I've just finished the listening and I'm impressed, mainly by your detailed approach and interpretation. Very nice!
However, if I may say so, there is not enough 'room'. You could call it reverb, but it's more than just reverb. Because of the dryness of the performance, there's a lack of depth in the orchestra and the note-releases are too sudden. Some are really cut off (woodwinds mainly). As to the winds, the oboe and the clarinet sound out of key in the beginning (too much humanisation?). Further, again because of the dense atmosphere, the different sections and instruments seem to come from very specific directions, like they were in separate boxes. That is not very natural. In real music the first violins don't only come from the very left angle. They sound as well on the right side, but with more reflections and weaker. That means that your horizontal placement in the mix (panning) is too strict. You could correct that with stereofield correction plugins, but it's of course better to situate them correctly right away. And again, some more audible room atmosphere can work miracles here.
Personally I like rather dry recordings, but it's not so pleasant (and ear-tiring) to listen to studio-like dry music. I guess you won't find any real recording with your kind of ambience and that has a reason...
Forgive me to intrude in your wonderful work with some advice and practical hints, but it's far too beautiful to leave it like that.
Thanks for listening and commenting. I am glad you had a look at this, even if it was not thoroughly pleasing to you.
I could not understand a few of the points you raised... I indeed intentionally used some hard panning, but taking e.g. first violins as a reference, they are actually placed left with some signal also coming from the right, weaker. I did not pan them 90L so I don't understand your point... Also, I did not find any section - at the beginning - where the winds seem to be out of key (tune?). Can you help me locate it? I do not use ANY humanisation in my patches. I used to... but not anymore as I quickly understood that this is one other very overrated feature.
Release times OF REAL INSTRUMENTS are indeed very brief. You stop blowing into a trumpet, the sound will go off instantaneously. The tail of the sound is not coming from the instrument but it is due to the natural reverberation of the environment you are playing in. Tails are, so, to be taken care by the reverb also in virtual instruments and release time of the instrument itself is to be kept very low in order to sound natural. String instruments are different. Strings are elastic, they 'store' energy and the sound continues to propagate up to the moment you lift the finger from the fingerboard. But if you stop bowing a note on the violin and immediately raise the finger from the fingerboard, the sound will die immediately in that case too (then, of course, there's the natural reverberation of the environment). That's the reason why open strings resonate more: there's no finger to be lifted, open string vibrate up to the moment they exhaust all applied energy.
But not the winds: no blowing, no sound. Instantaneously.
So, in order things to sound natural: low release on the instrument in order to get natural phrases and respect the fact that winds are monophonic, plus digital reverb to simulate the natural reverberation of the environment.
All of this, though, is not the point.
I already stated - in my answer to Kjell - that making this rendition sound "real" was not my intention. I said that it has to sound nice to my ears. And this particular rendition does just that: it sounds nice to my ears. What's real anyway... there is nothing real in it. These are samples recorded in a studio environment. The most natural thing, for them, is to be played back as if played in a studio-like environment. The more you fiddle with them the less clarity you will achieve. I do not fiddle with the sound: I never use eq, compression or any other mastering tools. I leave the samples alone and just give them a bit of reverb, the 'least possible still sounding musical' to give them back a little bit of tail, otherwise they do not sound natural.
Real orchestras sound different, I do agree. That's because they are not recorded in a studio but in a concert hall with specific reverberation, complex mic positioning and lots of ambient noises.
I remember the good old days of the forum. At the time, I was soaking everything in a ton of reverb so to hide any artifact I could not precisely render. You mess the sound up in order to be impossible to spot the imperfections.
Then I got to listen to Randy's music. Now... Randy is a musician of great talent, incredible productivity and amazingly versatile. He did these incredible 50+ pieces orchestrations where everything was still sounding clean and separated. If you don't remember, go back and listen to his music: his reverberation was as dry as hell. Mine, in comparison, is wet like a fish. I gave it a try and began to like my renderings much more, and even if I did not have the chance to thank him back then as we got lost, I really have to thank him for indirectly teaching me that.
I do not seem to recall any of you (and yourself in particular) having any kind of problem with Randy's renderings.
So, to sum it up. I listened to your Pierlala and I enjoyed it very much, even if its 'room' characteristics are not the ones I would choose. I do not actually even remember the reverberation in any of my favourite (real) recordings. I only concentrate on the music itself and the quality of the performance anyway.
