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Ethnic library collection resolution

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Oh well; I guess it's just the miking choices they made. I thought the developer's hints had to do with mic distance and balance, but it was just the simple statement about turning the reverb off, which did not yet result in what I consider a usable sound for a blend with other instruments. It sure doesn't seem like a close mic to my ears. The duduk is a very subtle instrument, and much of its sound is lost at much distance. Most players mic it in an ensemble. In the studio, you'd get pretty close indeed! My other sources are way closer miked.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
After spending most of today comparing UVI World Suite to other collections and also especially to Precisionsound's libraries, I can unhesitatingly lay claim to it being the biggest bargain in the entire industry.

I had heard that "some" of the material came from Precisionsound, but after today's review, it is quite clear that World Suite contains at least 34 of those libraries! In hesitate to calculate how much I spent for them on their own.

Only three of them appear to have lost functionality in the transfer and/or some subsets of the samples, and I'm going to make one more pass at ascertaining whether that is really the case before deleting those three from my hard drive as I did already with the others.

In a few cases, note range has been altered, to be more natural, and even when you can play notes that aren't on the original instrument, they are marked as such so that you are forewarned that they might not be quite as natural sounding as the other notes (though it's barely noticeable).

Features have been refactored in some cases, but are still available but with different GUI presentation style, to be consistent with all other World Suite patches.

These are the libraries that seem to be included in World Suite in full:
  1. African Udu
  2. Alpine Concert Zither
  3. Bolivian Panpipe -- without the faux extended range
  4. Bulgarian Tupans
  5. Carina Accordion
  6. Celtic Whistles
  7. Daf
  8. Finnish Concert Kantele
  9. Indian Harmonium
  10. Indian Santoor
  11. Indian Surmandal
  12. Kementze -- labeled in World Suite as Turkish Lyra; a rarely used pseudonym
  13. Kloo Mandolin
  14. Lute Harp
  15. Lyra -- labeled in World Suite as Middle Eastern Lyra, but it's a Greek Lyre
  16. Mbira bva Zimbabwe
  17. Meghan Celtic Harp
  18. Modolva Concert Cimbalom
  19. Nigerian Udu
  20. Nordic Low Whistle
  21. Nordic Psalmodikon
  22. Orfeo Accordion
  23. Persian Daf
  24. Persian Santur
  25. Peruvian Ocarina -- without the faux extended range
  26. Russian Balalaika
  27. Shepherd's Flute -- Israeli variant; Slovakian is also included
  28. Steel Tongue Drum -- similar to 8DIO's Propanium library
  29. Sun Drum -- another hand drum variant
  30. Ukrainian Bandura
  31. Weltmeister Accordion -- now labeled Eastern Accordion due to its market
These are the ones that seem to miss something in the transition:
  1. Dan Moi Vietnamese Jaw harps -- so far I do not see a way to choose the vowel/formant
  2. Naeshult Table Piano -- this seems to be a subset of the original, based on size and features
  3. Victorini Accordion -- same as the above, but I'm going to make one final pass to compare
They all sound better in UVI World Suite, as they've been tweaked for better spectral balance and in some cases possibly a remix of basic mic signals. The missing features for the three above, may indicate that some of the Kontakt scripting doesn't have equivalents in UVI Workstation. A large number of the included material is fairly recent vs. being ancient stuff or even libraries that are no longer directly sold, so the value cannot be underrated.
 
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Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Naeshult Table Piano seems to lose the ability to tune the second string up or down an octave. The timbre adjustment has a similar effect, and it gains a new feature for choosing the front or rear microphone and either the first or second string, so I suppose you could layer two of these in a multi setup. I'm not as deep on Falcon as I am with Kontakt when it comes to under-the-covers editing.

Dan Moi Vietnamese Jaw Harp actually has more vowels and variance now than before; UVI simply chose to map them across the keyboard as well as supply more round robins per note.

Unfortunately, when I ran a real-world comparison on the two projects where I use this library, the results were not as natural, as the vowels are baked in and not reactive to playing nuances.

For situations where one doesn't need the vowels though (it was an option before), the World Suite version is superior due to the Round Robins. I suspect the vowels couldn't be modeled in UVI Workstation as they seem to be Guitar Rig plug-ins of some sort in Kontakt.

Victorini is the same in both versions, once you notice the minor changes to the mappings. It's way more intuitive in the UVI World Suite version. There might be a difference in the bellows control, but I don't have a pedal set up to test that right now.

