Anyone Else Think 8dio Adagio Violas Kick Ass?

ism

Senior Member
Sounds to me like certain people (not you, @Land of Missing Parts ) want instant gratification all the time when the fact is that some of the best libraries are all about studying up and applying the tips to that library, so a composer can get past initial impressions and really get something out of that library. You get what you put in. Dismissing something as terrible before you even put any real work into it proves that you really have no interest in making a library your own...let alone in making music. It becomes more of a consumer concern (buy up/throw poop on the wall until something sticks).

Trust me, you don't want to approach any new library in a myopic manner, you are only cheating yourself.


Ok, I guess I'm "certain people".


And I'll first apologize if the above came across as inflammatory - was my intention to be little glib, but not inflammatory or dismissive. Clearly I should have thought that through a little more.

But my question was sincere, designed to give you space to give more details on the brilliance you're finding in the solo viola. And I'm genuinely excited by the possibility that there might be useable expressive capabilities of these solo instruments that I completely missed.



It doesn't sound terrible. People read these threads, let's try to give them decent and helpful info and not scare them with non-specific criticisms.

Ok, so here's a specific criticism - my experience in buying this library and spending months trying to writing with the solo strings is I was never able to write anything that didn't sound terrible. Not just unrealistic, but properly terrible. In fact every time I tried to use the solo string I ended up despondently closing the logic project .

Was this down to my inexperience and lack of skill in midi programming in particular and composition in general? Absolutely, unquestionably, and without any doubt whatsoever.

Was it *only* about my own inadequacy, "mytopia" for "instant gratification", or unwillingness to "put any real work in"?

Well no, actually. Solo strings are complex. How marketing copy represents (or misrepresents) the capacities of a solo strings is complex. How were write about and debate critically about solo strings on vi-c is complex. But also very interesting.


And conversely - I'd really love something more substantive to back up all this "non specific" praise of the solo instruments.

Because note that, in addition to my own - very specific and subjective - experience :

a) in Corey's (very helpful) review he basically dismisses the legato of the solo strings completely.


b) Beyond a few tiny passages on this thread, I've never heard a convincing piece written with 8dio solo strings.


c) While there's individual lines in the 8dio marketing that sound very good, for me personally there's no form of marketing that I trust less that 8dio marketing of solo strings. All marketing should taken with a grain of salt. 8dio solo strings marketing should be taken with large sections of Utah.


d) The only user demo that I know on these pages that attempts an actual composition using 8dio solo strings - is legitimately terrible. I use the word advisedly. And when the composer asks for help the only constructive advice anyone was here able to offer was recommendations for other libraries.



Against this, I do trust and respect the opinions of people like yourself. So I'm only too happy to have my earlier impressions challenged.


So I'm not trying to be negative. I really do think there is something truly wonderful at the heart of the 8dio violas, and I'm really enjoying this thread, which has really encouraged me to revisit the library both with the insights shared here, and with the experience I've gained since I gave up on Adagio in despondency a couple of years ago.


I also think that the price drop fundamentally changes how we can now talk about it as a 'fine brush' library rather that a workhorse. (I maintain my position that this is a *terrible* first library for inexperienced composer though, even at $28).


So its wonderful to hear that people can get these great results with the solo instruments. And I'd really love to hear more, and if anyone can share advice and insight on how to get better results, that would be great.


Anyway, great thread - and again apologies if my earlier comment pushed it in a negative direction. Totally not my intention.


More than that, thanks to this thread I've gone back to the ensemble patches and discovered some really wonderfully - and eminently useable - expressiveness in the ensemble patches that just wasn't able to fully grasp a couple of years ago. And I'd love to be able to do something similar with the solo patches.


But I think the larger issue is the solo strings are just so hard to write about that the default mode of writing about them is inherently 'non-specific'.


So +1 for "decent and helpful" discussion going forward. :)
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
All respect to everyone, but I keep seeing this flashing neon, hot green "RTFM"
To be honest the manual for this library is not all that helpful on the technical side. What it does do is convey something of the flavor of the underlying philosophy of the library and so alerts you to the fact that you will be unlikely to be able to just plop midi on a patch, let it go with perhaps a bit of tweaking, and it will produce good results.
 

poetd

Active Member
@Land of Missing Parts, @jbuhler

Top stuff Gents, and all useful. Thank you! :)


Lets face it - todays newer instruments are geared usually to be great out of the box - and that's just how things are now. Technology moves on and expectations with it.

