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Topic: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

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  1. #1

    Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    THE TOPIC:
    Looking for some workflow and buying advice from some online music forums -- primarily on the subject of Choir Samples. (FYI, have included as a Post-Script more detailed info on the specific project this is all for, and exactly how the choir sounds will need to be used). Meanwhile...

    WHAT'S OUT THERE?
    Based on the websites and reviews I've been able to scan, here are some of the choices I'm considering, and on which I'd love to hear any comments, critiques, or words of warning:

    LOWEST BUDGET:
    The ProSamples CDs...
    - such as "PROSAMPLES VOL.13 - Choirs"
    (which includes selections from both "Classical Choirs" and "Hallelujah"; see below)
    - Soundscan Vol. 28 "Choir - Acoustic & Synth"

    LOW-MEDIUM BUDGET:
    The Peter Siedlaczek collections:
    - "Classical Choir"
    - "Hallelujah"
    - "Extended Classical Choir"

    MEDIUM-HIGHER BUDGET:
    - Quantum Leap's "Voices of the Apocalypse"
    - Spectrasonics' "Symphony of Voices"

    HIGHEST BUDGET:
    - EWQL's "Symphonic Choirs (w WordBuilder)"
    (out of my price range, and maybe not even appropriate for this project, but included here just to complete the list)


    Some general questions re the above:

    1) Just how limited in content (and quality?) are these ProSamples CDs? And if I need to explore some other kinds of instrument samples, are the ProSamples a good way to try out a particular collection without investing in the full edition first?

    2) How much overlap (if any) is there between the older "Classical Choir" and the newer "Extended Classical Choir"? Is the Extended just a bigger and better edition of the original, or are the two completely separate and complimentary?

    3) And forgive a newbie question, but when a particular sample collection is offered only in "AUDIO" format, is that the same thing as when the format is listed as "AUDIO/WAV", and if so, does that mean it can be used by LogicExpress, whose EXSP24 sampler lists "WAV" as one of the formats with which it's compatible?


    CURRENT PRICES (all in US$):

    - S.O.V. is priced at $499 from the Spectrasonics.net site (aka www.ilio.com)

    Meanwhile, I see that ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ is having a sale till the end of March. Its discounted prices on the other packages work out as follows:
    - VOTA $250 (reg. 499)
    - Extended Classical Choir $175 (reg. 250)
    - ProSamples 13 Choirs $35 (reg. 49)

    The total for the above three, with shipping, would still be less than ordering just the SOV package alone (unless someone knows where it's on sale for less).

    SoundsOnline also has the full "Classical Choir" (AUDIO format only) for $70 (reg. 99), and the full "Hallelujah" for $140 (reg. 199) -- but again, just for the next couple of days.


    So I'm swimming in a sea of choices right now, and even after checking out as many demos as I could find online, could really use some suggestions:

    1) Should I perhaps start off with just the "Extended Classical Choir", plus the "ProSamples Vol. 13 Choirs" (with its selections from both "Classical Choirs" and "Hallelujah")?

    2) Should I take advantage of the lower price and grab VOTA as well?

    3) Or should I just bypass them all, bite the bullet, and go for SOV (which, if the reviews at http://www.ilio.com/spectrasonics/sy...s/reviews.html are to be believed, seems like it might have the most depth and variety of any single collection? The fact that it has soloists, as well as a boys choir, for me is a very big plus -- yet I've also read comments which describe this package as beautiful but a bit "mushy", and lacking the kind of sonic clarity I'd be looking for (see project description, below).

    Comments?

    Thanks,

    John Bertram
    Toronto


    In terms of this specific project and its particular needs, here's some additional background info...