A special note on the confusing switch of "Weltmeister Accordion" to "Eastern Accordion" with a picture of a button accordion in the new GUI: this was an East German manufactured model in the 70's/80's that was produced for the Greek and Balkan market primarily, which is apparently why UVI have labeled it the way they have, but it is strange that they would use a button accordion icon for a piano accordion model. That's why I didn't catch this match the first time around.

In summary, of the now-duplicative libraries, I only kept the original Precisionsound Dan Moi on my hard drive, as I frequently use it in a very organic way where I need it to almost sound like someone is saying something, as with a vocoder or even a talk box.
 
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Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Just remember, my annotation of what came from Precisionsound is speculation based on many hours of comparisons and a good pair of ears, and the ones that differed a bit between the original and World Suite may well be different sources after all, in spite of the unlikelihood that UVI would, for instance, decide on their own to resample the rare Naeshult Table Piano.

I actually have compared Ethno World to World Suite in considerable depth, and the latter is far more consistent in its quality throughout, with only a few instruments in Ethno World being deeper or more fully parameterized for traditional playing styles. I've noticed that UVI libraries tend to not have (m)any controllers set up in advance, but a right-click allows you to quickly assign CC's to GUI controls.

I need both suites because I cover a lot of ground and the majority of what is in both libraries is not yet available in deeper libraries; yet the programming is now so good in World Suite and in the newer instruments added to Ethno World (but not the older ones), that most of these no longer feel like placeholders to me.

Also, there is information in World Suite but it flashes quickly during sample load. Some info can be found after loading, but the majority is in the user manual, and even there, it isn't as in depth as Ethno World where actual playing styles and instrument history as well as ethnomusicological details are present.

Garritan's World Instruments is the most comprehensive of all, including in its carefully researched user manual, and often is more accurate and complete than what you'll find in Wikipedia entries. The pictures especially help to disambiguate in cases where people have been inconsistent or incorrect over the years. But of course it's a low granularity library overall. Often on sale for $40 to $50 though.

I never use loops so can't judge those. I might occasionally use a pre-played trill and the like, but that's about it. The Traveler concept never made any sense to me, even when I was still primarily using MOTU Ethno 2.

There are significantly different emphases of these three world instrument suites. Both in the regions covered deeply, and in the categories of instruments that got higher priority than others.

My annotation chart has changed a lot recently as I have learned more about the incorrect use of terminology by many vendors and have further educated myself on the differences between similar instruments (this is especially hardest with flute-type instruments and a lot of percussion as well). I keep a separate chart for libraries that were sold or deleted or were earmarked for purchase but never bought due to being Windows-only (or no longer available for sale). It remains a work in progress but is available for anyone who wants it.

Many detailed notes are included, plus rankings when the time has been taken (but they aren't marked as to whether they are ranked or in arbitrary order).
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I think Gamelan is the point of annotation where I'm going to have a nervous breakdown. Right now I'm stuck once again on the ever-confusing terminology regarding Sanza vs. Mbira (and all of the variant spellings). I hate having such a long catch-all list as it makes it harder for me to find the sound I'm looking for (and to compare like with like). So I am determined to finally split it up again today, as I did earlier with incorrectly categorized and labeled shekeres/afuches/etc. a while back.

I do have two useful resources that will help me make my own decisions on the proper categories and labels for the African Thumb Piano (Kalimba, in case you were wondering, is simply the modern chromatic single-row variant invented by High Tracey in the 60's). Gamelan is a much tougher challenge though.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
I use RA, Silk, and EthnoWorld 6, all three have their strengths. For what it’s worth, you can hear them all under the “World Inspired” section of my music demos. I also love the Irish Whistle from Lumina. RA is still, IMO, one of the best out there....even though it’s older.

https://jeremyspencer.ca/music
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Interesting; you don't find the graininess, lack of round robins or natural articulations, and incorrect labeling in RA to be a problem? I consider it to be just about the worst purchase I have ever made. But it does contain a small number of patches that still are unique to that library, so I haven't deleted it yet.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I may find that there's more of Ethno World that I use than of World Suite, once I finish my detailed annotation, as there's some very specific stuff I use from World Suite constantly but only as placeholders until I come back to do live tracks for almost ALL of the latin percussion stuff in my music. But a lot of what I find strongest in Ethno World is stronger still in Tarilonte's libraries. I do find the info pages extremely informative and educational in EW6.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
Interesting; you don't find the graininess, lack of round robins or natural articulations, and incorrect labeling in RA to be a problem? I consider it to be just about the worst purchase I have ever made. But it does contain a small number of patches that still are unique to that library, so I haven't deleted it yet.
On the contrary, I don’t have any of those issues.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I finally finished annotating UVI World Suite in detail tonight (except for the voices, which I removed from my annotation because ALL of them are loops, which I don't work with at all in my projects), and got about halfway through Ethno World at the same level (leaving the rest the way they were listed from the previous update).

