Increasing the "Oomph" Of Instruments

erodred

New Member
Hello all,

I am using Nucleus as my first library to compose with. And the one thing I notice is how loud the violins can get when compared with the trumpets. And I deduced that it is because it is of the number of players (and probably mic positioning when recording if they are set in place in an orchestra seating), 16 violins vs 2 trumpets.

The software I am using is Cubase. And I tried to max out the volumes of the trumpets to overcome the string players and make it much louder. And I am realizing I have two approaches with this in Cubase. I can select the recorded midi region and copy and paste and overlap them. Another method is to duplicate the track after I have made my recording and that should also give me some more control over them.

Which method do you all typically do, or am I doing this completely wrong entirely?




Thanks!

Edit:
Since I changed up my setup, I confused new people to the thread. The question still stands.

My DAW is now Logic due to the acquisition of a mac mini. I didn't mention it before in this first post but I always was using VEP 7.

Apologies for confusing people earlier.

😢
 
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jbuhler

Senior Member
Assuming you are already using CC1, CC11, and velocity to control the dynamics:

Use a gain function in Cubase to turn up the trumpets (or down the violins).
Use the volume slider in Kontakt to turn up the trumpets (or down the violins)
Use the master volume in Kontakt to turn up the Trumpets (or down the violins)

I would recommend finding some music that you have the score to and a recording you want to emulate the balance of and mock up a few short representative passages using that to get the balances of the library in the right ballpark.
 
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erodred

New Member
Assuming you are already using CC1, CC11, and velocity to control the dynamics:

Use a gain function in Cubase to turn up the trumpets (or down the violins).
Use the volume slider in Kontakt to turn up the trumpets (or down the violins)
Use the master volume in Kontakt to turn up the Trumpets (or down the violins)

I would recommend finding some music that you have the score to and a recording you want to emulate the balance of and mock up a few short representative passages using that to get the balances of the library in the right ballpark.
Thank you. I will play around with the volumes some more. I am mostly using headphones to not disturb my fiancé when playing so I felt the impact of how loud the i instruments were. I will play with the volumes in Kontakt to see if it works out better. My mixer in Cubase seems to control the Kontakt volume (and I am using NI Komplete A49)
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
You can control the volumes in various ways. That’s the point. The volume on the main mixer in the DAW is only one of those points and not the best for setting and balancing the basic volumes.

Besides the mixing slider, Cubase likely has a gain or volume tool that works as an insert in the mixing channel. I don’t use Cubase but all of my DAWs have this. That’s one point you can use.

The master volume of the Kontakt instance is another point you can control the volume.

The volume slider in the Kontakt instrument is another point you can control the volume. This is often linked to CC7.

CC11 (expression) is another point that many instruments allow you to control the volume.

CC1 (modwheel) is often assigned to dynamics, and this crossfades through different dynamic layers. Although dynamic layers also affect volume, these layers are produced with different samples so you’ll get a timbral change as well.

But the main thing is learning how the library needs to be set up to properly balance its instruments against one another. The best way to do that is to practice on some music where you have reference recordings.
 
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erodred

New Member
You can control the volumes in various ways. That’s the point. The volume on the main mixer in the DAW is only one of those points and not the best for setting and balancing the basic volumes.

Besides the mixing slider, Cubase likely has a gain or volume tool that works as an insert in the mixing channel. I don’t use Cubase but all of my DAWs have this. That’s one point you can use.

The master volume of the Kontakt instance is another point you can control the volume.

The volume slider in the Kontakt instrument is another point you can control the volume. This is often linked to CC7.

CC11 (expression) is another point that many instruments allow you to control the volume.

CC1 (modwheel) is often assigned to dynamics, and this crossfades through different dynamic layers. Although dynamic layers also affect volume, these layers are produced with different samples so you’ll get a timbral change as well.

But the main thing is learning how the library needs to be set up to properly balance its instruments against one another. The best way to do that is to practice on some music where you have reference recordings.
Thanks!
 

JohnG

Senior Member
hi @erodred

You might find this useful. There's one paragraph on setting your listening volume; that might seem elementary, but getting it right is surprisingly important.


Welcome to the forum.

Kind regards,

John
 

José Herring

Senior Member
Hello all,

I am using Nucleus as my first library to compose with. And the one thing I notice is how loud the violins can get when compared with the trumpets. And I deduced that it is because it is of the number of players (and probably mic positioning when recording if they are set in place in an orchestra seating), 16 violins vs 2 trumpets.

The software I am using is Cubase. And I tried to max out the volumes of the trumpets to overcome the string players and make it much louder. And I am realizing I have two approaches with this in Cubase. I can select the recorded midi region and copy and paste and overlap them. Another method is to duplicate the track after I have made my recording and that should also give me some more control over them.

Which method do you all typically do, or am I doing this completely wrong entirely?




Thanks!
This only happens when the natural balance of the orchestra has been tampered with. Even 16 violins playing as loud as they can, can be drown out by one trumpet playing double forte. The trumpet is loud and a section of them area even louder.

