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Samplemodeling Solo & Ensemble Strings Released

I like music

Senior Member
I'm hoping to pull together a proper test piece to put the library through its paces within the next couple days now that I'm starting to get a feel for how it works, but if I get time tonight, I'll throw together a quick example of how the timbral shaping sounds vs. the default.
Amazing! Would love to hear the test piece!
 

Sam Reed

stranger in a strange land
[...] they clearly sound "compressed" when compared to the natural dynamics, but I think it's nice to have it that way [...] people using the library in other contexts could benefit for that extra dynamic range.
I agree completely, I just meant that I wish every developer offered a choice of two patches to load: one "unlimited" patch and one "as close to reality as possible, including idiomatic quirks and limitations" patch. (Sort of similar to how in the SM string ensembles, they offer the choice of the standard ensemble patches and the "ensemble dry" patches; neither is better than the other, both are useful; it's just convenient for the user to have the choice which to load.) But, like I said before, I do understand that I'm a weirdo in this regard ;) Most people using samples probably see (as one example) a virtual tuba which can play impossibly clean and rapid passages in its lowest octave as a feature, whereas to me it's a bug.


I also want to get kind of a "bow-noise-only-instrument", so that I can add just the "bite" when it's needed.
That's a cool idea! I'm not sure I would have thought of that right away; thanks for mentioning it.
 

Sam Reed

stranger in a strange land
The gliss. goes indeed from g5 to g7, so it's perfectly possible in the violin (no "fake" harmonics in the library, then) [...] the first and second natural harmonics on the G string, and the first on the D string of the violin are missing in the library
Thank you for reporting back on this! It's good to know there aren't any impossible harmonics, but it's a bit disconcerting to learn that some of the lowest natural harmonics are missing. With any luck, this will be remedied in a future update.


So, the cause of my confusion was actually how the harmonics are mapped into the keyboard. They're not mapped as sounding pitches, nor are they mapped as stopped pitches
You know what would be really cool? A kontakt script (or a few scripts; I know very little how this stuff works) that triggers the appropriate harmonics when playing as one would on a real string instrument. I'm imagining something like this:

1) When set to natural harmonics, press the key of the open string you want (this keypress will need to act like a latching KS) and then a white-key glissando on the keyboard would produce the "firebird" gliss on natural harmonics for that string. (Somehow the script would have to add a little "fuzz" in between each node so it doesn't sound like a perfectly clean arpeggio. It would also have a different range for each instrument, since more upper partials are usable on the instruments with longer strings.)

2) When set to artificial harmonics, play intervals for the appropriate "touch-#th" harmonics. For instance, playing a perfect fourth on the keyboard would produce a harmonic sounding two octaves above the lower note, and playing a perfect fifth would produce a harmonic sounding an octave + fifth above the lower note, and so on. (The script could even detune some of the partials, when true to real life.)

3) Not sure how a script could accomplish seagull harmonic glissandi? That may require some under-the-hood magic directly from Samplemodeling.


I don't understand scripting at all and doubt I have the mental capacity to ever learn it. If I did, I would definitely make this and share it. Perhaps someday I'll have the spare cash to pay someone to build it.
 

Sam Reed

stranger in a strange land
After some continued poking around with the violin ensemble, I've found a timbral shaping setting that I think I like:
Hi pmcrockett,

Thanks so much for sharing your insights. Please continue to share as you discover new things. It is very helpful! (The timbral shaping controls in SM instruments has always been the hardest part to learn, for me.)

Thanks again,
Sam
 

Sam Reed

stranger in a strange land
I wanted to share another resource in case anyone else may find it helpful. These videos are classics and you've all probably seen them before, but at least for me, I found it enlightening to review them:




I went back to these videos mainly as a refresher on playing techniques, as it's been quite some time since I actually touched a string instrument. But in watching them again, I was struck by a few things that might be helpful when learning all the controls on the SM strings, particularly the tone-shaping controls.

Granat demonstrates different kinds of bowings and how they affect tone production, in a somewhat dry context (not dry as in reverb, but in the sense that when he plays, he's not trying to be expressive, and the examples aren't melodic - just isolated notes and scales).