So to look down upon newer composers who don't have those years of experience, is a little tasteless. imo.


I 100% agree there's some great sounds in the instrument (have mostly been sticking to the dyn sustains so far) - and if you know how to get more out of it than that then share! :)
 

Land of Missing Parts

Grumpy Monkey
my experience in buying this library and spending months trying to writing with the solo strings is I was never able to write anything that didn't sound terrible. Not just unrealistic, but properly terrible. In fact every time I tried to use the solo string I ended up despondently closing the logic project .
Sounded terrible how? Can you be more specific? Maybe someone here can help. :)
 
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ism

Senior Member
All respect to everyone, but I keep seeing this flashing neon, hot green "RTFM"

Sigh. Ok I get it now.

And excellent advice of course.

But can I just suggest that first, you’re actually doing a great job in constructively litigating your point about the brilliance of this library, and I really appreciate it.

But second, that while some frustration and criticism of this library - not least by myself - does come from inexperience and lack of skill. A) it’s not just that, and b) maybe such ignorance might be better treated as an opportunity so reinforce you points via further constructive litigation of your insight.


But, it’s frustraiting, I do get that.
 
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ism

Senior Member
Sounded terrible how? Can you be more specific?
Well it was a couple of years ago, so it hard to be too specific. Partly because I lacked the critical framework at the time to fully understand why what I was writing was so terrible. I’ve been writing a lot about solo strings in these pages, In part because I’ve really put in enormous effort since then do better understand the these instruments and how to approach them.

And I was asking for advice here to presage going back and revisiting in the solo viola in terms of what I’ve learned since.


But I do recall in particular (as Corey says in his review) that the cross fade doesn’t work well. I seem to recall that it’s better on some notes that others, and that this viola is better than the violin.

But the cross fade isn‘t just limited, it’s in some cases completely broken. “4 violas playing out of tune” isn’t really that much of an exaggeration. Modern instrument wouldn’t ship with this kind of phasing. they would either do it better (spitfire, Chris Hein) or the would simply prevent crossfade from happening at all (Joshua Bell). But it’s an old instrument so perhaps this was the state of the art at the time.

think it may also have been that I was trying to play in a style that just wasn’t within, or even close to, the expressive space the instrument is designed for. I tend to really love using the crossfade and crafting the dynamics, for instance.

Again, I was totally clueless at the time. And at least some of these insults being thrown at inexperienced users (and in some sense even this “spitfire fanboy” invective, in that the spitfire approach does happen to align more easily with the expressive spaces I often tend to gravitate towards) , aren’t exactly wrong. If not exactly helpful either.

But debating whether this instrument ‘terrible’ vs ‘not terrible’ is equally unhelpful (and I’m partly guilty of this, so I will again apologize). In that it obscures the particular complexities of solo string instruments.

It this a ‘terrible’ instrument? I have no idea - though people who’s work I respect are arguing that there’s great things to be done with it and I’d like to understand that more.

Have I ever been able to make it sound not terrible - sadly no.

Very different questions of course.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Sigh. Ok I get it now.

And excellent advice of course.

But can I just suggest that first, you’re actually doing a great job in constructively litigating your point about the brilliance of this library, and I really appreciate it.

But second, that while some frustration and criticism of this library - not least by myself - does come from inexperience and lack of skill. A) it’s not just that, no b) maybe such ignorance might be better treated as an opportunity so reinforce you points via further constructive litigation of your insight.


But, it’s frustraiting, I do get that.
The library overall is extremely frustrating. I haven't yet looked at the solo instrument, so can't speak to that, but from my very limited experience with the main instrument, it's clear that this is a complex instrument that does not yield whatever excellent performances might be coaxed from it easily. As you've noted in other threads, solo instruments are extraordinarily limited and at this point developers still have to choose small sweet spots to optimize. So it's certainly possible that whatever the solo instrument is optimized for simply doesn't suit any of the things you tried to get it to do. It's also completely possible that it's not really optimized for anything because 8dio didn't have a good focus on the solo instrument. I do wonder if it has decent arcs just as individual samples, simply because that does seem to be something that 8dio libraries select for, and to my ear those arcs are the best part of the main library.

