A rant on the hiss that's in so many orchestral libraries.

OP
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Headlands

Active Member
:grin:
If you didn't record the samples straight to tape, people would complain they're not warm enough sounding!:grin:

People are used to hearing orchestral recordings to tape. Ears are trained to associate it with authenticity.
I must disagree. Yes, tape was exclusively used years ago before digital, and once digital was here it was highly desired by orchestras (including most movie scores due to its flexibility) because of what I'm talking about. Not all, of course, but I would say by the most for sure.

Tape has a warmer sound mostly because of its limited bandwidth in the high end especially, and its imperfections...both which have their place if one wants that sound but for modern flexibility and cleanliness should be an option instead of a mandate. And with plugins you can get so close to that warmth that no one would know in a double blind test, which I had done to me a few years with a group of audio snobs like myself. Most good plugins emulation plugins have hiss/noise as an option that you can turn off or adjust the level on, which is brilliant.
 
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OP
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Headlands

Active Member
Yes - but you hear the noise _once_ in a real recording, not multiplied by the number of voices you play. There's a difference between a "raw" and a simply bad recording. :)
And this! A very, very important point whether we're discussing room tone or hiss.
 
OP
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Headlands

Active Member
That's what I do. There's not even one mix where I wouldn't use RX's denoiser or declicker. Some Cinebrass Pro low dynamics patches are such a noisefest, or some Cinematic Strings 2 patches have those clicks in them. RX can help with these things a lot.

Why can't you use it on a big project? CPU problems or what?
Yes, it's a CPU problem mostly. Can I ask how you use RX's Spectral De-Noiser? I'm just curious to compare it to how I do, maybe I can improve my use of it.
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
Oh stacking noise is a huge issue with sampling.

I sometimes think that every (media) composers formative education (or even later when they're in the world trying to make a living from this artform) should include learning how to make a sample instrument. Start with something basic - and do a project like Christian Henson's MVP Piano. Indeed - if anyone here hasn't done it before and has a piano, go ahead and contribute to that project NOW!

Anyone here who uses Nuendo can build really simple sample instruments right in their timeline. It's awesome. Then when you want a little more flexibility with things, learn a little about Kontakt. (The Logic sampler is quite good too!)

Anyway - my point is - this will quickly show up how sampling is a very different artform to recording. Even though it involves recording.

As Jeremy pointed out, voice stacking quickly adds up.

For fun, go grab a detailed piano kontakt library, and play with the pedal down for a while. Maybe some ostinato / textural phrase. It is easy to reach 300PLUS voices playing back at once. Each of those voices can be made of more than one mic (if using a "mix" palette it will often be 6 or 8 even for just a piano. So its quite easy to get a situation with just a single instrument to have 1000's of individual signals summing to make the one sound. Noise - no matter how low - will play a part.

My conversations with various developers over the years have shown me how the attention to noise floor is paramount. Even when they're using character equipment.

Some devs go for super super quiet mics, preamps etc. Even they can need post production (you'd be surprised the amount of work done on samples before they hit a final product in kontakt!) . Some devs do like tape / using tube gear etc. Used well, this isn't as quiet as solid state gear, but it is still very quiet - and it definitely changes the character of the samples. But perhaps it is not to taste for composers who need things to be super super quiet.

Add to that the need for media composers to present palettes of sound that could never be reproduced by a real recording without riding faders. I'm talking about super soft pianos, strings, orchestral instruments. Its an artificial dynamic created by gaining up the samples significantly.

End of last year I recorded a quintet + piano for a score in a super quiet concert hall + studio in Glasgow. Great gear, an awesome engineer and producer.

I was using loads of super soft playing / textural orchestration. Not too many mics. Spots, Tree and Surrounds. Never more than a single overdub. And yeah, the engineer hit me up a few days after delivering the files with new files he had additionally denoised as he felt it really needed it.