For me at least, when referencing a recorded performance it's too easy to get seduced by the music, and end up focusing quite a bit on that even when trying to focus elsewhere. For anyone who suffers the same affliction, the examples in these videos will be valuable precisely because they are in isolation, sans expressivity. (Note: I doubt it would be useful to try to match this recording precisely -- at least on my system, it sounds a bit too mid-rangy and seems to suffer from some close-mic "presence effect." Other recordings will be better for precise side-by-side matching. But hearing the tonal differences he produces in relation to each other, outside of the context of a musical line, I think could be very valuable when learning to shape the timbral controls, at least for people like me who aren't wizz-kids at it.)

When he demonstrates sul tasto, it occurs to me that with enough experimentation, this must already be effective and attainable using the built-in timbral controls. (Ponticello is probably a different story; that sound is so chaotic and ever-changing, we probably need Samplemodeling to work some magic for us in a future update.)

Another thing I realized from these videos that I'm surprised I didn't notice before: the sympathetic resonance of the open strings ringing out whenever the bow or the left hand doesn't attempt to damp them. Is there a way to do that with SM strings?

And of course, there's far more value in these vids than what I've mentioned here. If anyone reading this hasn't already seen them, you're missing out!


(p.s. The two vids listed above are the instrument-specific ones. Part 1 in the series doesn't discuss the instrument, but has some delightful little anecdotes from Granat's career.)

(p.p.s. Has anyone out there purchased the Itzhak Perlman masterclass? It's on my wish list, but for the foreseeable future, "spare money" = 🦄)
 

Vardaro

Active Member
It's a hommage to the depth of SM strings that folks seem far more demanding than usual! (Mind you, I only have Embertone, Chris Hein, Kirk Hunter, and Xsample.) In fact Xsample has more bells & whistles than most: ringing open strings, Bartok pizzcato, bowing behind the bridge....
 

Don Cajon

New Member
I had a hard time deciding whether I should get this or not. Some of the Ensemble demos sound just unbelievably great while others put me off completely. However, the SM brass is my favorite of all libraries ever made on this planet. The AM woods and strings sound okeyish (great playability but often with an unnatural synthetic sound quality to it) and it was my hope that SM could surpass the achievements of AM in the sound quality domain.

After reading this thread, I decided to give it a try as the most convincing parts of the sound demos are the things that conventional string libraries struggle with (dynamics that feel human, runs, general playability). And I must say I'm super happy that I put my doubts aside. This thing is awesome. I just played it for some minutes and am blown away by the playability and expressiveness.

I also experienced some things that I didn't find convincing at all, but I'll use the next days to study the manual and get more insight into how this library works and how it's supposed to be played.

However, as @Giorgio Tommasini is watching this thread, I have some feedback already that I wish SM to consider for the next update. To this post attached are two files. "SM Pizzicato Bugs - MoreVariationsPlease" is a simplistic rendering of some pizzicato notes on a g and a c# played on the solo cello. It sounds like the instrument uses just a single pizzicato sample per note without any variations. It seems to me there are 3-4 dynamic layers in use, but within each dynamic layer a different velocity just leads to a different volume of the same sample. This makes the sound of multiple pizzicati in a row quite machine gun like to me. I think this would greatly benefit from adding variation samples!

Also attached is the "SM Pizzicato Bugs - StrangeSustains", again the solo cello playing pizzicato. This time I'm striking with an increasingly higher velocity each keystroke. What I hear is that the first g in the range of velocity 90, the c# starting with velocity 50 and the last g in the range of velocity 90 sound more like a bad piano than cello pizzicato. This seems to come from a kind of sustain layer fading in too strong - at least that is how it sounds to me. I guess this needs more subtle adjustment? Also irritating with the last g repetitions is how playing the lowest velocity the pizzicato is quite rich of high frequencies, around velocity 50 these high frequencies vanish suddenly and around velocity 90 the high frequencies are back.

Normally, SM instruments are extremely good at transitioning from one point to another (for instance ppp to fff or non-vibrato to vibrato). To me, the pizzicatos are not at the level I'd expect from them.

The slapped pizzicato of the solo cellos g in the file "SM Pizzicato Bugs - StrangeSustains" sounds like a g# instead of a g. I guess this is just a sample placed at the wrong key?

Anyway, I'm happy I got the library and am thrilled to explore more of it, tomorrow.
 