    THE MUSIC ITSELF:
    - all based on a couple of simple melodies; tongue-in-cheek spirituals
    - when played straight they're reminiscent of traditional folk hymns like Amazing Grace, Auld Lang Syne, Red River Valley, etc.
    - for some sequences, the melodies require comically un-spiritual arrangements, ranging from a bouncy, swinging "doodely-doo-doo" feel, to a biting, high-tension, drama/suspense mode.
    - aside from recycling the basic melodies, other common denominator I want is for human voices -- as in "wordless singing", "voice as instrumental" -- to be the primary, lead instrument in each of the very different sequences

    AND JUST WHAT SORT OF VOICES?
    Here's where it gets interesting. Most of the film's music will be heard as underscore, with either live dialog or voice-over narration on top, so the voices don't have to sound perfect (as in "Fooled you, Placido -- they're only samples!"), but neither are they just going to be pads to simply fill out the main arrangement -- the voices will be fairly exposed a lot of the time. So the sound needs to be crisp and clear; not an overly-mellow "wash".

    Plus, I would like to have some variety to choose from. The kinds of contrasts I'd like to be able to utilize and/or create are:
    - Male vs. Female
    - Solo vs. Small Groups (sometimes building to Larger Ensembles)
    - Younger vs. Adult
    - Angelic vs. Ominous
    + different, non verbal sounds: Ooos / Aahs / Ohhs / Mmms / Doos / etc.

    What I DON'T require are:
    - separate SATB samples (just a decent range of separate male/female will do);
    - a high-end "WordBuilder"-type utility (as much fun as that would be to play with!), since no actual words are being sung;
    - a far-away pad feel, or huge mega-choirs drowning in their own reverb (will generally be leaning towards more intimate, chamber-choir kinds of settings, where it feels more like a couple of dozen voices than a couple of hundred; and ideally not too "wet", so I can add the cathedral-like reverb only when I need it).


    ME:
    - an indie filmmaker, now editing a digital short, for which I've also composed some original music.
    - lots of film/video writing/directing/editing experience, along with some musical theatre work on the side;
    - still learning my way around MIDI, sequencers, samples, etc.

    MY TOOLS:
    - G5 PowerMac, dual 1.8GHz, 3.5GB RAM
    - FinalCutPro 5
    - M-Audio Keystation 49e (for MIDI input via USB)
    - Finale's PrintMusic2006 (for composing)
    - LogicExpress 7.2 (for sequencing and arranging)

    So that's where I'm at right now -- and like I said, all insights and input greatly appreciated.

  2. #2

    Re: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    Bela D Media has a great children's library which is 400.00 USD....
    "A work of art that attempts to transcend the boundaries of it's medium will likely alienate those looking for the same old" Ethan Einhorn

  3. #3

    Re: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    From your description it would seem that Symphony of Voices would be the best solution. It has males, females and children and all sorts of phrases and effects. The sound isn't too washed but more on the crisp side of things. I have the EWQLSC but I'm not sure if it would be any better for your case and it certainly costs more. Giovanni has only children and Voices of the Apocalypse is aimed more to the big choir sound.

  4. #4

    Re: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    I've got Symphony of Voices which I use with Logic in the EXS sampler.

    Very amazing sample set.

    It works great but there are alot of sounds to go through to find the sound you want -- then there is putting something together that sounds realistic and not canned.

    As with any of this stuff... it's tweak tweak tweak!!!

    As you are mainly a film maker, I'd hire someone else with the sounds and the time to tweak. It might be cheaper and way less hassle.

  5. #5

    Re: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    I don't know if this helps (since you say maybe EWQL SC doesn't fit your needs), but at Dolphin Music, they have it for £349.99 GBP(€ 508.07 )
    I'm not sure if they ship to Canada and the US, but you can ask if you are interested in it.

    P.S: Wellcome to the forum. It's a good resource for sampling information.
    -Dani-

  6. #6

    Re: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    Bela D Media (www.beladmedia.com) has Giovani - Voices of the Young - ON SALE for 25% off if you hurry - that will take care of your children's choirs.

    If you need some simple male and female, in addition to Bela's children's choir - EWQLSO Silver has a small subsection of Voices of the Apocalypse - which may suit your needs very well and is VERY inexpensive (I have seen it for $149) and contains men's and women's choirs (angelic to demonic).

    I want VOTA, so $250 is a great deal - but remember - that is a Wagner-esque collection and not your normal oooh's and aaahh's - but it sounds amazing.

    SOV, from what I head, is supposed to be fantastic - but I don't have that one, I do have Bela D Media and EWQLSO Silver, so I talk from experience there - those two combined really fill out choir needs in most cases.

