Advice please: VSTs based on ease-of-use / auto-articulation / etc

ThatAdamGuy

Reasonably Social Geek
tl;dr: I'm making (primarily orchestral/instrumental) music for fun and want recs of decent-quality, easy-to-use VSTs (like the Bohemian Violin).

Hi there,

Long-time lurker, first-time poster :). Also long-time lapsed hobbyist-composer/pianist.

Just getting back into music composing (for fun) and would greatly appreciate your VST advice. Specifically, I'm in love with the Bohemian Violin I purchased -- its auto-articulation mode is delightfully sufficient for brainstorming/noodling -- and would love your thoughts on similarly plug-'n'-play / sounds-great-out-of-the-box VSTs. I've also been pleasantly surprised with the ease-of-use-yet-decent-quality of the BBC Discover Orchestra (free version).

In contrast, I've been sorely disappointed by the East West Composer Cloud VSTs. It's entirely possible that I'm just not yet competent enough to leverage their power, but I've found them nearly all super-painful to use, with sounds split across a zillion absolutely-inscrutably-named samples/articulation sets. And it seems like none of their stuff has any sort of "auto" mode like in the Bohemian Violin.

* * *

A bit about me and my new setup:
  • I have a Native Instruments S88 keyboard.
  • I just started monthly-subscribing to Presonus Sphere and have begun using Studio One 5. I'll probably explore Notion next.
  • So as you can imagine, I'm especially eager to hear about easy-to-use NKS-compatible VSTs :)
  • The only VSTs I currently own / have access to are...
    • the Bohemian Violin
    • the East West Composer Cloud set
    • various free Spitfire / Spitfire Labs instruments
    • and Kontact 12 Select stuff that came with my keyboard
  • I've thought about upgrading to Komplete Ultimate 13, but it seems the majority of the stuff there is more synth'y / non-orchestral.
  • I'm trained in classical and jazz piano. My composer idols are film folks like Alan Silvestri and the long-dead Classical greats :)
Thanks very much in advance for your VST recommendations!

And hey, if you have broader "Musical Caveman wakes up after decades, begins composing again" advice re software, books (e.g., for orchestration), learning-to-use-NI-hardware-or-S1 videos, etc... I'd love to hear from you on that, too!
 

doctoremmet

Senior Member
    • and Kontact 12 Select stuff that came with my keyboard
  • I've thought about upgrading to Komplete Ultimate 13, but it seems the majority of the stuff there is more synth'y / non-orchestral.
I’d recommend getting regular Kontakt 6 Full at least, since a lot of great orchestral libraries require that format. There are ways to make yourself eligible for good sales / upgrade paths. “Regular” Komplete 13 also is excellent value. Whatever you buy, use sales. It appears the Ultra version is not necessarily of interest of you want to invest $ in orchestral libraries. I’d prefer third party stuff.

There are SO many different orchestral libraries, ultimately it will depend on your own taste which one fits you best. Do like us and spend a lot of time here, listen to demos, watch channels on YT (Guy Michelmore, Dirk Ehlert, Chris Siu, Don Bodin, Simeon Amburgey, Alex Pfeffer, Nico Schuele, to name but a few). Check what YOU like.

You already have the Virharmonic Violin. An excellent triple A instrument. My advice: expand your libraries to include top level stuff as much as possible. Don’t spend $40 here and $30 there on stuff that is cute but ultimately will mean you have to “re-purchase” a better version later. In stead, save and outright buy quality stuff. Use Black Friday sales to really strike gold. Good luck ;)

I’ll refrain from summing up MY personal favorites here, because who cares. Get Kontakt, it is the necessary swiss army knife you’ll need anyway.
 

doctoremmet

Senior Member
Ok. I’ll name one series that is brilliant when it comes to ease of use:

Infinite Brass
Infinite Woodwinds

(Strings to be released “soon”)
Extremely playable. At least check out Cory Pelizzari’s videos (another excellent reviewer, one of my favourites actually).
 

hbjdk

Active Member
Cinematic Studio Strings 2 probably, at least I’ve read it’s super easy to use and get good results with
 
OP
ThatAdamGuy

ThatAdamGuy

Reasonably Social Geek
doctoremmet, thank you so much for the thoughtful reply. I am currently drooling over the Infinite Brass demos and various review videos; this sort of playability (that's exactly the word I should have used) is just what I'm looking for! Not having to worry about remembering/using a zillion key switches up front, but rather just playing and getting an idea fleshed out without having to micromanage the instrument!