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eli0s

Active Member
Without a proper walkthrough video displaying and showcasing the library's functionality I find it very hard to justify the purchase. The examples so far aren't as ground breaking as I would have hoped for and the technical aspects that might set this library apart from the competition are obscure.
Finaly, the gui of the library is way below the today's standard. I would have expected something more towards audiobro 's genesis and modern brass gui' s. IDEALLY, a clear and coherent interface with most of the functionality fully accessible from the main page and with player count, position and distance graphically displayed.
I hope that future development and a proper walkthrough will convince me to buy the library, I own all of the sm (audiomodeling nowadays) strings but I am not satisfied with their tone at all so, I had so many hopes from samplemodeling to pull this off.
 

Garry

Senior Member
Without a proper walkthrough video displaying and showcasing the library's functionality I find it very hard to justify the purchase. The examples so far aren't as ground breaking as I would have hoped for and the technical aspects that might set this library apart from the competition are obscure.
Finaly, the gui of the library is way below the today's standard. I would have expected something more towards audiobro 's genesis and modern brass gui' s. IDEALLY, a clear and coherent interface with most of the functionality fully accessible from the main page and with player count, position and distance graphically displayed.
I hope that future development and a proper walkthrough will convince me to buy the library, I own all of the sm (audiomodeling nowadays) strings but I am not satisfied with their tone at all so, I had so many hopes from samplemodeling to pull this off.
As another SM/AM owner of all their other products, I completely agree with this.

I don't think developers can expect to release libraries these days without a full exposition of it, particularly given what their competition make available. Compare this to Spitfire for example, typically comprising Paul's walkthrough, Oliver/Homay's 'in action', and Christian's contextual accompanies all of the major releases, in addition to 4-5 audio demos. Of course I acknowledge that Spitfire are a much bigger company with more resources and personnel, but what would it take for SM staff to produce a simple walkthrough of each instrument & patch, and show the DAW contents for one of the demos that were created for the library. I was extremely impressed by the audio demos they provided (though others apparently weren't), but this is not sufficient for me to buy a library, as this doesn't show me what the library is likely to be like in MY hands. If SM let their intro price period expire without uploading a detailed walkthrough video, I think they will lose a lot of potential customers. I hope they don't make that mistake, because I think they deserve for it to be a success, because from what I hear of it so far, it's a wonderful instrument.

I also made this comment on pg 1 of this thread, and SM haven't responded to this point, so I hope the fact that others have expressed similar opinions, will prompt action from the developers. This is your opportunity to really showcase what you have achieved!
 
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pmcrockett

Senior Member
Okay, here's an example of default vs. realtime timbral shaping. The default example is the violin ensemble the way it loads initially, except that it's been switched to breath controller mode. The MIDI data is the same for both examples. I performed it with the timbral shaping then removed the timbral CC data for the default example. It's mostly unedited except to fix wrong notes. The timbral shaping example has the high overtone control linked to the low overtone control instead of to the middle overtone control as I describe in my previous post on this. This linking also doesn't seem to work correctly in the engine -- if you set two timbral groups to the same CC, only one of them reads the CC data, so I ended up having to copy the low overtone data onto a separate CC for the high overtones.

There's still work to be done on this, for sure. There are sections in the timbral shaping example where it sounds too much like a filter being applied, and I think this is mostly because I'm pulling the middle overtones out too much and/or too abruptly. I think constraining the CC data to a smaller range will help combat this. But to me, the timbral shaping example sounds overall a lot more three-dimensional than the default example.
 

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Don Cajon

New Member
Finaly, the gui of the library is way below the today's standard. I would have expected something more towards audiobro 's genesis and modern brass gui' s. IDEALLY, a clear and coherent interface with most of the functionality fully accessible from the main page and with player count, position and distance graphically displayed.
I don't know... I just need the GUI for setting up the instrument and the current one gets the job done. Once I'm done with that, the rest happens through controllers and MIDI editors. No need to constantly open up Kontakt.

Without a proper walkthrough video displaying and showcasing the library's functionality I find it very hard to justify the purchase.
Something like a video walkthrough would have been great, indeed.
 

VVEremita

New Member
From what I hear in most of the demos I actually think that the overall sound is quite beautiful. After all, all of this is virtual. Even a recorded live performance is not the real thing but virtual in some way.

