You just purchased a new library for your collection, it has 17,000 new patches. How do you manage it?

SippinOnFlowers

New Member
As dumb as this may seem this is probably my biggest struggle in music production. Even though I mark my favorite instruments all the time I still insist on finding the best patch for my song and because I have so many different patches I end up spending hours just sorting through all the different ones.

So I was curious how do you go about managing tons of patches, because the annoying part is that you always know that there are hidden gems within all of that mess, but you have to spend hours and even days just to sort through all the average and bad patches. Is the best solution to just delete all of them? lol.
 

Rob

Senior Member
My solution is: stay with one library until you really know it inside out. At that point you know by heart its patches and what to use. Then work on another library and do the same. Basically, I try to limit the quantity of libraries that I use, while I keep buying new stuff and explore to see if it can be admitted to the "usable" category.
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
Your struggle is one that a lot of us know well. I once estimated the total number of patches I have with all my libraries combined, and it was somewhere close to 40,000. It hinders workflow, but the way I see it, it's also a wonderful problem to have.

When I'm creating a new song and have ideas in mind for the sounds I want, I know which libraries to go to, and I have an idea which categories to look under, but the auditioning of patches simply takes time. Luckily a lot libraries make progressing through its patches easy, such as proving arrow buttons that let you select a consecutive patches with one click.
 

Living Fossil

Senior Member
The your conquest for the perfect sound is a common diversionary tactic among people who in fact rather avoid the direct confrontation with the music they are working on.
Sometimes it's not the sound, but the "perfect EQ setting" or the "perfect analog emulated compressor" or the perfect hifi-cables.
More than anything else it's an excuse.

Nevertheless, to answer your question:

It's good saving favourites in different categories. I utilize a lot of folders for this.
And another thing is the ability to tweak sounds that aren't perfect.

But if it's "the right sound" that hinders your track from being great, the problem is probably not the sound.
 

Living Fossil

Senior Member
Another advice is to reverse the process.

Which means:

When you buy a new library or a new soundset, always create a project when you first go through the sounds.
If you like a sound, quite often this happens while you play a pattern.
So my advice is:
Record the pattern (don't care about timing etc.).
Then duplicate the instrument and put the recorded pattern on this track.
So it's sure you won't lose the constellation.
Then continue going through the sounds.
Repeat as often as you like.

It's good to bounce these snippets, so you can listen easily to them without relying on closing and opening projects.

I have a folder for these kinds of explorations called "soundsuche" (2search for sounds") inside the "ideas" folder.

It's really important to do it when you first go through the sounds. The second time the magic or the idea often is gone.
 

Wunderhorn

Senior Member
I noticed that my tendency when shopping for sound libraries has become to avoid the ones with excessive amounts of presets and patches. I MUCH MUCH rather buy a library that has maybe only a handful of patches/presets, but this handful is realy good, inspiring and makes me want to use it. I consider my time precious and going through hundreds of presets is counter-productive.

I want the library authors do the work for me by giving me what's worth my while. In a library I want to shop for the few home runs as opposed to having all the options in the world. (I still have tons of options, because the collection of libraries is only growing!)
 
Just write the track. The arrangement is king. If you've got interesting parts/lines, then even a mediocre-sounding library will sound decent, especially if you also have some mix knowledge (e.g. automation, tone saturation, EQing, multipressing, panning, general mix balance).

Once you've written the actual composition, as in it's fully done, you can then fiddle with swapping out one patch for another to your heart's content if you really insist (which might entail re-recording), but the music itself is there. It's just fine-tuning the project at that point.

I think it's more helpful when choosing patches to let your decision-making be driven by what articulation and instrument you need.
 

NekujaK

Searching for the Lost Chord
Don't obsess with perfection and embrace happy accidents.

I think I mentioned in another thread, that the Randomize Patch List button is my favorite feature in Omnisphere. Between Omnisphere's massive core patches plus the dozens of third party patches I've added, I literally have well over 17,000 Omni patches. There's no way I'm going to memorize all of them, or even a significant portion of them.

And yet, 95% of the time, I can find the right patch for the job just by zeroing on the category I want, randomizing the resulting patch list, then going thru them quickly one by one. Usually within 20-30 patches I can find a suitable sound. Is it perfect? Sometimes. Does it work? Yes. Do I find patches that are even better than what I initially thought I wanted? Often.

I used to obsess over finding/crafting the perfect sound, but as Living Fossil pointed out, that's never the problem to begin with, and if I did happen to find the "perfect sound", it was never the solution, either.

Throughout history, the most brilliant composers have crafted outstanding memorable music using the same set of instruments over and over again. Sometimes a cool new sound can add a special flair, but ultimately, what audiences connect with are melodies, emotion, and groove. A great song is still great even with average sounds, and a crappy song is still crappy even when the most amazing patches are applied to it.
 

