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Does Hollywood Choirs Hold Up?

Discussion in 'REVIEWS' started by Cory Pelizzari, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. arznable

    arznable Member

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    Despite the word builder is "uncomfortable to use" and "is kind of a gimmick", it is the only choir library that is capable of doing mockup like this in the market. Am I correct? Thanks for input.

     
  2. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    As far as I know, it's the only one that gives you full flexibility like this and is not impossibly clumsy. I say, "as far as I know," because I already have four or five choir libraries so I'm not exactly combing the market for new ones.

    The two big benefits to the new word builder are

    1. that the syllables "land" where the music is written better -- less shifting around to winkle them into their correct spots -- and

    2. the library being recorded with less hall sound significantly improves clarity as well.

    It's not the only word builder, but I have tried at least one other and it is ten times more cumbersome.

    I still use the old Symphonic Choirs as well. It has much more hall sound and for some settings that's great.

    [note: I have received free products from East West]
     
  3. SyMTiK

    SyMTiK Christopher B.

    Yes, it is one of the few libraries capable of theoretically typing in whatever words you want into it. I found however, that though it works sometimes and sounds convincing, other times it just sounds awkward, and takes many hours of painstakingly adjusting every single syllable to get something even remotely close to decent sounding. Even after all that, it still does not sound totally convincing, and I just find it to be a waste of time in that regard for me personally. If I have specific words in mind for a piece, I would much rather make a mockup with vowels, write the words, then record an actual choir to sing my piece.

    Dont get me wrong it is definitely awesome fun trying to get a realistic performance out of Hollyword Choirs with the wordbuilder, but in practice i just seriously never find myself using it, and if i want to use pre baked syllables or vowels and legato patches, there are much better sounding choirs on the market for the asking price of Hollywood Choirs.

    Even in the example you posted, the syllables are still rather “off” sounding to my ears, and as someone who has sung in choirs for years, it just totally takes me out of it. I have found that pre recorded syllables sound so much more convincing than what word builder tries to do, because when recording full syllables and words, you capture more of the very fine details of the human voice as to how we pronounce things. Trying to emulate this the way wordbuilder does gets close, but even the slightest imperfection will turn the listener off, because humans can distinguish what is and is not a human voice remarkably well.

    If you like it thats great, i just personally do not find it to be a good enough sounding choir for the price compared to the competition, and i just think that the word builder is a cool concept but ultimately I just dont find myself using it because its too awkward to use, and I know many others who feel the same. And others who dont as well, i know some people who love having a wordbuilder option and there are some people who put in great amount of time trying to create convincing performances with it.

    If you like it thats great! For me I just didnt dig it.
     
  4. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    Well, we disagree. I've had a lot of music sung by a real choir and their intelligibility is not necessarily better.

    Plus, if you don't like their performance you are stuck with it (vibrato etc.). When you are in school, you can rehearse a bit more and it doesn't necessarily cost anything. By contrast, when you are recording live in a commercial situation, sometimes because of budget or schedule you have to live with something you don't like.

    Just because the way choirs are, it can be a lot trickier with choir to get exactly what you want than the rest of the orchestra. They tire in the same way brass can, if you are rehearsing a single spot that's a strain for them; one mistake is quite audible (usually) unlike with a similar-sized string section where it can be less conspicuous.

    I too have sung in choirs for many years and I recognize that there is some kinds of music that would be pretty much impossible to bring off with any choir library. Coincidentally, one of the professional singers I work with just emailed me a very cool piece she wrote that includes all kinds of unusual syllables and vocalizations that I don't think could be done electronically.

    That said, I just added a choir bit in some music for Netflix that took minutes, not hours, with Hollywood Choirs. It sounds great, is on the beat, and is actually amazingly convincing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
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  5. pmcrockett

    pmcrockett Senior Member

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    The problem I've most often heard with people's Hollywood Choirs use is that even aside from any votox programming snags, people tend not to have much of a sense of phrasing and overall musical cohesion. This is a problem in sampled instruments in general, and it's especially a problem in Hollywood Choirs because there's so much detail work involved that it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. But it's ultimately a user problem as much as a library problem; it can be worked around if you know what you're doing, but it's not an out-of-the-box thing.

    Honestly, people's focus on out-of-the-box sound for HC baffles me. Why use the library at all if you're not going to take the time to learn it? Like, I get that EastWest needs to make sales and therefore needs to emphasize how easy it is to get fast results in order to appeal to the largest possible userbase, but the result of this marketing emphasis seems to be that a lot of potential buyers expect miracles and end up disappointed by the fact that synthesizing an intelligible human voice, much less doing it in a way that is musically satisfactory, is actually a whole lot of work. You have to know what a choir ought to sound like, be good at audio editing, be good with sampled instruments in general, and be patient enough to sit through the whole editing process. Falling short in any of those areas can tank the whole thing. It's a tall order.

    The three best quick tips I can give for votox editing are that consonants are too loud by default; you almost always need to blend multiple vowels together; and unless you're doing fff trailer music sorts of stuff, your vowels, rather than starting at the default full volume, should usually be faded in, reaching full volume somewhere between 200 and 750 ms. Oh, and a fourth -- edit with reverb turned off.
     
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  6. Divico

    Divico Senior Member

    Unfortunately not. I think the WB is capable of quite a lot buuuutt you need to dig in and make sure every sylable sounds the way you want it to sound. Typing in votox is the first step, adjusting length and volume of letters the second one
     
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  7. Sosimple88

    Sosimple88 A way of life

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    I played with Hollywood Choirs during their demo contest. For the time I had it, I found it quite easy to get clear english sentences for what I tried.
     
  8. SyMTiK

    SyMTiK Christopher B.