And during the mix - oh did we have noise to deal with. Funnily enough, I got both used to it - especially after getting the temp mix from the dubbing stage for the rest of the film to mix "around'... and I totally embraced the noise in the end - even for the super quiet emotional pieces. For me it really worked - but I was on the edge at a time.

I also played back the premixes (prior to live recording) of the noisiest cues - and they used what others would consider noisy samples - and the final result was definitely quieter than the recording.

(We *chose*) on the recording to use ribbons on the piano for the sound - knowing the noise there would be the noisiest bit! But it was a good wakeup to the immense work the sample devs put into getting us the tools we do have.

Most of the time I can tell noise issues in samples before buying them. Just listening to quiet demos etc. And reading reviews. I've never personally come across a time when it has stopped me from using the sound... or just changing up an idea in response to me not liking a result etc. Creative constraints and all that.

I choose to celebrate the tools. Yeah, it can provide frustration at times. I understand that. But also, samples are bloody AMAZING! I listen to what I did 25 years ago knowing what sampling tools were around then / libs etc - and to hear what is possible - just WOW!

So I'm just not sure I subscribe to the idea that because there is inherent noise involved in a particular sampling technique that a company shouldn't offer it to market. It isn't in everyones taste and its a square peg at times for your round hole. But there's plenty of square holes I need filling at times...

And I appreciate the character that comes from some equipment choices and especially room choices. They're all choices. The more I think about it, the more it feels similar to the room / reverb sampling arguments that have been going on for years. Both sides have their place. Sometimes we just need to realise our tools are not all one size fits all or even most.

And celebrate the tools for what they are.
I agree on this -- I of course use them and enjoy them. But that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement -- there are some orchestral sample libraries that don't have nearly as much noise (hiss) as others. Room tone is definitely something I love, but the hiss? Not so much in the excessive amounts I hear in the majority of orchestral sample sets. When some clients start to ask me about it in quieter scores where I use libraries that I love creatively like Tundra or soft dynamics on CSS strings/brass, etc., etc., I know that many modern ears aren't used to that much hiss and don't want it. My opinion is that it doesn't need to be there in the excessive amounts that many libraries have it...and again, some have it at a much more manageable level.
 
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OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
It can be a little distracting when soloed but usually isn't a problem in a mix. I found some the other day in one of my percussion libraries on a Celesta instrument and it really bugged me because it kept coming in and out every time I struck a key and sounded quite unnatural. I just put an HPF on it and that seemed to help significantly - and as I mentioned it wan't really a problem in the entire mix, just distracting when I was working on individual parts.
I hear you. The main place it becomes an issue for me (among some other places, of course) is in soft passages that might be mixed very loud in a part of a movie. For those here who might say "that's not how you properly mix a movie!", you can tell that to the clients I have that do mix their movies that way. :)
 

barteredbride

Hello and hola...a Brit in Spain
I must disagree. Yes, tape was exclusively used years ago before digital, and once digital was here it was highly desired by orchestras (including most movie scores due to its flexibility) because of what I'm talking about. Not all, of course, but I would say by far the most.

Tape has a warmer sound mostly because of its limited bandwidth in the high end especially, and its imperfections...both which have their place if one wants that sound but for modern flexibility and cleanliness should be an option instead of a mandate. And with plugins you can get so close to that warmth that no one would know in a double blind test, which I had done to me a few years with a group of audio snobs like myself.
Of course, I agree with your main point in your post. And I'd love to choose myself between a sample recorded to tape and without tape. But the price of the library would surely be more expensive.

It's an interesting discussion and I'd love to hear a clean sample without any tape input.

In any case, i remember seeing a video from alan meyerson, where he took the recordings of the real orchestra and smothered them in a Waves tape plugin !
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
Of course, I agree with your main point in your post. And I'd love to choose myself between a sample recorded to tape and without tape. But the price of the library would surely be more expensive.

It's an interesting discussion and I'd love to hear a clean sample without any tape input.

