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Rating the Native Instruments Symphony series

chocobitz825

Senior Member
Seeing that the NI’s symphony series is a collaboration with reliable companies (see below);

String Ensembles collaboration with Audiobro
Brass/Woodwind collaboration with Soundiron
Percussion with sonuscore

My question is, how do people feel this NI offering stacks up when compared with products from the companies they collaborated with? Would anyone say that NI’s is just watered down, or is it a competitive and useful alternative?
 
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Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
I got NI Percussion Full for $100 and I think it's worth it for that price if you need the core articulations for snares, cymbals, timpani, etc. The pitched percussion isn't great, so I'd recommend going elsewhere for vibes, marimba, celeste.

But there are useful features like modwheel controlled rolls and cymbal swells, and the resonance builder. The timpani is decent for my tastes, though some might find it a little on the dull side.

I don't have other Sonuscore products so I can't really compare them with this. I think the NI Percussion is decent with some interesting innovative features but not a home run.
 
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Seeing that the NI’s symphony series is a collaboration with reliable companies (see below);

String Ensembles collaboration with Audiobro
Brass/Woodwind collaboration with Soundiron
Percussion with sonuscore

My question is, how do people feel this NI offering stacks up when compared with products from the companies they collaborated with? Would anyone say that NI’s is just watered down, or is it a competitive and useful alternative?
I agree with the summation of @Land of Missing Parts as far as the Percussion goes (and I too lack any other sonuscore products to compare it to). I also lack any other AudioBro products, so I won’t attempt to cover the strings.

However, I do own lots of Soundiron products (probably at least two dozen). They aren’t my favorite sampling company, but they certainly have made lots of usable stuff. Within the spectrum of their libraries, I’d say the Brass ensemble library is close to being an average entry for them, usable in some contexts but flawed for traditional orchestra usage. I might have kept on using it if only the raw samples had a little more detail, which they perhaps could have accomplished if the sections were a bit smaller (but then again, I have 12 horn samples from other companies that still have more detail than does this one). Although it has a nice, warm tone, the library is also recorded too wet in my opinion (which takes on additional meaning since I don’t even have the same complaint about my suite of Spitfire libraries). I think each of the above complaints can mainly be attributed to my not caring for the muddy and highly reverberant sound of the space (a cathedral, I think) that this was recorded in.

The Woodwinds ensemble library I personally view as one of Soundiron’s least useful libraries (and the worst of the NI Symphony Series). It suffers from the same problems as does the Brass, but to a much higher degree … these woodwind sections are so oversized, drenched in the room sound and almost “amplified sounding” that I really struggled to do anything with them at all in an orchestral context and quickly gave up on the library. Maybe it could be useful in musical contexts other than the ones I try to use, but I can’t say for certain about that.

Given the failures of both of these ensemble libraries, especially the woodwinds, I really haven’t spent enough time with either of the solo libraries to express an opinion. (I’m actually thinking I should revisit those solo libraries again in isolation, to see if there is anything usable there or not.)
 

ptram

Senior Member
I don't think that NI's Symphony Series has been conceived for normal symphony orchestra usage. I see it as an 'epic' orchestra, with overpowered sections. It makes sense, since NI is more interested in cinematic libraries, than classical writing.

Paolo
 

storyteller

Senior Member
I started to write a big dissertation about these libraries in reply to the OP, but I think you can sum it up as follows:

1) Strings: The best of the bunch. If you are willing to program your parts in with the various controls available to you, outstanding results can be achieved. If not, the result will not sound "real" though it will still sound "good." A lot of novice users have put out subpar demos for this library. It can sound woody and brittle if not properly processed. You can also just use Divisi A, or Divisi B which can give you a smaller, more intimate sound.

2) Brass: Beautiful, but wet, wet, wet. Big, big, big. This gives it a blurry sound if not controlled. By using only close mics and pulling back the release times, it is much more controllable. In some ways, the sound can be exactly what you want. In others, more detail may be desired. There are some wonderful samples in here... especially the special arts and fx. They need a heavy dose of EQ to shine, otherwise you will have mud in your orchestral mix.

