Adventure Strings vs Trailer Strings vs Cinematic Studio Strings: The Comparathon

Discussion in 'SAMPLE Talk' started by NoamL, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. NoamL

    NoamL Winter <3

    Jul 6, 2015
    Los Angeles
    Hey all,

    To decide whether I want to buy Adventure Strings I mocked up some excerpts from the walkthrough with two other libraries.

    The results are below. In each case the first library is Adventure Strings, then Trailer Strings, then Cinematic Studio Strings.

    Round 1: Performance Patches
    AS: "Adventure" patches
    TS: "Adventure" patches
    CSS: Marcato performance patches (spiccato overlay)

    Round 2: Full Patches
    Pizzicatos (Trailer Strings doesn't have a pizzicato articulation)
    Marcato Oneshots

    Round 3: String Section Patches
    AS & TS both have one Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass section; CSS has two Violin sections
    Sustains (Legato in CSS's case)

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2017
    mac88104, axb312, kimarnesen and 32 others like this.
  2. Puzzlefactory

    Puzzlefactory Senior Member

    Nov 22, 2016
    I don't have adventure strings or trailer strings, but I was surprised how wet CSS sounds in comparison to them. It sounds dry to me when I use it (in comparison to the Albion's, which are the only other strings I use).
  3. tokatila

    tokatila Senior Member

    Mar 6, 2014
    This confirms what I have been thinking for awhile, that I should put all my available money to study materials (courses, book etc.) than new libraries (if I already have a perfectly working library). I mean what's the point of getting a little different sound when the music is still compositionally below average.

    Thanks for doing this.
  4. zacnelson

    zacnelson Senior Member

    Jul 17, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
  5. OP

    NoamL Winter <3

    Jul 6, 2015
    Los Angeles
    So, some thoughts -

    Of course, this comparathon takes place "on Adventure Strings' turf" as the phrases were designed to show off AS's capabilities. In particular I wasn't expecting Trailer Strings to do very well, since if TS could do everything AS could do there would be no point to Musical Sampling offering both libraries ;) However, it's interesting to compare the sounds of these three options.

    Both of Musical Sampling's libraries are drier than CSS's standard mix - and even CSS's close mics alone (not shown here) don't sound as close to the instruments as the out of the box mix of the other two. AS and TS also sound quite bright and have shorter tails. These are definitely instruments you'll have to place into your mix, but that's not a bad thing!

    Performance patches - these were AS's standout feature, I think. The sound is lively, energetic, aggressive and consistent. Any kind of "action melody" strings writing (e.g. How To Train Your Dragon, Star Trek, Harry Potter) is gonna sound great with these patches. Because of the close micing, the clarity and specificity of the sound is unbeatable. TS has a broader, gentler attack but turns in musical results as well. Using CSS I struggled with the balance between the underlying marcato sustain and the spiccato overlay, particularly with the violas and basses.

    Full patches - shorts: I thought the libraries were quite on equal footing here. Just depends what sound you like. I'm a fan of CSS's dark tone.

    Full patches - pizzicato:
    They're both good and I prefer the pleasant, mellow tone of CSS, but AS has an astounding level of realism IMO. Capturing these samples as parts of performed phrases has really paid off.

    Full patches - sustains:
    Adventure Strings sounds perfectly balanced across the keyboard. You can really tell that Aaron put a lot of work into these timesaver patches, as he mentioned in the walkthrough. Trailer Strings is good too. CSS is the best of the bunch with a beautiful, romantic tone! It just oozes emotion! But notice how the range just below middle C, where viola/violin overlap, tends to pop out of the mix. I tend to avoid this patch with CSS (not least because you can't take advantage of the wonderful legato).

    Full patches - marcatos: the other libraries can't keep up with AS here - TS's oneshot marcatos are shorter, and CSS's spiccato overlay trick doesn't work here (as a real marcato downbow has a more bitey, but broader, attack).

    Section patches - shorts: TS is broader and less subtle than AS. But my favorite is CSS. Because CSS has three short articulations (spiccato, staccatissimo and staccato) it's possible to really sculpt the phrases, and the three articulations sit side by side very nicely. I like starting with spiccato and moving to staccatissimo when a phrase gets louder/broader, as the players naturally stay on the string a little longer. You get the most nuanced performance from CSS, I think.

    Section patches - sustains/legato: Not really a contest. AS sounds great. I really like the low dynamics on TS. But come on, CSS is the library for this stuff. Notice the perfect legato transitions, and how you can hear all the inner parts of the arrangement so much more clearly. There's something about CSS where all the sections just glue together beautifully.

