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14 strings libraries compared

OP
Akarin

Akarin

pragsound.com
Nice comparison. I have to say you really can't go wrong with any of the libraries (with the possible exception of NOVO, which doesn't seem cut out for this type of thing). My favorite is the SStS and Albion One combo. I use that combo myself and it's quite beautiful. I also prefer SStS alone—and I say that not because I own it, but because it sounds the best to my ears, especially on the faster passage. SCS sounds very nice, too, but so do the 8Dio entries. CSS was a bit of a disappointment for me, however, but still very nice.

Generally speaking, they're all good.
Novo is a very different beast and I love it. One of my best purchases. The strings designer is awesome.

All recent libraries are truly excellent. We are so lucky to live in this day and age.
 
Thanks for the comparison. To my ears SStS sounds easily the best. It’s the only one where the connection between low end and high sounds right and it’s more emotionally convincing.

I’m finally downloading it right now having bought it a little while back.
 
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muziksculp

Senior Member
@Akarin,

Thanks for the Strings comparison video.

I like the last example, the combo of Spitfire Studio Strings + Albion ONE.

Layering various String libraries can produce some great results. Maybe you can expand on this detail in the future with some examples of layered string libraries in various combinations.

I didn't purchase Spitfire's Studio Strings, but might add the standard version in the future.

I'm looking forward to the release of Audiobro's LASS3, and 8Dio's Century Strings version 2, I also have a feeling we will also see some new Strings libraries released in the second half of this year.

Cheers,
Muziksculp
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
Thanks for the comparison. To my ears SStS sounds easily the best. It’s the only one where the connection between low end and high sounds right and it’s more emotionally convincing.

I’m finally downloading it right now having bought it a lityle while back.
I must admit that despite already owning great libraries I'm more interested than ever in that one.
 
OP
Akarin

Akarin

pragsound.com
@Akarin,

Thanks for the Strings comparison video.

I like the last example, the combo of Spitfire Studio Strings + Albion ONE.

Layering various String libraries can produce some great results. Maybe you can expand on this detail in the future with some examples of layered string libraries in various combinations.

I didn't purchase Spitfire's Studio Strings, but might add the standard version in the future.

I'm looking forward to the release of Audiobro's LASS3, and 8Dio's Century Strings version 2, I also have a feeling we will also see some new Strings libraries released in the second half of this year.

Cheers,
Muziksculp
I'm so ready for Century 2.0... but I don't know if this was cancelled. The SStS in the demo is the standard lib with the tree mic only, by the way.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
I'm so ready for Century 2.0... but I don't know if this was cancelled. The SStS in the demo is the standard lib with the tree mic only, by the way.
SStS was probably the best $149 I ever spent on a library, the woodwinds are excellent too.
 

muziksculp

Senior Member
I'm so ready for Century 2.0... but I don't know if this was cancelled. The SStS in the demo is the standard lib with the tree mic only, by the way.
I don't think Century 2.0 was cancelled, I think it will be released in the near future. I'm really curious to know what it will offer in terms of improvements compared to the current version.
 

goalie composer

Active Member
I'm so ready for Century 2.0... but I don't know if this was cancelled. The SStS in the demo is the standard lib with the tree mic only, by the way.
I wrote their support today and suggested they include some ensemble patches on their next release. The support person's response was less than encouraging: he stated that such patches would be too big and heavy on the computer to handle. I responded by citing various other sample libraries that do include ensemble patches to which I received no response.... Hopefully this was only a lapse in judgement made by the support staff at 8dio and not indicative of their 2.0 release plans. I really like the library and appreciate how consistent it seems to be across its articulations however having ensemble patches for sketching seems to be a bit of a no brainer for inclusion in their update. I assume I'm not alone with those thoughts :)
 

Land of Missing Parts

No Time for Honky-Tonk
Ha! You have a great memory (or I have been professing my love of Century Strings a bit too much!) Century is certainly not adapted for everything but for my workflow and my less than stellar composing skills, it just works.

SSS is a beast! I love it and am eagerly awaiting the pro version with the re-introduction of the stereo mixes. I also didn't spend much time on specific programming for each lib as I wanted to really have an out of the box sound, rather than playing on the strengths of each library (that's what official demos are for!)
I recommend people listen to this on Youtube, because Akarin provided start times for each library.

This test is definitely in my bookmarks, and I suspect it would be a good one to point people toward when they ask "What string library should I buy?", as someone seems to do at least once every week. Although people need to take note of the caveats in the beginning, and be aware of the limitations of the test, as with any test.

