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Why VSL (still) rocks

EgM

Game music!
The beauty of the VSL players is their flexibility (the matix based VI and the tree based Synchron). You can configure them as you like.
My matrices look different from EgM's: (Dim String1 in the screenshot, but all the other instruments have the same layout, so I can quickly remember the keyswitches)
View attachment 20073

I group the articulations by type in the matrix list (first octave), the second octave selects the specific articulations, and the third keyswitch has always only 3 values, mostly for vibrato, non-vibrato and crossfade between these two.

I wanted to make a better matrix grouping but I've made them a while ago and got used to it... Yours is clearly better than mine though :)
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Nick, I think you misunderstood me. I am VERY pro-VSL, but hold back on that a bit so as to not offend a lot of forum members. Only recently have I started to notice a bit more positive love being thrown their way. I was simply stating my observation that there seems to be an historical bias by the majority, against VSL, and my speculation on what might be contributing factors (other than some people simply not liking dry libraries).
 
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Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Sometimes I think the reason I still find the Konzerthaus Organ my most useful pipe organ, is the Vienna Instruments Pro player. It is probably just inexperience on my part, but I have been unable to bring forward such ultimate flexibility in register-switching and the like, with my other organ libraries. Of course, most of them don't have as many stops and combinations to begin with.

I have been moving more towards Presets recently and away from single Matrix sets, and this is starting to get me to appreciate the new Synchron Player even more, as it's a bit easier and quicker to see the overview or quickly dive in for details. I'm wondering if Vienna Instruments player will be refactored soon to follow a bit of what has been done with the Synchron Player. Although with the latter, one has to remember to pre-load samples one will need during real-time tracking.
 

ptram

Senior Member
VLS full instruments require a huge investment in setting things up, before becoming the incredibly useful tool they are. However, their player (Vienna Instruments Pro) is so flexible that you can start the easy way, and go on making things more intricate later, as you learn how to use the library.

When you receive the instruments, you have a series of presets containing some sets of articulations. You also get Cubase Expression Maps for most instruments. Nothing is supplied for Logic’s Articulation Sets, and if I’m not wrong Sibelius Sound Sets are only available for the SE version.

You have to find your own way to use the patches/articulations, and organize them in your own presets, and then let the sequencing/notation software drive them. I’ve discovered that trying to use someone’s else presets doesn’t always work for one’s personal workflow. So, the first thing to do is to elaborate a strategy.

The first question you have to ask yourself is how complex your instruments will have to be. You can be happy with light presets, using just a few articulations. This is why the SE edition is so generally useful. You will give up with all the nuances, but you will be able to start immediately with a minimum of controls needed to use the instruments.

If you want things to go more complex, you have first to decide how to organize the huge mess of articulations. Someone likes to use a single matrix with several rows of patches, someone else a couple matrices, and someone else (like me) huge presets in which categories of articulations are organized in separate matrices, each one containing various degrees of complexity.

In my case: I have presets with matrices containing types of attack (sustain, legato, détaché/portato, staccato, marcato, fp/sfz/sffz…). Most matrices use playing speed to select various nuances of articulations (staccato/spiccato, sustain with slow/fast attack…). Others use keyswitches (maybe to select different trill intervals or prerecorded repetition speeds). The horizontal organization of the matrices is reserved to the type of timbre (vib., n.v., pont., sul tasto, harmonics…).

After you have a master preset (for a solo violin or solo flute, for example), you have to replicate it to all the other instruments. There is a trick to quickly propagate a preset programming to other presets, so this can be done with reasonable speed.

And after this, you have to create Expression Maps, Articulation Sets, Sound Setups, or whatever they are called in the various DAWs and notation programs the interface between your playing notes and the library.

To make things more complicate, I have decided to make my own map universal for all the libraries I own, therefore forcing my own VSL presets into a map compatible with Spitfire’s UACC, the only semi-standard currently codified. The good aspect of this is that I have a single reference, letting me quickly find the needed articulations in the various libraries, once mapped.

It’s an incredibly long work, but once done, it is done forever. And you can do a few instruments at a time (contrabass tuba and serpent can wait a little more than the violoncello…).

Paolo
 
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Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Also, I find that for instruments in the same family, I can use the first one as a template for the others, and just swap out the equivalent patches one by one (though sometimes there isn't a 1:1 match).

So far, I have only built custom matrices, and am only using stock presets from VSL. The thing I need to look into next, is whether I can create a preset that pulls from multiple paths. For instance, I would rather not have my "aa" and "uu" on separate choir tracks, and to just use keu switching, but the stock presets are all "aa" or all "uu". I simply haven't gotten far enough yet in customization, to learn whether I can do my own combined preset that includes both "aa" and "uu".

