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[UPDATED] Comparing Spitfire's Sacconi Strings vs Solo Strings (Shostakovich's Quartet No. 8)

What would you buy?

  • Sacconi Strings Quartet

    Votes: 6 42.9%
  • Solo Strings

    Votes: 8 57.1%

  • Total voters
    14

Mark Kouznetsov

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Hi, there! My first post. I decided to compare two libraries since many of you probably were wondering like I did if these two are similar or not at all for writing quartet music.

VERSION #1:

DISCLAMER: This track compares Sacconi String Quartet and Solo Strings. It was NOT played to the best of these libraries' abilities but with one goal in mind:
- idenical settings
- identical mics: Close, Tree
- identical automation
- out of the box "playable"/all-in-one/performance patches or similar/closest analogs, so don't pay much attention to staccatos.

with a tiny bit of added reverb and Sacconi boosted gain to match Solo Strings (those are loud!)

It's pretty clear that Sacconi (a rather underappreciated lib) takes a win here as it really sounds authentic, especially if you like that close/upfront sound. It can sound even better if you add some more mic's (and there are 6 of them). I think it got kind-of forgotten, especially given some lackluster video demos here and there where it sounds rather dull/tiny/reminds of harmonica (although there are some great demos ones on their site). Of course, if you spend more time programming/changing articulations (duh!) it will also improve your result. I especially like 2nd violin that has that raspy quality during the culminations that is so characteristic of a real quartet sound.




UPDATE: To be honest, my initial intention was to compare mostly two different (or similar) timbres of these libraries and not so much anything else. However, sharing automation between these two wasn't a good idea. So I re-made it again:

VERSION #2:

- Improved automation for both libraries: dynamics. Now added: vibrato, volume & expression.
- Separated automation for each library.
- Still using only "performance patches", no dedicated shorts, however, MIDI data edited to trigger those better.
- In Solo Strings, Virtuoso 1st violin was switched to 1st Desk for fairness (it's like bringing Joshua Bell Violin or Tina Guo Cello in, you can, but the quartet should have a more unified / cohesive sound).




CONCLUSION: It certainly was an interesting thing to do, as I also couldn't find any comparison with the same piece between these two great libraries myself. As I stated above, I didn't plan to do it and when I did it yesterday my only goal was to compare the overall sound out of the box simply by copying/pasting (which, of course, you shouldn't do because each of the libs is different and respond differently to automation and so on). But thanks to all the responses, it motivated me to go further.
In the end, I think the results won't tell you anything new: Sacconi is great for writing specifically academic/classical quartet music. I was actually surprised how well they described the product: it IS strictly and specifically made for quartets. Solo Strings, on the other hand is I believe a much more popular library and it's great for doubling your orchestra lines (I mean it - great), adding solo lines on top of the orchestra, making Solo pieces or pairing them with another instruments (like piano) one at the time or in pairs like piano + virtuoso violin + cello. Quartets also can sound great if you really work it (I didn't). So, obviously, Solo Strings is a much more universal library.

Keep in mind: I almost never use keyswitches / single patches, so as I've already mentioned to get the most out of these libs I would advice to use all the articulations you need (blah-blah-blah-you already knew it anyways). Shorts are actually great in Sacconi (better than in demo). And, of course, when you load most / all of the mics and balance everything out, Sacconi starts to really shine, unlike the standard out-of-the-box instruments presets (which kind of suck, comparing to all of the other Spitfire libs): the sound is tiny, no releases, no room, especially disappoint violins and violas; Solo Strings actually sound pretty great out-of-the-box. However, you CAN make it sound really rich by doing what I mentioned, so don't be discouraged if you're after that up-close quartet sound. Also, cello has a rather limited range, but I understand why: quartets are written mostly in 4-part harmony, so each voice has its own distinct place and it wouldn't make sense to jump around 3.5 octaves when you have another instruments that fill those ranges comfortably.

That's it, thanks to everyone participating!
 
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Mark Kouznetsov

Mark Kouznetsov

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Thanks for doing this! Which was which? Whatever it was, I much preferred the first one.

