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Topic: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

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  1. #1

    My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    I sat down with Opus 1 & 2 finally, and started reworking a piece of mine. Here's the original:

    http://www.samhulick.com/music/Riverside.mp3

    It uses SAM Horns, GOS, Westgate Woodwinds, and the Xsample harp. This is the newly created Opus version, from scratch:

    http://www.samhulick.com/misc/Riverside_New.mp3

    Actually the 2nd violins backing are GOS.. it adds a little fullness that I think the Opus strings lack. And SAM Horns is in there a little bit, too.. it has a warmer tone than the Opus horns at the right dynamic level.

    So, besides a few issues with dynamics...what do you think? Opus seems a bit touchy/jumpy, with velocities and dynamics. It's very easy to hit a key "too hard" or move the mod wheel a little too much, and suddenly an instrument goes from soft to noticeably louder, whereas the rest of my libs tend to have a nice gradual fade to them. Sorry if some of this isn't making sense.. it's 6am and I need to get to sleep.

    And now for the food for thought part of this post: you ever feel like when you're redoing an old piece of yours with totally different samples, it just doesn't work out? It's almost as if when you were originally writing that piece using some other set of samples, the samples were almost part of the equation that determined how that piece felt, mix-wise, sound wise... and when you try to use a new set of sounds (e.g. VSL, EWQLSO, etc.), even if you do it from scratch to try to get the dynamics and playing correct, it just doesn't sound right, and can't seem to get on par with the original. Maybe I'm imagining things. Anyone else experience this? Which of the two versions above sounds better to you? The mix sounds a bit unbalanced in the Opus version, but it's probably because I'm still new to it and haven't gotten the hang of it yet. Plus, the strings just don't have the richness that GOS does.

    I'll end this here, I'm clearly rambling due to lack of sleep. Looking forward to any thoughts on this..
    Sam Hulick
    Composer
    http://www.samhulick.com/

  2. #2

    Re: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    The first thing that occurs to me is that the woodwinds sound much better in the second version - really very much better. That oboe in the first version is very synthy.

    The strings sound decidedly different too, but I'm not sure which I prefer. I see what you mean about the problems of reworking things - it sounds like when you played it in, you had the dynamic response of the original string samples to respond to, and so it has a very natural-sounding dynamic range. Then played through the VSL strings, it sounds much more jumpy and unpredictable, and doesn't capture the sense of smooth tranquillity that is (I think?) the emotional world of the piece.

    On the other hand there's a certain clarity and detail in the strings of the second version that is not there in the first. I suppose what you would have to do is go in and tweak all the volume envelopes to make them trigger the new samples more appropriately. Whether you could ever arrive at as natural a result though, I don't know.

    Nice piece.

  3. #3
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    Smile Re: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    I really like this M. I think they both sound great. I do think the first sound a bit smoother mix-wise. Either of these sounds really good to me. THe second version sounds as though it has more presence to me. I do agree that it is hard to render an old piece with new samples. Great job though.

  4. #4
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    Re: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    It would be easier to compare if the second version were the same length as the first. There are elements (strings swells and such) that would be interesting to hear with the VSL strings. I like the winds much better in the second. The strings are a little harder to compare as they both have that silky, glossy sound - both sound very good, there's just no obvious difference (except in the control aspect).

    I recently have been acquiring new libraries like a maniac and am in the process of trying out different sounds on some pieces. I think the toughest part is letting the piece be heard with fresh ears as I have been listening to the older version for so long that, even if I wasn't completely happy with it, it still has become the standard for that piece. It makes me think of those drastic makeover shows where the nipped/tucked spouse reappears before astonished friends and family and they are all, like, "Who is that?"

  5. #5
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    Re: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    The velocities always seem to need a lot of fiddling about - I agree. I usually can't be bothered through laziness, but if you want a 'realistic' sound you will need to do this frequently. So no - your'e not imagining things.

    One of the reasons the same work doesn't sound as good on another library, is maybe because a lot of writers actually 'write to the samples' in front of them on the computer screen.

  6. #6

    Re: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    Thanks for the input, guys. I suppose to get the best of both worlds, I'd take the old version, delete all the woodwinds, and use the Opus winds instead. Obviously what I'm saying here is that, in this particular case with this piece, the Opus winds win out over anything else, but as far as the strings and horns, it seems that (again, for THIS piece) GOS and SAM Horns are the best choice. Maybe a little bit of layering in the Opus legato violins would help make a more realistic, connected sound. But yeah, Paul hit the nail on the head. I think we "write to the samples," since we're composing at our computers, we are choosing certain samples to work with when we put a piece together, and depending on the piece, one set of samples might work better than another.

    I didn't have any illusions about Opus 1 when I bought it. I had heard plenty of times from other people that the strings don't have the fullness and richness of GOS, and I agree, they don't. They have other good qualities, for sure, but I mostly bought the Opus bundle for more intimate passages, where an instrument had to go solo, and therefore the performance legato adds the touch of realism that's needed.

    Thanks again for your opinions!
    Sam Hulick
    Composer
    http://www.samhulick.com/

  7. #7

    Re: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    It's very difficult to say if SAM horns are better but I would say that to me the VSL strings sound definitely more clear and realistic, the GOS are simply muffled and synthe, maybe I'm a little prejudicied because I always thought that this string library was a semi-failure.

  8. #8

    Re: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    I did an interesting little test comparing Opus 1 strings with GOS. Here is the result:

    http://www.samhulick.com/misc/string_comps.mp3

    Clip 1. Opus 1 - violins, perf legato
    Clip 2. GOS - 1st violins, grand sustains EXP
    Clip 3. GOS - 1st violins, LEG EXP
    Clip 4. Opus 1 - violins, perf leg / forte portamento
    Clip 5. Opus 1 - violins, perf leg
    Clip 6. GOS - 1st violins, grand sustains EXP

    Obviously the Opus portamento legato (clip 4) blows GOS away as far as realism. The regular legato (clip 1) is nice but it's not a HUGE difference from clip 3. And in the lower register of the violin, GOS & Opus almost sound the same, as far as timbre and expression. But in the higher register (clips 5 and 6), GOS sounds better to me. It's more expressive, while Opus sound a little flat.
    Sam Hulick
    Composer
    http://www.samhulick.com/

  9. #9

    Re: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    I agree. I prefer the tone of GOS throughout those phrases. It's warmer and fuller, though it's vibrato sounds very noticeable in comparison to VSL, and this may be a problem for some contexts.

    It's interesting hearing the examples side by side. For all the fuss about VSL's legato (and sure, it IS good) the difference as you say is not generally that pronounced. Maybe we had all been obsessing about legato problems in sampling more than we really should have.

    I disagree with the previous poster - I think GOS is a fantastic library. It's interesting to see that in some respects it still sounds as good as or better than the current state of the art.

    It's maybe noteworthy that these are all slow, romantic phrases, however - the sort of thing that GOS shines in (as was your original demo). It may be that the superiority of VSL's legato, and the greater appropriateness of its light, airy tone, would show up more in a comparison of quick, complex phrases.

  10. #10

    Re: My first serious effort with Opus, and some food for thought...

    Yes, I agree.. GOS holds up VERY well considering its age. I still rely upon it heavily. But I'll be honest and say I'm glad to have Opus's staccato strings. I never liked the GOS staccatos, they're too muffled/rounded. Not sharp and quick enough.
    Sam Hulick
    Composer
    http://www.samhulick.com/

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