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So... who's got the best timpani?

fixxer49

Bouncing Consultant
On the face of it, timpani would seem to be such a simple thing to get right (in the grand scheme of VI mockups), and yet is most often the very thing that gives a mockup away as being fake. I heard it ruin at least two otherwise good demos just today.

why is that? (I have my opinions, but am interested in what others have to say about it.)
 
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erica-grace

Senior Member
On the face of it, timpani would seem to be such a simple thing to get right (in the grand scheme of VI mockups), and yet is most often the very thing that gives a mockup away as being fake. I heard it ruin at least two otherwise good demos just today.

why is that?
I think it has a lot more to do with the arrangement and poor the use of the samples than it does with the recording process, and building of the patches.
 

fixxer49

Bouncing Consultant
I think it has a lot more to do with the arrangement and poor the use of the samples than it does with the recording process, and building of the patches.
+1 agreed. is the unrealistic sound due to the fact that it's very rare that timpani are recorded directly in live orchestral sessions?
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Too many acronyms on this forum, some of which are even applicable to multiple products.

I can guess that ROP might be Impact Soundworks Rhapsody Orchestral Percussion (except I think it has a different official name), but can't guess what HOP is -- maybe the percussion included with HALion? Or the latest Hollywood series from East/West (which I also see with variant titles)?

Also, I have most of Spitfire's stuff, by while at the office at least, I can't think what BHCT is. Sometimes I think this acronym stuff is a way of showing off.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Orchestral percussion are hard to get right in a sample library, in terms of something that is flexible for lots of contexts. More than almost anything else, it is important that they either be offered dry (as an option) with close miking, or only be used in a wet context where all of the other instruments were recorded in the same space.

At a concert, it is never hard to pick out any of these instruments and every minute detail of their articulations and timbre. That ought to be a clue right there, that this SHOULD also be a goal of any mock-up that we do.

I notice some developers use ribbon mics, close mics, different mic configurations, multi-mics with flexibility of mic selection, etc. In a dense atmospheric mix,a heavily ambient timpani set, chimes, etc., might benefit from mostly room mics, but in my experience this also often means using pre-recorded rolls vs. manual rolls. It all depends though.

Celesta is in the same family and also can suffer similar issues. But it's why I'll never be able to depend on just one, or even two, libraries to cover this territory. And as much as I may think I can pre-analyze my needs and make the right choice, in the end it's my ears that decide, even after a lot of tweaking of the one that "should" work in that context.

Don't forget also, that timpani come in many sizes and brands, and each sound different. Maybe not as different as some other instruments, but it all factors in. I would say it's less of a factor than vibraphone brand, marimba maker and materials, etc. Celesta also varies more as well. But at the very least, miking options are critical, as we are building up an ensemble from scratch rather than working with a live orchestra where the players are fine-tuning their resonance, release times, strike force, etc., in reaction to the room, the conductor, etc.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Bernard Hermann Toolkit with a Mystery "C" in between. I'll look it up when I'm not at work. I skipped that one, but wouldn't have recognized the acronym anyway. But I don't know where to draw the line when it comes to overuse of acronyms as the relative awareness of different products (and what are acceptable letter combinations to abbreviate) is ever-changing alongside the relative popularity of said products. :)
 

brek

Active Member
Too many acronyms on this forum, some of which are even applicable to multiple products.

I can guess that ROP might be Impact Soundworks Rhapsody Orchestral Percussion (except I think it has a different official name), but can't guess what HOP is -- maybe the percussion included with HALion? Or the latest Hollywood series from East/West (which I also see with variant titles)?

Also, I have most of Spitfire's stuff, by while at the office at least, I can't think what BHCT is. Sometimes I think this acronym stuff is a way of showing off.
https://vi-control.net/community/threads/glossary-of-vi-c-abbreviations.67167/

It's a little weird to get used to at first, but eventually you figure it out and makes these conversations so much easier.
 

Robo Rivard

Senior Member
For people who own Superior Drummer 3, Toontrack has announced a SDX "Orchestral Percussion" expansion library for this spring... They mention that you need to open two instances to load all of the instruments, so it will be well covered. Seems like they will have four different timpanis. I guess they dropped all the chromatic stuff (tubular bells, xylophone, marimba, etc), to concentrate on single strokes.
https://www.toontrack.com/toontrack-20-years/
 
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constaneum

Senior Member
Orchestral percussion are hard to get right in a sample library, in terms of something that is flexible for lots of contexts. More than almost anything else, it is important that they either be offered dry (as an option) with close miking, or only be used in a wet context where all of the other instruments were recorded in the same space.

At a concert, it is never hard to pick out any of these instruments and every minute detail of their articulations and timbre. That ought to be a clue right there, that this SHOULD also be a goal of any mock-up that we do.

I notice some developers use ribbon mics, close mics, different mic configurations, multi-mics with flexibility of mic selection, etc. In a dense atmospheric mix,a heavily ambient timpani set, chimes, etc., might benefit from mostly room mics, but in my experience this also often means using pre-recorded rolls vs. manual rolls. It all depends though.

Celesta is in the same family and also can suffer similar issues. But it's why I'll never be able to depend on just one, or even two, libraries to cover this territory. And as much as I may think I can pre-analyze my needs and make the right choice, in the end it's my ears that decide, even after a lot of tweaking of the one that "should" work in that context.

Don't forget also, that timpani come in many sizes and brands, and each sound different. Maybe not as different as some other instruments, but it all factors in. I would say it's less of a factor than vibraphone brand, marimba maker and materials, etc. Celesta also varies more as well. But at the very least, miking options are critical, as we are building up an ensemble from scratch rather than working with a live orchestra where the players are fine-tuning their resonance, release times, strike force, etc., in reaction to the room, the conductor, etc.
that's why certain instruments i used spitfire percussion redux, certain from truestrike, certain from EWSO Gold. ahah
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Having said that, I was really impressed when I heard Orchestral Tools' timps at a NAMM Show a few years ago.

But there are a lot of good ones. AudioBro LADD, the ancient (but still great) EWQLSO ones, VSL, there's nothing wrong with the Vir2 Elite Orchestral Percussion ones, I remember the old Sonic Implants Giga ones sounding nice...

Really, are there any bad ones?
 

kmaster

Now in LA: let's get coffee!
For my purposes, I’ve never had to move past the EWQLSO, but I did purchase Rhapsody to have a complete Kontakt library as well. It’s not anything special, but it works well and was reasonably priced. That $48 deal is (was?) really great...I think I bought it for $99.
Rhapsody is very middle-of-the-road. It will never be wrong for your piece, but it might oftentimes be eclipsed by a better version of whatever instrument. It's still my #1 Kontakt-based percussion library I like to recommend to people looking for something with a bit of everything - for the price it's unbeatable, and it's obvious they put a lot of thought into things like usability. Plus, ISW is a great company, and I love supporting them.
 

NYC Composer

Senior Member
Yes. I forgot to mention the incredible ease of use of Rhapsody. All the keyswitches are laid out logically and there are roll and mute keys for everything. Very bread and butter but logical, light, decent sounding and handy.
 

Land of Missing Parts

No Time for Honky-Tonk
Really, are there any bad ones?
I think the original post of the thread was about Eastwest Hollywood Percussion timpani being bad, so there's that. The Kontakt Factory library, unsurprisingly, is the pits. And although I haven't spent a lot of time yet with it, I'm not enamored with the Rhapsody timpani so far.
 
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