There were a lot of mistakes I had to correct, from MOTU Ethno 2, UVI World Traditions, and carrying forward common errors that most vendors follow en masse. My Ethno World documentation simply has some duplications or misfilings but nothing is missing, so I was able to carefully review all of it.

The big revelation is that there isn't any compelling reason to put either product at top of list, as they have so little overlap and as the places where they compete go back and forth as to which is more deeply sampled or provides more expression.

Some general patterns did emerge however:
  1. UVI World Suite has far more material from Africa, East Asia, and Oceania/Australia
  2. Middle East, India, and Latin America patches are better in Ethno World as long as from EW3+
  3. Miking choices seem to bring out a bit more of the natural timbre in EW than in World Suite
It turns out that I currently make far greater use of Ethno World, just because my projects are calling more for what it offers overall -- at the moment! But both suites have a huge proportion of content that no other library covers at all! The one with the least amount of unique patches is Ra.

In most cases, there are better libraries for the less rare material, but there are a few surprises in both suites, where an instrument here and there was given special attention and is deeper than anything else available. Both suites are truly bargains and should be in everyone's basket.

I also annotated UVI Percussion Store for the first time, which I had forgotten to do because I previously assumed it was absorbed into UVI World Suite. In fact, most of its content is unique and not found anywhere else, and there is some amazing breadth of choice of different brands for stuff like agogos. It's possible that some of its content is duplicated in the suite, but I don't think so. It's a well-documented library, with good pictures of what was sampled. Some bad material as well though.

It's been a steep learning curve, for different spellings, regional variations in names and also where to draw the line on something actually being a different instrument. Wiki is sometimes wrong or at least not entirely accurate, but can be a big help at times.

Garritan's ethnic library has great documentation and pictures but has its own errors, and I despise its interface and that everything is sample-stretched. It also has fewer unique elements than one would think, but does help to disambiguate names as it is better researched than the others.

The two main suites, Ethno World and World Suite, are several generations old, and the quality varies depending on when the instrument was added. As mentioned earlier, the programming is far better in World Suite and it is consistent across the board; they make the best use of lesser quality samples overall. But Ethno World seems to have made some better miking choices as well as what to sample, indicating perhaps a deeper knowledge of the specifics of each instrument and region.

I expect both products will continue to grow and have updates. I can't off-hand think of any other products that aim to cover quite this much breadth and depth, except Garritan's library, which isn't in the same league but is worth the $40 it costs on special sales as it fills some gaps and is informative.

Ra is not as bad as I remembered, but is VERY inconsistent, and only a few instruments seem to have been recorded well, or with proper knowledge of the instrument and how it is played. I don't see much that is unique to that library; whereas Silk is the one EWQL library that I find has some pretty good quality content (including the best Er Hu). Both get used in project work, but I still resent having had to buy them twice when the superior Kompakt/Kontakt format was abandoned in favour of Play.
 

TigerTheFrog

Amateur
I finally finished annotating UVI World Suite in detail tonight (except for the voices, which I removed from my annotation because ALL of them are loops, which I don't work with at all in my projects), and got about halfway through Ethno World at the same level (leaving the rest the way they were listed from the previous update).

There were a lot of mistakes I had to correct, from MOTU Ethno 2, UVI World Traditions, and carrying forward common errors that most vendors follow en masse. My Ethno World documentation simply has some duplications or misfilings but nothing is missing, so I was able to carefully review all of it.

The big revelation is that there isn't any compelling reason to put either product at top of list, as they have so little overlap and as the places where they compete go back and forth as to which is more deeply sampled or provides more expression.

