Comparison between a few strings libraries - including BBC SO

josejherring

Senior Member
Interesting and cool how tastes differ here. For this short piece BBCSO is my favourite, just because of the gorgeous sound. Cinematic Studio Strings and Spitfire Chamber Strings I do not care for much here (though I love CSS for other things).

Jose, about the gaps in the legato transitions, I have a suspicion where this comes from. Some of the instruments have an 'extended legato' patch, where you can perform legato and shorts on the same patch. I think it's something that Andy Blaney programs if I'm not mistaken. For some instruments this patch is very good. For other instruments, the normal legato patch, which is hidden and not active by default, sounds much better to me. You have to be careful when programing and choose the right option.
Makes sense. BBCSO. I want to believe. I'm a weird one in that I actually like the sound of BBCSO more than SSO. But, the SSO demos are so much more musical. I don't know what my first Spitfire library will be yet, but I have a feeling that price will dictate some of my decision. I may just start with core and see where that goes, but I find that lack of bass clarinet in core disturbing.

Btw I know that you didn't post any SSO demos, I'm just mostly thinking out loud.
 
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Mike T

Boring Member
It's definitely true that Andy's performance patches require either really careful playing, or editing after the fact. They're quite flexible, but I'm still a little mystified by how to get the best out of them consistently.
 

markleake

Recovering sale addict
BBCSO does have a very nice tone and spaciousness to the sound. But I like L&S Chamber here better, it does a much better job at the legatos. A a very different tone to BBCSO, but I like it. Better than CSS or SCS here.

The transitions in BBCSO are just so unnatural to me. I wouldn't like my players to play like that. It stands out much more than the tone of the library.
 

Shad0wLandsUK

Senior Member
It's all HO except ww which are EWQLSO.

Edit: i just remembered I ended up switching to EWQLSO basses for the pizz. The HO basses just don't have that round low end.
Are you looking forward to the release of HO Opus and the the reworked libraries? :)
I read Nick Phoenix' post on here about the work they have put into it...

Sounds tantalising, but most of all because I have Composer Cloud Plus (which I just renewed for less on the deal they had recently)
 

josejherring

Senior Member
Are you looking forward to the release of HO Opus and the the reworked libraries? :)
I read Nick Phoenix' post on here about the work they have put into it...

Sounds tantalising, but most of all because I have Composer Cloud Plus (which I just renewed for less on the deal they had recently)
I am looking forward to it for sure. I'm not sure I'll get composer cloud. If I'm renting I prefer the rent to own program, because I hold on to my libraries for a long, long time. Seriously, I'll probably die with a copy of HO on whatever future hard drive I have.
 

Cathbad

Active Member
BBCSO does have a very nice tone and spaciousness to the sound. But I like L&S Chamber here better, it does a much better job at the legatos. A a very different tone to BBCSO, but I like it. Better than CSS or SCS here.

The transitions in BBCSO are just so unnatural to me. I wouldn't like my players to play like that. It stands out much more than the tone of the library.
Agreed. BBCSO transitions sound uneven and clunky enough to put me off this library permanently. Intonation in SCS really makes my skin crawl. Both libraries have a lovely basic sound, but I couldn't contemplate using them with those faults. It's a shame.

CSS sounds a little more veiled, not quite as bright and open. But nothing in the performance sticks out negatively to my ear. Same with 8Dio, although I find the sound a tiny bit metallic.

My favourite is actually LSCS (which is just as well because I bought it this week on the OP's recommendation after hearing some of his music). Clear and naturalistic sound that I'll enjoy using in chamber orchestra writing I'm sure.
 
OP
muk

muk

Senior Member
Hey @Cathbad, I'm glad that you're liking Light & Sound Chamber Strings if you bought them on my suggestion :)
 

josejherring

Senior Member
I'm getting set to pull the trigger on BBCSO then all of a sudden a further limitation pops up which makes me pause. I hear there are limited velocity layers in BBCSO which for me is kind of a kiss of death as limited dynamic range leads to expressionless mockups.

Can anybody confirm this for fact? Like what are the layers for each section?
 

Cat

Active Member
I'm getting set to pull the trigger on BBCSO then all of a sudden a further limitation pops up which makes me pause. I hear there are limited velocity layers in BBCSO which for me is kind of a kiss of death as limited dynamic range leads to expressionless mockups.

