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Vehrka

New Member
Hello there, I was recently watching some videos by Junkie XL where he discusses the score he made for The Dark Tower. And in it, he mentions how he mixes Berlin Strings with Hollywood Strings because the tightness of the Berlin Strings mixes well with the openness of the Hollywood Strings. I'd imagine this is obviously because of the huge difference in player counts. So this got me wondering, what other libraries mix well together?

Would, for example, Spitfire Symphonic Strings at 60 players mesh well with Cinematic Studio Strings at 35? Or maybe SSS would mesh better with Spitfire Chamber Strings at 16 players? Would Cinematic Studio Strings and Berlin Strings mix together even better? Obviously I know mixing has a lot to do with this as well but I thought it'd be interesting to hear what all of you think nonetheless.
 

Wassim Samad

Lifelong learner
Hi,

I'm not sure if it it's about the number of musicians. My opinion would be about how dry and wet a library is.
If you take EWQL Strings Libraries they are very wet and they may lack some dry / pure sound that another library would have. Then you mix it and you have something more consistent because they don't fight each other on the same details.

I don't have names of which one work well together but I wish it can help you a bit!
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
There are quite some things you should keep in mind
:
- Are the musicians recorded in seating? Most of the modern libraries use that technique which means that there is a specific fingerprint in the early reflections and the perceived stereo spread of the sections. Some have more prominent stereo spread, some others don´t. So you have to keep in mind by mixing different libraries that these are problems you facing. And you have very limited possibilities to alter this characteristics with libraries recorded in seating.

- The available microphone posititions available in a library determines how flexibel you can adjust the perceived distance. But it also affects eq and perceived stereo spread.

- the dynamic range of the recorded samples. Some libraries have more or less than others. Also the dynamic curve and characteristics is important. You can just copy / paste the midi data.

- The performance in the samples are different from library to library. Some have not controllable built in vibrato, some others let you control that.

- EQ shape of the instruments. Some libraries sound darker than others, e.g. Cinematic Studio Strings has less highs and sounds darker than Spitfire symphonic strings. So by using both libraries in one project or for one piece you have work an even those differences a bit also

There are many many other things. My advice: Try things out and when it sounds good to you, do it.
 

Saxer

Senior Member
It's mostly a try and error thing.

I like to have a fixed section (or combination of stacked sections) in a piece if I want to create a halfway believable real section. If I add a (sampled) string section to a pop song I go this way because the mixer wants the separate tracks at the end: Vl1/Vl2/Vla/Vlc. Every track has to be homogenous. No jumps in size, level, and room. I treat the samples like real players: arranging monophonic lines per section, spiccs are softer than legatos and pizzicatos are even softer. Sometimes they record real players on top of each section so everything must be playable and well balanced. Tightness from here and openness from there... forget it. Let it sound like a couple of string players sitting behind the studio window. It's about the believeable performance.

The main problem in stacking libraries is playability. i.e. Berlin strings add different attacks to the sound by velocity. On high velocities they do portamento. LASS does the opposite: playing portamento on low dynamics. If you just midi-stack them you lose the personality of each library. At the end you get an expensive keyboard pad.

But there are tracks where sound is more important than realism. All that epic trailer phantasy hybrid stuff. In those cases I stack what I'm missing. If spiccs need more bite I'd add LASS, if it needs more room I'd add CS2 or Spitfire. But sometimes it simply doesn't work. Different latencies of the libraries, adding unwanted frequencies, too much or too less cut through the mix... whatever. Don't count the sampled players (here 16 violins, there 6 doesn't sound like 22 players anyway if you stack them). It depends on the context. Try and error. And nobody cares if you have 20 celli and violas ostinating over 20 taikos and a 60-piece string pad on top in that styles. But beware of giving it to an orchestrator for a live event :)
 
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Puzzlefactory

Senior Member
Can't really comment on layering libraries as I have limited experience.

But I'm really enjoying the dark tower tutorial series. Learnt a lot from them in regards to layering, orchestration and composition.

Feeling very inspired right now and after watching the video the OP is referring to, really want to try my hand at writing some string runs.
 

Puzzlefactory

Senior Member
Why layer different libraries at all especially for strings? I used to layer all kinds og different string libraries and choirs. What happened is that there was a ton of frequiencies all over the place which just made the string sound bland, synthy and uncharacteristic. It smoothed out a lot of legato transitions to the point where you might as well use sustains and for the most part lost punch as the two or more samples had competing transients. Now, what fooled my ears was that there was 1; more volume 2; smoothed out legato transitions so you cant hear them properly. 3; "more is more", and we all want to think that having 2 expensive libraries mixed together are gonna make the sound even better than with just one. What I've found out is that using just one library tends to give more expressiveness, realism and better mixes. Also, If i'm layering its almost always first chairs or a solo instrument of the same hall and developers and really quiet mixed into my sections, not another added section that blurs the sound. Also, vibrato ,the great tool for expressiveness, just get washed out with more string layers because they dont sync up. What I suggest is that you try to get 2 different libraries to sound as they are in the same hall, and then use them one at the time using their individual strengths wherever you see best fit. Also, the best string mockups I hear are all done with one library at the time anyways, but they layer articulations(!) from the same library to get different articulations that arent nessecary included with the library.

JXL gives some good reasons for layering libraries in the video.
 

Ashermusic

Senior Member
Why layer different libraries at all especially for strings? I used to layer all kinds og different string libraries and choirs. What happened is that there was a ton of frequiencies all over the place which just made the string sound bland, synthy and uncharacteristic. It smoothed out a lot of legato transitions to the point where you might as well use sustains and for the most part lost punch as the two or more samples had competing transients. Now, what fooled my ears was that there was 1; more volume 2; smoothed out legato transitions so you cant hear them properly. 3; "more is more", and we all want to think that having 2 expensive libraries mixed together are gonna make the sound even better than with just one. What I've found out is that using just one library tends to give more expressiveness, realism and better mixes. Also, If i'm layering its almost always first chairs or a solo instrument of the same hall and developers and really quiet mixed into my sections, not another added section that blurs the sound. Also, vibrato ,the great tool for expressiveness, just get washed out with more string layers because they dont sync up. What I suggest is that you try to get 2 different libraries to sound as they are in the same hall, and then use them one at the time using their individual strengths wherever you see best fit. Also, the best string mockups I hear are all done with one library at the time anyways, but they layer articulations(!) from the same library to get different articulations that arent nessecary included with the library.


Just not my experience.Layering libraries gives me a sound that I like and then my strings don't sound so much like everyone else's who use the same single library I could use if I didn't layer.

Real, schmeal, make it sound good. They are samples, not the real thing.
 

Paul T McGraw

Senior Member
Can't really comment on layering libraries as I have limited experience.

But I'm really enjoying the dark tower tutorial series. Learnt a lot from them in regards to layering, orchestration and composition.

Feeling very inspired right now and after watching the video the OP is referring to, really want to try my hand at writing some string runs.

Please share where can I find the "dark tower tutorial series"? I did a google search but no result.
 
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