Best Chinese Instrument libraries 2019?

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Here's where I stand on the Pipa after a half hour or so of comparing what I have vs. the two I don't (using their on-line demos), and a bit more annotation of known features:

Pipa (Chinese Lute)
  1. Sound Magic Laurel Pipa (Kontakt) — 15 categories; 60 variations
  2. Ample China Pipa (Ample Sound Engine) — 11 articulations
  3. EW Silk: China: Pipa (String) (Play) — 19 articulations
  4. UVI World Suite: Fretted String: Pipa (UVI Workstation) — 13 articulations
  5. Garritan World Instruments (ARIA)
The quality of the Pipa in Silk is way better than I remembered, with lots of flexibility, but in my view a very non-ideal interface for dealing with such an instrument.

The Sound Magic audio demos sound similar to Silk, and it's twice as big due to more variations, so I think I'll go with that now, and keep Sample Sound's "cleaner" and more distant/ambient sounding library as an alternative if I'm not thrilled buy the one from Sound Magic.

The one from Ample Sound is four times as large as the one from Sound Magic, partly due to having two editions (simple and advanced). I don't really know what all of those symbols in the lower left mean; presumably these are available articulations. I don't know what Sound Magic's interface looks like, or if they are Kontakt based or standalone. I would go for Kong Chinee if available on macOS.
 
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Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I like Er Hu a bit better than I thought, after listening to the Sound Magic demos again. So I went back to what I already have, and found that Silk's is nicely recorded (though perhaps a bit TOO clean), with many articulations, but not a good interface for this sort of instrument.

Er Hu (Erhu/Chinese Violin/Plectrum Violin)
  1. Sound Magic China Story Erhu (Kontakt)
  2. EW Silk: China: Er Hu (Bowed String) (Play) — 24 articulations
  3. EW Ra: Far East: Bowed: Erhu (Play) — 16 articulations
  4. Ethno World: Bowed Instruments: Erhu (Kontakt) — too raspy
  5. UVI World Suite: Stringed: Er Hu (UVI Workstation) — too raspy; 6 articulations
  6. Garritan World Instruments (ARIA)

The others are too dirty, but Sound Magic's seems to strike a good balance, so I'll buy it tonight.
 
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Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
It took a couple of hours of deep research and cross-referencing and comparisons of sound, to figure all of this out, but this is my revised chart of Dizi choices, which, uh, made me dizzy. :)

Dizi (Chinese Transverse Bamboo Flute)
  1. Sound Magic Bamboo Dreams: Long Dizi
  2. Sound Magic Bamboo Dreams: Short Dizi — Koudi
  3. Spitfire Andy Findon Kitbag: Chinese Bamboo Flute (Kontakt) — Dadi; C3 to C5; 10 articulations
  4. Spitfire Andy Findon Kitbag: Chinese Membrane Flute (Kontakt) — Xiao Di; F4 to G6; 8 articulations
  5. EW Silk: China: Dizi Large (Wind) (Play) — Dadi; C3 to D5; 9 articulations
  6. EW Silk: China: Dizi Small (Wind) (Play) — Qu Di; B3 to C6; 10 articulations
  7. EW Ra: Far East: Wind: Dizi (Play) — Qu Di; C4 to B5; 11 articulations
  8. Bela D Media Anthology 2: Spiritual Wind: Dizi (Kontakt) — Qu Di; A3 to C6; BC support
  9. Eduardo Tarilonte's Epic World: Instruments: Low Dizi (Engine) — Qu Di; Extended Range (G2 to C6)
  10. Garritan World Instruments: Winds: China: Di-zi (ARIA) — Extended Range
Until I buy them and download/install/try, I won't know the note ranges of the Sound Magic libraries.

I'm torn between Spitfire and Silk, as the latter MIGHT be deeper but is a bit too clean and doesn't have a workflow that I enjoy compared to Spitfire's. It took me a long time to conclude the identities of the two from Andy Findon. Too airy and overblown to likely be a cleaner Xiao type flute.

The two Tarilonte libraries use sample-stretching, so I don't trust them overall, but the older Spiritual Wind anthology appears to have more articulations if one gets into the scripting.

Here's a good resource for the note ranges of the various members of the Dizi family:


This appears to be put together with C3 as Middle C, which is how most of us in the US name our notes even though the scientific standard (and the primary basis in Europe) is to use C4.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Assuming once again that Sound Magic is the king (for dual platform choices) of Bawu, here's my update for current choices (not including ones I sold, which I refuse to rank out of respect).