X-Bassist

Senior Member
I agree with Living Fossil about checking your track first. Traditionally (in the last century) composers worked on a piano. The reason was to not allow the player or the orchestration slow the creation process. The piano has the widest range, so when I composed years ago on piano I would hear it as a flute line or a brass line, but forcused on the notes and timing and feel. The orchestration could be a secondary process. Nowadays people get so wound up in finding the right sound, that it can keep them from writing, from creating the "first version". If you haven't, try creating a piece with just the piano to get the parts down, then switch instruments (and refine the performance) to see if your ideas don't continue to improve.

But back to patches. Some synths, like Omnisphere do have a rating system, and I use it. Because of the 14,000 patches (and my few thousand third party patches) it takes some time, but when I picked up Omni 2 I was able to get through the factory patches in about two weeks, leaving the many (as you say) bad patches unmarked, then rating the ones I like (5 star for "I'll def be looking for that", 4 "Could be very useful", 3 "Useful patch", 2 "good basic patch", 1"I might use it"). Honestly I wish someone had a 10 star system, I think I could hit pretty close to useable and unusable patches (some, like UHe or Sample Logic, only have one star). About a third of the omni patches for me are zero stars, so that pushes a third of the library to the bottom of the ratings list when I search. After adding my third party stuff, I've probably got 10 percent or less 5 star. and 4 or 3's I go through regularly, but I only go lower when I'm in a pinch. I can get through patches quickly when they are bad, but often need a little more time when they are good. The two weeks on Omni2 was 6 to 8 hours a day of listening. So it adds up. :)

As far as Kontakt patches, I do go through each library when I buy it. Put together a templete of that library (starting with an empty Kontakt templete) Just loading the patches I like, arranged by instrument category, Then save each category as a preset. So when I'm writing or arranging I can load in my favorite trumpets first, then move down the list and add others if I want to keep searching. Again getting to know your libraries is key. So it helps to write at least one piece with a new library to get to know it. Then when your looking at a templete or a preset, you know what your looking at.

Needless to say (though many forget) labeling, organizing, having an order that makes sense to you is crucial. Because more time is wasted "finding THAT patch" in music than should be acceptable. There are ways to speed up the process in your workflow, especially if you are loading one Kontakt instance at a time and assigning midi channels. Build a templete that's empty, then use that to build your library templetes, then use those to build your section templetes. Pulling tracks form those to build your song tracks is a way to keep things moving along when the iron is hot.

Eventually you will gravitate toward one library or another, but you will keep changing, because there is no perfect library for every style or section. But I often go back to an old library to grab that one patch that hasn't be improved on, yet.

As I said at first, try to simplify your writing process when creating (like using a piano to write) then get to know your libraries and keep notes on which do well for a special sound or section. THen when you're writing, you have ideas of which library to try first. Sometimes my notes are wrong when I apply a patch to a song, but is a starting point and I get a better understanding of how the patches work or don't work in a layered song. It's all an education I couldn't get any other way.

All the best on your patch travels!
 

VladK

Member
Create spreadsheet with separate sheet per library, and put timestamped notes there every time you work with library. You will notice that with time you will start to revise your earlier comments.
If you have many libraries, create separate spreadsheet per instrument, i.e. one for piano, one for guitar, drums, vocals, strings, orchestra, etc.
And keep separate spreadsheet with summarized notes where you put what you would prefer to use for what. I would also put specific favorite presets there as well.
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
I don't use any spreadsheets, checklists, or any method other than the Mac's file system to sort, categorize, rename, and mark favorites.

I absolutely DO listen to every single instrument in a newly purchased library. Right then and there. Get it out of the way. Here is my process for Kontakt libraries:

1 - Duplicate the Instruments folder, so I can wreak havoc on the copy while leaving the originals intact.

2 - Zip the original Instruments folder into a compressed archive so it does not clutter things up. Stash it in the Documents folder which is inside most Kontakt library folders (where the manuals etc. are kept).

3 - Listen to every single Instrument. Any that I don't think I will use I delete immediately.

4 - For the ones that I do like, I rename them to conform to my preferred naming scheme (discussed at length in other threads / posts), and rename / reorganize the sub folders they live in if needed.

5 - Open Kontakt's QuickLoad window and put the ones I really, REALLY like into the appropriate sub folders in there. This may be anywhere from 10% - 100% of the Instruments that I kept from the original set.

Since I've been sorting samples for 35+ years I don't really waffle on whether I keep or delete things - I kind of know what will be useful for the kind of music I make.

For libraries of synth patches, I delete and don't look back. I don't keep an archived copy of the original. I do make a duplicate before I begin the deletion process, just in case I accidentally delete something, but once I've got the library reduced, renamed, and sorted I delete the safety copy - permanently.