That's just one example, and probably the organ presets show me how it's done, if I analyze them.
 

ptram

Senior Member
@Mark, another map I'm building is one for voices. I'm trying to include all the phonems (excluding, if space is not enough, the very similar ones – like 'f' and 'v' or 'p' and 'b') and syllables.

The map would look something like the attached picture. In my VSL's voices, I guess there would be a first matrix will all the vowels in a row. Each row of the matrix would be a different type of sound production (sustain, staccato…).

A second matrix would contain the consonants/syllables, with a schema similar to the one of the vowels.

But I've not thought enough to this matter.

Paolo

upload_2019-5-17_22-54-20.png
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
That's an ambitious project! I was skeptical when this library came out, as it doesn't have a word builder, and is relatively light on articulations compared to other libraries, but the recording quality and the timbre as well as dynamics are just so magnificent that it is often my first choice, even though I also make great use of Bela D's vocal libraries (and occasionally one or two others).
 

Ben

VSL
If you want to re-build your template or just starting, here is an undocumented feature you will love:

- Open the standalone Vienna Instruments Pro Player
- Load a preset / or set up your matrices
- Press Ctr-Alt-W (Mac: Alt-Cmd-W), a popup will appear:
upload_2019-5-18_12-41-37.png
- Enter the new prefix in the replace box (in my example I loaded a matrix for Violin 1 Solo, and set up to replace VI with VA):
upload_2019-5-18_12-44-11.png
- A confirmation window will appear and show how many cells would be transformed correctly and how many will fail. Confirm with "Yes".
- Clean up the matrices from all cells that failed to transform (mostly articulations that are not available in other instrument).

Hints:
- Start with the instrument that has the most articulations (for strings it is always the violins). This will help you setting up the more complex instrument first.
- Don't know which instrument has which prefix? Open the patch list on the right and navigate to the instrument.
- I had issues with the key-command not working, because I'm using an international english keyboard layout. If the command is not working for you, try switching your keyboard-layout to a default english or german layout.

As said this feature is undocumented, but Herb wrote about it here: https://www.vsl.co.at/community/posts/t30313-Speedy-template-tips#post194196
There are also some other tips how to speed up template building in VI Pro.
 

Michael Antrum

Only the good die young....
Well, I always had a problem with the VSL dongle policy, as I travel a lot and would be petrified of losing or breaking it. However, with their new insurance policy for dongles, this is mitigated to some extent.

So I'm sitting here seriously thinking about picking up Appassionata Strings (I am going through a bit if a John Barry phase at the moment) but of course, now the question is whether to go for the original or the synchronised version ? Would value some advice from some who has both.

Does the Synchron player play the older library samples (I'm guessing not) and so therefore I would need to purchase the VIPro player on top of the library to get the best flexibility.

I'm not in a rush, so I will keep and eye out for sales and second user versions in the classifieds.
 

Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
The VI version of Appassionata Strings can be run in the free, non-pro Vienna Instruments. You could always start with the standard version, get familiar with the player and the library and later decide if you need the additional functionality of the pro version.

The original library has a number of patches that aren't present in the more streamlined synchron-ized version: legato slur (which is different from the portamento that is in both libraries), portato (longer than staccato, but shorter than detache), progressive vibrato for both longs and legato (nonvib gradually to expressive vib), detuned attack for longs and legato, longs and legato sul G for violins, pre-recorded dynamics (cresc and dim) in three lenghts and pre-recorded measured tremolo at different tempi. The detache in Synchron Appassionata is different - shorter, while the VI patch is longer and has even a bit of vibrato on top. Actually it kinda seems as if the portato patch from the VI library was renamed to detache in the Synchron library.

On the flipside, the Synchron version comes with Synchron Stage IRs for all sections, which makes the library correctly seated and properly spatialized out-of-the box (can be turned off). The VI Appassionata needs to be either spatialized on your own, or you can get a MIRx venue (for example the Teldex one) which does the same thing, but at an additional cost.

The Synchron Stage IRs have a brighter, clearer, more focused sound. To my ears, the Teldex makes the library sound darker, smoother and more "vanilla".

All in all, the synchronized version is kind of the somewhat more affordable, more streamlined version, while the original one comes with more options and content, but also at a steeper price.
 
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Michael Antrum

Only the good die young....
Thanks Jimmy, that's really helpful. I do like the idea of the non-vib to to expressive vib in particular. But then the spacialisation ....

I know you can cross-grade from the original to the synchronised version - I wonder if that goes the other way too. Food for thought.
 

ptram

Senior Member
If you want to re-build your template or just starting, here is an undocumented feature you will love:
Anorher hint, at least on the Mac: if you can't see the confirmation button in the editing window, first press the Right Arrow to select it, and press Enter. I hope, however, this problem will be fixed sooner or later.

Paolo
 
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richhickey

Active Member
Thread starter
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Thanks Jimmy, that's really helpful. I do like the idea of the non-vib to to expressive vib in particular. But then the spacialisation ....