3) Brass Solo: Still wet, but there are some wonderful samples in here... particularly the trumpet. By transposing each instrument up one whole step and then transposing midi input down one whole step (as well as doing this in reverse), you can build a full ensemble from the instruments for a "more detailed" approach than the ensemble provides. In effect, you can achieve up to a 3/3/6/3 section size. So... for what the ensemble lacks in detail, it can be made up with clever programming from the solo instruments. These also need a heavy dose of EQ to truly shine.

3) Winds: I never tried them. I bought Berlin Woodwinds from Day 1 and have never looked back. She's my Love. Also, I've never liked the demos of these guys. On the flip side, Jay Asher wrote a glowing review of them and he is rather picky about what he uses (and has a good ear!). So I am sure there is something there....

4) Percussion: Never tried these either, but demos sound decent. I think it probably serves the general purpose really well. I've used Spitfire Percussion Redux from Day 1 and have never looked back here either.


What I learned after choosing the Strings and Brass libraries as my primary instruments when they were first released:
Well, the strings can sound beautiful if you take the time to use them correctly. I spent a ton of time getting the sound I desired in a "virtual hall" i liked. I never liked the mixed mics. I've purchased other string libraries since then, but still come back to NISSSE as my bigger and orchestral string sound. As for detailed strings? I'm currently loving Century Strings. As for Brass? Well, i've bounced around a bit there too. NISSBE and NISSBS are not do-it-all wonders. They have certain niches. Taming the wetness was very difficult at first. Once I started trying to understand why they sounded so wet in comparison to other brass libraries I owned, I realized that much of it can be resolved through EQ and similar sounds to the other leading brass libraries can be achieved. Short story here? Neither Strings nor Brass are out-of-the-box fantastic, but can produce stellar results once you figure out the issues. The brass is HEAVY in the 200-300hz range for example. My current favorite for brass is Century Brass - so detailed, so good! Hope that helps!
 

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
I started to write a big dissertation about these libraries in reply to the OP, but I think you can sum it up as follows:

1) Strings: The best of the bunch. If you are willing to program your parts in with the various controls available to you, outstanding results can be achieved. If not, the result will not sound "real" though it will still sound "good." A lot of novice users have put out subpar demos for this library. It can sound woody and brittle if not properly processed. You can also just use Divisi A, or Divisi B which can give you a smaller, more intimate sound.

2) Brass: Beautiful, but wet, wet, wet. Big, big, big. This gives it a blurry sound if not controlled. By using only close mics and pulling back the release times, it is much more controllable. In some ways, the sound can be exactly what you want. In others, more detail may be desired. There are some wonderful samples in here... especially the special arts and fx. They need a heavy dose of EQ to shine, otherwise you will have mud in your orchestral mix.

3) Brass Solo: Still wet, but there are some wonderful samples in here... particularly the trumpet. By transposing each instrument up one whole step and then transposing midi input down one whole step (as well as doing this in reverse), you can build a full ensemble from the instruments for a "more detailed" approach than the ensemble provides. In effect, you can achieve up to a 3/3/6/3 section size. So... for what the ensemble lacks in detail, it can be made up with clever programming from the solo instruments. These also need a heavy dose of EQ to truly shine.

3) Winds: I never tried them. I bought Berlin Woodwinds from Day 1 and have never looked back. She's my Love. Also, I've never liked the demos of these guys. On the flip side, Jay Asher wrote a glowing review of them and he is rather picky about what he uses (and has a good ear!). So I am sure there is something there....

4) Percussion: Never tried these either, but demos sound decent. I think it probably serves the general purpose really well. I've used Spitfire Percussion Redux from Day 1 and have never looked back here either.


