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Why can't they get solo violins right?

mediumaevum

Active Member
Generally speaking, when talking about any library, I've never come across a solo violin that I cannot hear is fake. Its like all solo string instruments lack the dynamics and little things that makes a violin so special.

They do well with wind instruments. Why can't they do well with strings then?
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
Generally speaking, when talking about any library, I've never come across a solo violin that I cannot hear is fake. Its like all solo string instruments lack the dynamics and little things that makes a violin so special.

They do well with wind instruments. Why can't they do well with strings then?
Well with Wind instruments? Well ok..if you think so.:rofl::shocked:
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
Because it's not a real violin. It's a series of sound recordings.

The nuances of an instrumental performance are so limitless, it would be impossible for any sample library to capture them all and script them all together for a seamless, fool-proof, realtime-like performance. It simply can't be done. You can only fit so many sustained notes, shorts, dynamic layers, articulations, sampled vibrato speeds, sampled legatos, etc. into a library.

So developers have to compromise. The result is a very good-sounding violin... one that works well enough to fool the masses and sate many VI composers with its superb sampling and advanced scripting. But to make a virtual violin (or any solo instrument) that sounds exactly like a real performance by a real player is impossible.
 

dflood

Active Member
Well it's all fake unless you are in the room with the player. Even though I have some great libraries, I am much less fooled by violin and viola than other sampled instruments. Maybe I'm just more discerning since I have played some violin. However, I don't have nearly the same issues with guitar libraries, and I'm primarily a guitar player. Aside from playability and realistic articulations, we probably all have different ideas about what the perfect tone is for a sampled violin or fiddle. I prefer to hear more of the body tones and ringing after-tones in the samples, probably because when you play the violin your ear is just inches from the sound so you hear a lot of the bow and body 'noises'. Whatever sample processing the developers have to do to get legato samples to flow together sweetly at any note length, these tones seem to be lost. I tried a little test the other day with one library: I selected a single legato sample and played it dry through in an audio editor. At the end of the note there was just nothing. I selected a staccato sample and this time there was a clear and resonant ring from the body after the note - much more convincing, at least in isolation. Although I'm not positive, I concluded that this is perhaps why legato passages seem a bit more lifeless to me.

I agree with @Polkasound that we are a long way from 'is it live or Memorex?'. Possibly the next advances will be in physical modelling, where the user will be given much more dynamic control over the actual tone of the instrument by being able to 'dial-in' more convincing timbral parameters, dynamically adjust the bow direction, speed, and pressure, vibrato speed and depth, etc. Of course, Audio Modeling strings can already do that but I feel they still have more work to do on the overall tone of the instruments.
 

James H

01001000 01101001
Listening to naked samples/comps you can hear. However, in the right hands and within a well mixed track I think you'd struggle with a blind test. And that's where these samples belong and shine.
 

FriFlo

Senior Member
Depending on what instruments you play and/or know really well, no sampled instrument will ever pass as realistic to you. It also depends on a given melody/phrase what passes as realistic ... but really! Nothing ever is great in the world of ismstruments compared to the real thing. If you think, a sampled oboe sounds like the real thing, then you should realize, your concept of what an oboe sound like is really limited and probably spoiled by listening to to many mockups. ;)
Then, there is another side of the story ... strings are generally the most delicate instruments with the most nuances a human ear - partially also an untrained ear - is able to perceive. I give you one thing to compare to: have you ever heared a solo singer (maybe classical style) legato patch, that doesn't sound unconvincing? Maybe, it is usable being covered in some fat arrangement ... but on its own, it will always sound artificial, right? Well, that is because everyone more or less knows how a singer is supposed to sound like! It is the human voice and even non-musicians have a good idea of how that is supposed to sound.
Well, some people's idea of how the Violin should sound like may be as detailed. Others might have a much better idea of the clarinet ... and yet other people about a whole lot of instruments and for them, really any mockup cannot fool them, however well it is made. ;)
 

Greg

Senior Member
Yes they all require insane amounts of eq. But if you do it right and tuck it into a nice reverb, you can get away with most basic melodies
 

dflood

Active Member
I agree there can be moments where a solo string library can sound (almost) real, but the longer and more complex the piece, the more the VST gives itself away. I can’t always tell with string ensembles though, although no doubt others can.