I know you can cross-grade from the original to the synchronised version - I wonder if that goes the other way too. Food for thought.

I do not think you can crosssgrade from synchronized to VI series. Thus my recommendation for all synchronized libs is, if you can afford it, buy the VI series version (esp. on a sale) and crossgrade to synchronized. That way you will always have maximum flexibility.

As far as VI Pro and MIR, people often balk at the added cost of these, esp when considering their first VSL lib, but remember VI Pro/MIRx can be used with all VI series libs, and MIR Pro with any dry libs, from any vendor (e.g. wonderful with Chris Heins libs). So the cost gets amortized over all of these purchases.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
I bought VI stuff and then quickly determined I need MirPro. I tried to wade into the MirPro pond slowly but it didn't take long for me to end up with MirPro and all MirPro room packs, all of which I actually love. MirPro is an incredible piece of software there is nothing else like it out there! I feel that MirPro combined with VI libs is the power user package while Syncron is the the easier to use solution for those less inclined to get into the intricacies of ViPro and MirPro, both of which are killer pieces of software, but they do have a learning curve. MirPro is capable of some amazing things and can be used with other dry instruments you might have besides VSL instruments.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I bought MirPro (and the add-on packs) a couple of years ago, but still haven't wrapped my head around it so have been using VSL's other reverb tools for now, with the same convolution spaces as the ones I prefer in MirPro.

As I am wrapping up an album that combines VSL, Chris Hein, and Spitfire libraries (for the orchestral side of things), I am probably going to have to finally force myself to come to grips with MirPro, and see if it is the ideal tool for putting different semi-dry libraries in the same acoustical space.

Rich is correct that one should buy the VI lib to cross-grade to Synchron, and that the reverse is probably not supported (though perhaps is allowed via a private email, on a case by case basis).

I may finally get around to comparing some of the Synchron-ized stuff that is in Epic Orchestra 2.0, during some final tracking decisions today on ensemble stuff. I had put off finalization of my ensemble tracks until this week, as I'm more into intimate small-scale instrumentation (not necessarily a small number of instruments, but mostly just one player per part, which also includes up to four separate F Horn players each playing different stuff), and have been focusing on finalizing solo parts for most of the past year and a half (eight active albums in total, and eight more semi-active projects).
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
I would not use mirpro with any sample library that has early reflections baked into the samples. It is designed to add ER’s so basically it’s not the right tool for any library that was specifically sampled in a space with the ER’s baked into it. I don’t own spitfire but aren’t they pretty much all wet with ER’s?
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
I am referring to their new Studio Series, but you could be right that it's across-the-board. I'll see if there's documentation on that.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Looks like Studio series is a smaller room, but still a room. I doubt it will be well suited for MirPro. The Studio Series is drier in the sense that it doesn't have a big hall wet sound, but the ER's of the small room are still there and inherent in the sound. You can always try with MirPro since you already have it, but I would expect it to be problematic in the ER area. Unless they provide you a close mic option in Spitfire?

Same goes for Chris Hein, it depends on whether close mic samples are included, I'm not familiar with his stuff to know.

I use MirPro mainly with VSL instruments, but also it can be used with EWHO Diamond close mics when I want to combine the two libraries. My Kirk Hunter stuff works pretty well if I disable the ER's he included as separate IR's.

If your library, such as Spitfire, has ER's baked in, then the next best thing to do is to run Spitfire without MirPro and run your VSL instruments through MirPro, then you would need to go through the various room packs and try to find a room that has a similar room sound as your Spitfire Studio Series. Turn off all the long reverb tails everywhere while comparing this. You're mainly trying to match the small room acoustics of Studio Series. Then you can always monkey with an extra long tail reverb on top of that to make a hybrid sound of the small room with some extra tail to make it sound bigger in a way.

Anyway back to topic, one of the advantages of VI over SYncron for you would be that you can play around with MirPro to get a room that matches that of your Studio Series Spitfire stuff. The Syncron series will sound like the Syncron hall and that's it, though it supposedly has some different mic options also which might give you a little bit of flexibility, but still its more limiting then what you can do with MirPro to make your VSL instruments sound like they are in the room of your choice.
 

Mark Schmieder

Senior Member
Ah yes, that sounds about right. And I keep forgetting to experiment with the MIRx that is now built into VI Pro. I have meant to add that to my workflow, to sort of pre-audition what I'm likely to do downstream at mix time. I definitely decided that I don't want to bake MIRx into my initial tracking.
 

Ben

VSL
I use MIR with the VSL libraries, but also used it with my own recordings.
In my current project I had no access to a good sounding room and therefore I recorded the choir and some instruments as dry as possible + a main mic (ORTF). I added just a little algorithmic reverb to the main mic and MIR for the close/dry mics. Mixed together MIR provided a good sounding room and the main mic added glue to the stereo impression for the choir.
 
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