I have the Joshua Bell Violin, do I need the new Spitfire Solo violin?

ScarletJerry

Active Member
Does anyone own both? Love JB, but the Spitfire portamento sounds beautiful. Not sure if I need another violin.

Scarlet Jerry
 

Matt Riley

Active Member
Use Joshua Bell Violin and Emotional Violin together. They complement each other‘s shortcomings well.
 

Sarah Mancuso

Esselfortium
Similar question: I own all of the Embertone solo strings, JB included, and I've been wondering if the Spitfire ones would complement them. I'm especially interested in how the cello and bass hold up. The Embertone cello tends to be best suited to more ominous uses in my experience, and a more tender-sounding one would be nice to have.
 

Sears Poncho

Senior Member
The Embertone cello tends to be best suited to more ominous uses in my experience, and a more tender-sounding one would be nice to have.
Spitfire has the new "performance" cello and violin, I think they are 99 bucks each. The whole solo strings package is excellent, albeit very wet. But the quality of the players and their vibrato really comes through.
 
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ism

Senior Member
They're very different instruments.

The Joshua Bell is (in practice) 3x+ more expensive, and it does have more extensive legatos. And 4 dyanmic layers to the Spitfire Vl's 3. So no question it's more deeply sampled.

But there are significant differences which make them both worth having:


The strengths of the JB are myriad and well appreciated, so taking them for granted, I'll focus on the sometimes slightly subtler, but equally impressive strengths of the SF Vl:


i. the SF Vl has a very different tone - still virtuosic, but less classical the JB. You can appreciate this in the contrast of the vibrato and no vibrato layers, for instance.


ii. The SF has more control over dynamics. The JB has 4 dynamic layers (all beautiful) to SF's 3 - but the SF implements a dynamic crossfade, so you can control the dynamics. Wheres the JB, if you start on the p layer, all you can do is increase the volume, you can't alter the timbre.

This means that there's an entire mode of expression that the SF can reach for that the JB simply can't. Although of course this comes at the cost of a certain bumpiness in the transitions. Conversely, the pristine smoothness of the JB comes at the expense of never being about the alter the dynamics within the arc of a note. With the exception that the JB does have recorded short / long de/crescendos so you have some control of dynamics like this, but nothing like with the SF.

iii. Similarly for Vibrato, although here's its more complex still. I've written about this on other threads. The JB has recorded vi /non vib. Although the recorded vib is really a progressive vib, with makes it possible to just set vibrato to on and play.

SF really requires you to craft your own vibrato on nearly ever arc. This makes for poor plonkability but ... well again, I've gone on about this a lot on other threads, but with a little practice is extremely playing, and even gives you more control over certain aspects of the performance.

Meanwhile, the JB also implements a simulated vibrato - which gives you vastly more control over shaping the vibrato of an arc that either the JB's recorded vibrato or the SF's crossfade vibrato. But it comes at the expense of the tone - at best it's not nearly as good as recorded vibrato, and at worst is risks a kind of synthetic feel.


And a further caveat is that the SF has a recorded progressive vibrato that you can access via cc21 ... very beautiful and useful. but also limited.


iv. The SF's 'arpeggio legato' is something else entirely. Kind of niche, but entirely amazing.



But this together and while the JB is clearly superiors for very pristinely smooth classical work, the SF opens up a completely different space.

Here's a couple of examples of the arcs that you can craft

First a new noodles - which starts with the other Spitfire first-chair violin - NOT the virtuosic violin that you can buy separately, but the implementation is the same - you can hear how the vibrato and the dynamics are crucial to the musicality of the line. And in a way that you simply can't do with the JB (or, as I understand it CSSS):



Worth pointing out that there are subtleties of expression where the SF approach is superior also - the way you can use the dynamics to craft the attack, or the way a very fast crescendo at the end of a note gives you a flourish at the end to a note. Simply not possible on the JB.


To reinforce the point, well technically this is the cello - but I think it's an even clearer example of how the musicality of the line is essentially about the crafting of the dynamics and vibrato - both the dynamics and the vibrato in the musical space.


Finally, while the JB has amazing really-really fast legato, the SF arpeggio legato is just a whole other kind of thing:



I was gobsmacked when I programmed in the opening phrases of this piece - fully expecting it to be horrible - only to discover that this 'arpegio legato', which is barely mentioned in the marketing is so amazing. I doubt there's any existing sampled violin that can match this specific articulation.