    I also bought the Pro Samples Best Service #13 - Choirs and I must say (and please no one flame me for this) - don't waste your money (even $30 is too much) - these sound like they came from old samplers and really lack everything - even EQing and effecting the crap out of the samples did not make them sound good - don't waste your money. If I were you, I would stay away from the Halleluah and Classical Choirs IF they sound as small, tinny and bad as the subset (vol 13 - choirs) - what a waste of money.

    Bela D Media comes as wav files and with either giga instruments or kontakt 2 instruments. The sound quality is superb and the instruments cover all the bases - you also get a BOY'S choir AND a GIRL'S choir - wow!

    EWQLSO Silver is more proprietary, and comes as a Kompakt Sampler - but it works really well and is really easy to use. If you buy Kontakt 2 and then get Bela D Media and EWQLSO Silver - they will all load and coexist into Kontakt 2 with zero problems.

    www.americanmusicsupply.com lets you split the payments for Kontakt 2 into three interest free payments over 3 months - making it VERY affordable for the struggling film maker and / or musician. I believe you can also get EWQLSO Silver there as well, but not as inexpensive as other retailers.

    I know that www.floridamusicco.com (I hope that is their website) also has really good prices.

    I hope this helps.

    Mike

  7. #7
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    Re: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertram
    THE TOPIC:


    LOWEST BUDGET:
    The ProSamples CDs...
    - such as "PROSAMPLES VOL.13 - Choirs"
    (which includes selections from both "Classical Choirs" and "Hallelujah"; see below)
    - Soundscan Vol. 28 "Choir - Acoustic & Synth"
    The proSamples CD's provide nice coasters but that's about it. They give you what you would expect for the price... very very limited. I used them once. Don't bother.

    Christiaan

  8. #8

    Re: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    Symphony of Voices is fantastic.

  9. #9

    Re: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    Many thanks to all the NorthernSounders who gave their thoughts and insights on this topic.

    As Janila suggests, it's looking like my best route for now would indeed be to go with the SOV collection and see in how many directions I can stretch it -- and then consider adding VOTA down the road if I still feel the need for some extra Apocalyptic drama.

    Of course the other route would be for me to just try and link up with a musician here in Toronto who already owns SOV, VOTA, and whatever else, and see if he/she would have any interest in taking my demo arrangements (with their GM "Choir Aah" sounds) to a much higher sonic plane.


    Meantime, though, one other issue: while none of my sequences for this project require words per se, there is one sequence in which I'd like to have a comically jaunty "Doo-Do-Do-Doo" sound from the virtual singers. Am I correct in understanding that SOV (unlike VOTA) has no consonant sounds whatsoever? And if so, is there any kind of better-than-nothing cheat which could at least suggest that "Doo-Do-Do-Doo" sound using SOV?

    (Of course, if money were no object I'd just grab SOV, VOTA, plus Spectrasonic's "Vocal Planet" all at once. Heck, maybe even a couple of the soloist and children's choir titles from Bela D Media too -- now that would make for a great vocal/choral library! Ah well, I can dream.)

  10. #10

    Re: Questions re Choir Samples (Long Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertram
    Many thanks to all the NorthernSounders who gave their thoughts and insights on this topic.

    As Janila suggests, it's looking like my best route for now would indeed be to go with the SOV collection and see in how many directions I can stretch it -- and then consider adding VOTA down the road if I still feel the need for some extra Apocalyptic drama.

    Of course the other route would be for me to just try and link up with a musician here in Toronto who already owns SOV, VOTA, and whatever else, and see if he/she would have any interest in taking my demo arrangements (with their GM "Choir Aah" sounds) to a much higher sonic plane.


    Meantime, though, one other issue: while none of my sequences for this project require words per se, there is one sequence in which I'd like to have a comically jaunty "Doo-Do-Do-Doo" sound from the virtual singers. Am I correct in understanding that SOV (unlike VOTA) has no consonant sounds whatsoever? And if so, is there any kind of better-than-nothing cheat which could at least suggest that "Doo-Do-Do-Doo" sound using SOV?
    No...that's kind of thing is covered extensively on Vocal Planet.

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