I want a convincing outcome. I think that, depending on the composition, a lively expressive performance could be more convincing for listeners than the perfect natural "tone" in a lot of occasions.

I am looking forward to a full walkthrough and more demos to see if it fits my specific needs.
 

justthere

Member
Your efforts towards plumbing the depths of these VI's are greatly appreciated.

Would you consider printing one of these with more of a dynamic vibrato thing happening?

Okay, here's an example of default vs. realtime timbral shaping. The default example is the violin ensemble the way it loads initially, except that it's been switched to breath controller mode. The MIDI data is the same for both examples. I performed it with the timbral shaping then removed the timbral CC data for the default example. It's mostly unedited except to fix wrong notes. The timbral shaping example has the high overtone control linked to the low overtone control instead of to the middle overtone control as I describe in my previous post on this. This linking also doesn't seem to work correctly in the engine -- if you set two timbral groups to the same CC, only one of them reads the CC data, so I ended up having to copy the low overtone data onto a separate CC for the high overtones.

There's still work to be done on this, for sure. There are sections in the timbral shaping example where it sounds too much like a filter being applied, and I think this is mostly because I'm pulling the middle overtones out too much and/or too abruptly. I think constraining the CC data to a smaller range will help combat this. But to me, the timbral shaping example sounds overall a lot more three-dimensional than the default example.
 

Gene Cornelius

New Member
OK, so I'm having some luck, but not there yet. Speaking only about the violin, it is fairly accurate to say I'm aiming for a sound/feel that is most similar to the violin in the Anne Dudley Poldark Theme. To say I'm botching that would be also accurate.

Also, I've been composing with Maschine, mk3. I use the Maschine pads and also my S88 keyboard to write and fiddle about. What I NEED to do is to move my creation process back over to ProTools ... Maschine's MIDI implementation and editing is horrible, and while the setup is conducive to creative flow, it makes it next to impossible to fix things without breaking other things, including, but not limited to that fact that it's not saving some of my input for some reason. It is also why you will hear dropouts in the violin. (the rest of the flaws are just me being lame ... it's a work in progress, and I'm very slow).

So here are two iterations of the same song: One with Fluffy Audio's Trio Bros Violin, which is what I used when writing. The other version is of course the SM Violin, which for the life of me I cannot make it NOT sound like a clarinet.

THe piano is NI Noire, and the cellos are Chris Hein.

I WISH WISH WISH that the makers of SM Strings had included several style presets - even as broad as "Classical" "Gypsy" "Contemporary" that were playable out of the box. I also wish for a way for us to share snapshots or presets ... is there? So far my attempts to save those always come back incomplete ... something is always missing, including, but not limited to, Timbral Shaping presets ... ???

Here is the SM Violin version:
Here is the Fluffy Audio version:
 

pmcrockett

Senior Member
Your efforts towards plumbing the depths of these VI's are greatly appreciated.

Would you consider printing one of these with more of a dynamic vibrato thing happening?
There's a bit of vibrato in the examples I posted, but I find the vibrato in general to be pretty subtle except at very high values. Not a very musical demonstration, but here's a note played with increasing vibrato with the built-in reverb off. The vibrato rate is set to 77, the intensity increases from 0 to 127 over the first five notes, then the sixth note adds expressive vibrato set to 74. Then the whole example repeats with the reverb turned on.
 

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pmcrockett

Senior Member
OK, so I'm having some luck, but not there yet. Speaking only about the violin, it is fairly accurate to say I'm aiming for a sound/feel that is most similar to the violin in the Anne Dudley Poldark Theme. To say I'm botching that would be also accurate.

Also, I've been composing with Maschine, mk3. I use the Maschine pads and also my S88 keyboard to write and fiddle about. What I NEED to do is to move my creation process back over to ProTools ... Maschine's MIDI implementation and editing is horrible, and while the setup is conducive to creative flow, it makes it next to impossible to fix things without breaking other things, including, but not limited to that fact that it's not saving some of my input for some reason. It is also why you will hear dropouts in the violin. (the rest of the flaws are just me being lame ... it's a work in progress, and I'm very slow).

So here are two iterations of the same song: One with Fluffy Audio's Trio Bros Violin, which is what I used when writing. The other version is of course the SM Violin, which for the life of me I cannot make it NOT sound like a clarinet.

THe piano is NI Noire, and the cellos are Chris Hein.