For hybrid libraries, like for instance Omnisphere banks that have both sample content and patches that may refer to those samples, this is what I do:

1 - Make a safety copy.

2 - Install the ".omnisphere" file, or drag the patches into a new subfolder in the appropriate location in the STEAM folder.

3 - Open the STEAM folder on the desktop so I can see and manipulate the contents as I go. View in List mode.

4 - Using the standalone version of Omnisphere, audition every single multi, patch, and sample file, flipping over to the desktop to delete each one I don't like as I go - but NOT deleting the sample content as the same samples may be used by multiple patches. Multis are self-contained, so you can freely delete single patches without wrecking Multis.

5 - For patches I keep, I flip over to the desktop and rename them as I go.

6 - Once the multis and patches have been culled, I go into an Init Patch and audition all of the sample content. For any that I want to keep, I save a patch that refers to that sample content, and give it a name that refers to that sample content's name.

7 - I mostly leave the original category folders as-is, and I rename patches in the following format:

[Three-letter category abbreviation] - [two-letter manufacturer code] - [patch name]

This results in patch names like "ARP BAS - TS - Badonk" and "AMB - RD - Megasweep". This way every list will show patches sorted by type, then developer, then name.

8 - Once things are reduced and renamed, I re-export / "share" the library to a new .omnisphere document. This includes only the multis and patches that I haven't deleted, but most importantly, it will NOT include any sample content that is not needed by those few patches that were kept. I give this exported file a tidy name that refers to the original developer and library title.

9 - Manually delete from the STEAM folder all of the folders containing the multis, patches, and sample content from the original import.

10 - Import the "smallified" .omnisphere document that I just saved. Now I have a tidy, compact set of multis, patches, and samples that only contain the stuff I wanted to keep - and most importantly the sample content has been reduced in size to only contain those samples which are used by the patches I kept.

Now I can view each collection all by itself from Omnisphere's browser pull-downs, or view every patch across all collections in one huge list, but everything will be sorted by Category, then Developer/Library, and finally Preset Name. This lets me scroll through all the ARP BAS patches, developer by developer and library by library, without things getting all mixed together too badly.

While working I also create "Projects" in the Omnisphere browser and use the "star" rating system to mark favorites and collect them into project-specific bricks.
 

jcrosby

Senior Member
I tried the spreadsheet thing early on it became impossible to mange so the reality is you need to find what works for you.. Since production music (in a bunch of genres) is the bulk of my work I have to take a broader approach, depending on how/what you work on some of this might be useful.

Similar story with Kontakt... Quickload, I organize mine with a few parent folders.

Developer (Only non-player instruments here.)
Instrument & Genre (Subfolders for both. Some player patches allowed, but only first call stuff.)
Projects (Subfolders as needed. Same story, mostly QL, only first call player patches.)

I organize my Kontakt 5 QL folder 1st, then copy and paste any new additions to the Kontakt 6 QL folder using finder.

For Omnisphere I also audition when I get a new library. My method is to use edit tags and add my own keywords to the description. Developing a very specific and unique set of keywords is critical, you want as little irrelevant content showing up when searching. I rate the good ones then add the really stand out patches to project files. I have a few staple production libraries so I have folders for Each, I also have a few genres always in rotation and have folder those as well. I also have some niche folders for scoring-based stuff as well...

I also frequently spend time on my off days just tagging and quickloading so when it's time to write I don't have to spend time hunting. With Omnisphere this is especially important as it can be a vortex if you don't stay on top of it.
 
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pmcrockett

Senior Member
I'm in the process of trying to wrangle Hollywood Strings into something that will be a joy to use instead of a nightmare, which involves rebalancing mics, setting default routing, adjusting velocity response, and creating custom CC11 mappings to enforce consistent behavior across patches. It's been taking way longer than I expected it to, and just today I finally made a spreadsheet to keep track of what I was doing.

And realized that I've fixed 594 patches and mixed 1386 mic positions. And that's not even all of the total Hollywood Strings patches. I would never have started if I'd realized that this was where I'd end up, but I do at least feel less bad about not writing any music this week.
 

X-Bassist

Senior Member
I don't use any spreadsheets, checklists, or any method other than the Mac's file system to sort, categorize, rename, and mark favorites.

I absolutely DO listen to every single instrument in a newly purchased library. Right then and there. Get it out of the way. Here is my process for Kontakt libraries:

1 - Duplicate the Instruments folder, so I can wreak havoc on the copy while leaving the originals intact.

2 - Zip the original Instruments folder into a compressed archive so it does not clutter things up. Stash it in the Documents folder which is inside most Kontakt library folders (where the manuals etc. are kept).

