SCS, CSS ... is it possible to pan the sections wherever you want?

Is it possible to pan sections in CSS, SCS wherever you want without them sounding weird?


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tim727

Active Member
Edited original post to reflect the shift in focus of this thread to one particular issue:

Looking at getting either SCS or CSS for black friday (SCS will be 25% off so around $500 and CSS will be 20% off so around $320) but had a quick question:

I noticed that both SCS and CSS are recorded "in position". Let's say that I wanted the violins to sit on the right instead ... or for the cellos so sit on the left, etc., if I simply pan them in that fashion will it sound terrible? Am I basically forced to have each section sitting in the same place (panning-wise) where it was originally recorded?

Thanks for your help! (Also please forgive what may be newbie questions. I've been composing for a few years now but am only just getting into the orchestral libs!)

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Additional questions originally asked in first version of original post that were subsequently satisfactorily answered and are no longer the focus of this thread:

(2) For SCS, if I get the main library, how important is it to get the expansion as well. It seems that all it really gives you are some additional mic positions ... are these really crucial to getting a great sound? Or should the main lib be enough?

(3) Is CSS capable of producing a "smaller sound" if needed? And is SCS capable of producing a "bigger sound" if needed? Is either one capable of working in the context of an "epic" piece ... or are they both much more well suited to more low-key, emotional work?
 
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prodigalson

Senior Member
(1) Not really. Neither library is especially dry (CSS is moreso) and so dramatically panning the mic positions that contain stereo room information (tree, ambient, room etc) will essentially pan the entire room, walls and all, to that location. A little panning is usually not that obvious but I suspect moving the violins all the way to the right won't sound quite right to you. Whether or not its "terrible" is subjective but chances are it won't sound as good left as it is. The close mics on the other hand can generally be panned wherever you like but in SCS especially, the magic is in the other mics.

(2) The extra mics are not crucial to getting a great sound but they do give you a different sound. I was working on a very quiet track today and pulled up a general CTAO mix and it was just sounding a bit too aggressive and in your face for what was required. I went to the alt mics and pulled up the Stereo pair, the close ribbon and gallery and it was just the sound I wanted. smoother, warmer and a bit less wide-screen. But 90% of my work with SCS has been with the main mics

(3) SCS is more capable of being bigger than CSS is of being smaller IMO. You can double instances of SCS using the transposition trick and get a thicker sound. CSS sounds how it sounds, you can't really make it sound like there's less players.

I love CSS but if I were you I would go for SCS. I've had it for several years and still to this day sometimes I pull it up and am taken aback by how great it sounds.
 

CQrity

Member
(1) I noticed that both SCS and CSS are recorded "in position". Let's say that I wanted the violins to sit on the right instead ... or for the cellos so sit on the left, etc., if I simply pan them in that fashion will it sound terrible? Am I basically forced to have each section sitting in the same place (panning-wise) where it was originally recorded?
You could switch the left and right channel, then they are sitting on the right hand side :D

(3) Is CSS capable of producing a "smaller sound" if needed? And is SCS capable of producing a "bigger sound" if needed? Is either one capable of working in the context of an "epic" piece ... or are they both much more well suited to more low-key, emotional work?
SCS have what, 16 players? Its really different soundwise. Check the playthroughs, you instantly will recognize the difference.
Bigger for SCS might be easier through layering. But taking the same samples again might be difficult.
You could play in the same line again on another Kontakt instance a halftone step deeper and pitch it up again to get different sounds.
 
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tim727

Active Member
@prodigalson

(1) Regarding your comment that with SCS a lot of the magic is in the other mics ... I just want to clarify my understanding. So first off, if someone who is using SCS were using all three mics (CTA) then in most cases they would NOT also be using an external reverb (i.e. QL Spaces, Altiverb etc) correct? Which also means that if I did want to pan the violins to the right for instance, that I would then not only have to only leave the close mics on (while turning off the T and A mics) but I would also then need to use a reverb on that sound in order to have any sense of space, right?

If that's correct, then it seems that the tradeoff being made is the following: I would be losing the sense of space of Lyndhurst hall (that is largely supplied by the T and A mics since the close mics have very little "room information" I imagine) and instead replacing it with a different space of my choosing (supplied by the external convolution/algorithmic reverb) in order to be able to pan the instrument where I wish. Is that a correct assessment?