Still, I’m grateful for how far we have come. For years I ignored midi and sampled music because it sounded so fake and lame. Now it’s good enough that a carefully prepared arrangement of sampled acoustic instruments can sound good enough for non pros that they don’t even question the source.
 

SoundChris

Active Member
Well I think most people just dont really dig deep enough into their tools (?). You really can get very close - maybe not 100% but IMO 90-95% - to the real thing. I also played violin for many years myself on a decent level and have to say that I was (and stil am) quite impressed how realistic sampled (solo-)strings can sound.

I did that track within about 2 hours playing and testing the Josh Bell Violin in a short demo track which was taken as official demo by embertone back then.


This isn´t even ultra-deeply edited / programmed and could probably stil be done more believable and accurate. It was just performed on the keyboard and improved with some articulations using keyswitches. No external effects or anything - just the sound out of the box. I personally think that the transition at 1:02 might sound a little bit unnatural (maybe I should stil fix that) but that was my fault editing not 100% correctly. I am a huge fan of this library (and no - I wasn´t paid for the track and yes I purchased the library for the full price ;) ) and do think it sounds quite realistic. That is why I am curious to know and understand what doesn´t sound right so I could probably try to fix that aspect. Sure a virtual instrument will never get totally on par with a real performer (not just strings. It is the same thing with any instrument you could think of). But I believe these tools already do the job quite well. Which moments do sound synthetic to you? Do you think the samples / recordings per se are sounding not realistic and are the problem?

Or here another example:

Like I said - even it might be not 100% realistic: does it really sound THAT fake to your ears that you would say there is a massive problem compared to the real thing? IMO the technology and degree of realism especially of this library (and probably some others out there) is stunning and satisfying?
 

DocMidi657

Senior Member
I would like to see development go in a different direction. I don't know/think we can ever get "real time" emulation of say a violin or any acoustic instrument when using an 88 note piano keyboard and samples or physical modeling. There's just too much in the hands of the musician going on even with trying to do it with controllers, aftertouch, ribbon controllers, pitch/mod wheels and foot pedals. What I would like to see is a virtual instrument developed that lets you play in your phrase with no lag/delay and nice touch/response with a sound that's "kind of close" but after it's recorded you then select what you recorded and click the "make it real button" and then it turns the midi data into a performance that sounds like a real instrument played by someone really good. That would be a breakthrough for us! Kind of like giving a part your wrote to a really good player.
 
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Vik

Scandi Member
I did that track within about 2 hours playing and testing the Josh Bell Violin in a short demo track which was taken as official demo by embertone back then.



This isn´t even ultra-deeply edited / programmed and could probably stil be done more believable and accurate.
This sounds more than good enough for what I want sampled instruments for. If I want to make it sound like real players, or for recording compositions that shall be sold as having real players on them, I'll use real players anyway.
 

SimonCharlesHanna

Senior Member
You really can get very close - maybe not 100% but IMO 90-95%
You've done as good a job as you (or anyone else) could with these I am sure but 95% - no way. Perhaps a better way to put it would be that it's fine for 95% of the audience/clients out there.

Aside from the legato bumps (prevalent in most libraries) and vibrato randomness, the main tell is the lack of direction or intention - when a musician plays, they understand the piece as a whole, each section and each note's part in that piece. Solo string VSts all sound uncomfortable, shakey, uncertain etc.

To me the difference is night and day:
 
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James H

01001000 01101001
Perhaps a better way to put it would be that it's fine for 95% of the audience/clients out there.
But isn't that the goal we want? The people paying and enjoying for music/film/tv don't really care if it's real or not. As long as it sound ok.

I remember playing sweep arpeggios at 1000mph on the guitar one night, only one person said "man that was cool" (another guitar player). 10 mins later another guy played 3 out of tune jangly chords an wailed Gun and Roses over it. People everywhere were like "whoah dude... why you not signed?!"
95% of people don't care... the other 5% are on forums and my old gig :D
 

DarkestShadow

Senior Member
IMO there are solo violins that sound more realistic than all full violins sections patches.
There is no Joshua Bell equivalent for ensemble violins.
The Spitfire Performance patches come kinda close, but still so far away... CSS is great for slower passages, but it would be laughable to compare the playability of CSS and Joshua Bell.
So I'm not sure why solo violins are being picked out.

It's just a general thing. A bunch of wav samples and scripts don't fully replicate real musicians. DAMN - shocking realization of the day!!!
 
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