? I\'m looking for a good test piece for recording my doublebass.

    Recording the doublebass has been a challenge for me, I think especially because I don\'t have a room with good acoustics. But it\'s still an anomaly to me as to why my ears hear something much different than what\'s recorded. When I record vocals, I get comments that my recordings sound just like the live session, not so with the doublebass. :-/

    I\'ve heard good things about he Sonic Implants Doublebass, I\'d like to hear it solo, w/out any processing... Anyone want to humor me?

    Thanks,
    Rick

  6. #6

    Re: Some Comments on SI Strings

    [quote]Originally posted by RickD:
    Originally posted by peter269:
    [qb]
    I\'ve heard good things about he Sonic Implants Doublebass, I\'d like to hear it solo, w/out any processing... Anyone want to humor me?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Until I\'m finished my review, I\'d be reluctant to do that. The Vaughn Williams piece is PD and you can find it published by Dover for under $12US.

    The issue for me is what do recorded basses and strings sound like, because that\'s what we do all our comparisons to. With the VW piece, we have divided basses and cellos on the bottom pitches playing R5R5. If you listen to the recording, it\'s quiet and subtle, but not rumbly. Maybe getting rid of the rumbliness when recording is a factor of knowing how to apply EQ.

    It would be great if Ashif, Nick or Tom Hopkins could give some input on this, since my comments come as an end user, not a programmer.

  7. #7

    Re: Some Comments on SI Strings

    Hi King: Thanks for the SI info. What about the Vienna Project Strings? The demos are pretty amazing. I would like to expand my String Horizons with SI but if the Vienna is coming out soon wouldn\'t it be better to wait for it? (and budget accordingly) They have the best Legato Strings I have heard yet. Ya, I know some people are saying that the Vienna is all phrases and you\'ll be cutting and pasting but somehow I think it is all possible in real time.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Some Comments on SI Strings

    Originally posted by RickD:

    Recording the doublebass has been a challenge for me, I think especially because I don\'t have a room with good acoustics. But it\'s still an anomaly to me as to why my ears hear something much different than what\'s recorded. When I record vocals, I get comments that my recordings sound just like the live session, not so with the doublebass. :-/
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Hi Rick,

    Bass, acoustic or electric, is hard. Problems with bass are rarely EQ problems, believe it or not. They\'re mostly about imaging.

    Probably you are dead on target as to the crux of your particular problem. Bass gets saturated in a room VERY quickly (the waveforms are large and therefore loaded with sonic energy). I\'d say it\'s 99% likely your room is the culprit. Most small rooms don\'t even have sufficient size for the lowest frequencies to develop. You very literally get the problem of the waveforms getting chopped up and bounced around before they\'ve even had a chance to become \"full wave,\" and therefore the dreaded enemy appears--room saturation.

    Once the room is saturated with any frequency (especially bass), your recording will quickly lose quality. The reason: The microphone is now hearing just as much (or more) room sound than direct instrument sound. Therefore, instead of recording the \"instrument\" you\'re recording the room being excited by the instrument.

    This has little or nothing to do with the popular debate over hall vs. studio vs. Farmer Brown\'s hay barn. Whatever the given recording environment, there is a point of no return when the air reaches saturation, because you lose imaging and focus. Your brain filters out saturation, and uses the image your eyes feed it to reconstruct a soundstage you\'re not REALLY hearing. But microphones are just stupid little diaphragms suspended in air. They can only \"hear\" what the air is doing, and have no brains to fool them into thinking they\'re hearing something different.

    Also, the directionality of the mic has little to do with the results at this point of saturation. If the air is saturated, even a cardioid pointed right at the instrument gets as much reflective content as direct content.

    Even moving the mic closer hits the point of diminishing returns. You\'ll have to get \"too close\" to get a higher ratio of direct to reflective content, and once you\'ve crossed a certain line, you get the \"looking at the house next door through a telescope\" phenomenon. You make the instrument so \"large\" that it cannot be played at the full amplitude of the recording, and therefore backing it down in the mix makes it sound impossibly small and wimpy.

    As I mentioned, EQ is really not going to help you out here. It\'s one of those things that EQ can\'t really solve...it can diminish the problem, but the overall level of saturation and the loss of focus remains, so EQ also tends to produce a wimpy result.

    So what to do?

