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Topic: Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

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  1. #1
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    Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

    I am looking for the best possible set of libraries/plug-ins, etc., that are currently available, to be used on a laptop (with Cubase SE) for composing.

    The genre (as far as instrumentation) ranges from chamber ensemble to full orchestra with piano as the main solo instrument, and occasions for solo: flute, oboe, violin, viola, and cello.


    The obvious libraries of interest so far have been:

    - Synful (with percussion, and addition libraries to compliment and “fill it in”)
    - GPO
    - Kirk Hunter Emerald

    Notes:

    - prefer entering as “live performance” as much as possible
    - tend to prefer dryer samples (I’ll bring the cheese)

    I would much appreciate any knowledge and experience you might find time to share on this question.

    What is the best possible piano/solo instrument/chamber/orchestral library setup with the least possible CPU/RAM usage?

  2. #2

    Re: Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

    GPO sounds like a good bet here, but I'd definitely try to find some way to test it out first. I won't recommend EWQL Silver b/c I tried that on my laptop, and while it "kind of" worked when I tried playing stuff in with a MIDI keyboard, the latency was considerably bad (I have an unflashy Dell laptop with around 2Ghz and only 256mb RAM). However, GPO uses the Kompakt engine as well if I recall, so the same issue might occur. And I'd recommend against Synful+others b/c that would require you to have multiple sampler instances open almost all the time.

    In other words, the limiting factor will be your own CPU/RAM, and so you should try out demos and such before making a commitment. But as always, the most important part is just deciding which of these libraries has the most desirable tone.
    Wilbert Roget, II
    Composer
    Rogetmusic.com

  3. #3
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    Re: Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

    Will,

    Thanks for the quick and helpful reply. This is just the sort of information I was hoping to get.

    Thought it might help clarify to add that my current laptop is AMD Athlon 64 3200+, 1.79 GHz, 512MB Ram (intend to expand).

  4. #4

    Re: Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

    I do my composing on a laptop, and this is how I have it set up:

    On my laptop HD I have a partition set aside for my bread-and-butter libraries:

    -GPO
    -Garritan Jazz and Big Band
    -PMI Bosendorfer
    -Drumkit from Hell
    -Various software synths, soundfonts, and random samples

    On an external HD (2.5" 7200rpm in a bus-powered enclosure), I keep the big boys:

    -EWQLSO Gold
    -Stormdrum
    -Any other huge libraries I get in the future

    ------------------
    I think of GPO and JABB as "composing" libraries -- they're expressive, easy to use, and provide instant-gratification--not a lot of tweaking or articulation-loading to deal with. Between these two, the Bosendorfer, DFH, and my software synths, I can put together just about any kind of music I want. Having these right on my laptop gives me a pretty inspiring arsenal for sketching out ideas from brainstorm to completion, especially when I'm "on the road."

    I think of EWQLSO and Stormdrum as "production" libraries -- EWQL is a bit unwieldy to use in the composing process, but if my final product is a pro-quality recording (as opposed to a mock-up of a piece which is intended to be played by live performers), I will whip this baby out. Since I don't usually use these libraries for quick sketching and brainstorming, it doesn't bother me to have them on an external drive--when I have a project that needs them I can set up the drive in a moment. But since these aren't crucial, everyday libraries for me, I don't always need to have them plugged in.

    Based on your requirements, I would definitely recommend GPO. The piano is really quite good, and all the other instruments are expressive and easy to use. You can easily create a chamber orchestra or a full orchestra with the ensemble building feature, which is unique. There are a lot of tweaking possibilities, but for the most part you can do everything you need with a Mod wheel and a pedal, and you don't need to remember a million obscure features. You can play the parts in live without having to worry about switching tracks for different articulations and dynamics. And it's not to pushy on the CPU/RAM -- in fact it was designed to be used on a laptop.

    No matter what you go with, I would recommend bumping your RAM up to 1GB or more , just to have some more headroom (2GB is ideal).

    Have fun,
    chris.

  5. #5
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    Re: Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

    Chris,

    Thanks for the response. GPO is definitely sounding like what I'm looking for. Glad to hear it’s working for you on a partition. I have a pc for production, but I really like the idea of using the external hard drive as another option with the laptop.


  6. #6

    Re: Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

    Although I do most of my composing on my studio computer(s), my laptop is also set up for external composing or "on the road" recording.

    Storm Drums is FANTASTIC for that Big drum sound.
    KHSO Emerald is INCREDIBLE and worth every penny.
    EWQLSO Silver is good - but I'd use KHSO Emerald over EWQLSO Silver anytime at this point.

    Kontakt 2 comes with a light version of VSL which is a GREAT addition.

    I use SONAR 5 producer for recording and have lots of great vsti instruments and fx as well.

    My laptop is a AMD64 3000+ with 1GB ram

    What makes it all work is my external sound solution.

    There are two adviseable (IMO).

    1) EMU 1616M (breakout box and PCMCIA type II card combo - has DSP and is VERY robust. Allows for ASIO recording and works VERY WELL. I know people who have this and similar laptop specs to mine and it works flawlessly. I have the big non-portable brother - the 1820M - for one of my studio rigs and NEVER have a problem with it).

    or

    2) Tascam FW-1082 (which is what I have. This is an AMAZING product - it is a 8 channel mixer with flying faders, a control surface, and a POWERFUL firewire sound card / recording solution that WORKS.)

    Armed with an excellent external audio solution you can DEFINITELY compose on the go.

    Mike

  7. #7
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    Re: Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

    Thanks karmacomposer,

    Sounds like a nice rig.

    I've increase the ram to 2gig and ordered GPO for starters. Though I'm still looking at the idea of puttting Synful on there as well (not too sure yet how much it uses CPU though). For writing I kind of prefer an unproduced, what I would call a "practice room" sound. Must say, however, KHSO Emerald looks like a pretty suprising deal for the price, just wish it had some more bare bone (maybe I just mean dryer) demos.

    Thanks for the tips, I'm taking a looking at the hardware you suggested as well.

  8. #8

    Re: Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

    Jibrish,

    Take my word for it - every instrument is recorded and available as dry, reverb and a special convolution reverb for Kontakt 2 (I am talking Kontakt 2 and NOT Giga). IMO, KHSO is the best value for the money and, in many cases, some of the best samples PERIOD!!! I am LOVING using it.

    Mike

  9. #9
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    Re: Laptop composer: Opinions wanted

    Mike,

    Thanks for clarifying.

    What I was thinking of on the "dryer" comment would probably better be said as less ambiance, or closed mic-ed, which I really don't know about KHSO either way because of the amount of reverb on the demos I've heard. But even at that, it is just a personal preference, not at all an opinion on which is better or worse. I had definitely hoped to have gotten a better scope on that library and may still get it as well. Hopefully before the price goes up.

    Thanks again.

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