Does owning too many libraries slow your progress?

MillsMixx

Production Director/Sound Designer
Looking back over the years I see I've purchased so many libraries that it almost seems to the point of ridiculous. At times this forum has been a avenue of feeding my GAS, plugins, and library addictions. And while I've made a new year's resolution for 2020 to not buy anymore and just use what I've acquired over of the years, I ask others if they feel if owning too many libraries slow you down from creating music?

I look back and think to myself really now, how many string libraries do I really need? I hate to see my hard earned money go to waste on previous compulsive purchases so lately I've been giving myself a challenge for each composition like "Pick 5 libraries and challenge yourself to only use those tools", Pick 5 other libraries for the next one, etc..."

Of course if you own an entire series like all Spitfire or OT it would make sense to keep the sound in the same hall.
Still I wonder if others too discover being bogged down by too many choices keeps them from actually making music.
Sadly sometimes it's easy for us to just to sit around and watch tutorials and all the cool new stuff that comes out and hit the purchase button rather than write a piece.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
I look back and think to myself really now, how many string libraries do I really need?
All of them. No, seriously, there are few libraries that are completely useless or redundant, but you are right that complexity increases as the number of libraries increases, and both complexity and choice can in turn be quite paralyzing. On the other hand, collecting and organizing libraries can become its own thing with its own logic and its own rewards and joys.

Sadly sometimes it's easy for us to just to sit around and watch tutorials and all the cool new stuff that comes out and hit the purchase button rather than write a piece.
That's the fundamental dynamic that drives GAS, no? the belief that the barrier to our creativity is the lack of tool rather than something more intrinsic to the self, and every purchase is therefore indulging at some level our personal fantasy that we can buy our way out of creative blocks and comfort our previous failures to be productive. I mean that's not the whole of why anyone buys libraries, of course; for most it's not even most of why (one does need some tools, some instruments after all) but it seems to me that it is always present, and it is the basis for the desire around which the economy of virtual instruments circulates.

I do like your exercise of choosing a limited set of libraries and saying, Go!
 

playz123

Senior Member
The advantage of having so many libraries is being able to choose the one that works best for a particular composition. The disadvantage of having so many libraries is having to spend the time to select which one works best. :) I recently made a comprehensive list of all my libraries, listed in individual categories (e.g. Electric Bass, Acoustic Bass, Orchestral Bass etc.), which I have found assists greatly when searching. Reminders never hurt. Otherwise it's easy to overlook a library on occasion or forget I even have it. :) The hardest collection of libraries to manage are the ones with Risers, Baams, Hits, motion sounds, cinematic effects, transitions etc. For those a good 'library' program is essential. Otherwise one can spend days just trying to find that one perfect sound that works in context.
 
I have dozens (hundreds?) of effects and sound libraries. My problem is not so much that this slows down my progress, but that such a great number of them sit unused after purchase. Many plugins I've purchased over time have never been installed or activated. I've even had a few apps lose support before I ever opened them.

The problem, as I see it, is that most of us on VI-Control have a vast imagination, and this taps into our desires for (purportedly) enhanced flexibility and productivity, endless tonal colors, as well as a quest for sheer exoticism.

"Aha! Now this app is finally going to enable me to create the music I've always wanted!"

Even when I install and activate an app, I constantly underestimate how much time it will take to truly learn it. Many apps have manuals that are hundreds of pages long – which can equate to tens of thousands of pages of material to read if you have a large library of instruments and effects.

So, what usually happens with me is that I give a cursory scan of a manual and then try to wing it – never fully realizing the app's potential. Throw in the endless options and flexibility with every modern DAW and...well...it's nearly impossible to keep up.

One final observation, I often purchase sound libraries or effects that I really don't need because I want to support the developer who makes them. This isn't pure altruism, since I want the developer to stay in business to support their apps that I already use.

There are so many psychological issues at play when we GAS for new instruments, both physical and virtual. The greatest challenge is separating fantasy from reality.
 
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NekujaK

Searching for the Lost Chord
Over the years, I've accumulated an overwhelmingly large amount of sound (libraries, synths, samples) and effects plugins. If I wade into that big sea of stuff and try to make sense of it while I'm composing/producing, it will quickly lead to analysis paralysis, frustration, and indecision.

So periodically, I go thru all my libraries and plugins, and deliberately designate which will be my primary go-to tools. I make an agreement with myself that these primary tools will form "the sound of my studio", and these tools then earn a place in my DAW templates. When I go to work on a production, I generally restrict myself to what's in the templates, otherwise I would go stark raving mad from too many choices. Of course, if there's a need for a special effect or sound that isn't represented in a template, I'll certainly go fetch it.

If there's no time pressure (hah) and I just want to noodle around, then I'll open a blank canvas and start pulling in libraries and effects that I'm less familiar with or don't use frequently, just to change things up. But when I absolutely need to be productive, I'd rather rely on what I know works, and not be burdened with having to make lots of miniscule plugin decisions every step of the way.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Even when I install and activate an app, I constantly underestimate how much time it will take to truly learn it. Many apps have manuals that are hundreds of pages long – which can equate to tens of thousands of pages of material to read if you have a large library of instruments and effects.