As a bit of additional background, the reason that I'm so concerned about this is that I don't know if I'll necessarily be composing a lot of full-on traditional orchestral music. For someone who is doing that, I imagine there is no issue at all with the instruments begin recorded in position because that's just where a composer would traditionally place the instruments in their final mix anyway. For me though, I will probably mostly be doing more "hybrid" sort of work. Up until this point my focus has been on evocative ethnic music (Celtic, middle eastern, medieval) and I envision myself moving toward composing somewhat "bigger" pieces that are still in that general style. So for instance instead of a celtic piece with a number of solo instruments, it would be a celtic piece that has a number of solo instruments but ALSO has a backing string ensemble ... and maybe some brass ... and a choir, etc. Given the fact though that these pieces won't necessary be incorporating a full, classical kind of orchestral setup it would be really nice and in fact possibly quite important for me to be able to pan the instruments where I wish.

(2) That's very helpful to know, thanks. My main concern was that it was almost a necessity, but given the fact that you're saying you've done the majority of your work without the expansion that definitely allays my fears.

(3) That makes sense, thank you!
 
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tim727

Active Member
You could switch the left and right channel, then they are sitting on the right hand side :D


SCS have what, 16 players? Its really different soundwise. Check the playthroughs, you instantly will recognize the difference.
Bigger for SCS might be easier through layering. But taking the same samples again might be difficult.
You could play in the same line again on another Kontakt instance a halftone step deeper and pitch it up again to get different sounds.
Is it possible to switch the left and right channel in Kontakt? So for instance just for the violins, I could take the right signal and route it to the left and vice versa? I wasn't sure if you were joking or not :P
 

CQrity

Member
Is it possible to switch the left and right channel in Kontakt? So for instance just for the violins, I could take the right signal and route it to the left and vice versa? I wasn't sure if you were joking or not :P
It was kind of serious :D
I have no clue how to actually do it, but it should work. Earlier this day I saw a video of someone who double the NI Symphonic Strings or how they are called with that technique. Unfortunately I really can't recall the name and it wasn't my pc. Just google the topic ;)
 

prodigalson

Senior Member
(1) Regarding your comment that with SCS a lot of the magic is in the other mics ... I just want to clarify my understanding. So first off, if someone who is using SCS were using all three mics (CTA) then in most cases they would NOT also be using an external reverb (i.e. QL Spaces, Altiverb etc) correct? Which also means that if I did want to pan the violins to the right for instance, that I would then not only have to only leave the close mics on (while turning off the T and A mics) but I would also then need to use a reverb on that sound in order to have any sense of space, right?

If that's correct, then it seems that the tradeoff being made is the following: I would be losing the sense of space of Lyndhurst hall (that is largely supplied by the T and A mics since the close mics have very little "room information" I imagine) and instead replacing it with a different space of my choosing (supplied by the external convolution/algorithmic reverb) in order to be able to pan the instrument where I wish. Is that a correct assessment?

As a bit of additional background, the reason that I'm so concerned about this is that I don't know if I'll necessarily be composing a lot of full-on traditional orchestral music. For someone who is doing that, I imagine there is no issue at all with the instruments begin recorded in position because that's just where a composer would traditionally place the instruments in their final mix anyway. For me though, I will probably mostly be doing more "hybrid" sort of work. Up until this point my focus has been on evocative ethnic music (Celtic, middle eastern, medieval) and I envision myself moving toward composing somewhat "bigger" pieces that are still in that general style. So for instance instead of a celtic piece with a number of solo instruments, it would be a celtic piece that has a number of solo instruments but ALSO has a backing string ensemble ... and maybe some brass ... and a choir, etc. Given the fact though that these pieces won't necessary be incorporating a full, classical kind of orchestral setup it would be really nice and in fact possibly quite important for me to be able to pan the instruments where I wish.
And there in lies the age-old argument about Wet libraries vs. Dry libraries. There is always a trade-off. Ambient libraries recorded in position are less flexible than dry libraries but much easier to get a great, natural sound. Dry libraries require a bit more love and attention but are more flexible. Perhaps if it is something you're really concerned about it might be worth looking at LA Scoring Strings or Hollywood Strings (both of which bring their own limitations)

Also I would say that even with wet libraries like SCS it is actually more common that people use an additional external reverb depending on the context. Either because they like a little extra magic in the sound or they're trying to blend those libraries with other drier libraries. This is also the case for live recordings using a multi-mic setup, mixers will usually add a little bit of external reverb.
 
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tim727

Active Member
And there in lies the age-old argument about Wet libraries vs. Dry libraries. There is always a trade-off. Ambient libraries recorded in position are less flexible than dry libraries but much easier to get a great, natural sound. Dry libraries require a bit more love and attention but are more flexible. Perhaps if it is something you're really concerned about it might be worth looking at LA Scoring Strings or Hollywood Strings (both of which bring their own limitations)

Also I would say that even with wet libraries like SCS it is actually more common that people use an additional external reverb depending on the context. Either because they like a little extra magic in the sound or they're trying to blend those libraries with other drier libraries. This is also the case for live recordings using a multi-mic setup, mixers will usually add a little bit of external reverb.
Thanks for the suggestions of LASS and HS. I've already done research on those and although they do seem to have their strengths they weren't quite what I was looking for.