    1) Add lots of broadband absorption, bass trapping, and diffusion. The right combination of these elements can not only \"kill\" bad reflection and buildup, but can actually add \"good\" reflection and increase the apparent aural \"size\" of a room. In short, the broadband absorption reduces \"pingpong\" or slap echo, the bass trapping absorbs massive amounts of bass (ironically resulting in stronger bass, since the waveforms are not canceling each other out), and the diffusion also eliminates pingpong reflections while actually giving the illusion of a larger space. See my article at www.prorec.com for one way of doing this. I recently renovated my little home studio, and had an extensive acoustic analysis and treatment designed by Auralex. The results were excellent, and the difference was night and day!!

    2) Rent a room. Cheaper in the short run, more expensive in the long run. Even though I have a much improved recording space, sometimes a nice high-dollar soundstage works SO much better. Here in Dallas, we have several amazing recording venues...including one of the largest orchestral soundstages I\'ve ever seen. Large doesn\'t have to mean reflective, studio doesn\'t have to mean dead. There are so many variants. Probably, you can find a good room in your area that has a decent hourly rate. One added bonus of renting space is that established studios usually have a great collection of microphones and preamps which can add value to the experience.

    I can totally relate to your dilemma. I have been working in a rather mediocre mixing environment for about ten years, until last January when I remodeled. I had an AMAZING back-yard studio in my last house, but it just didn\'t work out to build one here...and the nature of my business has moved so far away from sessions, anyway, that it just didn\'t make economic sense.

    After I wrote the Auralex article, Ethan Winer pointed out to me that I could have \"rolled my own\" and saved some money, and he\'s certainly right about that. He has excellent plans for bass traps, absorbers, etc., on his website, www.ethanwiner.com I believe. For me, it was a matter of not having the time to save the money, and the Auralex products really did the job quickly and easily--and the free consultation and room analysis rolled into the deal was pretty sweet.

  9. #9

    Re: Some Comments on SI Strings

    I love the SI basses.

    The best ones I have yet.

    Its really because of the \"space\" they have. Not to mention the range they have.

    About rumble. I dont really think thats a prgramming thing, its more of a recording thing. The recordings on SI are top notch.

    One thing about doing multiple notes with basses, the problem with this (and any sample IMO) is you are going to to get room resonance on top of room resonance. This can really add to low end power just adding up and up. What I\'d love to see in Giga is a high pass filter that closes ever so slightly as more notes begin to play. This would clear up any rumbling issues, which I haven\'t had with SI yet, but I haven\'t tried writing four part chords with just them. I probably would never have thought to, until SI tho. Their range makes you want to write in the ultra high registers of the bass.

    about SI compared to Vienna. I cant say. I dont have the strings yet. I cann assure you that it wont be jsut \"cut and pasting\" tho. There are multisamples, as well as some programming techniques to make things mroe \"flexible\"

  10. #10

    Re: Some Comments on SI Strings

    This is definately an interesting issue. I spent quite a bit of time with Keith Johnson while we recorded the orchestra recently. I didn\'t pay as much attention to his recording techniques as I would have liked, because I was busy with other things. But, one thing became very clear to me. This relates to most, if not all instruments. The sound of a bass ensemble or a group of cellos is complex and needs alot of room to breathe. So, a large room is pretty important, even if you are close micing. Also, the correct placement of the close mics is crucial if you want to hear alot of the fundamental frequency. But, to my ears the close mics (by close I mean 6-10 feet away in this case) give you some nice bite but do not give you the whole sound. The stage and hall are a crucial part of the development and balancing of the sound. I believe that it is impossible to get a truly balanced airy lush sound from close mics. You may get something excellent, but it will never be that sweet hall sound, no matter what you do to it. The boominess and unevenness of bass instruments will never be heard in the middle of a well designed hall. As the listener moves away from the source, the sound becomes smoother, and airier with a completely different EQ curve with smaller peaks(depending on the hall). I believe that low end problems are caused solely by proximity effect and room reflections, and can never be 100% fixed with EQ. However if you semi close mic in the proper environment the result may be very nice. It won\'t be that lush hall sound, though. I know this, not because I have alot of experience recording orchestras, nor have I read much on the issue. I know this because of the recent recording that we did and the way we monitored it. In the control room, we were able to constantly switch the monitors back and forth between the different mic setups. The difference in sound between the mic setups varied from instrument to instrument and ensemble, but generally, there was a radical difference in sound between the 3 mic setups. In our case they are designed to work together, like Bruce mentioned about Keith\'s recordings. A good example is french horns. 8 feet away you hear all kinds of subtle noises, micro shifts in pitch, slight shifts in imaging and just generally a more midrangey sound. In the hall the sound is completely different, bigger, brighter, smooth and blooming.

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