3 - Listen to every single Instrument. Any that I don't think I will use I delete immediately.

4 - For the ones that I do like, I rename them to conform to my preferred naming scheme (discussed at length in other threads / posts), and rename / reorganize the sub folders they live in if needed.

5 - Open Kontakt's QuickLoad window and put the ones I really, REALLY like into the appropriate sub folders in there. This may be anywhere from 10% - 100% of the Instruments that I kept from the original set.

Since I've been sorting samples for 35+ years I don't really waffle on whether I keep or delete things - I kind of know what will be useful for the kind of music I make.

For libraries of synth patches, I delete and don't look back. I don't keep an archived copy of the original. I do make a duplicate before I begin the deletion process, just in case I accidentally delete something, but once I've got the library reduced, renamed, and sorted I delete the safety copy - permanently.

For hybrid libraries, like for instance Omnisphere banks that have both sample content and patches that may refer to those samples, this is what I do:

1 - Make a safety copy.

2 - Install the ".omnisphere" file, or drag the patches into a new subfolder in the appropriate location in the STEAM folder.

3 - Open the STEAM folder on the desktop so I can see and manipulate the contents as I go. View in List mode.

4 - Using the standalone version of Omnisphere, audition every single multi, patch, and sample file, flipping over to the desktop to delete each one I don't like as I go - but NOT deleting the sample content as the same samples may be used by multiple patches. Multis are self-contained, so you can freely delete single patches without wrecking Multis.

5 - For patches I keep, I flip over to the desktop and rename them as I go.

6 - Once the multis and patches have been culled, I go into an Init Patch and audition all of the sample content. For any that I want to keep, I save a patch that refers to that sample content, and give it a name that refers to that sample content's name.

7 - I mostly leave the original category folders as-is, and I rename patches in the following format:

[Three-letter category abbreviation] - [two-letter manufacturer code] - [patch name]

This results in patch names like "ARP BAS - TS - Badonk" and "AMB - RD - Megasweep". This way every list will show patches sorted by type, then developer, then name.

8 - Once things are reduced and renamed, I re-export / "share" the library to a new .omnisphere document. This includes only the multis and patches that I haven't deleted, but most importantly, it will NOT include any sample content that is not needed by those few patches that were kept. I give this exported file a tidy name that refers to the original developer and library title.

9 - Manually delete from the STEAM folder all of the folders containing the multis, patches, and sample content from the original import.

10 - Import the "smallified" .omnisphere document that I just saved. Now I have a tidy, compact set of multis, patches, and samples that only contain the stuff I wanted to keep - and most importantly the sample content has been reduced in size to only contain those samples which are used by the patches I kept.

Now I can view each collection all by itself from Omnisphere's browser pull-downs, or view every patch across all collections in one huge list, but everything will be sorted by Category, then Developer/Library, and finally Preset Name. This lets me scroll through all the ARP BAS patches, developer by developer and library by library, without things getting all mixed together too badly.

While working I also create "Projects" in the Omnisphere browser and use the "star" rating system to mark favorites and collect them into project-specific bricks.
Good process for cutting down patches. My only question, what do you do when developers update the libraries and want to overwrite your instruments folder or the entire library?

I hate keeping multiple sets of instruments, but sometimes will add a version number(1.5 and 1.6 for symphobia for example) before it updates. But with some updaters, it just overwrites the entire library automatically.
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
Good process for cutting down patches. My only question, what do you do when developers update the libraries and want to overwrite your instruments folder or the entire library?

I hate keeping multiple sets of instruments, but sometimes will add a version number(1.5 and 1.6 for symphobia for example) before it updates. But with some updaters, it just overwrites the entire library automatically.
This has become a minor annoyance - when the dev pushes a new set of Insts then I have to repeat the renaming and culling process. But since my renaming logic is pretty fixed, I don't need to keep a "translation table" or anything, I just sigh and grind through it. I can look at the incoming instrument names and mentally translate them to my naming scheme on the fly and just blast through them, and I can look at my previous "kept" folder to see which ones to keep and which ones to discard.

It's not as confusing as it sounds. My naming scheme is pretty much set in stone. It does annoy me when the dev creates instrument names that are too long to fit in the width of the name panel in loaded Kontakt instruments - like, did they even check that? Nobody saw that the name was 9 characters longer than the panel? Like.... duh.

I always rename the original instruments folder with a version number, then duplicate it, then zip it and stash the zip, then get down to renaming the duplicate - even on the initial version. So I repeat that process when updates are pushed. As a result I have like six versions of the instruments folders (including the initial one) for some libraries where the dev keeps pushing updates. But these are small so I just keep 'em. And since they are zipped they don't get scanned when doing a batch re-save or whatever.