In any case, i remember seeing a video from alan meyerson, where he took the recordings of the real orchestra and smothered them in a Waves tape plugin !
I remember that video! :)
 

Consona

Senior Member
Yes, it's a CPU problem mostly. Can I ask how you use RX's Spectral De-Noiser? I'm just curious to compare it to how I do, maybe I can improve my use of it.
I only have RX Elements, so I use its plugins as inserts on problematic tracks, so nothing that interesting, sorry to disappoint. :grin:
 

Greg

Senior Member
Of course, I agree with your main point in your post. And I'd love to choose myself between a sample recorded to tape and without tape. But the price of the library would surely be more expensive.

It's an interesting discussion and I'd love to hear a clean sample without any tape input.

In any case, i remember seeing a video from alan meyerson, where he took the recordings of the real orchestra and smothered them in a Waves tape plugin !
The noise is turned off and he uses it as a multi-mono delay.

 

Greg

Senior Member
One persons colossal mistake is another persons icing on the cake. I really like it. Probably because I love the productions of all the Icelandic composers like Olafur Arnalds who use copious amounts of analog gear on their music. I agree though, they should de noise them and have an option to turn it on or off. It definitely can build up too much depending on how many layers you have.
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
One persons colossal mistake is another persons icing on the cake. I really like it. Probably because I love the productions of all the Icelandic composers like Olafur Arnalds who use copious amounts of analog gear on their music. I agree though, they should de noise them and have an option to turn it on or off. It definitely can build up too much depending on how many layers you have.
Well said.
 

jaketanner

Senior Member
I too have a hugely strong recording background. The string hiss/noise that bothers me the most is from Cinestrings Core. They said it's because of the vintage microphones used. No problem, I'll buy that excuse...in subsequent libraries from them, they've reduced the noise considerably...now as far as tape hiss? I have yet to encounter this being an issue at all. What library and patch are you specifically referring to? Because until recent, all recordings of classical and film scores were recorded to tape, and in fact they are all going through an analog console for sure, which in and of itself produces hiss...to me, digital is sterile...not to where it's bad, just that it does not impart any harmonic content at all...strings, brass, winds, whatever...acoustic instruments benefit from some type of natural harmonic content. Humans do not hear in digital...and I think a super clean string sound, would be too flat...no character. There are ways during the recording process to maybe get them cleaner...this I agree...but to record them straight digitally, I am not certain about. It is perhaps that some companies go a bit overboard and use the total analog recording as a selling point...but then I agree...clean it up! LOL
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
I too have a hugely strong recording background. The string hiss/noise that bothers me the most is from Cinestrings Core. They said it's because of the vintage microphones used. No problem, I'll buy that excuse...in subsequent libraries from them, they've reduced the noise considerably...now as far as tape hiss? I have yet to encounter this being an issue at all. What library and patch are you specifically referring to? Because until recent, all recordings of classical and film scores were recorded to tape, and in fact they are all going through an analog console for sure, which in and of itself produces hiss...to me, digital is sterile...not to where it's bad, just that it does not impart any harmonic content at all...strings, brass, winds, whatever...acoustic instruments benefit from some type of natural harmonic content. Humans do not hear in digital...and I think a super clean string sound, would be too flat...no character. There are ways during the recording process to maybe get them cleaner...this I agree...but to record them straight digitally, I am not certain about. It is perhaps that some companies go a bit overboard and use the total analog recording as a selling point...but then I agree...clean it up! LOL
I agree completely on most of your points. It's the degree of hiss that's absurd in some of these libraries. CSS comes to mind, as does most of Spitfire's stuff. Classical has been recorded largely on digital for many years now (I remember from when my Dad was playing in the SF orchestra, he told me they had started using digital a long time ago) , due to its non-noisiness. One gets the harmonic content from pres and consoles and the like, as you mentioned. The amount of noise in the libraries I'm referring to indicates something other than just the pres/consoles though.
 

Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
I learned to live with noisy samples, because what else can you do - but the whole idea of purposely impairing the fidelity of recordings for "character" is odd to me, for all the reasons already stated in this thread. Especially since there are so many ways to add all the spunk you'd ever want to hear, in several stages of the production, with the processing tools we have at our disposal today. In a deliberate, controlled, senseful manner, depending on the piece. It's not hard to do, and can get you where you actually want to be much better than stacking noise upon noise. Recordings should be clean. No matter if it's actual performance recordings or samples. Vibe and "character" are a matter of mixing.
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
I learned to live with noisy samples, because what else can you do - but the whole idea of purposely impairing the fidelity of recordings for "character" is odd to me, for all the reasons already stated in this thread. Especially since there are so many ways to add all the spunk you'd ever want to hear, in several stages of the production, with the processing tools we have at our disposal today. In a deliberate, controlled, senseful manner, depending on the piece. It's not hard to do, and can get you where you actually want to be much better than stacking noise upon noise. Recordings should be clean. No matter if it's actual performance recordings or samples. Vibe and "character" are a matter of mixing.
THIS!!!!
 

jaketanner

Senior Member
I agree completely on most of your points. It's the degree of hiss that's absurd in some of these libraries. CSS comes to mind, as does most of Spitfire's stuff. Classical has been recorded largely on digital for many years now (I remember from when my Dad was playing in the SF orchestra, he told me they had started using digital a long time ago) , due to its non-noisiness. One gets the harmonic content from pres and consoles and the like, as you mentioned. The amount of noise in the libraries I'm referring to indicates something other than just the pres/consoles though.
Can't comment on CSS, as I don't have that...but I do have Spitfire Chamber and Albion One as well as their new solo library...I really don't hear much of any hiss in those. Cinesamples core does have noise...and the noise from these libraries I am now thinking is just because they're old...7 years ago maybe...techniques have improved since then.
 

Saxer

Senior Member
I don't care about noise/hiss in recordings. Orchestras are loud because 60 even very disciplined people in a room are never quiet.
But in samples it's a different thing. Like little mistakes that are normal in live playing repeating mistakes on one sample note can make you mad. And I find the end of hiss in an ending of a sample is much more obvious than a steady noise floor. A single car driving by gets more attention than a busy highway.
Sometimes it helps to get a musical noise floor out of texture pads or those Tundras/Evolutions/TimeMacros to cover the dynamics of sample noise. It glues things together.
 

novaburst

Senior Member
I do believe The reason why this type of hissing noise or for that matter any type of noise does not bother composers or mixers of today is because of the noise removal tools that are available to use

Even if you have a very noisy sample in your mind its as if its not there because of these tools, izotope RX.

To day yes we can do anything so bring as much noisy samples as you like and I will just slap a noise removing tool and remove it 100%

a lot of noise is left alone as it does remind us that humans are playing the instruments and gives an organic effect that is very appealing most of the time.

Bottom line is noise should not bother any mixer or composer in any way, we just simply have a million tools at our hands to put things right or the way we want to hear our music we are drowning in make it good tools.
 

Daryl

Senior Member
We record in stems for our orchestral recordings, and if we didn't do noise/hiss removal, the build-up would make the recordings sound far less glossy than they do. For a sample library this is even more important, as there are usually way more notes being played than the number of stems we record.
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
if im not mistaken, some of these orchestral recordings not only use vintage gear like tape, old tube mics, preamps and ribbon mics, but also use a LOT of them. seeing from the spitfire info videos , there is a ton of mics i dont normally see in normal orchestral recordings. plus these low velocity articulations are in a vacuum and not in context with a wide dynamic range. in movies and orchestral recordings can be masked. and im guessing each pass contains all or several of the mics just so they can add the different mic perspectives or have a thicker sound. and the gains remains the same as to not add or reduce noise from one articulation to another and one instrument to another. they do noise reduction but too much yields that hollowish sound.
but as usualy, its not as easy. we just see it as users and each library is different. different halls, different equipment, engineers etc. and im pretty sure everyone in that chain of events understands signal flow and has heard the noise and yet had to compromise. they bring in famous recording engineers so its not like they dont know what they are doing.