Bottom line - two amazing, entirely best-in-class instruments, with very different sweet spots and no-go zones of expressiveness.


Which one is better is only and entirely a function of which sweet spots you're looking to compose in.
 
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ism

Senior Member
milar question: I own all of the Embertone solo strings, JB included, and I've been wondering if the Spitfire ones would complement them


A few thoughts on this (I have JB and ISS except the viola)


- ISS are all recorded in different spaces, whereas SF are in the same space, giving a certain coherence that I find difficult with ISS. (Although this of course doesn't matter if you're using them as soloists)

- ISS/ JB are very much recorded as soloists. Wheres the SF instruments are in situ. You can bring them to the front of the mix as soloists, but the are easier to make interact with other instruments also.



- SF has three dynamics layers. ISS has 1 (Vl, Vc) with convolution EQ to simulate dyanamics (again, this either works for you or it doesn't - I personally can't stand the simulate p on the cello), or 2 (Va, Db) with phase alighted crossfade. This gives you nice smooth dynamics, but at serious cost to the tone. JB as 4 dynamics layers, but no phase alignment or crossfade.

- SF Viola don't have fast legato. Beautiful tone, much nicer that the ISS Va, but simply not capable of the faster legato lines that you can do with the Fischer Va.

- SF Bass - has no legato. Although apparently the legato samples are there in the down load, so I'd reasonably to hope that a future update (like the recent one that added the virtuosic cello) will add basic Db legato.

- Where ISS uses a lot of modelling techniques for vibrato and dynamics (which, again, either works for you or it doesn't), SF uses crossfading, but gives you much, much (much) better tone - but at the expense of a certain bumpiness (which you can hear in the above demos). Sometimes this bumpiness is well worth it for the better tone. But sometimes a piece calls for pristine smoothness, in which case you be better off sacrificing tone and going with embertone.

- Blakus cello is superb at Bach. SF ... not really designed for the Baroque. Probably wouldn't recommend it for string quartets in general. Although I don't love ISS for string quartets either - it's not an accident that none of the demos feature more than a single instrument at a time. String quartets are just really, really hard.

So I guess the short answer is that yes they do complement each other in the sense that SF and ISS have completely different sweet spots.


With the caveat that they're different enough that I probably wouldn't like to try to mix them within the same composition.
 
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I don't own the Joshua Bell (yet) but it seems like the tonal quality is very bright. Wondering if it might be too much for some more quiet romantic pieces?
 

ism

Senior Member
I don't own the Joshua Bell (yet) but it seems like the tonal quality is very bright. Wondering if it might be too much for some more quiet romantic pieces?
Brightness might be something you can EQ out of it. But I wonder if it's the 'classical purity' or the tone you're referring to here?

Which is something I love about the First Chair Vl in SF solo strings - especially on the lowest dynamics, its got a raspy not-very-classical quality that the JB simply isn't designed for, which is central to what I'm trying to get at here


I'd call this more of a 'neo-classical' aesthetic.


But I suspect that for 'quiet romantic' you might be better served by Emotional Violin - more textured. Although it uses a lot of modelling techniques that come at the expense of tone.
 

Scamper

Sample Hooter
Finally, while the JB has amazing really-really fast legato, the SF arpeggio legato is just a whole other kind of thing:
Oh, I didn't expect it to be even close to as good as it sounds. Pleasant surprise.
 

SoundChris

Active Member
Josh Bell is the most convincing violin out there IMO. There isn´t much that I would be missing. Maybe violin fx or stuff like that. Avantgard playing styles. For all the other situations it is really great. I am stil waiting for embertone to finally release / develop a solo Cello of that quality ;)
 

ism

Senior Member
Josh Bell is the most convincing violin out there IMO. There isn´t much that I would be missing. Maybe violin fx or stuff like that. Avantgard playing styles. For all the other situations it is really great. I am stil waiting for embertone to finally release / develop a solo Cello of that quality ;)
I'm completely in awe of your JB demo. Absolutely breathtaking. And there's no other sampled violin that could pull this is so convincingly.