At the same time and going back to the viola section, all of my viola sections are subpar on legato. I have this 8dio one, SCS, SSS, and Berlin Strings and all of them crash and burn on relatively straightforward legato lines at medium speed. (That reminds me, I need to try the Ark 2 mid strings patch to see if it can handle some of these better.) You don't notice it much when they are doubling another instrument but if you emphasize a certain kind of line, they just don't sound good. It's similar with the second violins, except not quite as pronounced in the latter. I chalk it up in part to developers not prioritizing the legato on violas and second violins.

I was working on a waltz the other night and trying to do the under sixth and octave below doubling with second violin doing the under sixth and the viola the octave below, and it was not pretty because of the sloppiness of the legatos for the second violins and violas. I ran through all my libraries. The SF solo viola did well on it, but everything else was garbage or close to it. Ended up not using the legato at all and converting some of the passage to shorts rather than legato with the solo viola legato serving to stitch it together. <Insert obligatory viola joke.> Sorry to drift off-topic.
 

ism

Senior Member
So it's certainly possible that whatever the solo instrument is optimized for simply doesn't suit any of the things you tried to get it to do. It's also completely possible that it's not really optimized for anything because 8dio didn't have a good focus on the solo instrument.
Exactly. And I'd welcome any insight into how to understand exactly what the sweet spot of solo viola instrument is.
 

sostenuto

Big NKS Fan !
It doesn't sound terrible. People read these threads, let's try to give them decent and helpful info and not scare them with non-specific criticisms.

It's an old library that was steeply discounted. It's got problems: jumps around the stereo field, some intonation issues (opinions vary about how bad this is), some kinks in the legato, it can be difficult to play faster passages. 8dio has an aweful reputation for quality control.

You can get a good sound from it, and a uniquely expressive one at that. There are maybe half a dozen user demos posted on this thread and none of them sound terrible.

Currently it's selling for $88, since the sale is over. I would not recommend that people buy it at this price. For $28, I would recommend it to people, with the caveats mentioned above.

So it's a fixer upper, not terrible.
Ha ha !! :rofl: Luv 'fixer upper' descriptor !
May fit a surprisingly broad range of Libs these days :notworthy:
 

ism

Senior Member
It doesn't sound terrible. People read these threads, let's try to give them decent and helpful info and not scare them with non-specific criticisms.

It's an old library that was steeply discounted. It's got problems: jumps around the stereo field, some intonation issues (opinions vary about how bad this is), some kinks in the legato, it can be difficult to play faster passages. 8dio has an awful reputation for quality control.

You can get a good sound from it, and a uniquely expressive one at that. There are maybe half a dozen user demos posted on this thread and none of them sound terrible.

Currently it's selling for $88, since the sale is over. I would not recommend that people buy it at this price. For $28, I would recommend it to people, with the caveats mentioned above.

So it's a fixer upper, not terrible. Obviously you don't want to pay full price for a fixer upper though.
Incidentally, I do agree with this for the library as a whole. But any tips on specifically how the solo viola is fixer upper?
 

novaburst

Senior Member
Currently it's selling for $88, since the sale is over. I would not recommend that people buy it at this price. For $28
The value of the library is perhaps worth more than $88.00 Yes it has its issues but for every bad note it has you can find 5 good usable notes it really does have a lot of stuff you can use and the truth is as with all library's you will never use all the notes and articulations of the library, it just want happen.

generally we stick around a certain style of music that only require a fraction of what most library's offer.
 

novaburst

Senior Member
Lets face it - todays newer instruments are geared usually to be great out of the box - and that's just how things are now. Technology moves on and expectations with it.
Yes some of todays library's give you the one note wonder, but so does East West HS and that library is old.