So, what usually happens with me is that I give a cursory scan of a manual and then try to wing it – never fully realizing the apps potential. Throw in the endless options and flexibility with every modern DAW and...well...it's nearly impossible to keep up.
This is true but many of the manuals are also not very complete, and you discover undocumented capabilities by accident or by watching someone on a walkthrough.
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
Technically yes, it does slow down my progress, but in a good way for the reason playz123 mentioned above.

For example, I might start a project with one VI library, and then play back the track using other libraries to see which sounds best. This takes a little time to accomplish — time I wouldn't be spending if I only had one library — but the end result is a better production, so to me, having multiple libraries is worth progressing at a slower pace.
 

InLight-Tone

Senior Member
I think so but having a few of the major food groups is probably wise. I think a lot of people buy libraries to stimulate themselves into writing tracks...
 

RobbertZH

Member
Still I wonder if others too discover being bogged down by too many choices keeps them from actually making music.
Depends on the instrument in question.

Especially those instruments with hundreds or thousands of presets, it takes way too much time to listen to the presets and making a catalog of favorite presets so that I can find a sound when I need it. And if instead I just open various instruments looking for an appropriate (synth) lead synth sound to a piece I wrote, it takes too much time to find the most fitting sound: opening instrument, playing 200 different lead sounds, checking another synth vst, etc.

Talking about many presets: I have Omnisphere 1 and decided not to upgrade to version 2, just because I only listened (even after these many years) to maybe only 10% of the patches of version 1, so why buying an upgrade for even more patches? And is there anybody here who did listen to all patches of Omnisphere?

At the other end of the spectrum there are virtual instruments based on a specific (real) instrument with a limited amount of presets. Like a woodwind library, piano library or mellotron library. Then it is often just a matter of loading the instrument and start playing right away.

But of course there is a positive note from buying new instruments: new inspiration triggered by new sounds. But then, I do music as a hobby. It is likely different when you compose music as a job. Then time is essential.


Sadly sometimes it's easy for us to just to sit around and watch tutorials and all the cool new stuff that comes out and hit the purchase button rather than write a piece.
Definitely guilty of this behaviour. :rolleyes:
 

robgb

I was young once
I've built my core orchestra with instruments I've collected over the years. I have alternatives for when I'm going for a specific sound but generally stick with that core collection. What sucks up a lot of my time is the constant tweaking I seem to have to do to all of my libraries, from the least expensive to those from the biggest developers. I have yet to find a library that I wasn't compelled to tweak. And I'm constantly looking for ways to make it just a LITTLE bit better.
 

YaniDee

Active Member
Especially those instruments with hundreds or thousands of presets..
No one ever goes through all of them..and we usually don't take the time to learn how to program it!
Sometimes it's quicker to use a simple synth like the free Synth 1, and make the sounds from scratch.

Yes, there is a certain inspiration that comes from a new tool in the collection.
Today I bought 8dio's Bazantar for 48$..Quite an interesting and unique instrument..I'm sure I won't be using it in a lot of pieces, but I like the sound of it. How much would I spend to find a Bazantar player (there's only one in the world!) pay studio time, etc. So it's a worthwhile investment for me, and yes it'll wind up in the "library collection"..but I can always dig it up again down the road.
Now, big expensive mega libraries is another matter..can't afford many of those!
 

Robert_G

Senior Member
I've been doing this for a little over a year....so I had to catch up.
I spent all my greenhouse savings on sample libraries.
I do better when I take time to learn the libraries I already own.
 

Mike Fox

Senior Member
Considering how cheap sample libraries are these days, i figure it doesn't hurt to bite off more than you can chew.

My problem is that i spend too much time learning libraries, rather than learning music.
 
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Johnrwilsonmusic

Active Member
Looking back over the years I see I've purchased so many libraries that it almost seems to the point of ridiculous. At times this forum has been a avenue of feeding my GAS, plugins, and library addictions. And while I've made a new year's resolution for 2020 to not buy anymore and just use what I've acquired over of the years, I ask others if they feel if owning too many libraries slow you down from creating music?

I look back and think to myself really now, how many string libraries do I really need? I hate to see my hard earned money go to waste on previous compulsive purchases so lately I've been giving myself a challenge for each composition like "Pick 5 libraries and challenge yourself to only use those tools", Pick 5 other libraries for the next one, etc..."

Of course if you own an entire series like all Spitfire or OT it would make sense to keep the sound in the same hall.
Still I wonder if others too discover being bogged down by too many choices keeps them from actually making music.
Sadly sometimes it's easy for us to just to sit around and watch tutorials and all the cool new stuff that comes out and hit the purchase button rather than write a piece.
Too many choices has slowed me down from actually making music and it can get a bit overwhelming having too many choices. For orchestral pieces i've now completely limited myself to two main full orchestral packages; the BBCSO and EWHO Diamond and Komplete 12 has many synths I can use to covers any synth needs.