When you listen to a recording, you have to respect the choices and opinions of the person behind it, the one that pulls the handles and pushes the buttons.
I am not sure you are doing the same with me. You mention that "it's not so pleasant (and ear-tiring)" and "it's far too beautiful to leave it like that".
I am sorry you did not like it, Max. I am sorry to have tired your ears.... but can you live by the idea that there is the chance some people might have different tastes than yours?
I didn't mean to offend you, nor to criticise your work. You mentioned it: so many things in a rendition are a matter of taste and preferences. I respect yours and if you are content with the way the instruments sound, that is of course OK with me.
The 'tired ears' is only a manner of speech and shouldn't be taken literally. I referred to my time in a studio environment while recorded and prelistening to the first recording sessions. That was really tiring because the instruments seemed to be isolated in little boxes, not at all playing together. The mix put them of course together, but the natural ambience of the room (captured with some extra microphones) added suddenly the lacking atmosphere. That is what I wanted to say, nothing more. And we never added some artificial reverb.
And yes, I do remember Randy Bowser's recordings. He was (and hopefully is) the ultimate master of sampled music, even in the very beginning era. But I wouldn't say that everything was dry as hell. I remember his warnings against the use of excessive reverb and his plead for convolution instead of reverb, but nothing about absolute dryness.
Well Fabry, I hope I've made my point clear and express my admiration for your music again. Now that I know your taste about recordings, I will take this into consideration when listening to more work by you.
Criticism is fine with me, it makes you think and possibly learn something.
It is fine with me to know that most of you dislike my rendering as it is too dry. It is not fine, though, anyone to attempt to make me change my approach and tastes only according to his own personal opinions. Opinions which are absolutely valuable and that I do respect... but I can not be forced to make them my own.
No human product is meant for universal praise and accolade.
I had anyway expressed my opinion regarding these matters days ago, in one of Kjell's threads ('A piece for piano and orchestra'). I quote myself from my second message in that thread: "There are always two aspects to consider when rendering a piece: the first is the sheer acoustic beauty, quality of the sounds, mixing etc. I personally could not care less about this one. The second is the rendering of the correct expressivity/articulations. Now, this second aspect is not only extremely important.... but is actually the 'ingredient' that turns sound into ...music". (sec2 dixit...)
A handful of Randy's pieces, now. Always a pleasure to listen to them again, and good to have our new friends (like Kjell) listening to them, too:
Really, dry as hell, way drier than my "Verdi". It' s not instruments in little boxes... it's like a whole orchestra right into your eustachian tube . (I am just joking, of course... or rather 'colorfully speaking').
See you around, Max, and thanks for the clarification.
Glad you understand my point of view as well. And indeed, Randy is a true master in composition, balance and room setting. As I stated before, he uses mainly convolution (Impulse Responses room description). That's how he creates distance and depth, so that every instrument is clear and the orchestra transparent. But there's no depth without some reverb (the reflections learn our ears how far away a sound is). In the examples, you hear a very short reverb tail in a large open space. The setting of the instruments is somewhat odd, for resonance reasons. That is exactly what I meant. We deal with virtual music, that is recorded samples in very dry circumstances, all separately. Bringing them together as they are, will never build an orchestra. That doesn't mean that you need a lot of reverb for that purpose. You can use plugins like VSL's MIR or Vienna Suite, VSS (Virtual Sound Stage) and many others. They put the orchestra in a graphical way on a virtual stage and every position has its own characteristics as to listening angle, frequency, dry/wet ratio, volume. In most of these plugins you have the choice whether to use a long or short reverb tail, the intensity and density of the tail, the dry/wet ratio. That is a matter of taste situating your music in a certain environment (e.g. a car, a cellar, a living room, a small chamber, a church, a music hall...).
The goal of this forum is helping each other, offering an audience and enjoying each other's music with respect for opinions and preferences.
PS: In my first post I mentioned some instruments out of tune a little bit. To my ears, I could situate this passage between 45" and 1'30" or a bit more. (Flute, string - two different libraries?) It is not disturbing, but not quite correct either. It has a certain charm of humans playing together with a little imperfection.
I hope to hear a lot more music from you.