What I learned after choosing the Strings and Brass libraries as my primary instruments when they were first released:
Well, the strings can sound beautiful if you take the time to use them correctly. I spent a ton of time getting the sound I desired in a "virtual hall" i liked. I never liked the mixed mics. I've purchased other string libraries since then, but still come back to NISSSE as my bigger and orchestral string sound. As for detailed strings? I'm currently loving Century Strings. As for Brass? Well, i've bounced around a bit there too. NISSBE and NISSBS are not do-it-all wonders. They have certain niches. Taming the wetness was very difficult at first. Once I started trying to understand why they sounded so wet in comparison to other brass libraries I owned, I realized that much of it can be resolved through EQ and similar sounds to the other leading brass libraries can be achieved. Short story here? Neither Strings nor Brass are out-of-the-box fantastic, but can produce stellar results once you figure out the issues. The brass is HEAVY in the 200-300hz range for example. My current favorite for brass is Century Brass - so detailed, so good! Hope that helps!
Out of curiosity, do you use BWW Revive or the pre-Revive version?
 

markleake

Recovering sale addict
I bought the whole series recently. They are very different to other libraries I have, you really need to play around with the mics and other settings to tame them. I've only just started using them, so have plenty to learn.

My first impression was that the brass was better than I expected. It tends to get too brassy too quickly for me, and I'm not a fan of the horns, but the trumpets and trombones I really liked. The shorts can sound pretty good. Both ensemble and solos can sound very good, and there are some very useful articulations. But you have to be willing to accept the various inconsistencies these entire series seems to be riddled with, and be aware that the washy sound will be something you are always fighting.

The percussion is reasonable, if you mostly ignore the tuned percussion. The timpani are good, but like stated above, may not be the kind of sound you want from the timpani as they lack much liveliness. The rest of the tuned percussion is usable if all you need is basic limited articulations. The celesta sound like a joke instrument (I don't know what they were thinking!)

The woods are often pretty bad - that solo clarinet is horrible. But there are some hidden gems in there. The trills are strange, in that they are very slow, but when you use them in a track, and you suddenly realise how useful they are.

The strings are the pick of the bunch. I wasn't expecting much from the strings, but they are the standout. They can sound harsh and woody (when you don't put in the effort with them). But they can also sound wonderfully detailed, warm and blending well when mixed with other instruments, and each section of the divisi when played mostly alone is fantastically imaged in the soundstage. This last point is probably their best selling point, and makes me quite excited to see what I can do with them. They are limited with the short articulations, and the shorts are OK but not great. I've struggled with the legatos a fair bit, which I've found can be solved by giving up and using the portamentos instead, just sped up to max speed.
 

Alex Fraser

Senior Member
I bought the whole series recently. They are very different to other libraries I have, you really need to play around with the mics and other settings to tame them. I've only just started using them, so have plenty to learn.

My first impression was that the brass was better than I expected. It tends to get too brassy too quickly for me, and I'm not a fan of the horns, but the trumpets and trombones I really liked. The shorts can sound pretty good. Both ensemble and solos can sound very good, and there are some very useful articulations. But you have to be willing to accept the various inconsistencies these entire series seems to be riddled with, and be aware that the washy sound will be something you are always fighting.

The percussion is reasonable, if you mostly ignore the tuned percussion. The timpani are good, but like stated above, may not be the kind of sound you want from the timpani as they lack much liveliness. The rest of the tuned percussion is usable if all you need is basic limited articulations. The celesta sound like a joke instrument (I don't know what they were thinking!)

The woods are often pretty bad - that solo clarinet is horrible. But there are some hidden gems in there. The trills are strange, in that they are very slow, but when you use them in a track, and you suddenly realise how useful they are.

The strings are the pick of the bunch. I wasn't expecting much from the strings, but they are the standout. They can sound harsh and woody (when you don't put in the effort with them). But they can also sound wonderfully detailed, warm and blending well when mixed with other instruments, and each section of the divisi when played mostly alone is fantastically imaged in the soundstage. This last point is probably their best selling point, and makes me quite excited to see what I can do with them. They are limited with the short articulations, and the shorts are OK but not great. I've struggled with the legatos a fair bit, which I've found can be solved by giving up and using the portamentos instead, just sped up to max speed.
Pretty much my thoughts.
I found putting a low pass filter on the wood solos (like the clarinet) made them much more usable. If you assign this filter to the same CC you use for dynamics, the sounds actually become quite workable. The filter is available as part of the instrument patch.
Also, for most of the time based articulations (like trills) - time stretch versions can be found in the separate articulation patches.