As a hobbyist, the price hurts my eyes (cost of Infinite Brass + Kontact)... but I know quality is not cheap, and -- as you rightly noted -- I'm gonna need Kontact sooner or later almost certainly. Only question is whether to get it now as part of a bundle or standalone... or wait until Black Friday.

Re people to watch... heh, multiple friends told me about Guy and I've just found him a joy to watch! His enthusiastic review of the NI S88, in fact, pushed me over the fence to buy the keyboard :). And I'll certainly check out the other folks you've mentioned.

hbjdk, thank you also for your replies; will check out those VSTs as well. Appreciate the pointers!

P.S. -- 111 pages on the Infinite Series thread?!? Er, good thing I'm on a staycation this week I guess?! :P. Just wish there was a way to print a thread for a single-page scrolly view / search (e.g., to find out if there's any info on whether/when the Infinite Series will be NKS-compatible).
 

hbjdk

Active Member
You are welcome :)

There is a little “trick” to get Kontakt cheaper.
I will see if I remember it:
Go to Sennheiser’s homepage. You can get some drums there for free which use the Kontakt player (it’s included)
Having this you can buy an upgrade crossgrade from Kontakt player to full Kontakt.
It is cheaper than buying full Kontakt.

Edit:
Here is the text from NI:

Quote:
  • Owners of an official third-party KONTAKT library can purchase the discounted 'Crossgrade to KONTAKT 6'.
Edit2:
Crossgrade is EUR 249.
Just checked on NI’s homepage.

Edit3:
You can also find Kontakt for sale in the ads here on this forum:
Search for Kontakt.
As usual with Internet trade, be careful.
 
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hbjdk

Active Member
Oh you have Kontakt Select! Sorry didn’t notice.

Edit: Do you mean Komplete Select? There is no Kontakt Select, is there?
 
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kmaster

Senior Member
doctoremmet, thank you so much for the thoughtful reply. I am currently drooling over the Infinite Brass demos and various review videos; this sort of playability (that's exactly the word I should have used) is just what I'm looking for! Not having to worry about remembering/using a zillion key switches up front, but rather just playing and getting an idea fleshed out without having to micromanage the instrument!

As a hobbyist, the price hurts my eyes (cost of Infinite Brass + Kontact)... but I know quality is not cheap, and -- as you rightly noted -- I'm gonna need Kontact sooner or later almost certainly. Only question is whether to get it now as part of a bundle or standalone... or wait until Black Friday.

Re people to watch... heh, multiple friends told me about Guy and I've just found him a joy to watch! His enthusiastic review of the NI S88, in fact, pushed me over the fence to buy the keyboard :). And I'll certainly check out the other folks you've mentioned.

hbjdk, thank you also for your replies; will check out those VSTs as well. Appreciate the pointers!

P.S. -- 111 pages on the Infinite Series thread?!? Er, good thing I'm on a staycation this week I guess?! :P. Just wish there was a way to print a thread for a single-page scrolly view / search (e.g., to find out if there's any info on whether/when the Infinite Series will be NKS-compatible).
Just a note:

VST is a file format for audio plug-in.

Kontakt CAN be a VST. (If you’re in Logic, it’ll be an AU; Pro Tools, AAX)

Kontakt libraries are just libraries. Virtual Instruments. “VI”s, if you will. 😉

Some VIs are indeed VSTs (/AUs, etc.), like most virtual (aka “soft”) synths—Diva would be an example of this.