(At least I think this is yourself)


But I'm curious - do you not feel that that it would be nice to have some manor of dyanmic crossfade (beyond the recorded de/cresendos)?
 

Sarah Mancuso

Esselfortium
The ability to program custom dynamic arcs in the other Embertone solo strings is a great feature that I miss a lot when I'm working with the JB Violin, even though the JB has its own significant advantages. I know part of the JB Violin's realism comes from the lack of phase-alignment edits on its samples, but I think an interesting and useful compromise would be if it allowed you to switch back and forth between raw and phase-aligned samples as needed. That'd really be the best of both worlds, I think (though I have no concept of how much work it would be to implement such a thing).
 

ism

Senior Member
The ability to program custom dynamic arcs in the other Embertone solo strings is a great feature that I miss a lot when I'm working with the JB Violin, even though the JB has its own significant advantages. I know part of the JB Violin's realism comes from the lack of phase-alignment edits on its samples, but I think an interesting and useful compromise would be if it allowed you to switch back and forth between raw and phase-aligned samples as needed. That'd really be the best of both worlds, I think (though I have no concept of how much work it would be to implement such a thing).
I'm not sure there is a best of both worlds with solo strings with current technology. Just compromises and trade offs.

Although Alex, if I recall correctly, in the initial JB screen cast did mention that the original idea was for the JB to use phase alignment, though I think its was a really good idea to make the JB tone the signature of the instrument. (In fact I think it would have been a travesty to take the tone of the Actual Joshua Bell on Joshua Bell's actual violin and damage it by submitting it to phase alignment). But I think I recall there being some sense of this being at least a possibility in an update. It would be interesting to see how with it might or might not work out.

There's a sense in which I consider the Spitfire approach to be somewhere in between the JB and ISS approaches. I wouldn't call it the 'best' of both worlds. But you do get a significant amount (though far from all) of the ISS ability to craft arcs, together with the superb and never synthetic tone of at the level of JB (although of course its a very very different tone). Although of course these gains come at the cost of the bumpiness of cross fading.

Although I do fine the SF instruments better for rawer, messier style in which the bumpiness doesn't matter so much, whereas the JB is completely unbeatable in anything that calls for pristine smoothness (so long as it doesn't need to much in the way of dynamics in the arcs).
 

SoundChris

Active Member
I'm completely in awe of your JB demo. Absolutely breathtaking. And there's no other sampled violin that could pull this is so convincingly.


(At least I think this is yourself)


But I'm curious - do you not feel that that it would be nice to have some manor of dyanmic crossfade (beyond the recorded de/cresendos)?
Thank you very much - glad you enjoyed the track and its editing. Personally I am fine with the crescendos and decrescendos. All the other situations should be solvable via volume and expression cc (?)
 

Sears Poncho

Senior Member
Thank you very much - glad you enjoyed the track and its editing.
You did an excellent job, very impressive. Congrats!

Although I do fine the SF instruments better for rawer, messier style
I think that violinist has a bit of Gypsy in him. Would sound awesome on Brahms Hungarian Dances.

I think my favorite violin "sound" is the first violin from CSSS. I'm a bit surprised by that myself. I bought CSSS then Spitfire Solo Strings, and find myself going back to CSSS.
 

5Lives

Senior Member
I think my favorite violin "sound" is the first violin from CSSS. I'm a bit surprised by that myself. I bought CSSS then Spitfire Solo Strings, and find myself going back to CSSS.
How's do you find the agility of CSSS vs. SF SS? Can CSSS be used outside of the context of section leaders / first chairs? Like for a standalone quartet or even an exposed solo cello?
 

Sears Poncho

Senior Member
How's do you find the agility of CSSS vs. SF SS? Can CSSS be used outside of the context of section leaders / first chairs? Like for a standalone quartet or even an exposed solo cello?
I think I would prefer CSSS for a string quartet along the lines of The BEatles Yesterday. CSSS takes a bit of practice to play due to the lag and the velocity speed that basically controls it. There is no vibrato control (except turning it off). Aside from that I think it's easier to use. I don't know why Spitfire makes legato a different patch, CSSS doesn't and I find it far easier that way.

The CSSS viola is great, the Spitfire is too "in your face". Spitfire has a nicer cello. The 2 libraries don't blend together very well. I'm grateful to have both, different tones. Right now I'm really lovin' CSSS.