As I have mention before the detail and make up of this library seems to be geared towards those that understand how to use real life strings and that can put a novice on the back foot.
 

ism

Senior Member
On the solo viola:

Lots of respect to Troels and Rob for getting some really beautiful lines out of this instrument, and for anyone else who reports great results.


But quickly revisiting the instrument, and putting my initial disappointment through a more critical lens, here’s a list of what I think tripped me up so badly...


I’m going to phrase this negatively, but what I’d really like is a positive version of this that gives some guidance on how to avoid the instrument’s limitations and focus on its strengths. (Because if you don’t understand both the limitations and the strength, and their interactions, that’s when it really becomes a terribly instrument)



1. Phasing in some legato intervals


I incorrectly recalled above that it was phasing in the dynamic layers was the deal breaker (I might have been thinking about the violin).


But it's actually in some of the legato transitions. Notably, noodle about in C in the lowest octave and you’ll find some of the worst example: C -> E is very phasey, A -> G is similarly broken and so on. There are some beautiful legato transitions, particularly higher in the register, and particularly when you play the fast natural legato. But my impression was unhappily formed noodling in mostly in C major, mosty in the lower octaves.


To get good results I think you need to just avoid certain intervals, or find another way to cover up the phasing.

C minor appears to have significantly fewer bad intervals, for instance. So that's one option.




2. No soft dynamics.


My go-to phrasing tends to be to start softly. But this instrument simply doesn’t have a p layer, so what you get is the uncanniness of a mf sample playing at low volume.


What I now realize is this kind of uncanniness just drives me crazy. My fix is that if the instrument doesn’t have p samples, then don’t play p notes.


It particularly drove me crazy at the time, I think, because:


a) I hadn’t quite identified just how much specifically the uncanniness of fake dynamics bothers be (I have similar issues with the Blakus cello, and wrote a script to compress the dynamics of the new spitfire solo strings to avoid even the hint of such uncanniness. So while ymmv, but I’m entirely neurotic about fake dynamics when they crossover into the uncanny).


b) The beautiful demos make excellent use of the beautiful and natural decrescendos baked into the dynamic arcs. But of course baked in beautiful and natural decrescendos doesn’t imply the presence of beautiful and natural crescendos.

Somehow - and this may have been a little naive - this wasn’t completely obvious to me when I bought the instrument.

I think the loveliness of the decrescendos also makes the uncanniness of the fake crescendo just all the much worse.

So good results require not attempting much in the way of crescendos within a single notes.

(Note that in jettisoning the dynamic arcs completely, Anthology's solo strings are suffer immensely by comparison).


3. Sustains are kind of static.


This library is at its best with a) the dynamic arcs (ie progressive vibrato) and b) the fast, natural legatos, especially in the higher registers.


But unless you have a dynamic arc, I really don’t like the sustains. They have a, I don't know almost "machine gunny", static feel (unlike that actual sustains of the library).


Unfortunately, the way the instrument works, the first note is always a sustain.

The fix for this is to write lines that don’t start with a long note. (Which is unfortunately, given that this is how I typically like to start viola lines).




4. Limited ability to craft dynamics of phrasing.


This kind of repeats the above.


But the take away is that to get good results you need to just go with the pre recorded dynamic arcs as much as possible.


Which suggests to me that it would be better to think of the instrument as closer in concept to Virharmonic than, for instance, Spitfire. And accepting that you have little means to satisfactorily craft the opening of a phrase.


My instinct being to go crazy with the mod wheel to try to craft the phrases, well it was always going to sound terrible.



5. Intonation is all over the place.


The tuning issues vary by note.


All the impressive demos are completely solo, where you can just about imagine that the intonation is a kind of expressiveness as opposed to bad tuning.


My experience is that when you put the instruments in context the intonation issue becomes suddenly much more serious. Its possible that this difficulty interacts with the weakness of my mixing skill. But I’ve found it hard to blend.



So the suggestion of manually correcting the intonation ... well maybe ... if there’s enough that the instrument does uniquely well to merit this kind of hassle.


6. bumpy legatos etc

The lib also has some bumpiness in the legatos, same as most libraries. But it's generally not a deal breaker.