But not all VSTs (et al.) are VIs (like Diva) or VI engines (like Play or Kontakt); many are DSP plug-ins (reverbs, EQs, etc.).
 
OP
ThatAdamGuy

ThatAdamGuy

Reasonably Social Geek
Ah, I have Komplete Select. D'oh, sorry for the confusion. Speaking of confusion, is it just me, or is Native Instruments just... screwy with their naming and such? Let's see, there's Kontakt, then Kontakt Player, and then Komplete Kontrol software but wait, there's also Komplete Kontrol hardware (keyboards) and... wha?!?!? I still don't understand why it's possible to add VIs to KK or KP, but one must do the former in S1 to include more than one instrument and... aaaaaaah! :\'

Anyway, ahem, sorry, I digress. re Kontakt (full), it looks like I have a few choices:
  • Get it for $249 (crossgrade from Sennheiser DrumMic)
  • Get it as part of Komplete 13 (bundle upgrade) for $399
  • Wait until Black Friday to likely get it at an even steeper discount
  • And I expect the Infinite Series would probably be discounted around Black Friday as well. Not to mention maybe the Strings will be out then and available as part of a bundle?! Hmm.
Decisions decisions!

kmaster, thanks for the clue'ing in re terminology :). Luckily for me, my interests nowadays is just on VIs; I'm not anywhere near to point of tackling DSP stuff (at least beyond what's already included free with Studio One). But good reminder that VST = a superset, VI = a subset, and VI engines are wrappers (managers? hosts?) for VIs. And I already am blessed (ugh) with three different VI enginers: UVI for the Bohemian Violin, Play for the East West stuff, and Komplete Kontrol (so I can use my S88 to control stuff in Studio One). Wow, this gets complicated fast.

Good thing I'm reasonably geeky! And that I found this helpful community :)
 

TigerTheFrog

Reid Rosefelt
If you like Bohemian violin, don't forget that Virharmonic also has a cello, with a viola on the way

I would also recommend you explore ujam's products, as they are designed to work the same way. Maybe start with their acoustic bass, Mellow. Everything they sell has a free fully-functional demo that works for 30 days. Everything they sell was half price last black friday.

Remember that everything you might consider buying today will be on sale in November, and that's not so far away. Here's what the deals were like last year.

 

bunja1979

New Member
sennheiser drumica serial number isnt avalable anymore , only the download , but
theres other free kontakt player libaries like keepforest ferrum
, embertone arcane , and the free orchestra by projectsam
but im not sure if they give you the crossgrade
 

doctoremmet

Senior Member
sennheiser drumica serial number isnt avalable anymore , only the download , but
theres other free kontakt player libaries like keepforest ferrum
, embertone arcane , and the free orchestra by projectsam
but im not sure if they give you the crossgrade
Arcane does.
 
OP
ThatAdamGuy

ThatAdamGuy

Reasonably Social Geek
Hey TigerTheFrog, wow, this is the first I've heard of / heard the ujam products; their silk acoustic guitar is indeed silky! And I appreciate they're seemingly one of the few vendors that allows a 30 day trial... nice!

And yeah, good point about the sale. My current thought is to buy some stuff now on a credit card that offers price protection and then file claims later. A minor pain in the ass for me, but I think the artists that make these VIs need the money more than the banks :D.

And doctoremmet, thanks! Debating whether Komplete 13 is worth the $150 difference ($249 vs. $399) vs. just Kontakt alone.
 

doctoremmet

Senior Member
That $150 bucks alone gets you a ridiculous value really! Great synths such as Massive X. And brilliant pianos such as Una Corda and Noire (K13). Drums. A pretty decent factory library. I mean... think about it...
 
OP
ThatAdamGuy

ThatAdamGuy

Reasonably Social Geek
doctoremmet, good point. I don't really need/want most of the stuff in Komplete, but... probably would get at least $150 value :)

And FlyingAndi, appreciate the link but alas... while I loved living in Europe for a bit after grad school and used to visit often, I'm American and live in the U.S.