I WISH WISH WISH that the makers of SM Strings had included several style presets - even as broad as "Classical" "Gypsy" "Contemporary" that were playable out of the box. I also wish for a way for us to share snapshots or presets ... is there? So far my attempts to save those always come back incomplete ... something is always missing, including, but not limited to, Timbral Shaping presets ... ???

Here is the SM Violin version:
Here is the Fluffy Audio version:
I think the main trouble is note attacks, which need to be spikier and more varied, particularly in sections like at 1:20. I'm not sure how exactly you have MIDI input set up, but if you're using the standard CC11 for expression and aren't using a CC11 controller that gives you a high degree of control over spiky attacks (e.g. a breath controller), you may need to play around with Vel. to Dynamics (Controllers 2 page), which lets you dial in key velocity to control attacks (higher means the key velocity has more influence). Attack Time (Controllers 1 page) sets the length of time that it takes for attack expression set by key velocity to go back to the CC11 value, which isn't explained too clearly in the manual (EDIT: It's explained in the Playing Techniques/Detached Notes section, not the controllers section). I think high attack time is probably better than low for most things, but I haven't played around with it much because I'm using a breath controller and have Vel. to Dynamics disabled.
 
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Gene Cornelius

New Member
I think I'd agree with that ... my attacks are actually "missing". I am using TEControl Wind controller .. is there a significant difference between that and a breath controller?

I don't have Vel. to Dynamics disabled ... hmmm.

The "clarinety" sound I complain of is during sustains. No matter how I fiddle with (I know .. the pun, the pun!) the Timbral shaping, it is always there.

I think the main trouble is note attacks, which need to be spikier and more varied, particularly in sections like at 1:20. I'm not sure how exactly you have MIDI input set up, but if you're using the standard CC11 for expression and aren't using a CC11 controller that gives you a high degree of control over spiky attacks (e.g. a breath controller), you may need to play around with Vel. to Dynamics (Controllers 2 page), which lets you dial in key velocity to control attacks (higher means the key velocity has more influence). Attack Time (Controllers 1 page) sets the length of time that it takes for attack expression set by key velocity to go back to the CC11 value, which isn't explained too clearly in the manual. I think high attack time is probably better than low for most things, but I haven't played around with it much because I'm using a breath controller and have Vel. to Dynamics disabled.
 

pmcrockett

Senior Member
I think I'd agree with that ... my attacks are actually "missing". I am using TEControl Wind controller .. is there a significant difference between that and a breath controller?

I don't have Vel. to Dynamics disabled ... hmmm.

The "clarinety" sound I complain of is during sustains. No matter how I fiddle with (I know .. the pun, the pun!) the Timbral shaping, it is always there.
TEC controllers are actually what I'm referring to when I say breath controller. I'm using a TEC as well. So I'd definitely suggest trying it with Vel. to Dynamics turned down to 0. I have Breath Controller mode turned on (Breath controller page), which changes expression from CC11 to CC2 and more importantly auto-disables Vel. to Dynamics and changes it so that notes cut off completely when you're not breathing through the controller. It's a matter of taste, really, but I prefer it.

As far as playing technique goes, especially on the solo instruments I rearticulate with a tongued tah on the controller for any note that should be a bow change. I only use a continuous air stream if the notes are on the same bow. Holding the sustain pedal also creates a velocity-based bow change on the next note, though I haven't used that much so I'm not sure how it compares to rearticulating with the controller.
 

jaketanner

Senior Member
Here's Saxer's example processed using an effects chain that's pretty similar to what I often use on other dry instruments. (Saxer, if you don't want me to post this, let me know and I'll take it down.)

I gotta say, I'm liking how this sounds.

For anyone wondering, the specific effects I'm using are (in order):
Waves TransX Multi (transient shaping to emphasize attacks on upper frequencies)
Type Writer X (stereo imager/reverb to slightly widen the stereo field and fuzz the sound up a bit)
Flux Spat (early reflections from projecting the sound upward)
EW Spaces 2 (reverb, Abravanel Violins-Celli FR TS 3.0s)
Zynaptiq Intensity (harmonic exciter/compressor, sort of -- brings out the character of the sound a bit)
Overloud Gem EQ550 (hardware modeled EQ)
I much prefer the raw sample..this sounds way too processed for my taste..
 
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