So one of two things happened in the creation of this library: a) they recorded the violins hotter than the trumpets or b) after recording they boosted the levels or normalized the levels of the violins.

Now you may want this. I just did a contemporary hybrid rock hip hop orchestral cue and I need those stacc strings louder than the low brass. So I just raised the volume. But... if you're doing a balanced orchestration then it tends to be a problem. In the hybrid piece the strings were kind of isolated and I made them up front so that I can bring in the Tbones and Horns FF and the main string rhythm could still be heard. But, if I were doing a piece that was more traditional orchestration, I would have just used strings in their natural dynamic range and not worried too much if the brass takes them over or put strings at forte or double forte and placed brass at mf.

At mezzo-forte you can balance the whole orchestra. Above that, and things get way out of balance as you'll approach the max loudness of some instruments while brass will have a lot more headroom, for lack of a better word.
 
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erodred

New Member
hi @erodred

You might find this useful. There's one paragraph on setting your listening volume; that might seem elementary, but getting it right is surprisingly important.


Welcome to the forum.

Kind regards,

John
Thank you for that. I will give it a read.
 
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erodred

New Member
This only happens when the natural balance of the orchestra has been tampered with. Even 16 violins playing as loud as they can, can be drown out by one trumpet playing double forte. The trumpet is loud and a section of them area even louder.

So one of two things happened in the creation of this library: a) they recorded the violins hotter than the trumpets or b) after recording they boosted the levels or normalized the levels of the violins.

Now you may want this. I just did a contemporary hybrid rock hip hop orchestral cue and I need those stacc strings louder than the low brass. So I just raised the volume. But... if you're doing a balanced orchestration then it tends to be a problem. In the hybrid piece the strings were kind of isolated and I made them up front so that I can bring in the Tbones and Horns FF and the main string rhythm could still be heard. But, if I were doing a piece that was more traditional orchestration, I would have just used strings in their natural dynamic range and not worried too much if the brass takes them over or put strings at forte or double forte and placed brass at mf.

At mezzo-forte you can balance the whole orchestra. Above that, and things get way out of balance as you'll approach the max loudness of some instruments while brass will have a lot more headroom, for lack of a better word.
Thanks. I need to learn about how to play those intstruments with those dynamics. I know I can edit the range. But still hard to say if my velocity is pushing me into the forte end of things.
 
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erodred

New Member
From my limited testing, I learned I can just play with the CC 7 and CC 11 for volume and expression to get the sort of differing volumes that I want. Playing it as is seems to not do so well otherwise. CC1 for modulation also helps if I make the trumpets go high and the violins go softer. I dont know if it is based on how I set upthe VEP and Cubase template.

I just have instances for all the instrument sections and an instance of kontakt for all instruments and midi channels for their own articulations. So midi port 1 ch 1-5 covers my 5 violion articulations of legato, sustain, spaccato, pizz, tremolo. And I do this for all the instruments. But their outputs are all still 1/2. I learned recently that instead of tracks I probably should have used outputs. That way the instruments each go to their own channel instead. Maybe I am overthinking or getting myself lost in the woods. So far it seems exciting, but with me presently moving I have to hold myself together before I can spend my hours digging into the library. :emoji_dizzy_face:
 

José Herring

Senior Member
From my limited testing, I learned I can just play with the CC 7 and CC 11 for volume and expression to get the sort of differing volumes that I want. Playing it as is seems to not do so well otherwise. CC1 for modulation also helps if I make the trumpets go high and the violins go softer. I dont know if it is based on how I set upthe VEP and Cubase template.

I just have instances for all the instrument sections and an instance of kontakt for all instruments and midi channels for their own articulations. So midi port 1 ch 1-5 covers my 5 violion articulations of legato, sustain, spaccato, pizz, tremolo. And I do this for all the instruments. But their outputs are all still 1/2. I learned recently that instead of tracks I probably should have used outputs. That way the instruments each go to their own channel instead. Maybe I am overthinking or getting myself lost in the woods. So far it seems exciting, but with me presently moving I have to hold myself together before I can spend my hours digging into the library. :emoji_dizzy_face:
You're on the right track.

One of the things I did that helped was that I listened to La Mer with the score and looking at the volume meter in my DAW. That piece has every standard orchestral instrument in just about every possible combination. So I learned where things were at relative to the dynamic markings and where that fell on the volume meter. I use that as a base but in truth in modern times you really can't stick to that. The softs are way too soft to be broadcast on film TV and radio. But when mixing and do stick to that then I'll master it to get things broadcast ready.
 

suburst

New Member
if the harmonics of violins are overpowering the brass etc, then you should add some more harmonics to the brass, and maybe lower or use an eq to cut some of the nasty aggressive frequencies of violinsyou can try using fabfilter saturn and use the high mid band, etc etc, another great one is voxengo OVC 128
 

Markus Kohlprath

Active Member
Besides the mixing slider, Cubase likely has a gain or volume tool that works as an insert in the mixing channel. I don’t use Cubase but all of my DAWs have this. That’s one point you can use.
No need for an insert in cubase. Cubase even has a dedicated Pre Channel on every Audio and group track where you can set gain, phase and locut/hicut. Very handy and used all the time by myself.
 