Bawu (Chinese Wind)
  1. Sound Magic Bamboo Dreams: Bawu
  2. Ilya Efimov Bawu (Kontakt) — B2 to F#4; 4 unique articulations, plus combinations
  3. Ethno World: Woodwind and Brass: Bawu (Kontakt) — B2 to F4; 10 articulations
  4. EW Silk: China: Bawu (Wind) (Play) — B2 to A4; 5 articulations
  5. Garritan World Instruments (ARIA)
The one in Silk is pretty bad; my memory was faulty. And also not very flexible. Yet the one in Ethno World is quite advanced for a large library that doesn't focus on such instruments. I haven't really gotten to where I fully understand Efimov's yet, at the same level as Ethno World's, but look forward to the one from Sound Magic, if I receive product keys soon.
 

tcb

New Member
As a Chinese I am happy that Chinese instrumentsare are mentioned.They are good instruments~

I am a Dizi and Xiao player.They are our traditional flutes.They have almost same fingering.But they sounds very differently.Dizi have a membrane covers a hole in its body.The membrane enhances the vibration of Dizi and makes it sounds uniquely.Dizi is much brighter and louder than Xiao.Usually Xiao is longer than Dizi so its range is about a octave lower than Dizi.

They are more than 12 different keys Dizi and Xiao,although they can play all semitones.Actually it is more than 12 Dizi and Xiao.Short Dizi likes piccolo,whereas long Dizi likes basson.Their price is very low(In China a 50$ Dizi/Xiao is very good)
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
TCB, thanks so much for your input -- it reinforces which references are accurate (if incomplete) and which are not, amongst the sources some of us found out of desperation to learn more about these instruments. And it also adds a lot of first-hand knowledge that helps even further.

I did find with that one link I posted, that gave good descriptions of several of the "voicings" within the Dizi family, that they are highly affordable, even for good quality, so I may order one, once I decide my preferred initial voicing. And thanks for clarifying that the membrane is common vs. rare, as that wasn't clear from some sources and I think not all libraries included it (i.e. the ones that are too "clean" sounding).
 

TigerTheFrog

Froganthropist
The GarageBand Chinese instruments are fun to play. You can't beat a touch interface. I believe that the sounds are modeled, as I don't think you could get these effects through sampling.









They also have a Koto and set of Taikos. They don't come with a regular Garageband download, you have to request them. But there's no extra charge.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
In case it got lost in the noise, I want to reiterate (as there's a sale of 50% that ends today) that the Wavesfactory Gu Zheng includes an eBow articulation! I tried it out last night and it's "unique". :)

Not for everyone, but I also enjoy using a "bowed" Vibraphone now and then. Anyway, I will reach for my Wavesfactory library when I want something a bit experimental like that.
 

tcb

New Member
TCB, thanks so much for your input -- it reinforces which references are accurate (if incomplete) and which are not, amongst the sources some of us found out of desperation to learn more about these instruments. And it also adds a lot of first-hand knowledge that helps even further.

I did find with that one link I posted, that gave good descriptions of several of the "voicings" within the Dizi family, that they are highly affordable, even for good quality, so I may order one, once I decide my preferred initial voicing. And thanks for clarifying that the membrane is common vs. rare, as that wasn't clear from some sources and I think not all libraries included it (i.e. the ones that are too "clean" sounding).
I tried membranes from different companys.They usually made of reed and are very cheap(1$ is enough 1year).The challenge is to appropriately paste it.Menbranes are fragile.And paste too loose or tight both make Dizi sounds bad.
Here is an example.
There is a trick to appropriately paste it:Before pasting,roll membrane into a small ball,then flatten it.
Last,membranes have lines(textures?),usually we paste it vertical to Dizi body.

And we don't use glue.We use a “donkey-hide gelatin 阿胶(ejiao)”(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey-hide_gelatin).Garlic's juice is another choose.Gralic
is easy to find in Chinese kitchen(But it is somewhat pungent)
timg.jpeg
 
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Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Very helpful; thanks for such a detailed post.

My first Armenian Ney arrives in a few days, and that will help me judge how eager I am to take on the Xiao and/or Dizi. I've had a bit of trouble retaining what I learn on the Andean Quenas though.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
It's fairly time-consuming to download, install, and authorize the full suite of Sound Magic products, and then to ascertain the exact articulations that are supported, and it will be a few days before I can finish the job.

For now, I'll just make clear that the Pipa and Erhu are Kontakt instruments (they have standalone versions as well, but those are out of date) and the others are all hosted by Neo Orchestra (a custom sampling host).

What little I've done with them all so far, impresses me in terms of recording quality and depth, so I have no regrets over the $307 spent. I am pretty confident these are each best-in-class, and I especially wanted the Chinese Harp, which no one else has sampled.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I feel like I've been there before, a couple of years ago (maybe), when someone was asking for sources that might be able to form a Korean Orchestra (and work well together). Might have been a different forum though. A quick scan of that link is impressive regarding coverage. Not sure of the vintage, or depth.