Starting from the end: 00:45 > 1:30. I thought you were referring to that passage. That sounds thick because it is not one flute, but three winds playing in unison. Flute, Oboe and clarinet. The fact that you detected a single flute makes me infer that they are playing in tune, after all. If not.... it must be the oboe! It is always the oboe....
For a detailed list of the .... "libraries" used, please refer to my reply to kjell.
Yes, I know that Randy used convolution. Altiverb's.
That's actually the same thing I do, I use Origami which is Independence's native convolution reverb.
As also mentioned in my said reply, despite being rather unknown Independence is quite a piece of software. Among lots of other features, it offers this wonderful convolution reverb unit which is incredibly lightweight so multiple instances of it can be used simultaneously, either directly on a single instrument patch or on any of the channel or master internal buses of its audio engine. Alternatively, it is also available externally to the program as an effect unit, so it can be loaded into an effect slot in your DAW, which is how I used it for this rendition.
It is full of features and you can control a plethora of parameters: manages mono, stereo, quad and surround modes (also in true stereo/ true surround), preserves formants, manages predelay, tail and tail curve, time, dry/wet ratio and has a virtual stage real time positioner which is what I use.
In case of small ensemble, I use individual instances of Origami on each instrument and I use it also for panning: you directly position the instrument on the virtual stage.
In case of an orchestra, though, I find it is easier to use an instance of the reverb on a single group of instruments. In this case, I panned the instruments in the standard way and rendered the parts as a completely dry signal. Then I used 5 instances of the reverb on each section: strings, winds, brass, percussion and harp. The harp is positioned (via the positioner) more prominently, then strings, then winds and brass and last percussion, at the very back of the 'stage'. In this particular case, I used in all 5 instances the same impulse response, the Samplicity Bricast M7 "Halls 06 Small & Near Hall quad" impulse, full wet, standard tail. Usually I do not use the same impulse for all sections, I tend to use longer impulses for winds and brass. The fact that winds are very prominent in sections of this overture, though, led me to this choice. With reference to the brass... there also is some detail that I did not want to go into oblivion, so I chose to dry that signal up, too. Mainly, I like very much the brass section at 4:44. With this choice of reverberation, I can hear the attack sounds on the trumpets and I did not want to lose this kind of detail, which was not so audible with the usual impulse I use for brass. Also, I did want to put more emphasis on the trombones' swells in the 'tutti' passages... but I did not succeed anyway.
The fact is that, after all midi work was done, I tried to model the sound of my rendering after this Muti & Wiener's version:
After all this talk on its 'room' characteristics, I still think that my version bears a satisfying resemblance to that 'real' execution.
What I like most - soundwise- about my ... well... "orchestra", is that it sounds very organic, unlike products like VSL, that always sounds very clean and classy but aseptic and with all sounds neatly separated. VSL has an interesting "copyright" sound, but not so natural. Mine is more organic, in the 'tutti' passages what you really hear is ONE sound, with all orchestral timbres and colours in it. That's why, to my ears, this sounds so nice.
Finally: Large room with little tail is not the way Randy's renderings sound. That's a very short impulse. I also do not detect much depth in his sound stage.
I verified: I loaded a large space impulse on my convolution unit, brought the tail to zero and confirm that it still sounds like a very large space, only with no tail. I really wonder how you can define that a 'large space'. I am losing you on this one....
It is a very interesting discussion. But, may I say that writing such block of text without any white lines is very hard to read. Please use some "book editors" division into paragraphs. If not, I'll skip those unreadable explanations in the future.
Concerning Randy, I mentioned a large 'open' space. That is a space with very few reflections, but with a nice spread of the sounds.
As to 'depth' or vertical placement: instruments (sections) have their places behind each other. These distances are small and hardly audible, but the so called depth makes the rendition transparant, so that everything is clear and distinct. That is absolutely the case in Randy's recordings. He's a real master at it. His works sound close, distinct, open without noticeable reverb tails (which he was indeed very much opposed to). Thus you can keep the piece clean and pleasant.
We both differ in taste as to the sound of an orchestra, but who are we to say that our 'opinion' is the one and only correct one.
As to the instruments out of tune (it's really not that bad), I noticed the flute, oboe and clarinet together. The problem isn't there. It starts when that string instrument comes in (viola or low violin?). I assume you've used two different libraries here? But as I said yesterday, it sounds very human that way. Nothing to worry about.