Your assessment of dry vs wet libraries makes sense. I guess that tradeoff will always be there :/ In your opinion though, if I did use a capable external reverb with just the close mics ... of either SCS or CSS for that matter ... should I still be able to get a nice sound regardless of where I pan the instruments? Or would it be kind of defeating the purpose of getting those libraries as it would hurt their inherent beautiful sound too much?

Thanks so much for your help!

edit: As a side note the overwhelming number of options out there is at once great but at the same time also somewhat infuriating. There are so many quality libraries that all have their strengths and weaknesses and I keep feeling like just when I'm about to pull the trigger on something I find out a major weakness which then gives me pause and then makes me consider a different option. And then that process typically just repeats haha. The plight of a VI composer ...
 

JohnG

Senior Member
To address a couple of issues in this thread:

1. I agree with those who argue that panning stereo recordings is only partially successful;

2. I almost never use the close mics in Spitfire Chamber Strings because I like the hall;

3. For the same reasons cited above, I often, though not always, add a touch of external reverb (just a large hall, no early reflections or any of that because it's already in the samples) to SCS. That's more to help throw it in the same room as whatever else I'm using from whatever other library.

And as an overall observation, I think CSS (which I have just downloaded) is a very different resource than SCS. For one thing, I think they sound very different. There are other, less subjective differences as well:

1. SCS has a very large number of articulations and...

2. ...is a smaller section by a fair amount.

3. CSS also has a good bit / lot of vibrato baked in that, from what others have said, is more or less what-you-get, whereas the vibrato is controllable on SCS.
 

Saxer

Senior Member
SCS is a very flexible library. I wouldn't make rocket sience out of simple panning. You can discuss all day what happens to a room stereo sample when you change the pan-setting (like moving virtual walls etc) and get afraid of loosing realism. But actually there is no realism. We work with samples at the computer.
I change the pan settings all day. Nobody ever asked for the walls. The default close mikes of SCS are very hard panned so I change it. No problem, a string section is stereo even if all sections are recorded mono and you spread the five sections into the stereo field. There are lots of older recordings where the brass is hard left and the strings hard right and they sound good. Especially if it's not the goal to rebuild an original orchestra setting everything is as flexible as you want. Actually there were no Medival or Celtic orchestral string sections. But who cares?
I think that SCS will fit the style better than CSS. CSS sounds like romantic old Hollywood. SCS sounds more timeless from the today view.
 

Shamgar

Member
There is a Black Friday bundle of SSS + SCS (and also SSS Evo) for less than the normal price of SSS, might be interesting as well.

I'm going to get that bundle, because I actually wanted SCS a tad more than CSS
 
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tim727

Active Member
To address a couple of issues in this thread:

1. I agree with those who argue that panning stereo recordings is only partially successful;

2. I almost never use the close mics in Spitfire Chamber Strings because I like the hall;

3. For the same reasons cited above, I often, though not always, add a touch of external reverb (just a large hall, no early reflections or any of that because it's already in the samples) to SCS. That's more to help throw it in the same room as whatever else I'm using from whatever other library.

And as an overall observation, I think CSS (which I have just downloaded) is a very different resource than SCS. For one thing, I think they sound very different. There are other, less subjective differences as well:

1. SCS has a very large number of articulations and...

2. ...is a smaller section by a fair amount.

3. CSS also has a good bit / lot of vibrato baked in that, from what others have said, is more or less what-you-get, whereas the vibrato is controllable on SCS.
John you mention you just downloaded CSS ... what are your thoughts?

Also, do you have any thoughts on SSS? Specifically SSS vs SCS?
 
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tim727

Active Member
SCS is a very flexible library. I wouldn't make rocket sience out of simple panning. You can discuss all day what happens to a room stereo sample when you change the pan-setting (like moving virtual walls etc) and get afraid of loosing realism. But actually there is no realism. We work with samples at the computer.
I change the pan settings all day. Nobody ever asked for the walls. The default close mikes of SCS are very hard panned so I change it. No problem, a string section is stereo even if all sections are recorded mono and you spread the five sections into the stereo field. There are lots of older recordings where the brass is hard left and the strings hard right and they sound good. Especially if it's not the goal to rebuild an original orchestra setting everything is as flexible as you want. Actually there were no Medival or Celtic orchestral string sections. But who cares?
I think that SCS will fit the style better than CSS. CSS sounds like romantic old Hollywood. SCS sounds more timeless from the today view.
@Saxer My concern isn't with realism ... only with sound quality. I'm concerned that using the close mic and panning the instruments to my desired location will lead to a significant decrease in sound quality. If that's not the case, then I don't really have any concerns.