    My assessment was a bit too harsh, been a bit stressed lately from school with exams and projects at the end of the semester so I was in a bit of a ranty mood haha. My apologies.

    To be fair I probably haven’t truly used it enough to give a fair assessment, I think im just a bit more biased to Strezov’s choirs because I have used Storm Choir II forever now and have grown very fond of its sound and ease of use. I do think Hollywood Choirs sounds great, but I don’t know that its worth the full $800 (its at $600 right now on sale though which may be worth it to some, probably worth getting a month of composer cloud to try it first). As part of Composer Cloud though it is MORE than worth it (which is how i have it)

    I probably just need to put in more time to learn the wordbuilder honestly
     
    JohnG likes this.
  9. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    I like Strezov's sound too, based on the demos. It sounds as though you think it's very easy to use, which is a plus. I have wondered whether it has a wide range of applications beyond the initial release, which sounded great but was pretty clearly focused on the "Storm" thing. For that though it sounded excellent to me in the demos.
     
    SyMTiK likes this.
  10. SyMTiK

    SyMTiK Christopher B.

    Storm Choir II itself is definitely a bit more focused on big and loud. It can do softer stuff, but its not its main purpose so there are libraries that definitely do it better. Wotan and Freyja though seem to be a bit more versatile judging from videos and demos. I would love to get my hands on either of them at some point, they sound fantastic, but they're a bit out of my price range for something I don't necessarily need at the moment. Perhaps they'll change my mind next time they have a big sale :P
     
  11. Illico

    Illico Samuel Le Tonquèze

    Like all libraries, it needs a learning time to be able to use it at 100%. EWHC is part of it with the WBuilder.
    I also quickly used it during the contest, it was quite easy.
    The only weak point from my point of view is the lack of a real slur-legato.
     
  12. arznable

    arznable Member

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    Hi John, thanks so much for your helpful comments. By the way, I thought Symphonic Choirs and Hollywood Choirs are the only libraries that have flexible word builders like this. Can I ask what is the other one that you tried?

    Thanks for comments as well Chris, really appreciate it. I am asking this question because I am thinking if the $399 investment worth it or not. Just want to get more opinions like yours to make a more informed decision. Your honest review are very helpful, thanks. By the way, went to your soundcloud webpage, and I have to say your compositions are so cool and great! And the 8Dio "Laurie" is a great sounding library as well!

    I see, thanks Divico. I will take this into account when making my crossgrade decision.
     
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  13. SyMTiK

    SyMTiK Christopher B.

    Thanks so much! Really appreciate that.

    For $400 I think its definitely a worthy consideration, as at that price point it is a good deal cheaper than a lot of other options on the market. If youre truly set on a word builder then Id definitely say go for it. However if youre open to libraries with pre recorded syllables, id suggest taking a look at FluffyAudio Dominus Choir and Strezov Wotan and Freyja. Dominus is $380 so at that price it’s probably a more equal comparison, and it truly sounds fantastic from what I’ve heard. I sadly don’t have it but I do know it gets a lot of praise. Wotan and Freyja as a bundle go for $550 so definitely more expensive than Hollywood Choirs but definitely an option to consider. They do have a rather particular sound (very Lord of the Rings sounding) but if you love that sound theres no library thats gonna do it better. In this regard Hollywood Choirs probably proves slightly more versatile, as the sound is much more “neutral” if thats the right word.
     
  14. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    I'll PM you.
     
  15. X-Bassist

    X-Bassist Senior Member

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    Thanks for the review Cory! This is why I rarely buy an East West Library on release, I can never seem to find a review or walkthrough that is honest and just plays through the library. It’s always a glowing review or a video playing highly tweaked midi tracks. I really appreciate your honesty and bare bones, not getting paid off, review. :) Ironically after watching it I still love the sound, even without a great legato, and am interested in the multiple mic positions, but may wait for a sale that brngs it down to a more realistic cost. Thanks again!
     
  16. arznable

    arznable Member

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    Thanks Chris. The choir libraries that you mentioned are all really good. Dominus Choir sounded very classical and is really great at more lyrical pieces, but it is not aimed for epic and loud trailer pieces. Wotan and Freyja, as you mentioned, have a wonderful LOTR sound, just amazing. Storm Choir 2 is great for epic trailer sounds, but the lyrical side is a bit weak I think. Hollywood Choirs is kind of in the middle and quite versatile. It seems each choir library has its own sound and specific use. Try to find a single library that ruled them all is not quite possible.

    Also, not sure if you have noticed or not, Spitfire will be releasing a choir library soon as well. I am quite excited about it. I think it will sound like Dominus just by judging from its trailers and the limited info from the website.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018 at 12:50 PM
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  17. SyMTiK

    SyMTiK Christopher B.

    I did notice, I'm very curious to see what it will be like. No doubt I think it is going to be more in line with Dominus. They're working with Eric Whitacre and knowing his music and Spitfire's particular sound, I'm sure it will be more aimed at doing quieter, more detailed stuff. I'm sure its going to sound beautiful though!

    I am mostly curious about what type of interface it will be, if it's going to have a word builder like East West, or a syllable/phrase library like Dominus and Strezov's Choirs. We'll just have to wait and see! ;) I'm sure it will be pricey though
     
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  18. arznable

    arznable Member

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    Yes, that's for sure. That's why I only buy their stuff when they are on sale, like the Black Friday sale, Christmas sale, etc. I also took advantage on the Tundra sale earlier this year. By the way, Tundra is just amazing! I love it!
     
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  19. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    right here: http://www.soundsonline.com/hollywood-choirs

    Scroll down and select, "Watch the Walkthrough"

    Nick almost always does this for their libraries.
     
  20. Sosimple88

    Sosimple88 A way of life

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    For Wordbuilder, there is the Virhamonic choirs libraries.
     

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