So I just want to make the point that a minor limitations in the realism isn't the what makes the instrument difficult, it's these much more fundamental flaws and/or design limitations. Or at least, the failure to understand them properly.



From this, I can now start to see the general shape of the inverse of these limitations - a set of positive principles on how to get the best out of the instrument. But rather that attempt to formulate it myself, maybe this would be an interesting thing to discuss?
 
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ism

Senior Member
Here's a quick experiment with the ensemble violas, which comes in part from thinking about the viola's more like something more along the lines of the Virharmonic model - where central to the performance is selecting the right arc for the moment.

But also I was wondering what would happen if you use a viola line more like I've been using the claire piccolo and alto flutes - which is for lyrical leads. I thing the claire winds would be very difficult to work with as regular orchestral winds, but when you have them up front for a very lyrical moment, they can be very lovely, and you can really use the arcs (on the legato patch) to good effect.



So similarly, here I've laid down some very basic chords with Spitfire studio cellos, and noodled a viola line over top - but exposed enough so that you can really make use of the expressiveness of the various arcs first with the Adagio soft slur, followed by Agitato violas.


The Adagio brings an interesting contrast - it has a slightly harder edge, and yet the gentle articulations, when you ensure they're sufficiently exposed in the mix, have quite a lovely effect.

Haven't corrected the stereo issues which are annoying, but not too severe on these patches.

These are just noodles, with key switching in real time. And there is quite a nice expressiveness in being able to integrate the arcs into a performance.


Tried to do something similar with the solo viola. But I'm sorry to report it sounded quite terrible.
 
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jbuhler

Senior Member
Here's a quick experiment with the ensemble violas, which comes in part from thinking about the viola's more like something more along the lines of the Virharmonic model - where central to the performance is selecting the right arc for the moment.

But also I was wondering what would happen if you use a viola line more like I've been using the claire piccolo and alto flutes - which is for lyrical leads. I thing the claire winds would be very difficult to work with as regular orchestral winds, but when you have them up front for a very lyrical moment, they can be very lovely, and you can really use the arcs (on the legato patch) to good effect.



So similarly, here I've laid down some very basic chords with Spitfire studio cellos, and noodled a viola line over top - but exposed enough so that you can really make use of the expressiveness of the various arcs first with the Adagio soft slur, followed by Agitato violas.


The Adagio brings an interesting contrast - it has a slightly harder edge, and yet the gentle articulations, when you ensure they're sufficiently exposed in the mix, have quite a lovely effect.

Haven't corrected the stereo issues which are annoying, but not too severe on these patches.

These are just noodles, with key switching in real time. And there is quite a nice expressiveness in being able to integrate the arcs into a performance.


Tried to do something similar with the solo viola. But I'm sorry to report it sounded quite terrible.
Some lovely sounds in your rendition of the Adagio violas in particular. It's not just that the legato is bumpy, though, but also that the number of choices make it somewhat complicated to control. This is what I was noticing in messing around with the solo viola last night. You can get quite good things out of it in its sweet spot, but it takes a lot of shifting and sorting among the articulations and patches. The solo viola is a bit simpler than the main library in this respect because it has far fewer alternatives, but it's still a lot to keep straight and the library doesn't help matters. For instance, I found I had to balance the patches before I even started to ensure they matched at the same point of the modwheel. And the solo instrument has bad notes on some patches/articulations so you have to avoid those and use a different one. The number of patches/articulations for the main instrument are quite a lot higher, increasing complexity even further. All of that makes the instrument quite cumbersome compared to newer instruments that automate through scripting a lot of the switching you have to do manually on this one. Of course that automation brings a loss as well as a gain, and maybe what you say about the SF solo strings applies to this library as well: it is flexible enough that it allows the instrument to sound bad if you ask it to do something that is outside its sweet spot, but that seeming negative is actually just a consequence of the degree of choice that it allows. I think that we would both agree that the SF solo instrument manage this tradeoff much better (hardly surprising given that the SF library is both much newer and a dedicated solo library), but it does speak to a kind of affinity on this narrow point, even though 8dio and SF seem to me to otherwise have radically different approaches to sampling in general.
 
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