And yep, that celesta. Ouch.
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
Anyone else who encounters the hanging note fix on strings and any word from NI about a fix? All I ever found was a thread where people continued to complain for months.
 

procreative

Senior Member
One thing that drove me nuts on the Legato was that you had to leave a gap to get the transitions the opposite of most other libraries. Then I discovered that this was only the behaviour if you had Auto Divisi switched on.

I think this is to enable polyphonic legato.

So once I realised that I save out a patch just for Legato and switched Divisi off just for that.
 

storyteller

Senior Member
Anyone else who encounters the hanging note fix on strings and any word from NI about a fix? All I ever found was a thread where people continued to complain for months.
I've not experienced the hanging note issue since they first patched the library shortly after the initial release. Originally the brass and strings both had hanging notes, but that was resolved not long thereafter.

I also do the same thing that @procreative and @markleake suggested. You can achieve a great "blurred run" sound by using the fast portamento trick, too.
 

sostenuto

Big NKS Fan !
Have had K11U, plus many touted Orch libs, for years.
After this, if I buy another someone should come after me with a net …. :sleep:

Great job @ JMJ33101 ! :thumbsup:
 

BezO

The Artisan
I upgraded to the full Series during their last 50% sale. All of my orchestral instruments come from Komplete Ultimate, so I have nothing to compare them to outside of demos. For my purposes, they work great. But I don't make orchestral music. I use them to add orchestral & cinematic elements & effects. I find the stereo, close & mid mics most useful, but will use the far mics to push something way back in a mix.
 

Shredoverdrive

Active Member
Does anyone have the same level inconsistencies as me in the strings (essential version)? The double-basses pizz, for instance, are unusable.
More on the topic, I have to reassert my dislike for the NISE Woodwinds solo and ensemble. They are the worst libraries (IMO) of a company I otherwise like a lot. I am really not sure the full versions can cope with their birth deficiencies (listed above in other posts).
For the others, I agree with what is said above.
Strings and percs are good but not stellar.
Brass are Meh and subaquatic wet.
 

JMJ33101

Member
Does anyone have the same level inconsistencies as me in the strings (essential version)? The double-basses pizz, for instance, are unusable.
More on the topic, I have to reassert my dislike for the NISE Woodwinds solo and ensemble. They are the worst libraries (IMO) of a company I otherwise like a lot. I am really not sure the full versions can cope with their birth deficiencies (listed above in other posts).
For the others, I agree with what is said above.
Strings and percs are good but not stellar.
Brass are Meh and subaquatic wet.
The Percussion works for me pretty good considering I have the Series version. The good thing about the Percussion is that you can of 2 instances of Timpani and have one with a close mic for it to be like the “Principal Timpanist” then the other one with a mix of the Mid and Far mics with a little less close mic than the first Timpani for an “Assistant Timpanist” if you some reality in Classical Pieces like The Planets. For the Brass I don’t use any of the convolution reverbs and I just use Space designer for reverb on All of the sections. I only use the Trumpets and Horns because of the power. Just my 2 cents. On those 2 sections
 

JMJ33101

Member
The Percussion works for me pretty good considering I have the Series version. The good thing about the Percussion is that you can of 2 instances of Timpani and have one with a close mic for it to be like the “Principal Timpanist” then the other one with a mix of the Mid and Far mics with a little less close mic than the first Timpani for an “Assistant Timpanist” if you some reality in Classical Pieces like The Planets. For the Brass I don’t use any of the convolution reverbs and I just use Space designer for reverb on All of the sections. I only use the Trumpets and Horns because of the power. Just my 2 cents. On those 2 sections
If you *want some realism.
 
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