    There's no question that AS is a peer of CSS (which makes it a damn good library!) and it offers composers an extremely dry, close and controllable tone with very idiomatic and realistic samples, not to mention timesaver full-string-orchestra patches that are balanced to a tee. On the other hand, CSS has gorgeous legato, a very attractive dark tone, and oozes emotion with every note. So - after doing this experiment - I am veeeery keen on those AS performance patches, but I think I'm happy sticking with what I currently own :)
    tadam, markleake, Nmargiotta and 7 others like this.
  6. Vik

    Vik Scandi Member

    Dec 15, 2013
    Interesting comparison - thank you! Personally, I think it would maybe be even more interesting to hear a comparison with CSS's close mics - since CSS is clearly more wet than the others in these files. And - in round 3, it seems that there's a rising expression/dynamics curve throughout the whole TS example?
    I don't have CSS at hand at the moment, but the CSS example in the same round also sound a little muted in terms of overtones.... do you by chance use Con Sord setting or have automated the dynamics level down a bit?
    Thanks again.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
  7. SoNowWhat?

    SoNowWhat? realised I can type here

    Jul 26, 2016
    So, what time do we expect The Robber to show up?

    Thank you @NoamL that was extremely helpful as I'm weighing up AS right now.
  8. byzantium

    byzantium Active Member

    Really appreciate you doing this @NoamL. Great comparison and review and a lot of work went in to this.
  9. mac

    mac Guest

  10. Sean_Gouws

    Sean_Gouws I'm gonna sing the Doom Song now. Doom doom doom

    Jan 16, 2017
    All sound great. :) thanks for this @NoamL
  11. midiman

    midiman Active Member

    May 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Thank you for this excellent comparison @NoamL . Really appreciate the work that goes into something like this.
  12. OP

    NoamL Winter <3

    Jul 6, 2015
    Los Angeles
    Good idea!

    Here you'll hear AS, followed by just the close mics of CSS. In the second excerpt you'll hear AS followed by CSS with the close mics and just a bit of the tree. (I think this creates a very comparably "dry" sound.) And then Mural Vol 1 at the end to remind everyone what AIR sounds like! Haha.

    I think you can get reasonably dry and controlled with CSS as with AS, but the recording still feels deeper. AS's close mics are apparently really close to the instruments. Unbeatable on the current marketplace if you need that right up in your face sound. AS also advertises "true FFF sampling" and you can hear that the top end of the dynamic range is a bit more available in AS than CSS - but then again, CSS has gorgeous whisper-quiet pp samples.

    I think AS/CSS/TS are all great instruments :) Can't go wrong, just pick whatever string tone speaks to you.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2017
    Lawson., midiman, byzantium and 2 others like this.
  13. OP

    NoamL Winter <3

    Jul 6, 2015
    Los Angeles

    Filed under "things to remind myself when I start drooling over a new library" ;)
    tokatila likes this.
  14. mac

    mac Guest

    @NoamL Your close mic example certainly brings them closer together, but my preference is CSS. Although it doesn't get quite as bombastic, it sounds more detailed and emotional to my ears.
  15. muziksculp

    muziksculp Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Los Angeles

    I have decided to purchase Musical Sampling's Soaring Strings, I would like to pair it with either their Adventure Strings, or Trailer Strings, but I'm having a hard time deciding which one to pick. I'm leaning more towards Adventure Strings, which one would your recommend, and why.

  16. chapbot

    chapbot omnivore

    Feb 7, 2017
    This is so helpful and I'm buying Adventure Strings immediately! :)
    Zoot_Rollo likes this.
  17. desert

    desert Just here so I don't get fined

    Jul 31, 2016
    I was bloody excited hearing the start of the 3rd example. Then I felt sad.

    Nah, this comparison is great! Appreciate @NoamL for buying these to take one for the team. Let's make round 2 the official melody comparison! It's catchy AF
    SoNowWhat? likes this.
  18. OP

    NoamL Winter <3

    Jul 6, 2015
    Los Angeles
    I'd get SS+AS as they are the same players recorded in the same hall, and TS is a much larger collection of players recorded in a different setup from SS.
  19. muziksculp

    muziksculp Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Thanks NoamL.

    That makes sense, I will add Adventure Strings to Soaring Strings. Should be a nice combo.

  20. Jacob Cadmus

    Jacob Cadmus Active Member

    May 27, 2013
    Florida, USA
    Well damn, my tax returns are coming in soon and I was pondering on either CSS or the AS+SS bundle. These comparisons just made my decision even harder.

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