@Akarin -- If I'm listening for panning and spacialization, would you mind sharing which ones you did some work on? If I recall, Century Strings is center panned out of the box, right?
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
I suspect it would be a good one to point people toward when they ask "What string library should I buy?"
Personally, I feel the opposite. Although you can hear the basic tone of the patches, they all sound synthy and unrealistic....this is because they were not programmed how they were meant to. Each of those libraries have a different approach, copy/paste of a sequence is not a good method for showcasing libraries. Also, there are eq, reverb, compression, etc added, so they are not directly out-of-the-box in that regard.
 

Land of Missing Parts

No Time for Honky-Tonk
Personally, I feel the opposite. Although you can hear the basic tone of the patches, they all sound synthy and unrealistic....this is because they were not programmed how they were meant to. Each of those libraries have a different approach, copy/paste of a sequence is not a good method for showcasing libraries. Also, there are eq, reverb, compression, etc added, so they are not directly out-of-the-box in that regard.
All good points. :emoji_wolf:

Listen with limitations in mind. Also seek out walkthroughs and maybe do searches through member compositions to see the working reality of the instruments. Don't place too much stock in one single data point.

That said, I'm not sure how many people own this many libraries and are willing to spend so much time creating a test, with each one side by side like this. But if anyone does, and is willing to put together a comparison that is more tailored to each individual library, I would certainly welcome that.
 
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ism

Senior Member
I'd argue that every string library is synthy and unrealistic to trained ears.
I'd agree with you on unrealistic.

But to me, 'synthy' means something else ... For instance this noodle with the spitfire solo cello:


The crossfades can be a bit bumpy, so exposed like this it's certainly 'unrealistic' on a physical level of bumpiness.

Yet, it to my ear, it never falls off that cliff into 'synthyness' (and this is the benefit of this particular approach to the crossfade vs phase alignment).

And in context and for certain types of lines, I'd argue, an unrealistic 'bumpiness' can be easier to cover up that synthyness.

Of course, in other types of lines - like ensemble strings doing a smooth swell - this kind of bumpiness will kill the effect, so here I think my ear would tolerate a bit more synthy unrealism that a bumpy unrealism.


And there are even times when real strings, if played to statically (or something) can start to sound 'synthy'


Kind of a nuance, but I think there's a useful distinction to be made here.
 

Garry

Senior Member
Finally got to listen to this properly on decent speakers, and what I heard surprised me. For me, Albion ONE has probably been my best purchase ever - it suits exactly the tone I like; what surprised me is I'd all but convinced myself that I really should get SCS at some point, since I don't really like the tone of Studio Strings, and everyone and his dog seems to recommend SCS. But hearing this, I think I'd be disappointed at the difference, after having paid an extra 699 for SCS. There's clearly a difference in the tone between the 2 of course, and I'm not sure which I preferred. But if I'm spending 699, I want to see not just a subtle difference, but a real distinct separation that justifies that additional cost. If you're a professional composer, then I can see that you'd need many string libraries, to suit precisely the sound you need for a specific job, but as a hobbyist like me, based on the comparison here, I'm starting to think: (i) all of these string libraries sound sufficient similar as to not make the subtleties in the difference worth it to a hobbyist, and (ii) Albion ONE is probably sufficient for my needs, and I'd likely be disappointed if I buy another string library on top of this, because it won't have the dramatic difference I'm expecting/hoping for. That's not to say I don't have or want other string libraries, just that I think I don't need other string libraries that essentially do the same thing, but with a slightly different tone/versatility (or special articulations I'll likely never use): I already have Tundra, OACE, BDT and Solo Strings which I love, but these have specific uses that are not intended to just be a better string library than Albion One, they do something completely different. The difference in Solo Strings and the ensemble libraries in the comparison video was indeed a dramatic difference, as would be expected, and I wasn't at all disappointed. Would love to hear the combo of Solo Strings and Albion One.

The comparison itself though was incredibly helpful, and thanks again to the OP for sharing it. Much appreciated.
 
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Garry

Senior Member
Actually, the more I listen to these, and my ear attunes to the differences, I think my main point above still stands (ie that for me (and of course for me alone, I can only speak for my ears, not anyone else's!), Albion still stands out positively, but there are now some that I listen to that I really dislike. Interestingly, these are some that others in the thread have pointed to as being their favorites (and I'm sure there are many who dislike how Albion sounds). It's so interesting how our individual preferences can vary so widely. No right or wrong of course, just interesting differences in tastes.
 

robgb

I was young once
But if I'm spending 699, I want to see not just a subtle difference, but a real distinct separation that justifies that additional cost.
As an owner of several strings libraries, I have found that the differences are usually very subtle. Some are clearly superior sounding, but in a full mix I'm not sure anyone would know the difference.
 
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