Great music! One of my favourite pieces.

Hi there! There are comments under the track :) The first one was Sacconi! Thank you!
 

ism

Senior Member
This is a very interesting comparison. And yep, Sacconi is definitely better for this kind of piece.

The challenge with any solo string library for a quartet, especially such a slow piece as this, is to keep the sounds dynamic at all times.

SF solo strings particular has a static sound here, mostly owing to the vibrato. At the cost of perhaps exaggerating the dynamics a bit over what the score calls for, you could better results (if not necessarily as try to the score) and more importantly, by adding more progressive vibrato.


(My experiments in vibrato and SsS: are on this thread https://vi-control.net/community/th...rned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-vibrato.74981/ )
 
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Mark Kouznetsov

Mark Kouznetsov

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This is a very interesting comparison. And yep, Sacconi is definitely better for this kind of piece.

The challenge with any solo string library for a quartet, especially such a slow piece as this, is to keep the sounds dynamic at all times.

SF solo strings particular has a static sound here, mostly owing to the vibrato. At the cost of perhaps exaggerating the dynamics a bit over what the score calls for, you could better results (if not necessarily as try to the score) and more importantly, by adding more progressive vibrato.


(My experiments in vibrato and SsS: are on this thread https://vi-control.net/community/th...rned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-vibrato.74981/ )
Thank for the input. I left the vibrato settings untouched as it was after loading a patch in both cases. I totally agree that both variants could be better but I tried to have exact same setting for both of the libraries, otherwise it would be a whole another comparison. For a serious composition I would use everything from expression, to volume, vibrato and dynamics (mod wheel). To be honest, I didn't plan to do it, but may be it's worth re-doing and comparing them at their best settings.

BTW, great thread you made back in 2018, I will absolutely read it tomorrow and experiment myself. Every advice and knowledge is appreciated!
 
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wilifordmusic

Active Member
Mark, thanks for taking the time to do this. I've been using Solo Strings for a while now and I've been curious about the Sacconi Strings for an alternative.
For those of us that have one library or the other I'm sure that this is still a useful reference for those of us that have more than a passing knowledge of what they can do.
I think there will always be pitfalls comparing two libraries without playing to the strengths of each.
But that's sometimes a thing we have to take into account when writing for humans as well.

Good first post as well.

thanks again, Steve
 
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Mark Kouznetsov

Mark Kouznetsov

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Mark, thanks for taking the time to do this. I've been using Solo Strings for a while now and I've been curious about the Sacconi Strings for an alternative.
For those of us that have one library or the other I'm sure that this is still a useful reference for those of us that have more than a passing knowledge of what they can do.
I think there will always be pitfalls comparing two libraries without playing to the strengths of each.
But that's sometimes a thing we have to take into account when writing for humans as well.

Good first post as well.

thanks again, Steve
Thank you for your kind words, Steve! That was the idea, but now I'm curious to re-make it, at least in terms of automation/expression and etc. If you're interested in Sacconi, apart from all the common knowledge about how to improve it (like not using performance patches for everything, obviously, because the short notes detection is kind of hit or miss in both libs, but if you load a separate patch those are really good in both), it could use some more mics to get that richer feel (it loads with Tree only and doesn't sound impressive at all).

Also, it's much more RAM hungry. Violin 1 - 1.98GB RAM; Violin 2 - 3.24GB RAM; Viola - 2.82GB RAM and Cello - 2.69GB RAM with two microphone positions (performance patches). I'd say it's a must for quartet, but it's specifically quartet/maybe trio. Once you start using its instruments one by one it kind of falls apart. And Solo Strings could also be used to create a very decent quartet, absolutely! It's just if you need that contemporary feel or that academical/classical organic feel to your quartet.
 
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doctoremmet

Senior Member
Hi, there! My first post. I decided to compare two libraries since many of you probably were wondering like I did if these two are similar or not at all for writing quartet music.