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erodred

New Member
Hello all again,

So I managed to finish unpacking from a move and went to work on trying to solve my trumpet issue.

Again using the Nucleus instrument and playing around with some of the settings, violins still seem to very easily get large in volume with modulation and adjusting the main volume with cc7. I do notice cc7 when it changes from 0 to 127 in Cubase, it changes from -inf to +0.0 in VEP Kontakt.

But trumpets, (in this case the patch consists of 3 trumpets) I seem to have to push the mixer to +6 dB to get it comparable.

It makes it tough when I am learning to play in a piece and have to reach for my speakers in panic to lower the volume because I had to crank it for the trumpets. And then hearing it over all. I went into the controller lanes in Cubase and drew in flat line at max for the trumpets just to see if I can get some strength in it. But to no luck. Meanwhile the strings just get powerful so easily.

Is it the library itself or am I missing a setting?
 

Fredeke

Senior Member
Short practical answer:

An orchestra has less trumpets than strings because trumpets are louder. You didn't get that because the library doesn't reproduce the real level of instruments. But have you tried simply decreasing the strings' level, or increasing the trumpets' level, to recreate the natural balance of the orchestra? It should not be more complicated than that.

And now for some theoretical windbaggery :

The reason one section sounds louder than another is probably they were all recorded at the maximum possible level (to get full advantage of all 16 or 24 bits), regardless of how many players or how loud the actual acoustic sound was in the studio. And since different tones can produce very different levels (both physically and physiologically) for a same peak-to-peak amplitude (which is what the recording engineer maximized), the lack of balance you hear is normal.

Now, I don't know the library you're talking about, so I may be wrong on this particular one. But as a general rule, libraries do not come pre-mixed for you. You should not expect your sections to sound balanced when setting all tracks to the same level.
 
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erodred

New Member
Short practical answer:

An orchestra has less trumpets than strings because trumpets are louder. You didn't get that because the library doesn't reproduce the real level of instruments. But have you tried simply decreasing the strings' level, or increasing the trumpets' level, to recreate the natural balance of the orchestra? It should not be more complicated than that.

And now for some theoretical windbaggery :

The reason one section sounds louder than another is probably they were all recorded at the maximum possible level (to get full advantage of all 16 or 24 bits), regardless of how many players or how loud the actual acoustic sound was in the studio. And since different tones can produce very different levels (both physically and physiologically) for a same peak-to-peak amplitude (which is what the recording engineer maximized), the lack of balance you're hearing is normal.

Now, I don't know the library you're talking about, so I may be wrong on this particular one. But as a general rule, libraries do not come pre-mixed for you. You should not expect your sections to sound balanced when setting all tracks at the same level.
Thank you for that answer!

The library is Nucleus. I will assume it is the recording and that I just need to move some sliders/faders around to get the volume of the sound I want. Perhaps the strings were also recorded closer to the mics.

Just trying to narrow down and see if I am messing up a setting or anything.
 
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erodred

New Member
Hello. I am back again. Trying to solve the mysteries of composing.

So I have the volume adjusted so that my violins sound at a nice level for my ears. But the trumpets were low so I had to crank that up to +6 dB to get it at a good level for playing in my notes. The next challenge was woodwinds. To get the 2 flutes at a good level to hear, I had to get it up to +12dB. This is all done in Kontakt. I am wondering if its worth playing with mixer levels in VEP as well.

Am I just having hearing problems and I cant hear the right decibels or something (just turned 30.... yay!) or is it really just in how the instruments were recorded?

Thanks again! Really need help to get my going on something.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
Either you're mixing Library A (recorded very softly) with Library B (recorded really loudly) or something is way off somewhere.

It's fine to use heterogeneous libraries, naturally, but +6 on trumpets??? to be loud enough for violins????

Maybe post screen shots of your mixer and VE Pro levels?
 

tc9000

Absolute Member
Maybe this video will help:


... I have to re-watch this every month or so 🙃
 
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erodred

New Member
Either you're mixing Library A (recorded very softly) with Library B (recorded really loudly) or something is way off somewhere.

It's fine to use heterogeneous libraries, naturally, but +6 on trumpets??? to be loud enough for violins????

Maybe post screen shots of your mixer and VE Pro levels?
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1598277929205.png 1598277966572.png
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Logic side has sliders all at zero.

It is connected as AU3 muti output. Each instrument gets an output with their own set of articulations.
The strings are all at +0 dB and I can hear them fine when playing them. But I have to meddle with the trumpets and winds a bit. And I am beginning to think I should for the percussion. I dont know why at neutral levels for everything the strings seem so strong. This library is Nucleus if it is not obvious.

I have Hollywood Gold as well and from my testing I dont have to adjust any volume levels drastically or even at all to even hear the instruments playing. And no modwheel either to push it higher.

Ive played wiht modulation and expressoin and occassionally just draw things at the ceiling just to hear it, but it seems i need that +6 for Brass and +12 for Winds. I will check out the video that tc9000 linked. Thanks!