Some general patterns did emerge however:
  1. UVI World Suite has far more material from Africa, East Asia, and Oceania/Australia
  2. Middle East, India, and Latin America patches are better in Ethno World as long as from EW3+
  3. Miking choices seem to bring out a bit more of the natural timbre in EW than in World Suite
It turns out that I currently make far greater use of Ethno World, just because my projects are calling more for what it offers overall -- at the moment! But both suites have a huge proportion of content that no other library covers at all! The one with the least amount of unique patches is Ra.

In most cases, there are better libraries for the less rare material, but there are a few surprises in both suites, where an instrument here and there was given special attention and is deeper than anything else available. Both suites are truly bargains and should be in everyone's basket.

I also annotated UVI Percussion Store for the first time, which I had forgotten to do because I previously assumed it was absorbed into UVI World Suite. In fact, most of its content is unique and not found anywhere else, and there is some amazing breadth of choice of different brands for stuff like agogos. It's possible that some of its content is duplicated in the suite, but I don't think so. It's a well-documented library, with good pictures of what was sampled. Some bad material as well though.

It's been a steep learning curve, for different spellings, regional variations in names and also where to draw the line on something actually being a different instrument. Wiki is sometimes wrong or at least not entirely accurate, but can be a big help at times.

Garritan's ethnic library has great documentation and pictures but has its own errors, and I despise its interface and that everything is sample-stretched. It also has fewer unique elements than one would think, but does help to disambiguate names as it is better researched than the others.

The two main suites, Ethno World and World Suite, are several generations old, and the quality varies depending on when the instrument was added. As mentioned earlier, the programming is far better in World Suite and it is consistent across the board; they make the best use of lesser quality samples overall. But Ethno World seems to have made some better miking choices as well as what to sample, indicating perhaps a deeper knowledge of the specifics of each instrument and region.

I expect both products will continue to grow and have updates. I can't off-hand think of any other products that aim to cover quite this much breadth and depth, except Garritan's library, which isn't in the same league but is worth the $40 it costs on special sales as it fills some gaps and is informative.

Ra is not as bad as I remembered, but is VERY inconsistent, and only a few instruments seem to have been recorded well, or with proper knowledge of the instrument and how it is played. I don't see much that is unique to that library; whereas Silk is the one EWQL library that I find has some pretty good quality content (including the best Er Hu). Both get used in project work, but I still resent having had to buy them twice when the superior Kompakt/Kontakt format was abandoned in favour of Play.
What do you think of GYPSY?
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I despised and regretted Gypsy when I first bought it, but that was when I still had a useless G4 iMac that held me back for seven years (until late 2010 when I bought a MacPro, now deceased), as it wasn't up to the task for anything so crashed every 30 seconds or so.

I still don't "understand" this library as it doesn't seem to address idiomatic playing as well as VSL (which is primarily classically oriented), but now that it doesn't hiccup, produce static, and crash, I'm finding that at least some of the material is well-recorded. The accordions and cimbalom are near the bottom of my list though, and it's a long list too!

Having said that, the Flamenco Guitar is the exception, but perhaps only because there's no serious competition yet (UVI World Suite). The Manouche (Gypsy Jazz) Guitar is so-so, but Impact Soundworks has a far superior library. Spanish Gypsy guitar is passable as well, but here again we have no real competition (other than Ethno World).

It may be that there are ways to get realistic phrasing and more idiomatic timbre out of the Violin, Viola, Trumpet, and Trombone, but I am better able to reach those goals using Audio Modeling and Sample Modeling instruments.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Not silly at all, if you use it a lot.

I had a Gypsy Kings Flamenco Guitar from Cordoba (original 1990's version), that warped so badly a decade ago as to become unplayable, and it couldn't be repaired. I am now on my twentieth replacement guitar target, as all the others became unavailable for various reasons (in the USA at least), and plan to buy my "final selection" (a Hermano Camps "Primera" model) from Spain as soon as my tax refund arrives.

For those who will only, or primarily, be dependent on sample libraries for Flamenco Guitar, Gypsy is really your only real option at the moment, and it probably is even better than my playing around would indicate, but I haven't the motivation to work very hard on guitar and bass libraries as it's less work for me to just play the real thing.

I didn't mean for my calling out of the Flamenco Guitar in Gypsy as the exception to the library's otherwise lacklustre quality, to be tepid though -- I actually do think it is quite good. Nice timbre, and it seems to capture the idiom well. I may end up using it after all, just as I make great use of Impact Soundworks Archtop Guitar even though I will probably eventually replace all of those tracks with live playing.
 
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