DISCLAMER: This track compares Sacconi String Quartet and Solo Strings. It was NOT played to the best of these libraries' abilities but with one goal in mind:
- idenical settings
- identical mics: Close, Tree
- identical automation
- out of the box "playable"/all-in-one/performance patches or similar/closest analogs, so don't pay much attention to staccatos.

with a tiny bit of added reverb and Sacconi boosted gain to match Solo Strings (those are loud!)

It's pretty clear that Sacconi (a rather underappreciated lib) takes a win here as it really sounds authentic, especially if you like that close/upfront sound. It can sound even better if you add some more mic's (and there are 6 of them). I think it got kind-of forgotten, especially given some lackluster video demos here and there where it sounds rather dull/tiny/reminds of harmonica (although there are some great demos ones on their site). Of course, if you spend more time programming/changing articulations (duh!) it will also improve your result. I especially like 2nd violin that has that raspy quality during the culminations that is so characteristic of a real quartet sound.

Cool first post! Love this
 

wilifordmusic

Active Member
By going back and putting more time in on the controllers for each library and swapping the first violin in Solo Strings you are getting a better comparison.

I think you could get even better results with some studio magic.
If you haven't lost interest in this project, here's a couple of things to try.

At different points of both librariy versions you hear some uncomfortable resonances and volume spikes. These are a combination of the room, the instruments and even the key of the piece interacting.

Try a low cut filter on each instrument to get rid of the low end build up.
Possibly use less of the room mics and use an external reverb for unifying the instruments.
A little judicious use of eq to minimize some of the "wolf" tones.

Or not. Time is something we have to use with care.

best wishes, Steve
 
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Mark Kouznetsov

Mark Kouznetsov

ᴍʀ. ꜱᴋɪʙɪᴅɪ ʙᴏᴘ ʙᴏᴘ
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By going back and putting more time in on the controllers for each library and swapping the first violin in Solo Strings you are getting a better comparison.

I think you could get even better results with some studio magic.
If you haven't lost interest in this project, here's a couple of things to try.

At different points of both librariy versions you hear some uncomfortable resonances and volume spikes. These are a combination of the room, the instruments and even the key of the piece interacting.

Try a low cut filter on each instrument to get rid of the low end build up.
Possibly use less of the room mics and use an external reverb for unifying the instruments.
A little judicious use of eq to minimize some of the "wolf" tones.

Or not. Time is something we have to use with care.

best wishes, Steve
Hi, Steve!

I agree about EQ'ing but that wouldn't be "out of the box" comparison.

Cheers,

Mark.
 

jpb007.uk

I have a dream 🎬
I have both SA libraries, but I actually prefer Orchestral Tools' Tableau which I find to be better. That said, I often layer SA Solo Strings with Tableau.
 

hanysz

New Member
Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing this! I definitely prefer the Sacconi version. The vibrato in the Solo Strings is just too much for this style, at least for my taste.

Any chance you could re-render it with the viola at the correct pitch (you've put it up an octave) and with generally softer dynamics (it feels like mf where the score says pp: it would be interesting to hear if the pp samples have a significantly different quality)?
 
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Mark Kouznetsov

Mark Kouznetsov

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Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing this! I definitely prefer the Sacconi version. The vibrato in the Solo Strings is just too much for this style, at least for my taste.

Any chance you could re-render it with the viola at the correct pitch (you've put it up an octave) and with generally softer dynamics (it feels like mf where the score says pp: it would be interesting to hear if the pp samples have a significantly different quality)?

🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ goddamn...you're right about viola! I just have a smaller keyboard (61 keys) and had to transpose after recording cello and going vl1, vl2 and i just forgot .. In terms of dynamics though, that was on purpose because as you know the dynamics are very soft in that part (mm-mp-mf) and I went MUCH louder but that was to show the broader expressive range of samples. Basically, you can hear how it sounds when played soft at the beginning and at its loudest at the end where it's full on ff (the overall Sacconi sound is not as powerful as the other libraries, it basically sounds around 6db lower than Solo strings with the same settings).

Right now I'm afraid I don't really have time to re-do it, but if I do, I'll post it here.
-----------
Okay, I'll do it. But only for Sacconi, because those libs are on separate drives.
 
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