@Shamgar Thank you for mentioning that bundle! That value seems pretty spectacular. I'm definitely thinking about it now. It's just tough because since I'm only getting into more orchestral music now I just don't actually now exactly what I'm going to be needing. I worry that that bundle (or even any of the Spitfire libraries for that matter) will be overkill.
 
To address a couple of issues in this thread:
3. CSS also has a good bit / lot of vibrato baked in that, from what others have said, is more or less what-you-get, whereas the vibrato is controllable on SCS.
I'm a bit confused by what you're saying here? The vibrato in CSS might not have been sampled in that many layers, but it is completely controllable and can be crossfaded in or out as much as you like. How is it any more baked-in than the vibrato in SCS? Just curious what you meant.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
I'm a bit confused by what you're saying here? The vibrato in CSS might not have been sampled in that many layers, but it is completely controllable and can be crossfaded in or out as much as you like. How is it any more baked-in than the vibrato in SCS? Just curious what you meant.
Hmm -- I'm surprised at what you're writing here, as that's not what others who own the library told me, nor is it what I was told when I contacted CSS support. Both sources made it sound as though the non-vib samples are very much secondary with CSS and that the "main" sound with the legato is the one with vibrato -- and quite a bit of it.

Mind you, I bought CSS anyway because it sounds good -- but a very particular kind of good.

I haven't used CSS yet though because I'd have to upgrade Kontakt and I am recording a score on Tuesday, so this is not the time for experimenting, just in case.
 
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JohnG

Senior Member
John you mention you just downloaded CSS ... what are your thoughts?

Also, do you have any thoughts on SSS? Specifically SSS vs SCS?
Haven't used CSS yet (see previous post).

SSS and SCS -- trust your own ears and instincts. If one seems better to you, personally, don't be swayed by what I or anyone else says.

Nevertheless, a few thoughts, though they are very subjective:

1. SSS is a much bigger section -- much -- than SCS, and the sound is very different in consequence.

2. Both have a lot of unusual-but-useful articulations, including, for example, a "brush" short articulation that I haven't seen in other libraries. So, put another way, both are very useful and good quality.

3. If you are not hearing a big difference between SSS and SCS in the demos (not saying you aren't but just in case...) then get some better headphones or speakers to audition them. It's a very big difference in sound.

4. For what it's worth, people who have very good ears and are very good composers really rave about SCS; I like both but... (see next point below).

5. If you already own, say, Hollywood Strings from East West or any of the "big section" sample libraries, most likely SCS is going to be "more different" than what you own today. That doesn't mean you will be happier with SCS than SSS because it depends on what kind of material you like to write, but SSS is more able to convey the idea of lots of players and an overall bigger vibe than SCS, in my view.

But even that's only "sort of" true. You can always fiddle with reverb to throw a small section into a bigger space, or use the different mic positions to accomplish the same thing.

If you're torn between SSS and SCS, I recommend listening very carefully to Andy Blaney's dazzling demos and follow what your own ears tell you.
 
Hmm -- I'm surprised at what you're writing here, as that's not what others who own the library told me, nor is it what I was told when I contacted CSS support. Both sources made it sound as though the non-vib samples are very much secondary with CSS and that the "main" sound with the legato is the one with vibrato -- and quite a bit of it.

Mind you, I bought CSS anyway because it sounds good -- but a very particular kind of good.

I haven't used CSS yet though because I'd have to upgrade Kontakt and I am recording a score on Tuesday, so this is not the time for experimenting, just in case.
I guess I brought it up because I would have interpreted your previous post as saying that everything is molto vib and that's all you get. I just wouldn't want anyone to get put off CSS for that reason as it's not the case!

There are vibrato and non-vibrato samples and you can continuously blend between them. The nonvib legato is simulated, so I guess you could say the main sound is with vibrato, but it's definitely not just on or off - and to me having the slider somewhere in the middle sounds pretty good.

In fact it's a lot more controllable than in the performance legato patches in SCS, where the vib slider is literally just an on/off switch in disguise (though there are other patches with more control).
 

JohnG

Senior Member
Fair points, @Thomas A Booker

The CSS guy himself basically said that the vib patches are pretty much what CSS is all about, but I'm glad you clarified a few items.

That performance legato though [edit: in both SSS and SCS] -- pretty sweet.
 
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Fair points, @Thomas A Booker

The CSS guy himself basically said that the vib patches are pretty much what CSS is all about, but I'm glad you clarified a few items.

That performance legato though [edit: in both SSS and SCS] -- pretty sweet.
Actually, to be completely fair, during the moment of a legato transition in CSS there is a fair amount of vibrato regardless of your slider setting (as long as it's above 0). So in the situation where you're playing fast legato passages, what you said is basically right :)