Can anybody confirm this for fact? Like what are the layers for each section?
Yes, sadly this is true, bbcso has a very low dynamic layers count. The longs never exceed two layers of dynamics. Strings do have another 2 with vibrato (so 2 dyn layers per se, each coming in 2 flavours, with and without vibrato). It’s ridiculous!
 

josejherring

Senior Member
Yes, sadly this is true, bbcso has a very low dynamic layers count. The longs never exceed two layers of dynamics. Strings do have another 2 with vibrato (so 2 dyn layers per se, each coming in 2 flavours, with and without vibrato). It’s ridiculous!
Oh man, deal breaker :(
 

markleake

Recovering sale addict
My favourite is actually LSCS (which is just as well because I bought it this week on the OP's recommendation after hearing some of his music). Clear and naturalistic sound that I'll enjoy using in chamber orchestra writing I'm sure.
Totally agree.

I think LSCS are very underrated. I've had them for years, but only started using them more recently. I think I was put off a bit by not knowing how to use the mics so well. But now I've rediscovered them, so to speak.

The basses (bass?) are a bit weak, but otherwise the tone and clarity of them is pretty amazing. They did such a good job with their v2 update, it really does compare well against other libs. I wish there were more shorts though.
 
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Mike T

Boring Member
Oh man, deal breaker :(
This is something that would typically turn me away as well. However....

As always, expression can give you some more "dynamic range." But beyond that, while the basic long patches might feel constrained, the flautandos/sul tastos/marcato attack longs in the strings, and the cuivre in the brass still allow for a wide spectrum of dynamics. You just don't have the full spectrum on a single patch that can be crossfaded up and down from ppp to fff.

Frustrating, but when weighed against everything that's excellent about the library, and the workarounds, I couldn't let it be a dealbreaker.
 

Gingerbread

Active Member
To me, Light & Sound seemed the most natural. And interestingly, the Jake Jackson mix for BBCSO sounded the least good, to my ears.

I'm actually curious about the woodwinds. What are they from?
 
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Robert_G

Senior Member
My main string libs are CSS and Light & Sound. Love them both, but I noticed recently that I'm reaching for Light and Sound more than CSS for a lot of the stuff I do.
 

Stringtree

Active Member
So we have the name brand that's obviously good, at a steep discount now but not at an historic low.

And then there's this underdog that so many of you are vouching for, LSCS.

I've listened, listened again, and again, and again. So this thingy is $150. As opposed to whatever the name brand is today. The one that even they say is their favorite.

I just got the SSS and it's much maligned. But honestly, it was a real pleasure playing a completely professional-level sample library.

Maybe the smaller stuff could be handled by SLCS. So many good voices I like, saying it's good.

I'm just letting the popcorn dissolve in my mouth, piece by piece, so I don't disturb this excellent discussion. I will be quiet now, and probably buy both when I have the chance, so I can decide.

It's sort of a life's mission to obtain the SCS.

Greg
 

markleake

Recovering sale addict
I just got the SSS and it's much maligned. But honestly, it was a real pleasure playing a completely professional-level sample library.
I do love SSS. It has been a keeper for me since the day I got it, and I've not let go of it despite getting other libs since. It can't do some things so well (any library has it's limits), but there's plenty it can do well, and there are so many articulations included.

My secret sauce is to double it with other libraries to lift the legato, or make it sound more detailed, etc.
 
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muk

muk

Senior Member
Can confirm that there are not enough dynamic layers. The homepage states 'up to 3'. I hear two in most cases. Something like mezzopiano and forte. This works well for woodwinds. For the strings there is the workaround that @miket mentioned. I am using the flautando patches as the pianissimo layer. This works surprisingly well. The flautandos do have that beautiful fragility that is typical for pianissimi. For the brass it's a real problem. This section suffers the most in my opinion. There is a separate cuivré patch, that does that brassy top dynamic layer. Problem is, on the normal longs and the legato patch, that same brassyness kicks in way too early, at around halfway up on the modwheel. So there is simply not enough range and timbral differentation.

As to the dynamic range, that is something you'll have to experiment with. For my taste it is not large enough when only using cc1. But you can easily increase it by using cc11 as well.

I'm actually curious about the woodwinds. What are they from?
In the BBCSO example they are from BBCSO, obviously. In all the other examples they are VSL Woodwinds.